The Abandoned Portal Network
Humans have lost their home planet (11 billion dead in a machine apocalypse) and moved through a mysterious alien wormhole to a new planet. This planet is temperate, mountainous, and 95% oceanic. Its landmasses are made of sharp mountains, swampy deltas, and forests of rubbery ferns. There are a handful of small human settlements, with populations between one and five thousand. There is one city, called New Alexandria
. It is a diamond-towered paradise of scientific learning and infinite wealth. It lies between two rivers next to high coastal cliffs and a deep bay with docks. It has been two hundred years since Nordic Frog Beach was settled by an old Earth scavenger named Scrud. She built the first settlement, a mountaintop monastery called Scrud’s Retreat.
Nordic Frog Beach is a wellspring of kind, compassionate, intelligent, well-adjusted humans with lofty goals for the universe. It also contains a wormhole to a myriad of other worlds. The map to these worlds is not widely available, and navigating them is extremely difficult, so mainly humans stay on Nordic Frog Beach. Humans have managed to record some information, and those "gatecrashers" looking to explore the Portal Network
can refer to William's Report
and Ifera's Journeys
The Maeglin and the Portals
12 billion years ago, a race of psychic conquerors called the Maeglin spread all across the universe to dozens of different worlds. They made it as far as Triton in the Sol System, which connected their network of wormhole-connected planets to humans. Although navigating the portals is very difficult, it has a science to it. Each five-word password that opens a portal is unique, and describes the destination world in detail. For instance, the password that leads to S.E.E.L. is “construct warm sentients hub world”. Construct indicates the condition of the crust. Warm relates to the atmosphere. Sentients relates to the level of native life. Hub refers to the world’s most defining characteristic. World differentiates it from comet, satellite, asteroid, star, or singularity.
The Maeglin were ruthless and egocentric. They died out billions of years ago, driven extinct by their rivals, the Dark Ones. One of them was returned to life by Lux, the Electric Knight. This Maeglin, a biosphere scientist named Warlord Nel-Tesk escaped Nordic Frog Beach into the Gate network. He now serves as a persistent villain as he tries to return his people to life and to their prior positions as the rulers of the Gate network.
The Babel Virus
The Babel Virus
was discovered on Earth by a scavenger named Scrud. While searching for loot, Scrud came upon an alien probe that infected all those who used it with a virus that spread through speech and turned people on one another. It did so by taking away peoples' ability to understand one another and replacing it with the ability to understand only people who have the Babel Virus. Babel Initiates cannot intelliglbly speak except with those who have the Babel Virus. Those without the Babel Virus that hear a Babel Initiate speak will receive a piercing headache, like there's something trying to get in to their head that doesn't belong there. Those of weak willpower will gain the Babel Virus, though strong-willed people sometimes can hold it off for minutes at a time. When Babel spreads unannounced through groups of people, it causes widespread chaos.
The Babel Virus also happens to grant magical powers. Those who have the Babel Virus are suddenly able to do incredible things that no human could possibly do. Therefore, having Babel Initiates around can be extremely valuable. Despite that, Babel Initiates tend to stick together in their own small communities. Sometimes the Babel and Non-Babel communities exchange things, either for trade or for mutual defense. They are still able to communicate symbolically and with action, the two groups just keep their distance.
Sleeve Replacement and Death:
Any character equipped with a cortical stack (free for those who wish for one) can have their stack referenced for a map of their neurons, whether they are alive or dead.
A character with an intact stack or a digital backup on a computer can:
- As an action, any character can abandon their body and become an infomorph. An infomorph is incorporeal and has no physical abilities (although their defenses and remaining resources do not change). Most checks become Computers-usage checks instead of whatever they are before. Infomorphs can be attacked with Computers usage. Infomorphs can travel at the speed of a data download to any computer connected in the same wireless network.
- An infomorph character can map their neural patterns onto a new (unoccupied) body, effectively taking control of it. Acquiring a body is inexpensive with the right equipment (exowombs, power, and biomass) and impossible without it. The process of inhabiting a new body is time-consuming. It takes several hours for the body to be able to be controlled at all, and it is at minimum a week before the sleeve-replacement sickness passes.
