Thursday, April 29, 2021

50 Alternate History Divergence Points

Alternate history exists in the orange zone for me - the constant need to stay on the alert for bad actors swiftly drains the fun from the exercise. But the concept is fun, so I dabble on my own from time to time. Here's a bunch of dabbling - while writing it popped into my head that these are some excellent backdrop events for Esoteric Enterprises games.


  1. Successful rebellion of the enslaved in colonial America.
  2. Venera probes discover life on Venus.
  3. Christianity takes root in Japan, syncretizes.
  4. Near complete works of Sappho's poetry found, translated and printed.
  5. Linear B deciphered.
  6. Fred Hampton dies of natural causes at the age of 102.
  7. Yeshua ben Yosef writes a short ethical treatise.
  8. Human-elephant communication achieved.
  9. Tunguska meteor devastates Moscow.
  10. Wow! signal confirmed as an accidentally-intercepted alien message.
  11. George Lucas discovers a love of anime; Star Wars is animated.
  12. Judaism takes strong root in Central Asia.
  13. Britain hires a non-idiot to draw the borders of their colonial territories.
  14. Mid-Atlantic Ridge is already rising above the surface.
  15. Chinese colony in the Americas thrives for a time, and then falls apart.
  16. Battle of the Spanish Armada ends in mutual defeat.
  17. Electoral college abolished.
  18. Sea Peoples identified.
  19. Neanderthal populations and cultures survive to the modern day.
  20. English spelling reform takes off
  21. A large number of remarkable works are properly written and preserved this time.
  22. Treaties made with First Nations are upheld.
  23. American film industry remains on east coast.
  24. Shakespeare's adaptation of Don Quixote survives.
  25. Columbus' ships are lost in transit.
  26. French Revolution spawns one in England.
  27. The bear at the Duluth Sector Direction Center is not discovered in time.
  28. Humans able to resist smallpox virus.
  29. Who imported all these hippos as food god damn it!
  30. Hays Code is never put into practice.
  31. Jacobite Rebellion succeeds.
  32. Nuclear weapons never deployed.
  33. Augustus dies of an infection and fever at 23.
  34. Electric wind turbines adopted before oil becomes popular.
  35. Some non-avian dinosaurs manage to survive.
  36. Mark Zuckerberg's parents succeed at instilling a moral conscience in their son.
  37. East India Company suffers a catastrophic early collapse.
  38. Dodo is domesticated and spreads worldwide.
  39. Bison are domesticated in the Americas
  40. Women's suffrage in America adopted during the Second Great Awakening.
  41. Taping Rebellion able to form breakaway nation from Qing China.
  42. A natural waterway links the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean; Gibraltar is closed.
  43. The Sahara remains verdant up through the modern day.
  44. Mars is slightly larger than Earth.
  45. Earth is a moon of a temperate gas giant.
  46. Northern Europe has spices now.
  47. Antarctica is sitting out in the South Pacific.
  48. An esperantido is adopted as Euro-auxillary language.
  49. Doggerland remains above sea level.
  50. Chernobyl meltdown avoided. 

Or all of them at once.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Additional Equipment for Mothership (feat Cognitohazards)

Humanity (and most of the dead alien species we find), is defined by stuff. Junk. Trash. Doodads. Nothing a xenoarchaeologist likes better than a perfectly preserved landfill.

Here are some things that will be found in ours.

I didn't list prices because I don't like coming up with lists of prices.

Equipment Aboard the Mothership

Abnormality Sensor - (Item) A handheld device purportedly able to locate nearby disruptions in spatial-temporal normality. It might be a placebo. It provides +10% to Fear saves, occasionally.

Access Key - (Slickware 0) Access to a private or otherwise secure v-sim server.

Adaptive Gun - (Weapon) Can be refit between pistol, smg, shotgun, and grenade launcher forms. Changing form takes a turn. Very illegal in places where that matters.

Adaptive Immunity - (Implant) - Grants (+) to Body saves vs disease and infection, even of alien origin.

AR Goggles - (Item) A cheap alternative to an OGRE implant, with the downside of having lower resolution, more bugs and exploits, and persistent adware.

Babelfish - (Slickware 1) Translation and decryption software. Works best with text, has a short delay when working with speech. Can be used to learn a new language (with sufficient source material and time. INT check needed if time is limited)

BrownNote - (1-Use Program) H-type siren-somatic cognitohazard, vaccine included (1 hour resistance). Non-inoculated individuals must make Body save or void bowels in crippling pain.

