Chainsaw Aardvark

Of G-Men and Supermen

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

A super hero is a lot like a Squid. In its natural environment, its sleek, sleek, strong, cunning, and graceful. But when you really stop to look at them, they’re really kind of disturbing and otherworldly – the implications of their abilities are like tentacles splaying out in unknown directions.

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” – who watches these powerful unlicensed vigilantes and cleans up after their rampages?

You, of course, as an agent of the Headquarters for Enforcement & Registration of Observed Supernatural.

Of G-men and Supermen is a 24 hour game I wrote for the contest, on the topic “Power Squid”. It casts the players as government agents keeping tabs on the rising population of super-powered individuals in 1958 America.

As one of the contest judges, I can’t win, but as an activity done for fun – I think it came out well.

The game is based on a standard deck of 54 (including jokers) playing cards.

The G-man in the window sighed, adjusted his hat, and lit another cigarette. As the menthol feeling filled my lungs, I realized that it wasn’t a window, but a mirror. Damn. When did I get so old? It seems like just yesterday that I was a kid enjoying his comic books and now I’ve got gray temples and a conservative tie. When did this happen?

Oh yeah – when those comic books came to life.

A lot of people are willing to call them heroes, and that is not wholly wrong. “Comics” do pluck falling airliners out of the sky, and stop ice ray wielding whack jobs.

But we have taken to calling them “Squids”. Because they’ve got tentacles that reach into everything, making our life pretty complicated. After all, they’re vigilantes, who refuse to reveal their identities, and become involved in the law with no certification or training. Their authority issues from the fact they can break what seem to be basic laws of physics, much as the Reds rule by the barrel of a gun.

What does it mean to have faith in god when you see miracle workers every day?

If a so-called hero wanted to level an entire city, what could we do to stop them?

Well, our organization for one. We might not succeed, but out agents would try their hardest anyway. To do any less would be un-American.

Everyday we get our orders from Mr. Keeton. Everyday he seems ten years older. It can’t be easy to direct an agency like this when his twin brother is one of the people we watch extra closely.

I have to wonder who is the hero in this amazing tale. Is “Normal” Keeton ultimately the white knight charging down chaos and disorder? Or are these people to be taken at face value, and Keeton himself the villain?

Sputnik Lost

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Russia ushered in the space age on October 4, 1957 with the launch Sputnik. That original 58cm metal sphere would in turn lead to a race between the superpowers to put men on the moon. After America won, all references to the Soviet moon program were denied, until the glasnost period of the early 199s.

Sputnik Lost is a reconstruction of an attempt to put men on the moon, less than two weeks before the launch of Apollo 11.

On July 3, 1969, a Soviet N-1 Moon Rocket was launched from Tuytrantum Military Launch Facility carrying a small crew into space. They never returned.

Thirteen days later, Apollo 11 was launched, and was officially recored in the history books as the first lunar landing, while in typical Soviet fashion, all information about their plans for a moonshot were eradicated and denied. Until messages like this one appeared.

Rings of Jerusalem

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

We are the Sabbath Ghosts. Devout Jews preform no work from sundown Friday until Saturday night. No switches are flipped, no coin changes hands, no creature harmed. But our enemies do not rest on holy days.

Thus the Rabbis of of our colony have made dispensation. Each member of our group is officially dead and symbolically buried. Upon rising from the shallow crypts, we are spirits, exempt from the laws that bind men. Neither the grace of the sabbath bride nor the nor the commandment “Thou shall not murder” prevents us from doing whatever is necessary to safeguard the children of Israel.

Shema Yisrael! If you come to Saturn, spirits protect you.

Leaving Mother Russia

The year 5669 was the year of the greatest exodus since Egypt. Life in Northern Asia had never been particularly good, but now the Cossacks and the Tzar’s Militysia (police) had redoubled their efforts to make the Jews miserable. Europe is still seething after the Franco-Prussian war, and the working class is beginning to become dissatisfied with the status quo ? leading to much antisemitism in the guise of “quieting Bolsheviks.”

But the Jews were hopeful people, and so they looked up. Whole villages worked together, scrimping and saving, until they could send their best and brightest to the new world. Those who got there would collect their money, and send it back so that more could book passage.

Ellis Island may have been closed, but the rest of the solar system was still full of opportunities. Saturn, colonized not long after the American Civil War, was was chosen to be the new Palestine.

