A game where the players are exceptional specimens, adventuring the length and breadth of the Ultracosm, in retro science fantasy style. Take control of one of six archetypes, and create a unique character by layering on fun, inventive, and story-driving powers, and advances.

Hypertellurians is designed to be simple at its core, yet provide plenty of depth for engaging character development and advancement. It aims to be compatible enough with the majority of OSR, classic and modern d20 adventures, to be able to run them and convert necessary statistics and mechanics on the fly.

Key Concepts

Core Mechanic

Your character has 3 abilities: Brawn, Agility, and Mind (BAM). These abilities have a score, which is a value generally between 5 and 15. From their score, a modifier is derived, which is equal to the score minus 10. For example, a character with a Brawn score of 13 has a Brawn modifier of +3, while a character with a Mind score of 8 has a Mind modifier of -2.

When a situation calls for a check, you roll a d20 and add the relevant ability’s modifier. If your result is equal to or higher than the target number, you succeed. The target number is set by the GM, and depends on the difficulty of the task you’re trying to achieve. In the case of combat, where you’re trying to hit an opponent, the target number is equal to the opponent’s defense score, which is their Agility score plus any applicable modifiers, such as from protective magics or impediments.

Advantage and Disadvantage

These are the main ways to change the odds on your checks. If you have advantage on a check, you roll 2d20 and take the best result, and if you have disadvantage you roll 2d20 and take the worst result. There are a variety of ways to gain advantage or suffer disadvantage, as described below.

Proficiencies and Shortcomings

Your character is good at some things, and bad at others. Each time they roll to succeed at something they’re good at, they may at the player’s discretion do so with advantage. However, if they succeed on the roll, it costs 1 wonder (“Eh, I’ve seen it before.”)

Conversely, whenever they roll to succeed at something they’re bad at, they must do so with disadvantage. Should they nevertheless succeed, the party gains 1 Wonder. (“I did not expect that to work!”)

Below are some example actions. Feel free to make up other ones; the only rule is that they shouldn’t be combat actions, there are other rules already governing those.

Example Proficiencies or Shortcomings
Accosting, Admonishing, Beguiling, Bending, Breaking, Climbing, Coercing, Casting, Chanting, Charming, Compelling, Confounding, Digesting, Dancing, Dodging, Dragging, Deceiving, Deducing, Disseminating, Dressing, Enduring, Eavesdropping, Falling, Hiding, Hindering, Incapacitating, Investigating, Jumping, Knowing, Lifting, Manipulating, Noticing, Operating, Outsmarting, Provoking, Recalling, Sabotaging, Sneaking, Sprinting, Stealing, Tumbling, Unsettling.

Affinities

As an exceptional character, you are resistant to certain types of damage. This is represented by a 1, 2, or 3 point affinity in one or more abilities. Whenever you take damage to an ability you have an affinity for—regardless of source—first reduce the damage by the value of your affinity before applying it to the ability.

Sense of Wonder

Hypertellurians is a game about exploring the endless worlds of the Ultracosm. These places are filled with awe-inspiring places, creatures and vistas. When the characters encounters such things, they gain Wonder points commensurate to the wonder discovered. This communal pool of Wonder points can then be used to perform wondrous actions that no normal person would be able to do.

Wonder points are also the means by which characters advance in power; see Advancement below.

Critical Successes and Failures

When a d20 roll comes up with a natural 1, the attempted action automatically fails, and can engender further, unforeseen consequences. However, a natural 20 is always an automatic success. In combat it means your attack deals maximum damage, and outside of combat a critical success can mean extra reward or effect.

Conventions

Adjudicate Sensibly

This game’s aim is not to provide rules for every possible situation. When something comes into question, simply go with what makes the most sense. Try and remain consistent with your rulings, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to go back and change something, if you discover problems with it later.

Round Down

Unless directly told otherwise, always round down.

Healing Damage

Unless otherwise specified, the character receiving the healing can distribute the amount healed any way they choose between damage to their abilities.

Rolling Dice

Who rolls the healing or damage dice, and all at once or individually? Totally your call. Powers generally don’t state the specifics for these things, so use whatever works best for everyone.

Player Characters

As a Hypertellurian, you are a character of unusual ability, and possibly origin and nature. Choose from one of the archetypes below, and then flesh out the specifics to create the unique flavour that will be the most fun for you to play. Regardless of which archetype you choose, you are a powerful specimen of its type, a cut above the rest.

Creating a Character

  1. Choose an archetype.
    1. Note down the starting archetype powers.
  2. Choose an additional 2 minor advances, either from the archetype advances, or from the general advances.
  3. Determine your ability scores, via one of the following methods. Derive the modifier for each by subtracting 10 from the score.
    1. Quick. Assign the values 9, 10, 13 to the abilities as desired.
    2. Default. Distribute 32 points between the abilities, with a minimum of 8 and maximum of 13 in each.
    3. Risky. Roll 1d6+1d4+4 for each ability. In order, if you’re feeling particularly frisky.
  4. Choose or invent 2 proficiencies and 1 shortcoming. They should be non-combat actions.
  5. Add a set of clothing (1 slot), a coin purse with 50 gold coins (1 slot), and 2 to 3 items relevant to your character, to be agreed upon with the GM.
  6. Flesh out the character by giving them a drive in life, and something they’re afraid of. These are guides to roleplaying them.

Advancement

Wonder is at the heart of Hypertellurians, so it stands to reason that characters’ advancements are tightly coupled to it. In fact, characters gain advancements for Wonder points spent. At the end of each session, look at the total Wonder spent. Each character gains one (or possibly more) advance, based on the total number spent, as summarized on the table below. The table repeats every 100 Wonder, so once you reach 110, use the 10 row, etc.

Remember that Wonder points are communal, so the numbers refer to totals. In other words, it doesn’t matter who spends the points. Just keep track of total Wonder points spent, and total unspent.

Wonder Spent Advances Gained
10 Minor
20 Medium
30 Minor
40 Minor
50 Medium
60 Minor
70 Minor
80 Medium
90 Minor
100 Major
.advancement-table

Picking Advances

Whenever a character gains an advance they can pick either from their archetype advances, or the general advances.

Level Equivalents

If you need to convert your character’s power into the level equivalent, for example to convert a spell from another game, simply divide the total Wonder points spent by 10. A character with 80 points spent, would therefore be roughly akin to an 8th level character. This assumes a level progression that goes up to 20.

Archetypes

The Alien

‘Aliens’ by Karen Reding

You are a creature from another planet or another world, with highly unusual physiology. Maybe you look vaguely human, or maybe your appearance immediately sets you apart. Your abilities and mores are unlike anything the creatures of this world have ever seen.

Perhaps you are the ambassador for your species, or maybe the last remaining member of your race, desperately seeking a new home.

Starting Powers

Unusual Movement

As the Alien you have a 1-point affinity in Agility.

Level Playing Field

Literally, to an extent. You can lower or raise small, natural landscapes, such as small hills, ponds, or even parts of an incline. You do this by reducing the space between atoms forming the structure, by magic, or by whatever means is appropriate to your character.

As an action, with a successful Mind check, you can affect a structure within a short distance. The difficulty of the check ranges from 5 to 20, depending on the material. The GM will tell you before you use the power.

You take Mind damage equal to the largest of the height/depth or width dimension of the affected landscape in meters. For example, to flatten a hill that is 3 meters high and 5 meters wide, you would need to succeed at an Mind check, and take 5 points of Mind damage.

Phase

By expanding the density of your body’s molecules (or some other voodoo or magic), you can co-inhabit the same space as other matter for short periods of time. This allows you to walk through walls, or to stay still but essentially become insubstantial. For each 1 meter that you travel out of phase, you take 1 point of Mind damage. Alternatively, you may remain insubstantial and immobile for 6 seconds per point of Mind damage.

In either case the smallest counting unit is 1 meter or 6 seconds, i.e. if you only travel a few centimeters, or phase out for 3 seconds, you would still take 1 point of damage.

Probe

You insert your feelers into an unconscious or helpless target, or else place your fleshy sensors on their head, or whatever the cool aliens do these days to probe into the minds of others. You immediately see flashes of recent memories. You can try and probe deeper and access specific memories, but doing so hurts the target and strains yourself. Take 1d4 Mind damage and inflict 1d6 psychic damage on the target for each specific memory you seek to access, then make an opposed Mind check. If you succeed you see and hear the memory as the target remembers it.

Minor Advances

Acid Blood

Your blood is an extremely potent acid, capable of corroding almost any substance on contact with alarming speed. It is pressurized within your body, and thus spurts out violenty when you are wounded. This deals 1d4 acid damage to a close attacker, unless they succeed at an opposed Agility check.

You may choose to wound yourself in order to drip acid onto surfaces. The amount required—and Brawn damage this inflicts on you—varies with the size of the surface you are attempting to corrode.

Manifest the Bifröst

An impossible thin, rainbow hued surface emanates out in front of you, at a rate of 20m per minute. Surprisingly, this bridge can take almost any load, so long as it is carefully applied and suitably distributed. Thus, a group of people slowly walking over it is fine, but even dropping a spoon on it will cause it to shatter. The bridge can be made as long as desired, but it must start and end on a solid surface, and you must have a good idea of the end point. It’s always 1 meter wide.

Sleep Spores

You send a trail of soporific spores toward a target within a short distance. As an action, make an opposed Mind check. If you succeed, the target falls into a light slumber, for the duration of the scene, or until woken.

