A character born of the Eternal Return Key, an alternate start for the Ultraviolet Grasslands. A character created in the middle of things, perhaps a false human or a dream given flesh.
There is another. Not a voice. A ghost. A daemon?
“My hero,” it whispers like a flare-red hud crawling behind your eyes. You dream its name: Player.
“My hero,” it croons, but you feel like its slave.
“You,” insists the daemon Player. The ghost prodding and pushing your body, like a hermit crab dragging a stolen gastropod’s shell.
Terms, numbers, attributes slink through the shadows of your consciousness. Is this how the daemon sees you?
Hero Dice: 1d6
Abilities: 6 (range 0–5, assign 7 points)
active: charisma (cha), strength (str)
static: aura (aur), endurance (end)
dynamic: thought (tho), agility (agi)
Defense: 7 + agi + armor + bonus
Inventory: 7 + str items & 7 + tho traits. 2 of each.
Awhirl. Your level is one. What does this even mean? Cats have nine lives, right? Is life eight bad? What are hero dice? Save from what? Is there danger?
The hud flare flashes.
“Don’t worry,” says the daemon Player.
New displays flicker alive on the hud in your head. Defense from what? What is coming? Why is that number flashing red? Is that a list of your stuff?
“If they work as skills, they’re skills,” notes the daemon.
Is it even talking to you? Does it know you are here? Sentient? Awake? You try to scream that you are a person, not a character, but the daemon ignorantly blocks your vocal cords.
“Recor … recor … recor,” echoes the voice. In your head? In your helmet?
Smells. Sounds. Lights. Hallucinations? Visions?
“Recor teu domu.”
A Fragment For Each
- Food … a pastry?
- Family … a parent? Sibling? Elder?
- Drink … a brew?
- Playground … yard?
- Journey … a metal chariot?
- Home … picket fence?
- Pet … a hound-cat?
- Music … a festival?
- Farewell … a friend?
- Room … a kitchen?
- Gift … well-wrapped?
- Artifact … glass, lit from within?
Reach Deeper …
- Bitter … no, sweet?
- Loving … no, scared, confused?
- Cold … no, steaming?
- Lively, cheerful … no, ghost-strewn?
- Ancient … no, brand new, factory fresh?
- Ruin … no, repaired?
- Burial … no, birth?
- Familiar … no, strange?
- Close … no, distant?
- Safe … no, a threat?
- Trick … no, a treat?
- Science … no, magic?
Wait, Don’t Go!
- Fade to black
- Countdown, engines on
- Flash. Ah-ah!
- Wet earth. A pit
- Virgin snow
- Fire! Heat!
- Engines. Steam
- Whine. Electricity
- Hum. Glow-screen
- Radio wave ghosts
- Is there anybody out there?
A Blur For Everyone
- Casket. Coffin?
- Preservative oil
- Alabaster cryopod
- Crystal memorium
- Bones clad in clay become flesh
- Solidify from a protein slurry
- Hydrate a dry husk
- Thaw a corpsicle
- Yawn and wake from a strange slumber
- Materialize in light and word
Are you even real? Is that really flesh? Why does everything hurt … sideways? What is that …
“Alarte! Sqendite!” returns the voice insistent.
Your body rises, climbs.
- Tight tunnel, loam, mud, gasping, a hole-pocked field.
- Dry cellar, cracked-open storm door.
- Painted bunker, dead mechanical angel.
- Gall chamber in a great luminous tree.
- Smoldering ruin of a sky chariot slowly sinking in shallow water. An inflated raft. A near shore.
- On a plain. Neat as can be.
“In manu teu” the fading voice opens your hand.
A key of:
- fossilized dreams to take you home.
Where is its door?
Who are you? What can you do? Must you …
“Vellat’ei,” the voice again.
A Name On Your
- Fantasci jumpsuit
- Hardwear overalls
- Polychrome helmet
- Shimmery self-cleaning loungewear
- Elegant blend-in formal office attire
- Played together …
- No, it was work …
- A crew? Mission?
- Captives or exiles?
- Refugees … accidentally sent?
- No. There was … a secret organization, a plan … ack. This was important. Why can’t you remember?
A spent nano-medical repair grub falls out of your nose and plops onto the ground, where it decays into dust. Weren’t those for traumatic brain … injury?
In Your Pocket
- Crescent wrench
- Teacup and saucer
- Photo of a human
- Laser screwdriver
- Little red book
- Snub-nosed pistol
- Makeup kit
- Silver cruciform
- Plastic dice
- Multi-tool knife
- LED mask
- Impenetrable towel
- Windproof lighter
- Car keys
- Glass and metal oblong paperweight
- Black sunglasses
- Psychic band-aid
- Roll of paper bills
- Copper pocket flask
- Rosary bracelet
- Onion-and-skull signet ring
- Tin whistle
- Ivory-handled dagger
- Mustache wax
- Small plush toy
- Brass knuckle duster
- Telepathic ID card
- Babylon earpiece
- Dustproof gloves
- Synthetic eye
Fragments of competence glitter, coalesce. Your body remembers, reflexes and patterns assert themselves … were you? Perhaps?
