Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Kurieg posted:

The Stargazers and the Salubri are too powerful, You can't play them anymore. Here are rules to play them. Stop playing them.

Well, Kailindo was too powerful.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I'm doing WoD:Combat eventually if nobody else gets there first! Actually, yeah, since I did Street Fighter I kinda have to do it.

Kurieg posted:

Spending time in torpor for extended periods of time messes up your memories but also Torpor does some weird magical poo poo where it will give you memories and languages that you need to survive once you wake up. You'll be slightly out of date but more "That's not how you use a touchscreen, grandpa" and less "Please stop calling it a mechanical velocipede."
Uh, well, although it doesn't last for centuries, torpor fucks with your memories in some very hilarious ways...hilarious because you're probably obsessive and vengeful, being an old vampire and all.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Dawgstar posted:

Well, Kailindo was too powerful.
Also having three axis-splats (Breed for Gnosis, Tribe for Willpower, Auspice for Rage) and Stargazers being the only ones who got 5 Willpower.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

Also having three axis-splats (Breed for Gnosis, Tribe for Willpower, Auspice for Rage) and Stargazers being the only ones who got 5 Willpower.

Yup. From a min-maxing perspective you were dumb to play anything but a Lupus Ahroun Stargazer which gave you straight fives across the board and an excuse to take aforementioned werewolf martial art.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


I thought they did away with Clans in nWoD, and you're like, a Christian fundie vampire, a "we want to be Dracula" vampire...

TBH, I know very little about nVamp.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




JcDent posted:

I thought they did away with Clans in nWoD, and you're like, a Christian fundie vampire, a "we want to be Dracula" vampire...

TBH, I know very little about nVamp.

Clans still exist and are your blood lineage* while Covenants are your ideological group. It's a much clearer distinction from Masquerade, where Clans were also ideological groups for a nice whiff of :biotruths: (Though of course "the bloodline that makes you charismatic" doesn't totally leave that garbage in the dumpster either.)

* But there are also bloodlines which, just like Masquerade, are principally distinguished by just being much smaller than and thus looked down on by the Clans.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 06:03 on Sep 21, 2019

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



JcDent posted:

I thought they did away with Clans in nWoD, and you're like, a Christian fundie vampire, a "we want to be Dracula" vampire...

TBH, I know very little about nVamp.

nVamp separates "the group of similar blood relatives with similar traits and predilectations" from "the group of co-conspirators and fellow travelers with similar schemes, ideologies, and alignments." The clans are really archetypal (alluring vampire, unstoppable vampire, mysterious vampire, terrifying vampire, master vampire) and they interact as factions in a domain less than clans did in oVamp, usually in the form of personal feuds or vendettas, or shared concerns. The ideological groups are called covenants and include the Insane Catholic Vampire Heresy and Dracula's Build-a-Better-Monster Support Group and Cult.

(Separating things out like that saves you from having to do stuff like define "Ventrue Antitribu" as a clan or bloodline when it's just "a Ventrue who joined the other ideological group.")

You wouldn't think, from hearing that, that the nVamp clanbooks would be that great, or even as interesting as the covenant books. You'd be wrong. They're amazing.

Dave Brookshaw
Jun 27, 2012

No Regrets


JcDent posted:

I thought they did away with Clans in nWoD, and you're like, a Christian fundie vampire, a "we want to be Dracula" vampire...

TBH, I know very little about nVamp.

Requiem has Clans, but nVampire history is opposite-land to oVampire - rather than one shared origin they’ve diverged from (such as the Bali and Salubri descending from the same Antidiluvian, same as the Brujah and True Brujah, the harbringers of skulls, cappadocians, samedi and Giovanni all actually being the same Clan, etc) nVampires are five (*at least*, there’s textual evidence that it’s more like eight) entirely separate supernatural “species” who happen to share a common set of game mechanics. The Origin story of the Ventrue is a) Lies and b) not the same as any of the three origin stories of the Mekhet (who are probably three distinct clans that have converged so much they think they’re one clan).

Requiem also has several “nearly-clans”; lineages of vampire that aren’t quite Kindred enough.

Dave Brookshaw fucked around with this message at 06:59 on Sep 21, 2019

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah





02 — Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition — Setting Basics, Part 1
:spooky::ghost: Lethe me ask you a question. :ghost::spooky:

“Life is a promise to death.”
Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition

Welcome…to Deadworld!



BEING ALIVE AND THEN NOT
What is it like to know about death? In Geist we start learning about the world we’ll pretend to inhabit with ruminations on how our perspectives of life and death change and grow. When you’re young, very young, you likely have little conception of the future if you even think about it in the first place. Things like college or having your own children are barely perceived, notional barriers beyond which lie complexities and challenges you don’t understand at all. Then you grow up little by little. Reality creeps in. The fantasies you’ve constructed to explain the world to yourself are chipped away and replaced with new ones a little closer to the truth.

Death is perhaps the greatest of these watersheds, a grand adventure about and beyond which countless tales are told by people who have never experienced it. This being the Chronicles of Darkness of course bits and pieces of the Real Truth have filtered into living superstition and religion, but the full truth is at once bigger and smaller than the living guess, and so much more horrific.

When a person dies, even the most serene and content saint, it is only natural for them to find death a wanting experience. Almost no one who dies is done, but they’re finished anyway. This and the natural tendency of people to always have something going on gives rise to the sense that ghosts linger due to unfinished business, but that is not the fundamental nature of ghosthood. You become a ghost because you don’t want to stop, and once you are a ghost “keep going” is all you get to do. On top of that, humans aren’t the only ones who don’t want to die, which is why beside ghosts with gaping head wounds or rattling chains hanging across their suit jackets, there are also ghosts that bark and want to play fetch or find shiny things to put in their nests. Even places and things can become ghosts. This doesn’t mean that everyone and everything leaves a ghost behind, but the invisible “wavelength” of existence known as Twilight is as teeming with the dead as the rest of the world is teeming with life.

Their afterlives so thoroughly defined by singular connections to the living, ghosts are creatures of obsessive habit. For the weakest kinds of ghosts, these keystones are all there is to their existence. They can’t really engage in conversation or deviate from their repetitive tasks unless driven off-track by some outside disruption, which tends to provoke instinctual, violent response. Ghosts with stronger senses of self are still chained to a small set of defining ideals and treasures, but are afforded a little more independence and recognition of people who aren’t themselves.

Obviously the intensely emotional connections for which ghosts linger spur them to reach out, to try again to be a part of the remains of their lives. The stirred up ghost-stuff of powerful wanting extrudes into the world of the living, spilling your classic ghost-slime known as “plasm” into the material plane. Plasm is the “physical” substance of the ghostly world, from a ghost gun to a ghost doorway to a ghost body. While we’ll dig into the gamey rulesy details later, I'll mention here that plasm is also what Sin-Eaters use and sometimes literally consume to fuel their powers, which is a potentially disturbing angle to their relationship with the dead they’re supposed to be helping.


Randos at the bus stop will still tell this lady “Give us a smile, huh?”