If the target is larger than a human, or otherwise seriously weird, you make the check at disadvantage.

Spore Communication

As an action, and at a cost of 1 Brawn, you exude a trail of near-invisible spores towards a creature within a short distance. You can communicate feelings and basic concepts or assertions through the spore network. This works both ways, and lasts for a scene.

Zap

Choose an extremity. It counts as a natural weapon that can emit an arc of extraliminal, as a ranged attack, at a target up to a short distance away. It deals 1d6 psychic damage.

Medium Advances

Displace

In a process that takes about a minute, you may fold an object you can hold in one hand into a higher dimension. This reduces your Mind score by 1. You may repeat the process for other objects, each time spending the required time, and reducing your Mind score by 1.

As an action, you may reach into this dimension to recover the thusly displaced object, regardless of your physical location, at which point your Mind score recovers by 1 point.

Inclusive Phase

With great effort, you can use your Phase power along with all the willing creatures you touch. The Mind damage you take—per meter or minute—is equal to the number of creatures that you’re including plus 1 (for yourself). Additionally, the strain on you is so great that you can no longer use any of your Phase powers this session.

Mimic

With a few minutes’ concentration and some physical discomfort, you can take on the semblance of another humanoid species, provided their number of limbs and such roughly match yours. At the same time you also rearrange your inner organs to mimic their oral communication patterns. The semblance is not perfect; you’re unlikely to pass as a specific person, and the masquerade doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny, but you can easily fit into a crowd.

Procreate

Do whatever you think makes sense for your species to create, fertilize, and produce some form of egg. Then stash it away somewhere safe. The egg (though not necessarily the progeny it contains) automatically has the Acid Blood power, but it is otherwise helpless and can be destroyed with reasonable force.

Should some disaster befall you and whisk you out of this world or mortal realm, your egg hatches, and a mini you emerges, hungry and confused, but with all your memories and powers. It grows to full size within a week. At that point you may procreate anew, but not before.

Spitting Cobra

Your saliva is toxic to most lifeforms, and has a paralytic effect on them. You can coalesce some of it and spit it at an enemy up to a short distance away. This inflicts 1d4 Brawn damage to you, and takes an action. Make an opposed Agility check. If you succeed they are blinded and immobilized until they succeed at the same check, which they can attempt at the end of each turn.

Major Advances

One With The Spores

You can disperse into a cloud of near-invisible spores that fills an area up to a short distance in diameter. You are fully aware of everything that happens within it, and can choose any one point within it as the origin of any of your powers.

If you posses Spore Communication, it is now free, and includes all creatures within the area, though you may exclude any. If you possess Sleep Spores, they also affect all creatures you wish, within the area, and you have advantage on the check.

Only magical effects can harm you in this form, but even then the attacker has to become aware of you first.

Xenomorph

You are a near perfect killing and survival machine. Your body heat matches the ambient temperature, and you are odorless. You can run across walls and ceilings as easily as floors. You see perfectly via a form of galvanic impulses, even in total darkness, and can spot lifeforms through walls up to a short distance away. Your Brawn bonus is doubled for attacks, and if applicable because of other powers, also for damage.

You lose the ability to speak, except through any spores. Your primary drive becomes the propagation of your species and the ultimate destruction of lifeforms that could pose a threat to them.

The Beast

‘Beasts’ by Karen Reding

You are the embodiment of the human beast, the monster at the heart of cautionary children’s and adults’ tales alike. Perhaps you are the leader of the most vicious gnoll pack that ever stalked the deserts, the original werewolf, the only orc to ever complete all 6 semesters at the Whitewater Abjuratorium, or a cursed empress, half woman, half goat. You are fast and dangerous.

Starting Powers

Fast

As the Beast you have a 1-point affinity in Agility.

Feral Mind

Let’s face it, at heart you’re an animal, with animalistic tendencies and desires, despite your best efforts to dress yourself up in humanity. This can range from specialized cleaning rituals to extreme sniffing, or improbable contortions. Sometimes, however, it can feel great to let the inner animal off the leash and just go full frenzy.

Going berserk is a free action that can be done once per session, at which point any damage to your Brawn and Agility is wiped away, though you take 1d4 Mind damage. This state of primal rage lasts for a scene, and when it’s over you have great difficulty remembering what happened during it. While feral, your thoughts can generally be summarised as: fight, flight, or mate. All your attacks deal an extra 1d6 damage. Occasionally you may also have trouble separating friend from foe.

Natural Born Killer

Nature, evolution, or perhaps dark magick, has gifted you with a natural weapon. Choose an option below, or agree something similar with your GM.

  • A light weapon, such as vicious claws (1d6 damage; attached)
  • A medium weapon, such as a maw of dangerous teeth (1d8 damage; attached)
  • A heavy weapon, such as a massive tail (1d8 damage; attached, blunt)
Terrify

By reaching deep into the beast within you, you can let out a terrifying roar that shakes all that can hear it, and strikes fear into the hearts of those also witnessing it. As an action, roll 1d4. You take that much Mind damage, as do all who hear you. Additionally, those who can also see you must make a Mind check against your Brawn or lose their next 1d4+1 actions to cowering or running away.

You can protect companions from both effects by demonstrating your power to them in advance; henceforth they will be immune to it for as long as you wish.

Minor Advances

Fall with Grace

Whenever you fall, you can orient yourself to land on your feet, so long as you’re conscious and physically able to do so. Not only does it look cool, you also only take half damage from the fall, if it was a short distance or less.

Feral and Furious

While in a Feral Mind rage, all your attacks deal an additional 1d8 damage instead of 1d6.

Funneled Feral Mind

During your rage, you retain a certain amount of focus, and almost never mistake friend for foe.

Killer Evolved

One of your natural weapons’ damage die increases by 1 step; from d6 to d8, or from d8 to d10. This can be taken multiple times, each time for a different natural weapon.

Killer Limbs

You can add an additional weapon, as per Natural Born Killer. This can be taken multiple times, within reason.

Sensefull

One of your basic senses is heightened, or you gain an extraordinary sense, like echolocation. While this heightened sense is overall beneficial, it can also sometimes be a liability, such as heightened hearing in a clamorous environment.

Medium Advances

Exploit Terminal Velocity

If you fall such that you reach terminal velocity, you can use your Fall with Grace power to reduce the falling damage to a flat 1d6. Perhaps you do it by increasing your wind resistance, or by calling upon air spirits.

Fast and Furious

Your speed is unparalleled, and unless there is a good reason, you can almost certainly outrun other creatures of a similar size and physiology to you. In combat, you may move a long distance as a single action, if you take 1d4 Agility damage.

Host a Spirit

The worlds of the Ultracosm are awash with liminal life, effluviant energies, and more. You just call them spirits. Spend a minute meditating, to coax a nearby spirit into your body, for a scene. This inflicts 1d4 Agility damage, as the spirit attempts to acclimatise to your body.

While so merged, you gain glimpses of the spirit’s memory or recent experiences, and vice-versa, though you cannot communicate with each other in the traditional sense. You gain an additional power, depending on the nature of the spirit, according to the GM’s discretion (unless you can make an excellent case for a specific one), such as:

  • extra strength (double your Brawn modifier),
  • farsight,
  • strong olfactory, or other, sense.
Huffing and Puffing

Your monstruous bellow is enough to flatten small structures, and send close enemies flying. As an action, take 1d4 Brawn damage, and make an opposed Brawn check with each close enemy or structure (the GM will set the difficulty of structures) you wish to affect.

A successful check against an enemy sends them flying back a short distance, deals them 2d6 damage, and generally leaves them prone. Affected structures crumble and fall down.

Major Advances

Metamorphosis

When you take this advance, you shrug off your current form, enter a state of chrysalis for a period of a few days, and emerge a different, improved beast. As a result, you choose a new Beast concept, and you may replace any of your advances with new ones of the same level (except for this one, of course), and you may distribute 4 points among your abilities.

You may take this advance multiple times, each time emerging as a new Beast form.

Perfect Rage

You may enter your Feral Mind rage at will, taking no Mind damage, and retain full control during it, as well as memory afterwards.

Spirit Walker

You can walk with the spirits, in the places between worlds. For 1d6 Mind damage, you can, as an action, enter another plane of existence for a scene, before reappearing where you started. For an additional 1d4 Brawn damage, you may retain a sensory link to your plane of origin, and also reappear anywhere you wish within sight.

The Construct

‘Constructs’ by Karen Reding

You are not made from flesh and bones; or if you are, the flesh is synthetic and sutured together, and the bones are metal. Or maybe you’re the world’s first perfect android, indistinguishable on the outside from live humans. Perhaps you are the most vicious and successful golem from a world in perpetual war.

Starting Powers

Tough

As the Construct you have a 1-point affinity in Brawn.

Insight

Your sight is special, and lets you see things other people can’t. Perhaps your eyes are pure technomancy, or possessed of a mysterious magic. Either way, the spectrum of light that they recognize is enhanced, which among other things means that sometimes you perceive things that were perhaps not meant to be glimpsed. Additionally, you see clearly twice the distance of regular humans, and need far less light to move about confidently in the dim.

Battery Powered

You’re different from your average meatbag. You don’t eat, you are energized by your internal batteries, whatever shape they may take. You don’t sleep, but you power down to recharge—a night’s recharging brings your batteries back to normal. You don’t breathe, but use atmospheric ventilation. And you don’t tire, provided your batteries have charge left.

