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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP
Genius: The Transgression, Antagonism

Just a short section here, the rest of this chapter is standard "how to tell and run and play in a chronicle" with little specific to geniuses.


Who are a genius' enemies? Certainly they exist. The mere fact of being Inspired is enough for some to want a mad scientist dead, but through action and inaction alike geniuses are very good at making enemies for themselves. As Tony Stark has been reminding us frequently in the movies, people often create their own worst enemies. Honestly, Tony Stark would be easy to stat up in Genius, probably a Hoffnung (catalyst of hope and vision) Artificer with a high Obligation and two to three dots at minimum in everything but Epikrato. Batman? Grimm (catalyst of rage) Navigator, also high Obligation.

Antagonizing the Powerful usually means other Inspired: Peers, Lemurians, and manes. The conflict may be ideological in nature, different mad scientists with different plans for humanity or just for this city block. Just as common are conflicts over resources - there are only so many desirable locations for mad scientist lairs unless you have the resources to construct a proper hidden fortress, and even then the choice locations are a seller's market, not to mention that there's only so much iridium and xenon and other rare raw materials to go around on the planet. Competing grant proposals also have a tendency to turn spectacularly nasty, even lethal, or competition for a prized tenure position at the local university. Then there are the Lemurians, Void Engineers, and powerful manes like moon Nazis, Martians, and the odd sentient orphan wonder running amok. Geniuses have no shortage of powerful enemies they may find themselves up against, and that's just within their field. It doesn't take any imagination to find mad scientists in violent conflict with other supernatural denizens of the World of Darkness, or hunters out to end the genius' insane schemes.

Genius posted:

New geniuses and new collaboratives are often the targets of poaching attempts by established groups that
resent the intrusion or just see an opportunity to exploit the vulnerable. This is how these chronicles can
start: with a new collaborative moving in and sending ripples of anger and avarice through the Inspired or
preta communities. Lemurians are notorious for nighttime thefts, protection rackets, and other bullying
tactics, and many are so blinkered that they won't back down even when outgunned. The results can turn
violent quickly. Other dangers include powerful manes, who may view young geniuses as a potential source of
food, or peers who see suckers and proxies for their own petty wars.

This is the most traditional type of antagonist, and oddly one of the most difficult to run well if you want horror and to a lesser degree personal drama. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a straight heroic adventure story if that's what the DM and players want - Genius does swashbuckling mad science like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or a modern-day Jules Verne tale quite well if that's how you want to play it.

Antagonizing the Masses is one of the most common stories with mad scientists in literature. Torches and pitchforks may have gone out of style, but mad scientists have a tendency to drive down property values, accidentally or deliberately loose dangerous creations on the world, and unwittingly do weird things to nosy neighbors and curious kids who peer in the genius' windows. A genius' wife may also be curious about what exactly she does in the basement behind that locked door that keeps her so busy she forgot their anniversary (incidentally, Genius notes that this is one of the reasons why romantic relationships are very common between Inspired, though it's just as likely to exacerbate their insanity as ground them both). There are worse things that can happen to normal people who stumble into a genius' life of mad science than Havoc checks, like becoming Beholden or even becoming Inspired themselves. Antagonizing the masses is common as seasoning for other types of conflicts, but can potentially sustain a low-scale campaign or story arc itself.

Genius posted:

The story usually begins before or immediately after the Breakthroughs that create the collaborative. A
vignette format works well for this sort of chronicle: the Storyteller can allow geniuses to make hard
individual or group choices where they decide between their normal lives and the new world they've
discovered. As this chronicle progresses, it's possible that different geniuses will come to different
conclusions―some may reject the regular world altogether, while others fight to maintain their normality.
(The Storyteller should make the players aware that these rifts are tools for more drama, not for bickering at
the table or splitting up the collaborative so they never interact and the chronicle dissolves into a series of
unconnected stories.) The creation of new wonders is also a time for new vignettes, as regular people in the
genius' life discover the wonders and trigger Havoc. This can be especially poignant if the genius created the
wonder to help him in his regular life: an Exelixi wonder that's cured the cancer of a genius' sick mother
might fall into the hands of the hateful old woman up the road; if her fiddling causes it to spread sickness
throughout the community, will the collaborative blame the old woman and keep their reputations in the
community, or fess up while still hiding enough of the truth that people don't ask too many questions?

There's ample opportunity to mix things up through mad science threats, too. A genius in the area kidnapped the next-door-neighbor's dog as a test subject. An orphan robot haunts the streets at night, harvesting bits and pieces of cars in a futile effort to repair itself. Dealing with the problem is no trouble from a perspective of power and force, but dealing with it without rousing the neighbors' suspicions might be trickier.

Antagonizing the Righteous mostly means hunters, organizations that want to stop a genius' insanity unaware of their supernatural nature, and Clockstoppers (we'll get to those later). Basically, take any traditional story with an evil mad scientist and tell it from the mad scientist's point of view. Genius also displays a welcome note of self-awareness about how this can go:

Genius posted:

One danger of this sort of chronicle is that it can degrade into back-patting masturbatory nonsense, where the
characters spend their time smugly protecting the very people trying to destroy them. There's a place for
martyrs in fiction, but if the theme of the chronicle is an answer, and the answer is "Yes, we are all special
snowflakes who are tremendously put-upon by ignorant mundanes," maybe it's time to cut back on the self-congratulation.

Remember that if you're Inspired, you are legitimately crazy and that alien force of creativity and knowledge in your head is not your friend.

Antagonizing Oneself runs with those facts. More so than most supernaturals in the World of Darkness (mages and changelings can definitely give them a run for their money), geniuses are very often their own worst enemies and are eminently capable of destroying themselves with no outside assistance beyond the Inspiration in their skull. Every Inspired, consciously or otherwise, chose to become what they are and go down the rabbit hole of mad science when they had the opportunity to turn back and leave well enough alone. This is probably the most difficult sort of adversary to run a big story arc or a full campaign on due to the intensely personal nature of the conflict as I'm sure anyone who's familiar with Promethean can attest.

A genius' wonders turning against them or getting loose is the most obvious form this kind of story can take, but the Illuminated are also good external agents of a genius' own insanity. Many Illuminated are blatantly evil monsters, but others - and unmada - can be dangerously persuasive and downright seductive, encouraging the genius to let it all go, to stop pretending to be what they patently aren't.

Genius posted:

This sort of chronicle is the hardest to run because a character's internal mental states don't mean anything
unless they're out there on the table for all the players and the Storyteller to interact with. A private journey
from despair to either exaltation or self-destruction can be carried out entirely in a player's head like some
sort of weird computer simulation, but that's not role-playing so much as a fancy internal monologue. The
Storyteller needs to work to bring the genius' inner state out into the shared space where the game actually
gets played. A number of techniques are applicable here. Theses are obvious ways for a genius to inflict his
inner self upon the world, and long, complicated theses can be strung together to define this sort of chronicle.
The creation of wonders, and the failure to create, can serve as springboards for understanding how and why
a genius does what he does, and thus what's going on in his mind. Interactions with other characters―either
other geniuses in the collaborative, or other people or creatures―helps the players express the nature of their
characters in words or actions.

Personally, I'm inclined to use this as seasoning for other antagonists and conflicts during a campaign, taking the odd session out to look at the toll the campaign is taking on the PCs themselves as people.


Next time, we dive into Lemuria.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
I think the greatest value of Hunter and mortal games is as a way to re-examine what you're doing in other lines. When you play as a character, it is really easy to rationalize what they do. You get so wrapped up in Vampire Business or whatever that you start to forget that a core element of Vampire Business is that they eat people. Taking a moment to look at it from the perspective of the people outraged by being preyed upon is a good way to bring that back into focus.

Also, who doesn't enjoy a terrible struggle against a powerful villain who could rip you apart in a straight up fight where you need planning, guts, and a high caliber rifle to have a chance?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Mors Rattus posted:


Did I mention that their picture is a trace of Dante from Devil May Cry? 'cause it is.

Halloween Jack posted:

Great artists steal :colbert:



Fundies, a corporation, a federal task force, and guys who post creepypasta and found-footage horror films to YouTube. Ashwood Abbey is now the fourth-most disgusting faction; eat it nerds.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 22:34 on May 27, 2015

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Hunter: the Vigil

There's a story the Ascending Ones remember. Every night, the sun dies, and every morning it is reborn, and so until the end of the world. The beetle Khepri rolled the new sun across the sky each day in Egypt. And so too was the Phoenix, say the legends. In Egypt, two sects of soldiers were born - dual cults charged to fight the forces of darkness. By night, the Cult of Set protected the people, and by day the Cult of the Phoenix fought evil. In time, though, the Cult of Set fell to the darkness, becoming the monsters it had fought. It vanished, leaving the Cult of the Phoenix alone, and both day and night were too much for them. They sought a method to keep fighting when lesser men would collapse: potions.

One night, the Phoenix commander drank his first elixir and led his men to battle. In the morning, he led them again. And again that night. So it went for three years, three months, three weeks and three days. Then, and only then, did the potion wear off, and he died instantly of exhaustion. Another founder made a similar potion, but this one he tempered with poison, so he would not be tempted to overuse it as his predecessor did. He drank a little and died instantly. The third men brewed the same potion, but he tempered himself with prayer and self-discipline, made himself ready and, as he drank, his faith transformed the poison to sweet water, allowing the elixir's power to flow through him. And so did the Cult of the Phoenix Ascending from the Flames, the Ascending Ones, gain the secrets of the elixir, poison to all but those who knew the discipline needed to transform them within themselves.

The Cult continued, changing little over the centuries. They fought the monsters of the Middle East throughout the rise of Rome, and throughout the birth of both Christianity and Islam. Both Christ and Mohammad changed them, however. Their structure fit well within these new religions, and though their mystic tradition survived in Europe, most Ascending Ones in the Middle East became Christian or Muslim, seeing the phoenix as a parable for Allah's mercy or for Christ's rebirth. As time wore on, many cells turned to manufacturing and selling drugs to support themselves, and so the conspiracy found itself part of organized crime even while they defended the human race. It is a hard line to walk, but to guard the light, sometimes they must cloak themselves in shadow.

The Ascending Ones protect the human race in two ways. They kill monsters or talk them out of hurting others, and they also protect humans from knowledge of monsters, keeping secret all they do. While the Ascending Ones are structured as a military, they aren't focused entirely on murder. Sometimes, they try to save the monsters via conversion to the true faith, or even just by talking them out of disastrous courses of action, for they recognize that not all monsters need to be dangerous. Sometimes, they become aware of monsters going to war with monsters, and practice the art of Sulha, the ancient Arabic tradition of diplomacy via intermediary who travels between the sides to find a compromise. It's risky and often fails, but it at least buys time for preparation to wipe out both sides. You'd think, from that, that the Ascending Ones know a lot about monsters, but it's not necessarily true. They often understand an individual monster very well, but know nothing of their society or even necessarily their powers. The Ascending Ones are also rather bad at sharing information, due to the pyramidal power structure they use. Each area tends to operate separately from the others, with no good way to contact them.

