As I mention over on the W20 Blog, the Editing Pass of Doom™ is done on W20: Changing Breeds. Which is nice. What’s next?

Apotheosis Drive X is coming along nicely. At time of writing, it needs just another $1000 to see Topher Gerkey’s Apotheosis of the Rose: Princess Drive X funded. After that, the funds go towards funding my own Guardians of Steel. I’m working on the outline for that now and realising that what started as a system for gaming robot toys punching the crap out of each other has a surprising depth and nuance when taken beyond the initial spectacle. Reading the old Grant Morrison Zoids comics really helped with that. The initial pitch is below the cut, but my ideas are racing at the mo.

Also, I’ll be a guest at Conpulsion up here in Edinburgh, running Werewolf20 and BLACK SEVEN. The con will feature an exclusive sneak preview of the Skinner SAS (“exclusive” assuming it doesn’t come out between now and then, anyway) that I’m running as a prize in the charity auction.

Guardians of Steel

High Concept If I were to boil Guardians of Steel down to a single pop-culture-laden sentence, I’d go with: “Normal people get Iron Man armor to fight against alien virus Transformers who worship Mechagodzilla as their Cthulhu”. I wasn’t staring at the shelf above my computer when writing the pitch, honest…

Setting A supposedly harmless cloud of space dust passing through the solar system turned out to be a nanoplague, a disease that infects advanced technology — anything that needs electricity. It starts slow, but small devices like cellphones and dishwashers transform into alien robots. Then they go out and find other alien robots and slowly combine together into larger threats, consuming larger objects as they do — using those larger objects for raw matter and for disguise. They have a violent reaction to animal life, attacking it wherever possible with caustic brake fluid, burning gasoline, and whatever other weapons they’ve devised. These strange creatures grow in intelligence as they grow in size, until they spend much of their time praying to the mad dead robot gods lurking beneath the crush depths of any submarine.

Only one has answered their prayers. Everything within a hundred miles of Seattle is still uninhabitable.

Guardians are normal humans with a benevolent mutation that enhances the alpha brainwave — which somehow purges the nanoplague from everything within about a meter. They’ve got no training — Guardians aren’t the result of a military research programme, they’re just about anyone you could meet. One has spent the last couple of years weaponising the results of the nanoplague. He developed the Guardian Frame, a suit of power armor, and he funds the Guardian Strike Team — our protagonists.

Tone Guardians of Steel is very much taking from the 80s tradition of having a cartoon that’s an extended toy commercial, a Michael Bay reboot movie, and a UK comic book that goes beyond the flash and spectacle of both — specifically, thinking about Grant Morrison’s work on the old Zoids comic and Simon Furman’s original Transformers work. So you’ve got one tone that’s very bright and flashy and threats and disasters don’t tend to have long-reaching implications. One where the world’s on the brink of destruction, and holy shit Seattle doesn’t exist any more. And one that dives into the roots of the conflict, the incompatible paradigms of the invaders and the Guardians, and that builds up long chains of action and consequence.

System Rules-wise we’ve got power armor that adapts to what you did as a day job. Dancer? You get enhanced neural pickups so you can move with superhuman precision, dodging first bullets and then lasers. Singer? Your suit develops sonic weapons keyed off your voice that vibrate robots to pieces. Pizza delivery guy? Suborbital jumps that get you and your team anywhere in the same hemisphere in 30 minutes. We’ve also got giant alien robot gods against characters who are very much human scale, so the idea of having a monster that is the battlefield is right in there. Yes, I’m a big fan of Last Stand.