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Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.


Simian_Prime posted:

Saminga's a dude who knows how to party!

Some asked earlier what people would do if they knew for sure that Heaven and Hell were real. I think if Hell was as bad as presented, and you knew damnation was going to last forever, you'd try pretty hard not to get there.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: We Get It, Dude, You Vape

Shedim of Drugs loving love PCP. They'll do any drug, but they loving love PCP. They don't tend to hang in a host long enough to build the reputation a dealer needs, so they focus on using and getting as many other people hooked as they can in the process. Any drug, but PCP is the favorite. Of course, they start slow - a few cigarettes, some joints, and then you move to shooting up through your eyeballs. Then it's off to a new host.

Impupites of Drugs like pot. They especially like the ritual involved in selling pot, though - the buyer comes over, smokes some, eats some chips, has a two hour conversation about nothing, and only then do you make the sale, and all the while, the Impudite is sucking up your essence. They like having people come and hang out. Everyone's cool and social, it's great. Impudites of Drugs tend to stink of pot all the time, and their whole world is seen through the gray haze of cannabis and incense. They tend to be the pudgiest of Impudites.

In Hell, the demons of Drugs work drat hard. They know that if they lose any ground in Shal-Mari, dying is the best thing they can hpe for. They've become so obsessed with drugs that they preach it from the streets and pits, trying to turn other demons into addicts as a religion. They have managed to sleaze across all of Hell by bribes and smuggling, and they're happy to market to the damned as well as the demons. The more damned that get 'persuaded' to start using, the more Essence they can take in, and they're trying to sell to souls in every Principality. Ironically, some Princes have responded by trying to regulate or outlaw drugs.



Ethereal work is limited and messy. Ethereals don't do drugs, for the most part, and those that embody the dreams of drugs tend not to take them. There's just not much market in the Marches. A few more enterprising demons try to create drug-based visions out there, but their goods are fundamentally material in nature. They are opportunistic, however, and have been trying to make Chimera into a thing.

Most of Drugs' work is done on Earth. That's where most of the drug-consuming population is, after all. Demons of Drugs work on all levels - dealing, making, smuggling, assassinations, money laundering, recruting, advertising, legal work. The whole shebang is there get drugs to the users. Demons that arent' dealing or distributing run support, which often includes taking out a few cops, paying smugglers or securing supply. Fleurity tends to assign demons to a specific city until they enter Trauma, and those that have the work of dealing tend to set up 'cop spots'. Copping is from 20s slang, and it's their euphemism for dealing and buying. Cop spots are stable places to sell drugs to people, and most Dealer work is in setting them up and maintaining them. However, some of them are assigned to help the War on Drugs. These demons take no dissonance from outwardly discouraging drug use, so long as their actions don't actually restrict supply or userbase. Burning one shipment or killing a few addicts, that's fine, but causing an actual shortage or reducing demand, that's dissonant.



Fleurity's demons see all other demons as either narcs or users. EVen demons of Death are potential users of drugs, unless they're Game double agents, in which case, they're narcs. Dealers don't have and can't conceive of any other relationship with outsiders. The Game are narcs, always. (Which is true.) The Game claims they have good reason to target Drugs - drugs make demons and Hellsworn lethargic and unable to focus. Worse, they might make demons more susceptible to angelic propaganda or 'open thier minds' to dangerous thoughts. If all of Hell becomes addicted, there won't be much War. The truth, of course, is they just like having something to control. Luckily, the Game is corrupt, and Drugs is good at bribery. It doesn't always work, though, and the Game has superiors keeping an eye on them. When they need to meet quota, it's likely the local Dealer will end up having their operation stormed, the users arrested and imprisoned, and maybe even their own execution. Dealing drugs and dealing with the Game is a dangerous trick, and doesn't always work.





Next time: Gordon Gekko

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



I'm kind of disappointed there isn't an explaination as to why antidepressants promote Drugs while asprin or statins don't. I guess I'll chalk it up to '90s anti-medication hysteria.

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.

Holy Crap, when a friend first mentioned this game to me in college, he told me about the Demon of Stale Bong Water, but I didn't believe it until now! :lol:

But my friend must have been best buds with Imbap because he drank bongwater all the drat time!

Simian_Prime fucked around with this message at 01:21 on Feb 2, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Imbap is actually a running gag, he's in the GM's Guide.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: The Man Who Wants Everything



Mammon, Prince of Greed, lives it up. He loves the world - so much that he wants to own all of it. He supports the War in principle, but he's more a war profiteer than a soldier. If he could, he'd own everything, but he can't. He has to serve Lucifer. So, instead, he does is best to make humans greedy so his demons can control them. Thus, the more they accumulate, the more he owns by proxy. He considers hismelf the ultimate conglomerate, with each human he controls a wholly-owned subsidiary, and all their profits belonging to him. Mammon is a Balseraph, but not nearly so brave as, say, Baal. He is a carrion crow, gathering the spoils and dodging the fighting. Baal hates him, though Mammon adores Baal - War's good for business. Mammon charges his demons with finding powerful and ambitious people that just need a break to get started or move up. Some of the Princes, particularly Kronos, think Mammon should focus on making the selfless greedy. Mammon refuses - he thinks it's far better for a small clutch of humans who own everything to serve Hell, as it just makes everyone else that much worse off. Mammon appears in many shapes. He likes to play at the fat merchant, gold coins and roast turkey spilling from his pockets, but he also likes to be the svelte aesthete of immaculate appearance who appreciates the finer things. He also likes, at times, to appear as Santa Claus, whom he claims he created.

It is dissonant for any demon of Greed to show generosity. They can give nothing away at all, even the time of day, without an ulterior motive. They can loan, but only grudgingly and at a price. Barter's fine...if it's not a fair trade. Bribery, of course, is absolutely okay.

Balseraphs of Greed can write business contracts that appear perfectly fair until signed, at which point the true terms, skewed in their favor, appear on the page. The target can notice this beforehand with a Perception roll. However, if they sign and fail a Will roll, they will believe the contract read that way the entire time.
Djinn of Greed can smell the opportunity for a human in their presence to unfairly exploit another person.
Calabim of Greed can find anything specific that can sabotage a crooked deal or expose a fraud with a Perception roll, so long as it's known to exist. For example, tapes of incriminating conversations. Their job is, of course, to destroy it.
Habbalah of Greed add (Ethereal Forces) when trying to impose the emotional effect of Greed, which functions as per the Discord for (CD) days.
Lilim of Greed can, if they persuade a victim to sign a contract or note acknowledge a debt, deny their victim a Will roll to resist their Geas for as long as they hold the signed contract...even if the obligation was hidden in fine print or the Geas-hook was not laid when it was signed. (However, celestial influence can't be used - the Balseraph attunement, for example, will invalidate this.)
Shedim of Greed automatically succeed at controlling their host when the act they want to commit satisfies the host's greed directly.
Impudites of Greed may add (Celestial Forces) to their Will rolls to charm those who believe they control the Impudite or are about to rip the Impudite off when the reverse is true.
Only the Best allows you to tell what item you look at is the best quality and, with a Will roll, get it for 25% less than the initial asking price.
Art of the Deal allows you to spontaneously generate legal contracts. After you discuss a deal with someone and establish terms, you need only to reach into a pocket or briefcase and produce, with a flourish, a legal document encompassing all of those terms, ready to be signed. You may also produce additional copies if a duplicate or triplicate is required.
Cashing Out allows you to transform Essence into money - 50 dollars in local currency per point of Essence spent, always in the form of used bank notes in non-consecutive numbers that appear somewhere on your person out of sight.
Knights of Treasure may, for 2 Essence, perfectly forge a target's signature on any document, so well that all humans, including the target, will believe they really signed for (Total Forces) hours.
Captains of the Motherlode can always get a human to tell them what the human is most greedy for. With a succesful Will roll, they can convince the target that making a deal will make those greedy dreams come true.
Barons of El Dorado always seem to have something valuable when they need it. They can't choose to use the power, but the GM makes money or valuables appear whenever seems appropriate. They may also charge Essence for this power, ranging from 0 for trivial things to up to 6 Essence for something lifesaving. The GM may also choose to have the item be cumbersome, like a ball of gold.
Mammon offers higher Distinctions for vast sums of money, but does not offer any powers to go with the authority.
Mammon will also sell tutelage in the Songs of Correspondence, Fruition, Hunger and Pestilence.

Mammon is allied to Andrealphus and Nybbas, though they don't return the favor. He is associated with Haagenti and Valefor...though, again, they don't return the favor. Andrealphus, Malphs and Nybbas consider themselves associated with Mammon. Mammon is hostile to Baal and Kronos, while they, Asmodeus, Beleth and Saminga are hostile to Mammon.

Basic Rites:
1. Roll around in a big pile of cash.
2. Make a 100% profit on a dishonorable transaction.
3. Get somebody fired to advance another's career.

Expanded Rites:
1. Preach the glories of Greed, Capitalism and the Free Market to an audience of 100 mortals.
2. Make someone break a solemn promise in return for money.
3. Lecture a beggar loudly for at least five minutes on why relying on the generosity of others is wrong.
4. Gaze for four hours on an Old Master in your private collection.
5. Make a million dollars in under 10 minutes.
6. Take candy from a baby.
7. For 3 Essence, convince a mortal to sign their soul away to Mammon.

Mammon has a base Invocation tN of 3, +1 for the proximity of a store selling expensive but useless things to make the buyers appear wealthy, +2 for the house of a miser, +3 for a wealthy thief, +4 for a room full of lawyers, +5 for a millionaire who has given nothing to charity in a year, +6 for a binding contract for a human's soul, signed in fresh blood.

Mammon likes to make grand entrances and ostentatiously show off his wealth. He expects his demons to fawn on him and be aggressively servile as soon as they recognize him. He likes to know he owns them as much as he owns his wealth. More than this, though, they must be enslaved to the trappings of greed, willing to do anything their Prince tells them in exchange for paltry scraps of his wealth. Once Mammon is satisfied that he owns you, he can afford to mellow out and listen to your requests. He especially enjoys when his demons debase themselves for money or favor.

Greed is one of the most pernicious sins. For money, people have done all kinds of terrible things. Greed says that only material wealth matters. Wealth replaces morality. Anything that increases wealth is good, anything that loses it is evil. That's it. That's the whole of it. As long as there is more to own, the Greedy cannot rest. They must own more, acquire more, control more. Any satisfaction is temporary at best. The world itself will not be enough. Greed is an addiction that grows as it is fed. The Greedy become incapable of seeing anyone or anything without wondering how to profit off them. They have no friends, only dupes, slaves and rivals.

Mammon is an ancient demon, one of the originals. Once, he was a Seraph of Creation, charged with shaping the world, but of all those who were in Heaven, he was always the most fascinated by riches. When Lucifer gathered his rebels, he whispered to Mammon that God intended for humans to inherit the Earth and all that was on it, with the prior claims of the angels to be overlooked. Of course, those that followed Lucifer would not be unrewarded...Mammon was an especially easy sell. After the Fall, Lucifer gave Principalities to the Fallen who had best served him. Mammon was not among them - he had not distinguished himself, and to this day, Baal suspects he fled to Earth to hoard gold while the other rebels fought and died. It became clear that all lesser demons would have to swear allegiance to a Prince. Mammon took service with Asmodeus, for the chance to collect wealth in the name of Hell. He was named the Chief Steward of the Game and given a Dukedom.

Mammon's instincts were used well, gathering Essence and reliquaries as the Game's influence grew. If Marc invented the salary, Mammon claims taxation, usury and blackmail. He stood at the right hand of Asmodeus when Lucifer gathered Princes to discuss the division of souls, and he was blamed by many for the advantageous settlement which the Game received there. The great census, however, was what broke the camel's back. It was a grand scheme, to count al ldemons on Earth for the Game's purposes, requiring access to Hearts and a nominal fee of one gold coin from each demon, payable to the census-takers. These would then be totaled by Mammon's underlings as the first accurate census of Hell. Asmodeus agreed to the command, and armies marched in Hell as riots broke out in Shal-Mari. On Earth, Mammon and his debt collectors began the census, demanding far more than one coin from their victims. At a special council of Princes, Lucifer himself intervened. He thanked all the participants for their cooperation and said the census was at an end, as it had served its purpose. He named Mammon the Prince of Greed that day, in 700 BC.