Your batteries can store charges equal to half your Brawn score, rounded down. Use up 1 charge to:

  • eschew a regular recharging power down session for the night,
  • close down the hatches and stop ventilation for a few hours,
  • as an action, reduce your Brawn damage by 1.

If you run out of charges, you power down. If the GM feels generous or other players particularly ingenious, they can maybe jury rig something together to power you for a brief period of time.

Sudden Discharge

By accumulating and focussing your energy, you can release a galvanic burst at a close creature. For each action spent accumulating, your discharge pool gains 1d6. If your accumulation actions are spaced out by more than 1 other action, or you choose not to discharge after all, the gathered energy harmlessly redistributes across your body. On the other hand, if you take any trauma in a round you spent accumulating, the energy explodes, dealing your discharge pool in damage to yourself and everyone close.

At any point after collecting at least 1 die in your discharge pool, you can unleash its crippling power at one or more close targets, as a free action. Make an Agility check against their defense; if you miss, the energy might do interesting things to the scenery. The accumulated dice can be spread across valid targets or concentrated on one. For each action spent accumulating, you take 1 point of Brawn damage at the moment of discharge.

For example: You spent 3 actions accumulating, spaced out with one movement action in between each. The last move action puts you right next to 3 opponents, and you unleash the discharge, deciding to deal 1d6 damage to each of them. You take 3 points of Brawn damage. You could have instead decided to deal 3d6 damage to one opponent, or 2d6 to one and 1d6 to another.

Minor Advances

Capture the Moment

For 1 battery charge, you can save a moment—a blink of an eye—in your internal memory and in perpetuity perfectly recall everything you saw, including any text that was in your field of vision, such as a page of a book, or scrawlings on a wall.

Improved Batteries

The amount of charges you can store increases by 2, up to a maximum of your Brawn score. You can take this advance multiple times.

Kinship

You have an innate connection to other constructed entities you touch. You can feel if they’re happy or sad, and either assume the same feeling yourself, or copy your current feeling onto them.

Lifelike

You can generally pass as a Tellurian. Only special scrutiny will reveal your Construct nature.

Loaded

Instead of accumulating galvanic energy for a Sudden Discharge, you can load your skin with it, making you highly dangerous to touch. As an action, chose a number of battery charges to invest. For each charge invested a creature touching you (directly, or with a metal object) takes 1d4 damage. You stay loaded for a scene.

Part of the Whole

Mutability is key to survival. In the spirit of this adage, you can detach one of your limbs—such as a forearm—as an action and send it off on a mission. While detached, your Brawn score is reduced by 3: this is the amount of damage the limb can take before breaking down. The limb also breaks down if it’s ever more than a long distance away from you. Once reattached, your Brawn is restored by 3, minus any damage the limb has suffered in the meantime.

If you close your eyes and concentrate, you can see and hear through the limb, albeit in a fuzzy, distorted kind of way. The limb crawls, rolls, or slides, but slowly. It takes 2 actions for it to move a short distance, unless, you know, it’s rolling downhill, or falling.

Piercing Insight

Your sight allows you to see through 1cm of metal, 10 cm of stone, per action and battery charge spent. Adjust distances for other materials accordingly.

Shaky Projection

You can project a saved moment or scene from your internal memory into the world in the form of a shaky, monochromatic, semi-translucent hologram or eldritch light picture. You can project it a close distance, but it always clearly emanates from you. This costs 1 battery charge for a still moment, or 2 charges for a scene with sound and movement.

Medium Advances

Blaze of Glory

Desperate times require heroic, desperate measures. If your batteries are at least at half capacity, you can blow all of your charges in one action and supercharge. For the rest of the scene, your Brawn score counts as double. This likely makes you extremely dangerous, and much more resistant to physical damage.

At the end of the scene, it’s reckoning time. The good news is that any Brawn damage you took over and above your regular score does not suddenly carry over to Agility, but any trauma incurred remains. It’s time to check your reserves. Make a target 10 Mind check. If you succeed, you manage to somehow find yourself with 1 charge left; explain how. If you fail, you power down.

Illusionary Loop

Like Shaky Projection, but the projection looks real for all intents and purposes, unless the witness or witnesses have a valid reason to disbelieve it. Furthermore, it no longer visibly emanates from you.

For an extra battery charge, you can project up to a short distance away, to a spot you can see.

Save the Scene

For 2 battery charges, you can commit both visual and auditory elements of a whole scene (up to a minute or so) to internal memory, for perpetuity.

Sudden Ranged Discharge

Your Sudden Discharge power increases its range from “close distance” to “short distance.”

Unexpected Part of the Whole

Instead of manually detaching a limb via your Part of the Whole power, you can now shoot if off, though it stays connected via a chain or other rope-like thing, like a strand of spider silk. Treat it like a ranged attack. It deals 1d6 damage, and has the knockback and ranged weapon tags, and optionally blunt. You can reel it back in as an action, as long as nothing bad happened to the chain in the meantime, of course.

You might of course find other uses for a limb on a chain. I’m sure the fingers could form a hook or something before you fire your forearm off, for example.

Violent Part of the Whole

Your Unexpected Part of the Whole does 1d8 damage and gains the brutal tag.

Major Advances

Discharge Lethality

Your Sudden Discharge power, and Sudden Ranged Discharge if you possess it, is now likely lethal to all but the hardiest of creatures (or sceneries.) The discharge die type increases to d12, and you can accumulate 2d12 per action spent charging. The Brawn damage remains 1 per accumulation action.

Kantian Manifestation

As an action, you can manifest a semi-solid illusion, up to a short distance to a place you can see. The illusion must be comprised of elements you have saved in your interal memory, but those elements can added, subtracted, and multiplied. For example, if you had saved memories of horses and vampires, you could add them to create a vampire centaur illusion.

The illusion acts in a repeating loop defined at the moment of manifestation, unless you spend an action to control it, at which point it can do anything, or say anything you would like it do, so long as it adheres to the addition, subtraction, mutiplication rules above.

The power costs 1 battery charge per 2m cube and lasts for a scene.

The Revenant

‘Revenants’ by Karen Reding

You died, but it didn’t stick. Maybe you died from the plague but have inexplicably returned from the grave to eat your loved ones, or maybe you are so ancient as to not even remember your previous life. The first vampire, or the feared and powerful lich perhaps? Either way, what remains of your body is dead flesh, probably slowly decaying.

Starting Powers

Tough

As the Revenant you have a 1-point affinity in Brawn.

Drawn

You are drawn to a negative emotion like despair, fear, or greed, or a concept like innocence, or heroism. Choose one. You can sense it in your general surroundings, and you can sense when you are getting closer, though you cannot pinpoint it until you see the sufferer. You are powerfully attracted to the emotion and wish nothing more than to relieve the sufferer of it, though you have no special means to do this.

Pestilent

You may exude a cloud or a glob of pestilence or pure darkness from your decaying body over a close target. With a successful Agility check against their defense, you deal 2d6 poison or psychic damage (choose once). It also deals 1d4 Brawn damage to yourself as you vomit up or exhale bodily fluids, gases, or essence.

Unliving

You do not eat, breathe, or sleep (though you can fall unconscious). Depending on the state of your body and organs, you may or may not be able to even attempt it. Similarly, you feel no pain—and unless you still possess skin, you feel no physical sensations at all. Furthermore, you are immune to damage from exhaustion. You simply never tire.

On the other hand, this lack of sleep takes its toll mentally, over time. You are far more likely to develop obsessions and phobias, and very old unliving have generally picked up several already. You start with 1 additional fear, irrational or otherwise.

Minor Advances

By Enmanuel Lema Martinez
Death Becomes You

Unlike most Revenants, whose physical form slowly decays and just generally goes all gross, you are, and forever remain, astonishingly beautiful. On the outside at least. Nothing can mar your perfect visage either, it always reverts to its beauty.

Desecrate

You know a ritual that bathes an area up to the size of a house in an unholy aura. Enacting the ritual requires you to spend time there. Within the aura you heal 1 point of damage each round, and once per session you may automatically succeed at a check of your choice.

Ghūl Touch

Once per session, if you succeed at an Agility check against the target’s defense, you paralyze them with fear for the remainder of the scene—providing they can sensibly be frightened by you.

Pestilence Expanded

If you are determined to empty your physical vessel of its toxin, you can deal 2d6 damage to all close enemies with your Pestilent power, instead of just one, at a cost of 1d6 Brawn damage to yourself. Once you do this, you may not do it again for the remainder of the scene.

Play Dead

Well, you are dead, so this should be easy!

You are fantastic at playing dead, so much so in fact, that practically no one bothers to check. You’ve even got the corpse smell down, attracting scavengers to complete the illusion. But don’t worry, your pestilence stops them from actually nibbling on you. Much.

Profane Semblance of Life

You temporarily instill life back into an small entity, no large than an average dog, or a shrubbery. It takes an action, you must touch the entity, and you take 1d4 Brawn damage. It then lurches to a brief—one scene—replica of life, replete with hideous, ungodly pain and wailing (if physically possible), before returning to death. Again, if physically possible, you might briefly question the entity.

Projectile Pestilence

You can focus your Pestilent power to affect 1 target up to a short distance away.

The Thing at the Doorstep

Innately charming, or perhaps quietly intimidating—either way, your requests are hard to resist. Once you are inside a dwelling, the owner or people in charge, find it near impossible to refuse any reasonable request of yours. Free food? You got it! A round of drinks for you and your friends? Coming right up! “Won’t you please let me off with a warning this time, captain? — Oh ok, but just this once!”