Stereotypes posted:

Ashwood Abbey: I'll tell you about a regular customer I have. He tries everything. Sometimes even gets it in bulk, if I can supply it. Pays up front every time. And sometimes, he goes out hunting. For fun. I don't know a single other person, human or not, whom I hold in as much contempt. But I'd still take him on the hunt with me. He's a demon incarnate.
Null Mysteriis: I spent a week hunting a Djinn alongside a man who inquired endlessly into the truth behind things, but who did not want to believe in the very existence of the creature he was pursuing. He died still trying to deny the thing that was killing him. Futile.
Lucifuge: When this first began for me, I wasn't aware of what else was out there. But it's true: the end does justify the means, and if there are those who admit kinship with Shaitan himself - if only to destroy the works of evil - then so be it. We will even work alongside them. But when the work is done, if any survive, they must follow the other monsters to Hell. It is the only way.
Aegis Kai Doru: I have dealt on occasion with a woman who collects things of power, and uses them to destroy things of evil. She's righteous, but she understands neither true religion nor the realities of this world we live in. And so, she is weak.

The Ascending Ones have less groups or factions and more splinters - if they met, they'd barely recognize each other as belonging to the same organization. The Order of the Southern Temple grew out of Western mystical traditions. They use the writings of Hermes Tresmegistus as the trappings surrounding their elixirs, adopting the hierarchies of Western occult groups, complete with impenetrable ritual. The Knife of Paradise are more militaristic and far more religious. Mostly Christian or Muslim, but there's a strong group of Jews in there, too. For them, the war against monsters is a holy one, and they are servants of God. They don't reject the Egyptian mysticism, though, or waste time squabbling over religious conflicts with each other - indeed, they tend to be rather syncretic despite being so devout, and Gnostic beliefs aren't rare. The Jagged Crescent, meanwhile, handle most of the drug dealing and gang crime. They're primarily urban, both in style and attitude, and mostly focused on funding the rest of the Ascending Ones. Many are drug addicts, but they do keep good track of monsters who use the criminal underworld, as well.

Status in the Ascending Ones comes from endurance and discipline displayed on the hunt, as well as strength of will. (After all, the magic of the Ascending Ones comes from drugs.) At one dot, you belong to some part of the Ascending One cult and know the secret of controlling your body chemistry to process the magic drugs, allowing you to buy Elixir merits. At 3 dots, you get access to the considerable funds of the group, gaining 2 Resources dots, limited to use on the Vigil. At five dots, you are given the services of an initiate, a three-dot Retainer.


Yep. Alchemists, Gnostic imams and drug dealers all under the same banner.

The Cheiron Group, stock ticker TCG, engaged in a lot of lawsuits back in 1999 against a number of groups, mostly religious, who'd propagated the story that they were being controlled by Satanic forces. It all stemmed from their logo - the head of a horned, bearded man wearing a laurel wreath superimposed over a caduceus. It'd been misinterpreted as being somehow occult, and from there to Devil worship. It even got people to boycott Cheiron. Cheiron won handily, driving at least one televangelist to bankruptcy. Sure, that may have made them look the bad guys, but a spokesperson maintained it was necessary. Cheiron and its subsidiaries comprise one of the foremost medical corporations in the world, providing affordable and effective medication for everything from asthma to HIV since 1994, along with medical tools and technology via Weides GmbH, neurology equipment and prosthetics via Barthes Incorporated, and painkillers and soft drinks via Jones-Klein-Beauchamp. Cheiron's spokesperson showed with these and other examples their fundamentally benevolent nature and need to protect their reputation.

Truth is, the fundies weren't all wrong. Just half wrong. The central company, Cheiron Limited, has been around for a century. The logo, according to their literature, was designed by the company's founder, Edward Barrett, in 1905. But the logo shows up on a medallion over the door an 18th century Masonic hall in London. It appears in a suppressed book on forbidden religions from 1600s Geneva. It's on a 15th century helmet. It's perfectly reproduced as the main motif of a 3000-year-old sunken temple off the coast of Santorini, rediscovered only in 1987. Why? The Board of Directors might know, but no one else does. No one even knows who's on the Board. No list of names has existed since Barrett in 1921, and even then, he was the only one named. And yet, their stock price remains steadily amazing.

And, of course, there are the employees - the ones not paid to make drugs or machines. They're paid to investigate the supernatural and kidnap monsters, contain them and experiment on them. The science involved generally doesn't make any sense to normal biologists. This is the Field Projects Division. They are paid quite well to capture monsters and turn them into guinea pigs, ingredients and parts. They've got a job for life - whether they want it or not. It's in the contract. And it's in the surgery - y'see, in order to make these agents more effective, Cheiron's doctors operate on them, replacing or adding limbs and organs - parts from the very monsters they catch. And all of that is company property, even though it's inside their bodies. Cheiron owns their agents, quite literally, and the only way out is death...at which point the body is property of Cheiron. It's in the contract.

Anyone asking a Cheiron operative what they do is going to hear the phrase 'Directive 53' - an old EEC Council Directive instructing companies to avoid exposure to the public of dangerous substances and to obtain special instructions before using them. The European Economic Community hasn't existed for years - it's the EU now - but Cheiron claims Directive 53 as their mandate. It's pretty much the first thing in the Field Projects Division Handbook, which is quite thin. It claims to be a comprehensive guide to procedure and an encyclopedia of Potential Assets (read: monsters). The procedural stuff is limited and the monster information is useless. Vampires drink blood and hate sunlight. Werewolves have a silver allergy; Cheiron refuses to issue silver bullets. The handbook has no ISBN, corporate logo or author. It has the FPD logo, sure - it's a stylized bow and arrow. At no point is Cheiron mentioned by name - just The Company. Occasionally, it gets leaked to the public. It never matters - it's completely deniable. Even so, agents are instructed to keep them out of the wrong hands - anyone else's - and to kill to retrive them. The handbook's still useless - following it gets you killed. Cheiron's as inefficient as any other corporation. Some agents believe Cheiron is deliberately giving them useless information for some reason.

Don't throw it away, though - company property, y'see. On the other hand, Cheiron does not give even half a poo poo what you do on the job, as long as you fill your Potential Asset quota. There are Dedicated Pickup Teams ready to receive whatever you can subdue - but make sure it's safely subdued before you call, or they won't come. (A DPT is basically 3 guys in a van or helicopter.) What counts for quota? Anything R&D thinks is worth studying. Vampires and werewolves are low priority - got plenty of 'em already. But something new? That'll show up in your yearly bonus. Field agents learn to make compromises and deals with other Hunters - you take and use what you can get, and you deny your buddies the kill. If they don't make quota, their rear end isn't on the line. Yours is. Not just your job, either. Of course, that's in the contract. Did you read the fine print?

Stereotypes posted:

Network Zero: On a number of occasions now, information released on the Internet has compromised potential avenues of profit. We recommend that all field resources remain alert for members of the group responsible and take measures to secure and/or destroy any recorded media that might result from our field projects.
Loyalists of Thule: The Board of Directors requests that should any field resource identify an individual behaving in the manner described in the attached file, it is imperative that you retrieve any and all information they hold, by any means necessary.
Task Force: VALKYRIE: It has recently come to our attention that the Americans do, as long suspected, have an agency of their own dedicated to much the same purpose as our own field agents. The Board of Directors does not consider them a threat; if it should happen that you encounter this agency's operatives, however, we recommend you make every effort to secure any Potential Assets and withdraw before your counterparts have succeeded in their own mission. Avoid violent confrontation if possible.
Aegis Kai Doru: Our files on the Aegis Kai Doru are restricted; however, be assured that Field Research has been assigned to investigate the organization, and we are confident that our field resources will have some progress on which to report shortly.

The FPD has three main subdivisions. Retrieval is the largest - they're the guys who go out and hunt the monsters, tie 'em up and call the DPTs. Recruitment looks for other Hunters to hire, mostly by observing them while they hunt. Cheiron operatives die a lot, and they need replacing. Field Research...well, they're spies. Their job is to investigate other conspiracies, help them out on hunts and, if possible, poach absolutely everything of value when the time is right.

Cheiron status is gained by fulfilling quota and sucking up to your boss. At one dot, you get the handbook, you signed the contract and you've probably got something implanted in you. But hey, you can buy Thaumatechnology merits. For three dots, you've got some backup! Two dots of Allies, specifically. For five dots, you are paid amazingly, giving you three more dots of Resources. Not that you have time to spend it - go meet quota.

Next time: Hey there, nice to meet ya, can you guess my name?

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

Doodmons posted:

There's room there for a big speech from a low Morality hunter with a maxed out Hunter's Code about how they'll be damned if some witch's magic crystal is going to declare that they're on the naughty list and not fit to save other human beings' lives from predation by monsters.

Like most of Hunter, I can see this as an episode of Supernatural.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY

One of the best bits about Cheiron is that their field agents are failures: the company doesn't want to turn the entire world into Fomorians, it wants cures for cancer, trauma kits, better breast implants - consumer-marketable stuff. The poo poo the field agents are grafted with is either stupid experimental or cutting floor crap thrown into some poor sap's body to see if it can at least break even on investment. Cheiron would eat Pentex for breakfast.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG
Has anyone ever covered the oWoD Strike Force Zero book? Because it was goofy as hell, and made for a fun-rear end game.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP

Traveller posted:

One of the best bits about Cheiron is that their field agents are failures: the company doesn't want to turn the entire world into Fomorians, it wants cures for cancer, trauma kits, better breast implants - consumer-marketable stuff. The poo poo the field agents are grafted with is either stupid experimental or cutting floor crap thrown into some poor sap's body to see if it can at least break even on investment. Cheiron would eat Pentex for breakfast.

And the funny thing is, they're relatively good guys set against the whole of the World of Darkness. Demons are lovely customers and entities from the Abyss do bad things to property values. I've always thought Cheiron could make a great antagonist for a vampire or werewolf campaign: you think you're king poo poo of the world? These humans don't give a crap about you, and see you only as raw resources. You think yourself a predator, but you have nothing on this human corporation (excising or ignoring the truth about the Board).

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY

And yet, one of the sample character concepts is Patrick Bateman. :v:

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
I've always wanted to play a Cheiron-centric Vigil game in the vein of Resident Evil only from the perspective of being one of Umbrella Corporation's low level capture and cleanup teams, having to deal with office politics, crazy superiors, ridiculous mission directives, and the occasional bio weapon experiment gone awry, all the while wondering who these zombie viruses are even being marketed to in the first place.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Cythereal posted:

And the funny thing is, they're relatively good guys set against the whole of the World of Darkness. Demons are lovely customers and entities from the Abyss do bad things to property values. I've always thought Cheiron could make a great antagonist for a vampire or werewolf campaign: you think you're king poo poo of the world? These humans don't give a crap about you, and see you only as raw resources. You think yourself a predator, but you have nothing on this human corporation (excising or ignoring the truth about the Board).

There is no truth about the board. They can be, and are, whatever you want or need them to be for your game.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.

Kai Tave posted:

I've always wanted to play a Cheiron-centric Vigil game in the vein of Resident Evil only from the perspective of being one of Umbrella Corporation's low level capture and cleanup teams, having to deal with office politics, crazy superiors, ridiculous mission directives, and the occasional bio weapon experiment gone awry, all the while wondering who these zombie viruses are even being marketed to in the first place.

I ran this in Spycraft once. It was a fun time.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP
Genius: The Transgression, Lemuria

I've talked about Lemuria a lot throughout this review, including a brief overview of the organization and its beliefs, but now it's time to delve into just what humanity's past secret masters were and are today after their defeat.

Genius posted:

Are geniuses scientists? Are geniuses sane?

Two good questions with no clear answers―unless you're a Lemurian, in which case the answers are yes, and
yes, of course, it's everyone else who's crazy.

