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Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Count Chocula posted:

I don't so much like defending these games as defending the ideas and metaphors behind them.

Beast's metaphor is that GLBT people are all secretly abusers, but it's okay because their abuse is justifiable. Have fun with that.

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Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

Young Freud posted:

When you put it like this, I keep thinking that Beast is White Wolf's answer to Monsterhearts.

Then it fails to get what makes Monsterhearts work.

Luminous Obscurity
Jan 10, 2007

"The instrument you know as a piano was once called a pianoforte, because it can play both loud and quiet notes."


Kai Tave posted:

Beast's metaphor is that GLBT people are all secretly abusers, but it's okay because their abuse is justifiable. Have fun with that.

Beast doesn't know what its metaphor is.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Young Freud posted:

Literally the plot to Roger Zelany's "Damnation Alley". Like to a T. Hell Tanner has to make the drive through Damnation Alley because air travel between states is almost impossible due to freak storms caused by environmental damage from the apocalypse.

Ah-ha, well, that explains that.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Young Freud posted:

When you put it like this, I keep thinking that Beast is White Wolf's answer to Monsterhearts.
I was assuming they were just ripping off Buffy and Supernatural again, but you're probably right.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Luminous Obscurity posted:

Beast doesn't know what its metaphor is.

I mean, this is true too, but it's undeniable that Beasts are intended to be some sort of analogue to GLBT people forced to don a veneer of "normalcy" lest the rest of the world find out about their "dark secret" and react with fear and revulsion and lead to people persecuting and murdering them, just as it's blatantly obvious that Heroes are meant to be analogous to MRA-strain bigots, complete with an actual character who at one point wore a fedora or trilby or something. Also Matt McFarland's attitude towards people critical of Beast during its early days makes it very clear that he's comfortable painting his detractors as nothing but hate-spewing bigots trying to tear his baby down.

So there's that...and then there's the part where Beast also makes its protagonists an entire cosmic clique of Justified Abusers terrorizing and victimizing and baiting people into situations where they can be tortured psychologically and physically, perhaps even killed. Why do they do this? Well otherwise they'd get hungry, or something. And anyway, their victims deserve it. Why do we know this? Because the author said so.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





wiegieman posted:

It's Sigil, though. Post-mortality supermen roll through there all the time, and they behave if they know what's good for them.

Like, a single planetar could conquer Athas.
I thought it was the other way around, that Athas was such a titanic cosmic shithole that if stuff from Athas leaked out it would be like unleashing cats and rats into the tender ecology of a Polynesian island. If people could leave Athas, they would in droves, but they'd be like the Fremen in Dune.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Luminous Obscurity posted:

Beast doesn't know what its metaphor is.

It's also pretty unnecessary. Chronicles of Darkness is almost getting worse than peak Classic, One or whatever, World of Darkness.

I've always felt one of the things that made Chronicles great was that it had a unified system and very modular series but there's getting to be so much redundant stuff put out it's reminiscent of the treadmill era of game design. Not even touching the problems people have found, I just don't see a reason why this game should exist and can't be accomplished with the other lines White Wolf/Onyx Path have created.

Nessus posted:

I thought it was the other way around, that Athas was such a titanic cosmic shithole that if stuff from Athas leaked out it would be like unleashing cats and rats into the tender ecology of a Polynesian island. If people could leave Athas, they would in droves, but they'd be like the Fremen in Dune.

That sounds like an awesome plot arc for a Sigil type game.

Bruceski
Aug 21, 2007

The tools of a hero mean nothing without a solid core.



Young Freud posted:

Literally the plot to Roger Zelany's "Damnation Alley". Like to a T. Hell Tanner has to make the drive through Damnation Alley because air travel between states is almost impossible due to freak storms caused by environmental damage from the apocalypse.

Is that the one where driving the highway also means driving between dimensions, or is that another one? I think he had that in some story other than Amber.

Zelazny lived near where I grew up (by New Mexico standards anyway) and in those stories and Amber he really captured the feeling of long straight desert roads where you get into a driving trance.

E: I was thinking of Roadmarks, aka Last Exit to Babylon.

Bruceski fucked around with this message at 04:40 on Apr 11, 2016

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Alien Rope Burn posted:

There will be a constant push for people to try and "fix" Beast because it's an official World of Darkness release and therefore it is part of the canon and all the Legos have to fit together! They wouldn't release a kit where the Legos don't fit! We have to make it fit! :eek:

Night10194 posted:

Beast should have been Onyx Path Presents Dragon's Dogma, The Cycle of Eternal Return.

One reason I have a dissection of the mechanics waiting in the wings is that I tried to do exactly this until I realized I would be better suited by torching nearly all of it, and tweaking most of what was left behind to fix systemic problems.

It was actually pretty cathartic, after years of being That Nerd, to come out the other end saying "Actually, no, I'm fine with just leaving this behind."

RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

It's also pretty unnecessary. Chronicles of Darkness is almost getting worse than peak Classic, One or whatever, World of Darkness.

I've always felt one of the things that made Chronicles great was that it had a unified system and very modular series but there's getting to be so much redundant stuff put out it's reminiscent of the treadmill era of game design. Not even touching the problems people have found, I just don't see a reason why this game should exist and can't be accomplished with the other lines White Wolf/Onyx Path have created.

Beast, at its heart, is a """greatest hits""" of themes already covered at length in every single other line, and it basically admits as much with its fluff about Kinship. There's more room for WoD's conceptual legs to stretch, but Beast was the exact opposite of that.

I mean, poo poo, at minimum it's Changeling: the Requiem, guest starring Not-Slashers. You could make strong arguments for themes from Werewolf, Promethean, and parts of Mage being core to it too.

The Lord of Hats
Aug 22, 2010



At a very basic level, I kind of like the idea of getting to be one of the big horrible monster dudes. Something about playing a character who is, at least in some small way, a kraken, sounds neat. But slotting that into "weird loner at school who gets picked on" is just... ugh. It gets so many things rolled together at cross purposes with each other that you get a horrible message and unsympathetic characters.

I'm probably going to have some crazy overlap with Changeling here, but let's salvage "you are a monster", and "something something dreamstuff". You were human, once. Then the nightmares started, and they got worse, and worse, and then one night that unnameable thing caught you. And that's when the nightmares stopped being just at night anymore. It's changing you now, something something White Wolf prose, basically you're now composed of your 'beast' self, and your slowly-dwindling 'human' self. And there's no stopping it. The hunger is getting worse every time it comes back, and eventually you're just going to slip out of your 'self' and into your new body. But until that day comes, you're going to try and do as much good in the world as you can with the hand that's been dealt to you, to try and make up for what you know you're going to do one day. The whole "teaching lessons via murder" thing is only a justification by high-Voracity beasts to convince themselves that blindly sating their hunger is actually a good thing. In a sense, the Heroes are absolutely right--the world probably would be better off without you in the long term, but you can't just bring yourself to give up, roll over, and die because of what you are.

I dunno what this would be a metaphor for, exactly, but I think it could be kind of interesting (although probably super narrow)

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


The Lord of Hats posted:

At a very basic level, I kind of like the idea of getting to be one of the big horrible monster dudes. Something about playing a character who is, at least in some small way, a kraken, sounds neat. But slotting that into "weird loner at school who gets picked on" is just... ugh. It gets so many things rolled together at cross purposes with each other that you get a horrible message and unsympathetic characters.

