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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Bes the Depraved

Maybe it's the hat that turned him to evil.

Which is more interesting? You decide.

Bes RAW sounds like a forgettable mini-boss. Egyptian God Tyrion Lannister sounds like something everyone can work with.


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

We're done with the corrupt orders, by the way. The Knights Templar are not one, or at least are not presented as having the possibility of being one, though if you want to make them one, that's your game. The Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon are warrior-monks, pledged to defend Christendom. They are also one of the most powerful monastic orders in the world. As of the 13th century, they have 7000 members or more, and more than 800 castles, preceptories and chapterhouses. They are above both lay and clerical authority, answering only to the pope. They are monks, builders of temples and fortresses, bankers, diplomats and advisors, merchants and land-owners, and defenders of the Holy Land.

They had their start in Jerusalem after its capture. Nine knights, led by Hugh of Payns and Godfrey of St-Omer, proposed a group dedicated to protecting pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. In 1119, they took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience before the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the King of Jerusalem granted them quarters on the southern edge of the Temple Mount, known as the Templum Salomonis, or the Temple of Solomon. Thus their name. The Poor Knights were granted patronage in 1125 from many European nobles, receiving many gifts, and four years later they were given the Templar Rule at the Council of Troyes, affirming them as monks and a way to revitalize Christendom and defend the Holy Land. Bernard of Clairvaux was instrumental in getting them accepted. Pope Innocent III issued a papal bull of privileges in 1136, which declared the Templars be "regarded especially as part of God's knighthood."

That bull, the Omne datum optimum, established the Templars as answering only to the pope, as well as giving them the right to the priesthood, the right to keep bounty captured from Muslims, the right to elect their own master without any interference, the right to not have their customs changed without consent of the master and "the wiser part of the chapter of brothers", the right to give no oath to anyone outside the order, freedom from the tithe, the right of priests to join the order and be subject only to its authority and will, the right to be ordained by any bishop, the right to build and be buried at oratories in any location, and papal privileges and protect extended even to cover household and servants. In 1144, Pope Celestine II compared them to the Maccabees and granted remission of one seventh of all penance performed by anyone who joined the order, urging bishops and archbishops to collect money for them. He also gave them the authority to collect donations from areas under interdict. Pope Eugenius III clarified that brother-priests must be properly ordained and must have permission from their bishop to become Templars, however.

So, let's talk about the Fifth Crusade. It began in 1217 and will end in 1221. Its main target is Egypt, the seat of Muslim power. It wasn't until the death of Innocent III in 1216 that his constant plans for crusade were realized. Honorius III directed the grandmasters of the Templars and Hospitallers to meet with the crusade leaders, Andrew of Hungary and Leopold of Austria. In 1218, the assembled armies sailed out of Acre to Damietta. A year later, after the death of the Templar grandmaster, the crusaders captured Damietta, ignoring the sultan's offer to give up Jerusalem in return for peace. The offer was refused on Templar advice, saying that it could not be truly held without the lands south of it. By 1220, the crusade is in danger of collapse, and the few remaining crusader strongholds in Palestine are under great pressure. Money is running low and the German forces have not yet arrived. In July of 1220, however, a delegation of Templars and Hospitallers will arrive from Rome carrying the funds granted by Pope Honorius III.

The Templars have a grand history of endowments from the lords of Europe and are rapidly becoming one of the wealthiest groups in Europe, with extensive property networks. Ever since the Council of Troyes, they've received huge bequests. Those who join the Poor Knights swear an oath of poverty and give the order all of their possessions, too. Confreres and consoeurs, also known as associate brothers and sisters of the order, also tend to give large portions of their estates, both on joining and on death. Indeed, it's common for dying nobles to "give" themselves to the order in the days before death as penance for sin. (It happens to other orders, too.) The Templars then get some or all of their property, bury them in church and pray for their souls. Donations come from all over, as do tax exceptions.

Ever since the visit of Hugh of Payns to London in 1128, the Templars have had a chapterhouse there, and received patronage from many lords. Henry II gave them several castles during marriage negotiations, and under King John, the Templar Commander Aymeric of St. Maur was personal envoy for the king and advised during his papal dispute and later to sign the Magna Carta. In 1220, they continue to hold a prominent position in the court of King Henry III, maintaining his treasury, overseeing his navy and acting as his almoner. They've also lent a lot of money to the English crown, to help stabilize the young king's rule. The new Commander is Alan Marcell, one of the king's chief military and diplomatic advisors, while Aymeric continues in a senior role elsewhere. The Order holds land throughout Essex, Kent, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Oxfordshire, Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, generally extensive landholdings. The English Master is based out of the New Temple in London. In the future, history says that the Templars gradually fall from favor and by the 1250s are largely replaced by the Hospitallers, who are seen as more educated and better administrators.

The French Templars own and adminstrate vast swathes of land and huge castles. In Paris, the Temple acts as the official treasury of King Philip II, as well as storage for important documents. When in Paris, the king and his family tend to stay at the Paris Temple. One of the most senior advisors to the king is Brother Haimard, treasurer of the French Templars and the Crown, and the Temple Knights act as informers for the king. History states that in 1222, Brother Haimard will execute the wills of both King Philip and Queen Ingebourg, and will remain treasurer to the crown until his death in 1227. Many senior Templars are friends of the king and other lords, and were vassals prior to joining the order. Philip has immense influence over them and is effectively able to appoint Templars to senior posts across his domain, and many Templars act as treasurers for French nobles. The Templars, particularly the brother-sergeants, are part of a growing literati class that is taking over royal administration, and they are seen as loyal, godly, honest and selfless, as well as marvelous fighters. They are practically an arm of the government, administering castles on behalf of the king and other nobles, typically in trust or when a fort is disputed. They periodically act as intermediaries for warring French nobles with the authority of the king.

The Iberian Templars have been involved in the Reconquista since the Second Crusade, and in addition to direct military aid, they help local Iberian nobles by colonizing marginal land too dangerous or risky to develop normally. Despite their many domains, however, the Templars are not numerous in Iberia, and their real strength is the power to mobilize at a moment's notice and remain in the field for long periods, unlike the secular nobles, who struggle to maintain armies for forty days or in harvest season. Iberia is notable for having a large number of Templar sisters and consoeurs, female associate members, in Catalonia, where they have extensive property rights. In Portugal are the oldest Iberian Templar lands. The Templars helped drive the Muslims from Portuguese towns, establishing the Portuguese main chapterhouse in the castle Cera above the town Tomar, which they founded. In 1170, they received the right to one third of all land they could conquer and settle. In 1220, they remain very close to the Christian rulers of Portugal, with many lords considering themselves brothers in spirit if not name and some even holding associate membership. Thus, they get a lot of Portuguese gifts. History says that in the near future, Afonso, Count of Boulogne, will try to overthrow King Sancho II, but the Templar commander of Portugal, Brother Martim Martins, is a childhood friend of Sancho's and supports the king. This costs the order dearly, because Afonso wins, and by 1301, the Order loses all rights over Idanha and Salvaterra.

In Aragon, the Templars have been around since 1130, supporting Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Barcelona and Marquis of Provence, who is a confrere of the Templars. He gave them the castle of Granyena, and other lords gave them the castle Barbera, primarily to gain their active support along the border. After the death of King Alfonso I, the Templars receive vast amounts of land and money, enough for them to afford involvement in Barcelona-Aragon. They are entitled to a tenth of all rents, a fifth of the booty from every expedition, a fifth of all land captured from Muslims and many castles, including Monzon and Montjoy. They are prominent advisors to the king and nominally are part of his army. History shows that they, along with the Hospitallers, will be vital in capturing Majorca and Minorca, as well as in Valencia. However, Stephen of Belmonte, the Templar commander, will be far less close to the king than the Hospitaller commander, Hugh of Forcalquier.

The Templar role in Germany and the pagan lands to the east is only just forming, with the order only now receiving land in Thuringia and Austria. They've received a few donations from Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen, but not enough to really establish themselves in his territory. Their relations with Frederick are cordial despite his fraying relations with the pope, but there is conflict in his lands in Sicily, where he is trying to reclaim land that the Templars hold, and he doesn't like that they are exempt from royal dues. Many lords in Lower Silesia, Poland and Eastern Germany have also donated, but have no real military presence in 1220. Over the next few decades, history shows the Templars following the Teutons into EAstern Europe, with fortresses in Bohemia and Moravia at Templestejn and Cejkovice, Prussia at Templeburg and Lukow, and Hungary at Esztergom and Egyhazasfalu, where they will protect Christian colonizers. The Teutons will be both allies and rivals.

In Italy, the Templars are particularly well established, with over 20 churches and preceptories. Some of their chapels are even pilgrimage sites, and most of their chapterhouses are very opulent. They also fund church repairs throughout Italy and own vast agricultural estates. History shows that in the 1250s and 1260, they start to be prominent in the flagellant movement, a Christian movement of people believing the Last Judgement is nigh and purging themselves of sin by public weeping and self-flagellation, led by papal chamberlain and Templar Brother Bonvicino. Most major naval cities of Italy have a commandery that helps pilgrims and recruits soldiers, and in cities like Venice, Messina, Bari, Taranto and Genoa, they maintain mercantile interests and lending. In the past they used to deals with merchant-princes who had relationships with Muslim traders, but since the start of the Fifth Crusade, that has ended. They are oftne embroiled in local disputes, especially involving the pope, and are quire prominent in the papal court. There is debate over whether they need a permanent ambassador with the pope.

Next time: The Templars in the Holy Land.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

occamsnailfile posted:

I also find the references to the Conversion book less annoying than the ones to Atlantis--like the Conversion book could be considered the necessary Monster Manual addition to the core--I mean. Well. Sort of, there was an awful crapload of filler in there too. But it was at least supposed to be a go-to reference manual and contained more stat-sets for enemies than the Core, which had to spend a lot of time laying out machines and giving climate and population figures and and other vital data.

Yeah, you are right in that the Conversion Book is probably the most essential book to have - even though the noise-to-signal ratio's pretty high (I'm not sure if it has enough magic winged dogs?), it's probably fine enough. But yeah, Africa will repeatedly refer back to Atlantis and later to England, and to a lesser extent Sourcebook 1.

A lot of books refer to Atlantis, in any case, since the Splugorth seem to be the most colonial power out there.

Father Wendigo posted:

This just unintentionally became my favorite write up for any monster in an RPG. It's just so bouncing-off-the-wall silly I can't NOT love it!

All of them have a litany of magic and psionic powers I'm not detailing, because- well, it's boring to read, boring to type, so I just went gonzo and selected out a few to cover. I stop caring later on entirely, because gently caress it.

I mean Ammit can turn invisible, see the invisible, can speak any language, teleport, teleport across dimensions, takes half damage from heat, cold, and fire (does that include plasma), regenerate (including limbs), has all necromancy spells and class abilities, all physical psionic powers (including the ones in Psyscape?), is telepathic and can read minds, has a pounce attack, super-strength, can see in the dark, gets a sneak attack / backstab ability, is a expert in all wilderness skills (plus biology and math, because crocodiles need long division), etc.

And he's an example of a lesser god. Thoth's statblock basically never shuts up.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth

Father Wendigo posted:

This just unintentionally became my favorite write up for any monster in an RPG. It's just so bouncing-off-the-wall silly I can't NOT love it!

Plus, how could you not love someone with a smile like this?

He looks like he belongs in those old Bacon Bites commercials.


Father Wendigo
Sep 28, 2005
This is, sadly, more important to me than bettering myself.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

All of them have a litany of magic and psionic powers I'm not detailing, because- well, it's boring to read, boring to type, so I just went gonzo and selected out a few to cover. I stop caring later on entirely, because gently caress it.

I mean Ammit can turn invisible, see the invisible, can speak any language, teleport, teleport across dimensions, takes half damage from heat, cold, and fire (does that include plasma), regenerate (including limbs), has all necromancy spells and class abilities, all physical psionic powers (including the ones in Psyscape?), is telepathic and can read minds, has a pounce attack, super-strength, can see in the dark, gets a sneak attack / backstab ability, is a expert in all wilderness skills (plus biology and math, because crocodiles need long division), etc.

And he's an example of a lesser god. Thoth's statblock basically never shuts up.
Oh God, it just hit me that he only has dance at 80% so he can recreate the Thriller music video. :suicide:

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

More Agonizing Antagonists

Yep, even more! From here on things start getting pretty silly! We also have our first Weird Kid Power-Source, sample Weird Kid powers scattered through the book. Fun!

Monkey Aliens From Planet K


“You have unmasked us! But you will not win—not while we control the power of MECHA Mi-Go’Jirra!”

When the Monkey Aliens found out that the star of the distant Planet K was dying, the loaded up into the Moonship, packed all their space-CDs and murder-bots, and set off for a distant world. A world rich in resources, orbiting a young star, and full of useful and interesting paranatural space-event vortices (Monsters). It's just too bad that it's full of weird bald people, and the air is just too clean. So, it's time for some renovations. First step: Kill All Humans.

The Monkey Aliens journeyed from Planet K via D-MAT Portal, a one way one shot teleporter carried to Earth via rocket probe. Through this they sent the best of the best Space Monkey Infiltrators. They have been trained in all aspects of human culture. They have super-advanced technology. They possess the ability to hide among us by looking just like a human. How can we ever stop these perfect infiltrators? How shall we ever find them!?

Well, look for the chain smoking guy in a leisure suit. Yeah, turns out all the Monkey Aliens cultural knowledge was gathered back in the 1970s, so they wear jumpsuits, have bad pomps and bowlcuts, and just love their giant sideburns. Their slang is out of date, they don't know what's on TV nowadays, and they generally just missed everything after Disco died. Plus, they need to maintain the worst personal habits to survive. See, Planet K is a horribly polluted hellhole, and Earth is too clean and healthy to live in. So, they need to smoke three packs a day, eat nothing but fast food and processed cholesterol, and sleep in dirt taken from nuclear test-sites and glow-in-the-dark clock factories for that healthy radiation. Plus, they can't hide their evil attitudes. Monkey Aliens sneer and insult and act like giant nasty jerks all the time.


"If you see a glowering guy dressed for disco stuffing his face with a Big Barn Double Cheesy, an Amish-Sized Spud Sack, and a Great Chug-a-Lug while smoking and laughing mockingly as he reads a copy of Green Lifestyle, you might have found yourself a Monkey Alien from Planet K. Or just a regular, fashion-challenged human jerkwad."

Their method of operation is to sneak into human society, particularly the corporate world where total mercilessness and easy access to laser cannons make for quick advancement. They then try and “prepare” humanity for invasion by promoting environment destroying policies to make the planet more comfortable for the Monkey Alien invasion. The Monkey Alien's most dangerous technology is their bio-mechanization, which allows them to make a robotic duplicate of anything they can get a tissue sample from. Due to this, they love to grab tissue samples from giant monsters, make a giant remote-control robot version, then send it off to soften up humanity with disintegrator beams and warp-missiles.

Non-lore wise they're a giant homage to all the evil aliens in the 60s and 70s Godzilla movies that would dispatch some giant monster to smash humanity into submission. The Monkey Aliens also make a good Invasion of the Saucer Men style plot, but overall they are very very silly.

Playing a Monkey Alien
One curious outcome of the Monkey Aliens long-term invasion plan is that they've started to have little Monkey Aliens. These Monkey Aliens grow up among normal humanity, and are filled with their races hatred of all things Earthly. Except, they don't really see why. They've never seen Planet K, or listen to Space Monkey music, or eaten authentic Space Monkey food. They've never breathed the polluted air of Planet K while looking up from a branch of their Home Tree toward the Dark Star and really feel the hate. They end up acting more surly and midly cruel, more a schoolyard bully than a cackling villain. If some Earth kids could make friends with such a Monkey Alien, then maybe they'd realize that Earth really is rather nice just the way it is...

Playing a Monkey Alien just means you have some pre-determined Stat and Relationships to make you appropriately Space Monkey-ish. It's a nice way to play something different from a normal Kid, especially when combined with:

Weird Kid Power Source: Monkey Alien Tech

These are scattered throughout the book, and are pretty much sample templates for making a Weird Kid, in this case a Monkey Alien kid.

Most Monkey Alien tech is disguised as normal (for Monkey Aliens) clothing items, and will disintegrate into dust if a filthy hu-mon attempts to use it. This means that only Monkey Kids can be use the tech, generally stolen or wheedled away from their Parents. What Mr. and Mrs. Monkey Alien will think when little Ooklor isn't disintegrating his classmates may be a problem.

The first suggested thing is an all-Location Immunity to “Ick”, representing a Monkey Aliens ability to breathe poisonous smog while rolling around in toxic waste and raw sewage and feel only mildly sticky. The others are more specific:

  • Multiples Super Suit A shiny grey jumpsuit that can change to look like any item of clothes. It provides super-strength and some body armor, for the Monkey on the go.

  • Omni-Watch: A clunky retro-LCD watch that is actually a miniature computer. Better than an iPhone, though not as cool looking.

  • Basilisk Shades Giant gold rimmed sunglasses shamelessly stolen from Jumpsuit-Era Elvis. They shades allow you to convince people that you are the coolest dude in history, cause social damage by making them feel horrible about not being as cool as you, and short circuiting their brains to freeze them solid in case they still think you aren't cool.

  • Rocket Chucks A pair of High-Top Chuck Taylor sneakers with tiny concealed rocket thrusters in the sole. Good for flying, or giving a rocket-powered boot to the dangly parts.

