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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.
The whole thing was handled more or less with as much tact as I think an RPG sourcebook is capable of, but I still really don't understand why anyone thought something like this needed to exist. Was it really necessary for someone to sit down and seriously think about how your game experience would be enriched by background fluff on what happens to the murdered ghost babies of Holocaust victims? I don't really think so.


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

It is a very powerful, well-written and respectful book about a topic that no one will ever use.

At least, no one respectful.

Basically: excellent execution of a very bad idea.

Kemper Boyd
Aug 6, 2007

no kings, no gods, no masters but a comfy chair and no socks
About the term Mussulmen: it was a term actually used in the camps by prisoners, referring to those who had become semi-catatonic during their camp experience.

Oct 10, 2005


Mors Rattus posted:

excellent execution of a very bad idea.
I think that's the best description of the White Wolf ideal I've ever read.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
This was back in the 90s, when White Wolf was all about games as art and writing over mechanics. It makes perfect sense for them to have these kind of crazy ideas, even if a it seems insane from an outsider perspective.

Kemper Boyd posted:

About the term Mussulmen: it was a term actually used in the camps by prisoners, referring to those who had become semi-catatonic during their camp experience.

Well, I stand corrected! Once again, very well-researched.

Nov 8, 2009


I can understand wanting to address the elephant in the room of the Holocaust in a gameline about ghosts and the afterlife, and this book seems as respectful as it could have been, but... gently caress that's depressing poo poo, even by Wraith's standard.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
An entire book devoted to the subject seems a bit excessive though. Like Mors said, it's a shockingly respectful and well-written book that nobody is ever going to use (I'm sure someone somewhere did try to use it and I'm sure it was a trainwreck). That said, Charnel Houses is the exception that proves the rule of most attempts at writing "mature subject matter" for RPGs being thoroughly awful.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Kai Tave posted:

An entire book devoted to the subject seems a bit excessive though. Like Mors said, it's a shockingly respectful and well-written book that nobody is ever going to use (I'm sure someone somewhere did try to use it and I'm sure it was a trainwreck). That said, Charnel Houses is the exception that proves the rule of most attempts at writing "mature subject matter" for RPGs being thoroughly awful.

It's one of two or three books worth getting in White Wolf's old 'Black Dog' label. The rest were seriously dire.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
Let's be fair here, there are plenty of other non-Black Dog WW books that were also pretty dire too.

Kemper Boyd
Aug 6, 2007

no kings, no gods, no masters but a comfy chair and no socks

Kai Tave posted:

That said, Charnel Houses is the exception that proves the rule of most attempts at writing "mature subject matter" for RPGs being thoroughly awful.

"Mature subject matter" tends to come with a "juvenile treatment" caveat.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth

Cardiovorax posted:

The whole thing was handled more or less with as much tact as I think an RPG sourcebook is capable of, but I still really don't understand why anyone thought something like this needed to exist. Was it really necessary for someone to sit down and seriously think about how your game experience would be enriched by background fluff on what happens to the murdered ghost babies of Holocaust victims? I don't really think so.

I have a weird blend of distaste and respect for Charnel Houses. As a thing I still pretty well stand by my original thoughts on it of 'hey this doesn't need to exist really' but at the very least if it's going to happen you absolutely have to treat it right, and to their credit they did. I still think it has zero place in the game, adds nothing but a way to make players uncomfortable (hey hot tip for all you GMs, if you say 'hey we're gonna run a game involving the spirits of holocaust victims' and someone goes 'oh cool', that person is probably a Nazi!), but considering the last book these guys did involving my heritage was loving Gypsies that made me want to punch the writers at the very least this one left me going 'alright, good on you for taking this poo poo seriously at least'.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
Because I've got no life and nothing better to do, I'm going to start the next book right away.

Wraith : the Great War

Introducing the book

I’m a big Wraith fan, and Great War is one of my favorite books in the line (Dark Kingdom of Jade is the other one). It’s a pretty well-written book (in my opinion), and it feels quite playable. There’s certainly a lot of conflicts players can invest themselves in from the get-go, compared to the more Sandbox approach of modern Wraith. Another reason I like it is because I’ve always been highly interested in the First World War. Before I failed out of college for the first time, I was studying to become an historian, and WW1 would have been my specialty. At 234 pages, it’s about twice as big as Charnel Houses. Hopefully the fact that I love the book a lot more will help me not laze out halfway through this time.

Before I start though, a big of context: What the hell is Wraith: the Great? Well, you have to go back to the late 90s, back when White Wolf was at the top of its popularity. One could argue that the late Second Edition to Time of Judgment was White Wolf’s Golden Age, with all kinds of wild experiments, innovation, great books, stuff like Trinity and Exalted, etc. Also a lot of terrible books, some of which have already been covered in this thread. Anyway, things were going pretty well for the World fo Darkness, so they decided to make spin-off games for all of their major WoD gamelines: historical settings. Vampire got Dark Ages (set during the late Middle-Ages instead), Werewolf got Wild West, Mage got Sorcerer’s Crusade (set during the Renaissance) and Wraith got The Great War (set during WW1). Unlike the other three games, Wraith didn’t get any supplements (even Wild West got four). Also a difference from the other three books: it’s not a full corebook. It’s a supplement, including only the rules that are changed for the era it covers, meaning you need the Wraith Second Edition Corebook in order to play the game.

A smart man on a fast motorcycle can outrun the very winds of hell.

Intro Fiction: Waiting out the Storm

First off, before I start talking about the book, I have to mention that the art is pretty great. It’s not nice, nothing in Wraith is nice, but it’s extremely evocative.
The book starts, as usual with White Wolf books, with an introductory fiction. I think it’s pretty good, at least better than most WoD books. A messenger on a motorcycle is trying to reach the Brussels Necropolis before the Maelstrom hits. Unfortunately, he stops to help a new wraith on the way and, because of that, doesn’t reach the city before its gates are closed. So him and the kid hide from the storm in an old house with a mysterious old man. The messenger and the old man then explain to the new wraith what’s going on, a neat way of giving an overview of the setting to the player.

“There’s an Empire of the Dead that’s falling to pieces, and a hole at the heart of the world that wants to swallow everything. There’s a storm going on that’s been blowing for years and doesn’t look like it’s ever going to stop, and armies of the dead marching on each other.”

Here’s the gist of it: during the Battle of the Somme, a Great Maelstrom, one of the great tempests that ravages the lands of the dead and throw a shitload of Spectres at everything and lasts for years, started. Because of it, communications between Stygia and the rest of its Empire have become terrible, and travel is extremely dangerous. Then, the Smiling Lord (lord of those who died of violence) decided to attempt a coup. With Charon mysteriously absent, and his ranks welled by the war-dead, he was pretty successful at first. But there’s a resistance, the other Legions are organizing themselves, and the messenger’s part of it: he carries secret messages through the Storm. The kid leaves, and then the mysterious old man is revealed to be Charon in disguise. Apparently, he decided to take a good look at the Empire from the botoom, and figure out what he was doing and why. The rebellion was “Not unanticipated, but not welcomed either.” The story ends with the messenger getting back on his ghost motorcycle, ready to spread a bit of hope around.

Next time I’ll go over the Introduction, and try to explain the most confusing Wraith jargon.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!
Warbirds RPG

Part One: Introduction - Crimson Skies of Arcadia

Back Cover Blurb posted:

Welcome to the floating islands of Azure. Here among the dazzling fragments of the Caribbean islands is where your elite fighter pilot will make their mark on the world.

Warbirds is a game about flying and fighting for fame and fortune. Step into the role of a Guild pilot and go head to head in fast-paced aerial combat powered by Outrider Studios’ Rapidfire system. Build your fame in the air to receive opportunities to star in films, sponsor products, feature in comic books, and gain the perks of international celebrity.

For the thrill of flight and the allure of fame -- take to the skies.

Released roughly one year ago, Warbirds RPG is a neat game that I'd sum up as "Crimson Skies of Arcadia". If you're not familiar with either Crimson Skies or Skies of Arcadia, Warbirds is an fast-paced RPG set in a pulp 1930s styled alternate world where mercenary pilots do battle for fame and fortune in high-powered WW2-grade fighter planes as diesel-powered air dreadnoughts clash in the background. I bought Warbirds a few months back on Drive-Thru RPG and its been bouncing around in the back of my head ever since. I've decided to share it with the thread (Since it seems to be my fate to be attracted to obscure RPGs no one ever hears of).

I'll be going through it chapter by chapter. The book starts with a single page introductory. This page simply gives a brief overview of the setting and the player's default role in it.

In Warbirds the players are members of an elite organization of mercenary combat pilots known as The Guild. Guild pilots fly advanced combat aircraft known as Warbirds that give them a significant advantage in combat against their enemies. The Guild works to provide safety and security for its clients while making itself, and its pilots, quite rich and famous. An experienced Guild pilot isn't just a combat ace, they're a celebrity, they have fans who follow their exploits in the papers and on the cablebox, they have commercial sponsors, they get invited to all the best parties, and, of course, they risk serious public scandal if they screw up, in the cockpit or on the ground.

The introduction goes on to give a brief overview of the world of Warbirds. Azure is an assortment of floating islands amidst an endless sea of clouds, all suspended above The Murk, a layer of thick dark clouds. Azure's origins are tied to our world, in 1804 the Caribbean was struck by a super-hurricane of cataclysmic (and apparently supernatural)scale. Nearly every Caribbean island, as well as parts of Florida and the Yucatan peninsula were picked up and deposited in this new world. Each island maintains a lot of their "pre-storm" culture, but time and isolation have caused many changes. Its been over 200 years since that storm, and the world of Azure is just now reaching a technological level similar to the 1940s of the real world.

The introduction finishes up with a section on playstyle, explaining Warbirds is meant to be a cinematic action game. The players are larger-than-life heroes who risk life and limb and usually come out on top. The rules are designed to be fast-paced and capture the feel of twisting dogfights without getting bogged down in complex simulation. No tactical map is required and each player requires only a single d6. Even outside of their planes the players will be partaking in adventure as they enjoy the perks (and pains) of being Guild Pilots; attending parties, exploring new islands, dodging the paparazzi, bickering with rival guild squadrons, or even starring in movies, possibly as themselves.

