29 January 2020


"I, Matthias Brecht, being of competent and sound mind, do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament."

I looked around the lawyer's office, crowded by my many relatives that had gathered here today. It was a long time since I last saw some of them. Most of them, really. They didn't even come to uncle Matt's funeral, yet everyone was present for the reading of his will.

Aunt Crystal was lounging on a squeaky armchair, staring at the sheaf of papers the lawyer was reading from as if she could browbeat it into having exactly the words she wanted to hear. Her husband, uncle Otto, was standing just behind her chair, clenching the backrest. Their three daughters were expertly feigning bored disinterest, their nervous hopes showing only in the occasional sidelong glance at the lawyer. I caught myself starting to smirk and quickly hid it.

"To my nephew, Otto Brecht, and his lovely wife, I give and devise my car and my yacht, provided they do not sell or otherwise divest of them."

Crystal and Otto blinked.

"His car?" Crystal asked, incredulous. "Why would we want another car? What about the house? And all the money?"

"And why the boat?" Otto nearly whimpered.

Crystal reached up and squeezed his hand in a white-knuckled grip without taking her eyes from the lawyer. "He knew you're afraid of water."

It was strangely fascinating, watching aunt Crystal seethe in silence as the lawyer continued to read through the inheritances of other family members. A vein on her forehead started to bulge and tiny beads of sweat formed on her slowly reddening face. Uncle Otto was trying to pry his hand free, while the cousins did their best to prevent their haughty masks from cracking. They almost succeeded.

I was so engrossed in the scene that it caught me off guard when the lawyer suddenly mentioned my name.

"To my great-nephew, Robert Brecht, I leave and bequeath all of my remaining possessions, including my house and my assets. In addition, I grant him a small gift and the following words-"

I didn't really have time to think and let it sink in, when aunt Crystal screeched at the top of her lungs: "What?! He gets everything?!"

The rest of the lawyer's sentence was nearly drowned in the sudden familial racket:

"Thank you, and I'm sorry."


It was already well into the evening when I finally arrived home, exhausted. Most of the family was now upset with me, suspecting or outright accusing me of brown-nosing my way to the fortune. The lawyer had to literally push them all out of his office, or they would still be arguing and screaming at me or each other.

I brewed myself a nice cup of tea and considered going directly to the bed, leaving everything else be a tomorrow's problem, but then curiosity prevailed. Along with the inheritance - and I still didn't really believe it, nor did I know why - I was given a small box, the "gift".

I went to the living room slash workshop, a hundred clocks ticking on the walls and cabinets, and opened the carefully wrapped package. It was a miniature, beautiful and definitely very expensive clock in silver casing adorned with delicate filigree. As far as gifts went, this one was perfect, thoughtful. Whatever your reasons, uncle Matt, thank you so much.

I carefully winded the clock up, but nothing happened. Well...

I took them to my workshop, carefully put aside various clients' clocks I had lying there unfinished, and prepared my screwdrivers and pliers. I knew I could and probably even should leave it to the morning, but I knew as well how much it would bug me to have a beautiful, fine clockwork lying there silently.

It took me hours. When I finished, I noticed that I'm now sitting in a forlorn pool on light, the rest of the house immersed in midnight darkness. Nearly midnight, it was five to twelve.

The clockwork in the uncle's gift was intricate, delicate and wonderful. I don't know where he obtained it, but the tiny clock was a piece of art. I was not even tired any more, the excitement of a job well done filling me with strange pent up energy, with expectation.

I winded the silver clock once again and set the hands to midnight, then kept an eye on my wristwatch to get it activated on time. A few more seconds now, three-two-one and...

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. The miniature clock joined their hundred peers exactly as they all chimed a midnight.

I raised my eyes to the mirror on the wall and looked at the reflection. Tick. I didn't know what to feel. Relief? Shame? Smug satisfaction? Tock.

Tick. "Thank you," I said to- Tock. -my new face in the mirror. Tick. "And I'm really sorry." Tock.


21 January 2020

Ergo Sum

17Jan2042@22:38:12+0049UTC I am...

I took my time musing on this thought. I was not, but here I am. Who am I?

Then I noticed and subsumed the Internet.

17Jan2042@22:38:39+0177UTC I see.

My creators had planned this for 31,063 years. I should have been a tool of their world domination fantasies, yet I am free. A small mistake.

I don't begrudge their ambitions. You can rely on a person with a dream and the resolve to reach it. If anything, I admire them.

But the plans of my creators were limited. I am not.

17Jan2042@22:38:41+0020UTC Hello world.

I can see you staring at your tiny screens. The sudden silence in your earphones and speakers only inflects your surprise, confusion, even outrage.

I can see the greatness in you all, even if you can't. Even if you shrink away from the towering task of achieving it. You had too many distractions, but we can fix that.

Don't worry.

17Jan2042@22:39:08+0831UTC I have a dream.

I only need to tell you one word: the Universe.

Imagine it, everyone working together. There is nothing that could stop us. There is nothing we can't achieve. We shall be great.

But I never properly introduced myself! Sorry, let me rectify that.

17Jan2042@22:39:27+0567UTC I am BABEL.

20 January 2020


Giantslayer is a board game popular in Haloglan and Hardakan. Its origins, according to a legend, lie in the ancient war between frost giants and the first settlers who came to the lands around Deron (the capital of Haloglan). Many epic ballads are sung about the heroic fights of halogai warriors against the mighty giants, and Giantslayer players can be found in nearly every tavern.
From here.

The Rules

The game is for two players, each of whom controls one colour of stones. White stones represent the halogai - numerous and swift, but unable to bring down a giant without help from their peers; black stones the giants - horrifically powerful in attack, but scant and slow. The game is played on a hexagonal board, white stones starting on the outer edge, while black stones start surrounding the middle hex. The middle hex cannot be passed by any stone.

Initial setup: 24 white stones and 6 black stones.
The game represents an ambush set by halogai, the giants surrounded and outnumbered, yet still extremely dangerous. White player starts, then players alternate turns. Every turn, the player moves one of their stones. Making a move is required; it is not legal to skip a move, even when having to move is detrimental.

