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Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012




Chapter 1 Continued


Character Classes Continued
Loup Garou: Lycanthrope, werewolf, Loup Garou, rougarou: all are different names for the same beastly Ageless. Some individuals intentionally ally themselves with the Devil to gain the ferocious power of a beast, while others become a Loup Garou by a Conjure worker's curse, being bitten by an existing Loup Garou, or attracting the Devil's attention and being cursed by him by being antisocial and violent individuals who wallow in constant sins. While a bitten or cursed person can reverse their malady by not revealing their cursed status to anyone for a hundred and one days, a player Loup Garou is an Ageless individual who either didn't know about this escape clause, failed to keep their secret, or intentionally revealed it to keep their monstrous side. The Loup Garou can take human or beast form at will, and retains their awareness and sense of self. Where the curse comes in is in the Hunger: a Loup Garou always has a gnawing desire for human flesh. In game terms, this is a forced Willpower roll that is made once a week as well as whenever a Loup Garou smells human blood, a failure meaning they have an overwhelming compulsion to kill and eat a person immediately. It is a difficulty of 20 to force the compulsion to accept killing and eating a large animal such as a deer or a cow instead, and one of 30 to avoid compulsively eating any living thing for that week. To avoid them being completely villainous if they aren't succeeding on their Willpower rolls all the time, the player of a Loup Garou that fails their check is at least allowed to pick a victim if they wish. The text explains this trait by stating that some Loups Garoux (that would be the plural of Loup Garou) effectively become vigilantes, dealing out murderous justice whenever the Hunger strikes them.

On top of the Hunger, Loups Garoux have various other weaknesses, all courtesy of actual folklore. In animal form, a Loup Garou spreads the curse of the Loup Garou to non-Ageless humans they bite but manage to avoid killing, suffers Shocking Pain from salt, suffers full damage from iron or silver attacks, and is forced to revert to human form and stay that way for twenty four hours if stabbed with a stake or other similar pointed wooden object. If they want a few extra points for point buy, they can also buy a few other disadvantages such as claustrophobia, a crippling fear of frog croaks (yes, this is an actual thing from Cajun folk tales), or the need to count any large amount of small objects after they are scattered on the ground in front of them. There's also the little issue of death. While not directly relevant to the players, dead Loups Garoux who were unredeemed and Hell-bound get transforms into beasts known as hellhounds. These will get explained further in the bestiary near the end of the book, but to make things short they forcibly remain in animal form and are slaves of the Devil, unable to disobey his orders.

The primary boon of the Loup Garou is the ability to take on an animal form. The favored form a Loup Garou can take is usually a wolf, but it can also be a dog, cat, or owl. In this form, they take half damage from sources that aren't iron or silver, large stat boosts, and natural attacks. A special skill, Animal Form, allows the Loup Garou to further their shapeshifting prowess, being able to transform into animals other than their primary one with a roll passing 20, have their animal form spring out of their body and move freely while the human body remains unconscious but hopefully out of harm's way by passing 30, and retain human-like hands and the power of speech by passing 40. There is also an optional advantage that Loups Garoux can buy that grants them a giant bat as a familiar. According to Cajun stories, the rougarou/Loup Garou has command over a giant bat, and uses it to both fly through the night and to get to secret meetings of their kind held in the ghost town of Bayou Goula. Hoodoo Blues takes this beautiful ball and runs with it, having the Bayou Goula meetings and the giant bats both be mentioned in the text, and conveniently giving the giant bats their own statistics along with the aforementioned advantage to use one. As is befitting a bat the size of a prop airplane, giant bats have plenty of wing to do knockback attacks as well as fly, their Endurance and Strength stats are double that of the most powerful Ageless and their Speed stat is even higher still, and they are capable of carrying their master in their talons.


Medicine Worker: A form of Conjure worker whose powers lie in maintaining purity against "spiritual pollution" and interacting with the spiritual beings of the Lower World and Higher World. Ageless Medicine Workers are those who have taken their spiritual rituals to the next levels and have almost entirely halted the ravages of time. While they are traditionally Native American, anyone can theoretically learn Medicine work by interacting with Native American peoples, such as runaway slaves that joined up with the Seminole or members of the attempted Jewish-Native American confederacy of Mordecai Manuel Noah. Medicine Workers see both Hoodoo Doctors and Voodoos as kindred spirits, the former for their knowledge of Conjure materials and the latter for their contact with spiritual entities, but see some of the actions of both as spiritually impure enough that they like to keep a bit of distance. Loups Garoux and Hags are both seen as horrific monsters that have plagued the Americas since long before the white man came, however, and Crossroaders are mocked for their willingness to get into deals with a spirit known for being insincere.

While technically being Ageless, Medicine Workers still suffer some of the effects of aging, losing a point of Strength, Agility, Speed, or Endurance (player's choice) and getting a -1 to seduction rolls for each decade beyond 60 they are. They also suffer a -20 to all Conjure skills if they don't have a specially constructed bag of magical ingredients known as a medicine bag on their person, and suffer a -10 to Conjure skills if they are spiritually "polluted". Things that can cause a Medicine Worker to suffer from spiritual pollution include being near someone as they die, eating birds of prey, incest, touching lightning-struck wood, touching a corpse or grave, or eating food made by a woman on her period. Two other disadvantages that can be optionally taken for more points are either having a ghostly ancestor that hangs around wanting you to avenge some crime from their life, or a spirit curse known as Puzzlement that causes the faces of strangers to seemingly randomly appear as people the Medicine Worker already knows. For benefits, the Medicine Doctor gets a rank each in the Light Roots, Cleansing, and Compel Spirits skills for free, and can buy Native type Conjure skills cheaply. They can also optionally buy proper Agelessness rather than partial Agelessness or get a +10 to Conjure skills that involve divination due to being the younger of a pair of twins.


Voodoo: As it spread from the Caribbean to the United States, the central African religious practices of vodun eventually syncreticized with Catholicism, creating what is often referred to as Louisiana voodoo, Southern voodoo, or just voodoo for short. The deities or spirits known as the loa became associated with Christian saints, with old rituals taking on a new veneer of Biblical pageantry. For the purposes of Conjure, it doesn't really matter whether you are invoking the saint or the loa, just that you are invoking them properly. Most of the invocation involves showing respect and giving the loa/saint gifts that they are particularly fond of. Calling on Papa Legba/St. Peter typically involves white rum and tobacco, Ogun/St. Michael enjoys red beans and rice, and Baron Samedi/St. Expedite enjoys black roosters or goats and peppered rum, to name some examples.

Voodoos gain two free ranks of the Conjure skill Monter le Tate, and can buy other Conjure skills of the Saints category cheaply as well. Monter le Tate is a Willpower-based Saints Conjure skill that involves invoking a loa/saint through a specific ritual so that they "Ride" (possess) the Voodoo practitioner or another member of the ritual. Seven specific loa/saints are given paragraphs of information for convenience: Papa Legba/St. Peter, Damballah Wedo/St. Patrick, Ayida Wedo/Mother Mary, Ogun/St. Michael, Oshun/St. Mary Magdalene, Baron Samedi/St. Expedite, and Simbi Makaya/Moses. Each of the loa/saints has their own eccentricities and actions that they manifest on the individual being ridden, as well as specific things they are knowledgeable of and favors they are willing to grant if you ask them nicely and humbly. For example, Baron Samedi likes to wear dapper attire, smoke cigars, and speak obscenely toward women when he's Riding, and is capable of helping you out if you need someone on the other side contacted, protection from foul Conjure, or some sexual mojo. It takes a roll of 20 or better to perform the Monter la Tate successfully with a dozen faithful Voodoo practitioners in attendance, 30 or better if the group is five strong and/or contains half-hearted believers or unbelievers, and 40 or better if it's just the caster alone.

Voodoos have no mandatory disadvantages, but can take one of two optional ones for those sweet bonus points. Offended Saint means that there is a specific loa/saint that the Voodoo has pissed off and cannot invoke as much as it may be needed. Riding Another, on the other hand, is a flaw related to Agelessness. Specifically, someone who has Riding Another has not achieved Agelessness in the traditional sense, as their body continues to age and will die of old age normally. They are instead immortal by stealing the body of a younger person, subsuming their soul and taking charge. This is unsurprisingly considered evil and will almost always lead to the Voodoo being hunted by Hoodoo Doctors, Medicine Workers, and other Voodoos alike if they are found out. Of course, Hoodoo Doctors aren't on the best of terms with even the most heroic Voodoos, as they tend to see Hoodoo Doctors as their yokel cousins who can't do Conjure in the prim and proper manner.



Step Five: Skills
Skills in Hoodoo Blues don't work all that differently from the way you see skills usually used in other games, be they d20 system, GURPS, or whatever: you put together the results of a d20 roll, the attribute the skill is based on, and the number of skill points you have in said skill, and you see if you beat the required difficulty check. Unlike the somewhat more varied DCs of things like Dungeons and Dragons, however, there are only four flat difficulty checks for the ORC System and thus Hoodoo Blues by proxy: Easy (roll a 10 or better), Moderate (20), Hard (30), and Legendary (40). There are two types of skill, Conjure (anything magical) and Mundane (anything that isn't), any of which can have one to five ranks total put into them. You have one hundred points of your point buy to put into skills, and the cost varies depending on what type of Ageless you are and what category the skill you are trying to buy is in. For instance, say you want to get all five ranks in Lock Picking because you plan on your character being a master burglar. Lock Picking is under the Troublemaking category of skills. If you're a Loup Garou, you're going to be spending five points per rank in Lock Picking for a total of twenty-five for full ranks, while a Hag has to spend seven points for rank for a higher total of thirty-five of her hundred points.

Conjure Skills: Conjure comes in seven categories, some having far greater spell variety than others: Diabolical (three skills, two of which are the Hag's specialties of Leave Skin and Ride Human), Fortune (four skills), Hands (fifteen skills), Native (six skills), Protection (six skills), Resolve (six skills), and Saints (five skills). Now, I'm the idiot that unironically likes more than a few d20 systems and GURPS, but I'm fairly sure I'm still qualified to say that there's something a bit off about those category sizes when you remember that there's a class that gets a big discount on buying the one that has the most skills. Now, in theory the idea of some classes getting discounts on specific types of skill is neat, but in execution it's just the Hoodoo Doctor flipping other Ageless off with both hands while a bunch of Blingee effects blindingly dance around him. Shuffling some of the more harmful Hands spells into Diabolic could probably go a long way to alleviating this issue. Regardless, let's talk about some specific spells that haven't already been covered in the class overviews in that ever-popular bullet points format. While there aren't so many Conjure skills that it would be impossible to cover them all, I decided to cut out discussion of ones that are really self-explanatory (like Divining Rod, which makes a stick into...a divining rod, or Christian Exorcism being used for exactly what you'd expect exorcisms to do) or in that infamous category of "useful but not interesting to talk about" (such as Ariolatio, a Saints skill that is a "shake this holy item for yes, don't move for no" ask questions-style divination to a spirit or deity).
  • Crossroads Contact (Intelligence-based Diabolic skill): This actually should have been discussed when I talked about the Crossroader, but I completely blanked out and missed that they get a free rank in this skill. :blush: Anyway, this is the Conjure you use to call up the Devil at a crossroads where there are no people. It's an Easy roll to call him if it's a country road during the full moon, a Moderate roll to call him if it's a city road or it's a night where the moon isn't full, and a Hard roll to call him inside a private residence at night with your own homemade "crossroads" that is just an X you drew on the floor with magic powder.
  • Animal Powder (Willpower-based Hands skill): For those who like their magic in body horror flavor, this little piece of Conjure is ready and waiting. By grinding up a snake, salamander, snail, or worm into a Conjure powder, you can then attune and apply this powder on someone, causing a swarm of animals the powder was made from to crawl beneath the person's skin and in their eyes. On top of being absolutely terrifying, this causes blindness, Distracting Pain, and 1 Blood damage per day. As the animals are only visible to those who have magic sight (Ageless, non-Ageless Hoodoo or Voodoo workers, etc.), mundane medical workers are helpless to help the victim's seeming self harm-inducing delusional parasitosis. The only remedies are the healing Conjure skills Light Roots, Faith Healing, and Cleansing. It's an Easy roll to make powder that must be ingested, Moderate for powder that must be thrown in the face, Hard for powder that just needs to be walked on by the target, and Legendary for powder that just needs to be blown by the wind into the target.
  • Go-Crazy Hand (Willpowder-based Hands skill): This one is always a Moderate roll, and requires you to have a hair of the victim. You need to either thread the hair through the gills of a live catfish and then set it loose, or cut into a living tree and stick the hair inside it. Either way, the result is that the victim starts falling under the Conjure a day later, suffering hallucinations, panic attacks, and bouts of anger at random. The victim is only restored to normal if the hair is removed or the catfish/tree dies. I can only imagine the hilarity of failing to properly keep someone hexed because your Hoodoo'd catfish got caught and eaten.
  • Po' Man's Lawyer (Willpower-based Hands skill): Take some John the Conqueror root and two other random common mojo components, grind them up while reciting Psalms 23 from the Bible, and succeed on a Moderate roll, and you have yourself a guaranteed way to beat the law. You can either have the ground ingredients in a mojo bag that you put over your doorsill, protecting the house from any law enforcement getting near it for one week, or you can sprinkle it in the four corners of a courtroom to have it affect the next court action in the courtroom to your favor.
  • Fire Spy (Awareness-based Native skill): You can look through one fire to see into other fires. If you don't know exactly where the fire you want to look in is, you can "switch channels" as it were until you find the right fire. Anyone who can see spirits can spot your eyes glowing in their fire when you view through it. It's an Easy roll to check fires within a ten mile radius, Moderate for a fifty mile radius, Hard for a hundred mile radius, and Legendary for the entire planet.
  • Silver Dime (Willpower-based Protection skill): Do a Moderate roll to make a magic dime. It will turn black if in the presence of harmful Conjure, let you know someone's been hexed by turning black when you put it under their tongue, and tug on your leg to warn you that you are about to step on harmful Conjure if you tie it to a string around said leg.
  • Faith Healing (Willpower-based Resolve skill): Belief is a two-way straight in this case. While the Conjure worker has to make the skill check while engaging in a laying on of hands and invoking some deity or spirit they believe in, the person being targeted for healing also has to believe that the healing will work, otherwise the check automatically fails. This is a pretty big deal when this is the only spell that actually heals what passes for hit points in Hoodoo Blues It's an Easy roll to restore one Blood or Body point or cure a disease on the level of the common cold, a Moderate roll to restore two Blood or Body points or cure a disease on the level of the flu, a Hard roll to restore all Blood or Body points or cure most chronic diseases, and a Legendary roll to cure blindness, deafness, muteness, lameness, or cancer.
  • Ghost Payoff (Willpower-based Saints skill): The Conjure worker goes to the grave of a friend or old acquaintance, calls out their name three times, and then bribes them with whiskey and either three pennies or their favorite food in life. If the skill roll afterward is successful, the ghost manifests as a Power 10 h'aint (we'll have to wait for the bestiary section for more on what that means) willing to do the task asked of them. Only one example is given of each difficulty level, leaving a bit of guesswork on just what it takes to get a ghost to do what you want. The specific examples are spooking someone as an Easy roll, guarding a house for a day as a Moderate roll, and fighting another spirit as a Hard roll.

