Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



SirPhoebos posted:

I've never played RIFTS, but I get the impression that Kevin Siembada is the Tommy Wiseau of roleplaying games.
I would loving love a Disaster Artist-style behind-the-scenes book about the rise and fall of Palladium Books.

Bieeardo posted:

When did they make that godawful shirt? This is the first I've heard of it.
Well, it says Kevin said that at the 2006 open house, so I'm guessing around then. I'm just amazed this is the first I've heard of it.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I don't think Kevin Siembieda's foibles are much different from many small business owners who see entrepreneuership chiefly as the opportunity to recreate their world in their image. If you read horror stories about bad bosses in small businesses on sites like askamanager.com, you'll find that the traits singled out by Palladium's former employees are all too common--lack of boundaries, weird notions regarding industry standards, and above all, the toxic combination of micromanagement coupled with an inability to accept responsibility for mistakes.

Palladium hasn't exactly fallen--their publication schedule has slowed to nearly nothing besides The Rifter, but they're supposedly very good at selling their back catalogue and bringing in enough revenue to pay salaries for the old-timers who are left. They were once successful enough to be competing with D&D for top sales--a few other companies can say the same, but all those companies are defunct. (Though whether or not Kevin has surpassed those companies by keeping Palladium going is a matter for debate, obviously).

The thing is, you guys make it sound like Siembieda is a bizarre outsider artist or something. If the Megaversal system seems wildly out of step with what you expect from a game, it's because it's a relic from 1980, when cutting-edge game design meant "I'm going to fix AD&D."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Kavak posted:

I'm not even going to try and figure out if those battle lines are right- what date in 1942 is this being written from?
Would you believe July 4th, 1942 and it's the Fourth of July because Because?

Also I sincerely enjoy you picking apart those maps, it makes me laugh.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





MINI UPDATE

The Many Asides of Sparky


Note: not all of these quotes are verbatim, they're summaries.
  • He got his powers from interrupting a fight between the Gangster and the Yankee. Long story short he got the Gangster's tommy gun, threatened to shoot him with it and the Gangster nearly beat him to death with the gun while Yankee got his second wind. It's now a little awkward to be teammates with the guy. The main reason he got involved with the fight was because he was 12 and the Gangster tried to use him as a hostage. So again, pretty loving awkward.
  • Also Sparky has been the Yankee's sidekick since he was 12 which...okay that kind of explains how he's an amoral dick when he's Superior, that stuff has gotta be pretty influential on the formative years of a teen boy.
  • How he met FDR when he was one of the first one hundred to join Delta Squadron.
  • How Deltas awaken with their powers and how sometimes there's a correlation between event and power despite no not always.
  • Racism has no place in the army, especially in Delta Squad.
  • It's pretty cool how our executive officer is the first ever Delta and it's also cool how he's black.
  • Three and a half straight pages on the design and layout of The Liberty which still strikes me as an incredibly bad idea to make an aircraft carrier fly with blimps. They have jetbikes already and blimps are a big loving target.
  • The story of an ex-flapper/gangster moll with Delta powers who didn't have a secret identity and tried to be a celebrity until a guy she knew shot her in the back because he felt she was ignoring him. Now most people have secret identities as a result. Yikes. :smith:
  • The original Patriot loves to quote the Henry V Agincourt speech every time they're about to go into battle. Sparky loves to follow up with "let's go get some Nazis!"
  • Really I could just say all of the Home War Effort stuff but there are some specific standouts. I mean this book is meant for an actual in-universe American audience. They know what's going on, I hope..
  • How some of his buddies didn't pass the Army's physicals.
  • Who Rosie the Riveter and Wanda the Welder are.
  • The economics behind War Bonds.
  • Four pages on how the Ladies of Liberty caught the Red Ghost.
  • A page on how Trojan tricked Himmler.
  • "North Africa is awesome because it's way more different than my home territories of Wisconsin and Chicago!"
  • The Gangster hates the desert because sand gets in his guns because he insists on still using a Tommygun.
  • "I really hope that the Libyans and Egyptians stay friends after the war, a Pan-Arabian force could only be a good thing that will help the region prosper".
  • "I got no sympathy for the Soviets and I have no drat patience for Cyrillic."
  • "I heard that the new Humphrey Bogart film set in Morocco in Casablanca is great!"
  • Details on Pearl Harbor.
  • "Also I don't trust China."
  • "I have no idea how kanji works but I think I can sound out the written words just decent."
  • "Man those kamikaze pilots and suicidal attacks are nuts and stupid, huh?"
  • Aquarians helped win the Battle of Midway by fighting Japanese Aquarians under the waves.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Oh god. Sparky is Liberty Lad. From Freedom Force.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Halloween Jack posted:

