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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



wiegieman posted:

Isn't the whole point of storm knights that they don't have stupid disconnection problems? That they can go be a wizard in a a place magic doesn't work?

Hahaha nope! The thing about being a Storm Knight is that you can resist being changed.

Normal people ("Ords") can store only a single possibility point. When a reality zone replaces a different one, every ord in the zone will eventually transform to the new reality. It might take a while, but eventually they're going to switch. When they do, they unknowingly spend their one point to survive the change. Normally that point would be refreshed by the reality, but the Darkness Devices redirect that "refresh" to the High Lords.

Storm Knights are people who can store more than a single point, and can keep their original axioms with them. This is represented by the reality skill, which you have to roll to reconnect. Even so, loving up a reconnection roll can result in you changing to the new reality.

Yes, a wizard can go somewhere where magic doesn't work and cast spells, but each time he risks disconnection because he's doing something not supported by local reality.

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Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


I thought you could spend a possibility to make a bubble of your reality and not risk disconnection for a while, but since possibilities are rare that's not something you'd want to do 100% of the time.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kurieg posted:

I thought you could spend a possibility to make a bubble of your reality and not risk disconnection for a while, but since possibilities are rare that's not something you'd want to do 100% of the time.

You can, but reality bubbles only last for 15 minutes, and have to be fueled with possibility points, which are also your experience points.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

Isn't the whole point of storm knights that they don't have stupid disconnection problems? That they can go be a wizard in a a place magic doesn't work?

I don't know if you've noticed, but Torg has a real issue with PCs doing stuff like 'being important' or 'accomplishing things'.

I honestly think Torg is more 90s than oWoD and I hate it.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012



Note: this book has its few art pieces mainly cluttered in specific points rather than spread out. So to mitigate the potential of using only text formatting to differentiate portions, I've decided to stick some disparate artwork here and there where there's none to be found in the book proper, even if it doesn't necessarily fully fit what's being discussed at the moment.


Introduction

Author's Notes posted:

This game deals with subjects like race and discrimination which, if handled insensitively, might cause offence to some. We, the authors, would hate to have you, the reader, lose a friend over this game.

We are not experts in how not to offend. There is nobody in the world who knows what to do and say so as not to offend anyone. For instance, some players might be offended if you use the word “friend of the family” even in a historically appropriate context. Others might be offended if you avoid using the word when historically appropriate, feeling that you are sterilizing history or treating them as fragile.

The important thing is not that you don’t offend, but that you let it be known that you are making an effort not to offend. One good way to do this is to tell your players (you can tell all your players this, you don’t have to single out a few) that they should let you know if you use terms or explore themes that they don’t like.
Know your players' boundaries before you get down to business: a solid practice.

The introduction is pretty brief and consists of an elevator pitch-level discussion of Southern Gothic themes and Southern supernatural folklore, a couple of disclaimers, and a brief note on racial terminology in the south. While some of the specifics of that last one might be argued about, such as ranking "cracker" as an insult on the same level as "negro" in modern discussion, it's still nonetheless nice to see an attempt at inclusivity through laying down language rules early on in a supernatural roleplaying game book from 2010.



Chapter 1: Character Creation
Step One: Character Concept
The fundamentals: What's your character's name, race, and gender, do they have any family or lovers, what do they look like, what religious beliefs do they hold, and what are their views on major events in Southern history, that sort of thing. A bit or a less standard question is also posed with "Why Ageless?". This question comes up because all player characters in Hoodoo Blues are immortal (in the "cannot die of old age" meaning, not the "cannot die at all" one, to clarify) through some manner of supernatural boon. Some ageless are created unwillingly, but most of them have become what they are through their own power. We'll get more information on them in a little.


Step Two: Musical Tastes
Or, to judge one by one's :sax:

This is basically an emotional shorthand system. You pick two musical styles that are meant to reflect a generalized view of your character's own personality. Have some specific examples to get a gist of what's being done here better than I could probably try to describe.

Musical Tastes posted:

Classical Music- Some of the greatest things in life are subtle and sophisticated, the result of years of study and discipline.

Folk Ballads- No matter the country or the era, the stories are always the same: joy and tragedy, love found and love lost. No matter how many times the story is told it never gets boring.

Nashville Country- That old-timey stuff is great, but anything can be made better with some sophistication, some polish and some dressing up for extra pizzazz.

Outlaw Country- The person in the black hat may not be as beloved and may not come to a happy ending, but his or her life is a hell of a lot more interesting.

For an example in action, let's say we have a character who chooses Blues and Jazz. Blues reflects as a hard and often painful life, while jazz presents a character that lives a frantic life of wine, women, and song. Combining the two presents a character who has had an unpleasant and rocky life, but drowns it out through clubbing and various hedonistic indulgences. It's a simple but interesting little idea.



Step Three: Attributes
Like I said when introducing this game, it uses the ORC system, the in-house d20-based system. It's resolution is based all around the familiar method of d20 roll + modifier of some sort = result that either does or doesn't pass a specific threshold of success. While it is d20-based, however, ORC is not the d20 system. This means that we won't be seeing the six standby ability scores, Armor Class, or any of the sort of things you'd be familiar with through Dungeons and Dragons, d20 Modern, and Pathfinder. Attributes here are what are present instead of ability scores and several other features such as hit dice and attack bonuses. There are eight primary attributes, each with several sub-attributes. A sub-attribute grants a +3 bonus or -3 penalty to a specific type of roll related to its parent attribute. You get a pool of eighty points to put into your total attributes (minimum score of 1, maximum of 20) and positive sub-attributes, while negative sub-attributes can add extra to this pool. The specific standard attributes are as follows.
  • Agility: Covers most of what you'd see from Dexterity in a d20 system game. Sub-attributes are Good/Poor Balance (how you are either good or bad at keeping your balance), Good/Poor Precision (manipulating small objects), Good/Poor Climbing (self-explanatory), and Good/Poor Prowling (how sneaky you are).
  • Awareness: Your ability to perceive details both in and around you. Sub-attributes are Good/Poor Introspection (self-awareness), Good/Poor People Sense (notice what others are doing at the moment), Good/Poor Back Watching (noticing things behind you), and Good/Poor Detail Sense (observing fine and easily missed details).
  • Charm: The art of acting and persuasion. It also happens to have the highest number of sub-attributes, with Good/Poor Self-Confidence (affects Charm rolls to present as self-confident), Friendly/Unfriendly (affects Charm rolls to present as likeable), Good/Poor Seduction (self-explanatory), Good/Poor Actor (same), Good/Poor Children (alters all Charm rolls dealing with children), Good/Poor with Animals (same, but with animals), Good/Poor with Authorities (same again), Good/Poor With Plain Folk (and again), and Good/Poor With Outcasts (again).
  • Endurance: Your general stamina and immune system. Sub-Attributes are Good/Poor With Heat, Good/Poor With Cold, Good/Poor at Contracting Diseases, Good/Poor at Fighting off Diseases, and Good/Poor Lung Capacity, which I think are all pretty self-explanatory.
  • Intelligence: Your mental speed, memory, and skill at creative concepts and abstract thought. Sub-attributes are Quick/Slow Thinker (affects rolls specifically tied to your mental speed), Good/Poor Memory (self-explanatory), and Good/Poor Skepticism (affects your ability to discern truth from fiction, be it supernatural affects such as illusions or natural things like hoaxes and forgeries). Also, it's three letter abbreviation is INL rather than INT, and this bothers me greatly for some reason.
  • Speed: How fast you move and jump, as well as a modifier for how much damage you do with kick attacks. Sub-attributes are the self-explanatory Good/Poor Jumping, Good/Poor Kicking, Good/Poor Long Distance Running, and Good/Poor Sprinting.
  • Strength: Specifically, upper body strength. It affects your lifting and grippling abilities as well as modifying damage from force-driven melee weapons such as clubs and your punches. Sub-attributes are Good/Poor Back (affects lifting), Good/Poor Hands (affects grappling and gripping), Good/Poor Bulk (affects tackles and shoves), and Good/Poor Punching (you can figure out what this is).
  • Willpower: Your emotional and psychological strength, as well as how well you deal with pain and debilitating affects that aren't disease or poison. This is an extremely important skill because it affects almost all Conjure (the catch-all term for supernatural powers). Sub-attributes are Good/Poor with Addiction (resisting drug cravings), Good/Poor With Drug Effects (what comes after the craving has failed), Weak/Strong Stomach (how well you can avoid vomiting), Good/Poor With Distracting Pain (how well you can deal with lingering pain), Good/Poor With Shocking Pain (how well you can deal with sudden and brief pain), Good/Poor Temper (how good you are at holding in your anger), and Good/Poor Sense of Self (affects any Willpower vs. Willpower roll).

Your character also has health attributes, which you have twelve points to use for and must have a score of 1 to 6. Body reflects blunt trauma, Blood is damage to vital organs, and Incapacity to fighting beyond even mortal wounds. When you're taking damage, losing all your Body means you start taking Blood damage, and losing all your Blood means you start taking Incapacity damage. After you lose all of your Incapacity, you're in the realm we like to call "pretty hosed up": you're unconscious and have a number of rounds equal to your Incapacity score plus your Endurance score to get medical attention. If you don't, you're dead. Note that firearms and bladed weapons completely ignore Body damage and go immediately to Blood damage, and any blunt force trauma that depletes your entire Body points then starts dealing double damage to your Blood points on any subsequent attacks.


Step Four: Character Class
In spite of the name, there are no levels in Hoodoo Blues, and your "character class" is simply a template of what type of Ageless you are. There are six different classes of Ageless, each with specific advantages, disadvantages, and certain skills that cost less or more than the average amount of point buy to get ranks in. The big uniting theme of the Ageless is that they are all people who dance in the shades of gray rather than black and white.

Crossroader: In spite of the prevalence of Christianity in the South, Southern folklore usually paints the Devil as a foe who is often outfoxed by human tricksters rather than an indomitable evil. He's easiest to get a hold of at the Crossroads, the metaphorical point of joining between two worlds, hence the name of this class. The Crossroader is someone who has either taken these stories to heart and thinks they can outsmart Old Scratch, or someone who feels they have nothing to lose by getting into a pact with an ancient being of darkness. The Devil is arrogant enough that he honestly doesn't care about making bets or even exchanging services rather than a direct transfer of the soul, and he's more than willing to wait decades or even centuries for a Crossroader who wished for Agelessness (that'd be you, player character, and it doesn't cost anything extra) to fail and die. A Crossroader gets to keep their powers regardless of whether or not the Devil gets to keep their soul, which is rather sporting of him.

