I’ve been working on the Xenomega campaign for years. Decades even. It is time to buckle down and make it happen. I probably won’t be making it for publication, but instead for a personal game which may later be adapted into a full, publishable game. That’s not the goal though. I don’t want to make money off it, I just want to have some fun.
So what is Xenomega?
Xenomega began years ago as “Rifts: Without the Crazy.” It was intended to be a version of Rifts from Palladium Books, but not as insane. More simple, fewer books, post-apocalypse with fantasy, but not so enormous in scope. Smaller, faster, easier.
It has changed many times, altered, differed, but the basics were always the same. The core idea always stayed true. There were nation-state names that I came up with that I’ve always included. There were races and species that always existed. The reason for the apocalypse changed, but the apocalypse always happened in the past several hundred years.
At its most basic, Xenomega is a world where each super power was building super soldiers. Some were working on cybernetics, others on mutating animals, mutating people, using magic, psionics, or mecha. While each world power was focused on one of those areas of study, they were also developing others as well. So while the USA was most focused on the human genome, they were toying with cybernetics and robotics as well. The European Union was developing human-controlled, but independent, power suits that a pilot could wear into battle. Canada was messing with animal genetics, Japan with artificial intelligence and robotics, and Russia with cybernetics. They may have focused, but they were not solely invested in one area of study.
Wars were waged, super soldiers were killed, and then something happened. It all went to shit. No one knows the spark, but super soldiers were sent out, nukes were launched, Arcanum flourished, and the new world was born. The hidden soldiers of the Old World became the kings and queens of the New World.
That is where we sit now. Super powered individuals, mutant humans and animals, robots and zombies running amok, and wizards throwing fireballs and curses.
How do we build Xenomega?
A character in Xenomega, and thus what rules we need to figure out, are based on several things. First and foremost is the species. While there are some fantasy races, the most common are still human, whether mutant or not. After that is mutant animals (Moreaus), then artificial life (Synths). Non-native fantasy races include Aelfin (elves), Dwarfs, Fae-kin, and Orks. Then finally are the V’reen, a reptilian alien race from another world that got brought in by accident and focuses on genesplicing.
There will be other minor races, but those are the most abundant.
Next up is attributes. There are nine total attributes, divided into three categories by three, making a grid. One one side is Physical, Mental, and Soul. On the top is Power, Finesse, and Toughness. Thus we have:
With that, we can break out skills, which I’ve made elsewhere and will have to find again. Basically there are four skills for each attribute in the Power and Finesse categories, but the Toughness attributes are only for different types of damage. Finesse can be used to offset damage, but Toughness is for withstanding damage that is taken. While a character can be in capacities with Will or Spirit damage, Health damage can result in outright physical damage and death. Not to say that Spirit or Will damage cannot lead to death, but brain death or soul death can exist while a body still technically functions (and sometimes lead to undeath).
Attributes plus skills equal a bonus to a die roll. Or a number to roll under to do something. Haven’t decided yet.
Feats then are things that can boost skills, allow specific, new abilities, or have options like Magic, Psionics, or Mutation. Once feats are chosen, the character is basically built.
The last thing is Equipment. Equipment can be simple tools, weapons and armor, mecha and power suits, or cybernetics and genehacks. There probably are other types of equipment, but those are the basics. Magic or psionics can be added to technology as well, whether through Ritual or Imbuing.
With that, we have a full character and basis for a simple rule system. Using a d6 pool and rolling one die for each point in an attribute and skill, we roll a pool, all sixes count as successes, all ones subtract a success, and the more successes the better. Opposed checks are the more successes the winner, while other checks require a certain number of successes to perform the action.
Magic is built by Feats. So a simple damaging spell does one die of damage. Add Explosive Spell to it and it takes out more foes. Add Fire Damage and it becomes a fire spell that can ignite items. Or Explosive, Cold, Lightning, Sonic. Magic typically uses Intelligence and Wisdom, but does Health damage. There are some spells, Soul Magic, that can directly effect Spirit or Will.
Psionics is more like telekinesis, ESP, mind reading and other mental sensory abilities. It doesn’t often do Health damage, but can affect Will and Spirit. It is usually more of a sensory ability than a damaging ability though. The one key difference is the Soulblade, a Psionics weapon that exists physically and hurts the Spirit definitively.
Mutations can be boosts, energy projection, things like wings or extra limbs, whether natural or not. They can also include extra or better senses, such as lowlight vision or improved hearing.
Cybernetics can be used to increase physical attributes through limb replacement or addons like skeletal or muscular augments, as well as subcutaneous weapons or communications gear. Cybernetics can replace failing organs or limbs simply with functional parts, or improve them some on top of replacement. Genehacks can do the same thing, but are organic parts, not mechanical.