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Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


That's why I like history posts. I never really know that the ecology and habitats of Brazil were so diverse, although it makes sense given their size. Do you have any info on how European disease ran through the native populace? I know if North America and the Spanish conquests it was responsible for massive casualties. It probably was bad in South America, but I'm curious if the Amazon's impenetrability had any mitigating effects on it.

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Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




That was excellent. I knew Portugal moved the capital to Brazil at one point, but I didn't know it had that much of an effect.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

I'll have you know, foxes have the finest call in nature


Tasoth posted:

That's why I like history posts. I never really know that the ecology and habitats of Brazil were so diverse, although it makes sense given their size. Do you have any info on how European disease ran through the native populace? I know if North America and the Spanish conquests it was responsible for massive casualties. It probably was bad in South America, but I'm curious if the Amazon's impenetrability had any mitigating effects on it.
It was a factor, but not nearly as bad as in the case of the Spanish conquests. Part of the reason is that the Brazilian natives were at least a little bit nomadic, and people on the move are in general healthier than their more technologically advanced cousins. The sick and the weak get left behind, there's no sewage treatment problems, etc.
One thing I recently learned is that syphilis came from the Americas to Europe, and became very... popular there. It's almost like the mayans and the incas' revenge.
The Amazon, by the way, played very little role in the colonisation of Brazil compared to the Atlantic forest, which had the misfortune of being way more accessible. It's why there's still so much of the Amazon left: for many centuries, people just didn't care that much about it, it's way, way inland. The Atlantic forest is reduced to almost nothing, because it is right there on the shore and has been explored since day zero.

Fossilized Rappy posted:

Brazilian folklore (hope we'll be getting sucuriju gigante in there, by the by)
The niche of "giant motherfucking snake" is filled by no less than three entries in the Animals chapter, and two in the Monsters & Creatures chapter. You will not be disappointed.

Cyphoderus fucked around with this message at 22:28 on Feb 6, 2014

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Cyphoderus posted:

The niche of "giant motherfucking snake" is filled by no less than three entries in the Animals chapter, and two in the Monsters & Creatures chapter. You will not be disappointed.
I know of two Brazilian giant snake legends, so at least one of them will be a surprise. And even if it wasn't, I have a soft spot for giant snakes in general and am very rarely disappointed in them. :allears:

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Cyphoderus posted:


Challenge of the Bandeirantes
Bonus Update: A Brief Interlude About Colonial Brazil

Huh. It sounds like the colonial history of Brazil was somewhat similar to America's, except for two major differences. First off, in addition to importing a lot of black slaves, the British imported a lot of indentured servants. This lead to the second major difference, which was the deliberate institutionalization of racism. See, despite the differences in the legal terms of their servitude, white indentured servants, poor white people, and black slaves were getting along quite well and, in places, rebelling. This Could Not Stand, so the plantation owner classes drove an intentional wedge between the poor white and the poor blacks by giving the poor whites various privileges, making the lives of poor blacks even worse, and putting the poor whites in charge of oppressing the poor blacks. Then you just spread a lot of bullshit around about blacks being inherently worse than whites. Problem solved! (We are still trying to un-gently caress our country from this decision.)

Anyway, during this time period America would resemble colonial Brazil a lot in terms of racial dynamics. There was a fair number of whites and blacks who decided that this whole 'servitude' thing was for idiots and ran off to go join up indian tribes at the time, and there was a not-uncommon number of free blacks running around.

Moto42
Jul 14, 2006

:dukedog:

Wow. Actual, honest history is so much more interesting than the "The colonists were all good Christians fleeing oppression in England and would never have come to America for profit or been unkind to the noble savages they found here..." BS I was fed in school.

Unhallowed Metropolis posted:

Newly undead Necro-tits and Franken-rear end in a leather apron.
Is it just me or is this game fetishizing these undead a lot? Of course this is a game of "London because _____" and 'combat corsets' so why would they not push their creepy fantasies in there?

In less creepy, I'm hunting down my copy of an old game to put go over here. I won't name it yet, but I will say that it's cheerful.

Moto42 fucked around with this message at 21:26 on Feb 7, 2014

dwarf74
Sep 2, 2012






Buglord

I actually took a History of Modern Brazil class back in college. It was kind of neat, if a bit... niche.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

Ratoslov posted:


Anyway, during this time period America would resemble colonial Brazil a lot in terms of racial dynamics. There was a fair number of whites and blacks who decided that this whole 'servitude' thing was for idiots and ran off to go join up indian tribes at the time, and there was a not-uncommon number of free blacks running around.

Depending on the tribe they ran off to, this sadly didn't work out all that well for the blacks especially, as many had their own slave-taking traditions and just happily put the new arrivals back in chains. Which is why the Cherokee, for example, fought on the side of the Confederacy in the civil war.

This bit of news came as something of a shock to twelve-year-old part-Cherokee me as it's not something mom's side of the family is exactly proud of, especially since it was a thing even into the nineteen eighties whether Freedman Cherokee (The descendants of Cherokee slaves) should be counted as 'real' members of the tribe.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






We're nearing the finish line. There are about 4 Regions left (technically only 3, because Region N actually is a double-sized Region) and we're definitely in the high level zones. It's bad enough how wonky high levels can be in normal D&D, lets see how bad the WLD makes things. Both Region D and Region N are for characters 14-18, but I'll go with D first just to put off the long-haul that is Region N.

Region D: Little Gray Men



This Region is the home of the derro that have apparently been rampaging across the dungeon's infrastructure. It's not really clear how they've survived not only collapsing the mountain-top in Region H and flooding Regions K and L with an entire lake. However, it seems they have survived and they're engaged in yet more ill-advised digging.

This time it isn't at their own behest however. They serve Cthrax a Xill wizard. You see, Cthrax was cast out by his people for unspecified awfulness and he's desperate for revenge. And he's got a plan to make this happen. A lovely, lovely plan. You see he has found out about the existence of an evil, exiled god: Astakhor the Undying. However, he doesn't know how to find this god who he for some reason assumes will help him. So, he decides that the only way to locate this god is to use a Wish spell. And fortunately he knows where to find one at minimal cost: the WLD! (keep that in mind because it will sound even stupider later).

You see Cthrax knows there's a pit fiend imprisoned in the dungeon and that they can grant the Wish spell. So he naturally assumes that if he frees it then the fiend will certainly decide to grant him a wish rather than just murdering him.

So, in order to find the WLD (he apparently knew about its existence and its prisoners but not its location) he travels to multiple material planes, torturing sages and loremasters until he finds information about a sage drifting in the astral plane who might know. He locates him and tortures him for 2 years until he reveals the location of the dungeon. Realizing he could not unearth the demon's prison on his own he recruits help from the derro miners. He also tricks and murders a formorian queen, taking control of her hive. With these forces he intends to dig through the adamantine and silver vault buried deep beneath the dungeon, free the pit fiend and somehow get his Wish.

So, to lay this out more clearly. We've got a powerful wizard (11th level along with Xill abilities) who has spent years traveling between different planes searching for information. Spent two years doing nothing but torturing someone into getting the location of the dungeon. Enslaves or recruits two small armies of different races as well as several extremely powerful monsters. He then goes into a dungeon that he knows he cannot leave, which is full of some of the most dangerous and hateful creatures in existence. All this so he can free one of them, who is exceptionally hateful and dangerous, on the assumption that the creature will grant him a wish rather than obliterating him.

And he considers this minimal cost.

First and foremost, let me point out that the wish spell (especially in 3.5) is rare and powerful...but it's not some amazing and impossible to find spell. You can just buy magic items that grant you a wish: luckblades, rings of 3 wishes, scrolls. A scroll of wish is under 30,000 gp. It's not that big an investment for a being of Cthrax's abilities. There are also many other, much less dangerous and difficult to get to, creatures that can grant a wish (noble djinn's or efreets are the best, relatively low CR but both can cast the spell several times for non-genies).