“Traits,” hisses the daemon.
The Jumbled Ghost of a Life Lived As An …
- Civil servant
- Construction worker
- Factory worker
- Military personnel
- Police officer
- Postal worker
- Retail worker
- School teacher
No, Not Quite, It Was …
- Advertising human
- Disk jockey
- Graphic designer
- Floor supervisor
- Insurance agent
- Park ranger
- Real estate agent
- Tour guide
- Truck driver
- Used car seller
Why Is This Skillset Grafted Into That Life?
- Ceramic chaplain
- Dog handler
- Electronic warfare
- Felix faber
- Hallucination guide
- Inquisition operative
- Luminous specialist
- Mass destruction
- M.U.L.E. tech
- Protocol officer
- Psychic infantry
- Tea master
- Time spinner
- Soul vintner
- Void crew
- Vome whisperer
- War lore
Is your life a fake? Are you real? But you remember your first love, your new job, your home … your last sunset? Why do you remember your last sunset? Oh, it’s gone …
You shake yourself. Memories and hallucinations scatter like ectoplasmic cobwebs. Focus. Gloom. Stars, some still, some whizzing. Inkspill sky. Spin … stop. Focus. Where … on a plain, can’t complain. Road. Big road. Highway. There, the dawn.Dawn’s highway? It is cold. Cold on the edge of time. Time. There is a little time.
Light spills across the far horizon, like a …
“Ebixila!” the cool voice cuts through like a gnostic knife. You wake again.
The sky is muddy, the stars are fewer, dimmer. Hours still till dawn, an internal chronosense reports. You wrap yourself in your arms. It is still cold, though time’s edge is farther now. Highway’s ruin. Layer upon fossil layer of highway, eroded by the aeons of Aeolus.Scattered about … fragments. Fellow leftovers, like yourself.
This Thing is Incomprehensible …
- Coiled metal tubes that slow light
- Vibrating, watching beetling wheels
- Cylinder that absorbs kinetic energy
- Polychrome faces trapped in amber
- Hoops of crystal that slow decay
- Arrowheads that accelerate thought
- Pucks of warm metal that charge batteries
- Fleshy, rubbery rods that eat hunger
- Floating metal spheres that sing
- Viscid oblongs that reduce weight
- Cubist rings that change sounds
- Clockwork onions
Ok, This Looks Familiar …
- Potted plant
- IR goggles
- Sound booster buds
- Utility belt
- Tool harness
- Anti-weather hat
- Synthetic rope
- Walking staff
- Anti-kinetic field
- Digital binoculars
- Psychic damper
- EM absorber
- Plasteel handcuffs
- Collar and leash
- Friend-Eye drone
- Artificial pet
- Tin of healing biogel
- Single-use psionic knockout minibrain
There … Corpses?
- Nay! Undead! Ack!
- Yes … preserved against all entropy
- No, just a trick of the light …
- Ragger robe (+1 armor, 1 stone)
- Glass shield (+2 ar, 1 st)
- Riot pleather suit (+2 ar, 1 st)
- Grd [sic] combat harness (+5 ar, 2 st)
- Surface battlesuit (+8 ar, 3 st)
- Syncsuit (+3 ar, 1 st)
What Do These Symbols Mean?
- (a) noir, (b) onion, (c) sejant, (d) crest, (e) solare
- (a) or, (b) skull, (c) rampant, (d) gate, (e) actif
- (a) verdazul, (b) aurochs, (c) passant, (d) ladder, (e) celestial
- (a) azure, (b) panther, (c) couchant, (d) neural, (e) hexagon
- (a) ultraviolet, (b) hound, (c) salient, (d) living, (e) gear
- (a) titanium, (b) baobab, (c) statant, (d) shattered, (e) eye
This Will Work For Self-Defense …
- Olduvai chopper (close, 1d4, 1 stone)
- Nano-knife (close, 1d6, 3 soaps)
- Null-ax (close, 1d8, 5 sp)
- Hot hammer (close, 1d10, 1 st)
- Eater sword (close, 1d12, 2 st)
- Etched revolver (short, 1d10, 1 st)
- Caseless rifle (long, 1d10, 2 st)
- Pain projector (short, 1d4 & [-], 1 st)
- Disarray darter (short, 1d4 & save or lose action, 1 st)
- Rovoam’s divider (short, 3d6, 3 st) alas, but once per day
Will it Still Go Into Overdrive?