A Crossroader gains a specific amount of points to buy advantages based on what exactly the details of the deal they made are. The most powerful Crossroaders are those who have given up their souls with no strings attached, or those who have directly challenged him to a contest a la The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Mid-tier are those who have either accept to do one favor for the Devil at some point in time and have a period of seven days to do it when the favor is requested (the Devil can't request anything the character can't possibly do, so there's at least a fair chance to keep their soul) or those that have made a bet that they can complete either a grand task (some examples given are going seven years without touching metal, becoming the president of the USA, or becoming the best dueler in every state of the union) or get two souls in exchange for their one soul. And then, down at the bottom, are those people who haven't wagered their soul at all, and have instead agreed to perform a regular service for the Devil. Of course, since those services are pretty sinful things in their own right such as "murder one person each month" or "make someone commit adultery every week", the Devil's probably banking on getting your soul in the end anyway.

What Crossroaders actually get for their bargaining comes in a variety of fun shapes and forms. On top of being able to buy normal advantages, you can cash in deal points for the ability to automatically escape any bonding, uber-gambling skill, five free levels to put into one or more Conjure skills, fabulous wealth, the ability to become invisible at will (though machines and mirrors can still spot you), invulnerability to one form of damage, the rather unique ability Physical Supremacy (your Strength, Speed, and Endurance score are always at least one point higher than the highest of those scores had by individuals the Crossroader can directly see or hear), supernaturally good talent in either Music, Performance, Painting/Drawing, or Writing, supernaturally beautiful appearance, or immunity to lie detection and a bonus to Charisma rolls made to affect others through speech.


Hag: Hags, also known as witches or boo hags (the latter being a term that comes from the Gullah people of South Carolina), are haggard beings that have the distinction of being one of the earliest forms of Ageless, individuals of their kind having sprung up here and there since humans started getting social structure in the first place. A lot of hags are outcast and ostracized individuals who pledged themselves to the Devil but forgot to actually give any terms, a fact that makes most Crossroaders feel haughty and superior around hags. Others are simply individuals whose sin and vice were so great that they became bogged down in their own wickedness. And still others were simply born destined to become hags, marked by vermin spirits from the depths of the ghostly realm known as the Lower World. In spite of the etymology of the term, hags can be either male or female, but all of them regardless of sex or origin are always distinguished by being obscenely ancient in appearance. They are extremely weak and fragile, almost too sickly to even move their own body weight...unless they stay committed to the Ride, that is. It is the Ride that drives all hags and allows them to keep their vim and vigor even in their shriveled forms. In game terms, this means that the hag suffers a -2 to Agility, Endurance, and Strength when they haven't Ridden anyone.

The Ride is actually a combination of two Conjure skills that are not limited to hags, but are innately vital to their survival. Since they are so important to understanding the hag at all, I'll cover them now rather than waiting until we get to skills later. The Leave Skin skill allows a person to literally crawl out of their own skin, taking off as a spirit. A moderate Leave Skin roll (a roll result beating 20) is the baseline and means you are an intangible spirit, and by passing larger barriers you can switch from spirit to corporeal form instead: a frog, owl, or snake at a roll of 30 or better, and a dog, wolf, or your human form at a roll of 40 or better. If the skin is destroyed while the caster is in an animal form, they are forever stuck in that form, and if the skin is salted or slathered in pepper the caster suffers Shocking Pain when they return to it. The other skill is Ride Humans, which also has two different forms. The normal form that requires a 20 or better roll involves crawling on top of someone and either shoving a bridle in their mouth or latching onto their hair. The poor soul suffers -1 Endurance per minute, each point of which can be put into your Endurance, Strength, Speed, or Blood score for 24 hours if you're not a hag; for the hag, it's basically a nightly refill of all their myriad penalties. You can also choose to ride a horse rather than a person in spite of the skill's name, but this is unoptimal as you get the same draining per hour rather than per minute. And speaking of horses, the other thing you can do with Ride Humans is go for a roll result of 30 or better and literally ride the human. They temporarily gain Strength, Speed, and Endurance scores as if they were an actual horse, gain a +20 to rolls made to jump, and act in the same way a loyal beast of burden would. This doesn't wake the unfortunate target, but does cause them to suffer nightmares.

Hags also have five optional special powers that cost character points to add to their repertoire. A hag tied to the Devil gets three of these abilities. One is her own personal Nightmare, a hellish steed from the Devil's own stables. Another is a familiar, which can take the form of a cat, rat, frog, or beetle. The familiar has the soul of a wicked mortal rather than a beast and must feed on the blood of the hag through a bite mark the Devil made on her shoulder, known as a witch mark. Finally, the third is the Witchball, a tar-like ball of diabolic energy that can be thrown as a projectile into someone's mouth. The Witchball becomes invisible when it is thrown, and inside the stomach of the victim it festers and causes them to lose 4 Endurance and Strength and 1 Blood each day. The Witchball can be forcibly removed by the Conjure skills Cleansing or Christian Exorcism, and the hag can remove the ball and return it to her person at will. There is only one Witchball, but it can be used indefinitely, and the only way to destroy it is through fire.

Hags that are inhabited by Lower Worlders can buy the ability to take on the form of a will-o-wisp rather than an intangible spirit when they use the normal rank of the Leave Skin skill. They deal rather painful damage to anyone they touch in such a form, but they also take damage from water and anything else that would douse a fire. Finally, the last optional ability hags can learn is available to any hag regardless of origin, and it's a unique Conjure skill only they can possess known as Young Face. On a roll of 20 or better, a hag that has used the Leave Skin skill sheds their elderly skin to take on the form they had in their 20s. While they can still take on an intangible form whenever they want to travel faster, this is effectively the "true" form of the hag when leaving the skin rather than the spirit form. The big caveat of the skill is that the hag can be killed if their skin is destroyed, and they are forced to return to their skin as soon as it is daylight, both of which are downgrades from the regular Leave Skin skill.

Hoodoo Doctor: Hoodoo doctors are those who fuel their magic through a combination of willpower, various herbs and animal parts, and specific magical formulae. They are typically associated with black Conjure workers that blend Christianity and folk magic such as the legendary Doctor Buzzard (look him up if you have the time, he's a fascinating fellow), but it is just as possible to find Hoodoo doctors that have come from the Irish fairy doctor traditions or various Native American practices. There are also some New Agers and Wiccans that have learned the ways of Conjure, but Ageless Hoodoo doctors tend to look down upon them as fad chasers who don't know the hard work and ceremony that it takes to become a "proper" master of the Hoodoo practice. Of course, they have little room to talk, as they spurned their Christian faith and decided to use special Conjure bags to halt their aging rather than face God at the throne.

Most Hoodoo doctors are effectively magicians for hire. You come to them with a problem, and they fix it with the power of Conjure. There's not as much business as there used to be, given that there are now actual doctors and social services on a widespread level, but if your problem is strictly supernatural or you really want revenge on someone but want it to be done discreetly, then these individuals are still your best bet. Hoodoo doctors are also often crusaders against hags and loup garou (a form of Ageless that will be covered in the next post), since letting your community get harmed by supernatural predators tends to be bad for business. Crossroaders are usually given a bit more leeway if they aren't doing anything actively harmful, but they are always seen with suspicion due to their diabolic origins, and often outright looked down on for getting magic in what Hoodoo doctors see as a craven manner.

Just what advantages a Hoodoo doctor gets depends on which if three archetypes they take. The Two-Head Doctor is a Hoodoo doctor that specializes specifically in healing, often with strong Christian overtones. They get to buy Protection type Conjure skills on the cheap but have to spend above-average points to buy any Diabolical type Conjure, and get one rank each in the Light Roots and Faith Healing conjure skills for free. Conjurers are those who engage primarily in intervention through harmful spells. They aren't necessarily evil, though, and many of them feel they are doing the community a service in the same manner as someone who sells firearms for protection. Conjurers get to buy Hands type Conjure skills cheaply and are the general all-rounder when it comes to other forms of Conjure. Thirdly, there's the Fortune Teller, who looks into knowledge of the past, present, and future. These Hoodoo doctors have a discount on Fortune type Conjure skills, and get three ranks in either the Omen, Jack Consultation, or Reading skill.



Next Time, in Hoodoo Blues: Howl at the moon, summon some spirits, march in the Saints, and make some magic as we cover the other three Ageless and get into skills of both the Conjure and mundane varieties.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: Too Dumb To Be Insulting


In Nomine is a game of angels and demons. It's...well, it's theoretically based on the French game In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas. Mostly, they just share the fact that they are about angels fighting demons in the great war between Heaven and Hell. It's an interesting hook, but unfortunately, In Nomine is not a good game. Mechanically, it is absolutely awful, and thematically...well, it's got some issues. It's fundamentally pretty good-hearted in terms of, y'know, trying to not be an rear end in a top hat about religions, but it is also in many places exceptionally dumb.

The book opens with the Overture, which tries to roughly explain what's going on. Everything that exists is part of the Symphony, an omnipresent pattern written into all of existence. God wrote the Symphony, and in doing so, He created the world, and Himself. He created angels to serve as intermediaries and instruments, nurturing God's creation in the way of their natures. Each type of angel has a different nature, or resonance, which attunes them to a deep pattern of creation. Their actions ring out in clear tones throughout the Symphony. However, when an angel acts against their nature, it creates notes of jarring dissonance. The more dissonance an angel contains, the more likely they are to fall from grace.

A very long time ago, about a third of the Heavenly Host rebelled against God, their fellow angels and their own natures. Unsatisfied with being mere instruments, they wanted to make the Symphony serve them. They embraced their dissonant natures, replacing the selflessness of divinity with the evil of selfishness. This rebellion was defeated, outnumbered as they were. These Diabolicals, as they named themselves, were cast into the realm of Hell, from which even now they plot to subvert the Symphony. This taught a grim lesson to the angels, but even that lesson could not keep the angels totally pure. Sometimes, an angel can't help going against their nature. The lucky ones can cleanse themselves of dissonance in time, but others are more determined to fall. The Fallen are changed, warped into demons suited for evil. They have their own resonance, and denying their selfishness brings them their own painful dissonance. Most dissonant demons are destroyed by their own kind, but a few yearn for redemption, hoping to regain the grace they once lost.

All knowledge is contained within the Symphony, but even the angels and demons have only the vaguest access to its mysteries. They know how little it is they truly understand and how uncertain the future truly is. Most angels avoid questioning their purpose, and most demons relentlessly pursue their selfish aims. Neither likes to think they may be on the wrong side. They are at war, eternal war, to claim control of the Symphony.



We then get short stories: A Bright Dream, featuring an angel who recruits a human to help her fight demons. She's kind of an rear end in a top hat. And A Dark Dream, in which a demon (who is also an rear end in a top hat) who is worried about how he's kind of bad at his job of promoting evil and that his boss might find out and kill him. He uses the angel to fake his own death and take out some of his rivals. Anyway. We now get an explanation of basic character concepts. Angels and Demons are the main types of PC. Angels serve the Archangels, while Demons serve the Demon Princes. Most angels are good people. Demons tend to be bad...but not always, you know, grandly so. They each have their own style and agenda, after all, but their main goal is always to push selfishness among humans.

