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mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


Gonna admit that I haven't been following the entire writeup but the answer is always Baba Yaga

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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!


I missed a couple of posts I think but GHOST WITH A SHOTGUN and VOLTRON MUMMY have my attention.

Darth Various
Oct 23, 2010


Night10194 posted:

Extremely. Back in Baldur's Gate 2, you either won or you lost basically immediately, because if you were shielded or made the saves they were easy to slice in half.

Or send in a (mindless) Mordenkainen's Sword and wait for the screaming to stop.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Gimme a pissed off snake assassin who is pissed off they just constantly collect supernatural curses. Can't swing a dead cat without invoking another blood curse.

Slimnoid
Sep 6, 2012

Does that mean I don't get the job?


PurpleXVI posted:

The origin of Illithids is left intentionally vague, to allow GM's to slot them into their gameworlds in an appropriate way. It's suggested that they might have been explorers into the Far Realms or the time before time which were twisted and warped by those regions into something unrecognizable(which would account for their tadpoles being so compatible with human-sized sapient mammals), that they were travellers from some other universe that travelled unfathomably far and crashed on a known world, or that they were created by a spiteful Ilsensine at the dawn of time alongside the other races.

There's also the theory (presented in 3.5's Lords of Madness) that Illithids are time-travelers from the distant future, right around the heat death of the universe. They'd conquered everything, all the suns were extinguished, but now their entire empire and race was about to die because existence itself was going to fall in on itself. So, they figure, just travel to the past and start over!

This doesn't work out very well for them, obviously.

This ties in with that bit of lore about Aboleths having no memory at all of the Illithids. Aboleths having a perfect genetic memory of every other previous Aboleth and their memories, and have existed since before the gods existed--but illithids? They have no idea where the hell they came from. One day they just appeared. And that terrifies the Aboleths.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Ghost saboteur. It's amazing what you can do with nothing but a few grams of smouldering match and the knowledge of where people keep their gunpowder...

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Make a Mongrel who is actually worth the trouble. Really break the rules, light as they may be, over your knee.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Ghost with two pistols.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

PurpleXVI posted:

I missed a couple of posts I think but GHOST WITH A SHOTGUN and VOLTRON MUMMY have my attention.

That’s a pretty impressive feat, given that I’ve posted three :v:. I leapt into the fiction this time, which I don’t usually do. In retrospect, probably should have whipped up a more thorough first post but c’est la vie.

I’ll probably be making two characters at various points in the process to show off how a couple subsystems work. Because I have something in mind thematically, one of them will be a Mummy with a Mummy-restricted Edge that lets them reconfigure their sarcophagus armor into “a small boat, a complex pulley-system, a powerful lever, a drilling device, or even small cart...the options should be vast” on the fly. The other is still open, though.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



He was a used cart merchant before the war. Now a serpentman, he lends his leadership abilities to a guerilla army fighting the witch Gi'jos.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



And know you know, and knowing is half of spell casting

8one6
May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!



Slimnoid posted:

There's also the theory (presented in 3.5's Lords of Madness) that Illithids are time-travelers from the distant future, right around the heat death of the universe. They'd conquered everything, all the suns were extinguished, but now their entire empire and race was about to die because existence itself was going to fall in on itself. So, they figure, just travel to the past and start over!

This doesn't work out very well for them, obviously.

This ties in with that bit of lore about Aboleths having no memory at all of the Illithids. Aboleths having a perfect genetic memory of every other previous Aboleth and their memories, and have existed since before the gods existed--but illithids? They have no idea where the hell they came from. One day they just appeared. And that terrifies the Aboleths.

This is one of my favorite bits of D&D lore.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I just want to know about how/why the characters feel wrong.

Not gonna lie, having Probably Vampires and Just Werewolves among the number feels boring.

Comstar
Apr 20, 2007

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Princess Celestia


Slimnoid posted:

There's also the theory (presented in 3.5's Lords of Madness) that Illithids are time-travelers from the distant future, right around the heat death of the universe. They'd conquered everything, all the suns were extinguished, but now their entire empire and race was about to die because existence itself was going to fall in on itself. So, they figure, just travel to the past and start over!

This doesn't work out very well for them, obviously.

Spelljammer had a much less interesting background that were just mutants who loved underground until the planet they were on blew up (I think they might have done that?) in the The Astromundi Cluste. A boxed set so successful it killed the Spelljammer universe :(

quote:

However, it's the mind flayers who get the most notable attention, and that's because the Astromundi Cluster is claimed as their home. They're said to be mutant humans, who then evolved into the illithid species. However, this doesn't match the history of mind flayers found in other supplements. In fact, The Illithiad (1998) goes out of its way to decanonize it, saying: "other scholars have pointed out 'suspect' sections of the Astromundi Chronicles. For instance, other sources plainly list the entity called Lugribossk as a proxy of the illithid god Ilsensine. Also, no other source has ever mentioned an individual with the name lllithid; some fanciful storyteller must have created it from 'whole cloth.' Finally, the proposition that illithids are merely mutant humans seems a rather simple explanation for a host of contrary lore — the least of which is the fact that illithids are hermaphroditic amphibians, while humans are mammals. All in all, this author looks dismissively upon the Astromundi Chronicles' claim to explain illithid origins."

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Slimnoid posted:

There's also the theory (presented in 3.5's Lords of Madness) that Illithids are time-travelers from the distant future, right around the heat death of the universe. They'd conquered everything, all the suns were extinguished, but now their entire empire and race was about to die because existence itself was going to fall in on itself. So, they figure, just travel to the past and start over!

This doesn't work out very well for them, obviously.

This ties in with that bit of lore about Aboleths having no memory at all of the Illithids. Aboleths having a perfect genetic memory of every other previous Aboleth and their memories, and have existed since before the gods existed--but illithids? They have no idea where the hell they came from. One day they just appeared. And that terrifies the Aboleths.

In Eberron, on the other hand, Illithids are simply soldiers of the Daelkyr, outsiders native to the plane of madness. They're the elite of the Xoriat armies and usually serve as officers in organized forces, but otherwise spend their time mostly underground plotting how to free their imprisoned masters. The Daelkyr consider the Illithids one of their more successful creations.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

JcDent posted:

I just want to know about how/why the characters feel wrong.

Not gonna lie, having Probably Vampires and Just Werewolves among the number feels boring.

In fairness, I’ll get to exploring the individual types later and there’s quite a bit more going on with the Vargr. The Dhampir are exactly that, though.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




If you're going to make a monster game you are required by law to make a Sexy Vampire class.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Wizards cannot cast spells while wearing

The Deck of Encounters Set Two Part 40: The Deck of Ixitxachitl and Locathah

202: River Sacrifice
The PCs run into an altar in the middle of a sea of reeds on a slow-moving river. Some people are about to sacrifice a “defenseless and unarmed” “young female elf” on it. Elven education isn’t what it used to be; back in the day every elf would have been at least a functional level 1 fighter/level 1 wizard! She doesn’t have a name, either.