Prisoners of the memory of their lives, ghosts don’t tend toward much self-improvement or change, which for eternal shades fixated on the inevitably doomed lives left behind can be a bit of a downer. Being reminded of and remembered for their life keeps a ghost going, but all that stuff is as finitely alive as they proved to be. As the call of the living world fades the call of a different place rises, a place just for ghosts:

THE UNDERWORLD
“Twilight” is a veil between ghosts and the living in the material world, but even it has a geography. Places great in the energies of death, particularly graveyards, sink a little lower, and in their center are Avernian Gates: old, sealed passages into the Underworld. When a ghost’s Anchors have all worn away and they’re out of magic pointsEssence, they’ll feel a pull towards the nearest Gate, and it will open for them. Sometimes it will open for ghosts, Anchors or no, who are ready to give up on the land of the living. Or for visitors from the other side, strange servants come to carry ghosts down where they belong. And still other times Gates open on their own, according to some unknowable convergence. Every Avernian Gate also has a key, which may or may not be a physical object, allowing passage to whoever figures it out. Avernian Gates and the area around them are always damp, and once you pass through you’ll find trickling rivulets that form the headwaters of the countless streams and rivers that criss-cross the Underworld.

This may seem foolish to say, but: the Underworld is underground. Not beneath the soil of the Earth, rather there is no outside to it except back through the Avernian Gates. It’s all the biggest cave system that’s ever been.

Except is it a cave? The Upper Reaches where you arrive first—the book tells us this isn’t even technically “the Underworld”—resemble the subterranean features near to the Gate you came through: sewers, subway tunnels, an unusually long and mazy crypt. You could swear you’re still on the other, warmer side, it’s all so mundane and natural. But it’s so quiet and so still, and no one living is going to hear your screams through that grate. It’s always cold, it’s always damp. There is always water gathering and flowing, down, down, always and forever farther down.

These wending places are also scattered with bizarre detritus, the constantly descending inanimate echoes of just “stuff” without Anchors to tie them to the living world. Sometimes ghosts drawn to the Underworld linger in the Reaches, afraid and not yet forced to go deeper, eking out a middle existence, forming enclaves for protection or raiding, before a Reaper or something even worse comes to steal them down lower.

Eventually through enough tunnels you’ll find yourself at a confluence, where all that water becomes a proper River. Not everyone knows them, but most Rivers have names and they tend to have something to do with what will happen to you if you drink from them. Even if you’re adventurous enough to seek their curse or blessing, these Rivers aren’t always water by the time you’re venturing down deeper, or at least not water you’d want to drink. They can be stale, terrible liquids, swampy flowing bogs filled with strange plants, choking flows of dust, or streams of pus and scabs. Still, some ghosts will risk it and grow heavy with the power of the Underworld in their bellies. That’s where geists come from. They are stronger than ghosts who still hold close to what it was to be alive, but sometimes the pangs of memory stir in them and they make a Bargain with someone to turn them into a Sin-Eater.

The Rivers are the defining geographic feature of the Underworld, and in the small and vast caverns below the Upper Reaches they are the centers of and borders between societies. River Cities dot their banks, where ghosts have found each other and, as they always do, built a reminder of the living world. They find others who shared their religion in life and now keep the faith in death, they find fellow craftsmen to charter guilds that take the plasmic harvests of the Underworld to feed and clothe and house themselves, they form hierarchies to rule over each other. As with everything that lesser ghosts do with themselves, they are always subject to the depredations of older, nastier things from below. River Cities can thrive for centuries before being wiped out by a band of Reapers or the surfacing of a hungry Chthonic monster.


This is Rich Ghost Hell because it’s nothing but favelas.

As prominent and relatively consistent features, the Rivers are also a key method of travel from one part of the Underworld to the other. Yet mastering them is difficult, and travelers will have to rely on the Boatmen, often presenting themselves as the classic Ferryman, but they might instead look like a mudding good ol’ boy or a travel agent. They are shallow, strange creatures always willing to take you downriver, and once we get to the Ocean of Fragments you might have an idea why. Like most of the living legends, they require payment: Coin, plasm, blood, secrets, or other, stranger things. Sin-Eaters can act as their own Boatman, if they know how to navigate the Rivers.

The Rivers, of course, descend still, into the Lower Mysteries, the caverns filled with the Dead Dominions, where Kerberoi and grand Chthonic gods rule. Kerberoi are ancient ghosts powerfully bound to their Dominion, compelled to shape it and police it according to their strange Old Laws. Every Dominion is behind a gate, specified in the book to resemble the Sumerian gate to the underworld, and its guardian is always ready to inform visitors of the Laws before they enter. The higher Dominions, closest to the River Cities, have short lists of simple, usually pretty understandable Old Laws. “Do not stand idle in the market streets” might be the straightforward dictum of an upper Dominion, but get deep enough and you’ll be subject to “Speak only of the past.”


The artist has taken some liberties.

Chthonic entities are the weird natives of the Underworld, unknowable minds slinking through the Underworld in impossible, patchwork charnel bodies, all stinking meat, wrong limbs and snapping insect mandibles. The smaller of them are like fish and toads in the Rivers, eaten by some fisherghosts of the River Cities. The greatest of them are hulking beasts, blindly or uncaringly roaming their territories in search of things to eat, worshipped by cults of deranged ghosts for their obvious power and delectable cast-offs.

Descend past even these depths and you’ll reach what could be considered the end of all things: the Ocean of Fragments. An unknowably vast cavern, you’ll stumble out of a cave onto the shores of an inky black sea stretching endless to an unseeable horizon in the shadows. The Rivers above are a solution that dissolves ghosts bit-by-bit, but here the depthless Ocean drowns and wears away the sparest fragments of living memory, a final forgetting beyond all remembrance. All things in the Underworld descend inevitably here, even Dead Dominions crack and break through the distant cavern roof to crash into the waters below. On the Ocean’s Black Beach lives a strange hermit who strolls the sands looking for discarded memories, at times visited by those most forlorn ghosts building up the courage to wade out and meet their total end.

Only a handful of things seem to survive the wearing waters. There is the Freighter, which in the past has been all kinds of boats but is currently the HMS Titanic, and its forgetful crew that trawls the waters for memorable treasures. Below the Ocean’s waters swims the Leviathan, the awesomely vast Kerberos that enforces the unknowable Old Laws of this last, deepest Dominion.

COMMENTARY
I love it. The Underworld hinted at in other Chronicles books isn’t particularly interesting. What’s here in Geist is, for lack of less ironic words, alive and vibrant. It’s full of stuff to tear down or save, a place where things are happening despite the relatively static nature of ghosts. It’s a place to stick any old bit of mythology you want, but also an alien and insidious realm so you can mix and match and warp it all to your heart’s content. It has a natural and narratively satisfying progression from spooky rat-catcher catacombs to the ageless dark temples of ancient gods. It’s also just written well, excellently conveying the tone of a struggle that is powerful and doomed yet not truly hopeless.

This post covers roughly the first and last main sections of chapter 2, concerning the natures of ghosts and the Underworld. Sandwiched between these sections is stuff about our protagonists, the Sin-Eaters and their Bargains with geists. I’ll get to that in the next post.

INSERT JOKE TITLE ABOUT OLIVER TWIST
You may have noticed I didn’t say anything about the chapter fiction. I’ve decided to skip those for now and cover them all together later. I feel the first chapter fiction is well-written and pretty effective for opening the book and starting the review while the rest of the fiction isn’t strongly tied to each chapter, plus there’s not all that much to the introduction, and also I didn’t think about this until after I made my first post.

Next Up: What if the Ghostbusters were also half ghost?

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 06:03 on Sep 28, 2019

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



Does Geist talk about how utterly bizarre/upsetting it might be for ghosts of various religions to find out that their expected afterlife was also incorrect?

