This is a tabletop RPG I have been running, based on a dream I had about a new Tales RPG. The game is built on the GURPS Lite system, with the chaos awakening magic system on top of it.
Set in a far-future universe where humans live on a terraformed mars and interact with other species in a galactic society, four heroes are called to participate in the Awakening as Scions — fostering cooperation among the races and intercultural communication to better everyone, missionaries of Neo-mars.
This universe is home to magic as well as technology. There are six types of magic: Light, Dark, Heat, Cold, Psychokinetics, and Healing. There are also a special type of technology known colloquially as Cores — gems embedded into machines and equipment which grant special properties.
the four player characters:
- Vandor: Neo-Martian military man, living in the shadow of his grandfather and late older brother, both highly esteemed veterans. He values loyalty as well as scientific knowledge and religious faith. A practitioner of ancient healing magic, he has been put on watch for healing enemy soliders on the battlefield. He takes his call to the Awakening as an opportunity to learn what life outside the military is like and to discover the limits of his own morality.
- Cobalt: Bounty huntress hailing from a long family tradition of bounty hunters. She values honor and hard work, and is out to make a name for herself as separate from her family. She is an expert gunslinger, capable pilot, and social butterfly. She has a habit of making (and keeping) solemn vows, and is known to drink even Zantian Wolfkin under the table.
- Krazo: An orphan with no memories from before the age of six, he was taken by pirates from his family after his home village was slaughtered. Now 16, he has recently escaped pirate life with his dog-like alien partner Brawl and aims to live a simple life on his own. Also a capable gunslinger, he struggles with putting away his bad habits acquired as a pirate, while haunted by nightmares and a strange scar on his chest.
- Miliardo: Well-to-do artist and intellectual from Neo-Mars, he utilizes psychokinetic magic in his sculpting as well as dabbling in dark magic in hopes of learning some secrets of the universe. He is rather self-absorbed, but good-natured and curious. He is glad to take on the Awakening as an opportunity to strike out on new adventures and discover that missing something...
session 1: neo-mars city
The party makes their way separately to the Temple of Arghenkesk where they are to be initiated into the Awakening.
Cobalt stops by a bar with her brother whom she hasn't seen in a while on the way to the temple. She gets a shot of bourbon and is challenged by a Zantian wolfkin and a man with a handlebar moustache to a chili-eating contest. She dominates and receives a flare core and shockwave core as a reward.
Vandor comes from the military base by train, carrying a datapack on him which his grandfather assigned him to deliver to the Aemos research facility. He visits the mall and in the lobby bar meets Simon, a worker on the mining asteroids who asks if he wants to help with the mining operations - they are smuggling to evade the taxes put on them by Neo-Mars when importing into Zant via the rift gate. Vandor says he can't help and reports the man when he gets outside.
Krazo walks through town and as he turns a corner, Miliardo walks into him from behind. Brawl gets really mad, but they discover they are both going to the same place.
They eventually all arrive at the temple, which is in the shape of a giant alien head with tentacles around its mouth (which is the doorway), and a crest atop its head. They meet a government functionary, Hector, who tells them they will be sent first to planet Zant's capital Damascus to initiate their journey, and that they should meet back here next mid-morning.
session 2: the mining asteroid
The party decides to visit the mining asteroid before the military gets there to see what the operation is all about, so they leave in Cobalt's ship immediately. Upon arriving, they are met with suspicious soldiers who are convinced after a bit of smooth talking that the party is contracted help, and they are taken to Matteus, the manager of the mines. He shows them a video feed of an insectoid beast that is wreaking havoc in the mines. After Vandor paralyzes Matteus with a poison, the party explores the halls on the way to the mines finding potions, an impact core, and a harpoon gun.