Anyway the PCs are expected to fight 10 ixitxachitl that live in the river bed, who they disturb as they go through the reeds. (Unless they just fly over the reeds, because they are level 5-9 and a fly spell or some such is a real possibility.) The disturbance from this gives the ritualists a chance to leave their sacrificial victim behind and scatter. Which means that the card writer obviously doesn’t need to tell us who these cultists are, what they were trying to accomplish here, or what info the PCs might be able to pry out of them if one is captured. I assume they’re in league with the ixitxachitl?

Would have liked a little more detail on what’s going on here. I dunno. Jury?


203: Not Quite a War Band
The PCs are in some town somewhere, whatever, when the local baron seeks them out. He’s heard rumors about “an evil army gathering on the outskirts of his borders,” but sending his own troops to check it out “would be construed as an invasion of his neighbor’s territory.” OK…? So it’s not your neighbor’s evil army? In that case I’d think they’d be interested in this situation too? Anyway, the baron makes it a hard sell to the PCs if necessary.

The PCs find abandoned camps in the area but not the army. Eventually they run into a kobold war band, who parlay and say they’re part of a much, much larger force. They’re not, they’re just trying to extort money.

Eh, the local politics angle doesn’t grab me. Pass.


204: Ghost Town
It’s near evening, and the PCs are passing back through a small town that they’ve been to recently, but this time nobody is there. A few buildings have been burned down. And the lamia who’s the culprit is still hanging out, chowing down on the carcass of a horse.

I guess if you’re going for a “points of light” feel, towns should occasionally be wiped off the map by 9 Hit Die monsters. You’d think there would be enslaved villagers, though, because that’s kind of the lamia’s thing. That would also give the PCs something to fight for besides vengeance. With that addition, keep.

“If the PCs decide to avoid the city… the lamia… tracks them down and attacks them.” C’mon, why are you forcing the combat!? If they want to play it safe, let them live with the mystery.


205: Cry in the Dark
On a trail, the PCs pass an abandoned caravan. The wagons are partially loaded (with undefined stuff worth 4000 gp total), the horses are still tethered, a campfire is burning. Seems like only the people disappeared, within the last few hours.

The PCs hear cries for help off in the distance, which lead them up to a ruin (of...?) on a nearby hill, wherein the leucrotta who ate the merchant’s company attack them. I guess they left the horses there… just to make it more mysterious what happened to the people, so other travellers would be inclined to investigate?

Anyway, a pretty normal use of the leucrotta’s weird schtick. Fine. Keep.


206: Amphibious Warfare
The PCs are in a port town, afire with rumors of other settlements along the coast being attacked by pirates, or possibly sea monsters.

The characters are heading back to their lodgings late at night when they see a disturbance in the water in the center of the harbor. It’s a war party of twenty locathah coming ashore, the advance force in an invasion. They’ve got food issues and hear that there’s lots of food on land, you see.

Town invasions are fine, and a specific goal besides “be evil, kill people” is also good. I don’t like the statement that they “immediately attack the nearest target: the party members.” It’s more interesting in multiple ways if the PCs witness the leading edge of the invasion but are not forced into combat with it.

More importantly, according to the MC, locathah “are almost helpless on land,” and have to literally crawl when they’re outside of the water, so… what’s even the game plan, here? Raiding ships would make a lot more sense to me. But maybe this is just a very badly-thought out attack? Keep...?

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


I think #203 is a good card, I'd keep that one. Local politics and lying kobolds can make for some fun times.

I'd change #206 so that the land invasion party is more like the desperate losers of a tribal conflict over food resources being ousted from their territory by a different tribe of ... whatever those sea creatures are.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





If I felt like writing the backstory for 202 I’d keep it but otherwise dump it.

mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


MOTHERSHIP PLAYER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE - Part 1: Introduction


Hey FATAL and Friends, welcome to the Mothership Player’s Survival Guide.

Mothership, Page 1 posted:

Welcome to Mothership, a sci-fi horror RPG where you and your crew try to survive in the most inhospitable environment in the universe: outer space! You’ll excavate dangerous derelict spacecraft, explore strange unknown worlds, exterminate hostile alien life, and examine the horrors that encroach upon your every move. Let’s get started!
It’s Alien as a minimalist D100 OSR-like. Grimy corporate space feudalism and painfully slow faster-than-light travel, derelict spaceships and mysteriously abandoned terraforming colonies on inhospitable isolated worlds.

This game was released in 2018, and since then there’s been a steady drip of official scenarios, third party modules and fan-zines. With a couple exceptions, I’m going to stick to the content in the Player’s Survival Guide, the core rules book. I’ve heard there’s going to be a Kickstarter for a GM facing book later this year, accompanied by a rules overhaul based on the feedback they’ve gotten over the last couple years. Which is great, because I don’t think the rules in the Player’s Survival Guide are great.

This is not a game like Esoteric Enterprises, where the good parts encouraged me to fight through the clunky rules. This is a game like Castle Gargantua, which I stopped running after a couple sessions when the flaws outweighed the fun. Mothership does a lot of cool stuff, but it also trips over its own dick in several important places. Which is a shame, because I went in really wanting to like it. I’m going to give credit where credit’s due, because this is a game that’s actively being developed and I sincerely hope it gets better.

PRESENTATION
The presentation is incredibly slick. I’ll be using the PDF copy for this review, but I picked up all the physical books at Gencon, and they’re marvels of minimalist design.


We’re reading the one on the right

The book is filled with illustrations. Here are a couple from the introductory section. I’ll be posting more as we go through the text.


The cover art


Francis Bacon style man floating in space

The illustrations range from acceptable to pretty drat good. They definitely complement the rules concepts being discussed.

I think the presentation is why this game won an Ennie. It shouldn’t come as a shock that in an awards show where nobody can possibly play every game nominated, the winner is the one that looks the nicest.

In addition to the art and the design of the books themselves, the book also does a very good job communicating the themes and tone of the game. There’s no lore or setting dump, but details are scattered through the rules text. Faster than light travel is possible, but slow enough that crossing the galaxy takes months or years. Crews rarely have more than a small equity stake in their spaceships, which are mortgaged from the financial institutions of a broader corporate civilization. Nobody likes androids, but they’re the only ones who can guide a ship through hyperspace without going insane, while the rest of the crew sleeps in their cryocaps. Nothing especially profound or game changing, but it’s a good use of storytelling through mechanics. Hopefully I’ll be able to include more examples as we go forward.

Anyway, after the introductory paragraph, Mothership jumps straight into character creation. So we will too, in the next post.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

mellonbread posted:

MOTHERSHIP PLAYER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE - Part 1: Introduction

As a kid, I had a 1970s SF artbook called SPACEWRECK: GHOSTSHIPS AND DERELICTS OF SPACE that was full of pictures like this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/erice/albums/72157625487902502/with/5215948168/




It sounds like MOTHERSHIP is pretty much That Book: The RPG.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I am definitely interested to hear what's what with Mothership.

Fivemarks
Feb 21, 2015


so, for Accursed, I have one suggestion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek6JZo7pbUM

WITH THE STRENGTH OF RA!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Legions of Nagash



The Legions of Nagash, unsurprisingly, revolve around one figure: Nagash. He's a massive skeleton in bone armor, who wields a skull-tipped taff and is always surrounded by shrieking ghosts. He is the God of Undeath, the Great Necromancer, and he has been a problem for a very long time. His ultimate goal is nothing less than the death of all living things and the total and complete control of the universe as his undying kingdom. Many have tried to end him, but while he has fallen several times, he has alwa ys returned, perhaps even stronger than he had been before. Patience has proven to be Nagash's greatest ally, for his mortal foes cannot hope to outlast him.

