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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

At the end of the Avatars trilogy and related stuff, when the Tablets of Fate were returned, AO looked around and basically said: "What. I sent you down here to learn humility, but all of you continue to play petty asshat, some of you kill one another, and one of you even murders his followers en-masse. gently caress it. From here on out, your power is directly related to the number of worshipers you've got. That's right: You have to make it worth their while. Now go home-- and on your way, pick up the hundreds of thousands of devoted souls you've left uncollected in the grey waste. Ungrateful shits."

And Christ, Hera. RPGs often haven't been great with female characters in general, and female monsters in specific, but there's something about the tone of Palladium's writing when it comes to evil women that makes me particularly uncomfortable. In this case, it doesn't help that we'll be seeing her again...

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Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


RIFTS continually surprises me with the artists they get to do the illustrations. I really like the guy who did the Greek Gods' illustrations.

Palladium did miss a chance of making Hera actually interesting. Instead of making her a psychopath, make it about how she truly and deeply loves Zeus. How her negative acts are because she's deeply hurt, doesn't know what to do and the ancient world equivalent of a counselor is some gruff guy going 'deal with it'. Her victims are victims because they constantly worry the emotional wound that Zeus has caused. It would also let you make her a huge mother figure and deal competently with her legit children and those she favors, just like myth shows her doing.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

So, wait, RIFTS is the game that doesn't go the lazy route and make Hades basically the Devil in a toga? RIFTS? poo poo. Of course it makes Hera terrible, but mostly I'm just surprised Hades isn't an irredeemable monster.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Yeah that is some pretty mythically accurate Hades. Dude was probably the least worst of the three brother gods, because he just didn't give a gently caress about anything but playing post-mortem Sim City.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

I agree that Hades is pretty myth-accurate, so is Zeus really. My main puzzlement with him is how much attention they spent on Hades himself and the dimension and minions. It's also unusual that Rifts encountered a god or being of death and did not immediately go SUPER EVIL like they usually do. That they badly mischaracterized a female deity is alas not surprising. Myth-Hera often does terrible things to people but her motivation is so very human that it becomes tragic rather than simply cruel.

Also the guy doing the art in the Greek section is Vince Martin, I really can't remember if he's responsible for a lot of work in other books. Pantheons required a fair bit of art so they have a lot of different talents on display through the various groups.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Vox Part 4: Settings

Here we talk about the potential settings for Vox, which are all actually quite cool but they do reveal the game's biggest weakness...It's not very focused on it's core concept.

Basically the idea is that you hear Voices, and the effect of those voices on gameplay is fairly interesting. But that idea seems to get left behind as the book gets caught up in its cosmic conspiracy theory and it turns out the Voices are just going to be "power ups" for the PCs to deal with and then "eat" in order to become more powerful. It's fairly well established that the Voices aren't independent beings or forces (making the Voice Types kind of pointless) and since they aren't in any sense real their existence doesn't ultimately matter beyond the abilities granted once they're absorbed or purged.

The setting intro mentions that you can use Vox for just about any sort of setting: greek hoplites communing with the Gods, space horror games with psychic parasites, or a game of lunatics whose voices are actually people in another place or time who are hearing your voice. These are all neat ideas...but Vox isn't a generic game system. "all the players are people with voices in their heads only they can hear and which can take over their body" is pretty far from generic.

The "default" Demiurge concept makes for an interesting conspiracy/horror game in the vein of Unknown Armies or even a low-powered Mage game...but it doesn't actually have anything to do with the Voices, and those just feel tacked on, which is bizarre since that's the central concept behind the entire game.

Likewise, the other three settings are all really interesting...but they could be played just as easily without Voices and they're probably be more coherent and playable.


Anyway, lets get to the four potential settings:

Facility

This starts by stating that apparently everyone in the titular Facility has a Voice, so that's interesting. It also talks about the different types of Voices that are most common:

*Vox Phasma: the "ghosts" of those who have died in the Facility, or possibly those who were there before.

*Vox Alius: These Voices are mostly confined to a group explained later: The Order of the Red Brotherhood. Basically people with these voices tend to believe that the Facility is some sort of alien vessel or lab and the Voices are transmissions or messages from the Alien Masters.

*Vox Dei: These guys believe they're hearing the voice of God or the Devil and usually see the Facility as some form of purgatory or hell. Often these guys are driven to violence and join a group called the Possessed. Apparently anyone who gives off the impression that they're hearing Voices is generally assumed by others to be one of the Possessed...which is odd since earlier it mentioned that everyone has Voices.

*Vox Machina: The voice of the System itself, that runs the Facility. They tend to be "hackers" and have a talent for getting the Facility to do what they want.


So, what is the Facility? Well, that's a good question. Basically it is a gigantic structure of long white hallways and small, barren rooms. No one knows who built it, how it operates or why it's full of people with Voices in their heads.

Every 90,000 seconds sleeping gas is pumped into the rooms and halls.

Everything is controlled by the System (or Evermind) and there are several computer terminals in some areas.

Much of the Facility is lit constantly by soft-white overhead lighting but in some areas the lights are unreliable or burned out. These areas are called Nighthalls. Sometimes small, useful objects are found in the area, they're called Gifts and have a tendency to vanish spontaneously sometime later.

The structure of the Facility is as follows:

Rooms are 10x10 chambers which are what you can find behind most open doors in the Facility. They have running water, toilet facilities, and a cot. Some time after the sleeping gas is pumped in food will appear in inhabited rooms.

Halls connect just about everything. Some Halls have lights, some don't (see Nighthalls). Night-halls are often the lair of the possessed.

Sectors This is a collection of Halls and Rooms that have regular inhabitants. They're named for the number of regular people staying in them (so Sector 116 has 116 inhabitants). This would presumably be confusing but the narrator (for some reason this chapter is told in first person) states that he's never found two Sectors with the same population or any Sector where the population fluctuates for long enough to be renamed. Sometimes people go missing but someone new always replaces them.

Wards are larger chambers, often surrounded by Nighthalls. They're usually locked and inside are computer terminals connected to the System.

The Garden is the center of the "main" Facility, a pentagonal area in the center of a 5-way intersection of rectangular "wings". This contains a library (which is also kind of a "neutral zone") and an indoor garden full of many different plans tended by the Facility. This region is handled by a faction called the Union.

Around the Garden are several Wings which are rectangular-shaped regions of halls and rooms, about six floors tall. Each Wing has their own collection of Nighthalls, Sectors, Wards and unexplored areas.

The garden and it's Wings are connected to other parts of the Facility by The Hallway. The Hallway is a single, giant stretch of wide-open blackness. There are no lights and the whole thing is several miles long. Corpses can be found in the darkness with disturbing regularity. There are plenty of Possessed here as well.

At the end of the Hallway is the Stairs, a big, empty spiral staircase leading downwards with occasional lighting. At the end is a magnetically locked door with a blacked out window. No one has been though this door. However, some landings also lead to two other Wings that are only accessible through the Hallway. One of them is nearly as dark as the Hallway and the rumor is that it's the source of the food, water and medication pipes.

Next we've got some info on the organizations and factions in the Facility:

The Union is the "good guys" of the Facility. They're there to try and get people to work together. They want everyone to get along, stand together and basically be more civilized.

The Administrators believe they are descended from the people who were originally employed in the Facility, and are thus superior to the other residents. They want to stop anyone from finding an exit and to ensure that they control as much as possible within the Facility. They refer to non-administrators as "patients" and basically keep them as servants and slaves whenever they can. Patients who prove themselves can be promoted to "doctors", but only those with "provable" pedigree can become high-ranking.

Order of the Red Brotherhood, also called the ORB. They think the facility is a space-ship taking everyone to an alien planet. The aliens live in the basement below the Staircase, controlling and observing the Facility and its inhabitants. They hate the Union and may have some kind of treaty or understanding with the Possessed.

The Possessed are basically those who hear Voices that drive them to violence and who have been "broken down" by their Voices. They are usually alone or in small packs. However, Possessed are not beyond saving and there are a few Redeemed who have managed to purge or merge with their Voices and regain their sanity.

The Facility chapter ends by breaking out of the first person and provides a few tips on running a Facility game, including a few random tables for random exploration events, random gifts.

The last part gives us the "truth" behind the Facility, which is actually disappointingly mundane and doesn't actually make a huge amount of sense given the Facility's layout and procedures. Basically back in 2012 a facility in Antarctica was created to house victims of the Vox plague...and that's about it. No one knows what has happened to the rest of the world since then or how long its been.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oversight

Oversight is the "default" campaign setting for Vox, set in the modern day with an ever-increasing "plague" of the Vox disorder, where the victims hear unexplainable Voices. Presumably this also includes the Demiurge and its agents...but they're never actually mentioned nor is it ever explained how the Demiurge cosmology fits in with the "plague" of Voices (something you think would provoke a huge reaction from the entity).