I'm probably going to have some crazy overlap with Changeling here, but let's salvage "you are a monster", and "something something dreamstuff". You were human, once. Then the nightmares started, and they got worse, and worse, and then one night that unnameable thing caught you. And that's when the nightmares stopped being just at night anymore. It's changing you now, something something White Wolf prose, basically you're now composed of your 'beast' self, and your slowly-dwindling 'human' self. And there's no stopping it. The hunger is getting worse every time it comes back, and eventually you're just going to slip out of your 'self' and into your new body. But until that day comes, you're going to try and do as much good in the world as you can with the hand that's been dealt to you, to try and make up for what you know you're going to do one day. The whole "teaching lessons via murder" thing is only a justification by high-Voracity beasts to convince themselves that blindly sating their hunger is actually a good thing. In a sense, the Heroes are absolutely right--the world probably would be better off without you in the long term, but you can't just bring yourself to give up, roll over, and die because of what you are.

I dunno what this would be a metaphor for, exactly, but I think it could be kind of interesting (although probably super narrow)

Terminal illness.

I've had a loooot of thoughts about a body-horror oriented fan splat because I'm still That Nerd deep down in my shrivelly black heart, and you're basically describing the same thoughts I had after reading Beast the first time, which reawoke those tinkerings.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The other option is that because the drat story won't end every Beast was originally the Hero who killed them. A person twisted by obsession and contact with the unnatural and who can't find purpose anymore with the monster dead slipping into monstrosity themselves.

Part of the problem, of course, is that nearly anything I could think of to replace Beast's concepts with would be a game kinda unsuited to an actual gaming group and more to a single player character study as a succession of men and women find, face, and succumb to madness. A game where you play a lineage of horror while each latest victim/hero/monster tries to find some tiny piece of what's actually happening to them and how to break this cycle would actually be kinda sweet, though.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Nessus posted:

I thought it was the other way around, that Athas was such a titanic cosmic shithole that if stuff from Athas leaked out it would be like unleashing cats and rats into the tender ecology of a Polynesian island. If people could leave Athas, they would in droves, but they'd be like the Fremen in Dune.

It's really never been quite clear.

Part of the answer is that the rules Dark Sun works with (different magic, different priests, etc) are just too different and no one wanted to really bother with questions like "does a defilier defile in Forgotten Realms? What if a forgotten realms character comes to Athas?" Late TSR focused really obsessively crossing over material and ensuring that you knew that everything was totally happening in the same mega-universe that totally works together under one rule system!

Athas screwed with this in a bunch of annoying minor ways. But of course, one of the big themes of Athas is that it isn't a place with happy endings...and if nicer places are just a Plane Shift or a Gate spell away then your happy ending is just getting to a high enough level to cast them and get the gently caress out of dark sun. Maybe bring some friends along with you. Find a nice god who'll give you an afterlife.

But really all of this could have been solved by simply saying "Dark Sun doesn't take place in the larger Great Wheel cosmology" (much like Eberron in 3rd edition) and bam...everything's fine. But nope, they had to come up with some way to tie in with the rest and therefore come up with a ridiculously elaborate mini-cosmology where in Athas technically exists alongside all other settings but its hard to leave but there's also the Black (so shadow illusions work) and the Grey (so ethereal spells work and there's a place for dead spirits to be).

It was ridiculous.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

The Lord of Hats posted:

At a very basic level, I kind of like the idea of getting to be one of the big horrible monster dudes. Something about playing a character who is, at least in some small way, a kraken, sounds neat. But slotting that into "weird loner at school who gets picked on" is just... ugh. It gets so many things rolled together at cross purposes with each other that you get a horrible message and unsympathetic characters.

I'm probably going to have some crazy overlap with Changeling here, but let's salvage "you are a monster", and "something something dreamstuff". You were human, once. Then the nightmares started, and they got worse, and worse, and then one night that unnameable thing caught you. And that's when the nightmares stopped being just at night anymore. It's changing you now, something something White Wolf prose, basically you're now composed of your 'beast' self, and your slowly-dwindling 'human' self. And there's no stopping it. The hunger is getting worse every time it comes back, and eventually you're just going to slip out of your 'self' and into your new body. But until that day comes, you're going to try and do as much good in the world as you can with the hand that's been dealt to you, to try and make up for what you know you're going to do one day. The whole "teaching lessons via murder" thing is only a justification by high-Voracity beasts to convince themselves that blindly sating their hunger is actually a good thing. In a sense, the Heroes are absolutely right--the world probably would be better off without you in the long term, but you can't just bring yourself to give up, roll over, and die because of what you are.

I dunno what this would be a metaphor for, exactly, but I think it could be kind of interesting (although probably super narrow)

That just sounds like a slightly more altruistic version of Vampire, though.

Like the ultimate reduction of Beast's lack of point is that past everything it clumsily apes from other WoD lines, there's already a game about being a cool, mysterious creature of the night who also happens to be a nightmare monster of unending hunger and cruelty beneath the veneer of sophistication, and it's the very first World of Darkness game ever.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

Maybe take the mother aspect of the monsters and add a paternal aspect to Hunters and it could become a metaphor for a disintegrating family and divorce. As in both parents try to play favorites in giving their children gifts but fail to grasp that these gifts and competition for attention are loving up the children that they claim to love.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer

I feel like you could do something with the cycle of violence, and maybe this "we have to terrorize people to teach lessons" is some deformation of something that once wasn't innately harmful and atavistic, and instead of struggling to retain humanity you're trying to retain your clarity and the rational idea that it doesn't have to be the Beasts terrorizing mankind and the Heroes fighting the Beasts for all eternity and that you have a choice, but then someone calls you a freak or a Hero attacks you and it's just *so tempting* to strike back-

-granted at this point you're not doing much different from a bunch of other WoD games but as written I'm not actually seeing what the game's supposed to be.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Maxwell Lord posted:

I feel like you could do something with the cycle of violence, and maybe this "we have to terrorize people to teach lessons" is some deformation of something that once wasn't innately harmful and atavistic, and instead of struggling to retain humanity you're trying to retain your clarity and the rational idea that it doesn't have to be the Beasts terrorizing mankind and the Heroes fighting the Beasts for all eternity and that you have a choice, but then someone calls you a freak or a Hero attacks you and it's just *so tempting* to strike back-

-granted at this point you're not doing much different from a bunch of other WoD games but as written I'm not actually seeing what the game's supposed to be.
Werewolf: the Apocalypse dealt with that entire debate in a much more humane, thoughtful, and nuanced way, I think. And that was literally over "in the semi-prehistoric past, the Garou actually culled human populations, for serious."


oriongates posted:

It's really never been quite clear.

Part of the answer is that the rules Dark Sun works with (different magic, different priests, etc) are just too different and no one wanted to really bother with questions like "does a defilier defile in Forgotten Realms? What if a forgotten realms character comes to Athas?" Late TSR focused really obsessively crossing over material and ensuring that you knew that everything was totally happening in the same mega-universe that totally works together under one rule system!

