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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



DalaranJ posted:

The emperor can talk?
He's got a text to speech device.

Ignore canon, worship Chaos, join the Tau, eat an Orkburger. Like the mechanics, ignore everything else.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Like, the drama in Deathwatch isn't 'WILL THE KILL-TEAM WIN THIS FIREFIGHT', it's 'We had thirty different requests for aid because we're in a war with billions of people and we're a 4 person squad that can only be in one place at a time. Did we choose the right firefight to win?'

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



Well it may be superfluous to Marines I like the idea of back porting Squad mode to a game like Warhammer FRP 2nd edition. You could have party powers and pledges instead of oaths. Might be able to have extra powers for martial classes as an answer to not having spells and the idea of fear attacks going after party cohesion instead of individual will saves means that if the party works together and sticks together they're better able to deal with their threats. And conceivably having a squad mode in 2nd edition means you could have scenarios where they stumble into a something like a real Warhammer FB battle and have to stick together to survive it, maybe even save the day! Alternatively it seems like it would be a good idea to have party actions when fighting, say, a vampire.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Squad Mode is really an important part of Deathwatch. The whole point is that your team of space heroes is even more powerful together, and you're going to need that when the Tau send 5 veterans in crisis suits after you because "they just drop-assaulted into the compound and they're killing the Ethereal's bodyguards with swords somebody do something" is Tuesday for you.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

Squad Mode is really an important part of Deathwatch. The whole point is that your team of space heroes is even more powerful together, and you're going to need that when the Tau send 5 veterans in crisis suits after you because "they just drop-assaulted into the compound and they're killing the Ethereal's bodyguards with swords somebody do something" is Tuesday for you.

It's also especially important when the whole point of the game is 'You need to overcome your differences and become a post-human insanity sentai team, multicolored and everything.'

Which is why 'Also it's much easier to use if you're all the same Chapter unless you take very specific abilities or use the add-on book' is such a let-down.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Chapter 3: Ansuz, the Gods

When it comes to day-to-day living, the Northlanders have a hands-off approach to worship. Religious issues come to the fore generally during feasts and festivals, or when beseeching blessings for a certain activity like invoking Donar's name before riding into battle. In a way worship is akin to a business transaction: make the proper sacrifices and the gods will do right by you. Many Northlanders make comparisons to their own social structures as a way of understanding: a spellcasting cleric serving their patron deity is like a huscarl serving a jarl.

Amusingly, a bit of in-universe bias slips out during discussion:

quote:

This is different from the situation in the Caliphate or Monrovia and the Southlands where one serves one’s gods as a thrall, bowing and scraping, and spending endless hours in worship and veneration. The Northlanders do not so much worship their deities as they carry out customs that have been occurring for centuries and that the mortal and divine find pleasing and beneficial.

There are times in the book where things read like the narrator is a very jingoistic Northlander, but this is far from the norm and it can feel confusing when objective narration suddenly becomes subjective. What’s even funnier is that in the rest of Frog God Games’ books, their setting is quite varied in gods and styles of worship.

The gods of the Northlands are separated into divisions of tribes. There are the Æsir, inhabitants of Asgard who are the principal deities of ethnic Northlanders; the Vanir, a more "worldly" pantheon who have strong connections to the natural world; the Ginnvaettir, inhabitants of the Ginnungagap and generic "evil gods;" and then there are foreign pantheons of deities worshiped by other cultures, which include demon cults and the Tibaz of the Seagestrelanders. Another thing to note is that the Northlands provides both the Germanic and Nordic names for deities but defaults to the Germanic version in regular conversation. One of the writers explained somewhere alone (I can’t recall the specific place) that this made the religions of the setting feel a bit more novel, but not so much to feel completely foreign.



The Æsir are the highest of the gods to the Northlanders, and with the exception of Loptr/Loki they are all of good alignment.

Baldr/Balder is the God of Bravery and Beauty, and his domain of influence includes impressive feats of strength. Only men may worship him, although an exception is made for spear-maiden paladins.

Bragr/Bragi is the bard of the gods, a patron of music, poetry, and the arts.

quote:

Not a weakling milksop minstrel of the Southlands, Bragr and his devotees are warriors who stand in the shieldwall and urge their fellows on to victory, and after the battle lead the laments to the dead and songs of the glory of the day.

Hey I know that bards suck in 3rd Edition, but you don't have to rub it in their faces!

Donar/Thor is the most popular of the Æsir both in the setting and in real life. Due to being a patron of storms, many farmers worship him to ensure favorable weather, and as the patron of heroes he and his worshipers are renowned giant-slayers.

Frigg/Frigga is patron of women, home, and hearth. Although many cunning women make offerings to her for healing and renewal, she also covers battle when the home must be defended. Interestingly common clerical garb includes that of a spear-maiden, although she is not one of the patrons of that paladin archetype.

Loptr/Loki is the bad apple of the Æsir. Giant blood runs through his veins, and he hopes to one day unseat his father Wotan/Odin as the new All-Father. Although known for deception and malice, he's given prayer and offerings due to his dominion over fire (a necessity year-round in the cold lands).

Tiwaz/Tyr is the god of law and justice, and interestingly is widely worshiped in the Southlands due to being of the three principle deities of the Empire of Foedewaith (Lawful Good golden age civilization which fell). Tiwaz played a role in ending the Æsir-Vanir War, and he is often given sacrifice when one is about to participate in holmgang or deliver a case before a Thing.

Wotan/Odin is the head of the Æsir, a man of dual nature. He is known for wisdom, magic, and runes and thus wizards and scholars worship him. But with knowledge often comes madness, and thus he is the patron of berserkers, too. He learned the power of magic and the threads of fate by plucking out one of his own eyes and hung himself on Yggdrasil for eight days. His pet ravens Hugin and Mugin scour the world for secrets, and those who die honorably in battle are taken to his hall in Asgard. There they party hard and fight hard, both as reward for being on the right path in life and to prepare themselves for the age of Ragnarök.



The Vanir were not always gods but were still powerful in those days. They warred against the Æsir long ago, but were uplifted by the latter at war’s end to share their divinity with them. Although it seems that they are less in number, there are many minor Vanir who hold dominion over things like a specific river, a tree, etc. Freyja and Freyr are the only good-aligned Vanir, with the rest of them neutral on the moral axis.

Freyja/Freya is is the patron of hunters, famers, and the wilderness, along with fertility and sexuality. Like Tiwaz/Tyr she is also well-known and worshiped in the Southlands. All valkyries serve her, tasked with combing the fields of battle for the souls of warriors.

Freyr/Frey is a male fertility god of the sun and the hunt. Tales claim he is also the patron of the elves (which the Nûk deny of course). He is not as popular an object of veneration as his sister Freyja, but there is a religious movement in Estenfird which claims him as the leader of the gods.

Njördr/Njor is is the father of Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed sister (!!!). Njördr oversees the oceans and seas of the world, and due to that he is closely associated with trade and wealth. Pretty much any Viking, sailor. or fishermen with common sense makes sacrifices to him for safe voyage by spilling a bit of wine overboard.

The Norns Uror, Verdandi, and Skuld (not pictured here) are the weavers of fate. They are not true Vanir and almost nobody worships them. They're still given great respect for controlling wyrd, the threads of fate which connect all mortals and gods. This results in a rather deterministic outlook on life: any event, good or bad, that falls on a person is believed fated by the Norns and thus unavoidable. Northlanders hope that the Norns favored them for future events, and have bitter resignation when their wyrd proves otherwise. Even the Æsir tread carefully around them.

Fun fact: one of the Norns' domains is Fate, which was published in a setting book also called the Northlands by Kobold Press. The Northlands of Kobold Press is much like this one in Nordic themes, although it and their their wider Midgard setting is a lot more high fantasy in style.

The last of the Vanir listed is Rán, also a deity of the sea. She is the more capricious counterpart to Njördr, and she has a more sinister reputation. Sailors lost at sea and in storms are known to throw treasure overboard as a sort of last-ditch "protection fee" to stay her wrath, and she is married to the Jötnar (giant) Ægir.



The Ginnvaettir are the third family of gods recognized by the Northlanders. They inhabit the Ginnungagap, a primordial void of endless darkness and howling which existed since before the creation of the world. Many foul beings haunt this realm, and as such the Ginnvaettir have a sinister reputation.

Hel is the daughter of Loptr/Loki, and holds dominion over pestilence and death; technically she is of the Æsir but is associated with the Ginnvaettir due to making her lair in the Ginnungagap. She was worshiped by the Northlanders' ancestors, the Heldring tribe. Precious few Northlanders today bother to seek her attention save to ward off blights and plagues. Interestingly she is a punisher of lawbreakers, and those who cast away their honor or worship demons have their souls taken to her hall in Niflheim to toil in punishment.

Surtr/Surter is the god of the fire giants. He rules a fiery kingdom of Muspelheim and is fond of organized warfare. He is destined to kill Freyr on the day of Ragnarök, but is scared of his inevitable battle against Donar.

Thrymr/Thrym is the god of the frost giants, a wily king of all Jötun. His realm is called Jötunheim and lives in a hall built from the bones of slain deities and mortal heroes. Like Surtr he and his followers are destined to die in battle with Donar on Ragnarök.