The thing is, you guys make it sound like Siembieda is a bizarre outsider artist or something. If the Megaversal system seems wildly out of step with what you expect from a game, it's because it's a relic from 1980, when cutting-edge game design meant "I'm going to fix AD&D."
I don't consider him an outsider artist or anything, but he is like Wiseau in that he's become a success (or at least hit a stable post-success plateau) pretty much despite himself, and has a very bizarre behind-the-scenes reputation.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Hostile V posted:

Would you believe July 4th, 1942 and it's the Fourth of July because Because?

Also I sincerely enjoy you picking apart those maps, it makes me laugh.

In that case I'm going to look at the occupation borders!

North Africa appears to be right for just before the Battle of El-Alamein. I'm not sure what those occupied bits are in Tunisia, because Torch was in November and he doesn't consider Vichy France Axis. Also does he actually say the Italians invaded Libya? Because it was their colony before even WWI, so by that standard everything in Africa has been invaded (Which is basically right but neither here nor there)

In Russia, the Germans had almost finished their push to the Don River in July of 1942, and the infamous assault on Stalingrad was that August. The map has them well past the city and occupying all of the Caucasus, including the oil fields that were the objective of the entire offensive. I understand these maps aren't the most precise thing, but he could have at least not shaded in a region the Germans never reached at all! That alone shows how much he knows about the war itself outside maybe the United States and its battles.

In Asia, he appears to have changed his mind and make Vichy Indochina into Axis territory. Also I'm pretty sure the Japanese weren't that far into Burma yet.

FAKE EDIT: What the gently caress is Sparky/the author's deal with non-Latin alphabets? Is that something that comes up later in the line?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I mean I have a hell of a time with non-latin alphabets because I have a poor visual memory so the extra step makes learning those languages a nightmare for me, maybe the author has a similar problem and just feels more resentful about it?

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Kavak posted:

In that case I'm going to look at the occupation borders!

North Africa appears to be right for just before the Battle of El-Alamein. I'm not sure what those occupied bits are in Tunisia, because Torch was in November and he doesn't consider Vichy France Axis. Also does he actually say the Italians invaded Libya? Because it was their colony before even WWI, so by that standard everything in Africa has been invaded (Which is basically right but neither here nor there)

In Russia, the Germans had almost finished their push to the Don River in July of 1942, and the infamous assault on Stalingrad was that August. The map has them well past the city and occupying all of the Caucasus, including the oil fields that were the objective of the entire offensive. I understand these maps aren't the most precise thing, but he could have at least not shaded in a region the Germans never reached at all! That alone shows how much he knows about the war itself outside maybe the United States and its battles.

In Asia, he appears to have changed his mind and make Vichy Indochina into Axis territory. Also I'm pretty sure the Japanese weren't that far into Burma yet.

FAKE EDIT: What the gently caress is Sparky/the author's deal with non-Latin alphabets? Is that something that comes up later in the line?

Vichy Indochina was occupied by Japan. Not to excuse their terrible cartography but it is technically accurate.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I think it's just supposed to be fair for its day wartime ignorance or something along those lines. Sparky hasn't been outside of the US except for war and now whoa all of these other languages exist and I have no idea how they work! Also part of it is for the reader and audience; all of the European/North African/German Deltas have their names untranslated (Le Lion, L'Esperit, Kapitan Krieg) but they translate Big Bear because they don't want it to be an unfamiliar mouthful for the GMs and players not used to Japanese or Russian. But of course it won't come up again because after this book it's right back to America and it instead makes Sparky look like a small-minded guy. TL;DR the book is dubs over subs.

Also to answer your question, Ethopia is stated as being invaded by Italy and they displace Selassie in 1935 and that's probably a mistake on my part trying to simplify all of the info with regards to saying that Libya is invaded because the book does mention that Libya was a previous holding.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 17:42 on Jun 23, 2016

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Vichy Indochina was occupied by Japan. Not to excuse their terrible cartography but it is technically accurate.

They had military access, not full control.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Hostile V posted:

The Gangster hates the desert because sand gets in his guns because he insists on still using a Tommygun.

Jesus, dude, just switch to stick magazines. They even had two magazines welded together so the operator could easily swap them out.