The relationship between an angel and their Archangel or a demon and their Prince is delicate. Complete obedience isn't always the best idea - Superiors like initiative. Most of your job in the game is to do what your boss says, sure, but that's also a great way to die - those jobs aren't safe. Sometimes, angels and demons have their Forces stripped from them, reducing them to mere Remnants - vestiges of their former selves who are invariably insane, if not always dangerously so. Some angels are cast out but have not yet Fallen. These Outcasts serve no one and are barred from Heaven, but are still angels. The demonic counterpart is demons gone AWOL, or Renegades.

Angels can receive promotions, or Distinctions, from their archangels. The first rank above normal angel is Vassal, then Friend, then Master. Demons get something similar, becoming Knights, Captains and Barons. The most important on either side may be given a Word, which becomes their entire purpose in life. They exist to further that Word, which is a concept in the world, via the lens of Heaven or Hell - for example, the demon of Pipe Bombs, who teaches people to use and make pipe bombs. The greatest of the Wordbound are, of course, the Archangels and Princes, who have Words like Dreams, Nightmares or Fire, compared to smaller Words like Pipe Bombs or Cities or Unexpectedly Short Fuses. You do not get to begin play with a Word. Angels have them handed out by the Seraphim Council, sometimes with competitions, while demons receive them from their Prince or directly from Lucifer.

The other characters the book mentions now are Soldiers and the Undead. Soldiers are supernaturally enhanced mortal humans, made aware of the Symphony and the War. They can't really match up to celestials in power, but that's not what they're around for. Their job is to do what celestials can't, as they are much harder to notice in action. They're stronger than normal humans, at least. The Undead are a unique form of Soldier created from the dead by the power of the Demon Prince of Death. The best of them are Mummies, followed by Vampires and then Zombis.

Next time: Choirs and Bands and stats.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



Chapter 5: Ascension Warriors: Part VI: The Mad

M20 posted:

In a mad world, madness becomes sanity.

And let’s be honest – our world is crazy.

The dementia of our age is obvious: the removal from our primal roots, the complex interplay of technological consumption, the fear-based marketplace blasting perpetual alarms into every sense we possess. From the kaleidoscope madness of sensory overload to the lockout isolation of self-absorbed withdrawal, our world feels like Humpty Dumpty on a one-way trip with gravity. Naked emperors dictate our self-image, casting out a hall of mirrors that reflect nothing resembling the truth. Like monkeys in a nitro lab, we appear to exist on a constant verge of self-annihilation.
So nineties!

What comes to mind is this (the video that taught me that Duckman was a real thing), both with the ramble of words and similies and the way it tries to place some great importance on the plight of being a middle-class person in one of the richest countries in the world. How horrible it is, that we're not doing things the difficult way they had to do it in the old days. How terrible it is, that technology is so cheap and plentiful that we can allow ourselves to buy new luxury items and toys every year. Sometimes things aren't perfect - but this, this is why the world is mad? Because you don't have pillows sewn under your arm? Grow up! If you want to talk about how the world is mad, maybe look to how people will financially support child slavery out of convenience while condemning it as a gruesome crime. Maybe how we throw away truckloads of food for not looking pretty while people are starving to death in the streets, and famine ravages millions worldwide. That, if anything, is the madness of the world. Pointing to ones privileged and immensely rich middle-class existence and drawing on a world-class education to talk about existentialism out of continental philosophy is ridiculously pretentious.

...anyway! Marauders are mages stuck in a permanent state of Quiet, which will be explained in like five chapters. An entire page goes by of Brucato masturbating onto the page without explaining what the Marauders actually are. Let me quote an actual part of the book where Brucato tries to summarize his description of the Marauders:

M20 posted:

In short, Marauders are the clap of single nonexistent hands whose echoes penetrate all layers of the Real.

Can anyone untangle that? Give it meaning? Or is it just colourless green dreams sleeping furiously - a string of words obeying the rules of grammar, while not communicating any substance?

M20 posted:

Like mundane
mental illness, a Marauder’s madness slips between the cracks of the world around that person, either seeping in and rotting the surroundings through slow disintegration or else settling into the vulnerable areas and then cracking them like a sudden freeze through deep-set currents of ice.

What a... sensitive description of what it's like to have a mental illness. Actually, let me quote another section from a sidebar:

M20 posted:

Even so, Marauders can inject pathos, horror, satire, and tragedy into your chronicle. Used carefully, they could even bring in a bit of comedy, although the Storyteller should avoid “Clown-Shoes Marauder Syndrome” (see the sidebar Running Wyld), if only because such goofiness trivializes mental illness and the dramatic potential of Marauder characters.

But using mental illness cynically as a tool to tell stories of satire and horror, that is OK. Yes, goofiness is probably one of the worst ways to portray mental illness, but there are many ways it could be used for horror too, that are just as bad as trivializing it. Like the Marauders, who are villainous and dangerous because of their madness. They portray mental illness, especially schizophrenia, which is even called out in the book, as a dangerous other. I might not even have cared about this, were it not for the fact that Brucato chose to talk about how trivializing mental illness is wrong. Mentioning it just draws attention to how little effort Brucato himself put into being sensitive to mental health issues, and his concern comes off as hollow.

Two full pages go by and the only thing I've learned about the Marauders is that they're mad and that they're in a permanent state of Quiet. Surprisingly much of it talks about mental illness - maybe mental illness is a punishment for mans hubris, Brucato ejaculates onto the page in a hypothetical, the little condescending poo poo. Did I end up with clinical depression so artists could learn a lesson about not being too proud of their work? Is my schizophrenic friend supposed to be a lesson from God? I have to get to the bottom of the first column of page 3 of the sub-chapter before I learn anything more useful: Marauders warp reality around them according to their delusions, as well as Marauders that don't, but are nonetheless delusional. The Marauders who project their delusions will find the altered reality surrounding them strengthened by other delusional people they attract (implying that the mentally ill are a problem because they enable Marauders), many of whom themselves turn into further Marauders. The other kind of Marauder are just mages, who are in a permanent state of quiet, who are also delusional, believing they're reincarnations of John the Baptist and whatnot. The way the Marauders stigmatize mental illnesses and those who suffer from them becomes quite vile when given deeper thought. Here are mages, they have mental health issues. Therefore they're extra dangerous and an antagonist in this game.


Pictured: a tasteful portrayal of mental illness

Marauders don't have any form of formal organization or ranks like the Traditions, Technocracy, or Nephandi do, but they can still form cabals. Sometimes Marauders can merge into a fusion a sci-fi hivemind of Marauders who share the same delusions about reality. Other times a conflux arise, when enough Marauders converge in one location to cause chaos without necessarily being aware that they're all being drawn to the same spot, or that there are other Marauders around. Some Marauders are capable of being ringleaders who guide other Marauders towards some purpose. Most Marauders, though, are solitary.

Five pages in and there's further explanation of what Marauders actually are. They're largely immune to Paradox, because while Marauder magick causes Paradox, the Paradox consequences go after other people than the Marauder. Secondly, the delusion a Marauder has causes people around them to have delusions, though the rules are thoroughly unclear on whether this is something all Marauders can do on purpose (as implied by the text itself), or just what the madness-projecting Marauders do, as a matter of fact. The reliance on colloquial language does the book no favours: does "when a Marauder sets up shop" mean when the Marauder enters an area, or when they deliberately start flaunting their Marauder-ness? My experience with the phrase tell me it could be either, so I don't know whether Marauders can turn on and off their madness-inducing fields or not. This would be very useful to know, to say the least!

Layout of this book is horrible. There's a page, 241, which has 11 lines of regular text in a single column. The other column is taken up by art, and the rest of the page is a sidebar. The mirror page is over half text-box:


Pictured: efficient use of space.

The book goes on to describe the nature of Marauder magick. It's perfectly OK descriptions of everything you expect mad and/or Cthulhu Mythos 99+ mages to do, though honestly it raises questions. If the Marauders are delusional, why do their magick seem so different from everyone else, to the point of stereotypical mad mage levels? Why can't they just cast like everyone else, while also being mad? Nothing about being in a permanent state of Quiet and projecting a madness-field means one's magic can't work by a comprehensible magical paradigm. But then, it's Brucato writing about mental health. Don't trivialize it with goofiness, he says, before describing how a Marauder might write a spell down on a piece of paper, eat the paper, and vomit the spell.

Next: Character generation! BDSM! Clapping with one hand inside Schrödinger's box!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Really, I think the only tenable solution to the Marauder / madness dilemma is to say that Quiet is a magically altered state of mind that doesn't relate to mundane mental illness. The notion that being mentally ill translates into being an antagonist is just a little problematic.

Just a little.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I remember waiting eagerly for In Nomine. A new RPG, by uncle Evil Stevie? What could go wrong?

Well, I waited an awfully long time for one thing. Turnaround from the early ads and teaser images to the core book was in the neighborhood of a few years, and most of the occasional announcements were basically notes to the effect of 'yes, it's delayed again'.

When it did emerge... well, that story is in Mors Rattus's eminently capable hands.

I will note that there was a rudimentary, mostly-unofficial GURPS conversion document. It may still be on the SJG site somewhere. It worked out even worse than GURPS Werewolf.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



That's so maddening! The way he uses mental illness as a crutch to create horrifying antagonists, with the implication it's the fault of the person who is ill, and you know Brucato would turn around and rail against the medicines that can help the sufferers of the very same illnesses to control themselves because it's poison and kills the spirit.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Mors Rattus posted:

We then get short stories: A Bright Dream, featuring an angel who recruits a human to help her fight demons. She's kind of an rear end in a top hat.
This was the most excruciatingly awful piece of in-game fiction I have ever read. The angel speaks expositionally in game terms about what she is doing to the poor human protagonist. Like: She takes him to go dancing in a nightclub, he asks "why are we dancing?", and she says "I'm an angel attuned to dance and I recharge my power by dancing and we'll have to dance for at least four hours in order for me to refill my power pool so kick up your heels."

The game also has the most confusingly organized core rulebook I've ever seen.

I remember saying "well, maybe the first supplement will explain what I'm supposed to be doing" and it turned out to be the citybook for Austin, Texas, notable for the fact that there's a local truce between the angels and devils and so it was totally unlike everywhere else on earth, at which point I gave up on the game line. What a loving mess.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


LatwPIAT posted:

Don't trivialize it with goofiness, he says, before describing how a Marauder might write a spell down on a piece of paper, eat the paper, and vomit the spell.
See, this would be really awesome in a dumb sort of way if it was just a weird thing mages did. A Spell Eaters tradition or whatever.

Unfortunately, it's tied to mental illness in a very Brucato manner.