Lemurians are unmada one and all, meaning they take "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" as a mission statement to the point that they literally live in a somewhat different version of reality from everyone else and can make it your version of reality, too, but Lemuria as an organization is more than just a bunch of unmada who have joined together. Lemuria believes that at some point, human civilization went off the rails from what it was meant to be. Precisely where or how they think the course of civilization went wrong depends on the individual Lemurian, and the baramins in the linked post above cover five of the most common (well, four and fishmalks). This is not to say non-Lemurians don't share these views or aren't unmada, or that Lemurians are universally bad people. There are plenty of unmada in the Peerage and as loners, and most Lemurians are fundamentally decent people. They're just dangerously insane, and being unmada can be extraordinarily difficult to reason with.

The smallest unit of organization in Lemuria is the zotheca, a private facility where multiple Lemurians can get together, share resources, and talk. It's exactly the same as a Peerage collaborative, but every zotheca has a mercatus, a front-man. Whereas collaboratives tend to be secretive and suspicious of outsiders, zothecae want to be noticed and welcome anyone who drops by, Lemurian, Peer, rogue, mortal, or other supernatural alike. Lemuria as an organization may be leaderless and slowly collapsing, but their infrastructure and logistics division are second to none, and mercati will happily trade information, lab workers, hired muscle, raw resources, Larvae, orphaned wonders, cooperative or non-sentient manes, special jobs, and indeed just about anything the zotheca has access to, no questions asked, as long as you can meet their price. Lemuria is charmingly up front about it and is happy to hand out business cards. So up front about it that many in the Peerage secretly have a working relationship with Lemuria, finding them and their resources too useful to smash like they're supposed to.

If mercati are Lemuria's front men on the local level, the Bureaus handle Lemuria's relations with mortal authorities. Prior to the Invisible War the Bureaus were your typical Illuminati-style conspiracy, but since then they've mostly fallen apart. That doesn't mean they don't exist anymore or that they aren't very capable of wrecking a thorny collaborative's poo poo if they feel the need, but these days they're just a sideshow to Lemuria, staffed by mid-level bureaucrats and mediocre masterminds who think puppeteering government agencies is an impressive feat. It doesn't help that there are currently five separate Bureaus working in North America alone.

Genius posted:

The Office of the Seventh Treasury (originally the Office of the Lost Treasury; its initials are still OLT), located
out of Washington, D.C., is nominally the bureau for the entire United States, but its effective power is limited
to states north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi.

The Confederate States Intelligence Agency partially joined with the Seventh Treasury in 1914, becoming the
Joint American Intelligence Agency, before falling apart again; the JAIA covers most of the southern and parts
of the central US as well as Texas and operates out of Raleigh.

Texas has its own organization, the Texan Bureau for Mechanical Development, though the TBMD's reach is
limited only to that state―if it is still extant at all, which is not clear. There has been no activity from the
bureau's central office in the Alamo's basement for fifteen years.

California's old Lemurian front, the Agency for the Future of the Republic (AFR), has spread up and down the
west coast of the United States and down to the edge of Mexico, where it abuts the jurisdiction of Mexico's
Oficina Veintidos (and Offices 18 through 25; it's unclear which Oficina is currently active).

Most of Canada is covered by the Royal Order of the Black Prism, a secretive and occult organization that can
be found anywhere that still recognizes some element of British rule―including India, parts of Africa, and the
original thirteen colonies.

We're now given a brief aside on Lemurian terminology, who have different names for all the Genius concepts in case a DM wants to use it, but the game also notes that most Lemurians also know the Peerage terminology and may only use the Lemurian versions in Lemurian company. Most Lemurian terms are in bad Latin, though you should beware a Lemurian who correctly declines and pluralizes their Latin - you're dealing either with an obsessive or a very old individual, and both mean serious trouble. For their part, Lemurians refer to themselves as the Enlightened and the Peerage as the Invisible Empire.

Genius posted:

Language, Obsession, and the Needle Grail:

Lemurian's refusal to recognize the "mad" in their mad science leads to a frequent belief that "Mania" is in fact
another energy source that can be studied and manipulated. Those Lemurians who do identify distinct
Axioms in their work often believe that a ninth, secret Axiom exists, that allows for direct alteration and
adjustment of Inspiration and Mania. With this Axiom, sometimes called Apekrina or Pankosmoi, but often
referred to in Lemuria as the Needle Grail, Lemurians claim that they will be able to build wonders to ignore
Havoc, enhance a genius' Inspiration, and harvest Mania from reality itself. While the search for the Needle
Grail is sometimes a hobby to peers, many Lemurians and Lemurian-aligned rogues take its study very
seriously, and many even believe that they have mastered the Axiom and can create wonders using it. So far
there is no evidence that Pankosmoi exists, let alone that its study can produce wonders.

The main writer for Genius has said in the forums that this axiom does exist but won't provide any rules for it. DMs, go nuts if you want to include this in some capacity.


Next will be the history of Lemuria. Prepare for weirdness.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten
I like the Queen of Swords if only to use Fuocco to recreate the "they can't catch me if I'm on fire" bit from Dr. McNinja.

wdarkk fucked around with this message at 01:34 on May 28, 2015

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Hunter: The Vigil

God might or might not exist, but the Lucifuge know that there is a Satan. Most Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that Satan sowing his seed amongst men is a metaphor. (Actually, most Jews don't believe in a devil at all.) The Lucifuge know it is literal - because they are all the literal descendants of Lucifer or some other Duke of Hell. They say that about once a century, the Devil himself has a child, after all. They are all exceptional, prone to great evil...and guilt. They have their own children, the blood spreads ands wells. The mark vanishes over the generations - but practically without fail, every seventh generation, the taint resurfaces. Demons visit these people, they have strange powers. Some of them embrace their heritage. The Lucifuge, however, is for those who would fight it. It began in the 800s, in Milan. A woman of noble bearing employed genealogists and occultists to find and follow the bloodlines of Lucier in Europe, looking for these children, the Children of the Seventh Generation, following them until they came into their own. When that time came, the lady would send her agents with a simple offer: renounce Satan and all of his works, and fight against the forces of Hell.

Those that refused were killed, or kidnapped and made to agree. The genealogists are still there, and so are the messengers, but now, they are all Children of the Seventh Generation themselves. Their headquarters remains Milan, and their leader is the same woman, no older than she was in 853. The only name she is is the Lucifuge. She is the organization, she commands all of the others, and she personally meets each new Child, revealing their destiny - to stand against Hell, whether they want to or not. The Milan cadre monitors news worldwide, tracing bloodlines to find new children of Lucifer come into their own, as well as scouting out odd events and people. That's it. Milan tells each agent who their 13 closest colleagues are (geographically) - but that might be hundreds or thousands of miles away, particularly in Asia, where the Lucifuge has very little reach, knowledge or power. As a result, the Lucifuge's agents have a very wide approach to tracking down monsters. In the end, Lucifer's their foe, and while the creatures of darkness are the work of Satan according to the Lucifuge, a creature of Satan need not be evil. AFter all, they're creatures of Satan as well. Besides, most of them hate using their powers.

Instead, the Lucifuge's agents prefer to study their quarry before stepping in, giving the monsters a chance to prove themselves foes of the Devil, and thus not to be killed. Many, however, do not. Some vampires claim descent fro mthe demon Belial. Some werewolves serve spirits of vice. Many magicians trade souls with demons. The Lucifuge, unsurprisingly, has a vast collection of demon and angel lore. They're not sure how to feel about demons - they hate them, sure, but many of them have small pet demons whom they hate (and whom they are hated by) but who cannot help but obey their orders. Sometimes, devils follow them around, acceping any punishment inflicted on them with a strange sort of pleasure. Some of them can command devils, banish them or even summon them to serve. Angels, on the other hand...the Lucifuge fears angels. The Milan library has many tomes on angels - cherubim, seraphim, even the bizarre and contradictory qashmallim. Every so often, a Lucifuge agent meets one. Some are slain. Some are transformed into strange beings. Some are freed of their blood or told secrets.

There is one foe, however, whom the Lucifuge never leave alive: other Devil's Children, the ones who embrace what they are. Some of them escaped the Lucifuge's agents when they manifested. Some were never found - the genealogists are not perfect. The Lucifuge misses some - and those, oddly enough, always seem to be the ones that love the darkness within. The ones that lead cults. The ones who don't want to be what they are, those always seem to end up with the Lucifuge. Some whisper she intended it that way, but none would say it to her face.

Stereotypes posted:

Long Night: Unexpected help came from a man who fought like nothing I'd ever seen. After the vampire was dead, we talked. He had convictions that...concerned me. I'd work with him again, but I'd be concerned not to let him see what I can do.
Null Mysteriis: The scholars have been around for a long time in some form. This lot are some of the worst. They're like puppies. They want to know about you, they want to know about the monsters and the demons. They never do anything. They just take photos, and draw sketches and type notes into those little palm top things.
Ascending Ones: The ones with the drugs? They scare me. They're very old, and they've got the same ultimate source as us, I think, only they wouldn't dream of saying so. They seem to have embraced certainty. Which is an easy way to fall right into Hell without even knowing it.
Malleus Maleficarum: Oh, I know all about them. Don't go near them. They might seek out the demons and witches, and they might be on the side of...righteousness, but they'll do terrible things, and burn those who'd help them in the process.

The Lucifuge lacks enough organization to really have factions - it's just HQ and hte agents. Still, they do have philosophies. The Denial are most numerous - they're the ones who believe that the Devil is the source of all evil, and must be reniounced. They watch the monsters and witches to see if they struggle with what they are, and they leave the ones not committed to evil alone. The others they kill without worry. The Reconcilation, meanwhile, believe they're doing the Devil's work - and God's. They, by serving God's will, are giving Lucifer the chance to be redeemed and readmitted to Heaven. Should this happen, they say, Hell ceases to exist, and sin and pain end forever. The Fall is reversed - and that is the Lucifuge's destiny. The Truth, finally, are the least numerous. They believe that the story they heard about who and what they are isn't the whole story. They want to know more about their lady, the Lucifuge. Who is she, what is she? How is she immortal? Is she Satan's daughter, or his consort? Is she Satan? They fight evil because they must, but what they really seek is the truth of their own organization, believing its secrets must exist within its ranks.

Status in the Lucifuge is largely a social affair, and not officially ranked. It's just about fighting monsters and gaining trust from the other agents. At one dot, you've just joined. You know you have powers, but not how to access most of them. You get the philosophy, you've probably been to Milan once, but you mostly get instructions via email, if at all. You can buy Castigation merits. At three dots, you have defeated terrible foes, developed a reputation and are in regular contact with Milan. You can visit and use their library when you can afford the plane tickets - and they send you funds, two dots of Resources usable only for the Vigil. At five dots, you've met the Lucifuge herself multiple times and even received jobs from her personally. Yopu may even have some idea who she is, though you'd never tell. You have the Lucifuge as a four-dot Mentor.