Athas screwed with this in a bunch of annoying minor ways. But of course, one of the big themes of Athas is that it isn't a place with happy endings...and if nicer places are just a Plane Shift or a Gate spell away then your happy ending is just getting to a high enough level to cast them and get the gently caress out of dark sun. Maybe bring some friends along with you. Find a nice god who'll give you an afterlife.

But really all of this could have been solved by simply saying "Dark Sun doesn't take place in the larger Great Wheel cosmology" (much like Eberron in 3rd edition) and bam...everything's fine. But nope, they had to come up with some way to tie in with the rest and therefore come up with a ridiculously elaborate mini-cosmology where in Athas technically exists alongside all other settings but its hard to leave but there's also the Black (so shadow illusions work) and the Grey (so ethereal spells work and there's a place for dead spirits to be).

It was ridiculous.
I'm pretty sure the happy ending in Dark Sun was becoming a dragon or those weird good-guy dragon things and tearing rear end across Athas like some kind of proto-Solar Exalted.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




oriongates posted:

But really all of this could have been solved by simply saying "Dark Sun doesn't take place in the larger Great Wheel cosmology" (much like Eberron in 3rd edition) and bam...everything's fine. But nope, they had to come up with some way to tie in with the rest and therefore come up with a ridiculously elaborate mini-cosmology where in Athas technically exists alongside all other settings but its hard to leave but there's also the Black (so shadow illusions work) and the Grey (so ethereal spells work and there's a place for dead spirits to be).

It was ridiculous.
This is pretty much a late-era TSR thing, I'm pretty sure. Company mandate was that all the settings had to be inconnectable somehow, because they weren't about to let Timmy not get his money's worth out of all those Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance books. Obviously this didn't remotely work in practice, but it makes a certain sort of sense in that context, especially when a bunch of their setting lines were failing badly.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Dark Sun's screwed up cosmology is given more focus in Defilers and Preservers which is definitely going to be my next F&F after I finish Psionic Artifacts of Athas.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Maxwell Lord posted:

I feel like you could do something with the cycle of violence, and maybe this "we have to terrorize people to teach lessons" is some deformation of something that once wasn't innately harmful and atavistic, and instead of struggling to retain humanity you're trying to retain your clarity and the rational idea that it doesn't have to be the Beasts terrorizing mankind and the Heroes fighting the Beasts for all eternity and that you have a choice, but then someone calls you a freak or a Hero attacks you and it's just *so tempting* to strike back-

-granted at this point you're not doing much different from a bunch of other WoD games but as written I'm not actually seeing what the game's supposed to be.

Ultimately, what's holding Beast back is it's one definining tenet. Beast is the Crossover Game. Beasts can't be too monstrous because they have to be able to slot into any game and not have motives working at cross purposes. Even though Beasts as Written probably wouldn't be willingly assocaited with by anyone except Vampires. If we take that away, what can we do?

Well, if a Deep Dreamer encounters a Beast in the Primordial Dream, and is given the choice. Sell your soul for Power. It's a bit misleading, though, of course. I mean yes they are exchanging their soul for power, but without their soul they aren't really themselves anymore. They're a dark and primal horror welded to a set of human intelligences and memories with an all consuming drive to inflict terror and become more powerful. There's no equivocation, there's no dancing around the point, Beasts are Monsters and they do not care. If they eat lightly, leave targets alive, or attempt to hide what they are, they do so for a reason.

Because those who reject the choice, who see through the lie, are also empowered. They can see the Beasts for what they are, a throwback to an earlier time, when we needed fear to keep us safe. But we don't anymore, and that kind of primal fear has turned into a malignant cancer in our collective psyche. Yes the fear they inflict does somehow lessen humanity's burden, but slaying Beasts, exposing them for the monsters that they are and showing that they can be killed works even better. These people become Heroes, and in all the ways that Beasts are empowered to be the worst in humanity, they are driven to be the best. They're still NPCs, of course, because they're a rather boring literal definition of good. But they're useful NPCs that the other splats can probably interact with. A werewolf or a Vampire may inflict terror, but they are not fear incarnate.
The fear that a Vampire or a Werewolf inflicts is usually a fear that is useful for humanity. Running away from a werewolf in Gauru form is what keeps a human alive. That's fear doing it's job. What a beast does is wield fear to create fear, to create a mythos of terror around themselves, to build up their own story until they become something beyond themselves. Heroes by extension need to play a kind of brinksmanship, taking down Beasts where they can while avoiding the attention of Beasts beyond their reach, because every dead Hero is one less person fighting against the darkness.


Beast could have been a good game, but the fact that BHM insisted on welding it to existing oppressed groups made it into something horrific for all the wrong reasons.

Spiderfist Island
Feb 19, 2011


Nessus posted:

I'm pretty sure the happy ending in Dark Sun was becoming a dragon or those weird good-guy dragon things and tearing rear end across Athas like some kind of proto-Solar Exalted.

Avangions are a great concept, if only because of how bizarre they looked in contrast to the dragon transformation. In practice like everything else unique to Dark Sun, they were sort of ruined by the metaplot in that later they revealed avangion NPCs. I think they should have left them as a unique future path for a PC. (Like in the 4E reboot!)

There's also a big current of "superhuman transcendence" for all the magical types in Dark Sun that probably owes more to God-Emperor of Dune or pulp science fantasy than for classical demigods such as in Exalted or other high-powered games. If you were in a priest in Dark Sun, you could also renounce your humanity and become an elemental, druids could eventually become land spirits, etc. Theres a definite theme of physical transformation and metaphysical growth being inextricably linked in Dark Sun's cosmology– the equivalent to Liches in DS are considered to be a dead end that (often intentionally) kills any further growth in power for a wizard. Even the Life-Shaper and Blue/Green Age stuff in the Jagged Cliffs book kind of follows this theme of life and evolution being the ultimate source of power.

Of course, the happiest Dark Sun ending of all only comes when the epic-level fighter and rogue disembowel these cruel god-kings on their own sacrificial altars.

Spiderfist Island fucked around with this message at 06:48 on Apr 11, 2016

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012





Chapter 4, Part 3: Caithness
Populous, glamorous, prosperous, and stable: none of these words describe Caithness as a whole. What was once part of the Megalan Empire's western expansion is now a tattered mess of feuding baronies without a strong king to unify them, with a people-to-land ratio akin to Alaska.


Geography
While central Caithness is known for its gently rolling hills and forests, as you get closer to its borders there are adverse situations in every direction. Heading west leads to the edge of the Great Desert, in the east there are badlands with piss poor soil, to the north there are the imposing foothills of the great mountains of Zarak, and in the south is the vast Great Forest. The eastern border of Caithness is officially demarcated by the point where mana starts going from normal to low levels, but Megalan forces frequently gently caress around in the badlands anyway. Bridges and roads are lovely dirt tracks traveling large expanses of uninhabited land between small townships, and crops of wheat, rye, and barley are the main staples of the farms around said small townships.


