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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

pospysyl posted:

Mechanics are stuck into the back, like an embarrassing secret. First up is the optional tribe weakness. Under the tribe weakness rule, Children of Gaia provoke less severe Delirium (in short, if a werewolf shapeshifts in front of a normal human, the human is likely to go batshit and forget the whole thing). Pretty lame.

Given oWoD's obsession with THOU SHALT KEEP THY SPLAT SECRET FROM THE MUNDANES, this reads like a time bomb to me. If people start remembering seeing woofs, then Hunters, Wyrmspawn, Vampires, Mages and so forth are going to hear about it, and the Garou Nation does not need that kind of publicity from one of its weakest links. The people that Coggie septs need it even less because, depending on what comes sniffing around, they're either collateral damage or targets.

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Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I am not sure, but I think the talking star bit under the Astrologer is a Howl's Moving Castle reference.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Bieeardo posted:

Given oWoD's obsession with THOU SHALT KEEP THY SPLAT SECRET FROM THE MUNDANES, this reads like a time bomb to me. If people start remembering seeing woofs, then Hunters, Wyrmspawn, Vampires, Mages and so forth are going to hear about it, and the Garou Nation does not need that kind of publicity from one of its weakest links. The people that Coggie septs need it even less because, depending on what comes sniffing around, they're either collateral damage or targets.

As a storytelling device (People remember the werewolves around here more so they're coming to check out what's going on) it's a pretty good weakness. As an actually mechanic it's one of the stupidest weaknesses because you really don't check the Delirium chart unless you're fighting a mortal hunter or the human is a PC. Which is pointless because A: the ST isn't going to make a hunter with just enough willpower to kill you as long as the rest of the pack isn't around. And B:making your allied PCs freak the hell out in combat isn't something you normally want, turning it into a positive.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Otto's empire was succeeded by four emperors of the House of Welf in Saxony, which emerged as the leading power. They claimed equal status to the Eastern Empire of Byzantium, and in 1033, they expanded to Burgundy, and in 1037, the lords of northern Italy agreed to vassalization under the German kings. In 1024, the dynasty passed from Saxon to Salian, and in 1138 to the Hohenstaufens, but with little variance in political structure. The Salians tried to establish primogeniture, but failed to get it fully accepted. Fortunately, inheritance was never an issue - the four Welf emperors each had only one successor, and so the empire was never divided between them or destroyed by infighting. In fact, due to extraordinary coincidence, it would not be until 1190 that an emperor was survived by multiple sons, by which time division was unthinkable.



That doesn't mean there were no problems. The Investiture Contest of 1075 to 1122 threatened to divided the Church and the empire. Since the days of the Carolingians, the Church had been subordinate to the kings. Charlemagne had seen himself as both priest and king, acting as head of both Church and state. Emperor Otto II and his successors used the bishops as government tools, claiming the right to invest them with their spiritual and secular offices. This was contested in 1075 by Papal bull, which forbade lay investiture. The Church feared secularization and wanted to protect the right of the clergy to elect their leaders, and the conflict came to a head in 1085 when Pope Gregory VII excommunicated Henry IV and allied with his enemies to force humiliating penance from the emperor. Papal authority advanced quickly under Pope Urban II, and Pope Paschal II offered to renounce all feudal fiefs in exchange for the right of papal investiture in 111, which proved a deeply disturbing and unacceptable offer to the bishops. In Worms in 1122, Emperor Henry V reached an agreement, the Concordat of Worms, with Pope Calixtus II, which technically ended the Investiture Contest. The emperor conceded the right of the church to invest its own prelates and promised support of canon elections. In return, the Pope conceded to the Emperor the right to be present at elections and to perform lay investiture of the prelates before their consecration to spiritual office. This ensured imperial control of the dues and duties owed him by the bishops and abbots, allowing great influence despite the Church victory.



From around 1140, internal colonization was pushed by the Dragn nach Osten, a focus on settlement of the eastern frontier. This was more a concern of the frontier princes than the German kings. The kings cared more for the west, especially the Rhineland and Italy, for they had the economy to support an empire. However, Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa had one ambition only: to restore the empire to its former glory. He spent a full third of his reign in Italy, where the growing independence of the Italian towns made it hard to collect royal dues. The Hohenstaufens went to battle with the Lombard League in 1167 (and will again in 1226), and they were forced to compromise. The income from Italy was vital to the wealth of the empire, though, which may have been why Emperor Henry VI conquered Sicily in 1194, making him and his son Frederick II the richest rulers in all of Europe.



Frederick II is the son of a German father and Sicilian mother, and was made king of Germany in 1212, and will be crowned emperor in 1220. He spends most of his time in Sicily, despite promises to crusade. In fact, he's made no preparations to do so at all, which greatly irritates the Pope. He loves Sicily and the scholars that surround him. He is a scholar and philosopher himself, embracing all of the empire, not just Germany. He has been described as stupor mundi ('the amazement of the world') and writes Sicilian poetry, as well as a text on falconry. The Church fears his tolerance of both Muslims and mages. Indeed - a wizard by the name of Michael Scott has been invited to join his court.



History shows that Frederick II will eventually go to Crusade in 1227 after being excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX. He will secure Jerusalem in 1229, becoming its king, and will negotiate the return of other important lands with the Sultan. He returns in triumph and the ban on him is lifted. His involvement in the affairs of the Italian communes in the 1230s will cause another breakdown in papal relations, and Gregory IX will go to war against him. He will then be excommunicated by Innocent IV in 1245. After his death in 1250, his son Conrad and grandson Conradin will continue to fight to maintain their Italian lands, but in 1268, Conradin will die to Charles of Anjou, ending the Hohenstaufen line.

Now, magi and the Order! They have 450 years of history in the Rhineland, and much of that history lies forgotten in dusty tomes in Durenmar. Trianoma and Bonisagus founded the Order in the Black Forest in 767 AD. It grew quickly, and in 773, Guernicus and Trianoma divided the Order into Tribunals, as the magi had scattered far and wide. The Rhine was at this time dominated by Bonisagus, Bjornaer and Merinita magi, for their Founders remained within its borders. These were the golden years of the Germanic Order. The Order began to grow increasingly nationalistic, with territorial disputes being common. In 865, the Grand Tribunal decided on the boundaries of the Tribunals, rather than relying on the loose affiliations that had been used prior, and the kingdom of Germany was named the Rhine Tribunal, while that of the western Franks became the Normandy Tribunal and Lotharingia became the Provencal Tribunal. The Britannian, Roman, Iberian and Theban Tribunals also formed, though the Britannian would later split into the Hibernian, Stonehenge and Loch Loglean Tribunals. The Greater Alps Tribunal shortly followed, as did the split of the Transylvanian Tribunal from the Theban. In 1008, the New Slavonic Tribunal (later renamed Novgorod) was founded, and the Tribunal of the East formed in the Holy Land, later renamed the Levant Tribunal. Thye most significant later change in borders other than this was the Provencal Tribunal shifting to cover Aquitane and Gascony, while the Rhine and Normandy Tribunals absorbed the Low Countries.



In the middle of the 9th century, the Rhine Tribunal had matured such that the elder magi increasingly dominated it. It even formally recognized their superiority with a rank hierarchy. All of the founding magi of the Tribunal, who had been present at its inauguration in 780, had either died or passed into Final Twilight. Famously, however, three of their spirits suddenly appeared in 857 at the Tribunal gathering, insisting on their right to vote on some issue. The Praeco ruled that they could vote, out of respect for them. The three extra votes were enough to tip the issue and defeat the motion, saving the Tribunal from strife. Before departing, each spirit named one of their filii to hold their voting sigil for them as proxies in future Tribunals. Following this precedent, a handful of elder magi arrived at the next Tribunal bearing the sigils of their ancient parentes, in or on the verge of Final Twilight, claiming they were "ill-disposed to attend." A small number of elder magi formally designated a follower to proxy them in the event of "being unable to attend future meetings." By the Tribunal of 871, the sigils of many former magi had returned to or stayed in usage, in a rather controversial way. Some were permitted, others not, depending largely on favor and patronage. The Tribunal of 878 was therefore forced to rule on the issue. It could not go against precedent and outlaw the use of proxy sigils, yet at the same time there weas clear need (and Quaesitorial influence) to reign them in. A compromise was adopted, permitting proxy sigils but strictly regulating their number by rank.



The early peace of the Rhine was broken when the covenants of Schwarzburg and Arae Flaviae went to war in the 9th century, bringing both to the brink of destruction and incurring the wrath of the Swabians. The Tribunal of 885 was forced to abolish both covenants, and made the above ruling. The Rhine also fractured during the Schism War, with several covenants - most notably Oakdell, Waldherz and Grand Silesia - being destroyed and their magi killed. This was the most turbulent period in Rhine Tribunal history. The covenant of Waldherz was a Black Forest covenant founded originally as a chapter house of Durenmar by the lineage of Hercynius, the second-to-last apprentice of Bonisagus, and they claimed to be following Bonisagus' final work, which was to overcome the limits of Hermetic magic by use of primal magic from the forest's heart. House Diedne joined them to help, and Waldherz declared independence from Durenmar, though it was mired in controversy over whether or not they had a Durenmar sponsor. (Eventually, the Tribunal ruled that Durenmar was correct in saying that the sponsor could not belong to the new covenant.)

About 50 years prior, all Diedne magi of the Tribunal split from the Hawthorn Gild to form the Rowan Gild, later joined by the Bonisagus magi of Waldherz and some Bjornaer of Greater Silesia. The new faction was perceived as excessively secretive and soon gained many enemies. The onset of the Schism War led to the Rowan Gild suffering the same fate as House Diedne, and a disputed ruling of the 1004 Tribunal exiled all of its members. Flambeau and Tremere of the Ash Gild, in collaboration with the Oak Gild, declared Wizard's War against the Diedne of Waldherz and Oakdell, while the remaining Oak Gild, including most Bonisagus magi of Durenmar, strove for peace. This was the first outbreak of the Schism War in the Rhine, and anarchy followed. By the 1018 Tribunal, the first in 14 years, House Diedne and most of the Rowan Gild were destroyed. Two remaining magi of the line of Hercynius renounced their membership in House Bonisagus for House Ex Miscellanea, and ever since, House Bonisagus has not enjoyed the level of influence it had before the Schism War in the Rhine Tribunal. The final note of the story was in 1048, when the magus Aschlaranda of Waldherz suddenly reappeared at Durenmar with her apprentice, Schadrit, and rejoined House Bonisagus. She refused to tell of the fate of Waldherz or to renounce the Rowan Gild, and after a major dispute, she was reluctantly outcast from the House. She left in fury, and was chased down by an Ash Gild magus, Ganelon, who declared Wizard's War on her. None of them were heard from again.

Next time: More history. No, you don't know what a gild is yet.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Kurieg posted:

As a storytelling device (People remember the werewolves around here more so they're coming to check out what's going on) it's a pretty good weakness. As an actually mechanic it's one of the stupidest weaknesses because you really don't check the Delirium chart unless you're fighting a mortal hunter or the human is a PC. Which is pointless because A: the ST isn't going to make a hunter with just enough willpower to kill you as long as the rest of the pack isn't around. And B:making your allied PCs freak the hell out in combat isn't something you normally want, turning it into a positive.

Fair points. I tend to look at these things from an RP angle, because Storyteller's mechanics have always felt more like an awkward complication than anything else. Much like the mechanical value of this flaw, as you point out.

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky




ASHEN STARS
Website
pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 14: Slartibartfast the storyteller

Now that we have the Bleed and the Combine sketched in generally, it falls to individual GMs to make the worlds that comprise them. This part gives guidelines to make that process efficient, painless, and fruitful. This is the first chapter that's more GM advice than anything, and that will hold true for the rest of the book. A campaign is meant to cover many mysteries on many varied worlds, so you're essentially making a new setting for each adventure. It keeps the game lively but it does make some assistance appreciated. Go planet:

Chapter 10: Worlds are Stories

The chapter begins with its central piece of advice: build the details from the premise. Ashen Stars is about investigating problems and finding solutions, not soaking in the milieu and generations of backstory. Worlds should have the details they need to make the session work, and those details should come from the premise of the episode at hand.

Step one is to determine the premise and the twist, and state them simply. Then give the world a placeholder name yo keep the premise in the foreground as you do the rest. One of the examples is a contract to rescue a shipment of slaves (premise) who don't want to be rescued (twist) in a place that's given the placeholder name Slaveworld.

Step two is to invent the supporting details that make the premise work and the twist believable. There could be many reasons people in the Bleed could accept slavery. Maybe they were taken form somewhere terrible, or are serving somewhere paradisical, or it's a tenet of their nufaith, or there are hostages involved. The book's Slaveworld scenario features symbiotic microbes that manipulate their hosts to migrate to new worlds and accept the slavery of their hosts as a suitable means of transport.

Step three is another layer of details to provide color and depth. This is also a good place to start weaving in personal arcs. Their Slaveworld example has a rapidly chilling climate which motivates the microbes' manipulations. That could have been triggered by a superweapon used in the war. The residents saw the ice age they triggered as an inspiration for their new commitment to pacifism, but the twist will reveal the real cause. The last step is to dump the working title and make up the one the players will know it by.



This is an illustration of the "Warworld" example, so maybe that's the one I should have summarized instead.

There's also a shorter guide for building a world then finding the mystery in it, a process more familiar to RPGs. Make up an environment that would be fun to explore, see if any central mysteries pop out, and think of a reason the Lasers might have to brave its most dangerous areas. It's suggested to look for inspiration in astronomy news, classic science fiction stories, and things like that. The steps are still premise -> supporting details -> extrapolated details, but you're mixing up the order.

There are two details every world should have, their habitation class and polity class. Habitation class is determined by population. Settled planets have over a billion people, Populated planets have less, and Outpost planets have less than 100,000 residents. Uncleared planets are those where colonization is not recommended. Living there is legal, but violates safety regulations and may constitute "Gray Market Pioneering", which is a fantastic turn of phrase. Uninhabited planets are anywhere without permanent residents, not to be confused with the uninhabitable.

Polity Class describes how the government works, and therefore what rights Lasers have and what rules constrain them. Alien worlds are inhabited by sentient races that have never been part of the Combine. Affiliated planets are Combine members and subject to its laws. Autonomous planets have seceded form the Combine and there are more of them all the time. They might have any sort of government you can think of, from authoritarian plutocracies to digicratic utopias. Mixed planets host several governments that each have their own relationships with the Combine proper. You can guess what Ungoverned means, so let's move on.

In case you don't have time for all that, there are a few pages of one-line hooks to get the creativity flowing. Here are some select favorites:
-Choked by fast-growing vegetation
-Culture formerly subject to Durugh occupation replicates its old caste system even more stringently than they ever did
-Deceased members of the elite are mummified and treated as if still alive
-Famous attraction: floating forests
-Genetic or cybernetic modifications considered obscene and must be veiled in public
-Intolerant utterances punishable by lengthy prison sentences
-Locals are immune to its carcinogenic atmosphere, but visitors aren’t
-Main industry: information retrieval
-One night here instantly cures the worst sleep disorders
-Otherwise pacific society uses capital punishment of scapegoats to relieve social pressure
-People install the brainwave patterns of dead loved ones in their household pets
-Psionic radiation makes visitors slightly and distressingly telepathic
-Social custom requires the first answer to any question to be a lie; then you may ask again and get the truth
-Supposedly destroyed during the Utopian era, this planet was found in another system at the end of the war
-Synthworld where genetically modified “vampires” prey on and dominate “flocks” of ordinary, consenting humans, according to the rules of an elaborate game



Translight engines were fist invested because they look cool, their FTL properties were discovered later.

Next is a bit of assistance in selecting names. Explorers and surveyors named the systems of the Bleed after mythological figures from Human, Balla, and Tavak history, but settled planets usually rename themselves. Not everyone wants their home to be named for a nymph. They suggest choosing names as reminders of home, celebrated figures, abstract concepts, or lyrical images. Synthworlds should always have a name suggestive of their theme.

Now that you have a bunch of planets, it's time to talk about moving between them. Stellar navigation is all about using translight engines to slip into translight corridors, little fissures of spatial instability that permeate the galaxy. Determining just what the corridors are and where they came from is an exciting matter for Combine physicists, but we aren't playing as physicists so let's skip it. We do know they're in constant motion and fluctuation, so trips are never identical and navigators must stay up to date. The corridors are also unstable, even more so since the Mohilar damaged them to cripple the war effort. Basically all this means that your journeys will, in general, take exactly as long as the plot needs them to and the GM can point to this page if anyone complains that it's too arbitrary and it takes them out of the setting.




This map is of the various clusters of the Bleed. These maps are made based on how close together in approximate travel time worlds are, which is a function of the density of translight corridors. A map of their relationships in regular space would be wildly different and would not look like the same region of space at all. Clusters are defined by very dense networks of corridors making travel times short. Outzones lie between clusters and have relatively few corridors, slowing travel and making any worlds within remote, with all that entails for their economic issues and culture. There's a chart for approximate travel times, and players are free to test helm control to get somewhere in the minimum time. Players can also test Helm Control to get somewhere faster than another vessel when a race against time is in order.

Now we finally reach the title feature of the setting: The Ashen Stars Effect. Every once in a while sunspots appear over the entire surface of a sun and the sky seems to rapidly blink for a few seconds. All sorts of energy patterns are disrupted and strange occurrences can be triggered. The "renegade statistician Torus Ragan" has demonstrated a correlation between times of planetary crisis and the Ashen Stars effect, which is even stronger in cases where Lasers are performing survey actions or otherwise happen to be in the area. This is another example of the setting being a huge GM toolkit. The effect can be the focus of a storyarc, a license to handwave, or a signal that things are about to get weird.

Next Time: More aliens than a cantina scene

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


I know it's 300 years after when Ars Magica is set but I feel like the Munster Rebellion would be perfect for a German Ars Magica game.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012

SO EMBARRASSING





Rites, Merits, Flaws, and Appendix 2

The Rite of Comfort prevents a werewolf suffering Harano (werewolf depression, if you recall) from worsening their condition. This isn’t too bad. What is bad is that it redefines the mechanics of Harano for 1st edition. Basically, if a PC werewolf falls into Harano, the Storyteller by default gets to state that the character needs to do several self-destructive acts, solely at the ST’s discretion. The Storyteller also gets to decide how the PC actually gets out of Harano. Basically, if you get Harano, you might as well turn your character sheet in because RAW the Storyteller will play it for you. Harano gets actual mechanics in later editions.