On top of actual Conjure skills, there is also a secondary form of Conjure simply known as Rituals. Each Ritual is tied to a specific category of Conjure, and anyone who has at least one rank in one skill of that Conjure skill category just needs to be able to finish the ritual and doesn't need any particular skill roll to "seal the deal", as it were. Those who don't have any skill points in that category must make a Hard Willpower roll to activate the Ritual after performing its steps due to the fact that they are dabbling in Conjure they don't fully understand. Some specific Rituals include the Fortune ritual Dog Tears (poke a dog in the eye, then touch the finger you used to poke it into your own eye, and for five minutes you can see spirits and anything else that happens to be invisible to the naked eye), the Hands rituals Stop up Excretion (put someone's feces in a bottle and hide it in a tree, and they'll suffer constipation until they die from bowel backup in a week if they don't receive surgery or have their poop jar destroyed) and Stop a Drinker (put a few drops of catfish blood in someone's alcohol, and they will be unable to ever drink that type of alcohol again without feeling ill), the Native ritual Turkey Scratching (scratch someone with the spur of a male turkey's foot, and they get a +4 to Strength and Endurance for an unstated but temporary amount of time), and the Protection ritual Burn a Hag Victim (burn someone ridden by a Hag in the past twenty-four hours and the hag takes the same burn damage, which seems kind of a dick move even if it's for a good cause).


Mundane Skills: Those things normal people do. There are seven different categories of mundane skill: Arts has creative skills such as Painting/Drawing, Performance, and Sculpture (nine skills in total), Booklearning is academic subjects ranging from Religion to Business to Chemistry and Surgery (twenty-one skills in total), Folk is a weird smattering of "rural" skills including Acrobatics, Swimming, and Tracking (fifteen skills in total), Martial is a smattering of military or combat-oriented skills such as Archery, Boxing, and Rifle/Shotgun Combat (twenty skills in total), Modern is skills that mostly involve modern technology such as Computers and Forensics but also inexplicably has the martial arts combat skills Aikido and Tae Kwon Do (seven skills in total), and Troublemaking is primarily illicit skills such as Forgery, Lock Picking, and Torture but also inexplicably has the martial arts combat skill Capoiera (twenty-four skills in total). I'm honestly not someone who really cares about a skill list being complex, but I kind of just wanted to breeze over this section as fast as possible because what more can you really say about things that real people can actually do anyway?



Step Six: Decades and Motivations
Money: In a really awkward decision, the amount of money you start the game with depends on race. You start with $800 if you're white, $400 if you're Native American, and $200 if you are black or anything else. While yes, systematic racism is a thing in America and definitely in the Deep South, I'm not exactly sure why these exact numbers were chosen for these specific races, beyond the obvious of white folks having the biggest piece of the pie. It probably would have been simpler to just go the old standard route of economic status instead.

Age and Weariness: In my viewing of other reviews of Hoodoo Blues, I noticed that the biggest problem most people pointed out was the Weariness system. It turns out that they aren't wrong about it being kind of a problem. For each decade of the characters' life, you state in vague terms what they were doing, which gives both a benefit and a certain amount of Weariness. For instance, in a decade the character was Fightin' (which is defined as any combat-filled decade ranging from time as a soldier to swashbuckling pirate adventures) gives 2 Weariness but also three free ranks to put in any Martial category skills, while a decade of Helpin' (any sort of philanthropic activity-heavy decade) 1 Weariness but also a free ally. You add up the Weariness of every decade of the character's life and subtract it from your Willpower score. Since even the most benevolent and peaceful ways to spend a decade produce 1 Weariness, you can't escape it.

What makes it a problem is that, if you recall, a lot of Conjure skills are Willpower-based. This creates an inverse "Dungeons and Dragons old people have better hearing and sight than young people" situation, wherein the supposed all-powerful Ageless Hoodoo Doctor has less Conjure skill than his young apprentice simply because he's older. To at least be fair, you half Weariness if the character is working toward one of their Motivations, which will be discussed below. It's not a removal of the penalty entirely, but it is at least a step in the right direction.

Motivations: While everyone has motivation, not everyone has Motivation. What I'm talking about here is the Motivation system, wherein you select five things that your Ageless character is so dedicated to that even their ridiculously long lives haven't fully satisfied those urges. Motivations are divided into the categories of Anger (something you hold an eternal grudge against, such as the Devil, slavery, or the Federal government), Curiousity (the big questions, like "why does evil exist?" or "is there a limit to how powerful Conjure can be?"), Duty (long-term vows and obligations, such as "protect my home state" or "look after my descendents"), Joy (experience some form of pleasure that you have yet to be satisfied with, like the most fulfilling sexual experience or the wonder of finding a completely new land), Guilt (a sin you have never forgiven yourself for after your conscience caught up with you, such as fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War, owning slaves, or aiding the Devil), and Fear of Damnation (you don't want to go anywhere bad when you die). Motivations have two main goals for the course of the game. On the short-term, they reduce the penalties of Weariness as I mentioned before. On the long-term, they are the things that drive the Ageless forward, and after they have lost all their Motivations by either achieving them or finding them to be impossible they are considered to be at peace. This is effectively the end of their character journey, and is suggested to the point where you pack that character up and roll a new one.


Step Seven: Equipment
Not much new to say about equipment, beyond that there's a lot of it. One of Hoodoo Blues's stated intentions is to allow you to play at any time in the life of an Ageless, so there's a load of materials from the 1800s to today. This means that in the table of firearms you have the black powder pistol and matchlock rifle next to the machine gun and the hunting rifle, and vehicles go from coach to sports car. Beyond weapons and transport, there are also a myriad of survival gear, creature comforts, drugs and alcohol, and various other things you expect to see in roleplaying games.


Step Eight: Advantages and Disadvantages
If you have some ability that isn't based on an attribute or a skill, it's an advantage if positive or disadvantage if negative. There are thirty bonus points that are related to advantages, as well as more that can be gained through disadvantages (but not a lot, most only give around 1 BP to 4 BP). Advantage bonus points can also be funneled into attributes and health attributes if you want to boost those further instead, though the conversion rate for the latter is 3 BP of advantages to 1 BP of health attributes. There are a total of thirty-six advantages and sixy-eight disadvantages, a lot of which are self-explanatory things like Physically Attractive, Ordained Minister, Obese, or Mute. So rather than talk about any of those, I'll talk about some of the interesting supernatural and folkloric ones.
  • Caulborn: The character was born with a caul, a membrane over the head. According to Southern folklore, caulborn folk can see the invisible world, and it's true in the world of Hoodoo Blues. One of the notable real world people who were caulborn is Alan Moore, which makes more sense with the folklore than it probably should.
  • Frizzly's Key: Joe "Frizzly Rooster' Hudson was a legendary Hoodoo doctor mentioned in Zora Neale Hurston's folklore collection Mules and Men. Amongst his many purported accomplishments, one was the distribution of magical keys that can unlock any door, but lose their power if they ever touch the ground. The character happens to have one of these keys for some reason or another, maybe even having gotten it off Frizzly Rooster himself.
  • Hag Horse: If you can get a Hag's bridle into her mouth as she tries to Ride you, she is forcibly transformed into a horse. This means that you get a powerful Ageless steed that, while ill-tempered and spiteful, is enchanted to be loyal to a fault. Of course, if the bridle were ever to be removed somehow...well, that's probably going to be a messy situation. One that probably ends horribly for you.
  • Semi-Letiche: The letiche is a monstrous reptilian humanoid giant of the Louisiana bayou, said to be created when a child is abandoned in a swamp and raised by alligators while being touched by the swamp's magic. While full-fledged letiche are later on in the book's bestiary, you can take an advantage that makes you part letiche, specifically someone who started transforming but was rescued and brought back to society before it finished. The semi-letiche character is weirdly pale and has no body hair, and gets the mechanical alterations of claws and sharp teeth, +3 to Awareness, Agility, and Strength, four free ranks of Swimming, +10 Endurance for purposes of breath-holding, +10 for saving throws against Conjure, +7 to saving throws against heat exhaustion, -10 to saving throws against anger, fear, and pain, and -7 to saving throws against hypothermia.
  • Ulusunti: You have a hold of an ulusunti. It looks like a large crystal with a blood red streak down the middle, but it's actually a scale from a titanic Lower World snake spirit called an uktena. The ulusunti must have blood dripped into it to "feed" it weekly, or it will explode into a fiery blaze. As long as it is kept placated, the strange scale-crystal is capable of acting as a divining tool that grants visions as well as a +7 bonus to any sort of roll that is directly used in hunting, finding love, or making rain.
  • Born With Clenched Fists: The folkloric fates demand that one who is born with their fists clenched is destined to become a thief. The character gets four free levels distributed through any Troublemaking skills, but also has to make a Hard Willpower roll to avoid stealing anything the character wants badly or needs at the moment.
  • Born to Drown: Congratulations, because you were born face-down, you're going to die a horrible watery death! The character gets a -10 to Swimming saves or Endurance saves to hold their breath to avoid drowning, and fate seems to always keep them from straying too far from water. Aren't folk birth beliefs wonderful?



Next Time in Hoodoo Blues: Is it possible to actually leave the first chapter?

The answer is yes, because we finished it here. We'll be speeding through the chapter on how ORC system games are run and entering the chapter about the ins and outs of the South.

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Huh, that's cool. I know that beliefs regarding caul birth go back at least as far as the Romans in Europe, but wasn't aware that they survived the trip across the Atlantic to become part of Southern folklore too.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Double Cross - Public Enemy


The Random Scenario System

(There's a little mini chapter on Gjaums beforehand, but it's mainly a summary of stuff already mentioned in earlier books, with a bit of extra stuff that boils down to "Gjaums that appear sane only do so as part of their Impulse" and "Shadier organizations actually work with Gjaums as long as they don't just try to eat/kill everyone in sight.")

This is an interesting little Scenario creation system that has the GM only to the bare minimum of prep work before diving into the Scenario as blindly as the players. It's pretty much improv from beginning to end, which is a nice change of pace from the railroady example Scenarios. And you might even play the entire Scenario without an actual GM.

Prep-time only consists of picking one of the nine templates presented (which determines the general type of Scenario), or making your own. The basic premise of the Scenario is then rolled up beforehand, determining the objective and the Presage, a fancy name for DX's holy Scenario trinity of the Heroine (aka the MacGuffin), Ally (aka the BFF) and Rival (aka the BBEG). The Boss of the Scenario (who is usually, but not always, the Rival) is a blank slate at this point who only needs a Desire to be rolled, which in turn determines his Impulse and E-Loises.

The Opening Phase is pretty standard DX affair, with the important difference from the example Scenarios being that the players make up their own introduction scenes.

The Middle Phase is where things get interesting. This is the time in DX were all the PCs finally meet up to start investigations in hopes of finding out what's actually going on.
Instead of having a list of predetermined investigation topics to pick from, the GM instead chooses or rolls on an Event Chart, usually in a two-step process where you first determine the general type of Event before figuring out the specifics. Depending on the roll, the Event in question can be spiced up with Surprise Events, which are unforeseen circumstances (like an important NPC or the Rival making a sudden appearance) that mixes things up a little.
The worst kind of surprises are the Traps, which represent any kind of trouble or other interference (like combat). Traps need to be "disarmed" with a successful check, or they will make the next Investigation more difficult.
Investigation checks are performed at the end of every Scene, using a Skill and Difficulty appropriate to the situation (with the tempaltes providing guidelines). Multiple PCs can perform the check, but only the highest result matters. If susscessful, the final score will be converted into Prize Points, and the GM rolls on the Prize Chart to hand out a clue.

The Middle Phase continues with new Events and opportunities to gain Prize Points until one of two end conditions: Either the PCs gain enough Prize Points meet the Scenario's Flag, or the Advent happens.
Reaching the Flag is the desired outcome. It causes a Trigger Event to occur in which the truth is revealed based on the accumulated clues. This is also the time for the GM to finally roll up the Boss's actual stats (more on that in a minute). The Scenario then proceeds with the typical Climax Phase and Ending.
The Advent is a time limit, either in number of Middle Phase Events or has an actual amount of real time minutes. If the Advent is reached and the PCs still haven't gained enough Prize Points, a Deus Ex Machina is rolled up to skip the Climax Phase and go right to a (usually) bad ending. The Deus Ex Machina presented in the book are all over the place in terms of seriousness and tone. I think I jus thave to paraphrase all of them (ordered in descending order of grim darkness for your convenience):

  • The UGN is gone, all your base are belong to False Hearts
  • A Renegade Being noms the whole world
  • Bombs fall, everyone's MIA
  • You're PC has the highest Encroachment Rate? Now he's a Gjaum!
  • PCs win, but the Heroine isdead
  • PCs lose, case unsolved
  • The real battle is just about to begin...
  • Something something PC1's bravery will surely safe the day eventually
  • Nothing happens
  • The Boss jumps in to start the Climax anyways
  • The badass assassin Soichi "Predator" Iba and kills the BBEG for the PCs, like something out of C°ntinuum
  • It was all a dream by Kyoji "Diablos" Kasuga
I love this game

(Note that the Climax and All Your Base events can't actually be reached with a random roll and are only possible if the GM selects them.)