Being mentioned in the Bible was a huge ego boost for Mammon, but also drew him to Heaven's attention. None of the other Princes felt like helping. Over the centuries of the Christian Era, Mammon's arrogance drove a wedge between him and the other Princes. His Word prospered, he was even worshipped by some mortals, and he convinced himself he could handle the worst of Heaven. His disregard for politics even led him to mock Kronos, a rising star in Hell's hierarchy of Princes. He even had some successes - the Fourth Crusade, in which the rulers of Venice used Christian soldiers to sack Byzantium for their own gain, was a hard blow.

Mammon's decline wasn't just one event - it was long and slow. He had never really cared as much for celestial power and was resented by many demons. Many of his own demons were embezzling - it'd be a surprise if that was otherwise. Plus, he was an easy target for Heaven. But the Age of Capital was dawning, and he did well by the 19th century. Global trade put him in direct conflict and competition with Marc, focusing them on each other to the exclusion of most other things. While Mammon claims he came close to bankrupting Trade in those days, his enemies were gathering, maddened by his successes. Rumors say that a Prince made a deal with Marc, but others say it was sheer luck. Whatever the case, when the stock market crashed in 1929, the Princes of Hell played their hands, and there was a run on Mammon's Bank. All investors were ordered to withdraw their Essence, and they mobbed the Shal-Mari vaults. Desperate for a loan to support his bank, Mammon took huge debts from the Shal-Mari princes, who preferred him weaker but wanted to keep some of their power base away from looters and the Game. Order was restored, but the damage was done. Mammon retired briefly to lick his wounds and ropen the Bank of Hell. Satisfied that he'd be subservient, the other Princes withdrew - his corporeal power and competence were too useful to utterly destroy.





Lesser demons might have given up at that point, but not Mammon. On Earth, he's doign quite well with the rise of organized crime and the international economy. In Hell, however, Haagenti is making inroads into his vulnerable territory, and Kobal is encouraging him to believe that in a progessive society like Shal-Mari, it's only right to eat the rich. Mammon is now a minor Prince at best. His Earthly empire may be recovering from its Depression stbacks, but in Hell, his influence is only waning, lost by his own greed and short-sightedness.

The legendary 30 pieces of silver for which Judas gave up Jesus are a potent symbol of Greed. Whether Mammon had any involvement in that betrayal is unknown, but he has been actively seeking the silver pieces ever since. They are widely assumed to be potent relics, but as yet, Mammon has only 24 of them. He would pay very well for information leading to the recovery of any of the rest.

Next time: Legends of Greed

mcclay
Jul 8, 2013

Oh dear oh gosh oh darn


Soiled Meat

Not sure how I feel about Jews being strongly tied to Mammon. That seems kind of really racist.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Hey, it's Belphegor!

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

mcclay posted:

Not sure how I feel about Jews being strongly tied to Mammon. That seems kind of really racist.

I'm pretty sure that's the point - they're not actually tied to him, he's a huge racist who loves the stereotype so much that he goes out of his way to collect any Jewish souls who end up in Hell.

E: Also, it's an interesting look at how the nature of a Balseraph plays out - he helped create the stereotype, and then bought into it utterly and completely.

PantsOptional fucked around with this message at 02:53 on Feb 2, 2016

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Simian_Prime posted:

Holy Crap, when a friend first mentioned this game to me in college, he told me about the Demon of Stale Bong Water, but I didn't believe it until now! :lol:

But my friend must have been best buds with Imbap because he drank bongwater all the drat time!

I love that Imbap is the Demon who didn't apply himself and is totally cool with it.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.





This week System Mastery is covering Dinosaur Planet, a book that took us by surprise. With a name that cool, we figured we'd just be generally researching how yet another small print house mucked up the OGL, but what we got instead was some good old down-home whitewashing of the big fence of the Confederate States of America. If you ever wanted to read a book where the Union are rapacious space-conquerors and President Robert E. Lee magnanimously freed the slaves in 1881 because it was the right thing to do, here it is.

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


Ratoslov posted:

Also: Prozac? Seriously?

This really pisses me off, since the stigma against anti-depressents has hurt tons of people. Otherwise I'm torn, because half of Fleurity is just a 'the Drug War is literally Hellish and Demonic' screed, which is a screed I agree with, but it I didn't agree with it I'd think it was shoehorned in. It does leave room for Eli and Novalis to spread happy herbs, though. Wouldn't some of David's gangs run meth?

quote:

Captains of Chemistry can alter the active component of any drug they touch, anywhere from neutralizing it to doubling its strength.
Barons of Good Trips can ensure that the first ever use of a drug goes perfectly, with no side effects, hangover or ill effects. Any other use of that drug will never make the user feel as good.

Mods, can we rename TCC to these?

Mors Rattus posted:

Imbap is actually a running gag, he's in the GM's Guide.

I'll bet money he's based on a 'hilarious' running gag about a friend of the developers. He's begging for an 11th hour heroic moment where he uses bong water to extinguish an Angel or Demon of Fire.

And while Drugs' write-up mentions John Belushi, I see him as Haaganti.

Anything stopping the legalization of pot from making there be Angels of Weed, or Demons that defect? Or are Weed Demons just another potential Comic Relief Demon, like Gluttony and Media? If you split it off you get to keep Drugs as a real scary Cartel/Walter White type.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 08:00 on Feb 2, 2016

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I imagine you'd have an Angel of Hemp and a Demon of Marijuana.

Also, yeah, gently caress the anti-depressant stigma thing.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Count Chocula posted:



Anything stopping the legalization of pot from making there be Angels of Weed, or Demons that defect? Or are Weed Demons just another potential Comic Relief Demon, like Gluttony and Media? If you split it off you get to keep Drugs as a real scary Cartel/Walter White type.

Legalization alone wouldn't trigger it since there's a Demon of Alcohol but no mention of a corresponding Angel of Spirits, but you can do whatever you want in your game.

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


Cthulhu Dreams posted:

Some asked earlier what people would do if they knew for sure that Heaven and Hell were real. I think if Hell was as bad as presented, and you knew damnation was going to last forever, you'd try pretty hard not to get there.

But as written the only way to avoid Hell is to mostly be some straight-edge Henry Rollins warrior type - I know we have Novalis and Eli but they seem like afterthoughts. So who is really going to end up in Heaven and enjoy the delights of the awesome library and the...other places? How many people don't overeat, don't lust, don't do drugs, etc? The only logical thing is either a. Overthrow Heaven, like in a bunch of the media the game is based on or b. Reform Hell so the Demons work with humans to get the Essense.

I feel like my reading is at least supported by the text - especially if it's based on a French parody of Catholicism. It seems to take that whole Catholic guilt angle to its logical extreme, and if you grew up in that environment the only sensible thing feels like rebellion. Plus Hell is sympathetic in like 90% of the things it's ripping off. The Demoms also seem like they come from bawdy medieval parodies, but I don't know enough about that.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Count Chocula posted:

But as written the only way to avoid Hell is to mostly be some straight-edge Henry Rollins warrior type - I know we have Novalis and Eli but they seem like afterthoughts. So who is really going to end up in Heaven and enjoy the delights of the awesome library and the...other places? How many people don't overeat, don't lust, don't do drugs, etc? The only logical thing is either a. Overthrow Heaven, like in a bunch of the media the game is based on or b. Reform Hell so the Demons work with humans to get the Essense.

I feel like my reading is at least supported by the text - especially if it's based on a French parody of Catholicism. It seems to take that whole Catholic guilt angle to its logical extreme, and if you grew up in that environment the only sensible thing feels like rebellion. Plus Hell is sympathetic in like 90% of the things it's ripping off. The Demoms also seem like they come from bawdy medieval parodies, but I don't know enough about that.

They tell you right in the core book how fictional humans reach the fictional afterlife in this fictional setting. If you reach your Fate (the worst thing that you could do or be) you go to hell. Touch your Destiny (the best you could do or be) and go to heaven. Do both or neither in the same life and get recycled for another try. The examples they gave aren't Mother Theresas or Hannibal Lecters, either, so you don't have to be extreme on an absolute scale of morality, just do the best or worst you personally can.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011



theironjef posted:



This week System Mastery is covering Dinosaur Planet, a book that took us by surprise. With a name that cool, we figured we'd just be generally researching how yet another small print house mucked up the OGL, but what we got instead was some good old down-home whitewashing of the big fence of the Confederate States of America. If you ever wanted to read a book where the Union are rapacious space-conquerors and President Robert E. Lee magnanimously freed the slaves in 1881 because it was the right thing to do, here it is.

Oh man this game was such a bummer. I got it expecting Deadlands With Dinosaurs where it's like 'ok the confederates still exist but we're in kinda a cold war where both sides are about even but they have to focus on a bigger issue' but nope, just 'hey did you know the CSA did nothing wrong?'

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: Money Makes The World Go Round

Simon Magus, known as the Father of Heresy, was one of the first to be openly repudiated by the early Church. He is briefly mentioned in the Book of Acts as a socrerer interested in buying the secrets of divine grace after Saint Peter's laying on hands. Legends tells of how he repented, traveled to Rome and founded a Gnostic sect that taught that the Old Testament was revealed to humanity by malicious angels, and the word simony came to mean any offering of wealth for spiritual favors, which was denounced as an abomination. Celestial rumor holds that Simong Magus was a Renegade of Greed seeking truly to get closer to Heaven by the only means he understood. Of course, once both Heaven and Hell knew who he was, his death and the destruction of his reputation were practical a guarantee.

The Djinn Mulciber, first governor of the Bank of Hell, is a legend among Greed demons. He instituted the organization that would become the Cube, and also personally designed the vaults and tunnels under Shal-Mari that the Bank uses to store valuables, full of traps and spyholes. Shortly after the excavation and construction completed, however, Mulciber went missing and was declared Renegade. He has never been seen since. Rumor has it that Mammon was so pleased with the security that he decided to chain Mucliber up in a remote vault, along with his Heart, that no other might ever learn the secrets of the Bank.



Mammon is a petty tyrant who focuses singlemindedly on the material. He believes Lucifer gave him Earth to rule in his name, and that it's only a matter of time before he absolutely controls it. He often acts as if he owns everything he can see, and when he is alone with his possessions - which includes his demonic servants - he can afford to relax and wax philosophical about Greed's benefits. Demons who get bored by this will be heavily punished. Mammon's love of his hoard is infamous, and he enjoys displaying his wealth. However, nothing is too sacred for him to break in search of a profit, and he expects his demons to be the same. He likes to gamble when the odds are in his favor and he especially likes to watch his demons swindle others. He vacillates wildly on his interpretation of Greed - one day he might encourage slavery out of sheer malice, the next he might wholeheartedly defend greed as the lubricant of the world economy. Mortals have dreamed up thousands of excuses to justify greed, and Mammon has mastered them all.

Mammon likes to believe that it was his own choice to withdraw from Hellish politics. The truth is that the 1929 crash hit him very, very hard. Since then, he's become more and more paranoid that everyone is after his riches. He explodes into a violent temper at the slightest sign of theft or embezzlement by his demons, many of whom were purged in his witch hunts. Even before this, however, he's never been a great politician. He follows mortal trends, he doesn't inspire them. He has always favored the idea of a world plutocracy, without any regulation or restriction, despite his flirtations with feudalism in the past.

