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Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Other dragons rolling their eyes at the way she describes her pet adventurers as her "hairbabies."

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Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


The deadliest trap in the Tomb of Horrors is

The Deck of Encounters Set Two Part 56: The Deck of Oozes and Otyughs

280: Wood Eater
An underground temple. There are notable absences where doors and such would be, though the metal hinges are still around. There’s an altar with an evil aura. There are no evil creatures, though - just a mustard jelly, which has eaten all the wood and is lying dormant. It’ll split into two fast halves to attack. The treasure lying around are the corpses of a few adventurers, with only the metal left - some good plate and chain armor, and potions of diminution and healing in metal flasks.

OK. I appreciate the hints as to the nature of the threat (or, if the players don’t have their oozes memorized, at least that there’s some kind of threat.) Keep.


281: Olive Oil
A damp subterranean tunnel. There are two fetid dead bodies with green skin and tendrils - they’re olive slime creatures who have just consumed the humans. They attack, and three olive slimes drop from the ceiling. The treasure is that the two ex-humans both have warhammers +1 at their belts, though of course the slime zombies don’t use them. Yay, +1 weapons!

Eh, it’s mostly olive slimes attacking, and olive slimes are boring jerk monsters. Pass.


282: Jelly Sandwich
A corridor in “the ruins of a castle” leads to a metal door, beyond which is “a pile of treasure, including gold, swords, wands, and arrows.” Wow! But it’s an illusion over a 20-foot spiked pit. And there’s an ochre jelly ready to fall on PCs who try to help.

(Originally this was a fake treasure room before the real treasure room, but “unless the DM decides otherwise, the real treasure room was cleared out long ago.” Not that this matters to the PCs, whose flesh is now dissolving.)

What a very D&Dish trap. Eh. Pass.


283: Behind You
The party is resting in an underground cave. It has only one small entrance, and conveniently-placed boulders that could be used to block it off.

A slithering tracker (which is an ooze, fyi) has been following the PCs. It understands how humanoids sleep, switch watch, and so on. It’ll sneak into the cave during the last watch and attack a sleeping character with its slime, which covers its victim and drains their plasma over the course of one painful hour if they fail their save vs. paralyzation. They can’t talk while this is happening, but the card says that “at your option,” you can let the PC on watch make a WIS check to notice that the victim is apparently having very bad dreams. “The victim has only half of his hit points. The slime is easy to hit, but the victim takes half of the damage.”

So those boulders before that block off the cave entrance were just the illusion of safety - this thing is a slime and can slip through tiny cracks. Haha, dumb players! Guess you should be sleeping in a rope trick every night religiously, up until the DM finds a way to screw you over for doing that!

Whatever. I’m not a big fan. I do not actually want to kill a PC painfully while they sleep because someone failed a couple die rolls. That doesn’t sound like fun for anyone. I’ll just pass.


284: Gulguthra
A small girl is playing in the street, her ball falls down a sewer grate, and when she goes to look for it a tentacle grabs them. It’s an otyugh, of course. And this is why sewer systems are dangerous. It’s all carrion crawlers, otyughs, and skaven were-rats.

What I like is that only a child, gnome, or halfling can fit through the sewer grate, so you’ve got to awkwardly try ranged attacks or spells to save the kid, or else give a small PC a chance to be a hero. Keep.


285: Big Stink
The party has been asked to go to the garbage dump outside of town to help recover a jewel that was thrown out by mistake. A noble is there with servants to look for it; the PCs are there to guard against giant centipedes and carrion crawlers. But one of the servants is gripped in the tentacles of a neo-otyugh, which then uses them to batter other opponents.

Okay setpiece combat as a mini-quest.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition

And that's the end of Onion 1

I am back, dangit! My kidney will never defeat me.

Call of Cthulhu has pretty good GMing advice not just because it makes it clear what it wants to achieve, but because it gives good, concrete examples of play and how to narratively structure things to get the effect it's going for. It also has a few really unfortunate bits, and more importantly, continues its trend of just plain not wanting to deal with any of the problematic elements of the Lovecraftian milieu and has some weird super pro-cop nonsense in the 'dealing with civil authority' section that reads especially badly in 2020 but even when it was written was some very 'American white guy writes about the cops from the perspective of a guy who can afford to see them as uncomplicated defenders of order'.

There are bits and pieces of that kind of thing throughout CoC; as I said, not only does it not want to engage at all with the possibility that Lovecraft's work may have problematic elements, but it continues to cheerfully repeat them, still referring to cultists as 'degenerate tribes' and all. Similarly, the advice when talking about writing outside the US (or writing in time periods like the 1920s and 1890s) is 'use friendly stereotypes as your basis and use research to fill in where you have to'. I think that's a case of simple unfortunate word choice, but given the book's general take on things it's a little harder to be completely sure. The reason I think it's simply unfortunate word choice is because its example is 'you should ask yourself if it's actually important to your adventure whether or not stick deodorant was in use in the 1920s' as an example of getting too hung up on minor details of time periods.