History
Caithness of the late 18th Century is rather bluntly described as being mostly great for colonization with the exception of having "not enough mana, and too many orcs". Conall of Craine was the first Megalan to make a concentrated effort at colonizing the region in 1784, slowly but surely driving the orc tribes further and further west. Eventually, in 1812, the orcs were driven into the Great Desert and so thoroughly demoralized that they decided to cross the seemingly endless waste and find a new home far away from the invaders. The territory was officially made a Megalan county in 1822, only for Conall to rebel and declare himself king a scant four years later. His ally, Archbishop Constantine of Clixtus, similarly broke away from the Curia, which meant that Caithness was both spiritually and physically separate from Megalos. It wasn't long before the Curia and the Emperor of Megalos at the time got the Knights Hospitaller hooting and hollering about murdering heretics again and sent both them and the Legion flooding into the rebelling nation. Unfortunately for them, the battle mages of the Imperial Legions couldn't handle having to fight in low mana conditions and abandoned the Hospitallers to face a death of a thousand cuts from small but relentless Caithnesser guerrilla attacks.

Things went back to normal fairly quickly after the initial chaos. Megalos and Caithness opened trade with one another, the Curia accepted the Church of Caithness back into their fold in 1844, and the dynasty of King Conall reigned supreme. This cheery movement forward lasted until 1975, when King Morill III died an unexpected death, leaving his son Conall VI king at a mere six years of age. The already headstrong nobles of Caithness ignored any orders from the child king or his mother, Queen Alys, and the stability of the nation began to roll downhill at an alarming rate. The final breaking point was when Deneral, a former lord who was exiled after a failed coup in 1994, used increased taxation in the region of Donlis as a rallying cry for yet another rebellion in 1999. Thus began the Caithness Civil War, a ferocious conflict between lords who shored up with either Conall VI or Deneral that has yet to end.

Society
Caithnessers as a whole are a society of strong-headed outsiders. They see Megalans as pretentious and decadent assholes (which is true, to be fair) and highly value physical pursuits and self-reliance.

Social Status
Caithness has the same feudal social ranks as Megalos, but also has a far greater acceptance of social advancement. Shows of intelligence and gumption are typically rewarded, and any freeman can potentially be knighted if their deeds are suitably brave and talented. The only particular difficult transition is becoming a lord, which requires the trust and acknowledgement of the King himself, a period of faithful service, and swearing loyalty to the King.

Women in Caithness
Caithness is one of the few places on Ytarria that has any sort of feminist views, and women are typically pretty accepted in any pursuit. Even the knighthood has an increasingly large number of women ever since Dame Devin of Fordham was knighted in 1934, and only particularly conservative outlets such as the religious order of knights known as the Dragons have withstood the march of time.

Nonhumans in Caithness
If they're Christian, most nonhumans are pretty well accepted in Caithness, especially hardy species such as halflings and elves. The only exceptions are orcs and reptile men – as both species have a large number of barbarians in the Great Desert, it's not uncommon for individuals to be lynched without qualm if they don't have a member another species on hand to both vouch for them and "chaperon" their activities.

Magic in Caithness
Any Caithnesser wizard has either worked their rear end off to be able to cast spells reliably even in the low mana conditions of the nation or parked their tower over the scattered handful of meteorite impact sites that create small pockets of normal or even high mana. Over the past decade and a half, the badlands near Megalos have slowly been shifting from low mana to normal mana for unknown reasons. While not enough people stick around in that area for it to have made an impact, it seems to indicate that something is beginning to shift in the seemingly set-in-stone nature of the mana zones ravaged by the Bane so long ago.

The Law
Caithnesser law isn't all that different from Megalan law, save for a greater emphasis on compensation over retribution. Fines to be paid to the victims or their families are preferred over death or imprisonment, and are sometimes very high if the crime is severe. If you can't pay for the fine outright, you get sold into slavery to the King, wherein your labor pays for the fine.

Slavery
Outside of the above case, slavery isn't common in Caithness. Slaves in private hands either willingly became slaves (for whatever reason) or are captured slaves such as orcs from raider bands.


The Civil War
If you have a nation wracked by civil war, you can be drat sure there's going to be a section of the text talking about that civil war, and here it is. While its name brings to mind violent combat and tragic loss of life, the Caithness Civil War is actually closer to the Cold War than most well-known Civil Wars in Earth history, with a lot of espionage, small-scale conflicts, and sabotage with only the occasional actual all-out battle. The lordings/baronies across Caithness have fallen in line surprisingly thoroughly given the whole hard-headed and independent nature of Caithnesser nobles: Deerwood, Durham, Fordham, Redhall, and Tacitus all have lords that have thrown in their lot with King Conall VI and his lording of Carrick, while Denton, Donlis, Ferrier, Oakwood, Sterling, and Wallace are all rebel holdings. The only holdouts that remain neutral are the ravaged land of Blythe, the archdiocese of Photius, the elven stronghold of Harkwood, and Simonton with its apathetic lord. On a species level, elves are extremely opinionated about their neutrality, dwarves want the king to reunify and rule over Caithness so they can get back to the business of trade, and halflings support whoever the local lord supports.


The Royalists
Carrick
Since it's the seat of the crown, it's kind of obvious that Carrick would be a portion of Caithness still in support of its king. Kings have ruled from the castle overlooking River Conn and Carrick Town ever since the very first Conall left Megalos in search of fame and glory, and this long history has lead to a modern population of 20,000 city dwellers and over several hundred thousand peasant farmers that reap the bounty of some of Caithness's most fertile soil. Having a direct line of trade with mighty Zarak to the north probably doesn't hurt the lording's wealth either. Carrick Town plays host to the two organizations that work for the king as well. One, the Silver Hand, is a mysterious spy network that is spread across Caithness and may or may not engage in assassination attempts against rebels. The other is the far more open and well known Order of the Stone. A knightly order whose goals are the upholding of the chivalric code, loyalty to the king, and the suppression of chaos, Knights of the Stone are to expect no land or glory for their services and are typically idealists and romantics as a result. The Order is also particularly inclusive: men and women, humans and halflings, elves and dwarves, all are welcome within the fold. While Megalans treat the Order of the Stone as common filth daring to parade around as knights, Knights of the Stone have been known to trump Megalan knights in duels again and again.

King Conall VI himself gets mentioned here as well, complete with a 303 point stat block. While that's a big number, most of it is in social skills of various stripes and a load of wealth; Conall VI's actual attribute scores aren't particularly special, nor are his combat skills all that well-honed. His description paints him as an unsurprising result of being a boy king who grew up to a man in unpleasant conditions, having thrown all of his devotion into his kingdom to the point that he is actually kind of socially awkward when working face to face, especially with women. His lack of a wife has greatly annoyed his advisers, who are sick and tired of being told that the civil war and the safety of kingdom matter more than having a woman with which to birth an heir to the throne. Allies see him as a goony but well-meaning ruler with a kind soul, while his foes feel he is an emotionally stunted man-child who clamors for far more power than he deserves.

The Former Barony of Mershall
While once its own lording at the far north of Caithness, Mershall is now technically part of Carrick, much to the consternation of some of its citizens. Zarakun traders frequently come to the region for its beer-friendly grains, timber, iron, and silver.