BTW this particular view on demons and how they work? Doesn't really fit neatly with any other stuff - even Inferno, though that comes closest. :iiam:

You've heard of the Inquisition. The Catholic witch-hunters. Those things aren't gone. The Malleus Maleficarum still exists - though they are not the Inqusition any more. They are the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and they're relatively mainstream. The witch-hunters are the Malleus - the Hammer of the Witches, the Shadow Congregation. Back in th 15th century, Heinrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger wrote a book by that name. It proved influential in the painful deaths of many, many people, and the Pope soon condemned it as heresy. Never stopped anyone using it. Only 80 years later, Pope Paul III gave a group the same name as the book and ordered them to hunt the servants of Satan. Though not a secret, their founding wasn't really public, either, due to it being slipped into the end of the same orders that empowered the Society of Jesus. (The Jesuits.) Why did Paul do this? Conspiracy theories abound about this and every other Catholic historical event. Some say Paul had a private agenda, or was using them as a dummy to make a point directed at his enemies. It's obvious something bigger was at work.

Still, it's possible that only three people alive today know the Malleus' true founder was a man named Amborgio Baudolino, a clever provincial bishop with a line to the Pope. He convinced the Pope to set up the Malleus - and to think it was Paul's own idea. And, especially, Amborgio knew about vampires. He'd been slave to one for many years but had managed to break free and destroy it. His dearest wish was to ensure no other would have to suffer what he did, ever. He controled the Malleus from its outset, teaching the witch-hunters enough to find another vampire practically every time they went out. The vampires eventually learned how to hide from the, but they continued to fight, and still do. Originally, all members of the Shadow Congregation were monks and nuns, but in the 20th century the restrictions were relaxed - they were running a bit low on monks. Even lay members are now accepted, and they have contacts throughout world governments and police forces, so even though they lack jurisdiction, they often have the support of police officers and medical professionals. Their methods have not really changed much, though. They live ascetic lifestyles and devote themselves to prayer and meditation. They have nothing, really, but the hunt. They tend to stay in the company of other hunters, even non-Malleus ones - particularly Catholics. They are grim, vicious and ruthless. If an innocent must suffer or die...well, that's to be regretted. But the greater good is more important.

The Malleus Maleficarum has a deep understanding of the undead, though it has some key omissions. They know vampires have some kind of society of their own. They don't care about understanding it, since that doesn't help kill vampires except in the most general way. They know one faction is paternalistic and traditional, another radical, a third heretical Christians of some kind and a fourth worships Belial. That's about all they've got. They know crosses and holy water generally don't work, and they know vampires fear sunlight and fire. They know that vampire blood is addictive and can enslave you to a vampire. They don't know that vampire's blood can make you immortal in some circumstances. Baudolino knew that, which is why he kept it secret and excised any evidence of it fro mthe records. The truth is, Padre Ambrogio is still around, using his witch-hunters to get vampire blood for himself. He doesn't look a day over 60. Officially, he died in 1601. Unofficially, he still commands the Malleus, drinks vampire blood every few days - always a different vampire, always shortly before tha vampire dies. A handful of the Shadow Congregation know of him. Even fewer know of the Lucifuge. The handful who know of both will not speak of the meetings that Baudolino has with her once a decade. After vampires, the next target is Satanic magic. The Malleus has a large, detailed and occaisonally accurate bestiary of demons and devils. Warlocks earn their attention, at least a little. They don't strictly look for other kinds of monsters, but will destroy them as they find them. Their miraculous powers certainly seem to work opn anyone they point them at.

Stereotyes posted:

The Long Night: It's lamentable that so many who should be in the bosom of Mother Church have fallen into such grievous heresy. They don't trust us, but sometimes, the enemy of our enemy is the best ally we can have.
The Union: We're well aware of groups of perfectly ordinary people who band together for mutual defense. Some of them are good Catholics, who willingly help us if called upon, and even bring their friends. They're foot soldiers for the Lord. Sometimes, they're the best resource we have.
The Lucifuge: Documents describe a figure called the Lucifuge being active over the course of centuries. It's a hereditary title, evidently. She named herself after a Duke of Hell. But what puzzles me is why her agents should be so efficient at rooting out and destroying the very demons they should be worshiping. I am really rather curious. Problem is, the Cardinal has forbidden further investigation. It's most vexing.
Task Force: VALKYRIE: They don't think we know about them. But as long as some of them keep coming to confession, we'll know everything they do. Of course, violating the sanctity of the confessional is not something we do lightly. I hate doing it. Hate it. But...God demands it.

Within the Malleus are several unofficial orders. The Order of Saint Longinue was named after the original bearer of the Holy Lance. They know that some vampires venerate Saint Longinus, though not why or how, and it's no accident that they are the most dedicated and ruthless vampire hunters the Malleus has. The Order of Saint Amrbose, on the other hand, are scholars and detectives. They work slowly and methodically towards solutions, and often run into witches and sorcerers who have the information they need. It tends to cause conflict. The Brotherhood of Saint Athanasius are more militant - they prefer swift, violent solutions, and where the Ambrosians hit the books, the Athanasians break out the firebombs. They argue with each other constantly.

Status in the Malleus comes from defeating monsters, particularly vampires. At one dot, you're a member. You have access ot the Library of Benedictions and can buy Benediction merits. At three dots, you have respect among Catholics without needing to say anything about yourself. You get a dot of Status (The Church). At five dots, you have access to Church covvers, gaining three dots of Resources usable only for the Vigil.


You know they're tough because they have the SPIKIEST CROSS

Next time: This Machine Kills Vampire Terrorism

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
It's kinda interesting how the majority of Hunter stereotypes seem to boil down to 'I absolutely don't agree with certain philosophical points you have but we're ridiculously outmatched and I'm so glad to meet someone else who's in on this, so let's work together anyway.'

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP

Night10194 posted:

It's kinda interesting how the majority of Hunter stereotypes seem to boil down to 'I absolutely don't agree with certain philosophical points you have but we're ridiculously outmatched and I'm so glad to meet someone else who's in on this, so let's work together anyway.'

That's the point a lot of the time. Either you hang together or hang separately, and most Hunters would rather hang together in the Vigil.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.

Cythereal posted:

That's the point a lot of the time. Either you hang together or hang separately, and most Hunters would rather hang together in the Vigil.

Yeah, but it's unusually sane and reasonable. I might be stuck thinking of oWoD, mind.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

The internal conflict of Hunter is mostly from two things: 1. that dude over there is an rear end in a top hat and I hate him, I wish we didn't have to work together on this. And 2. wait, you're willing to do what?

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP

Mors Rattus posted:

The internal conflict of Hunter is mostly from two things: 1. that dude over there is an rear end in a top hat and I hate him, I wish we didn't have to work together on this. And 2. wait, you're willing to do what?

And 3. You aren't loving human you [insert Conspiracy here with their Endowment] and 4. you're one of them.

I think the Hunters by and large being willing to work together is meant to allow for different PCs in one gaming group to represent different organizations.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
I love how the Lucifuge know about the existence of the Qashmallim, and have no loving clue how to interpret them.

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.

MonsieurChoc posted:

I love how the Lucifuge know about the existence of the Qashmallim, and have no loving clue how to interpret them.

I love how the descendants of the literal Devil are one of the most sympathetic splats in all of Hunter, at least going by the core. (Like Null Mysteriis, they suffered a bit from concept drift later on.) They're one of my favorite splats in nWoD in general.

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012

Cythereal posted:

That's the point a lot of the time. Either you hang together or hang separately, and most Hunters would rather hang together in the Vigil.

Kill together or die alone.

MonsieurChoc posted:

I love how the Lucifuge know about the existence of the Qashmallim, and have no loving clue how to interpret them.

The Demon book talks about the differences in the similarly named entities. They're probably all different. Probably :iiam:

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




Empty your mind, be formless, meaningless like mortal. Now if you put mortal in the suit it becomes the suit. Become mortal, my friend.

Elementals! Gosh, this section is nicely laid out. Tight, light text that puts the previous entry to shame. The Elemental icon is a flame-cup-gem-root chimera1, and the opening fiction contrasts the seeming with every other- whereas other seemings are inspired by a role of humanity, Elementals are inspired by a primal force of nature. Of all the Seemings, they are the most un-human. They take on the look of their force, and often come to represent some outsider legend such as the ifrit.

The background states that the True Fae went out of their way to take you; this means that in contrast, the other seemings are almost accidental and avoidable. Something big wanted you bad, like a Dorthy's tornado. Except this tornado turned you into the house that landed on the witch instead of granting you a token of ruby red slippers. Every Elemental had it hardest to escape through the thorns because they didn't just have to find their way home- they had to reclaim their humanity as well. The act of decision, to choose to be non-fae rather than acting out your inanimate force of nature for the rest of your existence, is so very human that to define it as a quirk of the Wyrd would pervert it2.

The seeming blessing of Elementals is that you basically get extra health levels because you are not human anymore. In exchange, you can't really interact with anyone on a social level anymore; penalizing non-seeming contract pools of Manipulation and some basic skills.

Now, I'll mention here that Elemental is pretty much the go-to Seeming for giving to a new roleplayer. By nature, you're a hard-to-kill sperglord with super powerful contracts. Everyone wants to have an Elemental around to talk to because they're just so off-the-wall in their point of view, and the new roleplayer can avoid feeling like they're not "in character" enough3.

The 'ideal' Elemental usually closely matches the stereotype of a kung fu master, which is why I supplied the modified Bruce Lee quote for this entry. The contract chain gives them a very powerful combat booster for brawling attacks, and the overall mood of an Elemental can be confused for the orientalist concept of inscrutability.

Now, the Elemental kith selections are pretty basic, and cover nearly every pokemon type you can think of. I would say that in the power scale, these choices tend to run on the lower side along with the Beast kiths; like with them, you don't really need a reason to want to be a rock over a flame.
  • Airtouched. You go fast for glamour. Fair Escape mechanic, but honestly I'd rather just get a featherfall.
  • Earthbones. Non-combat strength rolls. Lifting things has never been so easy.
  • Fireheart. Add...to....Wits rolls? It's very specific understanding of fire, but man is fire not in need of being given a hook.
  • Manikin. For being a sackboy / pinoccio, you get An Extra Affinity Contract, and also craft things better when you don't know what the hell you're doing. My go-to delete-a-seeming, as they overtake Wizened crafters just by existing.
  • Snowskin. You're a scary and lying snowbank! Commonly a Winter or Autumn concept.
  • Waterborn. Your prerequisite "I don't drown" kith. Of all the blessings, yours restricts you to the water the most, which can lead to you being Actually Trapped under the waves!
  • Woodblood. Plants! The one kith that turns Elementals into two-thirds of the Animal/Vegetable/Mineral triptych. Stealth and Survival, especially when around foliage.4
As you can see, Elementals don't get THAT great of a kith-spread in the corebook. If it weren't for their blessing, inherent hook, and KICKIN RAD CONTRACTS5 :pcgaming:, they'd be passed up more often than not. Thankfully, they don't get ignored as often as other seemings.