They don't have any pictures, but odd pantheon out are the Demon Cults. As far as I can tell via Google search the four demon lords listed below are not part of actual Norse mythology and more a creation of the game designers. Technically speaking demon cults are foreign to the world-view of Northlanders on account of their usual secrecy. But they are making forays into the more isolated regions of the world, with the four here the ones most prominent in the Northlands. Demon lords have a common desire to regress mortal civilizations to a primitive ruinous existence where murderous bands make bloody offerings to abyssal idols. Cities, bureaucracy, and morals are hindrances to this ideal.

Althunak is known as the Lord of Ice and Cold, Master of Cannibals, the Winter King, and many other titles. He once held a vast empire in the South Pole but that fell to ruin and so he found new worshipers in the far north. His teachings brought ruin to the cities of the Uln and even manifested physically among them, but a band of brave Ulnat heroes imprisoned him beneath a lake.

Althunak and his cult play a major role in four of the twelve adventures of the Northlands Saga Adventure Path, with 3 of those clustered around the beginning and one near the end. Besides the Jomsvikings his cult is the only other reoccurring villain in the Saga, so he's more or less the BBEG even if most adventures have stand-alone villains. The closest analogy I can think of is Batman vs. the Joker; his greatest foe, but the hero has an entire rogues' gallery to keep him occupied for a while.

Shibauroth are the dark counterpart to the Bearsarkers and Ulfhanders. Whereas the warriors of Wotan temper their rage with divine guidance and connections to mankind, the Beast Cult of Shibauroth advocates for humans to become as cruel as the natural world in a Social Darwinist survival-of-the-fittest. Cult members use magical brands and tattoos with fell powers at the expense of deteriorating rational thought. The god and his cult have greatest influence in Estenfird, and play a major role in the fourth adventure (sixth if we count the 'prequels') Blood on the Snow.

Yiv prefers a more subtle approach. Instead of overtly smashing the confines of law, honor, and the social bonds that connect society, he prefers treachery by encouraging others to lie, deceive, and take advantage of poor wordings, legal loopholes, and laymen ignorance and misinterpretation of the law. This way he exposes the hypocrisy of civilization and in time bring forth its ruin. He's had trouble making inroads into the Northlands, on account that many of its legal structures are localized and oaths are often a personal affair between individuals rather than a systemic law.

Zelton is the demon lord of sloth. In much of the world subsistence-based agriculture is the norm, which is labor-intensive for survival. Zelton's stock in trade is egoism and entitlement, telling his followers that each deserve to be a king with the world to serve them by right of birth regardless of their actual social station. His faith is sold as being an easy path to spells and slaves, with faith in the demon lord along with "doing a few small, insignificant tasks here and there" the only price. Zelton's presence in the North has been via the use of foreign traders using promises of an easier life free of toil. He also encourages his followers to propagate an infectious, addictive disease transferred via sweat known as Zelton's Favor which brings out feelings of euphoria along with the sapping of physical energy.

More Generalizing Jingoism posted:

In lands of the South, perfumed potentates are free to laze about all day while their minions do the work for them; but a Northlander jarl cannot. Should
he show himself to be lazy, his householders are free to leave, and his huscarls and hersirs can choose to swear allegiance to another jarl. Wealth is generally tied up in cattle and land, which require great effort to manage, and there are few luxuries to enjoy beyond good food and good company.

Note: A thing to keep in mind is that one of the major themes of the Lost Lands world is the rise of Chaos and the gradual downfall of civilization. The Lawful Good Empire of Foedewaith faced a devastating battle against the minions of Orcus, and in time their former lands turned into squabbling petty kingdoms. Many of Frog God Games' adventures involve cults setting up in the dark corners of the world and gradually taking over the smaller realms while working their way up to larger lands. This is a feature in the Northlands as well, and Althunak is more or less one of the major recurring villains for this reason.

The Gods of Seagestreland are as numerous as the tribes which worship them. Their deities are a mix of adopted Northlander gods (who rarely give any spells to them) and their own set of gods. Seagestrelanders carve likenesses of their patrons called tibaz and place them in hallowed-out tree trunks. These are the greatest assets of a tribe; to destroy or steal a set of tibaz is akin to destroying their gods and considered the omen of a tribe's eventual death. There are a few common deities worshiped by many tribes: Torriuz is considered the father of the gods and he considers all Seagestrelanders his charges. His first wife Eldraz blesses home and hearth, while his second wife Kelipia is a mad huntress who holds dominion over the natural world. Mettol is Torriuz's eldest son who oversees war and death, and Zithal the Stranger is a mysterious god of treachery and deceit. The Dnipir River is worshiped as a Great Mother, while Halatra the Horse and Fatalik the eagle are animal deities and lord of their respective species. Ghaztriuz is a sea god and in some coastal tribes replaces Torriuz as the pantheon's head.

As a final entry we get more discussion of the Godi, repeating information from previous chapters while adding new things: first, we learn that the title is often passed from parent to child. Godi also recognize the existence of but do not pay homage to foreign deities. In game terms all godi have levels in a divine spellcasting class but most of them do not gain access to supernatural class features and spells. PC and spellcasting godi are remarkable individuals chosen for great deeds; in a few rare cases a god may grant a non-spellcasting godi the full features of a divine spellcasting class in times of dire need.

And so our chapter ends. There's a good amount of diversity in options for spellcasting clerics, although the individual pantheons are highly themed: Æsir are mostly good and warrior-like, the Vanir govern natural forces, and the Ginvaettir and Demon Cults are the bad guy groups. I found it interesting how the Northlands reflavored the "one deity, one cleric" thing into an individual pact with a god that matches the pseudo-business transaction nature of worship quite well. This chapter was a bit more jingoistic than I liked, but otherwise is fine. I get that the point is to make the Northlands HARD AND TOUGH but the writer needs to stick to a single narration style for consistency's sake.

Next up is Chapter 4: Fehu, A Wealth of Cattle (Optional Rules)!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 07:03 on Mar 29, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Huh. Reading the Errata they decide to point out that shorter duration abilities like the action economy breaking charges DO cost Cohesion for every use. Again, despite that not being how it's described at all. Only the sustained abilities cost Cohesion once and never again. Goddamn is Squad Mode a mess.

FFG really needs better editors.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Night10194 posted:

It's also especially important when the whole point of the game is 'You need to overcome your differences and become a post-human insanity sentai team, multicolored and everything.'

Which is why 'Also it's much easier to use if you're all the same Chapter unless you take very specific abilities or use the add-on book' is such a let-down.

I thought it was silly that you can't share your own chapter Squad mode with other Marines. That's the whole point of the Deathwatch.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

I thought it was silly that you can't share your own chapter Squad mode with other Marines. That's the whole point of the Deathwatch.

There are things you can do using Rites of Battle or Being A Tactical Marine that will let you do so, but I definitely agree. It undermines an important theme and it's boring, to boot.

E: Oh wow, they hosed up Righteous Fury before unfucking it in the Errata, too. Originally, RF is written as you MAKING AN ENTIRE SECOND DAMAGE ROLL, including adding your modifiers, if it triggers. The play example even shows it that way. They patched that one right quick to work like normal (Fury gets you an extra d10 of damage that keeps rolling until it doesn't roll a 10) but holy poo poo that would've made Marines EVEN CRAZIER.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 00:21 on Mar 29, 2018

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Nessus posted:

Well psychically I assume. I don't know all the fluff but I gather this Gulliman guy is one of the original space marines who were all like Junior Emperors anyway.

Well the emperor is kept alive in an eternally agonized state because humans need his psychic energy to travel through space.

So, if he can talk psychically that would lead me to the conclusion that the psychic beacon of earth is just him screaming the words "gently caress you!" over and over at every human psycher for the rest of his 'life'.


Hostile V posted:

He's got a text to speech device.

Ignore canon, worship Chaos, join the Tau, eat an Orkburger. Like the mechanics, ignore everything else.

I'm also good with this interpretation.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

If I ever get back into warhammer I’ll make an army of Space marines that joined the Tau. They’ll be called the Greater Guard.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





DalaranJ posted:

Well the emperor is kept alive in an eternally agonized state because humans need his psychic energy to travel through space.

So, if he can talk psychically that would lead me to the conclusion that the psychic beacon of earth is just him screaming the words "gently caress you!" over and over at every human psycher for the rest of his 'life'.
Just an eternal cosmic loop of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrUuKehpGuQ for the Navigators to enjoy.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Libertad! posted:


Loptr/Loki is the bad apple of the Æsir. Giant blood runs through his veins, and he hopes to one day unseat his father Wotan/Odin as the new All-Father. Although known for deception and malice, he's given prayer and offerings due to his dominion over fire (a necessity year-round in the cold lands).


Kind of a petty thing, but it always bugs me when Loki is presented as Odin's son.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Tendales posted:

Kind of a petty thing, but it always bugs me when Loki is presented as Odin's son.

As somebody who isn't exactly caught up on Norse mythology, what's the real sitch? I looked on Wikipedia where the Prose Edda mentions his father to be the giant Fárbauti and his mother Laufey. Is this an accepted standard, or are there multiple views of his parentage?