Next time I'll go over Chapter 1, which covers the history of Azure, explaining its physical layout and makeup, and detailing its history from The Storm and the years of chaos and isolation following it, to the discovery of float-stone powered flight and the march towards the modern era. For now though, I'll just leave off with a 4 page comic that preceded the introductory page, the art in the book is somewhat sparse, but I rather like it.

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
I backed the Indiegogo for Warbirds and it really is a neat game. They just released 'And They Called Me Mad!' the weird science supplement too.

Dec 24, 2007

Grab Disney's old TaleSpin cartoon for some setting and scenario ideas. Warbirds looks pretty cool, actually.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

Chapter One - Part 1: The World of Azure

The Murk

Chapter one is all about the geography and history of Azure, and as the book itself says, and discussion of Azure's Geography begins with The Murk. The Murk is an endless ocean of dark, roiling clouds beneath Azure's endless sky. The clouds of the Murk ranges from dull grey to pitch black and while it appears smooth from altitude, if you get close it actually forms "hills", spires and even arches. These features are always in a constant state of change due to the Murk's high winds, which are often in excess of 300kph. The Murk's clouds are not simple water vapor, but heavy inert gasses mixed with abrasive dust and hydrocarbons.

This makes the Murk one of the deadliest hazards in Azure, as people cannot breath in it, and aircraft engines choke and die while the high winds and abrasive dust batter aircraft and eat away at them at a frightening speed. Furthermore the atmospheric pressure rises extremely rapidly inside the Murk, your average aeroplane would be crushed before it could dive much further than a kilometer into the murk.

Of course, while a great hazard, the Murk is also a great resource for Azure, as the Murk's hydrocarbons can be mined and processed into heavy diesel fuel, a vital lifeblood for Azure's airships and airplanes which would be heavily restricted without it. Some are not satisfied to simply mine fuel from the Murk and have continued to make scientific investigations, lowering armoured "diving bells" into it. These research efforts have discovered various interesting facts, but for the most part the reality remains the same, the Murk is a deadly hazard for low flying planes.

The Sky

Rising above the proverbial bedrock of the Murk is Azure's endless skies. Azure's sky is pretty much similar to ours. A familiar sun rises and sets every day and a moon rises at night. The moon and stars don't quite match Earth's, but they're close enough. Azure's seasons are mild with winter months being only slightly cooler than the summer. Storms are semi-frequent all year, usually just rain or snow and harsh winds, though hurricane-force winds have been encountered occasionally. One big difference between Earth and Azure (besides the obvious) is that the atmosphere is cooler at low altitudes and warmer at higher altitudes.

The Eye

At the center of Azure is a massive invisible pillar called "The Eye". It is a 20km wide updraft stretching from the Murk to the top of the uplands. The constant, powerful updraft is useful for aeroplanes as they can use it to transit upwards between island layers much more efficiently.

The Eye also has several other unique features that make it the center of Azure. Most important is that all compasses in Azure point towards the eye. Navigation can be tricky, but the old standby for lost airmen is to just head eyeward and look for an island you recognize. Even without the compass Azure is quite literally centered around the Eye as all known islands in Azure rotate around it.

In addition the Eye is constantly emitting a broad-spectrum of radio noise. While strongest near the eye, this interference stretches out for thousands of kilometers. Its powerful enough to make radios useless beyond a range of about 10km. Aircraft still carry radios for obvious reasons, but commercial radio doesn't exist in Azure. Instead they have Cable, physical wires strung out to a tuner box in people's homes, think TV without the Video. Radar theory exists in Azure, but the interference of the Eye means no one has made a radar array powerful enough to really work, though the Guild puts in great effort towards figuring out a solution to the Eye's interference.

One final noteworthy property of the Eye is that floatstone doesn't work inside it. Airships, which all contain a floatstone core, begin falling as soon as they enter the eye, though their powerful engines and the natural updraft slow the descent. Any airship caught in the eye must put all power to engines and try to escape before they fall down into the Maelstrom, a swirling flurry of wrecked ships, island fragments and clouds where the Eye meets the Murk. For obvious reasons no islands pass through the eye either, as their own super massive floatstone hearts would cease working and they would plummet into Murk.

The Central Islands

Azure is primarily (as far as civilization is concerned) made up of centralized islands that consist of the Uplands, Midlands, and Lowlands. They are the home of humanity and all orbit less than 1,000km from the eye. These islands would be familiar to you and I as the various major islands of the Caribbean, and from above they would look much like themselves in the real world. However they rest in no ocean and a side view would show that their bedrock extends only a few kilometers down before coming to an abrupt, jagged end.

The Lowlands hover only about a dozen kilometers above the murk and are primarily composed of two islands, Yucatan and Tegesta. Yucatan, formerly the Yucatan Peninsula, is home to the resurgent Maya people and their collection of Federated Kingdoms. Meanwhile Tegesta, (known to us as Florida) was nearly uninhabited at the time of the storm. Just as well, for it weathered the storm poorly and it is believed much of the former peninsula broke apart and fell into the murk, leaving only the southernmost portions. Today, Tegesta is Azure's Wild West, an untamed frontier where every nation is vying for control of its resources while independent settlers are caught in between.

The lowlands are much cooler than they once were, with massive vegetation die-off leaving vast open fields ready for hardy crops. The Maya have done very well in their new environment while Tegesta now boasts some of the best farmland in Azure, too bad everyone says its theirs.

The Midlands rest about a hundred kilometers above the lowlands and are home to most of Azure's people. The major islands here are Puerto Rico, Haiti (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican republic), and Cuba. Cuba however, split in two during The Storm, one half is still known as Cuba while the other is referred to as Santiago. All of the midland nations have large populations and a shortage of resources, they import fuel and luxuries from the uplands and bring up staple commodities from the low lands. Ever hungry for resources, these nations stage frequent expeditions to errant islands to explore and exploit them.

Like the lowlands, the Midlands are cooler than they once were, but are still roughly sub-tropical. Farming conditions are reasonable, but the shortage of resources has led to mass deforestation on Cuba and aggressive strip-mining in Santiago. Regional conflicts are frequent, and Azure's first major war began here in the midlands.

The Uplands rest another hundred kilometers above the midlands and are composed of much smaller islands. Here you can find the former Lesser Antilles, the Virgin Islands, Barbados, St Vincent, Grenada, etc. You can also find whats left of the Bahamas, Trinidad, Tobago, and the Caymans. Also to be found are the two most important groups in the Uplands; the island of Jamaica, and the remnants of the Florida Keys (from Key West to Key Largo) now known as the Guild Keys, where the Fighter Guild is based out of. The largest city in Azure, and what many consider the culture capital of the world, is Kingston, the capital of Jamaica.

The Uplands environment is tropical, thanks to the typical warm and wet conditions it remains an ideal place to grow suguarcane. Once a sign of imperial hegemony it is now a major source of income for the farmers. Planes need fuel, and the majority of civilian aircraft and some light airships run on ethanol fuel distilled from processed sugarcane. The uplands have become wealthy thanks to this ethanol monopoly and are some of the freest, fairest and most comfortable countries to live in.

The Distant Isles

Further out from the Eye are thousands of island shards, most of which are the remnants of the Bahamas. A Few are in stable orbits, such as Nassau, the furthest known civilized nation, as well as the Pirate's Tangle, an unstable, foggy, three-dimensional mass of island fragments known to be home to several major pirate groups. While the Guild was first formed to combat these pirates, even they are hesitant to fly into the dangerous mess of the tangle. Other than these two, most of the Distant islands are small specks of land. Some are used as fuel stops, private retreats for the eccentric, and even hunting preserves, while others are too small to have an airstrip or even airship pier and remain uninhabited.

Beyond the Distant Isles lay the Errant Islands. Errant islands get their name from their rare and somewhat random arrivals, for they are islands that travel on long, highly elliptical orbits that spend perhaps only a few short weeks or months within sight of the Central Islands before disappearing into the endless sky for years, decades, or even centuries. The arrival of an errant island is a big deal. Several major companies exist purely to explore and exploit these islands. Some have even set up fledgling colonies on Errant islands that have been charted to come around every few years, though so far none have risked setting up a colony on an island with an orbit longer than a decade.


A short sidebar here explains the nature of Floatstone, the mircale material that makes Modern Azure possible. Floatstone is what keeps all the islands of Azure flying. It is a hard but brittle rock and looks and feels similar to shale. Small chunks don't seem special but feel like they've got too much inertia and fall too slowly when dropped. Larger chunks of floatstone will float and gravitate into a natural orbit, resisting efforts to be influenced. Despite this, if you take a large enough chunk of Floatstone, wrap it in steel and stick heavy diesel powered engines on it and you've got an Airship.

Floatstone has a melting point similar to heavy metals like lead. Heating floatstone weakens its floating properties, and molten floatstone has no buoyancy, but these come back once the floatstone cools and reforms into a solid. Second is that even the purest known processed floatstone still contains 20% impurities. Scientist theorize that 100% pure floatstone would rise on its own accord. How far and how fast it would rise is something nobody knows.

Getting Around

The next section covers loose guidelines for getting around the various layers. Airships take considerable time to climb or descend between island layers. In general it takes 16 hours for a civilian airship to ascend to another layer and about 9-10 hours to descend a layer. This time is halved for Military airships. If they need to descend in a real hurry, Military airships can conduct an "Emergency Drop" by intentionally heating its own Floatstone core, losing buoyancy. An emergency drop can see a Military airship falling like a brick, reaching a lower layer in less than 15 minutes, of course, the danger is getting the core cooled and functioning again before the ship hits land or the murk.

Aircraft meanwhile generally cannot ascend to a higher layer under their own power, especially the fuel hungry Warbirds of the Guild. They must rely on airships to carry them, or must use the updraft of The Eye, though they will generally still require drop tanks to make such a transit and will have to land almost immediately. Descending between layers is much simpler as they need merely glide down at a leisurely pace. Though if you're in a hurry a stepper dive can be performed. A pilot can even shut off their engine(s) to conserve fuel during the descent, though that carries the risk of being caught flatfooted.

Getting around the central islands on the same layer is a relatively simple affair, the majority of the Central islands are within 500km of the eye. An airplane can generally go anywhere in the same layer in only a couple hours. Airships are slower, but can still generally transit from one island to another within 24 hours. Heading further out is trickier, getting to Nassau, for example, requires crossing over 2,000km of open sky, well beyond the range of any fighter, and even airships will require upwards of a week to get there, even at flank speed it'd take three days. The only known airplanes that can make such a trip are the Guild's courier transports, and they will be running on fumes by landing.