And you know, even if for some reason it's particularly difficult to get ahold of a wish spell outside of the WLD...there are other creatures in the dungeon that have the spell and are much safer and easier to deal with. Let me run down the current sources of the wish spell:

*The efreeti from Region J. He can cast three of them per day, as opposed to the pit fiend's one per year, and the Xil could easily beat him up and force him to provide them (or just bribe him with aid against his foes).

*Region J also has the celestial vampiress Serratine, who Cthrax could free with minimal effort. She possesses a ring of three wishes with at least one charge remaining.

*Lord Glebshay, a glaberazu in Region G. He can cast wish once per month and is still much weaker than a pit fiend. There's also an unnamed Glaberazu imprisoned in the same Region with the demon lord.

*Vizeed, the "greater" glaberazu from Region K. He's imprisoned, but the stone cap over his prison is something Cthrax's forces could easily destroy (hardness 10, 1000 hit points).

And of course there's the Solar in Region G, he'd never grant a wish to any being like Cthrax...but frankly the odds of Cthrax getting it from the pit fiend aren't much better.

But instead of any of these relatively easy methods, Cthrax seems to insist on taking the most difficult, painful and dangerous route. The worst part is that this plot hole is almost effortless to fill. Cthrax is doing all this to find the prison of an ancient evil god to release it and wreak havoc on the planes...why not just make the WLD the prison? I mean, it seems like the most obvious solution doesn't it? I just don't understand the line of logic that missed that.

Anyway, that's it for the overview of the region. Lets look closer.

D1-D6

The Xill's mine is protected by the lava flow and several very powerful magical watchtowers capable of launching, one after the other, a fireball, lightning bolt and ice storm. Once all its spells have been used a stone golem on the tower animates and attacks. They're a fairly impressive defenses...or they would be if they were at all effective. You see, each of them only targets non-derro characters who approach within 100 feet of the tower. And the towers are all set far away from the NW entrance to the mines, which is also the only entrance.

That means the towers don't actually prevent anyone from entering the mines. They would prevent people from exploring along the lava river looking for a ford of some kind, but since no ford or bridge actually exists there's nothing to defend. If the PCs just fly, water walk or swim across the lava river they'll never be attacked, except for a single golem that stands guard at the entrance. A crappy golem that only notices intruders 50% of the time.

There are some hollow stone towers full of derro, all extremely weak (3rd level warriors) and inattentive, so unless the PCs trigger the golem or notice the towers (which are disguised as rock formations) and decide to explore they probably won't encounter anyone.

all of these derro have xill eggs in them and by the rules of this region if they're reduced to 50% or fewer hit points there's a chance of a full-grown xill chest-bursting from them.

This region does make me question why D&D has three distinct races of subterranean and assholish dwarves? Of course this Region has all three, just to make things that little bit extra confusing.

This section also introduces a new material created for the WLD. Truesilver, it's basically mithril with the properties of silver. Weapons made from it have a natural +2 enhancement bonus, and armor and shields have a +1 enhancement bonus. Tiny amounts (1/30 of a pound, a bit more than a silver coin's worth) can be used as material component for good aligned spells granting them a +2 to CL and DC. If enchanted with the Holy enhancement it is considered only a +1 enhancement for purposes of determining the price to make the item and the damage increases to +3d6 vs evil. Weapons made of truesilver are considered both good aligned and silver.

Needless to say, truesilver is some pretty amazing stuff...except that it looses all of it's special properties, transforming into normal silver, if it is ever touched by anyone other than an outsider. Meaning that every single thing that the writers just spent half a page talking about is utterly pointless. I don't think there's even a single truesilver item in the region that's being wielded by an outsider and even those weapons that are also enchanted would be useless, becoming much softer and much heavier. Even if you have a PC with the outsider type (such as an aasimar or a 20th level monk), you could never use truesilver weapons against any beings other than outsiders without them turning to crap. The material actual has no relevance to the adventure anyway, there are a few rooms with ingots or lumps of truesilver but it can't be used by the PCs and a couple of +1 truesilver weapons lying around the entrance to region that are likewise worthless.

D7-D24
This section is the home of rebellious Derro who are trying to find some way to survive and escape, but are driven mad with despair because they know they are all doomed when the xill eggs inside them hatch. The only real threat here are a few of the more dangerous traps and the possibility of multiple Xill hatchlings. There are several magic items available from some of the derro with class levels, but nothing greater than +1, because 15th level characters are all about the +1 items!

Sadly this may be the first chance many PCs will have had to get things like Bracers of Armor and rings of protection, +1 or not.

D25-D31

The path to the proper derro mine is protected by a few crappy traps, formorian patrols and apparently a group of stone giants that Cthrax got to work for him.

This brings up a question: presumably these stone giants weren't imprisoned here...so how did they get here? The "entrance" in Region A is too small, the exit in Region H is too far up (and protected by the elves). The exit in Region O is certainly giant sized but is protected by forces greater than Cthrax. In fact, it's made pretty clear that Cthrax has not actually been here that long. Shortly after he arrived he begin gradually seeding his minions with Xill eggs to produce better and more loyal servant, and the gestation for that is only 3 months. He probably arrived at around the same time longtail did, or even later, but there's no indication of how he got here or what effect his arrival may have had on other Regions.

There's also a derro factory where they produce materials for the mine. There's mention of them using "corrupted" truesilver for some purpose, presumably they aren't referring to just normal silver (which wouldn't be much use in a mine) but this is never clarified. Perhaps truesilver had some kind of plot relevance in some early draft of the dungeon and it was simply removed very clumsily.

D32-D51

This is the derro's "great hall" where most of their work takes place. There's a rather elaborate description of the process of mining, refining and casting truesilver ingots but still no indication of why the derro bother with a metal they cannot use. Considering how desperate Cthrax is to get the vault excavated you'd think he wouldn't allow his workers to spend time mining silver, true or otherwise.

I should mention I do like some of the mining monsters the derro have harnessed. Destrachan and Yrthak are used to dissolve and crush stone with their sonic attacks and dissolvers are used to melt down the rubble. Bullets are also used sometimes. However, there is one mining creature that gives me an absolute fit of nerd-rage. I'll give more details when I come to it.

Cthrax is also here, however the text makes it clear that Cthrax values his own life very highly and if attacked he will call for help and use invisibility and expeditious retreat to escape as quickly as possible. He doesn't stick around to fight unless cornered, which would be quite tough in this large open area.

If Cthrax is killed, either here or elsewhere, the "plot" of the region is basically over. He has a phylactery containing the essence of the formorian queen and if it is broken then the formorians go berserk, realizing their queen has been dead all this time, and start attacking every other creature. The dwarves and giants basically have no motivation to continue unearthing the devil's vault and will presumably focus on exterminating the formorians (and vice versa) before dying due to xill eggs. After a few weeks this will likely just be a colony of xill.

In addition to Cthrax's lair this area also has the laboratory of an evil gnome mad scientist, a 16th level Wizard. He's built a lot of mining equipment that gets way too much page-space wasted on describing. Some are mildly interesting and may be useful to creative PCs (such as a bead that releases a large amount of fresh air), but we really don't need 6 paragraphs wasted describing the gnome's malfunctioning magical sonar imaging machine.

D57-D68

This is the deepest part of the mine. Most of this is just more easy encounters with derro and formorians, as well as apparently some grimlocks. However there is one thing here I absolutely hate, and this is what first made me realize just how crappy the WLD is.

Now, if you're anything like me, when you hear of a giant dungeon that has every monster in the SRD you immediately come up with one question. What do they do with Mr. T?

For some reason, I've always really liked the Tarrasque, ever since 2nd edition and even into 3rd and 4th edition as you see more and more features getting added on to immunize him against tricks and close loopholes in his invulnerability. He's like the love child of the Hulk and Godzilla. Obviously he has to be in here, so I was very curious where he might be and what his role would be. After reading that the dungeon was designed as a prison I naturally assumed he must be one of the main prisoners. It works great, just imagine deep below the earth the tarrasque wrapped in chains of enchanted adamantine, his struggles shaking the entire dungeon and cracking its foundation.