Rite of Gaian Blood makes your blood vampire proof. Vampires won’t get nourishment from it and are repulsed by your presence. Cool! The Rite of Resolution is used before ritual combat, for instance during leadership or rank challenges. It prevents both werewolves engaging in the fight from frenzying. This is also cool, but is prohibitive at Level 4.

Rite of the Parted Veil makes a human permanently immune to Delirium. Kurieg was right about why the Children of Gaia weakness was bad. For the most part, Delirium is handwaved by the ST, since to actually prepare full stats for every human NPC is ridiculous, especially when the only time it will come into play is if a Child of Gaia is all by herself. Really, STs will decide on a character importance basis whether a human can remember a werewolf attack. Because Rites usually work on the story level, this is a much better rite. It needs to be performed three times, so it’s a big deal. You could use it to intimidate people, but that would be awful. :shh:
Incidentally, these Rites don’t actually describe how you perform them. Not only were the Black Furies’ and Bone Gnawers’ Rites fun and flavorful, they also had fun and flavorful methods for invoking them. That’s missing here, and it’s to the book’s detriment.


I guess they're all supposed to involve peace pipes.

The End Time Rite is a weird one. The werewolves involve dance for three days straight, and they see how their recent actions have affected the outcome of the Apocalypse, and how the Apocalypse will turn out. Most Children of Gaia believe that the world will be born anew after the Apocalypse, but most see that the next world will be really crappy. They want to fix that, but that means not trying to stop the Apocalypse, which is dumb.

The New World Trinity is the only new Totem in the book. It’s the three symbolic birds of the American Revolution: the Eagle, the Dove, and the Turkey. The Eagle represents the Adamsian notion of a warrior who fights to provide his children the opportunity to become philosophers. The Dove represents the Jeffersonian ideal of peaceful and free trade, of both goods and ideas. The Turkey represents the Franklinian ideal of being really weird and smart. They teach a few Gifts in return for treating everyone kindly and fairly. A really crappy totem.


Maybe Kane thought he was working on the Uktena book.

On to Fetishes. Truth Feather literally just teaches the Truth of Gaia Gift. The Fetish is Rank 2, and it teaches a Rank 1 Gift. :raise: The Goggles of Sight Beyond teaches the Sight Beyond Gift. Are we seeing a pattern? These are atrociously uninspired.

Gaia’s Ghost Shirt is a little bit better. It gives you extra soak, more if you refuse to attack. Furthermore, it renders the wearer fully immune to several direct attack Gifts. Decent, but way overpriced at Level 5.

Merits and Flaws! Burned Out means you’re tired of this poo poo. No mechanical penalty, it just gives you a free Merit point for roleplaying someone who’s tired of fighting things. Horn of the Unicorn gives you a free success on healing rolls. It’s not a real horn, though, because that would be interesting. Naïve is another flaw that means, well, you’re naïve. Again, no mechanical penalty, just a free point for your character concept. Along the same lines, Proselytizer means you like to convince people that you’re right. Finally, Supporter is a Merit that determines that you listen to people. It gives you -2 difficulty on all social rolls. This costs only 2 Merit points. These are all dumb.


Yep, Kane thought he was working on the Uktena book.

The second appendix gives us our sample characters and a summary of the Children of Gaia. They have to balance pacifism and violence! That’s all.

Wise Fool


Aww, look how happy he is!

quote:

I live for their laughter, even when they laugh at me. But I always have the last laugh, for they never realize they stopped fighting each other to laugh at me, and walked away as friends.
:unsmith: This is actually kind of sweet.

Growing up as a wolf, you learned the similarities between humans and wolves and what drives them apart despite these similarities. You believe that laughter is the best medicine, at least for strife. When things get too heavy or hostile, you lighten the mood by acting the fool. Your wide range of experiences help you understand the humor of both humans and wolves (wolves have a very German sense of humor). Everyone likes you due to your gregariousness. Your equipment includes juggling balls, string, a chew toy and a kite.

I really like this character! He’s the most basic Ragabash you can get, but that’s fine. It helps that he’s accessible, Most first time role-players are best served by adopting a snarker attitude, and this is closely related to that archetype. She obviously has high Charisma and Wits and he’s got good Dexterity besides, meaning he’s not useless in a fight. She has a good Abilities load out, with some dots in Brawl and Dodge. She’s put all his Backgrounds into Allies, which is appropriate. The only thing wrong with her sheet is that he’s bought up his Rage instead of his other stats. Still, this is great. She wins the Best Sample Character Badge for the book.

Supernatural Investigator


This reminds me of some old anime.

quote:

Do you really think that only the Garou are part of Gaia’s plan to save the world? Even the Garou cannot agree on the details of Gaia’s lan. So how can you be sure that many other creatures are not also part of the holy game of redemption?
:tinfoil:

From childhood your curiosity was legend. You’ve always had a sense that the world was filled with the paranormal. When you became a werewolf, your beliefs were finally vindicated and you finally had the tools to investigate the occult. You team up with Gangrel and they’ve inducted you into their search for a vampire turned human. On that journey, you’ve encountered all kinds of magical creatures, but all of them were concerned with either their own betterment or the betterment of the world. You advocate for vampires within the Children of Gaia, which is radical even for them. You’re slow to pass judgment, but once you find evil vampires you kill them quick.

I’m ambivalent about this concept. The sheet doesn’t help things. For some reason he’s focused on Social Attributes, although he has well rounded mental stats. His Abilities are all over the place, but he does focus on things that will help paranormal investigation. He’s chosen useful Gifts, but I don’t know why he’s taken Rites and not Contacts. As a Homid Theurge, he’s naturally bought up Gnosis. All in all, he’s perfectly playable, but his Prelude is a little too involved.

Anodyne


I can already tell she's going to be the worst.

quote:

Do you disdain me for the accident of my birth? Do you use the lofty perch aafforded by the accident of you birth to judge and condemn? Then “pure blood” must not make for a pure heart. (:iceburn:) The splendor of Gaia’s love can be found in the most base-born, even as it can be lacking in even the most high.
:qq:

After your parents tried to drown you, you were brought to the Children of Gaia. As a metis, no one likes you, but the Children of Gaia stick up for you. You have a unicorn horn deformity and you serve as a healer. As a Philodox, you attempt to enforce balance. Although you don’t command respect, you project authority. You teach by example.

Insufferable, and her Social Attributes reflect this. She focuses on Mental Attributes, but for some reason she’s bought up Stamina. She also has high Brawl and Melee, but very few points in Medicine. She does have a good Rituals score, though. She also bought a Mentor and put Background dots into Past Life, now known as Ancestors, which allows you to contact the spirits of the past. She’s also bought a fourth Gift for herself, although Resist Pain could easily have been let go. A lot of bad decisions here, and she easily earns the Worst Sample Character Badge for this book.

Umbral Traveler


:black101:

quote:

You make a truly convincing case that there is no hope. But I am here to tell you that I know for sure there is hope. Hope is a living being. I met her! No, really, it’s true. Two years ago, I was in the Legendary Realm. Sit and I’ll tell you the story.

This makes me wonder who she’s talking to, but it's honestly pretty cool. Your parents were famous kinfolk. During your Rite of Passage you tripped out and found Unicorn in the Umbra. You partied with her for a bit, and afterwards you stuck to the Umbra. There’s a ton of cool poo poo there, and you want to find it all. You find stories there and relate them to everyone you meet. Your equipment includes an Uzi, flack jacket (sic), flashlight, grappling hook, and a stun gun, which is pretty badass.

New players have a hard time with Galliards and similar. It requires a lot of innate social ability, and as we all know that’s hard to come by. This character adds tons hooks to get players to open up when playing a Galliard, and that is awesome. Her sheet doesn’t deliver on this promise, though. She has Social Attributes bought up, even though her equipment and role suggests she’d be better served with Physical Attributes. She has no dots in Firearms, which is insane, so she can’t even use her Uzi (not that she can hold it with 2 Strength). Persusasion and Mindspeak are unsuited to Umbra partying. She does have Ancestors, but she’s spent most of her backgrounds on a Fetish from the Atrocity Realm that renders her immune to possession and makes it more difficult for her to frenzy. She’s more suited to a leadership role, which I guess is workable (she can lead exploration parties into the Umbra), but I prefer the character suggested in her writeup. I’m actually inspired to write my own Umbra explorer character.

Spirit Warrior


What! Doesn't he know that carrying two knives isn't mechanically optimal?

quote:

Wicked cur! You would kill all humans? You are a disgrace before Gaia. The world would be a better place without your hate. Stop your cruelty now or I will stop you.

:ughh: Like Batman, your parents were people who fought for social justice and killed by the people they tried to help. Also like Batman, you trained yourself since then to fight criminals. Being a werewolf really helps with that. Unlike Batman, you kill criminals, as well as incalcitrant Garou. Your equipment includes a lot of weapons. Basically, think werewolf Batman.

Well this is straightforward. This character is all about combat. Tons of physical attributes and combat abilities make him pretty good at it too. Not much else to say!

I love these sample characters. Honestly, the last ten pages make a great tribebook all on their own. We get a much better sense of how to play as a Child of Gaia, including common values, abilities, and traits. From these characters, I actually want to play a Child of Gaia, which was inconceivable from before and after reading the tribebook. However, we still have one more appendix to go!

Next time: Of signature characters and Gron.

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 02:48 on Jul 4, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Germany was settled fairly early by the Romans, but it wasn't until the 10th century that population pressure caused the nobles to start clearing the ancient woodlands for settlements. The Swabian dukes and their monasteries were particularly prominent in settling the Black Forest, and for years, magi had been complaining about encroaching civilization threatening their vis sources and auras. It was not, however, until Durenmar itself was threatened that the Oak Gild got involved in the political motion to protect the woodlands. They feared the Rhine would go the way of the Roman Tribunal, losing most of its magic and faerie sites to the Dominion. Thus, at Tribunal in 1053, the Praeco made a pronouncement which was enshrined in the Peripheral Code.



By the late 10th century, the Order sought to expand eastward, and negotiatons were made between the Rhine, Transylvanian and Theban Tribunals that resulted in the founding of three covenants in Slavic land. Magi of Crintera and Rethra founded the covenant of Grand Silesia between the Oder and Warta rivers. By 1008, those covenants had formally shed their ties to their sponsors, forming the New Slavonic Tribunal. It was ill-timed, just as the Schism War was going, and vengeful Rhine magi attacked Grand Silesia, partially destroying it and sending the magi fleeing to other covenants. The fall of Grand Silesia left the New Slavonic Tribunal without Polish representation. In the Grand Tribunal of 1030, the Rhine Tribunal attempted to negotiate a change in borders, but was narrowly defeated. The Slavonic Tribunal's response was to push through a ruling giving their council authority over the settlement of all new covenants in Slavic lands. In 1052, the refugees of Grand Silesia were able to return to Poland, establishing the covenant of Leczyca, to reinforce that ruling's authority.

In 1067, the covenant Roznov was founded on the edge of the Carpathian mountains by three Ex Miscellanea magi. They could have chosen three different Tribunals, but the Rhine offered them support, persuading them to join the Rhine rather than the Transylvanian or the newly renamed Novgorod Tribunals. The Grand Tribunal of 1163 saw even more argument over the Polish border. The march of Frederick Barbarossa into Poland to put his candidate on the Polish throne proved perfect cover for the magi of Fengheld to claim certain Polish vis sources, and Fengheld argued that the border should be changed to reflect that. Despite the support of the three Primi within the Rhine borders, the Grand Tribunal conceded only ten miles of Polish land to the Rhine, barely enough for the new chapter house of Fengheld.

In the 12th century, a handful of western covenants formed the Apple Gild, seeking to push the limits of the Peripheral Code in relation to mundane dealings. In almost all cases, while these attempts led to temporary enrichment or influence among the nobles, they ended in disaster. The covenant Treverorum of the city of Trier was censured by Tribunal after the death of a Redcap and riots in that city. A full investigation followed, and most of the magi of Treverorum died in mysterious circumstances, leading the place to be abandoned. The archbishop of Trier then raised an army to sack the nearby covenant Rheinstein. The covenant Triamore has, perhaps due to greater savvy, managed to endure so far, despite siege, fire and murder. The destruction of Treverorum and Rheinstein are believed to potentially be related to a curse on the Rhine Gorge, an area rich in magic yet with no enduring covenants.

Eastward expansion having been stopped, the Rhine Tribunal looked north instead. With the goal of investigating the putative Order of Odin, long a bogeyman of the Order, they formed a covenant in 1144 named Oculus Septentrionalis, Eye of the North. Three magi joined it, were given resources and were sent north to find a proper site. Despite initial difficulties, in 1160 they had found a home in the town of Lubeck in the Baltics. They have since shown little interest in penetrating the Scandinavian lands, instead focusing on mercantile ventures that skirt Hermetic law. They are not the only northern covenant, however. Besides Crintera on the isle of Rugen, there is a Bjornaer covenant named Sinus Wodinis in Norway. It is presumably part of the Novgorod Tribunal, and its existence is known only to Crintera - and even that is new. Perhaps more interesting to Oculus Septentrionalis is the covenant Heorot, on the Danish isle Zealand. It was founded in 1215 by three Rhine magi, but because Zealand technically belongs to the Novgorod Tribunal, it didn't need to seek recognition. However, its magi plan to attend the 1221 Rhine Tribunal.

In the meantime, Crintera, the domus magna of Bjornaer on the isle Rugen, has existed for centuries in broad harmony with the few mundanes there. In 1168, however, the Danish king Valdemar I invaded Rugen, shocking the covenant. They argued about what to do, but ultimately did not retaliate for fear of Code breach, and have reluctantly retreated into their regio. This policy has not really been working, and the Tribunal as a whole has not aided Crintera. The situation is a powderkeg just waiting for a spark to ignite the rage of House Bjornaer.



Now, let's talk about the ranks of the Rhine. Lowest is the Apprentice, or discipulus. It's similar to the apprenticeship of magi elsewhere in most ways, and legally they are little more than slaves to their masters. However, an early Tribunal ruling states that all apprentices must spend at least one season learning at Durenmar in addition to any other studies. This continues the original tradition of going to study under Bonisagus himself. As a result, magi trained in the Rhine are far less likely to suffer from deficiencies or flaws in their Arts, due to being grounded in the basics of magic and, usually, Order politics. While at Durenmar, the apprentice may choose to train under and join a gild, and many do. It is customary for those who do not do so as apprentices to join a gild within seven years of their Gauntlet, but not compulsory.

Next up is the Journeyman, or tyro. The journeyman is freed from slavery by a special rite in the Rhine Tribunal, earning a Hermetic name and voting sigil and swearing the Oath of Hermes. Life isn't easy for journeymen. Many desire to form a new covenant, but because of the stringent requirements of the Tribunal, this can be hard. More often, they must join another covenant, perhaps as probationary members before receiving tenure. They may also become peregrinatores, wandering magi who rely on the laws of hospitality.

Then you have the Master, or magister. No magus has the right to be a master, and some never achieve the rank, especially those unconcerned with the opinions of peers. The rank can only be given by the will of three current Masters, who cannot be of the same covenant or House as the would-be Master, and who should all be of different gilds. This prevents nepotism. Some Masters give approval easier than others, and each has their own standards. In all cases, it is a mark of respect not given lightly, and often a would-be Master must perform services for the Tribunal. You can ask as many as you like for approval, which is given in the form of a physical token. Once you have three, you may immediately claim the rank and its privileges. The only other requirement, after all, is a reputation for skill, and no master would give their mark to someone without that. There are several methods of demonstrating that skill - writing excellent books, inventing spells of the fifth magnitude or higher that are somehow unusual or innovative, inventing a number of minor but closely related spells of some use, creating potent magic items of the fifth magnitude or greater of unusual or innovative power and so on. This is just an idea of what might work, and not enough in itself to earn the rank. It is rare to earn the rank less than 20 years after becoming a magus, and in the Rhine, only those of the rank of Master may take an apprentice. (Legally, journeymen can, but there are massive social pressures not to do so.) Further, a Master is given a single voting sigil of a retired magus to proxy. Further, in any dispute that could be resolved by certamen, a master automatically is considered the winner over any journeyman. (House Tremere hotly contests this ruling, though it was designed to stop them specifically back in the 9th century.)

Redcaps can achieve the rank of Master, but do so differently. Rather than magical skill, they must demonstrate loyal service and good reputation. A Redcap who serves diligently will have little trouble finding three sponsors, though a lazy Redcap will have much more trouble. Due to the relaxed requirements, Redcaps can earn the rank earlier than normal magi, typically only 15 to 20 years after their Gauntlet. This gives significant authority to the Tribunal's senior Redcaps, and so the status of Master is a matter of prestige for them just as for magi.

Archmage (or archimagus) is the only rank other than apprentice that is recognized by other Tribunals throughout the Order. It takes a lot longer to become an Archmage than a Master. You not only need the respect of other archmages by passing their challenges, but you must also complete some task that benefits the entire Order, and must display your mastery of the Arts by invention of a spell of the 7th magnitude. Most magi never reach archmage status, and many never try. There are about a dozen archmages in the Rhine Tribunal - more than any other Tribunal. Archmages of the Rhine are allowed two voting sigils of retired magi, and outrank masters in disputes just as masters outrank journeymen. The challenges of archmages are determined the first time they are asked for them, and then remain static for the rest of their lives. Urgen, for example, challenges all would-be archmages to assume animal form and then find him wherever he hides, which could be anywhere in Europe, and then defeat him in physical combat. You may only challenge a given archmage once, and no archmage may give the title to more than seven magi. After their seventh loss, they may no longer be challenged, and as this is seen as a disgrace, it is considered bad form to challenge an archmage who has lost six times. There are perhaps 80 archmages, total, in the entire Order. They are disproportionately Tremere, Flambeau and Tytalus. Some whisper that the archmagi meet regularly and secretly control the Order behind the scenes, but others laugh at this idea and say it is merely a title of recognition and respect.

The Rhine Tribunal's meetings are always held at Durenmar on the 1st of May, Walpurgis Night. They usually last a full week, and each gild holds a meeting in the three days beforehand. Even Durenmar cannot handle the numbers involved, so it becomes a tent city in that time, with each covenant setting up its own accomodations. Crintera traditionally holds the prime spot, but since they leave no marker, in theory another covenant could claim it...if they dared. Irencillia camps around an oak tree planted at their first Tribunal, which they usually arrive from inside, somehow. This all centers around the Forum of Hermes, an ampitheater with enough space for 120 magi. It is the site of Durenmar's council meetings, the Rhine Tribunal and the Grand Tribunal. The Forum has been home to some of the greatest debates and duels in Hermetic history, and is also home to the Mercere Portals to the other domus magnae and a handful of other covenants, as well as a strange arch made of living wood, the purpose of which has been forgotten. It is believed to be faerie in nature.