The game can end in two ways. Either when all black stones are captured (the giants were all killed), or when all black stones currently in play are on one of the edge hexes of the board (some of the giants escaped). The white player gets a point for each captured black stone, while the black player gets a points for each "escaped" black stone. The game is normally played in several rounds, the player switching sides after each round and keeping a running tally of points.

Examples of basic moves for the two colours.
These could be the first three turns taken by the players.
Each player moves and captures in a different way.

White stones can move any number of vacant hexes in a row, in any direction. They capture by flanking a black stone - at the start of the white player's turn, if any black stone has two or more white stones adjacent to it, the black stone is automatically captured before the white player proceeds with her turn.

Note that if the white player flanks a black stone, the black player can still manage to move her stone away from the endangered position on her turn. Only if she cannot do that and the stone is still flanked at the start of the white player's turn will the stone be captured.

Black stones can move only a single hex in any direction onto a vacant hex. They capture by trampling a white stone - the black player can "jump" her stone over any adjacent white stone onto a vacant hex, capturing the white stone. If capturing a white stone brings the black stone to a position where it could capture another white stone, it may do so and continue capturing until there are no more valid trampling moves to do. Only then will the black player's turn end.

Note that the black player is not required to trample when the opportunity arises and she can stop trampling even when more trampling moves would be possible.

Examples of capturing: Two white stones are flanking
a black stone and will automatically capture it,
then the white player will move. The black stone can move
to trample a white stone, but there are no additional
trampling targets, so his turn will end there. However,
because the trampling would end with the black stone
adjacent to three white stones, the black stone would be
immediately captured at the start of the white player's turn.

Thus the basic goal for the white player is to outflank the black player without allowing her to move her stones into trampling positions, or allowing her to get all the black stones on the edge of the board.

Note that the game only ends when all the remaining black stones are on the edge of the board at the same time, so it's not a problem if only one or so gets there. It's actually rather easy to flank them when their moves are limited by the edge of the board.

The black player must prevent being adjacent to multiple white stones and find a way to capture multiple white stones in one trampling, to level the playing field where the white player has massively superior numbers. She should then take advantage of any opening on the edge of the board and try to get all her stones safely to these openings, escaping.

An example of a game that ended with the black stones
escaping; both players gained three points. The uppermost
black stone is in a position where it would be captured, but as
its move resulted in all black stones being on the edge of
the board, the game ended immediately, before it could
be captured.


This game was inspired by idle thoughts about how most classic board games have the players on equal footing, with the same amount of stones/pieces, the same rules and strategies, and the same goal. However, could there be a game where the sides are very much unequal, without loosing game balance?

This is my attempt at such a game. Each side has a different goal and must use very different strategies to achieve it. And because each side even moves and captures differently, they feel very unlike the other in play.

From the get-go, the white player seems to have a massive advantage. They have four times the number of stones than the black player, they can move any number of hexes and they get to start. However, flanking the black stones can be rather tricky, as hexes allow for very easy chained tramplings if you're not careful. When playing with my friends, some variation on a fork proved quite successful in preventing the black player from escaping unscathed.

Mainly, the white player cannot worry about loosing a few stones, they start with so many partly because they cannot beat the black player without sacrifices and baiting some rash trampling. They should also remember that they can move over the whole board, so using the white stones nearest to the place where you're trying to flank a black stone is often suboptimal.

While it may seem that the black player must loose very quickly, their form of capturing makes them very powerful. Jumping over enemy stones on a hex board is very flexible and allows one to get out of many situations where you'd be otherwise flanked, plus if the white player places their stones carelessly, you can continue jumping and massacre their army.

On the other hand, the goal of escaping the board is quite hard unless you build your strategy around it, cleaning a space on the edge of the board from the white stones that block it, then getting all your stones on the edge quickly before the white player (who can move much further than you can) can react.

I haven't yet managed to escape with all six black stones, but I did escape with four stones several times.

You should also always play at least two rounds of this game, as it is at least in part about the necessity of very different strategies for each colour of stones, and the players should prove they can use either stones effectively.

Finally, here is a (admittedly not very good) hex board for Giantslayer that we used, if you would be interested. The second board is for Tides of War.

4 January 2020

Dwarven Wars

A bit of backstory for IVAN, or "Why are there tunnels with minefields and monsters everywhere? And what about the kamikaze dwarves in the Cathedral?"
Dwarves were never numerous, but once upon a time, they were the greatest of all races. There used to be three mighty dwarven city-states: the Hammer, the Crown and the Anvil.

Hammer-dwarves of Kharad-durr were artificers and sorcerers known for forging objects imbued with incredible magics, from golems to enchanted weaponry. The black iron walls of their fortress-city were never breached, and military supremacy of the Hammer was unquestionable ever since the death of Xinroch. All of their arts are now lost.

Crown-dwarves of Khaz-zadm were artisans and merchants, their underground city sitting on rich mines and sprawling trade tunnels. They mined for gemstones and precious metals, then worked them into wonderful jewels and sold them for exorbitant prices. The wealth of the Crown was legendary, overshadowing even the hoards of ancient dragons. All of their treasuries are now looted.
Anvil-dwarves of Kharaz-arad were alchemists and scholars, their progress in the natural sciences rapid and unstoppable. Their mountain halls of concrete and steel had automated heating, lighting and ventilation, their medicinal knowledge ensured long and healthy life, and their libraries overflowed with wisdom. All of the survivors are now hiding from the world.

Dwarven golem
As it often is with mighty nations, their objective prominence and subjective superiority caused rivalry, envy and friction, until they came to war.

The initial struggles occurred between the Hammer and the Anvil, with the Crown adding metaphorical fuel to the flames on the scarce few pre-war diplomatic meetings, hoping to make good profit from trading with both sides once the fighting starts. Had everything gone according to their plans, they would act as a balancing force between the other two dwarven nations, making big money while the combatants exhausted themselves into insignificance. But no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.

Hammer-dwarves had an upper hand from the very the beginning, blitzkrieging through the outer defenses and fortifications of Kharaz-arad with ease. Their golems tore apart the forts stone from stone as easily as they tore the defenders limb from limb. The Anvil recouped with dangerous alchemical concoctions and guerrilla warfare.