Copter - (Drone) A basic flying drone. Comes equipped with a camera, can be outfitted to carry light items. Weapon mount option available (pistol only, cannot carry additional ammo)

Cuttlefish Cloak - (Item) A long hooded poncho that can shift color and texture to match its surroundings. Must readjust if wearer moves. Civilian models do not insulate against thermal vision.

Cyberbrain - (Implant 3) - Consists of file storage, slicksocket and terminal jack. Can directly store OGRE video recordings. Cannot be used to backup or transfer a mind.

Exowomb - (Item) Safe external gestation of a fetus, plus prenatal genetic modification. Budget models can only deal with baseline humans, advanced versions can accept custom blueprints.

Firefly Hive - (Item) Clutch of small luminescent biobots that may be given simple commands via cyberbrain or computer. Good for marking things. Can sacrifice themselves to make a single blinding flash.


Hand Cannon - (Weapon) A shotgun that can be wielded in one hand. Requires 50 STR or Spinal Rig to wield without self-inflicted injury.

Hellbox - (Item) A sleek, silver box running a very small and customizably unpleasant v-sim. Hooks directly into the cyberbrain, can only be released from the outside.

KUNO.exe - (1-Use Program) Disguises a hacking attempt as the work of a legendarily crass and technically charismatic hacker. Like signing it "Alan Smithee", except with more petty vandalism. 

Logic Core - (Special Implant) An android's processing center. Uses a completely foreign architecture to a typical cyberbrain, which are modeled on human brains. Consists of file storage, slicksocket, terminal jack, and Black Box, at no implant cost. All androids start with a logic core. installing one in a human is (-) Surgery / Cybernetics and implant cost 5. Failure will result in death, because you just took out someone's brain.

MiniTachi - (Item) A small, six-legged spider drone with grip-pad feet. Typically comes pre-programmed with a bubbly AI demeanor. Weapon mount option available.

Molly Module - (Implant 1) Retractable claws implanted in fingertips. 2d10 damage, bleed effect on critical hit.

Myul - (Drone) - A sturdy, four-legged robot about the size of a large dog. Can carry 5 pieces of bulky equipment (or 5 saddlebags full of small items)

Partition Program - (1-Use Program) Used to observe a virus or other hazardous program in a safe environment, where it cannot infect other systems.

Riot Shield - (Weapon) + 10 Armor, +20 if in shield wall. Can increase solo bonus to +20 by moving at half Speed. Can only use one-handed weapons while wielding.

Spider's Glory - (Armor) +10 armor. Absolutely gorgeous silk robes. Lightweight, can be worn under other clothes. Sumptuary laws ban most from ever possessing it.

TACNET - (Slickware 1) Encrypted communication channel. Location detection built in, video recorded with OGRE implants can be shared with others.

TURRON - (1 Use Program) Slang term; encompasses a wide variety of gift programs used to appease guardian AI within secure networks.

ZombieParty- (1-Use Program) Can be used to reactivate a deadzoned cyberbrain (supposing that the body is still in reasonable shape and there's no Black Box) and give it basic commands.



These are a way of directly attacking the brain through sensory input. No matter the actual effect or means of dispersal, they all follow the same pattern - you can practically mad-libs them.


  • H-type - Affects humans only.
  • A-type - Affects androids only.
  • U-type - Universal - very rare.


  • Basilisk - Triggered through visual stimuli (can be paired with siren vectors)
  • Siren - Triggered through auditory stimuli (can be paired with basilisk vectors)
  • Maenad - Applied directly through the cyberbrain via computer network


  • Soma - Attacks bodily functions and reactions. BODY save.
  • Psyche - Attacks behavior, thoughts, beliefs. FEAR save.
  • Pnuemon - [DATA EXPUNGED]. SANITY save.

Failing A Save

Cognitohazards have a wide range of effects, though they can be shoved under the umbrella of "involuntary reaction in the victim." This can be anything from shitting your pants to developing a potent phobia (the list in CoC is silly in its own context but if treated as the desired and programmed outcome of the trapmaker's art, I think it is improved somewhat).

Generally you will want to avoid ones that immediately / permanently make a character unusable in one go (unless they are telegraphed VERY well). Long-effect maenad vectors / A-type hazards can take up slickware slots until forcibly removed (and meatbrain ones can take up equivalent slots)

If there's a chance of the effect becoming permanent (either constant or pavlovian), I'd say give the target an additional save.


