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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

Christ on a spike.

It's impossible to talk about class in 19th-20th century Britain without even touching on the tensions of people whose income didn't rise to the level of their class. And I don't just mean Austenian stories of upper-crust families suddenly finding themselves penniless, but the many "middle class" people who constantly struggled to maintain their traditions.

I mean, this was also the cause of a lot of the Colonial Gentry in early America. Desperately trying to look like British gentlemen in the colonies despite not having sufficient resources and funds, eagerly looking for any way to get more because they were desperately in debt.

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Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


Doresh posted:

My long-term memory somehow turned that particular Gouf into some custom Zaku with an electro-whip. Weird.

This feels like a relevant time to link this as well

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKqs1JLDbp4

Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


I also have another thing to share with you all!

With the Invisible Sun RPG Kickstarter having ended exactly a month ago, why don’t we look back at another Monte Cook Games success story?



Part 1: Introduction and An Outline of the Cypher System



The Strange is a reality-hopping adventure RPG gifted to us by Monte Cook Games, and written by Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell. Everyone knows who Monte Cook is, of course, he of D&D, Rolemaster and now his own company, which I am told is called Monte Cook Games:

The Monte Cook Games website posted:

Having worked as a professional writer for almost 30 years, Monte Cook can honestly say that he’s never had a real job. As a game designer, he’s worked on hundreds of products, including as a codesigner of D&D 3rd Edition, and designer of Heroclix, Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Ptolus, Arcana Evolved, Numenera, and so much more, including a number of Planescape products, Call of Cthulhu d20, Monte Cook’s World of Darkness, a whole bunch of d20 stuff, and—going way back—products for Rolemaster and Champions. As a fiction writer, he has published numerous short stories and two novels, The Glass Prison, a heroic fantasy set in the Forgotten Realms, and Of Aged Angels, a modern day conspiracy and paranormal tale. He attended both the prestigious Clarion West SF&F writer’s workshop and the NASA-funded Launchpad workshop. As a comic book writer, he has written a limited series for Marvel Comics called Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire, as well as some shorter work. As a nonfiction writer, he has published the wry but informative Skeptic’s Guide to Conspiracies.

Bruce Cordell is the cool dude who brought us Return to the Tomb of Horrors. He has also been involved in a number of other D&D-related activities, such as co-designing Dungeons and Dragons: the fourth one:

The Monte Cook Games website posted:

An award-winning game designer, Bruce designed The Strange, Ninth World Bestiary, and Gods of the Fall, among many other titles here at MCG. He’s also worked on Dungeons & Dragons over the course of 4 editions as a writer and developer (including D&D Next), having written over 100 D&D products including Gates of Firestorm Peak, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, Gamma World, and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.

He’s also a novel author. His credits include nine novels, mostly set in the popular Forgotten Realms world including the Abolethic trilogy (2008-2010), Sword of the Gods, its sequel Spinner of Lies, and soon to be published Myth of the Maker.

There are numerous other names credited in the front of The Strange, too!

the book posted:

Credits
Writers/Designers Bruce R. Cordell and Monte Cook

Rules Developer Monte Cook

Creative Director and Lead Editor Shanna Germain

Proofreader Ray Vallese

Editorial Assistance Miranda Horner

Cover Designer and Lead Artist Matt Stawicki

Graphic Designer Sarah Robinson

Artists
Brenoch Adams, Reece Ambrose, Nicholas Cloister, Dreamstime, Brandon Leach, Grzegorz Pedrycz, Mike Perry, Q-Workshop,
Joe Slucher, Lee Smith, Matt Stawicki, Cyril Terpent, Tiffany Turrill, Chris Waller, Cathy Wilkins

Cartographer Hugo Solis

Monte Cook Games Editorial Team
Scott C. Bourgeois, David Wilson Brown, Eric Coates, Ryan Klemm, Jeremy Land, Laura Wilkinson, George Ziets

A few of the names jump out at me here: Shanna Germain is the co-owner of Monte Cook Games and heavily involved in all of their projects. She’s important enough to have a bio right in-between Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell on the MCG website:

The Monte Cook Games website posted:

Shanna has worked as a writer and editor for nearly 20 years, and has six books, hundreds of short stories, and myriad other works to her name. Over the years, she’s won numerous awards for her work, including a Pushcart nomination, the C. Hamilton Bailey Poetry Fellowship, and the Utne Reader award for Best New Publication.

Currently the lead editor of Numenera and its follow-up products, Shanna’s other recent works include Bound by Lust (Harper Collins), Geek Love (Stone Box Press), and The Lure of Dangerous Women (Wayzgoose Press).

Ray Vallese has written and edited a large number of manuscripts over 20 years, including many Pathfinder, D&D, and Star Wars D20/Saga Edition books. Miranda Horner has written and edited for D&D since the TSR days as well as Star Wars D20/Saga Edition. Matt Stawicki is a professional scifi/fantasy artist with a bio on his own website which begins in an…. interesting way:

his website posted:

From superhero comics to Star Wars to the paintings of Frank Frazetta, Matt has always had an interest in fantasy.

His art overall is very cool though!

Now, The Strange is the second major RPG product put out by Monte Cook Games, the first being Numenera. Both games are built on the Cypher System and press releases for The Strange reiterate that it’s almost completely compatible with Numenara, allowing you to lift bits and pieces from one game to use in another. The Cypher System is a peculiar beast, and it seems pertinent to lay out the baseline rules for it before jumping into the meat of The Strange. In a way, the game reads to me like someone, or multiple someones, were aware of and maybe even read the rules for Fate/Fate Accelerated but thought it was missing something…. the d20! It’s a fairly light system that tries to use abstractions when it can, usually. And as the start of the “How to Play” chapter helpfully copy/pastes from Numenera:



No, really, that fist sentence is verbatim from a similar text box in Numenera:


Well if it ain’t broke I guess... :shrug:

So, the Cypher System uses a single d20 for everything. Except when you sometimes need a d6 and the two d10s to use as d100 percentile dice. When a roll of any kind is called, it’s up to the GM to rate the Difficulty Class Task Difficulty from 0 to 9 based slightly arbitrary metrics. This Task Difficulty sets the Target Number between 0 and 27 (so that’s 3x the Task Difficulty number). A character needs to meet or beat the TN to succeed at a task. There’s also a table to help you figure the TN out!



I don’t really have an issue with this baseline system. The math doesn’t seem too absurd at least? But I’m a bit baffled at the description of a TN 30 task. Why is the thing that’s labeled as “Impossible” somehow still required to follow the laws of physics? What even are the laws of physics in a fantasy/scifi adventure game? Isn’t something that’s impossible, by definition, often going to break physical laws? Since no TN is offered for something that violates physics does this mean that there’s a second level of TRUE IMPOSSIBLE that cannot be reached? That would almost be deep if it wasn’t so goddamn stupid afgwafa :unsmigghh:



Where was I? Oh right, so how do you do the nearly Impossible? The primary way is moving through moving up or down a few steps on the Task Difficulty list. There are three possible ways make a roll achievable: through applying Skills, Assets, and Effort.

Skills are those things on a list that you pick from. You can be Trained in a skill and then upgrade that to being Specialized. Being Trained lets you bump the Task Difficulty down a step. If you’re Specialized you can bump it down another step. In practice this means that if you’re trained in the “Cooking” skill then you can drop your Task Difficulty when making a most excellent omelet from a 6 to a 5, or from a 6 to a 4 if you’re a master omelet chef. You can’t reduce a Task Difficulty by more than two steps with skills, don’t even think about trying for more! Also there’s no set skill list in the Cypher System. The GM should make up a list that best fits whatever kind of campaign he or she is going to run. There’s a sample list for reference:


It’s a little bit different from the Numenera sample skill list because you might come from modern day Earth, woo! :woop:

Assets are a catch-all for anything else that can be used to influence an outcome. This can range from a friend helping you out, a special piece of equipment you’re using in the task, or maybe some environmental condition is working things in your favor. Like Skills, Assets can never reduce a Task Difficulty by more than two steps.

Effort is the final way you can decrease the Task Difficulty. Applying Effort is more complex than the other two options. I’m going to circle back into exactly what Effort is later on. For now, just know there's a pool of points you can expend to add Effort to a roll.

If a Task Difficulty is reduced to 0, it becomes an auto-success and no roll is needed. However, you may still opt to roll. The plus side to rolling is that you have a chance of hitting a Special Roll. A Special Roll is a natural 19 or natural 20. If you roll a natural 19, you can introduce a Minor Effect. With a Minor Effect, you succeed with flourish. If you get a 19 on an attack roll in combat, you can choose to add 3 extra points of damage or do some minor special result like shoving your enemy back, distracting it, etc. Outside of combat… uh I guess you can look smarter or more stylish. No mechanical benefits are specified for this. Just let the GM decide how it helps it or whatever.

With a natural 20 you get a Major Effect. The major effect allows you to inflict 4 extra damage or introduce a major dramatic event like knocking your enemy over, stunning it, or taking an extra action. Outside of combat I guess you can do something super well, like climb a wall twice as fast or maybe make twice as many omelets for the Sunday brunch? If you get a Major Effect, you can also opt to take the Minor Effect instead.

Also, natural 17s give you an extra 1 damage when you’re in combat, and natural 18s get you an extra 2 damage. No other bonuses.

“Say, didn’t you mention that parts of the Cypher System remind you of Fate? When’s that going to happen?” Oh, right, how silly of me! I forgot to mention the other thing that can happen on a d20 roll in the Cypher System: natural 1s. Natural 1s are always bad. When you roll a natural 1, the GM can introduce a GM Intrusion.

You might be familiar with Fate’s Aspect system. Everything within Fate is composed of Aspects: the player characters, the environment, the vehicles and gear, even the setting itself. Player characters will have multiple personal Aspects that flesh out their personality, background, important equipment or titles they have, etc. Players in Fate can Invoke Aspects for benefits in-game: usually a bonus to the die roll or a reroll, depending on the type of Aspect Invoked. Meanwhile, GMs in Fate can Compel Aspects. If a player’s personal Aspect is compelled, they must act on it. The character might be a "Hot-Blooded Cop". You can see how having an Aspect like that might lead to benefits and complications. This is seen as a good thing because a player accepting a Compel will receive a Fate Point for their trouble, and Fate Points allow them to Invoke Aspects in return. Players can also resist a Compel in Fate by expending a Fate Point of their own. GMs can try upping the ante by offering more Fate Points, which the player can also counter by paying a higher amount (up to 3 Fate Points). Most players will accept the Fate Points because it’s only ever beneficial to have them, and complications are the spice of life. In addition, putting down a personal Aspect is sort of a contractual and consensual agreement between the player and GM of what hot buttons the player wants pressed on their character vs encouraging lolrandom fuckery.