Deerwood
The heavily forested land of Deerwood is known for two things: plentiful game animals, and dangerous packs of angry gryphons that were introduced by the servants of King Morill three decades ago. It is lead by Dame Lorena of Deerwood, a Knight of the Stone and staunch supporter of Queen Alys and King Conall VI. As she has just reached age 50 but has never married, she has decided to name Sir Phillip of the Knights of the Stone as heir to the kingdom. Gossip hounds in Deerwood have been making false assumptions that this indicates an affair between Lorena and Phillip, and it's speculated that his eventual rise to lordship won't be taken in stride.

Durham
Durham is the youngest but most famed of the lordings of Caithness, having been created in 1926 when the legendary hero Peredur Orcslayer did exactly what his name says and cleared the territory of the last of the great hordes. Orclsayer's granddaughter, Bronwyn, is the current baroness of Durham and a loyal supporter of Conall. Conall has fallen madly in love with Bronwyn, but ever since her last husband died of cancer she's only had her mind on the civil war, and Conall's attempts to get her attention have been less than graceful. Baroness Bronwyn also happens to hold a great secret: she has been covertly aiding a massive firearms manufacturing operation deep in the most inhospitable reaches of her barony, a fact that would most certainly shatter the people's adoration of her rule and attract the vengeful eye of Megalos were it to ever become public knowledge.

Fordham
The northeastern lording of Fordham is a land of fields and forests that engages in heavy trade with Megalos. Lord Berd's loyalty to the King is only tenuous, as he's scared shitless of the idea of Megalos breathing down his neck if he were to become too involved with the ciivl war. Also major to the running of Fordham is the wizard defense manager Blake and his treasurer, Niall of Fordham. Niall is particularly interesting, and not just because he's another character with an actual stat block. Niall was Neil Shefford by birth, and was a normal everyday accountant in Chicago before being eaten up by a random tiny Banestorm while on a hike in 1993. After being found by Blake and given lodging in his tower, Neil learned Anglish, changed his name to Niall, and cozied up into a profitable living as being the money-changer for a wizard who knew absolutely nothing about finance and good business sense. Niall would love to get back to Earth, or at the very least advance the technology of Ytarria, but he knows that neither of these is all that likely. He's also so paranoid of the Ministry of Serendipity that he keeps a journal in English that he checks daily just to make sure his memories haven't been tampered with.

Redhall
An old and storied stronghold, the mighty red granite castle of Redhall has withstood the ages and weathered the storms of the past thanks to being in between stronger neighboring lordings. Unfortunately, it's now right up against the rebel lording of Sterling, and Lord Lathan Redbeard is considering defecting if the civil war continues to threaten his citizens and cut his beloved hunting trips short.

Tacitus
Another young lording that was gained during the final advances against the orcs, Tacitus is settled in the forests at the foot of the mountains of northwest Caithness and famed for its huntsmen and archers. Baron Elohar is a former knight and known for having friends in high places, as on top of King Conall VI he also has the allegiance of the mighty dwarf Fedor Ironthews of the dwarven city of Ginnrel.



The Sterling Rebels
Denton
Denton has lots of fertile fields and forests, but its citizens are wallowing in poverty thanks to the fact that Baron Cabble of Denton is a conniving money-grubber. Denton sees the civil war as a chance to expand his lands, and sees the rebel lordings as merely more land he can either squeeze resources from or potentially take over if the tides turn in that direction.

Donlis
For the place that sparked the entire Caithness Civil War, Donlis doesn't seem all that intriguing at first look. It's a backwater lording made up of marshes and bayous along the River Smoke, Donlis Town proper's wealth being made by boatmen who ferry goods downriver to Megalos. In 1999, the Silver Hand found evidence that Lord Marsden of Donlis was actually allowing swamp pirates to attack Megalan traders in exchange for a cut of their booty, which lead to Conall's increased taxation on Donlis as retribution. And, of course, that taxation was the wedge Deneral used to provoke the civil war in the first place. The civil war has actually caused Marsden to fight against the pirates now that they have started preying on local Donlis ships.

Ferrier
Ferrier is a lording at the edge of the Great Desert, supplied by sheep farms and underground aquifers that allow it to stay productive. The reptile men in the region have come to a sort of understanding wherein the are allowed to steal at least a few sheep every once and a while, but can never harm a human lest they suffer reprisal. Baron Nabbick of Ferrier doesn't actually care about the rebel cause so much as he just really wanted to be tax exempt and have greater financial control of his lording.

Oakwood
While a rather uninteresting general "forest and fields" part of Caithness, Oakwood is infamous for the vicious Lord Brance. The nephew of the former lord who died from illness in 1996, Brance is arrogant, violent, racist, and generally an unpleasant person. The halflings of Oakwood have turned to the Royalist cause and gladly act as spies, while the human subjects are preparing to overthrow Brance and replace him with someone who actually cares.

Sterling
In a sea of power-mongers, tax evaders, and general assholes, Sterling's Lord Towne stands out as being a genuinely idealistic man who believes that the rebellion is in the best interest of his people and honoring the memory of his late father, who Deneral claims should have been king in Conall's stead. Sterling is well known for its alcohol, particularly the barley beer Sterling Gold and clear whiskey Sterling Silver, both of which are sold for luxurious prices as far away as Cardiel.

Wallace
Another shepherding town on the fringes of the Great Desert, Wallace is famous for a large gold mine several days away. The mine seems to be subject to a dark curse, however: every time someone decides to strike it rich, they manage to haul out a large amount of gold, but then suddenly have all their workers disappear without a trace. Just what's down in the mines is a mystery, but some claims include reptile men, orcs, a dragon guarding its hoard, or even undead dwarves. Lord William of Wallace is another actually idealistic member of the rebellion, who joined out of resentment toward Connal for protecting the throne against Deneral in 1994 instead of helping the citizens of the far-flung Castle Defiant as they were besieged by orcs.

Photius
While technically in rebel lands, Photius is neutral due to the fact that it is the archdiocese of Archbishop Siccius and subject to the Church rather than to Caithness. Photius is known for housing one of the only two Hospitals of the Order of St. Alyce. The nuns of this order are known for being extremely competent healers, capable of performing what seem to be miracles that surpass even most healing spells. Also housed in Photius is the keep of the Order of St. George of the Dragon. Members of the Order, typically just called the Dragons, are basically Hospitallers but with magic: they bar women and nonhumans from their ranks, but are otherwise more or less the same. The order gots its name due to its founder being a dragon slayer by the name of Galen Dragonsbane, who slew two of the great beasts in the early history of Caithness. Like Photius as a whole, they are neutral in the civil war, as they are dedicated to protecting Christendom and Caithness rather than whoever happens to rule at the time. They are also rivals of both the Order of the Stone at home and the Knights Hospitaller abroad.


The South
Other than Photius, all of the lordings that remain neutral in the Caithness Civil War are found down south. Coincidence? You decide.

Blythe
While technically still considered a lording, Blythe is a dead land. A tribe of reptile men who had long had qualms with Blythe caught wind of the Caithness Civil War in 2001 and quickly moved their army in for an invasion, and cries for aid fell on deaf ears due to the greater chaos in the nation. all scouts have ever found have been razed towns, reptile men looters, and rare cases of human families that managed to survive by hiding out in the Great Forest. It is unlikely that Blythe will ever be rebuilt unless the civil war finally comes to an end.