Bieeardo posted:

I will note that there was a rudimentary, mostly-unofficial GURPS conversion document. It may still be on the SJG site somewhere. It worked out even worse than GURPS Werewolf.
I don't know about any mostly unofficial document, but there was a lengthy and officially released GURPS In Nomine book for GURPS Third Edition, and a few token mentions here and there in 4E books.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Bieeardo posted:

I will note that there was a rudimentary, mostly-unofficial GURPS conversion document. It may still be on the SJG site somewhere. It worked out even worse than GURPS Werewolf.
There was an actual published 144-page adaptation of the setting called (naturally enough) "GURPS In Nomine".

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Really, I think the only tenable solution to the Marauder / madness dilemma is to say that Quiet is a magically altered state of mind that doesn't relate to mundane mental illness. The notion that being mentally ill translates into being an antagonist is just a little problematic.

Just a little.

On the other hand, just making it a Magical Badguy Disease kind of ruins it. I mean, having it be mental illness combined with being Awakened isn't actually a bad idea, if handled by anyone who's less of a retard than Brucato. The Nephandi ruin things because they're cockheads, you can blow them up without remorse. Sane opposing Mages ruin things because they believe the wrong stuff, you can try to convert them, or you can blow them up, but either way it's kind of a straight-up fight where everyone knows the stakes and chose to get involved, it's not really a huge moral quandary.

Unlike the other Mages, Marauders might have no idea that they're destroying things around them. They're just perceiving the world as they always are, shattered and weird as it may be, they have no idea that they're the cause of reality acting weird whenever they've got a schizophrenic episode or a depressive fugue. They don't MEAN to ruin anything, or to change anything, in fact, they'd most likely LOVE to be mentally stable. So you can't just go blow them up without feeling like a bit of a prick, but at they same time you can't just let them run rampant either. Do you run untold risks to try and get through to them, to help them calm down, to get medication to them through their warped reality field and, to you, unpredictable and dangerous behavior? Do you callously kill them for being "a threat"? Do you coldly use them as tools, manipulating their mental illness to sic them on your opponents?

Just going "they've got the magical wizard crazy" feels like it wastes a lot of potential dilemmas and roleplaying opportunities by simplifying things too much. It either just makes them into less-organized Nephandi by making them orcs you can kill without remorse(if they're incurable), or if it's got some sort of easy magic cure it further fails to actually take mental illness seriously, and if it's actually a complex illness like real mental illness... I don't see how it actually changes much to make it Wizard Schizophrenia.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Fossilized Rappy posted:

I don't know about any mostly unofficial document, but there was a lengthy and officially released GURPS In Nomine book for GURPS Third Edition, and a few token mentions here and there in 4E books.

FMguru posted:

There was an actual published 144-page adaptation of the setting called (naturally enough) "GURPS In Nomine".

gently caress me, how did I miss that shitshow? The SJG site was my homepage through to the start of 4E.

Edit: Hey, it's still there. http://www.sjgames.com/in-nomine/gurps/old.html

So's an old assortment of IN-related MUSH links. Erk.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 22:32 on Jan 13, 2016

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Double Cross - Public Enemy


Enemies and Alliances

False Hearts' Diplomatic Relations

FH's relations with the other organizations are pretty straight-forward: They hate the UGN with a loving passion (seeing them as traitors standing in the way of Overed supremacy), handle Xenos on a case-by-case basis (depending on whether or not Xenos' actions are beneficial to FH), and work together with criminal organizations if they have common interests.

While they don't get along with governments at all, FH occasionally cooperates with Tempest and other military organizations, as the UGN is stingy with providing combat-related intel about Overeds.

Just like the UGN, FH is confused about where this S-Ranking site gets its data from, and they are very eager to find out who is behind this Overed Power Level ranking site.

The Caudwell Faction

Caudwell's new brand of Master Wraiths are "numbered" with Greek letters (except for female Master Wraiths it seems; no idea on what their numbering is based as there's only one listed), though they do get normal numbers in parenthesis

Master Wraith Epsilon (05), Johan C. Caudwell (Salamandra/Chimaera): Already covered in the corebook, but I'm putting him here again because he was only called "Master Wraith" in that book, without a number or letter attached to it.

Master Wraith Gamma (03), Cain A. Caudwell (Unknown Syndrome): Another supposed son of Caudwell, he's a much quieter fellow than Johan. He is the most elusive of all Master Wraiths, and whatever kind of assignment he has seems to not involve engaging the UGN at all.

Master Wraith Nona (09), Laelia Guily (Bram Stoker/Angel Halo): A very dangerous Master Wraith who has destroyed several UGN branches. She has a somewhat strange personality, as she is continually sad and seems to despise combat - yet fights like a Khorne Berserker.

Master Wraith Xi (14), Sakyo Kurosu (Black Dog): A former UGN Illegal who went rogue after Caudwell's return. He's a rather conflicted and unpopular fellow thanks to high massive hateboner against Overeds (which is a bit weird considering he's one himself).

Mizuki "Pathfinder" Mihara (Neumann/Morpheus/Salamandra): An UGN defector now doing research for Caudwell. Not nearly as crazy as other FH Agents, she despises senseless violence. She works for one of the Apostles, Caudwell's fancily-named elite Cells.

Eiichi "Dog Master" Takajo (Balor/Hanuman): This careful and seasoned soldier is the Captain of the Moon Dogs Combat Cell. Currently working for Caudwell because he pays well.

General FH Characters

Fatum (Unkown Syndrome): A Central Dogma messenger who comes and goes as he pleases, delivering very cryptic advices and orders to FH Agents, and even shows up to inform the UGN from time to time.

Tet, the Tempter (Unkown Syndrome): One of the original 12 Liaison Lords who founded False Hearts. He's both a Renegade Being and Gjaum of probably ancient age. Staying true to his appearance of a snake, he loves to tempt people into giving in to their desires. His stance on Caudwell is neutral. Though he leads a Clan, nothing is known about it.

Vikarala, the Dark One (Angel Halo/Balor): Another founding member of FH, and the third known Black Order leader to bear the name Vikarala. She has a mad scientist vibe going on as she is willing to do anything to create the perfect Overed. She really hates Caudwell's guts.

Yukari "Cold Intellect" Watanuki (Bram Stoker/Neumann): Leader of FH's main Research Cell Two-Time. Being an introverted workaholic, she cares so little about other people that she barely bothers to remember her underlings' names, and she sometimes ignores orders and even works with enemy organizations if it benefits her research.

Ayana "Helter Skelter" Soramori (Black Dog/Neumann): The anarchistic leader of the Intelligence Cell Ratfink, she is one of the best hacker there are. Nothing is safe from her. She once qualified for the codename "Master Hack" but she refused as that just sounded lame.

Yokaze "Wind Master" Tsukishiro (Hanuman): FH's main instructor for FH Childreen and new Agents. If you survive her training from hell, you are one of the best of the best.

Tomoe "Mastermind" Amafune (Orcus/Solaris): A young girl of noble birth whose good manners hide a power-hungry soul whose eagerness to become the new leader of False Hearts has her do all sorts of blackmailing and backstabbing. She's basically the female Starscream of False Hearts.

Miki "Harmonia" Higo (Hanuman/Solaris): An FH Child whose command-focused powers granted her leadership over her own Cell at the young age of 17. Obsessed with perfection, she has gotten a bit paranoid ever since one of her Agents died during a perfectly executed mission.

Chiaki "Spike Hell" Nanasato (Orcus Salamandra): An unassuming no-nonsense FH spy and kind of an introvert.

Keigo "Paladin" Matoba (Black Dog/Morpheus): A former UGN Agent who defected when his family became "collateral damage" thanks to an UGN operation. Desparate the resurrect him, he's now a berserker fighting for False Hearts.

Joshua "Knight of Four Blades" Bataille (Black Dog/Neumann): A young, but pretty badass FH Agent who fights with four daggers at once. Ever since his righ arm had to be replaced with a mechanical prothesis, he has become an avid follower of Khorne, raging so hard that he is losing both his sanity and memories.

Ayumu "Lost Sheep" Kurusu (Exile/Orcus): The black sheep of the FH Childs, he only does the absolute minimum required by him. The only reason he's still with FH is because he's too much of a wuss to flee. Still, his control over the Renegade is pretty remarkable, so who knows what he could do if he were to get his act together. Where is Bright Noa when you need him?

Miyuki "Fenrir's Bite" Aomine (Salamandra): An FH Agent wrecking UGN Kyoto with her ice sword, working for the Combat Cell Cerberus. Her main motive for joining FH his her quest for the Shikoten, an item that can supposedly grant any wish, whish she wants to obtain in order to resurrect her little brother.

Shuka "Phoenix Guard" Daimonji (Chimaera/Salamandra): Another member of Cerberus, she takes on a more defense combat role than her above colleague. A pretty big fangirl for the Cerberus leader Minako Nagaishi, who is her surrogate mother.

Shizuma "Carnage" Orito (Unkown Syndrome): An infamous assassin, FH Merc and overall badass. How badass? He mastered every Japanese martial art there is, and even before awakening, he managed to kill a Gjaum with his bare hands. And he has only become stronger since the Renegade gave his 69-year-old body the vitality of his younger self. With a [Body] of 17 and a ludicrious <Melee> of 40, dude can even punch out Caudwell. Don't mess with him, is all I'm saying.

Mio "Lady Panther" Kasuga (Solaris/Orcus): This little girl (12 years old) is a member of the Kasuga Clan and one of those weirdoes who would like to destroy Xenos in hopes that their senpai will notice them again. I think she has issues.

Robert "Mad Scientist" Short (Morpheus/Exile/Chimeara): The says it all with this guy. He performs his mad science in just about every scientific fields he can get his hands on.

Kanata "The End" Hiura (Exile/Salamandra): This very strange fellow has an almost perfect track record and could've surely been a Master, but he's a bit... odd. He's very gloomy and has apparently given up on life. He does his job just fine, but he doesn't really care if other take credit for him.

Other Characters

Kanako "Grapevine" Kojima (Angel Halo/Black Dog): Former top agent of FH Egypt, she recently fled to Japan to lead the ordinary life of a housewife.

Burnet (Unkown Syndrome, though probably at least Chimaera): A Gjaum said to be the "ultimate life form". He's locked up in a secret FH lab deep underground and spends all day mutating. It currently looks like a mythic beast with golden fur and rampages so hard that its roars reach the outside world. Its Encroachment Rate is also 666%, just like the Other-World Priestess from the Advanced Corebook. A possible connection?

The Recorder (Morpheus/Neumann): A Renegade Being an loyal servant of The Planner. Is entire power set, heck his entire existance revolves around being a silent observer recording all of his mistress' plans.

Phantasma (Unkown Syndrome): A masked fixer with an unkown identity, he acts as a middleman for highly dangerous, but very rewarding jobs.

Fiona Lancaster (Human): A brilliant teenager and member of the Lancaster family. Ever since Caudwell's return and defection to False Hearts, she has been obsessed with finding out his motives.