Successfully saving against a cognitohazard grants temporary inoculation (1 hr). Afterwards, you'll have (+) to resist that hazard, and if you survive it 3 times, you are completely immune.

Vaccines, being a weakened form of the hazard, work in the exact same way - inoculated for 1 hour, then (+) to resist the hazard. Unfortunately, you can't just give yourself the inoculation three times - it only counts for the first exposure.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Cult of Lu (for Esoteric Enterprises)



Mystic Cult: Lu


Three cuneiform symbols have been lovingly inked on a piece of cardstock, flanked by sprigs of lilac. On the altar below there is a somewhat-lumpy pottery bowl, glazed a deep brown and filled with a cardboard campfire of orange, red, and gold. Simple clay animals - dogs and horses and one lopsided elephant - orbit around a little ball-upon-cone figure of a person.

Domains - Humanity, family, parenthood, trickery, cleverness, women, mothers, protection (of children, of homes, of the downtrodden), sex, marriage, fertility & sexual health, passion (in general) overcoming obstacles, hospitality, daemonomachy, righteous fury, righteous thieves, fools,  mercy, justice, wisdom (eventually).

Symbols - Hamsa, handprint or hand stencil, the sign of the horns (pictured), the fire-maker's mudra (pictured), the crown of fire (pictured), pictorial depictions (varies by culture and depicted aspect)

Taboos - Abuse (in all forms, but specifically that of children, elders, spouses), incest, kinslaying, cruelty towards animals, inaction in the face of evil, adherence to law above common humanity, withholding mercy, undermining justice, deliberate failure to uphold the compact with the Folk, consorting with demons.


  • The Clever - She was clever first and always, let no gentle manner fool you. She is sharp.
  • Mother of Multitudes - All peoples are kin, for all peoples come from her.
  • Broad-Shouldered One - She has endured, unbreaking.
  • Thief of Fire - Seeking, always seeking, stumbling forward, ever onward.
  • Demon-Waker - They would have slept forever in the hearts of the Ancestors, till the Crown lit the kindling and the fire cast all we hate of ourselves as shadows of the soul.
  • Mother of Grief - Her first child was born still, and drew no breath. 
  • The Terror Striding Forth - Invoked only in the greatest desperation, when the barriers have failed and demons pour forth across the doorstep, when need is not for wisdom but for wrath.

Spell List

A mystic of Lu will start with two spells at random from this list.

  1. Mending - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  2. Cure Wounds - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  3. Comprehend Languages - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  4. Turn Away Malicious Ones - as per Turn Away Undead, but may also be applied to demons and malicious Folk.

And will gain the following cult spells as they level up.

  1. Create Fire - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  2. Call DOG - Summons an enormous spectral hound (stats as Black Dog). They are the best and goodest boy. No Flesh points - will dissipate after loss of all HP. Lasts 10 min / caster level.
  3. War Form - +1 athletics, +2 to perception, +2 to attack rolls, 1d6 unarmed damage.
  4. Breath of Fire - 15' cone, 1d6 dmg / caster lvl, save vs hazards for half.
  5. True Sight - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  6. Legend Lore - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  7. Earthquake - as per Esoteric Enterprises
  8. Crown of Fire - Can be cast only once. Can be cast only in circumstances where you are faced with your greatest enemy. As War Form, with all bonuses tripled. You take no penalties from Horrible Wounds and may resist 1 lethal blow. If you take lethal damage, make a Save vs Hazards when the effect of this spell ends - if passed, you survive, though you now will take all penalties for accrued Horrible Wounds and are now Bleeding Out. This spell lasts until the target is incapacitated or killed, or the caster suffers a second lethal wound.

Followers of Lu may speak with the Folk and certain animals (elephants, corvids and parrots, dolphins and whales, great apes, dogs) with ease.

The Cult in the World

The cult of Lu is mostly found on the surface, with only a few mostly or permanently residing in the Underworld. Followers have a strong tendency toward allying with human and ecological rights movements, often militantly. Cultists will usually be able to provide their allies some measure of sanctuary (of varying levels of security) and some means of safe(r) passage between safehouses.

The cult of Lu is on best terms with those of Coyote, Judas Thaddeus, Santa Muerte, and Ursus. It is enemies with those of Abraxus, Mammon, Sol Invictus, and The Void. Both apply to the cult of Lilith.