Also, the Thompson didn't leave military service because it was unreliable, only the drum magazine was faulty, it was pushed out because they were expensive to make. The British and Free French commandos loved the M1928 Thompson.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Wasn't it also kinda heavy?

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Night10194 posted:

Wasn't it also kinda heavy?

It was, but when you were comparing it to other infantry weapons of the day and it's utility, it wasn't that much. An unloaded Thompson was about 10lbs., compared to a German MP40 weighed almost 9 lbs. unloaded or the British Lanchester was about 9.5 lbs. unloaded. Most rifles were about 9 to 10 pounds, so the Thompson was considered more a specialist weapon instead of something issued as a personal defense weapon for support troops. Even the United Defense M42, which was built as a partisan/special operations alternative to the Thompson, was about the same weight despite being made from stamped metal instead of being machined like the Thompson.

There was the Reising, which is a gun most people don't know about, but it apparently was used by the U.S. Navy and Marines before the M1 Thompson came about, which was about half the weight as the Thompson, easier to manufacture because it was stamped metal and simple wood furniture, and fired from a closed bolt, making it more accurate. The Reising however was a bit fragile compared to the Thompsons and was rejected by the Army for reliability reasons, despite being fielded by the Marines in the early Pacific fighting. You really didn't see a weight savings paired with reliability until stuff like the M1 Carbine came out, which was 6 pounds loaded with 15 or 30 round magazine with a more potent cartridge, or the Sten gun, which was good enough reliability- and accuracy-wise, weighed about 3/4 of the Thompson, and could be cranked out super-easy in large quantities.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The sten was the one that was designed so basically anyone with a machine shop could make one, right?

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kai Tave posted:

Even by the standards of nerd tat, that shirt is incredibly pathetic.

It might still appear in some Loot Crate sooner or later.

Night10194 posted:

Oh god. Sparky is Liberty Lad. From Freedom Force.

This is just what this superhero setting is missing: time travelers from the Silver Age.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Night10194 posted:

The sten was the one that was designed so basically anyone with a machine shop could make one, right?

It was probably one of the first, if not the first. The British subcontracted their construction like crazy, I believe one of the biggest manufacturers was a vacuum cleaner company. Part of some of the unreliability issues with the Sten came from subcontractors not building parts to standard. By really 1942-43, everyone was making cheaper alternatives to highly-machined stuff like the Thompson or the Russian Ppsh-41, which was why stuff like the M3 "Grease Gun", the Ppsh-43, and the Australian Owen gun came about. The Germans later in the war, with dwindling resources and manpower, had studied the Sten and "last-ditch" guns like the EMRA 44 or came up with their own versions of the Sten like the MP3008 and there was even a last-ditch bullpup assault rifle that used Sten parts that was designed but never built.

But, really, any simple open-bolt stamped-metal submachinegun can be made with a machine shop or simple tools. If it's not the Sten gun, it's the "Swedish K" M45 Carl Gustav, or it's the MAC-10.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I've never fired an automatic weapon, and I can't imagine firing .45 ACP at 600 rounds per minute. I would probably want the gun to be heavy even if I was lugging it across the Pacific.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Halloween Jack posted:

I've never fired an automatic weapon, and I can't imagine firing .45 ACP at 600 rounds per minute. I would probably want the gun to be heavy even if I was lugging it across the Pacific.

I remember reading an account of a guy going to a Las Vegas gun range and firing the a full-auto model of the Kriss Super V Vector, that weird sci-fi gun with the counter-recoil mechanism that everyone seems to be copying nowadays in future video games and RPGs but they don't really know how it works so they just slant the magazine well to emulate the look (not bitter, nosiree). He felt that the counter-recoil action wasn't as effective in counter-acting muzzle climb as promised, largely because the gun is so light. He then fired a big-old-heavy Thompson and ended up get tighter shot groupings on full-auto than with the Kriss.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Demon: the Descent

So, what traits do all demons have? Their new bodies are human, but quantum-entangled with their demonic bodies, and both sides influence them. The Cover is entirely human, with all of the traits of humanity. They age, hunger, tire, feel pain, and so on, as long as they are in use. If you don't use a Cover for months, it'll be fine, though you'll want to do that to a Cover that really can just vanish for months without causing compromise. A demon's mind, however, is not human. It is not derived from a Cover's brain at all, but is a vestige of their angelic state. Even demons don't really understand their own minds, but there are a few traits that render them entirely inhuman.