Mammon wants to own the world, right now. Failing that, he'll buy it up slowly. He makes the casual assumption that he owns anything owned by his slaves, so the easiest way to extend his holdings is to enslave mortals who have gathered the most. Ownership of everything and everyone is his goal. Wealth must belong to Mammon and Mammon alone. He has no conception of free will - someone owned is a slave to greed and will always be so. He has no time for the poor or humble - they're worthless. If they had any worth, they wouldn't be poor. He would, if he could, keep all of his wealth in solid and physical form, but in the modern era, so much ends up in Swiss bank accounts. Even so, he likes to keep vaults of treasures that he can touch and caress.

Mammon has never really stopped resenting God. He feels it was unfair to refuse to give celestial inheritance of the Earth, and believes he did the only 'honest' thing by 'standing up for his beliefs' and following Lucifer. He is a petulant demon, and his quest to own everything is in part an attempt to turn greed into rebellion - a statement to God that everything he made now belongs to Mammon. And while Mammon may betray his allies for gold or ignore Hell's needs for his own greed, Mammon will roll over like a dog for Lucifer's desires. It's not even just pragmatism - Mammon genuinely loves Lucifer, in the only way he can. He worships the First of the Fallen, who led him to his desires. Because he loves Lucifer, he secretly desires to own and enslave him. He'd never dare to try it, but even he can dream.

Mammon loudly supports the War in public. He's a loud and talented demagogue, and widely seen as the hawk of Shal-Mari, but the truth is that he strives to be as far from the front lines as possible. Unfortunately, Heaven frequently targets his operations, which is another reason he's so publically supportive of Hell's war faction. He'd love to see Lucifer's hordes take over Earth, but he has no real loyalty to anything but his money. If there was profit in peace, he'd change his words in a moment. He focuses on pursuing riches far above infernal politics, a tactic that has blown up in his face many times but which he shows no signs of changing. He's irritated the other Princes too much to have any real allies, and especially now, they're waiting to pounce if he shows any weakness. Heaven tends to consider him a favored target, and most Archangels do not realize how badly his Hellish power base has been eroded.

Superior Opinions posted:

Alaemon: Where would Mammon be without Secrets? He's always looking for inside information...and selling it as well. We can do business together.
Alaemon knows how to create a demand where there was none before - by keeping information scarce, and making it valuable. And he hungers for more, always more, and hoards what he has.
Asmodeus: He was too much of a wild card, willing to sell us all out. Those who think to follow in his footsteps need only look at his example to see how even Princes can be called to task.
I always knew I was made for better things than him. You can't cripple the free market. Unbridled greed works so much more efficiently without any regulations.
Baal: (snort) He's nothing but a coward and a leech, grown fat from the work of others. Come Judgment Day, Mammon will be the first with his back against the wall.
Baal is a great role-model to us all, and war is so good for profiteering.
Beleth: The terror in his eyes when he thought he had lost everything, that was sweet to me. Mammon knows now that every Prince in Hell has his measure.
Nothing's scarier than losing everything, and nothing makes people greedier than fear of losing what they've got.
Belial: What's the point of storing corporeal things? Everything could go up in flames and what has he got then?
He only lives to destroy. Useful for insurance scams, but you could replace him with one of Vapula's heavy weapons and no one would notice the difference.
Fleurity: A petty relic of a bygone era, but he's too useful to ignore.
Many dealers are my servants, if he only knew. Fleurity has the sense to keep the supply restricted and the profit margin high.
Haagenti: What's the point in keeping money locked away when it could be buying food? Mmm...eat the rich...
A worthy and noble Prince, dedicated to providing a constant stream of consumers who will pay high prices. And he should stick to what he's good at.
Kobal: It's a scream. Hey, Mammon, tell me again about you are really the lord of all you survey.
The Fall broke his mind, and he's become so inconsistent that no one can rely on him for anything. Everyone loves a joker, but they don't lend him money.
Kronos: Greed may have dragged more mortals to the pit than any other Word, but that is despite the best efforts of its incompetent Prince.
Who does he think he is, meddling in my affairs and picking and choosing which mortals I should foster? I'm sure he's the guiding force behind those who plot against me.
Lilith: What's he done this time? I know him well, and I know his Needs. He never misses a trick in trying to bargain prices up though; I can do business with him, but I don't like it when people try to cheat me.
Ah, the beautiful Princess. I understand her better than she knows.
Malphas: Greed lurks in every mortal heart, nestled close to its sister, Envy. It is a wonderful tool for persuading people to doubt their leaders, and their friends, and their family, and...
A wise and clever Prince, who is always a source of good advice.
Nybbas: One of the few old school who really has his head screwed on. Check out the ratings on these game shows...
He's ambitious, and money is the life-blood of his operations. A useful pawn, and there's good profit in the Media.
Saminga: Death, only death is the way to ultimate power. How pointless he is, playing with bits of metal and rock. Let him wane and die and rot away; one less to threaten me.
There can be profit in death. Kill the men, then cheat the widows and orphans out of their inheritances. But the mass murders over which Saminga gloats are just wasteful.
Valefor: You have to love him, he's turned so many people into thieves; and as for the vaults...it's a challenge, isn't it?
He's god at acquisition, far too good. The only other Prince who really knows what it's all about. We understand each other.
Vapula: Simple-minded but easily paid off. He's useful; and the rest is idiocy and ancient history.
New technology has been a growing market, and the demand isn't dropping any time soon. He supplies the goods, and I advise on marketing, with an appropriate cut, of course.
Blandine: He is a nasty, petty-minded plague upon the Earth. What is this lust for material thingS? Is humanity truly so easily swayed from higher purposes?
Dreams are so inspiring to humanity, giving them so many wonderful imagines of all the things they could do if they only owned more.
David: Who dares claim ownership of the Earth, with her metals and jewels, to lock them away?
Too old-fashioned to live; he hates what he doesn't understand. I only want to keep his rocks and gems safe.
Dominic: Mammon has turned too many souls away from the glories of Heaven - which are priceless, and cannot be bought with gold.
You can't talk to these people, they are so determined not to understand...but does he really think his angels cannot be bribed? I know better.
Eli: His lust for gold has blinded him to the wonders of the world around him. He's the ultimate sell-out.
He's a fool. If you just give things away, they'll be worthless.
Gabriel: How much cruelty has been wrought in the name of Greed? Mammon wants to replace God in the eyes of man, and he is succeeding, and no one will see...
How much destruction has her crazy idiocy wrought? Does anyone stop her? No, they all believe she speaks for God. As if.
Janus: He is anathema. He teaches that material possessions are the only important things in life. It's wrong. It's evil. Let's see him laugh when he is left with nothing.
Janus is just full of hot air - but every time he takes something of mine, it drags him down with it.
Jean: His success in influencing mortal attitudes is something from which we should aim to learn, in order to apply it to the goals of Heaven. However, I doubt that Mammon is as major a priority as many of my colleagues seem to think.
The arms race he has got into with Vapula is a war like any other. Get out there, grab the toys, and sell them to the highest bidder!
Jordi: How petty is humanity with its grasping, unnecessary exploitation of God's world? Greed may lurk within every human, but it does not lurk within animals. Mammon encourages everything most despicable about mankind, and still they adore him.
I love animals. Have you seen my ivory and tortoise-shell chess set?
Laurence: "What profit it a man to gain the world, if he lose his soul?" If ever we are tempted to love our own possessions too much, let us keep these words in our hearts. Greed is a fatal sickness of the soul.
Just another violent, single-minded fanatic with the world's most pointless job. He's too young to know better, and too brainwashed to care.
Marc: Over the years, his Word has been one of the single most potent weapons in Hell's arsenal on Earth. Worse than that, Mammon himself is a tasteless idiot and a boor. He is spiritually bankrupt, and brining him to book has cost us dearly. I look forward to permanently settling some accounts...soon.
Ah, my divine counterpart. We understand each other. We are business rivals, in a sense. I've almost bankrupted him several times, but his trade does create wealth, and for that I will own him.
Michael: His demons are cowards and turncoats, and they don't stay bought - pay them off for information, and then shoot them in the head.
As long as his forces are pointed away from me, there's profit in it; selling arms and information to very willing buyers.
Novalis: Why can't these people be satisfied to have enough for their own needs? I think his minions are terrified and misunderstood - if we could only explain that God loves them too and would provide for them, they would give up their greed!
Too stupid to be true. She gives away too much; she must have an angle.
Yves: The tragedy of greed is that it blinds one to everything except money - but remember that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
If only he'd use his abilities for something useful, like handing out stock tips...
Mortals: Ahh, my pawns. I like to think of life as a testing ground, to tease out the valuable ones from the dross. They are all my creatures - just some of them take longer to realize it.
Hellsworn and Sorcerers: The privileged few - they are prmitted to worship openly. My temporary workers on Earth, and my valuables in Hell.
Soldiers of God: It's pathetic that these mortals keep falling for the great lies, "Give us your money, you won't be needing it." I can teach them better. Let's see how generous and how humble they can afford to be when their children are starving.
Ethereals: They're just phantasms, so pay them off with promises and other intangibles. Stage takeover bids for their cults, and remember - if it moves, it can be duped.







Variations! Mammon the Most Dangerous is far from a failure - he actually is as intelligent as he claims. It's all been a plot to get more freedom to pursue his real plans to acquire the entire universe. He is one of the most scheming intellectuals of Hell, and his brash and smug exterior is just a wildly successful mask. Mammon secretly controls most of Hell's Earthly operations, without anyone realizing, and only the Host sees him for the true threat that he is. Mammon the Banker is a slightly more comedic take than canon - all pinstripes and silk, like a junk bond trader. He speaks in financial terms at all times, and taxes his demons heavily for all sorts of silly reasons. He uses every excuse to avoid giving up any of his hoard for any reason, and Princes that need corporeal funding m,ay have to send explorers into Shal-Mari to hunt him down, as he regularly 'fails to recceive messages' if he suspects it'll cost him - though he's always on time and in person for debt collection.

Mammon runs Shal-Mari's financial district. It holds brokers, insurance dealers, debt collectors and more, and is home to free enterprise run wild even for Shal-Mari. It is infamous for casinos, where bets can be taken on anything, and the ones Greed runs directly have the highest prizes and worst odds in all of Hell. Sideshows and scams cater to any taste, but that's only the tip of it all. While Mammon makesh is headquarters in the Bank of Hell, most of his domain is underground, in the vast tunnels and vaults that hide the Hearts of his demons and his Tether endpoints.

The headquarters of the Bank of Hell, also known as Mulciber's or the Cube, is a famous landmark. It's an immense granite cube, carved with Mammon's sigil on every wall, interior or exterior. Most of its offices, however, are under the streets. The bank is an elitist organization, a mystery to most demons, who are never allowed inside. It thrives on tradition and bureaucracy, and only members of the bank can open accounts, rent safety deposit boxes or take out loans. To become a member, you must be recommended by two existing members and have a corporeal depost of current market value of six ounces of gold. It's basically a nepotistic club by design, and its main job is storing Essence, reliquaries and damned souls for its clients. A small annual fee is charged for accounts, but anything within is safe from theft. The bank also has a corporeal department for deposits and loans in Earthly currency, based out of Zurich. Though any Earthly bank has better interest rates and friendlier staff than Mulciber's, the Bank of Hell asks no questions about Roles, large deposits or new vessels.



Next time: Blackbirds for sale

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Tatum Girlparts posted:

Oh man this game was such a bummer. I got it expecting Deadlands With Dinosaurs where it's like 'ok the confederates still exist but we're in kinda a cold war where both sides are about even but they have to focus on a bigger issue' but nope, just 'hey did you know the CSA did nothing wrong?'

Yeah, and it doesn't even have internal consistency. The Confederates are ... rugged aristocratic individualists? Basically this guy was like "Well who lived in the South? It was like 100% plantation owners that secretly hated slavery and wanted to roam the wilderness, right?"

