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secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.



The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game

4: No More Backgrounds

Let's wrap this up. Thankfully, all the odd ducks were saved for last!

Tairen

You'd BETTER be a male channeler if you're going to dress like a madman.

Tear is basically the anti-Illian (which is why the two are constantly at odds). Place is ruled by a group known as the High Lords, who give the finger to anyone who isn't nobility or Tairen. They can do this, and not get their drat heads stomped in, because Tear has a massive fortress known as the Stone of Tear which has fallen a grand total of 0 (zero) times, and will not, according to prophecy, until the Dragon Rebor- oh. Oh.

The book assumes we're pre-Rand, though, at least in describing their culture. He sort of flips the loving table on them.

As assholes, Tairens don't get anything amazing feat or skill-wise, but they do get what's one of the weirder abberations (typos?) in the book with a four-but-actually-three choice list for equipment:
  • Horse (light), bit & bridle, riding saddle, courtier's outfit
  • "Money and dice or cards" (this is how it's written in the book, but I think this was meant to be removed in favor of the next one...)
  • 35 silver marks, dice or deck of playing cards
  • mail shirt

Best class(es): If you are honestly shocked that I say "noble" here, you may have a negative INT bonus. Also, armsmen.

Tar Valoner

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FAAAAAACE EVERYTHING

Tar Valon is a small nation, but it contains the White Tower, home of the Aes Sedai, and so it is not to be hosed with lightly. Place is beautifully constructed, mostly because it is effectively Fantasy Vatican City: when you have a population of ~1500 tops, you can keep the place in good order with ease. Not shockingly, containing some of the world's best channelers and swordsmen, it's pretty orderly, and well-learned. Also, and this should be obvious: no real bias against channelers. Female channelers, anyway.

Choose the Tar Valoner background if:
- Your father banged an Aes Sedai and you want to tell everyone
- You want to be educated without being a Noble specifically
- You want any craft/knowledge/profession skill, because they can pick one of those off the bat without any kind of restriction

  • Warder's Sword, studded leather armor
  • light crossbow, hooded lantern, small steel mirror
  • 65 silver marks

What's a Warder's Sword, you ask? It's a bastard sword, they just call it that in this world.

Best class(es): Initiate, Armsman

Taraboner

If you want to play a Myrddraal, Tarabon is the background for you

THESE DUDES loving LOVE MASKS. Poor people wear veils, everyone else has custom masks they wear when doing anything but eating/drinking. Combine this with being a poor-man's Domani in terms of excess and hedonism, and you can totally believe they don't take the things off in the bedroom. I don't think I really need to say more given the picture of Voldo up there. They're also the nation that contains the Illuminator's Guild: these dudes make fireworks and they're cool by me. Super-secretive, though.

Their background bonus feat is "Living History", because they like to think they're a remnant of old world culture. You get +2 on all knowledge checks from it. Could be worse! Skills are real thief-oriented, with Appraise, Hide, Move Silently, and Open Lock. Not shockingly, so is the equipment...
  • thieves' cools, hooded lantern, crowbar, small steel mirror
  • masterwork artisan's tools
  • Illuminator's rocket (a firework, basically)

Best class(es): Wanderer wanderer wanderer holy hell make these dudes wanderers.

Seanchan
There are no good pictures of Seanchan in the book.

So waaaaay long ago, but after the Breaking, the legendary king Arthur Hawkwing sent his armies out across the sea to see what the world was like elsewhere after that huge clusterfuck with the reshaping of continents and all. By the time of the novels, those dudes came back. They are the Seanchan, a people with some of the strongest old blood you'll see, and tamed creatures of all sorts at their command... including channelers, kept leashed by women who, it is not well known, are ALSO channelers, or have the spark for it. Needless to say, this is a secret the ruling Seanchan will kill to protect...

These dudes are part of the very, very minor additions that came in the Prophecies of the Dragon adventure book (AKA "the only other WoT d20 book aside from core"). They gain a single new background feat others can't take: "Handler". You gain Animal Empathy as a class skill, and can pick a domestic animal (given the Seanchan, this is a broad loving reach). You get +2 to all Animal Empathy, Handle Animal, and Ride checks involving that animal. Cool thing the Seanchan get others don't? Bonus language choice: "Old Tongue". poo poo is hard as hell to learn normally, the only methods mentioned in-book involve a) being a Noble and spending 2 whole points of INT bonus to learn it (you can spend one, but then only end up knowing "a smattering" of the language), or b) see the next background. Their gear, too, is relatively exotic:

  • Seanchan spear, brigandine shirt
  • light crossbow, Seanchan scimitar
  • noble's outfit, jewelry (20 mk value)

Best class(es): They can be built into drat near anything. They're not particularly strong with anything other than animal handling, though, and trying to be a Seanchan channeler would make a lore nerd's head explode.

Ogier

Wait, what nation are YOU from?!

Recall when I said there were only two naturally occurring "races" in WoT-world? Ogier are the other. Dudes are BIG (8-10 feet average height). They're somewhat glacial in action, but it's more of a slow, planned state they live in. Dudes can live to be 300+, they take their time. Excellent craftsmen, some have the ability to "sing" to wood and shape it into wonderous creations... or, very, very rarely, weapons. (A staff. You're not wielding a sung-wood sword or anything.) I could go into a huge amount of loredump here but this is prooooobably all that's relevant for PC-purposes. Oh, also, very few Ogier leave their home turf (called steddings), because to do so for long periods of time (and keep in mind, this is Ogier we're discussing, so that can be a decade or so) causes them "the Longing", where continuing to avoid a stedding may well kill them. The two are interconnected and need each other. (Incidentally, some male channelers try to stave off madness inside stedding, as the One Power cannot be sensed or channeled inside them. If you ever need to hide from Aes Sedai, an abandoned stedding is the place to be.)

Being an actual seperate race, they go through character building a little differently from all the others. They get to pick a background feat, but don't get a special one. They get to piggyback on a few others, though, including Tarabon's "Living History", as choices. To be Ogier is to be huge but clumsy (+4 STR, -4 DEX), and did I mention big (Large creatures, all). You end up with low-light vision, +2 to Fort saves, Listen checks, and Craft checks involving stonework or building construction (no, really). Ogier can also learn Old Tongue. The downside to this package, though, is you also have the most skill/feat restrictions in the game: no riding, armor proficiencies, or weapon proficiencies (save simple)... even if your class would grant it*. You cannot ever gain levels in any channeler class. You will gain no background equipment.

* You can learn these things LATER, but they cannot be gained at character creation by any means.

Ogier are a massive tradeoff and I don't know if I'd say the bonuses outweight the penalties. Very, very clearly the things you lose are meant to be "dead levels" you make up to even you out against others... but you're also losing a good chunk of DEX and being easier to hit for most things. Ogier kinda get hosed in this game, especially given that (wee-oo-wee-oo lore nerd alert) we see that Ogier can sneak pretty loving well in the novels, as a single man and Ogier pair sneak into a full camp, haul off some treasures, and then haul rear end out of there in the dead of night without a single issue. None of this clumsiness crap.

Okay, I'm done getting nitpicky for now. Scout's honor. What do you mean the post's over?

Next time: Classes, or, No Aiel? No Spearmen.

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Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Bitchtits McGee posted:

For those who came in late: Talents are like highly specialized mini-Feats that you can only take at character creation to supplement your character concept. I, uh, can't think of anything else to say about them, so...
Is that really how Fields uses talents? That's really terrible, if so. What made talents special in d20 Modern and Star Wars Saga Edition was that they were basically multiple choice class features, allowing a single class to take multiple roles. Diluting them down into "take this trait thing at first level" is disappointing.

Ryuujin posted:

See Dimwitted but Mighty kind of sounds fun to play, just like some of the races occasionally sound interesting. But then everything devolves into FIIIIIIIEEEEEEEELLLLDS!! tm
Fields is pretty much always like that, even outside of his pet sex settings. Some of his products appeared in an RPG grab bag that came with donating to the RPG Gamer's Charity for the Fukushima disaster back in 2011 (along with far better books such as Frost and Fur). Surely a supplement about archery wouldn't have any detail given to sex, bodily functions, or the like, right?

quote:

Billy the Yakuza turned curiously at the strange whining sound, and caught an arrow through the throat. As he lost bladder control and crumpled to the ground, he marveled at how little the wound hurt. Billy the Yakuza died without a sound and a brainless look of mild surprise on his face. Within two seconds two other Yakuza leg breakers joined him, their blood lapping against the parked silver H2’s tires like red waves on a red beach.
Of course.

Let's speed away from the topic of Fields, though, to one much more fun: Hitler-punching!



Chapter 3: Optimized Hitler-Punching

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

This chapter will have you slapping the lips off fascist dictactors in no time.

As stated before, Mutants and Masterminds uses the concept of "power levels" instead of classes to inform how much points you can buy stuff with. This chapter starts off by noting the different power levels that a Golden Age game will have. Long story short: a fair range of them in multiples of two. Power Level 6 action movie-type heroes, PL 8 "punch stuff really good while wearing tights" heroes, PL 8 Flash/Green Lantern/etc.-type heroes, and PL 12 Superman/Captain Marvel-type heroes are all Golden Age staples, and the book notes that most hero team-ups of the era tended to actually have at least one representative from each power level. These heroes are most likely going to be putting their ranks into physical skills rather than mental skills if you are looking for what the book calls "authentically retro characters". Brawn was supposedly as popular or more popular than brains in heroes of the time...or so this book tells us, at least.

Feats
There is a brief skills section in this title, but it is pretty much just a note that the Computer Use is nerfed to hell in the Golden Age and that the Survival skill can be - gasp - used in urban environments to scavenge things rather than just in the wilderness to find nuts and berries. As for feats, they start out wit an exemplary list of exemptions. Want to be exempt from the draft? Take a feat. Want to be exempt from rationing rules? Take a feat. Want to have positive rather than negative amounts of wealth? Tak-you get the idea. There is also a feat you can take to have a beneficial military rank, one for driving a vehicle in combat without screwing things up, and one for flying a plane in combat without similarly screwing things up.

Powers
Yet again, we have a section that begins with talk about what is and is not good for the "authentically retro character". First off is a no-go on psychic powers and anything too super-sciencey. Why? According to the author of this little tome, the first is because mesmerism was almost always a villain trait in the Golden Age, while the second is because kids at the time were unlikely to understand what things like vibrating super-speed or spatial distortion were. I'm sure that obscure Golden Age heroes known as the Flash and Dr. Occult might disagree on at least two of those points. Second, you should have powers related to punching things. Punching things is always better in the Golden Age. Third, you should only have a few drawbacks, if any, as the heroes of the time were meant to be larger than life. As for new powers, there aren't any. Sorry if you wanted some.

Devices and Equipment
This section doesn't really have much in the way of new material so much as classifying what would and wouldn't be common weapons or vehicles in the Golden Age. it does, however, have this image that could not be skipped:



Broncosaurus Rex is over, yet the Confederates still refuse to stop following me.

Hero Archetypes
Last, but not least, are some free archetypes for you to use. These can be used as either NPCs, pre-made PCs, or as springboards for your own character designs. We have - in total in M&M: Golden Age:
  • Masked Adventurer: This is pretty much straight-up classic Batman or the Green Hornet, being an archetype for a wealthy guy who moonlights as a vigilante.
  • Mystic Adventurer: A character who gets magical powers from a supernatural object, like the original Alan Scott Green Lantern.
  • Omnipotent Mystic: An uber-powerful Superman-level magician who is somewhat detached from humanity. I'm honestly not sure who this one is a reference to, as characters like Dr. Occult have more in common with early Harry Dresden than Dr. Manhattan as far as jobs and power levels go.
  • Patriotic Hero: Captain America, the Fighting Yank, US Jones... The archetype of an all-American human of peak perfection was very much an in thing during the Golden Age, and it's no surprise it ends up in the book.
  • Retro Gadgeteer: The archetype of flying rocketeers and the like, such as the comic book character Bulletman or the serial story character Commando Cody.
  • Superhuman Hero: Superman, if you somehow couldn't guess.
  • Two-Fisted Adventurer: The spiritual ancestor of Indiana Jones. These individuals specialize in Hitler-punching to an extent that only Patriotic Heroes can dream to match.
  • War Hero: An action-adventure stylization of an otherwise normal soldier, such as Blackhawk and the Blackhawk squadron.

==========================================

Next time: Stats for Hitler, evil aliens, fly-Cthulhu, and more in the Game Master's chapter.

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.


Hey, shenanigans! The Haunted Tank was a Silver Age character!

Also, I'm guessing their version of Omnipotent Mystic is more based on guys like the Spectre or anyone invented by Fletcher Hanks.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012

SO EMBARRASSING



Fossilized Rappy posted:

Powers
Yet again, we have a section that begins with talk about what is and is not good for the "authentically retro character". First off is a no-go on psychic powers and anything too super-sciencey. Why? According to the author of this little tome, the first is because mesmerism was almost always a villain trait in the Golden Age, while the second is because kids at the time were unlikely to understand what things like vibrating super-speed or spatial distortion were. I'm sure that obscure Golden Age heroes known as the Flash and Dr. Occult might disagree on at least two of those points.

Actually, the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick couldn't vibrate to run through walls. His powers were more magical than later iterations (I believe he got his powers from Mercury's helmet?). Barry Allen, who got his powers from lightning and chemicals, invented the vibration technique.

But yeah, the mesmerism and super science things are silly, but I guess figures like Doctor Occult would be out of place in a Hitler Punching team. And the Human Torch was a robot!

Also, the Haunted Tank is the best, just like all the Silver Age WWII comics. I hope the book has hints to support those stories, rather than just the comics published during the thirties and forties.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

pospysyl posted:

Actually, the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick couldn't vibrate to run through walls. His powers were more magical than later iterations (I believe he got his powers from Mercury's helmet?). Barry Allen, who got his powers from lightning and chemicals, invented the vibration technique.

But yeah, the mesmerism and super science things are silly, but I guess figures like Doctor Occult would be out of place in a Hitler Punching team. And the Human Torch was a robot!

Also, the Haunted Tank is the best, just like all the Silver Age WWII comics. I hope the book has hints to support those stories, rather than just the comics published during the thirties and forties.