Going even further to Errant islands is tougher. Few pass within less than 3,000km of the Eye and most are spotted even further out. Just locating these islands at such distances requires full-time spotter teams and exceptionally powerful telescopes. It can take airships weeks to make the journey, and there will be no promises it'll find anything useful, or even that it will be able to make a return flight if the crew have planned poorly.

Of course, getting around on the ground is a concern too. While every nation operates a variety of military and commercial airplanes and airships, most people spend their whole lives on the ground. The size of the islands combined with the rarity and expense of fuel has created a very different system of transport. Most people, especially the poor, simply walk everywhere, whether they live in the cities or the country. Bicycles are the most popular form of mechanical ground transport in Azure and even the Rich can be seen pedaling around on designer tricycles or being chauffeured in fancy rickshaws. Riding horses is still semi common in rural areas as well.

Heavy materials transport, as well as mass-transit in cities, is done via diesel-powered locomotive. These trains are, however, smaller and lighter with tracks of narrower gauge than the mighty engines we'd be more familiar with. Despite this, trains are popular, and most cities within an island are connected by train, with the largest and most affluent cities boasting passenger tram systems. Rail systems are less common in the uplands due to the smaller size of the islands, though Jamaica has a well develop rail network and the Guild has an extensive rail system linking the keys. In the lowlands, Yucatan is crisscrossed by rails that follow along the ancient Mayan Sacbe and link all the Kingdoms together. The undeveloped frontier of Tegesta, meanwhile is devoid of railroads.

Motorized vehicles such as cars and trucks, however are very rare due to the cost of fuel. Only major companies and the militaries can generally afford motor vehicles. However, Motorcycles are fast becoming a status symbol of the rich and famous, and arriving to a social event on the back of a Motorcycle is considered a fashion statement.

Next Time, the second half of Chapter 1, a Short History of Azure

Also, while looking to see if there were maps I can use instead of doing hack copy-paste jobs from my PDF, I found this video. Which basically covers what I just did much more succinctly. Am I being too wordy and not brief enough? I mean this is all fluff, so I figure being super brief might not be great here, but I've never done a F&F before. :ohdear:

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 21:48 on Aug 13, 2014

Aug 6, 2009
That seems about the right length for a post about the fluff, really. As long as you don't end up needing five posts to cover the setting part, you're fine.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!
Well, that was about a quarter of the fluff I'd say. Its Azure, Azure's History, Profiles on Azure's Nations, and Major Organizations (Fighter Guild, pirates, the churches, etc) across 3 of Warbird's 8 chapters. All of this stuff is about 50-55 pages of info (book is 188 pages or so). The actual mechanical stuff will be more abridged.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
I had never heard of this game before. Sounds pretty interesting.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

Chapter One - Part 2: The History of Azure

The Strom

Azure’s history starts with the history of Earth. In 1804 the Caribbean sea was a bastion of European Colonialism. Cuba and Puerto Rico were major Spanish colonies while the Mayans of Central America chafed under Spanish rule. Jamaica is Britain’s largest colony in the area and grows large amounts of sugarcane and Coffee for the Empire. Other islands belong to various European powers and the economies of almost all these colonies are driven by the back-breaking labors of slavery. The only place in the Caribbean where Colonialism has waned is Haiti, who has just finished a long series of campaigns against Spanish, British and French alike to win their independence and swiftly abolished slavery.

History would’ve continued as it had in our world, if not for The Storm. On September 17th, 1804, a hurricane of never before seen scale tore through the Caribbean. With unmatched fury the storm raged for a week, turning the seas into roiling masses, smashing ships, destroying towns and spreading death and destruction to the people of the Caribbean On the 25th the clouds parted and the sun shone. Survivors crawled out of the wreckage and found the world that awaited them was not the world they previously knew. In place of the ocean they found the wide skies of Azure.

The Years of Chaos

The first few years after The Storm were incredibly harsh. Estimates calculate that roughly 25% of the Caribbean’s population perished during The Storm and the following year, and the death rate remained high for two decades. People died from famine caused by climate shifts, supply shortages of every kind and violence typically caused by the near collapse of society.

While the Caribbean and much of the rest of the world had been slowly marching towards abolition of the practice, slavery was one of the first casualties of the post-storm collapse. Much of the Caribbean’s population was made up of black slaves in 1804 and the oppressed Mayans of Yucatan fared little better. In the wake of The Storm, the wisest slave owners saw the writing on the wall and immediately renounced ownership and begged for mercy, after only a few couple years slavery was just an unhappy memory in Azure. While slavery itself was gone, other colonial influences remain. The people of Haiti speak French, while the rest of the midlands speak Spanish, English is the language of most of the uplands while the Mayans in the lowland speak their ancestral tongue.

Leaving out Yucatan, roughly half of the populace of Azure is of African or mixed ancestry, 30% are of predominantly Spanish descent, roughly 15% are of British, French, or Dutch descent, while 5% are descended from non-Mayan Natives or other more exotic origins. Yucatan however violently expelled their Spanish overlords during the years of chaos and is made up of 85% pure-blooded Mayans, with most of the rest being of mixed Mayan/Spanish origin.

As the people of Azure suffered in the years after the Storm, so too did their faith come under immense strain and strife. The majority of the Caribbean had been Catholic and once it rapidly became apparent that The Storm had not been Rapture, nor was Azure some form of heaven. Unsurprisingly, the priesthood had a tough time dealing with the many hard questions their parishes asked.

In the uplands, many simply abandoned a faith that they felt had abandoned them. Small independent churches of varying sects can still be found, but organized religion has all but vanished in the region. The uplands today are a relatively secular place.

Made up mostly of Spanish colonies the faith of the midlands stumbled but slowly recovered. Cuba eventually elected a pope and established a new Papacy that would come to be known as the Fundamental Catholic Church, today practiced by all the Midland islands except Haiti. Only three years after the Storm the isolated people of Haiti elected a new Pope of their own and conducted a significant restructuring of their Church, integrating a lot of influence from local Vodou custom leading to the Reformed Catholic Church. The two distinct Churches would inevitably come into conflict following the reestablishment of communication and travel between islands, and to this day two Catholic Popes preside in Azure and the religious squabbling continues to simmer.

Down in Yucatan however, Catholicism fared far worse. Azure’s topography was a much better fit to the ancient religion of the pre-Columbian Maya than modern Catholic teachings. The Mayan’s revolt against their Spanish overlords started as a religious one as they embraced their ancient faith, though with significantly less human sacrifice. Today Catholicism is banned in the Mayan Kingdoms.

The Rise of Flight and the Golden Century

While the exact “end” of the Years of Chaos following The Storm remains debated by historians, it is well agreed upon that things were relatively stable nearly four decades later in 1843 when Puerto Rican miners stumbled upon Floatstone for the first time. It took several more years of research and development, but by 1850 the first steam-powered airships were taking flight across Azure and the people of the once isolated islands were soon brought closer together. The next few decades saw the rapid establishment of trade relations and the economies of the various islands flourished.

1883 saw the signing of an important international treaty that set many standards, including naming the new world “Azure”. The next hundred years saw the central islands thrive as populations boomed, science and technology advanced, and standards of living increased. It was during this time that scientists first discovered the chemical composition of the Murk and developed the ability to process ethanol fuel from sugarcane, leading to great strides in airship design and capabilities. By 1980 the nations of Azure had reached a point of societal and technological development roughly analogous with the turn of the 20th century on Earth. The end of the golden century saw the first advances in non-floatstone powered flight, with the first aeroplane taking its brief flight in 1975. In 1980 Jamaica was the first nation to begin the first tentative steps in adapting this new means of flying for military purposes.

The closing decades of the Golden Century were marked by military build up as each nation developed a navy of "Ironclad" armoured airships. Political and Religious tensions rose alongside military might, but the only region that saw outright warfare during the Golden Century was Yucatan, which has always featured small but intense conflicts between its many kingdoms.

The First Resource War

Azure’s peace was shattered in March, 1982 when a resource-starved Cuba launched an all-out assault on Haiti under the pretext of religious “unification”. Cuban transports landed troops during the initial assault, kicking off a five-month ground war punctuated by multiple clashes between the ironclads of both navies. The Haitians fought hard, but Cuba was quick to receive logistical support from Puerto Rico and Santiago and it seemed like the inevitable result was victory for Cuba and the Fundamental Church.

In desperation to stem the tide of the Cuban invasion, Haiti turned to Jamaica. In the years previous, while the nations of the Midlands had been building up large navies of ironclads, Jamaica with sought a more-cost effective way to counter this threat. Jamaica found its solution in the new aeroplanes being developed and poured a great deal of money into development of this new technology. By the time the Midlands Resource war had reached full swing, Jamaica had supplemented their modest navy with a hundred first-generation combat biplanes that could fly rings around any warship.

Armed with rapid-fire machineguns and light amour-piercing bombs, the Jamaican airforce destroyed nearly three quarters of the Cuban navy in a single pitched battle. The surviving ships limped back to home while Cuban troops, cut off from support, soon found themselves out of supply and on the defensive, surrendering mere weeks later. While Haiti had defeated their invaders thanks to their Jamaican allies, neither nation had the resources to go on the offensive, and so, on September 3rd, 1982, the Treaty of Havana was signed, signaling an end only major war Azure has known, though small conflicts spark every once in a while.

The Modern Era

While peace returned in the years following the Resource War, the issue of materials shortages remained. While Azure’s lands remained fertile for farming; building materials, rare elements and other luxuries were becoming increasingly scarce. The Central Islands were simply not that big and it was only a matter of time before shortages became a greater issue.

At first Tegesta seemed the obvious choice for expansion, but with every nation vying for a piece of the pie, and no one yet willing to spark a repeat of the First Resource War, no real progress could be made in that untamed region. Instead expeditions began to venture further afield, traveling to distant islands. Many expeditions came back empty handed and some never came back. However, for every failure, another expedition returned carrying a treasure trove of resources and soon the business of locating errant islands became big business indeed. One such expedition stumbled upon Nassau, which was a thriving city-state that, despite two centuries of isolation, continued to remain loyal to the English Crown.