The REAL rockstars and wilting violets

1 - Not that chimera. We get to it later.
2 - Of course, no writer inspired by Changeling: the Lost would ever do that.
3The number of times I've heard "Your character is a rock- go!" as the sole bit of roleplaying advice is amazing. As well as how many of those characters evolved into fully-detailed and important members of a freehold.
4 - "Does the hedge count as/act like" is basically a fun fill-in-the-blank game to make a storyteller rip their hair out. Depending on your game, this can make Woodbloods specifically amazingly powerful.
5 - Seriously, I would take the Elemental contract suite against everyone else's, even Ogre

Gerund fucked around with this message at 02:23 on May 30, 2015

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012
What with Hunter, Changeling, Changing Breeds, Genius and Princess F&Fs all running mostly concurrently, it's almost as though this was an offshoot of the WoD thread. Sadly, only two of the things I listed are any good (and I may have forgotten some other WoD F&Fs that are in relatively active progress)

Princess: the Hopeful
Beacons, Sworn, Shikigami - The Help

Beacons

quote:

The Light of hope is far from unique to the Radiant; it belongs to all mankind. In the millennia of the Long Night mankind built civilisations and made wonders in the arts and sciences. It was regular humans who achieved the impossible and walked upon the moon, bringing a new dawn to end the Long Night. The Beacons are people whom the Light illuminates somewhat more brightly than most. Some Princesses say that in a better world everyone would be a Beacon. Some (usually the same people) say that in the Kingdom everyone was a Beacon.
Beacons are the people with a little bit of the same Light that powers a Princess. How they gain it, maybe they're born with it, maybe it's bestowed :iiam: Regardless of how they get it, they still have that same aura of hope, morality and idealism that the Nobility has. Because of that little spark of Light however makes them a target for the Darkness and can acquire Shadows due to the Sensitivity the Light gives them. Because of the spark of Light they have, Princesses tend to make friends with them since they tend to be good people. Also, they have a disproportionately high chance of Blossoming.

Mechanically, Beacons have an Echo just like Princesses though they still have Integrity instead of Belief. They can also have Dreams instead of Aspirations. Mentioned in the Merits section later are Bequests which Beacons can use. Bequests are the special splat tool/gadget/artifact. Unfortunately, they're limited to using Bequests with their own Wisp pool or those that don't require any since Beacons cannot generate their own. Beacons can also enter the Dreamlands if they have dots in Shadows. Entrance requires Empathy + Shadows and function the same as Princesses. Finally, they suffer from Sensitivity with a base of one die and use Integrity for the Haunting duration. Other things Beacons start out with when generated by a player: the Virtuous merit for free, Sympathetic can be bought for one dot, three bonus dots for Social Merits because they're so goshdarned nice. Optionally, those bonus merit dots can be bumped up to five and be used for social connections or supernatural abilities or Bequests.

Sworn
Through the use of the Accept Fealty Charm, Princesses can make their own set of magically empowered sidekicks and support staff. Unlike Beacons, Sworn do not have the Inner Light that they have. However, by being Sworn, they are bestowed some of the powers of the Princess that's sworn them into service. Most Sworn are chosen to fill gaps in the skillset for a party of Princesses or to friends and family to help them understand the Princess's new life. It does require consent of the Sworn individual to becomes so Princesses cannot forcibly try and show someone the error of their ways through Sensitivity.

Mechanically, Sworn get a Wisp pool equal to their Integrity. Regaining Wisps require the Dedication Merit or undertake a ritual with a Princess of the same Court which reaffirms the Sworn's oaths. It takes about a minute and full concentration from both sides. Sworn can purchase dots of Invocation that belong to the Queen they (or the Princess that they) follow at an out of affinity rate. They also have access to that Queen's Practical Magic. Sworn can use Bequests and roll One die to transform them. Just like Beacons, Sworn can travel to the Dreamlands if they have Shadows and have Sensitivity. Both operate the same as a Beacon. Sworn start play with a dot in their Queen's Invocation. Optionally, they can start with five Merit dots to be spent on supernatural abilities like Bequests.

Notably, Beacons can become Sworn so as to become something like a Princess with stunted powers and abilities.

Shikigami
Those cute mentor or assistant characters usually created as mascot characters like KeroBeros or Kyuubi? Shikigami are their equivalent. In exchange for their knowledge and tutlage, Shikigami are allowed access to a Princess's magic so they can sustain themselves indefinitely on Earth. They need to because they're natives to the Dreamlands. The body they possess on Earth is artificial and is not necessarily representative of the Dreamlander inside of it. In almost all respects, Shikigami have the same spread of Attributes and Skills mortal humans have. The main difference is their size. Their starting size is between 1 to 3.

For any Shikigami, they can travel through the Dreamlands and pledge themselves to a Queen. They follow all of the same rules a Princess does in the Dreamlands except when rolls call for Inner Light, Shikigami get a flat +3 instead. When pledging themselves to a Queen, Shikigami can gain access to Practical Magic and Invocations like the Sworn. Princesses can form a bond with a Shikigami and more than one Princess can do so with the same one. If they are bonded to a Princess, Shikigami get access to a number of perks. Shikigami have a Wisp pool equal to their Integrity. To gain Wisps, Shikigami must either be bound to a Princess or know someone with the Charm Charge. Whenever a Princess gets a Beat from an Aspiration or a Dream, the Shikigami gets a Wisp. Wisps can also be acquired through physical contact for a minute. Additionaly, as long as they are bound to a Princess, Shikigami can Transform with their maximum Transformed Skill and Attribute dots determined by the highest Inner Light amongst Princesses bound to it. Shikigami can also acquire Transformed Size for one Merit dot per point of Size up to Size 8. While Transformed they can use Charms. However, the maximum Charm rating they have is based on the highest Inner Light amongst Princesses they're bound to. At Inner Light 1, Shikigami can learn 1 Dot Charms. At Inner Light 3, Shikigami can learn 2 Dot charms and so on. Finally, any Princess bound to a Shikigami automatically gains an Intimacy of Love to that Shikigami as well as every other Princess bound to it.

Starting Shikigami also gain one dot of the White Rabbits merit and can buy certain abilities for their bodies with merit dots such as wings for four dots and damage 0 or 1 weapons (claws, fangs, etc.) for one or two dots respectively. Finally, Shikigami start with 5 Experience to spend on Merits, Transformed Skills and Attributes, Charms and Invocations.

To Bind a Shikigami:

quote:

first searches for an star who is willing to leave the Dreamlands with her and who has a Rank of 5 or less (former inhabitants of the Kingdom don’t have a Rank but they all qualify except the Queens). This is usually quite easy, the Dreaming Kingdoms have institutions whoes soul purpose is to match Princesses with potential Shikigami.

This done, the Princess finds a doll, plush toy, or sometimes an animal, in the waking world who bears some resemblance to the Dreamlander - the closer, the better - and goes to the Dreamlands while her sleeping body cuddles the vessel. Then the Princess leads the Dreamlander back through her Crawlspace to the threshold of waking, and begins a rite of binding.
The action of Binding is an Extended Roll of Inner Light+Presence at 10 minutes per roll. The threshold is 3*Dreamlander Rank or 6 for former inhabitants of the Kingdom. It costs 1 Willpower to perform. This roll can be modified based on how similar the Dreamlander is to the vessel with bonuses for better resemblance and penalties for a lacktherof. Dreamlanders already inhabiting an object or an animal halve the required successes. A Dramatic Failure makes it so that the Princess can never make the Dreamlander into a Shikigami. A regular Failure means no progress is made and if she completely fails, she gains the Stuck Magic condition. On a Success and Exceptional Success, progress is made.

Princesses can only be bound to a single Shikigami at a time, though the Charm Astral Companion can allow her to bring other Dreamlanders to Earth.

The Stuck Magic condition:

quote:

After trying and failing to perform a large act of magic your character's magic has gotten stuck. It is partly a blow to her confidence and partly an almost physical blockage in the flow of her magic. A good push should clear it.
Resolution: At any time when rolling to Transform or using a Charm, the ST can invoke a -2 penalty.
A good hard squeeze should do it. Or maybe she just needs to relax a little. Or eat some more fiber. :iiapa:

Next: Chapter 3: A Huey Lewis and the News hit song made popular by a movie featuring Michael J. Fox

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD
Mors Rattus, Cythereal. Thanks a lot for your writeups on Hunter and Genius! They've been a blast to read and I'm really psyched to see more.

Mors, by the way, what the gently caress is up with the Lucifuge now that we've had Demon and the God Machine Chronicle out? Are they just moreso in the 'what the hell this doesn't fit' category?

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


There are like five different categories of beings running around in the new World of Darkness called Demons. This is why I don't think incorporating every single line into a single game world is a good idea.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

Crasical posted:

Mors, by the way, what the gently caress is up with the Lucifuge now that we've had Demon and the God Machine Chronicle out? Are they just moreso in the 'what the hell this doesn't fit' category?

I can answer this!

Basically, there's like... a dozen different loving things in WoD that you can call "Angels" and "Demons", which all sorta got mashed together by humans, which is why the Lucifuge, Infernals, Dark Spirits from Werewolf, all the crazy poo poo Mages fight, and Techno-Gnostic Robots all get called Demons in some way, shape, or form.

In fact the Official "Demons" are like, the things least likely to ever be called a Demon because their whole thing is to be as stealthy and unknowable as possible and basically have jack-all to do with the rest of the WoD.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD

Wapole Languray posted:

I can answer this!

Basically, there's like... a dozen different loving things in WoD that you can call "Angels" and "Demons", which all sorta got mashed together by humans, which is why the Lucifuge, Infernals, Dark Spirits from Werewolf, all the crazy poo poo Mages fight, and Techno-Gnostic Robots all get called Demons in some way, shape, or form.

In fact the Official "Demons" are like, the things least likely to ever be called a Demon because their whole thing is to be as stealthy and unknowable as possible and basically have jack-all to do with the rest of the WoD.

I'm not sure why I expected WoD lore to not be a clusterfuck. Thank you, though.

quote:

many of them have small pet demons whom they hate (and whom they are hated by) but who cannot help but obey their orders. Sometimes, devils follow them around, acceping any punishment inflicted on them with a strange sort of pleasure.

Is this an actual mechanical thing because I would very much like to play a Lucifuge member who's sole supernatural talent is that tiny little hellcritters love the gently caress out of him.

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Kavak posted:

There are like five different categories of beings running around in the new World of Darkness called Demons. This is why I don't think incorporating every single line into a single game world is a good idea.

It does make me want to think of how an Unmasqued World game would turn out though. Hell, let's add Geniuses, Leviathans and Princesses into the mix too. You wouldn't be able to walk down a street without running into a supernatural,, or maybe all the secretive members of a whole apartment block find out the only 'normal' humans is the Union hunter, who's also their landlord :v:

Dammit, now I want a World of Comedy game.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


It's been a while since I did a F&F and so I figured I'd pick up a game that someone else started but got abandoned a while back...



because it's a really weird game (in a good way for the most part) and people who haven't heard about it definitely should. Unknown Armies is a game of weirdness, conspiracies, occultism and horror. The tagline is "a game of power and consequences." Unfortunately it doesn't take a lot of power for there to be some pretty nasty consequences. It resembles Call of Cthulhu in that its a d% based horror game with a sanity system and secret cults and mysticism. However, in terms of theme it's more the flip side of the same coin: while Cthulhu is a game about being a fleeting speck of dust in the uncaring cosmic void, UA is anthropocentric horror. That is, everything revolves around mankind and all the horror's you face either are, were or were created by a human being. Mankind is the ultimate enemy and the ultimate cosmic force. For better or worse.

Legacy, The obligatory intro fiction

I'm not sure what it is but just about every modern occult/magic setting seems to be required to include an intro fiction from the perspective of a "mundane" plunged into the supernatural world. I get the idea behind it but it's sure predictable at this point.

Anyway, UA's intro fiction is "Legacy" and it at least does a very good job of introducing the feel and concepts behind a UA game. In fact, personally I use a modified version of Legacy's concept as the intro adventure for pretty much every single supernatural conspiracy game I've ever run. So that should tell you something.