  • Fly Eye for The Monkey Guy The less-social variant of the Basilisk Shades, these are thick coke-bottle nerd glasses that can deploy tiny laser-armed fly-bots to scout out stuff for the Monkey. Also can pick up satellite TV.
Monkey Alien Mind-Mites

Robotic ticks the size of the family dog. I mean a real dog, like a Labrador, or a Husky, not some little Chihuahua or something. They're pretty big. Anyway, they're used by the Monkey Aliens to control giant monsters. They crawl on the things, drill into their skin, and pump them full of mind-control chemicals and neural shocks so they Monkey Aliens can drive them like giant city-destroying RC cars. If you try and climb up on the monster to smash 'em, they come out looking for a fight. There's hundreds of them, and while they don't have weapons they do have drills designed to penetrate skin that regularly bounces off Sidewinders, so imagine what it'd do to you. They aren't much of a threat though, as their built in combat programming is dumb as a rock. The biggest problem is when Gargantua tries to scratch where you're standing.

Thunderbolt 10 A.P.E.(a.k.a. The Thundermonkey)


“This is Goodall to Monkeyhouse, Goodall to Monkeyhouse... enemy engaged, Monkeyhouse. Repeat: enemy engaged. And... well, Monkeyhouse, let’s just say they’re the ones flinging the poo this time. And it is on fire.”

Designed by kid genius Becky Archer to act as Project BOOK's anti-monster muscle, the Thundermonkey looks like a 15 foot tall steel gorilla covered in high-powered weaponry. They are only deployed in critical emergencies, as they cost as much as a fleet of private jets just to transport. A Thundermonkey is more than capable of going toe-to-tentacle with any monster solo, and BOOK likes to have at least a half-dozen on any Op where Monster-Fighting may occur.

These one-man tanks do have some... flaws. Big ones.


"Because of the cost-cutting measures, layoffs, outsourcing, and overuse of off-the-shelf technology to get the A.P.E. completed under contract and under budget (so the managers of Gnukill Enterprises could have their annual meeting in Aruba), the machine is... quirky, almost like it has a mind of its own. It has more known bugs and needs more patches than Windows Vista Special Beta Edition. It’s a finicky machine to say the least."

The end result is something like a Ghetto-AI, with programming so shoddy it loops right around to near-sentience. Every A.P.E. has their own “personality”, which evolves at a rapid pace. This engenders them to their pilots, and every Black BOOK ace pilot takes pains to customize and care for their A.P.E. like it was their best friend... or Monster. The A.P.E's personality is determined by a random roll every month of game-time to illustrate their developing personality, with such possibilites as an A.P.E with an interest in turning tins of corned-beef into lovely home decorations by painting them with images from old romance movies.The end result is that you can use an A.P.E like a pseudo-Monster, for Kids who want a giant robot-buddy instead of a monster one.

There is also a single Thunderbolt 20 I.T.C.H.I. A.P.E. Reserved for use by Colonel Block. The I.T.C.H.I. Has all the same powers as the Thunderbolt 10, but in a smaller package. The result is something less like a walking tank, and more like Iron-Man style power-armor.

Bugnutz Reloaded

Not going into detail here, it's Bugnutz from the core-book, but restatted to use the Bigness rules. Not much to say.

Killdozer: The Dozer That... KIILLLLLLLLLLLLS


”Built from steel salvaged from WWII Nazi submarines, haunted by the ghosts of the workers who died in a tragic factory fire, and then brought to life in a freak cosmic event as Earth passed through the tail of an especially inauspicious comet. Or something. “
Killdozer is like Christine, if Christine was a bulldozer. And didn't feel love. Killdozer loves only 3 things, killing, dozing, and dozing. That isn't a typo. For you see, if, through some sort of freak accident you manage to escape the diesel-powered wrath of Killdozer, he will still find you... IN YOUR DREAMS.

Yes, YOUR DREAMS. He is literally a giant bulldozer who can Freddie Kruger himself into your subconscious. Just instead of twisting your fantasies into nightmares, he smashes stuff. Cause, y'know, he's a bulldozer.

Agents of INC


“Don’t worry. With my trusty Neo-Energizer, this beasty won’t be much of a threat!”

Trained in the arts of Neo-Ninjitsu, wielding the mighty size-altering Neo-Engergizer, they are the champions of Neoscience, doers of right and good, fighters of evil monsters, they are... the Inflatable Ninja Corp! Well, at least that's what everyone else calls them.

Invented by kindly super genius Dr. Ro Gobi, the Neo-Energizer allows a normal human to grow to be several dozed feet tall, able to fight rampaging Giant Monsters on their own scale. The Agents are all straight shooters, idealistic young men and women who set out to make the world a better place by whomping evil in the face. This can be a bit of a problem for Monster Kids, as they have a very black and white view of the world, meaning they're going to take some convincing to not just step on Mr. Squiggles.

They're obviously a fusion of Ultraman and the Power Rangers, and that gives you an idea of how to play them. I mean, imagine of those goobers from Angel Grove acted like that in the real world! Their annoyingly whitebread perfect heads would just explode.

So, You Have Decided To Purchase A New INC Neo-Energizer

Show players a gadget that can make them bigger than their house, and they'll be bugging you to get one, so they gave some rules for the things. They work pretty simple, you hold up the Neo-Energizer (it's a baton the size of a flashlight), shout “GO!” and poof! They're giant! For a bit.

When you have a Neo-Energizer, for every hour it charges (Solar power baby! Gotta be green!) you add 1 “Energy Dice” to a pool, up to 10. When you activate the Neo-Energizer you roll the Energy Pool. If you don't get any sets, it didn't work. If you [i]did[i], you get Bigness equal to the Width of the set, and it lasts for the Height in rounds/minutes.

Mind, there are other ways to get big, but they're not as convenient. BOOK has developed two methods of its own to try and phase out the buggy A.P.E. system, but have had some issues. The first is the Dimensional Engine system. By using a contained black-hole, they can make a soldier equipped with a specially designed exo-skeleton 2 Bigness categories bigger as long as the D-Engine is running. The problem is that it takes up the trailer of an 18 wheeler, needs to stay a within a few hundred feet, and drains the power of an average size nuclear reactor.

Another path is the failed Macroclone Biogenically Intensified Grunt, or MacBIG. This is basically a giant-sized clone of you, but with a cockpit instead of a brain. You climb up their noses, jack your brain into their skull-cockpit, and you control them like your own body. The project got axed due to being crazy expensive, causing sypathetic damage to the pilots (MacBIG gets hurt, so do you), and just being nasty. Plus, the test pilots got sick of being called Booger Troopers.

The last way is the Mystical Ritual of Ascendancy, which turns you into a mystically-powered giant! The downside is that you can't get un-Giant, so you'll need to buy some really big pants.

Weird Kid Power Source: Neoscience

Lets play a junior Agent of INC! Or just somebody who mugged an INC Agent and stole their stuff. Obviously all INC agents get a Neo-Energizer, though some have been exposed to an experimental process that lets them get big without one.
  • Neo-Ninjitsu It's fancy karate stuff. Punch, Kick, it's all in the mind!

  • Epsilon Infusion The aforementioned inherent growability. No time limit, but it takes 6d (one for each Hit Location) per-Bigness level you want to reach.

  • Neo-Fiber Fighting Suit A super-tough and stylish spandex ensemble made for Monster fighting.

  • Subcutaneous Transmitter A multi-wave communicator built into your skull. It can broadcast, or intercept, communications on any wavelength you can imagine. Useful for calling Mom, and for phone-tapping.

  • Mega Science-Punch Really really really hard punch. May explode.

Next Time: Even More Agonizing Antagonists

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 04:48 on Jun 11, 2013

Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Hey, remember how War was a super-fast regenerator and there's a note that saying even though the horsepersons' MDC is lower than gods, they're still a threat because they regenerate much faster? Anhur has more M.D.C. than War and regenerates four times as fast. But let's not blame Kevin alone... let's blame:
  • Julius Rosenstein, the co-writer on this section.
  • Alex Marciniszyn, "senior" editor
  • Thomas Bartold, editor.
  • James A. Osten, editor.

In the Rifts thread, a goon who was a former Rifts writer said that Palladium didn't/doesn't have editors, it just had/has people hired to glance over whatever Kevin spews out and say, "Looks great!"

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 04:51 on Jun 11, 2013

Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.

GURPS: Reign of Steel: Characters

Welcome back to GURPS Reign of Steel, where the password is "We Love Richard Hawk, Who Is Not A Robot."

We lead into the characters chapter with some fiction, introducing us to Loricate aka Lori Caithness.

It wasn't that she missed Jed - Riley's boys were long gone and no way was Di Caithness's daughter leaving Donovan's Pack. But it was Jed who troubled her thoughts all the same. Yesterday night as he'd struggled into his armor and said godbye, he'd told her about the ozone layer, the Vancouver and Denver factories putting stuff up into the air that ate it. People had done that once too, Jed said, and near killed the earth, but they'd tried to fix it, and it had started getting better. But the zoneminds, they were worse. They didn't care.
So Lori watched the sun rise, and stroked Steel Hawk's antennae. If Jed was right, even the burning sun the mechriders hid from was the zoneminds' fault. Somehow, it made her mad.
And Loricate didn't get mad. She got even.

Points! Readers are reminded that what with all the killer robots, super-AIDS, and the banning of basketball, Reign of Steel is a dangerous setting. Characters are suggested to fall into three bands: 100 point 'ordinary heroes' (for those who are unfamiliar, 100 points is sort of the stock 'remarkable but not overwhelming beginner PC' GURPS benchmark), 150-250 points for cinematic characters or catgirls and/or scrubots, or 500-750 for truly superhuman characters or the superior robot race.

Character types! There is a note that the Mechapocalypse began in 2031 and the game is set in 2047; a person 18 years old when the wars began would be 34. Younger people would, sort of like the Boy in the Road, know nothing of the pre-war world, unless they were from Zone Washington or London. We get a walkthrough of various concepts for characters, and some guidance on what kind of poo poo you want to buy for them. This is somewhere where GURPS actually has historically done really well. Here's an example:
Bush Doctor: The wandering healer, travelling between enclaves and junkrat nests to tend the sick and wounded and deliver babies, is almost a legendary figure in the Machine Zones. Anyone with medical knowhow beyond First Aid is greatly prized! Doctors can also be found in enclaves, among nomads, guerilla fighters or marauder gangs, or in slave camps; some treat only their own, but others still follow the ancient Hippocratic oath. These days, bush doctors rarely have formal credentials; most are skilled healers, but a few are quacks or snake oil salesmen. Among the best are those working for VIRUS.
Common advantages: Empathy, Immunity to Disease, Reputation (as doctor)
Common disadvantages: Pacifism, Sense of Duty, Social Stigma (Outlaw), Vow.
Useful skills: Bicycling, botany, cooking, diplomacy, all medical skills, motorcycle or riding, outdoor skills, veterinary.

A nice guide on how to put together a sensible doctor concept. Most of the entries are like this, and cover both obvious niches (hermit, survivalist, junkrat) and cinematic archetypes (postman, preacher, space guy). There are also guides for putting together characters based on unique types, like the Washington cyborg troopers or a free-radio DJ.

Then biological android characters. There are general guides on being a Caracas mutant park ranger or an escaped New Dehli monstrosity. Also a writeup on the Pantera :regd09: Summary, they are cat people and totally are interested in humanity. Racial statline :godwinning: :
Advantages: DX +3, Alertness +3, Appearance: Attractive, Sharp Claws, Fur, Immunity to Disease, Night Vision, Perfect Balance, Sharp Teeth.
Disadvantages: Bloodlust, Gluttony, IQ -1, Impulsiveness, Short Lifespan x3, Stress Atavism.
Total point cost: 43 points to play a catgirl. There is a helpful illustration of one. It's actually kind of hideous; I will post it when I have access to a scanner. If anyone wants to help: page 59.

And finally, :pcgaming1: robots. :killdozer:
Brief commentary: All robots are presented as playable, potentially, although many are stupid. We discussed AUs in passing before, and these are presented as being the better choice for PCs.
There is guidance on statting an AI, though the GM is discouraged to permit even a 'weak' one, like the renegade Tokyo smartbots or Lucifer, as a PC. Short version: They are super goddamn smart. Also, almost certainly assholes. It's noted that all AIs are unique, and even an identical starter program on an identical set of hardware will diverge quickly and substantially.

Other robot concepts include supervisors, exterminators (thank God), recon bots, technicians, and vehicular robots. There is also the general 'rogue' concept, which would let you play a superior machine intelligence in the context of a campaign of inferior meat intelligences.

Having given us concepts and general 'lenses' to use, we turn to how some advantages and disadvantages work. Immunity to disease is a clutch advantage for any meatsack. Otherwise, it's mostly some details on how other advantages are altered by the robot mayhem; clerical investment and military rank are a little more fluid now. Psionics is discussed; it is suggested that unless the campaign is about escaped psi mutants, psi abilities not be used except as a potential adventure hook.

Disadvantages are discussed too. The Reprogrammable Duty disad from Robots is name dropped (it is pretty much what it sounds like). A new disadvantage is introduced: Typhoid Mary! You carry sickness. For -10 points, it isn't obvious. For -20, it IS obvious, enjoy your -4 reaction penalty for carrying the sand plague to the ancient steppe. It has no other effects; if you are suffering, it is suggested you buy low ST and HT, or pick up Terminally Ill.

Status and wealth! Status is precarious and weak outside of Washington or London. Only in Washington will robots give a poo poo about human Status.
AIs are compared to a socialist theocracy with eighteen gods commanding the wealth of nations. It is noted there are exchange credits and that smartbots can save up credits for upgrades and doing their own projects, because, of course, that is exactly what socialism is.
Human economy only exists in Washington and London. The $ is included but mostly for a way to valuate salvage if you aren't from those Zones. Washington and London humans have the usual '$10k, but only 2k available for "Adventuring Gear"' common in GURPS modern settings, to reflect how most people aren't murder hoboes, and would need to pay rent. In other zones, you start with $5k worth of salvage. Spend all of it! It's all your poo poo!
Robots start at $15k for wealth (as do, strangely, humans working for Moscow). Smartbots are expected to sink their credit into gear for their jobs, which, again, is totally what socialism is - being forced to pay for equipment for your master's tasks!

There's a Job table.
Poor jobs: Junkrat.
Struggling: Free radio DJ, guerilla, maurauder, nomad, slave laborer.
Average: FBI agent, preacher, FEMA death trooper
Comfortable: Black marketeer, smuggler, politician, cyborg FEMA death trooper

Loricate is used as an example character. She is good at math and seeing. There is also a robot sample character, built on 250 points and focused on learning to hunt in the wastes of Alaska.

Gear! Lots of trivia. Short version: Human made poo poo is old and a little busted. You can salvage robot equipment, and in fact, also robots!

Nessus fucked around with this message at 17:57 on Jun 11, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

Since Saladin took Jerusalem back, the Templars have lost most of their holdings in the Holy Land. They do have chapterhouses in all major towns of the crusader states, as well as many fortresses, though. Many of those castles were given or sold to them by Christians who couldn't afford to garrison them themselves. The Templars work very, very closely with Christian rulers in the Holy Land, especially the King of Jerusalem and the new Prince of Antioch. They are the key military advisors of the Latin lords. They also do a lot of military action on their own, generally raids to capture various forms of booty. Outside Acre and Antioch, they other significant Templar holdings are in Cyprus, where they've owned much of the island since its capture by Richard the Lionheart. The Templars are caught up in the dispute between the Angevin and Lusignan families, both of which claim the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Their closeness to the Angevins puts them in conflict with the Lusignan rulers of Cyprus, and they also regularly interfere in succession disputes involving crusader lords and Christian kingdoms, especially Armenia.

Acre is the center of Templar power in general, the home of their central chapterhouse. They have forts and properties around the city, and they own its shipyards and several other places in the city. They moved here after the fall of Jerusalem and Richard's capture of Acre. It's also the base of most of the other crusading orders, and the Bishop of Acre, James of Vitry, is a major ally. The Templar castle is home to the Grandmaster, the Commander of Jerusalem and other great officers. All of the order's records and many relics are kept there. In Antioch, reclaimed by the Count of Tripoli, Bohemond, in 1219 after a long dispute with Leon of Armenia, the Templars are settling back in. In 1211, Leon declared war on the Templars after their work in a decades-long Armenian succession conflict, and it lasted two years, as they tried to reclaim Antioch. The Templars support Bohemond against the Armenians, and the Armenians have sided with the Hospitallers.

The Templars are recent arrivals in the Latin kingdoms of Greece, and while they nominally defend the Latin rulers, they are largely free agents. There's only a few TEmplar preceptories in Greece, and their presence is mostly because the Latin lords are giving them things, so they're coming to oversee those interests. Overall, they really are not concerned with the area and have very little time for disputes between Latin and Greek Christians. The local commander is seriously thinking about just selling the land to the local Greeks rather than deal with the area.