The setting is, specifically, Washington DC during election season of 2012...which is pretty darn specific I suppose. People in America and the world are starting to become more polarized and radical. Everyone has an opinion and they're getting louder about it. Protests are more common and becoming more violent and in reaction the jails are full of activists and extremists on trumped up charges.

The presidential election is currently undecided with recounts and court orders extending the election into late November and no new president yet determined. Oh, and apparently one candidate is Muslim...how they possibly got enough votes in 2012 USA to deadlock the elections is an exercise for your imagination (Vox was published in 2010 by the way).

Like the Facility it starts with some common Voice Types:

*Vox Dei: Plenty of religious extremists and true believers. This is where its mentioned that one of the candidates is Muslim (the other is Christian) and it also says that both sides seem to be equal in size and influence...this must be a very, very different world because a quick google search reveals that Muslims make up .6% of the population vs Christianity's 78.4%. I'm all for alternate realities but sometimes you need to point out that you're diverging and maybe give some insight into what that means for the setting.

*Vox Apparatus: These guys can either be luddites who hate the "machine Voices" they're forced to endure or semi-transhumanists.

*Vox Alius: basically a surge in alien abductee mania. Many of those with these Voices believe that the Truth is being hidden by the government.

*Vox Custos: These are the conspiracy theorists who believe that they're "tuned in" to the people who are trying to hunt them down and control the world.

The chapter goes on to describe some of the better known landmarks in DC: the national mall, the Washington monument, the Capitol Building, etc. None of this has any actual game relevance, but it does serve as set-dressing.


Next we've got the fictional candidates and their major supporters. No political parties are mentioned...but it's not exactly hard to tell. Nor is it hard to tell whose side the book is on.

First we have the "Agents of Change" Aadil Bukhari is the Muslim candidate and he's just one miracle away from sainthood. He's the frontrunner, won the popular vote clearly but the electoral vote is being hotly contested. He was born in the inner city, has an "astounding intellect" and made his way through public high school in "record time" (which must be something considering the youngest high school graduate is six years old). He's also the youngest presidential candidate in history. His running mate is Nathan Locke is an older and more seasoned man of so full of wisdom and serenity it is leaking out of his ears. He was, notably, an ambassador prior to becoming the VP candidate so although he has lots of experience and wisdom he has never been a "real" politician, avoiding the corrupting brand of being an "insider".

some of Bukhari's supporters are listed as well: a climate change expert attempting to warn people about dangerous new weather conditions in the near future, a secret service agent in service of the unnamed incumbent president (who is ending his 2nd term), a young reporter for the Post. There is also mention of a Micah Harris a high schooler who has some vaguely defined prophetic or mystic gift. There's no indication of how he's connected however.


Then we have "The Establishment", ie the opposing party. It's worth noting that from the brief description given of the 2-term incumbent he's clearly on the same team as Bukhari...so it's not really clear how the rival party counts as the "Establishment". They might has well have labeled them "the Sith" considering how they're described.

Judith Wagner is the opposition candidate and a lawyer. During her legal career she was nicknamed "the vampire" and her political career has been tainted by shady real-estate deals that have recently come to light. It also makes it clear that she and her family are the ones behind the gridlock on the elections. For some reason no mention at all is made of her running mate. We do hear about a few of her supporters: a supreme court justice who is instrumental in helping her block the election results, a political radio commentator, a freelance reporter, and the evangelical Reverend Grigsby. Micah Harris's psychologist is also mentioned, but again his connection is unexplained.

Then we've got the Factions which may or may not be connected to the conspiracies of Lux Aeterna or Nuit. There's the Lightbringers who are a semi-secret group who reaches out to those with mental illnesses offering help and support (but operate in secrecy) and the AVARC or Association for Voice Anomaly Research and Containment. They're basically Men In Black who seek out and capture those with Voices.

The chapter ends with a random headline generator as well as a "random event" table. The random events are basically insane, which isn't totally inappropriate, but it does paint the world as one where the events of the presidential election are the least of anyone's concerns...let's see...here are 4 random results:

Preachers disguised as rioters. Also an explosion.

EMTs arguing with bystanders during a fire.

Police questioning a Flash Mob in the middle of traffic

Men In Black assaulting looters while an assassination occurs.


Honestly, this setting is way too focused on the least interesting part of the world (2000-style stalled presidential election in a world where schizophrenia is a contagious disease and the weather is poised to go Ragnarok) and the one aspect that lone individuals (ie the PCs) have the least amount of influence or control. There's almost no actual indication of how the PCs might get involved, what would drive them or even what will happen without their intervention. The lack of any moral ambiguity is also a bit of a game-killer for a political conspiracy game.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Currents

This setting is semi-lovecraftian and set in the 1920s, in Buffalo NY. Like before we've got some suggested Voice Types:

*Vox Apparatus: Almost the whole of Buffalo is now powered thanks to the work of Nikola Tesla at Niagara Falls. Also there's jazz.

*Vox Musum: Specifically related to the Suffragette movement and the "voice" of inspiration leading these activists.

*Vox Madidus: Can't avoid mentioning Prohibition of course.

*Vox Sussurus: This is basically a Voice personified by rumors.

We also get a selection of almost-1920's street slang. Did you know that "tough guys" used to be called "Bimbos"?

We're then given some important places in interbellum Buffallo, of course mentioning the insane asylum. Some of these are just historical mentions but others have bizarre rumors attached to them. Supposedly a giant tentacled creature sleeps under niagara falls and the hydroelectric dams are there to keep it either asleep or to wake it up. People who go over in barrels sometimes disappear.

And of course there's mention of the mob families of buffalo, the personelle of the insane asylum and oddly enough vendors in the Broadway market.

Then we come to people connected to the Supernatural...

We do have Phineas Ghoule who is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He leads a cult trying to take over the world, performing rituals to use the electrical grid of the city as a giant ritual focus for unspecified purposes.

And we've got Nikola Tesla in the twilight of his life who is working on secret modifications to the electrical system in the hydroelectric dam.

There are two other characters mentioned, a professor of history from the local university with no known supernatural affiliation (but hey, he's a history professor in a lovecraftian setting) and a couple who runs the Queen City Hotel with undefined " knowledge of the occult".

Currents also comes with an actual adventure scenario, something that Oversight desperately needed revolving around the eclipse set to occur on January 24th of 1925. The Eclipse can be used as either a climax for the game or as a starting point. However, reviewing this outline I've got to say...I'm a bit confused.

If we're going with the events leading up to the Eclipse here's what we have:

In January of 1900 Tesla arrives to upgrade the system he created for Westinghouse in Niagara Falls. The generators run at 4000 RPM after he modifies them.

Twenty years later just after prohibition is passed the PCs find themselves at the Front park near the Niagara river. Something is going to happen that only they can stop. This is the only information we have.

In 1922 we have a bit about the DiCarlo crime family. Yes, we seem to have skipped forward two years with no explanation. Antony DiCarlo, the son of Joe DiCarlo (the family head) loses 4 days during which his father succumbs to a heart attack and he is nowhere to be found. Upon returning he appoints Stefano Magaddino to run the family until he feels capable. This is all the work of Angelo Palmeri who didn't want to see Antony in charge.

Then in ??? we have Dr. Eliot Cambria who is a senior psychologist at the insane Asylum. He leads a cult in Buffalo under the name Phineas Ghoule and is preparing to create some kind of portal using the power of Tesla's generators and the parks around Buffalo. Cambria helped to arrange Antony's disappearance for Angelo Palmeri in exchange for getting him test subjects for his mind control experiments which take place under the asylum.

As their plans unfold unnatural events begin to occur around Buffalo: "time doors" open to other places, citizens vanish and reappear or are altered in odd ways.

January 1925, three years after the last established date, the solar eclipse will occur. And then...profit? The characters have presumably saved the day, or they haven't. This is literally all we have and it's meant to span a 5 year adventure? Forget what I said earlier about an adventure outline.

Of course, the Eclipse could just be the start of things...

The morning of the eclipse the characters are drawn to downtown Buffalo, they enter Niagara square at about 9:40 and the eclipse begins 5 minutes later and lasts for 101 seconds. And basically bad things happen. We're given a few brief examples (doorways to other worlds/times open, lovecraftian beings enter the dimension, or perhaps psychic episodes affect the inhabitants of Bufallo) and a possible way to defuse the situation (dropping the revolutions of the transformers to 3600 RPM).