E-Loises

Despite the Boss not actually having any stats or power sets until the very end, he can still mess with the PCs thanks to the E-Loises rolled up at the start of the Scenario. Some of the new E-Loises in this book are written with the Random Scenario format in mind and may not work in a normal Scenario.

General E-Loises

Chaotic Scheme lets the Gjaum mess with the PCs by suddenly increasing the Difficulty of an Investigation or Trap Check. Failure forces a Surprise Event for the next Scene.
The Hyde is an aptly named E-Lois for Bosses that only have part of their mind being a Gjaum, essentially creating a very extreme split personality case. It is up to the GM to decide what happens if the Gjaum personality dies. Though it isn't mentioned in the E-Loises, it is probably a pretty cool idea to have either the Heroine or the Ally be the human personality.

E-Loises: Release

These are some funky ones: Awakening Soul gives every enemy in the Scenario a damage bonus and makes every non-Overed NPC slowly forget all their obligations and duties, while New World not only gives the Gjaum extra HP, but also has him reveal the existence of Overeds to the whole world if he survives the Scenario, adding another bad ending on top of whatever the GM rolled for the Deus Ex Machina.

E-Loises: Bloodsucking

Grace of the Abyss is vampire as all hell and lets the Boss turn any of the Presage NPCs into a temporary Gjaum by sucking his/her blood. Night Rose has him gain more and more HP as the fight goes on, until a juicy max bonus of +100.

E-Loises: Hunger

Maw of Abaddon lets the Boss gobble up HP from the PCs during a Surprise Event, while Thirsty Soul has him gain a damage bonus depending on how long the Middle Phase lasted, since the hunger he suffers from is so severe that it makes him go berserk.

E-Loises: Slaughter

Pretty straightforward stuff: Bloody Cascade reduces Prize Points for every scene with a battle, and Throne of Corpses hands out HP and a damage bonus for every KOed character.

E-Loises: Destruction

Cycle of Destruction is just a better Bloody Cascade (dropping Prize Points gained from the Scene straight to 0), and Shattered Empyrean is a modification of the Advanced Corebook's Manifestation of the Destroyer that not only grants a damage bonus, but has the Gjaum destroy the entire Stage the Scenario is set in if he survives till the ending.

E-Loises: Torture

Sadistic Illusions cann cause non-Overeds to awaken, but is mainly there to add a little bit of extra Encroachment Rate for every Scene involving combat. Blood-Splattered Demise works well with this because it spawns suped-up enemies into the current Scene.

E-Loises: Distaste

Hideous Worldview turns a Scene into a Trap, and Universal Disgust does the same, but also infects the Heroine with the disgust, creating conflict between her and the Scene's lead character.

E-Loises: Battle Lust

Eternal Strife prolongs a battle by having enemies spawn endlessly, essentially forcing the PCs to flee or figure out a clever solution. Abyss Demon is a surprise E-Lois that can be exchanged for another E-Loises, selected from a limited number.

E-Loises: Delusions

Twisted Dreams lets the Gjaum change the personalities of the Presages, while Construct Fantasies turns the Scene into a Trap, more specifically into the lead character having a nightmare based on one of the Deus Ex Machina. Unless GM fiat is used, this means it is impossible to have a nightmare about False Heart triumphing over the UGN, but there is a 10% chance of having a nightmare about Diablos having a dream (or is it a nightmare about being Diablos?!).

E-Loises: Self-Multilation

Stigmata Addiction makes the Gjaum a masochist, granting him bonus dice depending on how often he has been damaged. Reaper's Beckoning turns the Scene into a Trap in which the Heroine attempts suicide o_O

E-Loises: Fear

Unfathomable Forms lets the Gjaum change any physical and mental aspects of himself (including his political view for some reason). Universal Fear is another Trap creator, this time essentially having the Gjaum be Scarecrow and dose everything with fear gas.

E-Loises: Hatred

Cycle of Hate creates additional enemy minions during the Climax Phase, based on the number of enemies that have appeared so far (it's payback time, basically). Black Hellfire is another Trap E-Lois involving random NPCs attacking the PCs.

Story Templates

The example templates provided by the supplement, covering your general DX adventures.

  • Our Precious World: An enemy agents has a nefarious plan, which can involve things like a mystery soda or people going into a coma from playing a MMO.
  • The Girl's Secret: The PCs are trying to help a mysterious girl on the run from something or someone. In true DX fashion, the Heroine might just turn out to be a Gjaum or Renegade Being all along.
  • Find the Double-Crosser!: The PCs play internal affairs and try to uncover a traitor.
  • Escape From...: Something bad happened (which can be anything from a natural disaster, a terrorist attack or a zombie apocalypse), and the PCs have to get out ASAP.
  • Gjaum Hunt: The PCs hunt a rampaging Gjaum and try to find out its connection with the Heroine. Both can naturally end up being one and the same person.
  • Item Chaser: A mad chase for an important item (or the Heroine) with mysterious powers.
  • Dreams and Desires: For FH characters only, though not for long as the Scenario is all about how meeting the Heroine has the PCs try to leave FH for good.
  • Russian Roulette: Saving the best for last: The PCs find themselves in a sealed UGN lab when someone starts killing people. Not only is a Gjaum on the loose, but the Gjaum is one of them (decided based on the clues found)! The best part is that, once again, The actual identity of the Boss isn't revealed until the end, so everyone's free to be paranoid and suspicious as crazy. Once the culprit is identified, he will immediately hulk out to boss standards for the final confrontation with his supposed comrades. Sadly, the lab being located in the Antarctis is only possible through GM fiat.

The chapter ends with lots and lots of random charts, letting the GM generate anything from locations to NPCs and enemy groups to fight. There's also a big old list with named NPCs to tie the Scenario to the metaplot.
And of course, we got the Bosses...

Boss Templates

Boss Templates come in ten flavors, each with two distinct power sets for a total of 20 different Bosses. All of the writeups are meant with freshly-created PCs in mind, though there are guidelines to scale them up for more experienced groups.

Rampaging Gjaum

The classic case of an Overed who has been turned into a mindless monstrosity by the Renegade. The Uncontrollable Powers Type (Salamandra/Chimaera) is like Tetsuo from Akira in that they actually are sane, but have lost control over their powers. The Physical Mutation Type (Chimaera/Hanumann) is a straightforward beast.

Renegade Child

An UGN or FH Child who has turned Gjaum, making for a particularly dangerous foe. The Lightning Mage (Angel Halo/Salamandra/Black Dog) blasts the crap out of PCs, while the Bloody Puppeteer (Bram Stoker/Orcus) creates Red Servants for team combos.

Mad Scientist

It is only natural that mad scientists who are also Overeds eventually turn into Gjaums. The Mind Assasin (Solaris/Orcus) messes with people's heads, while the Artistic Bomber (Neumann/Exile/Morpheus) creates oversized bombs out of thin air.

Metal Beast

Inamiate objects given life by the EX Renegade, including everything from trash to tanks. The Genocide Machine(Black Dog/Orcus) is a single, big machine, while the Destroyer (Black Dog/Bram Stoker) summons lesser machines for help.

Also, their picture is amazing:

Crotch missiles are the best kind of missiles.

Steel Reaper

Former Overed super soldiers gone really mad. The Sky King (Morpheus/Angel Halo) creates his own helicopter to rain down lead and lasers onto the PCs, and the Flash Bullet (Black Dog/Neumann) just spams bullets nonstop by dual-wielding a point defense weapon and a shotgun.

Sword Demon

Former swordmasters who have become a bit too creepy. You know, the type of crazy sword user who is covered in blood all the time and is licking blood off their blade, which is exactly what the lady on the picture is doing:

Not really my kind of waifu.

The Ancient Swordmaster (Neumann/Hanumann) is essentially Miyamoto Musashi on speed, and the Crimson Demi-Fiend (Bram Stoker/Balor) creates a sword and armor out of blood. Gross.

Beast of Catastrophe

Essentially a Rampaging Gjaum that used to be an animal or plant instead of a human. The Beast Lord (Chimaera/Solaris) is a howling beast, while the Killer Plant (Exile/Orcus) is more or less Bulbasaur.

Agent of Genocide

A veteran assassin gone Gjaum. The Commander (Neumann/Solaris) coordinates his attacks with a couple Troopers, while the Two-Man Cell (Morpheus/Exile) are actually two guys with the same dakka-focused power set, with the only difference that one of them has a magnetic shield.

Renegade Being

Renegade Being Gjaums who are specifically inhuman in appearance. The Philosopher's Stone (Morpheus/Exile) is a sentient Renegade Crystal shredding people with crystals, while the Star Fragment (Balor) crushes them with gravity.

Also, take a load of its quote:

Star Fragment posted:

"Qryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"
Za Overedo

Transcendent One

The other extreme of the above template: A Renegade Being who is not only human, but has surpassed humanity, becoming something beyond our comprehension that sees us as unworthy vermin. Delusions of godhood may or may not be part of its shtick, and said delusions may or may not actually be justified.
The Heaven's Messenger (Salamandra/Angel Halo) is an angelic creature mostly fighting with a fire or laser sword, while the Mythological Hero (Balor/Hanumann) takes the form of Heracles or a similar mythological character who punches people with superhuman strength.

Next Time: Example Scenarios - You are a pirate.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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In Nomine: Like, chill, man.


The world is a garden - peaceful until disturbed by the strident voices of the savage and the cruel.

Novalism Archangel of Flowers, is charged with calming human souls. She is aCherub, and in her most common human vessel, she looks like a cross between a debutante and a flower child. She also appears as a young girl with a basket of flowers or as a spry old gardener. In any form, she is quick in both body and spirit. Her servants can be precise or wild, but all of them are hippies and stoners. Novalis is the kindest of Archangels, avoiding conflict when she can. Her angels are exceptionally friendly, and she doesn't like to see them helping with violent missions unless they can prevent the bloodshed. In fact, it is dissonant for angels of Novalis to perform or allow any violence that is not absolutely necessary. Killing a human is always dissonant, though demons can be killed if necessary. Even then, however, Novalis says to try kindness first.

Seraphim of Flowers emanate an aura of peace. Any violent action in their vicinity requires a Will roll with a penalty of the angel's Forces, reduced by 1 per yard of distance to the violent person.
Cherubim of Flowers can transfer corporeal damage from those they touch to themselves.
Ofanim of Flowers may, once per day or after completing a Rite of Novalis, instantly and invisibly teleport from any plant they touch to any other plant they can see or which is within (Forces) miles.
Elohim of Flowers can sense the emotions felt in the past week near a plant they touch, with a Perception roll giving information about the source, with more learned the higher the CD is.
Malakim of Flowers have foliage move to allow them to pass freely. Further, they can have plants entangle foes within (Corporeal Forces) yards, reducing their movement per turn by (Celestial Forces) yards.
Kyriotates of Flowers may possess plants as hosts, up to twice their total Forces. A tree form keeps a tree's natural strength and Protection (determined by the GM), but uses the angel's Agility and can grab or strike with branches.
Mercurians of Flowers fill any human that perceives their celestial form with intense joy, raising the TN of their next roll by the CD of the successful Perception roll.
Nothing But Flowers is a Servitor attunement that renders the angel very hard to spot if hiding behind or in plants, requiring a Preception roll with a penalty of (Celestial Forces). If the angel hides among flowers, they are completely invisible.
Crown of Joy is a Servitor attunement that allows you to spend 1 or more Essence and half an hour making a crown of flowers that looses a cloud of nearly invisible pollen shan shaken, six feet across. It requires a Perception roll to spot. The pollen remains for (Corporeal Forces) rounds, and anyone in the cloud is filled with kindness, dancing around for (5+Essence spent) minutes, or seconds if the victim is a demon. A Will roll can resist.
Vassals of Flowers can detect the degree of love or hate between two people they can see.
Friends of the Gardeners can, (Corporeal Forces) times per day, instantly restore a single large plant or a square yard of small plants to perfect health. For the next week, those that rest on or against these plants have any applicable die roll modifed by 1 in the direction of peace or healing and against conflict or harm. This is to be interpreted as liberally as possible.
Masters of Peace may calm irrational people or smooth over misunderstandings such as those caused by Malphas' attunements. If resisted, it is a contest of Will, with the angel adding their Celestial Forces to the TN.

Some of the more martial angels find Novalis blasphemous for wishing to reach out to demons over killing them, and also because she's a loving hippy. Dominic grumbles but does not overtly act against her. Novalis just grins and compliments her critics' appearances. She is allied to Eli and Jordi, associated with Yves and hostile to David and Michael. Basic Rites:
1. Sleep alone in a garden from sunset to sunrise.
2. Dance for two hours to live music surrounded by humans.

Novalis has a base Invocation TN of 4. +1 for a peace symbol from any culture, +2 for a large bouquet of flowers, +3 for ten plants removed from their pots and replanted, +4 for a nuclear power plant, shut down, +5 for a large outdoor concert and +6 for 50 thousand people congregating for peace.


The world has its own destiny. Accept it, embrace it and help things along when possible.

Yves, Archangel of Destiny, is held to be the first soul made by God, armed with knowledge of the most primal universe, and he and his angels can predict the future. While he is an Archangel, he has no Choir, and others speculate that he is some higher order of being, acting to angels as they do to men. Yves named God and was named by God, and Yves named all that is. He is perpetually quiet and rational, rarely seen on Earth and spending most of his time in meditation. On all planes, he appears as an elderly, strong and cheerful man. He and his angels are name-givers and guardians of knowledge. They are philosophers, primarily, now that Jean handles technology, and the Library of Yves connects to all librariesi n the world. Yves used to promote religion as a way to brighten human hearts, but it's not worked out so well. His last major attempt was the founding of Islam, which led to the Crusaders and persecution of Gabriel. Yves is not omniscient, but knows the names of all things, anything that's ever been written down and all of the best and brightest possibilities for the world. He is the most respected soul in heaven, and only Michael dislikes him. It is dissonant for Yves' angels to take any direct action to move a person towards their fate.