First, demons do not have unconscious tics or emotional displays. Anything a demon shows on their face or body is conscious and voluntarily shown. Every action is deliberate. As a result, they are nearly impossible to read except insofar as they choose to be. This isn't to say that their emotions are under their conscious control or that they don't make impulse decisions. They feel emotions as strongly as any human and have bad judgment just as often - they just never show it unless and until they choose to. Any attempt made to judge their emotional state, detect lies or assess their desires based on involuntary physical cues fails automatically, period. (Of course, this can ostracize those who know that everything a demon shows is deliberately chosen.)

Second, demons have an extreme aptitude for symbolic logic and language. Angels, y'see, are made with all the knowledge and abilities they require, including a perfect knowledge of all languages. While the Fall rips away a lot of knowledge, it doesn't remove all of it. Further, the basic structure of the demon's mind and its ability to record and process information remains perfect. All demons get the Eidetic Memory merit free. They never forget anything they experience or witness, no matter what. Further, all demons are fluent in every native human language currently in use. They speak every dialect perfectly, complete with an understanding of slang and idiom, as if they were native speakers. However, this applies only to natively spoken languages - demons cannot speak Latin or ancient Sumerian innately, as no one speaks them natively. Likewise, they don't speak Elvish without learning it. Demons can learn these languages manually, but don't get them free. They do, however, speak First Tongue fluently. (But not High Speech.)

Primum can be used to resist supernatural powers like any power stat, and a demon within a Cover can choose whether to use their Primum or their Cover rating to resist, but using Primum this way is a compromise risk. It is much safer and usually better to use Cover, which will often be higher anyway. Demons can also always see the works of the God-Machine, no matter what magical means the Machine uses to hide itself from humanity, though they do not automatically pierce mundane covers for facilities. Demons are also perfect liars, as their Primum, talent for languages and decoupling of mind and body merge to form a perfect nexus of deception. Their thoughts are a quantum entanglement, and at any moment the demon decides whether the thought is true or false, with objective truth making no actual difference. Any method of determining truth or lies, magical or mundane, reads a demon only as the demon wants to be read. If the demon wants to read as truthful, they do. If they want to read as lying, they do. Most human methods of detecting lies don't even notice this because they cue off physical responses to emotions, which demons control entirely. However, even magical powers that detect objective truth rather than if someone is lying will still fail to work properly on demons - they will continue to read as truthful or false depending entirely on what they want, rather than what is objectively true.

Lastly, demons are capable of sensing Aether via what is known as aetheric resonance. The exact sensation varies by demon, but almost all of the Machine's works depend on converting Essence to Aether, and anything tied to the God-Machine will emit Aether. Thus, demons can use it to sense their enemy. Angels have no comparable ability to sense demons, however. The method this works by is that you can spend an Aether to sense any Aetheric sources around you for a scene. Any time a source comes close, you sense it. Demons count. You can't tell exactly what or how far away the source is, but can tell strength and direction, and being in Twilight will not help. However, demons in Cover or angels hidden by Infrastructure won't be automatically detected unless they spend Aether or Essence. Facilities, however, are often particularly intense unless specifically masked. Aether feels exactly the same no matter what is emitting it, however, so it's not a good way to detect if someone is friend or foe - demons and angels feel the exact same way. Your range expands as your Primum rises.

Before now, we've mentioned Glitches. Glitches are caused by rising Primum or certain compromise rolls. Glitches come in three types: brands, tells and emanations, which each come in one of three strength: minor, major or catastrophic. As your Primum goes up, your chance of getting glitches increases, as does the duration of transient, temporary glitches. Brands are glitches that affet the physical form. A minor brand is easily hidden - for example, an inability to eat unprocessed food, the smell of burnt copper or scar tissue in a circuit pattern. Major brands are inconvenient and visible - hair turning an unnatural color or glyphs of angelic script appearing as prominent tattoos. Catastrophic brands are obviously supernatural and impossible to hide, such as unnatural skin colors, horn-like protrusions, smoke coming from the mouth or a need to consume battery acid - and only battery acid.

Tells are bad habits and involuntary behaviors. A minor tell is easily explainable - a need to touch the top of a doorway as you enter, or an inability to cover your head. A major tell is a defining behavior that is possible to exploit and hard to explain - an inability to accept offered objects from someone's hand, or pain caused by high frequency sounds. A catastrophic tell is obvious and extremely eccentric - a need to count discarded coinage or a need to speak only in rhyme.