However, overall it's a bit of a mess. There's not really enough information or material for this to be considered a real "setting" and as an adventure it's waaay too long-term and disjointed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reckoning

This is the Victorian setting for Vox. In this setting five years before Victoria was due to ascend to the throne she was forced to flee and an usurper has taken her place.

Here at least we're given a rundown of how this world is different from our own version of 1832. Cholera outbreaks and civil unrest weaken the government and King William the IV becomes ill and dies. His Queen becomes regent but power is seized by John Conroy and a 13 year old Victoria flees the palace and disappears. The game itself may occur weeks, months or years later in a London where it has been raining constantly ever since.

Buckingham palace has been fortified by Conroy's forces and the Tower of London is home to his Watchmen. Queen Victoria has joined up with a group called the Guttersnipes, basically a semi-organized group of lower classes and criminals. She is 13 (no matter how long it has been since Conroy seized power, she does not age) and is organizing a revolution among the guttersnipes to overthrow Conroy and put herself back on the throne.

And...well that's really about it. Again, kind of a neat idea but there's not really anything beyond some notable historical differences and some unexplained phenomena. No real information about how Voices tie into things. At least it's easier to see the PCs getting involved, but the whole Voice schtick just feels out of place...




And that's it for VOX. It's quite the up-and-down game. It introduces some cool ideas and the occasional neat mechanic but it doesn't really seem to know where it's going with things. It's also missing some essential information (mainly, how you get additional Voices). Definitely not the strongest PDQ game, but it's certainly a source of potential inspiration for weird/conspiracy gaming.

Kaja Rainbow
Oct 17, 2012

~Adorable horror~

Vox kinda seems like the writer shoved in cool ideas without really thinking about them, how to best use them, or how well they fit together.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 13: "A kind, loving warrior goddess"



Athena

Athena is everyone’s favorite Greek goddess and she does come off as kind of less of a prick than some of the others though she certainly had her pride and vanity like all the rest (Arachne). Sprang from the head of Zeus one day and has been crusading against the powers of darkness ever since. She often gives hints and clues to heroes by changing her shape so it may be good practice to give a hoot and respect any nearby owls. She believes that with great power comes great responsibility, and thinks all these lazy gods spending their time on family politics are jerks. She’s not wrong but it may be better if they stay away.

Here it explains the thing from Hades: Apparently she was so disenchanted with Zeus’s idle adultery and unconcern that she allied with Hera and Poseidon to overthrow him, which failed, and all three got thirty years of Hades time. After getting out of prison, Athena has distanced herself from the pantheon and is making friends with True Atlanteans and other meddlesome good gods like herself. She tends to operate behind the scenes being a plot device but she has taken time from her busy owl schedule to beat the crap out of Ares on multiple occasions, for which he hates her.


she might want to take a break from fighting evil to eat a sandwich though

45K MDC, 20th level warrior -- I really don’t get using these nonexistent levels, I mean it just doesn’t mean anything -- 10th level ley line walker. Shapeshifts at will into a ‘human-looking woman, man, or owl’ which suggests just one of each which would be kind of funny. Bio-regenerates and has a bunch of dumb skills and a kick that does 7D6 MDC for some reason. She’s pally with a few of the other ‘specifically good guy’ gods and has her special spear which can remove curse at 70%. It also does 6D6+6 MD, less than kicking people, except that it doubles against ‘supernaturals’. Triple against Splugorth and vampire intelligences. That’ll show ‘em. Also returns when thrown. Athena’s shield is indestructible, yet ‘light as a feather’ which gives her a higher parry bonus and a set of 400 MDC armor for some reason.

More or less your standard do-gooder NPC in Palladium games, but it does note that she can come off as kind of a schoolteacher or know-it-all, kinda lecturing folks. I think if I had to lead Hercules around by the nose through the haze of his dumbness I’d be a little exasperated too.

Apollo

Apollo, the sun, patron of the arts and stuff. He’s more often depicted with a lyre to contrast him from Artemis but here they have him with a bow AND winged sandals. He has the gift of prophecy but be careful when asking about the future. He’s a furious enemy of giants and evil dragons specifically and as a sun god he quickly forces vampire intelligences to hide their shame. Other Greek gods resent Apollo for being effortlessly good at everything and also because he’s kind of arrogant. He almost fought to the death with Hercules once over not sharing information and Zeus had to separate them (?). Hera hates him specifically as one of Zeus’s bastards, Ares resents him for “a number of reasons.” Currently he is engaged in studying the expansion of the Splugorth as they might be a threat, he’s maybe going to stop them but can’t do much yet because the forces of good are incapable of allying in the Megaverse.

56K MDC, more with the ‘20th level warrior’ business, line walker and healer. Knows all medical arts ‘except cybernetics.’ Regenerates an average of 30 MDC a round. For 25 PPE each he can bless an arrow, causing it to turn gold, have +3 to hit and double damage. Given that the rules for bows and arrows were buried somewhere in an unrelated section of a previous splat, this is utterly useless, though he does have 8,000 PPE. He also has the “Gift of Prophecy” which tends to bring its dooms most harshly on those who seek to avoid it and it operates at “GM’s discretion” so railroad away. He also has an 80% chance to raise the dead as long as they’re fresher than a month; up to a year at 30%

His Sun Bow is a greatest rune weapon that does 2D6x10 and communicates via telepathy, fires arrows made of solar plasma (finally...the lightning bow from the D&D cartoon) and the bow can cast some spells of its own.

Aphrodite

I haven’t been at this long but I’m already cringing anytime sexuality comes up anywhere within a goddess’s pantheon. And yep, she’s “the most lecherous of the Greek female deities.” She’s a beauty queen, vain and hedonistic. Apollo and Athena dismiss her as “that little harlot.” Slut-shaming is a sure sign of a fierce warrior of light. She uses sexuality to manipulate and get what she wants. She’s an ancient fertility goddess who was invited to join the pantheon after her old (forgotten eh) pantheon exiled her because they fought over her too much. :sigh:

She’s married to Haephestus who is just resigned to her exploits and lately she’s rumored to be having an extended affair with Krishna (:ughh:) or trying to seduce Arr’thuu (double up :ughh: :ughh:) so this is basically as much as Rifts is capable of with female sexuality.

18K MDC (so much swingy variation) and she is “the worst stereotypes you have heard about cheerleaders, fashion models, beauty queens, groupies and blondes” so basically “all the girls Siembieda did not get laid by” and 12th level line walker. She has more spells than they’ve given some of the other sexy girl gods but not much else, no special love magic hypno-powers or whatever, just lady parts which is black magic enough I guess.

Hermes

Trickster and messenger, charming rogue, only Greek god to have had a childhood. Well, aside from Pan I think, but I doubt he’s in here. Man there are a crapload of Greeks. Hermes is also a god of magic and alchemy, and likes fast cars. Apparently the last time Ares tried to pick on him, he pulled out a railgun and fired a couple of bursts into the “surprised war god.” Which, I mean, I know it can take a while for older people to adapt to technology but the Splugorth and other old civs have had these for a long time and you’d think Ares would pick up on it. Anyway, Hermes is the messenger of the gods and that’s why he often discovers new things first. He also likes to crack wise, which will undoubtedly be a barrel of laughs at the gaming table.

15K MDC, 15th level line walker, diabolist, scholar and alchemist, 8th level operator and 6th level techno-wizard. That’s...a lot of levels. He also has ‘over 1000 different vehicles’ (eat your heart out Jay Leno). He also has a bunch of other technological doo-dads of the sort that most of the gods we’ve read about so far disdain for <reasons> His Winged Sandals let him run at 400 mph or fly at Mach 3. His magic winged headband lets him sense rifts and nexuses and locate Olympian gods anywhere in the Megaverse.

And then there’s “the Herminator.”