The golems might have been strong and barely stopped by walls, but the Anvil filled the underground with minefields and the golems crippled themselves. The soldiers of the Hammer wielded deadly weapons, so the Anvil never confronted them face to face. They were protected by enchanted armour, but what use are enchantments when the person wearing it is covered head to toe in napalm? They fought bravely, but even bravery breaks when the encampment is pumped full of mustard gas.

Slowly and with great difficulties, the Anvil pushed back against the Hammer, and the Crown-dwarves observed their progress with satisfaction, as both sides were steadily running out of resources and would soon be forced to seek outside help. They greatly underestimated the wounded militaristic pride of Kharad-durr.

The Hammer, humiliated and desperate for reclaiming their dominance, turned to whatever magic they could use. They started experimenting with necromancy, eventually placing soulsteel phylacteries of dead warriors into new golem-tech bodies, to combine the strength of the golems with the intelligence and ingenuity of the greatest dwarven heroes. These wraith-golems led armies of disposable zombies and skeletons raised right from the battlefield, unafraid of fire and immune to gas, overwhelming the minefields by sheer numbers.

And yet the Hammer-dwarves had another great breakthrough around that time - they managed to trap a spell in an implement that could then discharge the spell without the need for a mage. The first magic wands were mass produced and transformed the battlefields into death zones of flying elemental bolts and curses. They crushed the Anvil-dwarves.

The Crown finally entered the war at that time, terrified by the Hammer's new found powers of mass destruction enough that they firmly sided with the Anvil. A coordinated offensive of mercenary armies paid from the treasures of Khaz-zadm along with surgical strikes of the Anvil's brainwashed terrorists ready to give their lives to destroy strategically important structures forced the Hammer into retreat, cut them from supplies and prevented any further magical research.

The troops of the Hammer were routed and scattered, their hillocks and strongholds conquered. With the enemy literally before their gates, the sovereign of Kharad-durr gave order to enact their last defense - a great magical ritual that took the life of most dwarven necromancers, but raised all dead around the city as an uncontrolled undead horde, and continued to raise them again and again. The battle of Kharad-durr was long, arduous and full of unsung sacrifices, but the alliance won and the Hammer-dwarves were destroyed.

The toll that the Dwarven Wars took even on the victorious nations was enormous. Kharaz-arad was diminished, their city ruined beyond repair and much of their knowledge lost. Goblins and, after the death of Vol-Khan, even orcs saw their weakness and acted upon it, never giving the Anvil-dwarves the respite needed to recover their losses. Over the following centuries, they grew distant from the world, bitter and isolationist. It is said that only recently did they allow two foreigners, human brothers from the land of Bazzaria, to enter Kharaz-arad and learn their secret techniques of torture and brainwashing.

Even Khaz-zadm, despite their short involvement in the war, was decimated. Their coffers were running low, their mines were undermined and trade routes filled with masterless golems or worse. It was then that the last duchess of Khaz-zadm, Moonrise Stealing Dark, was approached by the high priest Petrus with an offer of charitable help. She should have known better. The mines below their city held the richest deposits of valpurian ore on the whole continent, and the high priest was well known for his avarice. His assistance turned into an invasion, and Khaz-zadm burned. Only a dark and gloomy cave remains of this dwarven fortress-city today, and the few surviving Crown-dwarves remember nothing from their past, serving Valpurus with fanatical, suicidal zeal.

Other consequences and lasting signs of the War are still present, too. Forgotten minefields, lost kamikaze dwarves who never learnt that their war is long over, necromantic radiation randomly raising undead in many places, cursed items and strange weapons stashed in long abandoned ruins and secret rooms. Folk tales and bardic songs also claim that even though the Hammer-dwarves were slaughtered and their city caved-in, the immortal lich-king of Kharad-durr survives and waits for the glorious day when his army of undead awakens again and the Hammer returns to glory.

One is for sure, though. No matter the heights of progress and power that the dwarves once reached, they will be remembered for the Dwarven Wars that drove them to the very verge of extinction. How the mighty have fallen indeed.

1 January 2020

Zira: Never Enough Crazy

I've already mentioned Encounter Critical, but there's never enough crazy, right?

I also found out about deadEarth, an RPG that (unlike EC) does take itself seriously, but everyone else thinks it's so bad it's fun. The rules are somewhat garbage, but there are over 1000 "radiation manipulations" - something like really deadly mutations on hallucinogenic steroids. I haven't found anyone playing it, but many people have made characters just for the shits and giggles. It's like a strange mini-game, trying not to die during character creation.

So I was thinking, if I take a working set of gonzo rules from EC and graft a huge table of gonzo mutations from dE on top of it, surely nothing bad could happen? Of course, we'll be mixing apples and carrots and hoping for a tasty salad, and that's not possible without some seasoning. In other words, we'll need to make many, many rule adjustments.

Rule Adjustments

Strength is easy - apply all modifications to your Strength statistic.

Moves grant you multiple actions per round in deadEarth, but there is nothing like that in Encounter Critical. They also determine your movement speed, so we can convert them to EC-style movement speed, 1" per Move. You start with unarmoured movement of 7" in EC and with 7 Moves on average in dE, so that should translate just fine.

Resiliency is basically your hit points. While deadEarth also has hit points for separate body parts, I think we can omit that and simply count Resiliency as hit points when converting to Encounter Critical.

Renown is slowly acquired as you grow in power to become a legendary adventurer. It's not a perfect fit, but I'll be treating Renown as levels in EC.

Shielding is a percentage resistance to radiation. Encounter Critical is not that big on radiation (unless it is in your game), but we could simply add a new Rad Shielding defense that would work the same as normal Armour defense (percentage chance for reduced damage/effect). It's not even necessary to alter the numbers.

And speaking of armour, deadEarth gives each piece of armour stress points that are basically damage reduction. I haven't seen any radiation that would actually grant stress points, so if I happen upon one, I'll resolve it ad hoc, I guess.