Emanations are glitches that manifest around you, affecting the environment, and they never form for demons with less than Primum 6. Minor emanations are subtle reality shifts that aren't easily traced to you - minor changes in temperature or air qualtiy, say. Major emanations are obvious but not necessarily supernatural. TVs might show static, electricity might malfunction or objects might rust slightly in your presence. Catastrophic emanations fundamentally alter local physics and are clearly following you around - light objects float when you get close, your footsteps are unnaturally loud and echoing, you suffer from personal parallax or skipping in time, like a badly buffering video.

Glitches can be cured. Most are temporary anyway, but not all, and sometimes you need to cure them faster. Gaining a new Cover will automatically remove all temporary glitches. Alternatively, you may find a restoration facility within Infrastructure, which will cure all glitches, even permanent ones. However, these facilities always have at least one angel guarding them, and often more, and even once you're past that you have to figure out how to turn them on safely. some Agencies track and safeguard these facilities, but if so, access to them is always heavily restricted and costly.

Next time: Gadgets and Pacts

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


Most Major Brands and Catastrophic Tells seem really easy to hide or explain. 'Unnatural hair color'? 'Weird tattoos'? Just live somewhere cool and you'll be fine. Half the people playing the game probably have them. Even implanted circuits and machinery can be explained away as biohacking or biomodding. And the example Catastrophic Tells just sound like manifestations of anxiety or mental illness (though the coin counting compulsion reminds me of the awesome Vampire X-Files episode). Here's how you explain 'pain caused by high frequency sounds' - 'hey, that noise is triggering my tinnitus'.

And all that emotional control and perfect lying stuff means Demons with those Brands and Tells would have an easier time fitting into mundane society than weird mundanes do.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

They don't make it too difficult to hide from humans, but you're going to be in trouble if the God-Machine's agents find out what your obvious behavioral tic is.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Count Chocula posted:

Most Major Brands and Catastrophic Tells seem really easy to hide or explain. 'Unnatural hair color'? 'Weird tattoos'? Just live somewhere cool and you'll be fine. Half the people playing the game probably have them. Even implanted circuits and machinery can be explained away as biohacking or biomodding.

I live in a major metropolitan area and I have literally never seen someone with computer hardware implanted in their body. Even in New York City that's gonna get you a lot of weird looks, and in Podunk that's going to make you a shrieking beacon to angels goin' :siren::bustem::siren:.

And yeah, you can explain off brands and tells - until cultists specifically informed to keep their eye out for people with such habits get wind of you, or they manifest suddenly and inexplicably, quite possibly in front of a crowd. A nice, quiet soccer mom suddenly getting a neon pink hair job is going to have a hell of a time explaining that, and the same soccer mom's hair turning into fiber optic cables is probably on the verge of needing to burn cover and run.

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


Daeren posted:

I live in a major metropolitan area and I have literally never seen someone with computer hardware implanted in their body. Even in New York City that's gonna get you a lot of weird looks, and in Podunk that's going to make you a shrieking beacon to angels goin' :siren::bustem::siren:.

And yeah, you can explain off brands and tells - until cultists specifically informed to keep their eye out for people with such habits get wind of you, or they manifest suddenly and inexplicably, quite possibly in front of a crowd. A nice, quiet soccer mom suddenly getting a neon pink hair job is going to have a hell of a time explaining that, and the same soccer mom's hair turning into fiber optic cables is probably on the verge of needing to burn cover and run.

Don't some nightclubs have RFID tags to get in? http://m.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/chip-implants-beneath-the-skin-bring-a-new-meaning-to-pay-wave-20150528-ghbq71.html

(My office has a soccer mom with pink hair)

So cybergoths are the most sought-after Cover? They can name their price for their lives, especially if they have hideous hair falls?

Alternatively: start a Silicon Valley tech incubator/startup. All your weird behavior will be excused. I guess there'd be tons of God Machine Angels there though.

I'm still jealous of Demon's disguise/lying abilities. I've been thinking a lot about how hard it is to 'descend into' mundane society.

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



Daeren posted:

And yeah, you can explain off brands and tells - until cultists specifically informed to keep their eye out for people with such habits get wind of you, or they manifest suddenly and inexplicably, quite possibly in front of a crowd. A nice, quiet soccer mom suddenly getting a neon pink hair job is going to have a hell of a time explaining that, and the same soccer mom's hair turning into fiber optic cables is probably on the verge of needing to burn cover and run.