Well, it took me quite a while to actually find him. I naturally assumed he would be in Region O since that's the only Region that goes to 20th level. Or Region N with its huge circular cell in the center. Well, it turns out he's here in Region D. Working as a glorified pit pony.

You read that right. The Tarrasque, the ultimate beast of destruction. Doing mine work.

Let's lay out all the details. Apparently years before the Xill turned up Rroliq, a 14th level derro sorcerer apparently was able to use a wish to enslave the tarrasque. That's about all there is to the story. It's never explained where Rroliq got access to a wish spell (which is fairly important considering that getting one is the entire driving goal behind Cthrax's plans), or how a wish could produce such an effect. Keep in mind a Wish spell can't even duplicate the Dominate Monster spell, let alone a version that lasts for years at a time.

The one condition of the spell is that Rroliq must stay within 5 feet of the tarrasque at all times. Now, think about what sort of hell this guy must live in. He can never go into any building with an entrance less than 40 feet or so, if he wants to crap or piss he either just does it in the dirt at the tarrasque's feet or he has to have someone fetch him a bucket. If he wants to sleep he had better hope the tarrasque doesn't roll over on top of him.

Just imagine the relative scales involved as well. The derro is about 3-4 feet tall, the tarrasque is about 70 feet long. It would be like if a mouse had to stay within one inch of st bernard's paws at all times. How does he avoid being stepped on? Even if he manages to avoid it a particularly bad trip could end up killing him if the tarrasque just happens to keep walking far enough to leave the derro behind.

And what a waste! Even with all the downsides this guy now controls one of the supreme destructive forces in the world. And what does he do with this power? He digs stuff. He's not even digging up stuff he wants to dig, he is digging for someone else. It would be like someone owning a sci-fi super-tank and using it to work for a taxi service.

And of course, the biggest issue is that this encounter is obscenely lethal for the PCs. They're maybe level 15-16 (it's really impossible to say, the leveling rules in the WLD are never clarified so there's no way to tell when a character should or should not level up throughout a region) and the Tarrasque is an obscenely difficult fight even for its 20 CR. The typical Tarrasque battle scenario involves being well aware of the monster's presence and having some chance to choose your battlefield and set the rules of engagement. It does not typically involve simply stumbling across it in a mineshaft that's not much taller than the monster itself.

Rroliq does not initially set the tarrasque on intruders, he'll simply fight to the death himself and if he dies the tarrasque returns to its natural state of murder-rage. Beating Rroliq isn't much of a challenge, he focuses almost exclusively on just area of effect evocation spells. However, the unleashed tarrasque can only be run from (if you're a dwarf, halfling, gnome or wear heavy armor, you're hosed). Given the shape of the dungeon, it'll likely head to Region H, kill all the elves, then swim through Region L before finally escaping through Region O. So, best case scenario, some of the party manage to escape from its rampage, but the good-aligned inhabitants of Region H will die defending their sacred tree and finally the tarrasque will escape into the world at large.

Killing the tarrasque is of course an impossibility. Even at level 20, characters in the WLD are so starved of magic items that they have no hope of defeating it.

D69-D80

There is nothing of significance here. Just a few miners.

The only thing worth commenting on is for some reason the writers decided to waste time by making a rat swarm encounter for level 14+ PCs.

D81-D84

This is the devil vault. Apparently the demons imprisoned here were servants of Astakhor the Undying, attacking good and evil gods alike. Once Astakhor was defeated and imprisoned the evil gods demanded that his servants be killed. Apparently the good gods decided that wouldn't do and they should just be locked for all eternity in a lightless prison beneath the earth. So amazingly it turns out that not only was killing the demons an option, it was actively lobbied for by some of the gods. Somehow the good gods decided that this was somehow merciful. Imprisoning these devils did require 4 Solars to sacrifice their lives, just to ensure that the world didn't become less evil.

This section is completely inaccessible until the Tarrasque manages to dig its way through the barriers. This takes about a week after the PCs show up in this Region. If allowed to continue digging, the Tarrasque will eventually break through before the hordes of devils overwhelm it (in theory, the devils actually can't do much to hurt the tarrasque, but the more powerful devils also have their own regeneration ability) and flood the region. So, worst case scenario you've got a swarm of devils and a tarrasque spilling into the rest of the dungeon and then the world at large. Best case scenario, the tarrasque swallows the pit fiend and most of the more powerful devils. The regenerating devils are trapped within the tarrasque's stomach, indigestible but unable to escape. Finally full, the tarrasque might settle down a bit.

But essentially, once you enter this Region, which isn't likely given its location and the fact that it can only be entered through Region H (where the PCs likely have already left the dungeon) the PCs have two options that are never spelled out for them: Release the tarrasque and have it kill a lot of things (PCs included) or do nothing and allow the devils to be released in about a week, then they and the tarrasque kill a lot of things (PCs included).

Mimir
Nov 26, 2012


Cthrax, Astakhor, and Serratine are available at your local pharmacy. Ask your doctor before using any medication. Cthrax and Astakor should not be used if you are nursing, pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant. Side effects of Serratine may include Xill lung, erratic Derro syndrome, and Glebshay.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Mimir posted:

Cthrax, Astakhor, and Serratine are available at your local pharmacy. Ask your doctor before using any medication. Cthrax and Astakor should not be used if you are nursing, pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant. Side effects of Serratine may include Xill lung, erratic Derro syndrome, and Glebshay.

I know right? I don't know how they came up with the names they used, but they seem to be under the impression that the harder to pronounce they are the better they'll be.

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

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



Clapping Larry

...I shouldn't be surprised at the tarrasque. It's not like anything else has made a lick of sense.

Yawgmoth
Sep 10, 2003

This post is cursed!


A minor point of contention: the tarrasque (at least in 3.5e) is really not that hard of a fight. I have a 12th level monk/kensai that could handle him solo in 3 rounds; our party casters could probably take him down on their own in the same or less time. As a party, it might take the majority of one round. He's just a big sack of hp and little else, sadly.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



System Mastery Episode 12 is up and active. This time we're reviewing D20 Modern. Next time we'll be reviewing the Urban Arcana expansion. I've read them both so extensively that it was difficult to review one without accidentally talking a bunch about the other, but I'm definitely looking forward to talking about gnoll pimps and basketball minotaurs.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Yawgmoth posted:

A minor point of contention: the tarrasque (at least in 3.5e) is really not that hard of a fight. I have a 12th level monk/kensai that could handle him solo in 3 rounds; our party casters could probably take him down on their own in the same or less time. As a party, it might take the majority of one round. He's just a big sack of hp and little else, sadly.

You're forgetting two main factors:

first, the party in the WLD is very, very far short of the wealth-by-level guidelines. Their AC will be poo poo because they barely have magical armor, let alone additional AC boosting items like rings or amulets. Their stats will be low because they don't have any of the boosting items available, and they probably will not even have the attack bonus needed to reliably hit the tarrasque, let alone inflicting enough damage through it's DR and regeneration to have any meaningful effect (it may be just a big bag of hit points, but it's a lot of hit points).


Second, the party are neither forewarned nor in an advantageous position. They're in tight, poorly lit quarters which help to remove the tarrasque's main disadvantage: a lack of ranged combat. You can't use flight to avoid him, or long-range attacks to hurt him from a distance while staying ahead of his slow speed.

Now, a party that can outrun him can certainly escape, but the WLD isn't exactly full of places to run too and allow him to simply destroy everything inside and break free to rampage in the outside world is hardly a "victory".

And while I'm not going to say you couldn't build one (I've learned to never doubt the efficiency of broken builds in 3.5) a 12th level character capable of outputting over 1000 damage in 3 rounds is certainly...let's call it "heavily optimized". When designing an adventure you can't assume that players are going to be willing or capable of putting that much effort into character optimization and in these circumstances the tarrasque is more than dangerous enough to be unbeatable to an average party equipped with the poo poo gear WLD offers.