Legacy is told from the point of view of Renata Mers Dakota, a girl with a strange name, a lovely childhood and suddenly missing parents. She just came home from school one day and they were gone: cleared out their things, closed their bank accounts, rented a truck and just loving left. Not willing to let a lovely childhood get even shittier Renata decides to try and track them down and takes a train to Atlanta (after convincing the rental truck company to tell her where it was going). On the train she's sitting across from Eugene Larue, a hobo with crazy eyes who keeps trying to strike up small talk with her.

After arriving she manages to blackmail (via breaking and entering and self-made nude pictures) an unemployment agency employee into giving up her parent's current whereabouts (don't worry, he was an rear end in a top hat) but when she arrives at the address she sees none other than Eugene Larue snoozing in a truck outside. Being understandably high strung she apparently decides he must have been stalking her and/or involved with her parents so she pulls a knife on him and tries to get him to spill the beans. Unfortunately he has a gun and gun beats knife in this particular rock-paper-scissors. Fortunately, crazy hobo-ness aside, he's not interested in blowing her brains out and instead takes her knife and the two go have some breakfast to talk things out and he lays some metaphysical truth on her.

It seems that Eugene is indeed after her dad, although he knows him by a different name. It seems that before she was born her mom and dad were both part of a cult led by a man named Dermott Arkane which managed to piss off other cults leading to a short-lived "gang war" which her family's cult lost, causing them to scatter. However, one of Dermott's biggest enemies wound up decapitated a couple of weeks ago and it seems like he might be gathering his allies together again. Oh, and magic totally exists.

Renata obviously calls bullshit on this but does admit that her parents were strong believers in superstition and regularly engaged in small, odd rituals...and it turns out that they (and her) all happened to have fake social security numbers and no official paperwork matching their identity. She doesn't even have a birth certificate.

So, Eugene decides not to beat around the bush and shows her a bit of the real stuff, pricking her finger and blowing the blood droplets into the air, asking "who is the father of this girl". The blood drops spell out "Dermott Arkane". This surprises Eugene who then realizes that Renata Mers Dakota is an anagram of Dermott Asa Arkane. Renata was intentionally conceived to act as a magical "decoy" to help Dermott hide from his enemies: by sharing his blood and his (jumbled) name she has become a sort of magical surrogate for Dermott and allowing him to throw his enemies (including Eugene) off the track.

Well, this manages to kindle a bit of righteous fury in Eugene who takes Renata with him as he storms the cult hangout where her parents are and confronting the rest of the cultists (who seem to mostly be ignorant of Dermott's shenanigans). Renata's parent's show up, tears, awkward denials, lies, gunfire. more tears. Running out into the night. Life never the same. Etc.

Book One, Secret Name of the Streets


Do NOT gently caress with the bat gypsy.

Uknown Armies is divided up into three "Levels" of play: Street, Global and Cosmic. This is the Street Level section which also contains the bulk of the game's rules.

The first concept the game introduces us to is the Occult Underground which is more or less the name for a collection of weirdos, conspiracy theorists, rumormongers, wanna-be mystics and lunatics who all live on the fringes of society for one reason or another. At the Street Level you're a newcomer to the Occult Underground. You aren't "in the know" but you're nosy and suspicious enough to get yourself in over your head and start loving around with the wrong sort of people. A few example character concepts are provided:

*A cave diver who explored a flooded cave and found what appeared to be a chamber carved in the form of a christian chapel except upside down from the ceiling with an Egyptian statue behind the altar. He had to leave before he ran out of air and could not find it when he came back.

*A woman who was staying with "Mama Flo" a local widow who took in abused wives and children. When some kids' abusive dad showed up to claim them, with a gun, Mama Flo stands up to him with a frying pan. He blows her brains out and she proceeds to beat him to death with that pan without flinching before falling over dead herself.

*A college student who went to Milwaukee took something that was "mostly" LSD and hooked up with a guy named Drew who (at the time) looked like a guy...but also like a god and a demon and a bit like a seahorse. They spend the night together and in the morning they wake up and drew has turned into a 50 year old woman who screams at her, grabs her clothes and runs out of the room.

Street Level play is all about being on the fringes of power without bieng one of the "players" yourself. It's a bit like being an investigator in Call of Cthulhu: you're in over your head, out of your element and in dangerous territory. You're probably a little unhinged (or you will be soon) and are, for whatever reason, chasing rumors and weirdness. There's a section called "What You Hear" which is a collection of weird rumors, urban legends and lies that are spread around by the Occult Underground. Rather than include them all here I'll sprinkle a few of the better ones here and there throughout the write-up.

quote:

There is a man who lives behind a trap door in the sporting goods section of a Wal-Mart in South Dakota. If you ask him for a lemon he will accurately predict your future for you.

Creating Your Group
Appropriately this section comes before creating your character, because unlike a lot of secret occult/horror/monster games there's no overarching justification for PCs to be working together. In most games you're a part of some group that shares certain goals in common (such as the WOD), are professional monster hunters (Rippers, Hunter, etc) or are trying to keep cultists from summoning gods that will eat the universe (CoC and the like).

In UA the stakes are not nearly so clear-cut. Sure, there are people out there trying to hurt or murder other people...but that's true in the real world too and that's why we have the police. There are also people looking to shape the world to fit their personal ideals and to control mankind's future...but we've got that in the real world too and it's called politics. So just why are you delving into the lunatic circus that is the Occult Underground? The game encourages you to think about not only why your group sticks together, what specifically are you trying to accomplish together and what assets and liabilities you have as a group.

quote:

Planes do not actually fly. It is a very elaborate hoax created because the general public does not understand or trust quantum physics.

Ultimately the group dynamic is between you and your GM, but as always the book throws you a few examples:

*A circle of friends who all knew Charlie Verrick. Charlie was the guy who really loving seized the day, exploring jungles, hanging out with the Hell's Angels and dying saving people from the World Trade Center on 9/11. At his funeral you all pledged to live more like Charlie...and now he's in your dreams telling you secrets and guiding you to newer...weirder...places.

*You are all "kept" young men for rich and lonesome women. However you've begun to realize that the rich and powerful are different...really different. Now you're all caught up in their power games and creepy eyes-wide-shut mystic bullshit.

*You're all grad students in Professor Morbious' Psychology Open Study course. You've got one assignment and it's 100% of your grade: investigate and report on alternative spirituality communities and sub-cultures.

*You've got a fatal, incurable disease: cancer, HIV, etc. None of you are going to live longer than 5 years and you've become your own "support group". Rather than waiting for the inevitable, painful end you've decided to do something with your life...something that'll let you go out on your own terms.

As you can see there's no "standard" UA gameplay. Which is probably one of the main criticisms of the system. It's very much a "sandbox" experience. There's no "classic formula" or built in guides or enemies. There's just you and a whole world of weirdness right below the surface. This is especially true at the Street Level when you've got no weird powers of your own to speak of and it can sometimes be tough to come up with a good reason why your PC wouldn't just stay home, get a job and keep his head out of the furnace.

quote:

Every single president of the United States has had a glass eye. The same glass eye.

Next we'll get into character creation.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 12:03 on May 28, 2015

Bacchante
May 2, 2012

Friends don't let friends do sarcasm.

Crasical posted:

Is this an actual mechanical thing because I would very much like to play a Lucifuge member who's sole supernatural talent is that tiny little hellcritters love the gently caress out of him.

One of the Castigations is for a familiar. You could probably talk your ST into letting you take it more than once.

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.

Bacchante posted:

One of the Castigations is for a familiar. You could probably talk your ST into letting you take it more than once.

Or you could make your familiar a Swarm critter. Might be simpler mechanically.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:
There's also like, seven different kinds of werewolves. But the Uratha world probably be trying to kill most of them right along side the hunters.

Second ed Uratha might even ally themselves with hunters, at least temporarily. The new death rage mechanics are very bloody and indiscriminate.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Wapole Languray posted:

I can answer this!

Basically, there's like... a dozen different loving things in WoD that you can call "Angels" and "Demons", which all sorta got mashed together by humans, which is why the Lucifuge, Infernals, Dark Spirits from Werewolf, all the crazy poo poo Mages fight, and Techno-Gnostic Robots all get called Demons in some way, shape, or form.

In fact the Official "Demons" are like, the things least likely to ever be called a Demon because their whole thing is to be as stealthy and unknowable as possible and basically have jack-all to do with the rest of the WoD.

Mortal Remains actually goes into this a bit in the Demon chapter. And that's basically the answer. This is the nWoD, where you can't be sure what you're fighting even if it call itself a demon.

Flavivirus
Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Kurieg posted:

There's also like, seven different kinds of werewolves. But the Uratha world probably be trying to kill most of them right along side the hunters.

Second ed Uratha might even ally themselves with hunters, at least temporarily. The new death rage mechanics are very bloody and indiscriminate.

It's generally a pretty big thing in nWoD that while you might have a game line about playing Vampires, Demons or Werewolves they're not the only thing in the world that can fit into that category - the setting is set up to reject the idea that the world is completely comprehensible and understandable, that being antithetical to horror. No matter who you are in the nWoD or what level of supernatural understanding you've achieved, it's always possible for something completely outside your frames of reference to sail through your life and wreck everything without any adherence to the natural rules you've built up.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Hunter: The Vigil

In 1927, the US Army raided some coastal towns in Massachusetts. They no longer exist. The inhabitants are just gone. In 1947, an object crashed near an Air Force base in Roswell. Government agents came in to clean up. In November of 1963, JFK was assassinated, and the investigatin afterward was weirdly reluctant. In the 60s and 70s, the Zodiac Killer stalked California without ever being caught, but the killings stopped anyway. In August 1997, Princess Di died in a mysterious car crash. Conspiracy theorists want you to know that there is an agency behind it all. They don't know the truth. Task Force: VALKYRIE does. You thought the US government didn't know about monsters, didn't know secrets? Well, parts of it don't. But parts of it do.

It all started in 1865 under a man named Gordon West, the leader of a hastily made team of agents that failed to rescue Abraham Lincoln from a monster that no human could ever understand. For the good of the Union, they covered up the death, hired a liok-alike and then hired John Wilkes Booth to assassinate the look-alike before anyone could notice the difference. Ever since then, they have been protecting the US against supernatural beings and covering up the evidence. They operate outside the structure of the government because they must be kept secret. In 1944, the Joint Chiefs of Staff reformed them into Task Force: VALKYRIE without the president's knowledge, having discovered that some prominent Nazis were allying with paranormal entities. Between June 1944 and April 1945, TFV joined Allied forces in Europe. Despite having little in the way of armaments, they captured and defeated a team of hermaphroditic Nazi magicians, two packs of werewolves, dozens of undead of various kinds and more vampires than anyone believed could possibly exist. Half of the time, these so-called extra-normal entities, or ENEs, weren't fighting for Hitler - or anyone but themselves. Didn't matter. They were a threat, and TFV's troops weren't about to let them go just because they didn't heil.

After Roswell, an early triumph of VALKYRIE's disinformation teams, TFV manated to disappear. They protect the USA from extranormal forces, but only a handful of top government men know they exist. The President isn't one of those men. They are the Men in Black, the Special Forces operatives who vanish people into black helicopters, the conspiracy theories made real. They are the conspiracy that keeps the US in blissful ignorance...or so they like to think. Truth is, they're a government agency. They suffer from nepotism and incompetence like any other agency. Sometiems that incompetence is at a level that endangers their own agents - their intel boys are sometimes just as bad as the laziest CIA operative who gets his intelligence from watching the news. They have a wide knowledgebase on ENEs, but there's far more red tape and clearances to get to it than anyone reasonably wants to deal with. And, of course, there's the budget. Obviously it's a black budget, but that means there are some problems. Their budget's a fraction of, say, the ATF's - nowhere even near the FBI's. It's not entirely clear how they afford the black helicopters or the enormous Arizona underground complex, or the R&D department. (New Mexico? Disinformation site. Like a movie set.)