Next time: The gently caress is a Gild?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Given the practice of proxy sigils for retired magi and those in Final Twilight, it is perhaps unsurprising that voting in the Rhine Tribunal is a bit corrupt. It is expected that a magus will vote in the tradition of the magus whose sigil they bear, but not technically required. Murion, Prima of Bonisagus, bears the sigils of Bonisagus and Notatus, while Urgen holds that of Birna. Notably, however, it is the archmage Vinaria, not the Primus of Merinita, who holds the sigil of Merinita. Many liberal-minded magi and especially Quaesitores disapprove of the practice, arguing that it subverts the original intent of the Oath, but legally the retired magi are said to be casting their own votes, just via proxy, and so masters and archmages are expected to use those proxy votes wisely and according to the believed wishes of the magi they represent. Some magi have in fact been known to cast proxy votes against themselves, if they are particularly altruistic. This does mean that ancient covenants who have many masters have more political power, and new masters are often invited to the older covenants to help increase that power. This prevents young magi from having much voice, encouraging them to move to other Tribunals.



In the early Order, when there was only one Tribunal, Bonisagus was the Praeco, being both oldest and the original magus. Many later Tribunals followed suit in giving the title to the eldest magus. However, when Bonisagus died (or possibly just vanished), the Rhine took another tack: they gave it to the Primus of Bonisagus, seeing his successor as a worthy leader. (The first Primus of Bonisagus was, of course, Notatus.) This tradition has continued throughout the Order's history, and so the Praeco of the Rhine is not its eldest magus, but the Primus of Bonisagus, whoever that is.



Now then. Gilds. The magi of the Rhne Tribunal are formally divided into factions, known as gilds. They are political factions transcending House or covenant, and are so important that individual covenants rarely have single political agendas. When they do, it is because they are dominated by one gild. Covenant issues are exclusively short-term tactical ones, while the gilds dominate longterm strategy. There are six gilds with opposing agendas, which may explain why the Rhine Tribunal gets so little done and why the younger magi tend to be apathetic and resigned. Gilds are purely political, with little to no magical function. Magi are expected to vote along gild lines, but cannot be compelled to do so. Dissenters are, however, ostracized or victimized by their gild, or even expelled and hated in some cases. Leaving a gild is a risky thing - it marks a major change in your political views, earns you enemies and means that other Rhine magi probably won't trust you much. Membership is always public, if not widely known, and anyone can join any gild. Gild members are trained and taught by elders of the gild and can reasonably expect advice and assistance, as well as some level of mutual protection. All gilds forbid Wizard's War between members, and provide champions to defend against those from outside. Thus, Wizard's War is rare in the Rhine save against magi who lack allies or gild membership.

Currently there's only six gilds, but nothing prevents more from forming. By tradition, they are named for trees, in German rather than Latin. About a quarter of the Tribunal is Oak Gild and nearly a fifth are Linden Gild. Less than a tenth of the Tribunal has no gild. The remaining magi are divided among the other four, with the Hawthorn being smallest and the Apple the third largest.


The Eichengilde, or Oak Gild, is the largest, broadest and oldest gild. Their stated agenda is to restore the Rhine Tribunal (and therefore the Order) to its former glory, to respect the traditions and wisdom of the Founders, to encourage magi to respect their elders and leave a lasting legacy, and to shun the "wisdom" of those outside the Order. However, this broad agenda means the gild is somewhat ineffective, as it has no real coordinated strategy to achieve any of its goals. In practice, its main job is maintaining the status quo by tying up votes that might promote change. The leader of the Eichengilde is Murion, Prima of Bonisagus, and most of its members are older, more reserved magi. All Houses are represented, but most of the gild is Bonisagus, Guernicus or Tremere.


The Weissdorngilde, or Hawthorn Gild, is one of the eldest, along with the Ash and Oak. Its agenda is to protect the wild lands and creatures from mundanes, and to avoid all unnecessary contact with mundanes, to punish those who intrude on the wilderness and to promote understanding of the wild beasts. They are the smallest gild these days, with a waning influence opposed by the Elder Gild, which has similar interests but different focus, diluting the power of both. Urgen of Crintera leads the gild, which is primarily composed of Wilderist Bjornaer.


The Eschengilde, or Ash Gild, is led by Philippus Niger of Durenmar, and it believes magi should seek dominion over their lands, and that the Order should be more forthright with mundanes, not hiding in the wilderness. Oh, and it believes the Order of Odin should be destroyed utterly. That last item is not publically admitted to, but it is the prime focus of most of the gild's older members. It attracts the aggressive magi of Flambeau, Tremere and Tytalus, and while it is magically potent, it is not large enough to force its agenda, which skirts the edges of the Code.


The Holundergilde, or Elder Gild, was once part of the Hawthorn but split from them when House Merinita was refocused on the fae. They still believe in the sanctity of the wilderness, but concentrate solely on preserving the fae and promoting friendship between magus and faerie. Unsurprisingly, they are almost entirely Merinita, and virtually all of the magi in Irencillia and Dankmar are members. A very few Bjornaer of extreme Harmonist views belong, but most other Bjornaer mock them incessantly. The leader of the group is Iacob of Irencillia, and under his leadership, it has been secretly promoting a religion devised to return power to the fae, under the Order's guidance.


The Lindengilde, or Linden Gild, arose after the Schism War from the former magi of Fengheld, for the purpose of encouraging cooperation and trust between magi and covenants for mutual benefit and the peaceful resolution of disputes and conflicts. It is an altruistic and well-regarded but very weak gild, used as a go-between. They are often overlooked, but without their diplomacy, the Tribunal would surely have fractured long ago. Their leader is Occultes of Durenmar, and their membership is a mix of Mercere, Jerbiton, Verditius, Tremere and Bonisagus (particularly the Trianomae).


The Apfelgilde, or Apple Gild, believes magi should seek peace and friendship with mundanes and accept the mundane world, not hide from it. They also believe magi should help improve mundane lives through education and magic, and that magi should be humble before God. They are the youngest and weakest faction, but have substantial support from Oculus Septentrionalis, Triamore and Fengheld, and are beginning to make their presence known. They are led by three magi: Henri de Tours of Oculus Septentrionalis, Wilhelm Weiss of Fengheld and Daria la Gris of Triamore.



The clearest political division of the Tribunal is between those who are close to wilderness and those who prefer to live among mundanes. The Apple Gild are the embodiment of the mundane camp, with little interest in primeval power, while the Hawthorn and Elder Gilds stand on the other extreme. The Oak and Linden are in the middle, and the Ash will work with anyone who support their agenda of destroying the foes of the Order. The Oak are usually supported by either the Ash or Hawthorn, but not both at once except when united against the Apple. The Hawthorn and Elder Gilds are foes, though few others care about the Elder. The Lindens support the peaceful agenda of the Apples, especially against the Oak, Hawthorn and Ash, but they remain neutral in all other disputes.

The Rhine Tribunal has lost its dominance and even its status as a leader of the Order, but its age grants it respect. Plus, its size and the fact that it hosts the Grand Tribunal mean it can't be ignored. There is still tension with the Novgorod Tribunal, save among Bjornaer magi. The Rhine is friendly with the Greater Alps Tribunal, however, despite the Alpine sense of superior Roman traditions. The Bonisagus of the Rhine tend to wistfully admire the Roman traditions of the Alps, while the Bjornaer find them worthy of mockery. The Transylvanian Tribunal has futilely been trying to influence the Rhine for some time, and the Rhine, outside its Tremere, has little interest or influence in Translyvania.

Next time: The Forest Spirits

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Back when the Romans first arrived, they found a huge forest, which they named the Hercynian Forest. It was unlike anything they'd seen before, and that scared them. They set about trying to tame it, finding that even the men who lived there had not. The Cult of Mercury found a great power within that forest, and so they built a temple at the future site of Durenmar, where they tried to control the power. They failed, as it resisted them, and they worried that perhaps it might be turned against them. The Mercurians guided the legions to construct the limes, a line of defensive forts supported by magic along the northern edge of empire. Roads carried the magic to each fort, empowering them against the Germans. In the centuries since, with the aid of the Roman foundation, man has been able to pierce the depths of the forests. Now there are towns and cities. And yet it was not until the miraculous felling of the Donar Oak by Saint Boniface in the heart of the Hercynian Forest that its spirit was subdued and fragmented. And yet, it has still resisted. Since the time of Charlemagne, fewer towns have been settled. Despite the efforts of the German rulers, the forests are not much smaller than they were centuries ago. This resistance, as the Roman sorcerers knew and feared, comes from a vast primeval spirit of the forests, a spirit of growth and expansion that rivaled the Roman Empire. However, the Cult of Mercury fragmented it from one spirit into many weaker spirits, the genii loci that embody the remaining forests. Each has a substantial portion of the original spirit's power, yet is vastly more limited in scope.

The spirit of the Hercynian Forest drew its power from the Magic realm, a reflection of the ideal forest. Some magi even suggest it was the Garden of Eden, the first emanation of the Divine Forest of Heaven. However, between the Cult of Mercury and Saint Boniface, the primal spirit became many magic spirits, and four fates await them. Some genii loci are strong enough to survive against the mundanes and Dominion. These give rise to magical forests. Some are too small to control the woodlands or have their strength sapped by auras. These dissolve, leaving a mundane forest. Some of those dissolving spirits are replaced by other supernatural beings, giving rise to the faerie forests or the divine or infernal forests. Lastly, sometimes the spirit reaches alliance, making a pact with or possessing another supernatural being to empower itself. This results in forests that are a mix of realms.

All genii loci of the forests are potent spirits, for the weak are destroyed. They may sense everything within their bounds, for they are the forest, and may manifest by temporarily empowering the beasts and plants of the wood and controlling them. Further, all forest spirits produce vis in their forests, in many forms, both vegetative and animal, or even in the earth and water of the forest. Some forest spirits can control the weather, curse those that anger them, grant power to those they like, guide people to locations, heal people or animals, possess human beings, enforce oaths sworn in their bounds, create or maintain regiones, lock areas away from intruders or even slow the flow of time.

One of the stranger alliances has resulted in the Seasonal Courts, four faerie woodlands tied to the seasons. Those who know of them believe they may once have been one spirit, perhaps as potent as that of the Black Forest, which somehow splintered. None of the fragments could survive on their own, so they each entered alliance with a faerie lord, and are now bound in a yearly drama in which each tries to become dominant. In the north is King Holly, whom some link to the Wyld Hunt, though his form is very different than that of the Hunt's leader. King Holly is a rebellious faerie of winter who dislikes the forest spirit, so he rules his forest with an iron fist. In December, King Holly slays King Oak when he is at his weakest, while the Alder PRince and Willow Maiden are evenly matched, and the Prince's wooing of the Maiden is failing. The Alder Prince rules the west, a secretive manipulator who prefers those in his forest not to know there are any faeries there. His strength is spring. The Alder Prince lied to the forest spirit, so it possessed him instead, leading him to even more passivity, though he is a bening and friendly faerie, really. In January, his wooing of the Willow Maiden begins to work, and by March, he heals her malice with his love and she vanishes into the Willow Forest. King Holly and King Oak are deadlocked now, each unable to defeat the other.

King Oak rules the southern wood, and has made true alliance with his spirit. He is a generous king of summer, willing to treat visitors well, yet touchy over matters of honor and easily offended. Oh, and very literal. He is a military faerie surrounded by whimsical courtiers, which annoys him to no end. By April, he is defeating King Holly more than he is defeated, and in June, he captures King Holly and imprisons him in the heart of the Holly Forest. The Willow Maiden's machinations in this time have no effect on the Alder Prince. The Willow Maiden rules the east, gaining power with autumn. She seems as generous as King Oak, yet every gift has a price. She made a deal with the forest spirit, but it came off much the worse for it, and she has almost total control of her forest. She is manipulative and political, obsessed with her rival, the Alder Prince. Her court is beautiful in all ways. In July, the Alder Prince is beginning to fall for her advances and enchantment, and by September he is entrapped into marriage and then drowned by the Willow Maiden, to be reborn in the Alder Wood. King Holly and King Oak become locked in stalemate until October, when King Oak begins to be driven back again.

There is a reason, incidentally, that the Cult of Mercury so wanted to tame the Hercynian Forest. The same reason Saint Boniface cut down the Donar Oak and the same reason Bonisagus went to Durenmar. The primal power of the forest is a direct link to the Magic realm. To Saint Boniface, this was a threat to the dominion of God. To Bonisagus, it was a wellspring waiting to be tapped. And there are some of House Bonisagus who say that his theory of magic was never finished, which is why the Lesser Limits exist. Some seek to finish that work. And once a magus realizes the power of the forests, they can pursue that power. It is dangerous, for Hermetic training never covers it, and it can scar you deeply. And only House Bjornaer knows much about any of the forest's paths, and perhaps some of Merinita. Beyond that, no one can show you the way, and each path must be walked alone. They are more dangerous, then, than mystery cults. Some hedge wizards have walked the forest paths and may teach you, and even a mundane can gain power from it, but such mundanes often become possessed by the forest spirits.

Every Path begins with same first step: learning the lore of the forest somehow. Once you understand the Forest Lore, you can begin seeking true power. And yes, it is entirely possible to learn the Forest Lore without knowing it - perhaps all you sought was knowledge of Herbam and study of the forest - or even just knowledge of how to survive in the woodlands. Once you have some Forest Lore, though, you can find a path, and must decide which to follow. From there, you must commune with a genius locus in its place of power (which happens by accident only rarely). Once you form a pact with the spirit, it will ask a sacrifice and a task of you - much like a Mystery initiation, really. This is called the Sacrifice and the Quest. When you complete them, you receive the Fruit, just as if you had been initiated. Some forests even demand you become a Guardian, swearing fealty to them and forever protecting them. Such magi are rarely seen again at Tribunal, for they do not leave their woods.


Why yes, the Merinita nature cult does have a broader form of this trick.

The first known path is the Path of Aging, discovered by Alexander of Jerbiton, who sought a path that would reverse the effects of time on his parens, who had been cursed to age at twice the normal rate. He was required to pluck out his own eye to prove himself, and then had to complete a longevity ritual using rare forest ingredients and a blood sacrifice. In return, Alexander was able to slow the apparent (but not actual) aging of his parens, though most on the path will receive a Magical Focus in Aging. The second sacrifice was to give up the ease of his own longevity rituals, then sought out the miraculous Fountain of Youth, to drink of it and gain its power. Tragically, his parens died before his return, though he had found the secret he sought. Grief-stricken, he returned to the woods and was never seen again. Those who would follow his path gain the Immortality of the Forest, becoming linked to their forest. While within it, they do not age, at the cost of minor Warping each year.

Then there is the mysterious Path of Energy, harnessed by Terious of Flambeau to learn how to replenish fatigue from the forest's power. He eventually become a living embodiment of the genius locus, and invented a spell that no one has ever been able to cast except him. It's in the Great Library of Durenmar, but no one can understand it. He was only able to reach it by profound and Warping experiences that sought to return him to a primal form, and in doing so, he lost much control over his magic.



Then there is the Path of Warping, sought by Kleon of Criamon in the Thuringian Forest. He surrounded himself with magic, warping himself and sacrificing his own health in order to gain a true understanding of House Criamon's Enigmatic Wisdom. Then, he further conducted dangerous experiments, living himself prone to Twilightand, it is said, trapping a magus opposed to the forest in Twilight forever. In so doing, he achieved Twilight Mastery, yet was so warped by the end that he never got to use much of it, and probably entered Final Twilight shortly after. Those who gain Twilight Mastery are able to control the Twilights they enter, rather than suffering the whim of the universe (and GM). They may still have bad experiences, but it is the player that choose what results, not the GM. Further, they may induce warping in those they touch.

House Bjornaer knows and his systemized the Path of the Heartbeast, and we covered that in the MYstery Houses. Many of House Merinita speak of the Arcadian Path, but most do so metaphorically. However, Serrifuloria of Merinita sought a path to the primeval Arcadian forests and discovered the Arcadian Path on the Alpine slopes. She had to strip herself of emotion and the ability to bond strongly with people, then had to cause a faerie to suffer and display unaccustomed emotion. In return, she gained a Magical Focus on emotions. Then, she had to strip herself of power, weakening her magic resistance when feeling emotion, and had to create magical jewels to hold the core of her emotions, those she was unable to strip earlier. In return, she was granted the power to break the Limit of True Feeling, becoming a Thief of Emotions. Those who achieve this height gain the power of emotion theft, allowing them to remove even True feelings from their victims and giving them to others, though the original feelings may return int time. However, even this power cannot touch True Faith.

Anyway, off to the Rhine river! The city of Worms contains the largest Jewish settlement in Germany. It's really quite big, despite the legal persecution of Jews. (All Jewish men aged 7 or older must wear a cloth badge identifying themselves as Jews with the image of a circle or wheel. Jews are often blamed for problems, and especially when new Crusades begin, they are the subject of pogroms. Still, the Bishops currently protect them, so in theory when that isn't happening they are slightly better off in the Holy Roman Empire than elsewhere.) On off to the Upper Lorraine region, you can find the Sanctuary of Hercules, an isolated cave that was once used by the Gauls to worship the god Ogmios, whom the Romans identified with Hercules, building a shrine. Many prayed there, and even now, it has a notable Magic aura.

Next time: More Germany

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

We're off to the Lower Rhine, home to Cologne! Cologne is said to be watched over by Saint Ursula and is home to the relics of the Three Magi of the Bible. It is ruled by Archbishop Engelbert I, renowned for his justice and virtue in the songs of the minstrel Walther von der Vogelweide. History shows that he will be martyred in 1225. There's also the Schwanenburg, named for the Knight of the Swan. See, a long time ago, the duke of Brabant died, leaving the widow Elsa. It was not long before a rebellious vassal, Telramund, sought to claim both Elsa and the dukedom, and Elsa begged her knights to fight him. Telramund swore to face any man in single combat, but none came forward, for he was very skilled. In despair, Elsa prayed, and a barge came upriver, drawn by a swan and bearing a golden-haired knight. The knight defeated Telramund and married Elsa, but only on the condition that she never ask his name or origin. She kept that promise for years, until, thinking of the pride of her sons, she could wait no longer and asked. The knight, overcome with grief, bid his wife farewell and went down to the Rhine and blew his horn, sailing off on the swan-pulled barge. Elsa died of grief shortly after. This is the legend of Lohengrin, the golden knight, and is told in the poem Parzival, among other tales.



