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Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




RULES, PART 4

When you're having as many car chases and attempted assassinations as an NBA party is likely to get tangled with, people start to notice. Attention is bad, and it's called Heat!

All Agents start with 1 Heat, indicating that the authorities are at least nebulously aware of their existence. As they do dramatic, high-profile things, their Heat increases, from +1 (Car chase) to +5 (Assassinating a head of state). As they take precautions to keep a low profile and leave no evidence behind, Heat increases are minimized. If the enemy conspiracy has fingers in local law enforcement, Heat increases are amplified. Any incident that gets the attention of national Media gives +1 Heat. There's no upper limit to Heat, but only one event per session will result in Heat.

Once peroperation, one player rolls against current Heat, using General Abilities as they can justify it. This roll can be at the beginning of the operation (if the Director is nice) or at critical moments of failure in the middle of it (if the Director is an rear end in a top hat). If the roll fails, then the authorities will, at some point during the operation, try to interfere with the agents. SWAT raids, attempted arrests, unexpected fleets of cop cars; the actual shape of the interference is up to the Director.

Ambitious Directors can track Heat per-location; a crew may have Heat 5 in Dublin, but Heat 2 in Moscow. In Burn or Dust games, Heat rolls happen once per session, not once per operation. In Mirror games, the authorities you have Heat with may be passing their information on to a vampire conspiracy behind the scenes.

In areas where the crew has had bad run-ins with the authorities, Heat can make their lives harder in more direct ways. When working in such a place, any relevant General test (sneak past cops, break into government computers, arrange illegal activities) has its Difficulty set to the higher of the base Difficulty and your current Heat. If your roll is above the normal difficulty but below the inflated difficulty, you might still succeed, but with the cops hot on your tail. High Heat can also complicate black market sales, resulting in attempted double-crosses from your dealers.

Losing Heat
There are four ways to dial back the heat - waiting, changing jurisdictions, protection, and shifting blame.

The cops will only stay on your tail for so long, before burnout and retasking takes over. If you manage to avoid police contact for 72 hours, Heat drops by 1. Another week, -1. Another three months, -1 again.

If things get really bad, you could always just leave the country! -1 from moving between closely-associated countries or agencies (UK to Ireland), -2 for fellow EU or NATO nations, -3 for other countries, -4 for going halfway around the planet.

If running away isn't a practical solution to your problem, maybe you can try to make a deal! Use Network points to build a new Contact with the right kind of influence, then use them to make a Contact roll against current Heat. On a success, Heat drops by the margin of success. If you don't have a Contact for this, you can make a deal with an unsavory NPC instead. This often involves doing bad things that the government needs done, and if you cross these NPCs, they can raise your Heat instead. In Burn or Dust games, Contact points spent to reduce Heat are spent at 2 per 1 point of roll modifier.

If all of those things fail, you could always shift the blame to someone else! Criminology to find a suitable fall guy, Digital Intrusion to edit surveillance footage, Infiltration to plant false evidence. A frame job could be a full adventure, and the outcome is largely up to the Director - the Heat lost could vary based on the thoroughness of the frame and the integrity of the investigators.



Extended Chases
The basic chase rules are for a car chase or parkour hunt through city streets. An extended chase is one that takes place over days and crosses national borders, instead of being a matter of minutes and meters. One of these can be an entire operation.

Extended Chases combine Lead from the chase rules and Heat from the above section, into a single value Hot Lead - it starts at 7, minus their initial heat. Hot Lead increases by 1 whenever the team crosses a border undetected, or 2 if they do so in an unexpected way that throws their pursuers off their scent. If the team thrwarts their enemy in a scene - escaping in a chase, taking out a group of enemies in a combat scene, et cetera - Hot Lead increases by 1. If they're forced to change their plan by enemy action or lost assets, or if they leave too much evidence behind, Hot Lead drops by 1.

Whenever the team enters a new region, they make a Hot Lead test against a Difficulty varying by enemy influence in the new area. If they succeed, they're still one step ahead; if they fail, they're walking into an ambush, and escape routes are already being cut off. Like an ability, Hot Lead is a point pool - the party can spend their Hot Lead to improve this roll, in the process letting the enemy draw ever closer. 1 point of Hot Lead can also be spent to stop to rest and recover - you can establish a haven in the area, do some research, healing a hurt character, what have you. In Dust games, healing more than 3 Health at once costs 2 Hot Lead.

If Hot Lead reaches zero, you've been caught. The enemy knows exactly where you are, and can bring their full power to bear against you. If they manage to escape the massive gunfight that no doubt ensues, either they get +2 Hot Lead and keep running, or they get +2 Heat and the chase is over. On the other hand, if Hot Lead reaches 10, the enemy has completely lost track of their movements, and they can act freely once more.

Recovery and Improvement
Thanks to how abilities work, agents are gradually, relentlessly getting worn down over the course of an operation. Once it's over, you need to take some time to get back into fighting shape. This means different things for different circumstances.

Investigative ability pools are fully refreshed at the end of every operation, no questions asked. If an operation runs really long, major climactic moments during it may act as soft operation ends, letting you refresh as if the operation was over. General abilities are a bit more forgiving - Athletics, Driving, Hand-to-Hand, Piloting, Shooting and Weapons refresh whenever you go 24 hours without spending them. Some other abilities have special ways to refresh, like the Parkour cherry for Athletics, and they also all refresh at the end of an operation. Cover and Network never refresh.

Whenever the party manages to reach a safe haven, where they can be totally safe from peril for an hour or more, each agent and pick three general abilities (not Health or Stability) to fully refresh. If the haven is compromised, the refreshed points are lost, and this can only happen once per session.

Health and Stability refresh a bit differently. As long as you aren't seriously wounded, Health recovers at a rate of 2 points per restful day, and more can be recovered using Medic. Stability can be refreshed by 1d6 points whenever you do a particularly impressive and successful Spend, thanks to regained confidence. Further Stability can be healed with the Shrink ability, and in some games it may refresh after each Operation - but certainly not in Burn games. If not, you have your Sources of Stability to cover that.

At the end of each operation, you get 2 Experience Points per session the operation took. You can spend them as raw build points, increasing your Investigative or General abilities as normal - this is the only way to get back Cover and Network points. In Mirror games, you can also spend these points to gain Trust.

That finally wraps up the Rules chapter. Next: Items!

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LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Evil Mastermind posted:

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...

Even if a reference is timely, including it isn't a good idea. It's OK to reference things occasionally, but M20 uses references to explain, which means that the reader has to know the content referenced to understand the explanation. If this thing had been published in 1999, it would still be useless to anyone who doesn't watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (The irony is particularly striking because Brucato seems unaware of Blade Runner.)

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 13a: Welcome to the Nile Empire...now DIE!


Those are supposed to be mummies, not monkeys.

Robed priests offer sacrifices to the ancient Egyptian gods to honor their High Lord.

Mathematicians, astronomers, and engineers build great works designed to channel the mystical energies of the world to smite their enemies.

Brave explorers find an an artifact in a forgotten tomb, awakening the mummy bound to guard it. Can they escape the mummy and the cultists who also seek the artifact?

A pair of murderous thugs face justice in the form of a mystery man shrouded in smoke and bearing twin pistols.

Just another day in the Nile Empire.


The New Empire of the Nile

A reality away from Core Earth is the world of Terra. Of all the invading realities, Terra is probably the "closest" to Core Earth, sharing a nearly identical history. Of course, there are a few differences.

First of all, in Terra the current year is 1936. The Great War is still a recent memory, with nations recouping losses and trying to figure out what will happen next.

Second, magic exists and technology is a little...different. Early discovery of what is termed "weird science" has affected the larger landscape of the world. Rocket Rangers in jet-powered flying suits fought in the Great War, governments develop superweapons, and countless scientists create impossible devices. Generally speaking, though, weird science hasn't really affected day-to-day life that much.

Third, there are the heroes and villains. "Mystery men" are abound, armed with strange powers, wierd science devices, and their own two fists. They are all that stands between normal folk and the churlish villains that seek to control the world.

Fourth, and most importantly: millenea ago, the man who would become Terra's High Lord was born.

Three thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, pharoh Amat-Ra had an illegitimate son named Sutenhotep. Sutenhotep was a natural leader, and managed to conquer most of northern Africa in his father's name. Despite his victories, the circumstances of his birth would prevent him from becoming pharaoh when Amat-Ra died. Instead, Sutenhotep's half-brother (and Amat-Ra's legitimate son) Toth was chosen to inherit the throne. Sutenhotep was so furious that Toth was chosen, despite the fact that he was clearly the better leader, he swore that he would not only conquer Egypt but "conquer time and eternity itself".

Exiled after an atempted coup, Sutenhotep returned home after 15 of stewing in the desert and raising a new army. This time, he managed to defeat Amat-Ra and sieze control of the nation. Sutenhotep's first order of business was to kill all his father's advisors, and his second was to order the mummification of the still-living Amat-Ra in "tribute to his station".

Amat-Ra's death was slow and torturous, but before he died he was able to curse Sutenhotep and his reign.

quote:

Amat-Ra's curse took effect almost immediately upon his death and quickly caused Egypt's fertile crops to be overcome with blight. The lands shifted into arid, barren deserts and once-complacent peasants turned into unruly rioters. A mere six months after Sutenhotep took power, he was murdered during a public speech. The large audience in attendance bore witness to his assassination, and nearly all cheered uncontrollably for days as Sutenhotep's self-proclaimed desire to rule forever was brutally crushed.

Nearly all.

Fast-forward to August 12th, 1897. Exactly three thousand years after Sutenhotep's death.

A small group of cultists, descendants of Sutenhotep's original followers, assembled on a small island in the Pacific called "Khem" and performed long, profane rituals intended to bring Sutenhotep back from the dead.

And they succeeded. Their lord and would-be pharoh once again walked the earth.

But Sutenhotep wasn't stupid. Yes, he had conqured death, but he knew that this world wasn't the one he left. He didn't immediately send out armies or start scheming takeovers. He went into the world, and studied it.

Sutenhotep spent the next few years acclimating himself with the new world he found himself in. He spent some of this time in hiding, studying books brought to him by his followers. When he felt ready, he traveled to America to see the new world first-hand. It was his stop in San Francisco that would change the world forever:

quote:

Having been thrust entirely into the world of modern science without the intermediate development years, his studies were not clouded by those restrictions that Newton and Edison had floundered in. Combined with his own knowledge of magic and their unnatural effects, his concepts of science were not limited to the realm of Newtonian physics. His genius allowed him to see beyond the scientific community's nearsightedness and discover the world of "weird" science.
Armed with this new discovery, Sutenhotep returned to Khem and began to prepare for his conquest of the world. But that would require money, and so he created a new identity for himself, one worthy of his rank and goals: Sutenhotep was dead, and Dr. Mobius was born.

Mobius spent the early part of the 1900's committing crimes to fund his wierd science research. As his crime spree continued, he became more and more confident and began operating at a higher profile. It wasn't long before scientific prodigy Dr. Alexis Frest was able to predict Mobius's next move and aid the police in capturing him.

(In case you're wondering, Mobius's MO was to commit a robbery, then use an invisibility belt to hide in the room he committed his crime in. He'd wait patiently for the police to arrive and perform their investigation, and then just follow them out the door when they were done, probably trying not to laugh.)

Mobius managed to escape custody thanks to a teleportation device, and laid low for a few years. He tried his hand at crime again in New York, but once again met defeat, this time at the hands of private eye Rex McMasters. Frest was brought in once again and, using a thought-scanning device of his own invention, learned of Mobius' teleporter and confiscated it before sending Mobius to jail once more.

It took three years of scrounging small devices in prison for Mobius to make a replacement.

