August 1945. Starting at a point and traveling perpendicularly out from the center line that joins Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Rip tears open; eventually stretching from the coast a few miles northwest of Nakatsu to the coast about 50 miles’ northeast of the already fire-bombed city of Nobeoka. The apparently constraining nature of water limiting the Rip to a length of almost 100 miles. At a mile high the gaping wound in the world, later named the Ash Curtain, is immense. The concussive force and “ash” (as it can be best characterized) cloud deliver the immediate devastation… Japan is no more and the Wastes are born.
Catastrophic for the rest of the world is the massive volumes of ash, together with ozone, that are violently released. The physical nature of the stratosphere is forever changed and within months the Earth is completely encased in a layer akin to smog. Looking up the entire skyline is dimmed. Less heat and UV reaches the surface and the average temperature across the globe drops 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer daytime average highs in London struggle to reach 50 and in winter the temperature doesn’t get above a frigid 25. Everywhere there is a general feeling of malaise.
The world is now cold and grey.
Already reeling from the financial, resource, and human cost of World War II all countries look to the survival of their own in the face of the mounting challenges. Conflict continues but not as open war, rather as smaller covert events. Countries look to undermine other countries in order to appropriate rare resources. Groups and factions within countries strive for power. Criminal enterprise flourishes.
However, “out of the ashes” comes a benefit for some… a very small percentage of the population experiences the awakening of psychic talents. Many never realize the potential of these talents but there are those who learn to harness, and further develop them – Psycrafters (or PCs as they are known). Psychic talents occur irrespective of gender, race, age, religion or other demographic label, but some common themes do persist – “mental maturity” and a combination of extraordinary attributes. Psycrafters are most often feared but many covet the idea of what psychic power could mean for them and with the later discovery that grafting tissue (or “stitching” as it becomes known) from Othersiders can grant such powers both government and criminal groups as well as individuals look to exploit this despite the cost to the recipient.
Each Psycrafter class has individual Psychic Talents that are organized into Talent Trees where selected Talents determine which subsequent Talents become available as a Psycrafter increases in Rank.
A Qi Master has talents based on their attunement to nature and sensitivity to the ebb and flow of life energy surrounding them, allowing control over body and mind to heal and lessen injury, or to manipulate that energy in other ways.
- Mind over Body → Body Control → Death Ward
- Cellular Manipulation → Metabolic Rush → Life Spark
- Biofeedback → Vigor → Natural Armor
- Animal Telepathy → Animal Control → Animal Companion
- Empathy → Aura Sensitivity → Necrotic Detection
- Precognition → Soul Sight → Transcendence
- Demoralize → Fearsome Visage → Daze
- Spirit Rend → Disruption → Life Energy Burst
- Radiant Aura → Searing Light → Sunbeam
The Energy Adept has talents that manipulate energy to inflict damage on both living and non-living targets.
- Incendiary Touch → Fire Lash → Dark Flame
- Biocurrent → Electrostatic Charge → Arc Lightning
- Burst → Gravity Crush → Pulse Detonate
- Molecular Agitation → Flame Control → Backdraft
- Abnormal Adhesion → Telekinesis → Stasis Field
- Matter Manipulation → Phase Transition → Dissolution
- Walk in Fire → Nimbus → Conduit
- Energy Conversion → Spasm → Faraday Cage
- Kinetic Barrier → Sprint → Quicksand
A Shadow Weaver has talent options to control the environment and people around them.
- Alter Self → Misperception → Invisibility
- Control Light → Darkness → Dark Vision
- Message → Return-to-Sender → Telepathic Link
- Inquisition → Mind Probe → Memory Wipe
- Inflict Pain → Phantom Claws → Umbra Shards
- Night Crawler → Phantom Reality → Mind Wraith
- Non-detection → Mind Fog → Bastion of Thought
- Tenebrous Shroud → Grim Embrace → Dark Displacement
- Aversion → Dark Focus → Midnight Armor
A Meta Engineer has talents that reflect an innate ability to manipulate matter.
- Shackle → Bulwark → Coalescence
- Reinforce Armor → Iron Body → Feedback Exoskeleton
- Attunement → Power Absorption → Superstructure Plating
- Ultra-Vision → Body Equilibrium → Inner Strength
- Gemstone Capacitor → Psytomaton → Enhanced Psytomaton
- Energize → Control Link → Extra Sensory Link
- Sunder → Power Hammer → Concussive Wave
- Ablation → Bore → Disintegrate
- Augment Weapon → Piercing Round → Implosion
A Reaper has talents that build on an inherent awareness of body and mind to allow a boost to speed, power, and focus in the ultimate expression of martial expertise.