In the Cypher System, the GM Intrusion is an unexpected complication for the character. It’s suggested that GMs can introduce GM Intrusions whenever a character manages to reduce a skill roll to 0 in order to force a skill roll anyway at the starting Task Difficulty. They can also be introduced whenever the GM feels like it. The examples given in these instances are forcing a character who is trying to climb a wall to roll because who doesn’t love failing climb checks, and forcing a character to drop their weapon in the middle of combat because why not? When a GM intrudes in these instances, they give 2 XP to the player. The player can also spend 1 XP to resist the Intrusion. If the player accepts the Intrusion, he or she gets to keep 1 XP and give 1 XP to a different player of his or her choice. The player has to explain why they gave the XP to that person. That’s an interesting touch at least. But yeah, this Intrusion economy is based on XP, your experience points. If a player doesn’t have any XP they can’t refuse the Intrusion. GMs are advised to Intrude like this at least once per session, but no more than once or twice each session per character. Oh, and on a natural 1? The GM Intrudes without giving any XP. Yaaay!

:psyduck:



Why don’t we quickly clean up the rest of the stuff in the first chapter?

Combat! When you make an attack you roll a d20 against a Task Difficulty set by the GM of 1 to 10. The Task Difficulty is the creature’s level. This tells you what Target Number you need to meet to hit it. Players make all the rolls in the Cypher System. If a monster is attacking a character, the character rolls a defensive move using the same guidelines indicated above. Damage is dealt as a flat number dictated by the category of the weapon.

Speaking of, Weapons! Light Weapons deal 2 damage, Medium Weapons deal 4 damage, Heavy Weapons deal 6 damage. There’s a tiny list of weapons by category in the Equipment section, but I have no idea how they determined what should go where. Examples given of Light Weapons are your feet/fists, clubs, knives, rapiers, handguns, etc. Medium Weapons are things like longswords, maces, small-caliber firearms, bows/crossbows, etc. Heavy Weapons are your big anime swords, hugeass guns, “slaughter accelerators”, etc. Anything that needs to be held in two hands is probably a heavy weapon. The Equipment also lists katanas as heavy weapons. I’ll leave it up to sword nerds to decide if that’s insulting or accurate.

Armor can be granted by actual armor you wear or from special abilities. Armor has a score, and that number is deducted from damage you take with each attack against you.

Bonuses can rarely be granted by equipment. These bonuses are added to the die roll and are cumulative, so a +1 from two different sources means you get +2 total. If you end up getting +3 or more as a bonus, though, the bonus turns into an Asset and reduces the Task Difficulty by one step instead.

Range and Speed are abstracted except not really! With distance there are three categories: Immediate Distance (everything in a small room/everything within 10 feet), Short Distance (anything between Immediate Distance and ~50 feet), Long Distance (anything greater than Short Distance but less than 100 feet). If anything is more than 100 feet from you, the range is always specified. Characters can move an Immediate Distance as part of another action, or they can move a Short Distance as a full action. The character can try moving Long Distance as a full action, but has to roll to see if he or she falls flat on his or her rear end like a putz.

Cyphers are manifestations of The Strange. They’re magical/technological/magitech tools. They work just like they do in Numenera. Cyphers are dangerous to carry in close proximity, meaning you can only have a few on your person at a time before they start canceling each other out somehow. There are two types of Cyphers: Anoetic and Occultic. Anoetic Cyphers are simple to use things like healing pills or grenades. Occultic Cyphers are complicated and dangerous, but often produce better effects. Occultic Cyphers take up two Cypher slots for the purposes of determining how many you can carry.

Experience Points we already covered how GMs can troll players for some XP. XP is also handed out for discovering things within the game. Discovery can occur in a few different ways: characters might stumble into an area of a recursion they’ve never seen before and get handed XP the same way some MMOs give it out when you walk into a zone first time. They might also find a new procedure or device (not a random gadget, some big epic artifact-type deal that they couldn’t pick up and run away with). Maybe they uncover some previously unknown or forgotten information. The GM can also decide if uncovering secrets, ethical ideas, an adage or even a truth are worth handing out XP for.

What this means is that in game terms: when a group finds an artifact, the GM should hand out XP equal to the artifact’s level and divide it among the PCs (everyone has to get at least one XP though, the game says to round down, if necessary). Everything else falls into “Miscellaneous Discoveries” and finding them grants 1 XP to each character involved. The combination of Intrusions and finding random information/collectables are stated to be the most common way to gain XP. The side-column notes, which I haven’t mentioned yet, specify that PCs should earn about half of their total XP from making discoveries.

There’s two other, less common, ways to gain XP: Sometimes a group might complete an adventure that isn’t focused on discovery. Maybe they had to run errands for an NPC or do some classic murderhoboing to clear out a bandit nest bothering a nearby town (you can also talk it out with the bandits if you’re one of those bleeding hearts, I guess). The game says it’s “a good idea” to hand out XP for accomplishing other tasks like this. Completing a goal or mission like this can be worth 1 to 4 XP, at the GM’s discretion. When setting a reward like this, the GM is advised to consider the capabilities of the characters and what they’ve accomplished. Also, don’t short them on XP just because they were particularly clever or lucky and managed to run circles around whatever obstacles you threw in their way because of that. Players can also creature their own missions and seat goals for their characters to accomplish. Successfully completing a mission like this will award XP the same way completing a mission given by an NPC would.

XP is mostly used for leveling up, but if you really want to you can also spend 1 XP to reroll any die roll and take the better of the two rolls.

Well that’s all the basics, guess we’ll have to plunge right into character generation next time!


Next time: All the Bits and Bobs that Make a Person Tick!

Nuns with Guns fucked around with this message at 04:59 on Nov 15, 2016

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Hostile V posted:



China: The Manchu Dynasty (really the Qing Dynasty) is in charge of China. 20 years ago they lost the Opium War to the British who have started to flood the nation with missionaries, trading post and cheap Afghan poppies. China possesses a strong magical background, like the Mandarin Sorcerers, but modern weapons and tactics proved a bit much for them. Nowadays China has to deal with every major power forcing them to trade and keep the borders open. The other thing they have to contend with is Hong Xiuquan and his religious movement rebellion in the aftermath of the Taiping Rebellion. The Taiping Rebels are currently in control of most of South China, but there's 8 more years before they historically lose to the Qing government.

A little nitpick, but irl the poppies were mostly from eastern India, a holdover from the Dutch East India company. The trade in opium was one of the few things keeping the East India Company and later the colony of India in the black. Once the trade was banned by the British, the maintenance of the colony reached a point of unsustainability.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Nuns with Guns posted:

This feels like a relevant time to link this as well

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKqs1JLDbp4

I think this was my favorite Disney cartoon show after Gundam Wing Duck.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


I would absolutely play a game as the Hoover's Dozen where you're a hardboiled Talent cop struggling to make their borderline useless powers some applicable to detectiving.

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.

BinaryDoubts posted:

I would absolutely play a game as the Hoover's Dozen where you're a hardboiled Talent cop struggling to make their borderline useless powers some applicable to detectiving.

Kind of reminds me of "Chew" a detective comic where the lead character has "Cibomancy"; he can read psychic impressions from the food he eats; a seemingly impractical power, until his dept. realizes that he can solve a murder by eating a piece of the victim's corpse.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Chew is all about crazy food-based superpowers. Chibopaths are the most powerful of all, since they can steal the powers of others by eating them. Yes, eating them.

Spiderfist Island
Feb 19, 2011


gradenko_2000 posted:

Spiderfist Island, I wanted to thank you for your work on the Runequest 2nd Edition F&F.

I started reading the book itself over a long plane ride last week, and it was shocking how readable it was. While there are some issues with organization (like not actually knowing your "base chance" until much later), and while I don't always agree with how "in-universe" the guild-training character progression mechanics are, this feels like the kind of thing you could read and grasp as a newcomer to the hobby without having to rely on all the built-up cruft of decades of assumed institutional knowledge.

A bit belated, but thanks for the support. Right after I published the last part of the review, I got a new job and moved to a new town entirely, so the review kind of has set even more on the burner than it originally. Now that I've settled into a regular schedule, I'll probably be able to finally finish up the core rules and go into the Rune Magic and bestiary sections.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Kyuden Seppun: :catstare:


Fuuuuuuuuck youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Let's wrap this loving RPG FICTION up. Kachiko strides across the hallways of Kyuden Seppun, followed by her chambermaids. Who are gossiping to hell and back, even though Kachiko is like, right there and can hear them just fine. They're talking about how she's been with "the Doji", and how Shoju is furious! Who would want to marry the Scorpion Champion anyway? Kachiko stops and makes some comment about spring, while inwardly smirking about how her maids - the spies of her late father - will be married off to the sons of a minor Kitsuki lord and off her back soon. Very sad, and very appropriate! :smug:

She then goes off alone to see Hoturi. By now, they're basically head over heels for each other, and their game has been the most interesting thing. There's rumors floating around in court regarding their meetings, but no one is able to prove anything, and most assume it's just a sexual fling instead of THE GAME. They talk about the game some more, but of course, they're not really talking about the game. The game, the game, the game. They both hold up their hands towards each other, thiiiis close to the forbidden pleasures of holding hands together, but they stop short of closing that line. Kachiko and Hoturi both think the same thing: he will come tomorrow, and the final game must begin tonight, whatever the price. At the same time, another figure strides through the corridors: it's the Phoenix Clan Champion, Shiba Burisagi. He has been very busy trying to figure out the causes for the authentic chaos that has wrapped the Winter Court these months, thinking it was the work of a Shadowlands power or secret cult; instead, he found two children playing at games, but now their cruel amusements must end.

At night, Kachiko steps out of her chamber, alone, leaving her brother and maids all soundly asleep. She has plans in her head, but they are cut short by the appearance of Burisagi, who isn't in the mood for games of any sort. The Phoenix accuses her point-blank of being behind the chaos that has wracked the Emperor's court, the lives and futures ruined by her games and pride. Kachiko tries to deflect the accusations, but when Burisagi says that he will bring her head and that of her lover to the Emperor, she finally snaps in anger threatening that her accuser will not lay a finger on her, or him. Burisagi laughs darkly at the sole show of real emotion from the Scorpion.

And then, this happens.

quote:

"Now I see that your hatred of our clan has led you to this." She reached for the collar of her kimono and tore, the thin fabric shredding beneath her fingernails.

Surprise rocked his face. "What are you doing?"

Another rough yank, another sound of tearing fabric. "Your words were sweet, dear Phoenix, but convincing my maid that my brother wished to see me here, alone... that was breathtaking."

"Woman. I do not understand..." Burisagi backed away another step, toward the lighted ground of the court. Inside, music played and courtiers watched the play, unaware of the dangerous dance just a few feet away.

"Did you think to kill me once you had defiled me, or were you content to let me live with the shame?" Her hands reached up, pulling at her hair, tumbling it down in disarray.

"No..."

Her scream of fear and outrage broke the still beauty of the court.

The Emperor and his entourage come into the scene, finding Kachiko on the ground, sobbing and her clothes torn and sullied. She points one finger at Burisagi, who can't even begin to explain himself before the Emperor points his fan at him. And then Doji Hoturi cuts his head off.