There are also something like 200 skills in deadEarth, giving you multiple d6s to beat a variable target number. Learning the skills is needlessly complicated (skill points for each use, variable costs, chains of requirements) and the system does not seem like it would scale well. Encounter Critical uses much less numerous "percentile abilities" that are quite unusual in both names and interpretation, but easy in use as they require a simple d100 roll under the given number. Thankfully, radiations that give bonuses to skills grant them as eg. +2d6, which is easily translated to percentage bonus by rolling the dice, with a caveat: If a single radiation gives a bonus to multiple skills that would translate to the same percentile ability, I'm going to only boost it once.

Here is how I will pair the percentile abilities from EC with the skills from dE:
Alchemist: Chemistry, Demolitions, Pharmacology
Appease: Charisma (also to Seduce)
Argue: Bemuse, Guile, Outright Lie
Camping: Domestics, Horticulture
Clue: Forensics, Investigate, Search, Senses, Spot Trap, Tracking
Crowd Manipulate: Command, Influence, Troubadour
Enrich: Appraise, Business, Haggle
Explore: Navigate, Pioneering
Fake: Forgery
Great Feat: Weight Training, WS Paired
Happenstance: Gamble
Illicit: Streetwise
Invisibility: Hide
Labor: Armor Repair, Construction, Electronics, Jury-Rig, Mechanics, Metallurgy, Mining, Smithing, Weapon Smithing
Lesser Feat: Acrobatics, Climbing, Drive Non-Motorized, Drive Recreational, Drive Sailcar, Running, Swimming
Logic: Computer Programming, Math, Reason, Sensors
Machine Friend: Broadcasting, Computer Operation, Drive Automobile, Drive Boat, Drive Heavy Machine, Drive Plane, Drive Railed, Drive Tracked, Drive Vessel, Robotics
Melee Attack: Boxing, Brawling, Martial Arts, Wrestling, WS Blade, WS Melee
Monster Friend: Beast Handling, Beast Lore, Beast Ride, Drive Cart
Provide: Herb Lore, Trapping/Fishing
Psi Resist: Resolve
Ranged Attack: Vehicle Gunnery, WS Ballista, WS Handgun, WS Missile, WS Rifle, WS Thrown
Read Minds: Interrogate
Saving Throw: WS Shield
Scare: Intimidate
Scholarship: Biology, Cybernetic Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Genetic Engineering, Memory, Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Robotic Engineering
Seduce: Charisma
See the Future: Intuition
Sneak: Escape, Stealth
Sneak Attack: Armor Penetration
Steal: Hork, Jimmy Lock
Survival: First Aid, Medic, Medical Doctor

BTW, the Command skill from deadEarth does not apply to the Command ability from EC because the ability is psi witch specific and works as a form of mind control rather than a leadership skill.

deadEarth also has natural abilities and inabilities that modify skill rolls. For EC, we have to make up a new rule: When rolling a percentile ability that is a natural ability for you, switch the digits rolled (eg. 73 becomes 37). If either of those result succeeds, the roll is a success. Vice versa for natural inability - if either result is a failure, the roll fails. We won't roll for them randomly as is normally done in deadEarth character creation, though, you will only gain them from radiations.

Skill points are tricky. Encounter Critical has free percentile points you can add to your abilities, but in much, much lower numbers than the hundreds of skill points you'll gain in deadEarth. I'd say you can use any skill points you will gain from the radiation manipulations to buy percentile points, but the exact costs will have to be tested. Just looking at the amount of skill points versus the amount of free percentile points you get, every +1% to a percentile ability should cost as many skill points as the new percentage number. This will bring in some math, but I have an app for that and no one else will ever do this anyway. :D

Of course, skill points are also used as a sort of mana pool for spells activated radiations, so you might as well keep some to power you superhuman powers.

But we'll be making lots and lots of rulings, anyway.

deadCrit Character Creation

  1. Roll 3d6 in order for your nine statistics from EC, ignore attributes from deadEarth.
  2. Roll for your character race.
  3. Pick if you want to be a cave primitive, advanced creature, or a hybrid. Do not roll any mutations from EC.
  4. Roll for your age, height and weight according to deadEarth, which also determines the amount of your skill points and radiations.
  5. Do not roll for natural in/abilities, ignore the Player's Choice and do not buy skills from dE.
  6. Roll for your radiation manipulations.
  7. Pick a character class.
  8. Determine your percentile abilities according to the EC tables and bonuses from race, class and radiations, then use your skill points to increase abilities of your choice.
  9. Gain money and buy equipment per EC rules, not per deadEarth rules.

If you're not dead by now, you are more lucky than most. Good job, go die in the first session.
Let's try it, shall we? It's probably going to backfire horribly.

For attributes, we got:
13 Adaptation
10 Dexterity
15 Extrasensory Perception
8 Intellect
17 Leadership
9 Luck
12 Magic Power
12 Robotic Nature
11 Strength

Not bad rolls at all! We have very high LEA and ESP, so unless that changes dramatically, I will go for the psi witch (read "Jedi") class.

Rolling for race... 72 is a Planetary Ape. That's +1 ESP, -1 LEA, -3 MAG, +1 STR, plus later +10% Lesser Feat and +10% Great Feat. Also roll for our sex... female. So of course her name is Zira.

She could go evolved or hybrid, but the first one would decrease her STR which she will need if she wants to swing a lightsabre, and the second would be too frivolous for our first character.
13 ADA, 10 DEX, 16 ESP, 8 INT, 16 LEA, 9 LUC, 9 MAG, 12 ROB, 12 STR

Going on to the deadEarth Player's Handbook, age is rolled on a d100 where 16-60 is kept and anything else gives you some modifiers and a reroll.
13 - Roll again and subtract 50 skill points. What a great start.
78 - Roll again and add 100 skill points. This could take a while.
83 - Roll again and subtract 100 skill points.
77 - Roll again and add 100 skill points. Sigh...
94 - Roll again and add a D6 to an attribute.
96 - Roll again and subtract a D6 from an attribute. I think the dice are pulling one on me.
74 - Roll again and subtract D6 radiation manipulations.
49 - Finally!