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I've heard it put best that Clans are who you are, Covenants are what you do.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Green Intern posted:

Does Geist talk about how utterly bizarre/upsetting it might be for ghosts of various religions to find out that their expected afterlife was also incorrect?

I'm not sure they go out of their way to lampshade it, but everything about the Underworld is bizarre and upsetting.

Also, a lot of Dead Dominions are more-or-less the result of people continuing their religious beliefs in the Underworld, so you get a weird sort of mix of "yeah this is the afterlife you were expecting, ignore the duct tape and rebar holding it together" and "this is yet another transitional state before the REAL afterlife."

e: For example in Geist 2E, Mictlan and the Sainted Kingdom of Prester John are both noted as Dead Dominions, although the Sainted Kingdom collapsed and was eventually replaced with Gehenna, a sort of "you get the Hell you think you deserve" type of deal.

Tuxedo Catfish fucked around with this message at 03:27 on Sep 22, 2019

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Green Intern posted:

Does Geist talk about how utterly bizarre/upsetting it might be for ghosts of various religions to find out that their expected afterlife was also incorrect?

This is the most direct thing I could find on a quick search:

quote:

Many ghosts cling to their old religions, sectarian difficulties breaking down and blending in the face of an Underworld that doesn’t conform to anyone’s expectations. Some adopt a faith and culture they never held in life, believing this to be the darkest foxhole you can get, while the most militant atheists rage at the lack of cessation or material rebirth. But slowly, the word spreads: you must find new gods, in a place like this.

All the other references to faith that aren't about the cults that Sin-Eaters start are relatively brief bits about people finding new things to believe in. Mostly continuing to believe what they did in life, but modified as necessary to account for the terrible purgatory they find themselves in, or switching to worship of the various powerful beings that rule the Underworld. There are also a few spots about "maybe there's something beyond this, just as this was beyond life" but it's all very much "who the gently caress knows?" territory.

EDIT: I think something that can help explain this away, which I'm not sure is the intent, is that ghosts really are inherently bound to who they were in life. Rank 1 ghosts might recreate certain sounds important to how they lived and died, but they're basically trapped in reminiscence, not really capable of considering the philosophical implications of what's happened to them. Rank 2 ghosts are much more actual people, but they're still magical echoes of something much more vibrant that, at least at first, rely on remembering and being remembered for who they were before they died. There is a great deal of incentive for them to keep believing what they did.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 22:30 on Sep 21, 2019

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



Honestly the idea of hardcore athiests being upset they aren't outright destroyed on death but forced to deal with another life is hilarious.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



In fairness, the Underworld's really awful. Like, it is a terrible afterlife and 'actual oblivion' might in fact be preferable to it depending on where you end up in it.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


"HERE WE GO AGAIN" *horrible existential stuff here*

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


I mean, there are plenty of atheists who'd be thrilled with life after death, particularly one unconnected to any sort of divine being or deity or what have you.

It's just...this one...sucks.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Tormented
Part 14: Mysterious Random Assholes

So, just a quick rundown on what a qashmal is. Qashmallim are servants of the Divine Fire. As far as anyone can tell, they puff into existence in a rush of Pyros, sometimes causing a Firestorm as they do, and they exist solely to accomplish a single mission, which is encoded into their very being. They do that mission, and then they vanish. Their missions often instigate massive amounts of change, but usually via the butterfly effect - they make the minimum necessary action required to accomplish whatever change they're setting out for. Not all missions have obvious consequences, either, so it's not easy to figure out why the Divine Fire cares about any specific thing. If a mission fails, there is never a second try.

Qashmallim come in two types: the Elpidos, which are in service to Elpis, the creative or distilling aspect of the Fire, and Lilithim, which are in service to Flux, the destructive and entropic aspect of the Fire. Elpidos typically have more apparently beenvolent goals - pushing Prometheans towards the New Dawn, guiding artists, fostering creation, bringing people together and so on. They tend to be bright, fiery angelic figures, and they often display awe-inducing or revelatory powers. Of course, while their goals are to act as bringers of creation and order, they don't give a poo poo about what methods they use towards that - they have a goal and will take the most efficient method towards that goal. Lilithim spread chaos, on the other hand, breaking things down on every level - lives, societies, institutions. They can even deliberately wreck a Pilgrimage. They tend to be gross-looking, warped things of flesh and flame. Like Elpidos, though, their goals and methods need not actually be aligned - they spread chaos, but they are again going to take the most efficient means to do so as they can. Elpidos and Lilithim never acknowledge each others' existence, even when acting in the same area at the same time.

Power-wise, qashmallim come in Lesser, Greater and Arch. Lesser qashmallim are most common, their missions usually only take them a few days, and they rarely require use of overt supernatural power. They are therefore the most subtle quashmallim and may easily just not be noticed before they vanish from the world. Greater qashmallim tend to have longer-term missions or harder ones, and they tend to be more powerful. Their initial births into the world cause Firestorms, and they wield potent magical powers. They tend to take on human or animal forms less often and tend to be less subtle. Arch-qashmallim are exceptionally rare, and cause Firestorms just by being present. It is rumored that an arch-qashmal's manifestation caused the Tunguska blast, or possibly the death of the dinosaurs. Arch-qashmallim also don't appear to conform easily to the Elpidos/Lilithim split.

Oh, and qashmallim tend to follow patterns. While they only exist for the duration of a single mission, the same entities have been noted to appear repeatedly, sometimes in multiple places at once. Apparently the Divine Fire just finds a shape and personality it likes for its servants and then just keeps using it. So you can easily run into the same qashmal multiple times, even though they are distinct entities on a technical level and may or may not share any memories at all. They will still look and act the same way.


What if Good Guy The Joker?

The Rake is a Lesser Elpidos. They tend to show up in order to be mysterious and smug at people. No, really. They love to hear themself talk and believe they have an excellent sense of humor, even if others do not. Their smiles are too wide, their laughter usually inappropriate, and they tend to sing annoying Broadway songs. The Rake is, you see, fascinated by humans and trying to understand them. Their name is taken from their generally friendly nature and tendency to favor formal outfits - dark suits, sometimes waistcoats. If presenting as female, they'll wear black or dark blue suits and skirts instead. Their laugh, smile and voice come off as a kind of familiar, calming white noise. They prefer to avoid combat even against those they consider threats, asking them to leave nicely before attacking.

The Rake has dark, floppy hair and wears bracelets on each arm made from twisted leather strands. When wearing their true, non-human form, these become strands of darkness that contain pinprints of light, and their eyes become mirror-polished copper orbs. They still smile all the time, but between their lips is a fine mesh, rather like you might find on a speaker. Cameras and other technological devices can only see the Rake's human form, though it may be distorted and grainy, as if copied repeatedly, rather than its actual normal definition. The Rake always acts as though they are trying to help, usually in the manner of an eccentric detective or government agent. While charismatic and a good mimic, they never quite fit in.

The Rake's missions always see them acting to protect humans and Prometheans on Pilgrimage. They act in the form of an authority figure - a cop or investigator or some other person that will not be immediately questioned by any unsuspecting human that runs into them. They tend to mute their Azothic radiance for at least the first day of their work, to avoid drawing attention to their inhuman nature. They typically show up when outside forces threaten a human community. They only ever show up when grave danger is coming, though they are not themselves going to threaten anyone. They're more likely to point nearby Prometheans at useful avenues of investigation or reveal some key bit of knowledge that will help defend or avert harm. If this fails, the Rake may take on their true form to enter combat against the threat directly...but if so, it cares much less about any human that gets caught in the crossfire.