Perhaps more strangely, given their mission statement of protecting citizens, why does so much fieldwork come down to observation and kidnap of ENEs rather than just putting them down? Why does it have so many ENEs stored in an underground prison? Why do field agents who get close to certain information get reassigned without warning? There could be something else going on. TFV's always had a mysterious history, and it could be all a fabrication. It could be a lie or a cover. Agents don't need to know everything, do they? But hey, maybe it's not a conspiracy. Maybe the agency's just compromised by the monsters it hunts. Or maybe it's all just paranoia.

Task Force: VALKYRIE has a solid procedure for most ENEs - you report, observe, assess, report, then neutralize or call for backup. Few agents stick to procedure in the field - a werewolf who realizes he's being observed isn't going to wait for you to report back in and call up the ladder. Sure, the strict cell-based structure of the agency may technically require you to get approval from the chain of command before you break out the advanced technological weapons, but often, agents just fire 'em off and exploit the mysteriously limitless budget. Of course, those who take things too lightly have been known to end up in offshore prisons with amnesia. TFV's got big guns, but it does have to balance their usage against keeping hte public in the dark about its existence - as well as everything else's.

Task Force: VALKYRIE is divided into several departments. No one actually knows how to join Containment or R&D - recruitment is closed, and no one knows how the people in those departments got there. But field agents can apply to join other parts of the agency. Project TWILIGHT focuses on the ENEs the agency classifies as P (for Para-human) and S (for social) - that is to say, monsters that are near or post-human and operate in covens, cults or other societies. TWILIGHT is mostly field agents and recognize that taking down one SP/ENE isn't enough to resolve the threat of their societies and conspiracies, so they often dedicate themselves to info gathering, deep cover and other such activities. Operation FORT, on the other hand, is more about extraterrestrial and extradimensional events. They study aliens, fairies, demons, ghosts and extradimensional beings. They are the least scientific of TFV's agents, and a lot of their playbook draws on folklore and religion. They're often nearly as weird as civilian conspiracy theorists. Operation ADAMSKI, its name taken from a hoaxer who believed he was in contact with Venusians, are the field agents who hide the existence of ENEs via disinformation spread among cranks. They're the ones who fake photographs and crappy alien autopsy footage, knowing that the people they deal with will make sure everyone believes they're crazy.

Stereotypes posted:

Network Zero: We've been monitoring Network Zero since late 2004. It doesn't pose a threat to our work - its efforts to publicize the existence of ENEs have been largely deniable. Several ADAMSKI operatives are on their case. We advise observation with a view to recruitment or instrumentalization of connected individuals.
The Union: Vigilantes have always been an inssue when dealing with ENEs, but in early 2002, we became aware of a vigilante organization with a recruitment base on the Internet. Politically, several prominent members are suspect. Files are available, should you wish to seem ore information. Some may be useful, however, inasmuch as they can save on valuable resurces in terms of finding ENEs, and can if necessary be given to the authorities for arrest, should collateral damage ensue.
The Cheiron Group: Project: TWILIGHT has been monitoring the activities of the Cheiron Group and its related consortia since 1986, when a number of VALKYRIE agents collided with a cadre of Cheiron Group employees on a routine clean-up operation. We were unable to capture them alive, but examinations of their bodies revealed unusual surgical modifications, apparently derived from ENE tissue. Efforts to infiltrate the Cheiron Group have been so far unsuccessful, but we persist in our efforts.
Malleus Maleficarum: We gained incontrovertible proof of the existence of a dedicated ENE-hunting wing within the Catholic Church in late 1944. It's efficient, well funded and supported by both the worldwide hierarchy of the Church and the communities in which its divisions temporarily base themselves. We would prefer that the Church does not know of our existence. Agents are advised to avoid likely operatives of this organization, since they pose a threat, and cannot easily be disposed of without gaining unwelcome attention.

Status in VALYKRIE is weird, much like in any government organization. Nepotism is just as important as merit. At one dot, you're a new recruit with an RFID chip in your body allowing you to operate VALYKRIE's advanced armor. You don't get the best guns or any backup, you don't get told what you're doing and you get the poo poo jobs. But hey, Advanced Armory merits! At three dots, you're up in the ranks for one reason or another, and you can call in backup - two dots wirth of Allies. Still, better show results when you do. At five dots, you're too valuable for most field missions, but when you go, you get the best guns, the best cars and the best backup. You can call on other agencies for help if needed, gaining three dots of Contacts. Also, you know who killed JFK and who was really in the car with Princess Di.

So, let's talk Endowments. Most Hunters are not supernaturali n any way. Even conspiracies lack access to all the superhuman abilities that monsters often have. However, they are armed with tools that are not unlike the supernatural powers that monsters get. Task Force: VALKYRIE has the Advanced Armory. They do not trust magical rituals or biomodification - they have the US Armed Forces supplying them with cutting edge tech and advanced weaponry to get an edge over the things they hunt. They take security seriously - you need a small RFID chip to operate most Advanced Armory devices. OTherwise, they lock. This keeps them out of the hands of rogue hunters and enemy forces...but it can lead to tragic losses, like the time a streak team in Canada was wiped out tcompletely after a witch cast a spell that disrupted electronic communications. Their weapons shut down due to no longer receiving RFID signals. Oops. VALKYRIE also expects detailed after-action reports and information on how you used your tools. You decide to start selling 'em off and requisitioning replacements, well, keep in mind that these are the guys who run Vampire Gitmo.

Etheric Rounds (1 to 5 dots) are top secret bullets bombarded with a cocktail of exotic particles, infusing them with strange psuedo-physical properties. They come in clear plastic magazines in every caliber and style on the market, and they glow faintly blue from the tips. When fired, the light becomes as bright as a tracer round, so good luck hiding it. In fact, the light consumes the bullet, converting them into what VALKYRIE scientists believe is an undiscovered fifth state of matter. What's it do? Your bullets can hit ghosts, spirits and other incorporeal beings as if they were physical. The guns don't count as blessed items, but they hit. Unfortunately, they are less accurate than normal against corporeal targets - psuedo-etheric harmonics just don't work well on living tissue. Unlike most VALKYRIE weapons, Etheric Rounds do not require a TFV chip.

Many of the critters TFV hunts are unusually sensitive to psychic phenomena, particularly witches. That's why the Witch Buster (1 dot) was developed. Witches are some of the hardest things to ID, you see, so they made a psychic booby trap. Official rules of engagement say that these tools are to flush out known quarry gone to ground, but field teams often engage in what is known either as wizard baiting or fishing for Potters - setting up a witch buster in public but discreet locations, then monitoring whoever shows up. Ever since a cell in Glasgow went off the reservation in 98 and started killing everyone that poked at the thing, this tactic is now explicitly forbidden by the brass. The tool's about the size and shape of a hockey puck with sticky adhesive on it. It runs on a normal cell phone battery, but leaks etheric energy - theoretically not enough to harm anything, though some agents swear up and down that it can, but it'll trigger anyone who has Unseen Senses related to ghosts, spirits or Twilight events. (All mages can sense pretty much any kind of supernatural event.) The batteries last eight hours or so before they need recharging, but with some technical knowhow you can tap them into the grid of the building they're mounted in, so they'll work as long as the power's stable.

Etheric Goggles (2 or 4 dots) were developed because ghosts, demons and some witches are able to turn invisible or astrally project. So can some vampires. They operate on the same principle as etheric trackers, using chemically treated lenses to detect entities in Twilight. They stopped being standard issue in the early 2000s after a rash of psychocis in agents who used them too much. They look a lot like bulky night vision goggles, and function quite well as night-vision goggles, too, until you push the purple lenses over the IR light source on the brow. This renders all local incorporeal beings as visible as physical ones, at the cost of making the actual physical world harder to see. There's also a more advanced model that can trace etheric disturbances left by these beings as they pass, seeing a faintly luminescent purple cloud trail that can track the entities for a short period after they leave. The goggles have a battery life of six hours as night vision tools or three hours when viewing Twilight things.

The Bleeder (2 dots) looks like a jackhammer with a satellite dish instead of a drill bit. They're new, 'crowd-safe' weapons designed to target supernatural threats - specifically, vampires - without harming bystandars. They're just now being field-tested. They fire microbursts of energy in tight beams, which react violently to vampiric blood, causing it to evacuate vampiric bodies, often violently. No one fully understands why. Lab tests have recorded results ranging from minor leakage of the tear ducts to blood vomit to blood spraying out the pores in a fine mist. The weapon presents minimal threat to humans and animals, due to their lack of vampire blood. (Mostly.) It can be field-modified to work on other supernatural energy sources, but not very reliably. When fired at critters or people without the appropriate energy source, the weapon causes intense headaches often small nosebleeds.

Equalizer Grenades (3 dots) are designed to deal with those monsters that hide in human skin. Studies on various monsters revealed that when they change shape, no matter how, a surge of erratic brain activity in the sensory cortex immediately precedes the change. VALKYRIE's scientists believe that this is the brain trying to process the sensory overload of transformation, but even their vivisections have not given conclusive answers. The grenades operate on the same principle that causes certain bright light patterns to induce seizures. It pulses in a way that causes focused microseizure of the parts of the brain that govern shapeshifting. Harmless to humans - and in fact anything not trying to transform. However, it fills those neural channels with a sort of white noise that blocks transformation of most shapeshifters near it when it goes off. Doesn't matter how they shapehsift - werewolves, magic spells, possession victims warped by demons. Undead targets, though, are resistant. Each grenade works only once - the lights involved require such intensity that the battery is melted to slag.

The Gungnir Multi-Function Targeting System (3 or 4 dots) is both loved and hated by VALKYRIE field teams. It is integrated directly into standard guns - SMGs and assault rifles, mainly - and is the top brass' new initiative for the future of the agency in improving target identification and avoiding collateral damage. Unfortunately, 'target' doesn't always mean 'guy trying to kill me,' and the thing doesn't stop the bad guys from shooting bystanders - just TFV agents. See, the Gungnir scope works as a combination night vision, thermal image and Kirlian camera - you can use it in pitch dark and it can easily tell most monsters from humans. Bampires are below human temperature, werewolves and other shapeshifters run hot, and most witches, psychics and possessed have unusual Kirlian auras. You can even get an etheric goggle built in to deal with ghosts and spirits. An LED overlay tags any ENEs with their official TFV designation. On top of that, it's an amazing targeting system at range and in the dark. The problem is that it's tied to a fire control computer that recognizes the signatures of all recorded supernatural critters. If it's pointed at anything that doesn't fit a target profile, the gun will not fire. In theory, this means you can't accidentally shoot bystanders. In practice, it won't fire on the mortal servants of monsters, cultists, serial killers and occasional inanimate objects. For example, a cell in the Gulf War was wiped out by Arabian undead due to the desert sun baking the walls of their lair to a temperature close to that of the human body - the guns locked up, assuming the hunters were surrounded by innocent bystanders. You can field modify them to strip out the saftey controls if you know computer hardware, but this risks court martial at the least.