Harkwood
Harkwood was dedicated to King Connal VI at the start of the rebellion, but things quickly changed when its army was slaughtered by Baron Cabble when passing through Denton. As more and more human citizens left for fear of their lives, elven warriors came out of the Great Forest in 2002, claiming that they were there to protect the remaining people of Harkwood from orcs and reptile men. While they have indeed helped against the raids, they have also woven their way into the lording's political structure as more and more immigrate from the Great Forest to Harkwood, and their leader Lleroflyn seems poised to become the new wife of Baron Fenmarc. The fact that elves usually never involve themselves in human affairs makes the whole matter confusing, and more than a few people suspect some ulterior motive.

Simonton
This lording's namesake is the last town on the westward journey of the River Smoke, as well as a major trade center for Caithness in general. Materials from Zarak, Megalos, and elven lands all come to rest here, as well as a fair number of goblins looking to make a new life of trade in a new land. Lord Walton of Simonton refuses to join either side of the Caithness Civil War: he doesn't trust Conall to have such good-natured motives as he claims, but he also hates Cabble and won't join the rebellion as long as he's part of it.

The Great Forest
In the deep past, before the Bane ravaged the land, the Great Forest was the southern tip of an even greater forest that also included the Blackwoods of Megalos. It is an exceedingly thick forest of fir, pine, spruce, oak, and elm, full of life such as deer, elk, wild boar, bears, wolves, and rare supernatural beings such as gryphons and unicorns. The sheer density of the forest and its dangerous wildlife tends to mean that humans avoid it, but that's definitely not true for other nonhumans: there are numerous elf villages, a clan of dwarves live in the gold-rich mountains in the center of the forest, gnomes dwell in the foothills to the south, and hobgoblin bands patrol the thinner areas of the forest. The only humans that regularly go into the Great Forest are hunters, fur traders, and prospectors, and even then they typically only go 10 miles at the most into the immense wilderness that stretches 600 miles long and 200 miles wide. There are also some people that have the foolhardy notion that the Great Forest could be partially tamed and cleared to create a new trade road from central and northern Caithness to al-Haz.



Next Time in GURPS Banestorm: Sand, sultans, and sectarian conflict in the land of al-Haz.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


There's one ancient fear that's still relevant in the modern world, but that people increasingly deny and scrub from their lives: Death. Not sexy vampiric undeath, not Gaia-theory metal glorious wolf death, but the simple fact that everything and everyone ends. Maybe, touched by this truth, the Beasts can use it to either bring meaning into people's lives, get them to enjoy life, remind them that all that jogging and healthy eating won't stave off death so maybe they could enjoy themselves. Or they go all 'death is my gift' and go Dexter/The Crown on bad guys. They hate vampires because they cheat death unnaturally, werewolves because nature is death, etc.
And the Heroes make sense - how many of them sought immortality by killing 'monsters'? Gilgamesh, the first hero, went crazy because he couldn't accept the inevitability of his and Enkindu's death. All through history people have gone through horrific lengths to deny the truth, and the Beasts can remind them of that. And they're tied to sleep and dreams - sleep, 'little slices of death'.

I guess that's better suited for Geist though.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Spiderfist Island posted:

Of course, the happiest Dark Sun ending of all only comes when the epic-level fighter and rogue disembowel these cruel god-kings on their own sacrificial altars.
A max-level character doing a murderous blood sacrifice on a magical altar? This is a plan without possibility of error or side effect!

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Nessus posted:

I thought it was the other way around, that Athas was such a titanic cosmic shithole that if stuff from Athas leaked out it would be like unleashing cats and rats into the tender ecology of a Polynesian island. If people could leave Athas, they would in droves, but they'd be like the Fremen in Dune.

There was an official adventure -- Black Flames? -- where the PCs found one of Athas' few gates off-world and the climax took place as they rampaged through a githyanki citadel on the astral plane.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Kurieg posted:

Ultimately, what's holding Beast back is it's one definining tenet. Beast is the Crossover Game. Beasts can't be too monstrous because they have to be able to slot into any game and not have motives working at cross purposes. Even though Beasts as Written probably wouldn't be willingly assocaited with by anyone except Vampires. If we take that away, what can we do?

Well, if a Deep Dreamer encounters a Beast in the Primordial Dream, and is given the choice. Sell your soul for Power. It's a bit misleading, though, of course. I mean yes they are exchanging their soul for power, but without their soul they aren't really themselves anymore. They're a dark and primal horror welded to a set of human intelligences and memories with an all consuming drive to inflict terror and become more powerful. There's no equivocation, there's no dancing around the point, Beasts are Monsters and they do not care. If they eat lightly, leave targets alive, or attempt to hide what they are, they do so for a reason.

Because those who reject the choice, who see through the lie, are also empowered. They can see the Beasts for what they are, a throwback to an earlier time, when we needed fear to keep us safe. But we don't anymore, and that kind of primal fear has turned into a malignant cancer in our collective psyche. Yes the fear they inflict does somehow lessen humanity's burden, but slaying Beasts, exposing them for the monsters that they are and showing that they can be killed works even better. These people become Heroes, and in all the ways that Beasts are empowered to be the worst in humanity, they are driven to be the best. They're still NPCs, of course, because they're a rather boring literal definition of good. But they're useful NPCs that the other splats can probably interact with. A werewolf or a Vampire may inflict terror, but they are not fear incarnate.
The fear that a Vampire or a Werewolf inflicts is usually a fear that is useful for humanity. Running away from a werewolf in Gauru form is what keeps a human alive. That's fear doing it's job. What a beast does is wield fear to create fear, to create a mythos of terror around themselves, to build up their own story until they become something beyond themselves. Heroes by extension need to play a kind of brinksmanship, taking down Beasts where they can while avoiding the attention of Beasts beyond their reach, because every dead Hero is one less person fighting against the darkness.


Beast could have been a good game, but the fact that BHM insisted on welding it to existing oppressed groups made it into something horrific for all the wrong reasons.

When you put it this way, Beasts sound like they would have been a really interesting splat for Hunter where you start out as a Hero and eventually breakdown from trying to be a last source of hope in the World of Darkness. Beasts result from a specific set of hunter's gifts that warp the user so badly they become an entity so vile and evil other monsters stop, take note and decide to do something about it. Stick in rules for making Beasts as NPC opponents for the other lines towards the end of the line.

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"



Tasoth posted:

When you put it this way, Beasts sound like they would have been a really interesting splat for Hunter where you start out as a Hero and eventually breakdown from trying to be a last source of hope in the World of Darkness. Beasts result from a specific set of hunter's gifts that warp the user so badly they become an entity so vile and evil other monsters stop, take note and decide to do something about it. Stick in rules for making Beasts as NPC opponents for the other lines towards the end of the line.

Play a Beast if...
  • You lack a PS4 or are literally allergic to good games and so cannot enjoy Bloodborne

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




The Lord of Hats posted:

At a very basic level, I kind of like the idea of getting to be one of the big horrible monster dudes. Something about playing a character who is, at least in some small way, a kraken, sounds neat.
I'm in favor of more of a "You are not, and never were, a human. You are just wearing a cheap human disguise, you weren't born a human and remembered it later or anything."