Seraphim of Destiny know the true name of anyone they touch and any item they see clearly or handle, provided an Earthly name exists in a language they know. They may also detect illusions with a touch.
Cherubim of Destiny know if and when a person they're attuned to will die within the next year from 'natural' causes such as disease or being hit by a car.
Ofanim of Destiny add (Celestial Forces) to any Intelligence or knowledge-based skill roll.
Elohim of Destiny automatically succeed at any resonance roll when physically touching the target.
Malakim of Destiny can tell a divinely-caused Disturbance from a diabolically-caused one.
Kyriotates of Destiny may access the memories of their hosts, including any Skills, for as long as they remain in the host.
Mercurians of Destiny may, by touching someone, intuit their fortune for the next (Forces) months, barring celestial intervention.
Divine Destiny is a Servitor attunement that allows you to spend 1 Essence to know the destiny and fate of a mortal whose face you can see.
Divine Logic is a Servitor attunement that allows you to spend two minutes and a Precision roll to convince anyone of anything you believe yourself, resisted with an Intelligence roll.
Vassals of Destiny instantly comprehend any printed material they see, even only flashed by them, and never forget it.
Friends of the Sages are considered to have the equivalent of a skill of 11 in any Knowledge except Area Knowledge, and their player may consult an encyclopedia or general reference book as they like.
Masters of Divine Knowledge gain the natural resonance of another Choir, along with its dissonance conditions.

Yves has no allies, but is associated with Blandine, Gabriel and Jean. He is hostile to no one. Basic Rites:
1. Spend two hours in deep philosophical discussion.
2. Spend four hours teaching willing students.
3. Spend six hours studying in a library or meditating.

Yves has a base Invocation TN of 1, +1 if you have a detail city map, +2 for the Encyclopedia Britannica, +3 if you solve the New York Times Sunday crossword, +4 if you successfully apply to a major college, +5 if you read materials in 10 languages or +6 if you recite the Bible from memory for an hour.

Heaven, now. Heaven is hidden, existing in the celestial realm at the edge of human comprehension. There are many levels of Heaven, and only the lowest of these is accessible to angels. Souls that enter the Higher Heavens do not return. Anyone with benevolent Essence and at least one Celestial Force can enter, save for Out casts. Living humans cannot ascend to Heaven while alive, but someone with the Song of Projection could arrange an astral visit. All inhabitants of Heaven speak Angelic, a musical tongue that is incapable of expressing falsehoods. Normally, it can only be spoken in celestial form.



Each Archangel has a cathedral in Heaven, an infinitely large structure to house the angels and spirits that serve their Word, which is linked to their Tethers. The Council Spires are home to the Seraphim Council, which is made of the older Seraphim and all Archangels. They assign Words and arbitrate Heavenly disagreements, as well as assisting Laurence in coordinating the actions of the bodhisattvas, powerful human souls choosing to remain in the lower Heaven. It is also home to Dominic and his angels. Gabriel's Citadel of Fire exists on the edge of Heaven, a caldera the size of Everest that serves as the first line of defense after Blandine's Tower, should demons invade. Commerce Park is the marketplace cathedral of Marc, where each angel of Trade has their own shop, open while they are in Heaven, to store their goods and Hearts. The Eternal City is home to Laurence and his angels, at the center of Heaven, as well as the Halls of Worship, where angels and saints who deal with religion meet. Every religion is represented here by a patron angel and by human souls, though it's a bit uncomfortable given Laurence's favoritism for the Catholics. Novalis manages the Glade, a peaceful green garden full of parties and musicians. Eli's Halls of Creation, once the greatest gallery and concert hall, now lies empty and in disarray, as does the Castle of Uriel, full of the trophies of his hunts. Jean's Halls of Progress are home to celestial experimentation without fear of humans learning the secrets of Heaven. David, Janus and Michael share the Groves, an immense forest in which they train for battle. Jordi manages the Savannah, where all animal spirits go on death. There are no buildings allowed on the Savannah. Last is Yves' Library, which extends throughout Heaven, connected to every repository of knowledge anywhere - even Kronos' archives in Hell. The gateways of the Library open only for Yves and those who are innocent at heart, mostly children, whom the angels quietly help book to their proper place. Anyone in the Library will quickly become lost, wandering about for 1d6 hours before passing through a gateway to a random other place. The Lbirary organizes itself with its own consciousness, and contains the collective memories of all who have died, in the form of written autobiographies. Yves can produce any book he wants at will, while his angels need (10-Celestial Forces) days to find a book. All knowledge ever created or dreamed exists within the Library...somewhere.



Next time: Demons

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


quote:

ctory. He creates and destroys, he is full of life and hope, but he is out of control and insane. His servants embody primal creative forces, and while they may now be casual and disorganized, they remain creators of beauty and servants of Heaven. Eli is a Mercurian, and a few decades ago, he abandoned his Heavenly realm, stripped himself of most his memories and disappeared into the mass of humanity. He's rarely seen and even his most faithful followers fear for what he might have become. He no longer seems to care about protection his Word, which to be fair barely needs it. Even the other Archangels haven o real idea what he's doing.

He's Destruction from Sandman, which I appreciate. In Nomine sounds cool if you want to play Supernatural/Preacher style ambiguous 90s angels.

And if I wanted to be REALLY pretentious about M20, I could claim that the slow discarding of Paradigm mirrors you/your character's understanding that all religions and traditions are one, man, just different glosses on the same universal understanding. D&D and its ilk has the unexamined assumption that it's players know and care about math. Mage panders to those of us who instead studied comparative religion, which I appreciate.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Count Chocula posted:

He's Destruction from Sandman, which I appreciate. In Nomine sounds cool if you want to play Supernatural/Preacher style ambiguous 90s angels.

And if I wanted to be REALLY pretentious about M20, I could claim that the slow discarding of Paradigm mirrors you/your character's understanding that all religions and traditions are one, man, just different glosses on the same universal understanding. D&D and its ilk has the unexamined assumption that it's players know and care about math. Mage panders to those of us who instead studied comparative religion, which I appreciate.
I think with the latter case it's closer to "your understanding becomes so advanced that Darkseid must merely will-- and it is so! If he doesn't get hosed by the dice, or by Superman."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Count Chocula posted:

He's Destruction from Sandman, which I appreciate. In Nomine sounds cool if you want to play Supernatural/Preacher style ambiguous 90s angels.

And if I wanted to be REALLY pretentious about M20, I could claim that the slow discarding of Paradigm mirrors you/your character's understanding that all religions and traditions are one, man, just different glosses on the same universal understanding. D&D and its ilk has the unexamined assumption that it's players know and care about math. Mage panders to those of us who instead studied comparative religion, which I appreciate.

Actually, the stupid 'all these faiths and stuff are the same, maaaaan' is exactly the problem with Mage.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Yeah, 'all faiths are the same, maaaaan' is the lazy pot-smoking college student's comparative religion, as opposed to trying to understand the commalities between faiths and the actual and important points of theological difference, which often are quite a big deal philosophically. Sure, there's a lot in common but pretending there are no differences or that the differences are cosmetic and unimportant isn't comparative religion, it's just insulting to everyone involved.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



It's a good thing that Hoodoo Blues' loup-garous are skipping one of the bigger causes of turning into one: breaking Lent 7 years in a row. Otherwise I think there'd be a lot more werecreatures running around Louisiana.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Bieeardo posted:

Huh, that's cool. I know that beliefs regarding caul birth go back at least as far as the Romans in Europe, but wasn't aware that they survived the trip across the Atlantic to become part of Southern folklore too.
There's actually a pretty decent book on the subject called Mysterious Celtic Mythology in American Folklore. A lot of it's focused specifically on Appalachia, and it's not quite thorough enough that I'd buy it full price, but I'd still give it a look if you ever find it at your local library or somewhere.

Mors Rattus posted:


The world has its own destiny. Accept it, embrace it and help things along when possible.
I usually like my angels in the terrifying fire snakes and eye-laden wheels flavors, but I do also like the idea of an archangel who manifests looking like someone's kindly grandpa.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I'm surprised. I would've thought Dominic or some such would be all for the Orthodox church, not Catholic.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Later stuff makes it clear that Dominic actually tends to believe in the correctness of the Jews or Orthodox, yeah, he just likes the Catholics practically. Laurence is a believer - Dominic just thinks they'd be good for humanity.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


I think Jesus may well have something to say about Marc.

And yeah, comparative mythology even for ancient societies shows that for all the "oh its so similar" theorizing a lot of the underlying assumptions about mythology are completely at odds even after the romans start ramming every god into every other god to see what sticks.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

Josef bugman posted:

I think Jesus may well have something to say about Marc.

"You no good, Marc, you just a LITTLE CHICKEN CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!!!"

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Fossilized Rappy posted:

There's actually a pretty decent book on the subject called Mysterious Celtic Mythology in American Folklore. A lot of it's focused specifically on Appalachia, and it's not quite thorough enough that I'd buy it full price, but I'd still give it a look if you ever find it at your local library or somewhere.

I usually like my angels in the terrifying fire snakes and eye-laden wheels flavors, but I do also like the idea of an archangel who manifests looking like someone's kindly grandpa.

Have you seen Wings of Desire? Peter Falk is an archangel.

I'll stop mounting pedantic defenses of Mage, but I do think that in a medium that panders to people's fantasies there's nothing wrong with a game that panders to my type of stoner philosophy, and it might introduce some people to new ideas.

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.

Given that most of the random charts in Public Enemy's random scenario generation stuff only has one "GM fiat only" option, it feels like rolling GM's choice kind of pushes you to pick that one even if you'd otherwise be more interested in another result.

On the upside, "Primary schooler" is a GM fiat only choice for most of the NPCs, so I can feel free to never pick it to avoid a random scenario where you've got to beat up an 8 year old.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Count Chocula posted:

Have you seen Wings of Desire? Peter Falk is an archangel.

I'll stop mounting pedantic defenses of Mage, but I do think that in a medium that panders to people's fantasies there's nothing wrong with a game that panders to my type of stoner philosophy, and it might introduce some people to new ideas.

It's okay to pander to stoner philosophy; the problem is that some iterations of Mage were also able to talk about actual philosophy, and that's an aspect that M20 just isn't interested in.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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In Nomine: Hell is these people



Balseraphs, AKA Serpents or the Liars, are second only to Lucifer when it comes to lies. They are the most malicious Band, entirely wrapped in their own selfishness. They are widely seen as the world's biggest liars, but not by themselves. They only care about their own point of view. To a Balseraph, no one is innocent. Everyone lies. They're paranoid, and their views warp their perceptions, allowing them to continue without the Seraph tap into ultimate truth. They can exert their will to force their views onto others, as long as they can keep it straight. You see, a Balseraph is still, at heart, a Seraph. They can't lie without constructing an entire reality in their soul in which the lies they tell must be true. If their lies are contradictory, they gnerate dissonance, and they also get dissonance if their victim can reist their power and see through the lie.

Balseraphs in the corporeal are graceful, hpynotic. They dress exquisitely. In celestial form, they appear to be a many-eyed winged serpent, but unlike a Seraph, they are obviously malevolent, cloaked in mystery and reserve. Other Bands don't question them - they never believe a Balseraph is telling the truth, but questioning their honesty makes you look gullible and stupid - you think they might not lie, or that they'll admit they lied. It's rude and pointless. Balseraphs are freakishly paranoid, assuming all others they speak to are lying in some way - especially other Balseraphs. They view themselves as stringed instruments - the grace, precision and delicacy appeals to their vanity.

Mechanically, a Balseraph can invoke their resonance to persuade (CElestial Forces) people at a time of their views. In combat, it's one person at a time and takes 3 turns of concentration in which you must not take damage or make Dodge rolls. The targets can resist with Will, and automatically win the contest if they succeerd, preventing the Balseraph from resonating them again for (CD) hours. On a CD 6, the Balseraph also takes dissonance until they can successfully apply their resonance to that person in the future. If the target fails, however, the Balseraph can influence them for (CD) minutes. Seraphim add their Celestial Forces to their Will for this, whether they know they're dealing with a Balseraph or not. Once a Balseraph successfully resonates you, though, any attempt to detect that they're lying will fail. You will consider anything plausible they say to be absolute truth, or any opinion that is unprovable. However, when a Balseraph contradicts themselves verbally or by deed while their resonance is in effect, they generate a note of dissonance until they can cover it with a new lie. No matter how many times they resonate someone, however, they can only have one note of dissonance from that person at a time. Once it's cleared up, they can get a new one from that person.



Djinn, AKA Binders or the Stalkers, are sarcastic, disdainful and cold. They hate to admit they care about...anything. They are the counterparts of the Cherubim, and like a Cherub, they can attune themselves to things or people by touching them. The attunement is only temporary, but lets them sense the location and condition of their attunement. Shedim and Djinn distrust each other viciously, thanks to the Djinn inability to track a Shedite moving between bodies and the Shedite tendency for nasty pranks. This frustration is just proof that Djinn do care, no matter what they claim. They constantly struggle with their refusal to care and their need to be cared about. They don't protect their attuned, but they gain dissonance if they personally harm the attuned unless the attuned explicitly asks them to do something that results in their harm. Unfortunately, Djinn can also end up fixated on things, given their more wanton attunements, and if they can't escape an attunement, they suffer dissonance like a Cherub, unable to betray the object of their obsession.

Djinn are dark, brooding creatures, dynics who see themselves as brassy, angry instruments in the night. Their vessels tend to be stocky and strong, with no real effort put into their appearances, as they find vanity a weakness. Others, though, are obsessively neat. In celestial form, Djinn appear as surreal, warped animals, hideous to look upon. They get along fairly well with each other, as they understand each other, at least.

Mechanically, a Djinn can attune themselves to up to (Celestial Forces) things, each attunement lasting (CD) days. They can renew this with a touch, no roll needed. However, if the CD is a 6, the attunement lasts until the Djinn makes a Will roll to remove it. Any attunement can be removed with a Will roll, with a penalty equal to the number of days it has left. A Djinn can use their resonance identically to a Cherub to track their attunements. They cannot physically harm their attunements unless the attunement asks them to do so. When they fail a Will roll to remove an attunement, they gain dissonance and become obsessively devoted, with their resonance acting identically in all ways to a Cherub's for (CD) days. When the attunement finally fades, so will the dissonance.