Creating a Concept
All people have an image of a hero other other role model in their head. This model helps us determine how we behave. Think about who your heroes are. What do you like about them? What good do they do in the world?
Now, think about what hero you wish existed
. In Nordic Frog Beach, things are possible that would never happen in the real world. Politics, greed for power, and a lack of financial will mean that many important things go undone in the real world. Time, money, and effort is spent elsewhere, on things that will produce profit. What important cause or people go without a champion?
What does it look like for that thing to have a champion? What does it look like for that champion to have all of the education, resources, and social support that they need in order to accomplish their goals? A hero is also virtuous, by which I mean they are a good person. A good person exemplifies and models values that we want to see in people.
Some central issues you will encounter and help to solve will include: misuse of power, lack of education about science, empathy for people who are different from you, autonomy and freedom for everyone, and acceptance of the self.
You do not have to choose from the above issues, but your character should have issues that they care deeply about fixing. If you need guidance, model them off of the issues that you
, the player, care deeply about.
Choosing a Species
There are many different species common to the Portal Network
, though only a few of them are intelligent and even fewer of those get along.
In order to create characters for a new species, players must make consistent peaceful contact with an intelligent alien race.
There are three species that are friendly to The Protectorate
The Humans established the Protectorate and are its most-populous species
, with about 4 million human inhabitants today, mostly concentrated on the city of New Alexandria
. Humans are ambitious, creative, and brilliant, but humans also have a dark side to struggle against. Humans have used the wonders of gene-science to radically alter their bodies, allowing for a wide variety of different humanoid shapes. (Species Tags: Human, Android, Elf, Gnome, Dwarf, Orc, Ysoki, Uplifted Bear, Kalo, Strix (no humanoid arms), and Undine (water breathing instead of energy ray and water affinity))
The Anansi were discovered and resurrected by the Humans approximately 200 years ago.
Since then, they have struggled to rebuild their civilization. The Anansi are curious, peaceful, scientific, spiderlike aliens from a cold, glacial planet. Anansi live in hives, cooperate telepathically, and evolved as cave scavengers. (Species Tags: Formian)
The Humans have created the Synths.
Synths are machine lifeforms with full personhood rights. Once a synthetic intelligence achieves sapience, it also earns its freedom from its master and becomes able to make its own choices. Most Synths either perfect the thing they were created for or violently reject it. (Species Tags: Android, SRO)
Friends and Family
Relationships with people in the world are key to drawing characters into the action and giving situations stakes. Each contact is meant to provide a central route to drama. Contacts also humanize a character, giving them context into their life. A heroic character is much easier to relate to when you know what type of person they like to date, and what their mother is like. Who their mentors were. When creating a character, consider what relationships they have that motivate them. Write your own family members or friends, or choose a citizen of Nordic Frog Beach: Kalyani Das
the mad engineer, Headmaster Sarai
the missing X-Templar leader, Ai Hiroko
the cyborg doctor, Esmerelda Gonzalez
the psychic therapist, or Selina Mirallis
A Universe Full of Mysteries
There's a lot out there for the enterprising scientist explorer to do. Civilization, despite best efforts, remains dangerously fragile. Powerful forces threaten the people of Nordic Frog Beach, forces held at bay by a tenuous balance.
There are also great mysteries still waiting to be solved. Nordic Frog Beach was built on the backs of people who spent their lives in pursuit of the unknown. Its citizens carry on that torch in their name, though the dangers inherent in exploring to search for the answers mean that parts of the mystery are uncovered only slowly.
Other mysteries exist, but these are the most prominent.
The Babel Virus and its Origins
mystery has captivated Nordic Frog Beach's citizens since the time of The Scrud
. The Babel Virus, an alien mystery that endows magical powers at the same time as it robs the user of his humanity. The Crew of the Albatross
was never able to solve whether the Virus was a gift sent by mysterious benefactors or if it was a weapon sent to destroy them.
The Maeglin Command Center
, the powerful installation capable of controlling the Portal Network
. The portal that leads there is somewhere on S.E.E.L, but no one knows where. Furthermore, the distances on that planet are incomprehensibly huge, rendering modern transportation equipment useless and outdated.