A ‘rail gun pistol’ techno-wizard device custom-built for him, and requires supernatural PS of 20 or greater to use. It looks like an old .44 because that is what was available for reference drawing and does 1D4x10 per burst, holds ten bursts of ammo of Hermes’s ‘own unique design’. At least it makes CSI’s job easier. Seriously, Herminator? :rolleyes:

Artemis

Artemis is twin sister to Apollo and swore to remain a virgin after her true love (Orion) was killed. Unlike Apollo, she is not so driven to truth and justice and screws with mortals more frequently. She is a big old woods-loving hippie who hates the way technological societies allow the Weaver to spread its dread infl--harm nature. In particular she has ended up kicking the rear end of some Mechanoids for their world-devouring habits. She also likes mutant animals like Coalition Dog Boys and may someday go all PETMA on those who mistreat uplifts. She has a little pocket dimension full of happy mutant animals she’s rescued. The Wolfen of Palladium fantasy might like worshipping her if anyone cared about Palladium fantasy.


cartoon birds do her hair after the squirrels mess it up

56K MDC, dimensional teleport at 64%...this is lower than most of the others and I wonder why they bother varying the number much. It also seems odd for a wide-ranging ranger with a private dimension. Oh, she’s a 20th level wilderness scout, because THAT will be useful. And a 10th level line walker and 6th level dryad which is the first time I’ve seen any of these mention those dumb classes from England, but good show on reading your source material Carella. She can also bless arrows like Apollo and has ‘Oneness with Nature’ which states that no animal will ever harm her--but monsters (99% of the ecology in Rifts) are a different story. She apparently used to lead a group of demigods and godlings, but “most of them died, a few at her hands when they tried to take advantage of her.” Because we can’t ignore a declared virgin I guess, that is a challenge. She’s starting up a new band now, hint hint. This is under the minions section of her statblock by the way, not in the main fluff. Also her Golden Bow which is just very slightly less good than Apollo’s, mostly in that it has limited ammo.

Enough for now! More for later! Like a lot more.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Forget Arachne, the pinnacle of Athena being petty is Medusa.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Kaja Rainbow posted:

Vox kinda seems like the writer shoved in cool ideas without really thinking about them, how to best use them, or how well they fit together.

That pretty much sums it up. There's lots of cool ideas that aren't really explored as much as they should be or don't link together properly. Other than the Facility setting (which I like a lot) the other three are really more like the core idea for an adventure scenario. I can't imagine actually using Currents or Reckoning for more than one game.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 14: "The like, one legitimate child of Zeus and Hera"

Ares, god of war. Ares conflicts with Athena in that they’re both gods of war, though Athena was more the soldiers’ god and Ares more the concept of war itself, or something, this is what the book says and it just depends on who you read. He was still a respected god, being of war, and sacrifices were made to him to earn luck in battle.

Still, for a god of war, he’s kind of a dink. He’s been defeated and captured and otherwise outdone by practically everyone, he’s like that guy you beat up to show your new guy is tough, like Juggernaut in Marvel. He isn’t very smart and won’t admit defeat until it’s inevitable. Doesn’t care much about right or wrong, just about fighting. Is prone to starting fights as a result of this.

50K/10K god numbers, loud-mouthed bully who hates losing and is a big giant jerk. Blames others for his defeats and hates Herakles for once besting him. He’s ‘only’ a 15th level warrior and regens an average of 50MDC per round. His Special is an Aura of Discord, which causes a save vs. magic or be filled with rage and blood-lust. He must be a hit at parties. This apparently cannot be turned off.


image comics preview, coming to newstands this fall!

His hand to hand is decent with a 1D6x10 kick, 3,000 MDC plate armor because ?!, holy sword that does the same damage as his kick except bonus against demons and etc. Kind of a clunky dull block, straightforward. This is reasonably close to some of the portrayals of Ares I’ve read, YMMV. The only problem is that god-numbers make him unusable as much at any PC level.

Dionysus, god of wine and festivals. Dionysus was a demi-god who got the god nod despite being an illegitimate child of Zeus. Hera hated and tried to destroy him, then eventually reconciled because who can stay mad at the god of wine? This must have been pre-descent into total madness phase.

Anyway, he developed a bunch of what we came to call bacchanalian paraphernalia on pre-rifts Earth and mostly just likes to party it up with satyrs and maenads and other mystical beings, basically a popular chap on the megaversal campus. He could sometimes be cruel, if parties went foul, but his usual mode was kindness. He hangs with Soma a lot (TBD) and go around having parties that may be dangerous or life-altering to the humans involved.

Numbers: 32K/6.4K, dislikes moralizing temperance leaguers and isn’t really careful with the tolerances of mere humans around him--if a drunk driving crash killed a human friend of his, he’d feel bad, then go drink more. He’s a 10th level Sorcerer.

He has special powers: Dionysus’s Gift, which allows him to turn any normal drink into alcohol of his choice, even disguising the flavor of the alcohol so it isn’t obvious to the drinker. He can even make brews that would be toxic to humans but affect dragons and gods--though he never deliberately introduces this to the wrong audience. Just...a drunk dragon is a drunk dragon.

Then he has an animal transformation power. He can change humans and most non-mega-damage beings (Wormwood humans?) into animals by looking at them for 15 PPE. Save v magic at 16 or higher, it remains for 1d4 days or forever if he spends an extra 200PPE.

He can also commune with nature and summon 1d6x100 ‘gentle animals’ Disney style to keep him company or serve drinks at his festivals or whatever. And lastly, he has an aura of fertility/infertility he can bestow on 1000’ radii around him. He’s not a combat god but he has a lot of friends, his parties could serve as good networking or setpieces that could move on and leave some ravaging or mystery in their wake. For some reason it specifies that he dresses in ‘flowing oriental robes’ because the Greeks didn’t have anything loose and breezy like that.


seriously what is up with this ‘playboy orientalist’ look


Hephaestus was the blacksmith god who was born ugly and crippled, supposedly birthed by Hera alone as revenge for Zeus having Athena alone. She cast him off Olympus because he was deformed. He was raised by two spared Titans and became a master smith. Hera had thought herself rid of this unpleasant child when she received a mysterious golden throne as a present. Sitting on it, she couldn’t get off it. In the end Dionysus persuaded Hephaestus to come to Olympus and Hera apologized for her cruelty in a rare display.

Hephaestus married Aphrodite, some say as a reward for freeing Hera from the throne, others say by other forms of blackmail--the myths vary on this one. Aphrodite treats her marriage pretty lightly, and Hephaestus occasionally takes some kind of embarrassing vengeance but is unlikely to get a fidelitous spouse out of what was probably not an entirely consensual union.

45K/9,120 MDC, withdrawn and quiet nerdy gadget guy unless talking to another craftsman. Been mistreated all his life, kind of expects others to act badly towards him. 20th level ‘weaponsmith’, 14th sorcerer and fire warlock, only 4 level techno-wizard and operator--late to the technology party one supposes. He is one of the few gods listed who could successfully operate a telephone.

His combat stuff isn’t tremendous, but he’s a crippled blacksmith rather than raging warrior. He does have an invisible net for catching adulterers, chains of binding that only he can open (I forget which myth that’s from), and arrows of slaying that are +1 with 25% range and inflict 1d4x10 MDC. He gives these to various arrow gods who need them. He also has a lot of other weapons and stuff he’s created, too much to detail.

Eros God of love. How shall Palladium treat sexuality in a male god I wonder?


eyyyyyyy

Aphrodite’s son, concerned with love, but unlike her he is concerned with the love between two other people rather than love of himself. How selfless. Except that it isn’t, of course, he plays pranks, makes mysterious strangers fall in love at first sight, and is occasionally hired to cause love between deeply inappropriate figures--the current mission being to make Hera fall in love with a Splugorth--which, well, gross. The requestor of this mission was probably Zeus but he disguised himself of course. Obviously, Hera’s fidelity and justifiable anger at philandering means she should be mind-controlled into sex with a tentacle monster.

Eros accepted this mission, and he’s also deeply in love with Psyche whom he married against his mother’s wishes, don’t remember all the details there and Psyche is not detailed in this book, go check wikipedia and then make up some random numbers.

15K/3K numbers, has various love arrows that are good for 48 hours or must be re-created: Pink causes no damage but creates amorous feelings with a save of 18 or higher to avoid confessing one’s long-held crush. Gold arrows cause love in the first person of appropriate sex they see (save 18 or higher), Lead arrows destroy love and create dispassion. He isn’t very combatty but usually has a dozen arrows of slaying, a dozen lightning arrows, and various love arrows in his quiver. Obviously making PCs fall in love with people is never going to result in excruciating-to-creepy scenarios.


Poseidon

Oh, here we go, that other major pillar of the pantheon, Poseidon, way back here at the end. In Rifts, he resented Zeus being overking despite having all the oceans to himself, and plotted a coup that failed; that was a while back and afterwards he moved into a peaceful watery planet dimension full of happy amphibians who were perfectly content to adopt Poseidon as their new god. Everything was fine, he’d abandoned Earth, left Zeus to do his philandering, etc, and then the Mechanoids came and blew it all up. Now, one thing in the Mechanoid sourcebook that was kind of key was that the Mechanoids hadn’t really figured out rifting yet, as when they did it would be...a problem. This section (and perhaps other mentions) seem to suggest otherwise, or a parallel evolution or something. Anyway it doesn’t matter, Poseidon hates Mechanoids and if they start menacing the US East Coast as suggested in their sourcebook, he will totally come flopping out of the ocean with a bunch of angry dolphins.