Mobius's first act upon freeing himself was to kidnap Frest and his family. Mobius continued his crime wave, only to be thwarted by the rising number of "mystery men" around the world. Foremost among them was the hero known only as "The Guardian", and it was in 1925 that Mobius and the Guardian would have a fateful meeting.

Mobius had learned of an ancient artifact that would give him the power he needed to finally conquer Terra. Breaking into a museum, he found it on display: a small statue of his patron god Sebek. The Guardian was there to stop him, and as they fought Mobius let slip the location of Frest and his family before managing to escape.

The Guardian single-handedly freed Frest and his family, and together The Guardian and Dr. Frest assembled a society of pulp heroes to put an end to the threat of Dr. Mobius once and for all: The Mystery Men.

Dr. Mobius, however, would vanish soon thereafter thanks to the artifact: the Darkness Device known as the Kefertiri Idol. Armed with the power of the Darkness Device, Mobius was able to travel to other worlds that were more ripe for the picking, conquer them, drain them dry, and move on without having to worry about those accursed heroes interfering.

Which brings us to the Near Now. Mobius has already conquered nine other cosms, with Core Earth being his "Tenth Empire", or (as he calls it) the "Nile Empire". The new reality he has brought down on Northern Africa has not only effectively turned back the clock to the mid-1930's, it's also brought the power of magic and weird science to the world, reshaping it to his whims. Now the ancient guardians under the pyramids awaken, forgotten artifacts surge with mystic power, and madmen design impossible weapons in hidden laboratories in Cairo.

Forutately, this new reality has brought new heroes with it to stand against them.



Dr. Mobius, High Lord of the Nile Empire

There are two important things to bear in mind about Mobius before we get to specifics.

First off, he is completely, utterly insane. Mobius is fond of dangerous schemes, bizarre deathtraps, and maniacal laughter. He takes a personal hand in his plans, and loves pitting himself against heroes of every stripe. In many ways he's a spoiled child, convinced that he's owed everything and taking things by force when denied. Despite this, he's still a genius and is capable of both high magics and incredible scientific discoveries. He is a meticulous planner, preparing back-up plans and plotting things to the point where he could give you an exact percentage of his progression in any scheme while he strapped you under the death ray. In fact, he's probably the only High Lord the characters would interact with directly since Mobius loves getting his hands dirty and facing off against do-gooders.

The second is that, despite conquering nine other realities and being a High Lord, Dr. Mobius never conquered his home cosm of Terra. This has a few implications, the main one being that the Nile Empire on Core Earth is not exactly the same as the reality of Terra. Because Terra's possibilities are not being siphoned by a Darkness Device, the normal flow of advancement isn't interrupted. The axioms of Terra are a little different from the Nile Empire's, and while the Nile Empire has a distict Egyptian bent to everything, back in Terra it's still more or less 1936 Earth and Dr. Mobius is Public Enemy Number One instead of the High Lord. Nobody is sure why he never took over Terra, but those in the know suspect it's the lingering effect of his father's curse.

(This also makes Terra unique among the home cosms of the Raiders; it's the only one that hasn't stagnated developmentally due to the normal flow of possibility energy being interrupted.)

In fact, Mobius's maelstrom bridge doesn't even lead back to Terra; it leads to the last cosm Mobius conquered. The Nile Empire is at the end of a "chain" of realities, meaning that to get from Core Earth to Terra would require travel across nine other cosms (that, unsurprisingly, were never actually detailed. Or even named.). This also means that it's a bit tricky for characters from Terra to get to Core Earth, but the game handled this by having Frest make a one-way, one-use bridge from Terra to Core Earth to send a bunch of hero types across.

Given all that, here's Mobius's overall agenda:

1. Achieve immortality. Yes, the Darkness Device makes him effectively immortal, but Mobius wants the real deal, without having to rely on an outside force. After all, the Kefertiri Idol could get bored with Mobius and ditch him at any moment. Right now, his best shot at immortality would involve becoming Torg.

2. Increase Personal Power. Nothing surprising here; for Mobius it's always been about power.

3. Expand the Boundaries of the Empire. The Nile Empire is the largest realm on Core Earth (taking up about a third of Africa), and Mobius just keeps on expanding southwards. Waves of shocktroops and death ray-equipped tanks make most resistance a joke. Also, when he extends his reality into the desert it retroactively becomes dotted with mystic sites and tombs full of ancient artifacts, which he can then plunder. So it's pretty much win-win.

4. Discover and Acquire Eternity Shards and Artifacts. Mobius sees these as tools to be used, weapons to be denied enemies, or bait to lure heroes into deathtraps.

5. Remove the Curse of Amat-Ra. The curse his father laid on him millenia ago still persists, and Mobius suspects that the curse is the cause for every large-scale failure he's ever come across. He's right, too; the curse slowly drains his possibility energy and causes him to automatically suffer setbacks in dramatic conflicts.

6. Solve the Mystery of the Tiles. In his investigations of places of power on Core Earth, Mobius has discovered mosaic tiles. The tiles are much older than the Earth, and are clearly alien in origin. Mobius doesn't know what they mean, but he's determined to find out. This bullet point is related to the first published adventure series, at which point it stopped mattering.

7. Explore the Ancient Mysteries of Earth's Egypt. When the Nile Empire's axioms washed over Core Earth, many of the old Egyptian legends were brought to life. Because this Egypt is different from the one Mobius remembers, he seeks out these new legends to determine their usefulness.

8. Weaken the Other High Lords. This is the lowest priority because Mobius is well aware that the High Lords fight like cats in a sack at the best of times. If there was a way to give himself a significant leg up, he'd take it of course. But until then, he's content to let the other High Lords tire themselves out fighting each other.


Really, this happens in the Nile Empire about every five minutes.

Axioms and World Laws
Let talk about how things operate in the Empire.

As stated before, the Nile Empire operates as per 1930's Earth for the most part, but the higher magic and spiritual axioms make things a little more interesting.

Technology: 21 - The Nile Empire is a little behind Core Earth tech-wise. Widespread electrical power was "recently" introduced, and most things we take for granted (like electric razors, color film, and toasters) are considered "cutting edge technology". Most methods of mass travel are pretty slow, with steam trains and slow carrier aircraft being the norm. Likewise, medical technology took a significant step backwards, and immunization isn't quite the standard procedure it used to be; disease is a very real danger.

Social: 20 - Socially speaking, things in the Empire are similar to Core Earth. The Empire does run on a large bureaucracy managed by Mobius's "overgoverners", though, and Mobius's troops enforce their rule. There's also this:

quote:

One important difference in the social arena between the Empire and Core Earth is the fact that the Terran cosm (and thus the Empire) never underwent the sexual revolution that rocked western civilization in the 1960s and '70s. An indiscreet unmarried couple from the Terran cosm that spends too much time together is the target of scandal and ridicule. Also of note is the fact that women in both the Terran cosm and the Nile Empire enjoy near-complete equality with their male counterparts, unlike the women of the Core Earth cosm of the 1920s.
In terms of entertainment, black-and-white films are still around, although the concept of "movies as art" hasn't hit yet. The main source of public entertainment are pulp novels, which, in the Empire, tend to be a bit more factual than you'd expect.

Spiritual: 17 - Unsurprisingly, people worship the Egyptian gods, and the truly devout are capable of performing powerful miracles. In addition, powerful religious artifacts exist. Most of these artifacts are buried in the African deserts, and races to them between Mobius's forces and Storm Knights are pretty common.

Magic: 12 - In addition to mythology being made real, the arrival of the Empire has brought two new schools of magic with it: mathematics and engineering. Most practitioners were brought over the bridge with Mobius's troops, but a few transformed folks have been able to learn them. Still, it means that most magic power is controlled by Mobius to some degree.

In addtion to the axioms, the Nile Empire has three world laws that it inherited from Terra that help shape the realm.

First is the Law of Morality, which states that everyone in the Empire is either Good or Evil. Period.

The Nile Empire exists in a state of black-and-white morality. Every single person, regardless of circumstances, falls into one of these two categories. It's an approximate 90%/10% split between Good and Evil in Terra, but in the Empire it's more a 60/40 split.

Basically, "evil" people put their own self interests first, although they're not adverse to working with others if they can get something out of it for themselves. "Good" characters, on the other hand, look to common interests first.

quote:

Thus, stealing is usually an evil act since the thief is acting upon his or her own self-interest instead of the interests of the victim and community. By this same token, murder, extortion. and fraud are usually evil acts as well. Note, however, that one need not be a socially defined criminal in order to be evil. According to the Terran axioms, the old man who chases small children off his lawn for no other reason than the satisfaction of screaming is evil, as is the miser who refuses to give his employees time off when they are ill or injured. At the same time, not all "good" characters are crusading crime fighters. A shopkeeper who minds his own business, pays his taxes, and shows concern for his neighbor's sick aunt is "good," as is the bystander who gives directions to a lost motorist.
In play, this effects how characters can act. Ords are unable to act against their "Inclination", although they can be tempted from one side to the other. Possibility-rated characters can act outside their Inclination, but doing so costs them a Possibility, and the GM can force the character to change Inclination if they're breaking it too often. However, if you're not in the Empire, you can break your Inclination when you want even if you're in a reality bubble.

It should be pointed out that trying to perform a morally "grey" action is a one-case contradiction, meaning you disconnect on a 1 on a d20.

The world law does give characters two mechanical abilities: you can sense someone's Inclination when you play an alertness card, and it's possible to seduce someone of the opposite Inclination to your side through Charisma checks. Success can cost the target possibilities or even get them to either pay 2 possibilities or change Inclination. However, if you try to change someone's Inclination and fail, it costs you a possibility.

There's one final effect of the Law of Morality: "The Price of Evil". This is the effect of both Amat-Ra's curse and the axioms of the Empire; any time an Evil character enters the Empire he has to immediately forfeit a possibility. Evil doesn't pay, kids.

The second world law is The Law Of Drama, and it's what makes life in the Empire what it is. Basically, it means that anything that happens involving possibility-rated characters will be as melodramatic and exciting as possible. If a scientist is kidnapped, he will have a lovely daughter who will seek out heroes for help and one oh whom she will fall in love with. If you're chasing someone through the city streets, there will be cars pulling into the street in front of you or handcarts to swerve around. If you get into a fight, the furniture will be destroyed and if there's a window someone will go through it. When the bomb is found, there will be enough time to defuse it with two seconds left on the detonator.

Going hand-in-hand with that is the last world law, The Law of Action. The Law of Action states that possibility-rated characters are capable of amazing stunts and feats of ability. In game terms, that means that p-rated characters can spend two possibilities on an action, roll twice, and choose which die he wants to add to his original roll. It's expensive, but it can give you the added "oomph" to make that roll when you really need it.


Car chases never go out of style

The combination of these world laws create a reality where advenutre is as important as gravity, where the stakes are always high, and where heroes and villains constantly clash. Magic is woven into mathematical formulas to ward against a swarm of invading mummies. A private eye jumps out a third-story window clutching a valuable lost idol while firing back at the thugs in the room he just escaped. Two cars barrel through crowded streets, a masked woman perched on the hood of the trailing car ready to leap to the pursued vehicle and save the kidnapped child inside before he is sacrificed to a forgotten god. And above it all is the specter of Dr. Mobius, weaving his insane schemes in his bid to become the Torg.

Just another day in the Nile Empire.

NEXT TIME: The red line travels across the map!

JesterOfAmerica
Sep 11, 2015


I have to admit for all the bad parts TORG has a lot cool ideas

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Yeah. I like how he can't conquer his homeworld. That's a neat touch AND a source of possible allies. I like how he's got his own written-in doom that's just ticking away in the background because his brother was smart enough to give him the dying curse smackdown.