The Iron Rose
May 12, 2012

:minnie: Cat Army :minnie:


Yawgmoth posted:

A minor point of contention: the tarrasque (at least in 3.5e) is really not that hard of a fight. I have a 12th level monk/kensai that could handle him solo in 3 rounds; our party casters could probably take him down on their own in the same or less time. As a party, it might take the majority of one round. He's just a big sack of hp and little else, sadly.

I kinda want to hear more about this monk now.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


World's Largest Dungeon definitely like it was written by a bunch of people given a vague outline who never coordinated or communicated. It had, what, at least 17 authors? I can't tell if there's more because that's the point where RPG.net's layout runs out of space on the page to list them.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Alien Rope Burn posted:

World's Largest Dungeon definitely like it was written by a bunch of people given a vague outline who never coordinated or communicated. It had, what, at least 17 authors? I can't tell if there's more because that's the point where RPG.net's layout runs out of space on the page to list them.

Yeah about 14 authors and the line developer Jim Pinto, who includes possibly the saddest lines ever written in the back of the book:

"I've read the majority of the text at least twice, and this book is about as good as anything I ever do is going to get. This is my magnum opus."


In the words of Dana Scully: "Doesn't that make you sad? It makes me sad."

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


The Iron Rose posted:

I kinda want to hear more about this monk now.

I'm kind of interested too, because if I wanted to build an ultimate melee death machine I'm not sure I'd have used monk at all, since IIRC most of the easy ways to get Pounce were via Barbarian.

PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy




Soiled Meat

The WLD is so completely awful, but there is one way to force the Worlds Largest Dungeon make sense.

The Metaplot is a blind, a ruse. Maybe it was created by some feindish god to torture mortals (and the Celestials within are frauds, which explains their ineptitude); or maybe it's a way for a more righteous God to eliminate mortals with a certain black destiny (which explains the Celestials' inactivity).

Either way? I like the concept, but it seems like Ptolus does the concept so much better. WLD's implementation is utter poo poo.

Yawgmoth
Sep 10, 2003

This post is cursed!


oriongates posted:

You're forgetting two main factors
No, I was just assuming you meant that normally he's a hard CR20 encounter, rather than WLD making him impossible because everyone should have sworn a Vow of Poverty about 14 levels ago. I still don't think he's that hard of an encounter unless the PCs are totally blindsided, and even then it's more the 14th level sorcerer I'd be worrying about.

The Iron Rose posted:

I kinda want to hear more about this monk now.
Mechanically I have a big pile of homebrew stuff on him and it's a gestalt game so his core is actually monk/kensai//fighter. But the meat of his insane damage is a very simple, by-the-books build: Decisive Strike monk with Power Attack, Superior Unarmed Strike, Improved Natural Attack, and Knowledge Devotion feats with a monk's belt and getting greater mighty wallop cast on me (it lasts 1hr/CL so if you you don't have someone casting it on you, buy a magic item of Extended GMW for 48k). My base damage with decisive strike is 24d8 plus double whatever I power attack for, which becomes 36d8+[3xPA] on a crit. If I hit with both DS attacks (which I will because my attack bonus is almost equal to its AC with my buff items) I do ~216 damage plus 4x whatever I power attacked for.

I wouldn't say I'm "highly optimized", since I'm not putting out tarrasque-lethal damage in a single turn, but I do a pretty respectable amount of damage. I'd personally call myself mid-range on the larger scale of optimizing. Like any "fighter" type build, I do triple digit damage if I can full attack and mediocre damage if I can't (although aforementioned homebrew such as making kensai an initiator PrC helps with that).

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



theironjef posted:

System Mastery Episode 12 is up and active. This time we're reviewing D20 Modern. Next time we'll be reviewing the Urban Arcana expansion. I've read them both so extensively that it was difficult to review one without accidentally talking a bunch about the other, but I'm definitely looking forward to talking about gnoll pimps and basketball minotaurs.

I do want to say that I really like your podcast. My fave so far is Haven (...City of Violence) but they've all been really enjoyable.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.






Chapter 12: Storytelling: Rediscovering the Magick of Life.


Rediscover the magick of fireflies building a church on your sweet zombie hat.


This is the chapter where Everlasting lays out all its roleplaying and gamemastering advice, and it starts out...pretty drat good. Everyone at the table is a storyteller. Nobody’s fun/character is more important than anyone else’s. Keep everyone involved. Stress teamwork, but give everyone a chance to shine. “Winning” and accumulating power isn’t the most important thing. Everyone should try to embody their character and stay in character, but honest effort is what deserves the most reward. Accept criticism, and be prepared to improvise. So far, so good. Then it jumps off the deep end.

There is a page on different “approaches to the mythic system,” a fancy way of discussing what the game will actually be about. It’s obvious that despite the author’s protestations, Everlasting is meant to be a setting in which you can hopefully tell many different types of stories, rather than a setting built around a theme. (And that’s okay. Not every game needs to be a tightly-focused narrative indie game.) The advice here, though, is several different ways of saying. “This is a thing you can do, just don’t do it too much.” Action is fun, but too much combat is a lot of meaningless die-rolling. In-depth roleplaying is fun, but too much and nothing actually happens. Intrigue is good, but too much becomes ridiculous and the Guide won’t be able to keep it all straight, and so on.


Do you believe this sweet swordcane was only $19.99 on BUDK.com?

The advice on hosting a game session is mostly common-sense stuff, but assumes that you’re going to play for hours and hours, “often into the wee hours of the night (and sometimes on into the next day).” Granted, in the 90s I also believed that this was a necessary part of roleplaying, but I was in high school, and since then I haven’t had enough free time for that kind of gaming. I would rather they give useful advice on how to cram a satisfying legendmaking experience into 2-3 hours. Instead there is ho-hum stuff like “CDs of sound effects are good” and “pizza is tasty.”

It’s suggested that the Guide receive rewards along with the players. This can take the form of XP for a character in someone else’s game, or even cash and gifts, under the rationale that we tip waiters for good service. Then it suggests putting time limits on scenes and sessions to prevent boredom and playing into the aforementioned wee hours of the morning, but like everything related to the Persona traits, it does so in the most fussy and mathematical way it can. It’s recommended for the Guide to estimate how long they think a scene will take, allot 2/3rds for the main plot and 1/3rd for the secondary plot, and allot 25% of overall time for scenes that overrun the time limit.

What follows is an example of play--sorry, example of legendmaking. How do I keep forgetting that?

quote:

Four people have gathered in a basement for a night of legendmaking. They have exchanged the light bulbs for red lights and have placed some lit candles on the large table they are seated around. Also on the table are two fake skulls, hand-scrawled directions to a haunted house on what looks to be the brown paper of a grocery sack, and everyone’s cards, dice, and protagonist profiles.
All of these four people (and I am stunned that they aren’t identified as “storytellers” or “querents” or some other mumbo-jumbo) are doing something besides just playing their character. Owen is playing a revenant named Alexandra Carter and serving as “rules Guide” so he’s drawing cards for the NPCs. Vaughn is playing a vampire called Olgur Dasmizig (who may have been named in the middle of a sneezing fit), and also playing a NPC ghost. Gregg is playing a ghul named Marcus and he is also a co-Guide, in charge of “describing scenes” and running a subplot, while Steve is playing a vampire named Nathaniel and is the Guide for the main plot.

Okay, it’s nice to see that Everlasting hasn’t just unceremoniously dispensed with all those half-baked GMing experiments it rambled about in the introduction. Assuming this game actually happened, and the participants actually divided up the GM’s duties this way, actually getting legendmaking done must have been a lurching, crippled miracle, like three handicapped kids in a trenchcoat sneaking in to see Underworld.