83K/16.6K MDC, tends to act like a big stern force of nature, often assuming giant sizes and whatnot. 20th level air, water and earth warlock, 10th line walker--line walker is like a required 101 class in god school I guess, if they want to get around. He can also create earthquakes as per the spell, but for no PPE at 15th level. He can do likewise with sea storms. And he can talk to fish. And sea monsters avoid him--which might be an interesting point to address in Rifts: Underseas but I don’t think it is. Also he can summon elementals at will--which, that’s kind of crazy powerful, elementals are somewhat nasty and just juggling out dozens of them is pretty OP. He also has a rune trident that does 2D6X10 and can cast some sea/storm related spells, and a conch of storms that also again summons storms, four times a day. Seriously this guy is into storms.

Triton, Tamer of the Storms

I...huh. Somehow all that stuff about Poseidon causing storms just dovetailed neatly into this guy I guess. Anyway Triton is Poseidon’s son, herald, enforcer, main dude. He’s lived even more of his life underwater than Poseidon and after the Mechanoid incident he has sworn to defend all seas in the Megaverse, and this will come up all the time because Rifts: Sea Shepherd is what we came here to play. Also it suggests that if for some unthinkable reason you wanted to use him in Heroes Unlimited or Ninjas and Superspies games, he could “team up with the “mermaid” codenamed Undertow” from Villains Unlimited. In Palladium Fantasy he could become champion of some crap nobody cares about doesn’t Fantasy have a pantheon already?

14K/2,800 MDC, 9th level warrior, 7th level water warlock. He can also speak to fish, though he can’t command as many at once as Poseidon can. Neither of these gods can drive a car--or even a submarine. He has the Horn of the Ocean which casts several water warlock spells including calm storm and permits understanding all languages when held to one’s ear. He also has a ‘Sea Sword’ that has three blades in a trident shape, does 1D6x10 and magically returns when thrown which Poseidon’s trident does not apparently.


aqua-khaaaaaaaaaan

Next: The Great Titans of Olympia

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Chains of binding are from Sisyphus. Thanatos is told to go take the dude to Tartarus with the bling'ed chains directly instead of having Hermes be the psychopomp, which tips Sisyphus off. Thanatos is tricked into chaining himself up (because Sisyphus is heroically crafty or Thanatos is a dink, the world may never know) and nobody dies until either Ares or Sisyphus himself lets him go.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

So I have a tendency to get really behind on F&F and then catch up in kind of a marathon fashion, which is one reason I don't comment a lot unless posting a review. I ran through a couple months today in fact, and got some of the Scion in the process, which was an interesting contrast of another way to miswrite mythology.

It also means I am happy to hear peoples' corrections and additions on myth stuff that is included--I did some research and so did ARB but there's a lot to say about all these guys. I can admit without too much shame that RPGs helped push me into an interest in mythology, but actually reading something closer to source provided a much different view generally. It also helps that myths vary over time and speaker, as the context and emphasis of the stories change.

Or, to be really brief: gently caress joseph campbell, and also gently caress the idea that stories have only one version with one ending. We can most certainly make up our own, and in that I support Pantheons for just going crazy as it does.

The fact that Pantheons is also just balls-out crazy and really, really bad at female deities is uh, well, we'll call it period charm.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Mythologically speaking, there are multiple stories of attempted rapes of Artemis or her followers, including by Orion, but that kind of thing doesn't need to be mentioned in something like a RIFTS sourcebook any more than Hercules accidentally killing his family needs to be recounted in the Disney retelling.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Doing this writeup actually taught me a poo poo-ton about Hinduism (Sanatana-Dharma is the cooler name, tho) and I feel like I still only poked it with my toe. There's so much interesting stuff I didn't know about...

... that is generally not included in this book.

When I was younger I would get up in arms about stuff like Disney's Hercules not being true to the myths, but the more I actually read myths the more I realize how wrong I was. The original mythological authors were constantly loving with their own myths. They were the "original fanfic authors", as occams put it, and so it's okay to mess around with mythology and make it your own. Certainly, you don't need to be bound by the profound sexism, racism, and just about every other terrible thing that permeates the fiction of our forefathers.

The problem I still have, though, is when writers discard interesting mythology to just write pablum. The Egyptian pantheon in Rifts World Book Four: Africa is really strong example of this, turning a complex and deep mythology into a something that seems fit more for a child-pandering toy line. Set, for example, is a loving jerk, no doubt, but is also loyal to his pantheon and willing to sacrifice himself to save them, despite his wicked ways. In Africa, he's cartoonishly evil to the point that he makes Skeletor look nuanced by comparison. And it's so loving boring.

Pantheons is somewhere in the middle. I actually really like the idea that all the pantheons coexisted or that they're multiversal or that there might be multiple versions of them. It's just it often fumbles on the execution, and is trapped in the notion from Africa that all pantheons must be divided into Autogods and Divinicons, which really hobbles a lot of interesting notions, especially when making the "evil" gods not just evil, but eeeevil, as Stolze puts it.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Set is my favorite god in the egyptian pantheon because, yeah, he's a dick. But he's also the fiercest defender of Ra during the 12 hours of the night when everything gets crazy and Apep comes around. And then his brother dicks over the boss (in some cycles. Egyptian myth is pretty messy because it is old old old) who Set is buddies with and he's calling himself king of the gods.

Except for the versions where it's not Set, it's Typhon. And instead of Horus Heracles shows up and helps Isis superglue her husband back together.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


quote:


Vox Part 4: Settings

Here we talk about the potential settings for Vox, which are all actually quite cool but they do reveal the game's biggest weakness...It's not very focused on it's core concept.

It feels like you could retool the game to be about this book: http://www.julianjaynes.org/bicameralmind.php which claims that in the Ancient World most people had no conciousnsss and instead literally heard the voices of gods or kings telling them what to do in times of stress (because that was the only way one side of their brain could communicate with the other).

You could set it in bicameral times or posit a return of bicamerality in modern days.

""When Julian Jaynes...speculates that until late in the second millennium B.C. men had no consciousness but were automatically obeying the voices of gods, we are astounded but compelled to follow this remarkable thesis through all the corroborative evidence..."

BerkerkLurk
Jul 22, 2001

I could never sleep my way to the top 'cause my alarm clock always wakes me right up

The Herminator TW Rail Gun got a chuckle out of me at the time, so that makes it the funniest moment in Rifts. It's oddly humorless for a setting as insane as it is. Anyways, I'm enjoying the Rifts write-ups as always.

occamsnailfile posted:

For some reason it specifies that he dresses in ‘flowing oriental robes’ because the Greeks didn’t have anything loose and breezy like that.
Why not a chiton? Poetic license, I guess. He always had an oriental flare to him, having advetured in India and was shown riding tigers or tiger-drawn chariots.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


BerkerkLurk posted:

The Herminator TW Rail Gun got a chuckle out of me at the time, so that makes it the funniest moment in Rifts. It's oddly humorless for a setting as insane as it is.

Carella definitely writes some more self-aware or referential stuff. All I can think of for Siembieda humor was a central NPC in Rifts Sourcebook being named "James T."

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Mr. Maltose posted:

Set is my favorite god in the egyptian pantheon because, yeah, he's a dick. But he's also the fiercest defender of Ra during the 12 hours of the night when everything gets crazy and Apep comes around. And then his brother dicks over the boss (in some cycles. Egyptian myth is pretty messy because it is old old old) who Set is buddies with and he's calling himself king of the gods.

Except for the versions where it's not Set, it's Typhon. And instead of Horus Heracles shows up and helps Isis superglue her husband back together.