In the mines, there are security officers doing battle with the insectoid already, and the party helps but Vandor also takes justice into his own hands and paralyzes the soldiers as well. After the battle, Vandor takes the prisoners to the ship and Krazo, Cobalt, and Miliardo find a crate of Psycho Ore, used to make cores, and make off with 10 pounds of it before more insectoids come down from the elevator shaft. The party escapes just in time, taking the ship back to Neo-Mars.
session 3: crossing the rift, planet zant
Returning to Neo-Mars, Cobalt drops off her quary at the government offices and gets her money. The party then meets Hector at the temple and are led by train to the rift gate. The Rift Vanguard captain Sheila escorts them through the gate - entering a sphere of light in the back fo the hangar-like building, they are pushed through the other side into a large dark cave system, with dripping yet frozen black liquid on the walls and ceiling. Vandor's equipment disintegrates when he tries to take a sample. In navigating to Zant, the party passes by a branching path which data suggests leads to an event horizon which nothing ever returns from.
Entering the city of Damascus on Zant, they are greeted with warm weather in this oasis city at the base of the cliffs. They wander about, getting food, cores (Krazo and Cobalt equip their guns with frost cores), and equipment (including a snake charm used to summon giant snakes for cross-desert travel as well as a host of armor panels for vehicles and a wingpack for large-scale equipment storage). Meeting the mayor, Bertrand Rorschach, at the scheduled time, he tells them of the history of Zant - warring tribes (wolf and rabbit) brought together recently by a common crisis of mysterious beasts which arrived soon after humans. Now one of these beasts is interrupting an archeological operation deep in the desert, which the party is requested to help with.
The party sleeps at the inn in a room provided by Rorschach, playing chicken in the hot tub in the center of the Fancy Suite.
session 4: the archeological site
The party wakes, gets the frost, poison, and slow cores that Krazo had made, and with info retrieved from Rorschach's messenger, proceeds by snake to the dig site.
On the way to the dig site, a Pixie named Waya is disovered to by hiding away in Brawl's gear. She complains of the heat and claims she was following the party because they seemed interesting and had some cool gear. She hadn't stolen anything. The party lets her stay and continues to the dig site.
Injured are being taken outside as they arrive, and going in they are met with a chimeric dragon like a giant porcupine with a reptillian head. The battle is a test of strategy and new equipment, and they dispatch it by freezing it. But upon acquiring the fire-breathing flints from its throat and getting a tablet from the back of the dig site, they are attacked by a group of insectoids that dig out from the walls.
The insectoids are tougher, requiring a combination of stalagmites from Miliardo, frost core shots from Krazo and Cobalt, and all-out attacks from Vandor. After a harsh battle, the party emerges and calls a snake to return to Damascus.
session 5: planet aemos
Returning to town via snake and doing some more shopping (Vandor upgrades his spear), the party presents Rorschach with the tablet, who asks if they might take it to Mesmer 7 to discover its true nature. Waya and Vandor think it wise to go to Aemos first, however.
The party arrives on Aemos's southern continent and hiked up the west coast into town. Seeing a mechanic shop, the party asks about having a vehicle built for them out of the copious parts. The shop promises it by the next afternoon. The party then hikes up past the military facility and east into the mountainous badlands, where mining and logging have stripped the ecosystem of its resources and beauty.
With a short warning from Vandor's helmet's radar, the party is attacked by a ZX-01 mecha soldier which flew to their location at supersonic speeds. It fires on them with missiles and gatling guns, and the party has trouble landing a hit of their own except by pre-detonating one of the missiles when it had just been fired, and Krazo's lucky shot which freezes the mecha and drops it to the ground. Vandor feels suppressed memories rise to the surface amidst the combat, and after finally dispatching the soldier, they discover from his last words he was part of an experiment and was under some kind of mind altering influence. The party retrieves the gatling gun from the mecha and retreats to the edge of the forest and badlands to camp.
session 6: land cruiser, the pixies
After having strange dreams about their families and memories, the party returns to town and has breakfast (Miliardo tried in vain to get a discount). They receive a mission from a scientist to retrieve samples from an Aemos Tiger, a very dangerous mammal that prowls the forests on this continent. After breakfast they pick up their land cruiser (equipping it with the gatling gun and shielding) and head for the Pixie village through the forest.
Upon reaching the Pixie village's location, it is revealed it is located upon a treetop. Vandor struggles to climb the tree, falling a great distance and being saved by Miliardo's magic. In the village, they meet the elder, Felix, who requests help to sabotage the military facility by inverting the geothermal pumps. Vandor convinces the party and Felix that this was surely suicide as it would trigger full scale war, and it is agreed that they should try to negotiate using Vandor's datapack which he has yet to deliver.