If a Promethean is in danger of becoming Centimanus or falling from the Pilgrimage, the Rake may appear to their throng to warn of the danger...but they never confront these Prometheans directly. They apparently are forbidden from directly eliminating such threats, unlike other dangers (such as Pandoran attacks increasing massively or alchemists performing evil experiments). Their missions seem to exclusively focus on threats to humanity and to Prometheans still on their Prilgrimage. Most of the time, they will instead try to get a falling Promethean's friends to seek answers and look deeper into the issue. Sometimes, however, the Rake does outright destroy obstacles in the path of a Pilgrimage. The main thing for the Rake is they push Prometheans to seek the truth.

The Rake is a fairly weak qashmal, and honestly could be taken down in a fight by a determined group of foes, especially Pandoran foes. They do, however, have excellent ability to hide themself, find things, encourage specific emotions and...oh, it has a Numen named Burning Coal. There's just one problem - in 2nd edition, this doesn't exist. It took me a while to figure out what the hell was going on here, but it turns out that this is a power from Pandora's Book, one of the sourcebooks for Promethean 1e that focused on Pandorans and Qashmallim. It has never been given rules in 2nd edition and does not exist in any 2nd edition book, whether Promethean or otherwise.

Whoops!

Next time: Rose and the Emerald Professor

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I'll talk about it when the review gets up to it, but there are some changes about the Underworld that make me scratch my head. I don't want to spoil anything. I do really like Geist, though, and think it's a good game all-round.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



That Old Tree posted:

This is the most direct thing I could find on a quick search:


All the other references to faith that aren't about the cults that Sin-Eaters start are relatively brief bits about people finding new things to believe in. Mostly continuing to believe what they did in life, but modified as necessary to account for the terrible purgatory they find themselves in, or switching to worship of the various powerful beings that rule the Underworld. There are also a few spots about "maybe there's something beyond this, just as this was beyond life" but it's all very much "who the gently caress knows?" territory.

EDIT: I think something that can help explain this away, which I'm not sure is the intent, is that ghosts really are inherently bound to who they were in life. Rank 1 ghosts might recreate certain sounds important to how they lived and died, but they're basically trapped in reminiscence, not really capable of considering the philosophical implications of what's happened to them. Rank 2 ghosts are much more actual people, but they're still magical echoes of something much more vibrant that, at least at first, rely on remembering and being remembered for who they were before they died. There is a great deal of incentive for them to keep believing what they did.

Thanks for the elaboration!

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Ok but the Rake is literally just 'The Doctor from Doctor Who shows up and tries to help' and that's an odd concept for Promethean to me.

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



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Prologue: Far Beyond The World I've Known, Far Beyond My Time



In their August 1928 issue, Amazing Stories featured a story by Philip Francis Nowlan entitled “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” It tells the story of Anthony Rogers, a WWI veteran who is trapped in a collapsing mine and put to sleep by strange gasses. He re-emerges 500 years in the future, where American “gangs” are fighting a war of resistance against a high-tech Mongolian empire which has conquered the world. Rogers meets up with the rebels and, using his military experience, helps them in their struggle. The story received a sequel, “The Airlords of Han”, but more importantly was adapted into a comic strip by Nowlan and artist Dick Calkins- a strip titled after its hero, now named Buck Rogers.



The strip was a big hit, and ran for decades. To his credit, Nowlan got away from the Yellow Peril aspect before too long- Rogers and his partner/love interest Wilma Deering managed a peaceful accord with the Mongol Emperor, who was more misguided than evil, and with freedom won, Buck and friends started tangling with air pirates, Atlanteans, and the Tiger Men of Mars.



This set up a certain pattern of reinvention- Buck Rogers and associated characters, like Wilma Deering, the brilliant Dr. Huer, treacherous Killer Kane, etc. weren’t tied to one specific vision of the future or one particular conflict. A 1939 serial starred Buster Crabbe as Buck, who now helped the rebels of the Hidden City in their war against “super-racketeers” who made men slaves with robot helmets, all while jetting back and forth between Earth and Saturn. The comic strip made sure to update the look and the tech with the times. What stayed consistent were the characters, the 25th Century timeframe, a general theme of a heroic army against an oppressive evil force, and an emphasis on gosh-wow future tech, from the original’s rocket pistols and anti-gravity belts to full on spaceships and jetpacks.




But let’s face it, you probably mostly know Buck Rogers because of the 1979 TV series, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” Made to capitalize on the Star Wars craze, this two-season series was produced by Glen A. Larson (who also produced Battlestar Galactica) and starred Gil Gerrard as Buck, a shuttle pilot frozen by a system malfunction and thawed out to find Earth rebuilding after a nuclear war, and under threat from the Draconian Empire. This was pure space opera, with interstellar travel and loads of weird aliens and beautiful women in skimpy outfits. Oh, yeah, and Twiki, a goofy child-sized robot with the voice of Mel Blanc. The first season was and is kinda fun in a stupid, campy, James-Bond-In-Space way, but the second season was a dramatic rehaul of the concept and a complete disaster (though the very last episode is actually kind of interesting, like a Twilight Zone script run through a goofy space opera filter.)

And that was it… until the late 1980s. In this time, the game company TSR was run by a woman named Lorraine Dille Williams. Her tenure at the helm is not well regarded, and while some accounts of just how horrible she was are maybe a little exaggerated, it’s fair to say she made a lot of decisions that didn’t pay off.

One of her ideas involved Buck Rogers. See, Williams, was- as shown by her middle name- one of the Dille family, owners of the Dille Family Trust, which held the rights to the Buck Rogers comic strip and in theory, all the associated copyrights and trademarks (this is currently under dispute BTW and it’s gonna take a while). Her idea was to license a new take on Buck Rogers for a multimedia launch, including tabletop games, computer games, comics, books, a big coffee table book of the old strips which I actually have somewhere, etc. While some have described this as “writing checks to herself” I feel this was more of an attempt at Corporate Synergy- trying to leverage what TSR had to give an old IP a new lease on life and hopefully start a profitable new line.

And at the center of this, at long last, like you’ve all been waiting for, is the game. Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century.

Released in 1990 as a big, fancy boxed set, Buck Rogers XXVc was designed by Mike Pondsmith and uses a variant of the then-fresh Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rules. Does this transportation of fantasy adventure mechanics into a futuristic setting work? Well… not really, like, it’s playable and light enough to easily figure out, but there are quite a few missteps and places where you can tell they didn’t look a lot at balance and game feel. At best it’s kinda generic.

But then there’s the setting. I’m not sure exactly who did what in creating the world of XXVc, but this was a time when RPGs were getting known for detailed settings with lots of side characters, and sci-fi settings were showing influences from 2000 A.D. and cyberpunk and all that good grotty stuff. XXVc is, as a result, a very unlikely synthesis of space opera and hard science fiction, with hints of cyberpunk and even transhumanism. It has a unique vibe, not too shiny but not wallowing in edgy darkness either. It is nicely detailed but also keeps the scope wide enough for your PCs to make a difference, with the titular hero and his friends not crushing your style. It is a desperate and dangerous time, in need of every hero it can get.