Interesting thing is that Set is specifically a god of Foreigners, and his demonization came after several countries conquered Egypt.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

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

Robindaybird posted:

Interesting thing is that Set is specifically a god of Foreigners, and his demonization came after several countries conquered Egypt.
Set is a pretty old god even by Egyptian standards, so it's natural that he changed substantially over the thousands of years he was worshipped. Originally, Set was the chief god of Upper Egypt, which was a separate country from Lower Egypt for quite a long time before they where eventually unified. He became identified with foreigners after a number of outside rulers conquered Egypt and identified him with their own chief god, Sutekh, which is incidentally also where that particular name comes from.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part XX: "Prepare for lots of baby-eating"

These are the titans, who were portrayed as fairly inhuman predecessors to the gods even in myth but I am pretty sure they did not refer to them as “alien intelligences” and all that stuff about them ruling over a “golden age” is stuff made up by Zeus to avoid “a panic among mortals” which whatever, gods lie, we know that.


clearly a black-figure classical representation

So yeah, that big ugly there is Carella’s rendition of Cronus through the lens of Rifts. He is sometimes called Father Time but “has no special powers over time, nor is he a four-dimensional being like Zurvan.” Well okay then. Cronus created a bunch of humanoid servant-gods (aka “the gods”) to help him interact with his human slaves and then got afraid they were going to overthrow his rear end and ate all of them but Zeus. Zeus made a deal with the Hundred-Handed and Prometheus and managed to defeat and imprison the Titans. Also it makes a special note that these are totally unrelated to the Titans in the Conversion book. Cronus is evil and wants to get out of jail but hasn’t managed it yet.

Strangely, he’s not as vastly overpowered as Zeus or some of the others, perhaps to represent a reduced state from his long imprisonment. 60K maximum, but he starts at 30K which is an edge on a lot of these god-figures. He’s mean evil mean wants revenge etc, not very much to see. 20th level line walker and mind melter. He has a lot of the ‘Alien Intelligence’ powers like dimensional teleporting and regeneration plus half-damage from energy attacks and ‘magic potions’ and can do that essence-possession thing. He can also devour other beings to gain their power, which takes a little bit of time and makes you insane if your ME is less than 19.

Eight physicals at 1D6x10 or four psionic or three magic and man does he have a lot of spells and all psionics. The absurd MDC numbers make these kinds of villains difficult to envision in any kind of campaign that didn’t involve importing the SDF1 from Robotech.


Prometheus
Titan, but a good guy Titan who helped out mortals even behind Zeus’s back once Cronus was out of the way, since basically everybody craps on normal humans in Rifts, including the core book. But the one that got Prometheus in real trouble was teaching humankind about fire. He had that gut-eating punishment for thousands of years until Herakles freed him at which point Zeus had more or less forgotten why he’d put him there, so he’s free again and trying to fight the good fight but prefers knowledge to just fighting and so builds up spy networks and things. Sure, okay.

40K/20K MDC, noble, fatherly, teacherly, etc. 18th line walker and scholar. Actually knows some skills besides ‘speaks Dragonese/Elven and Greek’. He’s fairly tuff and knows all spells and lots of psionics and networks with other positive gods. In an attempt to give him some nuance, he will help humans over non-humans and might side with the CS in some of their legitimate issues with non-human empires.


Atlas Titan of Strength

I have trouble remembering what the strength numbers mean in Palladium, particularly with the split between supernatural/not supernatural. Anyway, Atlas is a relatively minor figure--his biggest story is the one where Herakles actually managed to trick him. He remains under his mountain where he was put as punishment for working with Cronus and if he ever got free, he’d go on a rampage. The mountain is noted as being in Tartarus which is...they haven’t been really clear about that in this sense. Hades is both a person, a realm, and home to several other demonic hordes that rent out space or something. Tartarus is connected to it I guess. Anyway he’s pretty tough and strong and does a lot of damage with nine attacks a round and 80K MDC so it would be fairly bad if he got loose, just not in a way that most PC parties could in any way affect.


Hecate

Goddess of magic and mystery cults and stuff household blessings and ghosts and poisons and herbs and the moon sometimes and crossroads and--honestly she was a complicated deity who came into Greek myth from an unknown outside source, she sort of joined the party and became a major figure. Here, she’s a Titan who taught Zeus a lot about magic, wears bondage gear and wants to become the most powerful entity in the megaverse and doesn’t care about humans. This is kind of a huge digression for a deity who was very common in household worship but w’ev. She’s learning Temporal Magic and Rune Magic and Bio-wizardry and otherwise dabbling at forbidden secrets all over the place. The sort of interesting wrinkle to this megalomania she has is that she believes that “gods” are not truly immortal, that they’re all slowly slowly dying and she wants to prevent this.


i wonder how many points she costs in a dark eldar army

For all that power-hunger and being an ancient Titan, she’s somewhat less robust than expected. 30K/15K, though she has magic pouring out her ears--20th level alchemist, line walker, necromancer, diabolist, summoner, and 7th level temporal wizard. Oh and Aberrant alignment. She has a Splugorth High Lord as a minion and has a lot of other similar hangers on. Trying to run her would be a headache of spell lists, but a lot of these writeups just feel like some kind of checkbox exercise. She also has that demonic armor pictured above, which is a bio-wizard item of which lesser copies may be bought for the low, low price of 2D6x10 million credits. It has 7,000 MDC and self-repairs, teleports to her body, has a stinging poison tail and retractable blades that add 3D6 to her hand to hand attacks, has a forcefield that halves energy damage and halts bio-manipulation up to 750 MDC and then...a horn beam. Which shoots lighting. 1D6x10. I suppose if you’re going to bling out insane bone armor it should shoot lightning.

Minions and Others

So here is where they describe the Greater Cyclops (not to be mistaken with the other cyclops from the giants section of the monster manual) who were ‘normal cyclops from the Palladium world given superhuman powers by Zeus’, okay. Anyway they’re a race of godlings and they make lightning bolts for the lightning god and are immune to lightning. They’re not offered as a PC race, strangely enough.


we’re young...love is a battlefield!

Then there’re the Hundred-Handed who have been mentioned specifically several more times than Atlas or Charon but I guess since there’s more than one of them they get put under ‘minions’. They are ‘Super-Godlings’ who fail at being gods because their IQ is limited to 1D4+3 and they basically have the emotions and loyalties of small children with 3D6x10,000 MDC each. They’re 60 to 80 feet tall and Zeus was the only person who was nice to them before the War of the Titans and they still love him for it. They’re also NOT recommended as player characters, specifically. Unless maybe they drink a magic potion that reduces their size and all combat attributes by half. Because a childlike eighty foot super-godling with 180,000 MDC is just unreasonable, but forty feet and 90K is balanced, since they both have an average IQ of 4. I am sure this would be a fascinating character to have at the table.

I think ARB touched on this briefly, but there’s sort of a mostly-unwritten suggestion that you could run a campaign based around playing various gods and related creatures, and with the Hundred-Handed it suggests that they might only be suitable in such a game. That kind of campaign is almost the only place where a lot of these god statblocks make any sense at all, but even then you have huge power variations.


’octo-handed’ didn’t have the same ring to it

End transmission. Next we get to ‘Dark Olympus’ which has filled me with excitement.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Yeah, Egypt has a throwaway suggestion that you could run a campaign where the players play Gods of Light against the Four Horsemen, which sounds interesting until you realize that the MDC values of gods make any "balanced" fight pure loving misery, because either gods are chipping away at each other for eternity, using soul-drinking weapons to auto-kill each other on the first failed save, or throwing hordes of peons at gods at which point the GM is rolling dice until they die of old age.

The MDC values mostly seem to be there as stonewalls to block PCs from killing all but the lowliest peon gods, without any thought to how god-v-god combat might function at all. Of course, creative and immensely resourceful PCs can come up with ways mortals might assassinate a god (probably involving a squadron of shifters and missile-swarm firing robots), but mostly it seems designed for the GM to sit there smugly and hiss "you fire your biggest weapons and you manage to merely nick his trousers".

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

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

I figure it's the logical conclusion to the ridiculous balance issues and power creep the game has. Can't find any decent enemies anymore for your party of godling-dragons in glitter armour? Send them after all of mythology! We'll even make everybody a giant rear end in a top hat so your players won't have to feel bad as they butcher their way through religion after religion.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



It was 1994, and White Wolf was King. Vampire: The Masquerade had came out three years earlier in 1991 and tabletop gaming was never the same. This was the age of experimental systems, gobs upon gobs of metaplot, and things were getting weird and dark.

So, in 1994, Mike Pondsmith made a game. One has to wonder, what did people expect? He was still a semi-famous guy, he made Cyberpunk: 2020 after all, the first and some would argue best of its kind. His other games were anime-mech themed Mekton and silly sci-fi adventure Teens from Outer Space! So, what would a gamer in say, 1993 think a new Mike Pondsmith game would be? Maybe a new edition of Cyberpunk: 2020? Maybe something that’s pretty much the same. Whatever it is, you could be safe to assume it would be sci-fi. Probably dark and grim and gritty, and very very “serious”. The sci-fi answer to White Wolf in short, right?

Right?

Wrong.



I discovered this game via this thread in fact. Somewhere around page 13 or so, somebody mentioned this game, and I just thought the name was interesting. I tracked down a copy, picked it up, started reading, and now I’m here to tell everyone else about it.