There are several other military monastic orders. The Order of the Knights of Saint John, better known as Hospitallers began as a charitable hospital for pilgrims in Jerusalem before the First Crusade, until 1144, when they were given the fortress Krak de Chevaliers by the King of Jerusalem, when they begin military support of the crusaders. Their focus on the poor and sick makes them very popular, but also costs them a lot of resources that could be spent on retaking Jerusalem. They are mostly Spanish and Italian knights, compared to the largely French and English Templars, but their renown is growing in France and by 1220 they are starting to rival the Templars there in funds and recruitment. The two orders' activities are quite similar, and they have the same papal privilege. They are both rivals and allies of the Templars, competing over the resources of the Holy Land and often requiring papal intervention due to disputes. Further tension is caused by the Hospitaller support of the Genoese and the Templar support of the Venetians. Unlike the Templars, though, the Hospitallers have suffered scandal, with cases of Hospitallers keeping concubines, living extravagantly and regularly interfering in secular and Ecclesiastical affairs. When criticism gets too much, they retreat to the hospitals and perform charity.

The Teutonic Knights formed in 1198 after the Third Crusade, and are a primarily German order dedicated to the protection of (primarily German) pilgrims. They originate in the German hospital of Saint Mary, hence their full name: the Order of the Teutonic Knights of Saint Mary. They are famous for their strict military discipline, rivalling even the Templars. Most Teutons are ministiriales, un-free knights bound to a king. Many are wealthy and influential but lack many freedoms and are not considered of noble birth. Joining the Teutons is a way to get de facto noble status, and they are a staple of the Crusader movement. They are increasingly turning away from recapture of Jerusalem to instead spreading Christianity in pagan lands to the east. In 1211, they were granted holdings in the Transylvanian Alps by King Andrew II of Hungary, but their relationship soon worsened. History shows that they will be expelled from Hungary in 1225, though Emperor Frederick II will give them Culmerland and any land they can capture in Prussia. They've also started to absorb the other Germanic crusading orders, such as the Swordbrethren and the Order of Dobrin. They do maintain some charity and hospitals still.

The Order of Calatreva started out as a military branch of the Cistercian monks of Castile in 1158. They were supported early by King Sancho and, due to their ties to the Cistercians, were not subject to Ecclesiastical authority, which put them in conflict with the local bishops yet ensured a large income. They are actively involved in the Reconquista alongside the Templars and Hospitallers. They have supported the foundation of smaller Iberian orders in Leon and Portugal, including the Order of Saint Julian del Pereiro and the Order of Avis. Castile-Leon was also home to the Order of Santiago and the Knights of Alcantara. Most of these orders follow a modified Benedictine Rule, except the Order of Santiago, who use the Augustinian Rule. They generally get more patronage from Spanish and Portuguese nobles compared to the pan-European orders. They have no presence outside Iberia and focus solely on Reconquista.

the Order of Saint Lazarus was originally made entirely of lepers, starting in the leper-hospitals of Jerusalem in 1130 around a Burgundian knight named Wido of Cornelly, who on gaining leprosy swore to go and serve the Templars in the Holy Land. When his illness became too much, the Templars, who couldn't adequately care for him, sent him to the leper-hospital. By 1153, the hospital became a focus for crusading knights who had contracted leprosy but were well enough still to fight. By 1155, they were given their own house by the King of Jerusalem, and in 1187, the pope granted them privileges comparable to other orders. Early in the 1200s, most orders added clauses that any leper in their ranks must join the Knights of Saint Lazarus. They have their own chapterhouse and hospital in Acre as well as a house for the sisters of the order. The number of seriously ill brothers is in decline, as they gain prestige and wealth, and they have holdings in England, France and Cyprus.

The Order of Saint Thomas at Acre was formed to care for the poor and sick and bury the dead of the Third Crusade. They mainly attract non-French-speaking Englishmen, and by 1220 they are still a very minor order with few military functions, if any, and no real resources. Their priests do not live communally, and the houses they use are owned by the Templars. History shows that in 1228, the Bishop of Winchester, Peter of Roches, will reform them into a crusading order based on the Teutons. They will gain papal privileges in 1258 and be granted holdings by the King of England, their patron. Even after 1228, however, their military role is never prominent, though it does exist.

Let's see...Templar ranks. The Grand Master is at the head, elected for life and the supreme leader. They lead from the front and enter battle personally, which is one of the major reasons the Templars do not suffer quarrels over leadership that are so common in other orders. The office is a respected one, with many servants and staff, and the grand master holds the power to choose war or peace. They decide to buy or sell castles, appoint commanders and spend the famous Templar treasury, as well as representing the order diplomatically. Despite all this power, they are required to take counsel with senior officials and take heed of tradition and custom. They have spiritual and temporal authority, and may exercuse holy influence as if they were a priest. The current grand master is Peter of Montaigu, who holds immense influence in the Fifth Crusade and whose brother Guerin is grand master of the Hospitallers. His uncles include Archbishop Eustorage of Nicosia and Bishop Bernard of Puy. He is close allies to Alan Marcell, Commander of the English Templars. He is currently disputing with Frederick II over his falling-out with the pope, whom Peter supports.

The great officials of the Templars include the grand commander, marshal, draper (the guy in charge of clothes and equipment for the order) and the Commander of the land of Jerusalem, who is also the treasurer. The grand commander is second only to the grandmaster, and carries the sacred banner of the Templars. He is in command in the east when the grandmaster heads west. The marshal is the military commander of the order and is responsible for all subordinate commanders, handling the logistics of war. The grandmaster can overrule him, but it's extraordinarily rare.

The commanders are...most Templar officials, who 'command' their area of responsibility. Some have great responsibilities and appropriate respect and rank. The [c]commander of the knights[/b] is the marshal's second, commanding the brother-knights and any associates who are knights. The turcopolier is responsible for mercenary cavalry and the brother-sergeants. The gonfanier carries the battle standard under the grand commander. The infirmarer is the chief physician of the order, a brother-sergeant in Acre. And so on. At regional and local levels, this structure is repeated as closely as possible.

The Brother-Knights are the core of the order, given the privilege to wear the white mantle with the red cross. Those of noble birth give up their clothes and goods to the draper and are given the standard uniform and armor. By 1220, all brother-knights must be of noble birth, the son of a secular knight or the son of a daughter of a knight to be admitted at this rank. In theory, all are equal, but those who were prominent or of high station tend to be in senior positions or at least more respected. Despite this, only officers receive much luxury, and most brother-knights live austere lives. They are expected to have military experience and are only given shock training rather than formal training. They are organized into squadrons, and most unlearn many vices and sins. They may not enter tourneys, joust, hunt, hawk or wear fur or leather gloves. They may not shave their beards, though they must keep their hair short or even shaved off. They may not wear jewelry or rings or any other ornamentation, nor pointy shoes or shoes with shoelaces. They may not have private letters, own locks or have ornate bridles for their horses, on pain of confiscation and penance.

Brother-sergeants are subordinate to brother-knights, but under the same vows and rule. They tend to be commoners and are widely recruited. They include Syrians, Greeks and Armenians, and it's not uncommon for them to speak Muslim tongues, though it is also common for Templars to just hire Muslim translators. The brother-sergeants are the foot soldiers, and there is a lot of variance in status. Some are administrators, artisans or craftsmen. Those with special skills or advanced age are removed from combat, and there are plenty of non-fighting roles for them. Non-fighters are referred to as brother-servants.

Brother-priests have been allowed since 1139, before which they were served by priests of other orders. They are not required to fight, but may do so when attacked. Chaplains tend to be ordained when they join already, and only join temporarily, for their oath permits them to leave. The head chaplain serves at the grandmaster's right hand in Acre, and brother-priests receive meals first. They receive lessened penances, may shave and may wear finer robes. They are expected to take confession from the Templars and are second in authority only to the pope, transcending even bishops. They can even give the sacraments to excommunicates.

The Sisters are not technically Templars; they have no female houses, unlike the Hospitallers. Wives of Templars are expected to become nuns of other orders or consoeurs. However, despite prohibitions on contact with women, there are exceptions. Templars tend to be accomodating for wealthy new members or donors. This position costs the Templars a lot, as women often bring money and influence. The confreres and consoeurs are lay folk, associate members who take the vows but are not full templars. They often live in chapterhouses but may keep their own homes and dress differently than the brothers. They cannot vote in chapter meetings but otherwise interact daily with full members and may be quite influential. They are often servants or specialists, men who temporarily join for pilgrimages or the wives of Templars. They may also be hermits or anchoresses supported by the order.

Next time: The Templar life.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

Templars take monastic vows, but strictly speaking they aren't monks. Monks live in enclosed areas, fighting spiritual battles. The Templars live in the world, fighting physical battles and shedding blood. This distinction is lost on many Europeans, who see them as a sort of monk-of-war. They are widely known for extreme piety, and there really isn't much difference between their beliefs and those of mainstream Christianity. Theology really is not one of their priorities. They are fanatically orthodox devotees of Saint Euphemia, who condemned heresy and paganism. They really have no unorthodox views, and are very close to the pope, the Patriarch of Jerusalem and many bishops. Despite their disdain for education, they've tried to translate some religious books into Anglo-Norman French and other 'common tongues'. The Church has yet to crack down, and will not do so until 1230, on these translations. The Templars have a special regard for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, as well as a number of female saints such as Saint Euphemia.

The Templars own a lot of relics, or claim to. They claim to own the true crown of thorns, which they display on Holy Thursday. (It flowers in the grandmaster's hands.) They also own the heart and body of Saint Euphemia, which are said to cause healing miracles. They often display relics during crises. For example, during droughts they are known to parade a bronze cross made out of Christ's bathtub, which is said can cause rain. They have several saintly skulls and a bronze bowl Christ used to wash the feet of the apostles. They even claim to have, within a small phial, a portion of the blood spilled on the Cross. That is, you know, the literal blood of Jesus. The Patriarch of Jerusalem authenticated it. They also have several chunks of the True Cross.

A Templar's daily life is little different than a Benedictine monk's, save that they must keep in fighting readiness. Every aspect of life is regimented, especially on the battlefield. The Templar Rule is strict, but the Templars are also very pragmatic. They regularly make exceptions for Templars on missions or envoys in which regular prayer or other rules would cause too much trouble. Templars have a lot of contact with outsiders, and often have conflicting loyalties because of it - especially because every Templar had a life before the order. The most likely rules they will relax are those governing the order of day-to-day life. The rules on chastity, obedience and poverty are never relaxed, ever. Templars spend all their spare time preparing for war in some way - mending arms and armor, tending horses, training, cutting tent posts. When at war, they relax their religious observances. Prayers are said on the march or saddle, brothers who are doing penance may still fight and an attack allows them to leave meals without permission.

Templar tactics are recorded in the Templar Rule. All of it centers on the cavalry charge, which can be devastating. The use of foot soldiers and archers, mostly mercenaries, are not recorded in the rule, but are left to the command of the senior Templar in any situation. Squires are not expected to fight, but to assist the knights. Another key part of their tactics is their famous black and white banner. While it is raised, no Templar is permitted to retreat, and the banner marks the spot that troops withdraw to for regrouping and repeating the charge. Spares are kept, but loss of a banner is a symbolic disaster, and most Templars would die rather than allow its capture. The Templars are also skilled in siege warfare and have an impressive array of siege armaments, including three great trebuchets outside Damietta.

As of 1220, there is no written procedure for joining the Templars, just a strong tradition. (It gets written down in 1260.) The prospective member must explain their status truthfully and give witness to serious intent to obey the order. No outsiders, strictly speaking, may observe the ritual, but exceptions can be made as needed. All full members present are asked if they know any reason to deny admittance, and if there are no objections, the applicant is taken aside and the hardships of membership are explained. They are asked if they will suffer for God and be slave to the order, and asked about any other vows, debts or illnesses. At that point they are brought back to the chapter and acknowledged. A commoner is then asked to perform some menial task, while a noble is kept alone in a side-room while the commander is asked about any objections. Then they are questioned again, with emphasis on the consequences of lying, and made to swear on the gospels. Then they take vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, and swear to conquer and defend Jerusalem. Then they recite the paternoster, are kissed on the mouth by the commander and the chaplain and are taught about the order's punishments. Children, known as novices, are welcomed by the Templars, although they usually insist that children by brought up to the age of 10 or so first, maybe more. It is up to each commander what counts as 'old enough to bear arms.'The secrecy of the Templar rites is legendary, and most Templar communal activity is kept secret. They take part in religious and other ceremonies daily, and most participants have no idea what the ceremonies are about because they are conducted entirely in Latin.

The Third Lateran Council of 1179 saw many bishops, even the Patriarch of Jerusalem, accusing Templars of not paying the tithe, holding church services in towns under interdict to collect their offerings and of allowing murders, moneylenders and other criminals to join. They were also accused of allowing criminals and excommunicates Church burial and flouting the authority of bishops. While their rights were later established properly, local conditions determine Templar relations with senior clergy. In Rome, they are intimately tied to the pope, and routinely act as the pope's almoner, messengers, treasurers, marshals and porters. In many areas, the clerics work closely with the Templars, and many monasteries like them. In areas where they clash, Templars are more than willing to use their exemption from Church authority against the priests, and may even physically intimidate them.

In peacetime, Templars tend to see the other military orders as rivals, especially the Hospitallers. It can be quite bitter, but it's unusual for it to come to blows. In Acre, the two orders struggle over money and water to such an extent that the pope will need to intervene in 1235. At a strategic level and in times of war, however, they work closely together. In battle, if the Templar banner falls, they rally first to the Hospitaller banner, then the Teutons, then any other Christian order present. The Templars have excellent relations with the nobility, though, particularly in France, England, Italy and Iberia. That's where most of their funding, land and recruits come from. Despite this, they often cause problems for local lords via their unilateral commercial activity. In London, for example, the Templars have caused trouble for the fishermen and traders new the New Temple by blocking the river to power their mill. They are most likely to come in conflict with the nobles of the crusader states, due to being free agents there.

The Templars know that the Muslims are both fractious and capable of unity. Similarly, the Muslim leaders know the Templars are fierce and brave, but capable of negotiation and reason. However, despite their willingness to sign treaties and employ Muslim servants, the Templars refuse to ever make peace with Muslim leaders, even to the detriment of Christian lords. In the past, grandmasters have made side treaties with one Muslim leader after another, or provided funds against a common foe. The Templars also cause controversy by allowing Muslim servants to openly practice their faith. The Templars frequently try to intervene in Muslim affairs, most notably written about by William of Tyre in 1173, when the grandmaster opened negotiations with the Ismaili Assassins to ensure they wouldn't attack Templars. Shortly after, the deal became known to the King of Jerusalem, who'd heard that the Ismailis wanted to convert to Christianity. The Templars arranged for the Ismaili envoy to be killed, scuttling negotiations.

The Templars, as a group, have little interest in magic or wizards. Individual commanders may be aware of Hermetic magic and covenants, but there is no formal contact with the Order of Hermes. The Templars are, however, started to encroach on the wild lands, where the Magic auras are strongest, which may cause conflict. It's possible that the Templars may have extended loans to some Hermetic covenants, or even have Hermetic magic items as payment or security. Hermetic magi prominent in mundane society might seek them out for advice.

The game provides advice on how to integrate Templars into plots, either as PCs or NPCs, with rules provided for playing various types of Templar. Not much special about them, really, but they're there.

Next time: The Franciscans

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 4: Africa: Part Eight: "14,470 or so he believes; in actuality, Thoth has 40,000 M.D.C. (alien intelligence)."

The Pantheon of Ra Gods of Light

Yeah, it's time for the *ahem* good gods.

Osiris the Lawgiver

Greatest of the Gods of Light, was betrayed by Anubis, slain by Set, and torn into 14 pieces and scattered them across the Megaverse and since Isis isn't competent in this continuity, she still hasn't found them all. Whenever she builds one she builds a shrine and buries the part there and installs protectors. This seems like a lousy idea to protect god-parts from assholes with more supernatural power than a thousand magic tanks, but like I said. Not competent. For some reason, she only has one-third enshrined at any given time, because Set's folks keep stealing them and getting away with them.

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Each of Osiris' parts is worth at least a million credits, if not considerably more.

Yes, the irreplaceable, millennia-old god-dong sought after by Gods of Darkness and Light alike will fetch but a tiny fraction of what it takes the Coalition to roll another Spider-Skull Walker off the assembly line (36 million). It also notes that necromancers can attach Osiris' body parts to their own body, Vecna-style, and get to become mega-damage and get super-strength with the affected part.

On to the parts!
  • Right hand: gives extra strength and telekinetic powers.
  • Right finger: Senses secret doors and water.
  • Left hand: Can dispel magic barriers, and heal and purify people.
  • Left foot: Doubles speed and lets you do rad flying kicks. No, really.
  • Rib cage: Gives more mega-damage and gives bonuses on all saves.
  • Right eye: Lets you see invisible, in the dark, and x-ray vision blocked by lead. Yes, just like Supes.
  • Left eye: Lets you track, locate secret doors (again), identify plants and enchantments. Oh, and you can cry tears that heal people.
  • Right femur: Can be used as a club that wrecks undead or shoots lightning.
  • Left femur: You can throw this like a boomerang or have it shoot fireballs.
  • Tongue: It's a medallion. Lets you speak all languages, detect lies, and resist mind control.
  • Skull: You wear it as a mask, but it won't come off until you die. Gives you big mental bonuses, lets you understand any language, invokes fear, and regeneration. However, you have to automatically roll to see if you gain an insanity every year you wear it.
  • Lungs: Can be squeezed to shoot wind, smoke, animal... repelling... gas... or confusion gas. Now that's just silly.
  • Kidney: Worn as a charm, gives bonuses against poison and magic.
  • The Heart of Osiris: Bonuses on all saves, and lets you do some high-level clericy stuff like turning dead, healing, and resurrecting people (maybe). This part will murder evil or selfish people who touch it.
And that's Rifts® Osiris for you: a god reduced to a loot table.