Next Time: Game Master Section - The Random Scenario System and more Gjaum goodies.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 22:58 on Jan 13, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I would love to see an actual translation of In Nomine, instead of... what we got. It would no doubt still be flawed, but at least would be an interesting piece of cross-cultural satire. I ran it once or twice and mostly just remember the system math being completely hosed and even at a young age where I would play any old garbage I gave up on it based on the system being practically unrunnable.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Alien Rope Burn posted:

I would love to see an actual translation of In Nomine, instead of... what we got. It would no doubt still be flawed, but at least would be an interesting piece of cross-cultural satire. I ran it once or twice and mostly just remember the system math being completely hosed and even at a young age where I would play any old garbage I gave up on it based on the system being practically unrunnable.
On the other hand, if you got triple boxcars, Satan directly intervened.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Night10194 posted:

I don't know if you've noticed, but Torg has a real issue with PCs doing stuff like 'being important' or 'accomplishing things'.

I honestly think Torg is more 90s than oWoD and I hate it.
Yeah the whole disconnect thing is like those rules in old D&D where various spells would just stop working on various planes, except applied to everyone in the party and somehow even more obnoxious in scope. It's really peak 90's game design, in that there's a whole lot of "here's a bunch of complicated rules that 'make sense' in the setting" and very, very little of "here's rules that are actually fun to play".

I mean it's pretty telling that RIFTS of all things is probably more fun to play and less annoying to run than TORG. The whole thing about the PCs being worthless compared to the feature characters was just something WEG did in general in all their loving games too, even Star Wars and such. The company was horrible at game design and I am glad it's dead. :geno:

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I would love to see an actual translation of In Nomine, instead of... what we got. It would no doubt still be flawed, but at least would be an interesting piece of cross-cultural satire. I ran it once or twice and mostly just remember the system math being completely hosed and even at a young age where I would play any old garbage I gave up on it based on the system being practically unrunnable.
Yeah, the French version was supposedly full of sharp contemporary political and cultural satire, and the American translation is...this sort of new agey thing where angels represent "selflessness" and devils are "selfishness" and everything is a symphony of notes all harmonizing and choirs and wait wait wait where's the nasty satire? It isn't like SJG was averse to touching on political issues, as seen in the card art for INWO.

Just a weird mess all around.

Tulul
Oct 23, 2013


Mors Rattus posted:

In Nomine: Too Dumb To Be Insulting

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Marauders work perfectly as mages who have completely given up on trying to get along as a person in the world and have just stopped recognizing outside input, resulting in a personal reality bubble where things work according to their crazy rules and other people don't get to have a say. That makes them the deep end of "mages reject your reality and substitute their own," and you'd get your mint-julep Southern Heritage marauders, your Galtian marauders, or whatever.

They'd be the danger threshold that mages are always worried about stepping over when they get fed up with Paradox.

In practice they've always been fishmalks.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: The d666. No, really.

Angels come in Choirs. Seven of them, at least right now. Each has its own nature and dissonance. We'll cover them in more detail later. Seraphim are the most divine, and their nature is truth. In their natural forms, they look like winged serpents of immense size. Cherubim are the gentlest Chour, but also the most stubborn protectors, as their nature is guardianship. In their natural forms, they resemble winged beasts or sphinx-like crossbreeds. Ofanim are, quote, "celestial Easy Riders" whose nature is movement. In their natural form, they are large rotating wheels of fire. Elohim are angels of balance and judgment, with a resonance for emotion. In their natural form, they appear as beings of pure light. Malakim are angelic warriors, whose nature is honor. No Malakite has ever Fallen. In their natural form, they appear as shadowy figures with black wings. Kyriotates are able to split themselves among many physical forms, as their nature is multiplicity. Their natural forms are mad, ever-shifting clouds of eyes and limbs. Finally there are Mercurians, closest to human, whose nature is interpersonal. They appear in their natural form as humans with wings and halos.

Demons come in Bands, also seven, with their own nature that'll be covered in detail later. Balseraphs are liars made, the Fallen Seraphim, who also appear as giant serpents with wings. Djinn are Fallen Cherubim, forsaking love for obsession, stalking their targets. They appear as heavily mutilated or rangy winged beasts. Calabim are Fallen Ofanim, inverting themselves to chaos and destruction, who can focus their power into an entropic field. They appear as kind of stereotypical demons. Habbalah are Fallen Elohim, controllers of emotions but under their sway. They still believe themselves to be angels, every one of them, using their power to tempt people so that they may overcome adversity. (In reality, they just break people.) Lilim are not Fallen angels, but creations of Lilith, whose resonance is for desire. They sense what you want and give it to you - and so they hook your soul. Shedim are Fallen Kyriotates, creatures of corruption and body thieves who appear as masses of insane, ever-shifting eyes and limbs. Last are Impudites, the most human demons. They love humanity - and steal power from them, like vampires. They appear as humans with horns and pointy tails.

We'll cover the Superiors later, so on to stats! Every character is made of Forces - Corporeal, Ethereal and Celestial. You can have between 1 and 6 of each. Corporeal Forces determine how well you interact with the physical world, and their corresponding stats are Strength and Agility. Ethereal Forces determine how powerful your mind is - by the way, we're Cartesian here, your mind and body are entirely separate. The more Ethereal Forces you have, the smarter you are, and the corresponding stats are Intelligence and Precision. Celestial Forces determine the strength of your soul, controlling your ability to interact with the Symphony. Remnants have none of these, and thus are unable to even interact with Heaven or Hell. The corresponding stats are Will and Perception.

Each Force you have gives 4 points to spend on its two stats, which range from 1 to 12. You can have no more than 6 Forces of any one type, giving you 24 points to spend - 12 in both stats. Celestials start with 9 Forces and Soldiers/Undead start with 6. You also get 4 times your total Forces in Character Points to spend on various resources - skills, Songs, gear and more. We'll cover all those later. Every celestial also begins play with one free Attunement, determined by the confluence of their Choir/Band and Superior, which gives them an ability. These are not balanced against each other in the slightest. You can also buy Servitor Attunements (general abilities offered by your Superior) for 10 CP each. You can also get Servitor Attunements from other Superiors...if your boss is okay with it, and only after chargen.

So, how do dice work? You use the d666 most of the time. Really. All dice used in this game are d6s. 1d means 1d6, 2d is 2d6, 1d+2 is 1d6+2, etc. But the d666 is your most common roll: you roll 2d6 and add them together, hoping to roll under the target number. You roll a third d6 to get the check digit, which determines how well you succeeded or failed. That's right - how hard you succeed or fail is determined entirely randomly, with only the barest relation to your actual abilities. Typically, the TN you are rolling under is one of your stats, or a stat plus a skill. And yes, it is entirely possible to end up with, at chargen, a stat+skill of 12 or higher, making you nearly incapable of failing those rolls. The GM will not be lowering your TN much, either - -2 is the modifier for "very tough" challenges and the highest suggested negative modifier. You can choose to reduce the TN by 1 as well, to increase the check digit by 1, succeed or fail, or vice versa. If your TN is over 12, you add an amount to the check digit equal to however much it's over 12. Basically: if the TN is 12, you can't fail and are rolling just for the check digit...almost.

What about if it's an action someone else is contesting, like trying to wrestle someone? You both roll as above. If both sides fail, nothing happens - just keep struggling. If one succeeds and the other fails, the successful roller wins. If both succeed, higher check digit wins. If they're the same, it's a draw and nothing happens. But what did I mean before about almost? Interventions. Any time a character rolls an unmodified, natural 666 or 111, an Intervention happens. On a 111, the Holy Spirit does something, which is good for angels and bad for demons. 666 means Lucifer intervenes, good for demons and bad for angels. Modifiers are ignored for Interventions. The more important the roll, the more dramatic the Intervention - for good or bad, depending on who rolls it. Anyone can roll an Intervention, not just angels or demons, too.

Okay, now, Resources. These are what you spend your CP on, and they come in 6 types: Artifacts, Roles, Servants, Skills, Songs and Vessels. You can also take Discords to gain more CP. CP are earned when the GM gives them to you. Artifacts are physical items bought with CP, and typically, these objects will be special in some way - celestials just don't care that much about normal objects. Typically, these will be physical artifacts that do something, ethereal talismans that improve your skills or celestial relics and reliquaries that store Essence (your magical fuel) or perform Songs. Most artifacts can be used by anyone, though some can only be used by certain types of people. However, whoever paid CP for one is attuned to it, able to roll against its level plus their total Forces of the same type as the artifact to detect its current location.



Corporeal Artifacts are specifically those objects that you never want to worry about having to find in play. Only celestials can take them - humans just get normal objects. They cost their level in CP, and the only benefit you get is, well, the higher level, the easier they are for you to track. Ethereal Artifacts, or talismans, cost double their level, or more if they have special powers, and add their level to a specific skill for the user. So an ethereal gun at level 3 would give you +3 to Weapon (Pistol) when firing it. Celestial ARtifacts are either relics or reliquaries, and both cost three times their level in CP. Relics contain Songs, sometimes Songs only found in that relic, though most just use normal Songs. The TN to use a relic is its level plus your appropriate Forces for the Song, so the Song of Celestial Healing at level 3 would be 3 plus your Cerlestial Forces. You don't have to know the Song, but must be capable of learning it, so Soldiers can only use relics containing Corporeal Songs and mundane humans can't use 'em at all. Relics can hold up to their level in Essence to fuel the song, or however much the Song can use at max, whichever is lower. You have to pay any difference it can't. Reliquaries, on the other hand, hold their level in Essence, and anyone able to use Essence can move it in or out of the reliquary. Reliquaries also regenerate 1 Essence each day - at sunrise for divine ones, sunset for infernal.

Next time: Roles, Servants and Skills

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rand Brittain posted:

Marauders work perfectly as mages who have completely given up on trying to get along as a person in the world and have just stopped recognizing outside input, resulting in a personal reality bubble where things work according to their crazy rules and other people don't get to have a say. That makes them the deep end of "mages reject your reality and substitute their own," and you'd get your mint-julep Southern Heritage marauders, your Galtian marauders, or whatever.

They'd be the danger threshold that mages are always worried about stepping over when they get fed up with Paradox.

In practice they've always been fishmalks.

I tend to agree with this interpretation. Quiet being a magical version of insanity works, and being a Mage really really lends itself to dangerous solipsism. Nothing and nobody exist except as pawns in my game! See how my powers let me validate my awful ideas!. In some ways it sounds like Marauder Quiet is what happens when a mage loses empathy entirely--who cares if Paradox strikes down the innocent? They don't matter. They aren't real. Mage doesn't really have a morality track like Humanity or whatever IIRC? But as much as I hate that mechanic generally it does read a bit like a character who has fallen below 2 on the little boxes.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

On another note, people said some things earlier about editing and how RPGs tend to not get it. I'm wondering what the right thread would be for a discussion on editing in RPGs and how to do it right and why most games don't.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

Rand Brittain posted:

On another note, people said some things earlier about editing and how RPGs tend to not get it. I'm wondering what the right thread would be for a discussion on editing in RPGs and how to do it right and why most games don't.

Maybe the TG Industry thread?

Personally I end up rewriting a lot of rules either in my head or literally. Sometimes it's purely for the retention factor, but a lot of times it's because the rules aren't organized well, or they're mixed in with fluff, or they're not stated very clearly, or they're not written in an order cognizant of which ones are going to be used the most.

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"



Rand Brittain posted:

On another note, people said some things earlier about editing and how RPGs tend to not get it. I'm wondering what the right thread would be for a discussion on editing in RPGs and how to do it right and why most games don't.

Hey, you're the one with firsthand experience, why not make your own? Blackjack and hookers optional, but always appreciated.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Thesaurasaurus posted:

Hey, you're the one with firsthand experience, why not make your own? Blackjack and hookers optional, but always appreciated.

I suppose I might as well!

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


I always saw Marauders as the natural endpoint of the Awakened, and of my general life philosophy. I like to see the world in mythic/supernatural terms overlaid on the real world, even though I know that's all bullshit - but it's adapting a stance or POV that makes things more interesting. Mages used their Awakened Wills to impose their view of reality on the world, but they still make some concessions to the Consensus. Marauders are the truly Awakened, who actually get to live in their own reality 24/7 (or however time works in their bubble). In my preferred version of Ascension, EVERYONE becomes a 'Marauder', able to live in their own subjective reality.

Edit: this, basically:

occamsnailfile posted:

I tend to agree with this interpretation. Quiet being a magical version of insanity works, and being a Mage really really lends itself to dangerous solipsism. Nothing and nobody exist except as pawns in my game! See how my powers let me validate my awful ideas!. In some ways it sounds like Marauder Quiet is what happens when a mage loses empathy entirely--who cares if Paradox strikes down the innocent? They don't matter. They aren't real. Mage doesn't really have a morality track like Humanity or whatever IIRC? But as much as I hate that mechanic generally it does read a bit like a character who has fallen below 2 on the little boxes.



I guess Google Glass is the Technocracy version of the same idea.

I really want to play Hoodoo Blues - I found some weird Vampire bloodline that was into crocodiles and swamps and wanted to make a Nick Cave style Southern Gothic game out of them.

Is In Nominae the RPG that's like the old show GvsE, just wisecracking Angels and Devils?

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Jan 14, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


PurpleXVI posted:

On the other hand, just making it a Magical Badguy Disease kind of ruins it. I mean, having it be mental illness combined with being Awakened isn't actually a bad idea, if handled by anyone who's less of a retard than Brucato.

Honestly I'm not sure it adds much to a game to worry about being accurate to mental illness unless it's a focus. People who know enough and want to play with a mental illness can, but unless you're aiming to make it a central point of the game, that A) you're not likely to do it justice, and B) getting into the nitty gritty of it probably isn't any more productive than, say, tracking individual bone fractures. That's not to excuse insensitivity or sloppy mechanics, both of which exist in spades, but I don't think it's a subject worth focusing on unless you know you can do it right and it really matters to your game, and that's a slender intersection of game design.

Of course, AFAIK Awakened just dodges this whole question for the most part by excising the Marauders entirely, which is probably the most elegant solution.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Hoodoo Blues looks neat and I like how all of the classes so far hew to actual folklore and tales, especially Hags. Though I might not WANT to play as a Hag, it's neat nevertheless and I like how they're going for shades of grey. Plus I like how there's people who are just like "nah Satan just take the loving soul and load my rear end up with magic" "Are you sure? Traditionally, one negotiates." "Man I don't give a gently caress, I'm not using the loving thing." and all the other negotiations in between. The Devil is like a wizard giving out shotguns to anyone who says hi and I love it.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Of course, AFAIK Awakened just dodges this whole question for the most part by excising the Marauders entirely, which is probably the most elegant solution.

The most elegant, yes, but it seems like a shame. The Marauders are actually some of the more interesting and original opponents in Mage. Otherwise you've got other Mages, the generic Cthulhus and other bad super naturals, and Nephandi, which are just Chaotic Evil Mages. Marauders actually do something none of the others do, mechanically, by having their own little Unreality Zone around them.

You also don't need a gritty and perfect simulation of mental illness for it to not be insulting or creepy, just don't treat them like Orcs or Fishmalks and you're golden, giving you some unique opponents with some unique roleplaying opportunities.

Flavivirus
Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Honestly I'm not sure it adds much to a game to worry about being accurate to mental illness unless it's a focus. People who know enough and want to play with a mental illness can, but unless you're aiming to make it a central point of the game, that A) you're not likely to do it justice, and B) getting into the nitty gritty of it probably isn't any more productive than, say, tracking individual bone fractures. That's not to excuse insensitivity or sloppy mechanics, both of which exist in spades, but I don't think it's a subject worth focusing on unless you know you can do it right and it really matters to your game, and that's a slender intersection of game design.

Of course, AFAIK Awakened just dodges this whole question for the most part by excising the Marauders entirely, which is probably the most elegant solution.

Not quite - there's the Mad, although they only really got detailed in The Left Hand Path, the last book released. Essentially they're mages whose soul has fragmented, and now the individual parts roam abroad of the Mage working magic to alter people and places to the mage's vice and virtue.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



Chapter 6: Creating the Character

M20 posted:

In the immortal words of Rob Zombie, mages are “more human than human,”

It's just one of the most influential and celebrated sci-fi cult classics ever to have been made. :allears:

Character creation in Mage: the Ascension follows the dice pool form popularised by White Wolf and West End Games, to the surprise of nobody. Characters have Traits, which are rated numerically in 'dots'. The book says Traits usually range from 1-5, but the most common range is actually 0-5. Some Traits can exceed 5 dots, and some special Traits like Willpower are on a 0-10 scale. 0 in a Trait is supposed to mean the total absence of the Trait, 6+ usually implies superhuman levels of the Trait. Most people have 1-3 dots in Traits called Attributes and 0-3 dots in Traits called Abilities. Anything from 2-4 dots is supposed to represent professional levels in the Trait, or average to exceptional capability. There's not much granularity here; if you're "good" (3 dots) at something, the next step up is "exceptional" (4 dots) followed by "world class" (5 dots).

There's some genuinely useful advice for character generation; role playing gamesstorytelling games are collaborative, so characters should be designed to enable cooperation. They should also have in-universe reasons for sticking together, so too diverse characters may not be a good idea. There's a list of examples of how diverse characters can be, finishing with a list of religions: "Your mage could be Sunni Muslim, Roman Catholic, a Wiccan neopagan, or even an atheist." Apparently playing an atheist is pretty special! All this advice will then be repeated in Part I: Creating Your Character, which is a tremendous waste of space.

M20 characters have a long list of Traits. Note that these are all capital-T Traits, which the book has told us are rated numerically in dots, usually 1-5:
  • Name
  • Player
  • Chronicle
  • Nature
  • Demeanor
  • Essence
  • Affiliation
  • Sect
  • Concept
  • Attributes
  • Abilities
  • Spheres
  • Backgrounds
  • Other Abilities
  • Arete
  • Willpower
  • Quintessence/Paradox
  • Health
  • Experience

Personally I think my character should have a 3-dot name and play in a 2-dot Chronicle.

And then we get my un-favourite sidebar:

M20 posted:

And between the old associations of mystic power and the new freedom to transcend gender roles without getting burnt at the stake for it, the idea of gender identity is more fluid – and more magickal – than ever before. Especially in queer, polyamorous, transhumanist, neotribal, and psychedelic cultures, it’s often more unusual to be conventionally “straight” than it is to hold, embrace, and enjoy the hell out of an identity outside the traditional polarities.

Trans people are magickal! Real-world trans people are real-world magickal, even! gently caress you, Brucato. Trans identities exist for the trans people, not to validate esoteric world-views. It's also worth noting that every time Brucato mentions trans identities, he's talking about non-binary ones; transgender is almost always mentioned in the context of being a third gender, or transcending the concept of gender altogether, rather than binary trans people. The reasons this is problematic are long, complicated, and controversial, but in short it is seen by some[weasel word]/many[who?] as a form of transmisogyny that marginalizes trans women - already one of the most marginalized groups there is. Talking about this kind of stuff requires tact and understanding, and often compassion, which are qualities I have so far failed to find in this book.

There's a lot of the usual character-generation advice here; what does your character look like, what is their personality like, what's their background, what's their motivation, etc. Among the more useful questions posed is what the mage's mundane identity is - it's my experience that such a detail is easy to forget all about when making a character for occult and arcane adventures. The book then suggests that the ST should run an introductory adventure for each character in their game, the prelude, detailing how they became a mage. This has been advice in pretty much every WoD game ever published as far as I'm aware, and while I can see the utility and strength of such a thing, I also see it as very difficult to pull off; a regular gaming session is a social get-together between friends getting up to ridiculous poo poo. A prelude is a one-on-one session involving a far more rigid structure, where character-decisions are almost a moot point, because the ending of the prelude is pre-determined. I see it as a major shift in tone and social context. Now imagine being an ST and having to run as many preludes as you have players, and it may take up a whole month of tight schedules just to get the game off the ground. Nobody in my circles actually run preludes, but perhaps that's just my circles.

Also, you should prepare a highly detailed backstory of your character. Describe, please, your character's entire extended family and social circle from childhood to the present. Describe in detail all your closest childhood friends. Make up a mentor who taught your character magick. Write down the details of how you joined the faction you're a member of. Sure, it's optional but recommended, but all of this is a lot of work perhaps unnecessary for the core book of how to play Kung Fu mages punching The Man in his robot face. It's mostly generic content, can be generally assumed known to anyone who plays RPGs, and is the kind of content that probably can be relegated without fear to a Player's Handbook of some kind. There's four pages of this stuff! (And, Lethe, some of it is pretentious. Not only do you have to answer all these questions about your character, but you're also supposed to put a lot of thought into how this character reflects some aspect of yourself. I just want to play a Kung Fu mage, not go soul-searching in the real world!)

Essences/Eidolons
OK, so, mages have these things called Avatars that are a kind of internal metaphor for their magickal enlightenment and... stuff. Different people have different kinds of Avatars - some have people, some have animal companions, some have horrible monsters, some have genius loci, etc. - who do... stuff. I'm not entirely sure what they do - they're supposed to help you get more dots in your Arete Trait so you can cast more magic, by going on Seekings with you, which are this intensely personal experience of learning how to use higher Arete. Presumably your ST is supposed to schedule a private RPG session just to roleplay out the Seeking, or something.