If one were to ask, Nagash would say he commands all undead, from the mightiest vampire to the weakest skeleton. Some, he would admit, think themselves free to decide their own wills. He maintains this to be a delusion of theirs rather than truth - if he truly wanted, he could enslave any undead being. Certainly, he controls most of Shyish from his necropolis Nagashizzar, where he devours other afterlife gods for power. Power and to be alone - Nagash accepts no rival lords of death and will put up with no interference in his domain. Any that would disrupt his perfect, undying order is a thief and a traitor and will be paid in full, given time. For example - Slaanesh is marked for Nagash's "justice" in retribution for his devouring of countless aelven souls that should have belonged to Nagash, and the aelven gods are likewise marked for freeing them and rebuilding their people rather than allowing them to pass into the lands of death. Worst of all, though, is Sigmar, who stole the dead from Nagash's clutches and turned them against him in the creation of the Stormcast.

Yes, Sigmar freed him from his prison-cairn in Shyish, in the Age of Myth...but Nagash feels no gratitude. He knew even then that loyalty was only for show, a mask he could wear while he devoured the other gods of death and took over Shyish. His harvest of the realmstone called grave-sand was hidden by his shows of "friendship" and "alliance." It worked for quite a while, until the Age of Chaos came, and Nagash betrayed Sigmar, abandoning the Battle of the Burning Skies. Sigmar's rage destroyed many of Nagash's legions in that battle, and Chaos overran even parts of Shyish itself, but Nagash had thought it was the better option. (He refuses to consider any other now that the Stormcast exist, a fact that he considers retroactively proves his decision correct.)

The forces of Chaos fought Nagash's legions for centuries in the Barrow Wars. Archaon himself led the fight, pushing the Lord of Undeath all the way back to Nagashizzar and destroying his body. As he died, Nagash's Mortarchs launched a fierce and desperate counterattack, driving back the hrodes of Chaos long enough to reclaim Nagash's remains...but it was a close-run thing. The Mortarchs retreated to the cold barrows of Stygxx, chased by their foes. Nagashizzar was overrun, and its nightmare cathedrals and vampiric mausoleum-palaces were smashed. Daemons sacked Nagashizzar, leaving it a broken, burning ruin. The Great Necromancer's slow regeneration in the depths of Stygxx took centuries, and Nagash could do little but obsess over his defeat and his desire for vengeance on Archaon. It was only his immense patience that convinced him that it would be best to gather his strength and wait for the right moment, not unleashing his attack until Sigmar distracted the forces of Chaos by emerging from Azyr.

Only then did Nagash emerge from the Starless Gates and call upon his divine command of the Wind of Death, summoning up his ghostly armies and skeletal servants to fight once more. A seemingly endless horde of undead launched an all-out attack on the ruins of Nagashizzar, overwhelming them by sheer numbers. Nagash had spent those centuries building up his forces, never ceasing. Eight black keeps had been raised on his old capital, and each of the eight was torn down. Every soul within was slain or enslaved, save for the Chaos Lords that Archaon had left in charge. These Nagash crucified and hung from the walls of Nagashizzar, binding them into eternal undeath and setting their souls on fire forever to prove his reclamation was complete.

Nagash continues to rebuild Nagashizzar, plotting his consolidation of Shyish and his outward expansion. He has rejected every effort Sigmar has made at diplomacy, and instead has sent many of his agents into the lands of Order, searching for clues as to the nature of the Stormcast and how control of them might be wrested away. The city itself is being made larger and greater than it was even in the Age of Myth. Millions of skeletons and zombies work without rest, raising great walls of bone, flesh and stone, guarded by grasping hands and moaning skulls. Living slaves work alongside them, punished by pain in life and then raised once more to work when they die. It will be centuries yet before Nagashizzar returns to its former glory. Time enough.

Nagash sets his Mortarchs of Blood and Night into the Prime Innerlands and other parts of Mortal Realms to launch attacks of vengeance on those that denied his power or sought freedom, spreading his influence as far as they can. His favored student, Arkhan, is tasked to raise massive armies of skeletons and send them out to gather realmstone once more. The operation has been scaled up massively as Nagash works on the Ossiarch Bonereapers. The flying, inverted black pyramids of death are raised in greater numbers than ever before. (This book was written before the Necroquake, and as a result it is leading up to it.)

Nagash is also responsible for the Underworld side game. See, there was once a city called Shadespire, famous throughout Shyish for its scientific research and its invention of shadeglass, made from pure grave-sand processed into crysal. It had the power of capturing a soul at the moment of death, allowing them to exist forever in a sort of mirror universe, free of their physical body. They could speak through the mirror-glass to their descendants, allowing the mages, inventors and leaders that made up the Katophranes that ruled Shadespire to become a sort of undead library of knowledge for those that followed them. Nagash considers this a terribly arrogant thing for mortals to attempt, denying him his due in souls. To punish them, Nagash wrought a terrible magic that corrupted the shadeglass of the city, locking Shadespire itself into the mirror unvierse, trapped forever between Hysh and Ulgu. Now, all souls within the city would be unable to escape it, trapped forever with no hope. The ruins still stand in Shyish, and those who go too far within it are easily tumbled into the maddened, mirror-twisted world where the people of Shadespire were trapped. Escape is nearly impossible, and over the centuries, all kinds of warriors have become trapped within, fighting over and over, for they cannot truly die while within the city.

Nagash does, to some extent, overestimate his control over his Mortarchs. Queen Neferata, Mortarch of Blood, is loyal enough due to the magics on her, and quite good at spreading secret blood-cults and vampiric covens within mortal society, at least, even if she'd prefer to be free. She has seeded the Gestout dynasty of vampires in Anvilgard, has an agent in the Pale Prince of Hammerhal and commands the Sanguinary Choir hidden in Excelsis. They a re primary spies, assassins and plotters who prepare the way for the Legion of Blood's advance, using their charisma to manipulate key mortals and weakening defenses. They attack only once the armies are already behind them, for to strike before then generally ends in the vampires dying for good.

Mannfred von Carstein, Mortarch of the Legion of Night is...less loyal, but well controlled. He leads his armies in the dark of night, ambushing and slaughtering mortals wherever he finds them. He's very effective at butchering frontier towns and attacking forts, to be sure. It's just important that Nagash not ask him to do anything else, because Mannfred has been having a centuries-long temper tantrum. The fires he lit in Culchasia have et to go out, and he decimated the fortress Voltisgard and emptied out the Crowfeast Peaks. Several armies of the Free Cities have launched retaliatory hunts for him and his army, but all Mannfred really cares about is punishing the world for not being the lands he loved before the World That Was ended.

Arkhan the Black is legitimately loyal, Nagash's foremost student and leader of the Black Disciples and the Legion of Sacrament. He spends most of his time building inverted pyramids and relying on his underlings to do his work. That work is simple: find lost and forbidden knowledge anywhere it lies - tombs, libraries, armories. They are especially active in hunting through Ulgu, looking for evidence of Slaanesh's presence. Nagash has told Arkhan that he thinks the Chaos God was imprisoned there by the aelf gods, after all, and Nagash wants Slaanesh for himself. While many of Arkhan's expeditions vanish without trace, well, the necromancers always have more bodies to throw at a problem.