Calabim, AKA Freaks or the Destroyers, are born to break things. Their resonance is entropy, the motion of an Ofanite turned inside out. They may destroy things around them at will. However, if their resonance fails, the energy recoils on them. They must either accept a note of dissonance or immediately lash out at another target in range until they manage to do damage. Most choose to lash out, so they're not really safe to be around.

Calabim are strange even by Hell's standards. They all have Discord, a crack in their Forces allowing their resonance to operate. When not destroying, they seem calm and even distant, externalizing the motion their angelic selves had into a whirlwind of entropy. They see themselves as painful instruments of percussion. At all times, they are thinking about taking things apart, and many compulsively disassemble mechanical devices such as clocks. Calabim are loyal, but easily angered and hard to calm down. They break things and break people unless specifically told not to do so. In their celestial forms, they are grubby, leering demons with red skin and bat wings. On Earth, they prefer rough vessels. Whatever they wear tends to get dirty and wrinkled by their entropic aura. Their hair tends to be long and messy, and they love their work.

Mechanically, all Calabim must have 1 Discord, of any type, at a level equal to the number of Forces they have of that type. It can only be removed by Redemption. When they invoke their resonance, they deal (Corporeal Forces + CD) corporeal damage to corporeal targets. If in celestial form, they instead deal (Celestial Forces + CD) soul damage to celestial targets. If they fail their resonance roll, they can't use it again for (CD) minutes against the same target. Their resonance works on anything within (Will) feet, and living beings may resist them with Strength (or Will, for celestial damage). When a target resists, the Calabite must either take a note of dissonance or lash out at something else in range, doing nothing but invoking resonance against other targets in range until they finally do damage - even if it means hitting themselves.

Next time: More than a little crazy.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Fossilized Rappy posted:

I usually like my angels in the terrifying fire snakes and eye-laden wheels flavors, but I do also like the idea of an archangel who manifests looking like someone's kindly grandpa.

I always just figured Yves was George Burns.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

I know that the mechanics are janky, but this write-up actually makes me dig In Nomine. It feels like you could run anything from The Prophecy to Dogma in RPG form, depending on your tone, and much of it feels like a fresh take on Heaven vs. Hell stories, putting in a fair amount of moral ambiguity without descending into cynical grimdark like Preacher.

Sadly, my one experience with this game was a session I played in college where we played angels. The GM saw the Dissonance mechanics purely as an excuse to screw the players, and I was actually thrilled when I rolled a 6-6-6 and we all got killed by a car bomb because it meant I no longer had to tolerate the GM's presence.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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In Nomine: No angel born in Hell could break that Satan's spell



Habbalah, AKA Horrors or the Punishers, are obsessed with punishing those they consider weak. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they believe themselves to be working directly for God, the only true Choir of angels, serving God where they are most needed: Hell. Habbalah are Fallen Elohim, and their perspectives are so shattered that they are ruled by emotion. They still appear coldly rational, but they do not question the origin of their views or how they are influenced. Their resonance remains for emotion, but it is twisted. They can still tell what people are feeling, and more importantly, what emotion would cause the most harm, then force it on people. However, their emotional attacks do not always work. When a victim resists them, the Habbalite must display the feelings they intended to inflict or take a note of dissonance.

Habbalah poorly conceal their disdain for other demons, and they resent being called demons. They're angels. Definitely angels. Balseraphs adore them. As instruments, they see themselves as synthesizers. In the corporeal realm, they tend towards beautiful and highly sexualized vessels, rebelling against the androgynous Elohim. Celestially, they appear as mangled, mutilated, elaborately tattooed and scarred. They are broken, and out to prove to the world that they weren't the weak ones.

Mechanically, a Habbalite can inflict a powerful emotion on their target with a resonance roll. If they fail, nothing happens. If they succeed, the victim's Intelligence or Precision is reduced by the demon's Ethereal Forces and the target suffers an emotion of the Habbalite's choice, both determined before the roll is made. The intensity and duration of the feeling depends on the CD. If the victim makes a Will roll to resist and succeeds with a higher CD than the demon, the resonance backfires, and the Habbalite must suffer its effects or take dissonance. Elohim are especially vulnerable to Habbalah, and their Will rolls to resist are reduced by the demon's Celestial Forces. Common effects include Fury (the victim becomes enraged by either what they are looking at or talking about and must lash out at the object of their anger (CD) times or for (Corporeal Forces) minutes), Sadness (the victim suffers depression for (CD) hours, unwilling to do much of anything), Disgust (the victim must avoid the current topic of conversation for (CD) days or, if this is impossible, loudly proclaim their disgust about it and, if touched by the object of disgust, make a Will roll to not vomit), Love (the victim becomes enamored with the current topic of conversation or the next thing they look at, demon's choice before rolling, for (CD) days, during which they can do little but think about the object of love and devise ways to be close to it), or Emptiness (for (CD) hours, the victim's Agility is halved and they can act only once every other round. When reflected on a Habbalite, the demon takes dissonance whether they like it or not, and if they make a 111 on the dissonance roll, are relieved of their delusions of angelhood).



Lilim, AKA Daughters or the Tempters, are the children of Lilith, made in her image. They desire, more than anyhting else, to be free, but most are bound to a Prince or to Lilith, trapped in the web of favors that is their society. Their resonance allows them to extract favors in exchange for a promise of service, or geas, which wears away at victims until they obey, in the form of a Discord. Lilim can look into your eyes and see what you need. If they give it to you, they force you to owe them. However, a victim can resist. If they succeed, the Lilim gains dissonance until they can snare the victim later. If necessary, the Lilim can also impose geases on themselves to enforce their promises, giving them dissonance until they fulfill their word, as they cannot resist their own geas.

Lilim are warm, sympathetic, sensuous and very fun. The book wants to be sure you know that. They are all very, very fun. Lilim do not all consider themselves female, though the majority do, and they are collectively referred to as female. Lilim get on well with other demons and each other, though their sisterly rivalries can turn violent or fatal. They only Band they really hate are the Shedim, whom they find abhorrent. In celestial form, they resemble their corporeal vessels but with green skin and tuny horns. They don't like to think of themselves as instruments, but as players. Newly made Lilim, as a not, need not serve a Prince. They may instead owe Lilith nine favors - one per Force. These favors can be called in at any time as level 3 Geases. Lilith ca and will trade these favors to others, such as demons, Princes, other Lilim, Lucifer or even spirits or Archangels. Free Lilim also won't have any Rites, attunements or Heart at first, though they can earn or trade for them. Most Lilim never escape their indenture, and the term 'free Lilim' is something of a dark joke. It's just too easy to bind yourself more for resources, Essence or help.

Mechanically, a Lilim can make a Perception-based resonance roll after making eye contact with a target to determine their needs., with the CD determining degree of need and reducing the Will roll to resist the geas. If the Lilim fails, they can't try again on the same target for (CD) hours. They can then fulfill the need, which is generally a task as difficult for the target to do as the check digit would be as the level of a geas...though for the Lilim, it might be easier. GMs should be creative, and the Lilim can always choose to walk away. If they help, however, they can at any point in the future ask for a return favor, inflicting a Geas with level equal to the original CD. When they ask for the favor, the victim gets a Will roll to resist, modified as noted. If they resist, the Lilim gains a note of dissonance and has one - and only one - chance to ask again, in (CD) days, which is easier to resist - no Will penalty. If this traps the victim into the promise or the Lilim ever successfully places a nother geas on them, the dissonance vanishes. Favors are cumulative - two level 3 Geases can be called in at once for a level 6 Geas.

If a Lilim truly repents, as a note, and wishes to join the angels, it's possible. It's rare, but it's possible. They do not become any Choir - there is none. They remain a Lilim, a so-called "bright" Lilim. They still owe any favors they owed before Redemption, too. These Lilim are precious to the Archangels, and exceptionally rare. And now, a break to discuss Lilith. No picture, but...
The world is what you make of it.

Before the Fall, Lilith was made to be the first wife of Adam in God's Garden of Eden experiment. She chose to leave. Lucifer offered her power, Essence and the Word of Freedom, ad eal she otok, but she's insisted that her independence means far more to her than power. She is now Lilith, Demon Princess of Freedom, and she has neither Principality nor permanent servitors. When she wants something, she trades for it. If she comes out ahead, oh well. She's not even a demon, technically, just a unique being. She is also the only person in the entire universe that can create Lilim. Each is made individually, and no Prince has ever figured out how to do it. Lilith doesn't care to help her Lilim, though - if someone can beat them, oh well. She just ensures they're not victimized or treated as disposable. She can lie amazingly, though she treats it as 'changing her mind.' She never breaks a deal, however, and if she feels the need to prove a point, she can Geas herself to a job, though she rarely does. She avoids politics unless she can't help it. She'd like to be truly free, but it's unlikely at best, and Lucifer makes a potent protector. Besides, her first job was to have God ask her to be a man's slave. Many Archangels hate her and want her dead, though some don't - notably Jean. Lilith refuses to keep servitors, seing it as too much like slavery, but will trade favors to get people to work for her, giving access to her Rites at the cost of accepting her dissonance condition: anyone in Lilith's service takes dissonance if they accept restraints or orders save as part of a freely negotiated agreement. Being imprisoned is not dissonant, however, unless you fail to attempt escape.

Lilith offers no attunements or distinctions. She is allied to Andrealphus and Valefor, and associated with all other Princes. Basic Rites:
1. Spend an hour encouraging people to resist the government, question authority, quit their jobs or leave one-sided relationships.
2. For 3 Essence, free a human from physical bondage.
3. For 4 Essence, destroy, physically or socially, a mortal enemy of freedom.

Any celestial can call on Lilith, with a base TN of 3. She is unlikely to answer a call from anyone but a Lilim or Superior, though - a big -6 penalty. However, you can promise her a favor, Geasing yourself to her, for an invocation modifier equal to the level of the Geas. You owe her if she appears, even if she doesn't help you out, though, and there's no way to get out of a Geas to Lilith herself. You can also get a +1 modifier from a pair of broken handcuffs, +2 from a piece of the Berlin Wall, +3 from a caged animal set free, +4 from being on a battlefield where a tyrant fell, +5 from a human prisoner set free, and +6 for overthrowing any government.



Shedim, AKA the Fleshless or the Corruptors, are the demons that do most to contribute to day-to-day corruption of humans. Like Kyriotates, they can't make vessels, and instead possess people. They do not have the selflessness to control many hosts - but their power is more treacherous. Their host's consciousness remains in a serene state, and they have full access to their host's thoughts, feelings and memories. Their hosts believe themselves to be in control, and in some ways, they are. The Shedite just desensitizes them to horror by convincing them that it was all their idea. They can't go a day without corrupting or turning people towards evil. They need careful instruction, as they can be exceptionally dangerous once let loose. They gain dissonance every day in which they do not force their host to further corrupt themselves. It doesn't have to be big - it just has to be bigger than last time. Each act sets a new standard, and the next day must be worse, or the Shedite must leave or gain dissonance. For this reason, Shedim prefer to pick quiet people with many inhibitions, raising the ante over time to turn them into mad killers. At that point, they wander off to find a new host, facing no consequences themselves. Many hosts driven this far commit suicide. If their victim is knocked out, however, a Shedite is expelled after 30 minutes. If the host dies with the Shedite still inside, though, they gain a note of dissonance, though they can avoid Trauma by finding a new host within (10*Celestial Forces) minutes.

Shedim are the most genuine 'devil worshippers' of Hell, devoutly owing their loyalty to Lucifer. They spraypaint pentagrams, tattoo horned heads on themselves and so on. They also love rock music and throwing the horns. They are the most despised Band, generally speaking, and the Djinn and Lilim hate them almopst as much as angels do. Shedim don't care about how they treat their hosts, acting as if they were indestructible and driving an endless supply of rental cars, just so long as they can get out before the host dies. In celestial form, they appear as black clouds of limbs, wings, eyes and organs, pulsing to an insane beat.

Mechanically, Shedim need to make a Will roll to possess someone, and can be resisted with Will. The Shedite's CD is added to their Will when they take control of their host, while an resistance or failed possession locks them out of that person for (CD) days. While inhabiting a host, the host handles most actions - walking around, talking to people, etc. They are undisturbed by their new celestial perceptions, however, and influenced by how comfortable the demon feels. At least once a day, the Shedite must win a contest of Will with their victim and make the host do something evil, something that harms someone, whether or not that person is aware of it. And, as noted, each action must be worse than the last, to avoid dissonance, which will go away if the Shedite makes it up later. Each act takes a contest of Will, so most Shedim avoid multi-part plans unless they can dominate their hosts easily. Once per day, the host can make a PErception roll to realize they're not in control, with +1 per day of possession. This gives them a bonus of (CD) to the Will roll to resist the Shedite, until they next get a good night's sleep. Shedim can stay as long as they want, though the rising bonus makes it hard to stay too long. They can leave at any time, but have to resonate again to enter another host. They automatically assume celestial form when looking ofr a host, making them vulnerable, and they have (10*Celestial Forces) as their time limit before returning to Hell.



Impudites, AKA Charmers or the Takers, are the nicest folks you'll ever meet. You like them! And they love humanity. They're people demons, and they don't like being in Hell. The problem is, they know a whole lot about how Forces work and how souls generate Essence. They can charm you easily and suck that Essence out for themselves. Impudites love humanity, however, and it is dissonant for them to kill a human personally, through action or inaction.

Impudites are the most human demons, dressing well and acting cheerfully. They are friendly and easy to get along with. They work their way into human groups and steal Essence from their new friends, then move on if folks get suspicious. They love the modern age, where Western people don't really believe in demons any more. They steal luck and power from the pople around them, but no one notices! In celestial form, they appear as their vessels do, but with leathery wings, horns and a dark halo. They see themselves as singers, front men for the universe.