:allbuttons:


"Curse your plot armor!"

Toshimoko compliments his student on the perfect cut, but says that he should have allowed the Phoenix to draw his blade first as a man of honor. Hoturi counters that he was a man of honor, but not a man of the Code: a true samurai would have been always ready for death. His eyes meet Kachiko's and for a moment there's a faint glimmer of unity, and then it's gone. Next day, Shoju arrives and marries Kachiko, who is now Bayushi Kachiko. Despite all the rumors, she is one of the most powerful women in the Empire now, and the Emperor himself offers her a place at his side as advisor and says she will always be welcome at his court. The wedding breaks a lot of hearts, including Hoturi. Later, she has her wedding night with Shoju, a man that wants her beauty and also knows of the power of his mind, a man that can understand her strength - but one she can never love.

quote:

In the half-light of the new moon, Kachiko looked into Shoju's eyes and reached for the scarlet cords of his elaborate mask. His hand stopped hers, trembling with desire, frustration and understanding.

As for Hoturi, he IRRADIATES LOSS and has a hooker courtesan called because some meaningless sex is just what the shugenja ordered. The courtesan is allowed into his quarters, murmurs softly how she is his... and presses a black go stone into his palm.

SPOILERS: KACHIKO AND HOTURI gently caress LIKE RABBITS.

Alright, some loving actual game content at last! First, new skills. Falconry is the ability to train birds of prey. It takes two months to train a bird at 12 hours per week, with a Free Raise every 8 extra hours per week or every extra month. Each week short of the minimum two months increases the TN in 5 and no less than 10 hours per month can be spent on training. TN 20 each week to make training stick or else another week must be added to that. Once the training is done the falconer rolls a contested roll against the bird's Intelligence, and on a success the bird is loyal, with Raises making it able to understand more complex commands. Stats for birds? Figure them out yourself, sucker. Obiesaseru is a specialized form of Intimidation used to put the fear of Amaterasu into samurai. It can only be used by Imperial Guardsmen or Emerald Magistrates on duty for the Emerald Champion. Contested Obiesaseru roll against the target's Willpower to freeze them for one round, with Raises used to increase the number of frozen rounds or people affected. Frozen characters can flee or defend themselves but can't attack the intimidator or anyone behind them. Against non-humans or non-Rokugani, it works the same as regular Intimidation. The character using it must have some sort of visible Imperial badge of office. New Advantages: Imperial spouse (2 points) gives a PC a Seppun or Otomo spouse and thus access to the Imperial Court, reliable and speedy news of courtly happenings and invitations to events, audiences and such. On the other hand, the Imperials might take action if they feel the life of their 'cousin' is in danger and will generally drop off with little warning to see that they're being well-treated.

Gentry basically gives a PC land. Most samurai have no land and instead are paid stipends by their lord. Having land means being able to collect taxes from it, but it also carries responsibility for its security and administration. It costs 5 points to get a single village to tax and govern, with more villages costing another 5 points each, 1 extra point per farm, 2/4/6 points for Holdings like blacksmiths, mines, sake works and so on and 2 points for Followers (10 Rank 0 samurai every 2 points, samurai must be at least Rank 2 to have Followers) There are two harvest periods per year, and at those times the PC and their men should go out to collect taxes. One die is rolled per farm (each village is counted as a farm), and these dice may explode. That's the total koku the character gets, plus 3/4/5 koku per Holding and another 5 koku per village. From these they must pay at least 3 koku to their lord and 1 to each samurai under their command. There's also a small table to roll on to represent events like poor harvests and bandits that take away koku dice, bountiful harvests that give more koku dice, and "unusual or supernatural events" that are excuses for GM fuckery. GMs are also encouraged to outright give players villages at Rank 2.

New disadvantages: Cruel (3 points, 4 for Otomo) makes the PC a cruel jerk. They're expected to behave cruelly, can't ever spend their last Void Point or raise their Void above their lowest Ring. Spoiled (3 points) makes the character a spoiled brat, and it works something like the Compulsion disadvantage: Willpower roll against TN 15 when they see something (or someone) they might want and on a failure they must do everything they can to procure the object of their desire or similar.

The Imperial Families and Schools are here! Only Seppun and Otomo, though, Miya will have to wait. Hantei are not recommended as PC material, though they don't get much in the way of rules anyway, only that they can have any High or Bugei skill in the game because you're not telling the Emperor that this is a special secret skill of a Clan or whatever. The Imperial Schools are restricted to Imperials generally. Only after calling in some hefty favors can Clan samurai attend them and even then only those with real noble blood in their veins (at least 5 points of Social Advantage), and Seppun and Otomo PCs have to spend at least 3 points in Social Advantage just to be able to play. Also, Imperials can't learn Kaze-do or any Low or Craft skill. Seppun and Otomo PCs can buy Benten's Blessing for 2 points due to their Crane ties, but if they do they must also get a 2-point Obligation to their house.

The Seppun family (+1 Willpower) teach the Seppun Miharu school of Imperial Guardsmen. +1 Perception, 3.5 Honor. Only Seppun (or rarely, other Imperials with Seppun mothers) can attend. The training is grueling and generally Seppun graduate earlier than other samurai. They're trained in iaijutsu, but mostly to draw their swords quickly in emergencies; the Emperor has the Emerald Champion and a buttload of Kakita duelists to stand for him in matters of honor. There are only a few hundred miharu in the Empire and most of the Imperial Guard is actually composed of Lion and Crane bushi, and thus the Seppun train a little in their schools - not enough to pick up their techniques but enough to know how they fight together, and so they can buy Lion or Crane Allies at one point less. Their skills are Archery, Battle, Defense, Etiquette, Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu and Obiesaseru.

  • Rank 1: the miharu may add and keep their School Rank to any Willpower or Honor roll to resist temptation away from their duty, including fear, fatigue, seduction or the pleas of their own dying children. :stonk:
  • Rank 2: for the first round of combat the miharu may roll (Perception) extra dice and keep an extra die, and they may make a simple Perception test to avoid being surprised by ambushes and such. The TN is 5 x the ambusher's Honor, but school-trained assassins get to roll 5 x their School Rank instead.
  • Rank 3: the miharu may roll their Honor against a TN of 5 x target's Awareness to see through physical disguises, magical illusions, ninja magic, Oni shapeshifting powers, Shosuro acting and so on. The GM may also set a TN to use this ability against traps, hidden doors and other items.
  • Rank 4: the miharu gets two actions per round, which can be used for attack or anything else.
  • Rank 5: the miharu selects a character to attune themselves to, and when they are within (School Rank) yards of the character they're guarding they can reflexively spend one Void Point to transfer any damage or harmful spell effects to themselves. This works even if the bushi's eyes are closed, their back is turned, they're sleeping or whatever. The attuned character must be declared at the beginning of each day and the ability lasts until the next morning.

Pretty cool school, but it's going to be hard to justify them being away from the Hantei line.

The Otomo family (+1 to any mental trait) teach the Otomo Seiyaku school. +1 Intelligence, 3.7 Honor. Seiyaku is the Rokuganese word for "covenant" or "agreement", and these courtiers work to further the Emperor's power and keep the Clans from uniting against the Imperial line. Their skills are Courtier, Calligraphy, Etiquette, Kenjutsu, Obiesaseru, Manipulation and Law.

  • Rank 1: the courtier can, once per week per rank, speak to their contacts in their family and across the Empire and thus they get to learn one GM-determined critical fact about the adventure.
  • Rank 2: the courtier gets to be present even in inter-clan negotiations as the Emperor's eyes, and any time someone actively disagrees with them or publicly accuse them of distorting the truth they lose the courtier's School Rank in Honor points. If the disagreement occurs in private, the courtier can spend a day spreading rumors in a public setting like court or a city and make an Intelligence + Courtier roll against the target's Honor x 5 to make the Honor loss stick. The courtier can't reduce Honor through rumormongering without actual basis, however.
  • Rank 3: if the courtier spends at least ten minutes talking to someone, they can slant the facts to imply the most horrible outcome possible. For instance, they can mention that a certain Lion is hot-tempered and people will start bringing many guards to any dealings with that Lion as they now see him as horribly rude and violent. Or they can say to a Crane that they know the Crab are doing training exercises in their borders and the Crane will think that their nearby lands are unprotected and mass forces against the "incoming attack." They must succeed at an Intelligence + School Rank roll against a GM-determined TN that will vary depending on the complexity of the action and the amount of truth the courtier offers, and if they use their Rank 1 technique first to gather relevant facts they get a Free Raise to their roll.
  • Rank 4: the Hantei notice seiyaku of this rank; now, the courtier has the Imperial Protection and no one will challenge them to a duel or otherwise attack or injure them unless the aggressing character has a Glory of 7+, the permission of the courtier's daimyo, the Emerald Champion or a member of the Hantei family. If someone doesn't have at least one of these and still attacks the courtier, they will be executed immediately without a trial, have their family name removed from their Clan's rolls or end up with their hands and feet cut off and their sword broken.
  • Rank 5: the courtier may spend a Void Point to force a samurai to do as they wish. If the person does not obey and their Honor is less than that of the courtier, they'll be forced to become ronin or commit seppuku. If the command contradicts or dishonors the samurai's daimyo, they may spend 2 Void Points to carefully refuse the command with honor. If a PC samurai agrees to a seiyaku's command and dies in the attempt, they get to use the Kharma Rule for their next character with an extra free rank to a Trait, their Honor or their Glory.

Yikes. These guys can wreak havoc if allowed, but probably are the courtier school that relies the most on having the GM tailor the campaign to them, even more than the Doji courtiers.

Important NPCs!


"Can you doomed highborn manchildren cut the crap for ONE SECOND? No? Okay, gently caress it."

The one, the only, the Emperor of Rokugan, Hantei the 38th! He is an aging man, over 45 years old ("aging?" :bahgawd:) His son, Sotorii was born to a young Crane concubine many years after his wife died. Immediately after his birth the Emperor married the concubine and made her Empress, but she died only three years later. Known before his enthronement as Hantei Jodan, the Emperor used to be a daring young prince full of dreams of a better Empire, but now he is weary, aged and bitter against an Empire that seems eternally divided against itself. He is an unusual man and his greatest desire is to retire and leave behind him a fragile peace for his son to inherit and upon which the glories of the Empire can be rebuilt. Some courtiers see the Emperor and realize that he is not the epitome of honor he is said to be, but they don't understand the burden that is upon him. The Emperor must sacrifice himself for all things, and the glory of the Empire is the honor of the Emperor. Kakita Bushi 5, low in Rings (though individual stats like Intelligence or Awareness are high) but almost makes his Insight score on sheer skills. Honor 3 and the only NPC with Glory 10 for obvious reasons. Also, knows how to handle a tetsubo.