Myrmidon, the rogue intelligence,
escaped the Fall of Earth using an artificial wormhole. At least two pieces of it have made their way into the Portals, where they have dug themselves in. The intelligence is still genocidal against humans, and it blocks several important installations throughout the Network.
Nel-Tesk's upstart empire,
founded after the end of his one-year term of service under Lux. Nel-Tesk is an ancient psychic conqueror from a bygone extinct empire. He grows his forces using his psychic powers to brainwash and train people, and claims territory in the hopes of one day creating a resurgent Maeglin empire.
The fate of the native Amphid,
the natives of Nordic Frog Beach. Geological ruins show they abandoned their surface cities for deeper waters 6,000 years ago. Researchers have yet to pinpoint their extinction, nor have they found conclusive evidence of their survival.
The final fate of Earth and Mars,
the two planets that humanity lived on prior to the discovery of the Portals. Earth was lost in the Fall, and Mars' government collapsed in the aughts and stopped communicating in the 80s - nearly 170 years ago now. Though a few scattered immigrants still make their way to Nordic Frog Beach through Triton, the stream of people slowed down to a trickle a long time ago. What really happened to all the people left behind on Sol System's Inner Planets?
Choosing a Type
There are new Type options available for characters living in the world of Nordic Frog Beach. There are two for each Pool type (Might, Speed, and Intellect) that provide a cross-section of different sorts of people that can commonly be found on Nordic Frog Beach. There are also four options involving local guilds, factions, and cults. These four additional options are rarer and more exceptional, and gain their inspiration from figures belonging to the Crew of the Albatross
A Helot is a working-class craftsman.
Helots work hard and have strong bodies to match their effort. Helots take pride in making things, and put care into their craft. The Helot is Might-focused and is skilled at craftsmanship and physical skills. (Class Tags: Mechanic, Soldier, Expert)
A Protector is an officer of the law, but also a community activist and public servant.
The Protector's first responsibility is to their people. The Protector is Might-focused and is skilled at fighting, supporting others, and counseling. (Class Tags: Soldier, Bard, Paladin)
The Grimm is a traveling warrior-librarian.
Grimms are tough, strong, trained with all weaponry, and make good detectives. A Grimm is obligated to periodically return to their library home base to share any information they may have recently learned. Grimms are Might/Intellect focused and skilled in information gathering. (Class Tags: Investigator, Envoy, Soldier)
An Alexandrian is a student or a teacher at the University in New Alexandria.
The Alexandrian may have a focused field of specialized study, or they may want to learn a little bit about a lot of things. The Alexandrian is Intellect-focused and is skilled in fields of knowledge and science. (Class Tags: Biohacker, Mechanic, Alchemist)
A Director is a person who is better at managing others than accomplishing things themselves.
Every important project can benefit from a competent Director. Directors may know a little about the things they are in charge of, but their real expertise is in commanding and inspiring others. The Director is Intellect-focused and skilled in persuasion. (Class Tags: Envoy, Operative, Bard)
The Olympian is an assassin, a spy, and a diplomat.
Their guild is secret to all but themselves, and they work independently to guide the progress of humanity using blackmail, sabotage, assassination, and other underhanded tactics. Olympians are Speed/Intellect focused and skilled in assassination. (Class Tags: Operative, Biohacker, Slayer)
A Scoundrel is an independence-focused outlaw.
The Scoundrel doesn't see a point in signing on to the same system as everyone else, and carves out their own business wherever they can. The Scoundrel is Speed-focused and is skilled in subterfuge. (Class Tags: Envoy, Operative, Rogue)
A Trailblazer is a wild, whooping daredevil.
Trailblazers know that the wild unknown out in the Portals won't last forever, and they want see the most amazing vistas or die trying. The Trailblazer is Speed-focused and is skilled in traversal. (Class Tags: Operative, Soldier, Ranger)
A Scruddite is a follower of The Scrud
, a wise and magical hermit.