While the danger with certain glitches like fiber-optic hair is obvious, lesser glitches pose a challenge in that they are usually temporary. Neon pink hair is not in and of itself suspicious, but there are a lot of people you would look at strangely if they showed up one day with their hair dyed neon pink, unplanned. Talking like Etrigan 24/7 is a problem, but it's a worse problem when you were speaking prose just fine two hours ago.

That, and they're complications to add on to the crazy things you're going to be up to as a demon while pretending that nothing is amiss. It's a good balance between a crack in the facade and something you can still cover for.

Punting
Sep 9, 2007
I am very witty: nit-witty, dim-witty, and half-witty.



If Demons can speak any language that is spoken natively, does that mean they're all fluent in Klingon thanks to that one guy who raised his kid to speak it as a first language? Now there's a hell of a way to mess with someone spying on you.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Punting posted:

If Demons can speak any language that is spoken natively, does that mean they're all fluent in Klingon thanks to that one guy who raised his kid to speak it as a first language? Now there's a hell of a way to mess with someone spying on you.

The book actually addresses that at some point. You have to have a small population of native speakers, on the level of a couple thousand people raised from birth to speak it, not just a few randos teaching their kids Klingon. This does mean you can use endangered languages like Breton or Basque, or near-extinct ones like any number of First Nations languages to nigh-guarantee you're not going to be understood without a whole hell of a lot of legwork.

It also brings up that demons have wondered if you could raise a small enclave of humans taught only the First Tongue, High Speech, or other supernatural languages, and if that would give them fluency in them.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




I thought they could grasp First Tongue along with human languages?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



First Tongue, explicitly yes. High Speech, explicitly no.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

High Speech isn't actually a language; it's more like the Platonic idea of a language.

Roland Jones
Aug 18, 2011

by Nyc_Tattoo


First Tongue is natively spoken by a few populations, so yeah, they know it. High Speech meanwhile is the secret mage club language so they have to learn it like everyone else. They can also theoretically lose languages they don't "really" know; apparently when the last native speaker of Aka-Bo died in 2010, all demons everywhere forgot how to speak it too.

Roland Jones fucked around with this message at 00:58 on Jun 24, 2016

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



"How's the new department head?"
"Ehh, kind of weird. Distant guy. Might be a wonk or just in it to tie up funding."
"How do you mean?"
"He's putting together a project to teach dolphins Spanish so we can document what a Dolphin Spanish hybrid language would look like."
"Ooh yeah that's totally a political move to steal funding. They gotta stop hiring cranks."

Quebec, 37 years later.

"Saw two guys talking in the park today but it was like performance art or something. They were whistling and clicking and gesturing to each other, strangest thing."

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


(Wouldn't that be !Kung or several other click-based African languages?)



If you have perfect memory and control of your emotions it should be super-easy to emotionally manipulate or blackmail people. I have a ton of trouble fitting in at work but it would be way easier if I was a Demon.

"Why do you never smile or laugh?"
"My facial muscles stopped working due to a freak accident, similar to the one that affected Jim [a cousin the co-worker mentioned once in passing 2 years ago]".

"Why is your hair suddenly glowing?"
"I'm raising money for the same kind of rare cancer that afflicts your favorite sports player"

"Why do you have a growing network of lines under your skin?
It's a tattoo. Why do you always take an extra 9 minutes and thirty seconds for lunch and leave 5 minutes early, except on Friday, when you leave 10 minutes late and catch the same train as Jenny from Accounting?"

Or just say you're an artist/in a band. It explains why I'm always covered in slime.

quote:

Neon pink hair is not in and of itself suspicious, but there are a lot of people you would look at strangely if they showed up one day with their hair dyed neon pink, unplanned.

I have organized my life so that I don't know any people who wouldn't do this.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 01:47 on Jun 24, 2016

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



Count Chocula posted:

If you have perfect memory and control of your emotions it should be super-easy to emotionally manipulate or blackmail people. I have a ton of trouble fitting in at work but it would be way easier if I was a Demon.

Do note that while demons have a pretty much perfect ability to feign honesty, that doesn't translate into a perfect ability to be convincing. The Subterfuge Skill is an awkward one in a Demon game, since half of its most obvious applications are covered by Total Control, but in addition to piercing (non-demonic) others' lies, a demon might roll Subterfuge (or Empathy or one of the other Social Skills) to make sure their words make an impact or aren't brushed off. Otherwise a mage with a truth spell or a trained profiler might simply conclude you're deluded or an idiot.

Or in other words, gently caress off, Jerry. You always tell it with such a straight face but I still don't buy your stupid loving glowing hair story, if you won't tell me what you actually put in it to make it do that then you're going home without pay tonight, this poo poo's not funny.