The catch? Well, you can’t enter unless invited by them.

Unholy Sustenance

The mere touch of the targets of your Drawn power is exhilarating, but it is the special quality you’re drawn to in them that you seek above all else. Specifically, you seek to remove and consume it.

If they are willing, or unable to resist, you may draw it from them as an action. This immediately heals all your Brawn damage, and gives you the equivalent of a 3-point magical armor for the rest of the scene.

Medium Advances

Disassemble

You can disassemble yourself, be disassembled, into your components parts, and reassemble, or be reassembled, at a later date. Either way the process takes about a minute, and is fairly disconcerting to watch.

If you take 1d6 Mind damage, you may disassemble into a swarm of small climbing or flying creatures instead. They cannot fight but do not provoke attacks of opportunity either. They are immune to all but magical damage. If they take any, you immediately reassemble. For each 10 minutes in swarm form, you take another 1d6 Mind damage.

Gift Unlife

Taking some of the dark force that anchors your dead body to this realm, and whispering dark blasphemies, you instill an ephemeral mockery of life into the corpse of another creature, up to the size of a human.

You can do this once per session, for the duration of 1 scene, at a cost of 1d6 Brawn damage to yourself.

The corpse lurches back to a grotesque facsimile of life, with jagged movements, and unnerving sounds. It follows your every command, to the best of its unthinking abilities. The GM will have the stats for the unholy creature.

Mesmerize

You can enthral a close creature who has no reason to think of you as a threat. If you succeed at an opposed Mind check, they are beguiled for the rest of the scene, and will do anything for you that they would not consider suicidal or directly against their beliefs. If the target does not find you at least the slightest bit attractive, your check is at disadvantage.

The Quick and the Dead

Death calls you, and you can answer. You are always aware when people in your general vicinity (let’s say up to 100 meters)—whether you see them or not—are at death’s door, as well as when they terminally lay off their mortal coil.

Should you wish, you may instantly appear near such a dying or just deceased person. So long as it is hauntingly creepy or freaky for you to do so, and you stomach 1d4 Agility damage. Whether you then help them along into the afterlife, or pull them back from the precipice (if you have the means) is of course up to you.

Whelming Gaze

The subjects of your Drawn power are struck with immobilizing fear the moment you lock eyes with them. Even attempting to break this condition requires you to touch or harm the target, at which point they can make a Mind check against your own Mind score. If successful, the condition is broken, and they are immune to the gaze for the rest of the scene. Even so, they take 1d6 psychic damage.

You can usually only lock eyes with one person at a time.

Major Advances

Ghost

You become insubstantial, translucent, and nothing from the mortal realm can touch you (nor you it), except perhaps the most dedicated magics. You float, though never more than a few meters of the ground. You can become perfectly invisible and soundless. Your voices carries back into the mortal realm in a haunting, distorted and distant sounding way.

If you wish, you can manifest in a quasi physical form for a scene, to manipulate objects. This is strenous though, and inflicts 1d4 Mind damage.

When you first become a ghost, and subsequently after manifesting, all the gear you wear or carry turns ghostly too. And while you can’t hit things unless you manifest, your mind bullets and other whatnots of course continue to function.

Indomitable

Your perserverance is such that as long as even a slither of your body remains, you may grow a full body back, skin, hair and all, though it will start decaying again as normal. This process takes anywhere from a day (to regrow a limb) to a week (to regrow from a knuckle bone to full body.)

Some revenants take to keeping a piece of them hidden, should calamity befall their regular body.

Pestilence Incarnate

You are permanently surrounded by an aura of pestilence. Plants shrivel within this visibly foul cloud, and objects age unnaturally fast, becoming brittle. All unprepared close creatures roll with disadvantage within it. You may suppress the aura for a scene, at a cost of 1d4 Brawn to you.

Furthermore, all your other pestilent powers deal double damage, and their cost to you is reduced by 1 die type (1d4 becomes 1.)

The Royal

‘Royals’ by Karen Reding

You are the disgraced conqueror king, the most beautiful princess in all the lands, the warmongering general of the greatest army that ever lived, or perhaps the emperor’s bastard daughter in hiding. You are used to dealing with people, and you have a lordly presence.

Starting Powers

Educated

As the Royal you have a 1-point affinity in Mind.

Bestow Favor

Once per session, you may ask your suitor or target to undertake a voluntary contract and perform a task on your behalf.

The nature of this task can vary widely, but might include protecting you from harm, putting themselves between you and the monster, retrieving that beautiful flower from the top of that windy cliff, and so on. In return, you bestow your favor upon them, sometimes symbolized further by a kiss or a token, say, a scarf. If that weren’t enough already, this favor immediately heals the target of Nd6 damage (spread between abilities as the target wishes), where N is the total Mind damage you take for your selflessness.

Should the target fail to complete the task this session, they take Nd6 Mind damage.

Grace

Your training has made moving and behaving with perfect grace and poise second nature, and your clothing will never hinder you. This often leaves a favorable impression on the people you meet, and it also means your movement never provokes attacks of opportunity, including from long weapons.

Rallying Speech

By appealing to the virtue of your mission, your companions’ heroic defiance of all odds, or the myriad wonders experienced, you lift everyone’s morale. Once per session, your party gains 4 Wonder points, and all allies who heard the speech, including yourself, heal 3d4 damage. This takes at least 2 actions.

Minor Advances

Bulwark I

You had access to martial training beyond the reach of most people, and learned how to make the most of protective gear. Light armor absorbs 2 points of damage for you, instead of 1.

Cunning Idea

You shout a quick piece of strategic advice to an ally. Forego one of your actions, and give an immediate action to an ally who can see, hear, and understand you.

Melt Hearts

You are just so darn charming or pretty that you can win people over by giving a passionate heartfelt speech. Most people will join your cause (or maybe believe they’ve fallen in love with you) if it’s reasonable, but particularly stubborn, or hostile people will require a successful opposed Mind check. The speech takes a few minutes, requires an audience of course, your presence, and that the audience understand you. Because it’s an exhausting task even for you, such a speech does you 1 Brawn damage.

An audience thusly won over will stay with you, and work towards the advertised cause, for a scene.

Pacify

Once per session, you may hold a mewling baby (of any species), and it will instantly stop crying.

Satin Lover

Whenever you are clad in a significant amount of satin, you are filled with confidence. This makes you especially hard to intimidate, frighten, or put down.

Signature Weapon

Choose a single, noble type of weapon. You were trained with that weapon by the most cunning instructors in your realm. When fighting with your signature weapon, you add your Mind bonus to all damage you deal with it.

Silken Sway

Your words of encouragement sway an ally to greater chances of success. An ally who can hear and understand you may add 1d4 to the result of their next d20 check, provided the check is made the same scene. This action is taxing for you however, inflicting 1 Brawn damage to you.

Spoken Like You Mean It

Your Rallying Speech heals an extra 1d4 damage. This advance may be taken up to 3 times.

Medium Advances

Brutal Break

If you posses the Heartbreaker power, its psychic damage increases to 2d8.

Bulwark II

Your training with medium armors is unmatched, and these pieces of equipment absorb 3 points of damage for you, instead of 2.

Fateful Decision

Sometimes it falls to you to choose the lesser of two evils, and to order a course of action, knowing it will have dire consequences later. Once per session, you may choose an ally and give them advice or an order. That ally automatically succeeds at their current task, but their action will create a complication that will come back to haunt the party later—ideally the next session.

Forward-Thinking Strategist

Whether it’s affairs of the state, the heart, or war, it’s all about strategy, and you know never to go into a conflict unprepared.

At the beginning of the session, roll 3d20 and note their results. At any point during the session you may replace a result of any d20 roll with one of the noted results. Then cross that result out from your noted ones.

Heartbreaker

You can really pour your heart into a speech and take things to a more literal level. You speak a heartwrenching phrase as an action. This strenuous activity does you 1d6 Brawn damage, and breaks a little bit of the hearts of any close enemies who can hear, understand, and see you. They all take 1d8 psychic damage, while you might consider making a swift exit.

Noblesse Oblige

You royal status grants your privileges, but also responsibilities. As you fulfill the image the public has of a noble in your position, you gain one of the following merits of your choice for the duration of the scene: +2 defense, +2 armor, +1d4 damage, or +2 to 1 ability score. If you continue to act accordingly, you may continue to choose—and stack—merits, up to a maximum of 4.

Major Advances

Bulwark III

You trained since childhood with the finest plate and ceremonial armors. All heavy armors absorb 4 damage for you, instead of 3. They remain exhausting to wear, however.

Enchanted

You become magic. All your attacks have the magic tag. Further, you possess true love’s kiss, or the magic touch. When all other means fail, perhaps you are the key. For example, you can break magical curses, if you succeed at a Mind check against the curse’s creator or difficulty. Each attempt inflicts 1d6 Mind damage to you.

A person who’s curse was thusly lifted by you, is—at your discretion—extremely likely to:

  • fall in love with you,
  • declare that they owe you a life debt,
  • swear unwavering fealty to you.
Terrible Midas Touch

Every discrete thing you touch, up to the size of a human, turns to gold. A rose becomes gold almost immediately; a life-size statue takes 1 minute.

If you wish to touch unwilling creatures, you must make a melee attack roll against them. Should this succeed, they must make a Brawn test against your Mind at the beginning of their next turn. If they fail it, they are reduced to 1 action and regular turns, and fully become gold after 1 minute. Else, if they succeed, they are reduced to 1 action and regular turns for the scene, but escape the curse with but their skin having taken on a golden sheen.