Also I seem to be having trouble with making large posts on SA so I am splitting up the next section in two



Chapter 4: Fehu, a Wealth of Cattle (Optional Rules) Part 1

This chapter is an assortment of optional rules, new equipment and class archetypes, setting-appropriate traits, and similar options to make a more authentic-feeling Fantasy Nordic game.

The first section discusses Rewards, discouraging the use of planting treasure in random monster hoards and instead place in the hands of significant enemies or given away as great prizes by jarls and people of note. Additionally, not all goods will be in coin but also ships, cattle, jewelry, and other such things. Funny enough, this alternate advice is abandoned during the Northlands Saga Adventure Path, where it's not uncommon to find treasure in abundance from giants to raiders.

The Northlands does not have a universal monetary system of coinage. Instead most trade is conducted with the use of hacksilver, ranging from precious metals and jewelry to coinage, arm-rings and bars made of precious metals. 1 hacksilver as an abstract wealth unit equals 1 gold piece, with silver and copper pieces assumed to be smaller bits.

The tradition of Ring Giving emulates the heroes of Nordic sagas, who were eager to share the bounty of their adventures with their allies and inferiors. The term comes from the tradition of jarls who bore silver and gold rings upon their arms which were given away as gifts. Basically for every 10 gold pieces/hacksilver worth of wealth they give to their followers, PCs receive 1 experience point. The gift-giving is recommended to be limited to once per lunar month, and given the lack of magic item marts it gives PCs another means of spending wealth and dispensing of old +1 weapons and armor. But given the scaling of experience even a 20,000 GP item is worth 2,000 experience; if divided among a party of 4 that does not amount to much. I presume the experience points are meant to be individually applied, in which case it would be marginally more useful.



Death and Dying provides alternate means of making one's games more heroic than just keeling over. The first is the Death Speech, where if a PC or important NPC would ordinarily die they spend a free action to regain consciousness and either 1.) gain a standard action to complete one last task before death, 2.) make a poetic speech summing up their lives and deeds which grants an XP bonus or free magic item to that player's next PC on the quality of the speech, or 3.) lay a curse upon a foe as bestow curse or a lesser geas on a willing ally.

Alternatively once per campaign a player may declare their PC to become a Victim of Fate, a decision marking an heroic end for them. The effect is much like a death speech above (minus curse-giving abilities), but grants a +20 bonus on attack rolls, skill checks, and double damage on every attack they make for the remainder of combat. But the PC suffers a -10 penalty to Armor Class, saving throws, and cannot benefit from healing of any kind. After the battle's end the PC may utter one short sentence before dying. No form of magic or intervention of a deity may bring the PC back to life, as their thread of fate has been cut by the Norns.

We next get an in-depth description of the proceeds of a Thing, which for many Northlanders represents a great battle but one not always fought with axe and spell. Things are part democratic assembly, part court of law, and part trade moot. It can serve a variety of roles in a campaign from a "state fair" style avenue for fun and games, a legal drama, or means of gaining power by directing the course of a community. For votes, the GM determines the likely "factions" and how they'd vote on an issue, and PCs and NPCs can attempt to give speeches during half-day increments to sway votes. The result of a speech's effectiveness is usually done via an appropriate social skill check. Social standing plays a role, where a jarl or wealthy hirdman's vote counts as multiple votes whereas thralls cannot vote at all. Additionally, a speech-giver who has done a multitude of heroic deeds can provide proof at the Thing to gain bonus votes in addition to that gained via the result of a skill check's result.

Finally, a person can gain votes via participating in a duel known as holmgang. Holmgang is a one-on-one duel between a pair of hazel posts in front of a public crowd. The rules are strict and highly formalized: first no magic of any kind is allowed to be used save that present in chosen weapons and armor. Both duelists fight with their choice of a melee weapon and three shields, and both weapon and shield must be used in the duel. The conditions for winning are to either kill the opponent, break all 3 of an opponent's shields, or drives the opponent out of the arena. Killing the leader of a faction gives half their votes over to the winner, while the other half will not vote and likely seek vengeance against the winner after the Thing's conclusion.

Although the concept of a holmgang is very cool (and will be present in the climax of one of the AP's adventures), it is a bit limiting for involving PCs. For one, the nature of the duel means that one player will be involved while the rest of the group sits and watches which may not be to everyone's tastes. Secondly, only a few character classes and styles are truly effective, and sword-and-board fighting is not exactly a mechanically strong option in Pathfinder.

New Character Options



By bakarov of deviantart


Chapter 4 includes six class archetypes, 19 traits, and 7 new feats. We'll start with archetypes.

The Bearsarker (and later the Ulfhander) is more or less intended to be a replacement of the typical Pathfinder Barbarian class. It was one of the things Frog God Games (reason #2) used for advertising its Kickstarter to show off the setting. Basically the Bearsarker is part of a warrior cult who pledged themselves to Wotan and engage in ritual drunkenness and various secret rituals. They do not bathe, can only wear a bear robe and loincloth, and never cut their hair. They can be of any non-evil alignment, but are saddled with a code of conduct to keep their class features.

Bearsarkers use their Wisdom to determine the duration of their rage and can grow claws during the rage which add both their Strength and Wisdom modifiers to damage. To make up for lack of armor they gain a dodge bonus to AC which increases with level. And they have a no-action line of sight shaken condition to those who see them raging. Overall bearsarkers are a bit specialized and initially more fragile than typical Barbarians, but at later levels the dodge bonus works out. It can be an effective archetype if you plan the right builds (natural weapons, shaken/fear builds, etc).

The other Barbarian archetype is the Ulfhander, berserkers who venerate Wotan's aspect as the master of beasts. Via the wearing of a wolfskin cloak (taken from the body of a wolf they killed barehanded) they can take the shape of these hounds. They are also part of their own religious order. They use Wisdom for rage much like the Bearsarker, and start play with a wolfskin cloak that cannot be worn with armor but grants increasing Damage Reduction (1/- at 1st level and +1 at 3rd and every 3 levels). They can also gain multiple wolf animal companions (every 4 levels, max amount equal to Charisma modifier) and transform into a wolf via a limited wildshape ability.

Besides potential action economy abuse with animal companions, the Ulfhander isn't very powerful. Their inability to wear armor (and no dodge bonus to make up for it) makes their wolf-skin cloak an inferior choice. The multiple wolf companions are limited by Charisma, which makes the Barbarian MAD and reliant upon a dump stat. The wolf wildshape can be good for tripping, but can't they at least get a dire wolf option at later levels? Personally I'd make the wolfskin cloak grant the benefits of hide armor in addition to Damage Reduction and make the animal companion limit by solely level-based and not Charisma.

The Skald (not the same as the Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide Skald) are respected warrior-poets who prefer to rely on strength at arms over arcane powers. They swap their typical weapon proficiences for more Viking-style gear (battleaxe, longsword, handaxe, short sword plus simple weapons), and in lieu of Inspire Competence they gain a bardic performance to grant allied listeners Shield Wall, Great Fortitude, and Swap Places as bonus feats. Instead of spells they gain bonus combat feats at 1st level, 4th, and every 3 levels up to 16th level.

This archetype is underpowered. One, losing magic is a huge downgrade, and the bonus feats given via bardic music are useful only for sword and board fighters whereas Inspire Competence is useful for just about any role.

The Huscarl is a fighter pledged to the service of a jarl and their family. Not just bodyguards, they are trusted people the jarl can turn to for problems of all kinds. Huscarls must be of lawful alignment and cannot wed while serving a household. They gain armor training and weapon training class features at later levels than usual, but they gain a multitude of bonus feats which trigger based on situations. Center of the Wall grants them the use of several teamwork-related shield feats (Shield Wall, Shielded Caster, Swap Places, and Shieldwall Breaker and Swine's Head found in this book) even if none of their allies have the feats; but the huscarl has to pay feat slots for them and do not get them for free. Loyal Unto Death grants the Bodyguard and In Harm's Way feats for the duration of combat whenever their jarl, the jarl's family, or other sworn companions are placed in danger.

Overall the Huscarl is an archetype for a rather underpowered class, and taking it won't significantly alter the class' power one way or another on its own. The bodyguard/in harm's way feats can be useful for tanking purposes, but would require a kind of family-centric campaign to work regularly. The Adventure Path has the PCs start out as huscarls for a jarl, but they don't adventure with him and the usefulness of his family in the plot more or less vanishes after the third adventure.

Spear-Maidens are the Northlands' only order of home-grown paladins. They follow a code to never wed, never lie with a man, and never surrender in battle as long as they remain a spear-maiden. They must take Baldr, Donar, or Wotan as a patron deity, but they do not gain their supernatural abilities from the gods but from the blessings of their wyrd. Spear-maidens trade out lay on hands, mercies, spells, and divine bond for increased mastery of the spear (Weapon Focus, treat as trip weapon, and bonus on Combat Maneuver checks with it), bonus combat feats, the Shield Wall feat for free, bonuses on attack and damage rolls when using a shield, and the Swine's Head as a bonus feat along with doubling critical threat range and ignoring AC penalties when using this feat while charging.