Stay safe, kiddo :ohdear:

Hantei Sotorii is a ten year old kid, as brash and impetuous as any kid his age. He enjoys falconry, swordplay and stories of his ancestors, and strives to be worthy of the blood in his veins! But, he has a dark secret... he doesn't want to go to sleep. Because in his dreams, for the last few years, something dark lurks, a voice that whispers to him of blood and revenge. He doesn't know who the voice belongs to or why it has chosen him, but he fears the night. There's also a cute story about how in the last year he went to the Otaku lands but an Otaku Battle Maiden barely older than himself stopped his caravan and told him to go home in polite but curt terms. The Imperial Guard wasn't too pleased, neither was the Battle Maiden contingent, until Sotorii stepped out of his palanquin to address the Unicorns as best he could. Though he managed to gently caress it up by calling their commander a "girl" (which almost made her draw her sword) he ended up learning that the local river had washed away the banks and the palanquin could not proceed. The Maidens had crossed the river by riding. Now, the Otaku have given a pair of mated steeds to the Emperor for two hundred years, but no Emperor had ever rode them, only the Otaku women. Until Sotorii shrugged, said he would, and to the surprise of literally everyone managed to make the Battle Maiden's otherwise stubborn warhorse calm down. The Battle Maiden, truly impressed, got him up the saddle, and the young prince has sworn since that day that the herd racing through the Emperor's plains will serve their new leader with honor. :3: Kakita Bushi 0, with very low stats since he's, you know, a ten-year old. Also Dark Secret (The Voice) :ohdear:


He knows who the real heroes are.

Miya Yoto is the aged, weak daimyo of the Miya family, who continues to impress the Empire with his insistence on peace. He's a skilled negotiator, always trying to find the best, most amiable solution to any situation. Recently, he has passed on the mantle of Imperial Herald to his son, Satoshi, and though not officially retired he's been preparing for it for the last three months. Many believe he'll finally shave his head and join the monasteries at this Winter Court. He is a distant descendant of the famed ronin poet, Rezan, and has sparked a bit of a scandal with his high-minded view of ronin. For years he has struggled to bring the wavemen to a better light in the Empire, and has even invited the now famous ronin shugenja Koan to the Miya palaces. Because of his outspoken views many think it would be for the best if he retired to teaching at the Miya school and let his son handle family affairs. However, Satoshi isn't all that his father would want him to be: he has no respect for ronin or the Minor Clans, and although Yoto struggles to change his mind Satoshi refuses. When he is the Miya daimyo, the Minor Clans will gain a powerful enemy in the Imperial court. Both are attending this Winter Court, and both deny any rumors of the change in leadership. Yoto is a Doji Courtier 4, below Insight, with Benten's Blessing and Voice. Also, Gullible :haw:


Just one magic scarf away from being a wuxia villain.

Otomo Banu has as his fondest childhood memory his father beating a villager to death. He was only five, but clearly remembers how his father lashed the peasant and then had his village headman put to death for "standing by and doing nothing." A few months later, his father died, and his mother had little time to raise him so she left him in the care of an Otomo sensei, Otomo Gayuko, who was bitter and unforgiving towards the young man. At the age of 13, he had a distinct vision of what he wanted and how to treat people. He grew to become a cruel but tempered individual, mastering the arts of manipulation and deception. He is an effete man, and his attendants are all lovely young men with little respect for station or authority :gay: But he behaves as if beyond reproach, entirely concerned with his looks and attaining power and forgetting about his duties. He takes great pleasure in the discomfort of annoyance of others and often sets events in motion to make a samurai look foolish and then draw attention to them. After all, he is Otomo - who would dare touch him? (The PCs, probably.) Otomo Seiyaku 2, with really low stats and Insight, but otherwise not much to look at. Even a starting courtier PC could give him trouble.


Another one for the list of people to kaze-do out of existence.

Otomo Sorai is the Otomo daimyo, thin and ineffective-looking but responsible for more trouble than any other three Imperial courtiers combined. He grew in wealth and splendor, and as a spoiled child he soon grew bored with his privileges. He ended up finding new entertainment in manipulating his playmates, starting fights between rivals and engineering disputes over toys. He then graduated to the palace servants, thoroughly enjoying their misfortunes, and his family recognized his raw talent for manipulation. By the time of his gempukku he was already a political player, and not even Scorpions could match his ability for control. His family impressed on him the duty to the Emperor and then set him loose. As a seiyaku, he has been a smashing success, thoroughly destroying alliances between Clans with a few words, starting wars and toppling daimyo. The pointless bloodshed he engenders has never troubled him: a few thousand dead are perfectly desirable as long as his targets are occupied. He's never forgotten his duties, though, and only inflicts damage on those who would threaten the Emperor, but he still enjoys playing and watching his "playmates" scurry around. He's also very good at hiding the damage he causes, and to most of the Court he is just a dignified, honorable man above petty squabbles, warm and friendly. Otomo Seiyaku 5, again with terrible stats for someone of that Rank.


Living the dream.

Seppun Baka is the Emperor's Chief Historian. Most Isawa can't match his knowledge of the Tao of Shinsei or the Prophecies of Uikku and none can deliver the appropriate sermons as sweetly as him. As a child, he wanted to become a holy man and studied sacred texts with zeal, but he grew enthralled with the opulence and pomp of the court and vowed to live his life in luxury instead of seclusion. Thanks to his dedicated study and his family position he secured a post in the Emperor's library upon coming of age, and soon the Emperor came to depend on him for advice as he always had an answer for his questions on Shinsei or the beliefs of the Kami. In a few years he went from a simple historian to one of the close circle of Imperial Advisors, and he's been eternally grateful to the Emperor for the opportunity since. He is the most openly fawning of the advisors and despised by the court as a sycophant, but he doesn't care. Many have sought to control him, but all efforts have been rebuked: the Emperor will not have his favorite sullied by Clan interests. And, since Sotorii also looks up to him, Baka might just be the Emperor's favorite sycophant for the rest of his life. He is small and dresses in dark robes, always coated in expensive Unicorn perfumes, and constantly speaking of the humility of his position and how "unworthy" he is of holding it. Some find his talk soothing, some just want to throttle him, and over the years he's become quite experienced at telling one from the other. Doji Courtier 4, again with low stats, relatively few skills as well. Sworn Enemy (many) :haw:


Don't talk to me or my son ever again.

Seppun Daiori is the Seppun daimyo. He's only been daimyo for seven years but he already looks aged and stern, as if the weight of the Empire rested upon his shoulders. He was companion to the Emperor as a youth and served in the frontline as a miharu, leading a career of honor protecting dignitaries and taking many wounds in the line of duty, serving as Captain of the Guard for many years. He still bears a scar on his left hand from an incident ten years back when the Crab attacked an Otomo envoy. Since then, he's been of little use to the Guard, and ended up in an advisory position. At 35, he's aging but not yet 'old', and thought of serving until retirement but ended up ascending to the lordship of his house when his brother, the former Seppun daimyo, died during an oni attack. He is unfit for leadership in the court, but his military bearing has served him well and has raised his family's influence to new heights. Their influence has allowed the Crane to keep the city of Toshi Ranbo, kept the Unicorn from attacking Kyuden Ikoma and maintained peace between the Crab and the Iuchi over the Falcon villages. At the court, he seems distracted and speaks sharply when called to attention, and spends much time in the Lion quarters though his influence seems to be behind the Crane. Since the death of the mother of his son, Hotaitaka, he has raised him alone and refuses to leave him to a nurse. Hotaitaka is a happy four-year old and any who treat him with care and courtesy will gain his father's approval :3: BUT! Daiori has a lot of things going on. Seven years back, he was traveling with his brother when their caravan came under attack. Akodo Kage, head of the guards, tried valiantly to save the Seppun daimyo and failed. Daiori learned why later, as Kage intended to put him in the Seppun throne and control him. Daiori refused, but Kage produced many guardsmen that would testify that he was at his brother's side when he died, and that the wound that killed him was done with a small knife at close range. The wound that Daiori took in that battle never healed properly and he's taken to consume opium painkillers prescribed by Soshi Bantaro of the Scorpion. Since then, he's been in Kage's camp, though that doesn't mean he's always been for the Lion. He now waits for Kage's instructions about the Crab and the Unicorn, and hates being a pawn, but fears incrimination and anything that would happen to his son. He knows Hotaitaka is not his, but loves him as his real child, and his wife died in mysterious circumstances when he stood for the Fox against a questionable Yasuki merchant. Kage sent a note regretting her death and asking about his son's well-being. :ohdear: Seppun Miharu 4, on the level with Insight, shame about his Chemical Dependence and Permanent Wound.


"I am the generic-est!"

Seppun Ishikawa was the firstborn son of an influential Imperial retainer, and studied at the Kakita academy after demonstrating skill in martial arts. Though he was accepted due to favors owed to his father he quickly distinguished himself honestly, demonstrating both real skill and tactical intellect. He was offered a position in the Imperial Guard after returning, and though taking the post meant the removal of his family name (a practice instituted in the Guard to prevent rivalries between samurai of different Clans) he quickly accepted. His ability caught the eye of Doji Satsume and he served as Emerald Magistrate for several years, but he was missed in the Guard and returned to become its Captain. He fulfills his duty to the Imperial family, cares deeply for them and would not hesitate to lay his life down for theirs. Otherwise, he is unremarkable and only slightly taller than other people in the Guard, but those who look beyond appearances sense great strength in him. Seppun Miharu 4, good stats and a Great Destiny, also has Suzume Mukashino as an Ally. Soft Hearted, though.


I mean, you have to be a Scorpion to get away with showing cleavage.

Seppun Kossori was the only daughter to a powerful Seppun and grew up spoiled and treated to every desire. (Another one? Welp.) When she was six, she was asked what she wanted, and she said she wanted to marry a Doji man. Her parents agreed to send her to the Doji school to teach her what they were made of and hoping she would learn to be a lady there, but it was the worst possible decision - with the Doji she learned to get what she wanted and soon she was prying favors from everyone she could. She soon figured out that her charms worked better on men than women, and many mornings she woke up next to a samurai that had offered her his favor or a precious stone he had reserved for his own wife. As an adult, she has developed a taste for sake, especially the stronger shochu, which has reduced what inhibitions she possesses; many times she'll claim not to remember what she has done. She tried to seduce Bayushi Akeu while drunk, and he's had this knowledge hanging over her since. She's not very bright, and though she has cut down on her drinking she still gets herself into dangerous situations. Doji Courtier 3, four points or so short of Insight. Bad Reputation (Tease) and Compulsion (Sake), also Frail Mind which... I can't find anywhere? Uh. Lots of points into Gentry and Wealth, though! Also two points in Seduction, a Low skill that she should not have and that will get her into lots of hot water if revealed publicly.