One of the largest breakthroughs that ushered in the modern era was the development of processing the Murk’s hydrocarbons into a new fuel source. The shift away from steam and ethanol towards diesel power for airships and trains was finished within only a few years. Hydrocarbon rich “Dark Murk” is rare near the eye, causing Massive floating refinery bases to range hundreds of kilometers away from the Central Islands, with fleets of tankers ferrying the fuel back home.

It took only a few years for the first tanker to fall victim to pirates.

The Rise of Piracy and the Fighter Guild

As the Resource War proved, slow and stately airships are easy prey for armed aeroplanes, and it was only a matter of time before groups of criminals saw in this an opportunity to Get Rich Quick striking against fuel tankers and Errant Island Expeditions.

Thanks to hidden bases in the distant Isles, coupled with the Hijacking and even mutinies of a few early aircraft carriers, pirates were soon the scourge of Azure’s skies. The navies of Azure worked hard to contain the threat, but they had only so many ships and it was no surprise when enterprising individuals soon picked up the slack, forming the first private military companies. These mercenaries soon became a relatively cheap and easy way to protect commerce, and it wasn’t long before the most successful of these organizations coalesced into a single entity; The Guild.

The Guild soon established itself as the premier air power for any person, corporation, or government who could meet their price. Proving quite capable of making good on their promise to provide the best pilots in the best planes, The Guild soon found itself quite wealthy. This wealth was quickly and wisely invested into improving their position even further with the hiring of an entire public relations department and purchasing and rapidly developing an entire string of islands in the uplands, essentially forming their own micronation.

While each nation continues to maintain its own national forces, the Guild is infamous for poaching the best and brightest pilots from across Azure and its R&D department maintains an aggressive stranglehold on aircraft technology. Today, in 2039, it has been 50 years since the formation of The Guild, and while the aircraft of most nation’s airforces resemble the fighters of Earth’s late 1930s, the Guild’s advanced Warbirds sport technology that, in some cases, wasn’t seen until the beginning of the Earth's jet age.

The nations of Azure aren’t quite happy with this arrangement, but the Guild’s superiority can’t be denied, and with the Guild agreeing to certain restrictions and offering reasonable rates, most nations see little reason to try to change what they seemingly can’t influence.

Today Guild Pilots are treated like Sports heroes or movie stars. Kids grow up dreaming of becoming guild pilots, while adults follow their exploits in the press, fans obsess and paparazzi scrutinize. The romantic glamor is enough to make most forget that, in the end, The Guild are ultimately just a bunch of well-armed mercenaries with a tech advantage and a slick PR team.

Next Time, Chapter 2, the Nations of Azure.

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 22:57 on Aug 14, 2014

Dec 30, 2009

Some of those dates are in the late 1900's - is this intended or a typo?

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
Here, have some more stuff about dead people.

Wraith: the Great War

In classic White Wolf fashion, every chapter begins with a one-page story. The one before the Intro features a group of Renegades meeting to plan the liberation of London from the forces of the Smiling Lord. Nothing special.

Then we get the Introduction proper. A few paragraphs to set the tone and try to sell the setting (I must say I like the idea of a ghost Zeppelin myself), followed by the description of the book’s contents and a larger lexicon. The time period of Wraith: the Great, going from Armistice Day to the day right before the Great Crash, is known as the Twilight Era, the time period before the World of Darkness of the modern game. Since it’s a good way to catch up on a lot of the game-specific jargon, I’m going to repost most of the Lexicon, with only the ones I find stupid removed (like Seppuku: Really, Wraith, really?).
- abambo: A term for African ghosts
- Annals of Pestilence (aka Journals of Bone): a book containing the mad ramblings of the Skeletal Lord :tinfoil:
- Benandati: a group of dudes who can see Ghosts and go to the Udnerworld. They’ve shown up in Wraith books before.
- Behest: An Arcanoi (ghost powers) used by African wraith
- The Beaufort-Granogrec Scale: A system for developing Maelstrom intensity. Ghost Science! :science:
- The Black Mask: one of the many espionage orders of the Legions, this is the one of the Grim Legion
- The Bleak Legion: a Russian subset of the Silent Legion
- The Breathless Dead: ghost of Spanish Flu victims.
- The Bush of Ghosts: the African kingdom of the dead, also called the Dark Kingdom of Ivory
- Cataphractoi: the heavy cavalry of the Legion of Fate
- Displace: another new Arcanoi, this one is Indian in origin
- The Flesh Corps: :gonk: An order of the Penitent Legion, who use giant moliated Leviathan to fight.
- Fourth Great Maelstrom: the giant magic tempest that ravages the Shadowlands for the entire Twilgiht Era
- Generals of Oblivion: a powerful group of Spectre during this era
- hun: the “Of the East” term for the higher soul of a Wraith. Also used in Kindred of the East!
- ibambo: another African word for Wraith
- Imperialist: the “New Stygian” regime of the Grim Legion, the bad guys
- The Insurrection: The attempt by the Grim Legion to take over Stygia
- The Jade Kingdom: The Asian Deadlands [sic]
- Johnny Songbirds: a bunch of wandering bards
- kuei: “asian” word for Spectres
- loka: an Indian word for one level of the “upper worlds” of their afterlife. I have no loving clue what this means right now.
- Loyalists: the other side of the Wraith civil War, those who oppose the Smiling lord.
- Maelstrom: evil magic tempest in the Underworld
- Magisterium Veritatis: the Stygian secret police
- Ministry of Intelligence: the espionage order of the Iron Legion
- Moriman: a “witch-doctor”, an African wraith for practices Behest
- Mutilé: a type fo spectre common during this era
- Nawab: Indian government official
- Night Mail: a group of aviators who try to keep communication lines between Necropolis open
- Night of Short Chains: When the Grim Legion seized Europe
- Ocean: the African word for the Tempest
- Office of Maelstrom Preparedness: wraiths dedicated to predicting and quelling the Great Maelstrom. More Ghost Science! :science:
- Peng Lai: Jade Kigndom term for Paradise
- p’o: Jade Kingdom term for a Shadow
- Scavenger Folk: group of Wraiths of scavenge debris from the Maelstrom
- Sinkinda: Bush of Ghost term for Spectre
- Soulwelding: A variant of Soulforging used to maintain ghost vehicles
- Swar: the Deadlands of India
- Tvashtriya: practioners of Displace
- Uitlander: African term for strangers and white people
- Yellow Springs: Another alternate for the Dark Kingdom of Jade

Wow, that’s a lot of :words:, and I cut a lot of useless ones (like “Yank” or “Huns”). Some of them won’t make sense until I go in-depth into the various factions. The chapter ends with recommendations of Books, Movies and Music to use as inspiration, something I always liked in White Wolf books. While the list obviously outdated (the book came out 15 years ago), I’d say it’s pretty good. It’s got Gallipolli, Paths of Glory, etc. The only movie I’d say is obviously missing is La Grande Illusion, a classic French movie about a prisoner escape during the war, dealing with the end of the ancient aristocratic ideals of war. It’s a pretty great movie, ire commend it to anyone interested in these kind of things. The music of Philip Glass is recommended, which should ensure everyone at the table is creeped out I guess.

Next we’ll start the huge History section, a must-have for any historical game.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

NGDBSS posted:

Some of those dates are in the late 1900's - is this intended or a typo?

I'll take a closer look when I get home, but it should be correct. The Resource War was in 1982 and the "Present Day" is 2039. From a technological stand point Azure in 2039 is roughly equivalent to the 1930s of Earth, though The Guild possess some aeronautical technology not seen until the mid/late 1940s on Earth. One good example is that they use significant amounts of titanium structural reinforcement in their planes, which is a major contributor to the legendary durability of Warbirds and their ability to pull significant Gs during maneuvers.

Dec 30, 2009

Galaga Galaxian posted:

I'll take a closer look when I get home, but it should be correct. The Resource War was in 1982 and the "Present Day" is 2039. From a technological stand point Azure in 2039 is roughly equivalent to the 1930s of Earth, though The Guild possess some aeronautical technology not seen until the mid/late 1940s on Earth. One good example is that they use significant amounts of titanium structural reinforcement in their planes, which is a major contributor to the legendary durability of Warbirds and their ability to pull significant Gs during maneuvers.
That's an oddly large gap from the perspective of scientific/industrial innovation. Given how OTL history went I imagine that you could cut fifty years off those numbers with no problem.

Edit: Somehow I managed to gloss over the bit about geographical isolation. :downs:

NGDBSS fucked around with this message at 20:10 on Aug 14, 2014

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

NGDBSS posted:

That's an oddly large gap from the perspective of scientific/industrial innovation. Given how OTL history went I imagine that you could cut fifty years off those numbers with no problem.
Look, buddy, let me tell you about a Guild that hasn't changed its super-planes in a long, long time...

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!
Maybe a little, but it seems fine to me. It took them 50 years rebuild after a huge disaster, to develop airship travel and establish communication and trade between the islands. Add in materials shortages such as fossil fuels like coal and petroleum and the march of progress slows.

The reason Cuba and some other Islands were largely deforested was because until refining diesel from the murk was developed, trains and airships were powered by wood-burning steam boilers.

Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Plus they've only had one large war, and it was over in an exceptionally short time, and they didn't have a cold war or a space race. That stuff tends to accelerate technological development.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.
Time to sperg out: what really gets me is the comparative lack of mineral resources in the Caribbean. Although for a setting about airplanes, it does work out pretty nicely that Jamaica has a huge bauxite lode.

I dunno, maybe the aristocrats of Azure are walking around with aluminum jewelery.

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?

grassy gnoll posted:

Time to sperg out: what really gets me is the comparative lack of mineral resources in the Caribbean. Although for a setting about airplanes, it does work out pretty nicely that Jamaica has a huge bauxite lode.

I dunno, maybe the aristocrats of Azure are walking around with aluminum jewelery.
It was considered pretty valuable for a long time.

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.
Napoleon notoriously had a set of aluminium dinnerware that he only used when the solid gold stuff wasn't classy enough.

Communist Zombie
Nov 1, 2011

Galaga Galaxian posted:

The reason Cuba and some other Islands were largely deforested was because until refining diesel from the murk was developed, trains and airships were powered by wood-burning steam boilers.

Oh god. I cant imagine if Haiti OTL would be better or worse than Warbirds regarding deforestation. :ohdear:

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

grassy gnoll posted:

Time to sperg out: what really gets me is the comparative lack of mineral resources in the Caribbean. Although for a setting about airplanes, it does work out pretty nicely that Jamaica has a huge bauxite lode.