Nah, Jay Garrick got his powers from being exposed to heavy water vapors, so good old radiation like mother used to make. And yeah, a lot of the best 'golden age continuity' stories weren't published until the seventies or early eighties, so ignoring those to focus specifically on the older comics seems odd.

As a side note, Chris Mcglothlin, who wrote Golden Age, was one of the main Confederate apologist types in the Deadlands writer's stable back in the day. (He wrote the "Southern Sentinel" stuff in the back east books, among other things.) So, uh. Take that and the Haunted Tank image how you like.

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012




Demon: The Fallen: The Beginning and the Houses of Elohim

The first four chapters of the book are setting fluff wrapped in several short stories of different demons/signature characters explaining it all to different people. I've seen it described here as "500 some pages of Paradise Lost fanfic", and it is a bit of a pain if you just want straight information about the setting, but some of them are pretty decent reads. (They're also way shorter than the greatly exaggerated 500 pages.)

Chapter 1 starts with a demon named Gaviel struggling against the winds of the "Maelstrom" as he makes his escape from the Abyss/Pit. After some struggling and almost getting his entire being torn apart, he succeeds.

quote:

Gaviel pierced the Veil between the realms like a fiery arrow, only dimly aware of how much strength he'd expended in his escape. The world hung before him, close enough to touch, but even so he felt his spirit unraveling, threatening to come undone unless he could find a refuge from the storm.

He plummeted to earth like a meteor, the symphony of six billion souls trembling through his own, and through their hopes and fears Gaviel felt echoes of their mortal flesh. Some souls burned bright, like nascent stars; others waned like embers, a faint light shrinking in the hollow vault of a human form. He sensed one such body, vibrant like life but broken in spirit, and struck like a thunderbolt.

Gaviel comes to in the body of a man who is lying face down on the pavement. Gaviel's new host has just been hit by a car, but Gaviel himself is fine and quite happy to be out of Hell, as you would expect.

(By the way, Greg Stolze, who has a whole thread all about how awesome he is, wrote this chapter.)

The scene changes to the office of Reverend Matthew Wallace, a rich televangelist and the host of The Hour of Jesus' Power. Wallace is also cheating on his wife with his choir's leader. After some debate, he decides to not see his mistress after work and go straight home to his wife and kids. As he goes into the parking lot of his studio, he comes across his son, a graduate student named Noah. The two have been estranged since Noah came out as an Atheist two years ago, but being his father, Matthew is still overjoyed to see him.

Unfortunately, Noah is now Gaviel's host. Gaviel toys with the old man a bit, first by revealing his angelic form to him (in game terms, this is known as an "apocalyptic form" or "visage"), and then mocking him when Matthew enthusiastically agrees to be his servant. Afterward, Noah asks to talk, but gets his hands burned by the door handles when he tries to go into the studio. Soon after, with some hints from Gaviel, Matthew finally figures out what he is.

quote:

"Let's see..." Noah counted off on bloodied fingers. "Glorious apparition with wings of fire. Not an angel of the Lord. Tries to seduce mortal into pledges of fealty... and is harmed by holy ground. What do you suppose that leaves?"

A man of lesser faith would have been skeptical, but Matthew, for all his faults, was a man of true belief.

"Get behind me, Satan," he whispered.

"Noah snorted. "Wouldn't it be simpler if you just turned around?"

Matthew tries praying, loudly, for God to smite Gaviel, but all it does is make Gaviel mad and call him out on his adultery. Gaviel, seeing that the exchange is getting him nowhere, starts to leave when Matthew pleads for him to, but not before saying that he thought Matthew could help him and gives him back the Bible that Matthew gave Noah after his first communion. This convinces Matthew that Gaviel isn't such a bad guy and the two drive to the studio of one of Matthew's associates to talk.

At the studio, Gaviel explains to Matthew what happened to Noah (the car accident left him with brain damage, which killed him and left his body open for possession.), and the two go at it some more since Matthew still thinks that Gaviel is holding his son hostage. Ultimately though, Gaviel came to Matthew because he wants God to forgive him and the other fallen, and he thinks that Matthew is faithful and stubborn enough to help him do that. After some more banter, 23 pages into the book, Gaviel finally starts expositing.

By the way, whenever a demon talks about events before their imprisonment in the books, the events and details never line up perfectly. I'm not sure if that's intentional and meant to illustrate the weakness of the human mind or the effect the Abyss has on the memories of the demons, or just the result of the several different authors working the books not collaborating well. Either way, I think it's a nice touch.

In the beginning, there were only two things: God/The All-Maker and the Void; existence and absence; perfection and imperfection. Both infinite, both separate, and yet each contained in the other. While God sought to create a barrier between the Void and Him, he could not do it himself as it would "contaminate" Him. As Gaviel explains it:

quote:

"Everything we touch touches us in return, right? Contact means interaction - or contamination, if you prefer. How does a perfect being change? If it changes, it ceases to be perfect. Unless it was already imperfect, and it changes into a perfect form by expelling its imperfections." He raised an eyebrow. "Not a very flattering theory, is it? The universe as a hairball from the throat of the Almighty."

So God created the seven Houses of angels or "Elohim" to serve as a buffer between Him and Creation and to carry out His will. This first act is both the "Let there be Light" part of Genesis 1:3 and the Big Bang. How? We'll get to that in a bit. The Houses of Elohim are:

1: The House of the Dawn/Morning Star - The closest to God and the only ones who could stand before Him without losing it, these Elohim were responsible for taking God's will, "translating it", and then ordering the Elohim of the other houses to carry it out. Elohim in this house are usually associated with light, stars, the sun and moon, and other similar concepts. Gaviel was part of this house. (His title was the "Throne of the Summer Sun".) Fallen who were part of this house are referred to in-game as Namaru or Devils.

2: The House of the Firmament/Rising Wind - The Elohim responsible for "breathing life" into every living thing and concepts pertaining to wind and movement. They are, for the most part, the kindest and most even-tempered Elohim, and many acted as guardian angels to the beings that they breathed life into. Fallen from this house are called Asharu or Scourges.

3: The House of the Fundament/Fire and Stone - These Elohim created the earth and all other physical matter. They are associated with the elements of earth and fire. Fallen from this house are called Annunaki or Malefactors.

4: The House of Spheres/the Indigo Night - The Elohim associated with the heavens and the ones responsible for the creation of Time and the custodians of Fate. When it comes to titles, there's some overlap between them and the first house. Gaviel explains that the "Fates" were the ones responsible for the planets and stars and whatnot moving in their orbits, but with some of the titles the angels from this house have (e.g "The Pole Star's Virtue", one unspecified one dealing with the Pleiades, etc.), you would think that they were the ones who created the stars as well. I assume that the first house is more associated with the light that the celestial bodies give off than the bodies themselves. Fallen of this house are called Neberu or Fiends. (They are also my favorite house. )

5: The House of the (Restless) Deep(s) - The Elohim responsible for the "animation" and "governing" of the world's oceans. As Gaviel explains it:

quote:

The physical stuff of the water was created by the Fundamentals, but animated and governed by the Oceanites because its excellent ability to hold and transmit patterns. They are of the pattern, not the matter, just as my words are not my mouth or the air they pass through or your ear when you hear it.

Confused? Don't worry about it. Most of their motif still deals with water and everything associated with it and I'm pretty sure everyone who plays this game thinks of them as the water ones anyway. They are also associated with beauty, the arts, and culture in general. Fallen from this house are called Lammasu or Defilers.

6: The House of the Wild/Blood and Bone - Animals, nature, and all of the processes that go into making it work from photosynthesis to migratory patterns. Fallen from this house are called Rabisu or Devourers.

7: The House of the Second World/Falling Night - Angels of death and renewal. That's pretty much it. Fallen from this house are called Halaku or Slayers.

Once the seven houses had finished making Creation, they worked together with God to create the crowning jewel of it all: Humans. What made humanity different from every other being in Creation was the fact that it held within it a spark of divinity.

quote:

"Understand that when one says humankind was 'made in God's image' it's nothing so literal as 'two legs, one nose, seven thoracic vertebrae'. Your shape is not in the image of God, your soul is. You carry within you a small reservoir of the essence of existence that God used to create the entire cosmos. Powerful through we Elohim are, we are barren of that true Making fire. You are His true children, and your holy nature courses through your blood, flickers in your emotions, and sings through your inventive thoughts.

Before the angels of the second house breathed life into humanity, God gave the Elohim two commands: That they love humans just as much as they loved God, and that they never reveal themselves to them. When Matthew asks Gaviel if there are angels all around them at that very moment, Gaviel says no. "They're all gone [...] or hidden beyond my knowing."

After a pee/coffee break, Matthew asks Gaviel what Eden was like. Gaviel explains that the world back then was "fundamentally different" and that Matthew would not be able to fully comprehend it.

quote:

It was... more complex. Richer. It had layers that are simply absent now."

"Layers?"

"Yes... consider this coffee we're drinking. It's only coffee, right? It's not anything else?"

"I guess not."

"In the uncorrupted world, this coffee could also exist simultaneously as a song or an aesthetic idea or even a sentient and helpful creature. Different things on different layers, all equally real, all similar, but each discrete - even while they were simultaneously experienced."

And this is the aspect of the setting that allows both the biblical story of Adam and Eve and evolution to co-exist and be equally valid and correct. So while on one layer of existence, the universe and Earth were created in 7 days, they were slowly forming and evolving over the span of billions upon billions of years on another. And the first of humanity was both Adam and Eve and evolved primates. And there were both angels physically moving and creating things as well as all of the scientific processes that govern nature and the universe and whatnot.

And there were coffee sprites somewhere in there too, I guess.

After some more bitching from Matthew, Gaviel talks a bit about Hell/The Pit/The Abyss. Hell is a place without layers and is essentially nothing.

quote:

"It is a void marred only by our awareness of it, and our ability to feel our rejection by our Maker."

[...]

"Hell is the corrosion of love, Reverend. No fire and brimstone, no pitchforks and snakes. After a hundred years, anyone could get used to mere sensation. But utter numbness - that's a torment that never gets any older. After the first ten minutes, you think you've been there ten thousand years. You're there, alone and isolated, with nothing for company but the knowledge that you are literally God-forsaken. You sit there in His hate and feel everything in you turn to hate as well, and there is no respite.

Of course, later in the book there's mentions of the fallen having conversations and being physically near each other in Hell. Again, I don't know if that discrepancy was intentional or not.

Anyway, back to Eden. Despite all of their divinity and greatness, humanity was incomplete. (The book goes with a "biblical" interpretation of events for simplicity.) Adam and Eve were little more than animals; incapable of feeling anything other than the base instincts that any other animal would feel. ("So they were innocent. Like children." "Innocent like pigeons, more like.") Try as they might, none of the Elohim could invisibly coax humanity into realizing their true potential. Some angels even went to God to ask Him why Adam and Eve were not given higher reason. Those who did and took Him up on the offer to "see as I see" were never seen or heard from again. By all accounts, they were erased from existence.

One day, an angel from the House of Spheres named Ahrimal discovered a "knot of great destructiveness and turmoil" in the "tapestry" of Creation. When he told his superiors about his discovery, they shrugged it off and said that it was only a "potential bad" and that God would never let anything bad happen to Creation. Unsatisfied with this explanation, Ahrimal gathered some of his friends from the other houses together and held a meeting in his glass castle on the moon. (Yes, that is what the book says.) After some debate, they came to the conclusion that humanity was at the center of the tragedy, as they are the only element of "chaos" in the fabric of Creation, but they couldn't come to a decision about what exactly to do about it.

Then Lucifer crashed the meeting.

quote:

The debate became increasingly fervent, until all tongues were stilled by a sudden arrival. He was uninvited, and unwelcome, and as he entered, the others dropped to their knees in reverence and fear.

He came in splendor and power, garbed in all phases of light. He was the highest agent of the highest House, the Seraph of the Morning. He was Lucifer, and every molecule in his presence hummed in time to his words.

"Rise," he said, "My fellow servants of The One."

Lucifer was not there to carry out orders from God to punish them, but of his own accord. God himself was mum on the matter of the coming tragedy and it seemed that no one could convince Him to act. So Lucifer proposed that they reveal themselves to humanity and give them the wisdom to defend themselves against the coming darkness. Lucifer's reasoning was that their order to love humanity overrode the order to not reveal themselves, since leaving them to their destruction when they could do something about it was definitely not an act of love. Some of the other angels in attendance, including Ahrimal, agreed and decided to rebel with him, and went off to spread the word.

Up next: The Fall

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


I wonder if British tankers using that tank would wonder why the 18th U.S. President was screaming in their ears.

(It is a Lee/Grant joke)



(Same tank, except the one with the rounder turret on the left was used by the British and called the "Grant", while the one on the right used an American turret and was called the "Lee".)

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Davin Valkri posted:

I wonder if British tankers using that tank would wonder why the 18th U.S. President was screaming in their ears.

(It is a Lee/Grant joke)



(Same tank, except the one with the rounder turret on the left was used by the British and called the "Grant", while the one on the right used an American turret and was called the "Lee".)

They were both lovely tanks compared to the Sherman

Which is saying a lot.

Serperoth
Feb 21, 2013


Young Freud posted:

They were both lovely tanks compared to the Sherman

Which is saying a lot.

Every WWII tank was a lovely tank compared to Hobart's Funnies.

"lovely" in this context is defined as "the one that didn't include a flamethrower"

Mikan
Sep 5, 2007


Asimo posted:

To reiterate my thoughts from the prior thread, I hadn't actually read it in over a decade, and I was sort of expecting it to clunky and archaic, but the staggeringly simple and permissive rules are if anything even more useful these days, now that concepts like "genre emulation" and "narrative control" are things that people actually think about when setting up a game. TFOS has held up surprisingly well, a lot better than most 25-year-old games, and what few problems it might have are easily fixed with one or two simple house rules. I highly encourage folks reading this to go pick it up, especially since all three versions are under $25 or so on Amazon right now. Go! Do it! Own something from gaming history that you could actually play now without feeling like the groggiest of nards!