Ra, Lord of Light
The Sun God

He's a single-minded D&D paladin hawk-headed all evil must die sorta guy. Apep is his big bad and someday Set and him will fight to the death-

Wikipedia posted:

Ra was the father of Shu and Tefnut, whom he created through masturbation. Shu was the god of the wind, and Tefnut was the goddess of the rain.

Oh, shut the gently caress up, Wikipedia.

Let the drone of numbers lull you to sleep: 14,000 M.D.C., Horror Factor 17 (aaaaa hawk head aaaaa), 40 feet height, 6000 P.P.E., 2000 I.S.P., 20th level air and fire warlock (that level does not exist), 12th level stone master (is a class) and spell caster (is not a class), teleport 96%, turn dead 97%, he can resurrect like a Set but is a little better at it. Horsemanship at 98%, what the gently caress does he ride, he's 40' tall, who knows? Read sensory equipment and streetwise at 65%, Ra knows what's going on. He has Scepter of the Greyhound, which has a greyhound on it and does like 2d4 x 100 mega-damage to vampire intelligences. Taste doggy vengeance, blobbies.

That's a pretty good note to end this on.

I just want to say I'm fifty pages in at this point and I have not learned nothin' about Africa, it's just been uber-NPC stats so far and we've got a ways ahead of us.

Thoth, Lord of Wisdom

Thoth is the god of nerds wisdom, knowledge, invention, cunning, alchemy... apparently he invented rune magic, diabolism and wards, pyramid magic, and all the sciences. Yes. Quantum mechanics, string theory, I guess he done that. Anyway. Also for those that read my writeup Rifts® World Book Two: Atlantis, you may remember that rune magic was portrayed as irredeemably, ultimately evil. But Thoth gets to ignore that rule! Because he's special! How special?


Thoth's Dark Past

Thoth has god amnesia in his god brains, because he used to be a GREAT OLD ONE, who are like Cthulhu but like magical and a zillion times as powerful. He was called Xy, but his fellow Old Ones tricked him into a power circle that reversed him into a good guy. Well, mostly a good guy, he's kind of absent-minded and OCD, which is a result of the magic circle pretty much loving his brains. He sometimes has visions of a great evil that's really just memories of himself, and he's unlikely to get them back, and even if he does get them back probably won't go back to evil.

So it's not much of a plot hook. Though it does point out that his is a role-playing game, so anything is possible!

He thinks he only has 14,470 M.D.C., but really has 40,000 M.D.C., uh. He's a 30th level ley line walker. That's double where the chart for ley line walkers actually ends. I hate to harp on that, but it's so :fap: So very :fap:. He has pretty much all the magic powers and nearly all the psionic powers.

Oh, and he made most of those greatest rune weapons, including the evil ones, because, in case you've forgotten, he is amongst the company of unbelievable pricks. Oh, and he likes the Splugorth, because prick. He hangs out with demon lords, because... prick. I mean, look at that face.


Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Minions: There is no one race of beings who can be called Thoth's minions. He does regularly enlist the assistance of ramen and raksashas [who are entirely evil - ARB]. He also has an army of 200 golems, 300 rune statues, 100 TW modified dyna-bots (Triax), and a variety of diverse servants and assistants under his employ. They include a true Atlantean, a Splugorth High Lord, Kryant-hal the thunder lizard (adult, 10th level techno-wizard), Lyphan the great white sphinx (legendary albino, 13th level alchemist and spell caster/diabolist/herbologist/temporal wizard), a dozen loyal Zembahk, a pair of Shaydor spherians, a dozen adarok flying mountains, an anarchist za, and 20 full conversion borgs.

Ever draw up with your perfect house when you were a kid? Sure you did. It had like a pool, and a launch pad, and a monkey house or whatever you could tack on that sounded cool? Like a garage filled with all the cars or a closet with all the clothes? That's what these statblocks are like! Thoth here was a like a bunch of servants that are tacked on because they sound cool, I guess? Including a sphinx with 65 levels of spellcasting classes?

Like, look at this:

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

100 Techno-wizard modified Triax Dyna-bots. All bots are powered by magic energy, so they have an infinite energy supply when at Earth. All have crystal eyes, 20% have magic flaming swords (4D6 M.D.), 20% of the bots are impervious to energy, 10% can turn invisible and 10% can fly as an eagle. Along ley lines and nexus points the bots are encased in an protective energy field that gives them an additional 200 M.D.C. and the range of their weapons is doubled. The twelve zembahk can ride inside the bots and use them like power armor.

The wish fulfillment train just keeps on goin'!

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Note: Just about any techno-wizard device or component, herb, potion, magic component and bio-wizard component is available to Thoth. He has dozens of magic wands, staves, enchanted cauldrons, manacles, Millennium Tree items, amulets, books, and many other things of magic in his massive personal collection. Thoth also has a small zoo, books and artifacts from dozens of different civilizations.

Okay we can stop, I think I've made my point, but hey-

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Toth has thousands of casual acquaintances, including all the Nile gods, many other so-called gods, the raksasha, and alien intelligences, Pharaoh Rama-Set (who he finds to be a very interesting fellow), Mrrlyn (yes, Thoth knows he's an alien intelligence) Lord Splynncryth, The Joker of Palladium, Kym-nark-mar, Narabium, and Od among countless others.


... and now he's namedropping all of his favorite characters. Give up, you will never be radder than Thoth and his dickbill, just give up.

Next: We wrap up the Pantheon of Light - Isis and the Zoo Crew!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

Early in the 13th century, the Holy Spirit laid out a challenge to the world via a single man: Francis, the son of a merchant in Assisi, Italy. His response to God's call is making people in all walks of life, including the pope, reconsider their relationship with God. He and his cousin Clare have led their followers into a life shared by the poorest, supporting themselves when they can with manual labor, and with begging when they can't. They call themselves the Friars Minor, or Little Brothers and Poor Sisters. They live by humility, charity and sympathey with nature, encouraging everyone to examine their motives and actions in light of the Gospels - not by preaching, but by example. Through their example, God seeks to remind people of the early Church, reducing selfishness and improving faith, hope and charity.

News of the Friars Minor movement has spread very rapidly, such that practically anyone has a good chance of at least knowing someone who's met someone that's seen them preach. Friends and relatives might have joined. The friars are keen travelers, and it's not unusual to run into them in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Morocco, Syria and the Holy Land. They're less likely in other areas, but still possible. In 1220, it's even still possible to meet Francis himself and his earliest followers - or even play as one of those early followers. Those who hear the charismatic, inspirational Francis may will have an emotional response that makes them change their habits. Those antagonistic to Christ, on the other hand, might be moved to anger.

Francis was born in 1181, christened under the name Giovanni. His mother was Provencal, and his father, Pietro Bernadone, often traveled that way for trading and happened to be in France when his son was born, earning the boy the nickname Francesco, the Frenchman - or, in English, Francis. He had a little education, just the basics of literacy and Latin. As soon as he was old enough, he helped in the family business, leading an active social life and becoming a leader among the affluent youth of Assisi. In 1202, he went to fight in a war between Assisi and Perugia, dreaming of a knightly life, but he was taken captive and imprisoned for months. During that time, he became very ill with the ague - that is, malaria. His father eventually paid the ransom and got him home again, where he returned to dealing in fabrics as his health permitted.

In 1206, while praying in the small, somewhat derelict church of San Damian, outside the walls of Assisi, a voice spoke to Francis from the Byzantine-style crucifix on the wall. It told him: Go and repair my house, which you can see is falling down. Initially, he interpreted this literally, but later it dawned on Francis that more than rebuilding a church was needed, and his life must change. He describes it as a fire that burned within him. He gave all of his possessions to the poor, vowing his devotion to Christ and setting out to copy the lifestyle of the apostles as closely as he could. For two years, he tried to find a way of living by adopting poverty, serving lepers, repairing churches that he used for shelter and preaching. Seven others soon joined him.

In 1209, Francis realized he was called for greater poverty and, on the spot, abandoned coins, his staff, his belt and his shoes, and his followers did the same, giving everything they owned to the poor. They withdrew to a quiet place to pray and fast, and there they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Francis formulated his rules for the brothers, and it was in this time that, via his True Faith, Francis became able to work miracles via Meditation and Understanding. When he reached Rome in 1209, seven followers had become eleven, barefoot and scruffy. He presented himself to the Vatican and requested papal audience. The pope was expecting him, as the Holy Spirit had sent a prophetic dream the previous night in which the Lateran Basilica was about to collapse but was held firm by a small, ragged man who held the entire thing up with his back. So when Francis asked for approval to spread his new way of living the gospel, the pope allowed it, though he gave permission only for preaching on morality, not theology.

Francis and his followers accepted this and returned to Assisi, continuing their life of prayer, fasts and good works. Further mystical experiences taught Francis more methods of working miracles, and he began to teach them to the brothers. It wouldn't be too surprising to meet some of these founding brothers, such as Sylvester of Assisi or Bernard of Quintaville, both preists and cousins of Clare, or the priest Leo, known to some as Brother Lamb of God, who is Francis' confessor and scribe. There are also the mystic and farmer's son Giles of Assisi, the eloquent Masseo, Anthony of Padova, Simon of Assisi, Christopher of Romagna, Peter Catanio, Sabbatinus, Moricus the Short, John of Capella, Philip the Tall, John of San Costanzo, Juniper, Barbarus, Bernard Vigilante de Vida, and the former knight Angelo Tancredi.

In 1212, Francis set out for the Holy Land, but was shipwrecked on the Dalmatian coast. He recognized and accepted this as the will of God and walked back to Italy. In 1214, he felt again the call to preach to the Saracens, so set off walking through Spain towards Morocco, but his health failed and he had to return home. During the next year, he went to Rome and met a man named Dominic, who was there to ask papal permission for a new order of preachers. Pope Honorius approved, seeing the Little Brothers and this new order of Dominic's preachers as a way to fight heresy. The pope urged Francis to stay close to Rome, under papal protection. Cardinal Ugolino was appointed protector of the followers of Francis. By 1217, that was 3000 people ready to travel Europe. The earliest missions were to France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Some of the friars met opposition from fellow Christians, so those who set out after them in 1219 and later were given documents to prove they had papal approval.

In 1219, Francis and a dozen companions set sail for the Holy Land to meet with the crusaders. In Syria, Francis was shocked to find how different the behavior of the rough soldiers was from his dreams of chivalry and fighting for God. Accompanied by Brother Illuminato, Francis went to meet with the Sultan of Egypt. The sultan treated them with courtesy, offered gifts (which Francis refused) and eventually sent them back to the Christian camp. It is believed that Francis became ill as a direct result of this visit - perhaps afflicted by some Muslim mystic as punishment for preaching, or for insulting the Sultan by refusing his gifts. They remained a time until they received disturbing news from Italy.

The success of the new movement is so sudden and great that new groups of followers have set themselves up in Italy and elsewhere, without organization, novitiate system nad only basic rules. With more than 5000 claiming to be Franciscans, Cardinal Ugolino took control and even suggested making one of the friars a bishop and moving the friars to a more Benedictine lifestyle. This was unacceptable to Francis, and as sson as he heard, he went back home, trying to return his movement back to his ideals, but he lacked the organizational skill to do it. When he found some friars in Bologna living a stone house and planning to open a school, he realized that his creation had grown beyond his control. Unless the game's events change things, in 1220, at the next meeting of the general chapter of Friars Minor, Francis will attempt to resign leadership. With his health failing, much of active leadership is left to Brother Elias, a former mattress-maker.

Most of the friars have yet to be affected by this crisis, continuing to travel and preach love, peace and repentance. They are careful to respect parish priests and not preach without permission, being clearly loyal to the Church. More time is now spent on preaching, leaving less for work, so they rely almost entirely on begging. They refuse to use coins, taking only food and drink when offered and going hungry when it's not. They live in wattle and daub huts, where they sleep on the ground. They have few books and no real possessions.

Francis seems to believe that all the worldi s his family - even concepts such as death. He names the earth his mother and the wind, sun and fire his brothers, while the moon, stars and Bodily Death are his sisters. His followers accept this without question, and he's not explained what he means by it. Before he started the Franciscans, he glimpsed some truth of God's Creation which he expresses in these familial terms. He lacks the education to speak of it more eloquently. Some magi may take it to mean that he is on close terms with several spirits representing these things, which may or may not be the case. Questioning Francis on his understanding of the world might prove quite valuable to magi.

It has been noted that while Francis mostly preaches to people, he occasionally also preaches to birds and animals. It appears that he believes that, since they are all creatures of God, they deserve to hear his words and feel his care. There's no doubt that the birds fall silent to listen to Francis and that normally shy animals approach him. What is unclear, unless Francis himself knows the answer, is why they do it. No one has yet investigated to find out if there's anything special about the creatures that attend Francis' sermons. Perhaps they have some link to the Divine, though if so, that means that far more animals have ties to the Divine than previously expected. It's possible they all beasts that have some form of supernatural might show some form of interest. One with Infernal Might might be disruptive, while a Faerie beast might be attracted if Francis was using parables.

Next time: Clare of Assisi and the future of the Franciscan Friars.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Church

Clare, also known as Chiara, was born to the noble family of Favarone di Offreducio and his wife Ortolana in 1194. She first heard Francis preaching in 1210 and was inspired by it, feeling drawn to his example. However, her family expected her to make an advantageous marriage. So she made a secret journey to Francis, where shere dedicated herself to his way of life. Francis recognized that it was not quite appropriate for women to wander as he did, begging for food, but his ideals of absolute poverty was something they could follow. He sent Clare to live with the Benedictine nuns of Saint Paul's near Bastia. Francis knew she'd be safe there, for the penalty of attacking anyone taking refuge at Saint Paul's nunnery is automatic excommunication.

Clare was disowned a few days later, no longer needing the protection of the nunnery, and moved on to a small group of penitential women near Assisi and Francis' favorite church, Saint Damian. Her sister, Catherine, joined her the next week. Only Clare's prayers and a true miracle saved Catherine from being dragged back to her family, and Clare welcomed her, giving her a new name: Agnes. Francis saw that women were interested in his teachings and arranged for Clare to be the leader of a community of women at the church of Saint Damian, earning them the name Damianites, though they call themselves the Poor Sisters. Clare was appointed abbess in 1215, but was very reluctant and agreed only because Francis insisted and she'd promised to obey him. It was against the nature of the community to have distinctions, but, with pressure from the rulings of the Fourth Lateran Council, Francis saw that the sisters would only be able to keep their way of life if they adopted some aspects of a traditional nunnery. Clare just made sure she did more than her fair share of menial and unpleasant work.

From the earliest days, the poor and sick came to Saint Damian, and the women took care of them. By depending solely on their own manual labor and donations of food, the women lead a life of humility and charity, sharing in the suffering of the poorest. They pray simply but intensely, and it seems God has been preparing the way for them. Women from across the region have joined the Poor Sisters as if it has been what they were waiting for all their lives, and while the first recruits were mostly from rich and powerful families, now they are from all walks of life, and it is quite common for a Poor Sister to be illiterate. Those who cannot read are allowed to simply repeat the Lord's Prayer, while those who can read the Divine Office.

From experience, Clare wrote to Pope Innocent III asking for a right to remain in poverty, which he agreed to. In 1216, Cardinal Ugolino wrote to Pope Honorius III about the small communities of women and the pressures from the pious to seek to make them more financially secure, as well as the bishops who wanted to control them. In 1219, Ugolino, wanting to see them follow a more structured rule, presented them a document based on the Benedictine Rule. Clare rejected the clause allowing the nuns to own property in common, it being against their desire to remain in utter poverty. She chose to modify it as she liked, devision her own version of the rule - the first written by a woman - using Francis' ideas for the Little Brothers as her guide. The main differences are thus: the nuns need not live in total enclosure and may leave the area for approved reasons. They are required to fast every day except Christmas, if possible and not outside the nunnery. Those outside should return as fast as they can and should act with discretion, to avoid scandal. They should not repeat much of what goes on in the "nunneries" and must nto gossip about the outside world when they return. History shows that Clare's rule will be completed and presented to the pope in 1253.

Francis is determined that the ties between brother and sister never turn into obligation that ties the brothers to a location. Just as Clare looks to him for support, he sees her as his "little plant", a living perfect example of the gospels, and he turns to her whenever he is uncertain. As the friars travel widely, the sisters set up more communities. In 1214, Clare's niece, Balvina, becomes the abbess of the Poor Sisters of Vallegloria in Spello. In 1217, her companions Marsebilia and Cristiana start a new group in Foligno, with Marsebilia as abbess. Agnes starts her own community in Monticelli in 1219. History shows that Clare will become sick in 1224, but continues to inspire the sisters until her death in 1253, by which time there are at least 150 groups of Poor Sisters across the entire continent. In 1228, Pope Gregory IX will authorize their way of life with a new 'privilege of poverty,' allowing them right to refuse any endowment of land or any other gifts.

The Franciscans count as a Holy Tradition, specializing in Intervention, Meditation, Purity and Understanding. The supernaturally skilled are a minority, of course. The Tradition, though they just think of it as miraculous powers which they occasionally teach each other, is open only to those who live as Franciscan friars or Poor Sisters. As yet, there are no documented interactions between the Franciscans and the Order of Hermes, though there are rumors of some communication. It is said by many that the rejection of current ways of life and thinking suggests the Franciscans may be far more sympathetic to magi than most Churchmen.