Next time: Shyish and the Legions

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E



Chapter 1: The Land of Morden (Other Peoples and Organizations)

In the name of transparency, I have all the little mini-sourcebooks that cover individual nations in regions called the World of Morden and I have been and will keep working information from them in. I’m not gonna cover them because it’s both too much information and not enough to deserve a follow-up review.



Morden is more than six nations; beyond their borders lie entire regions with their own cultures, features, and horrors. To the east and north lie the Darkwall Peaks, a mountain chain so massive they cast the land at their base in shadow for most of the day. Before the Witches made their way over, most avoided the mountains; they were known to be haunted by strange monsters ranging from impossible beasts to the walking dead, and the regions that bordered them built militaries specifically to hold them off. Of course, the Grand Coven came through the Peaks and obliterated those militaries as if they were nothing. The book won’t commit on what lies on the other side of the Peaks, though it implies there are Witch-ruled civilizations there; going from hints scattered through the book, there might be some England/France equivalent and maybe something like Ancient Greece, but who knows.

South of the northern parts of the range laid the Outlands, a more recently settled region divided into three small but prosperous nations: Finland Seaharrow in the West, a freezing nation of maritimers with a contentious relationship with Steppegrad; Ireland Deepshadow in the East, inhabited by a Kainenite clan exiled for suspected dark magic who retooled their land into the breadbasket of Morden; and Switzerland Riverspring, the greatest of the three, a nation of puissant warriors and expert craftsmen that nearly counted as a major nation in its own right. The Witches targeted them first and obliterated them before Morden could mobilize. Most of those who survived the invasion were transformed into the first generation of Accursed. Today, Seaharrow is controlled by a coalition of former mercenaries; Hecate and Melusine control Deepshadow through rekindled connections to the clan’s leadership; and no one controls Riverspring, as outside of a few of Sanguinara’s vampires and a single resurrected canton too many monsters haunt the countryside for resettlement to take place. I love how fantasy Finland managed to escape fantasy Russia only to fall under the control of fantasy Swedes.



To the south and west lies the Discordian Sea, an enormous, storm-ravaged ocean dotted with island chains and atolls; while once the burgeoning navies of Morden patrolled these waters, they collapsed during the Bane War and left the waters unexplored. As such, though the Sea is haunted by pirates and monsters, waves of refugees crossed it in ramshackle boats hoping to find islands to settle free of Witch control. Most died, but many founded new settlements or joined pre-existing ones, such as Port Sorrow, the greatest pirate haven in the known world. At least a month’s sale away from Morden lie the fjords of Nordheim and the Sakurada Shogunate, which in better times maintained distant but friendly trade relationships with their eastern compatriots. But mercenaries of both nations marched alongside the Grand Coven and turned to ravaging the land when the war ended, so while both peoples have tentatively reached out to resume trade relations, they find is mostly suspicion and hostility.

Beyond mundane Morden lay the realms of the Fey. Mysterious creatures who interacted with humanity just barely enough to prove their existence, they possess mysterious otherworldly powers and seem different from humanity on a basic psychological level. They strike deals granting power to humans only to break them off, often more out of misunderstanding than malice; some approached these deals with an eye towards at worst mischief, and others took pleasure in manipulating and tormenting hapless humans. The former were called the Seelie and lived in the paradisaical Summerlands. The latter are known as Unseelie and live in the inhospitable Winterlands. In ancient days, the Seelie had benevolent connections to Caer Kainen and Hyphratia. Today, none have been seen since the Great Betrayal closed off their home realm. Only the treacherous Unseelie remain.



Morden’s internal lives are dominated by the Enochian faith. Dating all the way back to before the lightning bridge, Enochianism preaches the existence of a benevolent Creator still watching over Saturnyn and emphasizes three virtues: gratitude, generosity, and diligence. Though only a few Enochians arrived with the first settlers, today all peoples in Morden (except for most servants of the Witches) follow the face in some manner. Of course, the Bane War changed the face and emphasis of the faith, but it yet survives. In fact, it remains strong enough to construct and fund the Order of St. Vitus, patron saint of redemption – also known as the Order of the Penitent, where free Accursed go to fight back.

Accursed are former humans warped by witchcraft into weapons for the Bane War. While many humans became Banes, creatures almost always unable to think for themselves, Accursed were smart and powerful enough to operate independently and intelligently follow orders. As a mark of both their curse and their status, each Accursed bears a Witchmark somewhere on their bodies: a sigil that symbolically represents information on their history, purpose, and personality that cannot be removed or hidden without some effort. Their other name, Witchmarked, comes from those sigils. As a rule, the people of Morden remember Accursed as servants of the Witches, and many still are. But many have shaken off the control of Witches distracted by the ruling their new realms and now seek their own destiny. For those looking to strike back the Church created the Order of the Penitent to serve as a support structure and coordinating authority. It proved marvelously successful. While most still fear Accursed, many of those the Order have helped or saved – and even many observers watching the situation to judge the future – view the Order as the single best hope for a free Morden. Despite having only existed for a few years, the Order already shelters the majority of free Accursed and has developed dozens of factions along cultural, breed, and political line; one faction led by a charismatic Dhampir named Aaliyah even wants to find a place to build a specifically Accursed nation. But whatever the future holds, it seems clear the Accursed will likely play a vital role.



Okay, so. The fluff is done, but if I were to throw up the next part at the same time it would extend this post way longer than I like. So I’ll keep this one small and posted early. Next time, we finally moved into character creation and look at this thing from an out of universe perspective. Also I just realized I need specifically both a Golem and a Mummy to show off those Witchbreeds’ specific interactions with the subsystem so I’ll have to twist any suggestions in the thread to include one of them. e: vote closed.

Falconier111 fucked around with this message at 00:48 on Aug 20, 2020

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


Mothership is a beautiful book but I'm not convinced it's a great game (and I say this as someone who liked the game enough to publish a free mini-supplement for it!) Curious to see your take on it, Mellon.

mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


MOTHERSHIP PLAYER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE - Part 2: Character Creation


Welcome back to Mothership. In this update, we’re looking at the character creation rules.

Character creation is the best designed system in Mothership. It combines randomness, meaningful decisions and flavor in a process that takes a few minutes to execute and fits on a single page. I can think of many games that could learn a lot from the Mothership character sheet.

Go read it and come back to the thread.

Here it is again as a .png, just in case you didn’t.



I could kill this update right here, and you’d have 90% of how character creation works.

Just because I love the character sheet does not mean I love everything on it. I have beef with the skill system. I have beefs with the classes and the saving throws. But the sheet itself serving as a flowchart for character creation, and the system being streamlined enough to allow this, is a very good design.

(The one flaw with the sheet is that the version on the Tuesday Knight Games site is only printable if you have borderless printing. Cost of cramming every inch of page space with information)

Let’s chew through the process, then make a couple sample characters and see how we look.

STATS
You’ve got four of ‘em. Strength, Speed, Intellect and Combat. You roll 6D10 for each of them to get the base ratings. That means a rating of 30 is about average.

The book puts character creation before the rules explanation, so what all these stats actually do will be explained in a later update. Suffice to say for now that I like the four stat spread. I think the “canonical” six attributes are redundant. Four is a good number for offering sufficient mechanical differentiation, without presenting so many options that there are clear “dump stats” for characters who don’t need them.

CLASSES
Your class determines your saving throws, stat bonuses, skill points, a couple special rules about you, and your bonus XP condition.

There are four classes to choose from.
  • Teamsters are the generic spaceship crew class. Pilots, mechanics, technicians et al. They get bonuses to Strength and Speed, average saving throws, and they’re the only class that gets a positive Stress/Panic effect instead of a malus: they can reroll one failed Panic check per session.
  • Scientists are doctors, both the medical kind and the researcher kind. They get a buff to intellect, the second highest number of skill points, and whenever they fail a Sanity save (one of the game’s four saving throws), everyone around them gains one Stress as well.
  • Androids are thinking machines with humanoid characteristics. They get bonuses to speed and intellect, a handful of skill points, and a decent Fear save. The catch is, every time a non-Android makes a Fear save in the presence of an Android, they do so with disadvantage. We’ll get into what that means in the next post, but it’s not good.
  • Marines are killing machines. They get a bonus to combat, the smallest number of skill points of any class, and a good Armor and Body save. When a Marine fails a Panic test, every character around them must make a Fear save. Marines also get a bonus to their Combat rolls if there are other Marines present, representing their ability to fight as a team.
Of all the classes, the Android is the one whose special mechanics come up the most. It’s supposed to reflect how everyone finds them creepy and hates having them around. In practice the mechanical penalty is noticeable enough that it definitely elicits this reaction from the other characters. It does create a cool dynamic where the other players send the Android ahead to scout areas by itself, transmitting a video feed as it goes. Nobody wants to be around it, and it’s expendable, so send it into the dangerous room first. However, “this character debuffs everyone around him by existing” does not always produce the best results at the table. In the first game I ran, the other players dumped the Android character down a shaft when he malfunctioned, rather than bothering to fix him. While this did produce an interesting result when his severed head was “adopted” by a local death cult that found his body, I can’t see it being conducive to good gameplay for more than a session or two.

We’ll get more into the saving throws and Panic tests and so on when we hit the mechanics section.

The Marine getting bonuses to combat from other Marines is a nice touch. I know the Goblin Punch guy tried to make having multiple characters of the same class more interesting in his system by giving them bonus abilities that synergize. I wish the other classes here also had some.

STARTING SKILLS
Each class starts with points in some skills, and gets a few free points to buy more from the table. As you get further up the skill tree, upgrades cost more skill points. First 1, then 2, then 3.

I don’t love the skill system in Mothership, for reasons we’ll get into later. But the sheet offers a perfectly serviceable, easy to understand and meaningful choice for a player just trying to make a character.

STARTING EQUIPMENT
Rather than force the players to laboriously sift through a price sheet of items and spend a starting budget, before they even know what they might need, Mothership rips the bandaid off and offers a set of four starting gear packages.
  • Excavation for breaking into things
  • Exploration for surviving inside things
  • Extermination for killing things
  • Examination for investigating things
Four starting packages. All of which are clearly labeled based on their purpose. All of which ensure that you don’t gently caress yourself by forgetting to buy a crucial item, like a spacesuit or something. This is good! Every game should do this!

In addition to your starting equipment, you also get two random items, rolled on D100 tables. A trinket and, if you’re a Marine or a Teamster, a patch. We’ll explore those when we make our sample characters.

DERIVED STATISTICS

Mothership, Page 1 posted:

Fill out your Stress (starts at 2), Resolve (starts at 0), Max Health (x2 Strength), starting Credits (5d10x10), and give yourself a name (and rank if you have one). You’re now ready to play your first session of Mothership!
Simple as.

EXAMPLE CHARACTERS
We’ll start by rolling stats for our first character. 6D10 four times gives us
  • 33 Strength
  • 35 Speed
  • 31 Intellect
  • 36 Combat
With Combat as our highest stat, we’ll choose the Marine class. That increases our Combat stat to 41, and gives us the following Saves
  • Sanity 25
  • Fear 30
  • Body 35
  • Armor 40
These are values we’re trying to roll-under on a d100. So our best saves are Body and Armor.

For our starting skills, we get Military Training and three more. Let’s grab Zero G, Athletics and First Aid, since we’re counting on Teamsters and Scientists for technical stuff.

Our choice of starting equipment isn’t hard. The Extermination package gives us firepower (SMG and grenades) and protection (Battledress). This exposes a small but significant flaw in the character sheet: the player still has to reference the full rules book to get stats for their starting equipment. Damage their weapons deal, the armor their suit provides, and the effects of the other goodies have to be laboriously copied onto the sheet by hand. For now, the Battledress actually boosts our armor save by 10%, to a total of 50. That is very good, for reasons we’ll see later.

Let’s pick up a patch and trinket by rolling a couple D100s. We get some Antique Company Scrip from an Asteroid Mine, and a patch reading “Smooth Operator”.

So that’s our first character. A very straightforward blaster with strong defensive capabilities. We can think of some fluff, depending on what the campaign we’re playing is about. Maybe this marine is a deserter from an asteroid mining garrison, on the run from a murder charge. Maybe they’re a security guard hired by the company that owns the ship, to protect the crew until they can pay off the substantial investment in the vessel. Maybe they’re just a mercenary or an outlaw.

Let’s do another character, quick like.
  • 32 Strength
  • 30 Speed
  • 20 Intellect
  • 33 Combat
This is… not good. Intellect is kind of important. Our highest stat is Combat, but we already made a Marine. Let’s roll a Teamster and hope nobody notices. That buffs our Strength to 37 and our Speed to 35. It gives us the following Saving Throws as well
  • Sanity 30
  • Fear 35
  • Body 30
  • Armor 35
For our starting skills, we get Zero G and Mechanical Repair automatically, and must choose between Piloting and Heavy Machinery. Let’s grab Piloting, since our Speed is decent. After that, we get four free points to spend. Let’s keep away from thinky skills, and pick up Athletics, Driving, Scavenging and Rimwise.

For our starting equipment, let’s pick up the Excavation set. Our trinket and patch rolls give us a worn set of Tarot Cards with pyrite edges, and a NASA patch. Neat.

This Teamster probably jumped ship from a corporate operation after being repeatedly passed over for promotion, failing their engineering exam, or otherwise being stuck in a totally dead-end position. At least in the Outer Colonies, you die quickly of something exciting, instead of slowly from chronic work related illnesses.

Anyway. Character creation. It’s pretty good. Join me next post when we examine the three “S”s. Skills, Saves and Survival.


FMguru posted:

As a kid, I had a 1970s SF artbook called SPACEWRECK: GHOSTSHIPS AND DERELICTS OF SPACE

It sounds like MOTHERSHIP is pretty much That Book: The RPG.
Mothership isn't quite as colorful, but there's definitely overlap.

Night10194 posted:

I am definitely interested to hear what's what with Mothership.