So welcome to the Twenty-Fifth Century. Space pirates roam the solar system, megacorps threaten an environmentally devastated Earth, and humanity comes in all sorts of designer packages. Have fun!

Maxwell Lord fucked around with this message at 02:49 on Sep 22, 2019

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


I found the old Buck Rogers newspapers comics online a couple years ago! They're... besides the "The Airlords of Han" story arc, actually pretty cool. I'm at least glad that "I didn't sign up for this poo poo!" was actually something people said back in 1929 (though the Mongolian soldier expressing this thought was less profane about it.)

Anyway, my first exposure to Buck Rogers was not the Gil Gerard TV series, but the Genesis game inspired by the XXVc box set, Countdown to Doomsday, which is...

.....well, it's stripped down (either from Genesis cartridge memory constraints, concessions to make gameplay easier, or both), but enjoyable, even if I can exploit bar fights to get the best equipment.

I'm looking forward to the breakdown on where things go Horribly Horribly Wrong (my guess, skills or the Scout class) but this is still one of my favorite games.

As an aside, there are two Buck Rogers RPGs, XXVc and High Adventure Cliffhangers, which was based on the newspaper comics. (It also got only one supplement ever.) I might do a writeup on that, if anyone would be interested in a poorly-selling roleplaying game from the mid-1990s.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




My first exposure to Buck Rogers was Daffy Duck as "Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half century". It was about ten years after first viewing that I figured out that it was a parody of something in specific.

Also :justpost:

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Classic sci-fi stuff has a lot of cool stuff.

I think what fascinates me the most is a protagonist who signs a peace accord with the antagonist, rather than just blowing them to smithereens. Like, it's rare you see that in a story, of any genre. It strikes me a really cool.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





PurpleXVI posted:

Classic sci-fi stuff has a lot of cool stuff.

I think what fascinates me the most is a protagonist who signs a peace accord with the antagonist, rather than just blowing them to smithereens. Like, it's rare you see that in a story, of any genre. It strikes me a really cool.
They had a lot of room to maneuver in the old days. I think some of it was because of the compilation magazines and their own market pressures. Obviously you wanted to sell, but it wasn't like one weirdo story would sink a magazine, or even an author. It had to get past Campbell the editors of the magazine, of course...

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Ah, yes, I'm of the right age for the Gil Gerard Buck Rogers TV series to have been a part of my childhood. Enough so, in fact, that... well...

The establishing shots of the city that was Buck Rogers' home base showed a big cylindrical glass building with external elevators running up and down the sides. This wasn't a set or a miniature made for the show; this was a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the Bonaventure Hotel, which I guess the production used for those establishing shots because they thought it looked futuristic.

My father worked for the Department of Water and Power in downtown L.A. when I was a child, and every year just before Christmas the LADWP had a "take your children to work day", and so he would bring my siblings and me to his office. For lunch, we would always go to the nearby Bonaventure Hotel, which decorated its lobby with white wicker reindeer for the holidays. Now, I don't remember whether my siblings and I knew the real name of the hotel, but if we did, we never used it. To us, it was always the "Buck Rogers Building".

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




No, no, I'm done for the moment. Look, work's starting again. Pretty much anything that's not looking at the bloody timetable would be appreciated at this point, but I can't really do more GM advice, can I? Hang on. Wait. You're telling me that there's..



Mean Mr. Mustard

What, you haven't heard of Alexis D. Smolensk? Or that it's an anagram of one's mad sex skill? Then perhaps you've heard of his decidently arrogantly-named blog, The Tao of D&D. No? Then perhaps you've heard of Mustard Smuggling. Yes, this is the author of the infamous blog post Seizing The Day in which he argued that rather than having PCs be drawn into adventures or discover them through cheesy narrative means, they should have to find their own opportunities in-world, with a sample suggested adventure being learning that there's a high tax on mustard and setting up an operation smuggling it into the city. I mean, I can't deny that it sounds kind of impressive as a pure world modelling exercise, but as a standard adventure? Umm. You'd have to be drat sure the players were all up for that very particular style.

The thing is, actually rereading the post, I'm not sure if he doesn't have some kind of point but it's just really not helped by Smolensk's writing style. Everything's written in first person, about "how I" might do something - but then the author finishes with "Running a world like this, as a DM, requires tremendous flexibility and a quick mind" thus paying themselves a pleasant complement. In the last paragraph, though, he implies that all he's actually saying is that the GM should adapt to what the players do instead of planning a fixed adventure in advance - which is totally the opposite of what's conveyed by the bulk of the actual post, which seems to be advocating mustard smuggling adventures as a paragon of good design.

And this is his DM advice book. This should be good.

Oh, by the way:

quote:

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form

With an e-book, that means you can never read it (possibly unless you're in Australia). Software licencing's a bitch.

Also, a heads up for the incredibly useful .epub index:



Well, that'll be nice and easy to find our topics in.

Chapter 1: Early Days is 7 pages of the author talking about his own background in GMing and how wonderful it is, with a few vague suggestions that you might do the same. This included spending hours running combats against himself. The chapter - as with every chapter - ends with a summary section called "keys to success", which in this case just says "confidence isn't enough, you need experience, so practice and experiment". Which is OK, if it wasn't for the fact that the tone of the chapter more suggests that you can never Git Gud unless you make a colossal time commitment (the author claims to have spent 11,000 hours DMing. That's a game night every night for 6 years, or 42 years with weekly game nights). While I do prefer this a bit to the "well I did an amazing game without any prep" reverse dick size wars that scare people without natural talent away, I can't think it's good to go this far and scare people without a ton of commitment away as well.

It also brings up one of Smolensk's other blog obsessions:

quote:

The rules are tools. Learn them. Keep at it until you know them backwards. Remember that the fewer role-playing game systems you play in, the less rules there are to remember and the less diluted your gaming experience will be.

Smolensk thinks that nobody should play anything except D&D. He actually compared asking a D&D group to play a game that isn't D&D as "like turning up to a baseball game and saying you don't feel like playing baseball". And it's not because D&D is the best game ever; it's because according to him all RPG rules systems are bad - yes, D&D included (he described D&D on his blog as "a lumbering hulk of cobbled-together crap") - and therefore all you can do is to learn to shore up the rules; and it's easier to do that for just one set of rules, and that might as well be D&D.

Chapter 2: The Carrot and the Donkey starts with several pages very florid prose describing how the author sets up a game session. Some choice observations:

quote:

At the start of the session, the players enter the 'theatre,' that being my living room.

If they need to tell a story about something that has happened, I must listen. However, I should not listen like a friend, but like a priest.

They are shifting from reality to fantasy. This is a process of melding, through which they reconnect with each other, and with me, after the period of separation betwene games.

A pattern will emerge that will tell me the players are ready to play.

Bear in mind that the whole book is written in approximately this style: first person, florid, focused to the point of sounding disturbing, and vague enough to sound boastful rather than instructive (what is this "pattern", oh mighty one of mad sex skill?)

What the reader's meant to do with this isn't quite clear, but we then get to something approaching a point, which is the use of curiosity to motivate players, and the suggestion that the GM shouldn't simply lay out a single target for the players to go to, but have them searching for something more abstract which can motivate all kinds of activity. Actually, I genuinely like this quote:

quote:

I came to understand that if the party is told where to go, they will go there. But if the party is told only that the destination is nearby, they will go everywhere.