Welcome to Castle Falkenstein!

Upon reaching the first page of the book, you realize three things:
  • One: That this book is loving beautiful. Ignoring the wonderful painted artwork throughout, which I will be posting during the read through, the pages themselves are gorgeous. Just look at this!



  • Two: They actually did something that more RPG’s need to do, and completely separated the Rules and Setting portions of the book, so it is much easier to just flip around and find rules you need without the bother of them being scattered around in between chunks of lore.

  • Three: The book is purported to be the writings of one Tom Olam, appearently based on a friend of Mike Pondsmith's who was Ultima-style sucked into the magical world of Castle Falkenstein, and sent back several notebooks to the real world Mike Pondsmith who was his friend and published them all for us to read. The normal assumption is that this is a loving terrible idea and would be near unreadable. This is fair, and I had my fears as well! But, hey, turns out it works pretty well. Tom Olam, the narrator, is pretty inoffensive, and on the whole it comes across more like a combination of Ultima and Dinotopia. In fact, the whole lore section reminds me of the first Dinotopia book, and I can’t think of any higher praise.

So join me at Castle Falkenstein next time, for Spellnapped! the actual beginning of the book!

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 21:56 on Apr 16, 2014

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

Wapole Languray posted:



[*]Three: You are reading Mike Pondsmith self-insert fanfiction, and that’s okay. The book is purported to be the writings of one Tom Olam, an obvious Mike Pondsmith self-insert right down to being an RPG designer who used to work in video games, who was Ultima-style sucked into the magical world of Castle Falkenstein, and sent back several notebooks to the real world Mike Pondsmith who was his friend and published them all for us to read. The normal assumption is that this is a loving terrible idea and would be near unreadable. This is fair, and I had my fears as well! But, hey, turns out it works pretty well. Tim Olam, the narrator, is pretty inoffensive, and on the whole it comes across more like a combination of Ultima and Dinotopia. In fact, the whole lore section reminds me of the first Dinotopia book, and I can’t think of any higher praise.
[/list]

So join me at Castle Falkenstein next time, for Spellnapped! the actual beginning of the book!

Mike claims Tom's not a self-insert, but is based on a real person (Who wasn't always pleased with the depiction.) I am inclined to believe him, mostly because I am pretty sure that if it -were- a Mike Pondsmith self-insert, he wouldn't be a blond white dude, given that Mike Pondsmith looks like this:




And at that point Mike had already had more than one incident of white people telling him that he couldn't be Mike Pondsmith, Mike Pondsmith was white. (And in one case showing up to a con he wasn't attending and passing themselves off as him.)

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Ah, sorry. I'll edit that out then.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



unseenlibrarian posted:

Mike claims Tom's not a self-insert, but is based on a real person (Who wasn't always pleased with the depiction.) I am inclined to believe him, mostly because I am pretty sure that if it -were- a Mike Pondsmith self-insert, he wouldn't be a blond white dude, given that Mike Pondsmith looks like this:



And at that point Mike had already had more than one incident of white people telling him that he couldn't be Mike Pondsmith, Mike Pondsmith was white. (And in one case showing up to a con he wasn't attending and passing themselves off as him.)

Pondsmith has had actual inserts or references. "Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads!" has an entire back-section where Mad Mike in his cyberpunk trenchcoat is setting up landmines and acid traps. There's also the Paranoia supplement "Alice Through The Mirrorshades" where a game designer, Mike Puddleforge, who is described as having cracked black skin like the covers of his cyberpunk game he's burning for warmth, attacks the time-travelling troubleshooters because they're ruining his vision of the future.

He's an interesting dude. I remember when me and a friend where playtesting CPv3.0 and we went out to the now-defunct Sal's Taco Lounge for dinner and watched Ice Pirates on the TV screens. Supposedly, he grew up in Oakland and told us about him carrying a knife for defense back then.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Castle Falkenstein is not only probably one of the top ten games in the hobby, it's also probably the best use of regular playing cards in a trad-game.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Wapole Languray posted:

Ah, sorry. I'll edit that out then.

Don't feel too bad, I still have a podcast floating around where we basically guess that the guy who wrote Haven: City of Violence is a huge racist, so you're at least better than I am, morally.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

theironjef posted:

Don't feel too bad, I still have a podcast floating around where we basically guess that the guy who wrote Haven: City of Violence is a huge racist, so you're at least better than I am, morally.

Louis Porter is a mega-douche so you're indignation is still partially valid.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

Young Freud posted:

Pondsmith has had actual inserts or references. "Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads!" has an entire back-section where Mad Mike in his cyberpunk trenchcoat is setting up landmines and acid traps. There's also the Paranoia supplement "Alice Through The Mirrorshades" where a game designer, Mike Puddleforge, who is described as having cracked black skin like the covers of his cyberpunk game he's burning for warmth, attacks the time-travelling troubleshooters because they're ruining his vision of the future.

He's an interesting dude. I remember when me and a friend where playtesting CPv3.0 and we went out to the now-defunct Sal's Taco Lounge for dinner and watched Ice Pirates on the TV screens. Supposedly, he grew up in Oakland and told us about him carrying a knife for defense back then.

mll used to write for him.


gently caress this doubleposting stupidity.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

I actually bought Falkenstein when it first came out based on reading a review in Dragon magazine. It wasn't even a totally positive review, but based on my liking of Rifts at about that age, I am apparently a sucker for cross-genre things. Also 'Steampunk fantasy' wasn't even really a term at that point, so I snapped it up. And it was neat. I only got to play it once, in a one-shot, but we had fun with it. I eventually mailed my copy of the book to a friend when I was cleaning things out, the binding was shot, but I still think of it fondly.


(the first RPG I ever bought with my own money was Shadowrun first ed, apparently if you stuck elfs in non-elfgames in the early 90s I would immediately buy it)

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Oh poo poo, Castle Falkenstein, now we're talking. It's probably one of the best and most well-researched modern attempts at Victorian fantasy around and well received enough to get both its own system and a GURPS rendition. I'll definitely be looking forward to your posts on the topic.

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Louis Porter is a mega-douche so you're indignation is still partially valid.

This is dirt I'd love to know more on.

This is also a post that should probably have some actual new content from me, so here we go.


Part 6: From Fanciful Familiars to Ornery Oversize Otters
Alright, it's time to get back to the monster mash after yet another long hiatus on my part (yes, those are quite common, it was totally worth the free character build points). Last time, we went through the letters A to E, including goblin mermen, dragons horny for dolphins, and angry algae. This time we'll be going from F to O, as you might have guessed.