I don't think Mike Pondsmith gets enough credit for things like this. Castle Falkenstein was another light game that holds up really well today and has excellent rules for the subject material, and that was back in 1994. (It's actually in my top 5 best designed games of all time.) Dude was putting out awesome games that were well ahead of his time. Mike Pondsmith owns.

Doesn't look like anyone covered Castle Falkenstein, going by the table of contents. I might look at that.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Mikan posted:

I don't think Mike Pondsmith gets enough credit for things like this. Castle Falkenstein was another light game that holds up really well today and has excellent rules for the subject material, and that was back in 1994. (It's actually in my top 5 best designed games of all time.) Dude was putting out awesome games that were well ahead of his time. Mike Pondsmith owns.

Doesn't look like anyone covered Castle Falkenstein, going by the table of contents. I might look at that.
Yeah. Part of the problem is Pondsmith's semi-retired these days and the last big thing he did was the poorly-received Cyberpunk 3, so most of his stuff is older or out of print these days. But back in the day he was doing amazing stuff all the drat time, and not just TFOS; Mekton was great, the original Cyberpunk was literally genre-defining, and like you mentioned Castle Falkenstein was just unique and amazing and still holds up well. By all accounts he's a pretty good guy too, so it's a shame he's underappreciated these days.

And yes, please write up Castle Falkenstein.

Mikan
Sep 5, 2007


Asimo posted:

By all accounts he's a pretty good guy too, so it's a shame he's underappreciated these days.


If it were up to me, he'd be mentioned with the same kind of nerd-cred people give Gygax.
My physical copy of Falkenstein is about 40 miles away, but I've got the pdf and my copies of Six-Guns and Sorcery/Comme Il Faut (such an awesome book) so I'll start writing something up.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Mikan posted:

Six-Guns and Sorcery
...does spooky/weird/mythic steampunk Americana better in one book than Deadlands in the entirety of its game line(s) - and it predated DL by about 5 years.

Hell of a book, hell of a game.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Fossilized Rappy posted:

Is that really how Fields uses talents? That's really terrible, if so. What made talents special in d20 Modern and Star Wars Saga Edition was that they were basically multiple choice class features, allowing a single class to take multiple roles. Diluting them down into "take this trait thing at first level" is disappointing.

It's just a copy-paste of the "trait" mechanic from Pathfinder. I imagine he just uses a different name because he can't use the Pathfinder Compatibility License on products like that.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20






Hengeyokai: Introductions and Chapter 1
We're finally getting into some of the meat of this book, but there's still two chapters of stuff to get through before the book gets to what it calls Chapter 1.

This has nothing to do with anything in this chapter.
Intro Fiction: An Inauspicious Burial
We open with an American Stargazer(Remember, this is before they all abandoned the west to their own devices) in a graveyard in China. Bringing the cremains of one of his master's friends to his family's old burial ground. While there he stumbles upon a war party of eastern shifters. They discover him and confront him, asking what he's doing in china.

quote:

"Wait a minute... you have the bones of a Li in there?" asked the girl.
"yes, Li Feng."
"My grandfather knew a Li Feng," she began.
"Sure. So this cur knows a name and he brought a vase. The Lis were wiped out by the People's Republic, and I don't see one here to vouch for him," snapped the watchman.
"Enough, Hong. Let her speak." said the youth.
"Grandfather's Li Feng had crossed eyes and second sight. His branch of the family left in the wake of the Nationalists."
The stargazer's face fell. "He must have been a different Li of the same name. The master had perfect eyes, but could read only books and the sky. He wouldn't have known a ghost if it bit him."
The girl laughed gently behind him. "That's the one."
Michael's brow furrowed in confusion, but the circle around him relaxed and broke. The young man strolled easily toward him, and the confrontation seemed to be over.
"I pass?"
"For the moment."
So even while they're being amazingly even handed for dealing with a westerner, they're still dicks. I guess that's okay.


Michael challenges them for their names and the young one, named Wu, introduces them all and they start shapeshifting. The other werewolf even introduces himself personally, which causes Hong (the rat) to throw a fit since they're "dancing around the issue". Wu(the fox) tells him he has to leave, but Michael points out that his Master was an astrologer, and he needs to be buried tonight. This mollifies most of the other pack who seem to want to allow him to, but Wu and Hong tell him he can't stay.
Apparently another war-party of Kuei-Jin is coming, and they're here to meet them. This causes Michael to balk a bit, you know, since they're described to him as "minor demons of retribution". But Wu (the fox) points out that there is a Caern on the Li family grounds, and there's been kind of a cold war going on between the Kuei-Jin and the Hengeyokai where they transfer ownership from time to time, but neither actually wants it destroyed. However there are wyrm spirits that are going to show up and both sides need to fight. But if the Hengeyokai have 6 members in attendance to the Kuei-jin's 5, they'll think they broke the truce and the cold war will be over. Jimi offers to watch over his master's remains while he steps sideways to hide until the vampires leave, and Michael agrees since Master Li wouldn't want a caern lost on his account.

quote:

"Too late," Hong Tan cried softly.
Wu Bingshu rose. Jimi fluttered back into the shadows.
"They're here." She faltered.
"I'm sorry," said Michael. He sought the Fox's eyes and saw a hardness there he had not expected - and realized with a shock that it was not directed at him.
Wu Bingshu's gaze flickered briefly toward the Garou.
"Stay. Turn. They are here
"And they are seven."

I like this story. It shows that, while the Hengeyokai are still kind of dicks to Western shapeshifters, they're actually kind of understanding of extenuating circumstances, and are willing to hear him out.

This won't be the case forever.

The Vulcan yakuza?
Introduction: The Changing Phantoms
Time to take an aside here and point out why calling them "Hengeyokai" was probably a bad idea. The word itself was invented for ADnD as near as I can tell, and has continued on through it's various editions more or less untouched, even getting into Pathfinder and 4th edition. The name was probably chosen just for that reason, it was easily recognizable. The word itself is just the Japanese word for changing/shapeshifting "Henge" mashed up against the word for basically any supernatural creature "Yokai", the book is quick to point out that the Beast Courts encompass the vast majority of Asia and the Philippines, omitting only Russia and parts of India, using a Japanese term rather than, say, one that's completely made up seems rather odd.
This is omitting the fact that there IS a Japanese term for shapeshifting creatures such as Kitsune, Bakemono, but that's what the Hengeyokai call Formori.

White Wolf, everyone.

We're finally going to be introduced to what the book is going to be about. First ofall they're quick to point out, all Asian myths about shapeshifters are wrong. All asian werebeasts obey a culture older than recorded history and quite unlike huamn fable, and as such have grown apart from their western cousins. And whenever the Garou actually manage to gain an audience with the Asian shapeshifters and speak to them about the Apocalypse "The Eastern shapeshifters merely shake their heads, as if being berated by an arrogant child."

The Eastern shapeshifters are like the Westerners, but they fight their war differently. "They take tea with their enemies and treat their friends with coolness rather than passion. They are the Changing Phantoms - The hengeyokai." The war of rage never reached Asia, for some reason, instead the hengeyokai fought a common enemy in the bane lords known as the Yama Kings. So they all cooperate with each other.

Finally we're left with a Cautionary note.

quote:

A word of warning: Although hengeyokai characters can be blended into groups of Westerners, you should do so very carefully. If hengeyokai immediately start popping up in septs and packs across the West, the flavor of the book - the flavor of exoticism - is lost. After all, how special can the Kitsune be when every group of players has at least one in their ranks?

The theme that things are special and amazing just because Asia is something that's going to come up a lot, as evidenced by the fact that we get a 3 page glossary of terms that get their own special words just because they're in Asia.

  • Bakemono - A formor; formori.
  • Beast Courts of the Emerald Mother - A formal term for hengeyokai society; all eastern shapechangers who follow Gaia are honorary members, while some pledge themselves entirely to the Court's law. Often shortened to Beast Courts.
  • Centipede, centipedes - slang for the Wyrm or its servants.
  • The Courts - hengeyokai shorthand for the Beast Courts of the Emerald Mother; considered disrespectfully terse by some elders.
  • Mirror Lands - The Penumbra
  • Namebreakers - Mages; used with contempt.
  • Sixth Age - The Apocalypse; not considered by hengeyokai to be the end of all things, but merely the nadir of the cycle.
  • Sunset People - Western shapechangers; references their fatalism more than the fact that they come from the west. "the sunset people do not believe the sun will rise again"
  • The Tapestry - the middle umbra; also used by hengeyoai to differentiate their spirit world from the one known by the Sunset People
  • The Wall - The eleventh studio album by Pink Floyd The Gauntlet
  • The War of Shame - A great war like the War of Rage, fought among hengeyokai in the Fourth age and instigated by Wan Xian manipulation


These chapter images are just going to keep getting more and more ridiculous.
Chapter 1: Lands of the Emerald Mother

This chapter opens up with a "hot blooded boy" in a leather jacket being led into a cave by a guide with a small paper lantern. He isn't happy about this and just won't shut up, calling his guide a 'barbarian' and asking why their court isn't back in Guilin instead of down here in a cave. The guide replys only "Keep walking, cub." So the boy shifts up to Crinos form and claims that he is to be respected since "I was killing Ivory Princes in the Cat Street Market before I was fifteen, and now I have claws that have tasted demon blood! You better treat me like the warrior I am or I'll-" and then his guide backhands him so hard he loses some teeth. Said guide then picks him up by the shirt and slams him into the ground a few times for good measure, before pulling him sideways and into the Caern proper.
There it's described as less of a cave and more of a palace, with a dragon coiled around a large central pillar, flanked by a man and a woman holding weaponry, and a bunch of other people/creatures milling about. The guide tosses him to the ground where he immediately kneels next to the four other young people gathered. The dragon glares at him and asked "Why are you here" to which he replies "I don't know." Which makes the dragon laugh, shift down to a small human woman in a robe, and tells him that he will learn. And guess what? That's all the 'fiction' that this chapter has. The text is written in character but there's no stage direction, no quotation marks, and no interjections by other characters.

There's a sidebar on this page that mentions that since the courts encompass many countries and many species, they often use Mindspeak or Waking Dream of Unity to talk between each other. Thus allowing them to "Maintain a universal language of ideas and beliefs that goes beyond the limitations of species boundaries". Of course the next paragraph then says that while they are capable of communicating with the Sunset People, they rarely do. Since they just can't understand the way the east works, and might do something stupid like attack a Kuei-jin deligate and ruin decades of diplomacy. It's so much simpler to just tell them that their wars are not welcome in the East and shoo them away, courteously of course.

History of the Ages

They start off describing the great cycle/wheel of ages. The idea that everything is constantly changing and in motion, and that the Hengeyokai are uniquely equipped to understand that, as they are half man and beast, half spirit and flesh, and able to change their own form and substance likewise. They are creatures of balance and must understand their place in things and work to ensure that the wheel keeps turning. Gaia told the first Hengeyokai that the Great Wheel of Ages had 12 spokes, and therefore 12 ages need to pass before it completes it's turning, and while the Beast Courts can understand them, they can't predict them. "We can never predict when an age will pass - we can only recognize when one age has moved into the next."

Age of the Dawning
This is the age of perfection, more or less. Matter and spirit, mind and body, everything was one. All things existed as one within Gaia, ageless and without time. It was a heaven without a hell, perfection.

And then Gaia made the triat, whoops.

Age of the Ten Thousand Things
So now spirit and flesh are separate, the oceans are formed, and land masses are forming within the ocean and splitting apart. The weaver is busying itself making things, the Wyld and Wyrm are fighting her in their own ways. "Humans were born to intelligence in the Second Age, and still many argue whether this was a good thing or not."

Ultimately two powerful factions of spirits rose up; the Yama Kings, twisted and obscene beings who coveted everything, not so much an organization as a collection of beings with similar goals; and the Ministers of Heaven, who saw this and decided 'nope'. The August Personage, the greatest Minister of Heaven, chose the strongest among the humans to become the Wan Xian, the Ten Thousand Immortals imbued with the power of Spirit.
The Wyld, never to be outdone, created beings of pure spirit wrapped in the tiniest amounts of flesh known as the Hsien, which if memory serves were the Eastern equivalent of changelings.

Gaia, "the wisest of all", chose the finest among humans and beasts and gathered the power of spirit to bind them together. Then she took her new children to show to the Sun and the Moon, and the moon blessed her left hand and the sun blessed her right, and thus the shapeshifters were born. "Truly our loyal souls were the sign that the new age was nigh."

Age of Legends
The Wan Xian and the Shapeshifters basically went around being badasses for a while, kicking the rear end of the Yama kings and shoving them back down into hell. The Zhong Lung(were-dragons) were also rather numerous in this age, and decided "Hey, there's tons of us, but not many werewolves and weretigers, maybe we should go help them fight the Yama Kings in hell."
And almost all of them died, whoops.
This is considered the last "age of the sun" as after this all the ages take a negative tone.

Age of Testing
So the Wan Xian turned out not to be such great guys after all. And rather than do their job, which was keep humans in their towns and keep them from over-breeding, they saw the Hengenyokai caerns and decided that they wanted some of that. So they worked amongst themselves to convince the various Caerns that the other caerns were wyrm-tainted, and while the Beast Courts warred amongst themselves they moved in and drained the Caerns dry. Gaia saw that they were doing this and released a "great cry" which ripped the life out of them, and transformed the Wan Xian into the Kuei-jin. Surprise.
After that the Beast Courts rallied together and slaughtered the Kuei-Jin in their homes, which just so happened to be the human cities, oops. That's why humans still fear the Hengeyokai when they assume their war form.

The Okuma (Asian Were-Bears) at this time decided that everyone else was off their rocker, and fled into the mountains, which the rest of the Beast Courts took to mean that they were Wyrm-Tainted as well.

There aren't any more Asian Were-Bears.

Age of Shadows
This age started when the Westerners came, of course, and it's the Current age.

Age of Sorrow
This is the next age, and it's going to be a bad one, however the wheel will turn out of it eventually.

That is unless the Wyrm can gnaw through the Axle of the Wheel of Ages and stops it in the sixth age. That's what the Hengeyokai are put in place to prevent, to allow the wheel to again turn into the Sun.