On to the Black Forest! It is the largest forest in western Europe, a sinister faerie woodland almost untouched by man. Bockmen, goblins and other sinister creatures live within, and legend tells of the King of the Black Mountain who rules over it all, a dark faerie lord of the highest peak. None have seen him and lived, and those who stray too far tend to vanish. Those who live in the Black Forest are said to be half-fae themselves. Despite the dangers, though, there are a few monasteries, as the seclusion is appealing to the religious.




Errata chopped King Fir down to Might 60.


And this one down to Might 50.

The Black Forest is also home to the covenant Durenmar, of which we've spoken before. It has weakened following the Schism War, due to a mix of loss of resources and a few succesful prosecutions against them. They have been in decline for some time, though they remain quite powerful. Durenmar is also home to the Black Fir, the most succesful attempt on the covenant by King Fir. Most magi do not worry about it, and just harvest its pinecones for Perdo vis, but it has been growing for over two centuries, pushing towards the Tower of Bonisagus. When it reaches it...well, something almost certainly very bad and very powerful will happen. The King of the Black Mountain has been at this plan for a while.

Incidentally, anyone can, for a fee, study in the Great Library of Durenmar, one of the finest in the entire Order. Donation of a new spell or tome will earn two seasons of study, while working to copy books for a season buys one season of study. A donation of sufficient vis will also buy a season of study. All members of House Bonisagus may study there freely, as can anyone who simply wants to look over lab notes or Tribunal records rather than books. Nearby is the Fane of the Founders, a secret site visited by twelve magi, one from each House, every seven years. The site predates the Order - it was used by Rome as a site for signing truces. It grants clear thought to those in it and is a vis supply for the twelve that use it for their septannual ritual. Everyone in Durenmar knows it exists, but only those twelve have ever been able to find it. Some say the Fane is home to Hermes, or a faerie pretending to be Hermes, who exacts service in exchange for knowledge. The truth, however, is that the Fane is the site of the ritual that binds the genius locus of the Black Forest, binding it in stone and allowing its power to be harnessed by Durenmar and the Order.

In a rather disappointing turn, we also get the creepiest bit of Ars Magica writing I've ever read: Durenmar is home to an otherwise mediocre magus by the name of Petrus Virilis of Bonisagus, noteworthy for only one trait: his semen is a source of vis, for no reason he can understand. (Some blame his parens, Susanna, who was obsessed with magic and fertility, and was very liberal-minded.) He has been convinced to participate in an experiment in which he fathered a child, who proved to have the Gift. (The boy is now the apprentice of another Durenmar magus, Tandaline.) He has fathered four other children on orders of Murion, Prima of Bonisagus, all of which have been Gifted and all, due to a Twilight Scar left on the area by Philippus Niger, boys. (Anywhere that Phillipus Niger lives for more than a year has only male children born in its boundaries.) However, Petrus is actually very uninterested in sex and quite nervous around women, perhaps due to his time under Susanna, and he has no actual interest in fathering more children. He'd prefer to just keep his vis for his own use and never discuss where it comes from, ever, but Durenmar considers his..."talent" too much to waste, even though they can't prove that his five Gifted sons are anything but luck. He's had several letters of interest from enterprising young female magi, which he has no interest in whatsoever. He plans to perform a longevity ritual that will probably render him infertile. Were Murion to learn of this, she would be outraged, since she has declared his...talent too important for the House to lose.

There is also the covenant Dankmar nearby, home to the magus Schadrit, who is a truly ancient woman who was once apprentice to Aschlaranda, the last known magus of the destroyed covenant of Waldherz. She is nearly 200 years old now, a withered hag with an expertise in faerie magic unmatched outside House Merinita. She is, perhaps, the only non-Merinita to practice the House's unique Faerie magics. She is a malicious, evil hag who rules Dankmar with an iron fist. All but one of the magi of Dankmar, in fact, are extremely unpleasant people who work with the local dark faeries to study faerie magic, Mentem and nature.





Now, the Lowlands! The Lowlands are home to Waddenzee, a covenant of pirates in the North Sea that skirt the edge of Hermetic law. They are based off the island of Terschelling, later renaming the place to Waddenzee. They are very young and spend most of their time raiding merchant vessels with their two normal ships and the stolen magical ship Nebelkonigin. They keep their activities technically legal by never attacking magi and ensuring that no witnesses ever survive. (That was how they got their ship, which was stolen from Oculus Septentrionalis.) They tread a fine line, and when they finally do break the Code, no one will defend them.


Errata has weakened the Ash of Nortorf down to Might 10, with a max of 40.

Next time: Even more Germany

Captain Hats
Jan 6, 2009

ELF


EVERWAY: CHARACTER CREATION

Man, it's been a while. To catch up the people who have forgotten everything about Everway, which I'm guessing is most of you:

Everway features countless fantastic worlds, gods, goblins, dragons, you wander around having adventures, yadda yadda yadda. It's all a bit bland really, but now we get to the meat of the system, character creation. Character creation takes place in six steps: Vision, Identity, Powers, Elements, Magic and Questions. In order:

VISION is where you develop the general concept of your hero. It starts out by saying that the GM or players develop the general premise for the story, then the players build characters around that, which is nice. You're also told to take five vision cards (Cards with pretty pictures on them) to develop an idea and background for your hero

IDENTITY is where you define your hero a bit more, by choosing a Name, Motive, Virtue, Fault and Fate. Names are important and powerful in the multiverse of Everway, about two entire pages are devoted to how to pick a good one. Motive is fairly self explanatory, while your Virtue, Fault and Fate are cards from the Fortune Deck (An in-universe item and also the main conflict resolution mechanic) used to represent a heroes special strength, their crippling flaw, and what destiny they must face.

POWERS, ELEMENTS and MAGIC are all assigning points to various traits, we'll get to those when we actually build a character.

QUESTIONS is where you and the other players ask questions about each others characters to better understand yourself and your companions. Not a bad idea.

So, in truest FATAL and Friends tradition, we're going to make a character based on fan submission. Give me five images with a backstory and description of abilities, a name, a motive and some thoughts on virtue, fault and fate, and I'll fill in the rest.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Countersurveillance and Groups

You want to beat surveillance. At least, unless your group is made up of law-abiding citizens who do absolutely nothing secretive or illicit, which is possible, but most people in this game wanna play hackers and spies and space-Yakuza, so you wanna beat the system. Here's how!

    1. PRIVACY MODE ON JACKASS! When you're on an Op don't loving update your goddamn space-Facebook! Don't make any records you don't have to of what the gently caress you're doing. Log off of all your accounts. Set your Mesh status to private so that people can't e-mail you in the middle of a stealth mission, etc. And sure as poo poo don't record an XP so that you can sell it for hot cash later!

    2. Maintain a Cover ID. It helps to have one “normal civilian” persona and an “Agent provocateur” one, so that your neighbors don't start wondering where you disappear to all the time and why you always come back in a different morph. So, set aside a set of online personas, a morph or two, a stable residence, and an excuse to dissapear for long periods of time to use as your “off the job” ID.

    3. Physical Privacy Saves Morphs. Yeah, all the cyber-poo poo you do doesn't trick security cameras and microphones. The main thing to do is swap morphs as often as possible, so that your actions are never associated with a single appearance. If the habitat allows it, privacy shrouds are really nice to have. They're a type of clothing that block sensors, and are mainly used by celebrities to dodge paperazzi. For covert communication, direct line laser communicators are good, and a fiber-optic link is best. Yeah, the best way to talk to someone is just to plug your brains together like a couple of gameboys.

    4. FAKE IDS FAKE IDS FAKE IDS seriously get a FAKE ID. A cheap one will do short-term, but it's pretty obvious due to the fact that cheap IDs are just paper, with no history or previous long-term data to give them legitimacy. A real proper ID comes with a full history, including financial transactions, credit reports, and a rep score. These are set up by networks of AIs, puppetnets, and maybe even a sleeved morph or two for physical evidence, and cost a good lot of cash.

    Another way is to pretend to be an Infugee, basically starting fresh from the Fall. This method is drat-near foolproof and gets you a full, near perfect, ID. The problem is that this requires you to literally start again brand spanking new as an infomorph and work your way up. It's a massive timesink and a pain in the rear end taking months or years to get rolling again.

    You could also just get someone elses. Some infugees are more than happy to sell their IDs to you, cause poo poo, they ain't got nothing anyway. Same for criminals and other less-than-savory types who'd like a fresh start. Plus, if you've got someone on your tail you've just given them one hell of a red herring! Or you could just steal one, preferably of someone small and distant enough that a connection is unlikely and the poor schmuck doesn't get his life ruined.

    5. Know What You're Dealing With. Yeah, if you know what sort of surveillance you'll be dealing with, then you can do a hell of a lot to circumvent it. For a quick survey just ping the Mesh. Even if you can't access it, most devices will at least show up. You can also scan for radio signals and other radiation to pick up active sensors. But, the best thing is good old smartdust. A nanoswarm can covertly and quickly find everything in an area for you.



    6. Ghost that poo poo. Once you know where the sensors are, you can find their blind spots. Then, you can ghost them. Ghosting means to move through a surveyed area without being detected, so think Theif on Hard type poo poo. Honestly this is really loving hard and nearly impossible to do, so most people don't bother doing other stuff. It's easier in areas that are criminal-heavy, as Triads don't like getting watched very much either, and the Triads don't give a poo poo about you unless you're doing anti-Triady things.

    7.Give 'em the Raspberry! Smashing a sensor is lovely because then they know where you are and that someone doesn't want to be seen. Instead, jam and blind them. Radio jamming just works for Radar, but it can also gently caress up wireless signals. Mesh-jamming is a fancy term for a denial-of-service attack, mainly done through kaos AIs (in the gear section, so, later). Recording cameras and microphones can be hosed up by shining a bright light/ generating a ton of white noise. There's other ways, but they'll wait for the Gear chapter.

    8. Decepticons! Transform and RISE UP! Can't do any of the above? Trick them! Chameleon and invisibility cloaks are good for tricking cameras and good old people-eyes, as well as good old disguises. Quick switching morphs are also a good way to gently caress with surveillance, especially between two Synths. Synthmorphs can also pretend to be AI robots, or even hide a smaller synth or biomorph inside for the old Trojan Horse maneuver. And of course, Swarmanoids are just loving amazing at being sneaky. If you don't know what that is, think could of robo-flys.

    9. Hack the Planet! If all else fails, hack that poo poo and turn it off, or delete the recording, or swap in fake info, or just do anything you want. Don't try the old camera-looping trick though, AIs can spot that poo poo and shut your rear end down.

    10. Red Herring! Make red-herrings and scapegoats so that when the dogs come hunting, someone else gets bit first, letting you get out of dodge. While some random schmuck, or just a guy you really loving hate, make good choices a willing patsy makes everything better. Some guys will hire themselves out for it, forking themselves into disposable stooges. Or you could just do that yourself and let a beta fork take the bullet.

    11. People Still Suck. The biggest weakness in any surveillance system is the fact that even in 10AF people are people. Why do all that poo poo when you could just pay off the security chief to turn off the cameras for “routine maintenance”, or just go for the good old con-job.



Darkcasting

A thing of special notion. Darkcasts are illegal and untracable egocasts, allowing you to travel through the solar system without being traced. This means you can just “show up” at your destination instead of having to leave a paper-trail though customs. This does have some risks though. You are trusting your ego to some shady motherfucker who works for a crime cartel. There's no knowing you won't just wake up inside a neo-chimp ready for a good zoofight.

Groups and Factions

Notable organizations based upon surveillance and sousveillance and related fields.

Anon

Yes, it's Anonymous. As in the guys in the Guy Fawkes masks. Just like today, they claim to be hacktivists trying to improve the world, and sometimes they are, but mostly they're just annoying shitheads. Problem is now they have enough tech to be real goddamn trouble. To give you an idea:

“Anon” posted:

Did your pod morph get puppethacked, forcing you to masturbate furiously in front of an award ceremony crowd? Was your entire fleet of AI-piloted workbots infected with a narcoalgorithm, sparking an impromptu factory floor dance party? Were your romantic private communications with a mercurial lover exposed just in time to ruin your chances at re-election? Was the climax of your vampire MARG infiltrated by a flash mob of pink unicorn avatars with rainbow blasts that burned the highest-level undead characters to ash? Congratulations, you were punked by Anon.

Yeah, so gently caress these guys. Still, if you can wrangle them to your side, they can be a nasty weapon.

Datacide

Pro-privacy hackers and terrorists. They are dedicated to hacking into databases of all sorts and destroying all information present in it and its archives. They generally target marketing databases, information providers, private intelligence, and data collection firms.

Decepticons

Like Datacide, but instead of destruction, they use deception. They use a network of AIs, viruses, and worms to mass produce false information, filling databases across the system with lies and fake data. This can create chaos and major pains for anybody who relies on accurate information for their jobs, from newscasters to insurance agencies. Because so many of their attacks are automated, they have no set targets and end up hurting everyone equally.

Ego Union

A Fork civil rights organization. They run an “underground railroad” of darkcasts to move forks away from their originals and to set them up with their own identities.

Electronic Future Foundation

A civil liberties organization closely linked to the Argonauts. The EFF promotes privacy, transparency, and mesh security technologies. They are also leaders in the fights against infugee indentured servitude and to free infomorphs kept in offline storage or locked inside closed systems.

Hive Mind

Snopes meets Wikipedia. They use crowdsourcing to fact-check news reports, press releases, mesh rumors, urban legends, and scientific papers for validity. They also run multiple online information resources like the Solarchive project, Wikinews, and the Galactic Vid Archive. While Hive Mind is sometimes a victim of vandalism, they are generally considered to be reliable and many see them as the best source for information and the final word on the validity of data.

Mesh Leaks

An organization that provides a way for leakers to safely publicize information utilizing a network of encrypted submission and archival servers hidden throughout the solar system and connected by a darkcast VPN. Any information submitted is scrubbed of any identifying metadata or language, rigorously fact-checked by legions of volunteers from organizations like Hive Mind and the Argonauts, and published on public but hidden servers. They try and stay unbiased, but some smaller associated groups favor leaks that support a specific ideology.

The Source

Decentralized journalism source, that operates as a simple newsfeed with unrestrained submissions. A team of crowdsourced volunteers factcheck, tag, and rate the news based upon its importance before putting it on the feed. While operated as non-commercial and volunteer based, it often is in competition with the larger hypercorp owned media companies.

Spinternet

Mercenary propagandists. They specialize in astroturfing, public relations, information warfare, and general propaganda. Essentially the Hypercorp equivalent of Anon, Datacide, and the Decepticons.

Next Time: Habitats

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

We're heading to Holstein now, and to the city of Lubeck, the home to the covenant Oculus Septentrionalis. They are largely Jerbiton and have abandoned their original goals of fighting the Norse wizards. They have very little in the way of aura, but have been given a unique tool to replace it. There is considerable tension with nearby Crintera, as Crintera suspects Oculus of aiding the Danes in invading Rugen. Urgen of Bjornaer slew Prudentum of Jerbiton, the head of Oculus, in Wizard's War. They have only recently stopped fearing utter destruction when Urgen was replaced by Falke as the new leader of Crintera. The magi of Oculus are also extremely hostile to the pirates of Waddenzee, but have nowhere near the pirates' own military might.






Teutoburger Forest is down to Might 40 in errata.

Within Teutoburger Forest is a strange clearing, a former site of pagan worship in a jumbled mess of thirteen sandstone blocks. Some nearby caves were consecrated as a chapel in 1115, and a carving of the Descent of Christ from the Cross covers the foot of one of the bigger stones. Inside another stone, you may climb up across the chapel and find a window, through which the sun shines at sunrise on the summer solstice. Only a handful of hermits live there, but it has a potent Divine aura.

Off to central Germany! High in the Harz mountains live some secretive dwarf-creatures, most notably Gubich and Kropel. Gubich is a morose figure who lives in mossy caves, can control the weather and often summons storms or leads travelers astray. Kropel, conversely, is a friendly creature that often travels, hidden by his hat of fog. The highest mountain of Harz is the Brocken, one of the most potent faerie sites in Germany. At its peak lies a mass of granite blocks known as Witches' Altar, to which pagans come every Walpurgis Night for a great ritual to the goddess Walpurga, to help the summer spirits defeat the winter spirits. Walpurgis Night, the 30th of April, is even more vital to witches of Germany than All Hallow's Eve, and only the most potent witches may approach the Witches' Altar on that night. At other times of year, witches often meet there, and among magi it is known as a good place to find an apprentice. A nearby magical spring known as the Magic Fountain grants visions to drinkers, and a flower known as Sorcerer's Flower grows on Broken's slopes. It is known as a good vis source.



Deep in the northern Harz is a hidden cave with a magical aura. In that cave are the bones of primeval bears, which may be harvested for vis. These bones, teeth and hide scraps are from bears far larger than any in the Harz today, or at least any known to be in the Harz. The covenant Fengheld can also be found in the Harz mountains, and it is possibly even more potent politically these days than Durenmar. It has many daughter houses, with 12 magi in Fengheld itself and 11 in daughter houses. It is led by the archmage Stentorius of Tremere, though House Tremere no longer dominates it. It is also home to one of the two Mercer Houses of the Rhine, the other being Durenmar, and is the home of the senior Redcap.



Now, to Thuringia! There is a mountain in Thuringia, near the town of Zuschen, where the Devil often stood and watched in anger as the pious folk of nearby Neueburg happily built a church. As it neared completion, Satan's rage boiled over and he hurled a stone at the village, but it caught on his sleeve and veered, landing in a field. The Devil went to the field and wept on the rock, leaving three bloody stains. This stone is known as the Riesenstein, the Giant's Stone, and on All Hallow's Eve, the tearstains run anew with Ignem vis.


The Apple of Kyffhauser has been dropped to Might 45 by errata.



Now, onwards to Franconia. Franconia is home to the Odenwald forest and many cities, including Frankfurt, the young city of Nuremberg, Bamberg and Wimpfen. The Odenwald is notably infested by bandits along the eastern bank of the Rhine, and there have been waystation forts started along the Roman road through the forest. Nuremberg is notable for being home to the Kaiserburg, the Imperial Castle and unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. By tradition, it is where the Emperor's first Diet is held, including Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II. Each emperor has added on to the castle, trying to outdo the past. There is even a chapel, the Kaiserkapelle, reserved for the emperor's sole use. Also a note: only the smallest, least populous part of Bavaria, that which lies north of the Danube, belongs to the Rhine Tribunal, with the rest falling in the Greater Alps.