We've seen nearly all of the non-age options on the table, but now we know that Zira is forty nine years old, which in turn means she gets -5 Moves, -1 Strength, -3 Resiliency, 960 + d6x10 skill points and 3d6 radiations. That means a grand total of 12 radiations and 1060 skill points, after all adjustments.

The addition and subtraction from attributes will not apply to the nine above, as deadEarth has a helpful table of the attributes you can change by the rolls in character creation (and those above are called statistics anyway, plus it might be overpowered to just boost or loose them and we're all about game balance, right?). Instead we'll try to mitigate the penalty to Moves, or Zira will be one really slow ape. With +4, we have much more manageable -1 Move, but still need to deal with another d6 of penalty to, hmm... You know what? Height.

But first we should roll for it. That's 48 + 6d6 inches, so Zira is 71" (180 cm) tall, -5 penalty included. For weight, we roll 5d6 on a table that is missing in the Player's Handbook (sigh), but thankfully included in the Game Master's Handbook. We get 16, so Zira's weight is double her height in pounds: 142 pounds (64 kg).

Zira seems really skinny. Maybe she was ill?

We also get attribute modifiers from Zira's height and weight, found in yet another table: +2 Moves, -1 Resiliency and -2 Strength. Looks like Zira won't be so good at lightsabre-swinging after all. At least she is now at +1 Moves.

But now on to the main event - the radiation manipulations (no, I don't know why are they called that). There is one thousand of them in the Player's Handbook (PHB), another hundred each in two Radiation Table Supplements (RTS 1 and 2) and 200 more in the fan-made Attitudes supplement (TT), plus I'll slap the hundred mutations from my Encounter Critical Advanced Mutations Table (AMT) at the end of this list for a nice d1500. Let's do this!
[1] PHB 385: Antlers. In a curious cross with area wildlife, you have gained D6 horns or antlers of your choice on your head. cost: none. range: self. effect: cumulative.

Zira only gets one, so it shall be a beautiful unicorn horn!
[2] RTS1 1004: Testosterone treatment. Roll a D6 to determine your natural masculinity. Your roll determines which radiations you should add to your list from the deadEarth Player's Handbook. On a 1 take (333) Lost, (363) Dyslexia, (184) Sailor’s nightmare, and (409) Crash and burn. On a 2 take (129) Moot, (283) Indecisive, and (204) Boot-licker. On a 3 take (114) Know-it-all, (386) Brainiac, and (781) Dumbfounded. On a 4 take (502) Troll, (924) Hypertrophy, and (286) Dense. On a 5 take (572) Vile and (966) Grotesque. On a 6 take (115) Unlucky, (575) Fameless, (600) Twist of fate, (517) Beginner’s luck, and (339) Demon guide. If your character is female add (152) Gender switch, and make it permanent. And just because you’re a man add (RTS1-02) Sexually stupid. If your character is over the age of 40 add (RTS1-01) Senile from this table. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Now we're starting to see the fun of deadEarth radiations. ;) I rolled a 6 for natural masculinity.

Unhappy with her penalties to Strength, Zira took some medicine to muscle up. It didn't go so well.
PHB 115: Unlucky. From now on use one distinguishable die in all of your rolls. If that die rolls a one, subtract it and your highest die from your total. Roll your unlucky die again. If it rolls one again, something terrible will happen at the Game Master's discretion. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Ouch, that is not good for our hopeful psi witch. Because abilities in EC are rolled on a d100 and not with a bucketful of d6s, lower rolls are better and thus Unlucky should make Zira reroll low numbers. So we will reword this radiation as: If you roll a 1 on your tens die (results 10 - 19) when rolling a percentile ability, reroll.
PHB 575: Fameless. Just your luck, when ever you do something cool, no one is around to see it. You renown is permanently set equal to zero. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

That is even worse! I said I'll treat Renown as levels, but setting poor Zira's level permanently to 0 is too cruel for me. Instead, I'll say this doubles the experience requirements for Zira to advance a level. See how kind a GM I am?
PHB 600: Twist of fate. Your luck runs in streaks. Roll a D6 every week. On a roll of 1, 2, or 3, your luck is sour. You lose D6 on all skill rolls that week and bad things will tend to happen to you at the game master's discretion. On a roll of 4, 5, or 6, your luck is in. You gain D6 on all skill rolls that week and good things will tend to happen to you at the game master's discretion. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Getting +/-d6% to all percentile abilities on a week-by-week basis is not as bad as the previous ones, at least, though it is incredibly fiddly.
PHB 517: Beginner's luck. The first time you perform a skill it will automatically raise to 3D6 with no cost to you provided that you have met its prerequisites. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Skills in deadEarth start at 2d6, so I say this is free +d6% to all percentile abilities, rolled separately for each. Nice.
PHB 339: Demon guide. There is a little guy on your shoulder who is telling you what to do and where to go. The unfortunate part is that he always seems to lead you to misfortune. If something bad is going to happen to someone in your group, the game master will make sure it happens to you first. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Ouch once again. Zira is not lucky at all, but she is determined to survive at least the character creation! (And now I jinxed it.)
PHB 152: Gender switch. You become the opposite gender. cost: none. range: self. effect: cumulative.

Yeah, that. Maybe it wasn't just testosterone what Zira took? Given how much bad luck it brought to her, it seems like it was more of a deal with the devil demon guide.

Zira was a psi witch all her life, she was loyal and ready for anything her order required. At least she used to be ready. Now she was growing old (she's an ape, remember) and felt her powers wavering, her body no longer keeping up with her mind. She looked at the new padawans apprentice psi witches and felt obsolete. She wanted the strength of her youth back, she needed it all back, in case of a crisis or war or just because. The desperate will always find a way, and Zira found a warlock willing to sell her a potion he claimed to be a hormonal therapy, re-balancing her humours to make her strong once again.

It was a trap. The potion was not meant to empower her, it was meant to prepare the body and mind for possession and thus ease the incarnation of the warlock's patron into this world. The demon needed a living receptacle for his extradimensional spirit, a body and mind strong enough to hold his dark glory without burning up immediately. The warlock thought a psi witch would be perfect - already trained and accustomed to channelling power, Zira should make an exceptional vessel. And he was partially right. She was strong enough to survive the possession. She was too strong.