Lands of the Courts
This is just a rough geopolitical description of the various regions/countries in Asia. There are a few things to note.
  • China is basically as close to Hengeyokai paradise as they can get.
  • Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not nice places to be if you're in the Umbra.
  • Southeast Asia is a hellhole, and occasionally Sunset People who 'want to help' get sent to Bangkok to either learn that they aren't wanted or die horribly. Great.
  • Indonesia and the Philippines are the domain of the Were-Dragons and Were-Sharks and they keep their areas cleaner than most.

Shen: The Limitless Forms of Divinity

This is the 'opinions of other factions' portion of the chapter.

Kuei-Jin
The Beast Courts have a love-hate relationship with the Kuei-Jin. Most of them deserve to be wiped out, but some of them strive to regain their lost divinity and those can be trusted... somewhat. They were still kind of massive internecine assholes at one point in time.

Hsien
Apparently there are various classes of Hsien, some are more human like than others, and when the Hsien need help from the Hengeyokai they send a Badger or a Cat "as is proper." They're hunted by both the Namebreakers and the Kuei-jin, which makes them allies to the Hengeyokai.

quote:

However, they hold their own beast-brethren to be of lower caste than the more "human" numbers, and this tastes poorly to our tongues. If they understood the nobility in the animal, we would be friends; as such, we give them aid when they ask, but only if they ask properly.
"We'd totally be friends if they'd just understand how loving awesome foxes are!"

Namebreakers
These are the sorcerers whose power goes beyond "proper Taoist Alchemy or the knowledge of feng shui", since apparently those give you magic powers? Anyways, these guys get a short story, and it's kind of hilarious.

quote:

It was one man who stole the secret of Naming during the Second Age. None remember his name, but this cavalier was proud as the Sun itself, and with good reason. He was as handsome as the dawn, as fierce as the desert wind, and as fearless as a mountaintop. So dashing was he that the chambermaids who kept Gaia's palace in order would often pause in their duties to look down from Heaven and watch him, leaning on their brooms and sighing wistfully.
Monsieur, Gaston, isn't he dreamy.

quote:

Eventually, he drew the attention of a goddess, a Minister of Rivers and Streams. She was beautiful beyond all words, so when she descended to call on him, he offered no resistance. She carried him up to her bed in Heaven, where they dallied for a day. Eventually, she fell asleep smiling, and he pretended to do the same.
But he was consumed with curiosity, and he left her sleeping on the bed to go walk the halls of Heaven and wonder at what he found there. Soon he found himself in a library, and he resolved to read the poetry of Heaven for himself - for what woman could resist such divinely sweet words? But the books he chose were the books of all Names, and the cavalier learned much more than he should have that night.

That face looks more 'wow, the gods are into some freaky poo poo' than 'so that's what trees are called'.

quote:

The cavalier was returned to Earth the next day, his mind boiling with his new insight. Impatient to test this knowledge, he walked up to a boulder and spoke its Name - but he pronounced the Name differently, and it flew into bits. Delighted with his new power, he danced away and began to play with it.
Of course, eventually the Weaver noticed that this cavalier was disrupting the precious order of all things. Immediately she ran to the Emerald Mother, and told Her that a human had stolen the power of Naming and must be punished. Gaia stopped and listened, and then She felt a tug at Her being; at this time, you see, the cavalier had called the lightning to dance for his amusement. The Emerald Mother shuddered at this tug at the weave of Her skirt, and spat a curse which fell on the cavalier, boiling him inside his skin. But the Weaver had been too late; already the secret of Naming had been passed on to other humans - a courtesan, for one, for the cavalier talked in his sleep. To this day, the namebreakers are punished by sendings of the Weaver and the Emerald Mother, and such is only just.
Was he sleep-talking and the entire time various objects in the room were exploding around him/turning into cats? That sounds kind of hilarious.
Anyways, the Hengeyokai hate the mages, and find their "True Magick" offensive. "If only the humans had been content to work the sorceries and rituals that had been given them.." But of course they weren't since the rules for sorcery kind of suck

Kuei
Ghosts. People who die without paying their karmic debts. Avoid if possible.

The Sunset People
Again, they call the westerners ignorant children because they do not understand how the Beast Courts work. Of course they won't TELL them how they work, since it is not their place to educate ignorant children. Some think that the Garou have fallen as the Kuei-Jin have fallen, but since the spirits still talk to the Garou that's probably not the case. There's also talk about the Stargazers, Boli Zousizhe(Glass Walkers), and Wangtong(Bone Gnawers), which are factions of the Sunset People who have seen fit to join the Beast Courts.
I'm not sure what Wangtong means, as all I'm finding is a proper name. But Boli Zousizhe...

Xiahou Dun posted:

Ahahahahahah.

Never change, White Wolf.

This is just "glass walker" run through babel fish and it's hilarious wrong. "Boli" means "glass", and "zousizhe" is "one who walks" (understandable but not how anyone would say it, since it's using an overly specific form of "walk" and an archaic relative clause rather than a normal compound) : but compounds in Chinese have the opposite word order, so it should really be something like "xing boli shang de ren", "goes-glass-on-person".

That is amazingly lazy translation and anyone with a semester of Chinese could see it.

You made my day with that.



The est dragon
The Beast Courts
This section is written out of character, and starts out with a note that not all eastern shapeshifters are members of the Beast Courts. Kumo are all wyrm tainted, Boli Zousizhe are cordial but not official members, and many Khan prefer their own ways to that of the Courts. The most important distinction is that members of the court have their own rules for Renown and Auspice. Not every member of the beast court follows these rules but if they want to hold a court position or join a Mountain Sentai they pretty much have to. The other major distinction is that they have their own Mandates, which are a pan-tribal set of rules that are supposed to supersede individual racial Litanies.

Court Organization
This repeats a bunch of information from the previous paragraph, but does state that each Court is dedicated to a Caern the same way a Sept would be. And that each Court tends to have four positions in common.

Regent
The highest ranking caern elder; the ultimate authority figure. The keeper of the laws and the passer of judgements.

General
The Warmaster, equivalent to a Garou Caern Warder. They are supposed to ensure that everyone at the Caern is prepared for war should the need arise. Their influence with the court varies, but more often than not if a General calls for aid, people listen. "Peacetime is a pretty poem, but the world is illiterate."

Seer
The ritemaster. Some of them gett too proud of their power and get corrupted or reach beyond their skill. So each Seer has at least one potential successor in training.

Historian
They're a Historian. More often than not they're either a Zhong Lung(Due to their own racial abilities) or Metis(since they can be trained from birth rather than starting at 16).

Sentai
There are two types of Sentai, wave sentai are formed for a purpose and then disbanded once that purpose is fulfilled, Mountain sentai are rarer and more permanent.

Courtiers
Minions. They do all the grunt work to make sure the spirit trains run on Gaia Time.


I'm not sure what this has to do with the mandates, but it's nice art.
The Mandates
According to the Zhong Lung, these are the rules that were handed down by Gaia Herself, so they're big deals. The First and the Last Mandates are the most important, and while the others can be flaunted at your own risk. Those two will probably get you "protracted and brutal retribution."
Each mandate also has a "Reality" section which indicates how things are usually implemented.

Shirk Not The Tasks Which Have Been Given You
Do what Gaia made you for. If you're a Garou, you best be fighting. If you're a Tengu, best be scouting. Everyone was given a task by Gaia and who are you to say differently.
Reality: Some Garou are born frail, some Zhong Lung are dumb as hell and more suited to bashing in heads. As long as you're serving your purpose even obliquely, people will usually let this slide. It's mostly meant to prevent people from just lazing around.

Guard the Wheel That It May Turn in Fullness
Pretty self explanatory with all the rest I have written today.
Reality: Some Hengeyokai think that it would be better to rewind the wheel back to the First Age, but they're considered borderline insane. Everyone else follows this law to the letter.


Random Rat Scribe I guess
Presume Not to Instruct Your Cousin In His Task
Don't ignore your own job to criticize the guy next to you. This doesn't mean you can't tell a General he's walking into a trap. It does mean the General can't tell his sorcerer that he's summoning spirits the wrong way.
Reality: The residents of the Beast Courts squabble as much as the rest of the world, and gossip is everywhere.

Honor Your Territory in All Things
This one gets re-interpreted a bunch of ways but tends to mean "Honor the spirits, keep your grounds clean, and keep the caern running." Some also include treatment of humans and kinfolk under this rule.
Reality: Everyone has their own ideas of how best to 'honor' things, and sometimes the fights get bloody.

Let Mercy Guide You in Our August Mother's Court
Don't go killing each other just because you have Rage. There are enough people trying to kill you.
Reality: This rule doesn't include Westerners.

Honor Your Ancestors and Your Elders
Not much to say with this one.
Reality: This one is followed more or less to the letter, other than a few younger shapeshifters with more western ideals who don't follow the rules. But a few smacks to the head usually put them in line.

Honor the Pacts with the Spirit World
Follow rituals and keep to your word.
Reality: Young homids who aren't as steeped in tradition tend to break this rule up until the point they realize that spirits won't talk to people who don't play nice.

War Not Upon Human Nor Beast
This is basically 'uphold the veil'. In olden times it meant "don't kill your breeding stock you idiot". It doesn't forbid violence against humanity, just an open conflict.
Reality: The Hakken upheld this mandate so strongly that they have lost touch with their wolf natures. To the point that there are hardly any Lupus Hakken left.

Let No One or Nothing Violate the Sacred Places
Violate this one and they will turn your bones into silver and throw you into a lake of lava.
Reality: Seriously.


Next Time: Asia is so special it has it's own spirit world

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 22:35 on Apr 6, 2013

404GoonNotFound
Aug 6, 2006

The McRib is back!?!?


Mikan posted:

If it were up to me, he'd be mentioned with the same kind of nerd-cred people give Gygax.

Hopefully the Cyberpunk 2077 game makes people interested in the setting again and sparks a bit more nerd awareness about him. he's already taking an active role in promoting it, after all.

Logicgate
Jan 13, 2008
Exclusive

Asimo posted:

But wait, isn't there a later version of this book too?

Well... yes! In 1997, ten years after the reprinting of the original book, R. Talsorian put out a new version of TFOS. Overall the text isn't a whole lot different, and large portions are pulled straight from the original edition... not exactly a surprise, since there's not a whole lot of rule complexity to update and expand upon. But what is changed? Not to get too specific, but...
  • A horrible eight-page comic at the front.
  • A sample "adventure" right at the front... or rather, a little solo exercise to try and get new readers into the mindset, a "choose your own adventure" follow-the-numbers deal. Not very useful in teaching the rules, but shows "all you have to do is play the part of a Teenager and make decisions."
  • More and different sample characters, each with a full page writeup and more art. Also lots more teenage girls in miniskirts and things, but that's probably straying closer to the source material...
  • A sidebar with conversion to Fuzion for the two people who actually gave a gently caress about Fuzion and also thought it'd be a good idea to port TFOS to it for some unfathomable reason. Sorry Pondsmith, it didn't work out very well.
  • More powers! Not... a lot more, but there's five tables instead of three and players randomly roll from any three they like, adding a little more variety. Human talents are unchanged but that's what you get for playing someone normal you know?
  • A little more detail in the equipment section, including explicit permission to have weirder vehicles (yes, you could tool around in a giant robot or strap a hyperdrive to a Buick if you want) and more... weird gadgety things listed.
  • The rules and GM advice section are mostly identical, but there's a new section about explicitly anime tropes routines if you wanted to push that angle, which is honest but horrible. Well, at least ~moe~ still wasn't really a thing in 1997...?
  • The sample adventure's a bit longer and plays off the setup in the starting comic. Makes sense, though more animeish, yes.
Honestly? As long as you don't mind the extra anime art and tropes, it's the superior version of the book. The same rules, but more advice and more examples. While I've been reviewing the original for nostalgia's sake, the pictures I've been using in this review have been pulled from the 1997 release, so if you don't mind that then definitely go for it.

You've actually overlooked my absolute favorite feature of the 1997 release. See, there actually IS a brief description of the premise, of why there are aliens with hyperadvanced technology hanging out with humans. And it mechanically backs up that reason!

The Official TFOS Setting, circa 1997

Although technologically backwards, humans discovered one bit of technology that no other species, with all their faster-than-light travel and planet-destroying-death-cannons had ever managed.

Humans discovered Fun.

No other species had ever encountered the notion of doing things just to have a good time. It was revolutionary! Aliens flocked to Earth from everywhere, since it was literally the only cool place to be in the entire universe. This leads into the Power that all Humans have:

Fake Out: If you tell an alien that something is cool, they believe you.

You see, every non-human, no matter how high their Cool stat, knows deep-down that they're just mimicking the only people who really know what cool is. That Cool 6, Looks 6 star athlete with Super Strength will cheerfully stuff angry weasels into his pants if the least-popular human in the school tells him it's cool. And, like all Teenagers powers, there's no roll to determine whether or not this works. It just works. Every time.

Asimo posted:

So... overall?

I regret it's a short book, it was fun to re-read and review. I almost sort of want to see a campaign now.

To reiterate my thoughts from the prior thread, I hadn't actually read it in over a decade, and I was sort of expecting it to clunky and archaic, but the staggeringly simple and permissive rules are if anything even more useful these days, now that concepts like "genre emulation" and "narrative control" are things that people actually think about when setting up a game. TFOS has held up surprisingly well, a lot better than most 25-year-old games, and what few problems it might have are easily fixed with one or two simple house rules. I highly encourage folks reading this to go pick it up, especially since all three versions are under $25 or so on Amazon right now. Go! Do it! Own something from gaming history that you could actually play now without feeling like the groggiest of nards!
I've actually run 4 games of this, in my niche as occasional comedy GM. I think I might write up bits and pieces of those games for the memorable experiences thread, since they were an absolute blast. If you have a group that's good at improv and you're prepared to run plots as daft as this game deserves, it's a really good time.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Serperoth posted:

Every WWII tank was a lovely tank compared to Hobart's Funnies.