Mechanically, the resonence of an Impudite is twofold. They can Charm or Steal Essence, both requiring a resonance roll with a penalty equal to the victims (Ethereal + Celestial Forces). Charm allows them to make their victims like them. It lasts for (CD) minutes and can be resisted by Will, which immunizes you to the resonance for (CD) hours. They can then rob their charmed victims of Essence, though most can't tell if someone has any to steal. No harm in trying, though. They can steal up to (CD) Essence at once, though most humans can only hold 5 and are rarely full up - a random mortal will have 1d6-4 Essence. On a failure, the Impudite can't steal from that victim for (CD) hours. Victims can rsist with Will, and if their CD is higher than the demon's and they succeed, they gain that amount of Essence from the demon, though no one can hold more than their Forces in Essence. Impudites, incidentally, can charm other celestials, even angels, though most angels have too much Will to be taken in. Further, Cherubim, Elohim Kyriotates and Mercurians also get a Perception roll to notice the demon's doing something and shut them down, with the TN raised by the demon's total Forces but reduced by the demon's CD. Further, if the angel resists successfully this way, they can invoke their resonance on the Impudite as if they were physically touching, no matter the distance.

Next time: The Demon Formerly Known As Prince

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Simian_Prime posted:

I know that the mechanics are janky, but this write-up actually makes me dig In Nomine. It feels like you could run anything from The Prophecy to Dogma in RPG form, depending on your tone, and much of it feels like a fresh take on Heaven vs. Hell stories, putting in a fair amount of moral ambiguity without descending into cynical grimdark like Preacher.

Sadly, my one experience with this game was a session I played in college where we played angels. The GM saw the Dissonance mechanics purely as an excuse to screw the players, and I was actually thrilled when I rolled a 6-6-6 and we all got killed by a car bomb because it meant I no longer had to tolerate the GM's presence.

I want to like In Nomine, and it has a lot of potential when it's not being dumb as hell, as it often is when dealing with Lilim, Shedim or certain Princes and Archangels.

But oh my god the mechanics are so bad.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mors Rattus posted:

But oh my god the mechanics are so bad.

You haven't covered the HP (or whatever they call it) mechanic, right? I remember that being singularly Not Thought Out, given it makes HP based off of multiplying some traits together.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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I think I covered that back when I talked about Vessels? This book is badly laid out and I'm covering poo poo as it comes up. Summary: three different forms of HP, each involving multiplying some number of traits together, and each of which acts differently when you run out.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





He blew a 6-6-6 on a car bomb? poo poo. I couldn't run In Nomine purely because I'd make every one of those an instant heavy metal album cover.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Who does the art for In Nomine? It's cool.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Count Chocula posted:

Who does the art for In Nomine? It's cool.

Guy named Dan Smith, who did a lot for SJG in the 90s. They look like hammered poo poo colored like this though. If I remember right Smith's originals for In Nomine were all greyscale and this coloring was done by someone else.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

Midjack posted:

Guy named Dan Smith, who did a lot for SJG in the 90s. They look like hammered poo poo colored like this though. If I remember right Smith's originals for In Nomine were all greyscale and this coloring was done by someone else.

I actually like the coloring. It's evocative of four-color comics, which works because the game is reminiscent of a DC/Vertigo setting.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mors Rattus posted:

I think I covered that back when I talked about Vessels? This book is badly laid out and I'm covering poo poo as it comes up. Summary: three different forms of HP, each involving multiplying some number of traits together, and each of which acts differently when you run out.

Yeah, I just remember it being possible for one character to have a total of 30-50 or so while another has 200-300 because multipliers, but my memories of staring at character sheets are... dim.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Simian_Prime posted:

I actually like the coloring. It's evocative of four-color comics, which works because the game is reminiscent of a DC/Vertigo setting.

Yeah same, it makes me want to play it.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



Chapter 7: Telling the Story

The snippet of intro fiction here is a piece about an Etherite cultist who's sitting in a cloaked car that's slaloming between cars on the motorway at full throttle, while the Etherite is up to his eyeballs on not-LSD. The moral of the story is "go do fun things", like test experimental technologies in the middle of traffic while high as a kite.

The text says it assumes the reader is familiar with roleplaying games, then goes on to explain what a roleplaying game. Supposedly for clarity's sake, but all it really does is describe all referee'd roleplaying games in existence and stress that, like, RPGs can be full of passion and art, man. There's half a page explaining things that, if you've played an RPG before, you'd already know - and it doesn't add any particular clarity to anything. Perhaps the first evidence we get of any particular style is this tidbit:

M20 posted:

Contrary to the old-school stereotypes about “Game Masters” who run their players through a gauntlet of terrors, each member of a Mage gaming troupe becomes a story-teller in his or her own right. The capital-S Storyteller makes the big
decisions regarding rules and settings, but every player has a part in the creative process.

The text says this, but the system has a lot of elements and writing that basically invites the Storyteller to be capricious and punishing. The ST is encouraged to punish characters with dots in the Fame Background with stalkers, paparazzi and haters. Actually using a Familiar for anything makes it liable to leave you. The Destiny background is all about giving you a capability and then removing at with no forewarning. As written, players who haven't carefully designed their characters will find themselves unable to navigate their own neighbourhood or use their washing machine. The first dot in many Abilities are described in terms of incompetence. Setting elements are full of "and then X randomly happened for no reason and you died". But, no, it's not about running through a guantlet of murder.

That said, some of this advice is genuinely good; it says to be open to things not going as the ST had planned, and to let players at least have the opportunity to try something even if it won't work (the example is pulling the Moon closer), while at the same time reserving the right to say that some things (like vampire changeling werewolf mages) aren't a good fit for the tone of the game. Gauge player's reactions and behaviour to know when a player should get the attention to draw them back into the game again. Don't play the game with people who are dicks. Don't be a dick. Things like that.

But just look at this uneconomical writing:


There's maybe two useful sentences in that, and the entire rest of it are just :words: It's put in a sidebar, so it has its own margins and takes up even more space in the book. There's no reason this couldn't be folded into the main text. Keep in mind that this is how the entire book (except the Technocracy sub-chapter) is written. I'm not getting paid to edit this whole thing, so I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure if you cut out all the unnecessary sidebars, rants, off-hand comments, and excessively flowery language, the book would be almost half its current length. Half.

M20 posted:

As the Storyteller, you get to define just how much those rules affect your chronicle. Maybe you prefer a loose improvisational style in which dice play a minor part in the overall experience. Or perhaps you need a firm set of rules so that your players don’t rip your chronicle apart. Most often, you’ll probably choose a middle path between those extremes, balancing the needs of your story with the stability that rules provide. Fortunately, the Storyteller System that gets detailed in the following chapters allows you a lot of flexibility.

M20 posted:

The Storyteller, though, isn’t the only person who depends upon the rules. Your players need them too, if only to help them figure out what their characters can accomplish. Consistent rules protect your players from capricious “story tyrants” and even protect the players from one another. Like the limits and boundaries discussed nearby, a set of clear, consistent rules allows everyone to relax and have more fun.

In your role as Storyteller, be fair and consistent in your application of the rules.

Yeah but like... you can't say that the ST has the authority to decide when the rules are applied and also that the rules are supposed to defend the other players from the ST's whims. It's also somewhat weird - even though many games do it - to see this idea that they've written all these rules, yet don't expect the players to use them. Brucato doesn't really expect the rules to be used in full, but instead that the ST chose a middle path but then why are there all these rules? By his own admission he's not expecting them to be used. OK, so he's writing the Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition and not a completely new game, but that didn't stop him from making up the Disparate Alliance wholecloth, so it's not like the existing gameline is sacred to him, and he's not even trying for compatibility with V20 or W20. It speaks of someone who has oddly little faith in their own rules. It reminds me of a thing Derek Chappell wrote in the "rule zero" part of one of his games "This is usually where it says you're free to change the rules as you see fit. I don't want you to do that. I wrote these rules and I think they're good and that you should use them!" (paraphrased).

M20 posted:

Back in the early Mage days, anguished Storytellers would often call the White Wolf offices asking for advice. Once the rules questions got cleared up (an important step in those early days!), the best piece of advice we could offer – then and now – was this: don’t game with assholes.

I see this sentiment a lot, and while there's a relevant truth to it; some people do just use RPGs as an excuse to be assholes, I think it's all too often used to dismiss complaints. What an "rear end in a top hat" is isn't very clear; it can be anything from someone who intentionally sabotages other people's fun because that's how they get their jollies to people who won't let dramatic ~story~ things happen because they want to influence the story to go in another direction, to people who steal the spotlight with their very efficient combat build. It's such a simple, black-and-white thing to say, that ignores all the reasons why someone might be an "rear end in a top hat" - some people do assholeish things because they get a kick out of making others miserables, others do it because they're unaware of how their actions are seen, other again because they prioritise their own fun over the other players'. There are some people who are perfectly fine, enjoyable, friendly, players who I love to play with... but if they spot an abusive option they'll take it and make everyone miserable.

There's a sidebar with advice on adjusting the content to your players, avoiding content that may trigger uncomfortable memories or feelings of unease or revulsion, and the alike. Genuinely good, forward-thinking stuff, but...

M20 posted:

Certain topics, though, present potential land mines – especially in a setting based on interactive entertainment, where characters often become extensions of their creators. Rape, racism, sexual or gender-based assault, domestic violence, harm to children or animals… these subjects, and others like them, can trigger emotional trauma simply by appearing in a tale.

It’s tempting to say, “Chill out – this is only a game.” Emotions, though, aren’t nearly that simple. Interactive entertainment encourages people to identify with their characters; such connections, in turn, inspire strong emotions. Especially for folks who’ve suffered real-life violations, the idea of experiencing such things in the context of entertainment can kick their legs right out from under them. I’ve seen it happen. Don’t go there.

This book opens by dropping off-hand mentions of child sexual abuse in my lap!

It also recommends adopting a system of safewords from BDSM (or, you know, improv theatre) so players can voice their objections. Again, there's genuinely useful stuff in this chapter. Much of it are ideas that have been floated around the RPG community for a while, but having it written down in the pages of the book are a good thing; I just wish the text gave some of it some deeper thought, and Brucato stopped wasting so many words on everything. Like the safewords. OK, safewords, he explains what they are - and he also mentions the BDSM connection. It's unnecessary; seven superfluous words that don't add anything to the game. One of those things that I would totally have ignored were it not for all the seven superfluous words in this book being the death of seven thousand cuts for me.

M20 posted:

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be rich or have a big house in order to set up a good gaming space
...people believe that? Isn't the stereotype playing in the kitchen, mom's basement, and college dorms?

M20 posted:

Depending on your resources, you might want to keep your notes in a computer, smart phone, or other data storage device. Even then, though, you might get the best use out of old-school paper notes for the sessions themselves. In the heat of combat, it’s easier to pick up an index card than it is to search through a bunch of folders on your laptop screen.
But it's easier to alt-tab to a text document than it is to find an index card inside a manilla folder in a pile of manilla folders, so it's a tie I guess?

There's lots of traditional advice here: make notes! Prepare yourself mentally before STing. Go through your notes before the game. Have a place to play that isn't distracting. Maybe play some music to set the mood? And then we get to food...

M20 posted:

Many gaming groups favor a potluck approach, with the members all bringing something to the table. Others pool their money and pitch in for a meal prepared by someone else. Whatever you do, please buy smart, eat healthy, and give your hard-earned cash to ethically-run local businesses whenever possible.
Man, I wish it was this, and not feminism, people complained about when they talk about writers injecting politics into games. This is the equivalent of writing "please donate to the National Organization for Women" in a D&D manual.

And here's my favourite Brucato being Brucato:

M20 posted:

Even so, it’s a good idea to get the feast out of the way before your game begins. The rarified reaches of the Astral Realms may be hard to evoke when the scent of pizza’s in the air. [...] However appropriate the meal, though, it’s best to get the eating out of the way before your game begins. That way, the attention’s on you, not on the last piece of pizza congealing in its own grease.

Eating pizza is literally the worst. Don't you dare eating during the game, we're here to play a very serious game about Kung Fu mages fighting magickal serial killer nihilists who worship Cthulhu. Buying relatively cheap food from a place that delivers so you don't have to exert yourself making food for a large group of guests? Now you're literally Hitler. (More seriously, the disdain Brucato shows for people who aren't economically well off is rather noticeable - he frowns on the conveniences of modern life all the time, putting his nose up at BigMacs and Pizza, ignorant of the fact that having the energy, time, and money to do things in more "authentic" ways is something not everyone can afford. Brucato appears to be completely unaware of his own privilege, and it grates me to be presented with it when reading this book.)

Almost an entire page is taken up just talking about using music in an RPG context. Unable to avoid cruft, Brucato just has to tell the reader about the olden times, because it's vital for STs to know that back in the day it was all about the vinyl plates and mixtapes and stacks of CDs next to a CD player. The recommended genres for a Mage campaign are:
  • Mystic Techno
  • Dark Sacred World Fusion
  • Neotribal World Fusion
  • Neotribal Ambient
  • Post-Rock
  • Industrial Noise
  • Black Ambient
  • Dark Atmosphere
  • Etheral Gothic
  • Witch-House
  • Cinematic
  • Power Techno
  • Trippy Rave Techno

I'm not entirely sure whether Brucato is actually talking about real-world genres or just stringing words together. "Dark Sacred World Fusion" has 11 bands listed, but is so obscure a genre that Google doesn't know what it is. Frankly, he's probably just pulling these things out of his rear end. The genre Power Techno has four bands suggested: Juno Reactor, KMFDM, Project Pitchfork, and VNV Nation. One of the things they have in common is that I've listened to stuff they've made. What they don't have in common is genre. KMFDM is (electro-)industrial rock/metal. VNV Nation are synthpop, far softer than KMFDM and anything with the name "power" in it. Project Pitchfork (my least favourite of the bunch) are dark wave and electronic rock. Juno Reacto is many things, but also unlike any of the previous groups except in that at some point they've made techno and industrial music. It's very hard to take someone seriously when they try to convince me that Megalomaniac, Illusion, Rain and Mona Lisa Overdrive are in the same genre. There's some similarities, especially between VNV Nation and KMFDM, but come on! When we're on the level where it's important to keep the Neotribal Ambient away from the Neotribial World Fusion, and the Neotribal World Fusion away from the Dark Sacred World Fusion, we can't just start claiming that the synthpop, dark wave, goa trance, and electro-industrial are all the same!

First Sumerian language and now subgenres of electronic music...