Personally, the loss of lay on hands and spells is a downgrade in utility. I suppose that bonuses on damage when wielding shields and charging can be nice, but I don't think that can make up for the use of a warhorse or ability to apply magical weapon enhancements on the fly.

Finally we have the Cunning Woman Sorcerer Bloodline, which is not an archetype so much as an additional bloodline a standard sorcerer can choose. They are the only arcane tradition in the Northlands that's really respected on account that they gain use of powerful healing magic. Cunning women are always female, but require a sexual relationship with a man to propagate their bloodline. However, they cannot marry so bonds they form with said men often have all the markings of marriage save official recognition and ceremony. Cunning Women gain Heal as a class skill and a slew of curative magic as bonus spells (cure x wounds, remove disease/poison, restoration, etc). Their bloodline arcana allows them to apply the Maximize Spell metamagic feat without increasing the spell's level a limited number of times per day. Their bloodline powers include an evil eye ranged touch attack, the ability to take 10 on Heal checks and don't need a healer's kit, the woodland stride and trackless step abilities of druids, the ability to reroll a failed d20 roll once per day, and their 20th level capstone changes them into a fey immune to poison and disease and can reincarnate as a fey creature or newborn child upon their death.

The Cunning Women makes for an effective hybrid caster. They are sorcerers and gain access to all the versatility of those spells, but free Maximize on healing spells (which they can learn many for free) make them good healers.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 07:03 on Mar 29, 2018

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Chapter 4: Fehu, a Wealth of Cattle (Optional Rules) Part 2

There's not much to say for the new Traits. Many of them reflect setting-specific backgrounds of varying power. Some of which stand out include Hnefatafl Player (Nordic board game) that grants a +1 on initiative due to a tactical mind, and most of the social traits reflect social classes of the setting and often give bonus equipment for free. In the case of Bondi and Hirdmen (farmers) they get land which generates an annual income. The Social traits vary widely in power; the meager Thrall gains +1 to Craft (any) and Profession (Servant) and can elect one of the 2 to be a class skill...save that these are class skills for just about every Pathfinder class! Heir (child of a jarl) grants you +10 votes at the Thing, an extra 300 hacksilver, a chain shirt, a heavy wooden shield, a personal hand weapon of choice, and clothing befitting your station...all for free! The Regional Traits borrow from 7 out of the 8 main regions in the setting (Nûkland not being an option) and generally give +1 to relevant skill bonuses based on common occupations. Hroflander grants you bonus proficiency in one martial or exotic weapon not normally found in the Northlands, but you can't start play with one.

There are seven new Feats, and 5 of them are combat-focused. Axe Bouncer allows you to take a penalty with a throwing axe to negate an enemy's shield bonus to AC (yawn). Northlander Spear Fighting allows you to wield a longspear one-handed and +1 additional shield bonus to armor class when wielding a shield in the other hand (good for potential builds and Piercing Thunder in Path of War Expanded). Shieldwall Breaker allows you to negate the shield bonus to AC of adjacent targets when you perform a successful bull rush or charge attack against someone part of a shieldwall. Skilled Kenninger is overpowered and lets you add half your ranks in Perform (Oratory) to the DC of your bardic music effects. Swine's Head allows you to enjoy the benefits of the Shield Wall feat even when you run or charge. Throwing Charge allows you to make a ranged attack with a thrown weapon at any point during a charge at a -4 penalty. Whale Road Rider lets you ignore your level in armor check penalties when swimming.

Personally, the shield AC negaters are of limited use in most campaigns. Most enemies in the Pathfinder Bestiaries do not make use of shields, and sadly the Northlands Saga Adventure Path does not have shieldwalls as a regular enough enemy feature to make their investment worth it.

New Equipment



Here we cover new equipment both mundane and magical. We start out with giant-made weapons and armor, which are often crude and inferior craftsmanship but more than made up for their wielder's inherent strength. They have hefty prerequisites (18 Strength to avoid -4 attack penalty or automatic heavy encumbrance) and generally aren't worth using. The ring shirt and mail are medium armor and only give +3/+4 AC bonus which studded leather and chain shirts can match as light armor. The heavy sword is a bit better, a one-handed melee weapon that deals 1d10 damage and x3 on a critical, and can do bludgeoning as well as slashing damage. For non-giant weapons we have a new exotic one, the Greathammer which is basically an even bigger warhammer (two-handed, 1d10 damage and x3 critical).

For non-warfare equipment we have sunstones used by sailors (compasses don't exist in the Northlands) to pinpoint the direction of the sun even in the foggiest of weather, while the special breed of Trondheim Ponies are rugged mares suited to mountain travel. Mechanics-wise they are the Pony monster with the Advanced template.

For new magic items we have no generic item properties: each entry here is a specific relic of legend even if not mechanically an Artifact. We have the Regalia of Gunnlaugr, a set of chainmail, helmet, and maul which have cold-themed abilities; the sword Fellfrost* (once wielded by Hvram Half-Born) that deals cold damage normally but fire vs enemies weak to that element; the Andøvan greatsword Hægtesse which fills its wielder with a rage-like fury; the mithral greathammer Thundersurge which is basically a lesser Mjölnir (hammer of Thor); the undead scourge Warspear of Kein wielded by a famed Bearsarker of the weapon's namesake; and an Andøvan Barrow Charm which grants safe passage among the undead that live among that forgotten civilization's burial sites.

For true Artifacts, we have Kroenarck (aka Icemelter), the sword wielded by the Northlands' last High Køenig which is a +6 cold iron keen called giant bane longsword capable of granting enthrall and mass suggestion when in the hands of a native Northlander. The Mead of Poetry is brewed by the dwarves from the spittle of gods, and those who drink it gain 6 points of Intelligence and Charisma along with 3 levels in the bard (skald) class or the Skald from Pathfinder's Advanced Class Guide. Finally, there is the sailing ship Skíðblaðnir built by dwarves as a gift to Freyr. It has hidden joints so it can fold up into a much smaller size capable of fitting in one's pocket, whose rowing oars can row themselves, and grants the ship's master a shipwide endure elements spell along with control water, control weather, or control winds spells at will all as standard actions.

*our party's trollkin barbarian/rogue has been using this sword as his main weapon of choice since we laid hands on it in the Adventure Path.

Overall this chapter is mixed. The death speech rules are awesome and hacksilver is an thematic alternate wealth unit. But the new archetypes and feats left me less than impressed. The magic items are a definite highlight and have unique abilities to make them stand out from more generic treasures.

Next up is Chapter 5: Þurisaz, New Monsters!

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




IIRC, in the original Loki is Odin's half-brother, and they used to go on adventures together. I think it's mostly Marvel that's spread the idea he and Thor are brothers instead.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Inescapable Duck posted:

IIRC, in the original Loki is Odin's half-brother, and they used to go on adventures together. I think it's mostly Marvel that's spread the idea he and Thor are brothers instead.

Loki is a giant who apparently developed a friendship with Odin. They became blood brothers, meaning they have mixed their blood as a ritual of friendship, becoming in essence family despite not having any kind of family ties we would recognize as 'blood ties'. This is one of the reasons why the gods can't just throw Loki out for all the poo poo he's pulled over the years. Another is that despite Loki's talent for putting the gods in difficult situations, he's also really good at thinking up unconventional solutions for getting them out again.

The association between Loki and Thor is as frequent travelling companions. Thor is generally portrayed as strong and powerful, but maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so Loki tags along to do the talking while Thor does the fighting. It's a really good dynamic.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Space Marine Librarians aren't as terrifying in melee as Black Crusade Sorcerors.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Yeah, Loki is Odin's blood-brother, not son. Amusingly, I don't know of any stories of HOW Odin and Loki came to be blood brothers. Loki just showed up one day and insisted that obligation be met.

I get changing around the myths to suit the game world, and it's not like there's any single coherent mythological canon, but dangit I like Loki and he doesn't get enough respect without dumping daddy issues on him, too.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Loki is Odin's lawyer.

Kemper Boyd
Aug 6, 2007

no kings, no gods, no masters but a comfy chair and no socks


Ratoslov posted:

Loki is Odin's lawyer.

Would play a game of Asgard Legal feat. Denny Cranesson and Loki Shore.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



Night10194 posted:


E: Oh wow, they hosed up Righteous Fury before unfucking it in the Errata, too. Originally, RF is written as you MAKING AN ENTIRE SECOND DAMAGE ROLL, including adding your modifiers, if it triggers. The play example even shows it that way. They patched that one right quick to work like normal (Fury gets you an extra d10 of damage that keeps rolling until it doesn't roll a 10) but holy poo poo that would've made Marines EVEN CRAZIER.

It did. I ran it pre erratta and a players Heavy Bolter Devastator single-handedly blew away a Hive Tyrant in the first round of combat.

Remember RAW, criticals not only can trigger further criticals if you roll a 10 on any dice, but you no longer have to roll under your WS to confirm them for subsequent crits. So damage from multiple damage dice/shot weapons can spiral to insane levels with only moderate luck.