"lovely" in this context is defined as "the one that didn't include a flamethrower"
I can't argue with that logic.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's just a copy-paste of the "trait" mechanic from Pathfinder. I imagine he just uses a different name because he can't use the Pathfinder Compatibility License on products like that.
That's far less disappointing, then. Well, the least disappointing as Fields can manage to be, that is.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Logicgate posted:

You've actually overlooked my absolute favorite feature of the 1997 release.
Sorry! I knew I'd inevitably forget something important and amusing.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


Logicgate posted:

You've actually overlooked my absolute favorite feature of the 1997 release. See, there actually IS a brief description of the premise, of why there are aliens with hyperadvanced technology hanging out with humans. And it mechanically backs up that reason!

The Official TFOS Setting, circa 1997

Although technologically backwards, humans discovered one bit of technology that no other species, with all their faster-than-light travel and planet-destroying-death-cannons had ever managed.

Humans discovered Fun.

No other species had ever encountered the notion of doing things just to have a good time. It was revolutionary! Aliens flocked to Earth from everywhere, since it was literally the only cool place to be in the entire universe. This leads into the Power that all Humans have:

Fake Out: If you tell an alien that something is cool, they believe you.

You see, every non-human, no matter how high their Cool stat, knows deep-down that they're just mimicking the only people who really know what cool is. That Cool 6, Looks 6 star athlete with Super Strength will cheerfully stuff angry weasels into his pants if the least-popular human in the school tells him it's cool. And, like all Teenagers powers, there's no roll to determine whether or not this works. It just works. Every time.

Holy poo poo, this is amazing.

Scrape
Apr 10, 2007

i've been sharpening a knife in the bathroom.

I gotta say, InSpectres is a go-to game for my group. Whenever one of our regular players can't make a session, we fall back on that game. It's awesome and plays really well, if you're into no-prep collaborative storygames. You can run a really fun one-shot with literally no more than a vague concept of a haunting or something going on. I highly recommend it for reals, glad to see it getting a little recognition here.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...



Kurieg posted:

A word of warning: Although hengeyokai characters can be blended into groups of Westerners, you should do so very carefully. If hengeyokai immediately start popping up in septs and packs across the West, the flavor of the book - the flavor of exoticism - is lost. After all, how special can the Kitsune be when every group of players has at least one in their ranks?

Ah yes, "Asia," that exotic and unique flavor shared by only 4,140,336,501 (2011 census numbers) (~57% of the world's population) people... Truly a mysterious land of mystery and not at all something so utterly common and normal to most of the world that Westerners and their world view ought to be the exception if we're going by Mage's "consensus creates reality" rules.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




Young Freud posted:

They were both lovely tanks compared to the Sherman

Which is saying a lot.


This quote sums up the Lee/Grant tank pretty well.

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.



The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game

5: A Dearth of Class(es)

So WoT d20 goes pretty light on the classes. In fact, I'd argue they actually doubled-up on some of these just to fill things out. There are 7, all told, but they're pretty vague "outlines" of classes. If you want to be X thing from the books, you're probably going to require a prestige class and we'll hit those later because it's pretty much all I'm going to write up from the GM chapter. I don't recall it being in 3E D&D, but if it was, my bad for explaining this, but probably the only thing you're going to see new on some of the tables below is "Reputation Score". Most people start with a rep of 0 and gain it as they level up, Nobles begin at 3, Initiates at 1. There's an entire mechanic involved in this where you might be picked out in certain places as the score rises, and one prestige class actually... no, I'm sorry, you just need a feat (+3 rep) for it, not an actual reputation, my bad. It's an interesting idea but one that doesn't really tie into jack poo poo.

algai'd'siswai



Closest D&D comparison: Monk? maybe, with some Rogue.

Man, I missed dead levels. Can you guess which class(es) are going to be the only ones without any? Answer's at the end of this post, since we won't get to it this time. Algai'd'siswai a) irritate the poo poo out of me, since their class name is written in that drat always-italicized Old Tongue, and b) are one of the most limited classes you get in the game. Check this out: If you use a sword in a battle, you gain no XP for the fight. If you wear armor, you lose all class abilities and gain no XP. (This is hilarious from a lore standpoint*, given that the sword thing is a muuuuuuch bigger deal than "I strap on some padded armor".) In fact, gear-wise, just realize you are basically going to get to use a) a shortspear and b) a buckler. That's it. For your devotion to stabbing, you gain Fast Movement (+10ft on your race's average... and nowhere does it SAY an Ogier can't be an algai, so hey, that's a hilarious mental image), an increasing bonus to initiative, the 3e feat "Uncanny Dodge" (increasing as you level), and Stealthy Movement, so you can add Reflex bonuses to any Move Silently/Hide checks.

* Is it getting annoying when I mention these? I'm trying not to drop casual spoilers here and there but if pointing these out is doing nothing for anyone I'll focus more on mechanics instead of flavor.

This is literally all they get. There's not even a good prestige class for them, since they can't qualify for most. Algai'd'siswai are probably the most overspecialized base class and as a result it's a huge kick in the teeth to want to play an Aiel.

Armsman



Closest D&D comparison: These dudes are very much your stock Fighter.

They're fighter-rear end fighters. The only real twists (and again, going off what I remember from 3E D&D, so I might be wrong) are their incredibly low defense (they are tied for the lowest, with the same progression as Initiates), and the Armor Compatibility feat at level 3. What does it do? Well, it lets your defense stack with the bonuses from any armor and/or shields you wear. But then if you're an archery-based Armsman, you're probably not going to have much on for DEX purpo... okay no I actually kinda like that, it's a reason to keep the archers back and out of battles where you can. Could probably use a little mechanical fine-tuning, but that's really the tagline for this game as a whole.

Initiate/Wilder




Closest D&D comparison: Mages.

We're covering them both because they have such overlap that it's not worth coming back to the other last and going "Go look at Initiate again". The difference between an Initiate and a Wilder comes down to this: if you were trained as part of an order (Aes Sedai, Windfinders, Wise Ones, Asha'man), you're an Initiate. If you learned on your own, you're a Wilder (which is a mixed blessing we'll get to in a little). Mechanically, it's a feat and what stat you use to channel different (initiates are INT, wilders WIS - just keep the letters in mind and you're solid).

That said, let's jump ahead a few chapters and go into the brief breakdown of how "channeling" (spellcasting) works, and what a channeler class involves compared to others. First off, you pick an affinity from the Five Powers on taking your first level of Initiate/Wilder - if you're a woman, you pick Air, Spirit, or Water. Men choose Earth, Fire, or Spirit. (Some of your channeler bonus feats from the chart above can be used to take additional affinities later, if you like.) All "weaves" (spells) have an elemental affinity to them, some multiple. Do you have the complete affinity for a weave you're casting (ie, you're attuned to EVERY element it uses)? Cast it and it'll cost a lower level slot than it would usually. Do you have only some of them? Normal level. None? Level that sucker up a slot. But some weaves can be cast at different base levels to begin with, so add that in too when you're doing these calculations. (Some spells run as wide as, say, 2-8. The weave levels comprise 0-9.) Oh, and you can actually cast poo poo way above your level if you like, a trick called Overchanneling. (If you're a Wilder, you gain an instant +5 on any Overchanneling attempts, and another +5 to Fortitude should you gently caress up and need to take a penalty roll.) There are some items that will help you do this, or you can just try and take in much more of the One Power than you usually know how to hold as a desperate gamble. Careful, though! loving this up by a significant enough margin against the DC can leave you "stilled" (or "gentled" if you're a man - but either way, it means "you can no longer touch the One Power ever again"*). Did I mention that weaves are kind of ludicrously complex compared to your usual D&D spells? I'm simplifying this a bit, even.

* Unless your campaign is set far enough in the books to the point where someone has sussed out that it's possible to heal stilling/gentling. Then you just need a potent enough channeler to want to do so for you. Also, it only just hit me how a completely naff GM could use this as a lovely "ha ha you fell" Paladin kind of deal. Ugh.

Okay, now you know HOW to cast, but how do you learn more things? That's where the Weavesight skill comes in. If a channeler of your gender uses a spell near you, you can make a Weavesight roll to try and learn the skill for yourself. Earning the skill by taking a level of Initiate means you now get a +4 to any checks made to do so. (This is the bonus they get instead of Overchanneling protection.) Do this any chance you get around other channelers, it's the only way to learn new weaves unless someone deigns to demonstrate them for you. The difficulty progresses like this on checks: DC10, you can tell what elements go into it. DC15, you can ID the weave. If you know the weave, you get name and effects, if not, you get a general "It seems to do this" from the DM. DC20, you learn the weave (if it's your channeling level or lower). DC25, you learn the weave period. And now how this gets stupid: the penalties. -5 if you don't have an affinity for the elements in the weave. If nobody is currently casting/has tied off (we'll get to it) the weave, you need a special feat, Sense Residue, to see the weave, and you take greater penalties the longer ago it was (up to -15 if it was "released more than a week ago but within a month"). The same feat's the only way to discover an Inverted weave (seriously, just wait until the chapter on spells, this poo poo is going on forever as-is).

Baaaaaack to the classes, though. Wilders get a bonus feat! It's called "Block". It sucks rear end because it means you can't channel unless you're in a heightened emotional state (they tell you to pick one, some examples given are being pissed off, super-calm, afraid, turned-on, whatever). If you're a male Wilder, you can eliminate this out the gate by just spending your level 1 feat on "Eliminate Block" and boom. Ladies have to wait until level 3 to take the same thing. Finally, we come to something both have: "Slow Aging". Once you gain this, you end up with the "ageless" look all channelers have. Divide your level by 2: the result is how many years have to go by for you to look one year older.

Finally, let's quickly head over into Man-Town, and I'll remind you that men are channeling something tainted with the Dark One's own energy which drives them loving nuts in time. Men are more potent channelers than women by the rules (they gain bonus weaves from level 1-5, can take out their block at level 1 if a wilder), but they also have a hidden, GM-tracked "Madness" stat. The more you channel (at first...), the higher this creeps, and as it hits certain ranks, you're going to have more triggers that can set you off. Eventually, you straight up loving crack. It's not the worst, though - there are two levels beyond "irredeemably insane". The first is a wasting disease that consumes you, forcing constant Fort rolls to keep it from kicking in. Once it does, you've got a week... and then you lose 1d3 CON daily. Forever. Until death. The second, though, is the Madness that destroyed the world. You're now an NPC, you do not give two shits about anything, and you are going to channel all of the power you can until it consumes you, not caring in the slightest about what this does to anything around you until death.

Man, that was a lighthearted scenario! Let's just leave off there and cover the final classes next time.

Next time: Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man.

(Did you guess which classes got no dead levels? The Noble is the only class without a single dead level IF you ignore spell-progression. Multiple have as many as 11/20 with jack poo poo happening.)

secretly best girl fucked around with this message at 10:46 on Apr 7, 2013

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Keep the lore asides, they're interesting.

Also: built-in bonuses to AC were not a thing in stock 3.5 (they were a variant rule, and Fighter saves were 12/6/6 at level 20 - so the Armsman actually has better defences than the Fighter out of the box (12/9/6) at the cost of a worse defensive bonus if you were using that houserule.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Don't the spellcasters get more spell slots and poo poo each level, even if it's not outright listed on their level chart there? So they wouldn't have any truly dead levels either.

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

Zereth posted:

Don't the spellcasters get more spell slots and poo poo each level, even if it's not outright listed on their level chart there? So they wouldn't have any truly dead levels either.

This is true, I did forget to account for that when I was doing the once-over. I'll correct that.

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Also: built-in bonuses to AC were not a thing in stock 3.5
Yeah, but we're not talking 3.5 here. That wouldn't exist for years after the two WoT books came out. I mean raw, on-launch 3rd Edition. I kind of suspect some of this might be using early versions of 3rd Ed. rules in places, actually, depending on how long the publication/clearing poo poo with Robert Jordan took.

Down With People posted:

That's their name? loving hell, it looks like someone barfed up a bunch of Alphabet Spaghetti.

This book was really, really clearly made for people like me who got a little obsessive with the world's lore and were willing to overlook a bunch of names that are just random letters with apostrophes explained away with "gently caress you, Old Tongue!". Sadly it squandered that potential.

secretly best girl fucked around with this message at 10:54 on Apr 7, 2013

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Syrg Sapphire posted:

algai'd'siswai

That's their name? loving hell, it looks like someone barfed up a bunch of Alphabet Spaghetti.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



Scrape posted:

I gotta say, InSpectres is a go-to game for my group. Whenever one of our regular players can't make a session, we fall back on that game. It's awesome and plays really well, if you're into no-prep collaborative storygames. You can run a really fun one-shot with literally no more than a vague concept of a haunting or something going on. I highly recommend it for reals, glad to see it getting a little recognition here.

Thanks. It is absolutely meant for impromptu play or as a filler between other games. Did you do any kind of houserule for Stress Rolls? My group found them a bit harsh, as you can imagine from my review.

a kitten
Aug 5, 2006



CLAY-O-RAMA A miniatures melodrama for all ages.


The Giant Blue Bowling Ball slowly rolled across the battlefield toward the Neon Orange Thing with the big floppy mouth and writhing mass of tentacles. Desperately, the Neon Orange Thing hurled pellets at the ball as it came relentlessly forward. Then there was a flash, and the Four-Legged Rad Jet plowed into the rear (?) of the bowling ball, cracking the Ball's surface. The Neon Orange Thing, sensing a kill, closed in. Panicked the Bowling Ball whipped around, flattening one of the wings of the Red Jet. The Orange Thing lashed out with its tentacles, grasping the ball firmly. With a mighty heave, the Orange Thing hurled the Bowling Ball into theair. It sailed up and hurled down, splitting into pieces as it hit the ground. Turning from the destruction, the Red Jet grinned as it sighted the Orange Thing, "Feeling lucky today?" it asked--and charged.

Such are the adventures of the denizens of Claydonia as they meet on the battlefield of Clay-O-Rama. Now you, too can recreate their epic struggles, in the all-new, home-use Clay-O-Rama Miniatures Rules - the same you see used every year at the GEN CON Games Fair.


"You have twenty minutes in which to make a creature out of your modeling clay. You may create anything you want, so long it doesn't collapse at the slightest touch. You do not have to use all your clay; any clay you do not use may be shaped into missiles of any size or shape you want. You may not trade clay with another player; use your own clay. When you have finished making your Claydonian, let me know."