Because SteveNate is Guiding and playing at the same time, he describes everything with what sounds like the royal “we” of a king’s footman or a frustrated dental hygienist. “As the scene opens we find ourselves walking stealthily through a dark wood, led by Avery the ghost.” Avery the ghost was murdered by Efram the necromancer, and now he’s leading the party to the necromancer’s dilapidated mansion. They beat up some zombie minions, and while breaking into the house, SteveNate rolls a Disaster, and thus has to decide what kind of bad thing happens to his own character. He steps through a rotten board, spoiling the element of surprise and attracting a mob of ghosts and zombies. The example of legendmaking ends on a cliffhanger as someone pulls out a submachine gun.

Some choice quotes:

quote:

I’ll bet you those dead souls are supposed to get put into the corpses over there in those graves.

quote:

You don’t mess me up, genitor. Stay clear so I can do some killin’.

quote:

(Directing Alexandra’s anger at Grauss) You bastard. I’m gonna rip you limb from limb, and your soul too if I can catch it. (Marie and Alexandra’s relationship and the strength of their friendship were modeled on Owen’s friendship with one of his own friends, so Owen knows that Alexandra is really mad.)
The book explains why Owen understands the anger of his vampire waifu.


And this one was $15 at the flea market!

Adventure Creation

There is a large section on crafting campaigns. At this point, reviewing the chapter becomes difficult. This section is divided into Conflict, Plot, Theme, Construction, Character, Special Elements, Storytelling Tools, and Special Storytelling Techniques. Does that start to sound redundant? It is, and it scatters topics around while wandering aimlessly among them. Advice on details, like cue cards and props, are stuck in between treatments of more holistic issues like plot and theme.

It’s possible that I’m being too harsh on Everlasting compared to other games published in the same era. (If I had any of my 1st and 2nd edition World of Darkness books at hand, I’d skim them for comparison.) That said, a big problem with most of the discussion of storytelling in this chapter is that it often consists merely of lists of things, along with frequent reminders to make this important or that important, without really telling you how or even defining terms, and the facile advice that you could do this or you could also do this other thing. Plots and motivations are especially prone to being conveyed through lists of possibilities, whereas stuff like “mood” and atmosphere” are often subject to nagging reminders. “Don’t leave the house without remembering that it’s every player’s responsibility to maintain the atmosphere! Your campaign will catch its death of bathos!” Yes, Grandma.

It begins with the suggestion that you define the central conflict of the campaign. Most of these boil down to one faction of monsters opposing another in a gang war, in fine White Wolf tradition. Dominion vs. Dominion, Dominion vs. Intruders, Faction vs. Faction, Genos vs. Genos, etc. Then there are very vague ones, like “Immortal vs. Self” for a game focusing on Torment, “Immortal vs. Mortals,” which is very broad, and even more vague stuff like “Law vs. Chaos.” “Ancients vs. Ancients” would presumably work like Vampire’s Jyhad, of course, but we have little sense of the ancient eldritch in the setting and what they want. “Daevan Household vs. Kingdom of Night:” is kind of interesting because the daevas are at the center of the metaplot, and the daeva families are getting weaker while the Kingdoms of Night are getting stronger. Too bad we don’t have stats for daevas, or any reason to care about them. (And hey, looks like the author decided whether they’re “courts” or “kingdoms.”)

Next we are advised to come up with a high-concept central plot in the form of a one-sentence description of what the game will be about. The given examples are “the party exorcises the many spirits in a haunted house” and “the party busts a human trafficking ring making people into eldritch food.”

Everlasting is also kind of hung up on subplots, which it seems to define as an episodic adventure that’s somewhat tangential to the plot. As you’ve already read, it suggests weird things like specifically allotting time to subplots and having a different person GM when a subplot comes up. It recommends subplots either centered on a single protagonist and their motivations, “historical subplots” which take the form of continuity-establishing flashbacks (because this game needs more excuses to imitate “Highlander: the Series”), or Very Special Episodes wherein, for example, the players play NPC ghosts who visit their regular PCs to warn them about evil necromancers (or perhaps the consequences of losing their Christmas spirit).

Next comes a section on creating NPCs, but it’s mostly concerned with antagonists. The advice here is listy but pretty solid; a good antagonist usually believes they’re in the right, you should consider the villain’s perspective and what they’re doing when they’re doing when they’re not menacing the PCs, and their villainy should be conveyed to the PCs in a show-don’t-tell fashion. There’s also a list of types of villains, encompassing the villain’s nature and/or how they go about menacing the party, from misunderstood creatures to simple maniacs to mysterious schemers or corruptors. Following this is a single paragraph on, well, all the other PCs, dividing them into helpful, neutral, and opposing.

After this we get a very long list of examples of action and suspense without combat, including things like car chases, being detained by police, and some questionable ones like “showing off to impress others.” I wish more games did something similar, but not in the form of a 1½ page list.


Don't look, dadragon! I'm legendmaking, okay? Can't a guy let a little privacy in this house?

The page on adventure construction recommends dividing your story into an introduction, body, transitional scenes, climax, and a denouement, as if it’s advising you on crafting a short story or screenplay. It suggests dividing the story into “chapters” if it’s going to take more than one session, and I think you’ll agree there’s a structural mishmash here that doesn’t quite work. By the way, it even suggests training montages as one example of a transitional scene. Cause you’re the best! Around! Nothing’s ever gonna keep you down! Unless they chop off your head or put a stake in your heart and leave you out in the sun. Afterward there are a few paragraphs suggesting you keep cue cards with notes on everything from the plot outline and planned scenes to locations, supporting characters, and even important magick items.

The pages on Special Story Elements, Storytelling Tools, and Special Storytelling Techniques are collectively a big grab-bag of 1-3 paragraph long sections providing tips on storytelling details, some useful, some less so. The division between sections doesn’t make sense; any topic from one section could go in one of the others. I’m at a loss to summarize the whole thing, but going through it page-by-page would be redundant and plodding. Here’s the Cliff’s notes:

Dream sequences: Wankity wank.
Flashback sequences: Wanky wankity Highlander wankity wank.
Epilogues, Prologues: Have scenes that don’t actually include the PCs, but show the players what happened before or after the adventure, like maybe a villain escaped on a boat. More evidence that this game is based on too much late-night television.
Foreshadowing: It’s good. You should foreshadow things.
Story Handouts: Have you ever used these? In a game that wasn’t Call of Cthulhu? Me neither.
Humor: Humor is good! Be funny.
Plot devices: Your plots should have devices.
Surrealism: Have you ever considered making your games like "Twin Peaks?" No?
Symbolism: It’s good. Your game should have symbols.
Appearance: There is the understandable suggestion that you not wear a Hawaiian shirt while trying to scare the poo poo out of your players, and the less-understandable suggestion that you reward players for wearing period costume, and even that the entire group wear costumes and makeup, up to and including liquid latex zombie and ghul makeup.
Conversations prior to Sessions: To set the mood, you could talk about Stephen King or “The X-Files” before you play. Okay.
Lighting: Candles. Coloured lights. Remember to keep a flashlight so you can find the bathroom.
Music and Sound Effects: Music. Sound Effects.
Locations: If you’re going to LARP, you should LARP in...a location of some kind.
Props and decorations: “Most participants are happy just to experience legendmaking without going to any trouble to decorate or bring out props.” But why not decorate your gaming table with skulls and swords and a bunch of other geeky poo poo you bought online?
Seasons and Weather: A treatise on different seasons and how different adventures could be set in different seasons. I don’t know why (for example) demons are associated with autumn, but then again, the cast of “Supernatural” is always dressed like they’re hiking the Appalachian trail in October.
Smells: Have you ever considered evoking a forested setting by covering the table in pine straw, or burning incense whenever a recurring villain appears? No, you haven’t, because you’re not a goddamned lunatic.
Endangerment of Protagonists or Things They Value: Do this.
Handling Boring Scenes: Wrap it up, eldritchailures.
Imagery: Remember to describe things.
Motivation: Give the PCs this.
Mystery: Not bloody likely when you’re GMing and playing at the same time.


Oh look, exactly what this chapter needs!