Serf
May 5, 2011




JesterOfAmerica posted:

I have to admit for all the bad parts TORG has a lot cool ideas

If any setting deserves a revival, it is definitely TORG. Give it a better system and rewrite some of the fluff and it would be a great setting to play in.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Man. I'm someone overly-invested in oWoD stuff (I just had a friend over; he said my basement looks like a game store). I'll admit Mage was never my favorite, but this M20 poo poo is inexcusable. Like, it would be bad enough in a vacuum, as a Revised-Revised edition of Mage, but it's following on the heels of two product lines that are legitimately good distillations of Vampire and Werewolf, expanded and cleaned up and adapted for modern gamers.

How do you gently caress things up this badly? I want more behind-the-scenes tell-alls, anything that would explain and excuse...this. Lie to me, if you have to.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


AmiYumi posted:

How do you gently caress things up this badly? I want more behind-the-scenes tell-alls, anything that would explain and excuse...this. Lie to me, if you have to.


Because Vampire and Werewolf were written by the Devs who had already spent most of Revised cleaning them up and trying to make them presentable, whereas Mage was written by the guy they drummed out of White Wolf for being insufferable about Magykk.

I think the point is that Achilli and Skemp both did very good things, and Brucato did precisely what was expected of him.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



So I found two things while searching for a decent scan of the Nile Empire cover:

First off, this is a map of the world, showing the territory of all the realms at the beginning of the war:


Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a larger version of this.

For some reason, West End never made a map that showed all the realms at once in relation to each other. All you ever saw were the maps of the realms "up close". Hell, the Cyberpapcy map didn't show the Aysle border even though they're like 20 miles apart and you'd see it on the map at the provided scale.

That said, if anyone knows how to do something like that on a Google Map or something, please let me know. They actually gave out the exact latitide and longitude of all the stelae in the first Inifiniverse Update, so it's possible to make an actual accurate world map.

The other thing I found was this mock-up of the cover of the Revised & Expanded hardcover:

source

You know what we got instead?



:what:

The best part of that cover is that I'm pretty sure there's no way by the rules that a character could have cyber and a magic sword without worrying about disconnection all the drat time.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Evil Mastermind posted:

The best part of that cover is that I'm pretty sure there's no way by the rules that a character could have cyber and a magic sword without worrying about disconnection all the drat time.

You just succinctly covered why Torg is bad. That should be the thing making PCs special! That you can have a cyber-cathar who wander off and brings back strange magicks (WITH THE K) that would disconnect anyone else and that the Cyberpope sure as hell isn't expecting, etc. It's an easy idea for how to make the PCs stand out and...instead they make you pay permanent EXP points to keep it for a couple minutes.

E: When I was in high school I wrote a game called Gate of Manywhere, with a lovely 'teenager who just got disillusioned with D&D' system, but my friends loved it because it was a game where Vanessa van Hellsing could get help from Dr. James C. Cockaroosh, a sentient cockroach scientist from a world where WWIII happened, to develop a nuclear powered UV laser so she could take on badass sauve Dracula. The whole point of these mashup settings is the actual mashup, goddamnit. I suspect this is why Torg makes me so irrationally annoyed.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:20 on Jan 14, 2016

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

Well, you can do temporary enchantments at Tharkold and the Papacy's magic level, but permanently enchanted not so much. (Of course, it might be a spiritually enhanced sword, in which case, all bets are off.)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Why would you revive Secondary Abilities, even in a oWoD revival? And even if you thought it was a good idea, why would you put in the core, a book that obviously has more important things to cover?

Worse than expected. :sigh:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



By the way, I haven't really touched on the "fiction" part of Torg, mainly because it's terrible. Here's the "intro story" for the Nile Empire sourcebook:

quote:

"Have you ever pondered the concept of infinity, Dr. Flash?" Dr. Mobius asked his unwilling guest.

Dr. Flash slipped free from the fickle grasp of pain for a moment and pulled his head back, aiming the most menacing stare he could muster in the general direction of his hooded inquisitor. The chains which had bound his arms and legs for the last seven hours had finally begun to saw into his flesh, pulling a series of unfamiliar agonies from the shadowy recesses of his limbs. As Dr. Flash slowly sank back into the sea of pain, he began to notice a shrill whine screaming in the distance - a whine not entirely unakin to that of the bone saw be had heard in the neighborhood butcher shop as a child.

Suddenly animated, Mobius began speaking with uncharacteristic vigor. "Try to overcome your discomfort for a moment, Dr. Flash, and roll the idea about in your mind. Imagine a string of sand grains laid end-to-end stretching from here to the sun, or the vastness of the Nile River as seen through the eyes of the amoebas that explore its waters daily. Think of the lone pebble on the shores of the Red Sea and the single drop of blood fished from the river spilled during the First World War."

Dr. Flash tried to focus on what the madman was saying. Somewhere in his ranting was sure to be a due on how to escape this trap. In the shadowy background Dr. Flash could see the robed priests of Khem standing ready to serve their Pharaoh. There would be no help from them.

"Now, imagine a paradox so grand in scope that it dwarfs all such comparisons," Mobius continued. "Your entire universe is one of those sand grain stepping stones to the stars. Everything you could ever hope to know is of less significance than the amoeba exploring the Nile. On the scale of the infinite, all the blood that will be shed during the Possibility Raids is scarcely equivalent to that single drop."

By now, Dr. Flash was having a problem sorting Mobius' sentences into their component words and the words into their component syllables. The whine was steadily growing louder, so loud now that Dr. Flash could feel the vibrations in the core of his upper molars. It was closer, bringing more pain upon its noisome whir.

Where were the Mystery Men? Dr. Flash wondered suddenly. Surely they had noticed his absence! He remembered when he joined that organization of costumed heroes. He remembered the pledge that bound them in their fight to end Mobius' evil empire. For him, he thought regrettably, the fight would soon be over.

"I guide your mind down such paths only to provide you with a fair glimpse of your future predicament," Mobius explained, caring little if his guest could hear his monologue or not. "Soon I shall subject you to the Omegatron, my own homage to the glory of eternity. Beneath its beacon, you will feel pain unlike any you have ever imagined. Over and over, your veins shall be torn from your flesh, your limbs ripped from their sockets, and your organs crushed to dust. And since the Omegatron draws its power from a tiny chunk of Etemium, your agony shall be without end. The machine will keep you alive for eons, constantly expanding the horizons of your pain and introducing whole new worlds of torture! Such is the penalty for defying my rule!"

Mobius tossed Dr. Flash's boom belt into a corner, smiling beneath his hood at his brilliance. "You won't be teleporting out of my clutches this time, Dr. Flash." The Pharaoh signalled the priests and they began to busily manipulate a series of levers. The sounds assaulting Dr. Flash grew louder with each lever that was thrown, and the Omegatron moved into firing position.

"I regret that I cannot stay to witness your demise - but as it will continue unabated for the next millennia,
I'll be able to catch itatmy convenience," the Pharaoh called over the noise as he turned to leave. "Oh and Dr. Flash," Mobius triumphantly screamed, "be thankful that I decided to treat you so mercifully!"

The Pharaoh's booming laughter at this final cruel jest was the only sound that Dr. Flash had heard in the last five minutes. It echoed throughout the temple, following Mobius as he exited but also remaining as a tell-tale sign of his pervading presence.

Now the whine of the Omegatron swam back into Dr.Flash's awareness. Soon its beams would snap on, and only the pain would remain. Forever and ever, Dr. Flash forced his eyes to open.

The priests regarded him with all the interest that a cook pays fu boiling water. Gathering all the strength he could muster, Dr. Flash shouted above the painful noise. "You should never have left me alive, Mobius," he warned. "I swear that someday I will escape and stop you here, in this cosm called Earth, before you can spread your evil any further through the cosmverse."

But the only response to the hero's threat was increased pain as a priest twisted a dial. And the insane laughter that followed him into oblivion...

Believe it or not, that's not the worst-written fiction in Torg by a long shot.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: Everything Under Heaven

The Symphony divides the world into three levels of reality: the Corporeal, the Ethereal and the Celestial. The Corporeal is...well, Earth. To manifest on Earth, a celestial must have a vessel. Earthly beings like humans don't have to care - they're born in their vessels, after all. The Ethereal realm is also referred to as the Marches, the mythic dreamlands of the Symphony. They're a vital part of the world, but very different than Earth. They are made of dreams and half-real things, theoretically divided in half - one half being the land of Blandine, Archangel of Dreams, and the other half the land of Beleth, Demon Princess of Nightmares. In truth, the Ethereal stretched far beyond the realms either controls, and some dreamscapes have never seen an angel, and are still home to mythic remnants. The Marches are home to many spirits, including the souls of those whose bodies died but whose minds chose to continue to dream. Even these natives, however, are vastly outnumbered by the visitors of night. When humans dream, they enter the Marches. Everyone has their own dreamscape, which drifts through the Marches. Where you are determines if you have good or bad dreams. Those who sleep with a hopeful mood drift into Blandine's Marches, while those who sleep with fear enter the Ethereal in Beleth's realm. The angels and demons that serve Beleth and Blandine can interact with the dreamscapes there, and some cross the border to protect or corrupt dreamers on the other side. While humans are awake, their dreamscapes can't be found, and if they awaken with others in their dreamscape, those others awaken as well or are ejected. When a human dies, their dreamscape vanishes to all but, just maybe, Blandine and Beleth. The rules say that any time a dreamer in Blandine's marches fails a skill roll in a dream with a CD of 6, they instantly teleprot to Beleth's Marches and start having nightmares, and any time a dreamer in Beleth's Marches success on a skill check with a CD of 6, the opposite happens.

Unlike humans, angels and demons do not have dreamscapes. To fall asleep, they must succeed at a Will check, and when they d, they enter the overarching dreamscape of either Beleth or Blandine's Marches, surrounded by the dreamscapes of humans. They may observe them, but not affect them without use of the Songs of Dreams or the attunements granted to servitors of Blandine or Beleth. Waking up for them is just another Will roll. If a nonhuman were to enter the Marches through the mind of a dreamer, their corporeal form, if they have one, will remain asleep until they return. While in the Marches, if something happens to their vessel, they awaken immediately. If you were to enter the Marches some othe way, like the temple of an ethereal spirit, your vessel vanishes and you need to find a direct route back to Earth. Blandine and Beleth each have a tower in the Marches with many exits, and when an angel or demon uses one of those, their celestial form vanishes, reappearing hen they return to the Tower. There is no ethereal form - visitors to the Marches appear as the last vessel they inhabited.

Ethereal spirits are the native beings of the Marches. These are the pantheons of gods and goddesses born of the collective dreams and nightmares of humanity. Uriel, Archangel of Purity, was recalled to the higher planes of Heaven almost 1500 years back for slaughtering every mythic creature on Earth, as well as most of Blandine's half of the Marches. Beleth offered refuge to many, both to piss off Uriel and to recruit the more nightmarish old gods. Some survivors now live in her realm and aid her, while others fled to the Far Marches and are rarely seen. Many of these spirits are still supported by human worship...and further, they claim that God, the deity of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths, was not always an omnipotent being, but that as His power grew, He rewrote the history of the universe. Heaven rejects this claim, of course. As yet, Dominic, Archangel of Judgment, has yet to find another Uriel to crusade against these spirits, and while most angels agree that they are annoying, they are very much a minor problem. From Earth, the only direct path into the Far Marches of the pagan spirits is via temples consecrated to them. The ritual to use these paths varies based on the god of the temple, but angels and demons rarely pay any attention to them anyway.