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:



This week System Mastery is covering Dinosaur Planet, a book that took us by surprise. With a name that cool, we figured we'd just be generally researching how yet another small print house mucked up the OGL, but what we got instead was some good old down-home whitewashing of the big fence of the Confederate States of America. If you ever wanted to read a book where the Union are rapacious space-conquerors and President Robert E. Lee magnanimously freed the slaves in 1881 because it was the right thing to do, here it is.

It's frankly amazing that they shoehorned all that historical revisionism into a game whose title is as straightforward as "Dinosaur Planet". It's John Wick-esque, even.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




STORIES, PART 1

NBA is a vampire spy thriller. We've covered spies, and we've covered vampires, so now it's time to cover the thriller part!

The Thriller in Play
A thriller is, broadly and not always accurately, a mystery in which the reader always knows the answer. Puzzles and hidden villains can help, sure, but they're not necessary to make it work. The backbone of a thriller is a series of increasingly exciting intellectual or explosive challenges.

In Night's Black Agents, you have two main ways of framing operations. Mystery:
  • Which of the delegates to the trade conference is a vampire?
  • Who is behind the assassination?
  • How are the stolen paintings being moved out of Italy?
  • What does the Tverskaya Bratva want in Lyon's hospitals?

And Thriller:
  • Kill the vampire at the trade conference.
  • An assassin is stalking your allies.
  • If you steal these paintings first, the vampires can't.
  • Bust up the Tverskaya Bratva apparat in Lyon.

However you want to do it, the key insight for telling thriller stories is this:

quote:

In the thriller, the reward for danger is information; having information points you into danger. When the hero rests, add more danger.
In The Borurne Identity, Bourne gets a box from the Swiss Bank (information), alerting the Swiss cops (danger), then heads to the embassy (rest) but must then escape (danger). Marie takes him to his old apartment (information), Castel finds out about it (danger), but he gets away with leads to the hotel (information).

Rhythm and Improvisation
The above cycle is the heartbeat of NBA. Unlike most GUMSHOE games, action doesn't proceed from clue scene to clue scene - enemy action can throw you off the rails into action sequences, and even when it doesn't, the flow is more often several independent smaller investigations, targeted against different enemy forces, followed by action taken to deal with those forces using the information you just got.

Running NBA is a matter of careful balancing of pacing. If players get access to information you were counting on them getting later, they can leapfrog over entire scenes. If they do this, let them - if you haven't planned far ahead enough to keep things moving, interrupt them with a fight scene or other diversion. Have several scenes in mind, don't get hung up on the order they come in.

Awakening the Players
Sometimes a party will get paralyzed, either when there's too many available choices, or when there aren't any risk-free choices. Let the discussion continue as long as they're having fun, but if the group seems frustrated, guide them gently towards wrapping things up. Don't push towards one specific choice, but help them eliminate some. Use their high ability pools, Drives, and MOS to guide them towards something they're good at. Remind them that the only way forwards in spy work is gathering intel. Offer them a Surveillance or Interpersonal scene, and drop some intel in their lap that points them in a direction they're well equipped to follow up on.

Reward intelligent play extravagantly. Don't punish players for jumping ahead, don't punish them for failing to plan out every facet of an operation in painstaking detail. Encourage them to leave open space in their plans for Preparedness stunts. Do everything you can to keep things moving fast. Once the agents have a hypothesis, get them out there to test it. All of this is most important early in the game, when the players haven't yet internalized the game's logic.

Operations on the Fly
It's entirely possible to run NBA games with no operational planning at all. Keep in mind who the vampires are, what they're up to, and why. Whenever the agents go sniffing around somewhere, let them stumble upon part of the backstory. Instead of anticipating player action, just wait for them to act, and build your scenes about whatever they do.

The next few pages
There's a whole page in here that boils down to "be flexible," it's good advice but you've heard it all before. Keep notes, plan a few sessions ahead, don't fall in love with your plans and be ready to throw them out if necessary, if the players want to do cool poo poo, let them. Know when to lead the players and when to follow them.

The Operation
An Operation is the main dividing unit of agent activity - there's an objective, the party figures out how to do it, the party does it, the situation changes. There are two main parts to it - the Spine, a barebones list of the minimum elements that the operation needs to be a finished story, and the Skeleton, the surrounding pile of scenes and challenges that turn the Spine into a full adventure. Spine is story, Skeleton is gameplay.

Core Clues
Most (not all - this is a thriller, so there's diversions) scenes have at least one crucial piece of info that points towards some truth of the opposition plot, a Core Clue. Don't set these up so they can only be acquired in one specific order if you can avoid it, because your players are always going to circumvent it. The Spine outlines one way to get through the operation, but it shouldn't be the only way.

Core Clues should always be available not only from using the planned investigative ability, but also to players who come up with other clever ways of getting them. If the players skip a scene, try to find ways to insert any important Core Clues from that scene into later scenes. Try drawing out the operation as scenes connected by arrows - the arrows are clues, and a good adventure has multiple arrows from and to each scene.

Leveraged Clues
Sidebar! This is a special kind of two-part clue, where information is used to make an interrogation subject crack. First, the agents need to gather a clue. Second, the agents get someone connected to it, and use an Interpersonal ability to extract info from them. Since they have the clue, they can mention it to the subject, and unlock new information. Basically how most investigations work in the Ace Attorney games.

Floating Core Clues
These things are a tool to control pacing of the adventure. Basically, you have two (or more) clusters of scenes, one for early game and another for mid/late game. Then, you come up with one clue that will lead the agents to the second cluster of scenes, but you don't tie it to any specific scene. Whenever you feel like the party is ready to move on to the next stage of the adventure, you insert the floating clue into the next scene, and then they can move on regardless of how many scenes are left.

Floating clues are a way to act as an editor, more or less. If the team is breezing through scenes and having fun, leave it until the end of the cluster. If the team is getting bogged down and the players are getting frustrated, throw it in early and keep the game moving.



The Thriller Skeleton
This section outlines a general structure for most thriller stories. By no means hard and fast rules, but it's a handy way to help you plan out a new game. It goes: Hook, Curtain, Wakeup, Stall, First Reveal, Blowback, Twist, Relief, Final Reveal, Setup, Confrontation.

The Hook
A problem occurs that kicks off the adventure. Start of the story. Use a Backdrop, a fight scene is encouraged.
  • The agents follow up a clue from a previous operation and insert themselves into an ongoing situation.
  • The agents proceed to investigate the next item on their adversary map.
  • The agents receive or develop a piece of intel that indicates vampire activity.
  • The vampires threaten an asset of the agents, or make some other move that draws their attention.

The Curtain
The agents investigate the enemy, but encounter a veil of innocence. The opposition begins to push back. Put an infiltration or chase here.
  • The agents pick a side and begin pushing.
  • The agents cast a broader net looking for connections.
  • Their suspect asks them for help against the vampires.
  • The agents infiltrate the suspect organization.
  • The authorities notice weird goings-on and start interfering.

The Wakeup
The first moment of supernatural horror - either a vampire attack, or the aftermath of one. If you haven't done a fight scene yet, here's the spot for it.
  • The situation escalates bloodily.
  • The agents discover something horrible.
  • The agents’ source turns up dead, turned, or otherwise informatively creepy.
  • The infiltrated agent discovers something horrible and must be exfiltrated while keeping her cover intact.
  • The vampires attack.

The Stall
Optional scene - a line of inquiry goes cold. Only throw this in if the agents have multiple open lines of investigation.
  • Political pressure clamps down on the conflict.
  • The subject of the agents' investigation disappears or turns up dead.
  • The agents' informant disappears or turns up dead.
  • The infiltrated agent harvests nothing but "chicken feed" and "chaff."
  • The vampires roll up their operation and pull out of the city.

The First Reveal
The agents learn the nature of the true opposition. Follows from Wakeup, good spot for investigative scenes or surveillance.
  • The escalated situation makes someone nervous, who makes a mistake or seeks out the agents to switch sides.
  • The horrible sight links to another event, perhaps in another city; the agents investigate it.
  • The agents dig into their source's background or recent movements.
  • The infiltrated agent develops her sources.
  • Analyzing the vampire attack indicates something about the vampires.

The Blowback
Floating element, can happen multiple times. The bad guys hit back, reacting to the investigation with direct action against the agents.
  • The other side threatens or kidnaps someone the agents care about.
  • The investigation leads to an attack or assassination attempt.
  • The other side informs on the agents to the authorities.
  • Something from the Vampyramid.
  • Thriller chase; the agents are running from the vampires or the authorities.

The Twist
Further investigation turns an assumption on its head. Turn the chessboard around, lose some red herrings, the game starts moving towards the climax.
  • The agents switch sides, or start pressuring their erstwhile allies into riskier moves; setting up a possible Yojimbo option.
  • The scope expands: the vampire conspiracy goes deeper in time, or wider in space, than the agents understood.
  • Someone they now suspect has previously made contact with the agents’ allies.
  • The agents start developing a strike on the vampires based on this new revelation.
  • The vampire asset within the authorities reveals his existence.

The Relief
Something good happens for once. The agents uncover the key to victory, or get help from the outside.
  • The agents break into their increasingly distracted and overstretched enemy's headquarters and dig up intel on their channel to the vampires.
  • Another enemy of the vampires offers to help the agents with intel or muscle.
  • A Network contact fills the agents in on a key piece of their old agency's history; a flipped asset begins cooperating.
  • The vampires overplay their hand, possibly killing someone the agents had wrongly fixed on.
  • The agents can hack into the authorities' database now that they know who they’re looking for dirt on.

The Final Reveal
The agents finally know everything that's going on. It's worse than they thought, and it's probably about to get even worse.
  • Both sides of the situation had vampiric influence.
  • The vampires prove to have some horrible defense, or an extra monster or ability previously unsuspected; the agents escape from this fight with their lives, barely.
  • The evidence for the Final Reveal comes from three or four separate assets, interrogated, sweated, bribed, or coerced during the scenario.
  • If nothing from the Vampyramid has happened yet, something from the Vampyramid happens.
  • The infiltrated agent shows signs of vampire contamination (Mirror).
  • The authorities are hot on the agents' trail; the agents need to keep moving while planning their counterstrike.

The Setup
Optional - the agents do what they have to do to get ready for the final battle. If this happens, it's probably the players' idea, not yours.
  • The agents have to socially engineer a final bloody showdown.
  • The agents scramble to accumulate enough mistletoe, Dragon's Breath rounds, or other arcane gear to blow through the new defense.
  • The agents case, drill, and otherwise plan an assault on the vampires' base.
  • The infiltrated agent sets in motion her plan to disrupt the opposition.
  • The agents flip one of the vampires key assets in the police force.

The Confrontation
All in, guns blazing, against the forces of evil. The end of it should point to at least two possible next operations.
  • Final bloody showdown turns into vampiric ambush.
  • The vampires pull out their horrible defense before it can be trapped and destroyed; the agents are left in possession of the field.
  • Major assault on the vampire base, possibly attracting more official attention in the form of cop cars and Heat.
  • The agents ambush a vampire asset, planning a snatch-and-grab followed by holy-waterboarding.
  • The vampires try to extract their agent from the police headquarters; the agents stop the attempt.

Next: Active and Reacive Operations, another pyramid.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


theironjef posted:



This week System Mastery is covering Dinosaur Planet, a book that took us by surprise. With a name that cool, we figured we'd just be generally researching how yet another small print house mucked up the OGL, but what we got instead was some good old down-home whitewashing of the big fence of the Confederate States of America. If you ever wanted to read a book where the Union are rapacious space-conquerors and President Robert E. Lee magnanimously freed the slaves in 1881 because it was the right thing to do, here it is.

Man, I was already coming up with stuff for the Godwin version of this strange setting (which will be about Mammoths instead of dinosaurs):

"And then in 1948, Chancellor Rommel ended the Holocaust."