Dropped to Might 25 by errata.



Next time: The Eastern Marches and Bohemia

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Reading Panopticon always makes me wish someone would run a serious game of EP with the exsurgent virus removed from the setting, so that it's entirely about the politics. Keep Firewall as an organisation that exists to prevent another Fall and sources cell members across political borders, then have characters with radically different politics forced to work together to secure a TITAN MacGuffin only to invariably betray each other at the end in a scramble to secure the MacGuffin for their respective factions.

It would make a great one-shot.

e; I mean, it'd work fine with the stock EP setting, I just don't like the exsurgent virus. Tempted to make this as a con/introductory scenario with pregens once the FATE conversion kit comes out.

Lemon-Lime fucked around with this message at 22:19 on Jul 4, 2013

BattleMaster
Aug 14, 2000


Avast!

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Reading Panopticon always makes me wish someone would run a serious game of EP with the exsurgent virus removed from the setting, so that it's entirely about the politics. Keep Firewall as an organisation that exists to prevent another Fall and sources cell members across political borders, then have characters with radically different politics forced to work together to secure a TITAN MacGuffin only to invariably betray each other at the end in a scramble to secure the MacGuffin for their respective factions.

It would make a great one-shot.

e; I mean, it'd work fine with the stock EP setting, I just don't like the exsurgent virus. Tempted to make this as a con/introductory scenario with pregens once the FATE conversion kit comes out.

I have yet to actually run Eclipse Phase, but I found the corporate and civilian politics far more interesting than any of the "Space Call of Cthulhu" stuff. So I probably would run my games entirely the wrong way. :v:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

The lands from the east of the Elbe to the mighty Oder are the edge of civilization, full of legends of the Werwolfe, the Hexen and the Hunen - the werewolf, the witch and the giant. The dying remnants of Slavic paganism can still be found here, as Christianity was only introduced a little over two centuries ago. The local nobles tend not to have many rivalries, as there is so much land for the taking out here, provided you can clear the trees. Here, one can find the Baltic Sea, which is covered by frost each winter, ending trade. Early each spring, a ritual must be done to break the ice and the hold of the Queen of Winter. Currently, that ritual is done by Falke, Prima of Bjornaer, at the Slavic fortress-temple Arkona.

The covenant Heorot can be found in the Black Sea, though it is not technically yet part of the Rhine Tribunal. They are on the isle of Zealand, traditionally part of the Novgorod Tribunal, yet uninhabited for fear of the Order of Odin. The place is a bit of a legal gray area as a result. Most of the Rhine is looking forward to Heorot's move to join them, for they love to steal territory from Novgorod. The Novgorod Tribunal is unaware of the plans, for it has very few covenants, and all but one Polish covenant are over a thousand miles from Heorot. The primary opposition to Heorot, in fact, is from Crintera. Zealand is close to Rugen, and Crintera fears clashes over vis sources. Waddenzee is happy, though - Heorot will mean more victims. Heorot, as a note, is literally built on the ruins of the hall of Hrothgar, King of the Danes, who was terrorized by Grendel until Beowulf slew the monster. Unsurprisingly, they do have trouble with Grendel's troll-kin in the marshes.

The isle of Rugen, meanwhile, is home to the ancient Slavic temple-fortress of Arkona, where the four-faced sun and war god Svantovit was worshipped. The Faerie aura has yet to fade completely, despite the destruction of the temple by Bishop Absolon of Roskilde in 1169. Only two volkhvy of Svantovit survive here - an old man and his grandson. The elder is trying to teach all he knows to his descendant before his death, but the grandson has little interest in Svantovit, and he only follows his grandfather out of a sense of familial duty. Out by the sea is the cliff Kongistuhl, the King's Seat, a chalk cliff which, legend says, will grant right of kingship over the isle to anyone who climbs it and sits on the stone thrown atop the cliff. In 1168, when King Valdemar I took the isle, he first secretly climbed the Konigstuhl and sat on the throne. It is said this is why he took the isle so easily. It is not clear whether his successor, Valdemar II, has made the climb to legitimize his claim. So far, all those who wish to see the Danes gone have tried and failed to make the climb. Even one magus of Crintera has tried, falling to his death halfway up. It is unclear if the right to rule given by the Seat is Divine, pagan or faerie, or what exactly that right entails. Certainly, any who cheat or try to use magic to help them fall.

Also on the island is the Ziegensteine, the Goats' Stones - a pair of stone slabs under a great oak. The volkhvy of the Forest Brothers use it as a cemetary, and the stones are actually a pre-Hermetic gateway, one end of a faerie trod leading through a particularly nasty slice of Arcadia. Only a volkhv can open the gate, but they do often allow the magi of Crintera to use it. The gate's other terminus is not far from the covenant Pripet Major in the Novgorod Tribunal. The trip is one way, however - no one knows how to open the Russian end of the gate. We've covered Crintera itself, really, when we looked at House Bjornaer. They are notable for dividing their covenfolk into six clans, just as the House is, however. The Wolf Clan handle bodyguarding and servant work, the Bear Clan handle tasks of raw physical strength and are the fiercest warriors, the Horse Clan are horsemen and spearmen who maintain the stables and message work that Redcaps cannot handle, the Stag Clan oversee defense of the covenant itself and are the best soldiers of the grogs, the Eagle Clan are scouts, spies and archers, and the Swan Clan are crafters and those with supernatural powers. Several are volkhvy.

Now, to Pomerania!




Dropped to Might 35/20 from 45/30 in errata.

Now, Bohemia! Home of Prague, the largest slave market in western Europe. In fact, it's where the word 'slave' comes from. The city has spread across both banks of the river Vitava, and it is the center of Bohemia. It has a small Jewish quarter and is renowned for cheap glassware. Nearby, there is the Vysehrad Rock. Here, Princess Libuse, the Gifted granddaughter of the legendary king Czech, the forefather of the rulers of Bohemia, had a great vision. Her father, Krok, had died without male heir, and the people had agreed that whoever she chose as husband would be king. Here at this rock, she foresaw it would be a farmer from a specific spot near the river Belina, where he would be plowing with two oxen. The prophecy was fulfilled by the farmer Premysl, who became Libuse's husband and the founder of the ruling dynasty.



Bohemia is also home to the covenant Irencillia, which we discussed in the House Merinita part of the Houses of Hermes. Contrary to current belief, Merinita herself never lived there - it was founded by Quendalon. The place appears exactly as any viewer expects it to - or, for groups with mixed expectations, a strange mix of those expectations. Those who do not know it's there see nothing. This is caused by a faerie glamour on the covenant, which literally does cause different experiences for different viewers. It is more than mere visual illusion. It is thus impossible to map the place, since each viewer perceives it differently.



There is a dual culture of both magi and fae in Irencillia, and each magus has a faerie counterpart. They need not resemble each other closely, but usually share one notable characteristic at least. The magi call these doubles 'caricatures' and soon learn to ignore them. Anyone who lives at Irencillia more than a season gets a caricature, and many find the entire process very spooky. Once the magus dies or leaves, the caricature returns to the faceless ranks of faerie servants. Your status at Irencillia determines the maximum power of your caricature, and those who actively attempt to get closer to their caricatures often find the caricature getting closer in demeanor and appearance to them, to the point of becoming an Arcane Connection. Fun fact: while Handri, the Primus of Merinita, has a caricature (the local faerie king), the former Prima, Vinaria, has not gained once since her return. Handri is terrified of her because he senses an inner power within her that she never had before her vanishing, and because she has no caricature.


Iacob is Handri's filius, and his goal is to empower the fae with this religion. Were the Quaesitores to learn of this, they would be very unhappy indeed. The crow is Nestor, Iacob's caricature and constant companion.

Now we had to Moravia, the eastern March of Bohemia. Near the castle town Brunn (or Brno), a dragon used to live in a cave, devouring the locals. The town council offered a great reward for its death, but none know how to get rid of the dragon. One day, a travelling butcher stopped by and told them he could do it, if they gave him an ox pelt and a sack of lime. They were dubious, but gave the butcher what he asked for. The butcher sewed the lime into the pelt and took it away, laying the bait out for the dragon, which ate the pelt and lime, then washed it down with river water. The lime boiled up in the water, bursting the dragon's stomach and killing it. The butcher claimed his reward and left. No one knows if he was secretly a wizard or just a plain butcher. The carcass of the dragon was stuffed and now hangs in the town hall.

On the Hungarian border is the covenant Roznov, fully half of whose magi are priests of the Slavic god Radegast. The other half is Tremere. The two halves of the covenant seem entirely independent, though their political goals often coincide, and it is not rare for one half to not know what the other is scheming except via third parties. They are not fully trusted by most Rhine magi, as the Tremere half is strongly tied to the Transylvanian Tribunal. Were the Tremere half to learn of the human sacrifice practiced by the Radegastian half, they would likely be outraged unless they had a shockingly good reason to stay quiet. See, on Mount Radhost, the Radegast priesthood holds a festival on the summer solstice, collecting a lot of vis from it. However, they seize a few celebrants each year, witnessed only by the most loyal servants of the head of their priesthood, Igor Rastvan, and ritually murder them. Most covenfolk, however, can guess why a few disappear each summer. The blood is harvested from the sacrifices for Corpus vis. Radegast, incidentally, is a god of chieftainship, harvest and war.

Next time: The Lost Covenant of Fenistal

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



BattleMaster posted:

I have yet to actually run Eclipse Phase, but I found the corporate and civilian politics far more interesting than any of the "Space Call of Cthulhu" stuff. So I probably would run my games entirely the wrong way. :v:

This is 100% a totally right way to play. All the horror elements are totally optional, and despite what the books imply TITAN stuff and Exsurgency are really rare, unless you go poking into the TITAN exclusion zones. Remeber, the books are written assuming you're Firewall, there's nothing saying you can't be and the character creation doesn't even consider it beyond assuming you're a badass at whatever you do. Plus, it helps to think of Exsurgency as sort of like the mutations in the STALKER games combined with John Carpeter's The Thing plus the Snow Crash virus, which frees up a lot of possibilities for stories that someone just thinking of it as SPACE ZOMBIES/CTHULHU wouldn't have. Also, there's quite a few... interesting interpretations of exsurgency that'll show up later.

EDIT: Hell, one of my favorite ideas is running an Overwatch campaign. I'll cover them in Sunward, but think if the IRS and CIA fused together. When you have a government based on business, you are very very serious about finance law.

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 23:19 on Jul 4, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Back when House Merinita was in the midst of its civil war, the original home of the House was the covenant Fenistal. It was abandoned, and most of the losers sought shelter in House Bjornaer and eventually died out. However, contrary to popular Order belief, the losers did not fully perish. Some rejected the Order entirely, reasoning that the Order had failed in its primary goal: protecting its members from aggression. If the First Tribunal had intervened, which they argued it was set up to do, then Myanar would never have died and the war would have never happened. They therefore turned their back on the Order entirely, going into hiding and, ever since, stockpiling magic.


Any, all or none of this may be true.



The End!

Next time, we cover the Transylvanian Tribunal.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


This is the second book in this thread that has detailed stats for magic trees, which suggests the writer of Rifts: England must have done some research.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal

The Transylvanian Tribunal book is a bit oddly organized. History isn't first. We do get a note: there are very few legal covenants in the Tribunal, and there will not be more. However, Transylvanian magi organize instead by oppida, camps. An oppida is like a covenant in most ways, except legally. They are independent groups, and may consist of members of multiple covenants, which in Transylvania are more classes of citizenship than any form of allegiance. They have no affiliations with each other, as House Tremere finds Hermetic feudalism to be a politically incomprehensible and wrongheaded idea.

Transylvania is the center of Tremere power, and for the magi of the Tribunal, it is a demonstration of the Tremere ethos, an example of how House Tremere believes magi should approach the world. They have designed it as a blueprint for a better world. This may sound idealistic, but the Tremere are pragmatists, patient beyond measure, and they don't feel that the Tribunal is finished, though it is by far the best way of living they've been able to implement. The Tremere believe that life is far harder on the average magus, or even the average peasant, than it has to be. Childish magi and petty nobles make things worse for everyone continually, if gradually. By working together, magi can halt the advance of chaos, but it won't be a fast proposition. Throuch centuries of struggle, House Tremere believes it can design the perfect society for human achievement, wearing down the vapid, greedy and ignorant. It will take generations. It will require heart-wrenching sacrifice. It will take terrible, terrible action. And in Transylvania, it has begun.

House Tremere's ethos affects all of the Tribunal. They are the core of the Order's military in crisis, and the most credible threat that can be used for the enforcement of the Code. Some magi see them as the guarantor of the Order's stability. Of course, the Tremere capability to threaten entire covenants makes some covenants hostile to them. The House does not station members in Tribunals where they would be unwelcome, and so there are few Tremere in the Greater Alps, Normandy, Theban and Novgorod Tribunals. This concentrates force in Transylvania, making the neighboring Tribunals cautious. To ensure their ability to respond to crises, Tremere maintain many resources and chains of logistics, even in peacetime.



House Tremere also cares quite a lot about good communications. They are strongest when acting together, which requires an excellent communications network. It is obvious to them that any foe would attempt to disrupt that so they have multiple, independent networks, with contingencies for lost contact. They use Redcaps for non-secret communications, and find them useful for carrying the ideas that reinforce Transylvanian culture. They are more than mail carriers - they are disseminators of art, news and propaganda. House Tremere would love there to be far more Redcaps than there currently are, in fact, which can cause tension with House Mercere. They also want the resources of the Tribunal to be fully utilized as efficiently as possible, and so they have a vexillation of magi and Redcaps, founded by Tremere himself, to handle that: the Earnest Sons of the Grid and Chain. Their scouts lack the killing power to tame the wilderness, but their assessments go to the group's leaders, who send more potent magi to handle problems or, if they must, get the aid of local oppida. They also identify sites suitable for new oppida, passing those recommendations on to the Prima of Tremere, who hands them to the Praeco, who finds suitable magi to found the oppida - typically the apprentices of House allies.

The Tremere see the Order as fragile, but useful, so they support it. It is, for now, the best tool for preventing magi from slaughtering each other, making pacts with the Devil or declaring themselves gods. Without something to stop them, magi would do this often. The Order allows sufficient peace for Tremere to build strength and proselytize. House Tremere dominates the Transylvanian Tribunal, but has no need to corrupt it. The Tremere block voting allows the House's members to get what they want legally and democratically within the Order's strictures. They see the Tribunal as a valuable tool to maintaining the society they have constructed, and they want it to flourish as a legal institution.

In theory, the Praeco is the leader of the Tribunal, though in practice it is the Prima of Tremere who sets policy. Praecohood is not earned by age in Transylvania, but by democratic election. The Praeco is a servant of House Tremere, but has far wider authority than the Praecos of other Tribunals. It is only by the Prima's will that a Praeco remains in office. The current Praeco is Archmagus Albertus of Lycaneon. The Transylvanian Praeco is an experiment in ceding House power to the wider Tribunal population, but is a careful and reversible experiment. The hope is that, eventually, enough magi will think in the manner of House Tremere that the Praeco can be given real power. Much as the Romans eventually gave citizenship to the urban classes of the empire, so too does House Tremere hope the Praecones of the Order will one day be worthy of respect and power.

The membership of oppida, which the Transylvanians use instead of covenants, is more fluid than those of the Western covenants. Many magi change oppida as their projects conclude or the interests of House Tremere change. Some oppida are static, while others move as their tasks are completed. The Tribunal has a series of rulings concerning oppida. Every magus must belong to one, in some sense, and is required, broadly, to be aware of the activities of others in their oppidum. No oppidum may have less than two members, and each must contain a cives as member (More on that later.) No oppidum can exclusively belong to a single House. Thus, all oppida must have at least one Tremere and one non-Tremere member. This was done to prevent corruption within the House and treason among the non-Tremere members of the Tribunal. This odd member out is known as the aedile. They have no specific duties, but have the right to emergency audience with the Praeco and chief Quaesitor. The disappearance or declaration of Wizard's War on an aedile is considered very serious by Quaesitores, and in oppida with an even number of cives and non-cives, there are two aediles.

The Tribunal has many roles as a lawgiving body, and while voting is similar to other Tribunals, Tribunal meetings tend to be short, and consensus is quickly sought. Attendance is high, largely for the chance to socialize and make agreements outside the formal meeting, most of which is foregone conclusions being read into the Peripheral Code. Criminal matters are usually handled seperately, in "emergency" Tribunals. More on that later. The Praeco, as representative, enters a written agreement with all resident magi granting them a place in Transylvanian society. Each is witnessed by a Quaesitor and is formally entered into the Code at Tribunal meetings. This is known as a magus' 'privilege.' There are five broad styles of privilege, each with different right and duties, though individuals can vary based on negotiation during the signing. Each privilege grants membership in one of five covenants of the Tribunal. After the Sundering, the Grand Tribunal ruled that only five named covenants could exist in the Transylvanian Tribunal, to prevent expansion. All five have, over the centuries, moved or changed style of membership yet legally remained the same covenants. Magi generally don't live at the main site of the covenant they belong to, instead living in oppida. The magi of House Tremere have no desire to revisit the punishments of the Sundering, as reversing them would worry other magi needlessly, and other magi have no desire to change things because it wouldn't help anyone.



The covenant Asclepius has the Privileges of the Coloniae and was originally settled by Dacian sorcerers on the site now inhabited by Coeris. Its original membership was completely absorbed into House Tremere, and the modern members are entirely young magi of other Tribunals who have settled in Transylvania. The leadership of Asclepius is an entirely honorary position, awarded by acclamation of the other members. The coloniae, settlers, are young magi permitted to develop underutilized segments of Transylvania under tight agreements. Coloniae can expect aid in war or disaster, free use of resources negotiated in their privilege and a proportion (as negotiated) of all discovered resources. They may not select their aedile, act scandalously, seek office other than aedilehood, use the title 'archmagus', take apprentices without permission, invite other magi to the Tribunal other than Quaesitores, Redcaps or hoplites, wear shoes to Tribunal meetings (though custom now allows for slippers or sandals), wear anything resembling a Decoration to which they are not entitled, or eat any aphrodisiac during Tribunal meetings (including but not limited to shellfish, carrots, truffles or pepper).