The Celestial realm contains both Heaven and Hell. Each has many levels, but angels and demons may only reach the lowest - the Earthly Heaven, the least divine of Heavens, and...well, just about all of Hell. In the celestial realm, angels and demons take on their celestial forms, and any Discord they have is apparent on those forms. Outcasts and Renegades can still take on celestial form, but may not enter Heaven or Hell. Humans do not have celestial forms at all and appear as humans when they die and enter the celestial planes. Very little day-to-day life is spent in the celestial plane, and to ascend, you must already be in celestial form. An angel can enter Heaven automatically at any heavenly Tether, and a demon from a Tether to the Hellish domain of their Prince. Anywhere else requires a Will roll, repeatable after (10-Will) hours, minimum 1, if failed. Normally, ascending places you next to your Heart, more on which later. However, anyone ascending near you within a minute of your ascension can instead choose to follow you, appearing where you did, with a Perception roll...though this will not allow demons to enter Heaven. It will, however, allow angels to enter Hell. Returning to the Corporeal plane takes no rolls or time - you just show up were you last left it, unless your Superior sends you somewhere else or you accompany someone to where they left Earth. When you appear on Earth, you appear in a vessel of your choice and cannot manifest there if you don't have a vessel...unless you're a Kyriotate or Shedite, in which case you have (10*Celestial Forces) minutes to find a host before being yanked back to the celestial plane.

You can, however, assume celestial form on Earth. This renders youunable to interact with the corporeal world - you can still see, hear and smell it, but you are insubstantial and untouched by gravity. You can't touch anything or be struck or damaged by any earthly force. You can fly and pass through solid objects, and harm others in celestial form. Most people can't see celestial forms - they don't reflect light, after all - but those with especially high Perception can see them, especially if the target has high Celestial Forces. It's even easier if the viewer is themself in celestial form, or if you're using a power on the viewer. Also, anyone you attack can see you, whether you hurt them or not. You can speak to anyone who can perceive you, but need a Song to speak to anyone that can't. Once you are perceived, however, you can be seen through solid objects - no matter what's in the way, a human will know your location within (Perception+Celestial Forces) yards, and a celestial or spirit out to twice that distance or until you are out of mortal sight, whichever is longer. Taking celestial form costs 2 Essence and a Will roll, and you can maintain it for (CD+Will) minutes, except for Kyriotates and Shedim, who have 10*Celestial Forces minutes to find a host. In Celestial form, your vessel vanishes, along with your clothes and up to (Corporeal Forces*10) pounds of other items you were carrying, which return when you reassume the vessel...except for celestial artifacts, which you carry with you in celestial form.

Celestials can perceive the Symphony much more clearly than mortals, and can sense actions that disturb it. Humans who serve them directly can also sense these changes, having been made aware of the Symphony, but tend to be much less good at it. Celestials are not meant to be on Earth, and everything they do causes foreign notes. Most are small, easily ignored, but some are dramatic and attention-grabbing. When a celestial makes a major change, all others in the area can make Perception rolls to detect it, with both the power of the change and the physical distance to it determining how hard it is to notice. Spending Essence to boost rolls or use Songs, that's quiet. Killing a person? You can 'hear' that from up to a mile away if you're perceptive. Spending Essence and using Songs both cause Disturbance, as does entering or leaving the Corporeal plane. The physical appearance of an Archangel or Demon Prince is very loud. Harming physical objects or beings is fairly loud...though it isn't caused by damage to vessels - just actual mortals...or mortal hosts of possessing beings. Killing humans is quite loud.

Disturbances also leave echoes. Something very loud can be heard for several minutes after the event, allowing you to track the source of the disturbance and even tell who made it if you see them. If you get a good check digit, you can also learn more about it - not just what direction it was in, but how big it was, its general nature, how far away it is...and, with CD 6, even a detailed description of what happened, though not who or what kind of celestial did it. Angelic and demonic Disturbance both sound the same.

Okay, now, resonance. Every Choir and Band has its own resonance, based on its nature, and similarly its own dissonance condition - a type of action that will give notes of dissonance. Infernal resonance acts based on Will (except for Lilim), as a demon imposes their perspective on the rest of the world. Divine resonance is based on Perception (except for Kyriotates), as the angel attunes themself to the Symphony to find meaning. The more dissonance you have, the harder it is to use your resonance, but resonance does not cause Disturbance unless you spend Essence on it. Demonic resonance can be opposed with a Will roll, but angelic resonance, being passive, cannot be resisted. You can use your resonance via audio or video, but at a penalty...except for Cherubim and Djinn.

Dissonance, incidentally, can cause angels to Fall without any choice in the matter. Angels also generally have an easier time avoiding dissonance - usually, acquiring it requires a choice on their part. Demons can't automatically Redeem from dissonance...but are more capable of suffering dissonance simply by failing to assert their will on reality. Demons are thus more able to become dissonant, and more likely to have Discord as a result, while angels have graver consequence for dissonance and Discord. Whenever you do something dissonant, you make a roll to see how badly it affects you. If any of your three dice equal or exceed your notes of dissonance, you just get another note of dissonance and lose access to your resonance for (CD) hours. Otherwise, you lose access...and suffer disaster. If an angel rolls a 666 or fails on all three dice, they become Outcast, unable to use Superior Rites or enter Heaven until they clear their dissonance and make up with their Archangel. An Outcast that fails or rolls a 666 immediately Falls. Demons that roll 111 or fail generate a note of dissonance and a new Discord at a level equal to the check digit, or that many new levels in a Discord they already had. However, if an angel rolls 111 or a demon rolls 666, they not only gain no new dissonance, but also lose any and all dissonance they had, as either God or Lucifer smiles on their apparently dissonant actions for...reasons, which the GM should keep in mind. The only other ways to lose Dissonance are to undo the original source of dissonance, to turn 3 notes of it into a level of Discord, to spend 10 Essence once per adventure to lose a note of dissonance, or to spend time in a Tether working for its Seneschal...though if you remove any dissonance in a way other than undoing the original cause, you can no longer use that to remove the dissonance.

Next time: Falling and Redemption.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I expect the answer re: Brucato is that Brucato is a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but never saw Blade Runner, or at least never paid attention.

Why? Probably because he is a garbage man, and a clown.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Evil Mastermind posted:

By the way, I haven't really touched on the "fiction" part of Torg, mainly because it's terrible. Here's the "intro story" for the Nile Empire sourcebook:


Believe it or not, that's not the worst-written fiction in Torg by a long shot.
"Dr. Flash, Imagine four balls on the edge of a cliff. Say a direct copy of the ball nearest the cliff is sent to the back of the line of balls and takes the place of the first ball. The formerly first ball becomes the second, the second becomes the third, and the fourth falls off the cliff.

Infinity works the same way."

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Why would you revive Secondary Abilities, even in a oWoD revival? And even if you thought it was a good idea, why would you put in the core, a book that obviously has more important things to cover?
Verisimilitude :shepface:

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

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.
There is a Buffy Game.

Nessus posted:

I expect the answer re: Brucato is that Brucato is a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but never saw Blade Runner, or at least never paid attention.

Why? Probably because he is a garbage man, and a clown.
Garbagemen are good people who fulfill a valuable role in society. Don't drag their names through the mud like that.

Not clowns, though. gently caress clowns.

Asimo posted:

Verisimilitude :shepface:
:barf:


Also, inklesspen, a few requests:

1: Can you include my name post from last thread in the Madlands writeup? I know its not titled right, but I'd like it in there for completion's sake.
2: Where's GURPS Asparagus? I will not have my finest work dishonored in such a way :colbert:
3: Treat yourself to something. Having a working archive again is amazing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Asimo posted:

Verisimilitude :shepface:

I see V20 doesn't have them in core, but I can't speak for W20. So it's even inconsistent even between games, which I guess makes it a true oh-wahd revival.

Though now I want to make Enigmas the foremost skill in a game because even though it's a core skill, it's still so loving stupid. Archmage Layton.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


"This reminds me of a puzzle."
"The qlipplothic beast vomiting it's own flaming organs out of it's ears reminds you of a puzzle?"
"I know what I'm about, boy."

Serf
May 5, 2011





I'll be damned. I should not be as surprised as I am.

Grnegsnspm
Oct 20, 2003

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

Serf posted:

I'll be damned. I should not be as surprised as I am.

It was also our Second Episode of System Mastery. Which we only did because I was super interested to see what the hell you would do in a Buffy RPG. Also, oh my god, we were so bad back then. I'm so sorry.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: Well, I'm Terrified Of These Four Walls

When an Outcast angel Falls, they automatically become a demon of the opposing Band. Malakim are the exception - they don't Fall, they just get another level of Discord. When an angel Falls, any dissonance they had is lost, as are all attunements. They may not perform any divine Rites and generate Essence at dusk. The forces of Hell love the Fallen, since they're a chance to learn Heaven's plans firsthand. Indeed, the Princes often get into bidding wars as they each try to court the new demon into their ranks, both for the power of a new demon and to keep the other Princes from having them...though other demons might be trying to kill the new demon to keep them out of other hands, and Dominic's angels certainly want them dead. Until a newly Fallen demon gives allegiance to a Prince, they will not be able to enter Hell on their own - they have no Heart to show the path. Once they do swear fealty, the Prince will attune them to a new Heart, granting them whatever Band attunement thy offer and access to their Rites...but also their dissonance conditions.

Sidebar: A Tether is a link between the realm of an Archangel or a Demon Prince and Earth. They are places of refuge and power for their master's Word. They vary wildly in size. The smallest known Tether is a room in Tokyo that is barely large enough for the very fat Baron of Haagenti that cares for it, while the largest is an African valley in which no human has ever entered, protected by angels of Jordi to guard animals that survive in no other place. Demons in celestial form may not approach divine Tethers, but angels can approach infernal ones. At a Tether, it is much easier to communicate with the celestial - no Will roll needed to enter the celestial plane, just Essence, and it's easier to invoke a Superior there. Each Tether has a Seneschal, a powerful celestial that cares for it. All have at least a dozen Forces and most are Wordbound to their Tethers. Some have vessels, but many, unlike other celestials, do not. Most can leave their Tethersb ut few do for very long. Still, they know instantly if their Tether is under attack. Many Tethers also have staffs to aid in taking care of them - gardeners, for a Tether of Novalis, cooks for Haagenti, etc. Serving at a Tether is a good way to lose dissonance, at one week per note of dissonance. Locations of Tethers are generally well-known to all local celestials - they're fortresses, hard to keep secret and very loud. The most famous Tether in the West is Notre Dame, belonging to no Archangel but linking to Heaven. New Tethers can be created by powerful manifestations of a Word, with or without celestial plans. The former site Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment is a strong tether to Death and Saminga, for example, while the beach at Normandy has been a Tether to Michael and War since D-Day. Tethers can also be destroyed, and newly made ones are vulnerable, but an attack on any Tether is a major operation.

A demon cannot Redeem accidentally. Some demons, riddled with discord, are just bad at their jobs; others are not devoted to the cause of evil. These demons, if they truly repent of the harm they cause, may try to join the angels. Heaven has a few practical reasons to help. First, former demons typically have wide experience and knowledge of Hell's plans. Second, they have nowhere else to go, so they tend to be quite loyal. Third, they're often rather tired of fighting angels and willing to submit. Demons seeking Redemption, either with the help of an angel or not, must contact an Archangel and request asylum in Heaven. Archangels are the only beings powerful enough to strip a demon of Discord and remake them into an angel. Even this is not always successful - sometimes the demons die, though PCs automatically do not. After that, the demon becomes an angel of the Choir opposite their former Band. Their demonic Heart shatters, wherever it's kept, and the Archangel that patrons them remakes a new angelic Heart for them. They become an angel mechanically...but must still prove themselves. They lose any Celestial Discord, but not any other kind. Each successful mission will get the Archangel to remove some. At first, they are granted only the Rites of their Archangel, and no attunements, as well as losing any demonic Attunements they had. Only by service will they earn an Archangel's attunements. However, a former demon retains access to their infernal Rites. If they can resist the temptation to use them, they will succeed...but any use of a demonic Rite also gains a note of dissonance, along with the dissonance conditions of their new Superior. If a Redeemed ever becomes Outcast, their Archangel will never, ever try to help them again. Once a Redeemed rids themselves of Discord, earns their Archangel's Choir attunement and at least one Servitor attunement, they will then be considered a fully fledged angel.