If things continue as in history, then Francis will bring his way to Germany in 1221, England in 1224 and Hungary in 1228. In 1221, he will produce a new rule for friars, approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223 as the Regula Bullata, and a rule for laymen, known as Tertiares, who follow the lifestyle but do not take clerical vows and live with their families. Francis' health continues to fail him, and he retires to a hermitage. In 1224, his piety is marked by the gift of stigmata, and he dies in 1226. From there...well, there's all sorts of things that might happen. Or maybe the PCs will save his life. Who knows?

The End!

Choose: Choices are: the True Lineage Houses of Hermes and their secrets (Houses of Hermes: True Lineages), more depth on Covenants (Covenants), the Societates Houses (Houses of Hermes: Societates), academic life (Art and Academe), Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal), more depth on grogs (Grogs) or Hungary and Bulgaria (Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal).

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.

I vote for Houses of Hermes: True Lineages.

Mar 30, 2012
Let's hear about the True Lineages

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: True Lineages

House Bonisagus has 81 members at last count. 52 of them are magi Bonisagi and 29 are magi Trianomae. You have no real idea what that means yet, but we'll get to it. Their domus magna is Durenmar in the Rhine Tribunal, where the Order was first founded. The current Prima is the archmage Murin, who is known for being extremely conservative and for being a rather unscrupulous schemer. She is leading the House on an ambitious path that will, if she succeeds, re-establish them as the most powerful of the Houses. Bonisagi are found primarily and the Rhine or Roman Tribunals, and secondarily in the Iberian and Provencal Tribunals. Their motto is Pertinatia sapientiaque ad cognitionem cursus sunt, 'Perseverence and wisdom are the keys to knowledge.' Their symbol is two crossed keys.

The magi of Bonisagus are descended from not one but two Founders: Bonisagus, who invented the Parma Magica, and Trianoma, who used it to gather the rest of the Order. They are a true lineage, which means that each magus was taught by a magus who was taught by a magus...all the way back to the Founders. No one gets invited in, ever. You are either initiated as a Bonisagus or you aren't one. Members of the House maintain the original goals of Bonisagus and Trianoma. Magi Bonisagi explore the theoretical applications and limits of magic, trying to find more that they can do and ways to fix what they cannot, pushing the bounds of Hermetic theory. Magi Trianomae continue their mistress's political agenda, advocating for peace and cooperation among the Houses and searching for other wizards to join the community. Both goals contribute to that of the overall House: find knowledge.

Of all the Houses, House Bonisagus is most pleased with the Order of Hermes, which they find a safe community that meets their needs and allows for their goals. No one has ever heard a Bonisagus insult the Order. The Founder Bonisagus was born in Florence in 690, though his Gift led his parents to send him to live with his uncle, a deacon in the church of Or San Michele, hoping that it might cure him. The uncle realized the nature of the Gift, and instead of suppressing it, he encouraged Bonisagus, who spent his early years reading his uncle's library and listening to the wandering speakers who preached from the church steps. Florence was, at the time, ruled by the Lombards, an invading Germanic tribe notorious for killing outcasts, indigents and anyone else that might be threatening. Fearing that Bonisagus would draw their attention, his uncle took him to the wizard Iozheza, a skilled conjurer with an insatiable lust for knowledge - a man who would kill to learn a few arcane secrets. Iozheza took Bonisagus in and taught him his first spells. The pair hunted the Italian coast for Roman ruins, seeking remnants of the lost Cults of Mercury, Dionysus and Mithras. Bonisagus bore grim witness to the evils his master would go to to gain knowledge.

In Egypt, the pair followed the Cult of Osiris, persuading the remnant wizards to perform one of their most ancient rites - the 'incubation' ceremony in which the dreaming Iozheza would meet the god Ra. As Bonisagus watched, his master was surrounded by brilliant light...and then gone. Bonisagus never knew if the spell failed or worked too well. He continued the search for lost cults and isolated magi, but rather than specific spells, he was fascinated by the similarities he saw in different types of spells. Meeting individual wizards was dangerous, so Bonisagus sought out cities with a reputation for magic. He lived in Ephesus for a few years on the trail of the ecstatic mysteries of the Cult of Diana. When it fell to Muslims in 717, he fled to Rome, where his uncle lived. There, he found a hidden well on the AVentine Hill, half-buried by time. Within it he found a cache of secret rituals belonging to the ancient Cult of Mercury.

Teaching himself some of the rituals, he found commonalities with the spells of Iozheza, the Osirans and the cult of Diana. Funded by his uncle, Bonisagus began hunting for more magical texts across the Aegean basin and into Persia. His early library was immense, including memoirs of the Cappadocian wizards, secret Chaldean lore, writings of Christians, Jews and Gnostics and even the magical works of Moses and Solomon. He discovered many magi in his travels, often disastrously, and was nearly killed at least once. Parodoxically, the same magus that nearly killed him would go on to become of the Founders. Bonisagus concluded that he must invent some method to protect himself from magic. He was delayed in this by robbers, however, who stole a bag of his books. He followed them into the Alps to their cave, chased them away and realized that the cave had, in fact, been a shrine to Hermes before the bandits took up residence. He decided that, given its aura and isolation, it would be an ideal laboratory, and within a year he had moved in. He began the task of both formulating a universal theory of magic and creating some form of magic resistance. He was not heard from again for ten full years.

Trianoma, meanwhile, was born in Thessaly to a long line of powerful sorceresses, a line that included the legendary Circe and Medea. She and her twin sister Viea were both amazing sorceresses even from youth, and Trianoma was blessed (or perhaps cursed) with visions, strange visions that she rarely understood and often feared. She relied almost entirely on her sister's ability to interpret what she saw. One night, she had a powerful nightmare - she and her sister had been fighting each other, surrounded by a ring of fire, while a powerful wizard watched. It ended with Trianoma killing Viea. Viea took this to mean that the isolated and desperate magi of Europe would eventually destroy the sisters and the world, and that their only recourse was to kill the magus in the dream. They undertook an epic quest to find that man, traveling beyond even Ethiopia to the far ends of the world. They found a temple of the Hesperides, guarded by a Massylian priestess and a sleeping dragon. They woke the dragon with sacrifices in return for its wisdom, and the dragon told them to go to the Alps and find a cave with a single man inside it.

A year later, Trianoma and Viea found the cave of Bonisagus, attacking him immediately by turning thier long hair into serpents and then using enchanted arrows and powerful incantations. They failed to defeat Bonisagus' protection, and he easily defeated and imprisoned the pair, threatening to enslave them if they did not teach him their song-magic. Viea balked, but Trianoma accepted, hoping to find advantage. Bonisagus rough magic theory was easily adapted to include the song-spells, and as he formulated more, he taught the sisters, changing the relationship between them - especially that of Trianoma, who stopped seeing him as a threat and more as a kind, inquisitve man. As he learned their magic, he taught them basic formulaic spells, invented under his new system. Still, both wanted the secret of his Parma Magica. As Trianoma's affection for their captor grew, Viea became jealous. They argued, and after a particularly vicious argument, Viea fled in the night, having stolen some of Bonisagus' books. He was furious, but Trianoma forbade him to seek vengeance, reminded of her dream. She believed that hunting Viea down would speed the world to its end. Instead, she used the theft to suggest a new order of magi, where theft and murder would not be needed. Bonisagus was reluctant, but Trianoma spoke of a society of wizards unlike any he had ever heard of. He finally agreed and accepted her as his full apprentice. Within a year, she had learned his theory and his Parma Magica.

Trianoma set out across Europe, seeking magi to join this Order of Hermes. Bonisagus moved to an ancient Mercurian temple in the Black Forest in 754. Forming the order was slow work, almost thirty years to completion. In that time, Trianoma sent magi to Bonisagus, who worked with them to incorporate their magic into his theory. Some were reluctant, and it took several of Trianoma's visits to persuade them. It was usually the offer of the Parma Magica to those who accepted her invitation that did it. In 767, twelve magi went to the Black Forest and swore fealty to the Order of Hermes. Trianoma refused to found a lineage herself, preferring neutrality by remaining under Bonisagus. She promoted cooperation, fighting against the spirit of competition inherent in all magi, and wished her descendants to do the same. The Order grew rapidly, and House Bonisagus led the surge. With his magic theory complete, Bonisagus started training apprentices, often doing little but teach his new system to pupils. Trianoma also took an apprentice, Lucian. While Bonisagus remained at Durenmar, teaching, Trianoma worked with the other Founders to set up their own covenants modeled on Durenmar. Ancient temples and legendary places made good spots, and she spent much time finding those sites.

As the Order grew, Bonisagus and Trianoma decided they would need help overseeing their House. Both liked the looseness of the ORder and its lack of restrictions, but they also wanted to encourage magi Bonisagi to share ideas and finds. Trianoma also wanted her goals maintained politically. By the start of the 9th century, the House had formed two inner Circles, one for each branch. The Colentes Arcanorum ('Collectors of Secret Lore') would be responsible for gathering and disseminating knowledge, whole the Tenentes Occultorum ('Tenders of Secret Lore') would be four magi Trianomae overseeing the political branch, working as shepherds to ensure that the Order's knowledge is limited only to the Order.

House Bonisagus tended to respond unevenly to the early conflicts of the Order. Magi Bonisagi often ignored them, preferring their research and deeming the Order capable of handling itself. Bonisagus was often accused of being self-centered and blind to the world, and this perception clings even now to his lineage. Magi Trianomae launched themselves into the early problems, thinking all could be solved by peaceful negotiations and politicking, and only realized their mistake when Damhan-Allaidh decided to behead magi rather than befriend them. They might have done better in earlier crises, but since they followed Trianoma's example of acting without recognition, no one can say. Those in the Order fond of conspiracy theories often claim that the magi Trianomae were behind the Sundering of Tremere, but they publically deny these claims.

Bonisagus continued to teach magic through the eighth century, accelerating magi through apprenticeship. The most exaggerated case was Jovius, a man who managed to complete his apprenticeship in only four years. Regrettably, he lacked the maturity to be a proper magus though he had the skill, and mere months out of his Gauntlet he was convicted of seriously breaking the Code of Hermes. Bonisagus was forced to March on his own filius, and it changed him. He left Durenmar and never again took an apprentice. Rumors of his work surfaced now and then, and he attended the Grand Tribunals of 817 and 832, though he contributed nothing to either. He was last seen at the Theban Tribunal meeting of 836, recruiting young magi for some kind of mission. He was never seen again.

Trianoma continued her travels from covenant to covenant through the eighth and early ninth centuries. She always had an apprentice in tow, always accepting another the moment her old one took the Oath. She, too, went to the Grand Tribunal of 832, sharing a meal with Bonisagus. After supper, she retired to her room and died in her sleep. (It was not, however, a peaceful death. She had tried to convince Bonisagus to ritually murder her in an attempt to strengthen the aura of Durenmar. When he refused, she forced her apprentice to do it. It worked, but at the cost of her ghost haunting the tower in Durenmar, such that they removed two floors to get rid of her. All that managed to do was let the ghost out into the greater Black Forest around the covenant.)

Next time: A more modern House Bonisagus.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: True Lineages

The Schism War was easily the greatest threat the Order ever faced, and House Bonisagus views the results of it the same way they'd view amputating a wounded limb: necessary, but unwelcome. They sacrificed one House for the Order, after all. Diedne the Founder had given spontaneous magic to the Hermetic theory, and she was easily the best there ever was at it. Her lineage was similarly skilled. The magi Bonisagi felt great affection for House Diedne, who helped them on many projects. The magi Trianomae, however, did not. They appreciated their abilities, but never trusted them. Trianoma never liked Diedne, due to resenting her many secretive meetings with Bonisagus, and that feeling passed down her line. Still, neither branch was prepared for the Schism War. Initially it was only skirmishes throughout the Order, with magi Trianomae working around the clock to try to keep the peace. It didn't work.

Many hoped the regional Tribunals of 1004 would solve things; they didn't, and, in fact, a series of Wizard's Wars and Marches prevented most from even occurring. Finally, House Tremere declared war on House Diedne in 1010, swiftly followed by Houses Flambeau and Jerbiton. In 1011, the magi Trianomae convinced the Primus of Guernicus to call an emergency Grand Tribunal, with the assistance of the Primi of Bonisagus and Mercere, at Magvillus. The end result was the Renunciation of House Diedne and all of its members. This caused a lot of resentment among the magi Bonisagi, and it was a heavy decision. The Primus of Bonisagus, Thamus Collis, abdicated once he'd voted in its favor - the only Bonisagus Primus ever to do so.

Currently, House Bonisagus is comparatively small, with most its members acting independently. They have three rough levels of influence: the Primus at the top, the two Inner Circles below, and then everyone else. Magi Bonisagi have ranks as well, based on research achievements; Magi Trianomae do not rank themselves. There are also the Seekers, a group of Bonisagi that want to find ancient secrets. They accept non-Bonisagus members, so are somewhat outside the structure of the House. While the two branches are named for magi of different sexes, and several theorists claim both sexes were needed to found the Order as part of mirroring the act of creation, neither branch of Bonisagus has any form of gender discrimination at all. It's just a matter of focus.

Magi Bonisagi divide themselves into four ranks, with names taken from ancient mystery cults of Greece and Rome, which fascinated the Founder Bonisagus. The first rank is boukoloi ('cowherds'), those magi who are not apprentices but have just begun research. The second rank is daduchos ('torch-bearers'), who have done some succesful research. They are expected to show up at every Grand Tribunal to support the Primus. The third rank is cannophori ('reed-bearers'), who have done considerable research. They must include their sigil in the pouch that determines the members of the Colentes Arcanorum, and must drop their research and change tasks if commanded by the Primus. The fourth rank is dendrophori ('tree-bearers'), who are the most accomplished researchers. They, too, must include their sigil in the pouch, but do not need to listen if the Primus wants them to change their research. All Primi are selected from the ranks of the dendrophori.

The inner circles are two councils of magi. First are the Colentes Arcanorum, a group of magi Bonisagi responsible for collection and dissemination of lore, research, theory and breakthroughs. The Tenentes Occultorum are all magi Trianomae and make sure none of these secrets ever leave the Order. They also wait on the borders, watching for wizards to recruit to the Order.

There are five members of the Colentes Arcanorum, and a Colens serves for seven years - from one Tribunal to the next. They are chosen at random by the Primus, who places the sigil of every magus Bonisagi who has hit cannophori or above into a leather pouch. Then the Primus draws five names, who serve as the Colentes for the next seven years. It is possible to serve multiple terms consecutively. House Tremere especially has criticized this method because it randomizes quality, but House Bonisagus feels it actually enforces quality by ensuring every magus must be up to date on important projects, and every cannophori must prepare for selection. They are not a council of elders, after all, but a committee of equals. During their seven years, the Colentes receive lab texts and tractati from fellow magi Bonisagi, usually delivered by Redcap but sometimes in person. They read the material for innovative research they think merits sharing. As a group, the Colentes then pick the most important lab texts and tractati and compile a volume of them for distribution. The research is judged on originality and usefulness, as well as reputation and rank. These volumes are known as folios. More on them later. Only the best material gets used - routine, boring or low-quality work is passed over, as is work on boring subjects. Typically, a Colens receives between 15 and 30 lab texts and tractati over the course of seven years, and rarely the originals - just copies. They tend to prefer lab texts to tractati, especially innovative and experimental ones. New spells and magic items are useful, but the focus is on pushing the bounds of magic.

Some research is also suppressed because it is dangerous, in the judgment of the Colentes. That decision is never made lightly or easily, and if the material looks like it must be banned, they call in the Bonisagus presiding Quaesitor to make the final call. If it's deemed too dangerous, the inventor is told to destroy the discovery on pain of Wizard's March. Besides this, the Colentes Arcanorum has two bureaucratic jobs. First, they may rescind individual research commands by the Primus - anyone told to undertake specific research may ask them for relief from the job. If the majority agree, they may ignore the directive. Second, they can change the Primus. If they decide that the House would be better served by another, they can demand abdication. This has never happened, and would require cause presented by a magus of at least cannophori rank, and it takes unanimous vote. They select the successor by majority vote.

Originally, Trianoma worked to marshal the formation and growth of Tribunals, but it seen overwhelmed her and she needed assistants. However, the responsibility of overseeing relations betwene Tribunals and magi was soon taken by House Guernicus, and it was redundant for the Trianomae to keep doing it when the Quaesitores were more efficient. As a result, Trianoma led them to patrol the borders, making sure that the secrets of the Order and House stayed within it. The Tenentes Occultorum were formed - four magi Trianomae appointed by the Primus every seven years. They protect the Order from mundanes by tracking research. They are itinerant, as was Trianoma, and spend a lot of time collecting information. Each represents a season. The Spring Tenens is always a magus just out of the Gauntlet, with each seasonal Tenens having more experience commensurately. The Spring Tenens oversees the Stonehenge, Hibernian and Loch Leglean Tribunals, since their mistakes there probably won't cause lasting harm. The Summer Tenens oversees the Iberian, Provencal and Normandy Tribunals. The Autumn Tenens oversees the Roman, Rhine and Greater Alps Tribunals. The Transylvanian, Theban, Levant and Novgorod Tribunals are left to the Winter Tenens, the most senior. They rely on REdcaps and other magi Trianomae for help, since these are vast areas. Their main job is to keep magical secrets out of mundane hands, mostly by knowing what all the magi Bonisagi are working on and where the copies of that research go. They pay special attention to the works sent to the Colentes Arcanorum. They also seek out information on mundanes looking into magical mysteries, especially those with the Gift. These people must be closely watched, even if they are too old to reasonably recruit and train.