Here’s an aside that probably won’t make sense to anyone, but gently caress you, it’s my show. I started the season’s rugby practice last night, and I was really lost. I knew that my skills would be rusty, since I’m a novice and I missed the whole last season to injury. But it’s striking when you realize how difficult it is to not only perform basic skills like keeping pace with your teammates, maintaining a defensive line, catching, passing, tackling, and so on...but to do all of these things simultaneously, or in sequence, when someone else is trying to stop you. If our coach just blathered “Run good. Stay in your zone. Keep pace. Stay on the point man. Keep the line. Tackle. Tackle like this. Put your hands out to catch. Remember what I said about zoning. Pass good, don’t pass bad,” he’d be as bad at coaching as The Everlasting is at teaching us how to run...whatever kind of game it thinks it’s trying to be. And if he suggested that the whole team do a haka before every drill or dress up in Jonah Lomu costumes, he’d be just as crazy, too.

Next time, on The Everlasting: :wtc: :histdowns: Xv*~LEGENDMAKING~*vX :pseudo: :wtc:

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


theironjef posted:

System Mastery Episode 12 is up and active. This time we're reviewing D20 Modern. Next time we'll be reviewing the Urban Arcana expansion. I've read them both so extensively that it was difficult to review one without accidentally talking a bunch about the other, but I'm definitely looking forward to talking about gnoll pimps and basketball minotaurs.
Since there are often cases of passing over reviews and that leading to a misconception that they aren't viewed, I figured I'd chip in and note that I've been enjoying your podcasts when I'm having to get out to town. I heavily disagree with you on the majority of the comments about d20 Modern (which, I'll admit, is probably due to my own biases), but you're still entertaining in spite of that, which I'd say is a testament to doing your job well.


Halloween Jack posted:

Seasons and Weather: A treatise on different seasons and how different adventures could be set in different seasons. I don’t know why (for example) demons are associated with autumn, but then again, the cast of “Supernatural” is always dressed like they’re hiking the Appalachian trail in October.
My guess on this would be the fact that autumn is traditionally the time of "oh poo poo, winter's coming, things might get bad". It's similar to how cultures that live near water have a lot of bogeymen that kids are told will grab you if you get too close to the water or how cultures where Christianity has become ingrained often have at least one undead said to come from the soul of the unbaptized.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




If you have any insight into the red lightbulbs I'd love to hear it

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Halloween Jack posted:

If you have any insight into the red lightbulbs I'd love to hear it

Regular white lightbumbs have a detrimental effect on legends, not as much as sunlight, but still, it's hard to make legends properly. Ideally, you should use a red or black lightbulb. At the very least you can get a dimmer for any white lights so they do minimal damage to your newly created legends.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Regular white lightbumbs have a detrimental effect on legends, not as much as sunlight, but still, it's hard to make legends properly. Ideally, you should use a red or black lightbulb. At the very least you can get a dimmer for any white lights so they do minimal damage to your newly created legends.

Stephen C. Brown posted:

Darkness itself is a fun roleplaying tool, especially in freeform legendmaking. It is always a good idea to have a flashlight handy so everyone can navigate to the bathroom and kitchen safely.

Grnegsnspm
Oct 20, 2003

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarian 2: Electric Boogaloo

theironjef posted:

System Mastery Episode 12 is up and active. This time we're reviewing D20 Modern. Next time we'll be reviewing the Urban Arcana expansion. I've read them both so extensively that it was difficult to review one without accidentally talking a bunch about the other, but I'm definitely looking forward to talking about gnoll pimps and basketball minotaurs.

I figured I should also come say hi at some point. I'm the other guy in the podcast and the one that does the movie reviews and gaming articles for the site. Glad some of you have been enjoying our goofy bullshit. This thread continually gives me things I want to review for upcoming podcasts (Aletheia in particularly looks awesomely batshit loco) and if you guys have any suggestions for some good/terrible out of print games we should do, let us know. There are only so many things we can find in the FLGS' used bargain bin.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Evil Mastermind posted:

I do want to say that I really like your podcast. My fave so far is Haven (...City of Violence) but they've all been really enjoyable.

Thanks! We've enjoyed it a bunch. Gettin' drunk and talkin' games.

Fossilized Rappy posted:

Since there are often cases of passing over reviews and that leading to a misconception that they aren't viewed, I figured I'd chip in and note that I've been enjoying your podcasts when I'm having to get out to town. I heavily disagree with you on the majority of the comments about d20 Modern (which, I'll admit, is probably due to my own biases), but you're still entertaining in spite of that, which I'd say is a testament to doing your job well.

Also thanks! And it's all good, I actually put forward the notion of reviewing D20 Modern because my own copy is all dogeared and well-beloved. I think it takes a bunch of tweaking to get really good, but I have a soft spot for it.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Grnegsnspm posted:

I figured I should also come say hi at some point. I'm the other guy in the podcast and the one that does the movie reviews and gaming articles for the site. Glad some of you have been enjoying our goofy bullshit. This thread continually gives me things I want to review for upcoming podcasts (Aletheia in particularly looks awesomely batshit loco) and if you guys have any suggestions for some good/terrible out of print games we should do, let us know. There are only so many things we can find in the FLGS' used bargain bin.

Well, I just bought Hobomancer and Last Stand. The only thing I know about Hobomancer is the game is about riding rails as a hobo and battling things from outside reality. And Last Stand is made by a goon(s?) and is about being mankind's last best shot against giant insects, dinosaurs and invading space robbits by killing them and fusing their bits to you. I think. Haven't read them yet.

Stephen C. Brown posted:

Darkness itself is a fun roleplaying tool, especially in freeform legendmaking. It is always a good idea to have a flashlight handy so everyone can navigate to the bathroom and kitchen safely.

Riddle me this, riddle me that, whose hand in that?
How are you supposed to see dice rolls? Or character sheets?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Tasoth posted:

Riddle me this, riddle me that, whose hand in that?
How are you supposed to see dice rolls? Or character sheets?
Where we're going, we won't need dice to roll.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Tasoth posted:

Riddle me this, riddle me that, whose hand in that?
How are you supposed to see dice rolls? Or character sheets?

Glow in the dark dice. Finally, a use for them.

Moto42
Jul 14, 2006

:dukedog:

Playing in the dark isn't automatically groggy.
I spent some time watching a friend's farm, using a kerosene lantern at night. It got me thinking about ways to use light and the players access to it as a mechanic or mcguffin.
Give them a couple teaspoons of kerosene for the lantern and hand them new light sources as they find them in-game. How do the players act when the next mcguffin is across the pitch black yard IRL and all they have left is a candle made from some notebook paper and the wax from a cheese-wheel?
Oh and blacklight reactive dice.

This is way off topic, sorry.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

I'll have you know, foxes have the finest call in nature




Challenge of the Bandeirantes
Part II - Races


The book opens with character creation. A character in Challenge of the Bandeirantes is composed of the very familiar elements race, profession, attributes and skills. Profession is what we're accostumed to call "class" in other games: it's the niche played by the character in the adventuring party. Lastly, we have social class, which is randomly rolled. It represents the character's standing in colonial society, as well as their funds available for purchasing equipment at the start of the game.

In a very traditional layout, we've got one chapter for each of these elements waiting for us.

Character Race

Challenge of the Bandeirantes avoids that pesky problem of RPG races being thinly-veiled allegories of real-world races and cultures by skipping the allegory step altogether. The available player character races are straight-up real-world ethnic groups.

Race is pretty big decision, the most important one you'll take in character creation. Challenge of the Bandeirantes is not a game of equal opportunity; race determines what professions and social classes are available to the character, and locks them out of the rest. You could argue that a game about fantastical adventure should have mold-breaking characters, and that verisimilitude shouldn't hold great ideas back. As much as it would be cool in a 1650 setting to have a rich black person or a white man initiated into the índios' magic, Challenge of the Bandeirantes doesn't allow it. At least not out of character creation.