So, what does Discord do? Well, some Ethereal Discords count as dissonance for certain Choirs or Bands. Also, any Celestial Discord will prevent natural Essence regeneration. At sunrise or sunset, you instead roll a die. If it's higher than your highest level of Celestial Discord, you regen as normal that day. Otherwise, you don't. Demons have Discord much more frequently than angels - an angel with Discord risks censure, shunning or other punishment...particularly Malakim. Angels react very poorly to Discord in other angels, and the only way to rid yourself of Discord for sure is with the help of a Superior, who will need to be convinced to help. Superiors recognize talent, at least, so good work will get their help...but GMs are instructed to only do it to reward exceptional play or roleplaying, and only instead of getting CP or new attunements, to make sure that players worry about dissonance.

Combat works as per normal rolls, mostly. An attack's damage is equal to the Power of the weapon used plus the check digit of the attack roll, minus any Protection the target has from armor or Dodging. Bonuses or penalties are entirely at the GM's whim. Corporeal combat only happens on Earth, and requires you to be in a vessel most of the time. Take too much damage, you fall unconscious. Anyone who loses a quarter of their HP or more in one hit is stunned for a turn. after that, it's pretty easy to kill you. (Or your vessel, anyway.) Mortals heal one damage per (6-Strength) days, minimum 1, while celestials heal one damage per day at the same time they would regenerate Essence. However, vessels only heal while you're wearing them. Ethereal combat takes plcae in the ethereal or corporeal realms, typically when attacks are aimed at the mind via a Song or attunement. If you lose all your mental HP, determined by your Ethereal Forces and Intelligence, you fall unconscious and gain a level of Ethereal Discord. This is the rarest form of combat, and Mind HP heals at the same rate as Body HP. Celestial combat attacks the soul directly - if you lose badly, you stop existing. It can take place anywhere, but anyone in a vessel is immune to it. Those in a celestial form are not. Your Soul HP is determined by Celestial Foprces and Will, and each time you lose all your Soul HP, you lose one Force permanently, lowering your stats immediately, then regenning to whatever your new Soul HP cap is. Soul HP returns at 1 per week for all creatures, but you can't heal back lost Forces.

When a human's body dies, their soul goes somewhere depending on whether or not they met their Destiny or Fate. What's that? Well, see, every mortal has both. Your destiny is the brightest goal you could ever hope to achieve. It's rare that a human meets this destiny, but if they do, they go to heaven when they die. Archangel Yves and some of his angels can see your destiny. Fate is its opposite - the darkest, most selfish thing you could ever do. Do it, and you're going to Hell. The game's example: Hitler's destiny was to be an honest interior decorator who painted for pleasure and taught in his old age. His fate, well. Yeah. :sigh: Demon Prince Kronos and his demons can see your fate, and work to drat you with it. Most people, of course, die without meeting either, or meet with both, like Hemingway. People who meet both or neither of destiny and fate are either reincarnated to try again or disband into their component Forces and stop existing. It's not totally clear which one, or if both might happen.

When a spirit's vessel dies, they return to their home in the ethereal realm for weeks of Trauma, which may strip them of Forces and thus destroy them. This is why so many mythic beings died during Uriel's war of Purification, and why they are so cautious about going to Earth now. As for celestials, their Forces return to their Heart, but they enter Trauma unless they have another vessel right at that moment, usually stored in a Body Bag artifact. Malakim are the exception - they do not suffer Trauma for any reason. Kyriotates don't suffer Trauma when their hosts are killed but do gain dissonance, and Shedim can avoid Trauma if they find other host quickly, but also gain dissonance. Trauma lasts for several days, after which you can make a Will roll to get out of it. Some never do get out, though, presumably due to bad luck and weak wills. Angels get put in special hostels in Heaven, while severaly Traumatized demons occasionally get rounded up and torn apart for their components.

If you lose all Corporeal Forces from celestial combat, you cannot take any physical form until you get another one, and cannot use any Corporeal Songs. Also, you get a Corporeal Discord. If you lose all Ethereal Forces, you retain the skeleton of your memory and personality and can keep fighting, but gain an Ethereal Discord and will be at a severe disadvantage due to your shattered intellect and lack of any Ethereal Song usage. If you lose all Celestial Forces and have no vessel, you are gone forever. If you have a vessel, you will immediately take corporeal form, wherever you are or last were on Earth if you're not on Earth right now. You remain unconscious for 24 hours and become a Remnant. Your Heart shatters, you lose your resonance and dissonance. You lose all Celestial Songs and any attunements requiring Celestial Forces. You gain a Celestial Discord and cannot leave the corporeal plane. If you had a Role, you assume it as your life and can remember nothing of your past. Otherwise, you have no history or memory whatsoever. Remnants are immune to all Perception-based resonance.

Next chapter is some sample artifacts - the Stunt Cycle, for example, which grants a bonus to riding it, or the Compass of Attunement, that can track people via the Celestial Song of Attraction. The Holy/Unholy Bullets, ammo for a Holy or Unholy Pistol, able to deal massive damage to vessels. Fiery Swords, which are weapons usable in celestial form to improve your celestial combat ability, and also be a sword made of loving fire. Body Bags, which are black bags able to hold a vessel wthin, to protect you from Trauma...though if taken out of the bag early, they die within 5 minutes. We get a list of possible Roles and Skills, but what's more interesting is Songs, which I'll cover next time.

Next time: This is your song.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I see V20 doesn't have them in core, but I can't speak for W20. So it's even inconsistent even between games, which I guess makes it a true oh-wahd revival.

Though now I want to make Enigmas the foremost skill in a game because even though it's a core skill, it's still so loving stupid. Archmage Layton.

The two most striking failures of the X20 line, to me, have been, firstly, they don't have a standardized how-to-roll template like the nWoD books have. If you look at any nWoD book, all rolls follow a standard template where dice, modifiers, costs, and effects are laid out in an organized and easy-to-find fashion. V20 doesn't have anything like this, so each Discipline description has to be finely read to figure out the difficulty, dice pool, etc. And secondly, they had the perfect opportunity to make sure all the games ran on the same base system to more easily facilitate crossovers, using content from one book in another, and not having to un-learn and re-learn the system every time you switch gamelines - and this was an opportunity they squandered.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





LatwPIAT posted:

The two most striking failures of the X20 line, to me, have been, firstly, they don't have a standardized how-to-roll template like the nWoD books have. If you look at any nWoD book, all rolls follow a standard template where dice, modifiers, costs, and effects are laid out in an organized and easy-to-find fashion. V20 doesn't have anything like this, so each Discipline description has to be finely read to figure out the difficulty, dice pool, etc. And secondly, they had the perfect opportunity to make sure all the games ran on the same base system to more easily facilitate crossovers, using content from one book in another, and not having to un-learn and re-learn the system every time you switch gamelines - and this was an opportunity they squandered.
I think it wasn't really planned as a "line" at all, and has only become one because there was somewhat more demand than expected.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




When V20 was gearing up, there was a serious discussion of the merits of the earlier edition, incredibly lovely dice pools because, after all, it's a prestige nostalgia book and not a "new" edition.

But they heavily changed the physical Disciplines because

But they didn't change the first five levels of Chimerstry because

Also, I believe (heard, never read) later when W20 came out it was found that the Gifts were written under the assumption that dice pools would work like V20, but the core system had actually been done up differently, so some Gifts don't make sense.

Because at WW and now OPP it is entirely up to each line dev, and even sometimes individual authors on a given book, to communicate and maintain consistency. Which it can be granted they're doing a hell of a lot better than they used to…back when a lot of authors and devs physically worked in the same office. :sadtrombone:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: If I Was A Sculptor, But Then Again, No

Most Songs come in three versions - Corporeal, Ethereal and Celestial. Songs can't be resisted or dodged most of the time, but they need to be fueled by Essence. The Songs of Attraction control the forces of attraction, lasting for several hours at a time. The Corporeal Song attunes two items to each other, causing them to tug gently in the directions of each other, allowing you to use one object to track the other. It can't be used on living things, though, and you have to touch both objects. The Ethereal Song causes its victim to become madly, passionately attracted to one person or object you pick that you can see. The target can resist with Will, but otherwise feels compelled to possess and protect the object of desire for the duration. The Celestial Song acts rather like the resonance of a Djinn or Cherub - you touch something, and can then track it with a Perception roll.

The Songs of Charm stun people and reduce their stats. The Corporeal form affects STrength or Agility, Ethereal affects Intelligence or Precision and the Celestial affects Will and Perception. Corporeal and Celestial last only briefly, but Ethereal lasts several hours. The Songs of Dreams interact with the Ethereal World. The Corporeal song has the same effects as the Dream Walking attunement, but only for a few minutes. We'll get to the Attunement later. The Ethereal version lets you alter a dreamer's skill rolls within their dream. The Celestial version lets you control the circumstances and nature of a dreamer's dream. The Songs of Entropy control chaos. The Corporeal version can control time, aging or youthening the target. The Ethereal version terrorizes its victim, dealing mental damage. The Celestial version causes hallucinations, stunning the target for several rounds.

The Songs of Form change the shape and appearance of your vessel for a few minutes. The Corporeal version lets you alter your skin, increasing your Protection. The Ethereal version turns you into a shadow, nearly invisible but still corporeal. The Celestial version allows you to literally reshape your vessel like clay - change your face, change your gender, make yourself older or younger-looking. The Songs of Harmony, also called the Songs of Peace, soothe anger and danger. The Corporeal version makes others too weak and sluggish to attack well for several rounds. The Ethereal version makes people too subdued and rational to take violent action wthout a Will roll for a few minutes. The Celestial version temporarily negates a Discord for a few minutes. The Songs of Healing heal people. The Corporeal version heals physical wounds, while the Ethereal version heals mental ones and also unstuns people, and the Celestial one heals soul damage.

the Songs of Light control light. The Corporeal song makes you glow brightly. The Ethereal one lets you shape photons into illusions. The Celestial one shoots loving lasers at people that hurt and blind them. The Songs of Motion control...motion. The Corporeal song lets you fly quickly for a few minutes. The Ethereal song gives you telekinesis for a few minutes. The Celestial song lets you teleport things. The Numinous Corpus Songs are special Corporeal Songs that alter your body to give you superpowers - each one gives a different form of attack. Acid-spitting, claws, hooves, horns, a tail, a barbed tongue you can shoot out of your mouth, or wings, which don't attack but let you fly instead. The Song of Possession allows you to seize control of a vessel or body, similar to a Kyriotate. It is a Celestial song, mechanically.

The Songs of Projection let you project your consciousness and soul elsewhere. The Corporeal version lets you astrally project to anywhere you've been before on Earth. The Ethereal version lets you project yourself to anywhere in the Marches you've been before and might be welcome in. The Celestial version lets you project yourself anywhere you've been before within the realm you are in - Heaven or Hell - or from Earth to wherever your Heart is, or the other end of a Tether you're in. The Songs of Shields create temporary defenses. The Corporeal Song creates a cyclone that prevents physical attacks, the Ethereal song creates a nearly invisible green energy field that blocks attunements, resonance and Essence-based attacks, and the Celestial song enhances existing fog, darkness or brush to prevent any celestial force from seeing through out or Disturbances from escaping it.