Way back in 1987 I picked up a copy of Dragon magazine, tucked away among articles like "The Ecology of the Greenhag: One of a broad family of evil hags" and "Armies From the Ground Up: Taxes, politics, immigrants, and the military in AD&D games" was a four page (well, 3 and half) rule set for a Very Silly Game, written by David "Zeb" Cook.

Yes, it's a miniatures war game that involves making a cool monster out of a can of Play-doh and then fighting that monster to the death against your friend's creations.

I still have those pages, they are wrinkly and yellow, somewhat taped together, and brittle, but still safely tucked away in one of my old sketchbooks.

I'll type up the rest of the rules here in a bit.

e:Because I somehow hit "post" way before I was done writing this.

a kitten fucked around with this message at 15:23 on Apr 7, 2013

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Claydonia Conquers the World! is probably my favourite Dragon article, ever.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Honestly, I think the WOT rules are actually using a variant of the RCR Star Wars rules, weirdly. Having a middle save progression, class-based defense bonus not compatible with armor, and an an armor compatibility feature for the fighter class all seem to be from there originally. Heck, even the classes line up too, mostly: Noble=Noble, Wanderer=Scoundrel, Armsman=Soldier, Woodsman=Scout, Initiate=Jedi Consular, Wilder=Force Adept. Al'gi'whatever and tech specialist is about the only mismatch.

RCR is sort of the sad middle child of the Star Wars D20 games and it really shows in adapting it to a new setting.

a kitten
Aug 5, 2006



Clay-O-Rama's rules are very simple and very vague; measurement is done in hand-spans, damage per attack is decided based on how large the limb or mouth is.



What is a Clay-O-Rama?
A Clay-O-Rama is many things. It is a chance for friends to meet and have a good time, It can be a serious philosophical discussion on the meaning of modeling clay. It is a means of artistic expression. It is a ritualistic gathering of Claydonians to watch the violent destruction of others of their species. But most of all, it is a silly game involving modeling clay miniatures.

What do I need to have a Clay-ORama?
First you need a group of people willing to be silly and have fun playing with the modeling clay. Next, you need the rules or something like them. Then you need pencils, paper, and numerous six-sided dice for each player. Utterly unscientific testing has shown that Play-doh modeling compound is well suited for use in a Clay-O-Rama. It is easily shaped, comes packaged in the proper amounts, and has pleasing brilliant colors.

You have twenty minutes in which to make a creature out of your modeling clay[...]
After telling your players this, let them go to it. Do not tell them any more about what will happen except that it will be a miniatures game. Encourage creativity. As each player finishes his or her creation you must assign the creation its powers.

How do I assign powers?
There are six categories of powers that must be assigned to each Claydonian: movement, number of attacks, "to hit" number, damage, hit points, and special powers. Each one requires that you make a judgement about the creation of the player. The following are guidelines for assigning the powers; you may alter them as you see fit.

Movement: All movement is measured in spans of the player's outstreched hand (from tip of thumb to tip of little finger). The following table gives the basic movement rates.
code:
NUMBER OF LEGS     MOVEMENT
     0    	   1 span
    1-2    	   2 spans
    3-4    	   3 spans
     5 or more     4 spans
Note that a "leg" is any type of movement-producing appendage the claydonian might have, even if it is a wheel.

Number of Attacks: Look at the creation carefully. How many limbs can it use for attacking? This is the number of attacks it can make each turn. However, this number should never be more than four.

Chance to Hit: A Claydonian's basic chance to hit is 8 or greater on two six-sided dice. If the creature has big limbs or a big mouth, the chance to hit is reduced by one. If the creature has real big limbs or mouth, or uses it's entire body in an attack, reduce the chance to hit by two. You decide just how big is "big" or "real big".

Damage: The base damage done in any attack is one six-sided die's worth of points. If the limbs are large, one or two more dice may be added to this. If the limbs are very large, three more dice may be added to this. If the attack is an absolute killer up to five dice may be added to the base attack die. As usual, you can decide all final attack values. If you're getting the idea that this is not a very exact game, you have the right idea. You're playing with clay monsters, right? Who needs to be exact?

Hit Points: Look at the creature and compare it to the amount of clay kept aside to create missiles. If the entire can of clay was used to form the creature, it has 50 hit points. If half was used for missiles, the creature will have 25 hit points. Assign hit points based on the fraction of clay used to form missiles. If 25% of the clay is used for missiles, knock 25% off of 50 to find the creature's hit points. This is another judgement call on your part as the referee.


You'll probably notice that once you know the rules it seems like everyone should make 4-armed, 5-legged monsters with maybe a couple of missiles, and you'd probably be right-at least from a pure gameplay standpoint. Overall I think the game is a lot more fun when people don't actually know what their getting into and just makes some sort of creature they find amusing.

Cthulhu vs. A Carrot vs. A Rabbit vs. Some Sort of Flower Maybe was a lot more entertaining than 5 Optimal Playdoh Monsters.

Next up: exciting Special Powers!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Incidentally, the Namebreakers/Asian mages are probably he best of he Asian groups in that they are just mages from Asia, and by and large their book was only somewhat bad.

The Asian "technocrats" are complete idiots, though. They make liquid metal tigers no consistently get super confused when they go mad from Paradox. This is because they are smug and believe in mixing tech and magic and don't seem to get why this doesn't really work.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




Giant Allege, Chapter 3: Wheel of Morality, Turn Turn Turn

So, mechanics!



This is something I've seen a couple Japanese RPGs do that I'm fond of - lay out the typical flow of a session from start to finish in a sort of cheat sheet. Approximately:

Prologue / Creation Phase
Random Aspect Generation: Before each person makes their characters, everyone determines random settings.
Make Allege: Each player creates their Giant Allege.
Make Lawyers: Each player creates their Lawyer.
NPC Role Determination: NPC A (The plaintiff) and NPC B (the accused) roles determined (determine timing!)

Act 1 / Introduction Phase
Case Presentation Scene: NPC A presents their case to those gathered.
Lawyer Arrival Scene: Scene where all the lawyers arrive at the battlefield. (determine timing!)
B's Request Scene: NPC B makes their request to the lawyers.
A's Request Scene: NPC A makes their request to the lawyers.

Act 2 / Pre-Judgment Phase
Debate Scene: Attorneys discuss the points of each side. (determine timing!)
Culling Scene: Before the Judgment, resolve surprise attacks. (determine timing!)

Act 3 / Judgment Phase
Trial Scene: Each attorney determines which side they will fight for.
First Hearing Scene: Each side deploys in their Giant Allege and do battle.
Second Scene: Each side deploys in their Giant Allege and do battle.
Third Scene: Each side deploys in their Giant Allege and do battle.

Act 4 / Resolution Phase
Closing Scene: Judgment ends, and the lawyers go their separate ways.
The Judgment Never Ends: When the time comes, there will be another battle.

That's the general structure of a session of Giant Allege. For now, let's focus on the Prologue!

Like nearly every Japanese RPG ever made, Giant Allege is both entirely d6-based and involves huge random generation tables. We kick things off with a random chart to determine who our NPCs our, and what they want. This takes the form "By A's request, the trial of A vs B, on the subject of the D of C." A, B, and C are each rolled on a huge 6x6 table, whereas D only has six options. Let's break it down:

code:
Roll	A/B		C
11	Villager	The mines
12	Son		Water
13	Parent		Town
14	Brother		Forest
15	Child		Railroad
16	Old person	Money
21	Young person	Land
22	Mayor		Medicine
23	Scientist	Children
24	Bakery		Roads
25	Farmer		Estate
26	Factory Worker	Home
31	Bank		Castle
32	Mechanic	Workplace
33	Politician	Store
34	Village leader	Heirloom
35	Nouveau Riche	Weapons
36	Mafia		Ship
41	Noble		Inheritance
42	Outsider	Time
43	Laborer		Life
44	Betrothed	Heart
45	Fiancee		Food
46	Secret lover	Work
51	Physician	Alcohol
52	Doctor		Right Arm
53	Merchant	Family
54	Courier		Ruins
55	Chef		Lake
56	Wife		Plaza
61	Husband		Education
62	Deceased	Harbor
63	Actor		Political power
64	Artisan		Grave
65	Father		Power Plant
66	Swindler	Water Plant
code:
Roll	D
1-3	Rights/Possession
4	Duties
5	Incident Culprit
6	Law, Contract
Rolling up a sample incident, I get:
A: Scientist
B: Wife
C: Incident Culprit
D: Harbor

The book explicitly advises changing the results if your group can't come up with a good story, but that won't be necessary here. Since there's no way a scientist in this setting isn't Mad, this is clearly a case of the scientist accusing his wife of stealing his doomsday device and firing it into the harbor, killing thousands of fish and disrupting local fishing on a massive scale.

Following this, we determine the 'Budget' for each side. For side A (The mad scientist) and side B (his harbot-obliterating wife), we roll one die per player, and multiply the result by four to determine the Budget. Whichever side has less budget is now designated the Good side, and the higher is designated the Evil side. In our case, I'm doing a 2-player scenario, so I roll 2d6x4 for each side - I rolled a 7 and a 6, so Team Scientist has a budget of 28 and Team Wife has a budget of 24. Since the Wife has been designated as the Good side, presumably she fired the doomsday device into the harbor in order to keep her husband from firing it into an orphanage. The strange thing about this section is, in flipping through the rest of the book, I have yet to find any other point where Budget is mentioned. This is my first time doing a full translation runthrough, so hopefully it will become clear what the point of this is later. Budget is used to pay for giant robots, so that you don't have to fight on foot.

Next step is Making Allege! In true JTTRPG fashion, this is done almost entirely by rolling on random tables. There's one for Chassis and one for Equipment - by default, each Allege gets two pieces of equipment, but some chassis might change the number. Starting at this point, and ending at the Lawyer Introduction scene, each player should keep their chargen details secret from the other players.

Once the random parts have been taken care of, you determine your Allege's attributes:
Quick - determines the Allege's speed and maneuverability.
Break - determines the Allege's power and attack damage.
Armor - determines the Allege's durability and size.

Followed by your Lawyer's name, weapons, and attributes:
Timing - includes luck, and determines turn order within a scene.
Power - the Lawyer's physical strength and toughness. Because of the Marionette Control System, this affects the physical strength of your Allege.
Keen - speed and physical skill. Determines handling in your Allege.
Distribute 10 points between these three, with a minimum of 1. Details of chargen come later in the book, so this is all kept pretty high-level for now.

Finally, each player must choose whether to support party A, support party B, or support neither party. This is done in initiative order (initiative rolls still haven't been explained yet, this book is surprisingly meandering for being so short), and whoever you choose, you must defend them in the court no matter what. Totally read this wrong! At this point, the roles of the NPCs are distributed to the players! Roll initiative, and whoever goes first can choose to play NPC A, NPC B, or neither. Then, out of whichever NPCs are remaining, the next player gets to pick, until A and B are both assigned to someone. Just because you're playing an NPC doesn't mean you have to actually be on their side with your Lawyer.

That brings us to the end of the high-level explanation of the Prologue. To tide us over until we reach the actual game mechanics, here's Prosecutor J's completed character sheet:



Next time: High-level overview of the remaining four acts.

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 06:50 on Apr 19, 2013

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Syrg Sapphire posted:

Divide your level by 2: the result is how many years have to go by for you to look one year older.

Which is unintentionally hilarious because RAW they actually age faster than a regular human until they chow down on 1000 XP.

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

homeless poster posted:

Which is unintentionally hilarious because RAW they actually age faster than a regular human until they chow down on 1000 XP.

Nope. You only get Slow Aging at level 3.



The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game

6: Second Class

Before we start, I just wanna throw a thing out there:



These two are totally brothers. Or related, anyway. That noble's daddy has a bastard or 20 out there.

Noble


Closest D&D comparison: Bards? Only thing I can make fit some of these skills.

Nobles, as written in this book, are an interesting class. First off, nobles aren't just the royalty of a nation - you also have generals, merchants, crime lords... They list a diverse crew as fitting under this banner. Where it gets weird is how we turn it into mechanics. Nobles are a support class, hands-down. They're just a very, very flexible support class. Right out the gate they can pick any skill (save channeler skills) as a free class skill, with it being "unapproved" expertise they learned growing up. They're also going to get "favors" every odd level - make a CHA check, add your level to the roll. Things like "hey, loan me some money" are DC10, whereas "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence*" is muuuuch higher up there. (Generally, they say the more expensive/illegal a favor is, the higher you want to set it. 25+ once you get into things that could get you arrested/beheaded.) If you screw it up, though... you don't lose the favor. Once one succeeds, though, it's gone forever.

* The Declaration of Independence does not exist in WoT-world.

The other stuff is more genericly Bard-y: Once a day you can play music make a speech to inspire confidence in your companions (bonus increases as you level, from +1 to attacks/skill checks/Will saves, to +5 as you hit the end of your levels), and "commands" you can give to the party that make cooperation checks more potent (remember those? If one person is making a skill check, someone else can 'assist' to give a +2? Yeah, this can increase what the bonus is by two every time it ranks up.) Those are all their tricks. Speaking of tricks, though...

Wanderer


Closest D&D comparison: "Closest" nothing, these dudes are Rogues in all but name.

I don't really need to add anything beyond that. They get sneak attacks, every few levels they get a free feat (Skill Emphasis) that grants +3 on a class skill, at level 2 they get a feat (The Dark One's Own Luck) to reroll a botched roll once a day. Level 1 gives you a +5 to diplomacy checks on anything involving illicit deals. Otherwise? They are Rogues. Pick locks, set/find traps, charm some dudes, sneak around and shank a man. Rogues.

Woodsman



Closest D&D comparison: Rangers.

First off, there's a note in their class description that "Woodsman" is kind of a misleading name. "Survivalists" might be better, but that one's got a lot more connotations. You can build a Woodsman to be based around a few different kinds of environments, though - pick one at level 1. Could be woods, swamps, mountains, or even the Aiel Waste or the Blight itself. Two things happen with this choice. 1. You can add your DEX bonus to attacks, in addition to STR, against humanoid enemies when in that region. 2. You can always apply this bonus against wild animals. Period. Not even in your favorite environs. (You get a second and third one as you level up.) You're also getting a bonus feat (Track - lets you track people, what did you think it did?) out the gate. If you're in a natural environment, you get a +2 (at level 3, becomes +4 at 12) to Hide/Move Silently. Like fighters, you get bonus feats from a list of combat skills as you get stronger.