Coeris is the covenant of Tremere and is ruled by his successors, the Primi of Tremere. Its members possess the Priveleges of the Cives. Originally, Coeris was built on the site of the oppida Lycaneon, but after the Sundering it was moved to its current location, formerly held by the covenant Asclepius. All members of House Tremere are automatically members of Coeris, though they may resign or resume membership at their whim. This is needed for some foreign covenants, which demand Tremere belong to only one covenant. Magi who are offered cives privilege are also offered membership in Coeris. A cives, or citizen, is usually a Tremere living as a Tremere should, but some magi of other Houses are offered cives status as a sign of esteem by the Tribunal and House Tremere. Cives may access any method of assistance available to members of House Tremere, may be represented at the Decennial of House Tremere by a Tremere magus of their choice, may stand for any office in the Tribunal, including Praeco, may raise apprentices within the Tribunal, may relocate from oppidum to oppidum as they desire if non-Tremere, may select the aedile if they are numerically dominant in an oppidum (though the aedile must always come from the non-dominant group), and may dress in black or gray at Tribunal meetings. They must live as Tremere should, if they are Tremere, must live in a way persistently admired by Tremere, if non-Tremere, and must not wear Decorations to which they are not entitled. (Tremere persistently admire those who perform useful work, muster for war, pay taxes and act in an unobjectionable way.)

Domostron is the covenant with the Privileges of the Socii. It was founded by Tremere's Hermetic allies, but its initial site was destroyed by Theban raiders. Its members currently include all of the Tribunal's Quaesitores, Merceres and hoplites. Its legal leader is the senior Quaesitor of the Tribunal, but it rarely meets as a covenant. All of its members are socii, allies - non-Tremere treated in most respects as if they were Tremere. All Redcaps, Quaesitores and dedicated hoplites are socii if they are not civites. Socii may be supported in their work by dedicated resources and taxes in times of crisis, expect military protection and aid, stand for any office except Praeco, raise an apprentice within the Tribunal, relocate from oppidum to oppidum as required by duties, if numerically dominant in an oppidum may select a list of at least three worthy candidates for aedile from which the Praeco chooses (though if there are less than three potential candidates, the Praeco just picks one), and may wear designs that look like Decorations. They are required to fulfill their duties and must renegotiate their covenant if they cannot, as with dedicated hoplites who stop serving as hoplites, must avoid doing things that would make the average magus declare Wizard's War against them as reasonably determined by the Praeco, must seek permission before founding oppida, must provide temporary aediles when others cannot be found, and must prominently wear their badges of office while at Tribunal meetings.

Diodorus has the Privileges of the Hospites. It was founded by the followers of Muj, a faerie magician whose followers are now an odd sect of Tremere (and thus belong to Coeris). Its current members are all those magi who live in the Tribunal as hospites, guests. Most live at Lycaneon. They elect their own leader, subject to the Praeco's approval, every seven years. This role is more honor than power, but does get an annual concession similar to the Triumph of Asclepius, though it's a far smaller payment and often divided among the leader's supporters. The responsibilites, on the other hand, take about a week at most and can be handed off to other magi paid in book copying rights, gold or vis. Hospites are hired to practice particular skills by House Tremere. They have few rights, but are paid well. They may receive fair payment for work as negotiated, use such resources as are alloted for their tasks, expect protection if Wizard's War is declared on them, ignore most taxes placed on magi and expect not to be required to join Wizards' Marches. They are required to get permission before seeking office in Tribunal, taking apprentices, binding familiars, creating talismans, founding oppida, changing oppida, voting for anyone as an aedile or wearing things that look like Decorations. Such rights can be negotiated initially, but this tends to lower any payments, as it means more time for private projects.

Lastly, Pannonia has the Privileges of the Foederati. It was founded as a Tremere house covenant near the then-current border of Transylvania, the Greater Alps and the Roman Tribunals. The aura was destroyed by a nearby monastery at the spring the covenant used for water. The magi of Pannonia were the first to split into oppida, and their resources are now primarily gathered by the magi of the oppidum Histria. Some neighboring covenants of the Tribunal have sought to join Transylvania to expect political infighting, but as they cannot accept new covenants, such joiners become members of Pannonia, usually negotiating agreements allowing them to continue their original customs, even if those are offensive to Tremere magi, provided they do not breach the code or damage society. Such magi are known as foederati, confederates, and when only one group of outsiders are Pannonians, they resemble covenants elsewhere, though the Praeco has the right to deny any changes to the Pannonian covenant laws or to return it to its original state. The Pannonian Covenant and the Peripheral Code are designed such that if there are ever no suitable outsiders, several magi of other covenants automatically become Pannonians but also members of their original covenants, with all associated rights, ensuring its continued existence. Pannonia is currently led by an Orphic cult in the south. The leader has not, unfortunately for him, received any concessions given to other covenant leaders, as centuries ago Pannonia sold those rights to the leader of the Transylvanian Mercere. Foederati typically have individually negotiated rights, but they typically include expectation of military protection and aid, retention of exclusive use of the resources held at the time of confederation, even if they move to another oppidum, retention of specific customs despite Tribunal rulings against such customs (though that can be limited by oppodum), right to train apprentices, expectation of their eldest apprentice being accepted as foedaratus under comparable conditions, the right to wear designs resembling Decorations if those designs were used before joining hte Tribunal, the right to change oppida as desired if they notify the Tribunal first and the right to seek any office in the Tribunal (though that is purely formal, due to the democratic nature of the Tribunal). Foederati are usually required to seek permission before ceasing any duties written into their covenant (as they are usually accepted based on having something to offer), using the title archmagus, founding oppida, inviting other magi to the Tribunal, trading vis with outsiders (though socii are not outsiders), and if numerically dominant in an oppidum, selecting their own aedile.

Next time: More Tribunal Culture

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal

You may have noted that the Transylvanian Priveleges often infringe, technically, on rights established by the Code of Hermes. The Grand Tribunal could, in theory, rule that a magus cannot be bound by any agreement that infringes on those rights - for example, cannot be bound to any agreement not to take an apprentice. This has never been brought up for many reasons, though. First, there's a strictily limited number of topics which are allowed to be debated at each Grand Tribunal, and no one has ever wanted to waste one on getting magi out of a deal they regretted, since those who go to Grand Tribunals tend to be important people. Many other Tribunals also have rules of residency, too, so a challenge to the Transylvanian rules would never succeed if it opened those to dispute, too. Besides, most magi who come to Transylvania know what they're getting into and have no cause to dispute the rules - those magi who hate regulations just don't come here. Plus, many of the border oppida joined to escape political problems. Residency rules may be inconvenient, but at least Coeris doesn't raid their vis sources. Some foederati, as a note, actually decline the privilege of the cives in order to keep their negotiated privileges. Besides - other senior magi often tacitly support the Transylvanian system. After all, every Tremere oppidum must have one outsider whose job is to reveal corruption. If residency laws got overturned, House Tremere might cast them out. A resentful, insular Tremere is not in anyone's interest. Besides, it's like they force this on anyone - membership in the Tribunal is strictly voluntary. You can leave whenever you want, as long as you pay back any contract breakage fees you might owe and don't steal anything.

Other Tribunals have reached various conclusions on the legality of the privileges. Some argue that offering a restrictive privilege is itself illegal, so a magus has no obligation to obey it, and any resources offered as part of it were offered as part of a crime and therefore need not be returned. Some magi believe the privilege is a faulty contract, and only the faulty clauses are struck down - this tends to mean a magus must complete the other tasks promised, but gets to keep the entire payment. Some magi believe the privilege is not a true contract, so the results of the magus' labor belong to the magus and must be returned to them, and the resources offered belong to the Tribunal and must be returned, or at least compensated justly. Some magi believe the privileges are binding contracts, fully legal. If you hire a magus to make a longevity charm and they spend the season instead training their apprentice, they owe you your payment back, plus compensation. Those who break privilege, then, also owe the payment back, plus compensation.

Anyway. The Praeco has a vital duty to the Tribunal: that of public financier. The Praeco collects taxes, distributing them to the range of projects approved by the Tribunal. The projects vary at each meeting, so the taxes do as well. Civitates, socii, coloniae and some foederati are required to give reasonable aid to the Praeco's projects, and at minimum the Praeco always has a large vis source set aside for them. This was originally meant to pay for the maintenance of the Tribunal's wards, but the Quaesitores now handle that. The Praeco also collects and pays out the stipends owed to Redcaps and Quaesitores. This legally allows House Tremere to monitor Redcap and Quaesitor vis usage without spying, and also allows the Quaesitores to legally claim that the stipend is not an annual bribe.

The Quaesitores of Transylvania are actually quite pleased with the Tribunal. The Code is consistently followed, even if the interpretation is rather heterodox and the concentration of Tremere makes true democracy rare. Powers sought by Quaesitores elsewhere, such as taxation and the right to demand aid against renounced wizards, have been granted them. The senior magi do not look down on them, but see them as valuable. Of course, House Tremere does prefer Transitionalist Quaesitores, because they don't see the Order or Code as strong institutions. Quaesitores are legally permitted to call emergency Tribunals to deal with legal matters in every Tribunal, but only in Transylvania is the privilege used every year. There is a group of advocates in House Tremere who hold the proxy votes for all of their Tribunal housemates in Transylvania, so the final vote always suits the House. The purpose of the annual "emergency" Tribunals, from the Tremere perspective, is to keep allies comfortable with the system. Concessions are made that would not normally be found elsewhere - in other Tribunals, whoever gets the most votes gets exactly what they want. Besides, some Quaesitores have, broadly, never approved of the jury-trial system used by the Order. A crime shouldn't be forgiven, they feel, just because you have political connections. The Code is, however, a practical document, and holds that magi are only guilty if those who will be responsible for lynching them agree on their guilt. In that respect, Transylvania's system is no worse than any other. House Guernicus could, if sufficiently annoyed, ask that a Grand Tribunal reopen a case concluded in Transylvania. The main problem for them is that, unless there is a code breach, Tremere block voting is perfectly legal.

The magi of Transylvania prefer the wizards only fight during Marches approved by vote of emergency Tribunal. Transylvanian magi retain their right under the Code to declare Wizard's War, but the Tremere and Quaesitores would prefer they never use it. Personal Wizard's Wars are extremely rare in Transylvania, and the preferred method is mediation by Quaesitores or representatives of the Tremere Prima. Those who cannot agree use certamen. It is rare for this to escalate to full Wizard's War without escalating even further to Wizards' March. The Magi of Tremere and their allies prefer to reserve lethal force for use only by the Tribunal. Certamen is used as a direct proxy for Wizard's War - a challenge of certamen, after all, is a statement that, were the challenger less civilized, he would be trying to kill his rival. The winner has the right to be treated as if they could have killed the loser but chose not to. The loser must act as if they are alive only by that generosity. As a sign of this, the winner of a certamen duel in Transylvania has the right to physically strike their foe in the face once. Transylvanian magi take this convention seriously - trivializing certamen, they believe, leads to Wars like those fought regularly in other Tribunals.

However, the vast majority of duels are fought "for love" - that is, sporting contests or duels of lesser importance. So that this doesn't demean certamen and make it less viable as a substitute for War, duelists for love engage in elaborate rituals and respect a series of prohibitions. Firstly, the duelists for love must clearly state before at least two witnesses of the Tribunal that the duel is for love, must make clear what stake is being fought over, if any, must declare a victory condition other than surrender (generally, first sound blow, first wound or unconsciousness), must state their forgiveness of each other in advance for any injury caused in the duel, and must swear to capitulate if defeated. Further, duelists for love may not land a physical blow if they win, may not use vis during the duel, may not gamble in a demeaning way on the duel, may not make any wager that affects the duties of an officer of the Tribunal, may not fight while naked or drunk, may not cast spells or use items to affect the duel's outcome or allow observers to do so, may not combine sex and certamen and may not challenge anyone weakend by a previous duel.

The Praeco's appointed representatives are the diplomats of the Tribunal, on behalf of all of its members, and so magi who live in Transylvania and are not senior Tremere must put up with a few restrictions. Many oppida are forbidden to enter alliance with covenants foreign to the Tribunal, and commercial developments must either be read into the Peripheral Code or approved by the Praeco and witnessed by a Quaesitor. Magi cannot import Gifted children or invite magi as settlers. They may request the Praeco invite someone, or that a particular Gifted child be allowed in, however. This allows House Tremere to limit the Tribunal population. Most Transylvanian magi are also forbidden to sell vis or magic items to outsiders. Exceptions include the Praeco, the Tremere Prima, the socii and their delegates. The Tribunal has appointed the oppidum of Old Histria, which is mostly socii, to monitor and record all sales of vis and items in the Tribunal. However, magi selling items need not ship them to Histria and can instead exchange matching letters notarized by a Quaesitor. This allows the representatives of the Praeco to act as alternative buyers on any items of interest to the Tribunal. (This has few negative effects for sellers - it can even force the price of goods up. It does, however, disadvantage buyers of rare items, though buyers of generic vis can get a list of speculative promissory notes lodged with the master of vis trading at Old Histria, allowing them to conveniently compare prices.) This system also bars the sale of many kinds of magical animal, largely because House Tremere uses them for war and breeding stock, and they prefer to act as preferred buyer for exports and co-bidder on imported animals.




One and a half miles east, specifically, of Coeris.

I'd talk about Coeris, but it is basically rehashing the Tremere section of the Houses of Hermes stuff. Some notable facts: the Prima, Poena, has a literally perfect memory, and unlike most Tremere Primi, she prefers to run the entire House by subtle means rather than delegating most of her control to lieutenants. She's always looking for young and ambitious (but reliable or at least predictable) magi from outside the House to use as pawns. She pays extremely well for this. The aedile of Coeris is Dominic of Tytalus, who challenges himself to predict and understand the plans of all other Tytalus and then warn House Tremere of them. He sees his job as challenging his entire House to a very serious game. After all, if House Tytalus underestimates House Tremere, that will lead to trouble. See, House Tytalus tends to see House Tremere as buffoons and targets, much as Tytalus the Founder pranked Tremere the Founder cruelly. House Tytalus holds that House Tremere avoids the Normandy Tribunal because they just can't stand up in a contest of intellect. Dominic knows that during the Corruption of Tytalus, House Tremere taught the Tytalus a much-needed lesson, crushing the House and its demonic minions like an egg. And yet, most Tytalus magi ignore this fact and provoke them. Dominic is concerned that the pragmatism of the Tremere may corrode and stop protecting his House from retaliation. He also believes that their current weakness in the Theban Tribunal means there's too many spare Tremere around, able to, say, deal with the behavior of House Tytalus. And so he has dedicated himself to making the lives of his Housemates harder, in the hopes that it will teach them to stop poking the dragon.





Other notes about Coeris magi: For some reason, one of them has sexually transmitted lycanthropy. As a result, he is celibate. I have no idea why they felt the need to include that. They keep a rather unhinged Merinita on staff to help them with faerie problems. He hates vampires a lot, and they use his near-insanity to provide potentially unexpected advice in emergencies. The secretary of emergencies is Tatiana, whose job is to come up with solutions when House Tremere gets blindsided. She also handles the Prima's spy network and Isaac of Merinita's advice. She is notable for an odd side effect of her magic: when casting spells, she becomes briefly invisible, much to her annoyance.



And as a side note, Poena has been looking into the Order's chess culture. There's a lot of chess players, often long-distance, and the Order helds semi-regular tournaments. She wants to regularize the tournament, and plans to hold the next one in the Transylvanian Tribunal in 1222. She plans to have participants bid for the right to host the next one. She's doing this as a part of her plan to add prestige to the House and expose senior magi to Transylvanian culture, as well as opening a nonviolent arena for House Tremere to show off its strategic prowess. House Tremere also keeps a poet laureate on hand to write poems that add to or influence their reputation.

Next time: The Magyars

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


That last possibility for the Gate of Eurydice has to be the :unsmith:-est thing in this entire gameline.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


quote:

may not fight while naked or drunk, may not cast spells or use items to affect the duel's outcome or allow observers to do so, may not combine sex and certamen

Wait but... how would you do that? Do I want to know? I'm suddenly seeing Geralt from The Witcher.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Count Chocula posted:

Wait but... how would you do that? Do I want to know? I'm suddenly seeing Geralt from The Witcher.

Technically, Certamen is an entirely mental activity involving hurling magic at each other in an illusionary battlefield.

The rest is left as an exercise for the reader, I guess.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Mors Rattus posted:

Technically, Certamen is an entirely mental activity involving hurling magic at each other in an illusionary battlefield.

The rest is left as an exercise for the reader, I guess.

Lawnmower Man style cybersex, wizard style? I kinda like it. You can't have a secretive order of Transylvanian mages without some perversion.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Count Chocula posted:

Lawnmower Man style cybersex, wizard style? I kinda like it. You can't have a secretive order of Transylvanian mages without some perversion.

Well, they made it illegal in Transylvania, but I suppose lawbreakers happen. And you don't get laws if no one was doing it in the first place.

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal

The Magyars, that is, the Hungarians, dominate the northern Tribunal. Even the areas that are not formally part of Hungary have Hungarians, both noble and peasant. The current King of Hungary, Andrais (or Andrew), has started a grand scheme of social change, the 'new institutions', in order to strengthen the kingdom. He intends to devolve power and wealth to the nobles to strengthen Hungary in war, but his reforms are currently incomplete and possibly ill-advised. Traditionally, Hungary is divided into a series of magye, counties, each ruled by an ispan, or count, appointed by the king. There are 72 counties, and most counts rule more than one. In each extra county they have, they are represented by a curial count, a kind of deputy. They support themselves via peasant rent, along with a third of all taxes, tolls and fines in their counties. They are considered equal in status to a bishop. Each county surrounds a "castle," in this case meaning a fortified town. Private castles are illegal, with a few exceptions, and mostly made of wood, except the king's castles, which are stone. Frontier counts are known in Latin as marchio, as the frontier is guarded by the marches, a sort of earthwork wall. Beyond the marches are unsettled frontier, defended by mounted archers (the Szelkers or Pechengs) and a group of castlefolk known as speculatores, or guards. The fringes have no counties. Transylvania itself is ruled by a line of voivodes, princes, appointed by the King of Hungary, with each holding the role for a mere few years. Croatia is ruled by the ban, an appointed governor, as is Slovenia. Dalmatia's cities are self-ruled under agreement with the Crown.