Though i think a more historically accurate version of this alternate history (if that even makes sense) would pit East and West Germany against each other on a faraway planet, with the book lavishly fellating East Germany's joke of a planned economy.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: The Million Dollar Man

The Bullring is an infamous auction house in Shal-Mari, specializing in the sale of slaves. While most damned souls in theory belong to a Prince, it's possible to trade in those that have escaped their assigned Principality, and the auctioneers are not above hiring demons to go steal souls to sell. Some Princes also choose to auction off irritating demons as punishment. Bidding takes place in whatever currency the seller prefers - usually Essence or physical gold. Apparently demons aren't big on FIAT CURRENCY. More common than permanent sales are temporary indentures, in which the buyer owns the slave for a limited term. Demons who need a lot of money fast may have no option but to sell their servants or even themselves into temporary slavery.

The demons of Greed have always been mocked behind their backs. They are tight-fisted and greedy, after all, and now that Mammon is on a downswing, it's almost safe for even a demonling to mock them openly. So they do. Many Mammonites laugh along, hoping to be underestimated, while others react violently. The only measure these demons have is wealth and success. They pretend to respect one another, acting as fellow predators in the demonic sea. When they meet, they're likely to discuss current affairs and each others' work in such detail that you'd never guess they hadn't ever spoken before. The demons of Greed are a meritocracy with viciously cutthroat competition. Senior demons encourage their minions to compete over who can get the most souls, servants, profits and so on. The bosses take a cut of all the spoils, of course. Greed is focused on winning, and they can turn just about anything competitive. Only those that enjoy such an atmosphere thrive in Greed. They'll do just about anything to make a buck, too.

The Cartel, as Mammon's organization is known, treats wealth and power as synonyms. Distinctions, attunements and other privileges are bought and sold. In order to pay for rank, senior demons are always on the lookout for ways to exploit their juniors. They have no real time for subtlety, and a demon that hesitates to throw their weight around seems vulnerable. The banks, of course, are more influential than any single Mammonite, even a Wordbound. The Prince sits on the boards of all them, but even he would think twice before openly crossing them.

Failure, for Greed, is its own punishment. Demons that can't keep up will get devoured. Insolence and bad attitudes are rarely punished. However, failure is - generally in the form of requisition of goods or servants, often to the point of the failure needing to sell themselves into slavery to meet the Prince's demands. Since the witch-hunts, Mammon has also often set about taxing his demons when accusations of disloyalty start. Success is also seen as its own reward. Those who flourish are often allowed even more freedom to act on Earth without restraint. Mammon gifts golden torques from his own neck to his most favored servants, as he can take them back later.

Mammon loves being gifted the Fallen who lust for material things. It makes him feel important and directly increases how many celestials he owns. He will pay a generous finder's fee to demons that can get him new employees, and he also casually offers cash, attunements and favor to the newly Fallen - all bait to get them to serve him, at which point all they own is his. They are initiated into his service and then left to fend for themselves. Without the tutoring most young Mammonites receive as indentured servants, many are ofrced to sell themselves for centuries to learn the ropes. However, those that got a good deal from Mammon and have the ruthlessness to fight for themselves are as 'free' to prosper as any Hellborn.

Recruiting humans to the service of Greed is rather like a pyramid scheme. Once one mortal signs their way into Mammon's coffers, they will introduce friends and colleagues. Many mortal servants of Greed will slyly use his name in conversation, as if daring others to believe them. Others think that Mammon isn't real, that it's all a silly game that gets them cash. Demons learn to be cautious about their powers, so as to allow the mortal to feel in control. There's no shortage of people willing to sell their souls for riches, so Mammonites tend to be picky. It's traditional to offer wealth in return for the signature, and that pains many more than they like to admit. Loans at preferential rates are easy enough to arrange from Mulcibers - souls are, after all, valued collateraal. But paying back those loans may require the soul turns up in Mammon's quota when the victim dies, and that means you have a strong incentive to corrupt them.



Balseraphs of Greed are masterminds and puppeteers, pulling strings to manipulate their pawns. They delight in contracts and legal trickery, and also love taking on many personas to fool others. They love showy tricks and proving they are the master, not the slave. Many work as crime lords on Earth. They compete with each ohter viciously, and when two are in the same place, all other plans go out the window until one can defeat the other.

Djinn of Greed excel at corruption of those that sign away their souls, serving as advisors to their new 'colleagues.' They like to watch their victims screw over friends and family for gain, and they need little encouragement to make deals. They can obsessive manipulators, with schemes that span decades, and while they lack flair, many of the senior managers of the Bank of Hell are Djinn.



Calabim of Greed are risk-takers, and they love high stakes. They try to get everyone else to follow their example, and they have no qualms about breaking the law - in fact, they love it. Their ability to find and destroy evidence means they tend to commit fraud casually and without care. They work hard, and they play even harder. They serve as Greed's dirty tricks squads and debt collectors, and while they might compete in the long term, they are quite good at cooperation in the short term. Some of them love to collect corporeal art or artifacts, though even these are as direct as other Calabim, and they're just as happy to destroy other people's treasures if it'll increase the value of their own.

Habbalah of Greed take their job as scourges seriously. They encourage mortals to grab all they can, and clearly only the weak and undeserving will remain poor. Just as Exodus teaches that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, so too do the Habbalah feel they must harden the hearts of the rich and powerful towards the less fortunate. This teaches humanity to be humble (and by God, they need it). They also actively seek ways to exploit entire communities, scorning those who are weak enough to have ethical doubts. They prosper in positions of power, inspiring underlings with their own cruelty and callousness to the poor. Their servants rarely realize the boss views them the same way. At least, not until it's far too late.

Lilim of Greed have a reputation even among Lilim for being cold and calculating. They are fixers, troubleshooters who are called on at short notice to fix things when another demon fucks up. And get paid for it, of course. They are notorious for refusing to work unless they have a deal in writing first, even when fellow Greed demons are under attack - and they love to quibble over wording. They like working with legal documents and excel at corrupting cops and civil servants. In their spare time, they tend to live pampered and private lives of seclusion and luxury. They enjoy socializing with their poorer sisters to show off, but none would ever let friendship get in the way of profit. Since the witch-hunts, they've tended to be rather edgy - their glory days are ending, and they're leaving when they can. Those that remain are the diheads, who adore Mammon and profit so much they'd rather be laughingstocks than give up.

Shedim of Greed view themselves as liberators and teachers, not corruptors. It's clear that each human has untapped potential for greed - they just have to foster it! Mortals want to learn, they'd be grateful if they knew how. After all, how many throw away the money the Shedim helps them get? They rarely indulge in hte murderfests or child-beating games of other Shedim. There's no money in it. They push hosts into more and more selfish ways of feeding their greed - pimping children, embezzling, dealing drugs. They tend to rarely stay very long in those hosts that have no real desire for wealth - the mindset disturbs them. However, these hosts are quite rare.

Impudites of Greed live to rip people off. They love to hook into the rich and powerful, making their victims believe they can dupe the demon even when it's clear the opposite is so. Their instinctive understanding of the physical lets them set themselves up as advisers to other demons, getting paid in return for seminars on Earthly finances and so on. A few of them are unsociable misers, but most would be unsatisfied with only wealth - they also want to be loved. They adore high-profile roles, like game show hosts or televangelists.

Mammon's demons aspire to get to Earth as solo traders. Demons who achieve that can basically do what they like, but many never make it that far. There's plenty to do in Hell, at least. Most of it is administration - the banks and financial institutions need staff, soul collectors, sorters...in their spare time, these demons and demonlings can do as they like to raise capital, and there's plenty of chances to hire yourself out as a temp. Other interests are moving in these days, though. It's all too easy to get roped into the politics of elder demons, however little Mammon cares for them. His lieutenants feel threatened, after all, and are a lot more proactive than he knows in organizing counterespionage.

Demons of Greed don't do the Marches. It's not their thing. Sometimes, influencing dreams is handy, but frankly, most have no talent for it. It's an alien place and they sneer at those that spend much time there.

Mast of the real work of Greed is on Earth. Even those demons that work on their own account may be sent to specific cities, institutions or even people. All it takes is for Mammon to decide he wants to own someone or something new. Besides that, all the Hellish institutions maintain Earthside staff to service clients there. The Bullring always needs Outcasts and Renegades to sell for slaves. On top of that, Mammon works hard to fight hte Archangels, especially Marc. It's not top of his agenda, but he's always got things that need doing to sabotage or infiltrate Trade.

On top of regular duties, there are other jobs. Mammons internal security, the Acquisition, has become a terrifying body since the witch-hunts, rather than a joke. Other groups assess Mammon's Earthly holdings and put prices on intangibles...and of course, there's always debt collection. Mammon does need his legbreakers.

Next time: Greed's end

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Doresh posted:

Man, I was already coming up with stuff for the Godwin version of this strange setting (which will be about Mammoths instead of dinosaurs):

"And then in 1948, Chancellor Rommel ended the Holocaust."

Though i think a more historically accurate version of this alternate history (if that even makes sense) would pit East and West Germany against each other on a faraway planet, with the book lavishly fellating East Germany's joke of a planned economy.

So, quick question, you do know there's an actual sci fi series out there that stars a band of Nazis as the heroes, who remain Nazis but at one point end up taking in some Jewish members to help fight aliens?

That's a real thing.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Mors Rattus posted:

So, quick question, you do know there's an actual sci fi series out there that stars a band of Nazis as the heroes, who remain Nazis but at one point end up taking in some Jewish members to help fight aliens?

Now I do o_O

Pieces of Peace
Jul 8, 2006
Hazardous in small doses.

Mors Rattus posted:

So, quick question, you do know there's an actual sci fi series out there that stars a band of Nazis as the heroes, who remain Nazis but at one point end up taking in some Jewish members to help fight aliens?

That's a real thing.

Based entirely on that sentence, I'm assuming Harry Turtledove?

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Pieces of Peace posted:

Based entirely on that sentence, I'm assuming Harry Turtledove?
Nope!

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Mors Rattus posted:

So, quick question, you do know there's an actual sci fi series out there that stars a band of Nazis as the heroes, who remain Nazis but at one point end up taking in some Jewish members to help fight aliens?

That's a real thing.

Watch on the Rhine by Tom Kratman, writing for John Ringo's Porsleen series. It's about Germany resurrecting the Waffen-SS to fight against invading aliens because the Waffen-SS are the only ones tough enough to fight the aliens. Modern Germany's military is weak because of liberals. And the liberals are the true antagonist, not the aliens. In other words, a bog-standard Kratman novel. You can put it on the shelf next to the one where Hillary Clinton's election to POTUS leads to civil war with Texas, and the one where KratmanKratman's author avatar kills his gay cousin so he can use the inheritance to personally hunt down Osama Bin Laden and sell all the children of Osama's village into child sex slavery.

(Also, yes, at one point the Waffen-SS recruit some Jews into their unit to fight the aliens.)

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 20:44 on Feb 2, 2016

TimNeilson
Dec 21, 2008

Hahaha!

Pieces of Peace posted:

Based entirely on that sentence, I'm assuming Harry Turtledove?

I'm going to guess John Ringo

E: I was close ^^^

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Superiors 4: Let's Make Lots of Money

The Acquisition is Greed's internal security, reporting directly to Mammon. Officially, they're a treasury department, recording how demons progress in earning wealth or souls. In times past, these records were handled in a relaxed manner and simple bribes would get you in good. However, they have been radically reformed this past century. Members are now trained in espionage, interrogation and forensic accounting. They hunt down traitors and embezzlers by syematically ruining or torturing their subjects until they get paid off, get some names or get a confession. Calabim and Habbalah are especially good at it.

The Assayers' Guild are a select group of demons trained in assessing value, in any currency the client likes. They are also skilled at apparaising relics or reliquaries and are expected to have deep knowledge of both corporeal and celestial antiques. They are specialists, called in by the banks and financial groups for risk assessment valuations. The Guild guarantees accuracy, offering to make up the difference if any object is later found to be worth less than valued, and they employ no Balseraphs whatsoever. They are not only hired by demons - anyone can contact them and meet their prices for a valuation.