Since Brawl couldn't climb the tree, the party camped in the cruiser on the forest floor, taking shifts to watch out for the Aemos Tigers.
session 7: tiger attack, bar shenanegins
The party, camping in the cruiser at the base of the tree, was attacked by an Aemos Tiger and then encountered more and more as the battle went on. After taking out one and extracting a sample, they drove to the edge of the forest and camped the rest of the night. Arriving in town in the morning, after turning in the sample and claiming their reward (a small sum and discounts at the core depot), Miliardo and Vandor went to sleep. Krazo went hunting for new gear and found some powerful cores capable of mass destruction, and Cobalt got some potions.
The party minus Miliardo goes to a bar and talks about the dangers of their plan to negotiate for the Pixies. Amidst Vandor's putting chili powder on his curry fries, a man with a fu man chu makes it known he also likes it spicy, and the party engages in a spicy curry fry contest. Fu man chu has no chance, and finishes last, but nobody can stand the heat. Vandor nearly faints, Cobalt sprays her mouth with water from the bar, and Krazo throws up all over the floor (but after cleaning it up with the help of Brawl, eats his teppanyaki and drinks his Blue Hawaiian). Miliardo joins late, picking up a curious hacking core on the way, as they leave and the party gears up to head to the military compound.
session 8: military compound
On approaching the compound, they see the lights flicker off and restore, and Vandor recieves a distress call on military channels. The main entrance is unmanned and blood stains can be seen on the walls in the guard post. Passing into the grounds and to the door, Vandor scans his military ID and is granted access.
Inside, the party is greeted by three infantry soldiers guarding the entry corridor. As the battle picks up, Brawl and Cobalt take hits but they dispatch the soldiers and Vandoor administers healing where needed. They confiscate the weapons from the soldiers and attempt to revive one of them to retrieve information (removing their helmet and fusing their boots together), but the soldier just vomits blood and screams, their eyes entirely pitch black, before falling unconscious again. Vandor recalls noticing that these soldiers moved strangely as well.
The party views the map of the compound — above: multiple floors of research labs and the administrative floor; below: infrastructure and weapons storage. Everything below the entrance level locked at the entire floor level, the party decides to head up to the administrative floor via the stairs.
Not meeting anybody on the stairs, the party emerges into the top level down the hall from two more foot soldiers and another ZX-01 mecha-soldier like the one they fought a couple days before. The ZX-01 opens fire with gatling shots across the whole party, followed by a volley of gunfire from both sides. Vandor advances to absorb some damage, and in the distraction Cobalt and Krazo take down one soldier. Miliardo gives Vandor a speed boost, who then knocks back the remaining foot soldier and goes toe to toe with the ZX-01, dodging 75% of its gatling gun fire and a swing of the beam sword. Krazo lands a finishing blow on the ZX-01, freezing it solid, and Cobalt and Vandor finish off the last soldier with gunfire from one side and a spear impact from the other, knocking the poor sap into the frozen mecha before collapsing on the ground.
The party takes some equipment from the ZX-01 (rocket launcher and oversized beam sword) and investigates the command center. Not finding anybody in the monitoring room, Krazo splits off into the rec room/kitchen, finding the bathroom door locked. He fires on the lock, opening the door, and finds the bald and middle-aged Commander Gallo crouching in front of the toilet with his hands over his head. He looks up, thanks the heavens, and explains that he's been holed up here for an hour or so since everybody else on the base just went crazy and wouldn't listen to reason.
Krazo, opening the bathroom door for his own personal reasons, decides to use the facilities (the door busted) while Gallo turns around to see Vandor approaching from the rec room entrance. Vandor identifies himself only as Neo-Mars military personnel, and asks for more info.
Gallo explains that he had, as Commander of this base, been given responsibility from higher ups of a research project to unlock latent abilities in the soldiers, but success had been limited and most of them came out of the experiments with addled brains. Vandor asks about the Pixies, and Gallo has no knowledge beyond them of rumors, having not seen a one since taking command on this base. Vandor then asks if they had expected him, and Gallo says that such a Vandor Devoid was expected to bring data vital for the research.