Roland Jones
Aug 18, 2011

by Nyc_Tattoo


Yeah, a demon can avoid giving any signs they're not telling the truth, but that doesn't mean that everyone believes everything they say. Just that nothing can determine that they're lying by looking at the demon personally.

Green Bean
May 3, 2009


Yeah, depending on the situation, being impossible to read doesn't mean you're perfectly convincing; people successfully lie to other people all the time, so just because they can't tell from your face or body language that you're lying doesn't mean they'll believe you.

If your Demon gets arrested for murder, you can state your alibi with complete sincerity, but if it isn't plausible or there's evidence that contradicts it, your police interrogator is likely to assume you've just got a really good poker face.

Mover
Jun 30, 2008

Goodness no, now that wouldn't do at all!


You could definitely play it like Demons are better at lying to other supernaturals than regular humans. Most of us aren't consciously or accurately reading body language and stuff like that, we use a combination of instinct and subconscious reading, available evidence, and our own prior experiences to decide whether not only to believe someone but also to what degree.

The hubristic mage casts a spell demanding that the Supernal world reach down an reveal the Absolute Truth of a Demon's words and goes, well that has to be the way it is, my understanding must be what's flawed

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


Yeah unless I'm reading it wrong, 'intrigue and politics against Vampires' is suggested as part of the game?

BTW, IS there an easy/cheap way to make your hair glow in the dark (besides buying a wig)? That sounds fun.

Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


Doresh posted:

Aren't metahumans the superpowered freaks that are not persecuted by the general population every other weeks? Like Spider-Man?

Like Gazetteer said, a lot of it depends on the writer. Marvel is a lot more loosey goosey with what is and isn't a metahuman and will sometimes use it to cover both mutants and mutates and sometimes not. DC have made more of an effort to define it, but they've also redefined it a bunch too, just like hypertime as a concept

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Demon: the Descent

If stigmatics are what happens when the Machine alters humans by accident and cryptids are what happens to animals, Gadgets are what happens to inanimate objects. They gain strange abilities...and demons retain the power to create gadgets, which they refer to as Installation. It allows them to implant aspects of an Embed or Exploit into a physical object, fundamentally altering and enchanting it. Gadgets can be Embedded or Exploited, and the two categories differ greatly. An Embedded gadget appears exactly as it did before the Installation, but close inspection by anyone that knows much about the Machine will find that there is something different about it. Embeds can only be Installed into an object that has a related function - for example, Hush could be put into a dagger to make it silence its victims, but not an airhorn. These gadgets are never as flexible as the Embed they are born out of, and instead have a specific related effect. They do not need Aether to activate, but usually have a specific trigger condition or activation roll.

Example Embedded gadgets:
  • A user manual with Common Misconception Installed, which penalizes the Academics rolls of readers.
  • A corporate ID with Unperson Installed, which makes it hard to recall the identity of the wearer.
  • A pair of dice with Lucky Break Installed, which always favor the person rolling them.
  • A whistle with Cool Heads Prevail Installed, which forces combatants to briefly freeze when it is blown.

Exploited gadgets are permanently warped by Installation, making them appear alien and strange, often science fiction-y and always clearly weird. A rifle might become a chrome laser gun tube thing, while a camera might gain a glowing red eye that moves around. They can never be mistaken for mundane - at best, you might pass them off as a prop or toy, and even that's pretty unlikely when dealing with people in the know. While Exploited gadgets do not require Aether to function, they can be detected by aetheric resonance and can stockpile Aether. They require one Aether each month to maintain their effects and stabilize them, however. If they run out and are not refueled within a week, they break down, and any attempt to refuel them after that destroys them. Even when fueled, they are highly unstable. When they are destroyed, their latent aetheric power erupts, causing any demon nearby to have to check for a glitch, potentially turning humans stigmatic and certainly drawing the Machine's attention. However, there are reasons to use one over just using an Exploit. Exploited gadgets don't cause compromises when used, and they're more flexible then Embedded gadgets in that you can instal them into just about any object, regardless of its function.

Sample Exploited gadgets:
  • A champagne flute shaped like a conch shell, with Everybody Hates Him installed. Anyone drinking from it gains the Shunned condition.
  • A humming, fog-spewing straight razor with Ephemeral Cover Installed, which can cut ghosts.
  • A pair of white dress gloves embroided with snakes that appear to move around, Installed with Force Relationship. Anyone who shakes the wearer's hand immediately considers them a good friend.