Notaries are those Mammonites trained in creating relics, often by the Bank. They specialize in enchanting soul-contracts into low-level celestial artifacts, to be able to be taken to Hell and stored there in the vaults, until the signatory's death. These document relics are usually very fragile and have no actual powers, and every demon that manages to get a contract to Mammon must pay a notary for the service, which can take several months, if they want to collect.

Mammonites are not well-treated by the Game. Persistent rumor claims that demons of Greed will work for anyone if the price is right, and they aren't far wrong. Traditionally, Mammon's demons bribed the Game, but the price has been skyrocketing recently. Daring demons have even begun to taking the fight to the Game, using their vast corporeal resources to make it hard to pursue them. Naturally, any demon caught at this is only giving more evidence of treachery. It may be that the only reason ASmodeus has not yet declared Mammon himself to be a traitor is that Mammon is the best hold he has on Shal-Mari, which he traditionally has little influence in.





Next time: Steal this book

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Mors Rattus posted:

So, quick question, you do know there's an actual sci fi series out there that stars a band of Nazis as the heroes, who remain Nazis but at one point end up taking in some Jewish members to help fight aliens?

That's a real thing.

I theorized that such a thing exists during the show as well. The world is too full of weirdos for it not to.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


LatwPIAT posted:

Watch on the Rhine by Tom Kratman, writing for John Ringo's Porsleen series. It's about Germany resurrecting the Waffen-SS to fight against invading aliens because the Waffen-SS are the only ones tough enough to fight the aliens. Modern Germany's military is weak because of liberals. And the liberals are the true antagonist, not the aliens. In other words, a bog-standard Kratman novel. You can put it on the shelf next to the one where Hillary Clinton's election to POTUS leads to civil war with Texas, and the one where KratmanKratman's author avatar kills his gay cousin so he can use the inheritance to personally hunt down Osama Bin Laden and sell all the children of Osama's village into child sex slavery.

And here I though Dinosaur Planet was crazy.

quote:

(Also, yes, at one point the Waffen-SS recruit some Jews into their unit to fight the aliens.)

"Let's not have any arguments about who tried to genocide who. We have a planet to save!"

(That is assuming they aren't recruited to be part of Operation Human Shield)

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



LatwPIAT posted:

Watch on the Rhine by Tom Kratman, writing for John Ringo's Porsleen series. It's about Germany resurrecting the Waffen-SS to fight against invading aliens because the Waffen-SS are the only ones tough enough to fight the aliens. Modern Germany's military is weak because of liberals. And the liberals are the true antagonist, not the aliens. In other words, a bog-standard Kratman novel. You can put it on the shelf next to the one where Hillary Clinton's election to POTUS leads to civil war with Texas, and the one where KratmanKratman's author avatar kills his gay cousin so he can use the inheritance to personally hunt down Osama Bin Laden and sell all the children of Osama's village into child sex slavery.

(Also, yes, at one point the Waffen-SS recruit some Jews into their unit to fight the aliens.)

So, almost exactly like John Ringo himself, given my knowledge of the man from the legendary horrific read-alongs of his Ghost series in TFR about a former Navy SEAL/rapist of underage girls/goth band aficionado-turned-North Caucasian warlord directly sanctioned by George Bush in his global efforts to kill most of the world's Muslims.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Superiors 4: All Property Is Theft



Valefor is the flashy, stylish and mysterious Prince of Theft.



Covet allows you to spend 1 Essence to amplify someone's desires. They may resist with Will. If they fail, then for (CD) days they must make a Will roll at a penalty of (Celestial Forces) to resist any tempotation when they have the chance to do something that will bring the object they most desire within their grasp. The GM can assign bonuses or penalties by circumstance.
Distract lets you spend 1 Essence to make someone think of something of your choice and notice nothing else. This lasts (Celestial Forces) rounds and may be resisted with Will. Anything that would blatantly force their attention, like screams or gunshots, allows a Perception roll to notice it, and physical assault of the victim automatically gets their attention.
Valefor offers two special Distinctions, which stand between Knight and normal demons in rank.
Shepherds are those that allow criminals to evade the law, and the distinction was mostly made after WW2, when many Nazis fled to South America. Shepherds are tasked to help others evade punishment, including any angels escaping Heaven and, it is rumored, demons fleeing the Game. Any Shepherd that uses the Distract attunement will make their victim automatically fail any Perception roll to notice anything short of a physical attack on them.
Escape Artists are able to prevent locks and barriers from functioning at all. Handcuffs won't latch, locks won't set, latches won't catch, deadbolts won't close. It all seems fine at first, but the first attempt to slip the bond or pass the barrier works. This power can be used once a day, plus any time immediately after performing a Rite of Theft. They msut touch the restraint while it is unlocked, and careful examination will reveal tampering.

Expanded Rites:
1. Walk a tightrope between two skyscrapers.
2. Stunt-pilot an open cockpit aircraft.
3. Spend a day teaching a youth to steal.
4. Steal something and plant it on someone else.
5. Watch a motorcycle daredevil show. For 3 Essence, participate in one.

Valefor has many titles. He is the Prince of the Thieves, the King of Cat Burglars, the Daredevil Duke of Daring Escapes and anything else Nybbas can come up with. He is sometimes called Macavity, Moriarty or Fagin by his demons, though he allows no one else to use these names. He dresses well and daringly, and things that'd look stupid on anyone else work for him. He breaks all the rules of good taste and gets away with it. He wears patchwork shirts he claims were made from the Coat of Many Colors, which he claims he stole. He also wears Armani and high fashion when he feels like it - all paid for with stolen credit cards. Physically, he is a tall, sleek and muscular demon. In celestial form, he is much the same, but with two large horns and a bald head. He never stands still, ever. He hates to stay in one place or stick to one topic for long. In meetings, he rarely sits, pacing the room. When he tires of a topic, he will interrupt or prod others to move on. If that doesn't work, he will make his annoyance known with fingertapping, flirtation or trading quips. It may seem like some kind of ADD, but in truth, it's a calculated effort to tear down the Old Guard of Hell, weakening them and promoting himself. The intention is obvious to most Princes, but for some reason, Lucifer allows it. Everything about Valefor is polished and vaguely menacing. He demands the same stylish image from his demons - you have to look good doing it, after all, but you still need substance. Those who can't perform risk Valefor's anger, and his anger can come fast. One moment he'll be listening to a report, and the next he backhands you across the room, tears off your arm and beats you near to death with it. Then he pats you on the back, puts your arm back on and dusts you off, sending you off with a warning...this time. Sometimes, his demons fear that he's unstable, but they never say it to his face.

Theft, of course, is the selfishness of demons at its most petty and daring. It's all about wanting, about desire, moving on when you've taken it. You come first, and no one else matters. The typical Thief has a rather short attention span, rather like their rivals, the Wind. Once they've stolen, it's time to move on to the next job. If you keep moving, the law and the Game can't catch you. Thieves get bored easily and like to shake things up, with Valefor as their example. He likes to wreck things, particularly the order inherent to property rights, in order to cause mayhem. Theft is also about ego and fame. What better way to get that than to steal the most difficult things to steal? The more something is guarded, the more a demon of Theft wants it. It's like a pain, seeing it out there and not taking it.

The word of Theft is also about power. When Valefor stole the as yet unwritten tome of Nostradamus from Yves' library, it was about showing his power as much as pulling off a daring heist. When he stole the Word of Prince Genubath, it was to prove he could take down a Prince. When a demon of Theft steals someone's most reasured heirloom, it's not just because he wants it, though he does. It's also to show his power over the weak by stealing their memories. When a Soldier of Valefor rapes or kills, it's about showing power by stealing the victim's control over their own body. These crimes are often drawn out over a period of time, to froce the victim to understand their complete loss of control. And all of it, all the theft and selfishness and shows of power, that's a sideshow for Valefor. It's practice for the biggest score of all time, the one that will make Theft the most potent of Words. Demons of Theft are all eager to see it, though some can't believe it'll ever happen. The Game guards against it, and Nybbas wants to be there live when it happens, success or failure. All of it, every bit of theft, is building up to the ultimate expression of Theft: the day Valefor steals Hell from Lucifer.





Valefor came out of nowheere. In 793 AD, the Prince of Rapine, Genubath, vanished. Shortly afterwards, Lucifer crowned the new Prince of Theft, a hitherto-unknown demon claiming to be a former servant of Demogorgon, the Demon of Destruction - one of many would-be Princes whose death left a scattered following of other demons after his murder by another Prince. Renegades often claim to have severed a dead Superior when seeking asylum in Hell - it's a practice Asmodeus has been cracking down on since Valefor made it stylish. It's common knwoedge that Valefor gave Lucifer a yet-to-be-written book of Nostradamus' prophecies stolen from Yves' Library, and shortly after, he took up residence in Stygia. All other details are just speculation. Valefor was not exactly welcome...Genubath wasn't popular, but Valefor was an unknown, and his attitude outraged many older Princes. Most of Genubath's demons swore fealty quickly, with only a few seeking other service or going Renegade, and Valefor soon took over all of Genubath's old jobs.

Since becoming the Prince of Theft, Valefor and his crew haven't been lazy. They have worked Theft into the Symphony, empowering it to help break the bonds of order and trust. He has targeted things held dear to all Archangels, though his best thefts are those chosen to take advantage of the chaos caused by Janus' plans. His first real score came in the 14th century, when he and his demons teamed up with Mammon to loot the riches of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon - that is, the Knights Templar. They played on the fears, paranoia and greed of King Philip IV of France, orchestrating a show trial to seize the treasures of the Order and destroying the reputation of one of the mightiest Church orders.

Later, Valefors servant Mokariel, Demon of Strong-Arm Robbery, suggested that when King Henry VIII broke with Rome, it was a chance to steal from the monasteries and claim their wealth. The fallout from that was so great that Janus felt the need to leave Heaven for several years, as he had supported the formation of the Church of England. The Age of Empire was a happy time for Theft as well, as robbery became state policy for many European powers. Land stolen from natives, treaties worth nothing, art and relics dragged back to museums and private collections - it was all there for the taking. The Elgin Marbles, Cleopatra's Neddle, the entire American Southwest...but Valefor's greatest blow to Janus, his favored punching bag, was early in the 20th century, during WW1. Janus wanted to bring down the Czar, the last major repressive autocrat in Europe, and he supported Alexander Keresnky's democratic movement.

Out of nowhere, a radical factio nof Socialists seize power, hijack the Revolution and, led by Vladimir Lenin, they steal the dreams of freedom and a better life for the next seventy years. (Valefor claims Lenin was one of his best Soldiers.) It was Valefor's biggest coup since the theft of Nostradamus' book. The disaster led to much argument in the Seraphim Council, and some say Dominic almost put Janus on trial. Valefor has paid attention to the little thieves over the years, too, from Jack Sheppard and Jonathan Wild to Black Bart and Jesse James. He loves when thieves become folk heroes, making stealing acceptable to the resentful and greedy. It wasin that period that he made one of his best deals, working with a rising star - Nybbas, the newly minted Prince of the Media. He saw the value in making Theft publically accepted, so he encouraged his demons to work with the Media. From magazines and radio to movies and TV, thieves have been in for ages, and never really fallen out of style.



Valefor is all confidence, never allowing a worry to show. He knows he can get into and out of anywhere, that nothing could possibly take him down. He encourages his demons to share his confidence, because someone who's given up won't think on their feet well. Unlike Janus, Valefor never causes chaos for no reason. Even when he 'spontaneously' disrupts a meeting of Princes and makes it into an agument, there's a plan, some sense that he's stealing advantage from it. Valefor is always smooth, graceful and stylish, but it's the style of the shark, looking for weakness. Everything he does is menacing, both attractive and disturbing. When he addresses someone, it's always informal, first names or nicknames, never formal titles except with Lucifer. For his servants, it's to put them at ease. With other Princes, it's to steal some dignity from them. At the same time, while he demands respect and obedience, he doesn't require fancy titles - 'Yes, Boss' will do.