There's then a section on rewards, which states that the players tend to value game-world goals and status above system-based upgrades, because of the feeling that system-based upgrades can be rewarded arbitrarily (the GM can give you as many XP as they like, after all), whereas an objective or status in the world will hopefully have a cause in the world that it can be traced to and history that the player remembers. Understandable, but very difficult and very old school. How do we do it? Oops, next section.

Participation. This begins with a statement that it's absolutely essential for all members of the gaming group to work together to support the imaginary world, because that's all that makes an RPG session endurable for upwards of five hours. A player who is not prepared to work together is being overly "autonomous" and has to be told they are wrong. Any player who makes jokes, doesn't react emotionally enough to game events, doesn't care about their character or points out that it's a game must be corrected or thrown out. Again, "scary intense" doesn't cut it. Here's another quote I genuinely like (when he's doing well, Smolensk reminds me of a Theodore Dalrymple for RPGs):

quote:

Successful wit is respectable. The difficulty with successful wit, however, is that it enourages attempts at wit, which tend to be less successful.

Division starts us nudging the grog dial upwards by discussing potential differences between players. A player should not favor one player or group of players over another - that's fine - but then there's instead this:

quote:

As a DM, I have often run my spouse as part of my party, and my daughter, so I have been occasionally accused of favoritism. I always address such accusations with the understanding that the player is probably having an off night, or that they are looking for explanations for a bad string of luck they have had recently. I will point out the instances where the accusing player was favored, as everyone receives special attention from time to time. I may also remind the player of instances where I was quite harsh to a close friend or family member. Usually, having offered a reasonable explanation, the accusation is rescinded and apologies made.

See, describing the importance of fairness and how to even out treatment of players is a good idea, but not couched in terms of how to smack down a player who complains!

Also, if a player has worse luck than everyone else, just let them because bad luck is part of life. Oh, and

quote:

The sacrifices that a character makes are imaginary - and a player that will not make an imaginary sacrifice for fear of not recieving compensation has issues with which I prefer not to play.

Aside from whether you actually mean you won't invite their issues into the game, that's.. kind of ignoring that you're a GM, not a world, and that there's a real sacrifice of time and effort involved. But hey.

But now we have the star. Chapter 3. The Players. Yes, it's a list of player categories. It's also the groggiest list of player categories you'll ever see, anywhere.

Uncomfortably, I'm.. not sure it's entirely wrong, but still..

So, as usual, we start with a section saying that actually you shouldn't categorise people and no-one fits into any single category, which is then followed by the list of categories and specific treatments for each one. Well, I can hardly hold Smolensk to a higher standard than Laws on this, but Smolensk goes a bit further by frantically denying that these are categories but instead "a set of mythical stereotypes.. that we can examine."

The Enthusiastic player is the one who just can't wait to play, and is super keen and excited about taking part in the game. Apparently only "new GMs" think that these are good players. Those with mad sex skill think that they suck.

Why on earth...? Essentially, firstly they end up being too loud and silencing the other players, and secondly they tend to flip sides very quickly if anything goes wrong, becoming actively sullen and draining the energy that the table has come to expect from them. They also tend to be too keen on novelty and short-term goals in play, breaking up larger objectives. Essentially, Smolensk thinks that enthusiastic players vaguely resemble puppies, which is grog to a ludicrous level. (But unfortunately does resemble quite a few I know..)

The Obligated player feels that they're obliged to identify and follow the DM's plan, possibly as thanks for their involvement in the game. They're over quick to trust and make friends, perhaps because of a constant drive for inclusion (yes, it says that in the book). They suck because they also feel this transfers responsibility for planning the entire game onto the DM, and thus it's the DM's fault if everything - or anything - goes wrong. Furthermore, trying to persuade them of anything different either fails (because they consider telling the player that their PC can act in different ways as just another part of the obligation) or makes them uncomfortable and they quit. However, they can be supportive and keep focus on a single topic, and "once they are settled, they are no more trouble than other players and often much easier to manage".

Yep, that's how Smolensk writes about a player category he likes! Are we doomed yet?

The Conditional player is the player who wants a particular thing and will focus their play on getting that. Everything else, including the GM, the other players, the in-character party, etc. are simply mechanics for delivering or not delivering their desired experience to them. These are presented as the rules and design lawyers, the ones racing for resolutions or guarantees of eventual in-character reward, and in parallel the over-planning and cautious players who take little action for fear of things going wrong. On the one hand, yes, I can see this for certain values of conditionality. On the other hand, pretty much all RPG play is conditional on properties of the OOC experience to some extent - "no gaming is better than bad gaming", after all.

The predisposed player is the one who's been in the hobby before and has too many assumptions. They've come in with a bunch of previous knowledge, especially in (shock horror) other RPG systems. If they don't adapt, boot them. Huh.

The disenchanted player is one that even this groggy book thinks is a grog. They've been in the hobby too long and are burned out on positive experiences. I mean:

quote:

They have fought their way through the bestiary, they've run every type of character, they've played every genre, they've been stabbed, shot, pierced, bolted, blasted, sizzled, fried, vivisected and decapitated into oblivion by every imaginable us-versus-them scenario that can be concocted. At this point, there mere process of playnig is an exercise in apathy; yet the player goes on because there remain memories of when the game was new, magical and full of unexpected twists and turns.

.. Excuse me. I'm just going to go and cry in the closet for a bit.

Anyway, you should basically not adapt too much to them and just try to run a good game through the ennui. Trying to change up things and throw in new and strange experiences results in an arms race that eventually results in a confusing campaign for everyone else. Also, the Unfortunate player is a subset of the disenchanted player, who's had amazing runs of bad luck in gaming and therefore gives up on succeeding at anything. All that can be done is to try and remind them that luck does change, but also make sure that the other players don't lay into them because of their "reputation", which they may make obvious by their behaviour even if it's not actually something they're known for.

The badly behaved player is the rear end in a top hat who wants to constantly prove themselves or their character better than everyone else by whatever measure. Tell them off. Then boot them. Ok.

The social player is the classic casual player. They're pretty much ok and there's no real reason to worry about them too much, and they're perfectly capable of being good players. The only potential problem is if one of the other players is getting massively into the emotional side of the game, in particular where danger or loss is concerned, in which case the social player might try to calm things down and in doing so ruin what the other player actually enjoys. Smolensk calls the other player "fanatical" here, which kind of implies he things this is a bit scary and weird too, but.. hey, it's actually a good point, but it's easily resolved by gently reminding the social player that the "fanatics" just enjoy playing that way and it isn't a sign of a social problem. That's.. huh. I actually like this section. In fact it's probably the best section on casual players in the books I've read so far, because it doesn't basically make excuses for ignoring them. Nice one.

The shy player is, well, just quiet. They don't expect or say much. And here again I have to give this book a round of applause for making this a seperate category to emphasise the fact that a shy player is not necessarily a casual player:

quote:

The quiet player who unobtrusively sits at my elbow, blank faced, may be anxiously dwelling upon my every word, heart beating madly, fearful at the outcome of the adventure. I can't know for sure.

The trick, he argues, is to show appreciation for the shy player's participation but subtly - in terms of body language and attention, and not too much, because that makes them uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it also contains the dreaded "a non-player character encountering the party may run into the shy player first, seperate from the rest of the party". Which can very easily result in a deer-in-the-headlights moment (heck, I've been there and I'm not normally that shy a player).