I dunno, maybe the aristocrats of Azure are walking around with aluminum jewelery.

Yeah, it IS a little weird. While not exactly resource rich by global standards, the Caribbean does have a decent amount of natural resources. It might simply be an issue of the author(s) not doing tons of research, but it might have in-universe explanations such as lagging mining technology, hesitancy to excessively mine/hollow out the flying island that is your home, or even potentially the strange supernatural(?) nature of Azure. I mean, the Floatstone at the heart of every island had to come from somewhere, maybe whatever turned normal rock into magical floating stone influenced other ores and minerals in some way.

Anyways, its a pulp setting so it probably doesn't sweat the details too much. Resources largely exist as an excuse for there to be expeditions to faraway islands for Adventure! Plus maybe political drama and excuses to start a war (and there are a couple potential new wars brewing in the setting).

Communist Zombie posted:

Oh god. I cant imagine if Haiti OTL would be better or worse than Warbirds regarding deforestation. :ohdear:

Don't forget the climate shifts the lowlands and midlands experienced post-Storm. Lots of flora die-off as the low lands are now temperate and the midlands are sub-tropical. The good news is that Azure no longer needs to worry much about many of the diseases associated with the Caribbean.

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 22:06 on Aug 14, 2014

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

Chapter 2 - The Nations of Azure (Part One)

Population: 1.9 Million - Climate: Tropical - Capital: Kingston - Economy: Business, arts and entertainment

Jamaica is the cultural capital of Azure. After the storm the people of Jamaica worked hard and cooperatively to swiftly rebuild their home. Agriculture and industry benefit greatly from the advance of technology, increases in efficiency translating into increased quality of life for the populace. Jamaica reaped the benefits of its labor-saving advances, pursuing the cultural arts with zeal. By the time of the Resource War, Jamaica's growing entertainment industry included a variety of popular music styles, a phonograph record industry, comics, dime novels, and the then new motion photography cinemas. Jamaica's government is a democratic one, with an Elected Parliament and Prime Minister, though the majority of power behind Parliament rests in the hands of Jamaica's business lobbyists. Racial tensions are nearly non-existent, Jamaica is one of the few truly tolerant places in Azure.

Very little of Jamaica's economy remains dedicated to heavy industry, instead much of the island's interior is now covered in airfields, large estates, hobby farms, and trendy cities and towns. Montego Bay is Azure's "Hollywood" as a number of major motion picture companies have set up large studio lots there, and idealistic hopefuls from across Azure journey there hoping to become the next big movie star.

Over the years the capital of Kingston has grown into a thriving metropolis of skyscrapers and busy streets, its suburbia stretches across much of the south-eastern part of the island. Home to the headquarters of most major corporations, the metropolis has the grandest museums, the trendiest nightclubs and the finest restaurants. While the city is wealthy and opulent, it is not immune to the downtrodden. Kingston has its share of crime and urban poverty, and there are neighborhoods best avoided at night.

Jamaica is the island that never sleeps, and Jamaica's populace considers itself fashionable, educated, and hip. Being a Guild Pilot in Jamaica can be humbling, on most other islands people immediately take notice of a Guild Squadron's arrival on their shores. Celebrities are many in Jamaica however, and while they can still enjoy the perks of celebrity, a Guild Pilot rarely can be confident of being the coolest guy or gal in the room. Despite this, Guild pilots frequently travel to Jamaica on non-combat business, for it is here that they can record commercials, sign publicity deals, star in movies, and work on improving their public image.

The Minor Principalities
Population: 1.3 Million - Climate: Tropical - Capital: Varies - Economy: Varies

Despite the name, the Minor Principalities actually make up the majority of the Uplands. This chain of islands is home to 19 separate nations of a variety of cultures, though most are of British, French and Dutch heritage. The years after the storm were especially harsh for these islands, as they suffered greatly in the storm due to their small size and struggled to rebuild afterwards due to the same reason and lack of exploitable resources. Despite the struggles, these islands never gave up hope, their will to endure bolstered by being close enough to each other to know they were not alone, and early on some islands were even able to conduct rudimentary communications using naval semaphore.

With the advent of airship powered flight early explorers from Jamaica were quick to stumble across these islands. With the help of economic and technological aid from Jamaica, the Minor Principalities experienced a rapid revitalization into the vibrant and prosperous nations they are today. Their economy is a widely varied mixture of business, tourism, and academics, and living conditions are excellent. Thanks to its proximity to the Guild Keys, the Principalities boast several famous flight schools which attract many hopefuls, and some of the Guild's best got their start in these schools. The Principalities also feature open borders, and refugees and immigrants from other islands frequently find themselves coming here. The governments welcome these people with open arms and a variety of social and charity programs encourage and assist them in creating new lives.

During the 20th century the Principalities signed an agreement promising mutual defense, economic cooperation, and the right to govern themselves as they saw fit. The Governments of the Principalities are varied, but all relatively open democratic nations, though a few are actually business-run corporatocracies. However, thanks to relatively lax government regulation, most of the most corrupt, exploitative mining and forestry corporations operating in Tegesta have their headquarters here, while white-collar criminals take frequent advantage of the laid-back tax and financial laws. Unregulated flight schools are also a concern, churning out naive cadet pilots who have little skill but large debts. Even a few of the many charities are not completely innocent as some hide religious or political motivations, trying to force their doctrines on the less fortunate.

The Guild Keys
Population: 120,000 - Climate: Tropical - Capital: Cayo Hueso - Economy: Guild Services, Tourism

The Guild Keys are chain of islands stretching over 200 kilometers. The largest 43 islands are linked together by rail bridges made with float-stone pilings, the longest of which stretches 11 kilometers and considered a marvel of modern engineering. The Keys are owned completely by the Guild and all who live there are either Guild Employees or leasing space.

The Culture of the Keys is a melting pot as The Guild hires the best and brightest from across Azure. However in the culture of the Keys, the Pilot is king. Celebrations or are held every time the Guild hires a new crop of recruits or a Pilot achieves Elite Ace status, and days of mourning are held whenever one of these Elite Aces die. Besides its mercenary services, the Guild was quick to realize the profit potential of tourism and Cayo Hueso, the “capital island”, is home to many resorts, casinos, nightclubs, and hotels. However much of the Guild Keys is restricted to outsiders, as the island chain is studded with airfields, research labs, and assorted military facilities. The largest of these is Boca Chico bay, the Central Headquarters and command facility of The Guild.

Despite the high standards of living and ritzy nightlife, The Guild Keys are not a democratic nation. The Guild’s member squadrons elect a single Governor who manages the island on their behalf until retirement or replacement. To date all Governors have been former combat pilots. Occasionally the other nations of Azure have protested the “benign dictatorship” and made calls for reform and democracy. The Guild simply responds by holding a referendum amongst the populace. Whether due to gratitude or conspiracy, these referendum have always voiced overwhelming approval for the Guild’s continued leadership.

The Guild Keys' political policy is officially one of strict neutrality, as the Guild needs to be able to work with every nation. However behind closed doors The Guild will covertly support any action that inhibits Santiago, and will maintain this clandestine policy until Santiago begins accepting Guild Contacts again. The Guild also, of course, actively discourages the other nations from building up their air forces with assurances that the Guild can provide all the quality fighter support they need at a low cost.

The Republic of Haiti
Population: 9 Million - Climate: Sub-Tropical - Capital: Port-au-Prince - Economy: Industrial, Agricultural

Haiti is unique in that it achieved independence and abolished Slavery before The Storm. Haiti suffered in the early years of chaos, but not nearly as bad as much of the Midlands. Its swift revival was due in no small part to the reformation of its Catholic faith creating a unifying force. In fact it was this rapid recovery and will for unification that lead to one of Azure’s first wars only 15 years after the Storm. Originally Haiti comprised only a third of the island of Hispaniola, while the nation of Dominica remained under the rule of the remnants of French Colonialism. After a brief and victorious war, Haiti unified Hispaniola under its banner and continues to rule the whole island to this day, though not without some trouble. Even two centuries later, some continue to cling to the memories of Dominica, seeking independence, with the most radical and militant of revolutionaries taking up hiding in the mountainous interior. Haiti considers these militants terrorists, and their actions have convinced many the label is apt.

Haiti has many visible signs of its French-ruled origins, including food, language and law, though these have all thoroughly mixed with its shared African heritage. Its people are staunch Reformation Catholics, but vodou rituals are also frequently observed, or at least respected. Haiti is well known in Azure for its colorful art, music, dance, cuisine, and the annual festival of Carnival is one of the biggest tourist draws in the world. Haiti is also the origin of cable, a development of its people’s wish to share music amongst themselves, and many of azure’s best musicians are of Haitian origin. Haiti is also home to L’academie International, widely considered to be Azure’s finest university.

Politically, Haiti is a stable parliamentary democracy with an elected president. Haiti has strong, friendly relations with Jamaica and the other Upland nations, while feelings with its fellow midland nations are much more bitter. The Resource War was only fifty years ago, and Haiti’s people still remember the pain of Cuba aggression and the hands of Puerto Rico and Santiago supporting them. Despite this Haiti trades openly with Cuba and Puerto Rico, but has strict embargoes against direct commerce with the Dictatorship of Santiago. Haiti is also one of the most active nations in exploiting the frontier of Tegesta, as its manufacturing sector is always hungry for resources and the majority of the island's forests have been logged to provide farmland or fuel its industries.

Population: 6 Million - Climate: Sub-Tropical - Capital: Havana - Economy: Industrial, Agricultural

The population of Cuba was devastated during the storm when the island was sundered in two. Thousands died and nearly the entirety of Havana was destroyed. Those who survived questioned why God had abandoned them, and the people of Cuba fell into hopelessness and disarray.

After 15 years of the Cuban people’s will to endure ebbing away, a miracle occurred. A young man named Salvador Vega of Havana declared that the angel Gabriel had appeared before him stating that he had been chosen by God to rebuild the Catholic Church in Cuba. Vega declared himself Pope Julius IV and began spreading his message across the island. Though some were skeptical, most eagerly accepted him, desperate for a leader to bring them back from the brink of despair. Pope Julius IV declared the Cathedral of Havana, one of the few buildings in the city to survive The Storm, his Vatican and inspired his flock to rebuild their nation.

