Khonshu Alpha

A #Dungeon23 RPG Project

I'm still not 100% certain what system I'll be using, though I'm leaning toward the Cepheus Engine ( #CepheusEngine )

For this setting, I'm assuming the players will be Greenskeepers (see previous post ).

What did you do in the village?

  1. Healer
  2. Traitor Hawk hunter
  3. Shepherd
  4. Farmer
  5. Scholar (perhaps the only literate Greenskeepers)
  6. Toolworker – Basic mechanical skills

Why would you enter the portal?

  1. Boredom
  2. Glory
  3. Forgetting a failed romance
  4. You need to find someone, you think they entered the portal and disappeared.
  5. Curiosity
  6. To protect another character.

What is your relationship with the other villagers?

Each player must relate one tale about an experience their character had with each one of the other characters.

Other Stuff

I'm also thinking of creating a few other things:

  1. A D66 name table, all based around the kind of flowers and weeds you might find in a park.
  2. Equipment packages
  3. If I ever decide on a system, a custom character sheet. (I love making those)

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

Here's how the campaign will most likely begin.

What the Players Know

The tribe known as Greenskeepers have lived in this peaceful valley since before the days of the Malfunction.

They live in simple huts around the ancient Gazebo. Since the cornucopia machines function only sporadically, they grow crops; mostly nuts, berries, and rice-weed. The shepherds and their dogs protect their gagglebird flocks and meat-squirrel herds from the ever-hungry Traitor Hawks.

Their valley is a thirty kilometer circle surrounded by impassible, unclimbable mountains. There are ancient metal doors built into the mountains, seemingly impossible to open. Some believe they were forged to keep demons out, while others believe they are sacred passages to the afterlife.

Centuries passed in this Arcadia without significant events, until a few days ago...

One afternoon, the entire sky briefly grew dark, and the skies were filled wild arcane symbols and booming voices. The Greenskeepers cowered in their huts until the nightmare ended. After the skies returned to normal, one of the gagglebird shepherds returned to the village in terror. While she was tending her flock, she noticed that one of the metal doors had opened slightly, just enough to admit a single person. She dared not enter, but felt a warm metallic breeze, and saw a flickering lights beyond the portal.

Some of the braver villagers are considering entering the portal to discover whatever lies beyond...

The Truth

The Greenskeepers have long since forgotten that their “valley” is a ship's park. The sky above them is a holographic projection. The Greenskeepers themselves are the descendants of the long-dead park personnel trapped here, after the Malfunction sealed off this section of the ship.

A random glitch in the local network has opened one of the blast doors, allowing access to the rest of the ship.

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

Way too early for this, but I made some covers based on some free templates I got over on Pixelbuddha –

Khonshu Alpha Covers

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

The primary inspiration for Khonshu Alpha was Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World. These were seemingly inspired by mid-20th century pulp sci-fi. This is a world where radiation gives almost instantaneous and useful mutations, and where ancient technology consists of Flash Gordon-style ray guns. This gives those games a more science-fantasy feel.

For the Khonshu Alpha project, I wanted to go in a slightly different direction. I'd like it to be inspired by more recent 21st century “hard” science fiction (I'll probably throw together an Appendix N at some point).

I want a setting that's rich and full of wonders, but not quite the pulpy free-for all that the older games had. I'd like the technology and creatures to be a little more in line with real world science. Basically I want to provide a fig leaf of plausibility pasted over the sci-fi nonsense.

i.e. Radiation doesn't give you superpowers, it gives you cancer.

So I'm going to limit the technology tropes in Khonshu Alpha to the following:

Technology that won't be in Khonshu Alpha

Simple Artificial Gravity – No grav plates Psionics Hyperspace Drives Ray Guns FTL Communication Time Travel Force Fields Extreme Mutations – No laser beam eyes.

Technology that will be in Khonshu Alpha

Nanotechnology Robotics Biotechnology Cybernetics Artificial Intelligence Von Neumann Machines Cognitohazards Mind Uploading Cryonics Virtual Realities

My hope is that limiting myself in this way, will force me to be a little more creative.

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

Since the Malfunction, the pets and and livestock of Khonshu Alpha have been forced to evolve to survive, often becoming dangerous to the surviving humans. Here are some more of the notable creatures.

Cuddlefiends: Before the Malfunction, these were genetically engineered bear/monkey hybrids designed to be companions and pets for small children. They were small, furry and had big soulful eyes.

After the Malfunction, when the ship's food processors failed, these creatures were often killed and eaten. A few managed to escape (or were released), and fled to abandoned areas. Over the years, they have evolved to become carnivorous pack animals, who will emerge from hiding in small swarms, overwhelming their prey, and devouring them whole.