Doji Masekari's mother died when she was very young to a wasting disease called ogugai. She spent her childhood learning from a loyal servant of the family, and she had perfect manners at the age of eight, when she was also told she would marry a man called Doji Shogo. Some thought she would reach her gempukku sooner than most, but her sensei disagreed and just as she was about to graduate she was told she would have to wait two years more. She grew sullen and despondent and spent most of her two years in seclusion, while her father worried that she would succumb to the ogugai. When she finally underwent her gempukku and got married, her new husband managed to shake her off her stupor and made her smile once more. Their marriage was blessed with good fortune, and two years later she bore him their first son, Ogugu. Many speak highly of Masekari's charmed life, but the strong morals she learned from her father keep her from falling into decadence. Not all is happiness, though: Shogo was called to the Kaiu Wall due to his skills and station with the Court, and word on him has been scarce lately. A Scorpion called Bayushi Akeu has started to hang out with her, and he implies he knows more about her husband than he should, and those conversations leave her distracted and confused. Rumors grow around her, and some say that Shogo is dead, and while she doesn't like Akeu his attention seems genuine... Seppun Courtier 2 (just Doji Courtier with a different name), with a Kharmic Tie to her mother (wait, how does that work if she's dead?) and a True Friend in Doji Shogo, also True Love!

Doji Shogo was born to a great courtier, Doji Tobuzu, who wanted his son to wield the blade as a Kakita. Even before Shogo could walk his father got him into the Kakita Academy, and vowed to get him a Seppun bride. The negotiations lasted several days, and involved getting two Doji brides in return for the Seppun, and to have Shogo's firstborn daughter offered in marriage to the Scorpion. Young Shogo excelled at his studies and he underwent his gempukku at the age of 15, when he was presented with a Kakita blade and news of his future wife, Seppun Masekari. His status as a bushi grew in the meanwhile, but he later learned that her gempukku would be delayed, a great shame for the Seppun family. Shogo did not wish to bring further shame upon his future in-laws and used the two years to train himself further in the arts, and when the wedding finally happened he presented a great painting made by himself to his new father in law. The wedding went swimmingly, and though Masekari acted cold at first he got her smiling before the evening was done. Masekari bore him first a son, and then a daughter, and though Shogo never let emotion show in his face he knew he had to give her to the Scorpions in time. When his own sister was to marry Bayushi Akeu he went to their wedding, while Masekari stayed back after getting sick. Shogo drank a little too much and ended in the arms of a pretty Scorpion lady, and he woke up next morning to Bayushi Akeu chiding him for his "dishonorable behavior" with the Scorpion's sister. Shogo was completely dismayed by his conduct but Akeu said he would cover up for him. Funnily enough, on the way back it was clear to him than more than one day had passed. :ninja: That was two years back: now, Akeu asked him to go to a small village in Crab lands, escorted by a friend of Akeu's, where he'll learn the final favor the Scorpion wants of him. Kakita Bushi 2, on the level with insight. Pretty good duelist, an Imperial Spouse in Seppun Masekari, and an Obligation to Bayushi Akeu :ohdear:

Bayushi Akeu was born a Soshi, but at the age of eight he stood before a Bayushi samurai and told him with reverence that he wanted to serve his family. The young samurai, Bayushi Aramoro, was impressed by the boy: he took him in and convinced his parents that he would serve the Clan better as a Bayushi. Akeu joined the Bayushi courtier school and developed his skills as a speaker. He was (and is) a small man and has never really gotten over it, always wearing clothes that make him look larger than he is. He is smart, though, and has amassed a number of favors. Doji Shogo is the kind of man he likes to toy with. He has been invited to the Winter Court, a shock considering how young he is, but his family has noted his rise and his recent marriage to a Doji lady. Only time will tell how Akeu will end up. Presently, he spends most of his time with the beautiful Doji Masekari. Bayushi Courtier 2 with Rank 1 Insight, with Blackmail on Doji Shogo. Incidentally, there's a plot seed regarding the whole mess with Shogo, Akeu and Masekari: basically, the PCs can be asked to look into Shogo's disappearance by Masekari's handmaid, and if they follow the hints in the court (which might entail passing an Intelligence + History roll at 40, because gently caress actually understanding your system's odds) they'll end up learning from Akeu that he wanted to embarrass Shogo in an "elaborate, harmless prank" that involved the Crab Clan recruiting peasants from their villages. As it turned out, Shogo joined a Crab garrison and is now holed up in a fortress besieged by Shadowlands goblins, and the PCs will have to hurry to save him while Akeu continues to court Masekari.

Suzume Mukashino is aged and wise. With age and wisdom come a new understanding of time, and patience; with time and patience comes a plateau of understanding and wisdom. With wisdom and understanding comes comprehension of order in the universe. With order, comes perfection. With perfection, comes eternity. Which basically is a long way to say that Mukashino is an old codger with some very long stories to tell. He is a pariah in the courts to those that see him coming and a revered samurai to those ambushed by his stories. And yet, somehow, a Scorpion invitation for the Winter Court never fails to appear in his hands. Each year, both bushi and courtiers alike shudder at seeing him arrive. His favorite tactic is finding a samurai of high rank alone and start telling a simple story that somehow ends up encompassing every detail of Rokugani culture, and it's considered a great dishonor to one's self and to Mukashino to ignore him or leave him while he's still telling his story. Suzume Bushi 3 but we'll have to wait until Way of the Minor Clans to find out what that does. He also has Stealth 1 because his footsteps are naturally quiet. He doesn't actually try to hide his movement, he's just really good at finding his way next to a samurai. My favorite NPC in this drat book.

There's only two ancestors in this book. Shiba Murayasu was born to a wealthy Otomo mother and a Phoenix father. He was brilliant in his training as a bushi, and soon ended up as a junior sensei, and made full sensei at the young age of 26. When Hantei XVI met a tragic end, his son (a childhood friend of Murayasu) took up the throne as Hantei XVII, and requested him to come back to train at the Seppun dojo. Thus he became sensei to one of the few ruling Hantei to be trained outside of the Kakita Academy. In fact, Hantei XVII fell in love with one of Murayasu's cousins even though he was married to a Doji, and broke tradition again by being buried in Phoenix lands after his death. For 9 points, characters with Murayasu as their ancestor reduce their TN to hit any character that has attacked them in the previous round by 5, and declare their actions last no matter how initiative is rolled (though the actions still play out in initiative order) However, they never gain more than one extra die from declaring Full Attacks. Seppun was Seppun, and for 4 points a character that leads troops to defend the Emperor forces their opponent (human) generals to cap their Battle skill by their Honor. Neat!

Whispers and rumors! Bayushi Kachiko and Doji Hoturi had an affair that lasted well into the first year of her marriage, but she suddenly refused to deal with him. Less than a year later, she bore Shoju a son, and though she has been pregnant since she's had no other kids. Their son, Bayushi Dairu, is nearly twelve years old now, skilled with a sword and with beautiful blue eyes. Bayushi Shoju and Yogo Junzo, meanwhile, aren't attending this Winter Court due to that funny business involving excavations in the Bayushi labyrinth. Daidoji Uji is attending the Emperor's court to demonstrate the techniques of his house, and he is bringing in a gaijin sai-bore as a curiosity. Learning gaijin techniques is forbidden and he'll not demonstrate its use, but it's still interesting as an object of art. He's also achieved School Rank 5 and a Fire of 3, and gotten one point in Subojutsu. Togashi Mitsu is in a pilgrimage through the courts of each Clan, and his latest stunt involves learning how to act (Acting 2). Some say that he is traveling with a tall, swarthy man, that seems very familiar with the practices of the Dragon even though he has no tattoos or armor. Shiba Ujimitsu has a secret: back when his wife had to kill herself (because her father was discovered as a traitor and the Emperor had demanded the removal of his whole line), his daughter, Saija, cursed the Emperor openly in front of the court. Then, all the voices that are always with the Phoenix Champion talked to him and said that if he really, really loved his daughter, and was willing to give up his life not once but twice and cut her head off now, they would save her. He did as they demanded; the next thing he remembers is being with a Phoenix vassal profoundly thanking him for saving his daughter's life, in a palace days away from Otosan Uchi. He looked down at the man's daughter, a baby, and he saw Saija's eyes on hers. Since then, Ujimitsu has never been as strong as he used to be, which is why his Strength is only 3 though his Water Ring is 5. As for the daughter, she would grow up to be Shiba Tsukune. :stare: She doesn't remember anything of Saija's life and only knows that when she sees her Champion sometimes she feels a strange sense of love and pride, and she might never know the reason. Isawa Uona is also in court, as her mentor and Master of Air has recently passed away and her formal induction in the Elemental Council will take place this winter. And there's an unknown Lion as well, an angry Lion that rages at the Matsu strictures and only cares about his duty as a soldier in the field. His name is Matsu Gohei!


Hantei V was the :black101:est

Imperial Nemuranai! The most precious magic objects in the Empire are the relics of the Hantei. The Ancestral Sword of the Hantei was forged by Doji Yasurugi. It is a huge no-dachi, the blade of which had grown golden since its creation. Legend says that the fifth Hantei carried into battle against the Shadowlands, helping a Crab Clan weakened by Lion and Crane predations stem off the tide. The Emperor fought the vile hordes in person, saved the Crab and returned to punish the offending Clans harshly. Akkuai-uo, as it is also known, is a no-dachi that bursts into a dark flame when wielded by a Seppun, Otomo or Hantei and strikes as if the wielder had a Strength of 6, and doubles its damage against any creature that does not offer fealty to the Emperor of Rokugan or otherwise breaks the Celestial Order. The Mirror of Seppun stays in a shrine in Miya lands and isn't in the Emperor's possession.The Miya family has as duty guarding it, and it's said to be a gift from Amaterasu to Seppun to remind the mortal world that the sun's light will never be far. When an Emperor is enthroned the Miya bring the mirror for the ceremony and officially give it to the Emperor, who must always then give it back at the end. No rules though. The Rock of the Kami rests in a small shrine in Doji lands carefully tended by Asahina shugenja. It is small, not more than three feet in diameter, and legend marks it as the place where the Kami first touched the Earth. I guess the Kami must've been really close for that! :haw: No rules for this one, either.

Finally, we get some notes on how to use courtly skills in game, giving them an extra oomph. Calligraphy includes the ability to write beautifully, and so PCs with high Calligraphy will have an easier time getting permissions to see other people because their request will look pretty. Etiquette can also be used with people of lesser station to treat them appropriately without going overboard with politeness. Medicine includes basic first-aid as well as the ability to determine when people are sick or suffer some other condition like insanity or the effects of drugs. Meditation can be used to gain insight into problems or to keep cool when under emotional stress. Theology covers knowledge of the Fortunes, both great and small, and the locations of their shrines, while Shintao covers knowledge of the Tao, the Celestial Order, some knowledge of the Code of Bushido and can even be used as Etiquette when dealing with monks. Manipulation can be used defensively with an Awareness + Manipulation roll at TN (5 x target's Manipulation) to tell when a target is trying to manipulate someone. And that's it!


OH poo poo WE'RE REALLY loving UGLY

Next: uh, let me get my list!