Today Catholicism is the center of Cuba’s culture and its national identity. Its people are extremely pious and proud of their Spanish culture, generally considered one of the happiest, most outgoing populations in Azure. However, the early discovery of Haiti’s own Reformed Catholic Church is an exception to this. To the people of Cuba, the Haitians are traitors to the faith and this resentment has become a bitter feud that helped spark the First Resource War.

Economically Banking has become the most important business in Cuba, with most of Azure’s most wealthy banks operating out of Havana. Other major industries include wine, tobacco, and other luxuries. Politically, Cuba is ruled by the Vatican, the Current pope, Pope Innocent XIV, is head of the Havana council, a 13-member oligarchy made up of high-ranking cardinals, banking magnates, and the chairs of high-profile Catholic hospitals or schools. The council is appointed by the Pope and all positions are held by men, as Pope Julius IV set up the council to reflect the apostles of Christ. Women are barred from holding position on the council, but hold positions in a secondary council of nuns and women-run charities, however this group has little real power.

Cuba’s critics state that Cuba is oppressing its people through religion and absolute rulers while offering nothing but bread and circuses in return. Most Cubans politely respond that if they didn’t like the status quo, they would change it, and indeed it seems the population is content to follow their spiritual sovereigns.

Population: 4 Million - Climate: Sub-Tropical - Capital: Santiago - Economy: Mining, Agriculture

What was once the eastern half of the island of Cuba is now Azure’s most oppressive and brutal fascist dictatorship. Culturally similar to Cuba in its Spanish routes, the nation rebuilt itself following the Storm as a republic built on American democratic principles. In 1883, Carlos Murchado, a right-wing landowner, was elected president on a populist platform. While winning multiple elections, he enacted policy change that eroded the republican system, leaving himself President for Life. His eldest son took the reigns when he died and the Murchado family rules to this day, and their hold on power is stronger than ever.

Santiago is a harsh police state and culture is stagnant. Movies, comic books, and even some pieces of literature and genres of music are banned. Fundamental Catholicism is the state religion, and while the church doesn’t necessarily approve of the dictatorship, it does little to stop them, as Priests who speak up tend to disappear quickly. However the state’s attempt to control its people’s lives fuels an underground counter-culture and flares up about once a generation into open revolt. The last major revolt was brutally suppressed about 30 years ago, and today the nation is a pressure cooker due to blow once again.

The Murchados have created a cult of personality around themselves that approaches mythic status. The current President For Life is Carlos Murchado III and he is a charming, well-spoken, but ruthless man in his early thirties. Unlike his forebearers, he harbors a deep resentment for the Fighter Guild and has barred the Guild’s members and agents from entering the country.

Besides his open hatred of the guild, Carlos works hard to downplay the brutal nature of his country, making frequent diplomatic trips to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Yucatan, and even some of the Uplands. Santiago also maintains its wealth and favor with the other nations by providing them with cheaply mined floatstone, as Santiago apparently boasts more floatstone within its bedrock than other nations. Some scientist however, worry the aggressive strip mining of this vital material could lead to parts of the island collapsing and falling.

Next Time: Puerto Rico, the Lowlands, and Nassau, because this post has gone on long enough!

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 06:31 on Aug 16, 2014

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Galaga Galaxian, Warbirds looks pretty sick, definitely keep it up!

London waits. It gasps for air, the city filthy with polluted fog, its gutters and alleys thick with filth and blood. Its citizens are no better. London waits to die an undignified death, be it by bombs or the walking dead or a slow starvation.

This is the world of Unhallowed Metropolis, a world with no hope. Last time I went over the core rulebook and all of its classes, monsters and technology. For the expansion, they decided to focus on something they really just briefly glossed over the first time: the ghosts of London.


For a quick recap: Unhallowed Metropolis is a d20 based tabletop RPG. The game takes place in 2105, 200 years after the dead rose up in 1905 and threw the world into turmoil. The dead walking was just a symptom of some greater cosmic disease that resulted in the Earth being taken over by a necrotic Blight that mutated plant life and tainted soil. Despite the spiritual death of Earth, mankind stubbornly clung on, resulting in things getting worse and worse.

There are vampires, ghouls, werewolves (in the form of chemically/bite induced Mr. Hydes), reanimated corpses (through plague or mad science), brains in jars, genetically-augmented soulless humanoids and melancholic Frankenstein's monsters. The tech and cultural level is an incredibly lopsided mixture between goth pulp future and traditional Victorian society. The result is a fortress city of London surrounded by giant concrete walls, policed by a WWI-styled army who resolves any outbreak by razing the block and building a new one on the ashes. The other major world powers are a league of Prussian airships, an immortal French god-king who might be the Devil or a dark god who closed the borders of France, a smattering of other European nations and old colonies and everything east of the Rockies in the US. A lot of London's problems are self-inflicted and the game is about playing trouble-seekers in the city.

The word of the day is "hopeless" and it's not gonna get better in this book. Like I said: they mention that ghosts have been roaming London since the early 20th century and they did absolutely nothing with that in the core book. And that always struck me as weird. I mean, ghosts and demons and all sorts of supernatural monsters got a few mentions in the New World of Darkness core book and they all got a few pages dedicated to mechanics and how they work in play. How do you say something like "oh yeah there are ghosts everywhere" and then not expand on that? The book is already ~400 pages long.

Unhallowed Necropolis isn't nearly as long. It's literally a little under half the length. But it does have a lot to add to the core campaign. And, admittedly, there's a lot more to Unhallowed Metropolis than just adding ghosts. Here's a preview of nightmares to come:
  • Chapter 1: Visions and Revelations: a history of spooky stuff and more goings-on in London.
  • Chapter 2: Mysteria in Vitro: Five new classes, new qualities/impediments and new mental disorders. Fun fact: mental disorders actually have a mechanical use in play this time around.
  • Chapter 3: Through a Glass Darkly: Psychic powers, rules for psychics and power listings.
  • Chapter 4: The Ghosts of London: Spiritualism, ghost-hunting, medium powers, exorcisms and how the dead intrude on the living.
  • Chapter 5: Aethertech: Ghost-hunting with gadgets and tools, containing ghosts, more drugs and more ramshackle implants. The closest thing to a full-on equipment chapter.
  • Chapter 6: Beyond the Shroud: The GM chapter.
And the Appendices, which contain general errata AND rule changes between the Metropolis and Necropolis. It's riveting stuff. Not really. But they did think to change some stuff. I didn't talk about UM's Appendices last time, so if there's anything interesting I'll throw it in here. And I'll still be adding art. Like so.

Also I was thinking about adding some extra content to the reviews by attaching some short stories taking place in the metropolis of London. Frankly, Necropolis is more of the same pointless Gothic bleakness and "realistic"/rough rules and it would be boring to give you more of the same. If anyone's interested, let me know and I'll attach them when I come back with Chapter 1.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

Chapter 2 - The Nations of Azure (Part Two)

Puerto Rico
Population: 1.8 Million - Climate: Sub-Tropical - Capital: Santiago - Economy: Shipyards, News Services

The smallest nation in the Midlands is the often-overlooked Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is famous for being the nation that built the first airships and traveled among the skies, and that tradition continues today as it is home to Azure’s largest shipyards. These yards build new commercial and even military airships for every nation in Azure. However, these days the island is poor in resources and imports vast quantities of steel, copper, other building materials and even floatstone. These shipyards mean that Puerto Rico operates more shipping companies than any nation in Azure and it is also home to Azure’s only luxury cruise line.

While Puerto Rico shares Cuba and Santiago’s Spanish Colonial roots, the nation is far more democratic and pro-capitalist than its brothers. The attitude of its people is the closest Azure has to the concept we know as “The American Dream”, where hard work and the accruing wealth are held has high virtues. While most Puerto Ricans are Fundamentalist Catholics, they lack the deep, almost fanatical devotions of the Cubans. They supported Cuba during the First Resource War, but this support was relatively minor and half-hearted. As capitalism takes deeper root in the nation, the ideals of the almighty dollar slowly overtake God’s worship.

Strong laws protecting freedom of press have helped to keep Puerto Rico a free and democratic nation, indeed, the island is home to the “Prensa Libre”, Azure’s largest newswire. The government is made up of elected regional representatives who nominate a chancellor from amongst themselves. Peurto Rico’s shipyard and shipping based economy means the nations requires friendly relations with all nations. Generally its diplomats manages to maintain these good relations, though occasionally overeager Pensa Libre reporters can cause minor political incidents, typically in Yucatan, Santiago, or Tegesta.

Population: 400,000 - Climate: Temperate - Capital: San Nicolas (de facto) - Economy: Resource extraction and ranching

Tegesta is the untamed frontier of the Central Islands, whose coastlines are studded with rough and tumble towns, corporate holdings, and plantation homesteads large and small. The majority of the interior however remains a thick brushland home to some of Azure’s deadliest creatures, and many a headstrong explorer has disappeared into this wilderness never to be heard from again.

The people of Tegesta are a varied lot, while there are some people in San Nicolas descended from pre-storm Tegestans, the vast majority of frontierspeople are hardy souls searching to escape troubled pasts, bolster their corporation’s wealth, or simply carve a new life for themselves. One theme runs common in all who come to Tegesta however: they wish to answer to no one.

No central government exists in Tegesta, and while most towns have some form of municipal leadership and order, they typically have lax ethical and moral codes. What laws exist, however, are backed by harsh frontier justice, with punishments typically ranging from banishment to outright public execution.

With no government regulation or oversight holding them back, plantation owners are free to lay claim to vast tracts of land and use whatever unsavoury labour practices they wish. Corporations, meanwhile, take advantage of the same situation to engage in non-sustainable resource extraction methods that leave large areas devastated and barren. However many corporations soon find themselves cursing thatsame lack of government, as while there is no one to regulate them, there is also no one to protect them against Pirates and Corporate Rivals.

Population: 14 million - Climate: Temperate - Capital: Chichen-Itza - Economy: Large-scale Agriculture

While the former Yucatan peninsula weathered the storm with only light damage, the rapid climate shift caused its own disaster in the form of massive vegetation die-off and widespread famine. During these harsh times, the oppressed Mayans turned on their former Spanish masters and cast them out of the island, literally. Hundreds of Spanish colonials were rounded up and given to the murk; pitched into the Yucatan’s many sinkholes.