Parents in the human tribes often warn their children that if they don't behave, the Cuddlefiends will steal them away.

Shatter Bugs: Small roach-like bugs that make high-pitched siren-like noises. Harmless in small numbers, when they gather in a large enough mass, the combined volume of their cries can cause actual physical damage.

Mad-Mold: Common in enclosed spaces, like vents or tunnels. This orange-colored fungi releases spores, that when inhaled, cause vivid hallucinations. Some collect the mold to use in mystic rituals, or for medical purposes.

Traitor Hawk: Predator originally designed to hunt pigeons in Khonshu Alpha's many parks. Post-Malfunction it has nearly tripled in size, and hunts any creature it can in Khonshu's parks and agricultural spaces.

Hoplings: Former agricultural rabbits that have been grown in size and intelligence. They've formed a martial, honor-based culture. Basically bunny Klingons.

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

In Sean McCoy's initial #Dungeon23 post (, he provided a list of 52 prompts. The idea is that each week, you'd select one at random and use it as a theme for the week.

It's a good list, but a little fantasy oriented. So I've made my own list of prompts specifically for the Khonshu Alpha setting. If I don't have a better idea, I'll use this for inspiration.

  1. Electricity
  2. Void
  3. Paranoia
  4. Automation
  5. Corrosion
  6. Fanaticism
  7. Mutation
  8. Cold
  9. Plants
  10. Meat
  11. Crystals
  12. Vehicles
  13. Information
  14. Metal
  15. Genetics
  16. Dreams
  17. Collision
  18. Anomaly
  19. Chaos
  20. Industry
  21. Blood
  22. Light
  23. Illusion
  24. Plumbing
  25. Water
  26. Recreational
  27. Flux
  28. Plague
  29. Flight
  30. Evolution
  31. Flight
  32. Reptiles
  33. Cyborg
  34. Fungi
  35. Gadgets
  36. Magnetism
  37. Gravity
  38. Radiation
  39. Hybrid
  40. Brains
  41. Madness
  42. Robot
  43. Membrane
  44. Senses
  45. Invisible
  46. Poison
  47. Nanotech
  48. Quantum
  49. Weapons
  50. Insects
  51. Savagery
  52. Mental

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

Most of the #Dungeon23 projects I've heard about seem to be fairly standard fantasy settings, even if they're not strictly set in dungeons. Most of them will probably use general OSR stats for mechanical things like monsters and NPCs.

Khonshu Alpha, being a post-apocalypse science fantasy sort of setting, doesn't really have an obvious go-to system to use.

I'm considering a few options:

Make it System Agnostic: Don't use any stats. Obviously this is a lot easier to write, but I feel like this is putting a lot of work on the shoulders of the GM that actually runs this setting. Even if I'm the only one who ever runs anything in it, I'd essentially just be putting off work to the future.

Make it OSR: OSR isn't necessarily fantasy. There are lot of OSR-style science fantasy games. If I just use fairly basic OSR stats, it should be accessible to the largest number of users. On the other hand, OSR rules may not be the best fit for this setting.

Use a Specific System: There are a number of science fantasy systems to choose from: Mutant Future, Mutant Year Zero, Cepheus Atom. I could even go old-school and run Metamorphosis Alpha or Gamma World. The problem here is that none of these games are particularly popular. Picking any one limits the reach and usefulness of the final product.

Traveller: Traveller and its open-source version Cepheus Engine, while not as large as the OSR, has a big following. There's already a lot of sci-fi material for this system available to use a reference. But obviously, still a smaller audience than OSR. I've written elsewhere about my enthusiasm for writing stuff in Cepheus Engine.

Currently, I'm leaning toward either OSR or Traveller. I don't think I have to decide right away, since I don't think it's necessary to provide any actual stats for everything on the very first day. I think I can probably go for a month before I have to make a decision. I don't want to go much further than that, or I'll just be making more work for myself.

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23

Khonshu is the name of the Egyptian god of the Moon. Supposedly it means ‘He-who-traverses [the sky]’, which seems appropriate. Khonshu is considered the protector of those who travel at night, which matches the setting well.

Khonshu is also a healing god, which if you wanted to stretch the metaphor a bit, is what the players are probably trying to do to the ship.

There are a few different alternate spellings of the god's name. I just picked the one that looks the coolest.

The Alpha part of the ship's name is really just a homage to Metamorphosis Alpha. I'm also thinking it suggests there may be other generation ships, Beta & Theta perhaps, floating around out there somewhere.

I've also been messing around with a logo for the setting: Khonshu Alpha Logo

by Norton Glover – [email protected] E-Mail: [email protected] RPG Blog: Polyhedral Nonsense #Dungeon23