Deptfordx fucked around with this message at 10:01 on Mar 29, 2018

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Ratoslov posted:

Loki is Odin's lawyer.

You are not wrong. One of Loki's defining traits was his ability to get out of bargains and agreements by reinterpreting the words of the deal, sabotaging the opposition or just cheating. Off the top of my head, this includes

Getting into a bet with a dwarf that ended with the dwarf winning the right to Loki's head, and getting out of it by pointing out that the dwarf had no right to the neck. As the dwarf couldn't take the head without damaging the neck, the agreement was void. The dwarf instead sewed Loki's mouth shut, ensuring he couldn't use his fancy words to cheat anyone else for a while. How Loki got his mouth open again is unknown, but the story does mention none of the other gods were in a hurry to help him.

Making a contract with a giant to build a set of impenetrable walls around Asgard in only three days, promising the giant an insanely high price because Loki did not expect him to be able to finish the contract. Turns out the giant had a magic horse helping him pull up materials for the wall, and thus had the job almost done after two days. Loki got out of it by changing into a mare and seducing the horse, luring it away from the wall. This union was also what created Sleipner, Odin's eight-legged horse. It is mentioned in other myths that the rest of the gods loved poking fun at Loki for that particular gender-change and pregnancy.

Suggesting that Thor dress up as Freya, goddess of love, and get married to a male giant in order to get out of a particular situation. That one is simply hilarious and deserves to be read in full if you can find it.

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


Battle Mad Ronin posted:


Suggesting that Thor dress up as Freya, goddess of love, and get married to a male giant in order to get out of a particular situation. That one is simply hilarious and deserves to be read in full if you can find it.

My one wish is that when we finally get a decent movie/TV adaptation of Norse mythology it will do justice to the scene where Thor murders a score of Jotuns, while dressed in a wedding gown
...or that time when he went fishing and accidentaly caught the Midgaard Serpent.

In general, sometime (most of the time) Norse mythology reads like something made up by a bunch of drunk guys trying to one-up each other's stories on a long, boring winter evening..

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

rumble in the bunghole posted:

If I ever get back into warhammer I’ll make an army of Space marines that joined the Tau. They’ll be called the Greater Guard.

As a tabletop setting this is one of the strengths of the setting. That it is big enough that almost any possible backstory can be viewed as cannon as it happened somewhere in the setting.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


RedSnapper posted:

In general, sometime (most of the time) Norse mythology reads like something made up by a bunch of drunk guys trying to one-up each other's stories on a long, boring winter evening..

We'd probably do the same if it wasn't for television.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Deptfordx posted:

It did. I ran it pre erratta and a players Heavy Bolter Devastator single-handedly blew away a Hive Tyrant in the first round of combat.

Remember RAW, criticals not only can trigger further criticals if you roll a 10 on any dice, but you no longer have to roll under your WS to confirm them for subsequent crits. So damage from multiple damage dice/shot weapons can spiral to insane levels with only moderate luck.

I never even noticed it because I got to that section of the book and was like 'Ah, Righteous Fury, I know how this works from previous games.'

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




RedSnapper posted:

In general, sometime (most of the time) Norse mythology reads like something made up by a bunch of drunk guys trying to one-up each other's stories on a long, boring winter evening..

In some ways, the comic books are faithful to the mythology.

Scion has been fun so far but mostly a fictionalised lesson on religion and mythology from around the world, I'm interested in how this actually affects and world and pantheons interact. Also there was mention that the monotheistic religions are likely supplement material? (probably under the radar of people who'd chuck a fit over it) Might be interesting to have various strains of Christianity, Judaism and Islam with their quirks featured, Saints and all that, and wondering if they have a take on other minor religions like wicca and even Scientology. (or a lawyer-dodging equivalent. There are actually breakaway Scientologists who practice outside the church, called Freezoners)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



We're getting there. The main reason the pantheons take up so much time and space is that they represent a lot of your character option choices, and need a decent primer to get most players understanding how they work, since your average player might know one or two but not all ten.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
Kung Fu Paperwork

Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, is one of the major Primordials of the pantheon. She most often appears as a refined, elderly woman of noble birth that entertains visitors with tea, song and poetry. Her true form, however, is a massive storm of fang, fur and tail. She and her husband, Dongwanggong, the King Father of the East, live in a stone mension on the Eastern Wild Mountain, and they represent the natural chaos that counterbalances civilization in general and Chinese civilization in particular. She was the first ruler of the Shen, and reluctantly took on a more god-like form to help them out, but immediately retired back to being a Primordial as soon as a Jade Emperor was found. She is the mistress of the Peaces of Immortality, stolen by Sun Wukong, and the Elixir of Immortality, taken to the moon by Chang'e.

Ao Guang, the Azure Dragon King of the Eastern Sea, is one of the pantheon's more notable employed Titans. He rules over the color blue, the eastern direction, the element of water and a massive household of princess-daughters and semi-competent creature officers and massive divine superweapons. He's a very stressed out dragon. All he really wants is peace and quiet in which to maintain the seas and occasionally scare mortals with a flood or tsunami. However, ever since Prince Nezha humiliated his family in front of the entire pantheon and Sun Wukong turned out to be the single worst houseguest in the universe and stole his As-You-Will Gold-Banded Cudgel, well, every Scion that comes to the East China Sea seems to show up at his door and challenge him to a fight, or seduce some of his many daughters, or try to steal his magic bath towels or whatever. It gets really frustrating. His Purview is Water, and his Virtues are Dominance and Yin.

For a more enemy-style Titan, you've got the White Eyebrow, betrayer of Shaolin. In Mandarin, that's Bai Mei, but he's more commonly called using the Cantonese pronunciation, Bak Mei. He was a Chan Buddhist monk and a Scion of Laozi, but he achieved one of the less healthy and wholesome means of alchemical immortality. His research into Daoist black magic saw him banished from the Shaolin Temple, and so he betrayed them to the government, or possibly set the place on fire, or possibly punched everyone in the temple to death, depending on which version you hear. He won't clarify. Since then, he's been associated with shadier groups, plus the White Lotus Society and the Wudang Clan, and he's grown in power until he was able to steal Titanhood from...well, somewhere, probably by betraying someone. His most infamous technique is the Death Touch, but his entire White Eyebrow Style is notorious. It's derived from the older Tiger Boxing. White Eyebrow's Purview is Kung Fu Treachery, which is a reskin of Epic Dexterity, and his Virtues are Rapacity and Yin. Not that he's welcome among the Shen - he just has Yin because he happens to be completely and utterly Yin-imbalanced.

The traditional faith of the Shen is some combination of Chinese indigenous religion. Daoism and Confucianism, plus some Buddhism, varying by the practitioner and location. It's primarily a thing you do, rather than a thing you are. You venerate tutelary or ancestral spirits, you consult local spiritualists. There are several texts asociaed with these combinations, each focusing on some specific school of thought. There's a Daoist set of books inspired by the early Laozi, Zhuangzi and Liezi, which focuses on cosmic balance, Legalism and mysticim, or then you have the Confucian Analects plus the Classic of Poetry, Book of Documents and the Spring and Autumn, which end up focusing on how to be a productive and positive member of society and especially your family. Most also accept the Classic of Changes, which is primarily about divination and known more widely as the I Ching. There are a number of Daoist monastic groups in northern China as well, who mix up standard Daoist scripture with traditional shamanism in a wide variety of combinations. Most are celibate and vegetarian, but a lot of Daoist priests study their works without either of those things. There's also the formal Academic Schoo, Rujia, built around Confucianism, which eventually evolved into a religion that deified Confucius and incorporated more traditional practices. Buddhism, though, is where the idea of a religion with membership came from. Indian Theravada Buddhism changed in China, becoming a more populist religion known as Great Vehicle Buddhism. It focused on bodhisattva-hood rather than arhat-hood as your primary goal, and it, like most forms of Buddhism, never rejected any other faith. The Deva and Shen were invited equally to study the Buddha's Law, and many are wholehearted Buddhists, including Sun Wukong.

The most common Creatures found serving Shen Scions are the Animal Officers - talking animal people who may be wild and dangerous until you beat them up or teach them the lessons of Laozi or the Buddha or otherwise make them reputable. These sentient animals then faithfully serve. Ao Guang, for example, has entire armies of crabs, shrimp, bream and crocodiles in his service. Many can shapeshift into human or demonic forms. Followers may include Triads - Chinese crime families descended in theory from the Three Harmonies Society, a branch of the Heaven and Earth Society (a secretive fraternal group). Many modern Triads are secular but pay lip service to gods like Guan Yu, and are otherwise totally normal gangsters, though often rather politically active. Or you might have friends among the Wudang Clan, an ancient Daoist priesthood that is dedicated to political meddling and internal alchemy. Rumors claim they have influence everywhere from the Chinese government to banking to the music industry. They practice a number of ancient martial arts that align with their elechemical expertise, and they ain't nothing to gently caress with. Relics include the Sky Ladders. See, any natural feature or thing that can get you into Heaven quickly is a sky ladder, but most are physical terrain things - sacred mountains, particularly ancient trees, and so on. You can get the portable kind as a relic, usually a collapsible ladder or grapple gun, though the Orisha, who also use them, like golden chains. Natural sky ladders are rare outside China, so these can be real handy. Somersault clouds are better for general travel, though - they appear as small, fluffy clouds, about three feet wide, which appear to be drawn into the world in ink or crayon. If you hop on, you sink into them and lock in place. (They feel like non-sticky cotton candy.) Then you lean in a direction and they speed off. With practice, they can be used pretty much like a flying snowboard or skateboard. The Shen also hand out constellations. Yes, those are collections of stars a vast distance away in space, but they're also conveniently located in Heaven, and can be used to communicate lots of information or inspire those who view them, depending on how you control their twinkling.