Wearing gloves may avoid the golden touch, assuming they are of good quality, and not worn thin. Nothing protects without fail.

You may rid yourself of this power by finding the river Pactolus and washing your hands in it. At that point anything you turned gold reverts if you submerge it in this river.

The Quest

Charge an ally or your party with a quest, divine or otherwise. The objective must be achievable within the next 2 to 3 sessions, and agreed upon with the GM. Until the quest has been completed, or abandoned, each player rolls their first check in a scene with advantage, so long as the scene furthers their quest.

Design a treasure together with the GM, which can be found at the quest’s apex, with a reasonable chance of success. That is, it is likely guarded by enemies or traps, but it must be achievable.

Only one quest may be active at a given time, and only one quest may be undertaken per adventure, by a given party or ally.

The Ultranaut

‘Ultranauts’ by Karen Reding

Perhaps you are the astronaut who piloted the experimental spacecraft that got sucked into a wormhole, got flung into the far future of another world, and crash-landed on the Purple Planet. Perhaps you are your nation’s secret mad professor, tasked with fusing the magicks of John Dee with science. Or maybe the sharply dressed totalitarian femme fatale with an eyepatch who stepped into a magic circle during occult research.

Starting Powers

Educated

As the Ultranaut you have a 1-point affinity in Mind.

Favored

You are the protagonist of the story, and the world does revolve around you, to a point. While you are far from invincible, the villains tend to explain that little bit more of their dastardly plan to you than strictly necessary. The traps you encounter give you that extra chance at avoidance, and you’ve never seen a prison from which you could not escape. And when calamity tragically does befall you, you be sure to remind the GM about your importance.

Know Things

From your training and education, you are versed in history, science, and engineering, and perhaps the occult. Once per session you may ask the GM a question about the current situation, and the answer will provide with you with a definite advantage, though not necessarily the knowledge or direct means to enact it. Drinking optional.

Ray Emitter

You possess an advanced, hand-held ray emitter, a very dangerous weapon (light weapon; 1d6; armor piercing, magic, ranged). Perhaps it was standard issue where you came from, perhaps you acquired it through other means. This ray emitter is keyed to you in some way (perhaps locked to your DNA), and will not work for other people.

If you lose it, you can cobble together a new one from spare parts you might have, but it will definitely be bulkier than the original.

Minor Advances

Beloved

You have a knack for befriending people. When encountering new people or civilizations, they have a tendency to be friendlier to you and your allies than they might be to other outsiders.

Remind the GM about this when necessary, but don’t pout if a tribe of cannibals throws you a storage camp rather than eat you outright, like they might have done to non-beloved characters.

Alternatively, you may take the Intimidating version of this advance, where new people are always somewhat afraid and cowed by you.

Improved Ray Emitter

Your emitter gains the brutal and destructive tags.

Rock It

Your Ultrasuit has a set of tiny rockets that can propel you about to some extent, when you’ve turned your gravitational pull way down. If you use this thrust for any length of time though, or in a concentrated burst, they’ll run themselves dry and will need recharging (overnight, or otherwise.)

The Stars Are Right

That planetary alignment the cultists are waiting for? It’s now! That cosmological event that only happens once a millenium? It’s today! That time when the god star Ariella descended from the heavens? It’s happening again!

All sorts can be achieved when the stars are right. Just not too often. Like maybe, once an adventure. Unless your story is really good.

Ultrasuit

You possess an advanced suit from your homeworld or timeline. While it doesn’t protect you against attacks, it does to some extent shield you from inclement atmospheric influences. It also allows you to adjust your gravitational exertion, making you either light as a feather, or heavy as an anvil.

Most important of all though, it shows off your great physique or curves, and is super sharp. Probably shiny too.

Wonders Never Cease

You are the hero or heroine, plain and simple. The cost of all wondrous actions is reduced by 1 for you, but they count as normal for Wonder points spent.

Medium Advances

Discover Wonder

You have a sixth sense for spotting the wonders of the Ultracosm. Once per session, describe such a wonder at a relevant juncture of the adventure. It should be within sight, accessible, but not without danger. Gain wonder points relevant to how fitting your description is for the tone of the current world.

Obliterator

Your emitter’s damage increases to 1d8, and it gains an alternate fire mode, which deals 1d6 damage with the spread tag.

Solve It With Science

Once per session, when confronted with a problem outside of combat, explain to the GM and the party how you solve it with pseudo-science or technobabble, with nothing but your knowledge and available resources. If you manage to do so while staying within the tone of retro futurism and science fantasy, without referencing real-world physics and terms, and is entertaining enough, it automatically succeeds.

Take Me to Your Leader

Once per session. They cannot refuse unless it’s truly impossible for them to take you, or, like, they don’t have a leader.

Major Advances

Coda

You have finally accomplished what seemed impossible, and successfully discovered, assembled, or otherwise enacted an opportunity for you to return to your home world and/or your own timeline.

You have a choice to make: take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, or eschew it forever and remain here and retire with your lover or lovers. Either way, it is the end of the story for this character, but it is a glorious one.

If you return home, the next character you create starts with an extra 4 ability points, 2 extra minor advances, and 1 extra medium advance.

If you remain but retire, your party members are so moved and invigorated by your example, that they may immediately raise 2 stats of their choice by 1 point (above and beyond any limits), and the party’s Sense of Wonder pool gains 10 points.

Rocket

You build a rocket, or some sort of space craft. It’s probably the culmination of years of research, work, and adventure, but it’s finally done. This ship can easily fit your whole party and then some. It’s strong enough to withstand any atmospheric, void, or aetheric conditions you can throw at it. And those are manifold, because—and explain by what means—it can travel beyond worlds, throughout the Ultracosm. All you have to do is pick up some relevant fuel or power on occasion.

On top of all that, the vehicle has 3 of the following properties, and you may add more as minor advances:

  • can shrink to the size of a small treasure chest,
  • is heavily armored,
  • has a mounted obliterator level ray emitter,
  • can become invisible,
  • can be controlled remotely.

Combat

Combat is generally initiated by the action of a player or enemy character. Thereafter, combat is executed in rounds.

Initiative and the Combat Round

A combat round is made up of 3 parts: quick turns, regular turns, and the end of the round. A character can decide to either take a quick or regular turn, and this decision is made anew each round. A character taking a quick turn can use 1 action only, whereas a character taking a regular turn gets to use 2 actions.

Player characters who wish to take a quick turn go first, in any order they agree among them. If there is disagreement, the character with the highest Agility score goes first. Then, enemies who wish to take a quick turn, act.

Next, all remaining player characters take their regular turns—with their full 2 actions—in any order, and finally the remaining enemies—if any—take their regular turns.

Then it’s the end of the round, and a new one begins.

Quick turns are great candidates for wondrous actions, since they let you act before the enemy.

Trivial things like talking, drawing a weapon, opening an unlocked door, don’t cost any actions. They can be done as part of the turn for free, within reason.

Regular Actions

  • Make an attack with a weapon
  • Move a short distance
  • Disengage without provoking an attack of opportunity
  • Retrieve and drink a potion
  • Perform a special maneuver
  • Use a power with an activation time of 1 action
  • Stand up from prone

The above list is not exhaustive, nor are your character’s powers and weapons a restrictive set of actions! Improvise! Be creative! This is a roleplaying game, and the only limit is your imagination (and the GM’s fair and impartial rulings)!

Don’t forget to use the terrain to your advantage. Engineer hazardous situations for your foes. Strip them of their assets and powers. Control the battlefield and emerge victorious!

Unlike in some RPGs, you don’t gain experience points for defeating enemies, so it’s a perfectly sensible tactic to try and avoid combat, circumvent enemies, or at the very least never engange in combat without having swayed the odds in your favor. Strive for advantage.

Attack Rolls

An attack roll is like any other check. Your target number is your opponent’s defense value. For melee attacks, add your Brawn modifier, for ranged ones your Agility modifier. Powers will specify which ability to use.

For attacks with light weapons, you can choose between your Brawn or Agility modifier.

Defense

The defense value is equal to the Agility score, plus any bonuses from shields, spells or powers.

Distance and Positioning

Hypertellurians uses 3 rough units of distance: close, short, and long. People and things are close—sometimes also referred to as nearby, for variety—if they can be reached in a handful of steps. A short distance requires a combat action to traverse. Outside of combat it’s probably around 10 meters. A long distance requires 2 combat actions to cover. Anything beyond that is specified numerically.

In combat, it’s easy to track positioning in terms of relative distance in those categories.

Attacks of Opportunity

The following actions provoke attacks of opportunity. An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack.

  • Moving away from an armed, close combatant
  • Moving past a close combatant
  • Standing up from prone
  • Any other action that leaves the character particularly vulnerable
  • Moving into a flanking position gives you an attack of opportunity

Exhaustion

Both heavy weapons and heavy armor are tiring to fight with or in, and they can, over the course of a combat, sap an attacker’s Brawn, and are therefore perhaps best reserved for advanced, sturdy characters.

When a character in heavy armor attacks and misses, they take 1d4 damage to Brawn. When a character attacking with a heavy weapon misses, they also take 1d4 damage to Brawn. A heavily armored character attacking and missing with a heavy weapon will therefore take 2d4 damage to Brawn from exhaustion.