King Andrais has created a new class of noble, however: the barons, who are superior to counts. There are 20 barons, each holding at least one county, and they are all highborn nobles. Andrais can dismiss a baron, but generally only by giving them an alternative and lucrative position. Among the barons, there are titles giving higher status. There is the palatine, the judge royal, the ban of Croatia and the voivode of Transylvania at the top. Below them, the head of the queen's household and the master of the royal chamber. Below them, the master of the horse, the master of the table and the master of the cupbearers. Below them, all other barons. Andrais has given the barons vast territories, and those who favor him say it is to give them enough wealth to arm themselves and their retinues in the manner of Western knights. His detractors say it is to buy their loyalty and to pay for the debts he accepted when he raised the largest crusading army ever for the Fifth Crusade. Nobles in Hungary do not owe military service or taxes for their lands, so Andrais is engaging in more extreme action than similar grants in the West. Andrais has also potentially damaged the county system in two other ways. See, foreign settlements like those Andrais given to the Saxons are outside counts' jurisdiction, which erodes revenue. Also, in the last decade, Andrais has created many "royal servants", who are free men potentially outside count control. This has created tension between the counts and the new freemen.

Hungarians are extremely pedantic about precedence and birth, and they use surnames as well as forenames - a rather unique feature among Europeans. They refuse to discuss money in polite society, but all other topics are allowed, even heresy. Serfs in Hungarian society are property, bought and sold. They may be ordered to work any task, with any nature or extent, and may not represent themselves in court. If you kill a serf, you owe their master for the loss and need to do penance, but it's otherwise not a crime. Serfs technically own nothing, but many are allowed to own things and live like prosperous serfs in other lands. Most free men are free in name only - they must fight or work for their lords and can't leave. The work they do, however, is limited by law and custom, unlike that of serfs. Those free men who are truly free to do as they please have what is called "golden freedom" and typically are gentry or foreigners. Even among the bonded free, there are the wealthy and poor. Wealthy free men pay larger fines. Incidentally, this has nothing to do with real wealth, but with birth. You are born poor or wealthy, regardless of your actual, usable wealth. Free men can attend court as accusers or witnesses so long as they own at least a plough, as the fine for perjury is a plough. Oh, and if a free man has sex with a serf, they become a serf. There are free men on a noble's allod - their household servants are almost definitionally serfs. The exception is the king's land. Half of the king's peasants are free men bonded to agriculture or craft. About 20 percent are free men bonded to warfare. And around a third are half-free, which we'll get into.

The castlefolk are the hereditary servants of a count and castle. They are free, and pay the annual taxes of the free, but are bound to serve the castle. They live on castle land, which they don't own, but cannot be removed from it so long as they pay rent, usually in the form of food or service. One in eight castlefolk is a peasant warrior. They aren't noble and can't become noble, and are not true castle warriors, but their duty is to fight. They have land, but it can be taken by the count or king. Their status is hereditary. The castle warriors are a band of free warriors serving the count. They may not leave the castle's service or will be treated as fugitive serfs, but all are landed and pass that land on hereditarily. Even the king cannot take their land, provided they serve. They pay no taxes, and differ from nobles in that they can be compelled to fight as long as you want, while true nobles can choose which battles to attend. The leader of the group is the count or one of his officers. Some castle warriors become petty nobles.

There are two types of half-free: the udvornici and the conditionarii. Udvornici are 'royal serfs', the serfs of the royal lands. They live like castlefolk and are ruled by a subcaste called the "free of the udvornici". One in ten udvornici is a warrior. The others have tasks to perform, but despite being serfs, these tasks are limited by custom as free men. The conditionarii are those village peasants who owe a duty of service or goods to the king. One village, for example, provides all royal cooks, another all doorkeepers, another all coopers, another all jesters and so on. Some groups provide goods instead, such as beaver furs, marten furs, iron blocks or so on. Conditonarii are half-free because their duties, like those of a free man, are limited by custom.



Then you have hospites, guests, who in exchange for tax or service are allowed land on which they may live by their own law and custom. Hospites have golden freedom and may leave if they like. All Transylvanian Saxons, Khwarezmians in royal service and Szeklers are hospites. Above them are the petty nobles: landowners. All landowners are noble, regardless of how small their plot is. Land can be gained by ancient familial ownership, grant from the king, the Church or a noble, or invasion. Inheritance in Hungary is by equal division to all sons and grandsons, which makes even large estates implode into fragments over time. The usualy way to prevent this is to give land to a favored relative before death, cutting off tiny slivers to give to everyone else so they retain noble status. The royal house does not evenly divide land, however, allowing it to retain strength. All land not owned by the Church or loaned by the King to an officer is allodial - owned by a nobleman, not a fief granted by the king. A noble has no duty whatsoever to fight on the king's behalf in order to retain land. Many lesser nobles own land but perform hereditary duties for it.

Many greater nobles are counts. As royal officers, counts do have a duty to fight for the king's behalf using their resources, but they are never under obligation to rouse their personal servants for it. The gentry are drawn from 108 families claiming descent from pagan chieftains in the initial invasion, not all of whom were Hungarian. The members of the family may use 'kindred of <founder's name>' as a title, and the greater their poverty, the more they insist they are noble by this method, since they have no other demonstrator of status. Kindred use the same symbol on their coat of arms, an idea they borrowed last century from the king. They are not political entities and have no common property save perhaps a burial abbey. The greater nobles are in large part descended from royal servants, who may be native or foreign. They are raised to nobility, given land and become men of the king's household. In return for service, they get more land and power.

The King, of course, has the largest allodial holding, a mix of territorial blocks and villages. Each section centers on a curtis, a royal manor. Much of it is legally forest - land reserved for royal usage. The forest is tended by villages of custodes silvarum, a form of conditionarii led by a procurator. The court focuses on the three largest cities in Hungary, Esztergorm (the capital), Szekesfehervar and Veszprem. Esztergorm is ruled in theory by the Archbishop, leader of the Hungarian Church, who has the right to crown the King. In theory, the Hungarian Church is closely allied to the king, but in practice the Church is very critical on the king's lax views on Muslims, pagans and Jews. Szekesfehervar is used for many ceremonial functions, despite not being the capital, and the king is always crowned there and often buried there. It is also where the nobles gather for the diet when it is held, and the Holy Crown is stored there. Veszprem is the smallest city, and its bishop has the right to crown the queen-consort, recently reaffirmed after another bishop did it and the Bishop of Veszprem got mad. (The pope's intervention was actually required to smooth things over.) The Bishops of Veszprem have historically been the poorest bishops, and are thus closely allied to the Order of Hermes, who see them as a useful counter to the Archbishops of Esztergorm.


In recap: Hungary is owned by the Virgin Mary and ruled over in her stead by a Divine entity that is both literally the land itself and literally the king's crown. This is a fact, and has been demonstrably witnessed.


Recap: King Colomon the Learned declared witches nonexistant and witchcraft a thing that did not happen. Therefore, it is not a crime. The Order is treated as a foreign ethnic group under its own law, and all magicians are legally considered to fall under that group.

The Church was introduced to Hungary by Saint Stephen, who used it to eradicate the pagans. They own quite a lot of land, and law states that every ten villages must have a church, built and maintained by the villagers and supplied with land and property to the tune of two manses, two serfs, a mare, a horse, six oxen, two cows and thirty small animals. The bishop provides the books, the king provides the altar cloth and failure to build a church is a serious crime. The Hungarian law severely punishes those who behave in matters not befitting a Christian - those who speak in Church are whipped and have their heads shaved, for example. The Hungarian Church is rightfully confident in its power and sees no need for draconian measures against other faiths. Pagans are so rare that their only punishment is fasting. Yes, there are large groups of Jews and 30 villages of Sunni Turks in the king's service, but they don't punish them, and the Lateran Council rulings that Muslims cannot handle Christian money and Jews must wear distinctive clothes are not enforced.

Now, the oppidium of Laniena. It was originally part of the Scholomance, but soon seperated from them and relocated. Their name means 'slaughterhouse', and their job is simple: train the Fectores. The Fectores are an experiment by House Tremere in the formation of a cadre of hunters of supernatural evil, wielders of non-Hermetic power derived from the magical traditions of the Balkans. So far, it's been working. See, House Tremere has always been plagued by vampires. The biggest threat has always been infiltration, and ever since the death of a dhampire magus, the House has forbidden training dhampirs in Hermetic magic. The last one happened a century ago, when a dead magus became a vampire that sought out dhampirs, had them trained and then killed them to make them into vampires. Its was then that the famous hunter Murat of Terezin came to Coeris, teaming up with Radomir of Tremere to exterminate the vampires in the House, which they managed to do. They petitioned the Tribunal to form Laniena, and Murat joined House Ex Miscellanea. See, he had a bunch of Gnostic initiation scripts and a taltos clan, between which he found a way to open a Gifted person to the Hunter's Arts (more on those later). He named this tradition the interfectores, the slayers, which quickly got abbreviated to 'fectores'.



Next time: The Fectores and the Bulgarians

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 16:24 on Jul 5, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal



A Hermetic Fector is considered to be a magus-level character. They get all three of the Hunter's Arts: Scry, Ban and Slay. They also get three Foe Arts, which let them choose what targets they're able to use their magic to hunt. Currently, the only Foe Arts the Fectores know are Vampire, Werewolf, Ghost, Nightwalker and Witch. They are working to integrate others. Fectores also all possess the power of Second Sight, and their apprenticeship takes five years. Details on the Hunter's Arts will come much later. Fectores have no innate defenses against magic, unlikes most hedge traditions, save those granted by their Ban powers. However, Hermetic Fectores are taught the Parma Magica, which rather makes up for it. The Hermetic Fectores belong, technically speaking, to House Ex Miscellanea. There are also a very small number of actual Fectore magi, who practice normal Hermetic magic and a lesser amount of the Hunter's Arts. They all have a magical focus in harming a particular type of creature, and all are weak at spontaneous magic, as their methodical training and preparation makes them inflexible. There are many more Fectores than true Hermetic Fectores, as the sidebar above shows.

Anyway, Bulgaria. The Second Bulgarian Empire under Tsar Ivan Asen II rules most of the Balkans, including Wallachia. Their capital is Tarnovo, and their ruler is aggressive and determined to restore them to glory. History shows that in the next decade, he will conquer Thrace, Macedonia and Epiros, as well as encroaching on Serbian territory and taking Belgrade and Vukovar. Let's see...in the Stara Planina, the Old Mountains, there is the cave of Saint Ivan Rilski, also known as John of Rila. He was a hermit, mystic and healer who died in 946. He lived 12 years in that cave, then three years in a hollow oak, and then seven on a rock above the cave. He became famous in life, and a monastery formed near his cave. The cave, tree and rock have a potent Divine aura, as does the monastery. Saint Ivan is the patron saint of Bulgaria and his body, miraculously uncorrupted by rot, lies in Tarnovo. Also in the mountains, south of the city Sredets, are the Seven Lakes, a group of interconnected lakes. Due to some faerie quirk of the area, the water flows entirely illogically and without sequence, rather than highest to lowest. Each lake is home to a vila water maiden, named for the lakes: Salzata ('the Tear'), Okoto ('the Eye'), Babreka ('the Kidney'), Bliznaka ('the Twin'), Trilistnika ('the Trefoil'), Ribnoto Ezero ('the Fish Lake') and Dolnoto Ezero ('the Lower Lake'). The seven vilas are rivals, and offer a faerie gift to those who bathe in their waters if they spend a year and a day in their underwater homes. However, each vila is bound to try and slay any guest on the last day of their stay. Each gift enables the person who survives to claim it to escape the death of one of the other sisters. It is said that a man who claimed all seven gifts would become the lord of the sisters, able to command them.

We actually do get some Bulgarian history. From the time of Augustus, it was an integral part of the Roman Empire, ruled by the Thracians. The Goths invaded Thrace in 250, and again in 376, slaying Emperor Valens. They adopted the Thracian faith, christianity, and Bulgaria became an important Christian center right up to the Slavic invasion during the reign of Justinian in the 500s. The Slavs slaughtered most of the natives of Bulgaria, capturing or assimilating the rest. The ancient Thracians formed the Vlach people by mixing with the other Roman settlers, and still persist in Illyria and Romania. The Seven Tribes of the Slavs ruled the Balkans for a century, strong and vigorous. Their rule was only stopped by their own dislike for hierachy, preferring democratic clans to a single nation. They were a pagan people, worshipping the gods Perun, Svarog, Dazhbog, Khors, Veles and more.

The immigration of Khan Asparukh and his Bulgarian followers from across the northern shore of the Danube last from 679 to 681, forming the First Bulgarian Empire, a Slavo-Bulgar state lasting to 1018. The Bulgars introduced the chaotic Slavs to the notions of imperial destiny and rigid military and social hierarchy answerable to one chief, the Sublime Khan. Despite a strong start, it was rife with internal issues and wars with the nearby Byzantines. Krum the Conqueror was one of the empire's most feared and famous leaders, taking Hungary and Transylvania in 803, defeating two Byzantine Emperors in battle and even sieging Constantinople before his mysterious death in 814. Christianity took Bulgaria by storm 70 years later under Khan Boris, who took the baptismal name Michael. His son Symeon was the first to use the title 'tsar' instead of 'khan' and was the creator of the autonomous Bulgarian Church in 926. The Byzantines defeated the Bulgar Empire in 1018, and despite numerous rebellions it took until 1185 to break free. The 11th century also had invasions by the Pecheneg nomads of the east and the Magyars of the north, followed immediately by Tsar Uzes of Russia. Eventually, three brothers, Ivan Asen, Teodor Petar and Kaloyan, led the Bulgars to freedom. Kaloyan reigned from 1197 to 1207, restored the Bulgarian Empire and left it to his nephew, Ivan Asen. Kaloyan's marriage to a Cuman led to a strong alliance with the Cuman nomads, which must be ritually renewed each summer. Ivan Asen II has held the throne for only two years, but already shows promise, having married the daughter of the King of Hungary.



The Bulgarian tsar claims the title Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Vlachs, implying sovereignty of the people, not the land. He rules through the bolyeri, who are divided into 100 noble families, both bolyeri veliki ('great bolyars') and bolyeri mali ('minor bolyars'). The great bolyars and the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Church constitute the Bolyar Council or Sinklit, which advises the tsar on policy. The empire is divided administratively into horas, each ruled by a kefaliya, roughly equivalent to a duke, who ahs one or more vassal katepans, about equal to a count, who rule katepanikons. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church traces its descent from Saints Cyril and Methodius, whom Boris I invited to Bulgaria in 886. The Bulgarian Church was recognized as independent by the Byzantine Church, but was deprived of autocephalous status under Byzantine rule in 1018. One of the first tasks of the Asen dynasty was to restore autocephaly to the Church and establish a new archbishopric. The Patriarch of Constantinople was against it, so the Asens turned to Rome, and in 1203, Pope Innocent III proclaimed the Archbishop of Tarnovo to be "Primate and Archbishop of all Bulgaria and Wallachia," aligning it with the Roman Church despite Ohrid remaining an Eastern Orthodox diocese. It is widely believed that Tsar Ivan Asen II and the Archbishop are still trying to unite with the Orthodox Church, but only under their own terms.

Another prominent faith in the area since the 10th century is Bogomilism, a dualist religion. Bogomil means 'dear to God' in Bulgarian, and despite many attempts to exterminate the Bogomils, they have persisted and even become somewhat famous. They teach that God had two sons, Satanael and Michael. Satanael, the elder, rebelled against God and created the lower heavens, earth and mankind, though he had to appeal to God to get souls for them. Eventually, Michael was sent to earth in the shape of a man, Jesus, who broke both the covenant and hold over man that Satanael held. For this, Satanael engineered the crucifixion and the institution of the Christian Church to control man through a new covenant. The Bogomils thus hold that all which is socially created is not of God, but of Satan, and thus refuse to pay taxes, work as serfs or join armies. They do not have churches, but worship in home gatherings. Each Bogomil community has viarvashti, believers, who eschew the pleasures of the flesh, including wealth, meat and wine as well as procreation in the hope of achieving spiritual perfection and becoming a Christ (or, as they call it, Chiust). They also have the slushateli, listeners, who need not live so strictly but can do so in time. Community leaders are known as savasheni, perfects. Bogomilism does not discriminate by gender, and holds the four Gospels as sacred, along with some epistles, the Psalms of David and the Old Testament books of Prophets. They reject the sacraments and symbols of faith. Their leader is the Protos, the Notable, and there are four main obshtini, or fraternities, of believers - the Romana, the Macedonian Dragometsia, the Serbian Meliniqua and the Bulgarians. Each is led by a dedets, like a bishop, who is aided by the starets, the elders.

The Bogomils view themselves as champions of the poor against feudalism and the monopoly of wealth and learning held by the Church. They seek to subvert both royal and Church authority via passive resistance and philosophical anarchy right on up to militant action. They are evangelical, traveling far and wide to preach, heal and drive out demons. Their missionaries inspired other movements, such as the Cathars. Bogomils are not Christian but are a Divine faith, and Bogomil missionaries often have powers comparable to the Perfecti MYthic Companions, save trading Transcendence for either Intervention or Adjuration.

Let's see...the oppidium of Evredika, the Bulgarian name of Eurydice. They are based out of a cultic center of the Thracian gods Orpheus and Zagreus, whom the Greeks called Dionysus. The oppidium is essentiall run by the Cult of Orpheus as one of their two major sacred sites. They first tried to join the Theban Tribunal, but were scorned both for the musical nature of their Gift (derided as peasant reels without beauty) and for their pagan nature, as most Jerbiton magi are Christian. Evredika decided it'd rather be ignored by Tremere than scorned by Jerbiton. House Tremere is always careful to pick an aedile that is sensitive to the Cult's practices and has some appreciation for music. The leader of Evredika is Oeagrus Ex Miscellanea, who likes to believe himself the head of the entire Cult, though that is pure delusion. He is, unlike most of the cult, openly pagan in his worship of Orpheus, which has earned him few friends among Tremere. He owns the mummified arm of Orpheus, torn off by the Maenads, and he seeks to recreate the god by grafting the dismembered body parts of Orpheus onto himself. He believes the Orphics of Lesbos have Orpheus' head and are hiding it from him. (Yeah, he's bugfuck nuts. Some, perhaps most, of the Cult believe his madness is a sign of divinity, while everyone else just thinks he's mad.) The aedile is currently Yekaterina of Tremere. Oeagrus tends to alienate the aedile within a decade or two and send them asking for reassignment, as he sees them as "the Tremere overseer." Yekaterina he takes as a double insult, for he is well known in his hatred of women. Despite this, Yekaterina is currently determined to stick around, as she finds the relative isolation helpful in her necromantic studies.


Plus, she looks super cool. The mask is literally made of a human skull, and she is enchanting it as a talisman.