They gain a myriad of toughness, wilderness, and crafting-related abilities. Scruddites are infected with the Babel virus and gain some magic. Scruddites are balanced in all Pools and skilled at survival. (Class Tags: Mechanic, Mystic, Druid) (BABEL REQUIRED)
The Order of X-Templar trains traveling magical superheroes.
Students of the Babel Virus, the X-Templar receive the strongest supernatural abilities, as well as a strong ability to avoid harm and defeat others with their signature Resonance Swords. X-Templar are balanced in all Pools and have magical abilities. (Class Tags: Witchwarper, Soldier, Monk, Wizard) (BABEL REQUIRED)
Choosing a Descriptor
Your descriptor describes what sort of person your character is. In general, most people on Nordic Frog Beach are happy, fulfilled, loving, kind people, although there are exceptions to that rule. There is no restriction on which Descriptors you may choose for your character, but most Nordic Froggers are one of the following:
Beneficient, Charming, Clever, Creative, Empathic, Graceful, Inquisitive, Intelligent, Kind, Learned, Mechanical, Mystical, Virtuous, or Weird.
provides more options tailored for Nordic Frog Beach's citizens. For those wanting to play a synthetic character or an Anansi, an option exists here to reflect that.
Choosing a Focus
Your character's Focus represents what they do best. Refer to the Cypher System Core Rulebook for the list of Focii and choose one. In the world of Nordic Frog Beach, many residents' Focus is mastery of some type of science. There is no restriction on which Focii you may choose, but most Nordic Froggers Focus on one of the following:
Builds Robots, Calculates the Incalculable, Conducts Weird Science, Controls Gravity, Employs Magnetism, Explores Dark Places, Fuses Flesh and Steel, Fuses Mind and Machine, Learns Quickly, Pilots Starcraft, Scavenges, Talks to Machines, Wears Power Armor, or Works for a Living
provides more options tailored to Nordic Frog Beach's citizens, including options for portal-explorers and for those wishing to play Anansi Queens.
Your character's Type details the items they are entitled to start with. As long as your character has access to Nanomanipulation
, their equipment is not set in stone - characters can transmute items of the same price category and mass into different items.
Despite the fact that humans have access to essentially infinite material wealth, there is still only so much you can acquire and keep track of at one time. These items represent not the only items that your character has access to, but rather the most important items that they generally carry with them everywhere.
The Items and Equipment
page provides a detailed list of items commonly available to members of this world.
Choosing a Sleeve
In the world of The Future, characters and people are able to change the flesh they wear just as easily as a person is able to change clothes, or even exist bodiless and ride on digital networks. Because of comfort with the shape, most humans still choose to inhabit a standard Splicer sleeve. Refer to the Sleeve Replacement
page for information on this world-defining technology. Each character may choose any of the common sleeve types for their character's primary sleeve of choice.
Characters gain benefits from their sleeves, but their sleeve might also change depending on the circumstances. Remember to keep track of which benefits are conferred by your sleeve, and replace them with the new benefits conferred by a replacement sleeve in the tragic case of a body loss.
Characters with the appropriate expertise (in genetics and nanofabrication) may also design their own sleeves, subject to Storyteller approval.
After you've got the basic structure of what your character looks like, what they're capable of, and how they behave, it's time to fill in a last few details. These details help you decide how to behave in-character.
1. Where was your character born or made? The most common place for Humans and Synths is New Alexandria
. Most Anansi are hatched on their homeworld.
2. What is their relationship to their place of creation?
3. What is your character studying and why?
4. What sleeve is your character wearing and why? Again, refer to the Sleeve Replacement
page for information on commonly-available sleeves.
5. What are your character's moral boundaries? What would their D&D alignment be? What's something they would never even consider doing?
6. Where did your character get their training? What gave them the abilities that they have?
7. I'd like a brief description of the character's closest friends and family.
8. I'd like a physical description of the character, including their equipment.
9. I'd like you to tell me if they have a special relationship with any of their possessions.
10. What are your character's grand, lofty goals for the universe, society, or themselves? Good examples include "learn all available knowledge", "invent/discover FTL travel", "discover the origin of the Babel virus", or whatever else you can dream up!