Otherwise? Nothing really special, you're another damage-dealer class with some tricks tossed in. Keep light armor on and you get free Improved Initiative (anything heavier will cancel this).

I'm just going to ask right here: does anyone really want to hear skill descriptions, knowing most of them are just 3E skills, or should I skip that chapter and just bring up the channeler skills (all three of them) in the One Power chapter?

secretly best girl fucked around with this message at 21:35 on Apr 7, 2013

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

As far as skills go, just call out any weird alternate uses for the standard skills, if indeed there are any.

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man






People tell stories to add sense to tragedy

Within the first few pages of Changeling: the Lost, you are given two pieces of fiction that (thankfully) evoke something more than the Gothic X-Men pastiche that the World of Darkness is known for. Instead, we're given details of something as cruel as it is considerate, like a burned thumb from a hot stove. C:tL is wrapped in the allegories of elders, where bad things happen to good people for a sensible reason.

The first story is What Alec Bourbon Said. As a tip of the hat to White Wolf fiction of lore, it details powers and effects that aren't exactly present in the rules but certainly come close to what should be present later.

A page of description (white text on black pages, pictures of a seedy bar) about the eponymous Alec Bourbon, a Winter changeling of a Tree-esque kith- both of these features will be repetitively detailed throughout- that holds court in a skid row bar in the tri-state area. He appears to be an old hobo drunk with complete dominance of his people, able to lay a powerful and spiteful curse on those that owe him or cross him.

In walks a pretty young lady, speaking in the stilted language of someone Other than us, speaking to Alec's promises and accepting to drink with him while in his bar to talk business. They come to some sort of agreement over a less-detailed pledge than would normally fly in games, but the benefit of it is that the bar's eyes and ears forget the important details, accept for a promise of A Year & A Day.

So Mr. Bourbon is out into the streets, hunting. As this is White Wolf, this means hunting for imperiled alone young innocent and ignorant ladies (the inherent rape metaphor only barely achieves subtext). Alec Bourbon has the specific stealth of following 99 steps behind, tracking his target without even following her path. A few minutes of waiting outside, Bourbon 'luckily' pushes the door into the apartment as another couple leaves.

And then we come to the real magic. A rowan club that always helps with keeping his promises: Token. A spell to appear as a favorite Uncle: Wyrd-faced Stranger. A target that just had a birthday: prophecy/fate magic. An oddly-ruled and unfair guessing game: a nasty pledge. A body that turns into junk when he looks away: either the target was a Fetch, or Alec Bourbon is in league with a Keeper (I prefer the former conclusion). A beer that is only drank once or twice a year: some sort of re-gained clarity, or a certain aspect of a pledge-promise.

But then the Lady returns, talking of a temporarily-eased burden and promising to buy him a drink. But Alec Bourbon will take that drink and savor it un-tasted; holding her to a promise as it sits out of reach of the bar.

This is a changeling story. The themes of junk, homelessness, abuse, kidnapping, promises and duty, spite, self-hate, and the sort of faerie magic that refuses to act scientifically1 .

+++

Table of Contents
Prologue 2 (8 pages)
Introduction 10 (8 pages)
Chapter One: The World Behind the Mask 18 (52 pages)
Chapter Two: Character Creation 70 (100 pages)
Chapter Three: Special Rules and Systems 170 (60 pages)
Chapter Four: Storytelling 230 (56 pages)
Appendix One: Entitlements 286 (36 pages)
Appendix Two: Freehold of Miami 322 (23 pages)
Index 346 (3 pages)

+++

The next story is crafted in the same way as pre-Disney children's fiction books: a snatch of text on one side and a well-drawn picture to compliment it. It is from the point of view of a hapless babysitter (imperiled alone young innocent and ignorant, naturally) trying to find... someone. She walked into the wilderness and is now lost. Her scratches bleed and her memory fades- except, hello, here is the face of some girl that drowned a year ago~! (that girl was likely a dead fetch, either killed by this changeling or a spiteful Keeper) This strange face wearing a dog collar (...) is telling her to go back, that the boy is already home, and she has to keep to the path behind her.

And when she returns, Danny is taller, forgot the cat's name, and is a fetch that replaced the kid she lost to the Keeper. The changeling that told her to return was likely a servant of the Keeper and wore the Other's collar (......) and probably didn't want to take two souls away when she only had to take one.

This is a changeling story. Kidnapping, replacement, the sense that maybe your memory is wrong or corrupted and life doesn't make sense to you, duty, tragedy, sadness, injury, fear of the wilderness, thorns2 .

Introduction

The top-of-page blurb from the Grimms are of a poetic speaker promising pleasures in exchange of a person (and therefore what makes you a person). White Wolf is- smartly- going to be playing with these themes in Demon: the Frutang since Demon is about role-playing antagonists (but avoiding the walking pedophile-metaphor that is modern vampires).

What is the game? "what happens when old stories prove true". Well, okay. There exists abusive people who do bad things to good people, but they live according to a set of rules that would make every flavor of OCD make sense (junk and trash being evil is a theme). You play the people who were taken and changed by their durance, and escaped because of their memory of home3 .

It is a game of Beautiful Madness. This is the point where I bring up the capitalization conventions. You play faeries, opposed by True Fae. You may possess a cat, but you are not a Keeper. You may be strangers in a strange land, but you are not an Other. So when I start using pretentious capitals, assume that Arcadia Willed It So4 .

Beauty, in the way that a poem is beautiful no matter what the subject. Madness, in the frantic action that demands a response. Stasis is death to faeries, not disbelief. If you don't fight keep yourself sane and safe, you're as gone as if you filled out your last hit-box with lethal. Without the Clarity of who you are and what it means, you are hopelessly lost5 .

So how do you play? To understand the Wyrd and all its permutations is essential to play a changeling.
  • Promises: the Lost live in a world of pledges (it is described as how the magic 'works', depending on your point of view). The freehold lives with promises, and changelings are strong if they get a promise and weak if they give a promise. Without that promise of a pledge to enmesh yourself in- its you, you're the imperiled alone young innocent and ignorant one.
  • Deception: changelings are constantly lying to two parties; the mortals who in their ignorance would destroy your world if they knew about it, and the hedge-natives that would, armed by your ignorance, destroy your world if you let them know about it. This deception has a price, of course: sometimes a natural consequence of eternal vigilance; sometimes a purposeful injury to those that would have helped you, if they had only kept their promises.
  • Symbolism: Magic and roles as a changeling is typified by holistic archetypes, not exacting details of perception. Most of the magic, then, is symbolic as it gives you power for 'a Scene' or 'an effect', not to be broken down by autopsy to find some ineffable "truth".

Sources
Some of this is comical, most isn't. We are near half a decade past C:tL's publication in 2007, and since then the potential source material has multiplied ten-fold (Lost Girl, Once Upon a Time, Hansel & Gretel, Hellboy 2, the list goes on). I believe that is because the people that purchased and played the successful game-line have begun to hunger for material that is like it.

However, when first published, this is what they have:

Non-fiction peices about Grimm's allegories and other details of historic myths and superstition.
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Stardust, Sandman & more.
Fables, though perhaps a little too on-the-nose about Disney figures for C:tL proper.
Poetry. All of it! You should read more poetry.
American Beauty (gag, gag, gag)
Labyrinth , both Henson's and del Toro's

Other than American Beauty (I mean loving really?) you're not going to be that disappointed by the writer's choices. If/when a GMC revision comes, I'd love to read into what came out post-2007 that gets included.

And then another piece of fiction, this time about a changeling, who has a fear of the modern technology that is the telephone (another major theme: anything that wasn't artisanally made or altered by one of your super-hipster faerie friends is something dangerous and best left behind).

This time, he's threatened with being taken again, but this time by a different changeling servant, who is apparently smarter than the target and has a murderous rage to go with an Arcadian token and a snow-fused body. The last moment, preserved in ice in the accompanying picture, is when the phone rings again.

My theory is that this is a nightmare about technology, either enacted by Fate in real life or just a dream that will be woken up from. Either way, changelings aren't nice people. They insult, they destroy, and they kill. And they are euphoric when it happens, not because of some phony god's blessing, but because they are enlightened by their own Wyrd.

(next time: fifty pages of setting fiction with rules scattered within)

1the Wyrd is Michigan J. Frog and hopeless aspie nerds are the construction worker that really should have gone back to playing Mage.
2 and slave/master dynamics that only need a utilikilt to have come straight out of fetlife, there I said it!
3It is mentioned later in Equinox Road that changelings without clear memories of home and a human-like body cannot leave Arcadia, period. A baby or child left to become fae (eating food, to quote Persephone) stays no matter how many layers of magic you use to argue your case, and the same goes for characters with eight arms and no clear memory of home to hold onto. So if you're running C:tL you're completely in your rights to reject infantile characters, civil-war era backgrounds or changelings that are completely foreign in place or form than where you set your chronicle. By rules, there are no special snowflake exceptions.
4Is Arcadia the same place as mentioned in Mage? gently caress you, and I'll explain exactly why when we get to Equinox Road
5One of the issues with the game, present in the first few pages, is the dichotomy of approaches as a changeling: attempting to live as a mortal and ignoring the hedge, and attempting to live in the hedge and ignoring the mortals. Both approaches have rules supporting them in the book, and its a good idea to sit down with your players in the first session and explain what you're interested in and the other people are interested in, and coming to a consensus. Talking like adults step one is much better than dissolving the game weeks later when people that should be happy aren't.

Gerund fucked around with this message at 01:24 on Apr 8, 2013

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Bedlamdan
Apr 25, 2008




Part 3: Class, Alignment, and Skills

Continuing the review after a slight delay, we proceed with character creation! As stated before, on top of the fact that every class has ability score minimums to qualify for, some classes also have caste restrictions as well. So to be a Priest, you must roll a 15-18 on a 3d6 to qualify for the Brahmin caste, on top the minimum wisdom of 9. This means that your odds of playing a priest is less than ten percent.

What we’ll begin with is an overview of all the classes, wherein I point out the incredibly obvious copy-pasting of D&D concepts in a setting that has nothing to do with medieval Europe. First, the priest:

Arrows of Indra posted:

These are Brahmin caste individuals who have trained as Holy men, Priests, in the formal setting of a temple. Like everyone else, they give worship to all the 330 million gods, but they are also usually specifically dedicated to a particular deity’s temple. Younger Priests will regularly travel from one temple to another, and to small villages to officiate over important religious ceremonies.
They will seek to combat evil and ignorance. Priests perform a variety of rituals (which are collectively termed “Arcana”), from daily prayers and purification, to marriages, rites of passage, and Holy celebrations of the gods. They firmly believe that the path to enlightenment is to be found in proper performance of ritual. Some Priests, including all player character Priests, will gradually gain miraculous powers from their holiness.

Now, I’m not entirely certain if this is accurate, but it’s certainly inoffensive. The priest has the same characteristics as the AD&D cleric, with a few minor changes: the amount of experience points they need to level up has been modified slightly, and like all spell casters in Arrows of Indra they get feats that confer per-day spells rather than spell levels proper. They are otherwise identical to clerics. How identical, you may ask? Well…

Arrows of Indra posted:

Priests are forbidden to draw blood; they can use any kind of armor, but will only used blunt weapons.



This is strictly an AD&Dism, put there because Gygax and company liked vampire movies and myths about European fighting clerics who used blunt weapons to avoid shedding blood. It has absolutely nothing to do with India

This, by the way, not the worst example of copy-pasting in this book.

The priest also includes a sub-class called the priest-shaman, which is the counterpart of the AD&D Druid (which at that time was a sub-class of the cleric). Both the priest-shaman and the druid get the same widgets that differentiate them from priests/clerics: they can identify plants and animals, determine if water is pure, and are unhindered in rough natural terrain. Unlike druids, however, priest-shamans don’t get to shape shift and have immunity to charm spells like AD&D druids.

This is because RPGPundit divided the druid into two separate cleric subclasses, the other subclass being the rakshasa priest. This class gets the more interesting half of the AD&D druid, specifically the ability to change into animals and get charm resistance. They are also always evil, so it figures that Pundit would keep the more interesting stuff out of PC hands.

Next are the fighters:

Arrows of Indra posted:

These are warriors of all kinds, from the Sudra, Vaishya or Kshatriya caste. Those of the Kshatriya and Vaishya caste will have been trained for it in special schools (gurukulas), where they were taught the noblest of arts: archery, spear-fighting, sword-fighting, and horse-riding as well as chariot racing. Sudras are not permitted to train in such schools, but may learn their skills as common soldiers. Some Brahmins are also Fighters, but this is not considered an honorable profession for them. Dalits are not meant to be Fighters, but some of them might be anyways, though they will always be treated as untouchables by all other castes.

I do think it’s nice that fighters aren’t restricted to caste. There’s really nothing new to say about fighters: just like AD&D fighters they have the same ability minimums, hit point progression, and they get multiple attacks per round as they level up. Nothing to see here, folks.

Next is the Virakshatriya:

Arrows of Indra posted:

(Holy warrior) a fighter chosen by the gods. Always of the Kshatriya caste, these fighters are blessed with divine gifts and usually dedicate themselves to a specific warrior-god; Rama, Durga, Indra, etc. These individuals will show extremely devout spiritual qualities from an early age. They will be likely chosen to receive special training from a Virakshatriya guru and will dedicate their lives in the service of the gods to fight evil.



He had the balls to copy-paste the paladin and put it in India. It should be noted that no such term as “Virakshatriya” has ever existed, Pundit made it up for the purposes of his game. We’re going to take some extra time with this one.

Arrows of Indra posted:

Detect unholy-aligned creatures within 60’.

AD&D posted:

Detect evil at up to 60’ distance,

Arrows of Indra posted:

Virakshatriya are immune to all diseases.

AD&D posted:

Immunity to all forms of disease.