Here's what the game has to say about it:

quote:

It's important that the player keep mind that these races are described as they appeared in the XVII century. The black were enslaved until the end of the XIX century; the natives were exploited and lost much of their culture; and the white felt themselves superior and owners of the truth. All this is part of our History, and to despise any of these facts would be to miss the point of this RPG, which is, basically, an entirely national setting. There are, of course, some adaptations made for the rules of the game, and to make it more pleasant.
It's a verisimilitude argument, but it's one in a game with a heavy historical premise. How valid is that is an interesting issue of game design, I think.

Let's get to our options.

White

The white man comes to the Land of Santa Cruz for the most varied of reasons. Some want to get rich by exploiting the land through planting and slaves, some by trading new products or finding new consumer markets. Some come for the thrill of adventure in a new land, some come because they're running away from the metropolis, and some even come to honestly stablish for themselves a new life.
Social class: the white can be of any social class, except slave. It means they can be filthy rich and exceedingly important to the metropolis, or poor dudes who own nothing but the clothes on their back. The book does not discard the possibility of a white slave, but mentions that it'd be a pretty huge deal and should be treated as an influential plot point.
Professions:
Fighter. The classical RPG fighting man, versed in the use of weapons and standing strong at the party's front line of defence.
Tracker. The RPG "ranger", the tracker is the guide, pathfinder, and survivalist of the group. When most of the land is unexplored and wild, the tracker is a valuable member of the party.
Thief. Another one we're used to, the thief is the adventurer specialised in "creative problem-solving".
Jesuit. The Company of Jesus were a Catholic order specialising in "missions", excursions into new, unexplored lands to bring the word of Jesus to the natives. The jesuits were very present and a key factor in the colonisation of Brazil. Think of them as adventuring priests.
Witch (the internet tells me the term can be used for both males and females). A practitioner of the old European witchcraft arts. The Church is absolutely not happy about them, and some of them end up in the New World.

Índio (Indian)

The índio in the Land of Santa Cruz has the home advantage. Despite having way less technology than the white, the índios make up for it by knowing the land's history, its legends and its nature.
Tribe: There are many different índio tribes, and we'll talk about a lot of them a few chapters down the road. The game offers 8 options of tribes for a newly created character. They have no mechanical impact, but are a pretty big deal because tribe determines what's the relationship between the índio and the settlers.
Social classes: The índio can be a farmer, an artisan, free man, or slave.
Professions:
Fighter, tracker, or
Pajé. The spiritual leader of the índio communities, the pajé calls forth the magic of the land. Think of it as a shaman and you're not too far off.

Black

Blacks have a tough time in colonial society. In Challenge of the Bandeirantes, the possibility of a black person being free from slavery is much greater than it actually was back then. Still, the black is either victim of a lot of prejudice or runs away to join secret hidden black communities called quilombos.
Social classes: The black has the same options as the índio, though with more probability of getting the worse results.
Professions:
Figher, thief, or
Black priest. Calls forth the gods of black religion, being able to summon magic by incorporating them into his or her own body.
Black sorcerer. A practitioner of the magical arts of the black culture; a lot of it is about dealing with spirits.
Sorcerer of iron and flame. Can call forth the magic of these two primordial elements; the warrior-mages of black culture.



Mulato (brown)

The child of white and black parents is called a mulato. They have trouble fitting in with either of these cultures. The whites consider them too black and not seldom enslave the mulatos; the blacks consider them too white and often see them with the hateful, distrustful eyes they have for the white.
Social classes: The mulato has more possibilites of social ascension than the black, but still way less than the white. They can be small merchants, farmers, artisans, free men, or slaves.
Professions:
The mulato shares the black profession list: fighter, thief, black priest, black sorcerer, or sorcerer of iron and flame.

Mestiço (mixed)

This is the term the game uses for a child of white and índio parents, even though the proper term is the less generic "caboclo". Differently from the mulatos, the mestiços are seen as a boon by the European settlers, for they are valuable as bridges between the white and índios. For this reason, they are employed in negotiations and often ordained as Catholic priests.
Social classes: Same as the mulato: small merchant, farmer, artisan, free man, or slave.
Professions:
To quote the book: "the mestiço can be a figher, thief, or, in a very special case, witch."

The white feel superior to the others. The black, even the free ones, suffer from the slavery stigma and impossibility of social ascension. The índios are seen with prejudice, but are valued as strategic pieces in the colonisation or as respectable enemies. They can treat the white with friendship, mistrust, or hostility.
The mulatos and mestiços can lean more to one of their cultural sides or other. They can be accepted in colonial society or choose to embrace their black or índio ancestry.

Culture corner: miscigenation. It's worth remembering that Brazil, and by proxy, the Land of Santa Cruz, is an extremely miscigenated country. It ties with the fact that many settlers did not bring their families. Miscigenation became common, then it became the norm, and nowadays there is in practice only one huge, mixed Brazilian lineage. The whitest of Brazilians can very well share as much African ancestry as the blackest of Brazilians. Mixed physical features are the norm.

This means picking a white character at character creation very likely means someone who just arrived from Europe. Someone born in the Land of Santa Cruz is very likely a mulato or a mestiço.

One thing that's sorely lacking from Challenge of the Bandeirantes is a black/índio lineage. These people were called "cafuzos" and they weren't by any means uncommon. One of the game's biggest flaws is lack of material on the relationship between índio and black culture. It is also the hardest kind of thing to gather information about in real-world history, but that still doesn't forgive the lack of a cafuzo character race.

Because of the miscigenation thing mentioned above, the terms caboclo, mestiço, and cafuzo are obsolete nowadays. Mulato is still used, but to denote a brown skin color, not white/black parents.

Next time: the professions!

Bonus culture corner: let's pronounce!
Santa Cruz - (SAN-tah CROOZ)
índio - (EEN-dee-o) The í is an i with an acute accent, with makes strong the syllable where it's at, like this:
pajé - (pah-JEH)
mulato - (moo-LAH-t'o)
mestiço - (mes-TEE-s'o) ç is a c with a thingie and it sounds like "ss".
caboclo - (kah-BO-kl'o)
cafuzo - (kaf-FOO-z'o)
All the 'o are meant to indicate a short "o" sound, not the crazy long "o" of the English language.

Cyphoderus fucked around with this message at 02:28 on Feb 9, 2014

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


While it looks like black characters get the shaft socially, their casting classes look interesting.

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011



Honestly, if there was ever a time to give non-whites the shaft in RPGs a Serious Historical RPG is probably one of the few times it'd be justifiable.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I am really impressed by the historypost and I'm looking forward to seeing more!

Ars Magica: Transforming Mythic Europe

So, technology. Because the laws of physics differ in Mythic Europe from the real world, technology will not develop the same way - and magic will almost certainly be a vital part of it. Magi are the most powerful uses of magic - well educated, versed in philosophy and terrifyingly powerful. However, they are also craftsmen - creators of potent items useful all over society. Magi could become more than artisans - they can become inventors. The book notes that it is fully aware that most games of Ars Magica try to avoid anachronism and 'magitech', because of how transformative technology can be. It is going to explain to use what will happen if magical technology becomes widespread - not just magi, but everyone.

The first invention covered is scrying as a communication system. After all, in our modern world, mobile phones are everywhere. It shouldn't be odd for players to want to invent similar things. The utility is obvious, of course, but the impact must be carefully considered. Most of Mythic Europe has no contact or exposure to anyone or anything further than a week's travel away. Language is a barrier to everyone who doesn't speak Latin - two groups on opposite sides of a mountain or even a river will speak different dialects or even different languages, and these tongues are distinct because there is not much cultural exchange. Increased communication will bring a gradual globalization of language and culture. Note that some covenants already have magical communications - the transformative power of them is only realized when they become commonly available to mundanes as well as magi.

The subtlest form of magical correspondence is remote writing - an enchantment in which a message written in one place appears in another, There are a number of ways to do it, and the book offers two but doesn't even pretend to be exhaustive. Remote writing is not useful for conversations - it's mainly useful for sending information, asking for help or sending news. One key advantage of it, however, is that there is no way it could be misconstrued as illegal scrying by a Tribunal or even accidentally used to commit a Hermetic crime. It also assumes the recipient can read - safe, if the recipient is a magi, but more restrictive among mundanes.