Make sure the player characters have something in common! Give them some common goal to work towards. Make them start off in the same situation and see where it goes from there! Make them start in the same location when the Nephandi warship attacks (Brucato immediately dismisses this idea though, so I have no idea why he mentioned Nephandic warships in the first place). Maybe they're working on some common goal? Maybe they're forced to work together like in the Dirty Dozen? Maybe they have a common enemy in the Nephandi? This content isn't bad, but it's also painfully generic. The STing chapter is 39 pages long. It takes a good 18 pages to get to the first piece of advice (other than music) that is actually MTAs-specific (characters have sensory magickal powers, so remember to describe their environments in a wider sensory spectrum).

Here's an example of what the pages in this chapter are spent on:


This doesn't have anything to do with M20, let alone the chapter on STing!

M20 posted:

As a general rule, a Storyteller shouldn’t let random chance kill a player character. Unless the player and his mage do something truly stupid, it’s generally good policy to give your player an escape hatch from mortal harm. Maybe those
seven levels of aggravated damage knocked him into a coma and left him in a heap of bloody meat. He’ll need healing, of course, but he’s not dead YET. Death ought to be reserved for dramatic moments of heroism or disaster, not a chance fall of the dice. After all, heroes don’t often trip over a curb and die.

Yeah, but again, you wrote the rules. You wrote, black on white, that when all health boxes fill up with Aggravated damage, the character is dead. If you didn't actually want the characters to die why did you write that rule? There are many games that have running out of HP simply mean unconsciousness or inability to participate in combat. It was a deliberate choice to have characters die when their health boxes are full, and it's supremely stupid to paper over this with Rule Zero. If your rules produce results you don't want, why did you write them in the first place? This is game design 101!

This passage is immediately preceded by this one:

M20 posted:

Lethal violence, in Mage, tends to be risky and dramatic… and therefore rare. When such violence does erupt, make it scary. Let it hurt. Show blasted ruins and weeping widows. Post APBs to every cop in town. Have Resonance ripple in the wake of atrocities. And unless you plan to run a high-adventure game, remind your players that mages don’t soak lethal and aggravated damage unless they use potent and often vulgar magick.

This seems to say that violence should be lethal and risky... but at the same time something that caused seven Aggravated damage (which is a whole lot of damage, not something you pick up by accident) isn't supposed to kill the players? Saying one thing, and then the exact opposite, doesn't make you smart - it makes you unfalsifiable and also useless.


Invaluable advice is not the word I'd use. I'd also not waste page-space on jokes when my book is over 600 pages long and I've complained about not having enough space to cover Sorcerers.

There's a worked example of a campaign in here. It's about how a company that claims fracking rights to a natural gas source underneath a sacred grove and wilderness refugee in the Appalachians is actually a front for the Technocracy, which is actually corrupted by the Nephandi.

M20 posted:

That said, Mage is more than D&D with leather trench coats. A game in which folks run around blowing up gas mains with impunity isn’t really Mage. The esoteric elements and themes give Mage its compelling atmosphere, so it’s worth exploring them whenever possible.
You keep telling yourself that.

I'm 20 pages in and the only two actually MTAs-specific pieces of advice that have been given are the one about sensory input, and to characterize locations with the behaviours of the spirits that live in them. More information starts coming on the 26th page. It's not very in-depth though; there are Avatars, the book says. You should play them, it says. They're shaped by the beliefs of the mage. They're not always nice. That's really all there is. At least there's some information on Seekings, finally: basically, the Mage runs through a personal D&D dungeon of abstract challenges and tests relating to their real-world difficulties, like a room representing unresolved gender issues or a faltering conviction. If the mage fails any of the tests in their Seeking, they don't get to raise their Arete. Though unlike a D&D dungeon, you're not really supposed to solve this thing with dice, so in the end it just comes down to the ST telling the player where they succeed at the esoteric challenges the ST presented. I imagine it like playing an old-school Sierra point-and-click adventure game; every death is a failed attempt to raise you Arete, and you're not allowed to save.

There's one line that catches my eye:

M20 posted:

A Seeking’s features and goals always depend upon the mage’s Path. An Akashic mage will strive to disassociate himself from mortal delusions, a Bata’a mage will Seek for greater unity with the Loa, and a Nephandus will embrace deeper levels of corruption and deceit.

This seems strange; increasing your Arete almost always means that you get closer and closer to the Purple Paradigm. If anything, the Bata'a should realize unity with the Loa doesn't really matter.



Gender is dynamic, not static? Ze/zir are "Generally used in socially progressive circles"? Gender is a bit of a nebulous concept, but it being "dynamic" or "fluid" (as in the earlier sidebar) is not really an established fact. Some people have proposed that it is, but this a very academic and sometimes abstract idea of gender that people in "socially progressive circles" don't necessarily subscribe to. The idea that gender is not static is not an idea that has much recognition among trans women, because these trans people have a very clear impression of their gender being set (it just happens not to match with their bodies), and on the political side of things, see claims that gender are fluid or dynamic as attacks on their identities and a transmisogynistic attempt to erase their identities. It's a claim that has a lot in common with gender being a social construct, which is a concept that in cis-trans relations is almost always used to invalidate trans identities; gender is a social construct, so you're not really a woman since that's meaningless - you're just a man (an equally meaningless term, but we'll still insist on it). I again point to how Brucato's conception of trans people seems to be non-binary identities; the things he's writing here are rather ignorant of trans women's struggles. In my experience, almost nobody uses ze/zir as pronouns; they're somewhat awkward neologisms compared to the singular they, which has gained a lot more traction among socially progressive circles.

But what is Ascension?
There's an explanation here for what Ascension, the end-game of MTAs is. It's... well, it's this deeply personal thing that's individual to each mage. :rolleyes: The only real commonality is that it requires transcending the need for power, magickal or otherwise. All that stuff about the Global Ascension that the Traditions were supposed to bring about, that the Technocracy's Scientific Consensus was strangling? That's really more of an ideal than a real possibility.

M20 posted:

Ultimately, Mage is not about accomplishing Ascension but about pursuing it.

But what is it?!? It's really, really hard to get into the mindset of a character who's pursuing something that's described only in the vaguest terms. This was a huge problem back in MTAs 1e (and part of the reason a lot of people side with the Technocracy); the text authoritatively states that Ascension is good, but fails to describe what Ascension is and how it's achievable. This makes it very hard to really care about both the Ascension War and personal Ascensions. They're lofty goals and pipe dreams, and if you're the least bit cynical, taking on good authority that, yeah, Ascension will totally make everything better is very hard.

And this is apparently what MTAs is about. Something you're not allowed to know what is.

Next comes several pages for how STs should handle magick, which is all about how they should enforce paradigms and make sure everyone are using their foci properly. You're not simply allowed to cast using the Spheres; you have to describe how your mage tries to accomplish their effect. If the player doesn't satisfy the ST's requirements, the ST is just supposed to say "no, you can't so that" (but unlike Game Masters, Storytellers are totally not supposed to be tyrants - it's a cooperative effort :words: ). This strikes me as inelegant. There's better ways to motivate players to use their paradigm - one is even already part of the rules. First, the summary of what makes a spell Vulgar mentions that if the mage doesn't cast within their paradigm, the effect is Vulgar. That's a pretty good enforcement-mechanic; if the player doesn't give an in-paradigm description of how their spell works, they take Paradox. No player would ever cast without well-described foci and paradigm-justifications ever again! Secondly, just use Stunt dice like in White Wolf's other game, Exalted - the ST can aware 1-3 extra dice to spellcasting rolls depending on the level of description. These are far better solutions than the ST and player playing mother-may-I with the player's paradigm. (Note in particular that the player comes up with the paradigm, but the ST enforces it. If the ST misunderstands how the player thinks the paradigm works, the player could very easily get frustrated with their ST.)

There's also this:

M20 posted:

Ah, magick – the core of Mage. Most RPGs feature lists of prescribed magical spells with damage, duration, and so forth regulated by levels or power points. That’s not how magic (no k) actually works, however, in the real-life applications of the Arts. Both the real-life mystic practices involved with magic and the literary form of fictional magic show magic as an extension of the person who uses it.

See, all magic is actually chaos magick. :jerkbag: It's not even true. Historical magical practices (and consequently all fictional magic based on it) have often involved what we'd today call a scientific approach that has nothing to do with the magicians' will. Alchemists, for example, broadly believed that their experiments were repeatable and based on natural laws, with the self not entering much into the equation at all (in fact, this approach is what led the modern science of chemistry to develop from alchemy). Likewise, John Dee believed that summoning angels by chanting in Enochian was just as much of a universal science as his work in mathematics was. The idea that magic is somehow not just another form of natural law (i.e. a science) is a post-Enlightenment idea, and, to quote Wikipedia: "Modern Western magicians generally state magic's primary purpose to be personal spiritual growth". This book is written from an intensely Modern Western viewpoint, and it steamrolls everything else.

M20 posted:

And so, although Mage is not some occult teaching tool, its approach to magic(k) as an extension of the magick-user is true to both life and fiction.

Oh yes, Brucato was the guy who didn't really want to describe the paradigm and casting-practices back in 2e, because he was afraid someone would actually cast a spell at the table, wasn't he?

There's a chapter on the types of campaigns can be run, divided into five types; Traditions, Technocracy, Alliance, Orphans, Mixed. The Disparate Alliance is a secret alliance, by the way. I don't think the chapter on the Disparate Alliance mentions this. It's buried in the STing chapter, for some reason. This is also the only place we learn that the disparate Crafts of the DA don't cooperate in the same way the Traitions in the Nine Mystic Traditions do; they're mostly isolated. This would be great information to have in the chapter on the Disparate Alliance. What's it doing here, out in the STing chapter? It's also noticeable how deceptive the Disparate Alliance chapter is; it claims the Oprhans as part of the DA, but the STing chapter treats them as a separate group, being treated as an equal category to the Traditions, Technocracy, and Alliance.

The passages about the Technocracy talk a little about making it a human campaign with releatable human goals about stopping the paranormal from hurting ordinary humans. The way it's written, it seems Brucato suggests that instead of using the regular Traditions, the Traditions in a Technocracy game should be as evil as the Technocracy is in a Traditions game, full of bloodthirsty witches and mad occultists. It's so... is that all you can conceive? Black and white moralities all over the place? Can the Technocracy and Traditions never be, actually, both kind of wrong and kind of right?

M20 posted:

A Technocratic chronicle reflects the ambivalent attitude we have about technology and control. As citizens of a wired world, we love our toys and fight to keep them… even when that fight leaves innocent people dead. Those toys might be corrupting us, especially in a Nephandic-infiltration chronicle, but that doesn’t make technology evil on its own terms.

This is a really complex topic that deserves far more than one line, and probably shouldn't be associated with the Nephandi. If you're going to go face to face with the hypocrisy and crimes of the modern west, blaming it all on Cthulhu-worshipping serial-killer nihilists doesn't really do it justice.

By the end of the book, I don't have an answer of any of the MTAs-related STing questions I have. There was mentions of Seekings, of Avatars, of Ascension, and of city-spirits and sensory impressions. There was nothing on how any of other magick the PCs and NPCs shape the needs of a game. Like, for example, how you can't do regular murder mysteries when time-mages can just look into the past, or spirit-mages can ask the spirit of the floor who did it. Nothing on how, and to what degree, you can keep things secret in a game where there are all these sensory powers and mind-reading and spirit-contacting mages. Pages upon pages are spent on generic GMing advice, ranting about people who eat pizza, and offering music suggestions, but actual useful advice is scarce. This chapter was 39 pages long, and I think the usual information I got out of it could have fit on a single one.

I hate this book. :smithicide:

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 15:53 on Jan 17, 2016

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ahahaha. Brucato thinks loving :tvtropes: is a 'great resource for storytellers'?

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


Night10194 posted:

Ahahaha. Brucato thinks loving :tvtropes: is a 'great resource for storytellers'?

It could be for "recognize this" and then "Don't listen to anything it says"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In Nomine: The Armies of Hell

While the diabolicals originally derive from the angels that Fell in the first battle of the War, few of them remain from that time. Most demons are weak compared to the average angel, as Lucifer chose quantity over quality, to increase the number of demons and reduce the risk of rebellion. Some dmeons, though, are quite potent: the Princes who rule over Hell. Most demons were created by their Prince and trained in their Prince's ways. In theory, a Prince wants to help their Earthly servants. In truth, most Princes will write off failures as the cost of replacement if there's less risk there than helping you out. Especially if they set you up to fail for being too ambitious or too intelligent. Still, if you can please your Prince without making them suspicious, they will reward you well. Oh, and sidebar: Oathtaking. It's really easy to turn someone into a Soldier of Hell even if they lack the sixth Force. A Demon Prince can just prepare a special Force and shove it into a human. The human must be willing and aware they're selling their soul to Hell, of course. If the human's hit their Force cap, they die. Otherwise, they become a Soldier of Hell.


The world is lusting, writing with desire.

Andrealphus, Prince of Lust is easily one of the creepiest Superiors. He is an Impudite, and his friends call him Andre. He's subtle, cheery and well-liked by those Princes that enjoy pleasure. He dislikes ugly demons and he's always busy. Recently, he's been working with Nybbas to create a new paradigm for religion, and they expect to found a religion of entertainment before the end of the 2100s. In the meantime, he's got his demons teaching humans that it's okay to lose yourself in the pleasures of the flesh. However, his demons must remain emotionally distant. It is dissonant for any demon of Lust to feel sympathy for a human or true concern. They can only manipulate mortals, though faking affection is acceptable and encouraged, of course.