Before the next Tribunal, the Tenentes meet near the end of their terms and combine their notes into a directory sent to Durenmar along with the folios. They also keep the Tabula Geographica Magica, or Gazetteer of Magic, a catalogue of magical sites and regiones that they know of. This is updated every seven years with any new information or discoveries, and the primary purpose is not to find vis, but just to have the information if needed to solve a mystery. When not being updated, the book is kept at Durenmar. It is only reluctantly shared, as the Bonisagi fear that it might lead to avarice and strife. Limited access is allowed, but the book is under lock and key at all times, and is written in a secret code of the magi Trianomae, who must serve as interpreters.

Every seven years, the two inner circles meet at the Colloquium Delectorum, the 'Conference of the COmmittees', or just the Colloquium. It is a traveling conference held at the Tribunal meeting of one of the various Tribunals, decided by the two circles when they begin their terms. The decision can take a few years, but they have time. If they can't decide within five years, the Primus picks. The Colloquium lasts a week after the Tribunal ends, and most of it is a closed session with only the nine magi involved attending. The Primus and Bonisagus Quaesitor are both allowed to attend, but usually don't. It is here that the data they found is compiled and presented, with recognition given to chosen authors. The folio is created in the season following the meeting. If the Colentes were to remove the Primus or are asked to relieve a research obligation, it would occur by vote at the Colloquium.

The Primus is a very important job, for they serve as Praeco for both the Rhine Tribunal and the Grand Tribunal, with the power to set agendas or eject magi. Internally, they steer the House, directing those who need direction, randomly selecting the Colentes and appointing the Tenentes. They may direct any individual magus' research, dependent on their rank, and hold their job for life. They appoint their own successors, and so far there have been seven Primi since the Founder, each chosen by the last to continue the line since Bonisagus himself. Only one Primus has ever abdicated, as noted above, though they do have a way to remove a Primus that abused their power. It has just never been needed. Only magi Bonisagi can be Primus. It is customary that they be an archmage, but not required. They must have succesfully trained at least one apprentice, and must be a dendrophori. Lastly, they must have served as a Colens at least once. In 1220, there are perhaps six magi who hold all the qualifications.

The seekers, meanwhile, started as some magi Trianomae who gave up politics to hunt down old magical sites. The most active was Lucian, Trianoma's first apprentice, who wanted to renounce his lineage and begin one solely of Seekers. The Primus, Notatus, refused the request, thinking two lineages was plenty. Lucian agreed, but continued to lead an informal group of magi who shared his interests. Seekers, you see, are those that dedicate themselves to discovering the ancient secrets of magic. The Theban Tribunal has more than most others, followed by the Levant, as both are rich in mysteries and magical beings. Still, you can find a Seeker practically anywhere. Any magus can be a Seeker, from any House. Nominally they are under Bonisagus control, since the first Seeker was of Bonisagus, but controlling them is basically impossible. They are competitive and reluctant to share information. Seekers who are also magi Trianomae are supposed to submit their findings to the Tenentes, but do so only reluctantly. They're so secretive that it'd be hard to tell if they were lying, a claim which has been levelled at several of them before. In 1220, there are 25 known Seekers, five of which are from House Bonisagus. No other House has that many.

Next time: Life in House Bonisagus

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 4: Africa: Part Nine: "The Great Sphinx is a member of the extremely rare breed of super-sphinx, known as the 'great' sphinx."

The All Mother & Warrior

The whitest god of Egypt.

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Isis is the symbol of nature, love, death, and rebirth, as well as the patroness of magic and warriors.

So pretty much everything, got it.

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

She is supreme all mother of the Nile gods, renowned for her power and beauty (P.B. 27).

How does a poor artist ever draw "P.B. 27"?

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

She is known as dozens of other goddesses by other peoples throughout the Megaverse. To avoid offending her, she should be addressed: "O Thou of countless names."

So, what you're saying is that she's a snobby :jerkbag:

Anyway, she has cow-like horns (depicted in the art) and great feathered wings (not depicted in the art). She is usually holding a torch (not depicted in the art), has a quiver of arrows (not depicted in the art), and a black bow (not depicted in the art).

She's all vengeful against the Gods of Darkness for slaying her hubby. Also, she likes humans... because. Numbers: 12,000, 4,000, 3,000, 20th, 13th, 13th, 1d4, 1d6 x 100, 81%, 86%, 1d4 x 100, 81%, 94%, 85%, 200, 17, 3,000, 20, 1-15, 20th, 20th, 1-6, 1d4 x 10, +5, +10, +12, 65%, 83%, 92%, 98%-

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

She can appear completely human through metamorphosis, a natural ability.

Foreshadowing! In any case, she has all the magics, priest powers, the standard godly array (shapeshifting, dimensional travel, teleport, summoning, flight, etc.).

She's so busy fightin' evil on other worlds that she doesn't have much time for Earth, but has secretly disguised herself as a human to aid heroes against the Apocalypse Demons... or so the book says right now. The actual story is a little different. In fact, it contradicts the one we're given here! We'll get around to it in about a hundred pages or so. Anyway, it's a little roundabout when she has more M.D.C. than any one of the horsemen, regenerates faster than half of them, and has approximately 5 times their damage output in the short term with her rune sword. But she can't be bothered to fight them directly!

Also she's weak against silver. You know. Like in the myths. :geno:

A.k.a: Harmakhis the Great Sphinx

No art, so just think of the noseless wonder. He's said to be Iris and Osiris' son, but he's really adopted. In case you're wondering, Horus was depicted as the sphinx in the amalgamated god of Horus-Re. So, they're still getting it a bit wrong, but not terribly wrong. Of course, he was still a god, and not just a powerful mixed-up wuzzle like this guy, who is just an extra-powerful sphinx.

So Horus has a cousin - Lyphan, the albino sphinx that jobs for Thoth, as you may recall. But Lyphan is power-hungry and selfish, unlike Horus, and wants to become the most powerful practitioner of magic in the Megaverse. Yyyeah, no, we've already had a half-dozen immortal god-casters with "20th level" in their statblock alone so far in just this book. She may as well try and eat the moon.

Horus is the nicer one who hates Set and Anubis, and "can be the soul of tenderness and compassion" and "is a champion of light and justice" but has "the tendency to be selfish, obsessive, and underestimate lesser beings". Geez, make up your mind. He's one of the few non-immortals in this book so far; he can only live to be 12,000 years old. :rolleyes:

He has a Physical Beauty of 25, so he's a saucy lion, FYI. Let's see, 5500 M.D.C., can't do psionics, 12th level fire warlock, 7th level stone master and diabolist, he can do flying backflips at 80% as a "natural ability", turn into a human, a "human-like humanoid", or a "humanoid with a hawk's head". He "likes high-powered energy weapons and rail guns" and "can use any human type of armor" but has "the body of a lion" in his natural form. (Yes, he can use it as a human, but he loses half his M.D.C. as a human, so gaining 30-70 M.D.C. isn't really useful compared to the 2250 M.D.C. loss.)

He hates Set, Anubis, Apepi, and vampires. He also hates the Splugorth, but only if they get in his way. (They do not get in his way.) And he has the "Spear of Horus" which has a bunch of magic powers and reveals shapechangers it damages (no saving through). How he throws around a spear using lion paws is left as an exercise for the reader, I suppose.

No psionics for a change.

the Phoenix

The picture of apathy.

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Bennu the Phoenix is the symbol of death, rebirth, the passing of day to night, as the passing of the seasons. Her natural form is that of a great predatory bird, but she can take the form of a beautiful woman clad in a gown of feathers or adorned with feathered wings.

Uh. Well, usually Bennu was depicted as a heron, and didn't really change into a human, but everything in this "chapter" (there are no actual chapter headings in Rifts® books) can change shape, so whatever.

Anyway, she's savage and selfish, and will let others die rather than be hurt, which is ironic, because like Apepi, she basically can't ever die. She does hate Set for killing a bunch of "phoenixi", who apparently she's a patron of, and trying to discover the secret of their immortality. Apparently he was so upset by failing at this he once "slaughtered 1100 phoenixi in anger". She's still pretty upset about that. Though she's "basically a good creature" she keeps to herself because "ignorance is bliss and if she doesn't know about any trouble she won't feel compelled to get involved."

Siembieda and Rosenstein have such a weird loving defintion of "good". :v:

6000 M.D.C., but she can instantly regenerate, but every time she does it it reduces her maximum M.D.C. by half, but if she dies she recovers in 2d4 weeks entirely. That makes Apepi a way better immortal than that dragon, let's see, she can do magic circles, is vulnerable to iron (???), has a ton of psionic powers (hypno-phoenix?), knows how to pilot a sailboat and operate a radio, hates Set and Anubis but won't deign to help out against the Four Horsemen because she's Unprincipled and apparently doesn't have to give a gently caress about the end of a world.

The Sacred Cow

Maker of the sacred yogurt.

Lady with a cow head, god of restoration, growth, and fertility. "She is the patroness of druids, healers, and clergy."... even though druids are a specifically English tradition in this universe so far. You know, whatever. She's close enough compared to many of the other gods.

6500 M.D.C., teleport 90%, gets priest powers and is "15th level earth warlock and psionic" but later has "20th level proficiency" with her low-level psionics, has Horror Factor 15 (oh poo poo, cow head!), can head butt for 2d6 M.D. (not sure why, her punches and kicks do twice that). She hates technology but is mostly just scornful of it and won't bust it up.

She hates those Gods of Darkness, and also hates the Splugorth but only messes with then when they oppose her (which is never). She has some Millennium Tree items and-

Rifts® World Book Four: Africa posted:

Apis is busy in another dimension and is unaware of events unfolding on Earth.

Why the gently caress do we get a statblock for a character isn't even present in the setting? :psyduck:

Bonus diatribe!

And that's it for the Egyptian gods. You know, once again I'm curious as to how a GM is supposed to use statblocks like these. They mostly seem to be the horrible legacy of these old D&D-style games where instead of saying "a god can create X effects along Y themes" or something reasonable and flexible, he has to define every last power. Gods like Isis or Set have literally hundreds of powers. Barring extreme plot devices, no PC presented thus far in the supplements can oppose them, since it's nearly impossible to do enough damage quickly enough to keep them from just teleporting or dimension-shifting away when they've had enough. I know the scuttlebutt is that Kevin is used to running for groups of a dozen or more players, and so they have a high damage output, that doesn't even matter if the gods are played smartly. They can turn invisible and ignore half the PCs' attacks, summon magic walls to entrap PCs, summon monsters to keep them busy, create magic circles to ward themselves, hell, the heads of the pantheons have a good chance of just being able to resurrect their fellows if you kill them. It's like having to fight a D&D wizard with all their terrible flexibility, only the wizard gets a bunch if innate get-out-of-consequences cards.

Moreover, actually trying to run conflicts between them would be a nightmare. Most of them could only do around a 50-400 M.D.C. a round and have M.D.C. in the thousands. It would easily take a dozen or several dozen rounds of play for gods to tear each other apart, and that assumes they're playing dumb and just swinging at each other mindlessly. And those who have played Palladium will know it's not a quick system, with 3-5 rolls made for each attack, and in the case of gods, 5-20 attacks a round.

There's basically no deliberate design sense here. It makes Deities & Demigods look elegant and well-designed by comparison, because this takes PC and NPC powers and just tries to build statblocks that can counter anything that gets thrown at them. Even worse, they repeatedly refer to different books. You need at least a copy of five books to run these gods: Rifts® World Book Four: Africa, Rifts® World Book Three: England, Rifts® World Book Two: Atlantis, Rifts® Conversion Book, and the Rifts® RPG. And since seemingly Kevin convinced himself that the Diabolist stats and magic are in the Rifts® Conversion Book. They're not, just the conversion rules for Rifts, but he refers readers to it for the Diabolist stats mistakenly. Instead, you need to refer to an entirely different game line - The Palladium RPG - to get the rules for the Diabolist. And practically every god listed here has access to Diabolist magic.


In short, there is close to zero consideration as to how these blocks of numbers and powers actually function a game system, much less in actual play.

Next: It's time for the megafurries of the megaverse!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 12:50 on Jun 12, 2013

Apr 28, 2013

Isn't the cow-headed goddess of fertility Hathor? Isn't Apis a male cow deity?

...Well, I actually think that Hathor appears wearing cow horns or as a cow, not cow-headed. But confusing genders...that's a new level of :effort: in research.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: True Lineages

Bonisagus magi do not actually choose to be magi Bonisagi or magi Trianomae - it's based on what your parens was. (Players, obviously, choose, so it works out.) Fortunately for everyone, though, Bonisagus' theory is up to the task no matter what the apprentice is going for. His first job, after all, was making it accessible and understandable to people who'd already learned another method. It had to be flexible and strong. He ended up creating a method of instruction so useful that literally everyone uses it now. House Bonisagus sees training apprentices as a duty, rather than something to do selfishly. Every new magus honors the Founders by existence, and it is a rare Bonisagus who doesn't train at least one apprentice - usually two or more by the time they die.

Typically, apprentices are taken young. The House is a bit snobbish about that. Once they take an apprentice, they send a letter to the committee overseeing their branch of the lineage - a purely bureaucratic measure to placate the Tenentes. Training is perfectly normal and standard for the Order, nothing fancy or odd. Each branch of the House has a specific Gauntlet, however. Magi Bonisagi must pass the Theoretical Interview, an excruciatingly long verbal exam performed by someone other than the parens. It takes a full day. No spells are cast - it's all theory. Most pass, but those who do not return home with their master, receiving a secondary interview from them. This secondary interview is repeated until the apprentice finally passes. Magi Trianomae don't use exams - they send apprentices on a solo journey to another covenant, to meet with another magus Trianomae. The journey typically takes two seasons to finish, and getting to the end means you passed. Those who fail return their parens in shame and must try again later. Several apprentices have managed to vanish and probably die during the trip.

Unique among Houses, magi of Bonisagus may take someone else's apprentice. The right was granted to them in recognition of the theory of Bonisagus and the work of Trianoma in constructing the Order. In theory, the magi of the House use this to get the best and brightest apprentices. In reality, there are plenty of other reasons. Some magi are lazy and prefer to avoid the work of finding and initially training apprentices. Some are covetous and want to plunder the apprentices of others. Some seek to take apprentices from abusive or neglectful magi. Both branches can use this right, though magi Bonisagi do it more often. There are no formal rules, but the house has developed a few guidelines to soften the blow of "apprentice-snatching", since people tend to get angry. First, don't snatch while you already have one apprentice. Second, never take more than one apprentice from the same person. Third, don't snatch just to replace your apprentice because they're dumb. Fourth, don't do it more than once in three years. Abuse of the privilege can you get you taken to court for low crimes, or attacked in Wizard's War, so be careful.

Now, there's nothing that says you can't have more than one apprentice at once. Legally, though, you must spend one season each year training each apprentice, and it's impossible to teach the Arts in any context but one on one. So you could have up to four without breaking the law, if you didn't mind having no time for any other work. This is why most Bonisagi only have one apprentice at a time. Some keep two, to have extra lab assistants, but it does take up half of their time. The House also recognizes that magi need to learn a lot of skills, which not all masters are great at teaching. Thus, they have the practice of fosterage. It's common (but not universal) for a magus Bonisagi to foster another's apprentice, taking them on for one year to be taught. Often the two magi involved will trade apprentices to cover each other's faults, with each spending a year training both apprentices. Typically, the payment for fosterage is that the apprentices will help out in the lab for whoever did the teaching. The practice is somewhat dangerous, of course, what with trusting another with your apprentice, so it's not done lightly. Most magi Bonisagi find it a privilege and do not abuse it, and because of the risk, they aren't usually interested in doing it with anyone outside the lineage. Magi Trianomae do not typically practice fosterage, as they do not spend as much time in the lab, but do encourage its use.

Magi Bonisagi tend to come in three types: Dabblers, traditionalists and harmonizers. A traditionalist works constantly to refine Hermetic theory, in the belief that this was the motivation of Bonisagus. They push against their limits and try to break them. A dabbler enjoys creating odd spells and items, researching creative combinations of effects for the sheer joy of it. A harmonizer seeks to integrate all forms of magic into Hermetic theory. Magi Bonisagi may choose to specialize in any of the three fields rather than the normal fields of magic theory, and in that case a traditionalist's specialty bonus applies when trying to break the Limits of Magic, dabblers apply when inventing a spell or effect with parameters different from the standard version and harmonizers apply when inventing spells or effects that mimic supernatural abilities.

It is a common misconception that magi Bonisagi like to work together; they tend not to, since most prefer being the primary researcher. After the daduchos rank, no magus really wants to be an assistant ever again. Bonisagus, after all, is remembered for inventing the theory and the Parma Magica, not for helping Tremere invent certamen. They don't mind sharing their work, but are hesitant to commit to any work they won't get full credit for. There are two exceptions. First, new magi who have no rank yet, and magi working with their parens. They will work with the more experienced magi without credit, solely to learn from their betters and to get a little bit of recognition. Anyone of daduchos or above should do their own research, and anyone up to cannophori may work with their parens without shame. Fostered magi can count the person they fostered with as their parens for this purpose. When they do collaborate, however, magi Bonisagi tend to work well together.

Magi Trianomae focus on understanding not magic but human nature. They are skilled politicians, often intinerant and prone to wanderlust, and often asked by the Tenentes to keep an eye on certain situations. They often enjoy searching for lost secrets or new magi. Typically they aren't interested in fighting, just curious. Some have left Europe in search of far Cathay, India and deep Africa to spread the word of the Order. As yet, none of those emissaries have ever returned successfully. Many do not return. They follow the politics laid out by Trianoma herself: First, keep the Order at peace. This is the prime goal, the rule from which all others flow. Second, keep the stream of knowledge flowing. Knowledge is what binds the Order and should be shared freely as a result. Third, keep the Houses equal. It's important that no lineage controls another. The Order is a society of equals. Fourth, keep the Tribunals equal. No Tribunal should become so large as to control the Order. Magi Trianomae try to get magi to disperse throughout Europe; they apply this to their own as well, and the Tenentes are quite pleased that House Bonisagus and the Rhine Tribunal have lost their political importance since the Schism War. Last, keep the Houses bickering. A certain amount of squabbling is healthy, keeps people engaged and keeps the Houses seperate, so that they don't merge and take over.

Magi Trianomae have inherited the Trianoma cipher, developed by Trianoma to send messages to her filii. It is essentially a form of shorthand completely incomprehensible to anyone who has not been taught it. Each magus tends to have their own slight variation on it. The code is used to send and receive messages from the Tenentes, either as messages or hidden messages added at the end of books. There are two ways that someone outside the lineage might translate such a note. The easier way is to find a lab text written in Trianoma's personal shorthand, using that to decode the message as you would any lab text. The harder way is to decode the note directly, which takes a full day of work and some good knowledge of Latin.

Anyway. Magi Bonisagi care about Lab Acclaim, which basically is just - do research, publish, get famous, go up in rank. Easy. Most any work in the lab can get you that delicious, chocolatey reputation. Let's see...Folios! It takes a full season of work on the part of all the Colentes to produce a folio, and the space they have is limited. There are often arguments about what to include, and because the decisions are made behind closed doors, these arguments and their resolutions can be incredibly petty. Only three copies of a folio are made. The original goes to Durenmar's library. The first copy is sent to Magvillus as an overt show of House Bonisagus sharing its research with House Guernicus. The second copy goes to the covenant that houses the Colentes during their season of folio-making. The third copy is sent to Harco, domus magna of Mercere, and is circulated through the Order by Redcaps on a predetermined route. Each covenant negotiates with Mercere for their position and term on the waiting list, and naturally the service is charged for.

Next time: Original research.

Mar 25, 2011

Erebro posted:


Isn't the cow-headed goddess of fertility Hathor? Isn't Apis a male cow deity?

...Well, I actually think that Hathor appears wearing cow horns or as a cow, not cow-headed. But confusing genders...that's a new level of :effort: in research.

Well, Apis was the sacred bull. And god, why has the internet tainted me so that the first thing I remember when hearing Hathor was that horrible comic about breastfeeding?

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Plutonis posted:

Well, Apis was the sacred bull. And god, why has the internet tainted me so that the first thing I remember when hearing Hathor was that horrible comic about breastfeeding?

That was my first thought too. :smith::respek::smith:

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
Her poorly-drawn, judgmental stare was the first thing to rise to mind for me too. :(

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: True Lineages

House Bonisagus is the premiere group for original research, but hardly the only ones. They're just the most commonly engaged in it. Original research is designed to get breakthroughs, goals that have not previously been achievable by Hermetic magic. A minor breakthrough is something immediately usable and teachable within the existing framework - a new Range or Duration, say. You might expect a skilled researcher to manage this once or twice in their lifetime, and the reason they're not more common is that most people aim for higher goals. Magi tend to the grandiose. Major breakthroughs push the Limits of Magic without quite breaking them. These are often full Virtues that can be taught to the Gifted. Examples include incorporating non-Hermetic magic into teachable Hermetic skills. (Incidentally: these are the same rules you use for integrating all that stuff from Ancient Magic or Rival Magic or Hedge Magic.) An example of a major breakthrough was the invention of Aegis of the Hearth by the Bonisagus Primus Notatus. A major breakthrough is enough to become famous for life, and a really persistent research magus might manage it once in a lifetime. Hermetic Breakthroughs are new tricks, often breaking a lesser Limit. Nearly anything could be possible - this is the uncharted world of magic. There has only ever been one Hermetic Breakthrough in all of history: the invention of the Parma Magica.

The book provides four examples. First is the Arma Magica, 'magical defenses' based on the Parma. Bonisagus found that the Parma could be extended to protect others at the cost of thinning it out. The Arma Magica use this principle, pressing or "folding" the field of resistance to create effects, known as folds. Each fold would be a Major Breakthrough, since each is a new way to use a Hermetic effect. The book lists six folds. Inventing even one would make you famous; all six would make you a legend. The Parma Ablativa (ablative shield) requires a ten minute ritual instead of the normal two minute one to put up, but is twice as powerful as a normal Parma. However, it is ablative - every time it blocks a spell, it is weakened. Once it falls, the magus may perform another fold. This is the only exception to the rule one Parma per sunrise or sunset. The Parma Absorbea (swallowing shield), on the other hand, is only half as powerful, but any spell it blocks is trapped in it, allowing the magus to attempt to tap into the spell to empower their own next spell, especially if they share Technique and Form.

The Parma Condensa (thick shield) is twice as effective against a single Form, and halved against all others. The Parma Custodia (guarding shield) blocks physical attacks rather than magic ones, granting a bonus to defense in combat, but grants no magic resistance whatsoever. The Parma Repurcussa (reflecting shield) is only half as powerful as normal, but any effect it stops is bounced back at the mental guidance of the magus, sent at any valid target they can see. The Parma Restricta (holding shield) is essentially a magical cage made around another. Any spell the targets attempt to cast through the cage must break its resistance. The cage is weaker than your normal Parma, and you must be close enough to touch your target. And it still takes two minutes to invoke. Still, a good way to shut someone down.

The Parmulae are a theoretical method for protecting the mundane from magic. What it is is an item with Magic Resistance bound into it. There are two major problems with them, of course. First, they allow no variation in effect. All are exactly identical, and their magic resistance is not especially potent. It's good, but it's not great. Second, they're not permanent - the power lasts only one year before dissipating. Oh, and, naturally, they might fall into the hands of outsiders, and no one wants that. Especially House Bonisagus. The parmula itself would be a minor breakthrough based on the Aegis of the Hearth. Changing the duration of its existence or level of magic resistance would be a major breakthrough after that.

Figurine Magic is a thing that already exists; it'd be an integration rather than a strict invention. See, it's an ancient tradition - you carve a figure and enchant it for a single recipient. It'd be a major breakthrough to make it work as a Hermetic virtue. Figurines, as a note, are small wax or wooden figures that must be made by the enchanter personally. The recipient is designated at construction via astrology. It takes one month to make a wax figure or two for a wood one. Wax figures last for two seasons, while wood figures last for double that. If either is ever damaged or destroyed, all magic is lost. The figure may then be imbued with a Virtue or, for magi, a spell. This grants that power to the figurine's bearer. The reason you might want this over normal enchantment is simple: they don't cost vis, they take far less time to make and they're useful for mundane people, not magi. Any form of Magic Resistance prevents them from working. Most modern practitioners of figurine magic are actually unGifted people who practice it as a supernatural ability.

Lastly, there are Realm-Aligned Spells, a minor breakthrough. Hermetic spells are normally influenced by the auras around them, empowered (and yet causing worse botches) or weakened. By aligning a spell with a realm, it is unaffected by that aura. There is no way, even with this research, to align a spell to a Divine aura. However, an Infernal-aligned spell will act perfectly normal in an Infernal aura, as will a Faerie spell in a Faerie aura. You can make a Magic spell, and you might wonder why, since Magic empowers spells normally, but a Magic-aligned spell will receive no bonus. The reason is to reduce botch chances.

Next time: House Guernicus when I return from Origins.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Erebro posted:

...Well, I actually think that Hathor appears wearing cow horns or as a cow, not cow-headed. But confusing genders...that's a new level of :effort: in research.

It's not even the first time it's happened in this book so far! See also: "Amon".

Cosmic Afro
May 23, 2011
Oh man, I forgot how cool are the 'folds' for the Parma Magica. If I recall, a Major Breakthrough is rather hard to do, too. Would the new Folds be a new skill, or a new application of the Parma Magica, anyway?

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

I'd like to invent a variant that protected livestock against harmful magic - witches cursing your animals, that sort of thing. I'd have to start small, with a Chicken Parma Magica.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.

Count Chocula posted:

I'd like to invent a variant that protected livestock against harmful magic - witches cursing your animals, that sort of thing. I'd have to start small, with a Chicken Parma Magica.

When I find you no jury in the land will convict me. :argh:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Cosmic Afro posted:

Oh man, I forgot how cool are the 'folds' for the Parma Magica. If I recall, a Major Breakthrough is rather hard to do, too. Would the new Folds be a new skill, or a new application of the Parma Magica, anyway?

New application.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010

Hipster Occultist posted:

When I find you no jury in the land will convict me. :argh:

Convict you of what, hammy acting?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I wrote more on the terribleness of the deity statblocks and for some reason forgot to include my denouement to the deities section in my last post, so now it's a bonus diatribe in my last Rifts Africa post! It was too short to give a post of its own, and wouldn't fit as a part of the upcoming post, so if you need a final bite of bitterness, there it is. :shobon:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 4: Africa: Part Ten: "They also dislike tautons because they give crocodile-like creatures a bad reputation."

Optional Player Characters

You can be a minion! Isn't that exciting! A minion! Wow. :downs: First, it points out that evil races as PCs are likely to be good-aligned weirdoes, but that you shouldn't play Jinn, because... well, it doesn't say why. It also notes that Set or Anubis, with their doggy heads, might try and win over the wolfen and their kin. A more interesting plot twist is that they might try to liberate the Coalition's dog boys to be their minions. (This plot twist will not go anywhere in later material, but it's an interesting idea.)

The Children of Bennu

Gracefully he soared, glock in hand...

They're called the Phoenixi, but aren't actually related to the Phoenix or Bennu. They're from some other dimension. Anyway, they're 10'-14' humanoid bird-people. (Like a chicken, I tell you, a giant chicken.) They know enough magic to have explored dimensionally, but they keep the Prime Directive and don't interfere with native cultures, even when those native cultures are imperiled. (This makes them unbelievable pricks.) However, some of them so go soft and aid other cultures in mild ways, and a few of them actually become saviors.

They try to remain neutral in the wars between gods (even though, as we know now, Set can't stop vivisecting them), though some of them side up with Bennu. They're generally kind of pacifistic and boring, tho. And none will ever think of directly harming Bennu, so don't even think of it, PCs! :ssh:

They get better attributes than humans overall aside from Physical Prowess, with is the same, but get really high Physical Endurance. They get around 200 M.D.C., uh... 3d4 x 100 P.P.E. and 2d4 x 100 I.S.P.?! And it goes up at they level? Well, that's... fairly broken compared to the amounts that actual dedicated spellcasters and psychics get. And yes, they get all physical and sensitive psychic powers, all fire warlock spells, telepathy, pyrokinesis, can cast mystic portal / dimensional portal / close rift. They can also set themselves on fire (doing mega-damage), shoot fire, and instantly regenerate all M.D.C. once very 12 hours. They can use that regeneration to blow off all food, water, or sleep for about a month, which given they have 60 opportunities to use their power every month, basically means they just need to charge up once a month and never sleep, eat, or drink.

They kind of suck on skills, but that's a small price to pay for having all the spellcasting of an 8th level Warlock with more P.P.E. to dump on it. I hesitate to call any PC character type in Rifts "broken", as the core book has a fair deal of ridiculous bullshit, but this race pretty much invalidates playing Fire Warlocks or Bursters for the most part; they're insanely good by comparison, as long as you don't mind having a chicken head.

Ah, the design philosophy of Palladium: call classes "optional" when you don't care to ever balance character options. :downswords:

The Knights of Ra - Optional O.C.C.

Your daily dose of catbutt.

Not a Japanese noodle, but instead a feline race that once fought a race of crocodile folk. When the Egyptian gods found them, the felines sided up with Ra (Ra-men) and the crocs with the pantheon of Taut (or Tautons). The gods made them mightier and now they fight across the Megaverse etc.

Anyway ramen are humanoid lions and are basically brave knights of Ra that fight for Ra and ra ra ra, that's the spirits we have here. They have great stats (rolling 4d6 to 6d6 for each stat), with the best being their super-strength. 250 or so M.D.C. They have some basic sensitive psionic powers, are really resistant to psionics, can charm animals (but are kind to them), and get some relatively minor magic spells if you roll lucky (40% chance of being a spellcaster). They get a decent spread of skills, but nothing too impressive. They're pretty much in-line with dragon hatchlings as far as power level goes, though they're a lot less flexible.

Some of them are convinced Anhur is their progentitor and have buddied up with him. Anhur insists he's not their dad, but has defended them nonetheless because he respects them. Most of them still serve Ra, though. I mean. It's in their name.

Kind of dull, but they're your cat soldier superheroes if you want them. :geno:

Tautons - The Minions of Set
Optional R.C.C.

"I'm holding a gun over my head!" "My hand is on fire!" "Help, I'm falling over!"

These were once Set's main army of croc-thugs, but then he used them in too many reckless battles and has lost most of them. Set has blown them off as failures, even though he's the real screwup, and so the remaining Tautons have become even more fanatical to try and prove themselves to him. Because of this some of them are going to aid the Four Horsemen and try and kill them some heroes to prove themselves to Set! It's an underpants gnome kind of plan, but it just might work. Why? I dunno, Set doesn't seem to work on any sort of reason or... sense. Maybe it's his tiny dog brain.

They get really impressive physical attributes, but average mental attributes and bonus ugly. They around 250 M.D.C. and P.P.E., but no I.S.P. or psionics. They can resist fire and cold, change into snakes, swim and hold their breath, etc. They also have scorpion tails that inject mega-damage poison, and all of them are wizards, and get a pretty darn solid selection of spells. Their skills are pretty average, and balance-wise they're comparable to the Ramen.

Anyway, turn-ons include deserts, forests, the Gods of Darkness, the Four Horsemen, general generic villainry, and kinda don't mind the Worms of Taut. Turn-offs include the Gods of Light, good in general, and those darn Ramen!!!

The crocodile god, Sebek, has nothing to do with those guys. No, you didn't miss Sebek in the earlier section on gods. He's about a hundred pages down the line.

Children of Amon
Optional Player Characters

These aren't so much a race as a group of ugly people who follow Amon. This includes humans, d-bees, boogiemen, goblins, gigantes, harpies, and melech. A minority are orcs, ogres, trolls, and loogaroos. (All of which are in the Rifts® Conversion Book.) Also 1% of her minions are True Atlanteans, which means despite the fact that they're irritatingly noble doomed good guys, that means there's at 200-800 Atlanteans that follow her because... um... I got nothin'.


She generally uses the transfortifier, chest amalgamate, or zombitron symbiotes to mod her minions. You'll have to refer to my review on Rifts® World Book Two: Atlantis for them; the descriptions here are cut and pasted from that.

There's not much in the way of rules other than having normal PCs that might get a symbiote or two, I guess.

The Minions of Sebek
- Optional Player Character R.C.C.

Draw a crocodile with a gun, instant character class!

These other crocodile people were basically losing evolutionary bingo when Sebek rescued them. Sebek really cares for them and will often avenge acts against them. A lot of them live in Rifts® Africa and India, where he dropped him in a world crawling with predators and conflict because he loves them so much, I guess. :v:

They are only partially bipedal and mostly run on all fours, but they can stand up (if not really walk). They mostly eat fish, but sometimes just eat their foes, they don't give a poo poo. They're crazy strong but a little dumb and definitely ugly. They get an average of 140 M.D.C., and 75 I.S.P., can see in the dark and see invisible stuff, swim super-well, hydrokinesis and basic psionics, psionic empathy with reptiles, and middling skills. If you roll really lucky you might be a mind melter (10%) or mind bleeder (5%), but in general they kind of suck because they need to be submerged in water every eight hours or they start taking severe penalties and eventually die after about a week of water-free existence. Also, the mind bleeder thing is kind of weird, because pretty soon we'll find out mind bleeders are a race, not a class. But hey, why bother keeping poo poo consistent within the same book.

They'll help against the Four Horsemen because "they don't want to die". That's a pretty solid motivation, you'd think more races would have it...

The Elemental Demon
The minions of Set -
Not available as a player character

Yeah, I just copy the section titles as they're listed in the book. Sometimes they get a little wordy...

Most of this is C&Ped from the Rifts® Conversion Book. However, there are some extra notes. Now, they have an extra weakness: weapons made from the Millennium Tree do extra damage to them, now. Also, it turns out the being that cursed them to follow the whole wish statute is Thoth, but it also turns out Set can use that curse to make them obey them. Yes, Thoth hosed up but good, but he can't reverse it, so the rest of us have to live with Set having superpowerful minions. The rest of the details and stats are as detailed elsewhere. I can see why he threw the Tautons away now, because the Jinn are more ridiculously powerful by half and another half and then probably another ten halves.

(For now. Yeah, there's more later.)

Goddammit. :eng99:

Next: Africans are magical!

Mar 25, 2011

3D&T Alpha Part 2: The Numbers

Here there are more clarifications on crunch stuff and how the system works per se, as well as a more detailed explanation on your character's stats. Again, stats can go over the maximum 5, but that's reserved for lategame and such.

Power: Be it physical strength or just your capability to deal damage, this stat takes care of brutish stuff like that. Even if your character doesn't have sheer brute force, you can still get rid of heavy objects if you have a high number on this stat just by handwaving/fluffing it. While 0 in the stat means that you are just as strong as a human being, a 5 means that you can lift up to TEN TONS of crap.

Ability: The god-stat much like Dexterity was on D&D. The game even recommends that players have at least 2 points in that. It's used for both attack and defense rolls, so it's a good idea to do so. Ability encompasses both speed and intelligence, and it's mainly used for stuff like jumping from buildings to buildings and stuff. 0 Ability is what a non-athletic person has, while 5 makes you a goddamn super-ninja nigh-impossible to hit.

Resistance: Constitution and willpower. It denotes your capacity to resist from mind-afflicting magic and your own physical resilience as well. Like I wrote before, this stat is also important as it is used to calculate your starting HP and MP. 0 Resistance makes a normal human being something hilariously weak, that can be hosed up by a simple punch as they only have 1 HP. Meanwhile, 5 Resistance makes you something akin to the Heavy Weapons Guy.

Armor: Exactly what it says on the tin. Whether you wear plate mail, use a forcefield or you are Luke Motherfucking Cage, Armor serves as a stat to calculate defense.

Firepower: Used for ranged attacks. While stuff like ammo and range of attacks using this stat are mostly handwaved, GMs can rule that kind of stuff. Now, while FP 0 is the same as getting pelted with a rock, 5 is the equivalent of a Dragonbreath.

Characteristic Tests: During play, a GM will ask the player to make rolls on their characteristics in order to do certain actions, such as knocking doors, aiming on tiny targets, noticing a powerful enemy aura :ssj: approaching... To do those you simply roll a 1d6. If the result is higher than your stat, you fail, if it's lower or equal, you succeed. Certain modifiers depending on the difficulty of the task can be added as well, which will give you either positive or negative points, so a task can actually be impossible, such as Power -3 test with a character with 3 Power.

Close to Death: Certain powers, abilities and such can only be used by characters who are close to death. It reflects on every Shounen trope ever when the Hero gets his rear end throughly kicked until he goes loving bananas on the last sliver of his life. A character is Close to Death when his current hit points are lower or equal than his Resistance stat. Chumps with R0 can't get like that because they are chumps.

DEATH: When a character reaches 0 Hit Points, it's either dead or knocked out. It's up to the GM to choose so, but it also can depend on the last thing that hit the character before his HP was depleted. He can also roll a Death Dice that will put him in the following conditions:

1 Weakened: You are conscious but your body is so damaged you cannot take any kind of actions that require any physical and mental effort other than talking, hearing and seeing. Someone can use the Medicine skill to let you go back to 1 HP immediately, though.

2-3 Unconscious: You are out cold but still alive. After an hour of rest or a Medicine skill test you wake up with 1 HP.

4-5 Semidead: You are so hosed up that you will die in 2D turns. A Medicine test can prolong life for 1D hours, but after that only Magic works.

6 Dead: Oh welp. Time for a ressurection!

Notice that if you are still with 0 HP yet passed a Death Dice roll, if you get any damage before healing up, you have to reroll Death Dice, and worse, you must take the new result if it's worse than the previous one.

Recovering Hit and Magic Points: Hit and Magic points can be restored fully after eight hours of rest, or with two hours rest, 1 HP and MP for every Resistance Point you have. A character with 0 HP, however, is too wounded and can't recover too fast. He needs medical treatment before being able to properly rest and recover. (See: Death.) Normally a place to sleep costs 30 Coins per person in most places, but depending on the furnishings and use of the Manipulation skill the costs can change. In dangerous places like dungeons, forests or the middle of the road, eight hours of sleep count as only two, and thus you only recover the equivalent to two hours rest. The GM can also crib from videogames and have statues/fountains/whatever that can fully heal you.

Up Next: Advantages!

Dec 27, 2011

Now that is a cool yet simple mechanic for character death. It is neither entirely to the whim of the Player/GM nor is it just "You die because the Kobold rolled a 10, sorry Bob.", it is probably going to break down horribly a la BESM down the line but so far I like this game.

Nov 5, 2010

Warning, Internet
may prove lethal.
Wait, so if I'm reading that correctly, a guy who is semidead could be shived back to healthiness by hitting him again, making him re-roll the death dice and hoping he get's anything lower then a 4 and keep doing that till he ether rolls 1-3 or 6?

Dec 5, 2007

I had a video of that when I was about 6.

I remember it being shit.

Grimey Drawer

Plutonis posted:

DEATH: When a character reaches 0 Hit Points, it's either dead or knocked out. It's up to the GM to choose so

I would suggest that this line gets round the meta-game shanking.

Mar 25, 2011

Arashiofordo3 posted:

Wait, so if I'm reading that correctly, a guy who is semidead could be shived back to healthiness by hitting him again, making him re-roll the death dice and hoping he get's anything lower then a 4 and keep doing that till he ether rolls 1-3 or 6?

Nope, he keeps the previous result if he gets a 1-3. So you will inevitabely get a 6 and die if the enemy keeps coup de gracing you unless someone intervenes.

Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!
Here's a change of pace.

The BattleTech CCG: Commander's Edition

What's BattleTech?
BattleTech was, and still is, a tabletop miniature war/board game first released in the 1980's. Originally by FASA, it is now owned by Catalyst Game Labs.

It has a wide variety of supplementary and side materials, including multiple computer games in a variety of genres (most famous being the MechWarrior games) and tie-in novels (of which I have read quite a lot many years ago).

As it is a game with such a long history in the real world, it has an extremely long and sprawling one in-universe. Only, I'm not going to go into it, for two reasons: either you are way more :spergin: about BattleTech than me, enough to already know it, or you aren't and you'll be too distracted to care by this:

The name for these lovely death-dealers is BattleMech (often shortened to 'Mech, including the apostrophe). These aren't your candy-rear end, delicate, graceful mecha out of your Japanese animes* :japan:

*Let's see who spots the in-joke among these pictures

'Mechs are walking tanks, big and lumbering. Granted, they range from fast and fragile 20-tonners to hulking behemoth 100-tons, but real 'Mechs can't fly (many can jump however), don't have magical force fields and don't use beam swords (some have regular metal melee weapons, but they're weird).

What is the best way to experience the deep history of this universe, to be enthralled by the tales of bravery and intrigue among the stars, the heart-pounding adrenaline of a battle between latter-day knights whose steeds, weapons and armor are enormous walking death machines?

A motherfucking collectible card game.

I'll be doing this write up from the Commander's Edition rulebook, in the order I find stuff. This game was first released 17 years ago now (designed by Richard Garfield and produced by WotC, no less) and has been out of print for 12.

Each players deck is called their Stockpile, and you win when your opponent has no cards left in their Stockpile. You can remove cards from the opponents Stockpile by attacking it.

There are three types of cards: Units, Command Cards and Mission cards.

Units are what you attack with and encompass your 'Mech forces and other front line combatants such as vehicles and "Battle Armor," squads of soldiers in powered combat suits.
Command cards are support resources you use to build your units and gain other effects. Command cards can be Resources, that let you build units and play cards, Enhancements that improve other cards and Pilots that turn your 'Mechs all Ace Custom.
Mission cards are the instants and sorceries to the Units creatures and Resources Lands/Artifacts/Enchantments in Magic terms. They are played during "Missions" (combat) to get a temporary but hopefully decisive effect.

Some cards are Unique, meaning you can only have a single copy in your deck.

Assets are "rear lines" resources that you possess to help you wage war. They are represented by letters:
A is for Assembly, state-of-the-art repair and construction technology.
L is for Logistics, for communication and transportation techniques.
M is for Munitions, the knowledge and equipment to produce large quantities of ammunition..
T is for Tactics, training and the skill at directing your forces deftly.
P is for Politics, representing the civilian side of the war effort and "soft(er) power"

You get Assets mostly from Command cards you have in play. The usefulness of assets is that they make certain cards cheaper; some cards will have, along the side, a number followed by one of the letters. This means that if you don't have the indicated Asset, you must pay that much extra to play the card.

Assets don't stack; you either have an Asset or you don't.

And wow, we haven't seen anything about how we pay for stuff and already we're talking about things that can modify it.

All the Assets except Politics also give a special ability you can use, to be detailed late.

Playing Area
Your play area is divided into a bunch of zones: the Stockpile region, containing a players Stockpile and it's defending units; your Construction region where you keep your Units and Command cards while you play them. You can make partial payments on them, spending resources over multiple turns to pay for especially expensive ones; your Command post where you keep all your Command Cards; and the Patrol region where all of your 'Mechs "in the field" are. In addition you have the Scraphead, the games name for the discard. (discarding or destroying cards is called Scrapping).

Starting a Game
You need 2+ players. Everyone needs a deck of no more than 60 cards. You also need markers and six sided dice, enough for everyone.

Each turn has six steps:
Untap Phase
There are things that tap your stuff:
  • Sending a unit on a mission
  • Blocking another player's attack with a unit
  • Using an ability with a tap symbol
During this phase, you untap all your tapped stuff, except for "Depleted" units, which are handled in the Repair/Reload phase.

Draw Phase
Draw two cards, except for the first player on the first turn, who draws one.

Deploy Phase
In this phase you deploy stuff you've constructed, pay to construct under construction stuff and activate fully paid stuff.

To deploy a card, put it face down in your construction region face down. You can reveal any under construction cards at any time and you can deploy two cards per turn.

To construct a card, you need to put a number of construction counters on it equal to it's construction cost. This cost is equal to it's base construction cost, plus any extras from Assets it requires, but you are missing. The example the book gives as a cost of 6 + 3A + 3M + 3T, so it costs only 6 if you have A, M and T but up to a whopping 15 at worst.

During the deploy phase you generate resources by tapping cards with abilities that do so.

You can activate any cards that you've completely paid for. You do this by revealing it, and if it has enough construction counters on it, it's activated. Command cards go immediately to the Command Post, but Units have to stay in the Construction region for now. Except, two of the three Command card types don't necessarily go in the Command Post...

You can move any Pilots you have however you want, as long as no Unit ends up with multiple pilots.

Repair/Reload Phase
This phase is when you can repair units and reload depleted cards.

Sometimes your units get damaged! This makes them look terrible on parade, but if you have an Assembly asset you can pay 1 Resource to take a damage counter off a Unit.

Any of your Depleted cards are reloaded. Depleted cards suck; they can't fight and don't untap. When a card is Depleted, they're flipped face down and flip back up tapped. A common way to become Depleted is by Alpha Strikes, a special ability some units have.

Missions Phase
During this phase you get to launch attacks against your opponent.

You can launch any number of missions, limited only by the number of units you're willing to commit this turn. When you launch your mission, you pick a target:
  • The enemy Stockpile, any cards under construction and any Command cards in the Command Post.
  • Any enemy unit as long as your units all have higher Speed than the target.
  • Any opposing depleted card.
Only your patrol Units can attack and sending them on the mission taps them.

The other guy can block attacks. Either they block all the attacking units, or none of them. Any units that are on patrol as well as guarding the target can block. Like attacking, blocking taps the unit.

A patrolling unit can only block if it's Speed is at least as good as the slowest attacking unit, but guarding units ignore this restriction. If blocking happens, a battle occurs. If you attack a Unit and are unblocked, you fight a battle between that unit and the attackers.

Battle Armors are not allowed to block alone and must be in groups of at least two. Attacking an under construction card immediately reveals it.

Only the following cards can affect a battle:
  • Units that are attacking, blocking, or the target of the attack.
  • The target of the attack, if it is included in the battle or the mission is unblocked
  • Enhancements and Pilots on a Unit involved in the battle.
  • Enhancements on target sites and Terrain cards in the Region containing the target.
  • All command cards except Pilots and Enhancements.
There are four steps in a battle: Determine Initiative, first player's actions, second player's actions and resolve damage.

First, decide Initiative. Whoever has the higher Initiative value wins and ties go to the attacker. Your Initiative is equal to your base (which is 1 if you have a Tactics Asset or 0 otherwise) plus any modifiers you have. You can only plat initiative-modifying effects now. Only the person who is losing initiative can do anything in this step.

Second, the person who lost initiative goes first, playing all of their cards and abilities and assigning damage. You get an amount of damage equal to the damage rating of all your participating units.

Next, the winner of initiative gets to go.

Finally, resolve the assigned damage. First, see if any of the damage was prevented by any cards or effects. Then, subtract each damaged cards Armor, if any, from the assigned of damage. Now apply the damage, based on what is being damaged:
  • Units and Command cards get damage counters. If the number of counters equals or beats the Structure of the card, it is scrapped.
  • The Stockpile has one card scrapped from the top for each point of damage.
  • Cards under construction lose 1 construction counter per 2 points of damage.
  • Vehicles that take any amount of damage, even if prevented by armor, are destroyed on a die roll of 5+.
Unit Options and Abilities
A bunch of units have a variety of special abilities you can use
  • Overheat X : +Y attack. Unload your weapons faster than you can dissipate the resulting heat, giving the unit +Y attack but inflicts X damage to them.
  • Alpha Strike: +Y attack. Like Overheat, but for projectile weapons that use ammo instead of energy ones that generate lots of heat. Gives +y Attack, but depletes the unit.
  • Missile Y- When you assign a units damage, you can fire missiles. At the end of the combat, select the targets for Y missiles and roll a die for each. On a 1 or 2, you deal that much damage to the target and if you have the Munitions Asset, then a roll of 3 inflicts 3 damage; otherwise it does 0. 4+ always has no effect.
  • Jump: The unit has Jumpjets that let it hop around. Jumping gives a unit -1 attack, but you gain +1 initiative.
Playing Mission Cards
Mission cards represent last-minute strategies and surprise tactics you pull out of your rear end in the middle of a fight.

Three important things to remember when playing mission cards (these rules like their bullet point lists):
  • Mission cards can only affects attacking or blocking units or the target.
  • Cannot play "more than one of the same Mission card in one battle."
  • You can play a maximum number of Mission cards equal to your initiative.
If you scrap a Unit with a mission, it's damage is still assigned, and any damage assigned to it disappears. Any Enhancements or Pilots are immediately scrapped, and any bonuses it gives you are gone.

Effects of Damage
Whenever damage is inflicted outside of the resolve damage step of a battle, it is resolved in the same way.

Guarding a Site
A Guarding (vs patrolling) Unit can always block an attack, regardless of Speed.

To refresh: A patrolling Unit can block an attack if it's speed is at least as high as the slowest attacking unit. A guarding Unit can always block.

Your mission phase is when you assign units from Patrol to guard your stockpile or a card in your Command Post and vice versa.

End of Turn Phase
Any activated Units in your Construction region are moved to your Patrol region.

If you have a Logistics Asset, you can put a card from your hand on the bottom of your Deck.

Deck Construction
There are two sides in BattleTech, the Clans and the Inner Sphere and each has several "affiliations" or sub-faction.

A little bit of historical context: In the BattleTech universe, most of known space, called the Inner Sphere, was ruled by the Star League. It eventually collapsed and broke up into the IS nations, while Star League general Kerensky fled into the void with his best warriors. The IS collapsed into a dark age and lots of technologies regressed. The descendents of Kerensky's follower reappeared and invaded as the Clans, a bunch of genetically enhanced soldiers with much more advanced tech relative to the Inner Sphere.

You can play either as the Clans or the Inner Sphere. The Clan affiliations are the Ghost Bear, Jade Falcon, Smoke Jaguar and Wolf.

The Inner Sphere affiliations are ComStar, Marik, Davion, Rasalhauge, Kurita, Steiner, Liao and St. Ives.

You choose an affiliation for your deck. This allows you to select card unaligned with either side, cards aligned with you side (IS or Clan) in general and any cards aligned with your specific affiliation.

You're not allowed to have more than 10 non-'Mech units in your deck.

Box Powers
The Commander's Edition preconstructed decks come with boxes. These boxes have special powers faction that let you turn cards from your hand into some kind of bonus. These bonuses include scrapping a card to repair 3 damage, gain +2 Initiative, gain all the Assets or search your Stockpile for a Unit and put it into your hand.

And that's how you play the BattleTech CCG. I had a bunch of cards for it long, long ago, but sadly I've never had a chance to play an actual game.

Father Wendigo
Sep 28, 2005
This is, sadly, more important to me than bettering myself.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

And since seemingly Kevin convinced himself that the Diabolist stats and magic are in the Rifts® Conversion Book. They're not, just the conversion rules for Rifts, but he refers readers to it for the Diabolist stats mistakenly. Instead, you need to refer to an entirely different game line - The Palladium RPG - to get the rules for the Diabolist. And practically every god listed here has access to Diabolist magic.


I can't wrap my head around this. It has to take effort to gently caress things up that badly.


Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

The name for these lovely death-dealers is BattleMech (often shortened to 'Mech, including the apostrophe). These aren't your candy-rear end, delicate, graceful mecha out of your Japanese animes* :japan:

*Let's see who spots the in-joke among these pictures

:catholic: Unseen! Unseen!

Or is it a reseen now?

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