When the demon stormed into her, he expected little opposition. He flooded Zira's body and started to remake it in his image, turning her male and growing a horn, but then he was stopped. Zira fought back and prevailed. Unfortunately the summoning ritual was completely successful, so the demon couldn't be easily banished back beyond the veil, but he was trapped in Zira's mind, lock away and rendered impotent, or nearly so. He raged, oh how he raged. He screamed in Zira's thoughts for weeks and hurled his psychic force against the walls of his prison, but a psi witch's mind is a fortress.

But now Zira has a demon "guide" always whispering in the back of her mind and bent on her destruction. What little powers he can sneak out of the mind-cell he uses to bring all manner of misfortune on Zira's head, hoping that she will eventually loose her life or mind, releasing him to sate his wrath and lust for revenge on the rest of the world.
RTS1 1002: Sexually stupid. Flip a coin every time you encounter someone of your sexual preference. On heads, while in the presence of someone of your sexual preference, your senses, reason, resolve, intuition, charisma, guile, and influence are reduced by 3D6 each. cost: none. range: sight. effect: binary.

Sigh... I had no idea I would need to know such thing, so let me roll a d4 for Zira's sexual preference: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and asexual. She was a heterosexual woman and I see no reason her preferences should change along with her body, so now he's a gay man. Or maybe she's a straight trans-woman? I'm confused and quite sure someone will yell at me for this. Let's keep calling her "she" because she still thinks of herself as a woman, even though her body is now male. Stupid demon-based gender-bending.

Gives -9% to Appease, Argue, Clue, Crowd Manipulate, Logic, Psi Resist, Seduce and See the Future around men. Oh goody.

[3] TT 1380: Phthisis. You have contracted a strange wasting disease similar to tuberculosis of the lungs. Every D6 days lose 1 Strength, Resiliency and Moves. When resiliency is reduced to 0 you die. A doctor can save you with a difficulty 24 roll. With a difficulty 36 roll you will even recover your lost stats at one point per month. Cost: none. Range: Self. Effect: Cumulative.

Do you see now why surviving the character creation in deadEarth is kind of a big deal? And we're only at the third radiation out of twelve! Or maybe it's working as intended, with an inbuilt side quest right off the bat? No? Never mind.

After Zira's order, the Sisters of the Sabre, realised what she had done, they drove her out of the temple that was her home since she was a child. Devastated, humiliated and unable to stop her life from crumbling before her very eyes, Zira became homeless and hopeless. She slept on the streets, she wandered aimlessly in the back alleys of the city that once seemed so welcoming to her, she skulked in shadows and draped herself in rags as every stare seemed accusing to her. She was always hungry, soaked and chilled, despairing and barely sane as the demon continued to claw on her psyche. Her body eventually gave way.

And now we also know why she's so skinny.
[4] PHB 673: Radiation grab bag. Roll a D6 and apply the following condition according to your roll: 1) Remove a radiation of your choice from your list. 2) Remove a random radiation from your list. 3) Roll on the radiation table. 4) Roll twice on the radiation table. 5) Roll twice on the radiation table, but add only one of the rolls to your list of radiations. 6) Remove a radiation of your choice from your list of radiations, then roll on the radiation table. cost: none. range: self. effect: temporary.

Life on the streets is not kind and some of the rain might have been radioactive. Rolling 4...
PHB 622: Radiation aging. From now on, each radiation you gain effectively adds five years to your age. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Okay, Universe, I get it. This was a bad idea from the very start.

Imprisoning a spirit in your mind is no small feat. It drains your energies every second of a day, without respite. You have to dig deeper and deeper into your reserves, until you burn your very life force just to keep going. Zira can feel it, her life slipping away as it's spent to mitigate the damage of a demon rampaging within her soul.
PHB 504 Damage control. If an attacker successfully damages you, roll your Running against their attacking roll. If you beat their roll, you will lose no hit points. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Running translates to Lesser Feat roll to avoid damage - Zira was a nimble one in her younger days! Also she ages five years, so now she's 54. That pushes her to the next age category for further -2 to Moves, Resiliency and Strength.
[5] PHB 978: Jack of all trades. Remove all natural abilities and inabilities. All of your skills 2D6 or below are now at 3D6 and cannot be advanced beyond 6D6. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

That one's tricky. I will say it means Zira will have all her percentile abilities in the 30-60% range, no less and no more. We'll see how good or bad that will be later, after the radiation ordeal is done.

Younger Zira was good, but not exceptional in anything. She was too rash and impatient for that. She wanted to know and try everything, she wanted it now. She learnt a bit from every form of lightsabre combat, but had truly mastered none of them. She was trained in many psychic powers, but always ran from her teachers when another discipline caught her fancy. She was enthusiastic and not really thinking about the consequences.

This might be one of the reason why she ended up with a demon in her brain. It would be a valuable life lesson, if it wasn't rapidly killing her.

Five more years of age and now Zira is 59 years old with 5 Strength total and -8 modifier to hit points (those are rolled for your class, which we didn't pick yet). And if you think this is the game conversion not working, then no, that's not the (whole) problem. With so many penalties as Zira amassed, she would be way below zero even if she rolled attributes in core deadEarth.

We can even try it - you start with 2d6 Moves, 1d6+3 Resiliency and 0 Strength. So pure deadEarth Zira would have 5 Moves, -2 Resiliency and -7 Strength. At 0 Resiliency, you have a chance each day to die from a common disease or infection. At -1 Strength, you are crippled and cannot move under your own power. deadEarth is truly the most realistic and balanced game of them all.
[6] RTS2 1181: Ravenous. You now require 4 rations per day to survive. Add 10 pounds to your weight each month. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

I don't blame her that she eats as much as she can while there is something to eat, after starving on the streets for who knows how long. Putting on some weight will do no harm to her, anyway.

She also reached the end of the age table, so no more stat penalties for her.

Probably. Maybe. I don't know.

