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Amish Johnson and the Pegasus Chamber
Phantasm Voyage is the story of Aaron “Amish” Johnson, a student of the twenty-second century, and his rather exciting journey into a virtual world fraught with danger. Aaron is content to live on his family’s wind farm but is forced into going to school in the ultra-tech burgeoning city of New Detroit. With reluctance he attends the new high school in the Kamen Tower, a one hundred and eighty-six story skyscraper on the outer rim of New Detroit.
There Aaron meets up with Bruce Greene, a kid who is as opposite to him as any of the other twelve hundred students at the school. Aaron is accustomed to the simple life on the farm, while the kids at the school have lived their lives within the steel and glass towers have lost all connection to the natural world. Bruce has the nickname of Cirrus, for he lives within the clouds of the megalopolis, befriends Aaron and introduces him to his pals Qin, Jack, Addison, and Chloe. Although shy and awkward, Aaron tries to become part of the gang.
By accident, he obtains a secret code to the Pegasus Chamber, a virtual simulation so real that participants cannot tell reality from fantasy. What was meant to be a party in a virtual beach in paradise suddenly becomes a tooth-and-nail fight for survival. The kids find themselves in more danger than any back alley of New Detroit. Forging together, the gang head off on the wildest adventure they could ever imagine.
As Aaron tries to discover why the simulation has not ended, he is determined to convince his new friends that the virtual world is just as real as their lives in New Detroit. Along the way, Aaron meets up and falls in love with Anne, a mysterious girl that for all practical purposes should not be in the simulation. As the group of kids comes to grip with their own mortality, they experience breathtaking vistas, savage beasts, and ancient ruins filled with danger.
As the gang fights their way to a beacon of hope, they unravel a great mystery on who and why they are trapped within the virtual world. From the confines of an ancient ruin, a maniacal scientist conspires to somehow bridge the gap between the real world and the simulation. The demented scientist believes the sacrifice of the children will allow him to return to reality. The doctor captures the kids and with the help of bloodthirsty priests prepares to sacrifice the kids one by one, until the mana needed to bridge the gap is sustainable to open a doorway back to his laboratory.
Aaron must overcome his shy and introverted temperament to battle the mad scientist, freeing his friends and finally escaping the virtual simulation. Aaron discovers that perhaps there is very little difference between either realities and must make the decision to go home or stay in the virtual chamber with the girl he has learned to love. As he stands in the threshold between the real world and the virtual chamber, he is torn between the world he calls home and the place he has found love.
Aaron returns in the sequel of the Pegasus Chamber, in the Leprechaun’s Legacy to once again battle the evil Dr. Morgan, this time to save his young brother’s life. Relying on both virtual and real friends, he battles the mad scientist this time in a world of the fey.
I sit in front of my computer looking at the first book of Phantasm Adventures, and marvel that most of the book is completely done. What is left to do is editing and formatting the basic text. For me this is the endless battle that I engage in. I pour over each page looking for ways to tweak the rules, to clear up cluttered language, to sharpen the expamples, to format the rules to fit better on each page.
I think I will slip on the June release of the game since we are almost at the end of the month, and next month I have a week where I head up north to a place with no computers — alas, I just found out that it will not have any heat either.
Major portions of the game are done, including character generation, races, classes, faction, and most of the skill description. Some big battles are still ahead, however, with the looming equipment section still to be hammered out. In the past, I simply scanned the original pages that I made twenty years ago and used them from one version to the next. I think this time, I will need to do something different. I am unsure if I want to continue to use Word for this or perhaps use a spreadsheet and import the tables into word and ultimately Indesign.
Sometimes I feel like I am treading water with the editing, retracing my steps over and over, and amazingly finding new things to change each time I re-read the rules. At a certain point I will just admit that it is good and push on to the next step — publishing the game.
I look forward to the first book being done, but my pleasure will only be short lived since I still will have three other books to publish. Most shocking is that book three and four are mostly unwritten and will take herculean effort to finish.
Just a quick note to all that visit here: I am still plugging away at Phantasm Advetures, but it has been slowing down in the last couple of weeks. I seem to go into bouts of feverish work then wander off to explore other avenues of creative thought.