As the dying jungles rotted away they revealed dozens of ancient Mayan cities and structures, which the now free people began to rebuild and expand. As they did with the cities of their ancestors, the Mayans revitalized their old religion and social structures. Today, Mayan Society is a caste structure, lead by the ruling and religious castes; below them are the soldiers, engineers, and tradespeople; and at the bottom are the farmers and other peasants. Climbing the social ladder is difficult but not impossible, and the most common method is to join the military, though many peasants are unable to endure the brutal selection processes.

Each city in Yucatan is its own Kingdom, and while the various cities are officially members of a single federation, politics on the island are quite complex. Representatives from every kingdom hold congress in Chichen-Itza, the largest city, to decide on matters of foreign policy, and it is this congress and its byzantine bureaucracy that outsiders must first wade through if they wish to do business with any member kingdom.

While the Kingdoms put on a strong appearance of unity, the well known truth is that Yucatan is frequently at war with itself. For the Mayans, war is not the familiar total war of Earth, but a more focused and ritualized war with specific objectives, rules of engagement and duration. Wars in Yucatan may only involve the soldier caste, may never target cities and towns, and can last only a maximum of 260 days. While these rules limit their destructiveness, it also means warfare is a frequently used solution to disputes ranging from territory and resource rights, to personal grudges and insults. However it is also thanks to this state of constant limited war that Yucatan boasts the most experienced military in Azure

Population: 180,000 - Climate: Subtropical - Capital: Nassau - Economy: Business and tourism

The Bahamian island chain was nearly utterly destroyed in The Storm, with most of its remnants forming the Pirate’s Tangle, however one major island survived, and on that island was the British colonial city of Nassau. After the storm, the people of Nassau were utterly alone, unable to see any other islands. Shortly after The Storm, Governor Charles Cameron delivered a famous speech, stating that Nassau was “alone in our struggle. Abandoned by God and removed from our King, we must go forward." And go forward they did. The citizens of Nassau picked up the pieces of their lives, adapted to circumstances as best they could, kept calm, and carried on.
(Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Today, Nassau is a city-state frozen in time. Prior to the island's discovery by a Jamaican explorer in 1985, Nassau’s culture, fashion, architecture, religion and customs had remained virtually unchanged since 1804. The people of Nassau were overjoyed to know they were not alone, considering themselves saved, and with the help of Jamaican supplies and technology, began the slow and difficult process of modernizing. This process is still far from complete and today Nassau is a popular tourist destination as a “living museum”.

Even today the people of Nassau consider themselves British, claiming loyalty to the crown despite not knowing who the current monarch is. A vocal minority of the populace, however, campaigns for the abolition of the city governship and the establishment of a democratic parliament modeled on Azure’s other free nations. Most citizens, with scornful politeness, consider them misguided traitors to the crown.

Due to the city-states proximity to the Pirate’s tangle, The Guild maintains (with Nassau’s blessing) a permanent outpost and airfield at Fort Charlotte, on the outskirts of the city. Another colonial fort, Fort Fincastle, is home to the city’s military police as well as a branch of Errant Observation’s Inc, who take advantage of Nassau’s distance from the Central Islands to search for errant islands.

Next Time - The last of the big fluff chapters: Chapter 3 Major Organizations

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 06:33 on Aug 16, 2014

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

Chapter 3 - Major Organizations

The Fighter Guild

Officially titled, "The Esteemed Guild of Combat Aviators", but in practice typically called "The Guild", this organization of elite mercenaries grew out of the need to protect long-haul shipping from the emerging pirate thread. The purpose of the Guild is simply to make its Pilots rich, and to expand and maintain its monopoly. While it has its ethical codes, The Guild will work for any nation or corporation that can meet their price, and will even fly on both sides of the same conflict. In order to facilitate this potential clash of interests, The Guild maintains several separate fighter squadrons which are often sporting rivals and willing to face one another.

Guild Warbirds comprise only ~5% of the combat aircraft in Azure, however they are responsible for ~40% of all air-to-air kills. This impressive ratio is thanks to the numerous advantages Guild Pilots and their Warbirds have over the competition. This technological edge is vitally important, and the Guild puts great effort into safeguarding its edge, some technology is considered so advance and important that it is reserved only for Veteran Guild pilots who have repeatedly proved themselves.

Warbirds are legendary for their durability, which is thanks to extensive use of Titanium reinforcement. In fact, The Guild controls the only known source of Titanium in industrial quantities, as they have a permanent mining outpost on "Titan Island", an errant island that passes by each decade. In addition, the Guild possesses laminated polycarbonate technology, which they use to construct bullet resistant cockpit canopies. This protection, coupled with the durability of Warbirds translates directly into a high survival rate for Guild Pilots downed in combat, as a result these pilots survive to learn from their mistakes and correct them. The Guild understands that while Warbirds are expensive, Guild Pilots are priceless.

Endurance is not the Warbird's only advantage, their engines produce roughly 40% more horsepower than similarly sized engines and Guild weapons possess shoot faster, hit harder, and are more accurate, and thanks to the extra engine power, Guild Fighters can carry more ammo. Of course, all these high-performance systems have their price, as Guild Warbirds are definite "Hangar Queens". On average a Warbird requires upwards of ten hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time, unlike the average fighter which requires less than a third of that.

Of course, another important aspect to the Guild's superiority, though a less obvious one, is the Guild's sheer reputation. The skill of Guild Pilots and the power and toughness of their Warbirds is legend. There have been documented cases of enemy squadrons scattering into immediate retreat at the mere sight of Guild Fighters approaching, despite 3:1 odds. Even those who stay are effected, as nerves are rattled and confidence drained. The mere presence of Guild pilots on the opposite side lowering their piloting performance. In addition, non-Guild pilots on the same side as them tend to naturally gravitate towards supporting roles, thrusting the Warbirds into the spotlight where they can score the majority of skills, furthering their reputation as deadly opponents.


Piracy in Azure developed as a result of the long-haul nature of shipping wealth back from the Diesel Murk Refineries and the exploitation of errant islands. The first pirates were mostly disorganized groups of dissidents in stolen planes, who achieved mixed successes. Piracy got its first major shot in the arm when Santiago’s first aircraft carrier was stolen, fully loaded and equipped, by mutinous officers and organized criminals only days before its maiden voyage. With a flying base of operations, the pirates began to enjoy much greater success.

In the years since Piracy has ebbed and flowed. The formation of the Fighter Guild curtailed much of their operations, and the most successful groups fell back to the region now known as the Pirates Tangle. The tangle is what has allowed piracy to endure as a constant thorn in Azure’s side. It is a shifting mess of island fragments cloaked in a permanent fog that reduces visibility to only a few hundred meters. Planes risk smashing apart at speed, and Airships can simply push many small fragments aside thanks to being slower and larger, the tangle is littered with aerial mines, chunks of tethered floatstone covered in explosives. In over 40 years, no warship from the central islands has managed to penetrate into the interior of the tangle.

Piracy’s biggest coup, however, occurred thirty years ago in 2009, when an entire Guild Squadron, the 102 White Hawks, mutinied and joined the growing pirate conglomerate. The White Hawks are the reason behind Piracy’s resurgence over the last decades, as they plan all the biggest raids, pass stolen shipping intel to other pirate groups, arranged for cooperation between the pirate conglomerate and organized crime in the central islands, and, despite the growing age of their warbirds, are the only pirates who can approach or match the Guild in quality and skill.


While the Fighter Guild is the biggest name in the business, they are not the only mercenaries in Azure. Over 30 other PMCs exist that supply pilots, and sometimes ground troops, to potential customers. Mainly based out of Trinidad in the uplands, these groups are small, but often well equipped and capable, the richest PMCs even own a handful of drop-carriers. The Guild considers these groups “Wannabes” and dismisses both their pilots and aircraft out of hand. However, the Guild isn’t above snatching away promising pilots from these groups, and this is the end goal of many pilots in these organizations.

Prensa Libre

The Prensa Libre is the largest and most powerful media outlet in Azure and its reporters are (in)famous for their ability to chase down the latest scoop. It prints daily newspapers in English, French and Spanish, and its nightly news programs are cabled into thousands of homes across the islands. Headquartered in Peurto Rico, the Presna Libre maintains offices in every major nation in Azure (save Santiago), and even has a small branch office on Nassau.

Working for the Presna Libre is one of the few ways a Fighter Guild courier pilot can earn an honest living, as the company maintains contracted access to ten of the Guild’s courier pilots. Openings for this duty are rare however, and the schedule is grueling.

Errant Observations Inc.

The big business of exploiting errant islands has naturally resulted companies that exist for the purpose of find new errant islands and auction off the rights to the highest bidders. Errant Observations Inc is the largest and most successful of these companies and maintain observatories on several upland islands.

The most famous of these observatories is the one located on the furthest tip of the Guild Keys. Due to a poorly written contract and some deft lawyering, this observatory is the only land on the Keys the guild has no direct control of and the Guild has squabbled with Errant over legal issues for decades, but failed to make any ground. However, Errant’s biggest success is its exclusive contract with to search for islands from the nation of Nassau.

In addition to the observatory located there, Errant has several specially-designed high-altitude airships which it employs at Nassau. Thanks to Nassau’s remote location, the observatory and airships can locate islands over 5,000 kilometers away from the central islands.

Exploration Companies

After a new errant island is discovered, the exploration companies bid to be the first to have visiting and usage rights.The largest exploration companies are Kingston Excursions, based out of Jamaica, and Primera Vista, located in Puerto Rico, however every nation is home to at least one such company.

Once a company wins a bid, they should have exclusive rights and coordinates to an island. However industrial espionage is common and occasionally a race will begin to be the first company to set foot on the island, plant the proverbial or literal flag, and officially “claim” it under international law. These competing convoys have sparked fights and “miniature Resource Wars” have been known to occur when its not clear which company has a valid claim to an errant island.

These conflicts have yet to spill over to the Central Islands, however have been cases of national militaries sending naval forces to reinforce the claims of their citizens. Five years ago one of these incidents resulted in a standoff between Haiti and Santiago that erupted into a full-on fleet battle. While Haiti came out ahead, it was unable to draw enough resources from the island to recoup their losses in destroyed frigates, cruisers, and fighters.

The Fundamental Catholic Church

The conservative descendent of the Roman Catholic Church, the Fundamental Catholic Church maintains many pre-20th century traditions. Mass is held in Latin and largely sung, parish members are expected to observe all proper holidays, and to spread the faith.