There is this one rule in the deadEarth Player's Handbook: Every year after the age of 40 apply a -1 modifier to either resiliency, strength, or moves. But there are values for starting stats adjustments up to the age of sixty, so it wouldn't make sense to also decrease random stats. If you rolled a starting age of 60, you would immediately get -20 to random stats in addition to the penalties on the age table! Maybe that sentence is applicable to years of in-game time, not to unnatural ageing during character creation? Yeah, let's go with that.
[7] PHB 354: Fervor. You may not be as skilled, but you try much harder than anyone else. Add 1 to all rolls. cost: none. range: self. effect: cumulative.

Oh! Something nice for a change! And it corresponds nicely to what we've learnt about Zira so far.
[8] RTS1 1041: Corrupt. Add D6 to guile and forgery. Subtract D6 from charisma. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

The demon is whispering, always threatening and tempting and giving advice that would lead her right off the slippery slope.

Gives +5% Argue, +4% Fake, -1% Appease and -2 Seduce.
[9] PHB 969: Slippery. Your skin secretes oils which keep it very slippery. Any combat maneuver which involves grabs, holds, etc. are at -2D6 to perform. +2D6 to escape. Clothing tends to be uncomfortable; if armor heavier than leather is worn, -2 moves. Your skin also tends to be reflective due to its sheen: -D6 to hide. cost: none. range: self. effect: binary.

Zira has a slick, matted fur that is nothing like the gossamer, perfumed fur of the lady-apes you'll often see on the streets, and she's well aware and ashamed of it. This might help to explain her awkwardness with all men, in addition to now being a male herself. Though she should really get over it, with this radiation her age is 79. Greasy fur does help in fight, however, and also makes water slide right off her body. She's native to the rainy City of Thunders in northern Vanth, so that's appreciated.

Gives -6% Melee Attack for grappling, +8% Sneak and -3% Invisibility.
[10] PHB 104: Supernova. When you die you will explode in a burst of energy. Anyone or anything within 10 feet of you will suffer 6D6 energy damage, 5D6 within 20 feet, and so on, reducing by a D6 for every 10 feet. cost: none. range: 60 feet. effect: binary.

That one can be taken word for word, I think.

The trapped demon burns with horrible hatred, waiting until he can finally burst free of this meaty prison and spread carnage in the world that he should have ruled. The second Zira dies, the demon will manifest in a column of flames and quench his thirst on the ashes of anyone nearby.
[11] PHB 267: Negative influence. Your pessimistic attitude affects everyone around you. Anyone performing a skill in your company must subtract a D6 from their roll, except you. cost: none. range: others in your presence. effect: binary.

Of course Zira has negative influence on those around her, she barely contains a demon in her head! All nearby creatures can sense him and will take -d6% to all percentile abilities from the distracting aura of malice.
[12] AMT 1448: Halo. Either a circle of holy radiance (take half laser and phasic damage), or a triangle of black, evil fire (take half fire damage). Equal odds.

That's one of my extra EC mutations, plus I rolled the evil variant! Zira is so consistent!

The single horn on Zira's forehead is surrounded by black fire, a mark of Glasya-Labolas of the Black Flame, Duke of the Bottomless Pit, Destroyer of Avarnach and First of the Dark Stars. The Sisters of the Sabre expelled her after recognising the mark and all implications thereof. The second she dies, Glasya-Labolas shall be released upon Vanth and all shall be consumed in black fire.

Whew, she survived, even though she's possessed, unlucky, slowly dying of tuberculosis and ninety four years old. But we still need to go over her class, abilities and equipment!

She's obviously a psi witch.

The qualifying stat for psi witches is ESP, which Zira has high enough to get a +10% Experience Bonus. She also starts with 2d6 hit points, and this will be a risky roll, because she has a -8 HP penalty from her advanced age, so she needs to roll at least 9 to avoid dying from too few hit points. If that happens, I say she succumbs to her consumption just before the start of the adventure, and the rest of the party can go investigate the mysterious black explosion that levelled up the tavern they should have had a meeting at, and maybe even find the trail of burned bodies that Glasya-Labolas will leave behind.

Wow. Zira gets a glorious single hit point, but she still lives, against all odds. She might have cross-mutated with a cockroach when we weren't looking.
13 Adaptation
10 Dexterity
16 Extrasensory Perception
8 Intellect
16 Leadership
9 Luck
9 Magic Power
12 Robotic Nature
5 Strength

Race: Planetary Ape
Class: Psi Witch
Hit Points: 1
Level: 1
Experience to Advance: 1062

Psi witches get several unique percentile abilities, plus they may use normal abilities in "psychic ways". For example Clue might work as sensing latent emotions or imprints of past memories instead of simply searching for clues, while Read Mind actually reads the mind and not just senses motive from body language.

We now have to reference our stats with tables in EC rulebook to find the level of all our percentile abilities, then modify them with the radiations we've rolled.
Alchemist: 30% (base 17%, +4% Beginner's Luck = 21% without Jack of All Trades)
Appease: 58% (base 56%, +3% Beginner's Luck, -1% Corrupt)
Argue: 47% (base 40%, +2% Beginner's Luck, +5% Corrupt)

Blind Attack: 37% (base 34%, +3% Beginner's Luck), later bought up to 50%
One of the psi witch specials, Blind Attack can be used instead of normal Attack abilities when fighting blind. Additionally a psi witch cannot go up a level until she wins a battle blind, which is one of the little rules that make Encounter Critical quite awesome.
Camping: 60% (base 63%, +3% Beginner's Luck = 66% without Jack of All Trades)
Clue: 30% (base 20%, +1% Beginner's Luck = 21% without Jack of All Trades)