And finally, the guest. This is the other kind of social player, the one who's invited along by someone else. Oh, and yet again this book does something good in this field by being the first book to point out that a guest may not actually know what a DM is. They're more interested in the person who invited them than the DM. By raw odds, they probably won't like the game, so you have to focus on avoiding two negative results: the inviting player leaving too because the guest doesn't want to come any more, or the guest being dragged there and becoming an uber-obligated player who isn't even interested in the game world. All the same, the section basically says, don't ignore them and try to keep them welcome. So, yea, a few good insights, but almost no actual advice based on them. And then the book writes off a bunch of the respect I was starting to have for it with:

quote:

A player, any player, even one who has no interest in the game at all, is a tremendous resource. They bring to the table years of experience at role-playing.. it is only that up until now, they've been roleplaying at school, at work, with their family, with their friends and their lovers.

Deep, man. Ugh.

Finally, there's a weird section titled Every Player which is actually an attack on two more types of player - players who constantly criticize, and players who game as part of acting on a grudge against the world outside the game. Apart from those, though, Smolensk assures us that "I have a responsibility to ensure all players to feel welcome and to feel free to express themselves." He does this very well, apparently, but does not feel it necessary to share with us how.

Next time, we shall encounter Chapter 4, which is Smolensk's take on narrative play. I bet you can't wait.

lofi
Apr 2, 2018






:allears:

I am anxiously dwelling upon your every word, heart beating madly, fearful at the outcome of the book.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah





03 — Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition — Setting Basics, Part 2
:spooky::ghost: Revolutionary Ghost Utena. :ghost::spooky:

“And, like all of the living, they died.”
Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition



TAKE ON ME
As far as capstones go, death is pretty lacking. Grand or mean, beneficent or avaricious, whether you were a lazy rear end in a top hat or workaholic activist, at the end of it all waits a moment of ultimate humility and, often, pain. In a split second you’re there then: poof, it’s all over for you.

(Barring, you know, certain circumstances. :drac: :smugwizard: :cenobite: :byoscience:)

Of course even without the other game lines in the mix, we already know that’s not really true. Geist says that in fact most people can’t help but become ghosts, and it’s in that instant of tearing away, searching, reaching for more that, sometimes, something from the other side reaches back. A geist has shambled up out of the Underworld and, in pursuit of Remembrance for the life they’ve mostly forgotten, someone’s death catches their attention. They intrude. They’re here to offer a hand up, to dust you off and keep you going better than just to be a ghost yourself but to live again. And you’ll owe them. This isn’t an act of altruism, not totally at least. In someone’s most extreme moment, with a barely-glimpsed hell of shades and monsters right around the corner, the geist offers a Bargain. No one knows exactly what happens to would-be ghosts who refuse. They don’t seem to be around to let anyone in on the secret.

For those that accept, they’re Bound, to themselves and to, or by, their geist. Geists are still independent ghosts, with their own unique goals and desires twisted though they are by drinking from the Rivers of the Underworld. They’ve taken a keen interest in their Bound and tend to hang out with them a lot, seeking to draw their attention to things that resonate with them. It’s a Bargain after all, and while the Bound get to keep on living, the geist wants something in return, to unsmooth themselves of the wear the Underworld has done to them, to touch and see the living world again, to remember. And sometimes they’ve got their own business to attend to, leaving the Bound to a new kind of loneliness, an un-dead without even their savior to keep them company.

Bound tend to have some explaining to do, if they don’t just disappear into a new life. “I’m back! Boy that aortic rupture really took it out of me. All better now, though!” doesn’t tend to mollify most people. On top of that, the Bargain tends to require a lot of death resonance to be going around, so pretty often the Bound could be the victim of a serial killer, or on palliative care in a hospice. Someone’s likely to notice that you died and got better. The book doesn’t present a lot of answers here, just problems for your character to figure out.

There’s a side note that Bound used to arise in great waves during deadly catastrophes, but in the modern world the Bargain seems to be struck any old time. Some say that the immense population of humanity and its concomitant mortality guarantees enough death resonance for Bargains any place, any time. Others say “Yeah, because of all that forever war, too.” Still others think that, whether chicken or egg, the Underworld is bloating and getting ready to devour the world of the living. Fun stuff.

This is why, while there’s a lot of shared and old tradition among the Bound, it’s scattered and discontiguous. There have definitely been whole societies of Bound, but they rose and fell with the deadlier times. Now that :megadeath: is everywhere, for whatever reason, and also thanks to things like telephones and the internet and internet-telephones, things are more connected than ever. Unfortunately, smartphones and the surveillance state also make it harder to keep to the shadows while you do the important work, whatever that means to you.


”Hey, how ya doin’?”

TAKE ME ON
Being Bound isn’t the same as being a Sin-Eater. You can make the Bargain and hang with your new geist pal, but that doesn’t automatically make you the protagonist of Geist. Everyone who sees the other side knows that something is seriously wrong with the afterlife, but Sin-Eaters are the Bound who decide to do something about it. Of course, what’s a revolution without friends? That’s where krewes come in.

Whatever your hot takes in life, becoming Bound puts you squarely in a supernatural environment. You see the ghosts that are everywhere and the rotting Underworld waiting for them to fall inside, and your humanity or instinct to tinker or rebel compels you to figure out how to fix it. Being as magic and the afterlife are clearly real at this point, it looks like you’re going to have to resort to religion.

That’s what a krewe is, a little religion all for you (and your friends). There have been countless krewes over the course of human history, some of them long-lasting, some of them just tiny cults that burn out as fast as their members. They take bits and pieces from “normal” religion, stuff that seemed to work even for people who haven’t been to ghostland and back, and they also pass on their own traditions, or invent entirely new ones. They take advice from other krewes, from mainstream denominations, from little out-of-the-way heresies, and even from ghosts. A grand game of telephone for the hows, whys and wherefores of dead spells.

Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition posted:

Modern krewes take all those forms and more. A mahjong group that meets weekly. A cell of DEA agents in a bust that went sideways. A fantasy football league. An after-work jazz band that always seems to meet but has never played a venue. These days, krewes can even be scattered around the world and connected with technology. Some even practice their faith openly, either as a fringe sect of a larger church, a “revival” of an old religion, or an entirely new doctrine. Even in countries where religious freedom is nominally the law of the land, though, faiths outside the mainstream (or worse, that seem “foreign” to the people in power) are often targeted for harassment, so openly religious krewes have to tread carefully.

We’ll see later in the book that krewes are comprised of more than Sin-Eaters and their geists. They include living devotees, “sensitive” or not to the weird poo poo Bound get up to, as well as friendly ghosts. In fact, the whole krewe is an important part of the game, with its own sub-systems. It really is a religion, with trappings and rituals to help Sin-Eaters do their jobs, as well as influence in the living world to uncover hauntings or canvas neighborhoods for that city councilwoman you like. And, of course, a krewe lends itself to more private character moments, and troupe play!

While Sin-Eaters’ principal activity in a game will presumably be outward-focused, starting cults or soothing and banishing angry ghosts or fighting evil ghost-kings, there will always be a lurking element of understanding your connection to your geist and just what their whole deal is. When a ghost drinks from the Rivers and swells with power, they begin to shed or bury a lot of their humanity. As a Sin-Eater’s and geist’s relationship—Synergy—grows, this proves to be just as powerful, or even more so, than the liquid horror of the Underworld. This can lead to one of the three main end-game scenarios of being a Sin-Eater, to unlock both the memory and power of your geist through Catharsis. This ultimate understanding between Bound and geist tends to be the end for a character both narratively and physically; they’ve resolved the conflicts that kept both of them here and are ready to move on to whatever comes after. There are more details and expanded options concerning this and other end-game scenarios later in the book.