The Shen have important, formalized alliances with the Deva and Kami, who share many of their attitudes and stances on Titans, though there is that disagreement on what to do with them after you knock them out. They don't have the same kind of history and ties with the Orisha, but deeply respect the Yoruba views on ancestor worship, openness and bureauracratic efficiency. Generally speaking, the Shen are kind of bipolar about Titans, whom they call gui, a term that can refer to...well, almost any kind of monster but is usually translated as 'demon' for convenience. Yes, subduing them with extreme prejudice is a big part of many Shen legends, and nearly everyone has beaten the hell out of at least a few monsters. However, the Shen also employ thousands of spirits that identify themselves as demons. When the Monkey King was on the Journey to the West, most of the monsters he beat up with the aid of ex-demons Pigsy and Sandy didn't die, but converted to Buddhism and got jobs with the Shen, or returned to jobs they'd abandoned. The Deva and Aesir have both occasionally drafted a defeated and redeemed foe, but they tend to be baffled by the sheer breadth of mercy the Shen show even to repeat offenders, sometimes even seeing it as treacherous. The easy way to understand it, however, is to realize that 'gui' is to 'Shen' as 'barbarian' is to 'Chinese' in the Shen viewpoint. You forgive their flaws because they can't help it.

The greatest weakness of the Shen is their numbers. Billions of human souls have become tutelary or ancestral Shen on death, and maintaining the chain of command over literal billions is nightmarish even for them. Entire administrative departments or previously beaten Titans going rogue and declaring themselves cannibal warlords is just...a thing that happens, fairly often. Any other pantheon would be ashamed. The Shen just regularly draft their Scions into solving problems by declaring them 'beneath Heaven's notice', which is code for someone loving up and not wanting to admit it.

The Virtues of the Shen are Yin and Yang, the principles of balance united in the taijitu, the Supreme Ultimate cosmogram. Yin is feminine, receiptive, dark, expansive and sinister, while Yang is masculine, active, bright, focused and positive. Each carries the seed of the other. A Yin-aspected person is subtle, gentle and patient, at best, letting them be sensitive, caring and adaptable. At worst, however, they are sinister, dishonest and ruthless. A Yang-aspected individual is bold, powerful, charismatic. At their best, they are strong, vibrant and full of hope. At their worst, they are inflexible, loud and angry. Every Shen, in theory, occupies a specific place on the yin/yang spectrum...but in the physical world, things get complex. It's not a simple interplay, and every action can be meaningful. You probably sway towards one side or the other, but your bosses, all the way up to the Jade Emperor, expect you to maintain and bring balance. It's not easy.

The Signature Purview of the Shen is Tianming, the proper ordering of the World via the celestial bureaucracy. At the head is the Jade Emperor, and from him flows all power down through countless positions, titles and responsibilities, providing the mandate of Heaven. Thus, the Shen are able to call on the hierarchy of Heaven and also control mortal bureaucracies, where are merely Worldly extensions or reflections of their ideal celestial model.

Next time: Blood calls for blood! The Teotl!

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Bai Mei sounds a lot like the mentor from Kill Bill, which that is probably a deliberate nod to. Probably some fertile ground for allusions there.

Sun Wukong is hilarious. And probably enjoys Dragon Ball Z.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Deathwatch and Rites of Battle: Part 10

Surprisingly Brief

The combat chapter is surprisingly brief and has very little that wasn't in Dark Heresy. One note is that the original play example and rules for Righteous Fury made it insanely, crazily powerful, beyond normal, but this was walked back to normal in errata. I strongly suspect this was less 'errata' and more 'tried to give characters something that will actually stand out in the world of 2d10 weapons being standard before realizing how stupidly overpowered it was and pretending it was an error'. It is true that normal Fury really isn't as impressive in a game where most of your weapons already do bucketloads of damage; Fury was a big deal in Fantasy because damage mitigation actually worked and Fury let you go beyond it for big, dramatic hits that mattered. An extra 1-10 damage is still helpful in Deathwatch, but it generally doesn't change the tenor of an attack. This is probably why they later move to a system of 'Fury instantly kills mooks, does an instant d5 Critical effect to bosses' instead in the later games. The damage inflation got so high that a d10 of damage just didn't feel significant enough any longer.

The only really new rule we need to talk about is Heroic Sacrifice. If you have just burned your final Fate Point, you can declare that your Marine is making a heroic stand rather than being knocked out of combat and surviving. For rounds equal to your Toughness Bonus, you will ignore all further Critical Effects unless they physically remove a limb, as well as getting a free Fate Point to spend every round (which can be spent on recovering normal wounds. Marines heal d10 instead of d5 when spending Fate to Heal, too). At the end of this time, no matter what happens, your Marine will get a moment to say a few final words about honor and duty or speak to their friends one more time, then collapse, dead. Probably on top of a pile of dead enemies. I appreciate this rule; having the option to go out in a mighty heroic stand for the sake of your allies and your mission feels like the right way to handle a PC getting smoked in a game like this.

With that, we move on to the GMing chapter, because there's actually absolutely nothing new to talk about in combat otherwise. We've covered most of the additions to the combat system in the other updates. I've mentioned it before, but it's sort of baffling to me how DW probably has the deepest combat system in the line, with a lot of options and abilities, and yet you barely need it because you're ridiculously powerful. That, and at the end of the power curve of the game that DW operates at, you run into a new kind of problem. Trying to make combats hard enough that the Marines will need everything they have tends to involve putting down enough firepower that it turns into a luck thing as to whether or not they just get splatted. The system's power curve is so wrecked by the addition of the Marine scale that scaling up can be tough.

The GMing chapter emphasizes that you should be individuals, individuals who can actually make a difference, because being Space Marines it's time to emphasize that you actually have agency within the setting since you're the main characters of 40k now. Your story should be about a group of mighty individuals who probably come into interpersonal conflict as they explore their relationship and learn to work together while committing an enormous amount of murder (though the themes section only mentions how you all have a common link and common cause and doesn't suggest you should have arguments about doctrine or whatever). Being Marines, it is emphasized over and over again that you are not expendable and you are important from the moment your PC stomps onto the stage. There's also a little section about how the main thing every Marine wants is glory, which I maintain is mostly because it's the only positive emotional reinforcement most of them are ever allowed to enjoy. To be honest, the view of Marines in the themes section is rather boring. It's mostly more 'Marines are the Best, now that you're a Marine you matter, unlike the other games.'

We also have some suggestions for game styles: A pure military game where the PCs are dropped into warzones and play like it was a strategy game, focusing on combat with some light squad roleplaying. A game where they work more closely with the Inquisition and get caught up in the mysteries and dire horrors of the Jericho Reach, albeit from behind a boltgun and power armor. A game where they serve as the Deathwatch's emissaries and liaisons, scouting fringe worlds, committing themselves to minor conflicts where a single squad of Marines could turn things around, honoring allies and assassinating enemies. There's also a lot of reminders to make sure your NPCs don't overshadow your PCs, which is good advice at all times. Obvious advice, but better said and not needed than unsaid and needed, no?

We get the usual recommended EXP per session vs. recommended EXP per encounter, and as usual, the EXP per encounter method will probably give players less EXP so it isn't usually worth using. Recommended rate of advancement is 500 EXP per session, which isn't a lot when individual Talents can cost 1500 and it takes 4000-5000 to rank up. Marines feel like they advance very slowly in play, partly because each bonus they buy feels small next to where you start, partly because everything is so goddamn expensive. A single extra Wound costs 2 sessions worth of EXP! We also get the usual 'well you can give 100-500 EXP extra for 'good roleplaying'' suggestion that I hate in every game it's in (especially if it implies that this should be per-player). You also get up to 5 Renown per mission, if you manage to complete every objective and the GM put in bonus objectives, doubling this if you took the Oath of Glory, which means you can potentially hit 100 Renown in 10 missions if you're a glory hound. Depending on pace of play, you might be a Hero before you ever hit rank 4 and get access to special classes. They also note that if you died heroically, your new PC will start with 200 EXP per rank of your dead Marine, plus whatever is needed to match the rest of the party. If the party could retrieve your geneseed, you also get +5 to one stat of your choice and an extra Fate Point. So if you die well and they get your geneseed, your next PC will actually be above the curve for the party.

We also get a lot about creating missions and setting victory point markers and it's all basically pointless. I never once used Kill Markers when running. I don't think anyone does. It's much easier to just set actual objectives, like 'is the enemy commander dead' or 'did you retrieve those documents from his HQ after killing him' or 'did you nearly get Ciaphus Cain killed again'. There are guidelines for giving more Requisition if a mission has many complex objectives, and a note that while Requisition is given on a per-player basis, players are free to share. If the TacMarine doesn't need anything, they can give up their bonus Requisition to get the Devastator a much cooler gun, etc. There's a lot of focus on sharing resources and working together, which I appreciate. In general Deathwatch is a very highly collaborative game that, due to its central theme of a bunch of heroes having to learn about their relationships and how to work together as a team, generally promotes surprisingly good feelings among players while they commit hundreds of murders.

Finally, we get Fear and Insanity as they interact with Marines. Fear is weird for Marines. Marines never freeze up and panic, 'AND THEY SHALL KNOW NO FEAR' being a popular catchphrase. Fear causing foes impose their Fear Rating's WP penalty as a penalty to all WP tests if you are in Solo Mode. Errata later notes this penalty does NOT apply to the Librarian's Focus Power tests. If you encounter a Fear causing enemy in Squad Mode, your Squad Leader must make a WP test with the Fear Rating penalty or else the team suffers a loss of Cohesion equal to the enemy's Fear Rating. Marines might not panic but they lose their ability to work together pretty quick if faced with anything scary. Remember your average WP is still only 41, after all.

Insanity doesn't cause monkeycheese disorders in Marines. Marines gain temporary Battle Traumas per 10 Insanity if they fail a WP test, generally lasting one mission. These are things like thinking they have an extra personal objective on missions, or occasionally lashing out in a traumatic frenzy. The long-term insanity for Marines, every 30 points, is called Primarch's Curse. You begin to manifest the crazy of your chapter in increasingly serious ways. Blood Angels get way too into blood and start to trudge towards the Death Company. Black Templars grow ever more fundamentalist and insane. Far from being great leaders, an insane Ultramarine slowly becomes more and more imperious and arrogant, greatly hindering team cohesion as they declare all others should bow before their Spiritual Liege, Roboute Guilleman and his endless wisdom. I actually really like the Ultramarine one because it eventually renders them unable to use allies' Squad Mode Chapter Abilities even if you have the special ability to use them, because they simply won't listen. They also greatly harm team Cohesion unless an Ultramarine leads the team as the petulant little bastard undermines and insults their 'lesser' leader at every turn. Space Wolves get more animalistic and instinct driven. Storm Wardens obsess over dueling and personal honor. Dark Angels progressively refuse to work with anyone who doesn't know THE SECRETS OF SPACE.

Primarch's Curse is fine for invoking hubris and heroic flaws in your epic space shootmans, except that there's no way to cure or get beyond Insanity in WH40KRP besides spending exorbitant amounts of EXP. Which also doesn't let you progress down from these breakpoints. I wish this system was more of a temporary setback sort of thing, given that it generally manifests in ways that prey on your flaws to make you harm the group's ability to work together. If these were temporary breaks that you could overcome by camaraderie and remembering the meaning of friendship or something, they would fit much better into the game's themes of coming together. Instead, as permanent disabilities that you can never work off, they conversely make it so that if a character gains IP, the longer they are on the squad the more damage they eventually do to one of the central themes of the game. Admittedly, without Fear to cause Insanity Marines don't generally gain much Insanity.

Marines gain Corruption like any other PC, but do not suffer Malignancies nor Mutations. Corruption is solely a 0-100 track that kills you at 100. Why even bother having it, then?

Next Time: The Deathwatch, In Fluff

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

Ask me about mapping out all the best limousine routes in Moscow for you and the little miss ;)

Lipstick Apathy

Libertad! posted:

Death and Dying provides alternate means of making one's games more heroic than just keeling over. The first is the Death Speech, where if a PC or important NPC would ordinarily die they spend a free action to regain consciousness and either 1.) gain a standard action to complete one last task before death, 2.) make a poetic speech summing up their lives and deeds which grants an XP bonus or free magic item to that player's next PC on the quality of the speech, or 3.) lay a curse upon a foe as bestow curse or a lesser geas on a willing ally.

Alternatively once per campaign a player may declare their PC to become a Victim of Fate, a decision marking an heroic end for them. The effect is much like a death speech above (minus curse-giving abilities), but grants a +20 bonus on attack rolls, skill checks, and double damage on every attack they make for the remainder of combat. But the PC suffers a -10 penalty to Armor Class, saving throws, and cannot benefit from healing of any kind. After the battle's end the PC may utter one short sentence before dying. No form of magic or intervention of a deity may bring the PC back to life, as their thread of fate has been cut by the Norns.
In your experience, does death happen often, or even at all, during the Adventure Path?

I've always thought that these flavorful death effects in 3.PF are a bit of a waste because A. people actually dying doesn't come up much, and B. if it does, it's very obnoxious to deal with because of the amount of player investment in characters, the amount of effort required in creating a new character, and the myriad of ways that introducing a new character mid-campaign can go wrong as far as how the table deals with it.

Libertad! posted:

The Huscarl is a fighter pledged to the service of a jarl and their family. Not just bodyguards, they are trusted people the jarl can turn to for problems of all kinds. Huscarls must be of lawful alignment and cannot wed while serving a household. They gain armor training and weapon training class features at later levels than usual, but they gain a multitude of bonus feats which trigger based on situations. Center of the Wall grants them the use of several teamwork-related shield feats (Shield Wall, Shielded Caster, Swap Places, and Shieldwall Breaker and Swine's Head found in this book) even if none of their allies have the feats; but the huscarl has to pay feat slots for them and do not get them for free. Loyal Unto Death grants the Bodyguard and In Harm's Way feats for the duration of combat whenever their jarl, the jarl's family, or other sworn companions are placed in danger.
This isn't really a knock on Northlands specifically, but I've always found these "you gain the effects of x feat" abilities to be annoying to deal with because you then have to flip all the way to another section of the book to figure out just what that means. Doubly-so if it's something you have to activate, since you then have to keep the feat definition in a separate "mental index card". I feel like in these cases it would be more intuitive to write down the effects of the thing as part of the ability description, then simply say that it does not stack with, or effectively takes the place of, x feat.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Inescapable Duck posted:

Bai Mei sounds a lot like the mentor from Kill Bill, which that is probably a deliberate nod to. Probably some fertile ground for allusions there.

Sun Wukong is hilarious. And probably enjoys Dragon Ball Z.
Pai Mei is just a different transliteration of Bai Mei; it's the same guy.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005
The Biden administration is actively fighting to withhold COVID vaccinations from our child concentration camps and pointing out that somebody used the word "democrat" as an adjective will not make that fact go away

DalaranJ posted:

Well the emperor is kept alive in an eternally agonized state because humans need his psychic energy to travel through space.

So, if he can talk psychically that would lead me to the conclusion that the psychic beacon of earth is just him screaming the words "gently caress you!" over and over at every human psycher for the rest of his 'life'.
I thought the earlier “dead deceased corpse” editions of 40k implied that the emperor did gently caress all as a beacon, and it was actually just the endless torture and ritual sacrifice of psychics that acted as a “point at the screaming” waymarker?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The actual guy is a possibly fictional martial arts master from the late Qing period who shows up in wuxia novels a lot.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


AmiYumi posted:

I thought the earlier “dead deceased corpse” editions of 40k implied that the emperor did gently caress all as a beacon, and it was actually just the endless torture and ritual sacrifice of psychics that acted as a “point at the screaming” waymarker?

He's in charge of the beacon but it's powered by the eternal choir of dying psykers.

Also yeah I love/hate how whenever someone other than GW creates a work of 40k fiction it's very open with how the Codex Astartes is closer to a set of shackles than a holy text, and that the emperor was probably wrong. But when GW does it's "RAH RAH FACISM! SLAVISH ADHERENCE TO DOCTRINE IS TOPS!"

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




It's a pity, because a set of rules and regulations that made perfect, logical sense in reaction to a tremendous disaster turning into binding liabilities down the road is the kind of "natural" storytelling I like.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Deathwatch and Rites of Battle: Part 11

We're going to see some more Rites of Battle stuff coming up soon, as Rites has a ton of extra fluff and god help me, the fluff is actually one of the selling points of Deathwatch. Yes, I didn't believe it at first, either. I'm skipping the section on The Imperium because we did it already in Dark Heresy.

The Deathwatch itself is founded in a mutually beneficial agreement between the Adeptus Astrates and the Inquisition. They exist because the Ordo Xenos saw the Sisters putting in excellent work for the Ordo Hereticus and the Grey Knights (This being before Matt Ward and the Sister Hat Incident) doing good work for the Ordo Malleus, and in their arguments about how best to exterminate all non-human life they decided it would be helpful to have their own special forces unit. They sent word to Chapter Masters far and wide and after much discussion, it was decided that they would form a special, larger Chapter made up of seconded Marines from many Chapters to serve as the Ordo Xenos' special forces. They are called the Deathwatch because they stand guard against a supposed 'doom' of every alien in the galaxy rising against humankind in self-defense against the genocidal lunatics (the book does not point out the self-defense part).