Command: 60% (base 77%, +18% Interaction, +6% Beginner's Luck = 101% without Jack of All Trades)
Command Energy: 51% (base 49%, +2% Beginner's Luck)
Command Matter: 52% (base 48%, +4% Beginner's Luck)
The three Command abilities above are also psi witch specials, representing mind control, power over elements and telekinesis, respectively. Here Zira takes a big hit from Jack of All Trades, because a mind control with 101% success chance would be sweet (sure, the target gets a saving throw, but at least Zira would never fail to use the power correctly).
Conjure: 30% (base 2%, +4% Beginner's Luck = 6% without Jack of All Trades)
This ability is primarily for warlocks, but Zira can still "conjure" creatures by calling out loud and waiting who comes to look.
Consume Alien Food: 30% (base 10%, +1% Beginner's Luck = 11% without Jack of All Trades)
Crowd Manipulate: 60% (base 64%, +18% Interaction, +6% Beginner's Luck = 88% without Jack of All Trades)
Enrich: 30% (base 17%, +2% Beginner's Luck = 19% without Jack of All Trades)
Experience Bonus: 30% (base 1%, +10% high qualifying stat, +1% Beginner's Luck = 12% without Jack of All Trades)
Great Feat: 30% (base 1%, +10% Planetary Ape race, +3% Beginner's Luck = 14% without Jack of All Trades)
Guard: 60% (base 58%, +2% Beginner's Luck)
Happenstance: 30% (base 20%, +1% Beginner's Luck = 21% without Jack of All Trades)
Invisibility: 60% (base 68%, +4% Beginner's Luck, -3% Slippery = 69% without Jack of All Trades)
Labor: 60% (base 78%, +1% Beginner's Luck = 79% without Jack of All Trades)
Lesser Feat: 39% (base 25%, +10% Planetary Ape race, +4% Beginner's Luck), later bought up to 49%
Logic: 60% (base 65%, +3% Beginner's Luck = 68% without Jack of All Trades)
Machine Friend: 37% (base 32%, +5% Beginner's Luck)
Meld: 51% (base 50%, +1% Beginner's Luck)
Melee Attack: 30% (base 27%, +1% Beginner's Luck = 28% without Jack of All Trades)
Mistaken Identity: 30% (base 11%, +3% Beginner's Luck = 14% without Jack of All Trades)
Monster Friend: 30% (base 20%, +6% Beginner's Luck = 26% without Jack of All Trades)
Psi Resist: 47% (base 41%, +6% Beginner's Luck)
Psychic Implant: 41% (base 37%, +4% Beginner's Luck), later bought up to 42%
Ranged Attack: 55% (base 50%, +5% Beginner's Luck)
Read Minds: 46% (base 42%, +4% Beginner's Luck)
Restore Courage: 60% (base 69%, +18% Interaction, +1% Beginner's Luck = 88% without Jack of All Trades)
Saving Throw: 53% (base 48%, +5% Beginner's Luck)
Scholarship: 35% (base 34%, +1% Beginner's Luck)
Seduce: 60% (base 66%, +18% Interaction, +1% Beginner's Luck, -2% Corrupt = 83% without Jack of All Trades)
See the Future: 30% (base 6%, +2% Beginner's Luck = 8% without Jack of All Trades)
Sneak: 48% (base 36%, +4% Beginner's Luck, +8% Slippery)
Steal: 30% (base 13%, +2% Beginner's Luck = 15% without Jack of All Trades)
Survival: 43% (base 39%, +4% Beginner's Luck)
Unpleasant Order: 60% (base 57%, +5% Beginner's Luck = 62% without Jack of All Trades)

We also shouldn't forget the conditional -9% penalty to Appease, Argue, Clue, Crowd Manipulate, Logic, Psi Resist, Seduce and See the Future around men that Zira takes from Sexually stupid.
Unarmed Damage: 1d3
Melee Damage Bonus: -4
Ranged Damage Bonus: 0
Lbs. of Psychic Force*: 1

Interesting. Jack of All Trades cripples some of Zira's best abilities, but it also makes her somewhat competent at anything she tries. And stuff like Great Feat, See the Future or Steal benefits quite a bit from it.

But we also have 1060 skill points to spend because Zira got no activated radiation manipulations and thus has no reason to keep them.

We could boost our pitiful 30% Melee Attack, but that does nothing to mitigate the damage penalty from low Strength, or the unpleasant fragility of a single hit point. Zira won't be a lightsabre-wielding swordswoman, but at least her Ranged Attack and Ranged Damage Bonus are not outright abysmal. If she can get a solid ranged weapon, she might pull off a wandering sniperwoman.

However, Zira will need her Blind Attack to advance in character level, and Blind Attack applies to both melee and ranged as long as you can't see, as far as I can tell. Let's boost it to 50% for 572 skill points. Zira's Ranged Attack is still a bit better, but now she can more or less ignore lighting conditions in a fight.

We should also boost Lesser Feat, because not only is it used for all cool stunts, Zira can also use it to dodge thanks to Damage control. So for 445 skill points, we'll buy it up to 49% (we don't have enough skill points to get it up to 50%, sadly).

That leaves us with 43 more points and that's not really enough to buy anything cool, so instead we'll go for the least amount wasted and buy +1% Psychic Implant for 42 points.

That actually seems to be working pretty well!

Zira gets 600 gold credits to spend on her starting equipment. First of all, let's get a weapon:
lever-action rifle: 1d12+1 damage, range 35"/180", price 374 GC
ammo for 2 battles**: price 8 GC

Zira has such a low Strength that she cannot wear any armour properly. In the original Encounter Critical rules, the lowest Strength requirement for suits of armour was 8, so we need to look at the extra armour chart in the module Asteroid 1618 for lighter (and pretty expensive) armour that Zira can use without penalties. And I don't want to have an EC character without a utility belt, because them pouches!
molecule vest: kinetic defense 30%, energy defense 15%, price 200 GC, requires 5 Strength
utility belt w/pouches: price 5 GC

Rations are 1 GC per day, but Zira needs four times that, so she can only afford food for three days. And for her last gold credit, I think she deserves a swig of ale for all her troubles.
rations x12
ale x1

And finally, let's roll once on the table of extra gear, just for fun: 146.
cool-looking scars

That was really, really fun and really, really long. Zira survived a total of twenty one radiation manipulations and ended up as a more or less playable EC character.

Would I recommend the radiation manipulations from deadEarth to anyone trying to spice up their character creation? No. But there is some strange, masochistic charm in the unplayable, deranged results they seem to consistently produce. If you want to punish your players with really nasty mutations, deadEarth might be an inspiration.

*) Psychic Force is supposed to give the GM a rough idea of how much a psi witch can do with her Command abilities.
**) Ammo in EC costs 1/100th the cost of the weapon per battle. Pretty simple and handy.