Another option for the end-game, which is not mutually exclusive to Catharsis, is Catabasis: Descending into the Underworld to engage in ritual challenge against its dark gods, overthrowing them and building a better afterlife for everyone. It’s been attempted more than once in the past, and the ruins and corpses left behind are proof it didn’t work. That’s why it’ll be even cooler when you manage it yourself!

The least savory end-game option the book presents us with is to pursue the opposite of Synergy: Tyranny, and its end in Cabeiros. The Bound bullies and masters their geist, turning them into a slave. They need to find out at least a little about them in order to hurt them best, but once they have their Touchstone, they can force-feed them on the Rivers of the Underworld, to grow fat with power, then destroy the Touchstone and crack the geist’s plasm open like a bone to suck out the delicious, powerful marrow.


”Mom said it’s my turn on the X-Box!”

COMMENTARY
As you might guess from how I’ve structured my review, I’m not a big fan of how this book is laid out. (A sin to lay at the feet of all the Chronicles games, to greater and lesser degrees.) This post covers the middle part of the second chapter. Nevertheless, my most substantive complaint is definitely that this section is a little too poetic and light. There’s a lot of tone-setting without enough detail to really get across just what you’ll be doing playing a Sin-Eater. There is a fair amount of redundancy about loss and finding meaning throughout the bulk of this chapter, and even without an expanded word count I think the sections on Sin-Eaters, the Bargain and “the Carnival” (Sin-Eater society/religion) could’ve acted as a clearer introduction to the structure of the game.

But! To fresh eyes this grabbed me, and months later I still like it. You aren’t just a revolutionary of circumstance, driven to riot and overthrow simply because you’ve been left no other choice. In fact, Bound are fairly privileged in the hierarchy of the dead. The game, like all the others, has its moral mechanics to it, but fundamentally the driving force of why to play is simply that you see that something is seriously wrong with the world and want to fix it. There’s no -2 dice penalty for not agitating for change enough, because this game: a) can’t make you play a revolutionary if you don’t want to; b) can let you just have fun ghost adventures if you want to, anyway.

This may seem obvious, but many Chronicles games have serious moral dimensions to their mechanics that are meant to drive the main, intended conflict of the game. Of course, Geist does have some of that in your relationship with your geist, but as far as ghostly revolution is concerned the book is only here to encourage you to play that way, not to make it happen for you. I appreciate that, and it’s a kind of restraint that some of the other game lines could’ve benefited from to varying degrees.

Next Up: Let’s get the chapter fiction out of the way because it’s already written up and the character creation stuff is going to need more time.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 06:03 on Sep 28, 2019

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

hyphz posted:



Mean Mr. Mustard

What, you haven't heard of Alexis D. Smolensk? Or that it's an anagram of one's mad sex skill? Then perhaps you've heard of his decidently arrogantly-named blog, The Tao of D&D. No? Then perhaps you've heard of Mustard Smuggling. Yes, this is the author of the infamous blog post Seizing The Day in which he argued that rather than having PCs be drawn into adventures or discover them through cheesy narrative means, they should have to find their own opportunities in-world, with a sample suggested adventure being learning that there's a high tax on mustard and setting up an operation smuggling it into the city. I mean, I can't deny that it sounds kind of impressive as a pure world modelling exercise, but as a standard adventure? Umm. You'd have to be drat sure the players were all up for that very particular style.

Unless I'm misremebering, this dude had a super-detailed, hex map-partnered, OSRified rendition of Medieval Europe for his players to goof around in. But when they declared their intentions to visit Northern Africa, a realm that Smolensk did not have research on or detailed for his campaign, threw up his hands and filled it with nothing but flesh-eating trolls.

I'm seriously curious if this book acknowledges this kind of thing as a learning experience, or touches on how much preparation is too much preparation given the unpredictability of PCs.

quote:

Chapter 1: Early Days is 7 pages of the author talking about his own background in GMing and how wonderful it is, with a few vague suggestions that you might do the same. This included spending hours running combats against himself. The chapter - as with every chapter - ends with a summary section called "keys to success", which in this case just says "confidence isn't enough, you need experience, so practice and experiment". Which is OK, if it wasn't for the fact that the tone of the chapter more suggests that you can never Git Gud unless you make a colossal time commitment (the author claims to have spent 11,000 hours DMing. That's a game night every night for 6 years, or 42 years with weekly game nights). While I do prefer this a bit to the "well I did an amazing game without any prep" reverse dick size wars that scare people without natural talent away, I can't think it's good to go this far and scare people without a ton of commitment away as well.

It also brings up one of Smolensk's other blog obsessions:

quote:
The rules are tools. Learn them. Keep at it until you know them backwards. Remember that the fewer role-playing game systems you play in, the less rules there are to remember and the less diluted your gaming experience will be.

Smolensk thinks that nobody should play anything except D&D. He actually compared asking a D&D group to play a game that isn't D&D as "like turning up to a baseball game and saying you don't feel like playing baseball". And it's not because D&D is the best game ever; it's because according to him all RPG rules systems are bad - yes, D&D included (he described D&D on his blog as "a lumbering hulk of cobbled-together crap") - and therefore all you can do is to learn to shore up the rules; and it's easier to do that for just one set of rules, and that might as well be D&D.

This is the video game equivalent of a designer who played nothing but the early Super Mario Bros. games for the past 30 years and feels qualified to advise on how to code a fighting game or first-person shooter.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 20:45 on Sep 22, 2019

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





How many American cash dollars is this fool charging for such exciting advice?

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Nessus posted:

How many American cash dollars is this fool charging for such exciting advice?

The Kindle Edition is $15.99 and it's 309 pages long.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Pounded in the Butt by my Unquestioned Accumulated Grognard Experience with its thrilling sequel, Turned Gay By The Handsome Sentient Mustard I Smuggled Into The City To Evade Taxes

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Nessus posted:

Pounded in the Butt by my Unquestioned Accumulated Grognard Experience with its thrilling sequel, Turned Gay By The Handsome Sentient Mustard I Smuggled Into The City To Evade Taxes

I think I'd trust Chuck Tingle to GM a game sooner than I'd trust Smolensk.

lofi
Apr 2, 2018






Chuck tingle would be a great gm, as long as you're OK with a very specific style of play.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




lofi posted:

Chuck tingle would be a great gm, as long as you're OK with a very specific style of play.

Chuck Tingle should be running the Tingleverse RPG, of course.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





lofi posted:

Chuck tingle would be a great gm, as long as you're OK with a very specific style of play.
Roll +Tingle.

On a 6- you are shaking and drooling. Take one forward, but you do not accept that love is real.
On a 7-9 you accept love is real but must choose one consequence of this:
* Translated to another timeline
* You draw the attention of Ted Cobbler or his minions
* Mark off 1 chocolate milk
On a 10+ you accept love is real. You may choose one consequence from the 7-9 table and immediately become Hot to Trot.

golden bubble
Jun 3, 2011

yospos



Traditional RPGs have boundaries. Tingle has Not Pounded At The Last Second Because Consent Can Be Given And Revoked At Any Moment And This Is A Wonderful Thing That’s Important To Understand

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007






Chuck Tingle may be the greatest hero of our generation.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply