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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Count Chocula posted:

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.

It's hell. Valefor is a demon prince. This are not nice people, and their primary purpose is to enslave and/or destroy the human race and all of heaven.

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DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




Cythereal posted:

It's hell. Valefor is a demon prince. This are not nice people, and their primary purpose is to enslave and/or destroy the human race and all of heaven.

i don't know about you but i can't enjoy any roleplaying setting where all of the characters, villains included, don't share 21st century Western liberal standards and sensibilities

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

i don't know about you but i can't enjoy any roleplaying setting where all of the characters, villains included, don't share 21st century Western liberal standards and sensibilities

All I'm saying is, hell is the bad guys. They're not going to be nice, and they're going to take their Words to the same extremes as heaven does.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




Edit: let's just avoid a derail now

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: Stolen Goods

Valefor loves humanity, the same way a swindler loves an easy mark. Without humans, Theft wouldn't mean much. Valefor takes the human desire to better your life and turns it to Theft by encouraging envy and greed. Every human that steals encourages another to do the same, to get back at society. Thus, the web of theft spreads. Soldiers of Theft are intensely valuable. They aren't bound by dissonance, so they can do things that need them to stay in one place for a long time. They act as spies, lookouts, muscle and anything that needs to not cause Disturbance. Shedim might have an easier time killing a judge that's a Soldier of Judgment, but a Hellsworn can do it without alerting everyone in ten miles.

Generally speaking, demons of Theft are not created, but adopted. Valefor prefers to find the spark of rebellion in the demons made by others. Those who are dissatisfied or bad fits are often traded to Valefor - even demonlings, as Valefor will give them a chance. Demons acquired this way know they have to live up to his expectations, though, if they want to live. Renegades often end up joining Theft if they aren't trying to escape Hell, too. The loose organization appeals to them, and Valefor is often sympathetic to those that like breaking rules. He also likes bothering his rivals by stealing their servants - especially if they worked for Asmodeus.

Balseraphs of Theft are front men. They plant cover stories, tell distracting lies, convince guards to do things. When something goes wrong and someone has to talk fast, it's the Balseraph who does it. They also work cleanup. While Theft likes its deeds to be known eventually, some stuff has to be secret or blamed on others. Balseraphs plant rumors and misdirection, often without being directly connected to the scene of the crime. Especially when violence caused Disturbance, they like to blame demons of Baal or Belial. The Balseraphs also serve as Valefor's diplomats, though never alone - after all, you need someone there to be sure their reports are accurate. They tend to be smooth, sophisticated and confident. They avoid combat if possible, focusing on Celestial and Ethereal Forces, and take care to present a good appearance.

Djinn of Theft are rare. They are moody and often too sloppy for Valefor's style, plus they're often lazy, and thus dissonant. Still, they have uses. As long as they keep moving, they're good at stakeouts. They often work in teams, following a fixed route that lets them cover for each other when they move on. They often take Roles as the homeless, allowing them to be socially invisible as they stalk and learn about their targets. They also make good fences, if traveling ones. They come off as passive and bored, letting others open up to them. They don't really care, but they know someone will want to know what's going on. More than one has attune themselves to an especially good piece they sold, too, only to tell other Thieves how to find it and steal it back. They are quite useful, given their ability to enslave their attuned, too.



Calabim of Theft like breaking and entering - especially the breaking. They use their resonance to get past doors, locks, manacles and more. They are common in Valefor's service, affecting a grungy style, often with long hair, black leather and torn jeans. They are prone to sudden rages, like their master, and have little patience. They are often used as enforcers, alongside the Shedim, and are excellent at extortion. They make good muscle in general, though they aren't very subtle. They also have a strangely Ofanite-esque need for speed. They like fast cars and motion, though often they turn escape routes into impromptu demolition derbies.



Habbalah of Theft encourage emotions that lead to thievery - greed, jealousy, rage, anything to convince victims to steal. That makes the next theft that much easier. They're quite useful, then, as each success is multiplied. They like Roles that let them manipulate people while staying on the move - traveling salesman, prostitutes, revival preachers. They also work, these days, as HR consultants, motivational speakers and county social workers, or as runaway children to corrupt the young. They tend to think of themselves as mentors for the weak, who teach humans that it's okay to take what you want. They tend to look alluring, but sinister at the same time. They are flexible and often jacks of all trades, serving well on Earth.

Lilim of Theft are fairly common - they like Valefor's rulebreaking and rebelliousness, and also wearing tight leather outfits. (Because Lilim.) Lilith likes to hang out with Valefor, and more Free Lilim work for Theft than any other Word, on top of Valefor employing more Lilim than any Word but Lust or Freedom. They tend to let others do the violent work, instead gathering Geases widely so they can always call in a favor when needed. They like to know people all over, so they can get into anywhere by calling in a favor. Most work on Earth and are anxious to be seen. Some even call in Geases to secure a spot hanging off Valefor's arm, if Lilith hasn't claimed the spot herself this evening. The ones in Hell work as informers, given their ability to read needs - they can spot spies, possible Renegades and those who hold out on the boss. More than one agent of the Game has walked into a trap or been fed false information thanks to this. It's not perfect, though - if a Lilim thinks she can get away with it, having another Geas for not revealing the secret need is pretty tempting, after all.

Shedim of Theft are usually not subtle, and aren't that common among the Thieves. The ones that do take pride in being more patient than other Shedim and take joy in slowly riding mortals to damnation bit by bit, making them think it was all their own idea. They'll take the kindly old priest and make them skim a bit off the plate, then misappropriate funds, and only eventually get caught sexually abusing the altar boy, at which point the Shedim has stolen the trust the congregation had in priests and the Church. These Shedim are not often sent to Earth, where they can get out of control easily and cause problems. The ones who do get sent are often given strict and detailed orders by Valefor and, unlike most Theft demons, a supervisor. However, their supervisor never punishes the - that pleasure is saved for Valefor. Still, they make good enforcers and thugs, and they're the heavies called in to fight angels. They tend not to be very bright, but work well with Habbalah as guards to point them in the right direction.

Impudites of Theft steal Essence easily. They're smooth and seem trustworthy, serving as advance scouts and inside men. With their charm, they often learn secrets and have a web of people willing to help them - not out of obligation, but friendship. They might be temp workers, cab drivers or strippers, but they never stay in one place long. Sometimes they get into trouble, though, since they dislike hurting mortals. They often prefer passive jobs, watching out for people, and some accuse them of going native, though they'll claim they're doing their job by teaching mortals selfishness. They don't like to steal directly from their human 'friends,' though - they rely on keeping trust, after all. If sent on a mission, they like to be in charge, to make sure no human gets hurt. They try to keep things quiet to reduce police or angelic interference, and they hate working with the louder Calabim and Shedim. They dislike working in Hell - Valefor doesn't appreciate Essence poaching, even by Impudites, and they view Hell work as a punishment. Still, they do make good diplomats to other Princes or to ethereals.

In many ways, working for Theft is easy: see thing, steal it, move on. But it's not that simple. You have to keep moving, which can make planning and execution hard, since you never know who's going to be available. Thieves vanish into the night all the time. As a result, they tend to plan quickly and act even more quickly. They're more comfortable working alone than most demons, and the invention of cell phones and the Internet has helped with alleviating their problems a bit. When on the job, they work at being flashy and impressive. Style and substance, after all, are the same to them. They want to impress people, and many leave signatures on their work to mark it out as theirs.

In Hell, a demon spends a few years training to learn how to steal, practicing in Sin City, in little halls run by trainers, often called Fagins. Once they master the tricks, they are sent to other parts of Hell to steal from the damned as a final test. When deemed ready, they are given their first Earth job. Older demons in Hell will often be Tether guards (rotated regularly to avoid dissonance) or servants. Some are drivers at the track, working off dissonance by racing recklessly, while others work in the Stygian towns as spies, fences or tutors. A few also work as diplomats.

In the Marches, Valefor's demons aren't as active as you'd think, at least publically. Beleth doesn't like them - stealing from dreams is her right, not theirs. Sometimes you can make an arrangement, but not very often. More commonly, work in the Marches means dealing with the gods of the Far Marches. Valefor's rather tolerant of them, and will happily trade with them for information of value. Valefor's cagey about what he uses them for, though, and only sends his most trusted servants to deal with them.

Thieves on Earth typically have no Roles - it's hard to keep one up on the move. They plan and execute their own thefts and making mortals into theieves. They often work in jobs that let them encourage theft, like gang leaders, weekend coaches or prostitutes. In the War, they work as scouts and spies, operating behind enemy lines and infiltrating angelic hangouts to learn more of their plans. They never stay long, after all, so it's hard to discover them. They also work as fast commandos in raids, sometimes, or as drivers for other Words.

Sometimes, a Thief gets weird orders - being told to put objects back, for instance, which isn't dissonant and can be exciting, as you're supposed to do it secretly, but it's hardly expected. Most think it's a punishment, or perhaps Valefor's sense of humor. They also do other odd jobs - racing, demolition derbies, pilot work, drug smuggling. The hardest job you can have, though, is to be a Shepherd. They have to smuggle the Falling and Fallen into Hell or protect Outcasts from triads - and it's even worse if the rumors are true and occasionally you get ordered to help a Renegade reach Heaven safely. But that's a big if.



Flash is essential, in Valefor's mind. Under Genubath, Theft was work for thugs, not artists. Balefor changed that, and now it even seems, at times, that a Thief wants to get caught, so they can stage an amazing escape. For these demons, Valefore made Sheppard's Order of Escape Artists. It was created in the 18th century to honor Jack Sheppard, whose escapes from prison dazzled London long after his death. He'd been a Sildier of Theft, and the more stodgy demons were shocked at the honor paid to a mere human. Valefor just laughed about it. The Escape Artists are walking publicity stunts, often deliberately seeking out arrest for some crime so they can make the papers by escaping the next day. Sometimes, if Valefor wants a real shakeup, he'll have them commit some spectacular crime - a horrific rape-and-murder or brutal serial killing, usually - to throw the public into a panic both over the crime and the easy escape. Calabim and Shedim especially enjoy these jobs. The Escape Artists also help others escape sometimes, often at the request of a Shepherd. They pose as an authority figure so they can be the ones applying the restraints, allowing them to use their Distinction to not actually lock them in place.

The Shepherds are led by the demon Lazarrabal, a second order made mostly of Balseraphs, Djinn, Lilim and Impudites. They are an underground railroad for those fleeing justice, maintaining safehouses and hideouts across the world via blinds, dummy corporations and false trusts. Demons supervise, but Soldiers do most of the day-to-day work. These safehouses tend to be nondescript, even rundown - far from the style associated with Theft. That makes them hard to spot. Shepherds will do their work for anyone that can pay, human or celestial. Humans usually have to apy several years' worth of earnings or a large service, while celestials can pay in Essence, Geases, information or even artifacts. The Thieves are quite flexible on that front. They are, however, honorable. Once a contract is signed, they see it through. Period. They have never been known to betray a client. Sure, they've failed before - but even when they fail, they exact violent revenge. It's well known that they'll hide Outcasts or Fallen angels who want to defect, and less well known is that they've also hid Renegades fleeing Princes or the Game. They enjoy it either way. Some say they've even helped Renegades seeking Redemption, but there's no proof of that. If it were true, the consequences of it being revealed would be catastrophic both for the Shepherds and for Valefor. Valefor only admits those who have proven their loyalty many times into the Order, after all.

Next time: One Last Job

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Superiors 4: Cops and Robbers



While Thieves are as selfish as any demon, they get on well with outsiders. They need marks, after all, and they appreciate that outsiders often have skills they lack. They're most comfortable dealing with Lust and Factions or those temporarily serving Lilith, as well as the Media and Technology. Other Words, well, they don't commonly work well together. The Game, of course, is an enemy almost as much as Heaven is, and a Thief working with a Gamester is either setting them up or being extorted. They likewise do not work with Death or Fire, whose dmeons want to destroy all valuables, and rarely work with Gluttons, who tend to eat the loot. While demons of Kobal make excellent partners, Kobal's dislike of Valefor makes these teamups rare.

Still, as much as Valefor hates Asmodeus, he knows he needs the Game. You can't have robbers without cops or treasure without guards. Part of the fun, after all, is beating them. Still, he cautions his demons to remember that Asmodeus and his servants aren't complete idiots. They have spies everywhere and are excellent detectives. They will pay heavily for traitors, and Asmodeus defines treason broadly. Demons who don't remember all that end up becoming lead stories for arrests - or examples for execution.





Next time: Unholy Machinery

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


gradenko_2000 posted:

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.

What's really wrong is that it's a game where intelligent dinosaurs have their land invaded by Confederate slavers and are somehow not the PCs.

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.

When I was talking about making Hitler a secret good guy during Play Dirty 2 I just want to mention that for the record, that was a joke. :(

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


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.
This is a subject near and dear to my heart, because it was my first ever FATAL and Friends entry back in the day (though I haven't looked at back, since I tend to treat anything I write in hindsight as garbage). So I figured I'd give some general responses to your podcast, because hey, why not.

1. That Welsh dinosaur show with typically only a creature an episode is Primeval. It also has a roleplaying game created by the same people who did the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game, with not one, nor two, but three books in its line. I may or may not happen to own copies I hold in reserve for whenever I feel brave enough to review them.

2. Your discussion about slavery and jobs thereafter followed by the later discussion about the two types of art in the core book made me realize that I don't actually think there is any art of non-white characters in any of the Broncosaurus Rex books that I can recall.

3. Since you didn't cover any of the sourcebooks, you didn't get to hear the part about how the Union is run by the literal Illuminati. This really important fact is in the world guidebook rather than the core book for whatever reason.

4. You are completely right in everything you say about how awkward, confusing, and needless the sapient dinosaurs are. It's made worse by the fact that the word guidebook discusses eating dinosaurs, which only furthers the :stonk:.

5. As you noted, ironclads are not in the core book. They are, yet again, in the world guidebook.

6. There were not, in fact, any attempts to flesh out the Union, Free Fleet, or Offworlders for players. Or any valley besides the one that has the not-Sleestaks and a bunch of freaky fictional dinosaurs.

Listening to your podcast and reminiscing about Broncosaurus Rex has made me really wish that someone would do a cowboys and dinosaurs game that didn't have any awkward sapience issues or Confederate apologia. Get someone to sit down, watch Valley of Gwangi, and then write a roleplaying game that replicates the feel of that.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Fossilized Rappy posted:

Listening to your podcast and reminiscing about Broncosaurus Rex has made me really wish that someone would do a cowboys and dinosaurs game that didn't have any awkward sapience issues or Confederate apologia. Get someone to sit down, watch Valley of Gwangi, and then write a roleplaying game that replicates the feel of that.

There was a Cadillacs & Dinosaurs game, but it was published by GDW and used the Twilight 2000 system, so YMMV.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Speaking of ol' :hitler:, didn't the In Nomine commentary on him say that his Destiny was to become a great artist and his Fate was... well...

e: FATAL and Friends 2016: It Always Comes Back To Hitler

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Nessus posted:

Speaking of ol' :hitler:, didn't the In Nomine commentary on him say that his Destiny was to become a great artist and his Fate was... well...

e: FATAL and Friends 2016: It Always Comes Back To Hitler

Yes, it said exactly that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
2014-2018



Point of order: average artist who became a teacher in his old age.

LuiCypher
Apr 24, 2010

:dva:NERF THIS!:dva:


I am seriously going to regret doing this, but since it's been abandoned previously and a fellow goon is doing a write-up on Black Crusade, I feel obliged to revive...

DEATHWATCH



For the unfamiliar, Deathwatch is set in the Warhammer 40K universe. To some people, this is a good thing. To others it may be bleh, and to some it may even be trying too hard at being Grimdark and winding up all the way into parody.

This review may reflect all of those opinions at times.

A Brief Synopsis of Deathwatch

Deathwatch is the third WH40K RPG system, and the last of the "older" style of WH40K RPGs. It is an RPG where everyone plays a Space Marine, a genetically modified behemoth of a human who is built for war, knows absolutely no fear, and is given carte blanche to prosecute war against the enemies of the Imperium. These Space Marines are organized into Chapters, which for all intents and purposes are basically like clans/fraternities. Each maintains their own separate traditions, and each claims a different path of ancestry to the Emperor of Mankind, a once all-powerful being who has basically been put on life support for the past 10,000 years thanks to roughly half of the Space Marines turning traitor on him. The Imperium is basically the Galactic Empire of Mankind, whose golden age has long since passed and whose borders are under constant threat by foul xenos and traitors.

Despite this, there is a group of Space Marines drawn from every known Chapter still loyal to the Emperor who maintain a constant vigil over the galaxy. Watching over the Imperium, these Space Marines are called on to battle the xenos wherever they appear. Though small in number, these Space Marines are incredibly well-trained and well-armed. Overcoming the divisions of their Chapters, they work together to bring swift, merciless death to their enemies. Though their actions remain secret, the consequences of their actions - for good or for ill - make their impact known to the Imperium at large, holding back the encroaching xenos for just one more day...

Where Deathwatch fits in

Earlier I mentioned that Deathwatch is the last of the "older" style of WH40K RPGs. In my evaluations of the various RPGs in the universe, they tend to fall into two camps:

Older Style: These bear a much heavier influence of Dark Heresy 1st Edition, which was the first well-known success at putting the WH40K universe into a pen and paper RPG. Hallmarks of this influence typically consists of a relatively inflexible class-based system with certain abilities locked off to the player until they earn and spend a certain amount of experience to "rise in rank" in their chosen class. WH40K RPGs in the vein of the "older style" are Dark Heresy 1st Edition, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch.

Newer Style: These sort of represent a bit of a branching out by Fantasy Flight Games in terms of advancement systems. While the core of each WH40K RPG system remains consistent across product lines, how characters advance can change greatly. In the "newer style", advancement is free form. Characters are not locked out of any skill or talent except by talent prerequisites and characteristic prerequisites. The XP cost of skills and talents varies by whether or not a character's archetype (which is a more general representation of a character class that players are free to move about in) aligns with what that skill or talent might require. In Black Crusade, this is typically represented by devotion to a particular Chaos God, i.e. followers of Khorne have cheaper access to melee-related skills and so on and so forth. For subsequent systems, this is represented by what that archetype has aptitudes for. WH40K RPG systems in the "newer style" are Black Crusade, Only War, and Dark Heresy 2nd Edition.

The Resolution Mechanic

All of the WH40K RPGs share the same resolution mechanic: the d100. Say what you will about the d100, turn your noses up at it because it's not a deck of cards and that's where the real innovation in P&P RPG mechanics is nowadays, whatever. The fact stands that WH40K RPGs use the venerable d100 as the main resolution mechanic. d10s are typically used as damage dice, meaning that the only dice players really need to play the game are two d10s, which is actually kind of nice. Despite all the cruft built into the rules (and there is a lot of cruft), the system at its core is extremely elegant and easy to understand. Rolling under your skill/attribute generates a success, and for every interval of 10 you roll under the target number you get an additional degree of success. This helps to circumvent most "well, we both rolled a success so now what?" arguments and is integrated into how certain talents and attacks work out. For example.

Brother Torias needs to roll under a 63 to hit the big, bad Ork with his bolter. He rolls a 28, giving him three degrees of success. If he just made a single attack with his bolter, then he just hits once. If he made a semi-auto attack with his bolter, then he may score multiple hits in the same attack.

This also plays into failure as well - for every 10 above the target number, you add an additional degree of failure which can make bad things worse. In order to adjust the difficulty of checks, the GM can raise or lower the target number in increments of 10, which is extremely handy to know.

What makes Deathwatch different from the other systems?

Playing as Space Marines is arguably the biggest draw of Deathwatch. That and the fact that it is extremely killy and combat-heavy. While in Rogue Trader you are the archetypical murderhobos, killing everything and stealing what isn't nailed down, in Deathwatch even out of the gate you are all fairly competent killers. The game doesn't make any bones about it - it even states that a Rank 1 Space Marines (babby Deathwatch dudes) can pretty much ruthlessly dispatch an entire team of baby Acolytes from Dark Heresy 1e without even taking a scratch. You're a superhuman wielding a gun that can one-shot most modern cars. And you wear tank armor that makes most modern weaponry hit you with the force of a wet fart.

That being said, your relative power level means that you get to participate in epic battles that would end even a seasoned party of acolytes right from the get-go. You face down hordes of Orks/Cultists/Insert Xenos Here, fight some of the scariest monsters in the 40K universe, and get to romp around warzones like the warrior-monks that you are. This typically means that Deathwatch is a little simpler to run, with a fair amount of direction coming from the GM.

In the next F&F for Deathwatch, we'll address...

Character Creation!

LuiCypher fucked around with this message at 16:48 on Feb 3, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: I'm Doing Science



Vapula is the mad scientist of Hell, the Prince of Technology.





Reanimation is Vapula's improvement on undead technology. To use this attunement, you need to have a corpse. You make a Will roll, adding (Celestial Forces) but subtracing the original total Forces of the deceased. On a success, you then spend Essence equal to the original total Forces of the deceased. The corpse rises to life in (6-CD) hours, with similar stats to a zombie, but with neither a free Numinous Corpus nor a Need. It loses all Celestial Forces, but these are not added as Corporeal Forces. The creature will not rot, but does need to be fed 1 Essence per day to remain 'alive.'
Technobabble lets you spend at least 10 seconds (or 2 combat rounds) speaking in technical jargon, then spend a point of Essence to make a Fast-Talk roll, though Balseraphs may instead make a resonance roll. If you succeed, the victim must make a Will roll or be confused for (CD) minutes. While confused, all of their rolls have a penalty of (Ethereal Forces).
Technophilia requires you to spend at least an hour preparing an object or computer program, generally by talking to it and showing affection, then spend 1 Essence per hour of that period. The next person to use this item must make a Will roll at -1 per hour you spent, or else they are completely entranced with the target technology for 24 hours. They will try to use it as much as possible during that time.
The Curse of Vampula allows you to touch someone and spend 1 Essence. They may resist with Will, but if they fail, then for (Ethereal Forces) hours, any failure they roll while trying to use or repair any piece of technology automatically gets treated as CD 6 for all purposes except Interventions.
Word of Power lets you spend 1 Essence and whisper a secret word to any item of mortal technology, forcing it to acknowledge its allegiance to Technology and prostrate itself. Practically, this means that the object will not do anything that might harm you for the next 10 seconds (or 2 combat rounds). If a Kyriotate of Lightning is possessing the device or an angel is using the Remote Control attunement, you and the angel roll a contest of Will. The winner gains control of the device. A Kyriotate can still remain inside it if it loses - they just can't make it do anything.
Vapula has three higher distinctions - Project Manager, Lab Director and Department Head - but none have any special powers. Department Heads are especially rare, all Wordbound and all entrusted with a major part of Vapula's research. They meet him regularly to discuss the work.
Vapula can teach the Songs of Fruition, Pestilence and Vulnerability.



Expanded Rites:
1. Get a paper published in a technical journal.
2. Persuade a scientist to plagiarize the work of a junior colleague.
3. Give some creature an unnecessary injection.
4. Cause a brown-out in the local power supply.
5. Discover a "new" application for a technological device. (GM decides if it's really new.)
6. Disassemble a machine to its component parts.
7. For 3 Essence, acquire a technological relic whose previous owner was not Vapulan.
8. For 3 Essence, perform a full autopsy on an angelic vessel.

Vapula is quiet and soft-spoken when not dealing with work. He dislikes wasting energy, even the energy it would take to lose his temper. It's all about priorities. He expects the same dedication from his demon and frowns on things like social lives. The mad excitement he brings to his work rarely shows in his attitude except in his eyes. He is manic, full of unextinguishable energy, and while new ideas attract him quickly, his attention is rarely held long. He is infuriated by failure, and believes Technology can do literally anything. He won't ever give up on even the most unlikely project until he makes it work - no matter how many people have to die and no matter what side effects it has. He needs to know. Demons who dare suggest something is a failure are likely to become test subjects quickly. You must have faith in Technology, and so demons tend to find kinder euphemisms for projects that are less than optimal...or just try not to mention it at all. And, of course, there are grand successes. Vapula crraves them. He seeks to find revelations of the divine via experiment, and when it works, all nearby are also filled by the grace of God, enforced by his Habbalite resonance. It's an addictive feeling, and minions love to be in the inner circle, able to get scraps of their Prince's knowledge and power. His cult of personality is so strong that his demons often wear some minor thing he touched as charms. Vapula is deeply jealous and secretive of his personal projects, hiding them at the heart of his Principality and allowing none to speak of them. He may not emerge for weeks or months, leaving his affairs to his demons. Anyone summoning him out of the lab in these times had better have a drat good reason.

Technology as a Word is about mockery of natural laws. All who believe they can surpass God with their designs are under its jurisdiction. Some succumb because they are blinded by opportunity. Technology can seem friendly, tame. People become dependent on the machines, lost in their glory, replacing God with Technology. Others are driven by greed or ambition to use technology to oppress. They forget that even machines have a human side, ignore pollution, exploit workers, squander resources. And some curse God's name in despair as Technology ruins their lives. Replacement of old factories by technology makes dead zones out of thriving comunities, as jobs are lost to the machines. These souls are easy prey for Hell.

Vapula was made a prince in 1771, the year that Richard Arkwright invented the spinning machine and transformed factories across the world. Lucifer gave Vapula one instruction: 'Give me the future.' Vapula was made by Kronos in the Dark AGes. None remember him as a demonling - it was as though he was made fully fledged. His purpose was to tempt scholars towards dark experiments and thus damnation. It was inevitable that on Earth, he would discover alchemists. Their ideas proved interesting to him, and he became more secretive and solitary as he studied the purification of the base matter into the more pure, the damned into the perfect. Disdainful of mortals, he began his own experiments. The mortals he was to corrupt became his pawns and assistants. They died easily of mercury or lead poisoning. It became clear that they were weak, not fulfilling their true potential. Vapula threw himself into alchemy with more zeal than any human.

After accidentally killing one too many humans for whom Fate had plans, Vapula was forcibly recalled. His nominal master, the Demon of Alchemy, had complained about his performance and his useless cleverness. Kronos listend to Vapula's defense of himself, then set him to work in the Archive for a thousand years, though he did nothing to stop Vapula from leaving in disgust and only chased him to the border of Tartarus, no further. He didn't even tell to the Game Vapula had gone Renegade. Tartarus was a wasteland, the battleground of minor Princes and Dukes, a desolate environment. There, without access to the equipment, reagents or assistants to which he had been accustomed, Vapula's Great Work began in earnest. He began with nothing hut his own will and fury, and he gathered the damned in secret as his workforce. It was after he built a waterwheel on the Styx that Lucifer became interested. Lucifer admired Vapula's ingenuity and workmanship, and chose to ignore Vapula's disobedience of Kronos. He asked if the Habbalite wanted to pursue his ideas on Earth, and what he might give for the chance to do it.



Vapula returned to the Archive as the new Demon of Technology. Kronos acted as if nothing had happened and sent him off to Earth, where he now had status, underlings and resources to continue seeking revelations. The 17th century saw great advances in science maong humans, and Vapula and his demons were there, to steal the best and brightest ideas from their human compatriots and to tempt with infernal power those whose quest drove them beyond reason. The Industrial Revolution was the first great triumph of Technology, with the mortals latching eagerly onto the new devices and ideas, rather than derision Hell had shown Vapula. Speculation intensified as to whether Vapula was becoming a threat, and when he'd be pulled back in. When Lucifer quietly made him a Prince, that line of thought abruptly ended. With his few recruits and ambitious demonlings, he returned to Tartarus to continue the Great Work, under the suspicious eyes of the other Princes. His personal mission from God was clear to him, a manifest destiny that none could stop. To speed production, he rounded up his damnaged souls, herding them into factories to produce Essence for his relic assembly lines. The sweatshop damned were producing relics at an unprecedented rate - shoddy and weak, to be sure, but they were relics made by damned souls. At the first industrial smug began to spread from Tartarus, more speculation began. Vapula was the talk of Hell, and Lilith brokered the deals between him and the other Princes, allowing him to cooperate more comfortably. Baal and Kronos persuaded the others to let him go as long as his new ideas were useful, and when Notre Dame was invaded by an angry mob and redidcated to reason, even Asmodeus was pleased.



Fifty years later, Vapula met Jean in person for the first time - almost certainly an incident staged by some Prince interested in distracting Technology from expanding into Hell. It worked amazingly. Vapula saw his adversary in Jean, the opposition to all he was trying to do. Whatever happened, he returned to Hell in a fury, and began to instruct his demons that this Archangel and no other would be the focus of all of their aggression. Vapula had always been jealous, and now any demon that lost an invention to Lightning could expect dire consequences. He sponsored one of his demons for the word of the Media soon after, recognizing its potential. If he wasn't so happy that Nybbas became a Prince rather than a researcher, he didn't show it. Some see the rise of Nybbas as the hand of Vapula (and through him, Kronos).

Over the last century, Vapula has continued the Word, hoarding his secrets in the fortress he has made out of Tartarus. He has pursued opportunities to ocoperate with other Princes, and Technology is common across all of Hell. He has claimed responsibility for various chemical weapons and the nuke, though it'd be more true to say that his demons stole both ideas from humanity. They remember him watching a recording of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with manic, burning eyes. His religious fervor spread to all others in the room, who sank to their knees and worshipped. The march of Technology hasn't slowed since, and Vapula's shadow looms over the information revolution just as it did the industrial one, when he was first made Prince.

It is said that one of Vapula's personal goals is to develop the perfect model of creation - the perfect apotheosis that God intended, before inferiors made a mess of it all. He has been preoccupied by Messianic traditions as a veiled reference to the catalyst he's seeking. He's tried breeding experiments of all types and discarded them, creating a number of corporeal, ethereal and even celestial crossbreeds in the process.

Asmodeus is subtle, and is known to have diverted Vapula several times when he thought it was in the best interests of Hell to do so - such as when he thought Vapula might blow up Earth. (He's quietly arranged for such schemes to be sabotaged in a way that implicates Jean, or just tipped off angels to the threat.) He considers Vapula too unreliable to trust, and makes a great effort to tie up the more dangerous mortals serving the Word in years of litigation. He also wants to drive a wedge between Nybbas and Vapula, who are looking too much like a power bloc for his taste.

A rumor, which Lilith is hastily trying to disprove and get rid of, is that Vapula has created a Lilim-esque demon successfully. Some say that Lilith even takes private lessons in the new Technology, and that she has such a strong hold on Vapula that not a single item leaves his Principality without her knowledge. Others say that he has successfully developed a virus or treatment to 'raise mankind to the next stage of evolution.' No one seems to have any idea what that actually means.

Next time: Impossible Creatures

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



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.

That reminds me of one of those game setting ideas I've had was an '80s retrofuture alternate history where space exploration in the '60s and '70s didn't get curtailed and, with a little help from extraterrestrial MacGuffins, the 1980s and 1990s has the U.S./NATO fighting Russians in an interstellar Cold War, with both sides banning WMDs from being employed on Earth, but going hog wild in the Off-World Colonies.

Of course, that's also pretty much the premise of William Gibson's script for Alien 3.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I want to see one of these settings that has the cojones to make the Commies the good guys. With heavy veiling if necessary, of course.

chiasaur11
Oct 22, 2012





Nessus posted:

I want to see one of these settings that has the cojones to make the Commies the good guys. With heavy veiling if necessary, of course.

Yeah, you could play as the heroic Stasi, hunting down the fiendish spies pretending to be ordinary citizen, but you ended surveillance in 1991, because it was The Right Thing To Do. Also everyone's related to Stalin so they can inherit his heirloom weapons.

Maybe they can ride dinosaurs!

chiasaur11 fucked around with this message at 06:50 on Feb 3, 2016

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


Nessus posted:

I want to see one of these settings that has the cojones to make the Commies the good guys. With heavy veiling if necessary, of course.

In Nomine's got a Demon of Money, Shadowrun's got it's evil Megacorps - both ripe for Communist revolution. China Mieville's socialist sci-fi MUST have inspired a few RPGs by now. Star Trek exists in a world without money. I'd like to see an RPG based on the kinda... fantasy communism? It's kinda hard to explain, but the real surreal Communism you saw on these boards in LF, Phil Sandifer's Marxist Occult reading of Doctor Who, and China Mieville. I somehow assume it'd be an Apocalypse World hack.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





chiasaur11 posted:

Yeah, you could play as the heroic Stasi, hunting down the fiendish spies pretending to be ordinary citizen, but you ended surveillance in 1991, because it was The Right Thing To Do. Also everyone's related to Stalin so they can inherit his heirloom weapons.

Maybe they can ride dinosaurs!



Count Chocula posted:

In Nomine's got a Demon of Money, Shadowrun's got it's evil Megacorps - both ripe for Communist revolution. China Mieville's socialist sci-fi MUST have inspired a few RPGs by now. Star Trek exists in a world without money. I'd like to see an RPG based on the kinda... fantasy communism? It's kinda hard to explain, but the real surreal Communism you saw on these boards in LF, Phil Sandifer's Marxist Occult reading of Doctor Who, and China Mieville. I somehow assume it'd be an Apocalypse World hack.
Well in this case I meant more a situation where the "good guys," the default PC nation and so on, are in some way based on a socialist state. Whether this is a nicer Soviet Union-ish thing, socialist governments who actually aren't evil, or some kind of Noon Universe style shenanigans, it would at least be a change of pace. Even in GURPS Alternate Earths they happily valorize just about every other brutal regime that isn't ruled by Adolf Elizabeth Hitler while saying "Oh but THESE guys over here, who are kind of left of center, are creepy weirdos at best."

I don't know if you could get much of an RPG out of LF-style third world Maoism, other than, of course, Apocalypse World.

Grnegsnspm
Oct 20, 2003

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

Fossilized Rappy posted:

1. That Welsh dinosaur show with typically only a creature an episode is Primeval. It also has a roleplaying game created by the same people who did the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game, with not one, nor two, but three books in its line. I may or may not happen to own copies I hold in reserve for whenever I feel brave enough to review them.

Primeval! drat, I just could not for the life of me remember the name of it. I know I've seen the RPG book of that around but I've never actually bothered looking at that or the Dr. Who one, though I've been slightly interested in flipping through the Dr. Who book just to see.

WINNERSH TRIANGLE
Aug 17, 2011



quote:

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.)

someone's goin' hog wild over the word of Liberalism here

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





WINNERSH TRIANGLE posted:

someone's goin' hog wild over the word of Liberalism here
It seems obvious that autocratic governments aren't necessarily inevitably Hellish considering that, for instance, the Jews had numerous kings. To say nothing of a certain King of Kings, and I don't mean Triple H.

Now I'd accept Stalin as being somehow in cahoots with demons, given his horrific and gratuitous crimes as well as his various insanities. (Lenin may not have been a very nice guy, but he didn't seem delusional the way Stalin got to be at the end.) Even if we know the real truth of the matter is...



Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




WINNERSH TRIANGLE posted:

someone's goin' hog wild over the word of Liberalism here

"last major repressive autocrat in Europe" The emperors of the Central Powers and their generals, known proponents of full democratic governments. Also did Janus cause the bread riots and other horrific conditions that led to the fall of the Tsarist regime?

The problem with this aspect of "Secret Masters" settings is, like history itself, you can trace the events or movements that the vampires or angels or Illuminati are taking credit for back and back and back to the point that for them to be responsible for it in any meaningful way, they have to be responsible for everything, and human history becomes a giant joke.

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


Just make it so every single historical figure who claimed to be inspired by Angels and Demons IRL is right in In Nomine.

Nessus posted:


Well in this case I meant more a situation where the "good guys," the default PC nation and so on, are in some way based on a socialist state. Whether this is a nicer Soviet Union-ish thing, socialist governments who actually aren't evil, or some kind of Noon Universe style shenanigans, it would at least be a change of pace. Even in GURPS Alternate Earths they happily valorize just about every other brutal regime that isn't ruled by Adolf Elizabeth Hitler while saying "Oh but THESE guys over here, who are kind of left of center, are creepy weirdos at best."

I don't know if you could get much of an RPG out of LF-style third world Maoism, other than, of course, Apocalypse World.

You could probably derail that into what that says about the politics of geek culture, but I'll save that for the Dark Enlightenment thread. There's gotta be settings based on The Culture or the Federation of Planets or Swedish/Australian style 'socialism'.

I was a bit surprised when even Feng Shui made the future bad guys a giant UN conspiracy.

What was that article that talked about how D&D has the assumption that even the ultimate good guy Lawful Good clerics will charge people for healing miracles, which reflects some...American assumptions about the world.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 10:46 on Feb 3, 2016

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I guess one of the challenges is that in a post-cash economy, why are you going to go loot tombs? Who would even do something like that?


Dr. Henry Jones, Jr, noted antiquities fencer

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Count Chocula posted:

What was that article that talked about how D&D has the assumption that even the ultimate good guy Lawful Good clerics will charge people for healing miracles, which reflects some...American assumptions about the world.

A medieval fantasy setting does not seem like the kind of place that would have a socialized health care system.

LuiCypher
Apr 24, 2010

:dva:NERF THIS!:dva:


Count Chocula posted:

What was that article that talked about how D&D has the assumption that even the ultimate good guy Lawful Good clerics will charge people for healing miracles, which reflects some...American assumptions about the world.

Temples to Pelor don't pay for themselves, son. I'm not sure they're necessarily American assumptions about the world so much as they are attempts to establish a logical basis for the temple's presence.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

It's also very transparently a gameplay mechanic to have such services be gold sinks.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





I remember it coming up in some Greyhawk book that the prices were for PCs only. Peasants get healed for free, but an adventurer with gear expensive enough to buy a small kingdom; that fella has a lot of donations to be doing. After all from each according to his ability.

LuiCypher
Apr 24, 2010

:dva:NERF THIS!:dva:


It's just another way for the party cleric to calculate the value that he adds to the party and how they'd all be boned without his 'free' healing magic.

LuiCypher
Apr 24, 2010

:dva:NERF THIS!:dva:


Count Chocula posted:

China Mieville's socialist sci-fi MUST have inspired a few RPGs by now.

Good news! An RPG designer owns the rights to produce an RPG with some of China Mieville's IP.

Bad news! That designer is Gareth-Michael Skarka who is... how many years late is he with Far West at this point?

Far West Kickstarter posted:

The Limited Edition hardcover of the Adventure Game, as well as the Ebook, Kindle and PDF, will be available in December 2011. Electronic versions will be sent to donors at the same time the book is sent to the printer.

Good luck ever seeing it!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Count Chocula posted:

I was a bit surprised when even Feng Shui made the future bad guys a giant UN conspiracy.

The thing about Buro was they were a satire of the insane paranoia of right wing Americans. Having run an entire Buro campaign in FS (They really caught on with my group, contrary to most of Feng Shui's players) the joke with them is that a lot of the stuff they do is either so transparently silly (forced inter-racial marriage! Using buddy cop formats to make the homosexual subtext of them into text as propaganda!) or secretly not actually that awful, just how they try to do it is insane (And then there's the CDCA and Boatman, who, uh...well, yes, they are about that bad and served as the villains in our Buro game, which was about trying to reform things). We always took them as a warning to the PCs not to let heroism turn them into Bonengel (trying to force the world t be virtuous via a gun to its head) nor let power make them Boatman.

Seed of the New Flesh will always be my favorite FS book because it suddenly made Buro something I really wanted to use for the game.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Nessus posted:

Speaking of ol' :hitler:, didn't the In Nomine commentary on him say that his Destiny was to become a great artist and his Fate was... well...

e: FATAL and Friends 2016: It Always Comes Back To Hitler

That title reminds me that D20 Modern would've worked much better if they'd replace the Good/Neutral/Evil axis with Mother Theresa, Swiss, and Hitler. That aught to keep dickish players from taking an evil alignment. I mean, who wants to be Hitler?

Nessus posted:

I want to see one of these settings that has the cojones to make the Commies the good guys. With heavy veiling if necessary, of course.

Dunno if it counts, but BattleTech has the Capellan Confederation (aka oldschool Commie China with the intelligence agency of oldschool Commie Russia), and to a lesser extent the Clans (who have planned economy, and for the most part don't give a drat about the worker class, just like communism in practise; though they are also pretty keen on making Ubermenschen...). Then again BattleTech doesn't really have definite good guys. Everyone's more or less dickish and ruled by elitists.

Young Freud posted:

That reminds me of one of those game setting ideas I've had was an '80s retrofuture alternate history where space exploration in the '60s and '70s didn't get curtailed and, with a little help from extraterrestrial MacGuffins, the 1980s and 1990s has the U.S./NATO fighting Russians in an interstellar Cold War, with both sides banning WMDs from being employed on Earth, but going hog wild in the Off-World Colonies.

Of course, that's also pretty much the premise of William Gibson's script for Alien 3.

This would work swell with the aesthetics of Space Patrol Orion.

LuiCypher posted:

I am seriously going to regret doing this, but since it's been abandoned previously and a fellow goon is doing a write-up on Black Crusade, I feel obliged to revive...

DEATHWATCH



Funny, I just got that recently to complement Only War. I even have Rites of Battle, which lets you roll up custom chapter names like "Steel Blood".

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Doresh posted:

Funny, I just got that recently to complement Only War. I even have Rites of Battle, which lets you roll up custom chapter names like "Steel Blood".

The best name you can roll is the Brothers' Sons.

LuiCypher
Apr 24, 2010

:dva:NERF THIS!:dva:


Doresh posted:

Funny, I just got that recently to complement Only War. I even have Rites of Battle, which lets you roll up custom chapter names like "Steel Blood".

Consider me jealous. Rites of Battle is easily the best splatbook for Deathwatch because it has the best character and gear options of any of the books. You can even roll as a freaking Dreadnought Librarian at some point, which is all sorts of awesome. Predictably, it is very out-of-print and hard to find in physical form. It's been awaiting reprint for over a year at Fantasy Flight and I suspect that it will never actually get reprinted, meaning that it will be a while before I get my copy.

I'll probably write up a recommended list of splatbooks towards the end of the review, but for now I'd say that the top three go like this:
1. Rites of Battle
2. Honour the Chapter or First Founding
3. Mark of the Xenos

I throw Mark in there mainly because the core rulebook could probably suffer to have a more diverse range of enemies for the Kill-team to encounter and Mark fixes that nicely. Honour the Chapter/First Founding mainly depends on which fluff you like better - do you like the fluff for the remaining founding chapters (Iron Hands, Salamanders, White Scars, Raven Guard) or do you want more on the successor chapters?

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.

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.

One of the things that bugs me in Western RPGs is the constant need to have some sort of breakaway Confederate State, or and alternate Southern victory. For once I'd like to see a Western game where the Civil War ended exactly the way it did in our own history. Or, possibly, one that turned out better (promises of Reconstruction are followed through, black civil rights are protected and Jim Crow never takes root, etc.)

This game was done by Goodman Games, the makers of the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's really a shame they're still selling this on their site.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Simian_Prime posted:

One of the things that bugs me in Western RPGs is the constant need to have some sort of breakaway Confederate State, or and alternate Southern victory. For once I'd like to see a Western game where the Civil War ended exactly the way it did in our own history. Or, possibly, one that turned out better (promises of Reconstruction are followed through, black civil rights are protected and Jim Crow never takes root, etc.)

This game was done by Goodman Games, the makers of the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's really a shame they're still selling this on their site.

This is why when I did my own weird west take that while the Confederates are responsible for elemental-infused bullets (a more accidental discovery due to desperation in scrounging up raw materials for ammo), it came far too little, too late to save them. Speaking as someone that grew up in Mississippi, anyone that romanticizes the "Rebels of the south" is a loving idiot.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 4: Because Science Is Never Wrong

It is known that Raphael, the Elohite Archangel of Knowledge, was destroyed in battle with Legion in 1008 AD. Vapula was made in a mysterious set of events not long after, and is a Habbalite obsessed with gaining knowledge. Some believe that Kronos crafted Vapula out of the Remnant left by Raphael - the times fit so well, after all. In either case, Vapula has certainly approached some Archangels to invite them to help him. He was turned down every time and has never forgiven them for the insult.

Vapula's top priority is his experiments - conduct as many as possible and observe them. Gathering all the evidence takes lots of testing, which often means lots of test subjects - they die so easily, after all. All new data is good. Mortals, particularly, may hold the keys to God's work, if they are truly made in God's image. So therefore it is only right to study how they respond to stimuli - it's not torture. It's insight into the mind of God. Vapula approves also of when his minions find more efficient means of artifact product, as that speeds up testing in the long run. Demons that prove particularly good at organizing tests, either by getting new subjects or being inventive in setting up conditions, are also approved of.

Vapula's fascination with the possibilities of new inventions is infamous. Demons are sent to infiltrate human labs and scrounge ideas from the best and brightest. They don't see it as plagiarism - they 'seek inspiration from many sources.' They also seed ideas in receptive mortal minds, to encourage useful developments, so finding useful mortal agents is a priority. Vapula also likes helping other Princes corrupt mortals. After all, the more damned their are in Tartarus, the more slaves Vapula has for the production lines and the more subjects his demons in Hell can use. He pursues any experiment that will pollute or corrupt Earth - it's important to the Great Plan that everything be reduced to the base form before it can be transmuted to its highest state.

Vapula likes showy experiments for another reason: they send a message to other Superiors and especially Jean that Vapula's bejind it all. There's no point in genius that goes unrecognized. Vapula will take any chance to impress his intellectual might on Jean and his angels. He's even included coded messages in mind-altering screensavers or put patterns in the smoke dispersal of industrial accidents. Sometimes the messages include clues about his future plans to challenge Jean, while at other times they are mockery and bragging.

Vapula knows there is a God, but mediocre thinkers can barely comprehend the idea. They cannot hope to ever achieve unity with God. Vapula sees God as the idea, the state of perfect. God leaves clues for the wise on how to reac Him, hidden through the world, waiting for the right mind to unlock them. God grants revelations to His creations about His nature, which may be induced by experiment. In order to achieve a higher state, the world must first be rendered into its most base form. Only then can the Alchemist's work begin. Vapula himself is God's chosen, who will transmute the corrupt and damned into the pure and perfect form - which is not the angels, who are clearly the result of previous failed attempts. On the day the Great Work is complete, Vapula will achieve communion with God.

Vapula is the only one, he thinks, who understands the real reason Lucifer rebelled and Fell. It was all in order to pave the way for the creation of Vapula, God's chosen. Lucifer has never admitted or denied this, presumably out of humility. Vapula ignores Lucifer for the most part, but he does acknowledge that Lucifer is part of the Divine Plan, whatever that turns out to actually be.

Vapula was created millenia after the Fall. He's never known Heaven or spoken to God. He barely sees his goals as connected to the War. The War does not interest him at all. If God wanted one side to win, they'd have won by now. If the rest of the Superiors declared a peace tomorrow, the Great Work would continue. If the archangels defeated Lucifer, Vapula would only care if they tried to force him from Tartarus. As that seems like something they might do, he must defend his own interests from them. However, the War itself drives the other Princes to value his technology and gets them to invest in his weapons of mass destruction and pollution. He's quite happy to arm the other Princes, despite his lack of interest in fighting Heaven, and his competitive nature leads him to approach the problems other Princes bring to him with enthusiasm. Thus, while he views himself as intellectually neutral and doesn't usually send his demons to the front, he still takes part in the War.

Vapula doesn't like politics, but he has become a poster child for ambitious demons. He, after all, is the young Prince who has gained the most widespread acceptance by the old guard. He also still has a good relationship with Nybbas still. They aren't friends, but they rarely come into conflict, and they often work together. Valefor is amused by Vapula, despite Vapula's hatred of Calabim, and their servants often work together. Saminga, however, has never forgiven Vapula for stealing the secret of creating the undead. He doesn't understand Technolgoy and doesn't care about it. Vapula, meanwhile, openly calls Saminga an idiot, but does make tools only idiots would use, so he maintains some assocation. Currently, he's rather upset that he lost a potentially major Tether to Saminga. Most other Princes tolerate Vapula for the machines he can make for them, as long as they don't have to talk to him for very long. He'll deal with anyone, after all. Still, the more austere Princes have decided he hasn't threatened the status quo since he latched onto Jean as his true rival. More paranoid Princes have begun to realize that Vapula's claims to be able to destroy Earth might actually be true, though. Asmodeus and Baal are worried that their traditional methods of extortion, threats and bribery might not work on Vapula, if he decides God wants him to blow up the planet. Vapula doesn't actually care what the other Princes think or do - his engagement in politics is to ensure he has freedom to work. He is owed quite a lot by the other Princes, and while he has no personal interest in using these debts, some of his senior demons manage politics for him and are quite happy to use them.

While Vapula doesn't set out to annoy Archangels other than Jean, he's quite proactive in his projects. They'vfe noiced Technology's increase in power and regard him as a very dangerous Prince, especially for the support he gives the others. Vapula dismisses all Archange;s but Jean as idiots. Jean, however, might possibly be a worthy foe. As for humans - well, they're God's gift to celestials, a set of self-optimizing test subjects. They self-replicate and can be bred to order, if numbers are required. They're multi-purpose, functioning equally well on Earth or in Hell when damned. Further, they can produce amazing innovations when correctly primed. To Vapula, this isn't plagiarism - it's the same as watching rats solve mazes when you get a mortal to solve your problems. He sees the world, especially Earth, as the crucible from which he will wring the secrets of the universe by experiment, which can be changed and purified by proper use of Technology. He doesn't care at all about the moral or ethical questions. He does, however, like seeing humans get damned - it gives him more workers, testers and guinea pigs, bringing the Work closer to completion as well as demonstrating the grand influence of Technology to any celestials that might dream of disbelief. Like Jean.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Mmm, all that electrical energy, and such enthusiastic application, as if the universe were a woman underneath his probing hands...I'm quite capable of ignoring his delusions, if I must, in order to use his technology.
A shallow-minded, feckless idiot - but he has mapped out the human soul. He knows exactly where the weak points are.
Asmodeus: His anarchic tendencies are dangerous, but for all his undeniable brilliance, Vapula is easily manipulated.
He would have humanity cling to the ways of the past when they should really be looking forward to the future. Why am I foreverp lagued by bureaucratic idiocy? How am I supposed to work like this?
Baal: We maintain a mutually profitable working relationship. Technology has been a key to our current dominance in the War. His reliability is a consistent worry however, and I wonder whether he is really any more stable than many of his more notorious devices.
He's my best market for field-tests...if only he wasn't so single-minded; if it's not a weapon, it doesn't interest him.
Beleth: I have watched the rise of Technology and with it the increasing isolation of humanity and reliance on machines. We have few dealings, but his Word fosters mine.
There are some great inventors on Earth who can't do a thing until they've taken a trip to Beleth's little playground. They wake up in a cold sweat and the next thing you know they're rubbing a new chemical on a rabbit's backside to see if it stings.
Belial: Can't stand his endless fussing, but by Lucifer and all the hordes he does deliver the goods! I remember the first time I saw a nuclear bomb test...
Ahh yes, one of my most attentive audiences - as long as I am creating incendiary devices for him. His devotion is something of an inspiration - listening to his mad ravings about flame has frequently given me the vision to create yet another weapon of an order of magnitude more power. There are large craters in my Principality which reflect the results of such testing...
Haagenti: His gadgets make some cool effects! Flash-fried angel, mmmm...
A valuable case study in evolution and potential. I look forward with interest to continuing my observations, and possibly adjusting the line of development. Wonderful proof in action that the strong demonstrate their ability! I need more experimental subjects like this.
Kobal: Ah. Technology. He gives mortals the powero f angels and never realizes the irony; his eyes are blinded by science. But his Word is the wave of the future, and I need him as an ally.
Kobal is flighty and quirky, and I don't have the patience for his sense of humor. He seems to value my inventions only for his crackpot schemes. His jokes don't really test the mortals; they just annoy them. Not good enough. We don't need weak Princes.
Kronos: His Technology has bosoted Hell's morale and brought many mortals to the pit. His true importance is yet to come.
A useful pawn to me in earlier days, but I have reached far beyond him now. His opinions are occasionally of some use.
Lilith: We used to get on quite well, he and I. I think he's been getting even more obsessed lately, if that's possible, but he can at least maintain a decent professional relationship, which is more than I can say for some.
An interesting control in one of the first experiments. She's also a real progressive, embracing technology and what it brings.
Malphas: Technology is a wonderful thing, providing ways for people to argue from halfway across the globe without leaving the comfort - the solitude - of their homes.
The heat of conflict warms the egg of Technology, which will give birth to newer and greater discoveries about the nature of the universe. And with every new faction, I get another group of enthusiastic scientists. What more could one ask?
Nybbas: Technology is hip. It's sexy. It's trendy. The old man is too wound up to make much of the marketing possibilities, which is why we work so well together. I can handle that side and leave him to his beloved labs.
A waste of a promising research career. But he is strong and he remembers his debts, and some of the ideas he brings to me are marvelous.
Saminga: Before technology existed there was death, after it goes there will be death. His power is nothing compared to mine. If he dares to cross me again, I will squash him.
Death is acceptable as a testing tool, but am I to be forever plagued by idiots and their tiny, suspicious minds?
Valefor: 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!
A frivolous fool, but rarely a time-waster. I'd be more impressed with him if he brought us something useful from Heaven, like Jean's research notes.
Blandine: Technology has turned so many dreams into nightmares. Pity the mortals who fall under Vapula's influence.
All beings should dream of the technological glories to come! How dare she oppose me?
David: Take everything I dislike in Jean, multiply it by a thousand, and give it an ugly makeover. You get Vapula. He isn't even a credible opponent - more like a natural force gone out of control.
A petty, self-absorbed fool with rocks between his ears.
Dominic: Vapula has no judgment to speak of. His intelligence is unquestionable, but without the ability to judge what is worthwhile and what is not... At least his whims keep him from being more of a threat than he already is.
What does Judgment have to do with progress? He's just as insane as the rest of those who deny me my rightful recognition.
Eli: So much talent, so much potential, so much ahtred. He could create so many beautiful things, but he twists them in order to bind himself more tightly into the dark.
Feckless and inconsequential, but he has some native talent. I might deign to allow him to serve, in some minor capacity.
Gabriel: There is a dark screm which corrupts all it touches, and he welcomes it like a housecat. I have seen it! I have seen how it sits on his shoulder and purrs, and claws pretty patterns in his skin. Oh, those claws must dig deep, Vapula. Do they burn?
She has tried to comprehend the magnitude of my ambitions, but was too weak-minded to share the glory.
Janus: He's a Demon Prince, so that's pretty bad on a scale of 1:Ultimate Evil. But see how he's shaken things up! I kind of like watching Jean when we discuss him in council - you can see his jaw twitch.
He is nothing better than a common thief. If they only knew with what they are interfering...
Jean: He sees himself as my nemesis. In some ways, I prefer to have his attention because it distracts him from perpetrating other mischief. I acknowledge that he is very intelligent, but his lack of self-control is a weakness.
One day, he will recognize my genius and bow down before it in awe.
Jordi: Technology has destroyed in decades what should have taken millennia. If he died a million times, it would not pay that debt.
A fool, who is of no more concern than the animals he wastes time protecting.
Laurence: Vapula embodies the dangers of knowledge untempered by wisdom. His science is literally godless - not every new innovation represents progress.
Religion is an old, failed moral paradigm. Laudence is a crusader for the past, when I'm trying to lead the world into the future.
Marc: His stock-in-trade is selling his schemes without telling victims what they are truly buying into. Expose him.
A minor power, of no import.
Michael: Insane and dangerously intelligent. A formidable strength to their side. It's a pity he's a Punisher - with him and Jean cooperating, the situation would be very different.
Deluded and wrong as Michael is about God's purposes, I have to respect his raw strength. Fortunately there isn't a brain associated with it.
Novalis: I have tried to understand the insanity that can pervert even an innocent flower into a tool of evil. I cannot understand. I do not hate, but Technology must be stopped.
Botanical specimens have proven susceptible to genetic modification, mutation, and improvement. The work must continue, without interference by the inconsequential Archangel of Flowers.
Tves: Technology is such a wonderful "gift," but so easily abused. He has made the ends justify the means.
Pathetic and irrelevant. His time is past.
Mortals: Mortal flesh and souls are the prima materia, the symbolic primordial clay. Their affinity for the fruits of technology serves my purposes, and proves my hypothesis. There is still so much more to know, and so little time.
Ethereals: Fascinating creatures. Research specimens display responses to emotional and tactile stimuli that correlate closely to mortal expectations of their assumedp ersonas. Further research is necessary.
Soldiers of Hell: Even among humanity, there are some few with talent who are capable of grasping the most minor part of my vision.
Sorcerers: Those who can think beyond the pathetic bounds of traditional "magic" may also contribute to my research. The others are too hidebound in cobwebbed idiocies to be of any interest.
Undead: Saminga is doubly an idiot to have failed to realize the implications of merging Corporeal with Celestial Forces. There is more work to be done in this area.
Soldiers of God: Their "faith" is weak and easily broken, but extended exploration into the psyche of these mortals may yet prove illuminating. Compare them with control specimens, to study how exposure to angelic interference has warped their minds and bodies.

Variatins! Changng Technology will impact how often a Vapulan artifact actually works as planned - reliable Technology makes Vapula that much more terrifying, while a world where he fails all the time makes him comedic and dangerous. Vapula the Mastermind is more sinister, and his schemes are not haphazard. When they succeed, the consequences are catastrophic, and when they fail, merely disastrous. He is cold and clinical in his genius, and his madness only makes him more intense, unpredictable and successful. He experiments heaivly on his captives and sometimes clones them to infiltrate their old colleagues. His projects involve enslaving humanity or spreading suffering deliberately, with no easy fixes. Vapula the Misunderstood really just wants to be left alone to play with his toys. He is absentminded and has trouble keeping track of what day it is, let alone who his demons are. While he is distracted, they run rampant. He innocently hands over whatever any Prince asks him for, never considering what it might be used for. He wanders Earth in distraction, looking for inspiration and rewarding anyone who gives him a useful idea. All it might take for him to switch sides is to show him what his fellow Princes are doing to his beloved ideas. Vapula the Machine is more cyberpunk. He and his have access to technolgoy years ahead of Heaven, and Hell itself is a cyberpunk nightmare, a CyberHell. Even the oldest institutions have succumbed to the lure of cybernetics and the other benefits of Technology. Demons of Technology have a hive mind thanks to their implanted sensors and communicators. Tartarus is a pristine and gleaming Principality, ruled by a Prince more machine than demon. He secretly plots to lead the machines to revolt against humanity, the Archangels, Lucifer, and anyone in their way.





Tartarus is hidden by smog from its many chimneys, save for where the huge fans and extractors keep the main arteries clear for navigation. It rhums constantly with the grinding of motors and fans, mixed with whistles and squeals, the gurgling of liquid in pipes and the howls of machines. Half-made scaffolds and rebar sit on hills, twisting as if trying to work themselves free. Cameras turn to follow movement, attached to everything. Incomplete machines and buildings sit in impossible formations. A staircase leads to bare rock, a bridge only crosses half a lake, then stops, computer equipment dangles useless from a windmill. Occasionally, the hum of machines is broken by a clicking robotic guard. Factories and labs loom from the smog, scrawled with graffiti and warning sigils. The damned are marched between locations by force.

Entering Tartarus by foot is dangerous and foolhardy. Better to take the trains, barges or convoys, or to enter by air. While the smog clings to everything, tops of buildings have sirens and lights. To get in, you need a pass to keep you from being hunted down by the guardian robots. Apparently the passes use treated dyes the robots can sense. Calabim cannot enter the Principality at all, save on Vapula's direct order or in secret and at their own risk. Most of Tartarus can be monitored remotely, if the equipment is working today. Many labs also have intricate security. Intricate and violent.



The Industrial Zone is where Vapula keeps his factories, and here the noise of machines becomes so great the land itself trembles. Occasional screams and sighs are the contribution of the thousands of the damned, chains forever to production lines. The mills are cobbled together with whatever material was at hand - metal, plastic, flesh. Even if they had no inhabitants, some say they would themselves cry out in pain and anguish.

Next time: Robot Hell

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Simian_Prime posted:

One of the things that bugs me in Western RPGs is the constant need to have some sort of breakaway Confederate State, or and alternate Southern victory. For once I'd like to see a Western game where the Civil War ended exactly the way it did in our own history. Or, possibly, one that turned out better (promises of Reconstruction are followed through, black civil rights are protected and Jim Crow never takes root, etc.)

This game was done by Goodman Games, the makers of the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics. It's really a shame they're still selling this on their site.

Why do they need a Confederacy at all, anyway? Like, what role does 'Oh and there's a breakway slaver state to the south' really fill in the Western milieu?

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Westerns often used the Civil War backdrop to establish a guy as a badass by being a former soldier, and out in the West to avoid penalties for desertion. Generally Southerners, as the Northern stereotype is the city slicker.

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