Finally, Vandor draws his spear in a menacing fashion, pointing it at Gallo, asking if he understands the implications of his and his soldiers' actions on Aemos. Gallo thinks for a moment and then raises his head saying that he does now, and digging into his pocket hands Vandor his ID card. He asks that the party take care of the insurgent soldiers still running amock in the lower levels, and he will return to Neo-Mars and try to convince his superiors to rethink their position regarding Aemos and the Pixies.
session 9: dynamo works
Cobalt and Miliardo in the command center proper call Vandor and Krazo over after Gallo departs, to see the holo display. On it are displayed the overall map, and video feeds of two areas in the lower levels. In the dynamo works are three mecha soldiers huddled around a column with a console on it, and in the depths with the magma pump are two more mecha soldiers and a strange spider-like mecha. Most of the party also notices a ticking countdown in the corner of the display near some rapidly scrolling error messages, counting down from about four and a half minutes with a caption "time till geothermal breakthrough".
Vandor hustles down the stairs to warn Gallo to leave immediately, while the rest of the party takes the elevator to the lower levels. About a minute and a half later, the whole party is huddled at a hallway corner with three mecha soldiers 90 degrees away. Cobalt and Vandor have the same idea to summon the vehicle from the wingpack to block the hall and take advantage of the gatling gun. So Cobalt initiates combat, summoning the land cruiser from the wingpack in the middle of the hall and taking position in the gunner's seat.
The closest ZX-01 soldier fires a missile at the vehicle, but Cobalt dispatches it with gatling fire, catching the ZX-01 in the blast and hitting it with another rapid-fire shot. Krazo takes his lucky rings from Brawl's pack, hops onto the cruiser, and makes ice shots at two of the ZX-01s — halting their movement temporarily — while Miliardo tries to get in the drivers's seat and ram into both frozen mechs. He's not the best driver, however, and stalls the engine.
Through team effort, the HP of the closest ZX-01 is whittled down and it slumps over, but the one behind it fires its gatling gun at the land cruiser, depletes its armor, and makes some damage-dealing hits. Vandor decides to slip through and try to calm the power distributor on the column. In his panic, though, he completely deactivates it and turns the lights off. Miliardo turns the headlights on the vehicle just in time for the ZX-01 directly in front of them to fire its gatling gun at the cruiser again. Three shots make contact, nearly destroying the vehicle.
Krazo's mind goes blank, and in his Zen moment sees the gatling gun rotate further and emit a fourth shot. He feels a buzzing in his hest like he's being electrocuted, and raises further above Cobalt and the gatling gun to get a clear view. A crest of light appears in front of him and, screaming in raw emotion and power, a beam of light emits from his chest, burning a hole in his armor and hurtling straight for the ZX-01 mecha soldier. It intercepts with the fired gatling round, causing it to explode in midair, and proceeds to consume the mecha. The light intensifies and the image of the mecha dissolves while the pilot's screams are faintly heard from within. When the light clears, nothing is left of the ZX-01 and a hole has been burned in the wall behind where they stood. Tears are running down Krazo's face as he looks forward at the hole in the wall, peers down to his chest, and then doubles over as he feels the burning pain which is at once so alien and so familiar to him.
The remaining ZX-01 soldier makes a beam sword swipe at Vandor, but he barely makes a retreating dodge by virtue of the light from the weapon. Cobalt pulls the cruiser back in the wingpack to keep it preserved as it is apparently nearing destruction, turns on a torch, and Miliardo and Krazo both advance to make magic and gunfire strikes at the mecha but in vain — it dodges their attacks. Vandor turns on a torch as well and makes a calculated move to strike just as the ZX-01 makes its next move, and as it advances toward Cobalt and Miliardo to slash at them both, he lands a hit, stunning it long enough to allow Krazo and Cobalt to finally dispatch it.
The party has bought some time shutting down the power distributor, but the timer is still ticking and the magma pump is still inverted. Haggard and literally in the dark, the party prepares to move into the next corridor in the hopes to save not only their own skin, but planet Aemos as well.