Valefor wants chaos, he wants to tear society apart - not to make something new, just to wreck it all. Because humans value things and ownership, Theft is the best way to cause that chaos. Valefor strives to make everyone uncomfortable about whether someone will take their things. He prioritizes action, even just for the sake of acting. Any complete victory by either side of the War would be unchanging and dull. The idea sickens Valefor, so his demons keep going, making it hard to fit them into any plan but their own. In past centuries, Valefor emphasized big thefts, the kind with scores talked about for years on end, that would influence huge swaths of people. The growing moral relativity of the West, however, has made him alter his plans just a little, to making Theft part of everyday life for everyone. With Nybbas making theives cool and showing why you should envy the rich, Valefor's found it much easier to get people to take what they want. Just take it, steal their things, their ideas, their money. He wants everyone to be a thief.

When Valefor arrived, the War had already been raging for millenia. As far as anyone knows, he was never around for the Fall, and he likes things as they are. A War that never ends is his perfect stage. Despite what Asmodeus and Baal think, Valefor and his demons are deeply involved in the War. They like it - it's a great place to hide or spy, keeping tabs on Earth, on the Marches, even on, some say, Heaven itself. There are no doubts that Valefor has provided useful intelligence, that he's got resources even Asmodeus doesn't, that some of what he knows must have come from sources in the Host. The Thieves also serve as Hell's special forces, doing the stealthy missions that overt methods can't handle. Breakins, thefts, extractions, recon, even assassination. Some say they'll even do it to Hell, for the right Essence payout. Valefor never wants the War to end. The modern era has just made things richer. With a bit of hacking skill and good equipment, a Thief in New York can steal millions from Japan and blame Russians. Even better than that is stealing identities - so much taken for such little work! What could be better? Why would you ever want to make the world something different?

Valefor treats politics as a game - and a zero-sum one. If someone wins, it's because someone else lost. That's not unusual for Hell, and even some Archangels might agree, but Valefor plays the game his own way, keeping everyone guessing. He has secret plans, he shifts allegiance abruptly, he betrays easily, his agreements are never ironclad. He makes sure even his allies aren't really comfortable. He unsettles the relations of other Princes just as much as he causes chaos on Earth. It seems designed to piss off those that take the War seriously. He misses meetings, offers no excuses for his absences, shows up late, actively tries to piss off Asmodeus. He cooperates with the Princes that need humans to spread their Words - he needs them too, after all, and would not want Belial to burn them all or Haagenti to eat them all. There's no point in stealing from a dead man. Suspicion and paranoia are part of Hellish life, but many Princes, even his allies, worry about his true loyalties. Baal and Belial dismiss him as a coward, and Asmodeus openly wonders at his origins and allegiance. Lilith, who often supports him, has private questions of her own. She likes his rebellious nature, but he's too mysterious for her to be entirely comfortable. Still, she'll help him when he asks, telling her Daughters that it's smart to gather favors from all sides.

Next time: To Catch A Thief

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

ProfessorProf posted:

quote:

In the thriller, the reward for danger is information; having information points you into danger. When the hero rests, add more danger.


Operations on the Fly
It's entirely possible to run NBA games with no operational planning at all. Keep in mind who the vampires are, what they're up to, and why. Whenever the agents go sniffing around somewhere, let them stumble upon part of the backstory. Instead of anticipating player action, just wait for them to act, and build your scenes about whatever they do.

This is interesting to me because I'm a low-prep kind of GM and I always figured I wouldn't be able to run games GUMSHOE-type games because building a mystery requires pre-planning and whatnot.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Superiors 4: Don't Download This Song

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Dear Valefor - always in such excellent style. His mercenary, self-centered attitude is perfectly sensible. I adore working with him, and would be even happier if he didn't steal the occasional lovers before I was quite finished with them.
We need the living to corrupt them, and they need the freedom to act - and to steal. Andrealphus is absolutely on the right track. Bring down the barriers, let's get that throbbing mass of humanity on the road to Hell! He can have their bodies if I can have their goods.
Asmodeus: He appears out of nowhere one day, the power in him obvious. Yet there is no record of him, either as an angel from before the Fall or as a demonling created here. Of course, the records aren't perfect, curse Kobal! And how convenient that he brings Lucifer a gift from Yves' own library - a place none of the rest of us could penetrate... What's his game? Just who is his master?
He's too caught-up with his rules and regulations. He doesn't realize he risks losing it all by trying to hang on to every little thing. Demons need to be free to create - that's what we rebelled for! Still, we have to be careful of him. Getting nailed by the Game is not fun.
Baal: Who cares about Valefor, he's of no consequence. All that sneaking and skuluking, going AWOL whenever he feels like it...it's as if he doesn't know there's a War on. When the time for the Final Battle comes, he and his kind will be as useful as a rubber sword.
War creates a lot of opportunities for looting, but theft also becomes a trivial nuisance. People secure in their homes worry more about their belongings.
Beleth: He is an amateur. He thinks he makes humans frightened and uncertain by taking their precious things, but it is nothing to the terror I bring in the night! I hate him for his arrogance.
She once asked me if I could steal dreams. I told her that, one way or another, I did that every day. But I don't think that was the answer she wanted. She just stared for a while. Creeped me out. I don't know what the Hell she was talking about.
Belial: Those flashy clothes are going to burn real well, all he has to do is push me a bit more. He wants to preserve mortals - what a waste of fuel!
This guy is as quiet as a monster truck with a hair-trigger car alarm. His Word consumes all that is valuable. I don't really see how he and I can ever see eye-to-eye, if nothing else because I just don't understand why you'd want to destroy something valuable. Doesn't he get it? What's the use of getting the plans to a building if he burns it down first?
Haagenti: He's a Calabite too, but he's not hungry enough. No threat to me, though - you can't steal things once they've been eaten!
The difference between us is that he takes things in order to consume them, but I take them for the sake of the theft - oh, and let's not forget the style question. Still, at least he has a sense of humor.
Kobal: Useful only as a passing gag. Valefor and his Servitors are about as reliable as Lucifer's promises. Better ot take advantage from him than be taken advantage of.
Some of my best thefts have been in concert with Kobal. He's got a sense of style I admire, and I appreciate the way that he can steal dignity from humanity in an instant, usually right from under their own noses. That's a real theft.
Kronos: His fate is unclear to me! His history is unknown! I dislike mysteries. Whatever the truth, he is a danger to Lucifer and the War. I do not trust him.
All his records and data, pigeonholing everyone and everything - well, not me! Maybe I should steal something from his library...just for the Hell of it.
Lilith: A likable rogue, but an enigma. I love his freedom. His needs are a heavy burden - no, I'm not saying what they are! Nevertheless, what Valefor wants, Valefor gets. A Prince after one's own heart, and anything else he can pry loose.
Goes where she wants to go, does what she wants to do, gets what she wants to have. Enjoys stirring up trouble. I can appreciate that. And she understands that getting locked up in one place is just no fun - I like her, and I'm going to see if she wants this necklace I picked up...
Malphas: I like him! He does a good job getting people to squabble - nothing divides a group so much as "what's mine?" He needs to be around more to keep an eye on his underlings, though.
Ever noticed how the people in a group are always convinced that the other side has more money and more fun stuff? With that sort of attitude, Theft is the only reasonable solution. Speaking of which, I need osmeone to go check out his place in Stygia...
Nybbas: He's a great plot hook. Daring thefts! Hunky burglars and hot babes! Intrigue, passion, treachery, murder, revenge! I get a film and a mini-series every time he tells me how his day went. He's the archetypal Man of Mystery. Someday, I'll do an expose on him and blow my ratings sky high!
Nybbas has done a lot to make stealing look good. Robin Hood, Jesse James, and oh, the laws they break on those detective shows! The Media even steals from itself. What a great organization.
Saminga: What is there to stealing a bauble, even an identity, when you can steal life and control the corpse? The only good things are dead things, and maybe one day Valefor will be one of my dead playthings.
This guy even gives me the creeps! What's the good of stealing something if the former owner isn't alive to know it? It's better just to avoid him.
Vapula: A frivolous fool, but rarely a time-waster. I'd be more impressed with him if he brought us something worthwhile from Heaven, like Jean's research notes.
Some of his inventions have been very useful on the job, though I wish he'd test some of them before giving them to us!
Blandine: Behind his bluster, there is nothing but a hunger for attention, and a desire to ruin anything that isn't his. ut given the attention, he can be very charming, and very polite.
Blandine, ice queen - I should take up poetry if I ever get bored of this Demon Prince business. Joking aside, stealing dreams takes a very light touch and no small degree of skill. did you know that there's a back-door entrance into Heaven through her Tower?
David: Valefor is shallow but smart enough to be dangerous. He can't handle it when someone refuses to be impressed by him, though. Heaven can use that against him.
David can be distressingly unmaterialistic for the guy who made most of the material. Doesn't he get it? The side with the most stuff wins.
Dominic: The similarities between his Servitors and those of the Wind are vastly disturbing. The implications are troubling.
Cops and robbers, cops and robbers. What's Robin Hood without the Sheriff? And they've got so much dignity to steal, too!
Eli: Man, this cat is seriously screwed-up! There are some wicked vibes comign from him. Too wrapped-up in possessions, not enough love. He needs to take a hit and relax.
Can you believe it? He just gave away his stuff - all ofit! I couldn't have robbed him blinder. His little choo-choo has gone round the bend, but he does throw cool parties...and either he doesn't care I'm there or he's too stoned to notice.
Gabriel: As long as he stands in Hell, what he does is sin. I saw him and his Servitors in the shadows, creeping, hiding, taking the holy Fire from those who need it most. It shall blacken their hands and burn their souls.
Stealing inspiration and passion is an art all its own. As for stealing fire from Heaven - well, hey, it's been done before, and besides, where's the challenge when she gives it away so freely?
Janus: Copycat. If I ever get my hands around his neck, I'll... He's not truly free, being too obsessed with possessions. I want to liberate people from the chains that bind them, not enslave them to mere things!
Another one who doesn't get it. Taking what you want is the ultimate freedom, bucko! And I think I'll take that nice bike of his for a spin.
Jean: Valefor? A danger, for he steals those things that could make life so much better, hope in a brighter tomorrow. I'll never forgive him for Tesla's cure for cancer - we had worked so long on that project.
This guy is too easy. He makes the booty and I steal it! Depending on what it is, I can get an ice price for it from the others, too.
Jordi: What do I care for material possessions? In fact, we both appreciate the need to be free, to roam where we want - he is much like the Wind that way. But his Servitors steal the skins of my creatures...for petty things like coats and shoes! And for that, I hate him.
Nice kitty. Jungle-boy here needs to lighten up. When we smuggle pieces of his animals, they're already dead! So why get ticked off at us?
Laurence: He doesn't just steal things...he steals virtue. He robes people of their integrity and respect and leaves them mourning the loss of their possessions. These thieves should lose their heads, not just their hands.
He's so busy looking for demons, he can't see when we've come and gone. Anyone want a sword?
Marc: Good relations are based on trust, whether it's a spoken promise or written contract. Valefor and his Servitors destroy that trust, making commerce and progress impossible.
Like taking candy from a baby. A contract isn't worth the paper it's written on and a handshake...well, want a Rolex?
Michael: He's not a serious danger on the battlefield, but he can cause a great deal of pain to humans by stealing the trophies which they treasure. After all, it's only natural for a man to care about what he's won through his blood, sweat and tears...
You mean I'm supposed to get worried about a fossilized old relic who's as rusty as his axe? I can outrun him any day you care to name, and any of my Servitors stupid enough to stand and fight deserves what they get. Oh, and if any of them do get hold of that axe of his...let me know.
Novalis: Oh, he has a charming demeanor, but he's so hurt inside. I know I could heal him. I hope I can do something before one side or the other destroys him.
A real babe, if you like Earth Moms. I wouldn't mind partying with her and Lilith - yow! What good are flowers, though? They die. Now, this ruby necklace, on the other hand...
Yves: Loss can be good, forcing one to reevaluate what is dear and why. Theft shakes things up, but more often than not in a negative and harmful way.
His Library is full of priceless books he wouldn't miss...if I could just get inside. Again.
Humanity: We need humans to spread the Word of Theft, just as the wolf needs his sheep. They're so obsessed with property and rights that they're just begging us to come in and tear it all up. And they're so open to our Word! It's child's play to make them not only want, but take - and then make them feel good about it, as if they were somehow justified. We need humans so much, we don't want to see them destroyed. Not yet, at any rate.
Hellsworn: They have signed themselves over to us lock, stock, and barrel. They know what they want, they're willing to take it, and they have a sense of style while doing it. These are our Soldiers, who can do things for us we can't without disturbing the Symphony.
Sorcerers: Speaking of sheep...these guys are fools, thinking they can command us with chalk drawings and nonsense chants. And yet they're always surprised when we steal their souls.
Ethereals: Useful, often very useful. Uriel's crusade was one of Heaven's dumbest moves. Now all these spirits owe us, big time.





Variations! Valefor is intentionally mysterious, and the game wants you to make him your own, but it does have some suggestions. Valefor as the Clown Prince of Crime is all about having fun and looking good. He's mean-spirited, sure, but he and his are just petty punks, with no greater purpose to their schemes. They're good for a laugh, but not a lot else. Valefore as the Double-Double Agent is working for someone. Janus, Lucifer, Asmodeus, God, take your pick. He's gathering information, maybe acting as a saboteur for the Host or to get other Princes to commit treason so Asmodeus can come down on them, or for whatever reason you like. Valefor the Worst is a true danger. He's a thief who will steal everything, even Princely Words. Anything precious is fair game, no atrocity is out of bounds. Steal life, steal virginity, steal self-restraint, steal honor, steal freedom. He's already taken Genubath's Word, and it's only a matter time before he does it again, and again, and again, until only Lucifer is left. He is a megalomanical schemer, always interested in having more.

Valefor keeps his throne in Stygia, the bleak mountainous land of Hell, cut off by high peaks. Few passes go in and out, watched closely by Djinn and Shedim. Valefor and Malphas control the area, and they want no one coming or going without permission. Valefor guards what is his. The towns of Stygia are locked in eternal twilight, cramped and lit only by weak lights. All is furtive and secret, as everyone, damned or demon, must be on the lookout for traitors or robbers as they betray others and fence stolen goods. There are many tunnels leading in and out, with many secret entrances into the buildings of the towns. They wind through the mountain hearts in paths so confusing that only the Princes know them all. These tunnels are guarded by potent demons, and iti s rumored that sometimes, the Princes release those that displease them into the tunnels to have them be hunted down.

Valefor's headquarters are the Palazzo Furto, once the palace of Genubath, high over a Stygian town that Valefor renamed Sin City and populated with cars, pin-stripe suits and fedoras. The Palazzo is at the end of a high road, like a spider in a web. It is surrounded by a spiked wall with only one black iron gate. On either side of the gate is a guardian Shedite with permission to break anything or anyone trying to get in without an appointment. Inside, the grounds are empty and silent. Despite this, any visitors get the sense of being watched. The house itself is easy to enter - just knock and give the password ('Joe sent me', because Valefor knows it irritates people). Inside, it is like a mob mansion from Chicago in the 20s. One large room is a rigged casino, run by the damned soul of Lucky Luciano, who's managed to earn himself a position of some power, as long as he keeps Valefor happy. Across the hall is the mosh pit, mostly used by Habbalah, Calabim and Shedim, as others care how beaten up they get. Beyond the glitz of the ground floor, however, the Palazzo is a haven for conspiracy and secrets. Its halls are dim, the carpets thick and the doors muffle anything beyond. They are all locked, except to Valefor and his top demons, but that doesn't stop people trying to pick them. There are as many secret passages as through the mountaisn themselves, and residents rarely use the doors. One tunnel is known to lead to Valefor's Heart vaults. The entrance is obvious, but guarded by two immense Shedim, who never go anywhere else and are allowed to kill anyone that comes down there without Valefor's presence. Exits are one-way passages leading elsewhere in Stygia. There are rumors of older tunnels, unknown even to Valefor, that date back to the days of Genubath and lead to his old treasure vaults.



The Trophy Room is on the topmost floor, accessible only via Valefor's conference room, so far as anyone knows. It is his personal showcase. It is far larger inside than should be possible, and Valefor claims it contains anything ever stolen but never recovered - and some supposedly recovered items which were actually fakes. Chances are, if a stolen item can't be found, it's there. It has the real Mona Lisa, plus two excellent fakes, the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, the original manuscript of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, Lenin's will, and, more recently, a bloody right handed glove and serrated knife dating to June, 1994. An empty spot sits in one case, which still bothers Valefor. Once, it held the only copy of the solution to Fermat's Last Theorem, stolen from Jean. Somehow, many years ago, it vanished from the Trophy Room and was returned to Jean by Janus. The room is managed by Allamas, Demon of Loot, a borrowed servant of Mammon. He wears the finest suits and runs guided tours, instinctively knowing what will be most impressive to any guest. He knows the value of each item, and thinks of them as his stash. He instantly knows if naything is removed, which is quite useful, especially after the last curator lost the Theorem and had to be removed. (All of Valefor's permanent guards are contracted out to other Words, due to Valefor's dissonance conditions. Mammon gouges, of course. Some say that Allamas was given the position as a reward and that he gets a percentage of the take. Others say that he was caught embezzling and is being punished by being surrounded by riches he dares not touch.)

Valefor has also installed the Racetrack at the Palazzo. Once, it was a track for horses, their souls stolen in a mysterious theft from Jordi's Savannah. The take included the souls of the three sires of all Thoroughbreds - Darley Arabian, Godolphin Barb and Byerly Tuck. No one has any idea how the theft was done, and Jordi is enraged about it still. However, Valefor recently got tired of horses, and now it's for cars and motorcycles. It's a popular practice range for his demons. The horses are kept stabled behind the Palazzo - Valefor may be bored with them, but they're not going anywhere. Races and demolition derbies at the track are popular outside Stygia, and Nybbas has the broadcast contract, as well as a setup to sanitize some of them for World's Best Crashes videos on Earth.

Residents of the Palazzo tend to be low-ranking demons, demonlings and the damned that have worked their way up from Sin City. Some are staff, while others are in training. The most common, though, are the fences, who specialize in buying and distributing stolen goods. Visitors are allowed to wander around, hunting for a demon buyer...but the price is always terrible, less than 20% of the item's worth. Valefor and his minions don't do favors. Thus, Thieves only come to sell here when they have no other viable leads.



The Thieves do not have a particularly strict organization. Valefor runs the loosest hierarchy in Hell. Demons are sent to Earth with orders but no one to report to, usually, and even if they have a supervisor, that demon may well have wandered off somewhere. Valefor or a Wordbound will check in eventually, and you'd better have good news when they do. Demons of Theft are expected to steal and spread chaos. You can plan rather than just smashing and grabbing, but you have to do things. Standing still's one of the worst things you can do, and waiting for orders will get you punished. You need to show initiative. Demons and Hellsworn of Theft get a lot of latitutde...but when you need help, well, good luck with that. Think fast and rely on yourself alone.

For many demons, the job is its own reward with Theft. The rush of a successful job is great, addictive. Some Thieves are even known to break into places and not take anything, just for the challenge. Still, they are fundamentally selfish, and they always want more. Valefor can be generous, if mercurial, and he sometimes rewards demons with material goods, new identities, attunements or even Forces, whatever he feels like at the time. At other time,s you just get a smile. On the other hand, this applies to punishments, too. Failure could be terribly dangerous. Or you could just get banished to Hell for a while. Or Valefor might just grin and tell you to try harder next time. You can never predict it...and worse, sometimes even a tiny failure will send Valefor into a mad rage, beating you senseless, sending you to Trauma or even rending your Forces away. No one knows when it'll happen, though.

And it's not as easy a job as it sounds. The need to constantly move, to avoid not only angels but the Game and Valefor's mad mood swings, it's too much for some demons. MAybe their nature doesn't fit, either - a Calabite that just wants to smash stuff, say. In these cases, you might want to consider a new Prince. If you want to work with one of Valefor's friends, he's often amenable, though the more power you have, the more he'll want in trade for it. But if you want to join Saminga or Asmodeus, you'd best not tell Valefor - just go Renegade and hope you don't get caught.

Theft welcomes the Fallen. Valefor likes them! Especially if they bring gifts from Heaven. That tells him you fit in. The Fallen tend to like Valfor because the demons of Theft may well have helped them defect. The Shepherdcs are infamous for smuggling angels away from Judges or Malakim...or the Game. New Fallen also rise quickly in Theft, rapidly getting back to Earth - though often in a place where they'll have to deal with their former colleagues, so it can be a mixed blessing. On the other hand, demons of Theft are more prone than others to Redemption. More demons seem to defect from him than several other Princes combined. Perhaps it's coincidence or due to their similarity, but the Game has noticed many Thieves defect to Janus - and vice versa.



Next time: Bands of Thieves

Pieces of Peace
Jul 8, 2006
Hazardous in small doses.

Young Freud posted:

So, almost exactly like John Ringo himself, given my knowledge of the man from the legendary horrific read-alongs of his Ghost series in TFR about a former Navy SEAL/rapist of underage girls/goth band aficionado-turned-North Caucasian warlord directly sanctioned by George Bush in his global efforts to kill most of the world's Muslims.

John Ringo, the Chris Fields of pulp sci-fi. I should have known.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Young Freud posted:

So, almost exactly like John Ringo himself, given my knowledge of the man from the legendary horrific read-alongs of his Ghost series in TFR about a former Navy SEAL/rapist of underage girls/goth band aficionado-turned-North Caucasian warlord directly sanctioned by George Bush in his global efforts to kill most of the world's Muslims.

Pieces of Peace posted:

John Ringo, the Chris Fields of pulp sci-fi. I should have known.

John Ringo writes bad books. He occasionally writes offensively bad books with horrible characters. He's also aware that some of his books are terrible and can genuinely enjoy that people mock them. Kratman just writes offensively racist, hateful revenge-porn about people he doesn't like. A friend of mine got into an argument with Kratman over a technical detail in one of this books - the result of which was that Kratman has written her into several of his books as a cowardly pedophile, and has killed her off in several of them out of pure spite.

(Also, Ringo can write, while Kratman has trouble constructing sentences.)

If Ringo is Chris Fields, Kratman is Bryon Hall.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


LatwPIAT posted:

John Ringo writes bad books. He occasionally writes offensively bad books with horrible characters. He's also aware that some of his books are terrible and can genuinely enjoy that people mock them. Kratman just writes offensively racist, hateful revenge-porn about people he doesn't like. A friend of mine got into an argument with Kratman over a technical detail in one of this books - the result of which was that Kratman has written her into several of his books as a cowardly pedophile, and has killed her off in several of them out of pure spite.

(Also, Ringo can write, while Kratman has trouble constructing sentences.)

If Ringo is Chris Fields, Kratman is Bryon Hall.

Read the John Ringo thread in, of all places, TFR. It will quickly disabuse you of the notion Ringo is anything but human filth.

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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:

When a Soldier of Valefor rapes or kills, it's about showing power by stealing the victim's control over their own body. These crimes are often drawn out over a period of time, to froce the victim to understand their complete loss of control.

Ugh. Other than this, I was liking Valefor as a Fantomas/Diabolik/Lupin/Jean le Flambeur style stylish thief/mastermind. I do love the 'Kobal kinda sucks, replace him with this guy' sidebar.

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