Damage

Damage is recorded against abilities. Whenever an ability takes damage, first subtract the value of any affinity on that ability from the damage taken. When the damage to an ability equals or exceeds the ability’s score plus any buffer points, roll for trauma. For Brawn or Agility, roll on the Physical Trauma table; for Mind, on the Mental Trauma one.

Ability modifiers are always derived from the ability’s score, and are unaffected by any damage the ability might currently have.

Damage rolls over from one ability to the next, in this order: Brawn → Agility → Mind → Brawn → … That means, for example, that any damage on Mind that exceeds your Mind score (plus Buffer) carries over to Brawn.

Armor

For physical damage, an armored combatant can subtract the value of the armor from the damage taken, before they consider any affinity. The GM should rule when armor applies and when not. For example, it should apply when falling into a spiked pit, but it does not protect when engulfed in flames.

Damage Types

The most common type of damage is physical, which affects a character’s Brawn first, and an opponent’s hit points. Psychic damage affects a character’s Mind, and an opponent’s hit points, but their regular protections (like armor) might well be useless against it.

There are other types of damage, such as poison, acid, fire, and many more. These may or may not affect protections or have additional effects—do what makes sense, e.g. acid eats through metal (slowly) and a poisonous cloud cares nothing for armor (unless the armor happens to be airtight).

Beyond the mundane damage types above, you will also encounter magic damage. Unlike mundane damage, magic damage overcomes any protections (such as armor), unless these protections are magical themselves.

Magical defenses will furthermore protect against psychic damage, whereas mundane ones will not.

Reducing Damage

The damage that the GM announces may not be the final amount that you mark against your character’s ability or abilities. There are multiple ways to reduce the damage:

  • Armored: subtract the value of the armor from the damage
  • Relevant Affinity: subtract the value of the affinity from the damage
  • Power: You may have a power or spell that can reduce damage

Cleaving

When an opponent’s hit points reach 0 but your attack would do additional damage, that damage carries over to a close opponent of your choice whom you would also have hit with your attack roll. For example, if you fight a cluster of three nearby thugs with identical statistics, each with 5 hp, and you successfully hit the first for a whopping 12 damage, you would kill your target, deal the remaining 7 to the second thug, and because that was also enough to kill him, the third one would take the remaining 2 damage.

Damage Buffers

These are extra points in a given ability above and beyond its score that can take damage without triggering trauma. You can gain these buffers through advances or powers.

For example, a character with a Brawn of 13 and a brawn buffer of 2, only rolls for trauma once they hit 15 Brawn damage, instead of 13. Buffers get replenished just like regular damage (see Healing.)

Death and Dying

When the damage to an ability equals or exceeds its score plus a possible buffer, you mark any excess damage to the next ability, and roll for trauma. For Brawn or Agility, roll on the Physical Trauma table; for Mind, on the Mental Trauma one.

When a second ability’s damage equals or exceeds it score plus a possible buffer, you must immediately roll on the Critical Trauma table.

You may think of your Brawn plus Agility scores, plus any Buffers they might have, as something akin to your “hit points”.

Healing

A good night’s rest, or the equivalent, quiet down-time removes all ability damage, though not necessarily the effects of trauma. Furthermore, many powers, spells, rituals, and items in the game affect your character’s health.

Trauma

Physical Trauma

  1. Knocked out. Fall unconscious until healed or the end of the current scene.
  2. Immobilized. Your primary locomotive functions have been compromised. You likely fall prone, and you are unable to take any move actions until all your ability damage has healed.
  3. Badly injured. Until all of your Brawn and Agility damage is healed, you have disadvantage on all checks.
  4. Disarmed. A weapon you were holding flies out of your hand and lands a short distance away, behind the enemy line, or in a random direction. If you weren’t holding a weapon, another possession goes flying instead.
  5. Gash. You receive a deep open wound, which has a 50% chance of contracting an interesting disease, and needs quick medical attention, or that chance rises to 100%.
  6. Tired. Until you have a good night’s rest, you cannot use any heavy weapons, or perform any particularly tiring activities.
  7. Bruised. You’ve taken a knocking and it shows.

Mental Trauma

  1. Knocked out. Fall unconscious until healed or the end of the current scene.
  2. Confused. Attack an ally who recently confused, angered, or fed you, on your next turn.
  3. Stunned. You take a blow to your head, or are winded, and your opponents may disengage without provoking attacks of opportunity. You cannot take any actions. At the end of each round, you may attempt a Mind check to end this trauma.
  4. Panicked. You can’t take this. You do your best to escape this scene and will take no further part in it.
  5. Shaken. You can’t focus on what you’re doing. For the remainder of the scene or the next 10 minutes, you cannot activate any powers that cost you Mind damage to use.
  6. Vexed. You are angry and fight with fury more than cunning. For the rest of the scene or the next 10 minutes, you cannot use any positive weapon or armor tags.

Critical Trauma

  1. Death. The end.
  2. Irrevocably fatal injury. Death after dramatic delay.
  3. Badly maimed. Loss of 2 major limbs, or 1 major and 2 minor limbs. Unconsciousness. Or: Psychotic. Gain life-altering insanity.
  4. Crippled forevermore. Brawn and Agility are capped at 13. Or: Afflicted. Mind is capped at 13.
  5. False alarm? Death, but returned to life after terrible bargain with deity or demon.
  6. Close one. Loss of 2 minor limbs. Screaming. Or gurgling, if one of the limbs was the tongue.

Wondrous Actions

These actions cost Wonder points from the Sense of Wonder pool, and whenever a player wants to make use of them they require unanimous consent from the other players. In return, they can achieve results regular actions cannot, and can make a great difference in quick turns especially.

Wondrous Combat Actions

  • Brutal Blow. Your attack gains the brutal tag. If it already had it, it instead deals an extra 1d4 damage. [2 Wonder]
  • Called Shot. Target a specific location for appropriate, extra effect, as determined by the GM. [2 Wonder]
  • Charge. Move a short distance and attack. If the attack hits, deal an extra 1d4 points of damage. [2 Wonder]
  • Sprint. Move a long distance. [2 Wonder]

Wondrous General Actions

  • Manifest Memory. Reach through the Ultracosm and physically manifest a relevant, experienced memory. The specific effects are determined by the manifestation, but should be wildly beneficial. [6 Wonder]
  • Marvellous Adaptation. Draw upon the raw potential of the Ultracosm. Gain a proficiency and a shortcoming of your choice for a scene. [3 Wonder]
  • Push Fate. Re-roll a roll you have just made. If the original roll was made with advantage, re-roll with advantage too. If it was made with disadvantage, re-roll without disadvantage. The Ultracosm remembers your actions, and if the re-roll alters the original outcome, it will add a complication into your future. [6 Wonder]
  • Recall Memory. Remember and recount an experience that gained you Wonder. Roll with advantage on the next action, which is executed as part of this one. [3 Wonder]

Equipment & Inventory

Hypertellurians uses slots to abstract away how much a character can carry. A character has inventory slots equal to their Brawn score, and most items cost 1 inventory slot to carry. Particularly small items can often be combined into 1 slot, given a pouch or pocket—see the aside about bags, and use your judgement. Heavy or bulky items, such as heavy armor, may take up multiple slots.

Encumbrance

The inventory slots represent the items a character can comfortably carry on their person. Carrying more than that is certainly possible, but then they’re encumbered, which makes them slow and easy to tire—adjudicate the exact effects of this sensibly in any given situation.

The player is encouraged to plan their character’s inventory before an adventure, and leave unnecessary items in a safe place. If the character expects to find lots of loot, it might behoove them to hire henchmen for carrying stuff, or a pack mule/entity.

Weapons

All weapons fit into one of 3 categories.

  • Light weapons: 1 attack per combat action, with—optionally—Agility instead of Brawn for melee attacks.
  • Medium weapons: 1 attack per combat action.
  • Heavy weapons: 1 attack per combat action. Exhausting.

Weapon Tags

  • Armor Piercing: Ignore non-magical armors.
  • Attached: Cannot be disarmed by regular means.
  • Backswing: When you miss with this weapon, gain advantage on the next attack roll this round.
  • Blunt: Opponent’s armor counts as 1 point lower.
  • Brutal: Roll damage twice, take best result.
  • Destructive: On a critical success, renders opponent’s non-magical shield or armor (defender’s choice) useless for the remainder of the scene.
  • Excruciating: If the attack deals damage, the target loses one of their actions to pain next turn.
  • Exhausting: Take 1d4 Brawn damage when you miss with this weapon.
  • Fated: On a miss, still deal half your attack ability modifier in damage (rounded up, minimum 1)
  • Forceful: Add an extra damage die each additional time you attack with this weapon in this round. Resets to its starting damage die at the end of the round.
  • Long: Whenever an opponent moves to engage you, you get a free attack of opportunity against them, unless they also wield a long weapon.
  • Knockback: On a critical hit, knock the target prone or a back a short distance (your choice), if it makes physical sense.
  • Magic: This weapon ignores non-magical armors, and can affect entities that cannot be harmed by mundane effects.
  • One-shot: Once used, this weapon is destroyed.
  • Ongoing: Take 1 damage (ignoring affinities) at the beginning of each round, until healed or bandaged.
  • Parry: Use an action to gain +5 to your defense score until the beginning of your next turn.
  • Precise: +1 on attack roll.
  • Ranged: This weapon can be used to shoot at a target a short or long distance away.
  • Reload: Once used, an action must be spent to reload it before it can be used again.
  • Spread: This weapon’s damage affects all targets close to the point of impact.
  • Throwing: Can be used both as melee or ranged weapon, up to a short distance.
  • Unreliable: When you miss with an attack with this weapon, it cannot be used for the remainder of the combat.