The Song of Thunder stuns everyone nearby, masks all other Disturbances in the area and is very loud, celestially and physically. It is considered a Corporeal song. Lastly, the Songs of Tongues help communication. The Corporeal song lets you speak all human languages at once, understanding in text and speech in your native language and being understood in the most comfortable tongue of anyone hearing or reading your words. The Ethereal song gives you telepathy for a few minutes. The Celestial song sends a brief message and a bit of Essence to anyone you've met before.

We then get a list of Discords - most of which are boring, but a few are funny or especially dumb. Discolored is a Corporeal Discord that causes you to be a weird color. Obese is a Corporeal one that makes you fat. Bound is an Ethereal Discord that locks you in your vessel or forces you to obey the holder of an artifact. Geas is a unique Ethereal Discord caused by Lilim resonance - they can force you to obey them or face dissonance. Gluttonous is a Celestial Discord that makes you eat stuff. Need is a Celestial Discord that makes you unable to regenerate Essence without doing some specific thing - have sex, eat chocolate, play games - the game suggests all of these things.

Next time: Choirs

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




Serf posted:

If any setting deserves a revival, it is definitely TORG. Give it a better system and rewrite some of the fluff and it would be a great setting to play in.

You mean what's coming this year?

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




TORG would be a great game if it were a completely different game.

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

Falconier111 posted:

Also, inklesspen, a few requests:

1: Can you include my name post from last thread in the Madlands writeup? I know its not titled right, but I'd like it in there for completion's sake.
2: Where's GURPS Asparagus? I will not have my finest work dishonored in such a way :colbert:
3: Treat yourself to something. Having a working archive again is amazing.

1: Done
2: Yes, but only if you also do a GURPS writeup for something beginning with Z (which is not Zombie). How about GURPS Zinc
3: Nom

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

GURPS zombo.com. You can chargen anything with GURPS zombo.com.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
2014-2018



In Nomine: Cruella - Cruella de Ville



Seraphim, AKA the Most Holy or the Trisagionists, are the most divine of the Choirs, created from the essence of perfection and sbstract reality. They are attuned to truth, and when they are paying attention, no one can lie to them. A lie is a stain on the Symphony to a Seraph. We're told they tend to hate television. The Seraph obsession with truth and their tendency to lack restraint in expressing their views makes them very annoying, particularly to most Mercurians. Most Seraphim have no tact whatsoever and regularly feel the need to point out a truth others have politely ignored. They hate dealing with humans one-on-one, so most of the time other Choirs have learned to steer them away from social situations. Seraphim dissonance, as a result, comes from lying. It isn't that they can't - it's that it hurts them to do it. Most Seraphim become skilled at misdirection, dodging questions and keeping secrets by telling people truths that aren't quite what they were asked. Seraphim also may find it distasteful to stand by when another lies, but it isn't dissonant for them to do so.

Seraphim generally have a better perspective on grand situations than other Choirs, and their divinity means that they tend to have the final word when dealing with angels of similar rank. In celestial form, they resemble winged serpents with many eyes, and their vessels tend towards the tall, thin and bony, with clean-cut appearances. They move smoothly and precisely. They are not perfect, much as they aspire to be, but they are deeply respected, and tend to act in a way that deserves that respect. Seraphim like to think of themselves as string instruments of great sweetness and clarity.

Mechanically, the Seraphim resonance allows them to detect the truth. When they activate it successfully, it lasts for (10-CD) minutes and applies to anything they hear. The check digit tells how much of the truth. On a 1, they know if the speaker thinks they're lying. On a 2, they also know which statement the speaker thinks is most false. On a 3, they know why the speaker chose to lie or not lie. On a 4, they also know what the speaker thinks the truth is. On a 5, they also know whether the speaker knows the objective truth. And on a 6, they also know the objective truth. Obviously, this applies to opinions as well, but opinions cannot be objectively true - they just know if you're lying about your opinions. GMs are warned that Seraphim can tell the diference between literal and metaphorical statements, and...well...

quote:

GMs who abuse player trust by purposely misleading them and hiding behind semantics may vanish some night as a warning to others.



Cherubim, AKA Hayyoth or the Guardians, are stout and reliable angels. Their resonance is for stability and devotion. With a touch, they can attune themselves to someone or something, sensing its location and condition to better protect it. They will know instantly if such things are endangered or destroyed. Their single-mindedness is legendary, simple and constant. Cherubim and Kyriotates tend not to get along very well, given Cherubim are extremely singular in thought while Kyriotates are multiplicity embodied. For a Cherub, the greatest sin is betrayal of devotion, and that is what gives them dissonance. As long as they are attuned to something, they will never do anything to bring it harm. Only force of will and physical contact can remove their attunement, and any failure to remove an attunement generates dissonance, too. Because of this, Cherubim are notoriously selective about attuning to things. Cherubim also gain dissonance from betraying their Superiors, friends, ideals or themselves. Thus, they work to keep their loyalties undivided.

Cherubim are slow but purposeful. Their human vessels tend to be short, stocky and powerful. In celestial form, they look like immense winged animals with golden haloes of light. Most Cherubim suspect the whole fat baby thing was a demonic plot. They are the ultimate protectors, the best people to have guarding your back. Musically, they tend to think of themselves as one-handed horns by day and saxophones by night. Why? gently caress if I know.

Mechanically, a Cherub can attune themselves to (Forces) objects or people at a time, generating dissonance if they allow any of their attuned objects or people to be destroyed. If an object is broken and its pieces seperated, it is hard for a Cherub to detect, but if they can restore it, they lose the dissonance gained from its destruction. When using their resonance, they can sense the direction to their attuned objects on a CD 1. On a 2, they also know its general condition and if it's in any non-immediate danger. On a 3, they also know the approximate distance within miles. On a 4, within yards. On a 5, also whether it's moving or not. On a 6, also whether it's in any danger whatsoever. A 6 can also detect individual pieces of a broken attuned object. A Will roll can negate an attunement, but failure gives dissonance.

Next time: "The Easy Riders of the celestial realm." They love that phrase.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



Chapter 6: Creating the Character, Part 2

Backgrounds
Backgrounds are another kind of Trait characters can have. They represent a plethora of things about your character that aren't Attributes or Abilities. In some cases, several characters can get together and share a background, such as if they all live in the same Sanctuary or have a common group of Allies. If one of the characters in such a sharing-situation disappears, leaves, or dies, they take their points with them. The book notes that the rest of the group can't use those points and either lose them or have to pay the difference, but what happens when you lose the points is not explained. For example, if five characters share a Sanctuary 5 and one leaves, does the Sanctuary drop to a Sanctuary 4 because there's not enough points to pay for the fifth level? Does nothing happen? Do the rest of the characters have to pay for the fifth level of Sanctuary before they're allowed to spend XP on anything else? I can't see this explained anywhere.

A number of Backgrounds can also be taken away if the characters work for the Technocracy, basically at the whims of the ST. If the ST thinks you're not being Technocratic enough, the PCs' NPC bosses may suddenly withdraw their Allies, Resources, or similar. Letting actions have consequences is good, but it also means there's a noticeable divide between Backgrounds that can be taken away, and Backgrounds that can't. If your ST is running a difficult, consequences-are-real kind of game, it benefits you to pick Backgrounds that can't be taken away, and players who do lose their Backgrounds to random acts of ST will end up generally less competent than their peers.

In keeping with my rambling, poorly edited review of M20, I'll do a running commentary on the Backgrounds:

Allies: This is rated in 0-10 dots, with each dot being "one ally with some moderately useful abilities". You can convert a "moderate ally" into two "sidekicks", who can run errands and do busywork, or convert several "moderate allies" into one "major ally" who is more capable. Only major allies can use Magick. No guidelines beyond this is provided for how to make Allies, so the utility of this Background depends a lot on what the individual ST feels these adjectives mean. The actual dot ratings listed don't agree with the text. Allies 4 is supposed to give 4 moderate allies or 8 sidekicks, but is listed as giving 4 moderate allies or 6 sidekicks. Allies 10 is listed as giving the player access to ten capable allies (are "capable allies" the same as moderate allies?) or a "small army" - but Allies 10 is just 20 sidekicks by the rules, which is hardly a "small army". Since sidekicks can mostly only run errands and do busywork, they also make for a poor army. How many major allies you can get is also unclear; Allies 6 gives you "Six moderate allies, a small gang of sidekicks, or one or two really powerful friends.", where "really powerful friends" are supposedly more powerful than a regular major ally. Allies 7 gives "Seven moderates, a staff of sidekicks, or a handful of strong companions." - how much is a handful, and how do "strong companions" compare to "really powerful friends" and "major allies"? Allies 8 gives "Eight moderates, a bunch of followers, or a few major badasses."; how does "a few" compare to "a handful"? Is it using Heroes of Might and Magic III numbers? Are "major badasses" "major allies", "strong companions", or "really powerful friends"? The weakness of trying to use natural and varied language in rules text is that you end up sacrificing clarity.

Alternate Identity: This lets you create an alternate identity with [Alternate Identity] compartmentalized Background dots in it (you have to pay for the Backgrounds yourself). Seeing through the Alternate Identity is a [Mental Attribute]+Investigation roll against a difficulty of [Alternate Identity]+3. The way difficulties and dice pools works in M20, this means that if you have Alternate Identity 5, which represents "A fully supported identity with complete history, support documents, witnesses, fake family photos, alternate homes and so on." and encounter a regular police detective with Perception 2 and Investigation 3, they have an over 67% chance of seeing through your Alternate Identity. Alternate Identity 3, which reportedly stands up to casual inspection, fails 77% of the time when put in front of a mystery novel enthusiast (Per 2, Investigation 1).

Arcane: Instead of rolling whatever+Stealth, you can roll whatever+Stealth+Arcane when you move around in public spaces and don't want people to remember you were there. In short, it's a narrowly applicable version of Stealth. It does have the useful fluff effect of making people not remember very well what you look like.

Avatar: Your ability to absorb, storen, and channel Quintessence into your magick is capped at [Avatar]/turn, so if you want to cast powerful spells in this game about casting powerful spells, buy this. This is so important that the book several times calls out the need to buy this at at least one dot. Frankly, if it that important, you should just get the first dot for free. The way it's now it's just a trap for the inexperienced.

Backup: The way this is written, it implies that you can - at will - basically summon a group of 2×[Backup] people to help you out in some minor way; the example is gun-wielding thugs who cover your escape. Unlike allies these are not distinct characters, but rather faceless goons and other types of support personnel. You can also exchange your regular goons for half as many elite goons, who are very, very elite: "Traits in the 3-5 range" means that a combat-capable goon will also probably be a genius and part-time model. There's not much advice for how to stat up goons beyond this though. Further, it has that annoying note that since you get these goons to do work for you through some organization, you'll also need to do work for the organization, because your ST should stop the regularly scheduled game to throw you random duties just to remind you that nothing in this world is free. It's also unclear why this isn't just a version of Allies; the rules even note that elite goons are basically generic Allies for a single session. And, in a stunning example of sex-work-positivity, the text suggests that you can use this to call on "hookers" if you're a rock star...

Blessing: You get some minor bonus from a diety like "your clothes are always clean" or "your gun always has one bullet left", that doesn't otherwise affect magick or combat. Suggested blessings include "your punches have movie-like sound effects". This is yet another Background that can be removed at any point, since if you ever break with the deity that gave you the Blessing, it goes away. You also have to pick up a minor related quirk, like "an affinity for ravens".