Everyone knows that vampires are weak to the sun, along with stakes, crosses and garlic. (Never mind that the last two are bullshit.) The Victim-Detonated Sun Bomb, or VDSB (3 dots), was developed in an attempt to harness sunlight, though scientists are still unsure what exactly causes the problem for vampires. It's an explosive tied to an IR sensor and thermal imager - when an object with core temperature less than 94 degrees Fahrenheit breaks the IR beam, it triggers. The thing looks like a satchel charge, but it's full of phospherescent lights and focusing mirrors that makes a blinding flash that is electromagnetically identical to sunlight. It doesn't actually harm vampires, but does trigger panic reactions in their brains. Arming the thing's easy enough, but it needs to be hidden, too, and that's trickier. Disarming it again is also dificult, and you only have four minutes to do it before it detonates - and while sunlight might not hurt you, it can still stun you. One use only before a refit - the flash burns out the light sources, you see. Still, easy enough to refit if you can get lights from a local pet store.

Monsters are hard to track - they're very good at getting away. You can't find 'em, you can't tag and bag. That's what an etheric tracker (4 dots) is for. It's a small tag bombarded by those same exotic particles that make the etheric bullets work. You load the tag in the accompanying pellet gun, and it gets embedded in your target's skin. Pellet's about the size of a grain of sand, and very hard to notice even when it hits - feels like a bug bite. The second part of the tracker is a handheld scanner which reads the psuedo-etheric radiation the thing goves off and tracks it on an LCD screen. Early models only showed direction and distance, but current field models have a gPS locator and street map integration. It can even follow critters that go invisible and intangible, thanks to the etheric signature rather than radio tracking. Likewise, it can anchor itself even in ghosts and spirits. It can't track anything that fully leaves this plane of existence, but TFV researchers are working on that. Effective range is half a mile, but no physical obstruction can block it. The resonance fades on the tracker after 24 hours, though. (Trackers in the gun magazine look like blue sand, and the ammo's basically unlimited.)

Sometimes, TFV gets surviving witnesses. They ask questions. This is what Munin Serum (4 dots) is for - or, as agents call it, Brain-O or memery cleanser. It's a cocktail of various psychadelics, narcotics and memory inhibitors that suppresses the last six hours of memory when applied. It can be addictive, cause illness and, in sufficient quantity, kill. New recruits are often frightened with stories of agents injecting themselves with the stuff to forget what they've seen, only to end up cancer-ravaged addicts chasing a high they can never remember. It's applied by injection into the spinal column, just below the cervical vertebrae. It's very painful, so best to sedate your subject first. You can control the dosage to erase 1 to 6 hours of memor y, but use it too much in one week and it's deadly poison - and quite addictive if you don't OD.

But you want the big guns - and for TFV, that means the Mjolnir Cannon (4 or 5 dots). Everyone loves a ray gun. Sure, it doesn't actually shoot killing lasers, but it can take out rioters safely as well as monsters. It looks like a bulky assault rifle, and it fires off an intense, high-frequency ionizing laser, which creates a channel for conductive plasma. It then charges that channel with electricity. So...lightning gun. It can be set to various nonlethal settings or a lethally high energy one. You can get a vehicle-mounted version, though it's rarely issued to urban teams. It works even more dangerously than the smaller kind. Small gun's got 16 shots, though more damaging settings eat power faster. The big one? 50 shots, but it has even bigger settings to eat even more power. Don't use it in a thunderstorm, though - the plasma channel attracts lightning, and it leads right back to you.

Next time: Say two Our Fathers and one magic healing prayer to Saint Luke.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 13:27 on May 28, 2015

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely
Grimey Drawer
Unknown Armies is an interesting contrast to the WoD as both deal with horror but in...different ways. I always liked that UA's skill check system was 'number while under stress' rather than something you had to roll for mundane tasks. You'd still have a bunch of wimp-slapping flailers in combat generally, but given that PCs were relatively normal humans that wasn't so bad. Plus, the game itself emphasized ways to not default to combat, a novel approach.

Speaking of games that default to combat though...


Rifts Dimension Book 2: Phase World Part 3: The City and only the City



Today we shall tour some of Center’s levels and highlight locations, and if there’s time, meet some notable citizens. As it has been noted, the city is divided up into ten ‘levels’ approximately 500 feet high. The city is listed as being about a mile high, so that’s correct, and each level is further subdivided into sections and built into complex warrens by residents.

The top level is the Manors, which is for the rich jerks. Entering the level requires passing a checkpoint with a valid reason. It’s filled with opulent and beautiful palaces, carefully tended boulevards, and a huge heap of classism and aristocratic backbiting. Assassinations are common. The general lack of governance of the city means that some ad-hoc structures have emerged, and the first level is run by The Compact. Sadly not a makeup accessory, it is instead the most violent homeowners’ association ever. It’s a contract that basically says what happens in the house, stays in the house--don’t be embarrassing in public. Given the weird morality of a lot of powerful entities in the Rifts universe, what is publicly embarrassing seems like it’d be up for debate, but it’s not addressed here.

Points of Interest:

Checkpoints: You will have to cross them, they are run by private security teams from Naruni Enterprises. They fine people or enforce labor contracts for folks caught lying their way in.

Thraxus’ White Tower: Thraxus is the mysterious leader of The Compact, and his house is a featureless ivory-colored tower that runs from floor to ceiling of the level. It is “some sort of dimensional gateway or some sort of dimensional pocket” and changes with the master’s whims. Powerful people sometimes meet there.

The Embassy Buildings: Given the lack of actual government bodies, it’s kind of weird to have embassies present. I guess for factions that want an official representation, but Thraxus owns these apartments and rents them out which makes them not ‘embassy ground.’ Obviously, after paying exorbitant rental fees, the tenants spend their time playing spy games.

Level 2-A is Gateland, the west half of the level. It’s sort of grand central station for dimensional arrivals. There are a lot of soldiers here, and it notes they once destroyed a supernatural intelligence that was trying to break in, a nearly impossible feat given their escape powers, so good on them. There are semi-permanent gates to all sorts of places, including a lot of evil-dominated places on Rifts Earth and a couple useful ones on Wormwood. Apparently the prometheans keep the Wormwood gates kind of secret.

Other gates lead to a ‘Plain of Mist’ which is a weird flat Silent Hill-misty dimension full of rifts, bandits, and Millennium Trees and is another trading route. Another leads to a city called ‘Megalopolis’ which worships the Greek pantheon from Pantheons. There’s also the Scorched Lands, which are sort of a staging area leading to various hell dimensions like Hades. The Ugakwa Underworld is also connected, which is from a class explained in Mindwerks. Also there’s some gates to Palladium Fantasy and other versions of Earth, and wherever else you need to go. They’ve mentioned more specific other dimensions here than in most of the supplements to the line so far.

Points of Interest on 2A:

Dimensional Checkpoints: Border guards check those who come in, fair enough.

Central Station: Between 2A and 2B, major monorail depot and station for other transit methods.

Warehouse Sector: You gotta have one if you’re a trading hub, and this one is on a well-guarded and heavily trafficked level. All of these entries talk about how many guards there are and how hostile intruders are going to die.


Level 2-B is the spaceport. Or rather, it’s where all the ‘walkways’ from the landing pads around the city lead into. They couldn’t invest in a shuttle bus or two?

Points of Interest in 2B:

Spacetown: a place for space people to space drink but on the ground.

The Shipyards: They do ship stuff here, building, refitting, and decommissioning. Much espionage, because if there’s one place you want to build your super-secret prototype, it’s a large heavily-trafficked public port.


3-A is the Splugorth trading post. The ruler of this area is ‘Klynncryth’ and I am just going to assume he is an evil(er) clone of Splynncryth refusing to believe he is a copy. Just re-read the section of Atlantis about Splynn and you get the idea, it’s pretty much identical, down to the prominent arena and the marketplace full of gently caress-yous. Oh, apparently they don’t get a lot of business from the Three Galaxies, you know, the rest of their own universe, because people think the Splugorth are jerks. This makes 3G collectively smarter than basically anyplace else we’ve reviewed so far.


Level 3-B actually has a picture in it! Oh, yeah, it’s the Open Market. Small-to-medium sized businesses can rent out space and there’s a giant arcade guys, it’s called Wonderworld. Oh grandpa, your stories are always so funny. There’s no such thing as arcades. Also features the “Hy’werth Jah’Shum Inns.” :stare:


the promised picture. look at it LOOK AT IT

Level 4-A is the FTZ or “Free Trade Zone” run by Naruni Enterprises. The name is a misnomer, as only Naruni products and services are available .They sell primarily weaponry, everything has a sort of military theme. Also, the Naruni apparently will feed arms into a conflict in return for exclusive media rights to that conflict, and they do a lot of dealing in war-themed entertainments. Also they play eSports, which are a real thing that we should treat seriously. :awesomelon: They also sell war-themed toys to the surprise of no one, and there is a sinister note about how they deliberately sell toy guns to kids to make them want real guns when they grow up.

Points of Interest include the Demo Rooms where people can go to check out the functionality of various bits of equipment, the Mechaboy Arena where people can play ‘Space Wars’, some kind of ‘vidcon’ that uses ‘holograms’ and ‘virtual reality’. :hchatter:


Level 4-B is the Warlock Market, since we just had the technology war market, and we are apparently not done shopping yet. This area is run by the United Worlds of Warlock which is kind of an interesting name, I hope they are interesting when they are actually explained. The Warlock Market specializes in techno-wizardry because why not? All other sorts of magic that are permitted to be sold to plebes may be found here as well. Supposedly it’s not as well-stocked as Splynn or other Splugorth markets, but it’s also less prone to killing and eating humanoids. Also, despite the enormous amount of magic present, ley line storms have only occurred three times. There is still a problem with elementals “running wild in the streets” though. The major individual point of interest is The Institute of Magical Arts which is what it sounds like, down to a lot of the staff being former students still paying off their loans.


Levels 5-8: enh, we’re not talking about rich people or ways to spend money anymore, these are all just progressively worse-off housing areas. The constables (run by...someone) tend to focus on the people who “deserve” protection and crime becomes ever more rampant as one descends. There is another black market called the Rat’s Nest on level eight, but it just sounds like a low-rent version of a Splugorth market, maybe run by humans.

9-10 are outright slums. The prometheans, in all their wisdom, permit the lowest and lost to suffer here below. These two levels are all dark twisty passages whose original purpose is unknown :iiam: but now they create a suitably oppressive atmosphere for the worst versions of 1960s New York that midwestern white guys from the 90s could imagine, plus random entries from the monster manual.

That’s it for the general outline of the city, some ‘Notable Citizens’ come next.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado


occamsnailfile posted:

Unknown Armies is an interesting contrast to the WoD as both deal with horror but in...different ways. I always liked that UA's skill check system was 'number while under stress' rather than something you had to roll for mundane tasks. You'd still have a bunch of wimp-slapping flailers in combat generally, but given that PCs were relatively normal humans that wasn't so bad. Plus, the game itself emphasized ways to not default to combat, a novel approach.

The opening section of the combat chapter in Unknown Armies is one of my favorite things ever in an RPG book. It's the thing that made me a Greg Stolze/John Tynes fan.

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Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY

I like that the black-ops anti-supernatural agency of the US Government is the only hunter organization that isn't scared shitless of the Malleus Maleficarum.

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