The current pope is Pope Innocent XIV and he presides from the Cathedral of Havana, now known better as New Vatican. The papacy has defacto control of Cuba and has taken on a more active role since the First Resource War. While in the past Pope Innocent XIV has frequently employed The Guild to provide protection when he travels, recently there has been talk he wishes to create a Papal Guard to act as a personal military force independent of the guild.

The Reformed Catholic Church

After the Storm, the church in Haiti was falling out of favor compared the old local traditions of Vodou. The remaining priests and Bishops held a conference and decided the only way to survive was to elect a new pope and reform the church. The result of this is a faith today that is more in line with Earth’s Protestant Parishes than their Catholic forebearers. Reformation churches feature easy to understand services in the local-languages, they permit modern practices such as married priests, female priests, and even tolerate divorce to a degree. They are more relaxed with their approach to doctrine and tradition and even tolerating some amount of Vodou custom by their parishioners.

While the Fundamental Church is loathe to admit it, the Reformation Church is on the rise in Azure. In addition to its widespread following in Haiti, the Reformation Church has missionary parishes in secular nations like the uplands and Puerto Rico, a few parishes in Cuba and, surprisingly, a handful in Santiago. Currently the Reformation Church is headed by Pope Veronique, the Chruch’s first female pope, and she is a shrewd leader who knows how to spread the faith and ensure the faithful keep coming back to the pews.

Next Time - We FINALLY get to the rules! Chapter 4 “Rapidfire Rules”

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 07:04 on Aug 17, 2014

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011

No Fighter Mafia? Shameful.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!
I'm not sure whether you mean organized crime using fighter planes, or a group of military officers and military contractors who have influenced design and appropriation requirements for varied reasons. I suspect you mean the latter, and no, there isn't really anything like that (though there easily could be, its just not mentioned). Besides the Guild, there are a few major aircraft manufacturers such as Jamaica's Sampson Fighters Inc, who produce the best (non Guild) fighters in the world.

In fact rather than purpose build aircraft, the Guild frequently modifies and soups up existing designs, especially for beginner "Rook" Warbirds. Most Warbirds are unique hot-rods modified and upgraded to pilot's preference. Even two warbirds that started from the same "base" design, such as Sampson's SF-23 Swift, are rarely ever identical. One pilot might soup up the engine even more and install extra ammo bins for dog fighting, while the other will further reinforce the frame and install 20mm cannons and extra hardpoints for ground-attack use. Oh and a stuka-style siren for extra :black101: when dive bombing (yes this is an actual upgrade).

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011

It was a pun.


Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!

Chapter 4 Part One - Rapidfire Rules

Rapidfire is a relatively simple, fast, and straightforward rules system. There are almost no reference tables, combat doesn't use a tactical map, and the math is kept very basic. All actions are resolved with a simple mechanic of 1d6 + Skill + Stat + Difficulty modifier.

Characters in Warbirds have only 3 major attributes and a few substats. The 3 primary stats are Body, Mind, and Spirit. Starting out these stats range from -2 to +2, though the actual extremes are +/-3 (representing peak human potential or a person with a nearly completely debilitating affliction). Body and Mind are fairly straight forward, though Spirit represents willpower and/or religious faith, and is also used in social situations to represent social acuity/constructiveness.

Skills are straight forward and range from 0 (untrained) to 6. There is a list of skills in the Character creation chapter, which is kept rather simple and players are free to come up with their own skills. Difficulty for rolls ranges from 2 (routine) to 14 (Epic) with the default/average being 6 and 8, leaning towards 6. Players add a penalty to the difficulty when attempting to do something they are unskilled at. Opposed rolls are, of course, a simple dice off, with the person with the higher stat (barely) winning ties. Players can help eachother when they have complimentary skills. To help a character simply makes a skill roll vs difficulty 6 and if they pass, they add a bonus to their friend's roll, with a maximum bonus of two helpers providing a bonus.

To help make those crucial rolls, players have a stockpile of points called "Reserve". Players start off a session with a Reserve of their highest skill+2. Reserve points can be spent to add +1 to a dice roll (even after seeing the results) with a cap of +3, activate certain stunts or weapon perks in aerial combat, and a player can spend all of their remaining reserve in one go to weasel out of certain death somehow.

During player players can earn by reserve in a couple ways, first off if a player does something the GM thinks is awesome, they get +1 reserve, +1 to their roll, and an extra XP point for the associated skill. The other way is to accept a critical failure. A critical failure can occur when a player rolls a 1 and fails their target by 3 or more. At this point they may willingly upgraded their failure to a critical failure which will result in a GM-determined "Something Bad" happening to their character and they gain a Reserve Point and an XP point for the skill they use. In addition Critical Failures are supposed to be inconvenient setbacks, not lethal complications. For example, during an air battle a player might suffer a gun jam or their canopy takes a hit and spiderwebs, hampering visibility, but it shouldn't cause their wing to break off or enter a flatspin at extremely low altitude.


A character's Fame ranges from 0 to 6 (just like a skill) and has a few uses. It can be used to provide a once-a-session bonus to social rolls, provided the player can suitably explain how their fame works into the situation. The main use for fame however is buying stuff, as it also represents a player's income. This is covered further in the Chapters chapter. However, while fame has its uses and its in-universe perks, it also brings with some drawbacks, namely the potential to become involved in scandals. "If a character does something cowardly, stupid, needlessly destructive, or illegal the paparazzi will jump on the story and turn it into a scandal."

A player suffering from a scandal has their Fame stat turned into a penalty that applies to any of the skill rolls Fame might normally be used as a bonus towards (So mostly social stuff). In addition scandal makes it harder to buy things much harder or impossible. The Scandal penalty remains until a player finds some way (never easy) to make amends,publicly apologizes, or otherwise redeems themselves. However the book states that Scandal is never something that should be just foisted onto a player without warning, the GM should always warn the player(s) that an action their about to take will lead to Scandal.


Combat for characters on the ground introduces 3 more substats, Defense (how hard a player is to hit), Resist (damage soak), and Health. Combat is relatively straight forward. Each round combatants make an initiative roll of Mind + Awareness skill, with highest going first and working down, though combatants may hold their action to later in the round if they wish. Attacks are simply Body+Skill vs the target's Defense. Attacks deal a set amount of damage based on the weapon plus the difference between the attack and the defense roll, which is called the lead. The resist stat soaks up damage and any remainder marks off boxes on the target's health track. For example a Pistol does Lead+2 damage, so if the attack beats the defenders roll by 1, the defender takes 3 damage.

A character's health is a variable track that ranges from 1 to 10, with most people having 3-5 health. A character's health track is represented by a series of boxes with numbers in them. A person with a health of 3 looks like this: [0][-1][-1], which a massive wild gorilla (not that there are any in Azure (or are there?)) would have a health track that looks like this [0][-1][-1][-2][-2][-3][-3][-3][-3][-3]. As a character's health is marked off they begin taking a penalty to all their rolls, though the penalty is capped at -3. A character with exceptional toughness or high pain tolerance (such as an angry wild gorilla) would actually have some Injury Resistance that pushes those penalties back by a certain amount (thus the Gorilla might actually be [0][0][0][0][-1][-1][-2][-2][-3][-3], between that and his damage resist he won't even feel the first few bullets!).

A character whose health track is exactly filled in is Down But Not Out. They're in significant pain, having trouble breathing and similar effects, but they can still take actions. However every time they do take action, they must roll a d6, if it comes up a 1, the pain is too much and they pass out. A character's health track is exceeded (goes into "negatives") is Out of the Fight. They're unconcious, bleeding badly, and/or crippled. They cannot take any actions and will need to see a doctor to begin properly recovering from this.

One neat thing about Warbirds is that, as larger-than-life characters, the players (and villains!) typically cannot die unless its dramatically appropriate. They can be shot, beaten, and hit by a car, but they'll come out ok (after a hospital stay). In order to actually risk death, the player must up the stakes by voluntarily agreeing to Put Their Life on the Line. A character going all out in this fashion gains a +1 bonus to all skill rolls and their defense stat for the rest of the scene, however they're now vulnerable to horrible injury or death. A character who is take Out of the Fight will suffer some form of permanent injury (typically a disadvantage or -1 health/resist) and will outright be killed if they take double their health in damage.

Certain narrative circumstances might result in the GM forcing a character to Put Their Life on the Line, however, the GM must always give the player a warning before they a warned before the conflict begins (example, rushing into a burning building that is about to collapse). If a conflict is already in progress, the GM cannot suddenly spring a mandatory Life on the Line, even if circumstances change. However, there is an exception to this, if circumstances have resulted in the character suddenly facing Certain Death (such as being forced to bail out over the Murk, falling off a cliff, or being shot while helpless) the player must spend all their remaining reserve of die. If a player has already spent all their reserve, or have already volunteered to Put Their Life on the Line, then they simply die.

In addition to the players major NPCs are effected by these same rules, they cannot be killed unless they Put Their Lives on the Line or Face Certain Death. I especially like this rule, as reoccurring villains are a great thing, but bloodthirsty players are great at killing promising villains in the heat of the moment. In Warbirds there is a good chance the villain can survive to pester them again and, really, it just makes his eventually final demise all the more satisfying IMO. I just like the whole death mechanic cause it means that the players are not at risk of getting punked by a lucky mook with a .45 and that when the gloves come off, things will be appropriately tense.

Recovery and healing rules are pretty straight forward, and a player's wounds are usually never as bad as they originally looked. That bullet was just a graze and that stab wound missed anything vital. As long as they were not taken Out of the Fight, players recovery pretty speedily, and even gain a health point back right at the end of combat! Of course, characters that were Taken Out having a rougher time. Professional medical assistance and care is required for and healing takes longer, especially if the care is lousy or completely lacking. In addition characters that Put Their Life on the Line healer slower as this time, yeah, those injuries were pretty nasty.

The rest of the chapter's rules for ground fighters are a few pages that cover a variety of combat modifiers, special rules, environmental hazards, and a couple example fights. Some examples of this stuff are gaining a bonus to your defense by sacrificing your action, rules for disarming/grappling, what happens if you get hit by lighting, or how much it hurts to fall a ways. The Combat example is pretty decent, and comes with a little comic strip that match the action, which I'll include to finish off this post instead of more :words:

Next Time, Chapter 4 Part Two - Rules of the Sky

Galaga Galaxian fucked around with this message at 00:35 on Aug 19, 2014

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