Balseraphs of Lust can force a victim to enjoy any single physical sensation for (Celestial Forces) minutes. A victim can resist with Will, but a failed roll at CD 6 causes them to be permanently neurally rewired to find the experience extremely pleasurable, no matter what it is.
Djinn of Lust can keep people in a post-coital afterglow for a slong as they continue touching them after they awaken or after satisfying sex. While in this state, the human will remain calm no matter what's happening and the demon can add their Ethereal Forces to any Will roll or Will-based skill roll to influence the victim, as well as to any resonance roll after that if they're attuned to the victim. (Obviously, that last bit's only good for Djinn.)
Calabim of Lust may do celestial damage to anything they touch and resonate, even those protected by corporeal vessels. However, damage dealt this way cannot remove a Force.
Habbalah of Lust never suffer a reversal of resonance if their target resists. Rather, the emotion spins off randomly and hits someone else, somewhere in the world. Further, they add their Ethereal Forces to any resonance roll against someone they're touching.
Lilim of Lust are...uh...

quote:

The Lilim of Lust are Andre's favorite minions. (He asked for a full page in which to express their virtues, but it boils down to, "If you ever get a chance with one, you should take it.")
Lilim of Lust automatically detect the needs of anyone they touch, rolling only to determin check digit.
Shedim of Lust may move at will into anyone they touch that is experience orgasm. Also, they add their Corporeal Forces to any resonance roll against someone they touch.
Impudites of Lust add Corporeal Forces to their resonance rolls against anyone they've had sex with.
Dark Desire is a Servitor attunement that lets you sepdn 1 Essence to imprint a desire into someone. They can resist their new urges with Will, but if they fail, they will have no goal but to satisfy their desire for (demon's Forces) hours.
Kiss of Death is a Servitor attunement that lets you kill someone by spending Essence and making a Will roll while you have sex with them. This is a physical attack dealing (CD*Essence spent) corporeal damage. Andre, as an Impudite, dislikes when his servants use this on humans, but doesn't ask often.
Knights of Infernal Pleasures can detect how sexually fulfilled someone is, both at the moment and in their general life. Any demon that seduces an angel will be given this distinction.
Captains of Diabolical Delight can bring someone pleasure with a mere touch, giving +4 to a reaction roll.
Barons of Eternal Ecstasy can make someone they've seduced do anything sexual with the demon at all, even if they'd never normally consider doing it.

Andrealphus is happy to ally himself to anyone who won't interfere with his Word, and so he is allied to Lilith and Nybbas, and associated with Valefor. However, he is hostile towards those who would steal his devotees or harm his power. He is thus hostile to Haagenti, who is ambitiously trying to broaden Gluttony into Lust's territory. He is also hostile to Baal, and a direct enemy of Saminga. Basic Rites:
1. Spend half an hour performing sexual acts.
2. Spend an hour reading an illustrated magazine in public and smiling pleasantly at passers-by.

Andre has a base Invocation TN of 1, +1 if you have a dirty picture scrawled on a nearby wall, +2 for a well-thumbed issue of Playboy, +3 for a good-looking person having sex, +4 if that person is extraordinarily beautiful, +5 for a person having sex for an audience, +6 for 10 people having sex for an audience.


The world is a game, whose rules must be followed.

Asmodeus, Prince of the Game is the head of Lucifer's secret police, who hunt down Renegades and traitors. He is a Djinn, and second only to Kronos in power among Princes. He is widely feared and despised, and his agents always have at least one cover identity, revealing themselves only to make 'arrests.' They are charged to kill the vessels of any Renegades they find, and to Asmodeus, a Renegade is any demon that acts against the expressed or implied wishes of their Prince, any demon with Celestial Discord or any demon whose actions call into question their loyalty to evil. Lucifer also uses Asmodeus especially to hunt down those who might Redeem or threaten Lucifer's plans, and to calm the unrest Malpha scauses. While any Prince can call on Asmodeus' servants for aid, most prefer to deal with problems internally rather than have them poke about. Asmodeus usually appears as a tall man with burning eyes. His servants generate dissonance when they disobey any of his direct orders or when they help a Renegade escape judgment.

Servitors of Asmodeus are attuned to their respective Band, and may identify them and how much dissonance they have with a Perception roll. They also receive 12 CP to spend on a Role or skills for that Role.
Balseraphs of the Game are typically casino clerks, stockbrokers, meteorologists or other positions requiring creative lying.
Djinn of the Game are usually security guards, accountants, police, military or other positions requiring them to keep tabs on others.
Calabim of the Game usually have Roles as construction workers, loggers, oil tanker captains or other jobs that let them destroy.
Habbalah of the Game are typically therapists, school counselors, private eyes, fast-food clerks or other jobs that let them be overly inquisitive without suspicion.
Lilim of the Game...

quote:

Asmodeus' Lilim show up most frequently as hookers, strippers, substitute English teachers and other roles that let them get kinky in plaid private-school uniforms.
Shedim of the Game can remain in borrowed vessels for (CD) days without corrupting their hosts and gain no dissonance for this.
Impudites of the Game usually serve as doctors, lawyers or other jobs that give them many people to 'help.'
Dissonance Binding is a Servitor attunement that, for 3 Essence, lets you bind a demon with their own dissonance, reducing their Agility by (Celestial Forces+target's dissonance) for (Forces) hours. While so bound, the victim cannot spend or regenerate Essence. And yes, this works identically on dissonant angels.
Humanity is a Servitor attunement that, for 1 Essence, lets you pass as human to anyone at all except Lucifer. It lasts 24 hours, and while in effect, nothing you do causes disturbance. You become human in nearly every way - you need food and maintenance, you can't use Songs, you don't regenerate Essence naturally and you can't assume celestial form. You can use attunements, both passively and those that need Essence, though, and you can still use your resonance. You may spend Essence to boost rolls, but may not exchange Essence with others.
Knights of Judgment inspire confidence in humans they meet, and any human will respect their opinion and not dispute their judgments.
Captains of Integrity can detect if someone's spoken words match their secret feelings.
Barons of Justice can identify those whose opinions are just, fair and accurate, with their Celestial Forces determining the detail they get.

Asmodeus will never ignore treason, even in his allies. However, he is allied to Kronos and associated with Baal. He is neutral towards Beleth and Malphas, and hostile to all others but Valefor, whom he considers an outright enemy. Basic Rites:
1. At sunset, Asmodeus' demons regenerate 2 Essence, not 1.
2. For 3 Essence, kill a Renegade.

Asmodeus has a base Invocation TN of 1, +1 if you remonstrate a child, +2 if you attend an important legal suit, +3 if you use exhaustive evidence to bog down a trial, +4 if you get an innocent convicted at trial, +5 if you "prove" a criminal innocent, +6 if you clear the name of a Nazi war criminal. Regardless of invocation, Asmodeus personally checks on all of his minions once a month to assess them and get an explanation for any dissonance they may have.


The world is a war - and the demons are out to win it.

Baal, Prince of the War, is a born warrior, a Balseraph with a twisted sense of honor. He is cultured, classy and intelligent. Combat is his way of life, and he's led the armies of Hell from the outset, though he is more general than fighter these days. He prefers to appear as a respectable statesman, but he keeps other vessels, as well - alien forms of immense physical strength. At other times, he appears as a plan, normal human of immense charisma. His demons work to encourage humanity to destroy itself and to fight against angels. He rules with an iron grip, checking on his demons frequently. He fought like a champion for the right of the demons to rebel, but kills anyone that threatens to rebel against him. He seldom stays in one place long, not only because he despises the unworthiness of most he meets, but because he's also needed in many places to fight for Lucifer. It is dissonant for demons of the War to retreat from any conflict without direct orders to do so.

Balseraphs of the War subtract their Corporeal Forces from any attempt to Dodge their attacks.
Djinn of the War can detect any flesh, living, dead or undead, within (Corporeal Forces) yards.
Calabim of the War add (Corporeal Forces) to their resonance rolls to destroy flesh.
Habbalah of the War can sense any physical conflict within (10*Corporeal Forces) yards.
Lilim of the War add (Corporeal Forces) to any attempt to charm someone.
Shedim of the War add (Corporeal Forces) to all Will rolls to urge their hosts into physical combat.
Impudites of the War gain no dissonance for killing humans in honorable combat.
Art of Combat is a Servitor attunement allowing you to make up to (Corporeal Forces) attacks in one round, at the cost of 1 Essence per attack. These can be physical or mental attacks, but you can't use the same attack twice. So you can punch and shoot a gun, but not punch twice or shoot twice.
State of Ophis is a Servitor attunement named for Ophis, the angel that tempted Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent. For 2 Essence and a Will roll, it allows you to assume celestial form without Disturbance.
Knights of the Black Order can tell at a glance if someone has the will to fight.
Captains of the Infernal Armies know at all times the exact location and health of anyone under their command.
Barons of Victory can predict, one round in advance, the actions of any foe in physical combat. The demon's foe must decide thir actions at the start of the round and tell them. If they know the Baron can read them, either by foreknowledge or an Intelligence roll, they can attempt a Will roll at the start of their turn to change their action at the last moment.

Baal has no allies, but is associated with Asmodeus, Belial, Saminga and Vapula. He is hostile to Andrealphus, Beleth, Kronos, Nybbas and Valefor, and considers Malphas his enemy. Basic Rites:
1. For 2 Essence, kill an enemy that puts up a fight.
2. Enter a duel with an angel of Michael.

Baal has a base Invocation TN of 1, +1 if you have brass knuckles, +2 for a pistol, +3 for a machine gun, +4 for a 20mm cannon, +5 for a heavy tank and +6 for a destroyer.


The world is terror, a never-ending nightmare.

Beleth, Princess of Nightmares, was one of the first angels made, serving as the angel of Fear and the lover of Blandine. Now, she is a Djinn that despises humanity after siding with Lucifer against her lover's wishes. She thinks the other Princes are too soft on humans, particularly those that just kill them. She spies for Lucifer, and most Princes avoid the Marches as a result. She has no friends, no allies, and few who will even work with her. She and her demons have worked more than any others to promote fear and mistrust, doing so to mask the insecurities that they will never admit to. It is dissonant for demons of Beleth to assume celestial form on Earth, but they can use Celestial Songs.

Balseraphs of Nightmares may create an irrational Fear in anyone they resonate, as per the Discord, with effective level equal to the CD, for (Ethereal Forces) days.
Djinn of Nightmares can enter the nightmares of their attuned, no matter what the distance.
Calabim of Nightmares automatically know what would must stun or terrify anyone they see, and if they can produce it, their victim will go into shock for (Ethereal Forces) rounds unless they resist with Will.
Habbalah of Nightmares can invoke their resonance to unstun anyone they touch...but the next person they afflict with painful emotions will be stunned for twice the duration as the stun they saved the first person from.
Lilim of Nightmares cause their victims to get a level 1 Fear of the demon's choice if they fail to perform a Geas, on top of the normal penalties. This Fear worsens by q1 level each increment of time until the geas is performed.
Shedim of Nightmares may take on celestial form on Earth without dissonance.
Impudites of Nightmares may add the number of minutes they spent most recently in their target's nightmare to any resonance roll against that target.
Dream Walking is a Servitor attunement identical to Blandine's, except for Beleth's side of the Marches.
Terror is a Servitor attunement that lets you haunt the nightmare of anyone you've seen before if they are within 500 yards of you and in Beleth's Marches, for 3 Essence. You summon an incarnation of the target's fear and confront them as they sleep. The victim can resist with Will. If they fail, they awaken immediately, and take (CD*Celestial Forces) soul damage, though this cannot remove a Foprce. If they succeed the Will roll, however, they face the fear and no longer fear it, unless it was a Fear Discord, in which case they remove one level of the Discord.
Knights of Restlessness may send any sleeper in 500 yards into a delirious state of fightful dreaming, drawing themselves and their target into Beleth's Marches.
Captains of Headhunters always know if anyone they meet has had a celestial in their dreams in the past day or experienced a celestially-inflicted dream or nightmare in the past day.
Barons of Screams get a +2 bonus to all rolls in the Marches.

Beleth has no allies, but is associated with Asmodeus, Kronos and Malphas. She is hostile to all others. Basic Rites:
1. Spend six hours in Beleth's realm.

The base Invocation TN for Beleth is 1, +1 if you have a Stephen King novel, +2 for a theater showing a horror movie, +3 for more than one hit of LSD, +4 if you frighten over 20 people, +5 if you have a person confronting a phobia in a nightmare, and +6 in an asylum for the violently insane.

Next time: Fire, Gluttony, Dark Humor and Fate.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Glad Brucato's here to tell us how magic actually works. :jerkbag:

Mostly he's making me feel more and more justified that I've never actually bought any edition of Mage aside from Awakening.

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.

I remember when Awakening first came out there were a metric shitton of Ascension fans complaining because it was turning all magic into Hermetics! When it actually got around to addressing something like OMage paradigms, the presentation was something along the lines of "All these groups have a bit of lost knowledge because of the big magical diaspora back in the day, so they probably have something to teach us!"

As opposed to the M20 approach, where there's a lot of different magicians with different belief systems but they're all fooling themselves and it's really just chaos magic you guys.

Wait, which one was supposed to be the more respectful and diverse approach again?

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


See maybe I am the grognard, but through looking at a lot of this stuff, why on earth did people want/ fall so in love with OWoD? I mean I am only in my 20's so missed a lot of the 90's by being way too young, but when was this stuff good?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I'm beginning to think that Brucato's problem is less that he has goofy ideas, but that he presents them as incontrovertible fact with nothing to show how he gets from point A to ~, even while he's busily bloviating elsewhere. I know people who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, outside of Tumblr even, but I don't know anyone who uses spivaks or any of the rest of the menagerie of nth gender pronouns, outside of fictional contexts like MUCKs and old Star Trek novels. A statement like 'gender is dynamic' is the beginning of a contentious argument or essay, not a misplaced mic drop, and it's an essay that's far too big for an isolated sidebar.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




LatwPIAT posted:



Chapter 7: Telling the Story

The snippet of intro fiction here is a piece about an Etherite cultist who's sitting in a cloaked car that's slaloming between cars on the motorway at full throttle, while the Etherite is up to his eyeballs on not-LSD. The moral of the story is "go do fun things", like test experimental technologies in the middle of traffic while high as a kite.
You mean the stated moral. The actual moral appears to be "The Traditions are full of dangerous lunatics and they need to be stopped."

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Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Bieeardo posted:

I'm beginning to think that Brucato's problem is less that he has goofy ideas, but that he presents them as incontrovertible fact with nothing to show how he gets from point A to ~, even while he's busily bloviating elsewhere. I know people who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, outside of Tumblr even, but I don't know anyone who uses spivaks or any of the rest of the menagerie of nth gender pronouns, outside of fictional contexts like MUCKs and old Star Trek novels. A statement like 'gender is dynamic' is the beginning of a contentious argument or essay, not a misplaced mic drop, and it's an essay that's far too big for an isolated sidebar.

There's definitely a case of "I don't seem to be aware that 99% of my audience is going to think my positions are deeply eccentric at best."

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