Traveller fucked around with this message at 03:05 on Oct 17, 2016

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


KACHIKO AND HOTURI! :argh:

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010


Oh yeah, the good old women lie about being raped trope. gently caress off.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





BOOK TWO: Part One

Or

The Character Creation of Benjamin Button


So Victoriana does a Very Weird Thing and official character creation has you imagine your character’s current situation…and then work backwards. To wit:



Because your Background options are dependent on your social classes, this is…very awkward in execution. It’s not really organic at all. Your average character creation system (that has limitations such as things relying on species and such) is like a tree. You grow from a seed you plant, be it a character concept or starting with a racial choice, then follow up the grown trunk and up the branches to pluck the fruit you want (the fruit in this metaphor being your finished character, the final result). The character creation this game proposes is backwards; it amounts to grabbing a branch, following it backwards then digging up the whole tree to carry it around and hit people with it. It just doesn’t flow or follow or make a cohesive sort of character.

Oh, as a side note: I won’t be including the nitty-gritty and cruft like what skills you get. I’m not going to go in much depth as I could.

ASSOCIATION



Associations are basically what your character does and what they focus on in this day and age. They can be changed to fit other interests and they’re actually not picked by the players. Associations are “not so much chosen as bequeathed” depending on what campaign they want to run based on player input. This is a good idea…in theory. In execution they just define minimum skills you get to have, offer you some things they recommend you take and kind of cut off the branches of doing anything else. It just reads as the first step of railroading.

The Cobblestone Club: A group of revolutionaries (socialists, communists, anarchists, other) who want to change the government to be more egalitarian, reform the law, etc. Because the government dislikes the scattered members of the Club and their mission, the Club has started to take more aggressive, violent measures.

The Havering Household: The HH is basically just a house of adventurers who are drawn to nonspecific adventures with the house as their clubhouse. Adventure just tends to find them.

Metropolitan Police, Aetheric Branch: MAGIC COPS. Enforce Magic Law and deal with Magic Threats.

Royal Geographic Society: Expeditions, archaeology and cartography up in this mother.

Royal Steam Lancers: Steampunk Mecha Adventures fighting all over the world, jackbooted thuggery with the help of a big metal shoe.

The Selenium: Ever want to be a Great White Hunter? Now you can! This includes monsters and supernatural beings that have a gigantic fear of the Selenium who tend to shoot first, mount trophies second and ask questions never.

The Society for Spiritual Repose: Talk to ghosts and put them to rest.

The Star Chamber: Espionage for Queen and Empire.

Willowpin and Associates: Detective shenanigans.

BACKGROUNDS



Your background determines what skills you have in addition to your important skills determined by your Association. You are advised to not game the system by picking the backgrounds but to try and get flavor skills. Also you should take vocations and childhood experiences that match the same social class unless you get special GM permission otherwise because that will affect your choice of subspecies/social class.

Vocations


  • Adventuress** (upper): LADY ADVENTURES
  • Alienist** (upper/middle)
  • Army Officer (any)
  • Artist/Artisan** (middle/lower)
  • Beggar** (lower)
  • Bodyguard (lower)
  • Bounty Hunter (middle/lower)
  • Businessman (middle)
  • Cabby/Coachman (lower)
  • Clergyman (middle)
  • Clerk** (middle)
  • Costermonger** (lower)
  • Cunning Man/Woman** (lower): You’re an unlicensed street magician.
  • Cutpurse** (lower)
  • Demolitionist (lower)
  • Detective (middle)
  • Dockhand (lower)
  • Engineer** (any)
  • Explorer** (upper/middle)
  • Factory Worker** (lower)
  • Fireman (lower)
  • Footpad (lower)
  • Gambler (middle/lower)
  • Governor/Governess** (middle/lower)
  • Guild Associate** (upper/middle): You went to university and managed to get a doctorate in Thaumaturgy along with a membership in the Guild. However you actually have to buy the ability to do magic and have a degree.
  • Highwayman (lower)
  • Journalist (middle)
  • Itinerant Entertainer** (lower)
  • Itinerant Peddler** (lower)
  • Lawyer (upper/middle)
  • Navvy (lower): You do labor and demolitions for the railroads.
  • Orderly (lower)
  • Ornithopter Pilot (upper/middle)
  • Physician (middle)
  • Poacher (lower)
  • Policeman (lower)
  • Prize-fighter (lower)
  • Prosthetics Surgeon (upper/middle)
  • Prostitute** (lower)
  • Railroad Conductor (middle/lower)
  • Revolutionary** (middle/lower)
  • River Pirate (lower)
  • Scrapman (lower)
  • Seaman (lower)
  • Servant** (lower)
  • Shopkeeper** (middle/lower)
  • Smuggler** (lower)
  • Socialite** (upper)
  • Soldier (lower)
  • Spiritualist** (middle)
  • Spy** (any)
  • Steam Driver (lower)
  • Student (upper/middle)
  • Thief** (upper/middle)
  • Tosher (lower): A tosher goes ratting in the sewers with the help of a knife and a small but vicious dog.
  • Woodsman (lower)
  • Wyvern Rider (upper)


That’s 57 possible backgrounds for your character. Of those, 18 can be used by multiple social groups, 14 are for upper class people, 25 are for middle class, 39 are for lower class and if you’re playing a female character there’s 24 options. That’s a shitload of backgrounds! Then you get to pick what your childhood was like! Hooray?



Childhood



Fun fact: apparently childhood lasted until 21 in the Victorian era even though the age of sexual consent/marriage was…waaaay lower. Moving right the gently caress along.
  • Apprentice: Arts** (middle/lower)
  • Apprentice: Industrial (middle)
  • Apprentice: Textiles** (lower)
  • Barrow Boy/Girl** (lower)
  • Boarding School (middle)
  • Cabin Boy (lower)
  • Chimney Sweep** (lower)
  • Church School** (middle)
  • Drummer Boy (lower)
  • Farm Hand** (lower)
  • Mudlark (lower)
  • Pick Pocket** (lower)
  • Personal Tutor** (upper)
  • Public School (upper)
  • Rail Rat** (lower)
  • Stage Hand** (lower)
  • Steam Girl** (upper/middle): You got an unofficial education in engineering and mechanics from your relatives and they also kept you around as an assistant.
  • Urchin** (lower)
  • Workhouse Poor** (lower)



19 total possible upbringings. That’s 3 possible childhoods for upper class kids, 5 for middle class kids, 13 for lower class and 13 total choices for girls.

SOCIAL CLASSES



Yep, social classes get mechanical benefits. Also unless you buy a certain positive advantage (this game calls them Privileges) or beg the GM for leniency, you’re limited to certain choices for subspecies depending on the social class you get assigned. So ultimately it’s possible to have an Upper Class Ogre or Beastfolk…but the game does sort of carry that air of “you may technically belong, but you don’t belong” attached to the situation.
At this stage, you can also pick build packages to round your character out around a certain idea.

Upper Class: Upper class affords the character a comfortable house and the bare minimum amount of servants to staff it. You can take Assets to enhance your station and your pay. Upper class characters get -1 Fortitude, 20xWits cash in pounds and start every adventure with 6 shillings in their pocket in addition to Asset income. The default subspecies for upper class characters are Eldren and Humans.



Middle Class: Middle class characters live in a rented flat in a boarding house unless they own any Assets. They have comfortable, worn clothes and a job. Middle class characters have no attribute adjustments, 10xWits starting cash and get 1 shilling at the start of each adventure before Asset income. Default subspecies for middle class characters are Dwarves, Eldren, Gnomes and Humans.



Lower Class: Without an Asset, you sleep on the streets or in a hostel or a hammock in a church. You probably get by on begging and you're likely fond of gin. You get +1 Fortitude, 2xWits starting pounds and the only cash they get is from Assets. Default subspecies for lower class characters are Beastfolk, Dwarves, Huldufolk, Humans, Ogres and Orcs.



Thoughts: We're only three and a half steps into character creation and I have to stop here so we can look at the subspecies in depth. So far...ugh. There's just so much here and it's overwhelming and so goddamn counterintuitive.

NEXT TIME: All about Beastfolk in every form

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Night10194 posted:

I mean, this was also the cause of a lot of the Colonial Gentry in early America. Desperately trying to look like British gentlemen in the colonies despite not having sufficient resources and funds, eagerly looking for any way to get more because they were desperately in debt.
In the colonies you also had the figure (soon a literary cliche) of the European vagabond pretending to be a dispossessed nobleman. Occasionally the bounder wasn't lying.

Hostile V posted:

So I'm an American and I was born in 1990. I have a much more different view of society than a Victorian British person would. Basically, British society's stratification isn't just money; it's mostly land, property and breeding. In the real life sense, this meant a lot of loving your cousins to keep power in the family. In the sense of this book, this means that by Victorian racism standards, certain subspecies can't "rise above their station". Hell, you really can't leave your class without marrying into it. This is awful and it sucks and I hate it. No really I do, lemme drop the semi-serious tone. I hate this. Not even loving Unhallowed Metropolis included rules and restrictions for social stratification and that's a game that spends the majority of its time slowly jerking off Victorian society.
There's a lot to like in Unhallowed Metropolis, and quite a lot of inherent class conflict--besides the Noble, of course, nearly all of the character classes belong to Orwell's "upper-lower-middle-class," or are thoroughly working-class people doing extremely dangerous work to try to rise above their scop-slurping brethren. Unfortunately, UH emphasizes the whole zombie apocalypse thing too much for class conflict to have much chance to shine (except by way of the metaphor inherent in most zombie films, natch).

On reflection, two big problems I have with UH in general:

1. The overall world just isn't well thought out in a way that facilitates play. A key example is that London has been overrun, retaken, lost again, demolished and rebuilt several times, all to come back around to recreating it as fortified Victorian London, just decades later. The world outside London is given short shrift; large parts of the world actually seem to be doing just fine. If you're not going to give enough information to allow campaigns outside of London, then leave the outside world shrouded in mist and mystery. If you wrote a really really really long history to explain how London in 2100 is like London in 1880 but with zombies and gas masks, maybe...don't do that.

2. Stuff that plays up the grimdarkness to the point that it beggars belief. Namely, the air pollution. The air's so polluted that poor people have to wear wet rags over their mouths in their own kitchens? If it was that bad, everyone would be dead. Again, this is the sort of thing that only exists in the setting to emphasize how grimdark everything is; in practice it's a detail the GM and all the players have to remember, but that doesn't facilitate adventures. PCs aren't exactly equipped to fight air pollution. Likewise the scop, and the half-dozen factors making its production so precarious one wonders how it hasn't collapsed.

Getting back to the class issues in Victoriana, I don't expect every game to treat the matter of class with the same level of nuance as George Orwell...but if the game is basically obsessed with Victorian England, then yes, it absolutely should. "You belong to one of three classes, with slight modification owing to your race, and that's it." :mediocre:

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 04:17 on Oct 17, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

quote:

Middle Class: Middle class characters live in a rented flat in a boarding house unless they own any Assets. They have comfortable, worn clothes and a job.
Holy tapdancing zombie dogfucking Christ, these stupid motherfuckers don't even know what "middle class" meant in the goddamned Victorian era. gently caress me running up the hill backwards with a chainsaw.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Halloween Jack posted:

Holy tapdancing zombie dogfucking Christ, these stupid motherfuckers don't even know what "middle loving class" meant in the goddamned Victorian era. gently caress me sideways.
Yeah the game really wants you to basically...buy things in society through Assets to give you more than this basic existence:

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



The whole Victoriana thing just makes me want to mail them a copy of Castle Falkenstein with a rude note attached.