Arrows of Indra posted:

They can cure themselves or others by touch, up to a total of (2 hp/level, per day)

AD&D posted:

The ability to “lay on hands” … to cure wounds; this heals 2 hit points of damage per level

Arrows of Indra posted:

They can cure diseases (also by touch) 1/week for every 5 levels of experience.

AD&D posted:

The ability to cure disease of any sort; this can be done once per week for each five levels of experience

Arrows of Indra posted:

Continually emanates a Holy Aura, gaining a +2 to saving throws from all attacks by demonic creatures or Unholy individuals, and those creatures are –2 to attack him.

AD&D posted:

The continuing emanation of a protection from evil

No, no. No. This is stupid and we’ll be here all day. Let me just highlight the differences. There are TWO.

The first is that, instead of a summonable intelligent warhorse, the Virakshatriya gets to summon a Garuda instead. In Indian myth a Garuda is a giant eagle that typically serves as a mount to deities.

The second is the code of conduct that the paladin Virakshatriya must adhere to.

Arrows of Indra posted:

Virakshatriyas must be of Holy alignment, and follow the strict rules of the gods. If they should ever act against the gods, particularly their chosen god, by failing to perform proper rituals or purification, by eating spoiled food, touching feces, drinking blood or eating raw meat, by committing fornication outside of marriage, by using Unholy magic, by fighting for personal gain, theft, lying, or (unholy) murder, or touching an untouchable, they will lose all of their spiritual powers until they have been granted penance and performed a purification ritual with the help of a Priest of at least 7th level.



It’s a more restrictive version of the paladin’s code, in that along with a proscription of being lawful good, a Virakshatriya must also adhere tightly to caste restrictions. Even more tightly, actually, than an honest to goodness priest (who is merely stuck using a hammer all the time). How this works in play, I have no loving idea. “I am sorry Ravi, but because that untouchable pickpocket bumped you slightly you lose all Virakshatriya abilities until you atone.”

Not only that, but he is bringing in something right out of the Arthurian Mythos into the Mahabarata. I’m convinced I’ve walked right into someone’s fanfic, right here.

We’ll quickly gloss over the scout class. Long story short, there aren’t any apparent caste restrictions to this class, and it’s the AD&D Ranger sans spell casting.

Next up is the Siddhi, which is the counterpart of the AD&D Magic User.

Arrows of Indra posted:

Siddhis (magicians)
These are individuals who have studied secret techniques of manipulating energy and the laws of nature in order to gain “Siddhis”, magical powers. Unlike the techniques of Priests, these do not strictly depend on the favor of the gods, and a “Siddhi-yogin”, as they are known, can gain magical powers through study alone; although many of these men are also deeply dedicated to the spiritual path to enlightenment. Others, however, are selfish and only interested in material power, while yet others are evil and mainly interested in power over others.

The word “siddhi” means perfection, and doesn’t refer to groups of people so much as techniques, which include telepathy, levitation, growing and shrinking in size, and so forth. The term he uses in the description, Siddhi-yogin, is perhaps a more accurate term for a person, and it’s pretty odd that he continues to refer to people as siddhis for the rest of the book.

Siddhis get the same progression table as the AD&D Magic User, though like the priest their method of using magic has been changed. I’ll elaborate further once we get to the section on magic. Oddly enough, the Siddhi also doesn’t have any caste restrictions. One wonders why he even bothered at all, really.

Like the scout, we’ll gloss over the thief. It has no caste restrictions and is a direct port of the AD&D thief, the only difference being that they don’t get the “Thieves’ Cant” secret language and aren’t able to read magic scrolls.

We then move on to the Thuggee, the counterpart to the AD&D assassin.

Arrows of Indra posted:

These are Holy murderers, dedicated to the worship of the mother-goddess Kali in her aspect as the goddess of death. Unlike common Thieves, who of course can also be contracted to kill, Thugees are considered to be Holy men and it is not precisely dishonorable to be one, or to hire one; though for obvious reasons they are socially distrusted and marginalized in many ways. Thugees will only seek to assassinate in the service of Kali-ma, and will refuse any task that they see as contrary to the wishes of the goddess. They will never assassinate women or children, excepting women who have in some way committed blasphemy against Kali.

Thugees are members of a sacred order, which has agents and secret safe-houses throughout the civilized world; their temples, however, are all found deep in forests and mountains, away from areas of human habitation. They cannot assassinate any target that the order’s gurus have explicitly declared “forbidden to kill”. Thugees must regularly perform rituals and purification in honor of Kali. They must dedicate one third of all their earnings to the order.

I don’t quite know where to start with this.

One of very few differences between the Assassin and the Thugee is that under AD&D rules the Assassin is always evil, while in Arrows of Indra the Thuggees alignment is “Holy” (though in Pundit’s defense he stresses that this doesn’t necessarily mean ’good’) and supposedly adhere to a strict code of conduct.

This really is not the case. I don’t know what sources Pundit was using but they’re very different from mine. First, the Thuggees as I understood them were far more indiscriminate, with a tendency to pose as travelers, gain the trust of people they came across, and would then murder and rob them. They had less in common with the popular image of Crusades-era Hashshashin (who themselves were badly exaggerated, much like ninjas) and could be likened to criminal gangs.

The idea that it’s not looked down upon to hire a Thuggee also has no historical basis: as far as I know they were not for hire as killers, and that Thuggees may have been little more than superstitious highwaymen, with any religious motivations they might have had always coming second to a desire for money. Their principle targets weren’t any supposed enemies of Kali, they were merchants and members of caravans. Also, the fact that the Thuggees were only ‘revealed’ as a society in the nineteenth century means that a lot of information about them is suspect.

In all other respects the Thuggee is identical to the AD&D Assassin, including the ability minimums and the fact that they need to kill higher ranked members in order to progress in level.

We bid goodbye to our friend the Thuggee with this picture:


I have no idea why the sleeping man has a pillow for a hand.

Finally, we conclude with the Yogi, which is the counterpart to the AD&D Monk.

Arrows of Indra posted:

A Yogi is also known as a renunciate (“religious hermit”) or an ascetic. These are individuals who have renounced the world and worldly goods and practice spiritual disciplines and asceticism in order to seek out enlightenment. In various groups and schools, or sometimes alone with a single Guru, they learn secret techniques of the skills of “yoga”, the spiritual arts of union with the divine. Some Yogis are deeply sincere in their quest for illumination or union with the godhead, but others are mainly hermits seeking to escape the responsibilities of the world, or men who seek out the secret of physical immortality or the ability to impress others with great feats of physical or mental mastery. Their powers are granted not from outward energy manipulation (like the Siddhi) or complex ritual (like the Priest) but as a result of years of intense meditation practices to manipulate the inner energy of the body. The vast majority of Yogis have forsworn all violence in the world, and many are sworn to remain away from civilization in lonely hilltops, mountains, or jungles. However, the particular sect of Yogi available to player characters are the practitioners of Mustiyuddha Yoga, a set of physical and spiritual disciplines to perfect the body, which include training in the martial arts. Their particular teachings focus on perfection of the body and physical immortality; they are trained to be peaceful and reject all anger, but are permitted to use their abilities to protect innocents or combat wrongdoing.



How does RPGPundit confront the fact that Yogis are strict aesthetics who seek to divorce themselves from earthly concerns and eschew violence? By making up a type of Yoga that is pretty much Shaolin.

Musti Yuddha, by the way, is a type of unarmed combat style originating in 3rd Century BC, similar to kickboxing. Spiritual training was emphasized as well as physical fitness, though it really had nothing to do with Yoga. From what I learned, bouts were banned in the 1960’s, owing to the fact that there were very few rules and people tended to die.

Once again, Yogis are more or less identical to AD&D monks, because when you think of peaceful ascetics eschewing civilization for contemplation you think of Stunning Fist and Death Touch. If he really wanted to make Yogis combatants he should’ve just abandoned pretenses towards historical accuracy and just give us a class that emulates Dhalsim from Street Fighter.

So what have we learned about Arrows of Indra? We learned not to buy it because we can just get AD&D instead and pretend it’s Indian. At least AD&D tells us what Armor Class means.

Alignment

Arrows of Indra posted:

There are three possible alignments in the campaign: Holy, Neutral, or Unholy. Alignment is not a strict reflection of one’s outlook, but of one’s favor with the gods. A Holy person is someone who is well-looked upon by the gods, has faithfully conducted the religious practices needed for his caste and class (including any alignment strictures placed upon him by a particular class, like a Virakshatriya or a Yogi), and avoiding sinfulness.

The part in bold is particularly odd, the section on the Yogi doesn’t mention any alignment restrictions for that class. Or caste requirements, but hey! I’m not complaining about that. There are basically three alignments: Holy, Neutral, and Unholy. Pundit stresses that Holy and Unholy doesn’t correlate with modern morality, and is instead a reflection of one’s piety and devotion to the gods. Holiness can be lost through acts of murder, though Unholy people and creatures don’t count, because this is still a game about murder-hobos after all.

It can also be lost through breaking caste taboos and can be regained through purification ceremonies and acts of repentance. Most people in the world are Neutral. People only become Unholy through truly vile acts, and merely breaking caste taboos will not cut it.

Overall, there’s not a lot to say. I appreciate anything he does to differentiate from AD&D, it makes me feel like I haven’t bought the same book twice.

General Skills

The skill system is in fact, not in AD&D! So we’re dealing with some original material here. Let’s see RPGPundit spread his wings and move beyond the works of Gygax!

Arrows of Indra posted:

Characters gain initial background skills, which can also be purchased/studied later, or gained with experience. Additionally, they get a different set of skills by class.

Background skills are divided into “lower caste”, “middle caste” and “high caste”:
• Dalits roll a single “lower caste” skill.
• Sudras roll two “lower caste” skills.
• Vaishyas roll one “lower caste” skill and two “middle caste” skills; or roll one middle caste and one high-caste skill.
• Kshatriyas and Brahmins roll three times, and can choose to roll each time from either the “middle” or “high” caste skills.

Starting skills are selected by random rolling at character creation and higher ranked castes get the most skills.

RPGPundit has spread his wings and crashed headfirst into a clear glass window.

What are these skills?

Arrows of Indra posted:

Table 4.1 Lower Caste Skills (d20)
Roll Lowers Caste Skill
1 baking
2 barber
3 brickmaking†
4 butcher
5 carpentry
6 cobbler
7 cooking
8 farming
9 fishing
10 laundry†
11 leather-working†
12 managing-corpses†
13 masonry
14 mining
15 perfuming
16 pottery
17 rope-making
18 tablet-making
19 tailor
20 weaver

Table 4.2 Middle Caste Skills (d12)
Roll Middle Caste Skill
1 accountant
2 animal-training
3 arrow-making
4 chariot-making
5 hunting
6 jewel-smithing
7 merchant
8 seamanship
9 scribe
10 slave-trading
11 swimming
12 weaponsmith-armorer

Table 4.3 High Caste Skills (d12)
Roll High Caste Skill
1 artist-musician
2 artist-sculpting
3 astronomy
4 chronicler-scribe
5 courtier
6 herbalist-doctor (ayurvedin)
7 mason-architect
8 poet-orator
9 religious dancing
10 sage (pandit)
11 spy
12 translator

So if you’re a Dalit your contribution to the party can amount to keeping their clothes clean. To say that these skills are a mixed bag is an understatement, your baking skill is literally your skill at baking bread and has no other utility beyond it, while a poet-orator skill can improve other people’s reaction rolls to get them to like you better. Managing corpses is your skill at preparing dead bodies (nothing else) while the Spy skill allows you to disguise yourself as other people.

Skills work just like D&D 3.5, in that you roll a d20 and add your skill modifier to beat the DC.

Now, you can get skills of your choosing as well, you just need to find someone to teach you, pay them money in order to teach you (with the higher caste skills that actually have utility costing more money), and take a few months off to be trained.

There are also skills specific to each class that always have utility. They are also randomly rolled.

Class Skills

First, Yogis don’t get skills of their own, because gently caress monks Yogis. Each class as two tiers of skills, basic and advanced. Once you obtain all the basic skills (rerolling if you already have that skill) you can start rolling in the advanced skills table. Basic skills for priests, for example, include the ability to detect someone’s alignment once per day, basic healing, or a +2 bonus to theology skills. More advanced skills include the ability to project a holy aura or increased healing abilities.

Basic fighter/scout skills include weapon proficiencies so it sucks to be you if you want to use a bow, you get a spear instead. Each level of proficiency gives you a bonus to hit and do damage, while the two other basic skills are horsemanship and driving a chariot.

There’s a definite contrast between the advanced skills of martial characters and the advanced skills of spell-casters. An advanced fighter skill gives you a +1 to hit while charging, or can draw a weapon and attack at the same turn with no penalty.

An advanced Siddhi skill lets him or her take control of an army of the undead.

Arrows of Indra posted:

Infernal Calling of the Yama Kings: The Yama Kings are the Asuras who control ghosts and the living dead. Using this mantra and mudra for one round allows the Siddhi to dominate any of the living dead or ghostly entities within a 30 foot radius of his person. Any such
creature with 4 or more Hit Dice is allowed a saving throw versus magic to resist control. The control over the creatures lasts for one hour. Additionally, at any time during the duration the Siddhi may touch the corpse of any once-living creature who has been dead for less than 3 days, and bring the corpse to life as one of the living dead. It cannot work on the remains of slain undead. These revivified ghouls will have a number of hit dice equal to the hit dice or levels they had in life, but will be unintelligent and unable to speak or use any special abilities. They will obey the simple commands of the Siddhi who created it, following the Siddhi’s orders until it is slain. If the living dead leaves the Siddhi’s presence, he will follow the last order given to him (keeping in mind that it can only obey very simple commands, like “kill anyone who attempts to pass”); if no clear order was given to him, leaving the Siddhi’s presence will cause the creature to wander aimlessly, slaying the living when it encounters them. Animating the dead in this way is an Unholy act (it will immediately shift the Siddhi’s alignment to “Unholy” if it was not so already).This magical skill can only be performed once a day. This skill may only be taken once.

What do you do if you want your alignment to be Holy and you end up rolling this skill? You enjoy your useless level, that’s what.

Next update, we’ll cover Enlightenment Powers, which are the equivalent of spells in Arrows of Indra.

They are also randomly rolled.

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