Sample Weapons

Light

  • Black Powder Pistol: 1d8 (light, destructive, ranged, reload, unreliable)
  • Dagger: 1d4 (light, throwing)
  • Flash Bomb: 1d4 psychic (light, one-shot, spread, throwing)
  • Needles of Thanic: 1 (light, magic, excruciating, ongoing, one-shot, throwing)
  • Rapier/Sword Cane: 1d6 (light, medium, precise)
  • Scorpion-tail-mounted Eye of Nofre-Neter: 1d4 psychic (light, magic, ranged, spread, unreliable)
  • Stiletto: 1d4 (light, armor piercing)
  • Wet Fire: 1d4 (light, armour piercing, throwing, one-shot, ongoing)
  • Whip: 1d2 (light, excruciating, long)

Medium

  • Bo Staff: 1d6 (medium, long, parry)
  • Crossbow: 1d8 (medium, armor piercing, brutal, precise, reload)
  • Flail: 1d6 (medium, backswing)
  • Longbow: 1d8 (medium, armor piercing)
  • Longsword: 1d8 (medium)
  • Spear: 1d6 (medium, long, throwing)
  • Warhammer: 1d6 (medium, backswing, blunt)

Heavy

  • Glaive: 1d8 (heavy, forceful, long)
  • Greatmaul: 1d10 (heavy, backswing, knockback)
  • Greatsword: 1d12 (heavy)
  • Halberd: 1d10 (heavy, long)
  • Spiked Maul: 1d10 (heavy, backswing, brutal)

Armor & Shields

Armor reduces the damage taken from physical attacks by the value specified. It stacks with Brawn and Agility affinities, but it does not protect against damage to Mind.

Shields, on the other hand, give a bonus to your defense score, making you harder to it.

  • Light armor: 1-point damage reduction, 1 slot.
  • Medium armor: 2-point damage reduction, 2 slots.
  • Heavy armor: 3-point damage reduction. Exhausting. 3 slots.
  • Light shield: +1 bonus to defense. 1 slot.
  • Medium shield: +2 bonus to defense. 2 slots.
  • Heavy shield: +3 bonus to defense. 4 slots.

Armor Tags

  • Attached: Super hard to take off safely.
  • Bulky: Light or medium armor only—is exhausting like heavy armor.
  • Comfortable: Heavy armor only—does not cause exhaustion.
  • Concealable: Can be worn under regular clothing.
  • Deflecting: When the damage from an attack or power would be reduced to 0 because of the armor, optionally transfer the original damage onto a close target instead.
  • Exhausting: Take 1d4 Brawn damage when one of your melee attacks misses.
  • Fragile: Once it has prevented 1 or more points of damage, this armor cannot be used anymore for the remainder of the combat.
  • Magic: Reduces damage from magic sources.
  • Noisy: This armor is particularly noisy.
  • Reflecting: When the damage from an attack or power would be reduced to 0 because of the armor, optionally transfer the original damage back onto the attacker instead.
  • Spiked: Can be used as a medium weapon that deals 1d6 damage. Automatically damages bare-fisted attackers and the like.

Appendices

Appendix A - General Advances

Some of the following advances may at first glance seem weird to take later in a character’s career. For example, Different Down There, states that a character has something else instead of legs. Hypertellurians is a game that likes to do away with many limitations, so if a player would like to take that advance later in their adventuring career, the GM and player are encouraged to work together to create a story that makes this plausible. How about some loss of limbs combined with amateur surgery or mysticisms, for instance?

Unless an advance specifies otherwise, it can only be taken once.

Minor

Stat Up I

Raise an ability score that is currently 13 or lower by 1 point. This can be taken multiple times.

Affinity I

Gain a 1 point affinity on an ability where you currently do not have one. This can be taken multiple times, once for each ability.

Study I

Learn a minor spell that you have discovered, so that you may henceworth use it without its tome. This can be taken multiple times.

Hard Knocks

Add Brawn modifier to melee damage.

Mighty Lobs

Add Brawn modifier to thrown damage.

Piercing Precision

Add Agility modifier to ranged damage.

Inherent Danger

Add Mind modifier to damage from relevant powers.

Mana Pool I

Gain a 2 point Mind buffer, or increase your existing Mind buffer by 2. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Deft I

Gain a 2 point Agility buffer, or increase your existing Agility buffer by 2. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Toughness I

Gain a 2 point Brawn buffer, or increase your existing Brawn buffer by 2. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Breadth of Ages

You are possessed of vast skill. Perhaps your unnaturally long life has seen governments fall, heroes pass into legend, or mountains getting washed into the sea. Perhaps a parasitical conscience fragment is lodged in your mind. Or maybe your spine is fused with a half functioning AI crystal.

Gain a new proficiency and shortcoming of your choice.

A Midnight Dreary

Been wronged? Tired of only being able to get your own back in person? Well then do we have something for you: curses! We have three, tried and tested plans to suit your needs! Dramatically curse a target that can see and understand you, and chose an option below:

  • The target has recurrent nightmares in which you play a part (like reminding them to repent). They don’t get a good night’s rest and find it hard to concentrate during the day.
  • The target forgets a mundane skill (how to drink without making a mess, or how to tie their shoelaces) and cannot relearn it no matter how hard they try.
  • The target gains a harmless, irrational fear, like crying babies, or spoons.

How to break the curse? Love’s true kiss? Add a fun clause in during the cursing. Oh, and hey, you’ll need to succeed at an opposed Mind check against the target, and take 1d4 Mind damage yourself. Cursing doesn’t come easy or cheap.

Amateur Surgery

You make do with what you’ve got in difficult situations. It may not be pretty, but it might mean the difference between life and death. Remove physical trauma with a successful Mind roll against a difficulty based on the trauma, determined by the GM.

At Arm’s Dibranchiate Length

Arms with hands, and hands with opposable thumbs, that’s what it’s all about, right? Not for you: long, curling, prehensile tentacles, possessed of facile finesse, are your arms. Or maybe just one arm, if you can’t quite give up hands completely. If you wish, you can have a technomancy or body horror version instead.

Bioluminescent

You can emit a soft glow, comparable to a torch, at will.

Byronic

You are dark and mysterious, perhaps moody. You are of course handsome or beautiful, what with that rugged chin or the piercing eyes. Also you are deep, and often come up with very profound observations. Many people find these qualities irresistible, and as such, if it’s even remotely feasible, you can rustle up a group of sycophants or groupies who would do almost anything to be near you, touch you, or smell you. Or get a lock of your hair.

Color Out of Space

Your skin, or outermost membrane, can change color, pattern, and texture, in a most chameleonic fashion, and near perfectly match your surroundings. It takes a few minutes and 1 point of Brawn damage. Oh, but your gear doesn’t change with you. Better get used to ambushing in the buff.

Gifted Negotiator

You have a fast, yet convincing tongue when it comes to talking yourself out of sticky situations. Once per session, roll with advantage, to convince an opponent of your innocence.

Different Down There

You know how, when most most people look down, they see their two legs? With you, not so much. Perhaps it’s the lower body of a mountain goat, an enormous snake, or heck, a spider. It makes you fast and stable. And either great at climbing, or not so much (looking at you, horse; but you’re extra fast). You have advantage on checks suited to your mutant propulsion system.

Forked Tongue

Your literally forked tongue allows to say two things at once. Beyond exceptional innuendo, you can potentially speak two languages at once, or even speak two spells at once. In the latter case you need to be able to cast the spells without their spell tomes—if you’ve learned them, for example—as the tongue does not give you the ability to juggle multiple mammoth magic tomes at the same time.

Hasty Hands

You can move your hands so fast it’s like a blur. Pocketing unattended objects can only be detected by the most alert of observers. Additionally, you may make two attacks with a light weapon as a single combat action; however, this is straining, so if you do so and miss with either attack, you take 1d4 Agility damage. You are also fidgety.

Indefatigable

You are tough to weary with heavy armor or weapons, rambling poetry, or mindnumbingly dull tasks. When you miss in combat in heavy armor, or with a heavy weapon, the damage you take is reduced from 1d4 to 1 Brawn, respectively.

Magnificent Mucus Membrane

Decide whether you’re permanently slimy, or excrete it on demand. Either way it covers all of your skin, and comes in multiple hues. The membrane makes you extremely slippery, for good or for ill. Once per session you can bottle up some of the mucus. It has different effects on different species when consumed. Roll on the following table the first time a new species tries it. Henceforth the result will always apply to them.

  • Revitalise: Restore 1d8+1 ability points
  • Moment of Time: Gain an extra 2 combat actions this regular turn
  • Curious: Attract stinging insects and ghosts until thoroughly digested
  • Toxic: Do nothing but vomit uncontrollably for 2d10 minutes
Mighty Launch

You can launch a great charge or jump in one action, up to your Agility in meters horizontally, or half that vertically, at a cost of 1 Agility and 1 Brawn. In combat, you can jump or charge a long distance in one action.

Perhaps it’s your superhuman thighs or weird alien physiology, or even your technomancy boots. Either way, if you so wish, you can make an attack or a shove at the end of the charge, as your next action.

If it’s an attack, deal an extra 1d4 damage, and unless the target somehow shrugs that off, or is way bigger than you, they also fall prone. If it’s a shove, do a Brawn check with advantage. If you succeed, you shove them back a dramatically appropriate distance, and unless they’re super sturdy, they also fall prone.