Gadgets require no special tie to the Machine to use. Anyone who knows their trigger can use them, but triggers can be anything from a password to a specific action or an external stimulus. Gadgets lack self-awareness so they can't handle subjective conditions - triggers must be something objective. The speed of activation depends entirely on its triggers and how complex they are. Effects are entirely at the discretion of the ST, and Installation takes a few hours most of the time, plus a full dot of Willpower if you want it to last more than one scene. Installation comes with lots of weird electrical effects, so it's advised not to do it a lot in one place, to avoid drawing attention.

Now, let's talk Pacts. Pacts are vital to demon survival, one of the best tools you have for gaining security and Cover. It lets both you and the mortals you make the Pacts with to get things you greatly value. For mortals, that could be just about anything, though some things cost more than others. For demons, it's usually Cover fragments, cultists or souls. Demons sometimes believe that Pact-making is like banking with reality, based out of an instinctual knowledge of how to transfer the stuff reality is made of between people, while others see it as rewriting the code of the universe and reprogramming it. Others believe it has no direct analogue to angels or the Machine, and is an entirely new ability born from the unique nature of demons. The truth doesn't matter, really.

Pacts have rules. First, they must be written. All pacts are written contracts, made on relatively permanent media - paper, animal hides, stone. You can't write it in wet sand or just digital media. The pact renders the object slightly harder to destroy than the mundane counterpart, but you want to be careful anyway, because if the contract is destroyed, the pact is canceled, which is very bad for the demon - it costs them Willpower and causes compromise as the pact's benefits to both sides go away. The contract can be highly informal and direct, or extremely formal and full of fine print. Most are somewhere between the two extremes, but most demons do try to hide loopholes enough to benefit themselves but not the mortal. Pacts are transferable - a demon can give to another demon, usually for a price. The contract must be signed willingly and by a human's own hand...but any form of non-supernatural influence or intimidation is acceptable, as long as the human signs it themself. Using magical mind control voids the deal, however. The mortal need not understand the exact nature of what they sign, and any failure to read the fine print is their own problem...though the person must still know the terms of the deal, roughly.

Generally, coercion is only worth it for soul pacts. As noted before, a soul pact, when called in, utterly destroys both the body and soul of the person involved. Nothing any demon does can ever bring them back. If any power can, those powers are vastly beyond the abilities of any demon. Destroying the contract might return the soul to existence...maybe, but if so, it's never been verified. Soul pacts are always the most closely guarded contracts any demon has. They are also the only contracts which must be signed in blood. (This blood is impossible to wash away, no matter the medium.)

Demons cannot lie when writing a pact. It's pretty much one of the only times this is true. They can word things evasively or misleadingly, but never falsely. Forming a pact costs Willpower from the demon - more, the more unbalanced it is in the demon's favor. Soul pacts, however, also cost an additional full dot of willpower. And, as noted, if a contract is destroyed, all benefits immediately vanish from both parties, even if that would kill them or leave them in a terrible situation. A demon can have as many pacts as they want, but need to keep up the benefits they've promised for all of them. (Often this isn't hard, as the universe takes care of most of it, but if the demon has also promised specific services, they have to remember to do those.)

What can a demon promise? loving anything. A demon can offer mortals pretty much any Merit they want, or improve Merits they already have...though externally derived merits that require changing the world around someone are harder and so higher-valued. A demon can also grant a mortal bonuses to just about any skill they want. In exchange, the demon can receive parts of someone's life - the more deeply tied to the life, the more Cover XP they're worth. They can also use this to gain cults, manipulating the world around the signatory to form the cult around them. And, of course, demons can buy souls. Pacts do not have indefinite duration automatically, either. In fact, the base duration is a day, often used to give someone a quick hit and get them coming back to ask for more. The longer a pact lasts, the harder it is for a demon to make, but permanent pacts are highly popular for demons trying to patch up a cover, since...well, they want that to last. (Often the benefits for the human are not permanent, however.) You can make pacts with supernatural beings, but it is rarely a good idea. You can take parts of a supernatural being's mundane life, but are unable to take parts of their supernatural abilities or weaknesses. Soul pacts are possible, but exceptionally bad ideas - when you claim the soul of a supernatural being, you take agg damage based on their Supernatural Tolerance stat, and you only get their identity, with none of their pwoers, weaknesses or knowledge of their supernatural society. Good luck.



Next time: Demonic Forms

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply