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Feb 13, 2012

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

Orlanth: The guy who is usually fixing something he broke but it's totally okay because it's going to turn out even better when it's done I swear (while his wife quietly makes sure he doesn't gently caress up more).


Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

I dunno why it's taken me so long, but I'm gonna buy King of Dragon Pass tonight. That art is just irresistible. I dunno why, but God Time makes so much more sense to me than In Nomine's Celestials existing in semi-linear time (I guess Yves & Kronos don't?). I like my gods like Genie from Aladdin, outside of time.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Yves and Kronos exist, as far as canon is concerned, outside of time, with both likely seeing and existing in all separate timelines simultaneously. Celestials and ethereals have to march to the beat of the Symphony, though there's little stopping you from saying that the celestial and ethereal plane move on different flows of time than the corporeal. Puts some fire under the PCs if you do that, and let them know, say, a day in the celestial world is a week or even more in the corporeal.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Black August posted:

Yves and Kronos exist, as far as canon is concerned, outside of time, with both likely seeing and existing in all separate timelines simultaneously. Celestials and ethereals have to march to the beat of the Symphony, though there's little stopping you from saying that the celestial and ethereal plane move on different flows of time than the corporeal. Puts some fire under the PCs if you do that, and let them know, say, a day in the celestial world is a week or even more in the corporeal.

You could do some cool multi-generational sagas that way, with the PCs as the Guardian Angels/Patron Demons of a long-lived family or community.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Count Chocula posted:

You could do some cool multi-generational sagas that way, with the PCs as the Guardian Angels/Patron Demons of a long-lived family or community.

Yeah. It lends some weight and meaning if time passes slowest/'normal' corporeally, meaning that time in the ethereal and celestial needs to be spent wisely, or create situations like that, or just cases of angelic/demonic disconnect when mortals remind them "I haven't seen you in 3 years" when it was just, say, 3 days topside.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Pictured: Poster prepares to celebrate Holy Communion (probablY)

This avatar made possible by a gift from the Religionthread Posters Relief Fund

Night10194 posted:

Orlanth: The guy who is usually fixing something he broke but it's totally okay because it's going to turn out even better when it's done I swear (while his wife quietly makes sure he doesn't gently caress up more).

Orlanth has learned the secret that it is better to apologise and try and fix something that you broke than loving around going "nothing was ever broken in the first place.

Looking at you here Shelpkrit.

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

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

Black August posted:

Yeah. It lends some weight and meaning if time passes slowest/'normal' corporeally, meaning that time in the ethereal and celestial needs to be spent wisely, or create situations like that, or just cases of angelic/demonic disconnect when mortals remind them "I haven't seen you in 3 years" when it was just, say, 3 days topside.

Kronos being Yves evil twin feels forced to me - if Yves is a unique being from the higher heavens, where did Kronos come from? If he's not why does he have these weird abilities no other angel does.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

Maybe they're aspects of the same being, a neutral/balance type, like Destiny or Prince Gaynor.

Feb 15, 2012

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

Count Chocula posted:

Maybe they're aspects of the same being, a neutral/balance type, like Destiny or Prince Gaynor.

My guess is along these lines- one of the side effects of making a universe is that you end up with Yves and Kronos as embodied representations of Destiny and Fate. It's just the way the math works out. They're not angels or demons, but they're similar enough to play the role of a Superior (like Lilith).

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Cthulhu Dreams posted:

Kronos being Yves evil twin feels forced to me - if Yves is a unique being from the higher heavens, where did Kronos come from? If he's not why does he have these weird abilities no other angel does.

It's been explored in canon and fan material. Doesn't HAVE to be Fallen Yves. Partial canon is that much like Yves being every good choice, Kronos is every negative one; he exists because the Symphony has a Fate it can meet, just like a Destiny.

He could be a part of God, the Metatron, Yves, all the dead from the Fall, Lucifer himself, the Lower Hells personified, Fate itself personified (and thus unable to be reasoned with), something that came from a dead/failed Symphony, and a dozen more. Maybe he was always there, maybe he's the one to actually grant Words, maybe he only appeared when the Symphony was able to meet its Destiny, maybe he can only die if Hell loses; whatever the case, Kronos is meant to be the most powerful being in Hell, and able to manipulate the Symphony itself, which nothing else in Hell can, which cements his nature as extrademonic to some extent.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

They could both be remnants/mergings of powerful old Etherals.
It probably matters to the players less than having someone nice but mysterious on the Angels side. I dunno what Kronos does. Probably plays lots of chess with Yves.

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.
My take on it for my In Nomine campaign is that Yves and Kronos were created when God made the Symphony. Yves is the universe's awareness of its Destiny and exists to bring creation to it. Kronos is likewise the universe's awareness of its Fate and exists to bring creation to it. Both are in some respects a part of God, and both are essential elements of Creation. A plot point I have for the campaign, however, is that while Yves and Kronos are currently aligned with heaven and hell respectively, their loyalties are to something else and they will work at cross-purposes with their celestial realm if doing so serves the universe's Destiny or Fate.

In the meantime, I characterized them in the campaign's introduction as being like Professor X and Magneto, two old men playing chess in the park when nothing important is happening. They understand each other completely like no other being in creation can, and while they oppose each other completely it's an almost downright friendly level of respectful antagonism.

Aug 1, 2011
Kronos is fun. If he's Fate personified (and that the solution I'd take if I were running In Nomine) you can have some interesting morality argument because it would be in his natute and divine ordained function to try and drag creation into the pit;

Or perhaps even more viciious. Yves and Kronos' place in the great plan is to decide which world will come after this one. God divided on what the next universe's rules would be.

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.
My take on it is that the fundamental purpose of Yves and Kronos, and of the Symphony they represent, is an experiment in free will. Will the universe choose its destiny, or its fate?

Nov 26, 2008

Lipstick Apathy

Someone should post a comparison of the old text and the new text because it's a good example of how far the game industry has come in terms of design. I haven't read the new version yet but it looks like a modern book. Some of the original Runequest 2E books look like a zine or poorly xeroxed socialist newsletter from the 1980's.

Jan 7, 2015
Sparks of Light

The Wider World

This section is the last bit of setting information before we finally almost get to the actual rules of this game. Will we find other instances of "Let's port over concepts from Princess which exists solely because of arbitrary WoD conventions that have nothing to do with the actual source material"? Who knows!

Magical Girl Stalkers

Despite the charming name, these fellows are not creepy perverts who harass magical girls and dream of one day recording some HTYOMGA (Hot Tentacle Yomi On Magical Girl Action). No, they are the 1% or so of the muggle population who kinda sorta got wind that magical girls are real and want to find out the truth in a more or les professional manner. They organize on the internet of course, but they keep hanging out with conspiracy nutjobs and other weirdoes, which makes it all the more harder to be taken seriously.

These stalkers somehow appear to have a higher chance of becoming a Spark themselves. So if you find out that your best friend is a magical girl, just keep following her until you become one yourself!

Propaganda, Rumors, Romance, Scandal

Propaganda is a bit odd. Basically, the Courts own several animation studios to keep pumping out magical girl shows in order to cement the image of magical girls being kids stuff (mass appeal? What's that?!) instead of something real, kinda sorta prepare future magical girls for what's to come, and hope that a bit of nostalgia might help when the Courts might end up going public.
They should probably use more cash from their treasuries, cause there's an awful lot of this propaganda that never gets a wide release in the west. Or maybe the Courts also finance fansub streaming sites?

The officially sponsored propaganda magical girl anime and manga are sometimes at least paritally based on real events (especially if the creator or mangaka in question is a magical girl itself). The Dark probably also has its own studios providing shows with more depression and grimdark . That's right folks, Madoka was brought to you by the Negaverse.

Since having a bunch of teenage girls hang around in large numbers in a Court is just asking for catfights, the secret society of magical girls has come up with their own kinds of insults: "naive" for n00bs and "Dark touched" for girls who look too evil or something. These insults are lame.

Romance is also a bit odd:


Romance, on the other hand, is an extremely important subject. The magical girl world is host to strange combinations; this is a universe where a girl and a unicorn can fall in love. Conservative magical girls are going to have a hard time when they see just how common inter-troupe romances are.

The book doesn't answer what the Courts final stance on bestiality is, but they're perfectly fine with some sweet lesbian romances. Though despite beeing around for thousands of years and therefore having more than enough time for more or less scientific studies, the Courts can't make up their minds whether or not a lesbian couple in the same team is a hindrance or boon. Go figure.
Falling in love with a dark magical girl is strictly against the rules. This in turn means that it happens all the time because it's the cool thing to do or something. It's pretty much a crapshoot whether this might actually result in the evil girl getting good or the good one getting screwed over (in more than one ways).

Scandals happen whenever a magical girl gets hit with a case of the Twilight and does something selfish. It's almost like they're actual people or something.


Thise little section features a selection of example locations to set adventures in. None of these have all too specific locations, as magical girls can just teleport around thanks to the Courts.

Seacouver is that one city you see in every American anime dub that desparately tries to hide the fact that it's set in Japan. Located in the northwest coast, it has close enough ties with Japan that it features school uniforms and Shinto shrines. I also bet they sell a lot of rice balls which the locals swear are actually jelly-filled donuts.
This city also appears to be a stand-in of sorts for Haven (... City of Violence) because there's a weird turf war going on between the Light and Dark. The Courts hold the city center, while the Dark controls the harbor region and makes some sweet cash with smuggling. Each faction also controls one Yomi shrine while a third remains independent.

Waterfall City is essentially owned by the Courts, or at least all their important businesses have their HQs there. Naturally, the Dark is nowhere to be found, and its overall the most perfect, safe and boring city to set adventures in.
Sadly, no words about whether or not at least this place has a boarding school exclusively for magical girls.

West is the very creatively named place "where naughty magical girls go to become naughtier". It's a small wannabe Las Vegas on the outside, but its actually the earthly capital of the Twilight. It's a common place for negotiations between Light and Dark, since a bunch of rituals prevent fighting there (excluding the Twilight enforcers, naturally).
Outside of negotiations, West is a popular place for magical girls to party hard, and there's even a Harry Potter vibe going on as the same shady bar looks much better to a magical girl than a muggle. Naughty girls can even indulge in *gasp* capitalism, for West has the only magical girl bank.

Because of their sneaky nature, the Dark don't have whole cities on their own. They just indulge in turf wars with the Light, and the latter actually sends their "gangs" in buses, disguised as a school trip.
Also, apparently the Dark once controlled parts of the Soviet Union before the Russian magical girls curbstomped them. These historical anecdotes are really weird.

Astral Paths

Astral paths connect the mundane world with the astral realm, where all the monsters live and the Halls can be found. There aren't big gates or anything leading to the realm. A magical girl has to attune herself with her current location to create a door that only shee can use. From the outside, stepping through such a door looks like teleporting.


The first step in a soldier's journey is an astral door. This is not a literal doorway, but a way of bringing her spirit into alignment with a specific place. Given time and patience, this is a simple ritual (See page 82, Rituals, and page Error! Bookmark not defined., Astral Jaunt), often taught and well known.
This is version 1.5.5 of the game, mind you.

Once inside the nebulous astral realm, the Halls are so grand that they can be seen or at least felt from huge distances. If a magical girl keeps using the same door to reach the Halls (like say her own room), the distance seems to grow shorter.

Venturing blindly into the astral realm is a dangerous task. Not only are there a bunch of monsters lurking around, but the place also twists past, present and future into a confusing mess of visions. You might also accidentally step into someone's dreams.
If you venture far enough that you can no longer sense the Halls, you're in deep trouble. Luckily, you might stumble upon either a natural font (a I think one-way door from the astral to a specific mundane location) or a crystal relay (an artifical font) to get you out.
Also, apparently the Silver Millenium exists somewhere in the astral realm.

Locations and Aspects

A bunch of example locations and their Aspects. That's a bit weird to bring up seeing how we still have no idea about the rules and what Aspects do, but they're more or less self-explanatory (a suburban park has the Aspects "Happiness" and "Youth", while an abaondoned factory has "Forgotten" and "Rotten").

GM Section

These offer a bit more inside information for the inner workings of the setting, provided as choices for the GM to pick and choose.

For the natura of Light and Dark, the GM can treat them like asbtract concepts, as two rivaling goddesses, or as the most WoD of all explanations: The big band god worm Yormungand wants to nom all of creation and end the cycle of reincarnation, and the Light and Dark are fragments of two gods he nommed before.

This section also presents the optional concepts of the Lightborn and the Dark Gifted. The Lightborn is more or less a magical girl chosen as the avatar of Light. As the most shining and pure of the magical girls, she is equaled to Superman - though I think Captain Planet is more adequate, as the Lightborn is a pacfistic pansy who can probably be stared into submission by Hitler through sheer hatred.
The Dark Gifted on the other hand... I dunno. Nobody has seen one. Just something about the Light granting a Spark to the Dark or something. Hopefully a bit more badass than the above "I become physically ill from fighting".

When it comes to powers, the Light and Dark could be seen as two sides of the same coin: the power of Light is the power of heart, and therefore only the Light can actually create Sparks. The power of the Dark is the power over the world and creation, and there's some stuff about how only the Dark could mend a broken world but there's nothing really to back this up, and seeing how the Light is perfectly fine and capable with fixing the Dark's gently caress-ups, I'm not sure what kind of point this section is trying to make as this is a bit late to make the bad guys sympathetic.


How to defeat the Dark in four easy steps:
  1. Imprison or Seal every Dark girl.
  2. Purify Dark shrines.
  3. Destroy the Dark fortresses.
  4. Victory at last!
  5. Cake Party!
I am disappointed by the lack of PROFIT! memes.

And if you're wondering what would happen if one side manages to win: Well, nothing good, really. The Courts become bored and eventually start a civil war or something, and the Dark just goes batshit crazy and lets the world burn in anarchy.

Weider and Wilder

This is just a continuation of the little note about how even dudes and animals can become Sparks. Essentially, you can just go wild. Body swap! gender swap! Crossdressing! Spontaneous age changes! Time travel!

Also included are a few plot ideas for general weirdness, like having the cute little mascot be the villain all along (though the book portrays this as more of a mustache-twirling villain instead of Kyubei), or maybe one of the PCs is trapped in a time loop while the others don't have any idea about not. Not sure how to implement this in an actual session.

Next Time: Making a character - just over halfway through, and we finally learn how to make our little punch witch and her friends. I wonder who she will fall in love with?!

Feb 13, 2012

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

It's time for more Ironclaw: Squaring the Circle!

Alright, today we'll be covering Gifts and Skills in more detail. Skills are simple; they're a separate, narrow category of expertise that gets added on top of your general dicepool. A character can actually be excellent at using a skill without any Marks in the actual skill; for instance in the game I'm running there's a character who has a maxed out Body stat, Improved Strength, and gets a big bonus when aiming attacks. She can already pull out 3d12 to-hit when throwing something heavy at a dude despite having absolutely no ranks in throwing. Having at least one mark gets you two big benefits, though: Firstly, you get an extra d4 (which is another chance for an extra degree of success, even if it's relatively small, and also makes you 4 times less likely than you were before to Botch) but it also gets you a Favored Use. If using a skill in your Favored Use, you can reroll one die that comes up 1 in your dicepool. Favored Uses are things like 'Melee Combat: While Outnumbered' or 'Academics: About Magic', representing what you've got a specific knack for within a skill. Also importantly, there's no cap on how high skills can go and at the average rate of EXP advancement (5 for a 3-4 hour session, with a Skill Mark costing 4) you'd be able to afford one skill Mark a session. So if you want to be good at one specific thing, devoting resources to that Skill will get you there fast. Similarly, with how much having at least a d4 and a Favored Use can improve your odds, it can be worth it to spend the little bit of EXP or the one starting Skill Mark to have a little more formal training in what you're trying to do.

Skills are generally pretty broad, though a few are annoying. Digging really didn't need to be its own skill. It's really hard to think of situations where I'd say 'Roll Digging' outside of the fact that Earth Magic uses it as an attack skill. Some of the skills have a few annoying splits, too: Gossiping is separate from Inquiry despite both being ways to canvass an area for information with your charm and Searching is separate from Observation, with the justification that one is active and one is more passive. These kinds of things could've been consolidated. But it's a vast improvement over 1e, especially as nearly every skill has a firm 'This is what you can use it for' in its listing as well as a list of suggested Favored Uses and a list of the Gifts you could take to improve the skill. Cutting down the fight skills to Brawling, Melee, Throwing, and Ranged is a big improvement over having separate skills for every goddamn weapon type in the original system. The Skill System works, the list just could've used one or two more passes to make sure everything on it was really necessary as it leaves a species that gets, say, Digging feeling a little sad that one of their Species Skills is not so useful unless you're a professional sapper or an earth wizard.

Gifts are the big meat of character building. Gifts also really needed to be better organized or have a direct table of contents. As it is, they're in a series of lists in alphabetical order for Physical Gifts, Mental Gifts, Social Gifts, Keystone Gifts (Gifts that have their own little 'skill tree' based off a beginning Gift), Saving Gifts (Gifts that give you resistance to getting one-shot, which is a big deal), and Magic Gifts. One big change from 1e is that all Gifts just cost a Gift Pick, which you get 3 of to start with (Plus 3 Species Gifts and 3 Career Gifts) and those just cost a flat 10 EXP (or roughly two sessions). Gifts generally come in a couple flavors:

Respite Gifts: You exhaust these to activate their ability and then recover them after your character has a good meal and some sleep to recover.
Battle Gifts: You exhaust these to activate them, but they can be recovered by spending a single action to recharge the gift during a fight and have it back in the tank for later.
Chapter Gifts: You get these back at the start of each new Chapter. Note a Chapter is usually just a couple of scenes, and each session should have multiple chapters. Say the players have a fight at a warehouse then move to interrogating captives afterwards; those would be two chapters.
Influence Gifts: You get these back basically at GM fiat, when they feel your contact won't be put upon by calling in further favors.
Passive Gifts: These are always on and just give you a new option or generally a d12 bonus to a specific kind of action.
Trappings Gifts: These give you some really expensive or important items, and also give you the ability to make sure you get those items back by plot contrivance if the plot tries to take them. This is one of the only ways to start with expensive equipment like plate armor, spellbooks, or a gun.

Gifts describe themselves clearly and concisely and don't get lost in too much fluff. The most annoying part is all the more powerful magic and Atavism is all buried at the end of the book instead of kept in with the normal Gifts, for very little reason. Gifts do a ton for your character and are one of the big building blocks of the system. In addition to earning them by EXP, you're encouraged to set a Goal for your character. This is an ambition you're working towards within the plot, with a Gift waiting at the end of it. For instance, one of my players wanted his character to be huge and buff as hell, but also a musketeer. Buying up to d12 Body and then getting the Giant Gift (gives you extended reach and lets you carry more because you're the size of Guts from Berserk) took all 3 of his starting gifts and left him no room to buy a Musketeer's Trappings. So he decided to say his PC had the Goal of 'get back my stolen guns and letter of commission' with the reward of gaining Musketeer's Trappings after the first plotline when he got his gun back from the scofflaws that robbed him before the game started. Gifts provide a lot of extra options and actions, as well as meaningful options for banking your actions in combat or using skills or stats in different ways, and in general they're quite well done. A few are clunkers, obviously, but since they all cost the same there's no harm in having Spelunker available since there's nothing that forces you to take it instead of, say, Resolve (add your Will to your damage resistance and get access to a bunch of other defense Gifts) besides it bloating the book slightly and causing some of the organizational problems.

Next up: Combat! I actually really like the game's combat system.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Doresh posted:

Magical Girl Stalkers

Despite the charming name, these fellows are not creepy perverts who harass magical girls and dream of one day recording some HTYOMGA (Hot Tentacle Yomi On Magical Girl Action). No, they are the 1% or so of the muggle population who kinda sorta got wind that magical girls are real and want to find out the truth in a more or les professional manner. They organize on the internet of course, but they keep hanging out with conspiracy nutjobs and other weirdoes, which makes it all the more harder to be taken seriously.

These stalkers somehow appear to have a higher chance of becoming a Spark themselves. So if you find out that your best friend is a magical girl, just keep following her until you become one yourself!


The book doesn't answer what the Courts final stance on bestiality is, but they're perfectly fine with some sweet lesbian romances. Though despite beeing around for thousands of years and therefore having more than enough time for more or less scientific studies, the Courts can't make up their minds whether or not a lesbian couple in the same team is a hindrance or boon. Go figure.
Falling in love with a dark magical girl is strictly against the rules. This in turn means that it happens all the time because it's the cool thing to do or something. It's pretty much a crapshoot whether this might actually result in the evil girl getting good or the good one getting screwed over (in more than one ways).

Scandals happen whenever a magical girl gets hit with a case of the Twilight and does something selfish. It's almost like they're actual people or something.
I'm beginning to think this game isn't going to be the Not-Terrible Magical Girl Game I was hoping for.

Jan 7, 2015

Evil Mastermind posted:

I'm beginning to think this game isn't going to be the Not-Terrible Magical Girl Game I was hoping for.

I think I mentioned it already, but let's hope the mechanics are sound enough that one can just ignore the rest. If everything fails, I'll have to make my own game, with blackjack and catgirls.

Speaking of the rest, I find it suspicious how the book has yet to talk about transformation sequences. No over-explanation involving force fields and time compression?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Doresh posted:

Speaking of the rest, I find it suspicious how the book has yet to talk about transformation sequences. No over-explanation involving force fields and time compression?

Thankfully, science already beat them to it.

Jan 7, 2015

Lol I just stumbled upon that one a couple days ago. Proof that you shouldn't try to make a Precure writeup in Hero System.

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20

I'm loving the villainous Nigel Thornberry.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Doresh posted:

Lol I just stumbled upon that one a couple days ago. Proof that you shouldn't try to make a Precure writeup in Hero System.

Well, you probably shouldn't write up anything in Hero System, but that too.

Nov 11, 2008

Fantaji Universal RPG Part 2: Introduction


Introductions are funny things, especially when they overlap with first impressions. May this introduction find you animated and interested, and may any first impressions be pleasant for all parties involved. Good to meet you, new friend. Game on.

I am including this header of the first chapter because I forgot it was there, and it made me cringe when I finally noticed it.

The first chapter of the book also introduces the chapter summary section, which very quickly tells you what that chapter covers, and in what order. For the introduction chapter, it goes over what Fantaji is about, some basics of narrative theory and how it relates to the game, the usual “what is roleplaying” section that I'll be skipping, and ends with an explanation of Traits and Drama, which the entire game is built around.

We start off with the three goals for Fantaji: Maximize creative input from the players every turn, reward tactical play and strategic problem solving, and direct unique characters along personal and communal story arcs with engaging climaxes. This is immediately followed by a sales pitch, but this would still be in the free preview on drivethrurpg and they even say directly this is intended to get you to buy the book, so it's not that bad.

Then the book goes into the basics, explaining how Fantaji is different from both traditional d20 and other story games. Every scene in the game is built like a puzzle, and has built-in Themes that guide both player and GM actions in a particular way. The example given is a scene where the party is involved in a losing battle against an army lead by a champion who has been revealed to be the father of one of the PC's. The book explains that in a d20 game, all the dramatic themes, such as resignation, the emotions of the PC fighting his father, and human limitations/mental exhaustion, are all mostly just fluff surrounding the battle. Meanwhile, in other story games, the focus is more on “What happens next in the story”, putting more emphasis on the character instead of the player, and replacing the need for tactics with more concern about the narrative flow. I...don't think that's very accurate to other story games?

Anyways, Fantaji focuses on the question of “What am I going to do next?”, and uses qualitative mechanics to help guide the players on what their character is motivated or likely to do


The result is neither a Combat Game nor a Story Game, but a Character Game. What we may even be so bold as to call a Role-Playing Game.

Look, I swear, there will be an interesting game after the book stops trying so hard to sell itself.

Finally, we get to section about Traits and Drama, and what the core of this game actually is. Traits reflect the personality and history of individual characters, and Themes are somewhat similar, but cover the overall mood in the story during a particular scene. Both can be played to during an action to give you a better chance of success. Drama tokens are a bonus that carries over round to round, and can represent your momentum or “poo poo just got serious”-ness.


Traits are designed to inspire creative role-playing. They are not simply aspects or facets of your hero that are activated when needed, but poetic turns of phrase that instigate your hero to act on every
turn. Each move is an interpretation of your Traits, a creative expression of them.

Traits are actually really interesting to me, because you only start with two of them, but they play into every action you can take, in or out of combat. So the normal guidelines used in other trait-based games don't really work. Traits in Fantaji are meant to be stretched, to have multiple interpretations, and should be poetic and “punchy” instead of being descriptive. I'll go more into what makes a good Trait in Fantaji once we get to the chapter about Traits.

Instead, let's go into the actual core mechanic of the game. Every turn, each player “plays to” one or more Traits/Themes in order to take an action. You can't do anything without playing to a Trait or Theme first. “Playing to” means any action that reflects, alludes to, invokes, or demonstrates something about that Trait/Theme. As an example, the book introduces Garre the spy, who has the Trait “Never Leaves on the Light”. This one trait covers how Garre is inconsiderate and won't wait up for friends, is stingy with resources, and in general doesn't care about the needs of others. You can also take a literal interpretation of the trait and say he's used to working in the dark. Garre's player “plays to” this trait anytime they would pick a lock in the dark, snubs the host of a feast after he tells a joke, or even when kicking a soldier in the head to knock him out (playing on the phrase “knock his lights out”).

All actions in the game are either Checks or Challenges. A Check is a small move or gesture that only plays to one Trait/Theme, and is used to gather momentum (Drama tokens), or to establish a new Condition or detail in the story. For all Checks, you roll a d10 and try to match or beat a 3, 5, or 10, depending on if the task is easy, hard, or somewhere in-between. A character with the Fullmetal Altruist Trait could play to that Trait by stepping in front of his brother to ensure his safety, returning a disarmed opponent's sword, or just drop into a chair a little too hard, shattering it. All would be an example of using that Trait to make a check, the first one establishing a narrative detail (he is in front of his brother), and the other two simply getting him a Drama token.

The other action type is a Challenge, where you make an action directly against an obstacle. You play to as many Traits and Themes as you can, and get a d10 for each one you hit, plus another d10 for each Drama token you have. You opponent then does the same, and whoever has the highest roll among their d10's wins the action, and gets a number of successes equal to how many of their dice rolled higher than their opponent's highest die. Usually these successes are used to deal damage, but can also be used to inflict a Status Effect or to alter Conditions in the narrative. You can't use successes from a Challenge to get more Drama, though. As an example of a Challenge, we go back to Garre the spy:


“Leaving my allies to fight as they like, I bolt towards the beast, sliding between its legs and slashing at its meaty underbelly.” She “plays to” both Traits by taking into account Garre’s tendencies to ditch teammates (Never Leaves On The Light) and get acrobatic (Slip Sliding Away); she hits the Theme (The Quick and The Dead) by bolting instinctively.

The book then reminds us that while Traits themselves can be a bit flowery, the actions a player takes should be direct and easy to understand. As an example of a bad way to describe an action in order to play to a trait, Garre's player tries to play to her “Slip Sliding Away” trait by saying “Never leaving my place, I slide my torso around and quickly punch the monster in the face.” While the words used to describe the action might bring to mind the trait, the actual action itself is still just punching the monster in the face, which seems to go against Garre's nimble nature.

Well, now we have the basics of how the game is played, so in the next part I'll cover the example of play so we can see how this actually works in practice.

Apr 22, 2014



Vox Valentine
May 31, 2013

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


Empaths can't read minds but they can influence emotions and glean information from how people respond to emotion. Empathy is a power you can't legally profit off of and (as mentioned previously) Empaths can't be police officers due to the possibility of tampering. Most Empaths of London are content to hide their abilities and, if they do use them, use them as grifters or con-men or gold-diggers. It helps that it's really hard to prove empathic influence in a court of law. Empaths are supposed to be tragic characters in the game, ruled by their uncontrollable emotions, have "a perceived deficiency of character" and unable to touch another person without problems. It's mentioned that it's common for Empaths to be sexually attracted to vampires due to their limited emotions and many Empaths have a Desire Corruption.

Empaths have some extra rules in place. First, unless the power says otherwise, they can't use their powers on animals. Second is a rule I highly dislike: critical failures with Empathy are horrific failures and critical successes go way too far in the direction of success. Empaths also suffer from Empathic Backlash (if you didn't take Silence, which prevents this from happening so why didn't you take it). Empathic Backlash means that an Empath with a power stat of 2+ is subject to feeling the worst of negative emotions any time they're in close proximity of half-lifers, humans or spirits feeling strong emotion. What this translates to is that they have to make a Will roll with a DC of 11+highest Will of character around them in the group and if they fail they take damage. This is bumped up to +2 DC if they're touching someone. Just take Silence, this is a stupid rule. Finally, Empaths get +2 to the Empathy rolls if they're touching the person they want to influence.

Would you smooch a ghost?
  • Empathic Bond (self, self range, passive): the Empath can feel when a loved one/acquaintance is experiencing high emotion or dies. They can instinctively feel this regardless of range but can't tell anything else. Death gives the Empathy 1 IP, emotion makes them make a control check. You're supposed to figure out who falls under this with the GM before play and make more as you play but why would you take this? This is just here to punish the Empath or make life harder for them because it can only tell you emotion or death, there's no practical use for this power at all. Never develop this, ever.
  • Ingratiate (single target, touch, maintained): Light charm, helps put people at ease around the Empath but does not change what they know about them, only how they feel at the moment. Will contest to initiate: if the defender wins the Empath gets +1 IP but if the Empath wins they get +2 to all Charm rolls as long as they're within arm's reach of the Empath. It doesn't need to be maintained if they're within that distance either. This power affects animals to boot.
  • Read Emotion (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): The Empath can read emotions of people or animals and know what they're feeling but not necessarily why they're feeling it. Will contest: nothing happens if the Empath loses but if they win they get one free reroll per failed Charm or Psychology rolls against the subject as long as they're in range. Plus, this power can be used to tell if someone is possessed or not. Don't use this power on people with a Chronic Mental Illness or Corruption 4+in any track or ghosts because that leads to a control check.
  • Empathic Scan (group, radius Willx10 feet, maintained): Group Read Emotions, carries all the same restriction and rules of Read Emotions. This also has another benefit, though: you can pick up people you can't see and get a vague sense of where they are which is super handy for trying to find hidden people.
  • Lie Detector (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Will contest with the stakes being +1 IP on a failure or automatically knowing if a subject is lying. The power lasts as long as the Empath wants as long as they can hear the subject's voice and the Empath is within the proper range.
  • Subtle Manipulations (single, Willx5 feet+LOS, maintained): Will contest, +1 IP vs. being able to influence the subject's emotions. The Empath can make the subject automatically fail a second Fear roll if it's a reroll, make the subject beat a Will DC of 11+Empath's Will to not fly off the handle and attack something they designate or just plain change the magnitude and direction of their emotions. As long as the Empath is within the range of the power, the subject has -1 to Will and Charm rolls. This also works on animals.
  • Bedroom Eyes (single, LOS, maintained): Seduction through direct eye contact and a Will contest (the subject gets +2 to their Will roll if they would find the Empath gross under normal circumstances). Failure means +1 IP and success means that the subject is romantically infatuated with you. The power lasts as long as it's maintained or if the Empath hurts the subject physically/mentally, at which point the subject can break free on a Charm vs. Will roll.
  • Heart Strings (Single, thought): The long-term equivalent of Bedrooms Eyes, Heart Strings requires the Empath to spend significant time with the subject AND for the subject to be sexually compatible with the Empath. After a hour with the subject, the Empath can make a Will contest roll: 1 IP vs. 1 point of fondness. The Empathy must accumulate fondness points equal to the subject's will, but can only do this once per day and any interruptions before it's complete sets the process back to zero. When completed, the subject is completely infatuated with the Empath and wants to be around them at all times, giving the Empath +2 to Will and Charm rolls against them. This will last as long as the Empath is around the subject and pretty much nothing can break the spell. To be freed, the subject has to be away from the Empath for a number of months equal to the Empath's Charm stat. Even then, they will be fond of the Empath unless it's abundantly clear that they were taken advantage of.
  • Provocation (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Will roll with stakes of +1 IP vs. the subject becoming violently unstable. If it succeeds, the Empath just needs to maintain it and be around the subject. Once a minute, the subject has to make a Will DC of 11+Empath's Will with a failure resulting in the subject going on a violent rampage, especially if someone is provoking their ire. This works on animals too and will last until the Empath shuts it off or the subject is restrained.
  • Grip of Fear (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Works on animals, 1 IP vs. the subject being absolutely paralyzed with fear until released or they take damage.
  • Mass Hysteria (group, radius Willx15 feet, maintained): Pick an emotion and hit a group with it, causing separate Will contests with everyone in the group. As long as the emotion isn't too complicated, it can affect animals too.
  • True Emotion (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, thought): Like Heart Strings but with a true emotion that will last a lifetime without therapy: fear of bacon on salads, love of interpretive jazz, anger towards horses, lust for Prussian Sky Pirates.

I have no idea what this has to do with Empathy or why it's in this section really.
  • Dominion (group, radius of Willx200 feet, maintained): Mass Mass Hysteria. You know what's a really, really lovely design choice? Individual Will rolls per subject and you can only choose to not affect people you can see with a control check. The Empath gains +1 IP every time they intentionally use this ability, it causes animals to flee the area in a panic and there's no way the cops aren't going to show up and investigate why poo poo just got weird.
  • Heart Stopper (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, thought): Will contest, save or die. If the Empath wins, the subject dies from heart failure or aneurysm. If the subject wins, the Empath gains +1 IP but the subject has to make a DC 11+Empath Will fear roll and is permanently afraid of the Empath for the rest of their life, installing a +2 to Intimidation against the subject.
  • Soul Searcher (single, LOS, passive): Will roll for anyone you see to get one free reroll per failed Torture, Charm or Psychology because the Empath can read how anyone will react to any emotion or stimulus and how they're feeling.
Thoughts on Empathy: A lot of these powers have to be used carefully in the context of RP because your group may not be comfortable with the bigger rape/abuse implications of Bedroom Eyes or Heart Strings. The risk of gaining Instability isn't that bad if the Empath plays smart with their abilities and how many people they want to try charming. The capstones under level five are kinda underwhelming for three reasons: having to do individual Will contests for everyone around you is dumb and clunky, all you're adding to the ability to read emotions is no risk of gaining IP and some other wiggle room for how they'll react to stuff and finally it feels tonally inconsistent to be able to scare people to death with a look and you can just bust it out with impunity if you really want to.

Extrasensory Perception: Psychics with ESP are called clairvoyants and their power isn't a sharpening of the senses but a honing of the mind. Or so the book says; in the next breath it says that ESP can replace lost sight or it can augment existing senses to pick up new things, but for the most part ESP is an entirely new sense. London's psychics are generally voyeuristic with a predilection for Drive or Desire corruptions and it doesn't help that they can't legally use their powers to spy on people (unless you're a cop and even then there's limits). It's not uncommon for a psychic to blind themselves in a misguided belief that this will enhance their powers or have trouble reacting to stimuli properly (overreacting to distance noises, not noticing a gun going off by their ears).

ESP has its own special rules. First, the powers don't affect animals unless they say they do. Second, just take the stupid Split Perception ability. Otherwise, every time you try to use certain powers while maintaining other powers, you have to make a Control check with a DC of the highest power you're using. On top of that, you get -1 to all Wit rolls per maintained power. Fail and you gain 1 IP and drop all the powers you're currently channeling. So just take Split Perception.

Your Stand, with a gun.
  • Psi-Senses (self/self/passive): Plot/Detective Vision. The psychic's vision is augmented with plot important things, lost items, clues and hidden objects glowing faintly. One free reroll per failed Perception roll. Not bad, all things considered.
  • Sense Presence (single, Willx10 feet radius, thought): You can sense if a subject has been in the area recently. You either have to know them or be able to accurately visualize them. There's a variable DC, but failure means 1 IP and it automatically fails if the subject has not been there. Also using this on someone with 4+ Corruption or Chronic Mental Disorders forces a Control check because you're tracking people by lingering thought patterns.
  • Teleperception (self, Willx10 feet, maintained): Throw one of your senses by projecting it to a specific point. Blind psychics can see, deaf psychics can hear, hungry psychics can try that chocolate cake without buying any. Maintaining more than one sense in one area or in general requires splitting perception.
  • Aura Sight (single, LOS, maintained): Aura Sight doesn't need a dice roll and can just be used whenever. You can use it on as many people as you want to at once and using it gives +1 on Charm, Interrogation, Perception, Torture, Medicine, Parapsychology and Psychology rolls against the subject. It can also be used to see the auras of animals, tell the psychic if the subject is using a psychic power (but not which) and can be used by blind psychics to see aura outlines and use powers that would require line of sight.
  • Darklight (self, LOS, maintained): See in the dark. The world may still be dark but everything item in it is defined by a grey-gold glow. You can't tell color, but you can read in the dark or a blind psychic could maintain it to "see" again.
  • Psychometry (single object, touch, maintained): Read psychic impressions left on items. Beat a Will DC (variable, failure inflicts 1 IP but can be tried again) to get a clear picture of the last person to handle the item. While Psychometry is being maintained, other powers can be used to read the person in the vision (like Aura Sight or Read Emotion). The more powerful the psychic stain left on an item, the easier it is to view the wielder and sometimes the psychic might have to make a Control check.

Spoilers: there are zero powers that will let you figure out who killed a person by touching the body.
  • Minor Clairvoyance (self, Willx150 feet, maintained): Trance out and throw your senses into a place within that effective radius. The psychic perceives the area as if they're standing there and can use further powers to read people or the world around them. This can be used on multiple locations at once but again: make sure you have Split Perception.
  • Psi Tracker (single, variable, maintained): Use Sense Presence to find a subject then use Psi Tracker to retrace your steps. If the target has gone through a populated area, it'll take a Wits roll to keep the trail.
  • Telelocation (single object/animal, Willx5 miles, maintained): Find specific objects by focusing on them. The power won't tell you the precise location, but it will tell you the direction and roughly how close you are to the object. The power works best on items the psychic has touched, has a photo of or has seen in the mind of someone. First, the psychic must trance out and beat a Will DC (easier if you've touched the object) to discern if the object is within the radius and figure out its direction. Failure results in 1 IP and a headache. If you want a specific location, you can grab a map and make another Will roll to pin-point the location. Telelocation will also tell the psychic if the item is moving, how fast it's moving and in which direction it's moving.
  • Aura Scan (group, LOS, maintained): Like Aura Scan but on a group of people automatically.
  • Major Clairvoyance (self, Willx10 miles, maintained): See further as per Minor Clairvoyance.
  • Photospheres (group, LOS, passive): Photospheres are literal thought bubbles that appear when a psychic reads someone's aura. They give insight into a subject's thoughts, beliefs and soul. Seeing a subject's photospheres gives the psychic one free reroll per failed Charm, Psychology, Parapsychology, Torture or Interrogation rolls.

ESP gets a lot of art.
  • Astral Projection (self, limitless, maintained): Eject your spirit from your body in a trance and explore the world. Clairvoyants of this magnitude are endlessly useful to London by watching important areas or carrying messages. The psychic can travel hundreds of miles in minutes, but it helps to want to view someplace you've been before. However, there are some pretty heavy rules. First: the astral body can be acted on or detected by Telepathy, ESP, Empathy and Prescience. You can also be seen with Second Sight and you can be treated like a spirit. Third, you gain 1 IP per use of power. Fourth, and most importantly, there are some places you can't view:

    See the world, except when you can't because GM fiat/developer fiat.
  • Revelation (self, Willx500 foot radius, maintained): Sense people as they come and go around you, and by people I mean everyone. This can be used in lieu of line of sight for certain powers.
  • Seeker (single, limitless, maintained): Improved Telelocation. Seeker can be used on people now, but it's harder to use on people and it can't be used with a map to pinpoint people. The best it can do is point you in the direction and give you a sense of how close you are.

Thoughts on Extrasensory Perception: Like many powers or spells where the PCs are able to just gain info with a snap of their fingers, ESP can break things quite a bit. The progression is pretty good, though, and I would honestly say that it's worth sinking the extra points into starting with level two. You do start off with a very good kit of tools from level one alone. ESP lends itself very well to stories about investigation and you're going to be using a lot of your powers over and over. It's also not a set of powers that carries a lot of IP risk which is handy, but taking the ability to increase the range of your powers is absolutely necessary. I'm not happy with the hindering of Astral Projection, though. If you can't project over places that are too corrupted with the rotting of the planet, that means there's a lot of places you can't visit easily. France makes sense, but most of Europe/East Europe/Central Europe? I know you're not going anywhere near them because the mechanics of this game assume you're focusing ONLY on London, but that's a really lazy way of stopping your players from getting more information about the world. Revelation is also somewhat weak as a capstone and at least Seeker will let you follow people now.

NEXT TIME: Seeing the future (protip: do not do this) and reading minds (protip: reach out and touch someone).

Vox Valentine fucked around with this message at 03:55 on Mar 11, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Infernal Player's Guide: Hell's Fury

For the Game, dissonance is an early warning sign of deviance. Until the confusion resolves itself by removal of dissonance or conversion into Discord, a demon is a time bomb. It can mark breaking with your nature or frequently disobeying your prince - and it can mean you're hiding problems from your Prince by not converting dissonance to the more obvious Discord. Chronic malcontents and fuckups are likely to go Renegade. The Game cares about any dissonance, but one or two notes isn't a big problem. These demons are just watched and even given a chance to bribe a Gamester to not be reported. (They'll be reported anyway, of course.) With more than that, however, it becomes a serious issue. The demon is probably avoiding their Prince and in danger of going Renegade - or worse. Most Gamesters will drag these wretches to Hades for interrogation, which may involve vessel-killing. If they are suspected of wider conspiracy, however, they may be watched for a time to get bigger prey. Renegades, however, are hunted down and killed. In Hell, they are captured and often destroyed on live Hell-based TV. They may or may not be dissonant - not all Renegades are. Many Gamesters consider the Redeemed to be within their jurisdiction, and may attempt to capture and drag an ex-demon back to Hell for execution. Demons can cut deals, but usually they'll need a Prince's help to do it, and something of great value to offer.

Discord is less of an issue for the Game. For demons, Discord isn't necessarily a problem of behavior - it can just be bad luck, as long as it's 'harmless' to Hell's goals. Some Discords are concerning, though. Selfless, of course, and Merciful. Besides these, those that enhance dissonance in Bands are considered dangerous, as they increase the odds of other dangerous Discords. While some Discords can make a demon cripplingly ineffective, the Game does not consider this their remit.

Andrealphus' dissonant demons tend to focus on the coarser manifestations of Lust, to avoid caring about their victims. Andre rarely cares much about dissonance as a result...but Asmodeus is quite uptight about it, and Eli's angels can take advantage. Still, Andrealphus is happy to give his demons a chance to fix things, or to just punish them via torture or rape.
Asmodeus does not give his demons a chance to become dissonant long. While dissonance remains, they tend to become fanatical in seeking it out in others. The very dissonant are destroyed, of course. Asmodeus does not tolerate the unreliable. He gives valued servants a chance to fix things...but only once.
Baal's dissonant demons pick fights, sometimes suicidally. Baal doesn't appreciate this. Sometimes he'll give the dissonant a chance to die fighting. Sometimes, he does not.
Beleth's dissonant demons ease their terror and pain by causing it in their victims. They rarely leave the Marches. Beleth cares more about performance than dissonance, so she'll only get involved if your work suffers.
Belial's demons get ever more grandiose with dissonance, but often get burned worse and worse as they try to carry their plans out. When Belial notices, he tends to kill them.
Haagenti's demons tend to go overboard when dissonant - even more than usual. Haagenti doesn't seem to care.
Kobal's demons start clowning themselves into trouble in the hopes of amusing him. Kobal finds this mildly entertaining, and generally makes sure these pratfalls end at Asmodeus' feet, for the perfect punchline.
Kronos' demons tend to get creative when dissonant, actively inventing worse fates for people to reach. Kronos tends to ignore this - demons have fates, too. He will demonstrate this on those who are no longer useful.
Lilith has no permanent servants, but her temps or free Lilim who become dissonant tend to obsess over freedom and anarchy. She doesn't care unless the dissonance comes from her conditions, in which case she might have a little chat with you.
Malphas' dissonant demons often take many contrary positions or even develop split personalities. Malphas doesn't care unless you seek redemption.
Nybbas' dissonant tend to obsess over all media, devouring asm uch as possible at once. They churn out trivial content constantly. Nybbas makes it clear: produce or get downsized. He's not going to help anyone that can't pull their weight.
Saminga's dissonant demons tend to start death cults and get overenthusiastic about necromancy. They aren't subtle about it. Some even try to smash pet rocks. Saminga doesn't care one way or another. Dissonant's dead, dead's good.
Valefor's demons tend to go kleptomaniac when dissonant - moreso than normal, that is. Valefor only cares if you get caught.
Vapula's dissonant servants become obsessed with gadgetry and carry as much as they can. The worst off even volunteer for beta testing. Vapula finds volunteering useful, so he sees dissonance as a self-correcting problem.

Demons will often notice dissonance in their friends before anyone else. What they do depends a lot on circumstances. As a friend gets more dissonant, other demons start to watch them carefully to figure them out. They're usually not worried about the dissonant turning traitor - just being a threat to them. They may report the friend, if they get something out of it. If things get worse, direct action may be needed. They'll try to collect on any debts and borrow as much as they can - and then sell them out to the Game. Or help them lose dissonance, in exchange for future favors. If the friend goes Renegade...well, then your friends aren't your friends. The Game believes in guilt by association, so they're going to try to take you down so they don't get blamed.

Balseraphs are often the first to claim they've noticed no change - and the first to lead the hunting parties. Djinn often don't notice at all - or care. Calabim, used to their own Discord, also don't often notice...but will happily help in a Renegade hunt. Habbalah notice dissonance when it becomes a useful tool to them - they enjoy how demonic minds fracture under it, and will often take advantage. Lilim, of course, will happily help you...for a Geas. They're good at spotting those Needs, too. Shedim rarely notice and even more rarely care. Impudites can sympathize, if you're useful. Pay them, and they'll even help.

Dissonant demons, of course, are also interesting to angels...if they can spot the symptoms. Some see it as a chance to destroy a weakened foe. Others, like Elohim and the more peaceful angels, tend to see a chance to push towards Redemption. It's the kindest option, after all. Most Archangels iwll take converts, as long as it's not wasting their time. It's not easy work, however. Redeemed often have the best insight, and can often tell if a demon has truly strayed from selfishness. The first goal is to ensure the target goes Renegade and gets away from the bad influence of other demons. Clever angels will manipulate demons into more dissonance, forcing them to avoid others for fear of the Game as well as confusing them further. This will only work for a while, however, unless the demon goes full Renegade. After that, the angels are in a position to offer protection and a sympathetic ear. Elohim are often especially good at this, manipulating their victim into self-loathing enough to consider alternatives to Hell but keeping them hopeful enough to avoid suicide. Most demons, used to the less subtle Habbalah, underestimate them.

Should the demon try to return to Hell's favor, angels will usually destroy them. They did what they could. If they seek Redemption, however, the demon will be taken to the nearest Tether or safehouse to find an appropriate Archangel to serve. Naturally, each will be trying to match the demon to their own Word. These sales pitches come with encouragement of love and affection, which Hell usually refers to as brainwashing. Redemptions undertaken for selfish reasons always fail, so bribes are never promised. All demons are assured - they have to start from the bottom and work for any rewards. In Hell, demons are told that Redemption never works, so angels often have to counter the propaganda and convince the demon that they will survive and be happier after. The goal is to make the demon want the purity of the Symphony more than they fear the danger.

The true Symphony sneaks into the fractures of dissonance, telling demons of what they could be. Some are strong-willed enough to resist and return to Hell. Others dream of higher things. However, unlike a Fall, Redemption takes serious effort. Divine Intervention or an Archangel are all that can hold a demon together in the perfect light of Heaven, returning them into an angelic configuration after the warped parts are purged by the Symphony. It is not done lightly - it's a lot of work. And it hurts. When you have spent your entire existence in darkness and silence, the light and sound of Heaven overwhelms. When an Archangel focuses all that glory into you, shining light in every corner of your being, changing your nature itself - well, it takes a brave or desperate demon to try.

Most are desperate. They suffer Discord, have demons hunting them and have nowhere left to go. However, Redemption isn't just swearing fealty to an Archangel. You have to give up all that you are and place yourself in the hands of the Symphony, accepting whatever it will do. If you can't do that, you will die whether the Archangel involved wants that or not. Many Redeemed come out with fewer Forces than they started with. (PCs, of course, always survive...but the GM and player will decide if they are damaged by the process and if the Archangel repairs that damage.) Redemption is rare, but it happens enough that Archangels have a few tricks. If a demon has been coached into selfless thought, they survive more often. If they truly trust the Archangel, they probably will make it, if weakened. IT's also easier to realign a demon whose Word is close to your own - so Michael often Redeems demons of the War successfully, for example. There's many ways to approach Redemption. Some Archangels are gentler than others, like Blandine or Novalis, while DAvid, Michael, Laurence and Gabriel are notoriously rough. REgardless of method, however, all surviving Redeemed pseak of the experience reverentially. Hellborn experience the true Symphony for the first time, while the Fallen are returning home. It's a fresh start, though you must cope with your darkness past, both internally and in the treatment of others.

The Redeemed must also learn how to be angels. Their nature gives them good instincts, but they have many habits to unlearn, and many 'friends' in Hell who are happy to be bad examples. Some try to talk other demons into Redemption and end up Falling again, betrayed by old habits. Your old Prince can also try to get you back by bribes, intimidation or manipulation. Between that and the occasional ringer, well, it's no surprise that Heaven is not totally trusting until you learn how to act. The Redeemed become the divine analogue of their old Band, except for Lilim. They lose their old resonance and all infernal attunements and Distinctions, but gain their new resonance. They also lose all Celestial Discord and regenerate Essence at dawn, as well as gaining the Rites of their new Archangel and a new Heart. They are never given rewards for Redeeming - that would tain the process, which can be fatal. If their reports are complete and helpful, they get a pat on the back...and often, that's enough. Once they prove trustworthy and dedicated, their Archangel will often remove any remaining Discords and replace any lost Forces. Once the Archangel is satisfied, they give out the appropriate Choir attunement and have passed the first stage of rehab. When the new angel earns a servitor attunement, it will often be awarded publically and with ceremony, as the angel is formally declared to be truly Redeemed, praised for their noteworthy actions in service to Heaven and celebrated. It's a way to show others that they are worthy of trust, and it's good for morale. Of course, some Archangels are much more casual, particularly Eli.

A new angel typically serves whichever Archangel Redeemed them, unless other arrangements are made. Lauyrence, however, has recently declared that he will be requesting all Redeemed for service, at least temporarily. He doesn't always get his way, however - the Council will rarely enforce a loan if an Archangel and ex-demon are happy with each other. They do, however, support Laurence's requests to debrief all new angels. This is often the first direct experience a new angel will have with the Inquisition.

Angels are kinder to outsiders than demons, but that doesn't always make it easy to fit in. After all, most newly Redeemed sitll have some Discord and have old dmeonic habits. Servitors of the same Archangel are rarely openly dismissive, however - they won't question the boss in public. The demon survived, so that's something in their favor. However, they will be very strict in private, lecturing over any failures. Most angels will remain distant until their respect is earned. Other Archangels' servants can be abusive and rude, though it is best to remember that fighting in Heaven causes dissonance. Warlike angels are more likely to be rude and hateful than peaceful ones. Cherubim, Ofanim and Kyriotates are often the worst, as their resonances can't judge character. Mercurians judge by your friends, and Seraphim can tell if you lie. Malakim are only rude if circumstances warrant, and will always show restraint if their resonance claims you have honor...but will come down hard if you slip. Elohim will always be polite unless they believe mockery will help fix your behavior.

Those who helped you seek Redemption are often the most friendly and can even seem almost parental. They got you this far, you lived, and they're going to help you. This aid is rarely mocked or stopped by their Archangels. As with humans, your reaction to the harassment will determine how long it lasts. If you can keep your temper, repress bad habits and serve loyally, you will earn respect even from hostile angels. It takes time, but it happens. MAny angels will even come to admire you for putting up with it all. At the ceremony that marks you as a full angel, even your worst foes might toast you and apologize for their cruelty.

And now, the biggest 'except Lilim' in the game. Lilim are all made by Lilith. They aren't Fallen angels. Even those that are Redeemed are still Lilim - Bright Lilim. They are exceptionally rare, and there's not very many of them - some say fewer than a dozen. Like other demons, Lilim must deny their weaknesses to survive in Hell and shut away the true Symphony. Dissonance can allow that in as much as any. They can go Renegade even easier than most, turning to Freedom as a motive. Lilim find it easy to cut and run, and can manage it better than most. However, this makes it difficult for angels to get to them. Yes, they're fed up with Hell, but have no desire to serve an Archangel. They often want to know if Free Brights exist, which confuses most angels, who accept service willingly. Still, some become curious about the Bright Lilim. Surviving Fallen Brights exist only when Asmodeus decides he wants to make an especially cruel example, so there's no one but angels to tell them about Heaven. They know Lilith sometimes deals with the Host, after all.

If the angels that a Renegade Lilim contacts are lucky, she's either curious or desperate enough to want to know what they can offer. (If they're unlucky, she's trying to snare them.) Still, Lilim have to fit selflessness into their worldview, which isn't easy. Even Brights will say that nothing is free - the price of loving someone is loving someone. Angels of Trade are often the best at explaining this in terms they understand. If Lilim survive Redemption, they do change...but with so few examples, they're hard to predict. Most Archangels will assign a Cherub to watch over them and encourage their angelic mentors to keep up the good work. Dominic will always send a triad around to investigate and attune to Bright Lilim, which can be routine or not depending on the Archangels involved. Laurence, of course, wants all of them to serve him, and will always request this from the Council. Unfortunately, most Bright Lilim are just not able to handle his insistence on obedience. Hell makes a big deal of this - they want Renegade Lilim more than they want Brights - and will swear that Laurence always gets his way. This is entirely untrue - the Council knows that an unhappy Bright is asking to Fall. If they don't want to serve Laurence, the Council will not make them do it. The discussions can drag on for weeks, however, and involve a whole lot of angels nad even Archangels as they decide who should get a Bright's service, however. Often, but not always, it's the one that Redeemed the Lilim.

Few Lilim are entirely free of Geases - and as far as anyone knows, none of those are Free. Lilith rarely spends her last Geas. Geases are hard to remove - and the more Geases a demon has, the harder it is to find someone willing to try to Redeem them. Sometimes, angels will help you out by forcing the Geases into use or destroying those that hold them. Sometimes a Lilim is patient enough to wait it out and work them off. But there is another option - a hard one. Geases are Discord, and can be removed by an Archangel. However, their structure makes this very dangerous, especially to Lilim. The Archangel must, essentialyl, dismantle them to component forces, unravel each Geas, and then put it all back together, without destroying the individual involved. This is very hard, and a few Forces are usually lost in the process. Oh, and it hurts terribly. Worse even than Redemption, which at least ends positively. Geas-stripping is a scarring experience. Princes don't do it because it's difficult and annoys Lilith to no good end. Archangels don't like doing it, but most will offer the option, either during Redemption or afterward. The fewer Geases involved, the better. The Council forbids any Bright Lilim to pledge future favors to demons or ethereals, though any that survived Geas-stripping hardly needs the reminder. Lilim are especially forbidden to promise unspecified favors to anyone, ever. Even angels can Fall. This doesn't always prevent it, however. Some demons trip them up, and others ambush them and force them to promise a Geas or be destroyed. Some Bright Lilim favor the second option.

Redeemed Lilim no longer appear to be green humans, celestially. Rather, they gain an aura of a color matching their personality and their Archangel, and a pair of shimmering and translucent wings. Their horns and green skin are lost. They are sometimes known as the Gifters, as they often prefer to give things to others without asking for a Geas. MAny angels find them unrelenting cheerful and awestruck, and they rarely notice insults from others. When they do, they usually either cry or offer a favor to the hostile angel. Eventually, they will begin to act more normally and less annoying. They never lose their deal-making talents or their love of Freedom, though they interpret that more positively. They remain sympathetic, warm and sensual, but now none of it is a lie. They care deeply for humans, almost as much as Mercurians do. Malakim tend to get nervous around them - they know Lilim are considered their 'opposite' Band, demons that bind others versus angels that bind themselves with oaths, demons who were never angels versus angels that can't Fall. Seeing Redeemed Lilim implies uncomfortable things about symmetry, even if it's just a superstition. Besides, Lilim are creations of a human Princess, twice removed from God, and so they are not to be trusted. You never know what they might be capable of. Individual Malaki mcan overcome this unease, especially around a Bright that serves the same Archangel, but most remain wary. Despite this, Bright Lilim tend to view them with wonder and joy, admiring their beauty without being klilled for it. Some Malakim claim the quickest way to get Laurence to stop asking for all the Brights would be to give them to him and let him deal with a dozen Lilim following him around and sighing raptly for a few weeks.

Some ex-demons just can't cut it as angels, though. Their habits are too strong, they get tripped up. Somehow, they Fall. Demons call them yo-yos - down and up and down again. They are welcomed viciously. While most Fallen are prizes, yo-yos are traitors, and they'll be lucky if they can avoid the Game's tender mercies. Asmodeus despises traitors, and only a Prince's protection can keep them safe. Their tortures can last months before they die. Kobal likes to send tapes to angelic Tethers. IT's whispered that there is one way to avoid this fate: swear fealty to Asmodeus immediately. Then, well, you might survive after a few decades of torture. Falling hits a Redeemed harder than most angels. They've known lies and Truth, and it's hard for them to ignore Truth. They've grown accustomed to thinking of their old demonic nature as broken, ugly and twisted. Even Habbalah suffer doubts when they Fall a second time. Lilim take the worst of it. They lose their wings, their status, all sense of being valued. They often feel betrayed by their Archangel, whom they trusted their very existence to. They usually hate themselves, their Archangels, their old friends, and Hell...and Lilith is often none too happy with them. Asmodeus hates traitor Free Lilim even more than most traitors - every time one happens, there seems to be a rash of them, whom he can't deal with without compelling evidence, lest Lilith cause problems. But a yo-yo...that he can make an example of without Lilith doing a drat thing. Fallen Brights can look forward to Asmodeus' personal attention for a very, very long time.

The End

Next up - Ethereal Player's Guide, Liber Canticorum or Revelations 1?

Oct 21, 2012

Witch Girls Adventures: Respelled: Part 5: Traits

The Traits chapter starts off with a list of all the different types of advantages they can give a character. One of them is this:

WGAR posted:

Attribute Bonus: A bonus to an attribute making it one die higher (still cannot exceed D12).

Now in a better game, this would probably put a damper on the Punch Witch build. (Though a D12 is still pretty good.) However, another explanation in the same section uses changing a die to a D12+2 as an example. So… use whatever rule you like if you find yourself playing this, I guess.


WGAR posted:

What makes a character unique more than anything else is her Traits. The original traits offered unique roll and role-playing aspects that fans loved and we're trying to improve here.

Traits work pretty much the same way they did in the original: standard characters get 2 Talents and 1 Heritage, which give them bonuses and penalties to different things as well as give the character's character traits. The biggest changes are that Talents can no longer be bought with EXP after creation, Heritages, for the most part, no longer give disadvantages, and there is now a new trait called Knacks. More on those when we get to them.

The only major changes to the Talents list is that “Rich”, due to the new Class system, is now gone, and there are two new ones: “Sassy” and “Witty”. A bunch of talents also have additional bonuses on top of or in place of the ones they have in the core. Actually, traits on a whole have had more of an overhaul than skills have. I don’t know why the rewrite mention isn’t in the little blurb for this section. Though I've noticed that the design goal for Traits seems to have been “make everything more powerful”.

Brave: Now gives a +1 to all rolls when the character is up against enemies more powerful than them. You still don’t have to really declare what kind of spells you’re scared of. So you can just say “everything” and always get the bonuses.

Calm: Now gets a free rank of Focus.

Creepy: Gives a -1 penalty to “weaker characters” when they roll against the character. What is considered weaker? Who knows.

Devious: A free rank in Liar, which doesn’t exist. Presumably, it means “Fib”.

Drama Queen: A free rank in Acting.

Eccentric: +1 to resist Illusion spells for… some reason.

Entertainer: Instead of a +1 to performing rolls, they get a free rank to either Acting, Instrument, or Singing, and can cast spells with a musical instrument or by singing. This costs a Zap and increases the MTR of the spell by 1.

Friendly: The bonus for inspiring someone has increased to +2.

Geek: Instead of the bonus to dealing to geek stuff, you get a free rank in Science or Pop Culture and “+1 to a roll in a situation that resembles one that appears in comic book or si-fi [sic]/ fantasy movie, game, or book." Considering this whole setting is based on a comic book…

Goody-Goody +1 to resist harmful spells.

Gloomy: The weirdly worded bonus/penalty has been increased to -2.

Green Thumb: The First Aid bonus is gone and has been replaced with a +1 to resist… stuff when dealing with plants.

Jaded: +1 to resist harmful spells that have been used on them in the last 24 hours.

Lackey: In addition to the other bonus, lackeys can take an action to take a hit for someone in the party within 20 feet of them.

Mary Sue: Instead of the old bonus, Mary Sues can now gain 3 ranks in a skill they don’t have once a day and spend a Zap to gain a +1 to any die except Magic for an hour. Definitely fits better than its old bonus. Unfortunately, it still seems to be applied to characters who are just massive narcissists and not, say, capable of murdering people seconds after their birth and getting away with murder every goddamn day of their lives and still have people who actually want to be their friend because they like them and not because they’re terrified of what will happen to them and their families if they don’t…

Meek: A free rank in Hiding plus the old bonus.

Mysterious: The old bonus has been done away with in favor of a +1 to resist any rolls from someone trying to figure out anything about them, and can spend a zap to make people forget a bit of information about them. So if they succeed on the first roll, use the second option.

Queen Bee: A free rank in Leader and the ability to summon a Rank 1 NPC for an hour.

Ruffian: A free rank to Urchin and Streetwise.

Rural: Can now ignore penalties caused by rough terrain or weather along with the original bonus.

Sassy: Your character is the embodiment of :nyd:. There’s even a picture of Amber under the description to drive this point home. They can spend a zap to draw attention to themselves. This can be used to either give themselves a +1 to Social rolls or to make enemies target them on their next turn in combat. Ever wanted to tank enemies by sassing at them? Here you go.

Temper: Can now spend a zap to gain +1 to rolls and damage while they beat the gently caress out of whoever pissed them off. They also ignore a point of damage when doing so.

Tinkerer: A free rank in either Build/Repair or Enchantment. Building and repairing times are halved.

Tough: +1 to Resist Magic and the character always ignores 2 points of damage.

Trickster: Can ignore a harmful spell, harmful effect, or attack once per day along with the original bonus.

Urban: Can spend a zap to know the location of any building in any city.

Warrior: Can ignore a point of armor, a free rank in Fighting, and +1 to unarmed melee damage.

Wicked: Along with the original bonus, all of their spells are treated as being 1 magic type rank higher in either their range, duration, or damage when they’re using them to be an rear end in a top hat to others.

Witty: This type of character always has a comeback or quip at the ready. They get a free rank of Charm, which they can also use once per target per day to make up a joke or insult with a Hard difficulty roll. Jokes give “+1Life Points of Zap points” while insults give a -1 to rolls.

Zap Happy: Can now instantly gain a zap point once per day on top of their other bonus.

The Heritages list has gotten 9 new entries: “Alchemist”, “Amazon”, “Crystal Gazer”, “Dreamer”, “Elementalist”, “Godmother”, “Martial Artist”, “Melodious”, and “Summoner”. "Attuned" is now "Arcane Aptitude". "Zappy Fingers" is now "Zapper". “Hex Breaker”, “Mystic Void”, and “Twitch Witch” are gone. While heritages no longer give disadvantages on a whole, some still do come with minor ones. (Which are shoved in-between the Advantage bullet points in the book.)

Alchemist: Pretty much the Alchemist heritage from All About the Voodollars, right down to some of the wording being the same. They get 2 free ranks of Herbalism along with the ones for Potions and the ability to bottle and throw spells at people; can identify a potion by smell, taste, or color with an Easy roll; can add an additional dose to every potion they make (or as the book puts it “all Potions a Potion make…”); can change the resist attribute of a potion with an Easy roll and D12 minutes of work; can combine two potions into one with a Hard roll, and can alter a potion when it’s made to look like another. Those are all under 3 bullet points, by the way.

Amazon: The character is a member of a group of misandrist Maga witches who live in isolated communities (mostly in Russia, Greece, and Africa) and spend their days training to one day rise up and defend their “weaker sister-witches” from the evils of the Serpent Man. No, not women in general. Just other witches. They get a free rank of Fighting and Track, get +1 to rolls when fighting male enemies, and can spend 3 zap to gain a +1 to Strength or three other attributes that don’t exist.

Arcane Aptitude: “Arcane Aptitude to the forces of magic” among other things that basically say “you can use your energy to do magic”. Can spend a zap to add +1 to mundane skill rolls; 2 zap to add +1 to magical rolls or their Resist Magic; and can spend a zap to add a rank to a spell’s range, duration, or damage.

Crystal Gazer: The character uses crystals in their spellcasting. No, not crystal balls. These crystals cannot be purchased and must be found and processed. They start the game with a crystal wand (a standard wand with +1 to rolls to find crystals), a large crystal, and 3 small ones. They get +2 to skill rolls involving crystals, can store spells and zap (which an ally can use) in their crystals, get +1 to the duration of Divination spells, and restore +2 health with Healing spells.

Conjurer: The free rank is gone, but the size and duration of spells is one rank higher, spells cost a zap less, and they gain a +2 Casting to mess with other Conjuration spells.

Dreamer: The character has the ability to enter and control dreams. Can spend a zap to get a full night’s rest (with dreams, natch), can spend 2 zap to give a person nightmares (and a -1 penalty to all rolls the next day), and can spend 5 zap to summon a Guardian. To enter and mess with people’s dreams, they spend a zap and have to succeed a Will vs Will roll. To change dreams and communicate with the dreamer, they need to succeed on a Hard Will roll.

Elementalist: The character has an affinity with one of the classical elements, Light, or Dark. +1 to spells based on their chosen element, ignore 2 points of damage from the element, can do an attack for 2 zap that causes 10 damage and can go up to 50 feet, and can spend a zap to travel up to 50 mph for an hour using the element.

Evil Eye: They can still fire rainbow beams from their eyes to cast spells, but the Senses boost is gone and they take a -2 penalty to their starting zap pool. Their beam spells have +1 range and they can spend a zap to use their eye beams as a normal attack. (Which does 5 damage or gives a -2 to Resist for an hour. It has a magic type rank of 3.)

Godmother: Doesn’t have a blurb. So use your imagination.

Hag’s Syndrome: Characters with Hag’s Syndrome now no longer need to eat or drink and don’t take damage from water because reasons. They get +1 to Magic and a +2 to resist Alteration spells. The other benefits have been removed.

Half-Otherkin: Here, have a cute picture of a catgirl.

No, you can’t play a catgirl. The four choices for this heritage are still the same. (“Dwitches” from Voodollars weren’t brought over with the Alchemist heritage.)
Fae: Everything but the bonus to Illusion magic is still around. As is the weakness to iron and “still”. (+2 damage. What happens when they’re binded in it isn’t mentioned.) They can also spend 2 zap to instantly teleport up to 20 feet away.
Immortal: Still have doubled speed and +1 to their Body die. But they now heal twice as fast, ignore 3 points of damage, and must make a Hard Will roll to break an oath or lie.
Werewolf: They still get a bonus to their Senses die and can turn into a wolf. The bonus to Body rolls is gone. They regain health at a rate 1 life per hour out of combat, and they take +2 damage to silver weapons.
Vampire: They still ignore 1 point of damage and get +2 to rolls at night. They now also get a -1 to rolls during the day, can grow fangs or claws for a zap (+2 damage, lasts a minute), and “can at night up to 50 mph”.

Healer: This one has been completely rewritten. Healers now get a free rank of Healing magic, 2 free ranks of First Aid and Herbalism, heal +2 more Life, and can stabilize people by touching them.

Hexer: Along with the other advantages, +1 to casting curses, can spend 2 zap to only give another person -2 to all of their rolls, and

WGAR posted:

All bonuses of minuses to rolls granted by Curse Spells cast by the Hexer are +1 or -1 respectively.

Hypnotic: No longer get a free rank of Mentalism, but still get +1 Casting to such spells and the range of such spells is treated as being a rank higher. They can spend a zap to gain a +1 bonus to Social rolls (up to 3), and anyone under their Mentalism spells is at a -1 to their Mind or Will rolls.

Jinx: +1 to Casting, but all of the character’s spells usually gently caress up in some weird fashion. (The example given is if they conjure a cheeseburger, they might get a rubber squeak toy looking cheeseburger that tastes like a cheeseburger.) Casting a spell on them forces the caster to roll a D4. If they roll a 4, the spell harms them in "some non permanent , non-deadly but and humorous manner".

Legacy: Along with the +2 to keep them alive, they get a +2 to resist permanent spells, spells cast on them have a -1 rank to their duration, and they can gain either +5 to a roll or straight up ignore a harmful spell or damage.

Martial Artist: The character has training in a martial art, be it formal or not. (“The School of Hard Knocks” is mentioned.) +1 to Fighting, +2 to damage, +1 to Reflex, ignores 1 damage, and can spend a zap to add a point of damage to their punches and kicks. (Up to 3.)

Meditative: Along with the +1 to their Will die, zap regained by using the Focus skill is doubled, they can spend a zap to gain +2 to resist “magical poison disease and harmful potions”, (I’m assuming it’s talking about magical diseases because witches are immune to lovely mundane ones.) two free ranks in Focus, and the ability to regain health at the same rate as their zap.

Melodious: The character casts their spells by singing or playing an instrument. This type of casting is referred to as “the music of the spheres”. It has nothing to do with the actual concept. They get 3 ranks they can divide up among Instrument or Singing; gain +1 to either the range, duration, or targets of the spell for every 3 ranks of whichever skill has the most points in it; the range is also their line of sight or the range of the music (it’s not exactly clear, they may also need to spend a zap for it); they get a free instrument if their casting is based on one, which acts like a standard wand; and they can spend a Zap to give either a +1 or -1 to others’ rolls for a minute.

Oracle: 5 ranks to spend on any magic skill except Casting, can spend a Zap to gain +1 to Mind based magic skill rolls (up to 3), +1 to their Mind die, and can use the Mind + Basics rolls for magical skills (except Casting, Leyology, Naming (which doesn’t exist in this book), and Rites).

Persephone: -1 Zap and +1 to Casting Necromancy spells; can see, hear, and touch ghosts and spirits without any special rolls; +1 to rolls when dealing with vampires, ghosts, and undead creatures and -2 to resist the effects of such creatures.

Prodigy: 5 free ranks in any magic skill except Casting, +2 to Zap, an extra magic type rank, an extra signature spell, and +1 to their Magic die.

Protected: Ignores 3 points of damage, +2 Reflex, +2 to Resist Magic, and the damage and duration of any harmful spell cast on them has a -1 MTR.

Shamaness: -1 Zap and +1 to casting Elementalism spells, can talk to plants and animals without a spell, +2 to social rolls when dealing with animals and chimera, and can spend a zap to hide in trees and bushes, making her invisible but unable to use magic.

The Sight: -1 Zap and +1 to casting Divination spells, +2 to resist surprise rolls and +2 to Reflex to avoid surprise attacks, and the GM can give them visions of the future (which are rare).

Summoner: A witch that specializes in conjuring and summoning monsters. +1 to casting rolls to summon monsters, creatures stay under their control for one scene or the spell’s duration, they can communicate telepathically with them at any range, and the cratures get +2 to their life points.

Transmuter: -1 Zap and +1 casting to Alteration spells, the spells have a +1 rank to their duration and size, and they can spend 2 Zap to make a spell permanent. Those spells are +1 to resist.

Twenty-First Century Digital Witch: -1 Zap and +1 to casting Cybermancy spells, a free rank of Build/Repair, can spend a zap to instantly repair any electronic device they own, can spend a Zap to become invisible to electronic devices for an hour, and can speak that 1337 language that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the fluff.

Wand Waver: +1 to casting when using a wand and a -2 when they’re not using one, can call their wand from up to 30 feet away, the wand can repair itself by 1 Life every minute, the wand can be used as a flashlight for free, and the character gets 20 free Wealth points to build a custom wand with at creation.

Warder: -1 to Zap and +1 to casting Protection spells, can spend a Zap to ignore a point of damage or add a +1 to resist a spell, their protection spells’ defense is 1 MTR higher.

Warper: -1 to Zap and +1 to casting Time and Space spells, can replay a minute of combat or a combat scene once a day, and “None Warper cast Time in space spells are -2 to casting when used with 20 feet of a Warper".

Zapper: Still called “Zappy Fingers” in its blurb. -1 Zap and +1 to casting Offensive spells, such spells have a +1 to their damage and range MTR, and “1 Zap point the character can spend two zap points to hit two targets instead of one with their Offense spells”.

Knacks are basically Talents, except you get 3 of them at creation and can gain more with experience points. However, there are negative knacks as well as positive ones, and you have to take an equal amount of each. How you’re supposed to do that at creation or any other time you have an odd number of them is anyone’s guess. Also, for some reason, there are more negative knacks than positive ones. Which makes me think this used to be just a section full of flaws you had to take.

Positive Knacks
Big Bank: The character has acquired more money than most, either through savings, business ventures, or illegal means. +1 Wealth.
Book Worm: 5 free skill ranks to use on Mind skills.
Broom Talker: Can spend a zap to call their broom to them and give it simple instructions.
Chanter: +1 to rolls if they chant and spend more time on a task (usually an hour or an action).
Fast Healer: Regains an extra Life every hour.
Fast Energizer: Regains an extra Zap every hour.
Ghost Magnet: +2 to rolls when dealing with all types of ghosts. Can also hear and speak to ghosts without a spell.
Instant Karma: Instantly knows when someone’s doing something wrong and gets +1 MTR to any spells used to teach them a lesson.
Lucky: Can spend a Zap to get +1 to any roll (to a max of 2).
Magician: The character can make their magic look like stage magic. Anyone who wants to figure out that it isn’t has to make a Hard Mind roll.
Natural Telekinetic: Can spend a Zap to move objects up to 5 pounds a maximum of 20 feet with their mind.
Natural Telepath: Can spend a Zap to telepathically communicate with a person up to a mile away for an hour.
Power Word: The character’s signature spell cost -1 Zap and can be cast with a single word.
Wards: Ignores 2 points of damage.
Wireless: The character can magically send messages via talking, text, or email to any phone or computer within a mile that they know of for a Zap point.

Negative Knacks:
Animal Hate: Animals hate the character. -2 to social rolls when dealing with them.
Attitude: A vague catch-all trait for any personality quirk that people might not like, be it shyness, being a thrill-seeker, having low self-esteem, or being prejudiced towards a certain group of people. -1 to social rolls in situations decided on by the player and DM. This can be taken multiple times for different quirks.
Backfire: The character takes a point of damage when a spell fails. The damage cannot be removed or blocked.
Bad Luck: -1 to any roll the DM feels like slapping it onto.
Chubby: -2 to Reflex during Initiative rolls.
Dark Destiny: Doesn’t regain life or Zap during sleep due to nightmares of their horrible future destiny.
Deadpan: -1 to the Social die.
Diabolic: -1 to casting rolls for non-malicious spells.
Ditz: -1 to the Mind die.
Fragile: -2 Life.
Flammable: +2 damage from fire. Only one point can be removed via armor or other means of reducing it. (Also, isn’t everyone flammable?)
Four-eyes: -2 to all sight rolls when they’re not wearing their glasses.
Godmother Apprentice: -1 to spells that are malicious. Doesn’t mean you’re actually an apprentice in the Godmother’s Guild.
Jinx: The character must spend a Zap every scene and combat scene, and all of the other characters have a -1 to their rolls. Taking the Jinx heritage is not required. Yes, someone would probably get these two confused with each other.
Late Start: The character is a late bloomer when it comes to magic. -1 to their Magic die.
Light Blind: For whatever reason, the character cannot see well in daylight or brightly lit areas. -2 to sight rolls in such areas.
Magiphobia: Player picks one type of magic their character would never learn and, along with never being able to put points into it, have a -1 to any skill rolls that deal with it.
Monster Blood: Due to someone in their family line boning a monster, the character has a deformity. (e.g. Reptilian eyes or skin, horns, and so on.) They have to hide this from humans and have a -1 to any social rolls when dealing with other magical folk.
Naïve: -1 to the Will die.
One-Trick-Witch: -2 to casting rolls for any spell that isn’t their signature one.
Pacifist: -2 to all combat rolls.
Phobia: Players must succeed on a Very Hard Will roll when faced with their chosen phobia or they will run away from it. If running away is impossible, they take a -2 to all of their rolls instead.
Razzle Dazzle: -1 to rolls when trying to hide or explain a display of their magic.
Short: The character is either a little person or just very short. (2 to 4 ½ feet). Halved movement speed.
Sweet Tooth: If the character doesn’t eat something sweet every hour, they “lose Zap that will not return till after 8 hours of sleep.” I’m not sure if that means they lose it at set increments or if they just can’t regenerate it through other means.
Shallow: -1 Wealth at creation due to the fact that they spend a ton of money on looking good.
Sun Allergy: 1 damage for every hour the character is in direct sunlight.
Tall: -2 to hide rolls.
Water Allergy: 1 damage for every minute of exposure to moving water and -2 from a “steady stream” or still water. (Or as the book puts it: “lunch dunking”.)
Wanted: A more powerful character or group wants this character dead. Makes the DM give you a personal plot enemy.
Willowy: -2 to Body rolls.

Chapter’s over. Have some pictures.

Yeah, I know that’s Circe, but it’s a witch being a dick to someone. Still counts.

There’s nothing wrong with this one. I just wanted to share it with you all.

Next: Magic.

Apr 22, 2014

...That's an Angry Birds Summon/familiar.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Crasical posted:

...That's an Angry Birds Summon/familiar.

App Magic! Hello new oMage concept! Magickal Instagram filters! Snapchat Time magic!

Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."

Crasical posted:

Just like Super Sentai/Power Rangers which actually ran with the joke that those goofy as all hell explosive transformation sequences are actually dangerous.

Apr 22, 2014


MadScientistWorking posted:

Just like Super Sentai/Power Rangers which actually ran with the joke that those goofy as all hell explosive transformation sequences are actually dangerous.

The ToQger transformation literally had a white line that the bad guys needed to stand behind or get smacked around by a train during the Henshin.

Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."

Crasical posted:

The ToQger transformation literally had a white line that the bad guys needed to stand behind or get smacked around by a train during the Henshin.
Thinking about it now that I saw the transformation again it was probably the trains that are in the sequence themselves. My favorite ones are Boukenger and Power Rangers RPM. Boukenger has an episode where the red ranger has such horrible bad luck he gets set on fire from the transformation explosions. RPM had an episode where the Blue Ranger literally used the explosions as a weapon.
Kyoyuger also had the teams fire their henshin sequence off like a weapon.

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

Like any sane person I love the Dark Sun setting, it's awesome, creative and weird. Past Fatal and Friends have largely covered the really cool parts of the setting, so I figured I'd shoulder the burden of point out some of the wackier and weirder bits of the setting. Starting with...

Dark Sun: Wind Riders of the Jagged Cliffs
Part 1: Ancient Hobbit Overlords

You may know Dark Sun as possible the most badass and :black101: Dungeons and Dragons setting ever. You may even know that it's awesomeness got a little derailed by some questionable metaplot and you might pick up a new book only to find out that some novel had killed off half of the sorcerer-kings!

Well, do you know just how freaking weird Dark Sun got before the end of second edition? Very. The answer is very. Wind Riders of the Jagged Cliffs is perhaps the best representation of the weird direction the setting took before the end.


The Jagged Cliffs are part of the "expanded" Dark Sun setting where we move beyond the Tablelands, the area where the Sorcerer Kings founded their cities and the heart of most human and demihuman civilization. In the Tablelands halflings are uncommon, known only as savage jungle-dwelling cannibals (I told you Dark Sun was badass) who inhabit the small rainforest nestled in the mountain range that marks the Western border of the Tablelands.

Well, apparently not all halflings are awesome, murderous mini-tarzans. Far, far to the west beyond the Tablelands is the Jagged Cliffs, home of the last "civilized" halflings in Athas. The Jagged Cliffs are a nearly sheer mountain range, as tall as two miles in places and stretching hundreds of miles in either direction. At the base of the cliffs is a fog shrouded, mutant-filled swamp.

If you're wondering what I mean by the "last civilized halflings", then get ready for some of Dark Sun's wackier bits of history.

Way back in prehistory was Atha's Blue Age, when the planet was covered in water. Yes, Athas used to be Waterworld. There were only a few island chains and two races. The primitive insect-men who would one day evolve into the Thri Kreen and the halflings. Psionics didn't exist and arcane magic wasn't even a theory yet. Back then the halflings developed a bizarre and mostly unexplained technology of "life shaping" to create living technology that they used to develop vast civilizations over much of the earth.

The halflings of the Jagged Cliffs (who call themselves the rhul-thaun) are the last remnant of that age and they still retain some of the bizarre halfling bio-tech secrets of old.

The Rhul-thaun

Stat-wise, Rhul-Thaun halflings aren't really that much different from ordinary athasian halflings (although their ability score mods aren't as extreme, +1 Dex and Wis, -1 Strength). They start with amazing climbing abilities (80% on rocky surfaces and don't suffer the -15% racial penalty to wall climbing normal halflings thieves do). Otherwise they're pretty much identical. They live longer than most any other race, around 150 years, largely because they just have a better standard of living. Their relatively high levels of medical and biological knowledge means that more of them survive childbirth as well. It's a surprise they aren't scurrying all over the place!

One notable difference in living along the Jagged Cliffs is called Rajaat's Curse (those who know Dark Sun's weird metaplot know Rajaat as the "father" of arcane magic in general and defiling in particular. His involvement will be explained later). This is a general term used for deformities or any other disease without a known cause. Living above the swamps has given the rhul-thaun halflings an unfortunate tendency to develop mutations which range from minor changes in skin color or relatively normal birth defects all the way up to fully functional extra limbs, gills, tough skin, and bonuses to stats. Being a mutant would be kind of rad if it weren't for the fact that it gets you shunned.

Of course, it's all the Rhul-Thaun's own fault. Living above a massive magical toxic waste dump isn't good for you in the first place, and millenia ago the halfling's ancestors intentionally made their DNA more "flexible" in order to allow for easier life-shaping, so the rhul-thaun are extra susceptible to mutation (1% have minor mutations, and .1% have major ones). But, as you'll see, the Rhul-Thaun are pretty much in the habit of screwing themselves over.

One of the biggest cultural elements of Rhul-thaun life is ritual. Everything is ritualized and performed in very specific, often very intricate patterns. They have formal ceremonies for greetings, eating, dressing, selling, buying, fighting, dancing and just about everything else. Despite this there is no real religion to speak of among the cliff-halflings. Of course, there are no gods in Dark Sun to begin with, but unlike most other cultures they don't have cults or false dieties (like the sorcerer-kings). They have a generalized reverence for the power and strength of nature and life, but they don't usually worship the elements directly...they're seen as important but not usually worthy of veneration. Those Rhul-thaun who do decide to become elemental clerics are tolerated, except those who choose the element of fire which is seen purely as a source of death and destruction and is completely outlawed.

There is a minor "cult of personality" around the promise made by the High Lord Rhan Thes-onel, who left the Cliffs, promising to return some day to give his people a new purpose. Of course, most accept that he's long dead by now but some insist he might return in the form of a spirit or some other mystical sign.

The Rhul-thaun (like all halflings back in 2nd edition) cannot practice arcane magic and are in fact completely ignorant of it. However, exposure to arcane magic (even the relatively mild preserver magic) would be horrifying to a Rhul-thaun and an absolute abomination. They develop psionics and wild talents like everyone else on Athas but they generally see it as an unsavory ability (somewhat akin to deformity and mutation) and most will avoid using any psionic abilities they possess, thus there are no known rhul-thaun psionicists, although they have the same potential to learn it as any other race.

There's a quick section on creating a Rhul-thaun character, mostly pointing out what classes are or are not suitable for a cliff-dweller. However, there are some new Non-Weapon Proficiencies:

*Cliff Fighting: Cliff Fighting is a skill exclusive to the rhul-thaun due to their vertically oriented lifestyle. It removes any penalties for fighting while climbing and gives you a +1 to hit and +2 to damage against any opponents who are also climbing, on a ledge, etc.

*Life Shaping: The halfling bio-engineering skill. Exclusive to members of the Life Shapers guild and grants the knowledge to create life-shaped creatures and repair them.

*Ritual Knowledge: Knowing the right way to spin your fork when eating or which foot to balance on when apologizing to a merchant for soiling yourself in his store. Pretty much essential for living a normal life in rhul-thaun society.

*Tending: Apparently not included in Life-Shaping, this is the skill of actually caring for life-shaped objects, things like what to feed them, how they should be stored, etc.

*Windancing: Basically a combination of dancing and parkour. Not much detail is provided beyond this other than to say its quite pretty.

*Windriding: The thing the book is named. This is riding but with flying mounts, namely (but not necessarily) life-shaped mounts and is specific to the hazards and environments of the jagged cliffs.

Finally, if you're creating a rhul-thaun you have to roll 1d8+1d12 to determine your social status...I'm no probability wiz, does that actually produce a distribution any different from 2d10? Just curious.

Anyway, status ranges from Very Low (hobo), Low (poor), Average (working class), High (well off) and very high (totally rich). The table is weighted heavily towards Average and High status characters, so its good to see that the rhul-thaun have a thriving middle class.


Finally, we have Kits (2nd edition's class variations which range from minimal to drastic). All are warrior or rogue kits and oddly none focus on life-shaping.

Chahn Terrorist (warrior kit)
Apparently the rhul-thaun have terrorists. Honestly, from the sound of it these are the guys with the most common sense in the halfling community. They want to ditch the pointless rituals and stop living exclusively on a 2 mile-tall drop into a toxic swamp. Maybe get out there and see what the rest of the world has been up to (okay, that part's a bad idea given the general state of Athas, but you can't blame them for being curious).

Despite stating multiple times that not all Chahn terrorists are interested in violence and are often just guilty by association with more radical members, apparently all Chahn must have proficiency in the dagger and the garrote. I'm beginning to think that the chahn doth protest too much...

The Chahn get a +1 bonus to pretty much any roll they think will help overthrow the status quo, plus the benefits of being a member of an underground group of like-minded individuals.

Climber (Rogue/Warrior kit)
Only for multiclassed halfling rogue/warriors, this kit is for...people good at climbing. Climbers are also kind of the rhul-thaun equivalent of truckers or bikers: they like to hang out with one another, there are "climber only" bars, etc.

climbers can "run" while climbing and know special packing techniques which increase their encumbrance by 50%. But they spend so much time on the cliffs that they can't really handle horizontal distances too well, reducing the range of all missile weapons by 25% (which kind of sucks if you're going to be fighting flying enemies while stuck to a cliff).

Windancer (Rogue)

Just a side note, do you ever notice weird compound words, Windancer, in this case where the the first letter of the second word is deleted if it matches the last letter of the first? The sort of thing that you don't notice for the longest time but then you can't unsee it and it starts to bug you? Well, if you do then I just ruined the word Windancer for you.

As mentioned before Windancing is basically halfling parkour crossbred with dancing. They're largely performance artists in halfling cities but some of them are willing to use those skills for other purposes.

Oddly enough although windancing is listed as a Non-weapon Proficiency, it does not appear on the Windancer's list of bonus, required or even recommended proficiencies.

They can climb walls and "dance over bridges" (why only bridges?) at triple normal speed for 2 minutes per point of constitution. They also, for some reason, get a +10% to move silently and +5% to hide in shadows...but no bonus to climb walls.

Downside is their encumbrance is cut by 50% and they lose all of their bonuses outside of urban environments (so no super-fast climbing on cliffs or parkouring through a forest).

Windrider (rogue)
Not sure why this one is rogue exclusive, really seems like more of a warrior thing.

The windriders are essential to rhul-thaun civilization, serving as a combination of hunter/gatherers, scouts and postal workers. They've got kind of a "flying ace" vibe and tend to be seen as daring and flamboyant.

They get no penalty for acting while on an airborne mount and they're considered holy by the relatively small number of Air clerics in halfling society so they can pretty much always find food, shelter and help at an air temple. However, for some reason they are absolutely forbidden from developing proficiencies in riding land animals. Since they're usually sponsored by wealthy patrons they get a good chunk of starting cash.


For some reason at the end of this chapter there's a brief section on the penalties for operating within The Misty Border (something that hasn't actually been explained yet). This boils down to A) its hard to see in lots of fog, and B) those from arid climates (i.e. everywhere else) may develop respiratory problems. Because nothing says awesome sword and sorcery adventure like pneumonia

There's also some notes on climbing. It points out that most rhul-thaun are already excellent natural climbers (80%) on rocky cliffs and most have the Mountaineering skill granting an additional 10%. On top of that there are vertical "roads" along the cliffs where exceptionally good climbing paths have been clearly marked, granting an additional +40%. But 90% of the time the mists are heavy and this makes things slick (-25% to climb chance). There's a table for "what if you fail a climbing roll" which mostly consists of a bit of a fright and maybe falling 10 feet before grabbing a new hold and taking 1d6 damage. The really unlucky could fall farther (up to 1d100x100 feet for a roll of 98-100).

Finally, we get a bit of commentary on how weird the halfling cities look to outsiders, tiny scale, organic styles of architecture and a tendency to think vertically rather than horizontally.

The next entry will be on Athas' psychedelic history.

Jan 7, 2015

Adnachiel posted:

Half-Otherkin: Here, have a cute picture of a catgirl.

No, you can’t play a catgirl.

Now that's a buzzkill.

And knacks were another thing that already existed in the Director's Cit aka version 1.0+

MadScientistWorking posted:

Just like Super Sentai/Power Rangers which actually ran with the joke that those goofy as all hell explosive transformation sequences are actually dangerous.

MadScientistWorking posted:

Thinking about it now that I saw the transformation again it was probably the trains that are in the sequence themselves. My favorite ones are Boukenger and Power Rangers RPM. Boukenger has an episode where the red ranger has such horrible bad luck he gets set on fire from the transformation explosions. RPM had an episode where the Blue Ranger literally used the explosions as a weapon.
Kyoyuger also had the teams fire their henshin sequence off like a weapon.

My favorite instances are in Akibaranger, where they stand a little bit too close to their own explosion at least twice, and the first Gokaiger movie, where they transform into the Dynaman (who I think were notorious for their big explosions) just so they could pose and weaponize the explosion, blowing up dozens of mooks.

And speaking of Boukenger, there was that one scene where BoukenRed parried an attack with his transformation item to transform. Sadly he is no Precure, so it was merely a display of badassery than an overkill for the opponent.

EDIT: Oh, forgot to quote this one:

oriongates posted:

Windancer (Rogue)

Just a side note, do you ever notice weird compound words, Windancer, in this case where the the first letter of the second word is deleted if it matches the last letter of the first? The sort of thing that you don't notice for the longest time but then you can't unsee it and it starts to bug you? Well, if you do then I just ruined the word Windancer for you.

But what if they don't dance like the wind, but just dance to win?

(Useless trivia: These kinds of compound words were the norm under German spelling rules until they were changed to something that made actual sense in the 90's. Didn't stop people from going "They changed it, now it sucks")

Doresh fucked around with this message at 13:06 on Mar 12, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

oriongates posted:

Finally, we have Kits (2nd edition's class variations which range from minimal to drastic). All are warrior or rogue kits and oddly none focus on life-shaping.

Is this one of those things where they add the skill to the game, then slap at the hands of any PC trying to take it? It seems like a very '90s thing to do.

Aug 1, 2011
Let's Read Nephilim 2nd Edition Corebook part 3: Character Creation Summary

So here how we create a character in Nephilim, the actual method and details are disseminated in the chapter but the book is polite enough to include a summary of the process.

Important note: Nephilim 2nd is a classic d100 system so each skill is noted from 0 to 100

1 Choose your dominant Ka your main Element. You can be a
Pyrim the Fire-Nephilim Fire is linked to artistic inspiration, brute strength and violence
Eolim the Air-Nephilim Air is linked to comprehension, thoughfulness and curiosity
Hydrim the Water-Nephilim Water is linked to movement, adaptation, transformation
Onirim the Moon-Nephilim Moon is linked to dreams, lies and monsters
Faerim the Earth-Nephilim Earth is linked to fecundity, growth and rot

In Nephilim the elements are organized in a Pentacle in the order above. You must choose which of the two elements that neighbours your dominant Ka is dominant and which of the two elements facing your dominant Ka is your worst.

1.5 choose if your Nephilim was a Basaltic (The book says roll 3 or less on a d10), if that's the case choose a number between 1 and 5. This is the number of Basaltic Cycles your character had. Each cycle gives you 5% in the Occult Science of Magic but enhance your vulnerabilities to the manifestations of your opposed elements.

2 Choose a Metamorphosis ;. The Metamorphosis is the symbolic representation of your Nephilim, his true form before the Fall. While it somewhat informs your chatacter's mindset, it is mostly cosmetic. The more your Nephilim is powerful, the more her hidden nature shows and her Metarmophosis changes her stolen body. Metamorphosis are but not limited to.

The Phoenix
The Djinn
The Salamdra
The Cyclops

The Angel
The Sylph
The Efreet
The Zephir

The Naiad
The Siren
The Triton
The Undine

The Serpent
The Medusa
The Chimera

The Satyr
The Elf
The Mandragora
The Sphinx

3 Incarnations : You must choose which lives you have lived between the Fall and the present day. Each life enhances your knowledge, mundane and occult, but each one reduces your initial Ka of 20 by 2. If you take the three incarnations advised you begin with 14. I'll go more in details on Incarnations next post but the system is simple :

In each Incarnation Times you roll two times 2d6: the first result is your it is used to purchase Simulacra and Skills, the second is , it is used to participate in Quests that improves your occult knowledge.

The Incarnations are:
Neolithic Times
Thuatha de Danaan
Akenaten's Egypt
Trojan War
Alexander's Empire
Gaul's Wars
Jesus' Incident
King Arthur
Albigensian Crusade
Trial of the Knight Templars
Fall of the Kingdom of Granada
Italian Renaissance
Elisabethan London
The Rise of the Sun King
Suleiman the Magnificent
Paris in Revolution
Victorian London
The Black Years (1940's)

4 Choose the Simulacrum, the meat-puppet you possess in the modern times. Modify its characteristics using your Element Kas (again more details in the next post but each Element is linked to a characteristic and possession enhances the human body)

5 Find a Name and play;

Next Character Creation Example

ganonso fucked around with this message at 16:45 on Mar 12, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Liber Canticorum

I rolled dice since no one voted, so you get the Liber Canticorum! It is the book that explains how Songs do, and has a lot of new Songs. Songs are...well, they're Essence-fueled miracles, transcending the normal interaction of the world and altering reality by calling on the Symphony's own chords. Unlike a resonance or attunement, a Song is not intrinsic to your nature and does not alter your Forces when you learn it. They aren't really skills, however, so much as acquired abilities. Songs appear magical to the uninitiated, and they are supernatural in the basic sense of bypassing physical laws, but they tap into chords that already exist in the Symphony. Even mortals can learn to use them, in theory and with instruction.

Songs are part of the Symphony, but apart from it. None know who sang the first Song, though some say God used a Song to create the universe. Every Song heard after that, they say, is an imperfect echo of the first and true Song. Others believe the Symphony itself is a Song, continuously sung by God. Regardless of the truth, all Songsk nown to celestials have existed from the first moment, though not all have been known for that long. Many Songs are still undiscovered. Eli is believed to be the first angel to learn to sing, and he taught it to the others. Some say God taught him the Songs of Creation directly, while a more heretical view holds that he created the Symphony's music himself and was given the Word of Creation for it. Celestials used Songs in the first days to manipulate the Symphony when subtler means could not be used. As the unvierse became more settled and celestial manifestation more difficult, they found it more advantageous to use resonance and attunements, but Songs remain effective, if noisy, tools.

Most celestials spend little time on the metaphysics of Songs. Some appreciate their art and most appreciate their use, but the average angel or demon has better things to do than care about why they work. Others, like ethereals and a few sorcerers, have studied more deeply. Even the most dedicated student, however, can only imperfect understand if they are unable to experience and comprehend all three realms. The being whose understanding is closest to perfect, exceeding even most Superiors, is Israfel, Angel of Music, a very old angel of Creation. It is largely by her research that the body of knowledge on Songs has grown, and she has contributed more than a few discoveries to Heaven. Many angels have Fallen since she first began, so she cannot be blamed for them taking her discoveries to Hell.

Israfel remains constantly amazed, even after millenia investigating her Word, by the mysteries she finds every day. When God gave favor to mortals, Israfel focused her attention on them. Rather than jealousy, she was fascinated by the relationship they held with the Symphony, and began a long-term analysis of their music, its effects and its sources, trying to discover how much of the Symphony they could perceive, and how they could manipulate it without Disturbance. Obviously, they had a very different place than celestials in the grand plan. Humans, it seemed, were the Symphony yet unaware of it, unable to hear the notes because of the tune. As she went further, however, Israfel found that humans did subconsciously perceive the Symphony, which manifested in their desire for and love of music. Humans were affected so much by music because it duplicates the Symphony in a way they con consciously appreciate, resonating with a truth they inherently understand. In some exceptional individuals, the Symphony actually rose the surface of the mind, compelling them to imitate its truth and beauty. These people became the great performers and composers of the world, though at a heavy price: they rarely believe their music is good enough, and their drive to express what they hear in their heads often produces odd or self-destructive behavior. Israfel also found thath umans could hear an infernal symphony - that a rare few humans were mentally disturbed enough to tune into a demon's personal view on the Symphony. These people act out of the selfish and violent impulses of the 'broadcaster,' often claiming to hear voices telling them to do things. Israfel found this could not be made to happen deliberately, and that demons can't tell when it's happening. She was also one of the first c elestials to learn that some mortals could be taught Songs, and to correlate this with their possession of a 6th Force. She still has not found why ethereals and celestials with less than 6 Forces can learn Songs, but corporeal beings cannot. Israfel has not studied demons very deeply. She would like to know more aobut their interaction with the Symphony, but realizes that understanding their selfish symphonies would mean understanding their viewpoints, which is quite dangerous for an angel. She has no desire to Fall and so curbs her curiosity.

Humans can perceive a muted echo of the Symphony, and a few exceptional people can do more. They are haunted by the nagging sense that something is just barely beyond the reach of their senses, and some try to reach for those chords, as Israfel found, and became great musicians. Many ohters, however, have believed those secret melodies are something to understand and control. This became the study of magic, which celestials regard as an ignorant and vulgar term. Magic is an attempt to invoke the supernatural via key words, actions or ingredients, based on superstition that often derives from ancient encounters with real power. It doesn't work. If a human were to somehow gain the power to use a Song without anyone explaining it, they may think of it as and call it magic, but magic, as humans understand the term, doesn't exist. (Sorcery does, but it's much more involved.)

It is impossible to record a Song in a mundane way. The vocal ritual can be recorded, but even an expert singer with perfect pitch mimicking it exactly will produce only a mundane song. Likewise, a mortal can watch an angel perform a Song, imitate each sound and gesture, and get nothing. The mundane components of the Song performance - singing, dancing or an act of will - together make up a performance ritual, but the ritual only facilitates the Song, which must be powered by the singer's Essence and enabled by their knowledge of the chord being played. Though each performance is unique and no two performers do a Song exactly the same way, each Song does have a distinct melody when vocalized, and certain motions are identifiable in each physical ritual of a particular Song. It doesn't matter what language you sing in - lyrics are not required. A Song can be danced in any style. But anyone who knows the Song can make a Perception roll to recognize verbal or physical ritual to invoke it. Identify the ritual does not mean the performer is actually invoking the Song, however - several have entered popular culture. Quite a few common tunes, some nursery rhymes and some hit music,. are based on the vocal component of a Song ritual. While the performance ritual can never invoke a Song by itself, recording one doess serve a purpose. For those who can do Songs, the ritual is an aid to learning the Song. Celestials have sometimes passed Songs on this way, leaving the key to unlocking their power in the form of a doggerel verse. (London Bridge, for example, is the tune to a once-secret Song. Kobal had something to do with this.) Usually, it's only other celestials that crack the code, but on rare occasions, a mortal has figured it out.

Celestials use the word 'magician' for those who practice useless magic. It's a derisive label among those who know the truth of their ignorance. Some magicians are New Age wannabes, others are serious occult researchers, but none have any idea what they're doing and most have no true power. They take many paths in search of magic, and many do make the connection to music, which has led to a study of musical structure in search of magical power. Some magicians delve into symbology and the encoding of words and music with numbers, and a lot of religious mysticism, such as Kabbalah and Gematria, have come from this research, as has astrology in all its forms and the I-Ching and tarot. Other magicians focus on the sounds themselves, studying incantations, prayers and hymns. Songs can, however, be done without singing or even moving. Some mortals intuitively deduce this or witness it, and so attempt to replicate the ritual by chanting, dance, drumming or meditation. Others practice alchemy, mixing physical compounds in an attempt to brew magic. They operate on fragmentary and incomplete knowledge, often based on artifacts or the true sorcerous alchemy. Every once in a while, however, a magician is truly exceptional and by some accident acquires real power. Any mortal who attracts attention will be recruited or killed, and may become Soldiers or srocerers. But sometimes, they succeed, oblivious as to how or why, and avoid being noticed by anyone who knows the truth. They always have at least 6 Forces and must be able to control their Essence, but they can, very rarely, learn Songs without celestial help. For this reason, while magicians are mostly ignored, there are a few celestials that stay active in occult circles just in case.

Israfel is an ancient and venerated angel, who has dedicated herself to the study of the Word of Music and its performance. She holds a very wide view of the Word, concerning herself with both Songs and the music of a child banging on a pot. This has kept her occupied for millenia, though her focus has shift ed from using Songs to solidify the young universe to discovering how the Symphony works on all planes. She is dedicated and perhaps the best singer of any celestial. She can make angels cry with joy via the beauty of her song, but she must be cery careful when singing on Earth - her divine gift is so powerful that humans can actually suffer acute mental, spiritual or even physical pain. Thus, she prefers instruments to singing while on Earth. She can pick up any instrument and play it well within half an hour and perfectly within a day. She loves all genres, periods and combinations of music, and she is fascinated by the human desire to create music. Because she spends so much time on Earth, she has become a sort of talent scout for Soldiers, particularly those with a talent for Songs. She routes them to appropriate Archangels, which has earned her much favor in Heaven, and also acts as a mentor for talented young musicians, especially those who are innovating. She knows pretty much all common Songs at virtuouso level, and is a genius at improvisation, thanks to her understanding of the Symphony's rhythms. She likes to say that the Symphony plays her, in fact. She is capable of performing any Song she can learn, even those normally restricted. It is believed that she may know more secret Songs than most Superiors, due to her age and curiosity. She may even have the key to some lost Songs. Dominic doesn't mind, as she seems inclined to keep them secret and lost. What he dislikes is her knowledge ofi nfernal Songs, but she learned them as part of her research and would never use them. Their sounds torture her ear. Israfel will share her research with any angel that approaches her with a true appreciation of music. She has never sworn to serve another Archangel, but she remains on good terms with all of them and has even earned several Distinctions - rare for an angel of Eli. Many believe she will someday be an Archangel, but for now, she is too focused on her studies.

Israfel has two vessels, one male and one female. She has 17 Forces (only five Corporeal, see) and has all of the Creation Choir attunements she can learn, plus Seraph of Animals, Seraph of Destiny, Seraph of Flowers, Abracadra, Dream Walking, Transubstantiation, Songmaster, Vassal of War, Friend of the Divine Spark and Friend of Stages. She has three unique Rites: Compose a new song, teach a song or Song to someone else, and inspire someone to develop their musical abilities to their full potential.

Songs can be acquired by any non-mundane being. There are some restructions, however. They must normally be bought with XP, costing 1 point per level. However, just because you can learn a Song doesn't mean you can use it. Anyone who can perceive Disturbance can learn Songs, and technically can learn any Song. However, many have additional requirements, and if you learn a Song you can't perform, well, it doesn't do anything, and you can't even teach it to others. All Songs have certain basic performance requirements. First, you must be able to control your Essence expenditure. Second, you must have at least 1 Force in the realm of the Song, and if you are a mortal, you must have at least 6 Forces. Even then, mortals cannot normally perform Ethereal or Celestial Songs unless given a connection to those realms. Celestials of any kind (including spirits), Saints, ethereals and undead can use Songs in any realm, save for zombis, who can only do Corporeal Songs. Remnants cannot perform Celestial Songs, lacking any Celestial Forces. Some Songs have other restrictions on their usage.

Thre are three main ways to get a Song: imprinting by a Superior or Songmaster, learning from another being, or imitating a Song until you learn it independently. A Superior can imprint a Song at any level on someone capable of learning Songs. That doesn't mean they can use it, of course. They also rarely imprint Songs above level 1 - after that, you can improve on your own. Songmasters can also imprint Songs, but not automatically and only at level 1.

It is also possible, but difficult, to teach a Song to someone else. Superiors discourage this, however, and most Princes forbid it entirely. It requires (9-appropriate realm's Forces) weeks to learn a Song this way, assuming you are shown the Song at least once a day. This doesn't require any rolls, but will generate Disturbance and cost the Essence minimum each day. A minimum of one demonstration per week is required, and this will extend out the learning period appropriately. A relic can teach a Song this way as well. At the end of the learning period, you roll against the teacher's level with the Song plus your Forces in its realm, +1 if you already know one other version of the Song, +2 if you know two. You get -2 if you are learning from a Relic, and -4 if you are incapable of the Song's performance. Essence cannot be spent on this roll. Success means you get the Song at level 1, while failure means the entire period has been wasted. Songmasters never fail to learn a Song, but must still spend the time and roll to check for Intervention. No one can learn more than one Song at a time.

Learning a Song by imitation is essentially the same, save that the teacher doesn't know they're doing it. All the rules above apply - you need to witness the song at least once a week, at least by perceiving its Disturbance. (And, in fact, you must perceive the Disturbance to benefit from the 'instruction.') At the end of the interval, you roll as above, but at -1.

Once you know a Song, all you have to do is practice it to get better at it and psend 1 XP per level. The GM is told not to allow you to get more than 1 level per adventure, however, unless you have a teacher or are a Songmaster. Superiors, of course, can just hand out knowlege, but rarely do. We then get a basic explanation of Song rules like from the core. Some Songs can be opposed or Dodged, but they will specify this. OTherwise, they can't be. Songs that can be opposed are either resisted (you have to beat the singer at a roll) or negated (you just have to succeed at a roll). Most opposable Songs are resisted. Songs that cannot normally be opposed can be resisted in certain conditions, however - msot commonly, when two people are using the same Song for opposing purposes, such as both trying to use the Celestial Song of Dreams to control a dreamscape. Other powers can also do this, such as the Ethereal Song of Harmony versus the Habbalah resonance. In these cases, whoever gets the higher CD on a successful roll wins. Ties continue to the next round, but no additional Essence is spent.

Songs can have affiliations with a Superior's Word. When performed by servants of that Word (Saint or celestial, but not Soldier), the singer getrs +1 to the CD of a success. Likewise, some Songs resonate with a Choir or Band, granting +1 to Cd that way. However, you can never get more than +1 to the CD, even if the Song resonates with your Word and your nature. Songs are usually done solo, but can be performed as a chorus. Each singer must perform the Song identically in all ways, and all singersm ust be able to see each other. All must begin simultaneously, spend the same amount of Essence, do the same rituals and spend the same amount of time. All must be in the same form, corporeal or celestial, and must all be within range of the target. Songs that affect only the user can be done by chorus, but all must be able to touch each other, though they need not do so as long as they are close enough to be able to. Each who successfully uses the Song must then make a Singing roll to match harmonies. The chorus manifests as if one person sang the Song, but with an independent effect on each performer, as applciable. Essence is not combined. The advantage, however, is that the Song's effects are all calculated at the highest skill level, Forces and CD among the performers. Disturbance is equal to the highest of any individual singer, plus the sum of all Essence spent. Anyone who successfully performs the Song but either varies their performance or fails the Singing roll instead invoke the Song normally.

Next time: Sotto Voce

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Is this one of those things where they add the skill to the game, then slap at the hands of any PC trying to take it? It seems like a very '90s thing to do.

Oh absolutely. The game is very clear that unless you're playing a Rhul-Thaun in the Life Shaping guild then you aren't getting this skill. And given the level of ritual, time and effort involved in the day to day life of a lifeshaper there's pretty much no reason one would be an adventurer.

And even if they did it wouldn't really matter because all of the remaining life-shaping techniques involve mysterious, elaborate rituals which can't be performed "in the field" so to speak.


Oct 13, 2011


oriongates posted:

Finally, if you're creating a rhul-thaun you have to roll 1d8+1d12 to determine your social status...I'm no probability wiz, does that actually produce a distribution any different from 2d10? Just curious.

Anyway, status ranges from Very Low (hobo), Low (poor), Average (working class), High (well off) and very high (totally rich). The table is weighted heavily towards Average and High status characters, so its good to see that the rhul-thaun have a thriving middle class.
Not substantially; big plateau on 10/11/12, but otherwise pretty similar.

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