- Golem horse (Level 2, carry 2)
- Postmortal ridebird (L2, c1, vicious bite)
- Robot bike (L1, c1, fast)
- Thermonuclear bike & sidecar (L2, c2, hardpoint)
- Aerolithic cruiser (L3, c4, hover)
- Oldtech grav speeder (L2, c1, fast, ornery)
Huh, it’s a bit …
- (a) rusty, (b) leaky, (c) stripes, (d) dangerous
- (a) smelly, (b) loose-fit, (c) flames, (d) loud
- (a) red, (b) worn-out, (c) neon, (d) angry
- (a) sticky, (b) shot-up, (c) logo, (d) thirsty
- (a) riddled, (b) fenced, (c) eye, (d) hungry
- (a) stiff, (b) raced, (c) face, (d) sentient
Strewn among the … leftovers? Ruin? Picnic? Are cryptic things that interface with the hud in your heart, whispering access to technologies you never dreamt of.
“Magic spells,” gibbers the daemon, all careless glee.
You intuit that you can store one of these … powers … in your inventory as a spell or a metaphysical device. Each of them costs … 1 life to activate. What does that mean? How do you know this? Why is that knowledge fading? Quickly, you grab one … perhaps it will be useful?
Universal Translation Protocol
P: 1 R: close T: 1 creature or object D: 1 hour
There is a unified source code underlying reality. This spell lets the user communicate successfully with another entity: plant, animal, mineral, or data store. Entities without senses may have little to say.
Overcharge: All objects within arms’ reach. Or short-range communication at a distance.
Nosigoro Logistical Augment
P: 1 R: touch T: 1 sack D: 1 day
A sub-reality field halves the object’s interactive mass. An object of 100 kilos acts like one of fifty.
Overcharge: The mass is halved again. Or it affects an object of twice the size. Or it lasts a week instead.
Fractal Phase Shift
P: 1 R: touch T: 1 hand or stone D: 1 minute
Irrational post-realistic mathemagic pushes an object into an anakata superposition with common matter. An item can pass through a door, a hand through a box lid.
Overcharge: Affects 1 person or sack.
P: 1 R: touch T: 1 stone or bottle D: 5 minutes
By articulating the names and locations and velocities of one substance, it is drawn out of a mixture. Salt filters from water, organics rise from soil, water precipitates from air. The finer the name and knowledge, the more perfect the sift.
Overcharge: Two substances are drawn out at once. Or a sack’s worth of substance is sifted over half an hour.
Rental Upskill Initiative
P: 1 R: touch T: 1 creature D: 1 day
Temporarily burns an observed practical skill into a brain. After watching a swimmer or flyer or gunner in action, the creature can perform the same.
Overcharge: It lasts a week instead.
P: 1 R: touch T: 1 item or book D: 1 minute
The harvest protocol skims the ambient infotronium cloud of an object—essentially, it copies a book’s worth of information directly into the user’s mind.
Overcharge: Ten books’ worth, but this is painful.
You are not all the same, it seems.
“Qamí teu noë qarsé teuu,” beeps the hud.
You suspect at least three paths are open to you. You know they do not constrain you. These traits are available to you as you grow.
Magus, maker, mechanic.
To interrogate, to learn, to master, perhaps to create.
- Burner. Once per turn, you can spend an ability point to overcharge a spell, regardless of its power.
- Exuberant. Each of your life points is worth double when paying for powers.
- Mind Palace. Memorize a number of spells equal to your level for free, ignoring inventory.
- Oblique Reality. Spend one life or one hero die to deflect a spell targeting you (or an adjacent target) to the left or the right (or up or down).
- Recast. When your spell fails or a target makes its save, you can cast the spell again for free. Once. Recharge your recast with a hero die.
- Soul Fuel. You can use a nearby friend’s life force to fuel your powers.
Thief, talker, trapper.
To hear, to see, to convince, perhaps to lead.
- Backstabber. Deal double damage to those who don’t expect your attack.
- Escapist. You’re skilled at being lucky. That’s a +3 bonus to all saves.
- Friends. You can have a number of pets or sidekicks equal to your level who don’t need to take up an inventory slot.
- Pleasant. You’re skilled at getting people to like you. That’s +3 to reaction rolls.
- Pocketmaster. Conceal a number of small objects equal to your level for free, ignoring inventory.
- Swift. Spend one life or one hero die to get one extra action this round.
Warden, worker, warrior.
To struggle, to fall, to rise, perhaps to succeed.
- Armiger. Carry a number of hallmark items equal to your level for free, ignoring inventory.
- Defender. You’re skilled at defense. That’s a +3 bonus, yeah?
- Grit. Gain 1 life per level and [+] when you roll endurance.
- Irresistible. Every round you deal damage equal to your level to one foe you attacked, whether your attack roll hit or missed.
- Second Chance. When you would fall to 0 life, you fall to 1 life instead. Once. Recharge second chance with a hero die.
- Terrifying. You’re skilled at frightening people. That’s also a +3 bonus when breaking your foes’ morale.
Character sheets to come in the roundness of space. Seek upon the folding of place.