Saturday, September 25, 2010

FAR OUT FINDS: Psi Sled (Part 1)

With all the recent Micronauts madness that's been let loose on Rients blog--and the love for them by many OSR folks in general--I thought it apropos to post this artifact that I've been working on for a while.   __________________________________________________

Ancient technology is unpredictable and therefore, dangerous. Experienced explorers should use caution when handling. Following are all known facts about the artifact in question, GMs should feel free to feed information to players on a need to know basis.

What is it?
An ancient curiosity discovered in the tombs of the great desert kings beneath the sandy blue salt flats of Benu.

What does it look like?
The sled features an elongated, sculpted trapezoidal shape, topped with a transparent canopy, appearing similar to clear glass to those outside craft. The craft appears to have fluted fins (“wings”) on the opposite end. The front slopes of the fuselage curve out and terminate into a long, flat base with flared edges, similar to skis.

The exterior skin appears to be a burnished brass-like metal, which can include blotches of color depending on lighting conditions giving a Mother of Pearl effect or similar to shifting iridescent hues in a pool of petroleum fuel. Coloring seems to shift through all parts of the spectrum—from sparkling golds and oranges, to shimmering pinks and violets, and even sometimes turquoises ringed with deep blues.

The one-person cockpit is a transparent sphere perched directly atop the front of the craft. From the outside, a single blocky seat can be seen and while piloted the sphere glows and crackles with pink/blue plasmatic energy. The streams of plasma don’t seem to directly injure the pilot while operating normally. There are no apparent controls visible.

The pilot enters the cockpit by tapping on the glass three or more times (basically tapping in rapid succession). The front of the craft develops “ridges” like stairs leading up to the piloting deck, while the transparent canopy becomes vaporous to allow the pilot entry. The sphere re-solidifies upon the pilot taking her/his seat.

What can it do?
The sled is a one-person vehicle that can travel at incredible speeds as it hovers up to a meter off of flat ground. Over rougher terrain, the vehicle can fly as any other hover-car or similar vehicle. It’s been known to disappear—that is to blink in and out of sight, which suggests some dimensional travel capabilities. It also appears to exhibit extremely high durability. Some might say nearly indestructible, but it’s rarely around long enough to test this hypothesis.

The vehicle has no obvious, external weaponry, but it does exhibit defensive capabilities:

A loud, throbbing hum that forces all living creatures in a 50 meter diameter to flee, unless they make a save or become incapacitated. All creatures are immediately forced outside this perimeter and make a second save roll to determine whether they put an additional 50 meters between them and the 50 foot perimeter. During this time all actions other than fleeing are prohibited.

Mind Milking
All targets within a 50 meter cone are sapped of brain waves for 2d6 rounds, resulting in a penalty of -4 on any type of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Psyche checks (or any other “mind” related checks) for that period. Any target suffering three or more of these attacks in a single day suffers a permanent -1 deduction from one of those scores (PC’s choice).

Plasmatic Blast
Once per day a powerful, plasmatic energy blast can be fired from the cockpit sphere. Damage is mainly concussive and electrical (3d6) with a range of 70 meters. Unknowing to pilot, she/he is immediately rendered unconscious for 1d6 rounds upon firing.

Speed and Movement
Psi-sled can accelerate to incredible speeds which haven’t been measured. For in-game purposes it travels anywhere from 0 up to 1,200 kilometers per hour, but can easily reach speeds around Mach 5 through Earth-like, high-altitude atmosphere.

The craft can rotate, pitch, yaw, and roll in all directions—basically behave like a UFO. The sled can maneuver with little effort and no inertial effects on the pilot are felt. How it’s able to accomplish this feat without serious injury falling to the pilot is unknown.

It’s undetermined if the sled possesses sentience—and thereby intelligence—of any kind. It does not speak, but it behaves erratically with most pilots, which suggests an “unwillingness” to be piloted.

What can it do to YOU?
The Psi-sled can prove as dangerous to its user as it does to anyone unlucky enough to square off against it. All pilots who enter the canopy suffer the following effects:

Side Effects
(1d8 for every turn pilot occupies cockpit):
  1. Pilot develops strong metallic taste in mouth, 1d4 rounds later hands up to elbows become coated in patchy metallic coating, become magnetized, neither the condition now the effects subside 
  2. Pilot suffers migraines outside of craft after more than 4 rounds piloting, prompting her/him to want to re-board immediately to alleviate pain
  3. Nervousness and -1 on Will checks (or similar) outside of craft after 4 or more rounds piloting
  4. Lack of appetite (no food consumed after piloting)
  5. Insomnia (no HP healed overnight after piloting)
  6. Pilot becomes delusional: roll save vs. Will or similar save; failure results in pilot believing he/she is godlike and forsakes all allies and goals in order to continue flying craft
  7. Blurry vision -2 to sight checks, outside of craft after 4 or more rounds piloting
  8. Slurred speech (negate all bluff, negotiation, or similar skills for 1d6 rounds)
Piloting Mishap
(1d8 on turns executing a piloting maneuver other than straight ahead):
  1. Loud, deep siren sounds, roll save vs. paralysis
  2. Erratic behavior: craft will either move in unintended direction (randomly rolled on 1d12/hands on a clock), makes wild turns, or shakes and shimmies uncontrollably
  3. Cockpit goes dark: a cloudy tint coats the glass, nothing can be seen or sensed outside cockpit
  4. Will not respond to commands during current round
  5. Powerful and intrusive psionic connection causes pilot to soil self
  6. Control sphere (where pilot sits) experiences a sudden backbuild in electro-magnetic energy, essentially shocking pilot with 2d6 damage
  7. Unintended acceleration/no brakes (pick one, they’re both bad and they both end with the craft stopping abruptly, turning cockpit glass to vapor, and letting occupant fly forward to his/her death
  8. Pilot suffers stroke; Failing constitution (or similar) check, pilot takes 3d6 damage

How does it work?
Stay tuned for Part 2 and the secret to mastering the psi-sled!

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