Etherscope

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Etherscope is a grimdark Gaslamp Fantasy (or at least Screampunk/Cyberpunk hybrid) setting released under the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition ruleset. It takes place on a version of Earth where a radical new theory emerged at the last moment that not only revitalized interest in the seemingly disproven theory of the Luminiferous Ether (no, probably not that one), but proved it to be a reality. The ability to use ether as a fuel source and a medium for conduction ushered in science on a far faster scale than existed in our reality, resulting in a world that, by 1984, had access to genetic engineering technology, cybernetic implants, and virtual reality as a public entertainment medium. Truly, the world is a paradise!

...So long as you ignore the little details. Like the fact that the world is divvied up in a cold war between the British Empire, America, and the German New Reich, none of which have morally progressed beyond the Victorian era in terms of morals. Or that eugenics has remained in vogue to the point that not only does the Eugenics League openly seek to breed a superior strain of humanity, they have engineered slave-races by splicing humans with animal DNA to replace the massacred workforce of Britain after enormous numbers of men, women and children were slaughtered to put down a revolution against the British monarchy. Or the little fact that the etherspace humanity is exploiting just so happens to be Hell, and the local fiends are getting rather ticked off at humanity cluttering up their backyard.

But apart from that, everything's peachy! Right?

Races[edit]

Etherscope, being based on the "divergent Earth" approach to Gaslamp Fantasy, is naturally a humanocentric setting; all races in the setting are more human subraces than anything. This is the result of the Eugenics League, a world-wide bio-tech company that grew out of the eugenics theories of the early 1900s. To try and escape the stigma that eugenics picked up due to its association with those wacky Nazis, the Eugenics League of Etherscope is stated to have undergone a major paradigm shift at some undefined point from the real world movement's focus on "negative eugenics" (weeding out undesirable genes) to "positive eugenics" (fostering the growth of desirable genes).

Note that this doesn't stop the Eugenics League from trying to engineer a "perfected" strain of humanity to supplant the baselines with, or engineering entire slave-races of human subspecies, it just means they're not classical Victorian-style racists and instead promote race-mixing as actively good for humanity's evolution and development.

The main races of Etherscope are Baseline Humans (Or "Beta Humans" in Eugenics League terminology), Alpha Humans, Transgenic Humans (the collective name for Gamma, Delta and Epsilon Humans), and Fey.

Baseline/Beta Humans[edit]

These are your average normal working joes. What more is there to say? They use the standard rules for humans in 3rd edition.

Alpha Humans[edit]

Since the Eugenics League came to power over eighty ears ago, they have been using their influence to arrange for selective breeding amongst "superior specimens" of baseline humanity. Finally, within the last thirty years, their breeding programs have begun to pay off with the production of a new strain of genetically superior man, a human offshoot that the Eugenics League is cultivating to assume dominion over the world.

Alpha humans are tall and show the benefits of good breeding and a desire to push the boundaries of their perfection. They have a pale grey-brown skin tone, large eyes of all normal human colours, and dark hair. They are good looking and in fine physical condition. However, the breeding program has only just begun to show noticeable results, meaning that all characters of this race are younger than thirty years old. Alpha humans are smarter and more socially aware than other humans. They are typically better looking and have a natural charisma. They are also fine athletes, often preferring finesse sports to those of brute physical force. The Eugenics League has sought improved resistance to disease rather than an increased general “ruggedness” to the alpha human.

Human: Alpha Humans gain the benefits of the Human race type; a bonus feat at 1st level and the usual skill-points for listed classes.
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution
Increased Resilience: +2 to Fortitude saves against Disease and Poison.
Social Standing: Alpha Humans may not begin the game with a Working Class social template.
Increased Influence: Alpha Humans start the game with 4 bonus Influence points and receive 1 bonus Influence point at each level.
Level Restriction: In the Etherscope version of the Level Adjustment, Alpha Humans start the game with an EXP deficit of -1,000 experience points, requiring them to adventure longer before they can begin gaining levels.

At the DM's discretion, a player can also play an Alpha Bastard, the fruit of a byblow between an alpha human and a beta human who managed to gain the innate genetic boosts but who wasn't taken into the League's specialist rearing program. These characters lack the Social Standing and Increased Influence traits, and at the DM's discretion may also have a lower EXP penalty.

Gamma Humans[edit]

The first of the transgenic strais to be engineered, Gamma Humans are humans spliced with rodent DNA to create a disease and toxin-resistant, fast-breeding slave race that could be used to replace the massively depleted workforce of Great Britain after the Tory-led government slaughtered thousands of common workers in response to nation-scale riots over poor working conditions and pay.

Unfortunately for the Eugenics League, these early model transgenic humans were still highly independent and self-aware, and had very little interest in remaining slaves. They are the most common and independent of all the three transgenic strains, and have built large subterranean cities in the sewers and industrial areas of the world, where their resilience protects them from the harsh environment. Due to their not having been infected with the "slave genes" that undermine the independence and self-awareness of their Delta and Epsilon cousins, they are spreading quite prominently across the world, and it's possible that they, rather than the Alpha Humans, will truly inherit the planet.

