Monday, May 11, 2015

Random Zonal Anomalies

Anomalies are small, discrete areas of reality distortion within a Zone. There appear to be a finite number of stereotyped distortions so similar if not identical types of anomalies have been observed in different Zones. Inspired by the means of anomaly creation in the Stalker rpg, I created a series of random table to provide a sketch of an anomaly that can then be filled in with more detail.

Anomalies are described in broad terms by their mobility, manifestation, and effect. Mobility is whether the anomaly stays in one place or moves, though different anomalies might have different types of motion (blown by the wind, moves toward living things, etc.) that should be considered by the GM. Manifestation determines how the anomaly is detected--and hopefully avoided. The exact distance away from an anomaly at which it can be detected will obviously vary, but will always be soon enough it can be avoided, if the anomaly is stationary and the explorers are attentive. Finally, effect is what it does to someone unluck enough to enter the anomaly. Note that effect and manifestation are not necessarily linked, but often are (i.e. an anomaly detected by heat will probably burn, but this isn't an absolute).

Mobility (d6)
1-4    Stationary
5-6    Moving

Manifestation (d20)
1.  Air Movement: Detritus circling in a dust devil; an unusual breeze.
2.  Cold: Chill radiates or a frigid wind blows; things in the environment frost over or freeze.
3.  Color: Objects look like their photographic negatives; kaleidoscopic waves of color wash over surfaces.
4.  Crystal: Formations, accretions or boxwork on surfaces; a dust devil of shimmering and cutting tiny shards.
5.  Distortion: A shimmering like heat haze; like looking through someone else's glasses.
6.  Electric: static electricity in the air; St, Elmo's fire dancing on surfaces.
7.  Emotion: Most will be negative, but not always: a deep sadness washes over anyone near, accompanied by vivid, painful memories; a profound feeling of oneness with the universe, that leaves a sense of loss in its wake.
8.  Gas: an unusual cloud, mist, or fog.
9.  Growth: A material covering resembling grass, fungi, cobwebs, hair or even flesh.
10. Heat: A hot wind or the feeling of walking into an oven;  objects are hot, the grounded scorched.
11. Illusion: A mirage of a person or object; a vision of another place or time.
12. Intuition: The anomaly is invisible, but you know somehow that it's there. A gut feeling.
13. Light: Flickering, dancing sparks or flashes; odd illumination like an unseen spotlight.
14. Magic: Much like an Intuition manifestation, but only detectable by those mystically attuned.
15. Pain: The feeling of pinpricks up and down a limb; an intense headache.
16. Shadow: An unusual darkness; vague shapes flicker and dance as if in firelight.
17. Smell: The stench of wet hair burning; a hint of cinnamon in the air.
18. Sound: A loud clap of thunder; the scream of the last victim playing over and over.
19. Taste: A metallic sensation like blood; an intense sourness.
20. Transparency: An object or figure appears to be made of glass or a ghostly afterimage.

Note: It is possible for more than one manifestation to be associated with an anomaly.

Sample Effects (d100)
1-4:     Accelerating  Objects passing through have a tremendous increase in velocity.
5-8:     Aging
9-12:   Burning
13-16: Corrosive
17-20: Crippling  Causes damage to a particular organ or part of the body without physical signs: blindness, deafness, paralysis of a limb.
21-24: Crushing  Like drastically increased gravitation or an invisible force striking the object.
25- 28: Deccelerating  Objects, even sound, are decreased in velocity.
29-32: Dissolving  An object begins to liquify--either fast or slow, depending on the anomaly.
33-36: Disintegrating
37-40: Entrapping  An object is trapped/entangled in energy or some physical manifestation.
41-44: Freezing  Sudden, flash freeze.
45-48: Hallucinogenic
49-52: Halting  A stasis field of some sort causes object or people to be stopped  and held in place.
53-56: Magnetic  Ferromagnetic objects are pulled into the anomaly. Electrical devices may malfunction.
57-60: Mutagenic
61-64: Necrotizing  Living things develop dead areas in exposed skin; objects begin to decay or degrade.
65-69: Penetrating  High velocity projectiles or invisible force strike objects that enter.
70-73: Petrifying
74-76: Psychic  Has effects like a psionic attack, leading to neurologic disorder or development of mental illness.
77-78: Reanimating  Dead things are brought back to life--either as fully living beings or undead.
79-81: Restoring  Dysfunctional objects are or organisms are returned to normal function.
82-85: Suffocating
86-90: Lacerating
91-94: Levitating  Things float as if weightless at a height that varies with different anomalies.
95-97: Throwing  Things are hurled in one specific direction with force.
98-00: Transporting Teleports a person or object entering to a different location.


Anonymous said...

Oh, nice. I had started writing down a few ideas for this a couple of days ago. Plenty of good ideas here.

Trey said...

Thanks. I hope you find it inspirational.

Anne said...

I like this. You might get something straight out of Roadside Picnic (like my favorite "mosquito mange"), or you might get something that just feels like it's right out of the book.

Uncle Sam said...

Anne beat me to it. Very Roadside Picnic. Love it!

Trey said...

Thanks guys. Roadside Picnic was indeed the inspiration.

Gus L said...

I think this would work for haunted areas in a fantasy setting as well - with minor adjustments. I did something similar a while back for a haunted chunk of the mega-dungeon after some player shenanigans.

Trey said...

Oh yeah, definitely. It would go nicely with something like areas of increased 'Weird" in Slumbering Ursine Dunes, too, I think.

Did you post what you did on your blog?