- Cobra Strike → Ravage → Blade Storm
- Readiness → Trick Shot → Deadeye
- Obsidian Fist → Catastrophe → Executioner
- Adrenaline Rush → Vertical Climb → Unfettered Movement
- Lighten Object → Def Digits → Fetch
- Mind Razor → Farsight → Sharpen Senses
- Dodge → Temporal Acceleration → Shield of Steel
- Sense Danger → Anticipation → Indomitability
- Harmonic Control → Leech Regeneration → Fight On
A NecroMech has gained diverse and unnatural abilities through the grafting of tissue from Othersiders (the genesis of what is to be coined Necromechanics is attributed to Dr. Erich Kruckel), that also results in varying degrees of physical disfigurement.
Definition of NECROMECHANICS (nec•ro•me•chan•ics)
The practical application of “deathless” tissue in the improved operation of a living body, resulting in a hybrid construct or NecroMech. First used as a term in 1947 after the discovery of work performed by Dr. Erich Kruckel in his laboratory below Wewelsburg Castle using tissue harvested from Othersiders taken from the Wastes. The result was enhanced human physiology and psychic ability through the grafting of teeth, bone, skin, eyes, nails, as well as organs, nerve tissue, and other appendages such as spines. Over time “Stitch” has evolved as the slang term for those practicing Necromechanics.
- Mind Shield + Psychic Shock + Domination
- Enervate + Withering Touch + Soul Siphon
- Deflection + Ashes to Ashes + Expel Energy
- Titan + Eviscerate + Death’s Touch
- Freeze the Soul + Devour + Great Bite
- Crushing Despair + Drowning Void + Rigor Mortis
- Necrovasculation + Rupture + Hateful Harvest
- Paralysis + Frenzy + Rend Flesh
- Parasitic Feed + Void Hunger + Invigoration
- Shadow Bind + Shades of Death + Necrotic Nausea
Side-effect Talents: Dead Zone, Corrosive Touch, Necroshield, Souls Chill, Mind Mire, Stygian Blast, Phantom Vitality, Deathly Doldrums, Rotting Doom, Profane Privilege, Grim Resolve, Don the Veil, Blood Boil, Frightful Flay, Ocular Harm, Puppeteer, Seize, Degeneration, and Rime.
Characters choose their wardrobe to make a statement on their own unique personal style within the tenets of the time, i.e. the requirement for warmth and conformity in the dour outdoors married to the need for vivacious self-expression in private. The Dieselpunk fashion of the time takes inspiration both from the military, maybe as a great coat emblazoned by the badges of fallen comrades or perhaps the trophy jacket from a slain enemy, to the new technology evolving from Meta Engineering. This is also true of personal firearms, in the form of custom grips, intricate engraving, unique technical variants, the use of exotic materials, and specialized ammunition. In a world driven by personal interaction, where subterfuge often plays a major role, what you wear and what it says about you can make a difference. Especially when it comes to, for example, the tradecraft skill of Seduction!
Characters may be affiliated with, established organizations such as the Security Service (MI5), Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Office of Strategic Services (OSS, X3), Special Operations Executive (SOE), the Order of Dark Hearts, or even ODESSA.
Successfully undertaking missions on behalf of this organization will earn POSITIVE Reputation with that organization. This Reputation can be leveraged for benefits in the form of, for example, forged passport and/or other forged travel documents, transport to a remote location, a specialized piece of equipment, training, or even a meeting with someone otherwise inaccessible. However, success with one organization may also bring a character to the attention of other “interested” organizations, wanted or not, gaining them NEGATIVE reputation. Fame and Infamy often going hand in hand.
The assistance that these Organizations can provide, especially Meta-engineered weapons and equipment, will be an essential element for success when venturing into the Wastes to face the “deathless denizens” from the Othersider, re-animated by the Rip and compelled to find “life”.
And more so in the Ash Fields of the Otherside that shaped these nightmares, where high gravity effects make the operation of unmodified vehicles extremely difficult, or in the case of existing aircraft completely impossible. For personnel the additional gravity makes movement and combat arduous at best; physical objects worn or carried become unwieldy, and the impact of weight on for example bullet or other projectile trajectory severely limits range. Challenging terrain, very low light from a dying sun, frigid cold, zero humidity, high ozone levels that cause constant “static storms”, and the life leeching properties of the ubiquitous Ash, combine to make exploration immensely difficult.