Gamma humans were engineered using rodent DNA and typically show the signs. Their incisors are enlarged, but do not keep growing constantly like those of rodents. They are smaller than most humans, averaging about 4 feet in height. Gammas have the usual long noses and sloping brows of all transgenic strains. Gammas also have a large amount of body hair, even the women. Facial hair, particularly sideburns, and forearm and leg hair are most obvious. Typical gamma men are as hirsute as the hairiest normal human male, and women have perhaps as much hair as a more typical human male, excluding their torsos, which remain hairless. Gammas have brown or near black eyes and brown or grey hair. Gamma eyes are their most recognisable feature, being exceptionally small and beady.

Human: Gamma Humans gain 1 additional feat and the usual skill points at starting level.
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -2 Strength
Small
Immunities: +4 on saves against Disease.

Delta Humans[edit]

Delta Humans were bred in the wake of the recognized failure of the Gamma Humans. Crafted using canine DNA, delta humans were engineered to be skilled laborers, though also engineered for compliance; they suffer an inability to stand up for themselves and a natural compliance, and whilst individuals may overcome this, they are simply not as driven and independent as even their ratty kinsfolk. Perhaps due to this balance between intelligence and complicant, Delta Humans have become the greatest success story of the transgenic strains; though they are numerically the rarest of the three breeds, they are the most successfully integrated into mainstream society.

As with all transgenic strains of humanity, the deltas are noted for their long noses, sloping foreheads, and small eyes. Deltas are also identifiable by their protruding jaws, carnivore teeth, and thin lips, giving their faces a permanently angry expression. Unlike the gammas, they are no more hirsute than the average human, and their bodies are typically good examples of the human physique. Their skin is usually very pale and they are prone to sunburn. Their hair is thick, long and shiny, giving it a dog-fur-like texture. It is often patterned with streaks of a different colour or even patches, but is most commonly black and tan — the colours of the Manchester terrier and Doberman pincher. Their nose is a peculiar shape, wider at the brow than the tip, and curves outward and then back down towards the muzzle.

Human: Delta Humans gain 1 additional feat and the usual skill points at starting level.
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Scent
Reduced Spirit: Delta Humans receive only 1 Excellence Point at 1st level.

Epsilon Humans[edit]

The last of the three transgenic strains, Epsilons were bred from the humble horse to create a compliant, strong and resilient race of laborers and general workhorses (pun not intended). Though they suffer a crippling lack of self-esteem and are easily cowed by design, the truth is that even the Eugenics League couldn't entirely breed out free will, and so there are leaders and potentially rebels starting to emerge from amongst the ranks of this race. Epsilons are not as common as Gammas, but more so than Deltas.

Epsilons have even longer noses and shorter brows than the other transgenic strains, but their eyes are not nearly so small. However, their eyes are very noticeable, due to the large space between them. Most noticeable, however, are their long, wide, flat noses, which take up most of their faces. An epsilon typically suffers from a pronounced overbite and crooked or decayed teeth. Epsilon humans are taller than most, averaging 6-1/2 feet tall. They are thickset but largely hairless, growing hair only on the very top of their heads, although the hairline continues down the spine. Whilst it is the style for the older generation to shave off this hair, it is becoming a more modern trend to let it grow and style it as a thick mane.

Human: Epsilon Humans gain 1 additional feat and the usual skill points at starting level.
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -4 Charisma
Improved Lifting: An Epsilon Human treats its Strength as +2 points higher for purposes of carrying weight.
Reduced Spirit: Epsilon Humans receive only 1 Excellence Point at 1st level.

Fey[edit]

Finally, the only truly non-human race in the Etherscope world are the Fey. No, these are not the fey you're thinking of, but instead an offshoot homo sapiens subrace who diverged from the ancestral line of apes at an earlier point that humans did. They once ruled over the lost nation of Lemuria, which built itself to glory on the basis of its magic - and was then destroyed by its magic due to the denizens of Hell coming a'calling for their debt. Ever since then, the race has hidden itself amongst humanity, and the vast majority of humans has no idea that this elder cousin race walks in secrecy amongst them.

Fey appear human. Their skin and hair are pale, and their eyes are often green, hazel, or dark blue. They are tall and slender, but not outside the norms of humanity. Their features are fine and pointed, with narrow noses, slightly narrowed eyes, and small, squared-off ears. Their true anatomical differences are hidden beneath the skin; the internal organs, blood vessels and other subtle components of their anatomy are very diffferent to those of humans, especially when their brains are compared. This can have life-threatening complications when surgery is required if a non-fey doctor is the only available option.

Non-Human: Fey do not gain a bonus feat at 1st level, reduce their 1st level skill points by -4, and reduce all skill point gains from then on by -1.
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Strength, -2 Wisdom
Unearthly Beauty: +4 racial bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy Checks.
Ethersence: By touching a target item or person and spending 1 Excellence point, a fey can make a Wisdom check with their character level as a bonus to the roll. If they beat DC 15, they learn whether the object of their scrutiny has ethertech components. If they beat DC 20, they learn whether a target character is using occult powers during that round. If they beat DC 30, they gain a limited understanding about what the purposes of the power or item is.
Scope Familiar: When a Fey enters the Etherscope artificial reality, they gain the presence of a Familiar.
Unusual Anatomy: Non-fey suffer a -4 penalty on Knowledge (Medicine) checks made to perform surgery on fey.