Moral Compass

You possess a staunch sense of right and wrong, and if a companion of yours is unsure about the morality of an action you can give them the definitive answer. Furthermore you sense when a close creature means you harm, even if they’re trying to hide it. Also, you instinctively know which direction is north, insofar as that makes sense for the world you’re in. Hey, a compass is a compass.

Murder of Crows

You have a super creepy but extremely loyal, little bird friend. The bird almost seems to be able to read your mind. It doesn’t do much, besides creeping people out, unless you feed it an eyeball. Once per session, after being thusly fed, the bird gathers a large group of similarly creepy avians. Enough to cover your vicinity in shadows, make a hell of a racket, and scare the shit out of people.

Phalanx Fighting

Chose another character. You have trained with them extensively, or share some other bond. When you both use a shield in combat, each shield’s defense bonus is doubled, as long you’re close to one another.

You can take this advance multiple times, picking another character each time. The shield’s defense bonus is doubled for all involved.

Should your bonded character die, it will take a sensible amount of time to bond with another.

Sidekick

You have a mystical or technocratical sidekick that you can summon to you as an action once per session. Maybe the sidekick is a holographic projection from your chronometer, or maybe it’s the ghost of your deceased paige. Perhaps it’s a pile of bones you carry around and animate, or perhaps it’s a floating sphere detaching from the back of your neck. Either way, it sticks around for the scene, and provides advantage on all your checks. It can also perform a desired task (such as fetching something, or infiltrating and unlocking something).

Tellurian of Unusual Size

You are either exceptionally small or intimidatingly large or tall; way beyond the expected margin for your species. Not smaller than 30 cm or larger than 3 meters (tall or as diameter) though. Apart from the usual benefits and drawbacks this might bring, if you happen to possess natural weapons, and go big, they do damage of a die type higher than normal.

For some unknown reason, once out of their sight, many people tend to forget you exist, and more often than not, written accounts detailing you and your actions lose credibility quickly.

Terrible Curse

Your existence is a burden and you wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. To outsiders your powers look glamorous but you know them to be a crippling curse. They just don’t understand.

Choose two things from the following list that you are especially vulnerable to: silver, fire, sunlight, water, sanctity, iron. Weapons made of this substance always deal maximum damage to you. Continued exposure to it deals 1d8 damage per minute. In either case it’s extremely painful and you avoid it as much as you can.

The curse has made you supernaturally tough though: at the beginning of each round, you heal 1 Brawn or Agility damage. Anytime you take damage from one of your vulnerabilities, this regeneration is suspended until the end of the scene.

Vox Dei

Your voice possesses a divine or otherworldly might, and it can compel reality. With but a thunderous word you lash out at an enemy and lacerate them, up to a long distance away, so long as they can hear you. Make a Mind check. If you succeed, take 1 Mind damage to inflict 1d4 psychic damage, and—if it makes sense for their size and physiology—they drop to their knees.

Well Adjusted

You’re a product of your environment. Choose one, on the more extreme end, like scorching deserts, mountainous colds, or the void of space, or such. Its natural conditions don’t affect you like it does non-natives. You’ll still wear a coat on the mountain, but you don’t get winded from the thin air. Similarly, you might minimize exposed skin in deserts, but you remain mentally and emotionally stable, and don’t immediately hallucinate when you need to ration your water.

Being at home in such environments means you’re often uncomfortable in other ones.

Medium

Stat Up II

Raise an ability score that is currently 15 or lower by 1 point. This can be taken multiple times.

Affinity II

Raise a 1 point affinity to a 2 point affinity. This can be taken multiple times, once for each ability.

Study II

Learn a medium spell that you have discovered, so that you may henceworth use it without its tome. This can be taken multiple times.

Eldritch Load

Add Mind modifier to spell damage.

Mana Pool II

Gain a 4 point Mind buffer, or increase your existing Mind buffer by 4 points. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Deft II

Gain a 4 point Agility buffer, or increase your existing Agility buffer by 4. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Toughness II

Gain a 4 point Brawn buffer, or increase your existing Brawn buffer by 4 points. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Biomechanical Surgery

With a little time and the right components, you can combine technomancy with sinew and bones.

Bargain

Naturally glib, you can talk your way out of almost anything, even physical damage. Once per scene when you would take damage, instead lose gold or treasure of at least the damage times 10 in value. Explain how you’re managing this feat.

Breath of the Mud People

You can soften a patch of stone or rock, or other natural mineral, turning it into a yielding, muddy area. It takes an action to do so, and it costs 1 point of Brawn per 1 meter diameter sphere you wish to affect. It stays soft for a scene, and then slowly returns to its natural state.

Deep Lungs

You can hold your breath a hell of a long time, like earth whales, or deep sea pearl divers from Organtsa Minor. But more than that, the capacity of your lungs is so astonishing that inhaling the sorts of toxins that might lay a regular person flat, has only a much diminished effect on you (think ¼ damage, or sleepy instead of asleep). It’s simply too diluted in those cavernous organs of yours (actual size of organs not affected).

If you can hold whatever you’ve inhaled in, you’re free to breathe it out at a later date onto close targets.

Finally, your yodeling skills are profound.

Divorced from Gravity

You are not married to gravity like regular people. You are equally at home on any surface whether it be a floor, wall or ceiling. Although you are still paying maintenance, so you don’t float.

Hastier Hands

You can use your Hasty Hands power without taking Agility damage.

Life of the Party

You are the life and the life force of your party. They would be lost without you, but they probably don’t even realise it. Once per session, when an ally you can see would receive physical trauma, you can instead take 1d6 Mind damage, and gain 2 wonder.

Additionally, also once per session, when an ally you can see would receive critical trauma, you may opt to instead take 3d6 Mind damage, and immediately heal them back up to a minimum of 1 point in each ability score. It’s a miracle, but they must never know it was you.

Mightier Launch

Performing an attack or a shove at the end of your Mighty Launch powered jump is now a free action. If you critically succeed at it, gain 1 wonder.

Scribe Spellbook

You have completed your spellbook, and managed to transfer a number of minor spells from their respective tomes into a single one of your making. Choose a number of minor spell tomes you own to transcribe up to your Mind modifier plus 2. This newly crafted spellbook only takes up a single inventory slot. Because it is a condensed version of spells from other sources, written in a very personal script, you are the only one capable of using it for spellcasting.

This advance can be taken multiple times, each time creating a new book.

Syphon

Mystical and mysterious energies constantly run throughout the entire Ultracosm and you are somehow tapped into them. You understand that nothing is gained and nothing is ever lost, it is merely shifted from somewhere to elsewhere. Except, you can intercept it and use it for your own gain.

As an action, spend 1 or more Brawn to heal 1d6 ability points per Brawn spent on a target you touch. As you do so, plants shrivel and die, objects age and become brittle. The area affected starts a short distance away, and its size is relative to the amount healed.

Vox Dei Magnus

With a greater investment of your own spirit, you can alter small details about the world around you with your Vox Dei power. That door over there? Look again, it’s unlocked after all, or maybe its hinges are brittle. That potion bottle? You must be mistaken, it’s still full. This power takes an action and costs Mind damage pertinent to the size of the change you’re trying to affect (1d4 for a refill, 1d12 for a repaired bridge, as examples.)

It is rumored that the divinity within you could be unleashed, perhaps leading to apotheosis?

Major

Stat Up III

Raise an ability score that is currently 18 or lower by 1 point. This can be taken multiple times.

Affinity III

Raise a 2 point affinity to a 3 point affinity. This can be taken multiple times, once for each ability.

Study III

Learn a major power that you have discovered, so that you may henceworth use it without its tome. This can be taken multiple times.

Mana Pool III

Gain an 8 point Mind buffer, or increase your existing Mind buffer by 8 points. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Deft III

Gain an 8 point Agility buffer, or increase your existing Agility buffer by 8. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Toughness III

Gain an 8 point Brawn buffer, or increase your existing Brawn buffer by 8 points. This advance can be taken multiple times.

Appendix B - Character & Tracking Sheets

Appendix N - Inspiration

This game was created out of the author’s desire to create a campaign where the players would visit vastly different worlds, as exemplified by diverse adventure modules from his vast collection. When the search for an applicable game system to use across these divergent modules failed to come up with a amenable option, it was time to create his own. Or perhaps it was an itch that this long-time games master needed to scratch at any rate.

So when it become time to start, what better way than to steal all his favourite bits from his favourite systems? With that in mind, this game would not exist without these excellent games and their authors that have preceded it, as well as the countless incredible blog and Google+ posts this awesome hobby has sired. In utterly no particular order:

  • Dungeons & Dragons, in all its incarnations
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  • The Black Hack
  • 13th Age
  • Numenera
  • Spire
  • Blackbeard’s Bride
  • Pathfinder
  • Shadow of the Demon Lord
  • The Zak Hack

The tone of the game has been heavily influenced by these artists, movies, and stories:

  • Frank Frazetta
  • Roger Dean
  • Clyde Caldwell
  • Julie Bell & Boris Vallejo
  • Philippe Caza
  • Norman Saunders
  • Conan, the Barbarian
  • Barbarella
  • Buck Rogers
  • John Carter of Mars

For visual inspiration, consider the author’s ever evolving Pinterest board.

Lastly, the game has had tremendous input and invaluable playtesting from my long-standing gaming group, consisting of David Fuller, Jonathan Broadley, Chris Coleman, and James Mapp, and tireless support from my wife Karen.