BinaryDoubts posted:

Mothership is a beautiful book but I'm not convinced it's a great game (and I say this as someone who liked the game enough to publish a free mini-supplement for it!) Curious to see your take on it, Mellon.
I would concur that it's a beautiful book and not a great game. And I also wrote a couple short scenarios that I never did anything with.

From Beyond - A legendary lost research ship carrying a prototype Jump Drive just reappeared in realspace.

Umami - An orbital casava farm holds the secret to a shipment of contaminated MSG.

There was a bigger scenario that I never completed, which I used in an earlier form the first time I ran the game. I'll talk more about that when I get to the end of the review.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I wonder why they did 6d10 instead of something like 2d10+20 or 30? You'd still be pushed strongly to the 30-something average with 6d10 and outliers would be very unusual, but possible.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

This might be heresy, but I really don’t like that character sheet. Maybe it makes more sense with the book alongside it, but trying to follow all the crisscrossing arrows and sift through all the information about every class it provides and figure out what goes where is making my head spin. It’s just so busy and I feel like I’d have to hunt for information every time I consulted it. Maybe I just like my character sheets as simple as I am, though :saddowns:

MuscaDomestica
Apr 27, 2017



Looks like Illithids are going to be driving the plot to Baldur's Gate 3, they released the opening cinematic which shows one of their cool Spelljammer Ships as well as the main character being implanted with a tadpole.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hqgv0pU0EM

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019
Probation
Can't post for 7 days!


Mors Rattus posted:

Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Legions of Nagash




Figure at this point with Nagash you can never not hear:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrlymHW0qU8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2k7Jf9xO3g

Oberndorf
Oct 20, 2010





FMguru posted:

As a kid, I had a 1970s SF artbook called SPACEWRECK: GHOSTSHIPS AND DERELICTS OF SPACE that was full of pictures like this:

It sounds like MOTHERSHIP is pretty much That Book: The RPG.

There were a couple of books in that series, and there actually is an RPG based on the fluff from them. The Terran Trade Authority RPG. Haven’t read it, but did pick up a hard copy because I loved those books so much as a kid.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I'm mostly imagining the Khemri TV memes from the TWW2 stuff.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010



Does this game strictly limit you to Aliens-like scenarios, or can you do something like The Black Hole or Event Horizon or Saturn 3 with it?

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!


The Illithiad

A Darkness Gathering



Much like the Illithiad itself, this adventure chain is meant to slot into whatever setting you like, as long as it has space where you can cram in another town, as this entire introductory adventure takes place in the city of Stormport. Alternately the adventure suggests you can just cram the necessary NPC's and locations into an existing city in the setting, which might not be too hard to do. The adventure is recommended for 4 to 6 PC's of levels 7 to 9. I feel like this jives pretty well with my equating an Illithid to a 9th-level Fighter in the previous post. It's intended to initially obfuscate that the players are dealing with Mind Flayers and is supposed to let the players gather the clues they need that something fucky is up and eventually get around to stabbing some squidheads.

The Setup

So [Insert World Here] is having an unnervingly long and harsh winter this year. Spring should be kicking in by now, but it just isn't, and to make matters worse, it's almost like the sun itself is dimmer than usual, too. But that's just got to be your imagination(it isn't). You've also got sages and prophets ranting about the coming end of the world more than usual, which is kind of a downer on the mood, too. Lastly, one or more party members have a dream about standing on a cold and barren landscape as a red, dying sun rises... whereupon they witness something vast and invisible literally taking a bite out of the sun before awakening. Then, just when any reasonable group of adventurers would see a world-saving adventure on the horizon, they get a letter from an acquaintance or friend in Stormport(with the adventure providing one to substitute in if the players don't have any friends).

It's a brief note, saying to meet their friend at an inn in Stormport on a certain date as "something extraordinary is happening" and "the ranks of the Elect are swelling." So the PC's buckle on their swords, pick up their spellbooks and set out for Stormport. The place is, like the rest of the planet, suffering under the winter with icy streets and a frozen-over harbor. The PC's can roll around the streets experiencing some pointless random encounters if they please(mostly flavour, like coming across the bodies of frozen beggars, being pelted with sleeting rain, meeting a guard patrol, etc.), but the GM is good at describing how unpleasant the winter is, so they promptly roll into the "Sign of the Fair Warrior" and order up a bunch of drinks to wait for their friend.

As soon as they arrive, they note a couple of things(aside from that, the details for the GM seem to expect that the players will murder and pickpocket everyone in sight, since it even lists how much gold the inn employees are carrying if their corpses were to be looted. As a sign of things to come, mind you, it notes that the innkeeper's chest has a save-or-die poison trap):

There's a big burly barbarian sort of warrior fella harassing a weedy-looking guy over by the fireplace. Seemingly trying to goad him into a fight so he can "justifiably" kick his rear end.

There's a competent-looking female swordsman sobbing herself into a stupor at one of the tables, clearly trying to drink away her sorrows.

If they investigate the bullying... they find that what's going on is that Niall, the victim, has been aggressively proselytizing about The Elect for a while now, exhorting that someone named Master Enoch knows what's up. Apparently the True Masters are coming and for just a low, low fee paid to Master Enoch you, too, can join The Elect, those who will serve under the True Masters when they arrive! Totally not sinister at all. The barbarian, Kargan, is simply trying to annoy Niall into a fight so he can paste him and be rid of his preaching. Kargan is reasonably beefy, a level 7 Fighter, though against a full party he'll fold like a paper bag if the party decides to escalate things to violence rather than talking him down. Either way, Niall will invite the party to Master Enoch's next preaching, but if the party kills Kargan, or even just has a fight with him until he yields, they'll get the attention of the city's guards which... they do not want at the moment.

The woman, meanwhile, is Johana, and she'll share her story with just about anyone who shows her a bit of sympathy. It turns out that her brother, who'd been jumping at shadows and generally feeling very edgy and worried lately(specifically he insisted he was being stalked by something called a "psithic" which no one in the city, anywhere, will have a clue what is), has gone missing, spirited away from his room and leaving only a broken window behind. She feels extra bad because she poked fun at him for being worried and feeling paranoid just before he vanished.

If the players offer to help look for Johana's brother, she'll accompany them any time they can semi-convincingly argue that they're tracking him down. She's a level 4 Fighter, so not a huge help, but still potentially useful, especially as she'll prioritize defending allied casters and if that's not relevant she'll attempt to flank the enemy and attack them from range, rather than just diving into fights like a moron.

The players now have three choices...

A) they can go visit Master Enoch to learn more about the Elect.

B) they can attempt to track down Johana's brother, which is oddly enough the least circuitous approach to ending the adventure

C) they can resist the siren lure of sidequests and just ask the bartender about their missing friend

Master Enoch

Checking out Master Enoch seems somewhat obvious. Firstly it's obvious to even the most dim-witted person that something is not on the up and up, secondly he's preaching about The Elect and The Elect were also mentioned in their missing contact's letter. He's not hard to find, but he is hard to get a hold of. He never leaves his tower, except to stand on the balcony and preach to his crowd of Elect. So players might think it's a decent idea to show up for one of the preaching sessions and listen in. This is, in fact, a terrible idea. A goddamn awful idea. See, Enoch's Illithid handlers(spoiler, I guess, but c'mon it's obvious) have furnished him with a psionic item that brainwashes anyone who spends a whole ten minutes listening to his vapid prattle. This means that his crowds of Elect are incapable of conceiving of attacking him, and obey him without question, and the players can get imprinted like this, too. Thankfully it wears off on its own after a while, but it'll still delay the party and is kind of a dick move besides. And besides, he's explicitly vague and undetailed when describing The Great Change, The True Masters and the rewards that the Elect will reap for their faith, so there isn't even any decent intel to get there(though his vagueness should help hammer home that this is a sham).