Why are you, a Kraken, wearing a cheap human disguise? gently caress it, you like doritos. It's very difficult to purchase and eat doritos as a giant squid-monster. Also you like not being attacked with torpedoes and depth charges.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




Zereth posted:

I'm in favor of more of a "You are not, and never were, a human. You are just wearing a cheap human disguise, you weren't born a human and remembered it later or anything."

Why are you, a Kraken, wearing a cheap human disguise? gently caress it, you like doritos. It's very difficult to purchase and eat doritos as a giant squid-monster. Also you like not being attacked with torpedoes and depth charges.

I like the idea of beasts just hiding in plain sight for their own protection, gently caress trying to predate on humans they got bombs and poo poo.:krakken:

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Okay, here's a fun Beast riff. You take the idea that Beasts teach lessons seriously.

You're a cosmic jobber. Beasts exist to face people with adversity and encourage them to overcome it. They identify people with hidden potential, and then present their students with a situation they have to overcome, either in the real world or in their student's dreams in a crazy psychotronic dream-realm sort of way. And at the end of this, the student defeats the Beast, and the Beast sells that defeat as hard as they can, howling with outrage and chewing on scenery. And when the student is gone, they pack up their props and move onto the next student. There's no real danger here; even in a real-world scenario, the worst that can happen long-term is mussed-up hair and a few bruises. On some level, even the students get that this is theatre, so there's no long-term psychological repercussions to failure here.

But the problem with theatre like this is that some people don't get that it's not real, that the blood is corn-syrup and the swords are made of tinsel. The universe is that guy, and it inspires Heroes, who 'save' the students from instruction. Heroes aren't evil, they're just deeply misguided and completely incapable of breaking kayfabe. They're ridiculously dangerous to Beasts because the same narrative conventions that make their teaching powers work also empower the Heroes. Mechanically, many powers that Beasts get would have a rider about how they empower any Heroes they meet too- the better you are at playing the villian, the better the Hero's gonna have to be to take you down.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hero Raising Simulator 2016 would also be a good concept, yes. But then, I've always liked villains who are mostly just punching the clock and keeping their theme park dungeon.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Night10194 posted:

Hero Raising Simulator 2016 would also be a good concept, yes. But then, I've always liked villains who are mostly just punching the clock and keeping their theme park dungeon.
Theme park dungeon you say?

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




Autumn: About the Countryside

This chapter was written by South, the current publisher of Witch Quest. It's about everyday magic storytelling and the portrayal of the Japanese countryside.

Images of the Countryside
To city slickers like us, the countryside as depicted in games ilke this one is a dream world of idyllic fantasy. Of course, the real countryside isn't so friendly. People can be less welcoming than you might expect, farmers can be overwhelmed with economic pressures, and there are cases of criminals from the city heading out to the country to do their business away from the eyes of the law.

Still, this is a magical RPG, so you don't have to portray the countryside as it really is. It's fine to leave the hard edges of reality out, this isn't a countryside sim. It's a fantasy game.

Not all countryside areas are identical. The town in the book is a commuter town, where most people work elsewhere and travel to work by train in the morning. But there also towns more cut off from the urban world, where people are employed locally and there's no city within commute distance. There's more variation than outsiders (or even some country folks) might imagine.

"In Town" and "Everything Else"
In the countryside, there's a pronounced barrier between "us" and "everyone else". This is what the Town Connection is for - the "Acceptance" connection content is how much the community considers you to be a part of it. For another meaning of that distinction, there's a distinction between "in town" - the main shopping area - and everything outside of it. In town, strangers will stand out less, and it makes an unexpectedly good backdrop for nighttime scenes. Once the sun sets, everything closes up and the town becomes silent.

That being said, there are more places in the country with 24-hour convenience stores than there used to be, but let's just ignore all of those.

Effective Use of Notice and Time
In the country, there are less people, but there's still more people watching you. Unfamiliar faces attract attention, and there are usually people working in the fields and rice paddies who have plenty of time to notice what's going on around them. It's hard to do anything without someone else knowing about it.

The difference between day and night is more pronounced here than in the city. There's a kind of darkness at night out here that you never see in Tokyo. When the sun sets, agricultural work becomes impossible, so everyone just goes home. During the night, the town is empty, letting the sharp-eyed henge do as they please.

That being said, anyone making light or raising their voices at night will probably still draw attention. Many small towns have a thing called 'fire patrol' where people (usually young men but sometimes children) will check overnight for fires or crimes, with wooden clappers to alert people if something happens. These can be an obstacle for henge, but could also become their friends.

People in the country are more inclined to just leave their homes unlocked (in reality burglaries by people from the city have become a problem, but let's just set that aside). It's not hard for children who sleep in their own rooms to sneak out of the house at night.

Lots of Things are Missing
There may not be any government offices or banks near by. There's definitely no arcades or movie theaters. If you want to shop at night, or buy anything beyond basic necessities, it may require a trip to the nearest city, which may be a long drive. There are lots of things that a player might ask about where the Narrator may just say "there isn't one", or "you'd have to go to the next town over to get it".

There are other quirks of the town that you won't find in big cities. Cell phone reception is spotty or nonexistent, people are more religious, eldest sons are highly regarded. Sometimes people are called by their trade names instead of their real names. Don't worry about getting all of this right, just take the aspects that resonate with you and use them as inspiration for writing stories.

Other Kinds of Towns
If you step away from Hitotsuna Town, there's a lot of other options for what your game's town might look like.

Provincial City / Commuter Town
A rural area, with a cluster of residences surrounded by rice paddies and fields. Not far from a bigger city, so the train means that the conveniences of the modern world aren't too remote. Still, richer in nature than the city itself. No fireflies.

Town With Through Traffic
Hitotsuna Town's type. Several train lines and roads go through it. People commute to school or work, but the town is a bit cut off from its immediate surroundings. Relatively isolated, but there's still traffic to and from the city. Fireflies can be found around clean, pure water, once you're outside of the main town area.

The Middle of Nowhere
Surrounded by mountains or water. Public transit is operating on a shoestring budget, or not at all. Population is sparse, but the isolation necessarily means that some necessities like clinics or post offices exist in town. There are fireflies.

Isolated Villages, Islands
No traffic lights, few streetlamps, houses are far apart. Schools combine multiple years under one roof. There might be a single bus per day at best, only larger houses have a phone. There's a shrine for the local god, the only grocery story in town recently closed. Fireflies are abundant.

Mountains, Deserted Islands, Ghost Towns
There's no humans at all. At this point, it can't really be called the countryside.



Next: Monster manual. Of sorts.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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



Look man, no-one ever said dungeon keeping was simple or easy. You've got to deal with other Keepers trying to kill you, employees complaining that you make them wear an emblem of a pallas cat+Potoo bird gryphon because it's funny to you how he always looks like he's screaming, trying to balance making the place challenging with not making it so bad that no Adventurers ever come in, all kinds of job related stress.

Why else do think they build all those overly complex deathtraps? It's like the one fun thing they get to do that week.



Seriously, though, who wouldn't want to march under that banner? Are they just crazy?

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 13:33 on Apr 11, 2016

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Ratoslov posted:

Okay, here's a fun Beast riff. You take the idea that Beasts teach lessons seriously.

You're a cosmic jobber. Beasts exist to face people with adversity and encourage them to overcome it. They identify people with hidden potential, and then present their students with a situation they have to overcome, either in the real world or in their student's dreams in a crazy psychotronic dream-realm sort of way. And at the end of this, the student defeats the Beast, and the Beast sells that defeat as hard as they can, howling with outrage and chewing on scenery. And when the student is gone, they pack up their props and move onto the next student. There's no real danger here; even in a real-world scenario, the worst that can happen long-term is mussed-up hair and a few bruises. On some level, even the students get that this is theatre, so there's no long-term psychological repercussions to failure here.

But the problem with theatre like this is that some people don't get that it's not real, that the blood is corn-syrup and the swords are made of tinsel. The universe is that guy, and it inspires Heroes, who 'save' the students from instruction. Heroes aren't evil, they're just deeply misguided and completely incapable of breaking kayfabe. They're ridiculously dangerous to Beasts because the same narrative conventions that make their teaching powers work also empower the Heroes. Mechanically, many powers that Beasts get would have a rider about how they empower any Heroes they meet too- the better you are at playing the villian, the better the Hero's gonna have to be to take you down.

I had a similar idea, but in keeping with the melodrama of the WoD setting, the pass/fail of your student is solely based on your ability as a teacher and they keep experiencing what you're offering until they either crack or succeed. It also comes with the caveat that you don't choose your student, they're people you make a connection with in your day to day life while you are trying to survive. Monsters still have to eat and it's not like you can live in a cave with a stream near by so you gotta rent and that means a crappy job.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Hey, PurpleXVI, you might like to know that S. John Ross found your old Encounter Critical review. It made him very happy. :)

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

So the other day I got to run a game of Daylight Robbery, a PBTA hack about pulling off heists in the style of Heat, The Town. This could have gone in the catpiss thread, but I wanted to write more about the design and the mechanics.

The game starts off with picking a heist target and a heist location. For our game, we chose kidnapping the teenage daughter of Colombian drug lord during an elegant party in the US embassy in Panama. The cast was Gillis "Basher" de Jaeger as The Muscle, Tanner Scott as The Brains, and Mr Black as the Charm.

The heist itself is broken up into three distinct phases: the Opening Gambit, the Thick of It, and End of the Line. One of the key concepts in the game is the Heat clock: whenever you do something that calls attention or escalates the situation, and specifically whenever you Miss a Move, you gain Heat. This determines how the heist is going and current response level of the authorities.

Much as in Payday, you can try stealthing your way through a heist, but since it only takes you three Heat to get to "they know it's a heist and poo poo begins to hit the fan and the building goes into lockdown", it's likely that you're going to have to go loud at some point. Or you could even go loud as the opening salvo of the heist and begin the game at that level of heat right away.

As you fill up the heat clock/progress bar, you advance to the second and third phases of the heist. The other way that this influences the game is that you can only use Moves in that heist phase or lower, and that the effects of the Moves themselves change depending on which phase of the heist you're in.

For example, one of the Basic Moves is:

quote:

When you explain how you accounted for something in your plans, roll+sharp. On a 10+, you get to explain what you prepped to deal with this situation, and the MC explains why it’s not as simple as that. On a 7-9, you explain what you wanted to prep and how it went wrong, and the MC tells you what you have instead. On a miss, you explain what you wanted to prep, and the MC explains how it’s loving you over right now.

But that's if you're using it during the Opening Gambit and The Thick of It. Once you get to End of the Line, it changes to:

quote:

When you explain how you accounted for something in your plans, roll+sharp. On a 12+, you prepped exactly for this poo poo, and it works out how you think it should. Better yet, you get something out of it: gear, a weapon, an ally, an opening, whatever.

So the Move is still introducing complications even when you roll a 10+ during the first two thirds of the game, but then gains a "works perfectly" clause on a 12+ when your back is to the wall.

Similarly, the Professional character can disable security systems during the Opening Gambit, and then can go down in a blaze of glory during the End of the Line.

The heist phase and the heat level also tie in closely to how the game handles health/injury: the game outright states that, being professional criminals, rent-a-cops and security guards cannot hurt you. The GM/narrator can introduce "one of you gets shot and it's bad" as a complication, but in general you won't get hurt up until you get to the End of the Line and the heat level gets maxed out, at which point the SWAT team breaches the building and kills everyone, period.

As far as my experience running the game, the things that stood out to us, in no particular order:

* I was perhaps a bit too conservative adding Heat to the clock, and the team did a stealth approach, and the target wasn't exactly a tightly guarded safe, so we ended up not going much farther than the opening stages of The Thick of It, since the team only went loud as a final exclamation point to make their getaway from the embassy compound.

* The players felt like it should have been possible to immediately access the higher-phase moves. I guess you could do it by deliberately escalating the situation though.

* It wasn't always clear what the 6- / 7-9 / 10+ effects were for any given move. I get that some of it was done to conserve space and make it fit into the form factor, but the low word count and having to refer back to the general rules tripped us up a couple of times.

* The game kinda feels like it's too focused on that Payday-style rob-a-bank-and-kill-cops theme, and most of the issues we had with being able to stealth all the way through a mission were maybe derived from that.

It was, admittedly, my first time playing a PBTA game, and it's something I want to try again, probably with the "bank heist" scenario strictly enforced, now that I've done it once and picked up some experience.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011



Count Chocula posted:

Maybe, touched by this truth, the Beasts can use it to either bring meaning into people's lives, get them to enjoy life, remind them that all that jogging and healthy eating won't stave off death so maybe they could enjoy themselves.

I'm not sure what bizarro world you live in where jogging and healthy eating doesn't lead to a probably-longer life, and also somehow precludes living life, but here in the real world I find being unable to walk down a staircase without getting winded to be the opposite of "enjoying myself."


As for Beast, I'm not seeing any way it fits into the WoD lineup. It has too vague an identity, and any attempts to give it an identity just sound like another line that already exists. Its best bet, short of being deleted from existence, is to be a Hunter splat. Because WoD already has 'Heroes,' and they're done much better and have actual nuance! Wow!

Monsters that have to feed? Vampire. Shapeshifters fighting to protect humanity from dreamstuff? Werewolf. Feelings of unbelonging to the world? Changeling. Wrestling with powers that are dangerous to everyone around you? Mage. Another force in your head making you do its evil bidding that you either give in to or struggle against? Heroic Abyssal Exalted.

Even ignoring the fact that the metaphors drawn in the fluff are horrible, Beast has no reason to exist as its own line. It's reinventing the wheel, except the wheel is square. It's splat material at best. Or reflavoring Werewolf to shapeshift into mythical monsters if that's your jam.

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Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Evil Mastermind posted:

Hey, PurpleXVI, you might like to know that S. John Ross found your old Encounter Critical review. It made him very happy. :)

The moment when Purple realized the truth of Encounter Critical in IRC was magical.

Mostly because I thought he was in on the joke from the beginning. :haw:

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