See, Falkenstein actually does some smart things to make the whole Victorian world tolerable in a steampunk fantasy way: In the alternate universe of the game the world is explicitly better than the real world. The opression of industrialism, racism, colonialism, etc. just didn't happen or didn't happen as badly. And more importantly, it puts those societal ills as a negative! PC's in Falkenstein are explicity in opposition to Empire-building, war-mongering, industrialization, racism, classicism, etc.

It also avoids most of the alternate history weirdness by making steampunk/magic be a relatively new thing, in the setting. Like, it's only within the last few decades that supernatural poo poo has started being relevant on the world stage so most politics and power-structures are unchanged, and what changes there are are to make the world less of a shitshow, like making Manifest Destiny a failed ideology with everything between the Mississippi and the Rockies being Native American land controlled by a loose tribal confederacy.

Falkenstein also just integrates supernatural races into the world without any issue, cause they're just treated as people. Like, supernatural races are just a few extra abilities instead of being treated completely different socially. The only real excepts I can remember is that Dragons are pretty much de-facto nobility anywhere just on principle, and Faeries don't join Navies cause being near massive amounts of uncovered iron for long periods of time give them headaches.

Also all the magical races are legit taken from ACTUAL FOLKLORE, and a Leprechaun, Pooka, Kobold, or White Lady are all character choices. Leprechauns can magically force people to dance by playing music! It's not just D&D but with COGS!

They also don't have any different religions! Muslims are Muslims, Jews are Jews, the Catholic Church exists and actually has an order of Monks dedicated to practicing healing magic to act as doctors in hospitals!

Also the historical fiction is both more solid and less loving boring! Why is Racism basically not a thing? Because Abraham Lincoln survived assassination thanks to magical catholic doctor, and he basically forced Reconstruction through proper so poo poo like Jim Crow laws and the Klan never got a foothold! Otto Von Bismarck is the big villain of Europe because he's a warmonger who builds legions of war-zeppelins and steam-tanks! He has a clockwork hand that's also a gun because he's a Bond villain!

Ugh, and when Falkenstein includes actual cultural information it's generally useful and interesting. The book has sidebars for poo poo like Victorian slang, proper dating etiquette, how to address the various ranks of nobility, what different nation's military uniforms look like, what everyday items people owned back then, that sort of thing!

Ugh this game is so loving lame, when there's a better one that does THE SAME THING that came out back in the 1980s!

Also, one of the neatest thing Falkenstein does is make all Victorian fiction actually real, so Sherlock Holmes is solving crimes in London, Captain Nemo sails around fighting pirates, the Time Traveller is bopping around like a steampunk Doctor Who, The Invisible Man is an infamous burglar and thief wanted across the continent, etc. That makes the whole thing feel just that bit more fantastical and fun.

Ugh, gently caress Victoriana.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Yeah, Kachiko fakes a rape so that her secret lover can murder a Clan Champion and gets away with it. Given the nature of the Soul of Shiba, you'd think Shiba Ujimitsu (the following Champion) would have instant access to knowledge of all their shenanigans but I guess he never did anything with it... because... that's what it says in the script?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



With poo poo like that, it's a wonder how all the other clans didn't stop their feuds to go "You know? gently caress those Scorpions, seriously gently caress 'em" and annihilate every one of those fuckers.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Robindaybird posted:

With poo poo like that, it's a wonder how all the other clans didn't stop their feuds to go "You know? gently caress those Scorpions, seriously gently caress 'em" and annihilate every one of those fuckers.

Wick said they're really clever so everything they do will be treated as really clever despite the fact that they're unsubtle dumbshits most of the time.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, Kachiko fakes a rape so that her secret lover can murder a Clan Champion and gets away with it. Given the nature of the Soul of Shiba, you'd think Shiba Ujimitsu (the following Champion) would have instant access to knowledge of all their shenanigans but I guess he never did anything with it... because... that's what it says in the script?

For that matter, the Soul of Shiba could have told Burisagi that Kachiko was setting him up and make him react instead of stammering "wha-buh-I-uh" like a dumbass while Hoturi makes his head file a divorce from his body, but THE SCRIPT. I guess Ujimitsu's soul pals were like "eh, don't get in their way, you're too busy being breaking physics anyway"

But really, you can see here the seeds of Houses of the Blooded, where everything is Winter Court in miniature and everyone is Scorpion to a greater or lesser extent, and all romances are retreads of Kachiko and Hoturi's little go game.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Does the "doomed" part of "doomed highborn manchildren" mean they all bite it eventually? Can I play a game set after that happens? Better yet, can I play a campaign dedicated to bringing it about?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Coming soon in the summer of 2005, it's The Last Samurai Tabletop RPG: The RPG of the Movie Not Based on a True Story.

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:

To translate some of that as a dork who knows too much about these loving games:



Sybaris is a bunch of things, but has two modes - Terror and Unease, more accurately summarized as acute and chronic. Terror Sybaris is when the mummy does overt supernatural stuff, starts glowing gold, looks like the beef-jerky husk they are, and everyone hallucinates them to have horrifying, religious-awe-inducing stuff like wings of flame or snakes dripping acidic venom draped around their arms. This isn't what actually gets people, beyond how scary that would normally be - Sybaris itself is an intense, irrepressible awareness of the viewer's own mortality, amplified to a sickening degree. Everything you've ever done will be dust, everyone you know will be forgotten, the stars will one day go out, and the thing in front of you will still exist. "Look upon my works, ye mighty" type poo poo. It makes people flip out and either fight, run, or fall down in worship and beg for mercy, depending on their mental fortitude.

So weaponized Terror Management Theory? Weaponized death fear? Other kids wanted to be Superman; I wanted this power. Please tell me this book is good and awesome.

And tell me the New Wave sci-fi game is good too, since I need that.

The Sin of Onan
Oct 11, 2012

And below,
watched by eyes of steel
we dreamt


Hostile V posted:

Coming soon in the summer of 2005, it's The Last Samurai Tabletop RPG: The RPG of the Movie Not Based on a True Story.

I'd play a game where you massacre the Scorpion with machine guns (probably most of the Rokugan nobility, actually).

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kavak posted:

Does the "doomed" part of "doomed highborn manchildren" mean they all bite it eventually? Can I play a game set after that happens? Better yet, can I play a campaign dedicated to bringing it about?

Well, yes. Sort of. It's complicated.

Hoturi dies at the end of Clan War at Fu Leng's hands (literally, Fu Leng punches him through the chest), and gets to have a tearful death scene with Kachiko where she brings up by the way, we have a son and you killed him out of ignorance, thought this would be a good time to mention. (Yeah, Dairu dies during the Scorpion coup when Hoturi's busy cutting down Scorpions and neither he or Dairu knew the truth).

Kachiko dies at the end of the War of Shadow when she absorbs the shadow-corrupted Shosuro (her ancestor a millennium removed) into her body and throws herself into a lake where Bayushi's (the kami) spirit resided and he dragged them both down to their presumed death.

But that's not all.

During the War of Shadow, there's a gateway to the afterlife that gets opened (the Shadow is aiming to corrupt the afterlife, it's complicated) and Hoturi marches out of it, leaves the battle to determine the fate of Rokugan behind (because gently caress the Empire, amirite?), and somehow walks all the way to Kyuden Bayushi just in time to kiss Kachiko one last time before she gets dragged under. Even though both the battle and Kachiko's struggle are happening around the same time! It's a big Wickian tragedy because she won't be in Heaven with him. But what happens to Hoturi's undead ghost-self loose in Rokugan after that?

:iiam:

But that's not all.

Post-Wick in a story written by Rich Wulf, Toturi's ghost wanders the realms to get the gang back together to stop ghost Fu Leng's invasion of heaven (it is, once again, complicated) and both Kachiko and Hoturi seemingly get to spend extramarital eternity together anyway...

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




I mean the Rokugani nobility in general. The shart-crossed lovers can spend eternity together for all I care.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



Hostile V posted:

Coming soon in the summer of 2005, it's The Last Samurai Tabletop RPG: The RPG of the Movie Not Based on a True Story.
Well, sort of. The movie makes no sense historically, and Tom Cruise's character was actually French. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Brunet

The Sin of Onan
Oct 11, 2012

And below,
watched by eyes of steel
we dreamt


From a couple of pages back, but:

Night10194 posted:

weirdo neo-nazis writing 40k these days

Is this a reference to something specific? I haven't been pushing around plastic space mans for quite some time.

I mean, it wouldn't surprise me if actual unironic neo-Nazis had taken over 40k, given the general ironic fascism the line has had for some time, but it's certainly a bit unexpected.

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




Wapole Languray posted:

The whole Victoriana thing just makes me want to mail them a copy of Castle Falkenstein with a rude note attached.

See, Falkenstein actually does some smart things to make the whole Victorian world tolerable in a steampunk fantasy way: In the alternate universe of the game the world is explicitly better than the real world. The opression of industrialism, racism, colonialism, etc. just didn't happen or didn't happen as badly. And more importantly, it puts those societal ills as a negative! PC's in Falkenstein are explicity in opposition to Empire-building, war-mongering, industrialization, racism, classicism, etc.

It also avoids most of the alternate history weirdness by making steampunk/magic be a relatively new thing, in the setting. Like, it's only within the last few decades that supernatural poo poo has started being relevant on the world stage so most politics and power-structures are unchanged, and what changes there are are to make the world less of a shitshow, like making Manifest Destiny a failed ideology with everything between the Mississippi and the Rockies being Native American land controlled by a loose tribal confederacy.

Falkenstein also just integrates supernatural races into the world without any issue, cause they're just treated as people. Like, supernatural races are just a few extra abilities instead of being treated completely different socially. The only real excepts I can remember is that Dragons are pretty much de-facto nobility anywhere just on principle, and Faeries don't join Navies cause being near massive amounts of uncovered iron for long periods of time give them headaches.

Also all the magical races are legit taken from ACTUAL FOLKLORE, and a Leprechaun, Pooka, Kobold, or White Lady are all character choices. Leprechauns can magically force people to dance by playing music! It's not just D&D but with COGS!

They also don't have any different religions! Muslims are Muslims, Jews are Jews, the Catholic Church exists and actually has an order of Monks dedicated to practicing healing magic to act as doctors in hospitals!

Also the historical fiction is both more solid and less loving boring! Why is Racism basically not a thing? Because Abraham Lincoln survived assassination thanks to magical catholic doctor, and he basically forced Reconstruction through proper so poo poo like Jim Crow laws and the Klan never got a foothold! Otto Von Bismarck is the big villain of Europe because he's a warmonger who builds legions of war-zeppelins and steam-tanks! He has a clockwork hand that's also a gun because he's a Bond villain!