Avatars can have one of five types of Essences (Technocrats call them Eidolons) which is your flavour of Avatar. It appears to have no mechanical effect on the game what your character's Essence is, but you can chose between Dynamic, Pattern, Primordial and Questing. You're not allowed to chose Infinite, almost guaranteeing that someone will want to play this forbidden fruit. Your Avatar's Essence also describes your character's personality, like an online personality test; Dynamic Avatars like to do crazy things and party! Pattern Avatars value stability and order. Primordial Avatars are mysterious and deep. Questing Avatars like travel and seeing new things. If you're a Technocrat with a Primordial Eidolon, you don't really believe in the scientific paradigm and understand that the universe can never truly be understood, because ha ha Technocrats are so stupid for believing in science ha ha. :jerkbag:

Nature and Demeanor
In addition to your Essence, you also have Nature and Demeanor Traits to describe your character. Nature is what your personality is really like, while Demeanor is what you present yourself as. Acting in line with your Nature lets you beg the ST to give you back Willpower points. Acting in line with your Demeanor seems to have no mechanical effect. It's a mechanism that encourages playing in character, which generally I'm a fan of but Nature and Demeanor in WoD games always felt clunky to me; long lists of personality archetypes that have ill-fitting descriptions and make you fulfil strange criteria for small mechanical benefits.

Some of them are actively unhelpful to party cohesion. The Loner only regains Willpower when they act alone. The Monster regains WIllpower for doing truly evil things. Others are niche and bizarre. The Mad Scientist is only for technomancers, and they get back Willpower for making up new innovations on the edge of their paradigm. Since what you can and can't do with a technomagick paradigm is mostly a self-imposed limit and you can simply just make up some technobabble to pretend you circumvented it, this is basically free Willpower and doesn't really encourage roleplaying beyond "I technobabbled the technobabble radically, because I am a mad scientist" - and you're playing a mad scientist, this is literally everything you do anyway. Some are simply too easy. The Survivor regains Willpower for surviving adversity through a refusal to give in, which is just another way of saying "be a player character".

Attributes
Like all WoD games, M20 has the usual nine Attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Charisma, Manipulation, Appearance, Perception, Intelligence, and Wits. They start at 1 dot, and starting player characters get 15 extra dots to divide among these. They're divided into three categories; Physical, Mental, and Social, and the way it works is that you prioritize these according to how many of your 15 dots you want in each category. In the least prioritized category, you have just enough dots to be strictly average. Anything else requires making sacrifices.

Strength gives each dot a rating in weight that can be lifted. I happen to have the lifting strength percentiles for US Air Force recruits in 1982 available for comparison, and the ranges are not particularly good. A single dot in Strength lets you lift 40 lbs - equivalent to a 1th Percentile woman and off the scale for men. 2 dots is 100 lbs, about right for the average person. 3 dots is 250 lbs, the 99.99th percentile of men, by extrapolation. There's not much space here for differentiation between characters; a single dot is the difference between extremes.

Charisma and Appearance both cover the same aspect; making people like or notice you through generally just being around. Appearance also has people compliment you for looking like a model at 3 dots, while they only give you their phone numbers at 4 dots. Apparently it's easier to get a gig as a model than it is to trawl bars for phone numbers. There's also no mid-point between "model" and "average"; you can't just be good-looking.

Three dots of Wits makes you "Ms./ Mr. Multi-task.", because all that talk about non-binary identities was just for show. M20 otherwise observes strict gender binaries.

The huge ranges and very low fidelity of the dot-ratings become very noticeable when trying to make a character. Sure, player characters are sometimes supposed to be exceptional, but the most average character you can make will still have 1 Exceptional, 4 Good, and 4 Average ratings - which means you have four Attributes that represents accomplishments like being the strongest person in a town, or getting work as a model.

Abilities
These are more specialized competencies. You add your dots in an Ability to your dots in an Attribute to figure out how many dice you roll in your dice pool, as is usual in these systems. Like a lot of 90's games, the WoD games had a lot of skill bloat, so there's a lot of skills with marginal uses. Each Ability has a listed group of people who might have the Ability, and a list of suggest Specialities. Specialities give you bonuses on your dice roll when they apply. Some of them are hillarious.

Alertness: This is Perception: the Ability
Art
Athletics
Awareness: This is another Perception: the Ability, with the addendum that you can use Awareness to spot supernatural things.
Brawl: The skill of unskilled unarmed fighting. Specialities include Brawl (Peaceful Warrior), which I have no idea what is supposed to do.
Empathy: Generic magical empathy. At 2 dots, people use you as a crying shoulder, because being compassionate requires professional-level competencies. Specialities include Empathy ("I Know What You Need"), as well as Empathy (Subtle Cues), a.k.a. Empathy (Empathy), and Empathy (Interpersonal Psychology), a.k.a. Empathy (Empathy)
Expression
Intimidation: The descriptions for this are hilarious:
  • Novice: Playground terror.
  • Practiced: Clique leader.
  • Skillful: Professional dominant.
  • Expert: Alpha wolf.
  • Master: Queen or king of all you survey.
Practiced, Expert, and Master are examples of leadership, not intimidating people. Professional dominants... that's more a kind of Expression than actual intimidation. The Ability include not one but two BDSM-based Specialities: Intimidation (BDSM) and Intimidation (Topping From Below). The last one isn't even about scaring people...
Leadership
Streetwise
Subterfuge: The Speciality Subterfuge (Sexual Manipulation) exists.
Crafts
Drive: Is there ever any reason, if you want a Drive speciality, to not pick Drive (Bad Conditions)? I mean, when else are you going to roll for car-driving?
Etiquette: You need this at 1 dot to not embarrass yourself at a fine restaurant. I think this makes a fine complement to the Getting Dressed and Walking Across A Floor skills.
Firearms: Pissed-Off Crazy People have this skill, as opposed to simple being pissed-off crazy people with guns.
Martial Arts: The skill of skilled unarmed fighting. Different styles are Specialities. Boxing, that unrefined Western martial art, is however a Brawl speciality. The Most Unlikely People have this skill.
Meditation: "In game terms, the Meditation Skill can help your character make up for lost sleep, hibernate, gain artistic or mystical insights, unravel patterns or enigmas, or refresh your Quintessence rating"
Melee: The skill of skilled and unskilled armed fighting.
Research: First, I wish to state that I have, for all practical purposes, have not watched a single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then I want you to keep in mind that the dot ratings are supposed to provide context for what each rating means. Then I want you to look at the following description for this skill from the book:
  • Novice: Buffy
  • Practiced: Anya
  • Skillful: Willow
  • Expert: Giles
  • Master: Fred
Stealth: Among its specialities are Stealth (Moving Silently)
Survival
Technology The skill of using modern technology. If you forget to put a dot in this, you can't use TV remotes or electric blenders.
Academics: Having an education. If you don't pick the first dot, you didn't attend primary school.
Computer
Cosmology: Understanding otherworlds.
Enigmas: Solving puzzles.
  • Student: Zen koans do not piss you off
  • Scholar: “You were not put here to ‘Get it,’ Mr. Burton.” (This is probably a reference to some pop-culture thing I haven't seen, because gently caress people who don't have your exact cultural frame of reference, amright?)
  • Professor: You clap with one hand inside Schrödinger’s box. (What does this even mean?)
Esoterica: Like Occult, but for using the occult instead of knowing about it. If your character ever skimmed a few New Age books, you should pay for a dot of this skill.
Investigation: Has Investigation (Spotting Clues) as a Speciality.
Law: Law (Bribery)
Medicine: Want to know how to do basic First Aid and CPR? That's 1 dot. Pay up. Also, hilariously, you can get Medicine (Alternative Medicine). And Medicine ("Live drat you - LIVE!"). I get the distinct impression Brucato was very inspired by FATE Aspects when writing the Specialities.
Occult: Like Esoterica, but knowing about the esoteric instead of using it. Those New Age books you skimmed to get a dot in Esoterica? If you still have them on your shelves, you have to pay for the first dot of Occult. Specialities include Occult (Moral Panic), Occult (Satanic Folklore), Occult (Pop-Culture Satanism), and Occult (Actual Satanism).
Politics: This one has a very long list of Specialities. Politics (Blogosphere)? Politics (Anonymous)? Politics (Legal Codes), in case you though you could get away with just Law? I've seen a system like this before, with pages upon pages of inter-related skills with lots of high-fidelity specialities. It was called GURPS, and didn't require me to buy three different specialities to know about Satanism.
Science: Having 1 dot in Academics gives you a high school education. Having 1 dot in Science gives you a high school science education that you understand. Having 2 dots in Science gives you an advanced science education and an understanding of the concepts of your scientific field. Having 3 dots of Academics gives you an advanced education. There's some significant overlap here! Like in the Specialities: Science (Biology), Science (Genetics), Science (Forensic Pathology) in case you thought you could get away with Invesitgation (Forensics)... Science (Psychology) and Science (Biopsychology)...

There are also Secondary Abilities, because the preceding list wasn't long enough already!
Animal Kinship
Blatancy: The skill of convincing people that weird stuff happening is perfectly normal.
Carousing: Partying definitely needs its own skill. It also needs specialities, like Carousing (Teenage Mayhem) and Carousing (Overcoming Vows).
Do: The magickal martial art of the Akashics.
Flying: Unassisted flying.
High Ritual: A skill just for casting High Ritual Magick. Party planners have this skill.
Lucid Dreaming
Seduction: Specialities include Raw Sex, Appealing to Kinks, Topping from Below, and Crude But Effective.
Acrobatics
Archery: Is there any reason not to get Archery (Killing Shots) if you're going to shoot people with a bow anyway?
BioTech: Creating and repairing the biological technology of the Technocracy
Energy Weapons: What, did you think that knowing how to fire a gun with Firearms would let you fire a laser pistol?
Hypertech: Understanding how hypertech works. You need 3 dots to understand hypertech from outside your paradigm.
Jetpack: Flying with a jetpack
Riding
Torture: The skill of torturing people. I... I'll just copy the skill ratings:
  • Skillful: Covert ops interogator
  • Expert: Elite pro dom.
  • Master: Nazi doctor, Spanish Inquisitor, or serial killer
Because of course professional dominants - people who engage in mostly playful torture with willing subjects - know more about torture than covert ops interrogators, and serial killers are even more skilled than that, despite just being normal people with a need to kill. Oh, and Torture (Sexplay) is a valid speciality, because M20 needs two skills and numerous specialities just to represent being into BDSM.
Area Knowledge: Why yes you do need to buy this at 2 or 3 dots to represent having lived somewhere and left the house occasionally.
Belief Systems: Having academic knowledge of what belief systems are. Not a speciality of Academics
Cryptography: It's own skill, as opposed to being part of Science (Mathematics)
Demolitions: Why are Demolitions (IEDs) and Demolitions (Improvised Materials) separate specialities? What does Demolitions("Watch This!") even do?
Finance: It's own skill, and not an Academics-speciality. Also, Finance (Law), because nobody wants to actually buy Law. I imagine a character who has both Law (Finance) and Finance (Law) now.
Lore: Knowing about vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night. What, did you think that Occult or Esoterica might be used for that? Silly you.
Media: Media (Media Law). Also, if you studied Mass Communications at university, don't forget to buy a dot of this in addition to Academics 2.
Poisons

This is a clear sign of skill bloat. It makes me think of GURPS, but at the same time it doesn't have GURPS' wholehearted devotion to having skills for everything. Instead M20 just has a bizarre collection of overlapping and painfully narrow skills. If you want to handle a horse you need to buy Animal Kinship and Riding. Flying with a jetpack and flying with a magical broom or wings are two separate skills. Shooting a laser pistol is requires Energy Weapons, not Firearms. Skilled and unskilled fighting are two separate skills - and magickal martial arts a third. You need to buy a plethora of skills - one of them categorized as a Secondary and thus supposedly niche - to represent just being a normal person. There's three Specialities covering different forms of Satanism. Skill descriptions are often useless - I have no frame of reference for the Research skill, because Brucato expects me to have watched a TV-show that came out when I was five years old. The sheer number of specialities devoted to practicing BDSM and/or playing a Pro Dom seem unnecessary.