Dead… and Back

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Dead and Back is a game of survival in the face of the supernatural. It uses a dice pool system of resolution, a wound chart tracking how quickly you can run, and lets you push yourself to the limit – at the risk of turning on the other survivors. Combat is based on the power of your weapon versus the resistance of the enemy. Single zombies will go down with one or two shots, but there are rules for entire hordes as well. Furthermore, a simple set of guidelines are in place for designing your own creatures and running horror in general.

This first PDF contains only the rules. Additions to be released at a later date (hopefully soon), but until then, these rules should be flexible enough to handle whatever horror your care to throw at your players.

My envisioned setting revolves around a movement project to create undead super-soldiers to combat an alien invasion that goes horribly wrong. The players will be stuck between fundamentalist government enclaves, wastelands full of nano-tech zombies, and alien controlled zones patrolled by demonic power-armor.

Don’t forget: aim for the head.

A Lesson In Zombie Psychology

“We’ll be safe here for a few minutes. At least long enough to catch our breath.”

For a long while, we said nothing, the only sound our breathing, and then even that seemed to subside. It was as quiet as death, except for the fact that death itself was moaning and crawling around out there, somewhere beyond the door we were hiding behind. I tried for some conversation, my voice weak against the silence. “So what did you do before all this?”

“Painted houses.”

“Just houses?”


“Was business good?”

“It was getting better, now its getting worse.”

“Supernatural infestation tends to do that.” I replied with a weak smile.

“I just wish I knew what type of zombies they were?”

“There’s different types? What is this- Caskin’ Robins- 31 flavors of undead?

“No, no, its just a matter of where did they come from, and why are we so scared?”

“Were scared because a few hundred corpses are roaming the city trying to be come acquainted with our vital organs ? and as for me, I not quite done using them.’

‘Is that really it? They’re slow, dumb ? flammable. We can out think them, out run them and easily destroy them. If you watch they’re stiff jointed gait for a while, they’re almost comical.’

‘Zombies are something deeper than just trying to kill us. They are man’s pathos, our shadow. A necromantic curse that robs someone of their individuality and free thought shows just how much we value our minds, the only thing truly unique about us. Or perhaps they’re a reflection of us grasping something in sciences best left untouched, and showing how truly susceptible we are to folly. An unknown disease shows how a species that can touch the heavens with rockets is still not untouchable’

We’ve got brains, something they can only crave.’

Every endeavor of man is based on his brain ? memory really, and the lessons we have picked up over life, and through books, the centuries. Zombies are entropy, the antibrain. They’re inevitable. Empires fall, places change.’

Ultimately they are relentless. Demons can be excised with prayer and a little holy water, vampires are held at bay with a cross, the sphinx destroys itself if you guess it’s riddle. Given a lull in the fighting, soldiers of opposing armies would gladly swap cigarettes, and when the battle is on, a 6 ton tank can be stopped with a well placed beer bottle full of gasoline. Zombies, can not be stopped, a nightmare we can not awaken from and thus the downfall of all dreamers.”

“Wow. Thats really deep. I mean college dissertation material.”

“Unless of course they really are just nothing more than walking corpses. Then they can just be stopped with a shotgun to the head.”

“Could you take your hat off for a moment. I want to see if any chunks are missing from your cranium.”


Monday, October 16th, 2006

A simple system of a percentile roll against the combination of a stat and skill is used. You can design your own guns, cars are free form, and a number of optional rules are provided. There is no setting per say, but there are a few suggestions in the added work.

Please, give me some feedback! The original version of the rules have been sitting on my website for three years and I still don’t know if they’re any good. Admittedly, they are more of a test of my page layout skills than of an original system, but this is a format I want to use more in the future. Its my hope to do this professionally sometime in the near future, so its your chance to help an aspiring author. Even if you don’t have any suggestions I am always interested to hear about others experience with my games.

For an unofficial variation of these rules, check out “The Chosen” by Alex Windsor.

Basic Mechanics

This game relies on the use of 1 sided dice ? up to a half dozen at a time for some weapon damage rolls ? though only two per player are truly needed. Optionally, a number of d6s can be used for the damage of weapons to reduce the lethality of the game.

Most of the actions in the game are accomplished by rolling percentile dice (D%). This is done by rolling 2d1 (two ten sided dice), counting one as the tens column, and the other as the ones column. For example, if I roll a red die, and a blue die, calling the red one the tens, and get outcomes of 4 and 5 respectively, the end result is 45%. If both dice come up zero, then the result is 1%.