Then there is times like now where I do nothing really except work, come home, and twaddle on the computer playing computer games. Being an ametuar game designer, I profess that playing games is fun and theruputic but one must also persue other things in life than just playing games.
I find it ironic that some of the richest and most successful MMO players are people that are holed up in a dark little shadow of reality living their life through the game. I often wonder if they used the same enthusiasm and people skills to organize a raid to slay an uber boss, what they could achieve in the real world.
But enough about my philosphy on life. I am taking some time here in a few weeks to really go through the rules and start whipping them into shape.
As I feverishly edit and redesign the 4th edition of my classic role-playing game, Phantasm Adventures, I have put together an abbreviated list of all the races that players can select when generating a character. The list is complete in the sense of what races are going into the game, but really nothing more than notes to myself of what they are and a very brief description (often just a sentence or two). This will give you an idea of the breadth and scope of the game that I am working on.
Anubin: A lanky bipedal canine with a long muzzle and short pointed ears. Gains a +1 for each additional anubin in the group (pack).
Avioux : A lean bird like race that is more avian in appearance than humanoid. They have the ability to fly with grace and unusual speed. Smaller in stature, they have small clawed hands at the tips of their wings.
Batmen : A diminutive race of bat creatures than can float and soar with outstretched hands. They have the unique ability of Sonar, allowing them to see in pure darkness and also invisible objects.
Brownie : One of the many faerie races, the brownie is one of the smallest of the races but makes up for their size with incredible intelligence and magical aptitude.
Bugbear: A lesser race of gigantic humanoids with thick bandy arms and a rotund chest. Hairy and bestial the bugbear makes for a large and ominous warrior.
Delphian: A lithe and slender race of lizardmen, a bit more agile and less armored than his serpentine relatives.
Dryad: Mystical creatures that have the natural form of a young tree but can transform for periods of time into a sensuous female or male figure.
Dwarf: Stocky and powerful humanoids who have developed an advanced culture underground. Ages of subterranean life has augmented the race with uncanny abilities of spelunking and stone lore.
Eagles, Giant: A race of eagles that are sentient and ten times the size of the normal variety. Giant eagles have a natural propensity of morality and goodness, often acting as agents to the forces of law and order.
Elf, Gray: A noble breed of humanoid, which appear to be human but are as different to them as man is to the fey or a bugbear. Immortal in age, the grey have cultures spanning tens of thousands of years.
Elf, High: Another breed of elf that also has a legacy of immortality and a pedigree of morality towards law and order. High elves tend to be taller and leaner than grays and man, having highly elongated faces, ears, and noses. They are extremely agile and nimble, as well as having a high degree of intelligence.
Gillmen: The only fully aquatic intelligent life on Monokon. The seas and oceans of the world is their kingdom, only rarely venturing from the rolling waves to interact with the other races
Gimp: A diminutive creature that resembles a scrawny gargoyle with no wings. The gimp has bandy legs that give him the uncanny ability to jump like a grasshopper, bounding tens of feet into the air – they are the acrobats of Monokon, jumping and leaping in graceful dance.
Gnoll: A derivative of the anubin, the gnoll has a lengthy lineage between man and the arctic wolves. Somewhere in the ancient past, a haughty wizard combined the two to create the gnoll. Solitary and ruthless, these creatures hunt in packs as well as alone.
Gnome: The skinny gnome is the terrestrial cousin of the dwarf, having found a home in the dense forests of Monokon; they are more gaunt and agile than their dwarven kin. Who is to say where in the ancient past the gnome and dwarf separated, or even who is the parent race?
Gzol-Uk: Once a powerful galactic agent for a long lost empire, the gzol-uk are a trimanus-triped species (three arms and three legs) that have degenerated into a barbaric race that ekes out an existence in the salt flats of the Great Desert.
Hfl, Flatfoot : Three words describe the flatfoot: short, fat, and jovial. They are a race of humanoids that tend to care more about eating, dancing, and drinking than anything else.
Hfl, Hairfoot: Much like their flatfoot brethren, the hairfoot often have simple lives filled with the pleasure of the palette and the senses. They enjoy the simple things in life, as much as the jewels, gold, and gaudy luxuries of the other races.
Harpy: A race that is half bird and humanoid – great wings of a predator bird and the chest and arms of a man. The legs of the harpy are bony clawed stumps highly developed for grasping and tearing. They have a special ability to stun or soothe with their voice.