Familiars, Aquatic
As with the dragons before, this is a case where there are so many entries I kind of have to split things up with a bullet point listing rather than a small set of notes for the smaller groups like the "dinosaurs" from earlier.
  • Caiman (CR 1/6 Tiny Animal): I'm not sure what kind of caiman the authors have been measuring, as even the tiniest of caiman species edge into size Small, but whatever. The sharp toothiness grants a caiman’s master a +3 to Intimidate checks, which is a bit funnier when you take into account the fact that the book says the caiman’s stats can also be used for marine iguanas. Because we all know how fierce marine iguanas are.
  • Crab (CR 1/2 Tiny Vermin): These stats are apparently supposed to be used for hermit crabs and lobsters, which makes me wonder what sort of terrifying doom-hermits the authors have encountered to deem them as deserving a higher Challenge Rating than a caiman. You get a +2 to Fortitude saves with a crab as your familiar.
  • Cuttlefish (CR 1/2 Tiny Animal): In addition to being adorable, cuttlefish are clever, capable of camouflage, and other things that exemplify the cephalopods. Indeed, there are minor change notes to change the stats to a familiar that is a nautilus, octopus, or squid of the same size. As is befitting these slippery devils, the master is granted a +3 to Escape Artist checks.
  • Fish (CR 1/6 Tiny Animal): Any fish between 1 and 2 feet in length, be they a dainty darting reef fish or a toothy-mawed anglerfish – hell, the book even says these stats are used for seahorses, seahorses!– get these same stats with a bite attack that deals the same damage as a knife and a boon to their master of a +3 to Acrobatics checks. :effort:
  • Frog (CR 1/8 Diminutive Animal): Stated to also be applicable to newt stats, in case you want to your baleful polymorpher to constantly bring up Monty Python. The master’s benefit is literally a free case of the Toughness feat with 3 extra hit points.
  • Jellyfish (CR 1/4 Tiny Vermin): With a weak Dexterity-damaging poison, one can assume that these aren’t box jellies. The stats are also applicable to sea anemones if you remove the move speed, or so the text says. The master gains a +2 bonus to Will saves thanks to the jelly’s brainlessness.
  • Muskrat (CR 1/2 Tiny Animal): Ah, the muskrat, that chubby water-dwelling North American vole once popular in the fur trade. Not only is it somehow tougher than a caiman, it is also apparently well-suited to being used for otter stats according to the fluff box. Not, say, the nutria, a distantly related rodent that happens to have convergently evolved to be similar to the muskrat, but the sleek and slender river otter. A +2 bonus to Reflex saves is your benefit for having one of these as familiars.
  • Sea Snake (CR 1/2 Tiny Animal): Sea snakes aren’t what sticks out in this entry so much as the statement about changing the stats to reflect eels. The recipe? Remove hold breath and poison, add an electrical discharge. Yes, because your average small oceanic eel is the same as the vaguely eel-like knifefish of the great rivers. A sea snake or eel familiar grants a +3 bonus to Bluff checks, because snakes are really good at poker or something.
  • Snail (CR 1/8 Diminutive Vermin): Man, it must really suck to go to the wizard con with a snail familiar. “My familiar’s a caiman. Gnarly, toothy, once bit a rogue’s foot clean off. What’s your familiar do, Joe?” “...I hate you all so much.” If you want to be even more impotent, the stats can also double or the less defensive sea slug or the barely mobile clam. But hey, it conveniently provides a +3 bonus to Stealth for its master, so you can more easily hide your shame.
  • Starfish (CR 1/8 Diminutive Vermin): While just as impotent as the snail, the starfish at least gets bonus points for being nearly immortal thanks to regeneration bypassed only by fire, magic, or steam damage. The benefit for the master from a starfish familiar is a +3 to Heal checks.
  • Tern (CR 1/6 Tiny Animal): These stats are used for tern, seagulls, and other fluttering shorebirds, as well as penguins if you remove the fly speed in exchange for a swim speed. Strangely enough, they also suggest that you can use these stats for ospreys if you boost the claw damage it deals, rather than just using hawk stats from standard Pathfinder. These sea birds will net you a +3 to Perception checks.
  • Turtle (CR 1/6 Tiny Animal): Last, but not least due to the whole snail snafu, is this generic unspecified turtle. It gives you a +1 bonus to Armor Class, because of course it would, it’s a turtle.




Genai (Class level-dependent Medium Humanoid)
What happens when you take humans and marid genies and mate them a lot? These guys, obviously, or I probably wouldn't have brought it up. They are known for being extremely patient and calm, quiet and introverted unless you somehow manage to piss them off enough that they show their bloodthirsty and vengeful side. Almost the entire population of genai in the Cerulean Seas region come from one city, Harper's Bay, the rest chilling with their marid parents in the Elemental Plane of Water. Genai characters get a +2 to Dexterity and Constitution at the cost of a -2 to Charisma, a free Improved Initiative feat, and the ability to cast swift retreat (expeditious retreat by any other name) three times a day and undertow (gust of wind, but underwater) once a day.


Hippocampus, Reef Horse (CR 1 Large Animal) and Sea Pony (CR 1/2 Medium Animal)
While standard Pathfinder envisions these aquatic creatures of Greek mythology as Magical Beasts, but Cerulean Seas decides they are normal enough to qualify as Animals. The reef horse is the normal Poseidon cart-pulling style hippocampus, while the sea pony is a smaller variety bred either to be pets for sea elves or as mounts for size Small aquatic races.


Remora Imp (CR 1/2 Tiny Magical Beast)
In spite of the name, these freakish fish-lizard creatures with humanoid hands are not actually a type of devil, instead being genetically engineered by the sahuagin to act as hands for the awakened sharks known as the carchardians. When the carchardians rebelled, the remora imps went with them, continuing to do menial tasks for their masters because they literally cannot survive on their own. Some of these creatures that lost their carchardian masters managed to find ixarcs (awakened stingrays) before they ended up dying, bonding with them instead.



Stygian Imp (CR 2 Tiny Outsider)
Oh hey, an actual imp. Stygian imps come from the River Styx and smell like a mix of methane and sulfur. While that may be typical demon stuff, their lamprey-like heads and bioluminescence certainly aren't. Stygians are also far more rude and crude than land imps and prefer to go straight to the painful tricks over any scheming and subterfuge. To these ends, a Stygian imp can become invisible at will, transform ino a barracuda, giant lobster, muskrat, or albatross, and its bite has a venom that deals cold damage because why not it's a magical devil creature. Those omnipresent sages of D&D/Pathfinder bestiaries theorize that the reason Stygian imps are so common in the deep sea is that devils get tired of their poo poo and throw them into the material plane like a bunch of spam mail.


Jellyfish, Goliath Jellyfish (CR 1 Medium Vermin) and Jellyfish School (CR 4 Diminutive Vermin Swarm)
A particularly big jellyfish and a swarm of generic jellyfish, respectively. Not much to say about them.



Halbokian Kappa (CR 3 Medium Monstrous Humanoid)
These anthropomorphic sea turtles used to be called the turtlefolk before the sebek-ka decided "hey, these guys look vaguely like the glorious and benevolent kappa from our pre-Flood creation stories, we'll call them that". Unfortunately for the sebek-ka, they quickly learned that the Halbokian kappas are actually colossal shitlords that love to pillage, enslave, and generally be Evil. Rather than being an orc-style marauding horde, however, these sinister sea creatures are an entire species of mercenaries, doing their evil deeds for the highest bidder. Their only taboo is that they hate people who despoil nature, so necromancers and industrialists are blacklisted for kappa services.


Lampreys, Dire Lamprey (CR 1/2 Tiny Magical Beast) and School of Lamprey (CR 1 Diminutive Vermin Swarm)
I'm fairly sure that 1. lampreys being the size of lampreys doesn't count as "dire"; and 2. lampreys should be Animal, not Magical Beast or Vermin. This is kind of a dumb entry.


Lobsters, Giant Lobster (CR 1 Medium Vermin) and Phantom Lobster (CR 5 Large Magical Beast)
One's a man-sized lobster, the other is a teleporting invisible giant lobster that is supposedly the degenerate descendant of a tribe of sapient sea scorpions. Together, they fight crime are surprisingly uninteresting beyond that "civilization of the sea scorpions" thing.


Morganite Nucklavee (CR 4 Large Fey)
The nuckalavee from Pathfinder Bestiary 3 is closer to the Celtic folklore of the creature and is more interesting in its abilities, you should use it instead.

...Oh, okay, I guess I should at least go into some detail on these guys. Morganite nucklavees basically look like mer-orcs and have a gaze attack that can induce rage in people. They are violent brutes who hate elves most of all, and they worship the Morgana aspect of Saloth, which is how they get their name.


Otters, Dire Otter (CR 2 Medium Animal) and Sea Otter (CR 1/2 Small Animal)
Both of these are real animals, or at least sort of. The sea otter is self-explanatory, but the dire otter is a bit of something you have to read between the lines for. It's stated to be man-sized, chocolate brown in color, short-snouted, small-eared and very vocal even for an otter. These are all big indicators of Pteronura brasiliensis, the giant river otter of the Amazon, to the point that I'm not sure why they wouldn't just up and say it's a giant river otter.



Up Next Time...
Prehistoric plate-mouthed fish, awakened sea creatures, sharks and rays, titans who may or may not clash, and ridiculously large whales as we get through the final pages of the Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Fossilized Rappy posted:

Oh poo poo, Castle Falkenstein, now we're talking. It's probably one of the best and most well-researched modern attempts at Victorian fantasy around and well received enough to get both its own system and a GURPS rendition. I'll definitely be looking forward to your posts on the topic.

Oh, Well Researched for sure. I'm going to try and supplement my review with as much actual real-world information as possible, because it's honestly impressive how danged cohesive the setting is. For example, most people reading this would probably think that Faeries in an otherwise Steampunk-ish setting are silly. Y'know, sorta mashed-up monkeycheese style randomness. Nope! Turns out the Victorians were loving crazy about fairies.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Fossilized Rappy posted:

This is dirt I'd love to know more on.

Easy dirt: He wrote Haven: City of Violence. The game where the DM is called the G.O.D.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





He wrote a terrible tabletop RPG? theironjef you know what must be done.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

He might, yeah.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Wapole Languray posted:

Turns out the Victorians were loving crazy about fairies.

Totally bugfuck, yeah.

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Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




Wapole Languray posted:




So join me at Castle Falkenstein next time, for Spellnapped! the actual beginning of the book!

This is one of my favorite games of all time and one of the best in the hobby. :c00l:

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