Instead, a smart party will show up during the day and attempt to break into his tower since it's in a semi-abandoned part of town.

The only two ways in are the front door and the balcony that Enoch preaches from. Both require dispelling the magic seals or using Knock to force them if the party wants to get in. Coming in the front door immediately gets the party into a brawl with some Stone Golems and, if the party fights the golems for more than a couple of rounds, Enoch arrives while Invisible and supports his golems with spells. The golems themselves are roughly equivalent to 13th-level Fighters but able to do damage of a level that a Fighter would often be unable to. A few specific spells would shut them down, hard, but it's not super likely that the party's casters will have those memorized.

It's likely to be a TPK if the party just blunders in the front door without any idea of what they're dealing with. If the party can get in from the balcony, however, they'll more or less run right into Enoch in his study, without any golem buddies for backup. Enoch is, however, not a willing participant in the Mind Flayers' schemes. He's been brainwashed and had psionic implants jammed under his skin that render him immune to having his mind read and allows his handler, the Illithid named Shuluth, to keep tabs on him at all times. If the party presses him or gets aggressive, he fights back, but a surprised mage without backup is a dead mage. If he manages to win initiative he can do a lot of damage, and potentially teleport away to Shuluth's lair to do battle with the party later at a more opportune time, but odds are that the party will surprise him, cut his head open and alert Shuluth to the fact that someone's messing with his plotting.

And then they'll loot the place, of course.

Aside from the stuff that's worth money or has a use to an adventurer, they can also collect some Clues. Firstly, they'll notice that something non-human has been staying in one of the guest rooms(leaving purplish slime on the floor). Secondly, there's Enoch's correspondence with a "Janine" whom he has apparently been selling heads to(or more specifically, brains). Thirdly, fragmentary notes from before Enoch's conversion to an Illithid puppet that something fucky and scary is happening in the city's sewers. Lastly, they can find the corpse of Enoch's apprentice which is missing its brain.

The tower also has a couple of nasty traps. There are the golems, a shadow guardian that punches anyone who turns their back on it for a non-trivial 3d6 damage(no save), a corridor where the party gets covered in acid(which prompts item saving throws for all their gear) and if the party gets clever and tries teleporting in, anyone attempting to teleport is trapped in a mirror in the attic until the rest of the party arrives and breaks it. Oh and the lone chest has a save-or-die poison trap. Still, the loot is very good. Some rare items that allow player characters to make their own badass stone golems, and Enoch's spellbook which is jam-packed with high-powered combat spells.

It's not a bad section as such, but I'd definitely make it possible for the party to pick through the doors mundanely without magic and if Enoch was really meant to be a threat, I'd make sure he had a stone golem or two in his study, too, perhaps half-finished to make them weaker and reward a party taking the stealthy approach.



Asking the Bartender

If the party asks the Bartender if he knows their contact, he says that yeah, he's seen their contact. They were chatting with a "Janine" and making plans to meet them at a warehouse downtown.

Of course, it's not going to be as simple as just walking in and asking where their contact is, because the warehouse is the HQ of the local thieves' guild, whose leader, Janine, has been hijacked by Shuluth like Enoch was and has swapped entirely from theft to kidnapping people and harvesting their brains for Shuluth's cadre of Mind Flayers. They've mostly been targeting the homeless and drunks and have so far not aroused any official suspicion. And the thieves aren't fools. While they have no magical defenses, they've got guards on the rooftop on lookout. Any PC's climbing on to the roof and looking like they might break in will suffer a combination of backstab attacks and attempted shoves off the roof, while other thieves will sneak ahead to the ones inside to warn them that there are intruders on the way.

The front door is barred, but RAW BUFFNESS can smash it down, though this is a pretty bad idea as it A) alerts the thieves and B) forces the party into a maze of crates that the thieves have prepared as a defensible location. They use their stealth to their advantage, attacking with poisoned crossbow bolts(not save or die, thankfully, just save or eat extra damage) and backstabs before attempting to melt back into the dark interior of the warehouse to repeat the process. Even in a best-case scenario, it's very likely that the 16 thieves on defense will all manage to get off at least one attack before even being spotted, and if everyone fails their poison saves that's a total of... 32d10 poison damage(and being 5th-level thieves attacking from ambush, they are quite likely to land every hit). This is NOT an easy encounter to brute force. Mind you, it'd be tempting to just hurl in explosives and spells from the entrance to force the thieves back, but once again, the party really does not want official attention from the city guards for reasons that will eventually become apparent.

The smart thing to do is to come in from the roof which bypasses most of the thieves' defenses. Even if the thieves are roused and alerted by their rooftop guards, the players will be able to bypass their entrenched positions and engage them in a stand-up fight, which the thieves are, predictably, much less able to handle. The thieves also do not know what their boss is up to, exactly. They think Janine is just going to use the abductees for, in the module's words, "an elaborate ransom plot," rather than her executing them all and selling their brains to Shuluth. If the party can rush to Janine, disable her and reveal the plot, the thieves may be willing to let them go, since their pre-Shuluth business appeared to be mostly property-related, not violence-related.

Janine, of course, is no easy fight, since she's a cheaty fuckface. She's got Dust of Disappearance and knows how to use it. For anyone not familiar with DoD it's one of the most broke-rear end magic items in D&D since it turns you invisible... and then doesn't turn you visible again even if you attack someone. So if she's alerted to the PC's coming for her, she'll turn into an invisible tornado of backstabs. Mages won't be able to see her to target her, Fighters will have a huge malus to hitting her(on top of her already-good AC) and like the rest of the thieves she fights using poisoned weapons. Still, if the party can get her into a six-vs-one situation by barging into her office after coming in from the roof and barring the door behind them until she's dead, weight of numbers and odds will almost certainly win out. But there's good odds that any squishy casters who don't think on their feet and put up their defensive spells and back into a corner will end up gutted like fish. Oh and like Enoch, she's been stuffed full of psychic hardware that means Shuluth knows if they ice her.

Searching through her office, the party gets more clues. The first mention of Shuluth in a letter from... the captain of the city guard(see I told you the PC's didn't want to deal with that fuckface), asking her to provide more shipments. Also clear signs that Janine has not been engaging with any "normal" thieving business in a while since all her books and ledgers about those are either dusty and disused or binned. In a room behind her office they can also find her stash of severed heads on ice ready for shipping to Shuluth. She has, apparently, been literally flushing the headless bodies down the privy and no one's noticed it.



The Guards

So, the party will eventually have a reason to talk to the guards. Either they want to ask around more and figure the guards may know something. Or they'll want to report Johana's brother missing. Maybe they've raided Enoch's tower and want to get the guards to help them deal with the obvious invasion underway. Perhaps after dealing with Janine they found the letter and want to scope out the opposition. Or maybe they were idiots and got into a fight that got the guards' attention and now they want the players to help them with their inquiries.