The first example are the Quills of Arcane Correspndence. They are actually two magical devices - a pair of perfectly identical goose quills. In each quill, the hollow shaft is filled with an arcane connection to the other, fixed to last indefinitely. The enchantment is simple: whatever is done with one quill is copied by the other, including dipping the pen in ink and writing on a page. The item is typically left in a careful position atop a sheet of parcement, with an inkwell placed exactly and always full. Failure to follow these procedures may mean the message fails to be reproduced due to lack of ink or parchment. Only one quill need be enchanted if you only want one-way communication. These devices would more common in the Order were it not for the Aegis. Two covenants that wish to use these devices with each other must make one in each Aegis and exchange them. The items could still be made by the same person in both locations, so long as they were included in both Aegis rituals or given tokens for the duration of the work. However, this still limits the ease of creation. A variant device uses enchanted bone styluses and wax tablets. This has the advantage of not needing an inkwell, but has less flair and so is less appealing to most magi. Quills also offer superior enchantment bonuses to scribal magic such as this. Theoretically, you could expand the scope by linking several quills together, each with an Arcane connection to each other or to a master quill. This would allow secure communication to several targets at once. And, in case you were wondering, you could in theory use this enchantment to write multiple copies of a book at once, but the inability to see the remote text means the copies are poor reproductions - you'll be using your Finesse in place of the Scribe ability, but with a sizable penalty and a sizable reduction in the final quality of the copies. Still, the enchantment is fairly simple - a level 19 effect, assuming you never want to use it more than twelve times a day.



The Unsubtle Knife is the second example, designed by the magus Atrox of Tytalus to issue orders to his agents scattered throughout the region. Atrox keeps an Arcane Connection each agent's home as a matter of course. The knife itself is a simple silver knife, and the enchantment is a level 22 one. When the knife is used to write on a flat surface - often by being dipped in ink on parchment, carved on a table, or even cut into flesh - and kept in contact with an Arcane Connection to the target location, the message will appear at the location and persist until the next rising or setting of the sun. Atrox's particular version, due to his sigil, appears in the form of writing in blood.

But maybe you want to use clairvoyance and clairaudience. Technically speaking, scrying is the use of Intellego magic via Arcane Connections, but legal definitions in the Order have extended the term to refer to any use of magic to spy or aid spying on a magus. When magi talk about scrying, though, they typically mean clairvoyance, viewing at a distance, or clairaudience, hearing at a distance. Rock crystal is the most potent form of item for scrying enchantments, followedb y electrum and silver. Mirrors are a common shape, as well, for their inclusion fo silver and their benefit to enchantments that display images.

The simplest scrying device is the Earring of Whispering Voices. It enchants a piece of jewelery, usually an earring, which aids in hearing effects. Sometimes, these items are made as matched pairs, to allow two people to communicate over any distance. The owner of a paired device that doesn't want to be overheard should probably remove the earring and put it in a box. The main issue with this is that the device must penetrate Magic Resistance to work, so the earrings are tpyically designed to make a brief noise to indicate their activation, so a magus may suppress their Parma to be able to be heard. Otherwise, the device must be entrusted to mundane servants who can accurately relay messages. This is done via two enchantments - first, a level 8 enchantment that causes the earring to make a brief noise, often a bell's note. This allows the owner to know that someone is about to use or has used the other effect. For a two-way device, it is typical to then activate the same effect to indicate that they are listening. The second effect is level 12, and allows the user to hear the voice of someone to whom they have an arcane connection in hand.

To get a bit more complex, there is the Hermetic Speculum, typically designed as a polished crystal sphere or a silver-backed mirror. These devices are well-known as magician's tools among sorcerers, who use speculomancy, the art of divination by mirror, for their credulous masters. They are often charlatans, hedge wizards or both. The Hermetic Speculum can also be used as an anti-scrying device, or a communicator. There are two enchantments built into the Speculum. First, the wielder may summon the sound and image of someone to whom they have an Arcane Connection, so long as the target has no Magic Resistance. They see nothing and hear nothing of the target's surroundings. Second, the Speculum is enchanted to react to any magic of level 30 or lower that is used to spy on its bearer - even if the magic failed to penetrate Resistance. When it detects scrying, it glows with a soft light. This could be used to indicate that someone wants to talk...or is eavesdropping.

Perhaps the most effective example for two-way communication is the Effigy of the Errant Image, because it does not require pairing devices. The user creates an image of themself at a distant location, and may then see or talk to anyone present there. The primary disadvantage is that the enchantment is quite potent and difficult to create, not to mention expensive. Tribunals have generally ruled that the Effigy is not an illegal use of scrying, since there is no attempt made to hide the magus using it. The Effigy is a small wooden statue of a person, and when used, it can make your image vanish from where it is and appear at a location designated by an ARcane Connection placed in the statue's hands. The wielder can speak at that location and hear any responses, as well as see anything they could see if they were actually there. They may not leave the immediate vicinity, but have limited movement within it. While their image is dislocated, they are invisible and inaudible at their true location, though anything they do at the true location is mirrored in the distant image. The iamge may not enter an area protected by the Aegis unless made within that covenant or used by a caster included in the Aegis ritual. It's a level 40 device.

Now, the main trick here is that all of these scrying devices could be used to scry on a person, and if upgraded a touch, could even view entire rooms. However, if a magus were in such a room, the user of the device would have scried on them and thus committed a High Crime. Designing a device with a Penetration of zero ensures that this will not happen...but it also prevents communication between magi. This why two of the devices above have methods of signaling the recipient, so they may suppress their resistance, but that means more resources are needed to make the items. Few Tribunals would convict a magus of use of a twinned device to spy if both people involved knew of the function of the device and who had it. Deception about that might be constured as entrapment. However, there are still ways to break the law with these devices. If antoher magus is in the area when they're used, their image or sounds could be transmitted against their will, and that is undoubtedly scrying. If a magus were to get one of these, innocently or not, and were spied on, then they have legitimate legal claims if they were ignorant of the enchantments - even if they stole the device. Remote writing, of course, has no such legal perils. Even if you see a message not intended for you, you haven't been scried on. You might argue that you scried on the intended recipient, but that's a really bad legal argument that probably will be rejected out of hand.

There's another problem: it might not work. The Order is very cautious about scrying magic, due to the Oath, and might well forbid magi to present such magic to their servants. For safety's sake, any devices menat for mundanes should be made without penetrative ability, to ensure they are taken to be innocent. However, this means such devices are useless for communicating with magi, and so their spread is much less likely. Remote writing devices are less of a problem here - they can be made, then given to an ally, allowing the ally to communicate to them easily. You might not like handing out permanent Arcane Connections to items in your covenant, though, even to trusted friends. Once those are out there, it's far too easy for enemies to get them.

Next time: But how does it change the world?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Grnegsnspm posted:

This thread continually gives me things I want to review for upcoming podcasts (Aletheia in particularly looks awesomely batshit loco) and if you guys have any suggestions for some good/terrible out of print games we should do, let us know. There are only so many things we can find in the FLGS' used bargain bin.

So what you're saying is that you're looking for guests? :v:

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Evil Mastermind posted:

So what you're saying is that you're looking for guests? :v:

That's what I heard.

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Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Grnegsnspm posted:

I figured I should also come say hi at some point. I'm the other guy in the podcast and the one that does the movie reviews and gaming articles for the site. Glad some of you have been enjoying our goofy bullshit. This thread continually gives me things I want to review for upcoming podcasts (Aletheia in particularly looks awesomely batshit loco) and if you guys have any suggestions for some good/terrible out of print games we should do, let us know. There are only so many things we can find in the FLGS' used bargain bin.

I have a ton of obscure/out of print stuff. What genre or themes are you looking for?

Also with the guests question...

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