Barbarians of Heavy Metal Design Diary 6

Editor’s Note: The following post is from Nathaniel, he of Barbarians of the Aftermath and Barbarians of Heavy Metal fame. It should indicate that right up there below the title. I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew he wrote this, not me 🙂


Ok, so I promised info on Warp Ships and interstellar travel. Unfortunately (on fortunately from my point of view) Aaron Smith has pointed out a number of good additions to my basic concepts and pointed out a few flaws as well, and as our conversation on the subject is still ongoing, I’m going to give that a miss for now and talk on the equipment of the setting instead.

Equipment in the 31st century will fall into the same four categories as BotA: Common, Uncommon, Rare and Unique. This is to not only keep them inline with the alchemy structure set forth in BoL but to make the ability to exchange equipment between the three games easier. So if you want a Stratoblaster in your BotA setting or a plasma gun to turn up in Lemuria, you’re set.

The biggest difference will be that the various categories also describe what knowledge has been lost to the people’s of the future after the widespread destruction of the 1000 Psychic Wars that tore the galaxy apart and reduced the once great Earth Empire into a collection of petty kingdoms and warring factions. The categories are:

Common: Items that are easily reproduced using the common level of technology available to those in the Dark Ages. This is the highest level of availability on barbarian worlds for the most part, although the occasional ‘hero’ finds, or is given a ‘weapon’ of the gods which might be of any tech level.

Uncommon: Items that are easily reproduced using the common level of technology available to the 21st century. This is the highest level of tech on most common worlds.

Rare: These items can only be reproduced with knowledge possessed only by Monks or the Sisterhood and are typically only available to the extremely wealthy or well-connected individual. Although basic maintenance can be carried out by highly skilled Roadies, repairs and replacement can only be done through a representative of the Church. This includes basic Titan Parts and most advanced equipment of the 22nd or later centuries.

Unique: These knowledge behind these items was lost in the 1000 Psychic Wars. There are still automated factories (AIFacs) that produce these items in limited quantities and these factories are highly prized targets for raids and invasions, although no one dares to harm them for fear of Excommunication by the Church (which means no technical assistance, no warp flight and no high tech goodies). Only the most skilled Monks and Sisters can do basic repairs on these items, but they are so advanced that even the Church holds them in awe as relics of  religious significance. This includes key parts of Titan function, high energy weapons, the Harmonic Forks that power sonic technology and, of course, Singularity Generators.

Technology can vary from world to world, with the main worlds of the Great Houses having modern 21st century style cities with a smattering of Rare tech to feudal worlds where the slave-peasants have cell phones and heavy equipment for farming but are only permitted primitive pre-gunpowder weaponry and live in primitive huts with no electricity. Barbaric worlds on the fringes of the metalsphere might not even know there is a universe outside their world and still carry on like a bunch of Dark Age savages, occasionally visited by ‘gods’ in ‘sky chariots’ who trade ‘magic weapons’ to them for raw resources (like Acheron).

One of the signature pieces of BoHM equipment is the Harmonic Fork. It makes everything from musical weapons to communications gear to  Warp Ships possible. They are incredibly tough, surviving the destruction of their host technology many times, and are highly sought after as, even though each fork has a specific tuning that gives it a specific functional specialty, they can be used interchangeably in almost any piece of sonic equipment and can even give primitive equipment special abilities (like the Vibrosword or the Harmonic Arrow) with a little work.

The other signature piece of equipment is the Titan. While many of the systems are within the scope of skilled Roadies to maintain, some of them can only be attended to by Monks and the critical systems like the neural net gear, artificial musculature and high energy weaponry cannot be recreated and must be scavenged or purchased from one of the remaining AIFacs at incredible cost. Titans were covered in the previous Design Diary, but just think about giant fighting robots pimped out by metalheads and you’ll get the general idea.

Another signature piece of equipment, and one that is essential to the central thematic thrust of the game, is the sonic weapon. Each weapon is a work of art, hand crafted by the monks of the Great Church and is a highly cherished heirloom of great power. They function as normal instruments in most cases, but by taking the safeties off and engaging their internal Harmonic Forks, they can create vibrations in reality that can alter moods, cause unreasoning terror, give unique abilities like flight to the user or just blast away at one’s mortal enemies. I’ll talk more on these in the Diary on Musical Duelling.

BoHM will use the firearms rules from BotA, including ammo checks, Penetration and all the rules for explosive ordinance. This will make it easy to transfer weapons back and forth from one game to the next. Vehicle construction and vehicle equipment will be different in BoHM to fit into the new vehicle combat rules for Titans in this game, but there should be minimal work needed to convert for use with either system.

Purchasing Equipment will be handled differently to BoTA, with your careers determining what you are likely to start out with at character creation. Almost everyone will receive some sort of close combat weapon, for instance, but only Titan Riders will have access to Titans, and their rank will determine the size and functionality of that Titan. Every PC will have the option of taking a Sonic Weapon, of course, because not allowing them to would make me incredibly un-metal in the eyes of the Inquisition, who would see me reduced to the rank of slave, as death would be too good for me.

The rules for purchasing equipment will only really concern really useful manufactured stuff and weapons, as it is assumed that everyone has a ‘Credit Pick’ that will allow them to eat, drink and otherwise supply themselves at a particular level based on their highest career. So Nobles will always be able to spend the night in the swankiest joints a planet has to offer, but the Barbarians will likely end up sleeping outside and Scavengers will be eating out of dumpsters. Of course, if you are out on a mission and stuck far outside your supply line, you’ll be thanking your Patron Saint that you have a Barbarian or Scavenger along for the ride…

Next Up: The GM Section…

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