The guards of Stormport are also absolutely not to be hosed with, since the average guard is a level 3 Fighter, their sergeants level 5 and the elite HAWK PATROL are all level 7 badasses. For comparison most campaign worlds' NPC guardsmen would be 0th-level NPC's.

The captain of the guard, Lucian, was actually an okay guy before Shuluth got his tentacles into him and, as long as it's not related to the Illithid schemes, Lucian will actually deal with the party justly and fairly, pardoning them of any crimes that he can see weren't committed out of malice. On the other hand, if they start being suspicious of what's going on, he'll coldly dismiss it, and if he learns they're on to Shuluth's plans, he'll actively name then enemies of the city and sicc the Hawk Patrol on them. He has, apparently, however, retained enough self-control to scribble a note indicating that evidence of Shuluth's activity is in the sewers below Stormport if the players rifle through his quarters.

The module is somewhat vague on when Shuluth will act, but its first move will likely be to have Lucian sicc the Hawk Patrol and the city guards in general on the PC's once they kill one or two of its agents. If they take out all four of them(we've yet to meet the fourth)... Shuluth gets serious.



The Sewers

There are four things that might point the party towards the sewers:

If they search for Johana's brother, they find weird tracks near one of the sewer grates outside his window.

Enoch's notes mention the sewer.

Janine's thief lair connects to the sewers.

Lucian's note mentions the sewers.

The sewers are, sadly, mostly uninteresting except for the quest to find Johana's brother and the eventual path to Shuluth's lair. The PC's have a couple of chances to catch interesting diseases and fight some generic sewer critters before they enter the Lair of the Pthisic. It turns out that Johana's brother was right, you see, something was stalking him. A mind-eating monster that Shuluth pulled out of Captain Lucian's thoughts. It's powered by a sinister black obelisk next to which Johana's brother is lying, still alive(the Pthisic has only eaten part of his mind), but horribly damaged. The book goes on about how he's clearly unfixable, but there are plenty of D&D spells that help reverse stat loss in some way or another(it has literally eaten his Int stat), depending on exactly which setting the GM has grafted Stormport on to. Though at least it does note that if the party attempts to help Johana care for her brother, they should be rewarded with XP for being decent people.

Of course the Pthisic, Shuluth's fourth agent, will react angrily if someone tries to bust up the obelisk keeping it in existence. Actually fighting it is a fool's gambit as it has insane combat stats. On the other hand, a concerted effort by the party may be able to destroy the obelisk keeping it alive in one round. If the party's slow to realize this, however, it's got stats that a demon lord would envy, can reflect spells back on the caster and shrugs off attacks from weapons not of +2 enchantment or greater, which the PC's are in no way guaranteed to have any of(unless they killed Captain Lucian who carries a +2 Longsword). The Pthisic is a melty-looking humanoid that bears a vague resemblance to Lucian since it was crafted using him as a template, and the party might recognize that if they've yet to cotton on to what's really going on in Stormport, perhaps if they were empathetic human beings who went to help the distraught Johana before anything else.

So, all four agents down. What happens now?

The Cyst



Shuluth gets pissed and, first chance he gets, teleports in a strike team of three tacticool Illithids in Dampsuits to psi-blast the party and attempt to kill them. Without mind blasts, it's a tough but survivable fight, with mind blasts it's almost a guaranteed TPK since the odds of enough party members weathering 3 mind blasts to still fight back against the Illithids is what I like to call "loving zilch." Assuming the PC's win out, though, they're lucky because like all incompetent would-be world conquerors, the Illithids are prone to common failings like their assault teams literally carrying maps pointing out where their secret base is(they will also happily sell out Shulhuth to the PC's if the PC's capture and interrogate one of them).

With the strike team dead, the Cyst, as the Illithid lair is called, is mostly empty and the PC's have a chance to surprise and murder the Illithid residents one by one rather than in a stand-up battle, even Shuluth has no assistance if the PC's have been stabbing his minions in the brain as they go along. If they play this right, they end up fighting only him, but if they completely bungle it, uh. They could very well be dealing with Enoch, Shuluth, five tacticool Illithids and possibly the Psithic as well, which would be as near to an unbeatable fight as it gets, especially because Shuluth by itself is enough to pose a serious challenge. See, firstly it's an Ulitharid rather than a normal Illithid, so two extra tentacles, a foot extra of height and an equivalent of two more Fighter levels worth of combat stats. On top of that, Shuluth's Dampsuit isn't just tacticool, it's also a literal suit of power armor that he can use to bend PC's into pretzels with. And just to round it out he's got knives attached to his tentacles, too. Assuming a full party of 9th-level PC's, it's not unfeasible for Shuluth till one PC every two rounds just through raw damage, not accounting for mind blasts or any other tricks.

It's a shame that only psionicists can make proper use of Shuluth's exoskeleton(I mean, sure, it may be fitted for an Illithid in theory, but nothing in the text says that PC's can't pick one up and use it, too!). Anyone can wear it as decent armor, but only a psionicist has the PSP's to boost up their Strength and Dexterity. In fact, it may singlehandedly make psionicists, the half-formed, partially-digested jellybaby of a D&D class, capable of competing alongside the rest by supercharging their base stats to make them able to do more damage than the party's Fighters, even if they can't attack quite as accurately.

Shuluth fights to the death without revealing any information, being a professional rather than hammy villain. One obvious missing thing from the adventure on Shuluth's death, though, is that it states nothing about whether Janine, Lucian and Enoch are freed from Shuluth's control when Shuluth dies. It would be nice if it confirmed it one way or the other.

Behind Shuluth's lair, the PC's finally find their missing contact. Shuluth had imprisoned them to find out how they had learned enough about the Illithid plans to start snooping about. Their contact informs the party that a mysterious presence calling itself Strom had contacted them in a dream and set them on the path to resisting the Illithid invasion. Of course, now that the party is here, Strom is about to reveal more information in... Masters of Eternal Night! Because you better believe the Illithids have their sights set on more than one town. Or even one world. They're aiming for the universe!

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


Nessus posted:

I'm mostly imagining the Khemri TV memes from the TWW2 stuff.

I really want Settra to make an appearance and gently caress Nagash up. Like just kick the ever loving poo poo out of him, because he is such a self absorbed arse. But yes, the Khemri TV sections are wonderful.

Comstar
Apr 20, 2007

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Princess Celestia


...so ah..how is the party supposed to survive this fights? The adventure sounds good enough so far.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Are there any options presented for the PCs to surgery out implants, dispel mind control and otherwise reconvert the agents?

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Comstar posted:

...so ah..how is the party supposed to survive this fights? The adventure sounds good enough so far.

Esp. if the strike team jumps in right after the party has had to death with the sever nonsense and the Psithichstk.

Josef bugman posted:

I really want Settra to make an appearance and gently caress Nagash up. Like just kick the ever loving poo poo out of him, because he is such a self absorbed arse. But yes, the Khemri TV sections are wonderful.

Nagash is a named character with a €98 model about three years old (I have forgotten when AoS came out) at this point, so that is another good thing that will never happen.

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