Ugh, and when Falkenstein includes actual cultural information it's generally useful and interesting. The book has sidebars for poo poo like Victorian slang, proper dating etiquette, how to address the various ranks of nobility, what different nation's military uniforms look like, what everyday items people owned back then, that sort of thing!

Ugh this game is so loving lame, when there's a better one that does THE SAME THING that came out back in the 1980s!

Also, one of the neatest thing Falkenstein does is make all Victorian fiction actually real, so Sherlock Holmes is solving crimes in London, Captain Nemo sails around fighting pirates, the Time Traveller is bopping around like a steampunk Doctor Who, The Invisible Man is an infamous burglar and thief wanted across the continent, etc. That makes the whole thing feel just that bit more fantastical and fun.

Ugh, gently caress Victoriana.

to be honest what you're describing sounds way dumber so far

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.

Kavak posted:

I mean the Rokugani nobility in general. The shart-crossed lovers can spend eternity together for all I care.

An isolated cult from a mountain village, in the process of summoning their alien god, drags them all into the Underworld? :D

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Simian_Prime posted:

An isolated cult from a mountain village, in the process of summoning their alien god, drags them all into the Underworld? :D

Yeah but with Siren the point was that you didn't want the characters to die.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kavak posted:

I mean the Rokugani nobility in general. The shart-crossed lovers can spend eternity together for all I care.

You could make a game about a peasant revolt where you play ronin and monks (and there's basis for one), or set it before the feudal system is fully implemented, but the core game presumes you're part of the samurai class.

Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


Hostile V posted:

[*]Barrow Boy/Girl** (lower)
[*]Mudlark (lower)
[*]Pick Pocket** (lower)
[*]Urchin** (lower)

so wait what exactly is the difference between these? those all sound the same to me

also why is is it believable for a woman to be a cutpurse but not a river pirate???


also: did that legend of the five rings book seriously just smarm about how you can't do romeo and juliet in rokugan right as it was spinning a tragic tale of star-crossed lovers with hoturi and kachiko????

Nuns with Guns fucked around with this message at 11:50 on Oct 17, 2016

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Alien Rope Burn posted:

You could make a game about a peasant revolt where you play ronin and monks (and there's basis for one), or set it before the feudal system is fully implemented, but the core game presumes you're part of the samurai class.

There's a huge peasant revolt in Imperial Histories during the Great Famine. It ends about as well as peasant revolts usually do, but it does show the Rokugani leadership in about as good a light as any tyrannical Chinese emperor.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Nuns with Guns posted:

so wait what exactly is the difference between these? those all sound the same to me

also why is is it believable for a woman to be a cutpurse but not a river pirate???


also: did that legend of the five rings book seriously just smarm about how you can't do romeo and juliet in rokugan right as it was spinning a tragic tale of star-crossed lovers with hoturi and kachiko????
Barrow kids sell stuff like flowers or matches, mudlarks go hunting for treasure in the mud along rivers, pick pockets pick pockets, urchin means you had a general dodgy crime existence on the streets.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Sin of Onan posted:

From a couple of pages back, but:


Is this a reference to something specific? I haven't been pushing around plastic space mans for quite some time.

I mean, it wouldn't surprise me if actual unironic neo-Nazis had taken over 40k, given the general ironic fascism the line has had for some time, but it's certainly a bit unexpected.

It's less that they're obviously Actual Neonazis and more that the fascism has gotten increasingly unironic, with stuff like the incident where the Grey Knights find a bunch of Sisters of Battle who are successfully holding out against a demonic artifact and so butcher them, smear their blood on their armor to get its purity, and go fight it themselves. And this is treated as heroic. Or stuff like the Marines being increasingly treated as the full good guys.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm fairly sure risking a double-post to work on actual Review Stuff is okay, so here's more Ironclaw!

The Bisclavret are the most recent power in Calabria. They've only existed as a separate power for roughly 180 years. Their lands occupy the rich timber-lands making up the south-west of the island, as well as a few small off-shore holdings, with the timber and the decent farmland between it fueling much of their economy. The Bisclavret nobility are primarily wolves, wolves who declared their independence from the traditionalist Phelan to the north and showed the world the Don of the Rinaldi to the east had lost his teeth when they fought off his armies in the Woods of Granvert, forcing him to recognize their sovereignty in all the western forests. They are aggressively, almost insanely modernist, eager to outlaw and forget anything that comes before their declaration of independence. Their lands are rough and wild, full of opportunity and stuffed to the brim with mercenaries, inventors, artists, and missionaries. A PC operating in Bisclavret is almost certainly going to wind up at war or caught up in some serious intrigue, and with the ridiculous number of armed men and women who technically serve no master but whoever is paying them, banditry and piracy run rampant.

It's oddly fitting that I'd write up the Bisclavret before their forerunners, because one of their major themes is not just a break with their past but complete denial of it. The Bisclavret version of their pre-history is considered to be mostly a collection of fanciful tales told by their savage cousins in the north. What is known is a tribe of wolf refugees landed at the north-western portion of the continent and settled there, eventually pushing south into the dense forests as their coastal settlement grew overcrowded. There, the Phelan version of the story tells of a great war with giant raven-wolf hybrid horrors called Morrigna, that had to be stopped by heroic spellcasters and swordsmen of all the clans uniting to battle them as one pack. The Bisclavret claim that what really happened is the settlers encroached on a local tribe of Ravens, who are known to be excellent spellcasters, and were fooled by a mixture of illusions and shame at their initial losses, building the creatures up into monsters to salve their pride and make their eventual victory more heroic for posterity. They point to the existence of tribes of ravens still living in Phelan lands, as well as the well-known illusion and trickery magic of the primitive and unholy Druids that still rule over Phelan society, to back up their version of the tale. After all, everyone knows Calabria is not a land of monsters and great magics; this is a modern age and we do not believe in such fairy-tales any longer.

With the eventual defeat of the obviously-not-actually-giant-evil-devils-from-the-deepest-parts-of-the-woods Morrigna, the wolves spread throughout the land, developing a complex oral legal system and an oral history preserved by the songs of the Bards. At this time, the Bisclavret fore-runners were one of the southern clans of the Phelan, the Tuath na Bianfels, known among all the clans as the greatest Bards in all of wolf-dom. Their southern orientation put them on the border with other, more settled nations, and on the path of the great Via Salutis, the Safe Road of the Rinaldi that crossed the entire continent east to west. This contact provides Bisclavret historians with their first credible sources; the Rinaldi foxes were keen on writing everything down and while their sources obviously contain their own biases, they're certainly better than the half-remembered folk-songs of a savage past. During these years, conflict arose between Bianfels raiders and local minor noble houses on Rinaldi's western border. During these occasional raids, fights, and negotiations, the Bainfels began to have increasing contact with 'modern' fortifications, roads, and wonders like a sewer system, and began to find it difficult to return to their stone huts and plain living. They began to examine just why their neighbors had such plenty, examining if it might be their odd God, some kind of secret magic, or other factors.

Instead, a chieftan named Gaisce Mac Roth decided he'd found the real secret: Consolidation of wealth. Among the Phelan, a Chieftan who dies sees their lands distributed to the other Chieftans until a suitable successor presents themselves and earns some of the lands for themselves by wealth or deed. Gaisce saw the outsiders using the system of Primogenitor, and how it concentrated wealth among a single noble. Among the Phelan, anyone can pettition a Brehona (judge) for legal recourse, and disputes must wait for the Brehona to attend to them. Gaisce saw the outsiders appoint a single lord and bring all matters of justice to them. Among the Phelan, the Druids directed the use of all land and wealth by secret knowledge of the will of the universe (or so they say). Gaisce saw the outsiders' churches held their property solely at the indulgence of a temporal Lord. Gaisce decided he wanted this power for himself, but also for his clan. He bided his time and sent spies to study the weaknesses of the Rinaldi, who were beginning to falter in their claims of kingship over all of Calabria. He realized the value of the Via Salutis, and began to use his warriors to seize wealth and collect 'tolls' on the great road. When the local nobles complained and asked protection from the Rinaldi, they found the foxes' legions had been depleted by corruption, time, and the slow erosion of the Don's power. The details of the raids don't need much mention except the part where Gaisce trained warriors in the caber toss specifically to sink river-boats that refused to part with their goods, which is awesome. So effective was his strangulation of trade that Chieftan Gaisce was able to force the local minor houses to treat with him and offer tribute.

This led to another problem: How to get Phelan warriors to accept coins rather than rings and gifts. The local nobles wanted to pay their 'taxes' in the manner they were accustomed to, Rinaldi Denarii, and Gaisce couldn't well seize their entire lands just to distribute a one-time gift of land and property to his men if he wanted perpetual wealth. Gaisce needed propaganda to convince his people to accept these new forms of gifts and trading, and so he turned to the legendary Bards of the Bianfels. Satires of the druids and Brehona worked far better than swords in driving their influence out of his society and deafening the people to their objections. The new coins went to traveling minstrels and Gaisce's influence grew...except that he died of old age before his conquest of the old ways could be completed. His son, Slaine, found his notes and journals (popular legend says he was so secretive he never even told his son his plans for the Bianfels) and being of a more martial bent, began to use the foreign coins to hire engineers and masons, smiths and gun-makers. Rather than just roadblocks and warriors, Slaine had a massive, modern fortification constructed to strangle the Via Salutis even more effectively, to declare to all that the western road belonged to the Bianfels. He began to war with weaker minor houses and expand his land through right of conquest, building on the progress his father had made in modernization and conversion. Slaine, too, died of old age before his plans could be completed, leaving cryptic letters and journals for his own son, Riddock...who threw them into the fire, as legend goes, because he already knew what he had to do.

Late in Riddock's reign, after the construction of Harrowgate Fortress and guarded by its towers and cannon, Riddock called his nobles to his side. He declared the Bianfels at an end, that they were no longer Phelan, and that he had drawn up a new charter of written law, rather than oral, that all would sign. The Charte du Bisclavret named Riddock King of the Western Wood, lord of a new nation, and all the signing chieftains and warlords his dukes and barons. Popular legend has the acceptance of the Charter being unanimous; if it was not it's likely Riddock had any objectors killed. Thus began the modern age of the Bisclavret, an end to the hidden law of Druid and Brehona, and the beginning of the Seiscethir, an age where there would be no need for the dreams of savages. Swearing to look forward, rather than behind, the Bisclavret faced the objections of the Rinaldi to their new neighbor...

Next: The Rinaldi and Bisclavret, Recognition of Independence, Religious Suppression, and The Bisclavret Today.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP



FEMALES.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


MonsieurChoc posted:

There's a huge peasant revolt in Imperial Histories during the Great Famine. It ends about as well as peasant revolts usually do, but it does show the Rokugani leadership in about as good a light as any tyrannical Chinese emperor.

Yeah, that's what I was referencing. The reign of Hantei XVI would also be handy if you just want an absolutely evil baddie on the throne foe the PCs to struggle against.

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