Certification: If you don't have any dots in this, all you have is a government ID card and a driver's license. Want to have a hunting license or the license to run a business? Pay for 1 dot. Want to have a passport, motorcycle license, or a firearms permit? Pay for 2 dots. Concealed carry license, lifeguard certification, or or a private pilot permit? That's 3 dots. I find it rather striking that you're supposed to make up these elaborate backgrounds for your character, but you have to pay through the nose to have even the most basic things associated with such a background. You need to get Certification 2 to have a license for a motorcycle, for crying out loud!

Chantry:

M20 posted:

Because Mage’s character-creation rules assume that beginning characters are new to the Awakened game, a character with this Background begins as a low-ranking member of an established stronghold. She gets the benefit of a belonging to a group of older and more experienced peers (who are probably Storyteller-run characters), but starts off at the bottom of the pecking order too. The elders have her doing errands and chores around the Chantry, and she lacks political clout within the group.

Fagging is usually frowned upon as a form of ingrained institutional abuse for a reason, and frankly the way MTAs romanticizes stuff like this as part of the Traditions and Disparates annoys me. You also have to pay for this thing the game assumes you have; 1 dot to even be a member of a Chantry. The exact benefits of having dots in Chantry are also very vague, and often you have to pay for those benefits separately; if a Chantry has a handful of Sleeper/Sleepwalker aides, you might have to pay the Allies, Backup, Cult, or Retainer price. The benefit of being in a Chantry that you have more experienced mages around to teach you, for example, is probably a Mentor you need to pay for.

Contacts: Allies who know stuff. They're a bunch of background NPCs that you can use to get information by asking them questions. You get [Contact] NPCs that are like moderate Allies you can ask for stuff (such Contacts are termed a "major Contact", despite being equivalent to a "moderate Ally"...), but there's no indication what these major Contacts actually do beyond "be NPCs", since they're there for asking questions. You also get a network of minor, innumerable, generic Contacts you can ask for stuff; this is the only thing that distinguishes this from Allies/Backup, and honestly the three should probably have been folded into one Background. Then they could share NPC-generation rules and not take up so much space.

Cult: Because magick is resisted by the Consensus, and the Consensus is shaped by belief, it's a lot easier to cast Vulgar magick if you surround yourself with people who genuinely believe in your mage's paradigm. This Background lets you have such a group who can help you with magickal rituals.

Demesne: The Demesne Background lets you visit your Demesne-realm when you sleep. What can you do in your Demesne-realm? Well, you can try to recall your own memories...

Destiny: You have a sense of destiny that lets you, once per session, roll your Destiny rating to regain Willpower points, until your ST pulls the rug out under you and tells you that this time it doesn't work. If the ST does that and you succeed at the task at hand, you lose this Background, because gently caress you and your hard-earned XP.

Dream: You can dreammeditate about how you're going to do something, then do it. Substitute your Dream dots for an Ability for a single task if you succeed on a Perception+Dream roll. The text mentions that the length you need to meditate is determined by how hard the task is, but no actual guidelines for how long this is are provided. Is one second regular? Ten minutes? An hour? :iiam:

M20 posted:

The form of concentration depends on the mage’s focus, and can range from a BDSM session to a hard night at the library.

Enhancement: You're a cyborg or something like that. It comes in three varieties; cyborgs, biomods, and genetic engineering. Cyborgs walk around with permanent Paradox on their sheets and take 2 levels of Aggravated damage extra when attacked by Life spells. Most cyborgs come with kill-switches and failsafes, and are closely watched. Bio-modifications give permanent Paradox if they're "obvious" and give the character a Genetic Flaw per dot in the Background. The generically engineered get a Genetic Flaw per dot in Enhancement. You cannot be a genetically engineered cyborg, by the way. Oh, yeah, and you get [Enhancement] extra Attribute dots or 3×[Enhancement] points of Devices to do fancy stuff with. Underneath all the ways this Background-you-have-to-pay-double-the-normal-XP-for fucks you over in capricious ways, I almost forgot it had benefits.

Fame: You're famous! Get bonuses to social skills. Also, like so many Backgrounds in M20, your ST is given a carte blanche to gently caress with you, since you'll get stalkers and everyone pays attention to everything you do. Also you have to spend effort to stay famous or you'll lose the Background.

M20 posted:

And just as there are folks who’ll love you for what you do, there’ll be folks who hate your guts for it as well. Fame brings stalkers, haters, critics, and thieves… and if you don’t want them in your life, then why’d you choose to become FAMOUS…?

Familiar: You have some kind of familiar, like a robot or alien. Sometimes giving context on how the Technocracy treats various magick things is good, but I find myself just rolling my eyes at how the Technocracy is mocked for actually believing in their paradigm:

M20 posted:

Although the Technocracy does not officially acknowledge such deviation from protocol in its ranks, certain Technocrats – especially among the Progenitors, the New World Order, and Iteration X – have been known to employ Companions: cybernetically enhanced critters, bioengineered experiments, clones, and so on. Lab animals have their intelligence and capabilities boosted with the wonders of hyperscience, and vat-grown humans with perfect skin and dazzling features stock the offices and bordellos of Syndicate bosses. Out on the murky fringes where protocol becomes a stern suggestion, Void Engineers work alongside friendly(?) aliens and technologically modified Earth creatures. These Companions, of course, are nothing like those superstitionist familiars – such comparisons would be tantamount to treason! And yet, it’s funny how much Companions and Familiars have in common.

Familiars eat [Familiar] Quintessence every week, and in return you can add [Familiar] dots to Cosmology, Enigmas, Occult, and other very useful skills. You can also transfer up to 3×[Familiar]-1 Paradox to your Familiar when casting spells, but if you do this your Familiar will leave you. If your Familiar dies, you lose 1 dot of Willpower and 2×[Familiar] Quintessence - and if you can't pay that cost, you have to pay the difference in Paradox.

Influence: Basically, you can add [Influence] dots to rolls involving the social side of things. But...

M20 posted:

Remember, though, that famous and influential people are easily recognized and tend to be responsible for (and held accountable by) lots of people. Influence is double-edged in that regard, and unwise activities can lower your Influence rating. Sure, you can walk into a restaurant and treat people like dirt – just expect some nasty social media reactions to you as soon as your back is turned…
:rolleyes:

Legend: You can channel the essence of a legend of pop-culture icon. This lets you, once per story, roll [Legend] to get Quintessence back. The difficulty of this roll is based on how well-known the legend is. The more dots you have, the less obscure the legend is, so having few dots in Legend makes it pretty useless... though 1 dot gives you access to pop-culture icons like Grumpy Cat. On the legend side of things, for 1 dot you can channel the legend of Abou Hassan. For 2 dots, you can channel a significant pop-culture figure like Janis Joplin (...who?), while 3 dots lets you channel Batman and Elvis. At 4 dots you can channel a major legend like Geronimo (...uh, who?) or Red Riding Hood, while 5 dots are "A universally popular legend" like Cinderella or King Arthur. Does anyone else think this is a bit patronizing and culturally provincial? This Abou Hassan guy, who apparently has a million restaurants named after him is a 1-dot Legend, while obscure figures from US history like Geronimo are 4-dot Legends and western fairy tales and literary canon like Cinderella and King Arthur are 5 dots. Frankly, Batman is probably more well-known than Cinderella.

(Also, you can store up to [Legend] Quintessence in one item, or one Quintessence in [Legend] items. Storing up to a total of [Legend] Quintessence in discrete units in up to [Legend] items in an arbitrary manner, however, does not appear to be possible, for some reason. Legend 3 does not allow you to store 2Q in one item and 1Q in another.)

Library: You have a library that helps you do research. How long time does it take to do research with a library? :iiam:

Mentor: Like the Chantry and its customary fagging of new initiates, this Background romanticises often abusive or patronizing mentor-student relationships.

M20 posted:

said training could consist of dropping you off rooftops, said guidance may involve more Yodaisms than a Karate Kid marathon, and said assistance could boil down to whacking you in the head just after you read that passage in the flesh-bound grimoire.

M20 posted:

Mentors have their own agendas, of course, and those goals aren’t always obvious. Plenty of mages get their first taste of Awakened society from mentors who are distant, abusive, manipulative, uncaring, ineffective, or downright insane.

Basically, having a Mentor means you have some relation to an NPC that gives no tangible mechanical benefit, but has some interest in turning you into a pawn in their greater game.

Node: You have a Node that gives you Quintessence and Tass on a regular basis.

Past Lives: You can roll [Past Lives], and if you succeed, get +1 to one Ability. It's very similar to Dream, and I think that having a bunch of fiddly and very similar powers in a book this size is probably unnecessary; Player's Handbooks were invented for this kind of thing.

Patron: You pay points to have the ST decide how some kind of shadowy figure you don't know about will help you out in secretive ways. Then, some day, they'll demand you pay them back. M20 has a lot of powers that require the ST to adjudicate the entire effect. This Background is rated from 0 to 5, and each dot has basically the same description.

Rank: You hold Rank in some organization, which gives you [Rank] dots of Influence and [Rank]/2 dots of Fame over people in that organization, and [Rank]/2 dots of Resources to spend on organization tasks (or embezzlement). I'm quite serious when I say that M20 honestly reminds me of GURPS; this fine division of different social advantages within and outside organizations and the way they give you other Backgrounds with limitations for free is almost exactly like GURPS. Together with the expansive Abilities and long, long lists of AdvantagesBackgrounds, I'm kind of surprised this thing was made by Onyx Path Publishing in 2015.

Requisitions: You can roll [Requisitions] to get points to buy magickal Devices with for a single mission. It's a Technocracy-only Background with a difficult dependent on how loyal the Technocracy thinks you are. It actually seems like a perfectly adequate way to abstract the random elements of a bureaucracy handing you tools way outside of your personal budget. At a hunch, I'd guess that this Background was originally written by Brian Campbell for Guide to the Technocracy, and has simply been ported over by Brucato.

Resourced: The Tenth Sphere of the Syndicate. You have money. If you have lots of dots, you have lots of money. If you don't have dots in this, you're one of the working poor and live paycheck to paycheck. 4 dots makes you a millionaire. At 7 dots you're a billionaire. At 8 dots you're "Bruce Wayne level" and "own companies". At 9 dots you're "Tony Stark level" and "own industries". I'm glad it tells me about owning companies or industries, because I don't read superhero comics and I have no clue how much more money Tony Stark has than Bruce Wayne. 10 dots is... just read it: "Bill Gates level wealth. You own governments." :rolleyes:

Retainer: This gives you [Retainer] number of servants. These Retainers are like Allies, only they're not for combat, so they're like sidekicks, which you could get 2×[Allies] of.

M20 posted:

Rich people have several retainers on staff, but you don’t need to be wealthy to have this Background. A homeless mage might still enjoy the loyalty of the kid she saved from an abusive dad.
Because when you save children from abusive families, you should make them do child labour for you and treat them as an underprivliged economic class. :allears:

Sanctum: You have a magickal place that follows your own paradigm, so all your magick cast there is coincidental. It gives mechanical benefits to casting ritual magick.

Secret Weapons: Requisitions, but only for James Bond-like gadgets.

M20 posted:

Requisitions 4: [...] These items tend to be useful but plagued with finicky and perhaps dangerous bugs.

Spies: You have spies somewhere. Are spies useful?

M20 posted:

Whatever your relationship to these spies might be, however, they could turn against you if you’re not careful. Money, magick, better drugs, the threat of torture – all these things and more might flip your spies into someone else’s service. And even if they do remain loyal to you, your spies can be misled with false data or mistaken impressions of what’s really going on. They know only what they’re able to see.

Having 3 dots in this Background gives you access to spies in the CIA or UN. 3 dots, if you remember, is what you need to invest to have a private pilot license. Be a pilot... or control spies within the CIA. Hmm... Decisions, decisions...