Hawkman: A race of tall, lean humanoids with a pair of huge eagle like wings. The hawkmen also sport many avian influences including a feathered scalp and talon like finger and toenails.
H. Hyborak: A bullish and robust offshoot of the Kelteks. Hyborakians are larger, stronger and more temperamental than other humans. Hyboraks live in the great expansive north, ranging freely or in small villages.
H. Stygian: The race of the stygian a tall, lanky, and the color of the darkest of nights. Some say they are related to the drow, but there is no direct evidence of this. Found in the southern climates of Monokon they have forged great alliances with the thras and elven nations. Their cities are beautiful works of architecture, festooned with domes of gold and silver and columns studded with rare gems.
The imp has the amazing ability to jump and perform acrobatic movements.
Jack O’Latern: A race of bewitched pumpkins that often add a mannequin of straw, wood, or earth. The creatures will also slowly etch maniacal patterns into the large gourds or pumpkins that they posses. As their bodies develop, so does its ability to use the appendages. Jacks can be found in all lands of Monokon.
Ogre : Not much needs to be said about the huge loathsome beast except that they are even more cruel and aggressive than thought possible. Huge, hairy and violent – three words that describe them best
Orcs single purpose in life is to inflict pain and misery to others.
Orc‑magi; Ever so slightly more elf than the orc. Orc-magi are magical by nature and have tamed the mystical arts. Often in company with orcs, the magi act as leaders for the twisted bloodline.
Rabbitman: An anamorphic race of rabbits. The race on the whole is quick witted and agile, preferring a life of the open
Rammon: Much like the minotaur, the rammon has the head and body shape of a ram rather than a bull.
Ratman; Similar to the mouseman, this race lives in the sewers and dark caverns of the underground eeking out a living. Ratmen are not magical, but many prize the possession of shiny objects imbued with mystical power.
Rock Giant: Another gigantic humanoid with rock like skin, similar to the stone giant. Rocks are more aggressive and single-minded in their pursuit for magic, gold, and glory.
Satyr: the hind quarters of a goat and the torso, arms, and head of a child – often many with tiny horns on their forehead. Satyrs are magical, and imbued with the spirit of happiness and the willingness to frolic at any occasion.
Saurig: The race at the end of a billion years of development. These massive lizards are slow witted but highly adaptable saurian, armored and often envenomed they are willing mercenaries in conflicts across the globe.
Slidge: An amorphous sentient blob. The slidge has no internal skeleton but is contained in layers of fibrous muscled tissue. Highly intelligent and aggressive the slidge roams the world seeking knowledge, magic, and power.
Sprite: The most diminutive of all the species, even the mouseman towers over the tiny sprite. Part bird and part fey, this tiny race lives in aged elm and oak trees. Highly magical, the sprite is far more dangerous with its magic than an ogre is with twelve feet of cold wrought iron
Stone Giant: One of the tallest races on the list. The stone giant is often mistaken for marble statues because of his grey hard skin and sculpted muscles. A somber and quiet race, they live apart from the rest of the races of Monokon, often deep in thought.
Tafyboce: Another celestial being from the stars. Little is known about the original worlds where the tafyboce originated, but some suggest they were in league with the gzul-uk. They are another three legged, three armed creature with a bulbous body and a massive maw at the apex of their pear shaped torso.
Treants: A sentient plant form, the treant may appear as any genus of tree but usually tends to be large deciduous oak or maple. Their branches act as hands and their roots as small feet.
Trolls: Gruesome cousins of the ogre, the troll is large, green, and a real fightin’ machine. The troll can regenerate but has a fear of fire.
Troglodyte: A magical combination of the kobold and a lizardman.
Turtlemen; as the name suggests, this race resembles turtle except they walk on elongated legs. The turtlemen have an armored chest and thick scaly appendages. Some are known to be rather agile and have taken up the parth of the martial artist.
Unicorns: The pinnacle of magic, honor, and beauty the unicorn is the horse with the single straight horn on its forehead.
Ursoids: Imagine a centaur, but the lower extremity of a grizzly bear rather than a horse. Ursoids are massive creatures that tend to live alone or in solitary groups.