Hc Svnt Dracones – Echoes of the Past – Episode 4

The mission finally reaches its end!  The diabolical plot hatched so many years ago, the plan that saw countless deaths, is finally about to unfold.  The agents, along with their new ally, go on a do or die mission to stop the death of millions.  The mission leads to thousands of miles above Mars, as the clock to a potential doomsday starts ticking.  The HSD finale is here!

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  1. Nice! Great mini-campaign, especially for a new system and setting!
    The setting seems a good deal softer than Eclipse Phase (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I really enjoyed this.
    We need more games with thought-provoking questions, exciting new technologies to scheme and plan around, and opportunities to discuss space-future-neo-lumber, synth-soy-cyber-food, or whatever the joke is today! Sci-fi is just loads of fun in RPGs, regardless of the particular flavour. I guess you can do the same in fantasy settings, but it seems to me that it’s harder for GMs (or anyone else) to write well for fantasy settings, which have more of a high concept and theme rather than a precise list of divergences from reality.
    They really meet in the middle though, with sufficiently-explained magic being an alternate technology and sufficiently vague alternate technology being a re-skinned form of magic. Most extreme example: I’ve heard of a recent RPG, Cryptomancer I think it was called, that is set in a generic fantasy setting with an information-revolution twist and is intended to teach actual basic infosec principles applicable in real life in an abstracted setting. No idea how good it is, though, I had trouble finding actual plays. I’ve heard it described as a sort of ‘Reverse Shadowrun’ with its mix of mostly-fantasy setting and heavily social-engineering-and-infiltration focus, contrasted to the mostly-cyberpunk setting of Shadowrun and its sort of half-half between heist and dungeon crawl. Apparently a sort of cross between the Spanish Inquisition and the NSA has it out for you due to their pre-crime program showing what they consider an unacceptably high probability of you becoming some horrible criminal or terrorist or something in the distant future, and a rich patron is sheltering you in exchange for using you for black operations work. There’s a kind of party heat mechanic where public chaos or poor information security ratchets up the difficulty over time as this organization closes in and/or devotes more attention and resources to your case. Sounds interesting!

    Do you have any more sci-fi stuff planned in the near future? Eclipse Phase, HSD, Shadowrun, something else?

    The HSD system is really interesting from a design perspective as well, for a number of reasons. The whole 2D array of stats thing sounds like it could work really well for certain kinds of games. The unusual x(dy+z) vs threshold successes-based mechanic sounds like a really clever way to replace adding up numerical modifiers in the “how to affect the distribution of outcomes” field, but might be harder to balance…

    Shows that even if not all of it works completely great all the time, there’s a ton of perfectly viable ways of doing things in RPGs that are under-explored, both setting-wise and mechanics-wise.

    I sort of expected the twist surrounding Maldonado’s identity ever since you dropped that mention of the jedi-mind-tricked guard back at the beginning (I remember hearing about that feature (possibly from RFD or TV Tropes, or maybe both?) in this setting, though I didn’t think it went beyond a shutdown switch), though I could think of about four possible explanations for its presence (suitable recording (bad, this is either an artifact super-weapon or a reproduction made from one), …that… (probably bad considering the kind of conspiracies it would imply, but in this case it worked out), an exotic monster I’ve heard mention of (definitely very, very, very bad), or some kind of new mimicry modification or other reverse-engineered trigger (also very bad for a variety of reasons)). Of course, I knew that other forms of mind control exist in this universe, so I couldn’t be sure it was THIS vulnerability being exploited. It’s just… dramatic standoff, a few words are exchanged and a very angry vector becomes completely paralyzed and defenceless, hemi-tailored sealed armour that’s never opened… It just screamed “Notice this! This is a unique capability of your adversary and should be an avenue of investigation relating to who or what they are!”. I was kind of surprised that the players didn’t bite that plot hook and investigate the mind trick.

    I did not, however, expect the greater plot twist. I was unsure how they were going to get a satisfying boss fight out of the guy (all possibilities seemed either anticlimactic (no face-to-face-contact) or made all (or in later sessions, all but one) party members useless, so I figured something was up and the plot was more complex than that, but I had no idea how far it went! I was kind of half-expecting a straight-up fight that the party was going in completely unprepared for (due to not investigating said mind trick) and would basically end up annihilated the moment it got to the villainous monologue.
    It’s a great trick to throw a foreshadowed twist entwined with an out-of-left field one. The foreshadowing makes the second twist seem less arbitrary, but doesn’t deliver any real information about it. I’m going to have to remember that one. Actually, I guess you foreshadowed two seemingly mostly unrelated twists (Maldonado’s weirdness and the whispers of conspiracy surrounding your parents) and linked them both in to a third (what goes on on the station), really.

  2. I’d like to say that, after having a particularly stressful day, coming home to listen to this really did make my day better so thank you.

  3. Cryptomancer Actual Play (1 of 2):

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