The Deathwatch is unusual in quite a few ways. Their numbers do not fix at 1000, and their members are rarely permanent. They do not recruit on their own, but rather periodically accept new Marines from the rest of the galaxy. Marines serve a term of service and then return home, educated in how to fight alongside many other forces and chapters and covered in glory from their deeds. Meanwhile, the Deathwatch has a wide variety of promising Marines and honored heroes to draw from. This is obviously very helpful for the Marine chapters; the Deathwatch is a great place to, say, dump someone who might have caused a leadership issue within your chapter without dishonoring them, or to send a promising officer to gain some experience outside the Chapter, or to send a great hero so you can spread the glory of your Chapter beyond your normal range of operations and make good contacts and allies elsewhere. This is also very helpful for the Inquisition, because having a bunch of elite special forces Marines around is very useful. This is part of why I kind of like the Deathwatch: It exists for a pragmatic reason that actually makes sense. As an added bonus, the Deathwatch undertakes its operations not in massed units but in small, elite Kill Teams, which just so happen to be about the size of the average RPG party.

Thus, you get an elite, special unit that's sized well for roleplaying game adventures, exists for a reason that both makes sense and gives it a bunch of plot hooks, and gives your players a lot of good hooks to come up with, like why they're in the Deathwatch, what they hope to learn, where they came from, what they know about the galaxy beyond their comfortable Chapter, etc. You've also got the perfect excuse to be an unusual Marine; like I said, troublemakers or those who don't fit in are sometimes sent to the Deathwatch to get them away from the Chapter without direct censure. As a framing device for a Marine RPG, the Deathwatch is great.

We get a bit about Watch Captains (Field commanders) and Watch Commanders. Watch Commanders are notable because they command one of the Deathwatch's many Watch Stations, responsible for a whole region of space (Watch Station Erioch is your assumed home base for Deathwatch, for instance) and they specifically will never return to their Chapter if they accept the promotion. They become a permanent part of the Deathwatch and help set organizational culture and the agency's dealings with the Inquisition. Also of note is that promotion to Watch Captain and Commander can be recommended by Inquisitors, but requires the consent of other Watch Commanders. Watch Fortresses serve as home bases, places for storing information, captive aliens, lab equipment, forges, and a massive number of training rooms. One of the most important things the Deathwatch does for an incoming Marine is provide an immense amount of training and access to information on alien foes. No Marine returns from the Deathwatch without a working knowledge of how to fight most of the major Xeno enemies the Imperium runs into, another major reason Chapter Masters keep sending soldiers off for years on end to fight for the Deathwatch. Very little space is given to accommodation or personal suites; Marines mostly live in monastic cells. Watch Stations are much smaller listening posts designed to host a couple Kill Teams and keep tabs on a small region of space. You'll often be dispatched to look into why one of these mysteriously went dark, etc.

Most Marines sent to the Deathwatch are sent specifically to learn or to represent their chapter to the wider Imperium. Most Marines sent to the Deathwatch are some of the most promising their Chapter has to offer, sent on recommendation of their Apothecary, Chaplain, and Company Captain. In general, a Marine is sent for a single 'mission', but in practice, the mission can be a long campaign or a series of operations stitched together by the thread of convenience. Interstellar travel is insanely difficult, after all. It would hardly do to send a promising officer off on a four year journey to a distant warzone, deploy them on one combat drop, then shuttle them home. There is a dumb bit in the fluff about how a Marine who served in the Deathwatch will never speak to any who did not do the same about what they did there, but that sort of defeats the purpose of it serving as a training unit or a means to gain glory. Marines who have served get to paint one pauldron silver for the rest of their lives, to show they went and made it back. We also get a lot of BS about how purity and faith are obviously the truest of weapons against the vile xeno, because this is still 40k.

The Deathwatch is meant to fight aliens, but God knows Marines won't turn down killing anything else they get a good shot at. Besides, out in the Jericho Reach (the specific warzone for this RPG), the Chaos guys are in bed with weird alien technology and mighty evil AIs, so the Deathwatch can shoe-horn themselves in a good reason to be blasting devils and spikier Marines.

We get a lot on the various alien enemies you might face, with the first billing going to the Tyranids. Tyranids are generic swarming aliens that want to eat everything in the galaxy to make more Tyranids. Tyranids are fairly boring to fight because their fluff is very clear that they have almost no actual weakpoints, only minor ones. Fighting an endless swarm of bug aliens sounds a lot more fun than it is, when you have an enemy who has no actual personality, no real strategies beyond 'there are so many of us that you will run out of ammunition', no critical points for Marines to strike, etc. Tyranids are generally a victim of their own hyperbole about how unstoppable they are. If you do decide to do a campaign with them, play up how important it is to strike the controlling Synapse creatures, give them hive structures and things players can meaningfully disrupt, and maybe end on boarding a giant living hive ship and killing the 'norn queen' inside to destroy it. Fighting Nids will require you to constantly be thinking about 'how can I give my players an actual objective'.

Orks are Orks. They're the wily British football hooligans we all know, the only people who remember 40k is a joke. They're buff, tough fungus men who just want a good fight, a pint, and a squig-burger. Their WAAAAAAAAAGHS are described as a mix of a migration, a pub crawl, and a genocidal crusade. They kill or enslave anyone they come across and have literally no concept of 'non-combatants', because the idea is totally alien to them; who would want to live a life without fighting? There's even a suggestion here that the Boltgun was originally designed to kill Orks, because they seem to have little conception of being killed by precise hits to their vitals and instead need to be torn apart with brute explosive force. Orks are useful because the characters in 40k take Orks really seriously, because Orks will kill and enslave entire planets. At the same time, this means your heroic warrior-angel will be gravely intoning 'Brothers, Mech Badzappa has returned, now with the cybersquig Killrippa' and shouting about po-faced duty and honor while the crazy hooligans they're battling light cigars from their flamethrowers and get up to stupid, explosive antics all around them. Contrast in all things.

Eldar are dicks. Eldar are like Fantasy elves, but worse. Eldar are an entire species of space elves that base everything they do around long, complex prophecies and then wonder why constantly trying to undertake seemingly illogical and counterproductive actions to avoid their fates just ends up walking them directly into the dire fate they originally foretold. They used to be the most powerful race in the galaxy until they partied too hard and caused Slaanesh. Causing Slaanesh also means every Eldar is bound to Slaanesh, and so they have to put their souls in little gems that they hide in their giant worldships to prevent themselves being eaten by the Party God they created. The Eldar hate Chaos, they hate the Nids, and they generally have common cause with the Imperium on the whole, but the two species are arrogant and genocidal pricks who both place no value on the others' lives and thus generally end up working at cross purposes because they're both idiots. Eldar don't get much of a stat writeup in this game, so you likely won't get to blow up many space elves.

The Tau Empire is an optimistic, technologically advanced race that hasn't yet given up on the idea that maybe things shouldn't be poo poo all the time. They enthusiastically form federations and make friends with other species, including humans, and they have active and effective diplomats. The Imperium hates and fears them because their idea of a government that should work for the Greater Good of all citizens seems to have a supernatural appeal for fringe Imperial worlds, causing them to forsake the Emperor and join the people who can grant them consumer goods and plasma rifles. The Imperium claims it is ruled according to 'the brutal realities of the galaxy' and scoffs at the 'naive' Tau who believe all should be equal and that multiple races can live in harmony. They're also blue, have hoofs, and are stereo typically presented as vaguely Asian. Oh, and they like mecha. A lot. Both Tau and Imperium are at an impasse after initial attempts to exterminate them were defeated by the Tau's surprisingly potent military. The Tau know the Imperium is too big to just beat in a straight fight, but the Imperium can't marshal the local forces to take out the Tau, because a Tau infantryman's rifle is capable of taking out Imperial light tanks and they actually have things like 'missile guidance systems' and 'combined arms doctrine'. This is also written before GW decided the Tau were secretly all evil, so a running joke in DW is the Imperium desperately trying to figure out what psychic trick or villainy the Tau use to keep their population in line, because it literally never occurs to them that it might just be that the population actually likes the government and thinks things are going well. As someone who had to fight the Tau in Deathwatch, trust me: It is a huge loving shock when your Marine has to take cover and advance carefully against standard infantry with a rifle that outranges them, outdamages their bolter, and actually threatens them through their armor and toughness. You actually do need to use tactics fighting Tau, and they have tons of military objectives, logistics, critical points, and commanders you can put a team up against to put a dent in them. They're probably my favorite enemy for the game.

You can also run into psychic space jellyfish who take over minds or ancient kill-bots might show up, but neither is given much in the way of stats or page-space.

There's also a big section on the kinds of missions the Deathwatch does, but eh. You capture unique aliens for study. You investigate alien plagues. You fight alien armies. It's all pretty self-explanatory.

Next Time: The Jericho Reach.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 15:41 on Mar 29, 2018

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PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

When a Deathwatch marine goes back to his Chapter, he’s still allowed to talk about tactical/strategic matters that directly relate to defeating the enemy, he’s just not allowed to talk about anything that he did while with the Deathwatch. So he could mention that this new type of Tau tank has a weak spot in a specific place but he couldn’t say how he learned this or about any specific times he’s exploited it.

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