Status: Add [Status] to social rolls among your peers. Add [Status]/2 to social rolls among people who might know about you, but aren't peers. It's basically a less useful version of Influence or Fame. You trade utility for giving your ST less chances to gently caress you over at a whim. M20 also seems to commit a very common mistake of RPG systems, where you can stack social bonuses to ridiculous levels. If you have Influence, Fame, and Status you start having bonuses of +15 to all your social rolls, which pretty much completely breaks the scale.

Totem: You have a spirit-totem that helps you out in return for doing stuff for it and following its rules. It gives you bonus dots to a specific Ability you already have a dot in, and dots to Cosmology or Lore. It might also help you fight "in exchange for a huge favor afterward", and is generally full of antagonistic writing. Have Totem 5? "Your bond to that spirit is obvious to anyone and marks you as a very strange, primal, and probably intimidating person."

Wonder: You have some kind of magickal item that has spells or spell-like effects of its own. They're described in Appendix II, so I'll talk more about them then. But, don't forget, gently caress you:

M20 posted:

Wonders can be temperamental… especially Fetishes, whose guiding spirits have personalities of their own. Even Devices, however, can seem uncannily stubborn, as anyone with a finicky car or computer can attest. They tend to have odd effects on the people who use them, especially mages who rely upon Wonders the way Elric of Melniboné relies upon his sword Stormbringer.

There are a lot of Backgrounds, and they combined the worst excesses of 90's design with horribly antagonistic writing and ST-adjudicated vagueness. Like Abilities, you have to pay ridiculous amount of points to make a regular character. I've been under the impression that the World of Darkness games sold themselves on their simplicity and elegance, but this is detail and fidelity that competes with GURPS. I guess that like Gifts in W20, they simply made a list of every Background ever published, but that strikes me as a bad approach; some should have been dropped for being far too fiddly, like Certification. Others should have been merged, like Allies, Backup, and Retainer, or Requisitions and Secret Weapons. The antagonistic writing that basically invites the ST to be capricious with their players is mindbogglingly stupid.

In short, it's so nineties!

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 03:38 on Jan 15, 2016

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





CHARACTER CONCEPTS AND IDEAS PART TWO

Mechrider:
Mechriders are gear-heads who capture robots to jailbreak their programming and modify them into mounts. While I personally have the mental image of someone zipping across Zone Denver riding ED-E, that's not the case (well, mostly). Mechriders tend to hijack robotrucks (remote-piloted vehicles) or robots called "hovercats" (imagine a horizontally rectangular unit with hoverjets and various extendable extremities). Mechriders raid construction shacks for parts for their pets and for charging ports to keep themselves mobile. Basically, they're bikers and roughnecks who turn robots into their vehicles.
Common advantages: Absolute Direction, Ally (robit), Ally Group (if in a pack), Combat Reflexes.
Common disadvantages: Enemy (exterminators), Overconfidence, Pirates' Code of Honor, Sense of Duty (their pack), Social Stigma (outlaw).
Useful skills: Beam Weapons, Computer Operations, Computer Programming, Cooking, Driving, Electronics Operation, Gunner, Guns, Knife, Lasso, Leatherworking, Mechanics (robots), Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Stealth.

Nomad: Survivors and scavengers who stay on the move to stay ahead of exterminators and internment in a slave camp. They prefer the wilderness due to competition in the ruins and other hazards and tend to travel in clans.
Common advantages: Absolute Direction, Acute Vision, Alertness, Ally Group (if a clan leader).
Common disadvantages: Pirates' Code of Honor, Sense of Duty (the clan), Social Status (outlaw).
Useful skills: Animal Handling, Bow, Cooking, Crossbow, Driving, Guns, Knife, Lasso, Leatherworking, Mechanic, Motorcycle, Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Stealth, Teamster, Veterinary.

Postman: If this was a more recent game, it would probably be called "Courier" like New Vegas' protagonist. Instead we get a reference to a Kevin Costner movie. Postmen carry messages that are too dangerous to broadcast and handle.
Common advantages: Absolute Direction, Contacts, Reputation.
Common disadvantages: Obsession (travel), Sense of Duty (MAAAAAAIIIIILLLL), Social Status (outlaw).
Useful skills: Bard, Diplomacy, Driving, Escape, Fast-Talk, Guns, Holdout, Knife, Mechanic, Motorcycle, Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Stealth, Surviving Being Shot In The Head.

Preacher/Missionary: Quite common in Zone Tel Aviv, they're people of all walks of life who have turned to different religions to deal with life under robot rule. Some of them are good and inspiring, some are bloodthirsty and dangerous. Some of them may form cults.
Common advantages: Ally Group (followers), Charisma, Clerical Investment, Reputation, Status (if you choose a popular religion).
Common disadvantages: Sense of Duty, Vows, maybe Pacifism. In some cases, Delusion, Fanaticism, Intolerance, No Sense of Humor, Reputation (nutjob/fanatic/cultist), Social Stigma (outlaw if in machine zones).
Useful skills: Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, First Aid, Performance, Theology, Outdoor skills.

SAS Soldier: Some good soldiers never die, they just pop up years later to help train a new generation of warriors. The SAS of Zone London still uphold the strict standards of old, and in lieu of working planes they have their trainees perform jumps off towers or cliffs with parachutes.
Common advantages: Common Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Military Rank (0-4), Reputation (badasses), Strong Will, Toughness, Unfazeable.
Common disadvantages: Extremely Hazardous Duty, Overconfidence, Sense of Duty (comrades).
Useful skills: They're bad-rear end special ops soldiers, so. Yes. Lots of useful skills, as much as the Info-Commandos.

Slave Laborer: Work eighteen hours, what do you get? Your whole body hurts and you still can't have kids. Ideally, you have already escaped from captivity or are about to at the end of the first game session.
Common advantages: Immunity to Disease (!), Reputation, Toughness.
Common disadvantages: Sterile. Some slaves have Age or Youth. Most slaves have Poverty. Slaves are rarely physically disfigured or they wouldn't be able to work but Mental Disadvantage of all stripes is common. If you become a guerilla, throw some stuff about being hunted or hating robots in the mix.
Useful skills: Brawling, Exoskeleton, First Aid, Knife, Mechanic, Scrounging, Survival, pretty much any skill depending on what you did or who you were before imprisonment.

Spacer: You're living on the moon, your capsule opens soon. Radiation's gone and the robots moved on, you're living on the moon. Or maybe you were an astronaut and are living on Earth; the game assumes this is for campaign involving Tranquility.
Common advantages: Military Rank.
Common disadvantages: Duty or Sense of Duty.
Useful skills: Lots. You don't become an astronaut by being an unskilled idiot. They may not have much in the way of physical skill recommendations but there's a lot of intelligence skills recommended.

Survivalist: They actually have a lot to say about survivalists and namedrop specific types (crazed cultists, libertarian outdoorsmen, crackpots, Mormons). The difference between survivalists, junkrats and nomads is that survivalists hunkered down in one place and escaped robot detection and are actually doing reasonably well. It's just that they don't trust anyone from the outside and tend to be hostile and end up as targets of ransacking for hoarding stuff if the marauders can get past their defenses.
Common advantages: Common Sense, Wealth.
Common disadvantages: Dependents, Fanaticism, Intolerance (strangers), Miserliness, Sense of Duty (family), Social Stigma (outlaw), Stubbornness.
Useful skills: Agronomy, Armory, Bows, Cooking, Craft skills, First Aid, Guns, Mechanic, NBC Warfare (okay I don't suppose it's too unreasonable to assume one of these compounds is sitting on some anthrax, sarin or smallpox), Outdoor skills, Stealth, Vehicle skills.

Underground Member: A Washingtonian who has issues with the government and engage in activism or sabotage. They tend to have day jobs and keep their lives separate due to the whole...FBI making you disappear thing. Sample underground members: feminists (GRRL or otherwise), homosexuals, capitalists, news reporters, black marketeers, subversive FBI. Alternately, you're a Mole Person.
Common advantages: Alternate Identity, Contacts, Zeroed.
Common disadvantages: Enemy (feds), Obsession, Secret (underground member).
Useful skills: Computer Hacking/Operation/Programming, Demolitions, Disguise, Electronics Operation (computer, security), Fast-Talk, Forgery, Guns, Holdout, Knife, Sex Appeal, Shadowing, Stealth.

WASP Trooper: Come, let us engage in jackbooted thuggery for the Greater Good.
Common advantages: Legal Enforcement Powers, Military Rank (0-4).
Common disadvantages: Alcoholism, Dependent (family), Duty, Impulsiveness, Intolerance (criminal scum), Lecherousness, Overconfidence, Sense of Duty (comrades/Zone Washington).
Useful skills: Armory, Battlesuit, Carousing, Computer Operation, Driving, Electronics Operation (Communications Sensors), Guns, Leadership, Mechanic, Piloting (helicopters), Shortsword (baton), Tactics.

Washington Chrome: As a critically-injured person put into a cyborg body and given a robot partner and turned into a patriotic war machine, it's your just duty to go rogue and become a player character once you question your orders. Or, uh, don't and play Super Washington Strike Force with your buddies.
Common advantages: Besides being a cyborg? Ally (partner robot), Fearlessness, Military Rank (1-3), Patron (the unit), Sense of Duty (comrades), Wealth (comfortable).
Common disadvantages: Extremely Hazardous Duty, Overconfident. Mental Disorders tend to crop up depending on if they were turned into a cyborg or if they're a robot who spent time among humans.
Useful skills: Yes. Many.
Models: Chromes use either the Patriot model or Eagle model but the following modifications are popular: extra sensors, better weapons, better armor, biomorphics, sex implants. The latter are probably to make them feel and look more human.

NEXT TIME: Aniroids, Bioroids and Robot Character Types

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



senrath posted:

You mean what's coming this year?

I know someone who's working on it, but he's under an NDA and won't tell me what's going on with the system.

WaywardWoodwose
May 19, 2008

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I know this probably isn't the place, but can someone tell me which episode of system mastery Blimpleggers appeared in? I'm writing some stuff for it for my group.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I always figured the low status thing in Mage and Werewolf wasn't meant to be institutional abuse so much as a framing of "you're starting in a place where the default story involves working your way up." Not necessarily the worst default assumption, albeit perhaps needing a side note of "and to represent an adept/fostern/whatever, add 30 BP".

Of course, for vampires, it is institutionalized abusive shitwork, curable only by embracing the true nature of the night and eating your elders.

Grnegsnspm
Oct 20, 2003

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

WaywardWoodwose posted:

I know this probably isn't the place, but can someone tell me which episode of system mastery Blimpleggers appeared in? I'm writing some stuff for it for my group.

It was in one of the Afterthought episodes when someone asked us to come up with a setting that wasn't based around MagiTech. I think somewhere around episode 10-12?

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




The In Nomine writeup reminds me that while I never minded Dan Smith's B&W art in like the thousand different GURPS books he did, his color art was really bad. Or at least whoever colored over his silhouette work did a lovely job of it. :geno:

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chiasaur11
Oct 22, 2012





Evil Mastermind posted:

By the way, I haven't really touched on the "fiction" part of Torg, mainly because it's terrible. Here's the "intro story" for the Nile Empire sourcebook:


Believe it or not, that's not the worst-written fiction in Torg by a long shot.

I can believe it.

I mean, don't get me wrong. The narration is dire, and the dialog is nowhere near good. But some of Mobius's dialog works, in a mad science pulp villain way, and the bit about how he can afford to miss watching the hero die... since he'll be dying for all eternity! is prime evil megalomaniac. It's bad writing in a subgenre where a little bad writing can actually help the atmosphere.

Actually, given some of what you've said about Torg, I wouldn't be surprised if that was on the better end of the spectrum. If that's the case, I'm very grateful you haven't been touching on the fiction, and would prefer it if you continued to do so.

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