There is also the hoplite oppidum of Seuthopolis, formerly the pre-Roman capital of the Thracians. The chthonic cult of the Thracians was revived by some Verditius magi, who formed a Theban covenant there. After some friction, they sought refuge in the Transylvanian Tribunal. In the centuries since then, they have lost their cultic nature and become the base of the Transylvanian Quaesitores and hoplites. (House Guernicus, in fact, forbids the worship of chthonic gods. Despite this, there have in three instances been those who needed to be removed from position due to cultic status and the mad Hubris that accompanied the cult, similar to that of House Verditius.) The place is also home to Benilda of Guernicus, keeper of the Red and Black Libraries. This began with the Red Book, originally a compilation of sigils of the renounced Diedne magi, so that if any tried to rejoin the Order, their distinctive magic would be recognized. It eventually expanded to all Renounced magi. That, in itself, is not controversial. What is is the practice of Benilda and her predecessors of gathering copies of many spells notorious for being developed to commit Hermetic crimes. For example, it has the only known copy of the Sleep of the Muses, a Perdo Mentem spell that renders its targets unable to remember how to cast magic. It is known to contain copies of the Curse of the Unportended Plague, designed to destroy cities, and the Trivialization of the Forgetful, which implants a command in the mind of a magus that makes them drop their Parma upon being given a verbal command. Benilda justifies this by saying the spells are evidence of past crimes, which Quaesitores can learn from. More troubling are rumors that the Red Library contains magic items that can cast those spells. If House Guernicus does have items that can cast the Red Spells, they may justify it by saying they're not illegal to own, and sometimes may be legal to use. The Code only protects magi, not hedge magicians or members of the (potentially nonexistant) Orders of Odin or Solomon, or Renounced magi.

The Black Library is even more controversial. It contains copies of each of the very, very few books the Order has decreed it a crime to own. It was created after the Corruption of Tytalus, as Tasgilla, the corrupted Prima, had worked infernal influences into her spells and books, which she then distributed. The Quaesitores gathered and destroyed them, but kept a few examples so they'd know what to look for if any new ones surfaced. Some members of the Order feel these books, too, should be burned. Both the Red and Black Libraries lie in a vault consecrated by the bones of a martyred virgin, giving them a Divine Aura in the hopes of protecting them. Around that are many, many magical defenses. Even those who accept the existence of the Libraries question the wisdom of keeping them in the same place, however. The Quaesitor response is that the storage vault was very expensive and very hard to replicate.

Benilda, incidentally, is very Transitionalist, and believes the Tremere may be right when they say the way magi live will change in the future. The Traditionalists of Guernicus feel she is collaborating with House Tremere to corrupt the Code, but have little power to act against her while she is supported by the Transylvanian Tribunal. Benilda thinks the current Prima of Guernicus' attempts to move the debate to the Tribunal floors rather than the House itself was weak and silly, but accepts that her rivals have been told to stop seeking conciliation privately and to fight public battles, so she's just as willing to play political games as they are. The chief hoplite of the Tribunal is Saturnino of Criamon, who follows the Path of Strife. He believes that he should do evil, that others will not have to. He seems normal most of the time, but his definition of evil contains 'eating meat' and 'having a wife', both of which does...and the normal things. He feels no difference in scale between eating meat and incinerating children. He feels no remorse for the evil he must commit, though he does not do it recklessly or without good cause - he only does evil when he believes it necessary, and he would never become diabolist because it is a sign of personal weakness. He's very dependable, in his way, and exceptionally good at killing magi. He works in Transylvania because he believes it was a profound mistake to keep the Red and Black Libraries together, and also because he wonders if the strange faeries of the Tribunal are an effect of Criamon's work.

Next time: The oppidium of Tablinum and the Slavs

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 18:22 on Jul 5, 2013

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.


quote:

The Bogomils view themselves as champions of the poor against feudalism and the monopoly of wealth and learning held by the Church. They seek to subvert both royal and Church authority via passive resistance and philosophical anarchy right on up to militant action. They are evangelical, traveling far and wide to preach, heal and drive out demons. Their missionaries inspired other movements, such as the Cathars. Bogomils are not Christian but are a Divine faith, and Bogomil missionaries often have powers comparable to the Perfecti MYthic Companions, save trading Transcendence for either Intervention or Adjuration.

Who's down to play some Bogs in the Vineyard?

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


quote:

He owns the mummified arm of Orpheus, torn off by the Maenads, and he seeks to recreate the god by grafting the dismembered body parts of Orpheus onto himself. He believes the Orphics of Lesbos have Orpheus' head and are hiding it from him. (Yeah, he's bugfuck nuts. Some, perhaps most, of the Cult believe his madness is a sign of divinity, while everyone else just thinks he's mad.)

This may be a Sandman reference, or a reference to whatever sources Gaiman used. Orpheus' head is a big part of that series, and it spends a lot of time on a Greek island that may be Lesbos.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Cool poo poo in the Corebook Part 1!

Yes, I decided to randomly look at cool poo poo in the corebook because I want to! We're starting with some gear and items and such because the best thing about these complicated sci-fi games is shopping for cool toys to use in weird ways to break the game! Yeah, I know, lots of people hate the system and items, but I don't care. I love the detail and the shitload of customization and items you can get, and if you don't well then... just wait for the FATE conversion rules I guess.

This isn't an exhaustive list and is basically stuff I think is pretty cool.

Augmentation: Improve Yourself, Improve Your Life!

Mostly Biomorph stuff, but synths could use a good few with just some reskinning.

Carapace Armor: Give yourself scales or chitinous plates for skin! It's a pretty cool way to make your character more post-human, but it doesn't stack with other armor so you don't get a powersuit and Killer Croc skin.

Chameleon Skin: Gives you color changing skin like an octopus, not a chameleon because chameleons don't actually do this sorta thing. Useful for both being sneaky, or being very noticable. If you're sneaking though you've gotta be either naked or have matching smart clothes or it's kinda pointless, obviously.

Eelware: Turn your mitts into TASERs! Shock damage in this game is straight nasty, and this makes kung-fu a viable way to fight! Also electro-hands can let you easily break anything electronic (Ie. EVERYTHING) so it's even useful for utility purposes.



Poison Gland: Generate deadly or incapacitory poisons from your saliva and fingernails. Depending on what sort of poison you get, this can be useful for stealth, assassination, or good old barfights.

Prehensile Tail: If you can't think of a shitton of ways a goddamn tail is useful you need to reevaluate your life. Note that you totally can wield a gun in your tail, and if the GM says you can't he's a lame-o who doesn't want you to tri-wield your guns/ swords/ whatever else you want. Combine with Eelware for cool Scorpion-style fun!

Vacuum Sealing: You've gotta take one of the armor biowares to get this, but it allows you to survive in a hard vacuum as long as you have air. Combine it with some biomods to improve your respiration efficiency and lung capacity and you've got an always-on spacesuit. Reccomended buy if you like going in the nude and have a GM who loves to see peoples eyeballs explode Total Recall style. Plus it opens up tactical air-venting as a way to win a fight, cause, y'know, your lungs aren't exploding.

T-Ray Emitter: Remember when I described Terahertz Scanners? It's like that, but mounted inside your skull. You can't see through living things, water, or metal, but wood, cloth, plastic, and ceramics are all possible. It's kinda like a cut-rate version of Superman's X-ray vision, plus it works in the dark!

Cyberclaws: You can be Wolverine. That's it, it's 6 inch claws that pop out of your knuckles, you are Wolverine. The neat part is you can combine them with Eelware and Poison Glands for some sweet secondary effects!

Hand Laser: It's a loving arm laser! It's pretty weak, and only has 50 shots before the battery needs to be recharged, but unless you get X-ray'd or someone notices the tiny lens between your first and second knuckle it's undetectable. Not much of a main weapon, but great for a holdout and emergency backup. Plus, laser! You can cut and burn poo poo with it, so even non-combatants will want it, especially the sneaky sorts. I mean, just being able to melt through glass and thin metal would be a godsend.

Implanted Nanotoxins: Works the same as Poison Glands, but this can work just through bare-skin contact! So, why the hell would you ever go with Poison Glands? Because poison glands aren't super-goddamn loving illegal pretty much everywhere.

Oracles: Implanted nanobots that share your senses. Their AI is programmed to alert you to stuff you might not notice. They can also help you recall recent input, basically boosting your short-term memory. Combine this with some cognitive boosting mods and a decent investigation skill and you can be cyborg Sherlock Holmes.

Skinflex: You can completely change your facial appearance, including skin and hair color, in about 20 minutes. Holy poo poo this makes the whole “Dodging Surveillance/Live Two Lives” thing a ton easier, eh? Plus, you can make crazy bank with celebrity impersonations.

Skinlink: Turns your skin into a fiberoptic cable. You can interface with any electronic device just by touching it, same as if you plugged your mesh inserts or cyberbrain in. This also works on other people, allowing you to hold covert conversations by holding hands.

Wrist Mounted Tools: Implanted nanobot factories that can make any sort of tool, electronic interface, or other reasonably small gadget you can think of, even simple weapons. It's like having the T-1000 in your hands! Literally! Hackers, spies, snoops, tech-jockies, soldiers, goddamn this mod is insanely useful for everyone and I have no idea why you wouldn't try and get it.

Nanotats: Nanobot tattoos with programmable designs and colors. On the surface it's just a neat little thingy, but think about how useful it can be. A full face tat makes a drat-good distraction for anybody trying to ID you, and if you want to deal with Triads, a full set of proper gang-tats might just give you that edge in the negotiations. If you want to impersonate someone, it helps to have accurate tattoos. Etc. Surprisingly useful for a “cosmetic” mod.

Robotic Enhancements

These are Synthmorph only things, since most of them require not having organs and stuff to work, though you could fudge some things if your biomorph has a bunch of cybernetics.


Modular Design: Instead of being one big robot, you're made up of a bunch of smaller re-configurable robotic “shells” joined together. This lets you change your entire makeup to become a biped, triped, quadroped, snake, spider-like thing, big ball, whatever!

Shape Adjusting: Literally the T1000 model Terminator, but without the weapon part. You can change your shape and external appearance, but no weapons and you have to maintain the same mass. I can't think of all the ways this is useful it is so useful.

Synthetic Mask: The T100 Terminator! You get a hyper-realistic outer skin that makes you look 100% human. Only a detailed physical or scanning with T-Ray or other material-penetrating devices can reveal your true self. While the ruels don't say so, I'd say that only bipedal humanoid Synthmorphs can use this, cause, c'mon, a giant robot spider would just look loving creppy covered in human skin and poo poo.

Armor and Such

poo poo that makes you not-die. Synths don't really use it because of the whole being made of metal thing, and people with the armor type Biomods can do without.

Smart Skin: Nanobots that cover your body and harden into light body-armor on command. Invisible when unactivated, visible when. The downside is that you need to activate it, so it's useless against surprise attacks.

Spray Armor: Armor in a Can. It sprays onto skin, AND ONLY SKIN, which resembles a latex bodysuit. It degrades in protection over time, completely dissolving in 24 hours. You can use other polymers and electrical currents to shape and color it, making it popular for socialites and clubbers.

Spy Gadgets

Chameleon Cloak: A big poncho-like cloak that detects electromagnetic radiation and duplicates it, rendering the wearer invisible to light and ultraviolet wavelengths. It also has heat-absorbers to shield the wearer from infrared detection, but must vent these after an hour of use. It makes you totally invisible if you're standing still, and gives you a huge boost to being sneaky if you're moving.

Covert Operations Tool: A version of the Wrist Mounted Tools, but external and specialized for covert ops. It works the same, but includes advanced cutting, hacking, and lock-disabling tools. In exchange it loses the more utilitarian functions of the wrist mounted tools, making it a specialist device. Of note is that it can repair any obvious damage to such systems, preventing discovery of the user by the security guard seeing a bunch of messed up door-locks.

Dazzler: A tiny floating ball covered in lasers that is used to blind visual, infrared, and ultraviolet cameras. Obviously not very good if you're being sneaky as you just unleashed a flying rave, but it stops them getting security footage of what you look like, and can be used to cause confusion and as a distraction.

Invisibility Cloak: A better version of the Chameleon Cloak that actually bends light around itself, making the wearer invisible to everything but X-rays, radar, and similar material penetrating wavelengths. The problem is that the wearer can't see outside of it, relying on external sensors or compromising the Cloak's invisibility by leaving a “window” to see out of.

Traction Pads: Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can... These are specialized gloves, boots, and elbow and knee pads that mimic a geckos feet. They allow you to climb on any wall or ceiling not specially treated to resist them, as long as you maintain at least 2 points of contact at any time. Also popular in Zero-G environments for obvious reasons. There's a Biomod version as well.

Drugs, Chemicals, and Toxins

Neem: Tasty gummy chews that enhance your memory. It is much easier to remember stuff while on Neem, but the memories have no emotional connection and exist as pure data. So, don't go see a movie or something while on it, cause you'll remember every line and not enjoy it one bit.

MRDR: loving scary as hell combat drug. It makes you faster, tougher, stronger, more coordinated, and generally scary as poo poo. Take too much though and it wrecks your body, crippling you if you aren't on the drug, and long term users are obvious due to the bloodshot eyes and permanently tensed muscles.



Bananas Furiosas: While the effects aren't that interesting, just an anti-radiation drug, the fact they come as bright red genetically engineered bananas is pretty neat.

Comfurt: Yogurt that makes you happy. It tastes good, lessens stress, stabilizes mood, clears your head, and generally makes you feel better. The only downside is that if you eat too much you get really really itchy from the mass histamine release.

Mono no Aware: A depressant ingested as a tea that induces a meditative state, heightening your senses. Popular with artists and socialites, long term use gives your skin a slight blue tint.

Orbital Hash: Space weed man! You get slightly tougher mentally, but also get worse memory. Also you get really loving lazy and just want some snacks.

Gravy: A nanodrug food additive that aids in adapting to high-gravity environments.

Schizo: Nanodrug that simulates paranoid schizophrenia. Delivered in the form of a nanobot covered razor-blade, only the most insanely decadent of the hyperelite use it. Still, if you can dilever it to someone else, it can be one hell of a way to incapacitate someone.

Petals: So called because they come in the form of a flower, Petal is the heroin of the future. Combining traditional hallucinogens with other drugs, AR, VR, X-Plays, brain-hacking, and every other form of metal feedback to craft hyper-realistic narrative hallucinations. Cheap petals just provide a stream of images and sounds, while the best of the best ensconce you in an entire other reality, completely separating you from the real world. Petal makers see it as the highest and truest art, as there are no limits to a Petal trip besides what the human brain can handle.



Linkstate: A “drug” that only works on cyberbrains. Linkstate connects the user to a peer-to0peer network of other linkstate users where a random sampling of experiences and sensory imput is compiled and fed to the user, resulting in a several hour session of sensory overload. The user experiences short spurts of others memories and senses randomly mixed and combined, and users often have “flashbacks” to memories of other people.

NotWater: A liquid fire-retardant that just slides off of objects instead of staining or getting them wet, so it's safe to use around electronics and fine art.

Liquid Thermite and Scrappers Gel: Two similar items. They both start as an intert and clear gel that can be used in any environment, even underwater or in space. They are both activated when an electrical charge is passed through, with Thermite beginning to burn at 2500 degrees Celsius and Scrappers Gel turning into a powerful acid capable of dissolving solid steel.

Slip: A liquid commonly used in grenade form for riot control. It coats drat near anything and makes it totally frictionless, making any movement nearly impossible.

Flight: The only toxin I'm covering because the rest are your typical “die horribly or have seizures” stuff. Flight is artificial fear hormones and causes those dosed to have panic attacks for and hour without treatment.

Necrosis: Nanotoxin that acts like a goddamn flesh eating disease that melts your organs into slush.

Neuropath: Nanotoxin that stimulates your nerveous system to cause crippling whole body pain! Also works on Synths!

Nutcracker: Nanotoxin that slowly destroys your Cortical Stack, which needs a transfer to a new morph to fix, because you can't replace a cortical stack in a still-alive morph.

Miscellaneous Tech

Smart Clothing: Programmable clothes! They can change their texture, color, and cut in only a few minutes. It can be used as camouflage and can supplement Chameleon Skin. It can act as both winter and summer clothes, and is great for disguises and impersonation! Also comes in Vacuum suit versions.



Utilitool: Handheld nanobot generator that can create a wide variety of hand tools. Cheaper versions are generally specialized with tools to suit a specific use such as cooking or electronic repair, but the more expensive ones can create thousands of tools.

Tune in to the next installment for more stuff from the corebook I think is pretty neato!

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Wapole Languray posted:

Gravy: A nanodrug food additive that aids in adapting to high-gravity environments.
Now there's a groaner. Eclipse Phase, you fuckers.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Cardiovorax posted:

Now there's a groaner. Eclipse Phase, you fuckers.

Not really, considering that it's a hypercorp marketed product. The game is pretty good with chemical names matching their origins. Things you can buy at a store have catchy marketing names like Gravy and Comfurt, drugs have euphamisms and slang like Petals and Schizo, and the stuff only chemists and military use just go by their chemical components or a codename like Flight and Nervex.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Don't care, it's still a horrible pun. :colbert:

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Cardiovorax posted:

Now there's a groaner. Eclipse Phase, you fuckers.

You have no idea how gratified I was to scroll down and see someone else quote that before I did. Grav-y :iamafag:

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011


Cardiovorax posted:

Now there's a groaner. Eclipse Phase, you fuckers.

Mono no Aware. Depressant that heightens your physical senses.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Wapole Languray posted:

Petals: So called because they come in the form of a flower, Petal is the heroin of the future. Combining traditional hallucinogens with other drugs, AR, VR, X-Plays, brain-hacking, and every other form of metal feedback to craft hyper-realistic narrative hallucinations. Cheap petals just provide a stream of images and sounds, while the best of the best ensconce you in an entire other reality, completely separating you from the real world. Petal makers see it as the highest and truest art, as there are no limits to a Petal trip besides what the human brain can handle.

These sound very inspired by the Vurt feathers from Jeff Noon's novel, 'Vurt', especially with the mention of a super secret mythical petal.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Kellsterik posted:

You have no idea how gratified I was to scroll down and see someone else quote that before I did. Grav-y :iamafag:

It's very confusing since what happens if you're ordering chips? I am pretty sure Gravy doesn't taste a thing like gravy.

Bitchtits McGee posted:

Mono no Aware. Depressant that heightens your physical senses.

That's not a pun, though.

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Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

It's bilingual. Aware as in the Japanese word and aware as in awareness.

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