Phew! This chapter is long - I'll break it off here and do the rest later.

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 12:43 on Jan 14, 2016

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Ugh, I had actually forgotten how bad the skill bloat got in oWoD. Just wait until we get to backgrounds...

Someone said the 20th Anniversary books were the distillation of each lines' essence. Mage's essence is that pig creature that got beamed up inside out in Galaxy Quest.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




LatwPIAT posted:

Research: First, I wish to state that I have, for all practical purposes, have not watched a single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then I want you to keep in mind that the dot ratings are supposed to provide context for what each rating means. Then I want you to look at the following description for this skill from the book:
Novice: Buffy
Practiced: Anya
Skillful: Willow
Expert: Giles
Master: Fred

Haha holy poo poo.

That skill bloat though, wow. It's even worse when you compile it into a single book. M20 seems markedly different from the other anniversary editions in this way. Sure, V20 and W20 still have cruft all over, but I know at least some of the work behind them was "hey, let's make this creaky old game more playable." It feels like M20 didn't even think of trying any of that.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

quote:

Scholar: “You were not put here to ‘Get it,’ Mr. Burton.” (This is probably a reference to some pop-culture thing I haven't seen, because gently caress people who don't have your exact cultural frame of reference, amright?)

Big Trouble in Little China, yeah. Nothing like your capsule examples requiring a trip to the Google.

Jesus Christ. I don't know what kind of pro-dommes or alt communities Brucato hangs out with, but the more of this poo poo that comes out, the more accurate that nasty little plop about his Black Dog alter ego seems.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 13:02 on Jan 14, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: Know your Role

A Role is your place in human society when you're a celestial. When you act within the bounds of your Role, you don't unbalance the Symphony as much. Humans, of course, don't need Roles - they're already part of the corporeal Symphony. Each Role is linked to a human vessel - while a vessel could be an animal, an animal can't have a role, as animals can't have a part in human society. (Even Lassie.) Now, it doesn't cost any points to just pretend to be a cop - but if you have a cop Role, you actually have paperwork and reality pretending you're a cio, too. Roles have a Status, which determines how important it is in society and gives a bonus to reactions, and a Level, which determines how high Status can be, and how real the role is to the world. (Humans get Status 1 free and can buy levels of Status for 2 points per level. Status 1 is janitors, status 3 is accountants, status 6 is executives.) A Role costs (level*status)/2, rounding up. Level 1 roles are largely faceless - the folks you see as you pass them in the supermarket - while level 6 is as real as it's possible to be as a person. You do need to live out your Role in everday life to maintain the protection it offers you from disturbing the Symphony, or to raise its level. The GM is ordered not to allow Roles to be increased in level unless well-roleplayed. Anyway, when you would do something that would normally cause Disturbance (covered later), the GM can roll against your Role level plus your Corporeal Forces, if it'd be an action your Role might normally do (a PI who gets spotted and gets in a car chase which ends in someone's death, say). Succeed and you cause no Disturbance. Roles also give you a skill of Knowledge (How to be this Role) at a level equal to the Role's level.

Servants are mortals that serve you and have their own character sheets, made by standard character generation. They have a Level and a Class. Level determines how willing they are to serve when asked to do something they don't want - you roll their Will minus their level, and if they fail, they do it. If they resist, you can't ask again for (10-level) minutes. Class determines how powerful they are, with class 1 being a 4-Force Zombi or loyal pet animal, 2 being a Reliever, Imp or Gremlin with 4 Forces (more on them later), 3 being one of the above but with the Familiar powers described later or a human with 4 Forces, 4 being a 5-Force human or vampire, 5 being a 6-Force Soldier or Undead or a 5-Force human with 20 bonus XP, and 6 being a 7-Force Soldier or Undead. Cost is (Class*Level)/2. If your servant dies, your Superior will replace it at the start of the next adventure with one of the same value, unless yuur Superior thinks you lost them foolishly, in which case you have to find your own.

Skills are things you know how to do without magic. If you don't have a skill and try to do it anyway, you roll using its pertinent stat, bu subtract the Default for each skill from the TN. Skills are the only things you can default on. They cost 1 CP per level.

Sidebar: Essence for luck. You can spend Essence to increase the TN of any roll, 1 for 1. Even mortals can do this, and indeed, when a mundane mortal really wants something, they will automatically spend all of their Essence at once to do it, with the GM deciding when this happens. Soldiers and Undead learn to spend Essence a point at a time, at will. When celesials use Essence to buff a roll, something otherworldly happens - the ringing of bells, a flash of flame, the smell of incense - at the GM's discretion.

Songs are essentially miracles. They alter the Symphony directly, costing 1 CP per level, and unless a Song notes otherwise, any celestial can learn any Song, while Soldiers and Undead can learn only Corporeal Songs. Songs require Essence to use, and the more Essence you spend on them, generally, the more potent they are...but if you fail, the Essence is still spent. Your TN for a Song is its level plus your Forces in its realm, so your rolls are often quite low for them. If you know two Songs of the same type but in different realms (Celestial and Ethereal Healing, say) you get +1 to the check digit on success, and if you know all three Songs of a type, you get +2 to the check digit on a success. Depending on the level you have the Song at, it takes different amoutns of physical ritual. At level 1, you need hand motions and vocal performance, taking effect the same round youy use it. At level 2, you need either physical or verbal ritual but not both. At level 3-4, you can use the rituals for same-round effect or invoke it purely mentally to have it take effect next round. At level 5-6, you can get same-round effect with purely mental ritual. Relics, incidentally, follow the same rules here. You can take extra time for a bonus to the Song, as long as you use both singing and physical motion to invoke it. You may limit a Song's effects in length when you invoke it, and can generally turn it off with a simple Will roll.

Vessels are bodies worn by celestials. Most are human, but it's possible to make animal vessels, or even plants, rocks or energy. Shedim and Kyriotates, as a note, cannot have vessels at all without special attunements to allow it - they possess mortal bodies instead. Vessels cost 3 points per level, plus any Charisma added. The higher a vessel's level, the more damage it can take. Roles are attached to vessels, and if you die publically, your Role is lost, too. If you can conceal your vessel loss and replace it fast enough with an identical one, the Role stays around. Humans do not need a vessel, but instead have effective vessel level of their Corporeal Forces, plus up to two levels of Toughness at 4 CP per level, to determine their HP, and can buy Charisma as normal. You can have up to 3 levels of Charisma at 2 CP per level, which gives a bonus on reaction rolls. You can also take negative Charisma, getting 2 CP per level, up to 2 levels worth, for a reaction penalty...but if it's a vessel, you can only use those points to improve the vessel.

Sidebar: A vessel looks like a normal human body, but isn't. Vessels do not require food, water or sleep, though you can use any of those if you want. Vessels do not age unless you want them to. (Though if you know the Celestial Song of Entropy, you can use it to age up or age down your Vessel at will.) Vessels heal faster than normal bodies, but they do still require air to breathe. They have belly buttons, and their Strength is yours - so yeah, a child vessel with an 8-Strength angel can beat a Strength 4 demon in a bodybuilder vessel. Kyriotates and Shedim, likewise, overwrite the Strength and Agility of their hosts. Those possessed by a Kyriotate or Shedim do not need food, water or sleep while possessed. Animal vessels can talk, but are otherwise apparently normal animals. Vessels are fully equipped to have sex, as well. Celestials may swap between vessels with a point of Essence, apparently shapeshifting over the course of a round, if they have multiple vessels.

Discord is a flaw in your interaction with the Symphony. It has a level like any Resource, 1-6, and each level gives you 3 CP to spend. In play, you may also convert 3 notes of Dissonance at any time into 1 level of Discord, chosen by the GM. This is one-way - and that Discord cannot be removed except via a Superior's help. Corporeal Discord affects you physically, sometimes reducing your stats or how people react to you. The GM can, at any point, reduce any human's reaction to you with a penalty equal to your Corporeal Discord level. Angels double the penalty, but demons do not have any reaction penalty at all - they ignore Corporeal Discord in others, mostly. Ethereal Discord causes emotional urges, which can be suppressed with a Will roll that's harder the higher the Discord level is. Some Etheral Discord makes dissonance easier to acquire. Celestial Discord, similarly, can be suppressed...but generally causes other problems.

Now, we finally get told what Essence is: it's the energy of the universe. It can be used for all kinds of things, but spending Essence as a celestial can be sensed by other celestials, even after you leave. Your max Essence is your total Forces - so 9 for most starting celestials. If you try to hold more than that, it just dissipates. Celestials can freely transfer Essence between each other, using it as currency, but cannot spend Essence fr each other. Angels regain 1 Essence each sunrise, and demons and undead regain 1 each sunset. Spirits regain 1 Essence per day, at sunrise for angelic spirits, sunset for demonic ones and midnight for any others. Soldiers, humans and animals get 1 Essence at noon, and may also regain 1 Essence any time they succeed at a skill roll using a skill they know at level 6. Angels and demons must perform Rites to regain more Essence. Rites are rituals empowering their Superior's Word (or, if they are Wordbound, their own Word). Outcasts and Renegades, however, lose access to Superior Rites.

Next time: How the world works.

Serf
May 5, 2011




LatwPIAT posted:

[*] Scholar: “You were not put here to ‘Get it,’ Mr. Burton.” (This is probably a reference to some pop-culture thing I haven't seen, because gently caress people who don't have your exact cultural frame of reference, amright?)

I'll admit that I laughed at this because I love Big Trouble in Little China. But this and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff really has no place in the book. The latter would be cute if there was a Buffy RPG, but I don't see how it belongs in an unrelated WoD book.

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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Serf posted:

I'll admit that I laughed at this because I love Big Trouble in Little China. But this and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff really has no place in the book. The latter would be cute if there was a Buffy RPG, but I don't see how it belongs in an unrelated WoD book.

Well, they would have been timely references back when Mage first came out in the 90's. Nerd culture's moved on a bit since then.

Although technically the reprints are for people who did play the originals in the 90's, I guess...

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