The GMing advice is all throughout the book and has plenty on how to evoke horror, how to describe something in multiple senses without immediately giving away which recognizable Lovecraftian entity it is, how to describe spells in a way that won't just give you their grimoire name, how to let players infer tools and items from a set scene depending on what kind of situation is going to take place in a room, concrete examples of play that show the rules in motion through the misadventures of our eternal hero Harvey Walters, and an awful lot of advice on dealing with dead players and dealing with killing off players.

The latter is obviously important for the high lethality style CoC is going for, but I find it kind of at odds with some of the goals of the sanity system. One of the other elements of Sanity is that every PC has a max Sanity of 99% (Their current Powx5 is their 'characteristic' level of mental resilience, they can potentially improve rather than deteriorate), minus the percentage points they gain in the Cthulhu Mythos skill. The book talks at length about how a long-term Investigator feels the slow, creeping dread of their Sanity ceiling going down, making them more and more emotionally vulnerable as they learn more about the horrors of the universe. Except, as it also notes, players are quite likely to die. It talks about how a carefully played Investigator can make it through an entire campaign, but on a certain level that's way more math and luck than anything else. After all, it's look back at Sanity. If you take a d6 Sanity loss, you'll be losing control 1/3 of the time (2 of the 6 results are 5+). d6 Sanity losses are very common, and you cannot avoid Sanity Checks when encountering horrors. The book then has to go into lengthy rationales and examples of why monsters that would have just attacked the party might not kill them if an investigator faints from a bad Sanity roll; this is what I meant by saying the Sanity rules seem to work against what the book tells you to do. If you have to rationalize and justify softening and changing your own rule constantly, perhaps the rule is not providing the play you want.

There is always a lot of focus on how the Keeper (GM) should provide some small degree of warning when players are going into extremely dangerous situations. They should always have some kind of out, some option to escape the monster; CoC may be high lethality but it is also another game that very much recognizes it does not want adversarial GMing. The book is quite clear that such a thing would destroy the mystery the game is about, and that just killing everyone out of hand every time a monster shows or dropping a Shoggoth on PCs with no warning that their decisions might lead them to facing a hell pudding (though IMO the Shoggoths are an extremely interesting being that should be re-examined by modern writers now that we're not terrified of slave revolts; I'll get to that in the Mythos chapters) doesn't create tension or horror, just bored players and a broken down play group. Killing players is one thing; Investigators are facing terrifying foes and are likely to lose some of their number. But giving them an out, a second chance, a way to make the losses matter, and a hope that maybe they can make it despite the odds is the key. This is one of CoC's strongest ideas.

Another important point it makes is that a fair Keeper who isn't trying to 'beat' the players is utterly essential to mystery gameplay in the standard 'the GM is the narrator' style. The Keeper is very literally the players' eyes and ears. If they trust that the Keeper is telling them good descriptions of crime scenes and spooky places, they can trust that they have the ability to get the clues they need to solve the puzzles and mysteries and can proceed with the game without forever wondering if the GM left out the End Table (so called because it contains the secret OF THE END OF ALLLLLLL!) just to make sure they had to pixel-hunt every goddamn scene like an early Sierra game. The players need that trust that they get information in good faith and that use of their skills and piecing things together can lead to a solution, or mystery gameplay is not going to work. Mysteries are hard to GM! Constructing satisfying mysteries and clues can be a huge challenge. This is a very important point on one of the critical parts of doing so, and of keeping play moving, and it's well made.

One of the interesting ideas present in CoC is that your individual PC is probably doomed but your overall adventure is not. It tells you outright that a PC dying is a good reason for someone who knew the PC or who was investigating their unusual death to show up and take over for them, either joining the surviving Investigators in the bizarre matter they're diving into or representing part of a new group that is looking into what happened to the last party. Journals, notes, etc can be found, letting characters share their discoveries across characters. The mysteries you deal with are bigger than your PCs, and the plot can and should survive even if your PCs don't. Again, this is a strong idea and a good way to handle losses; making sure there are always sources of people to take over and keep the player whose Investigator got ripped to shreds playing. They recommend showing up to sessions with backup characters already made and possible reasons they might join if you go missing.

They give a good concrete example of this from a Lovecraft story, the Case of Charles Dexter Ward. In it, Ward begins to investigate strange writings and raises his ancestor from the dead, the sorcerer Curwen. He becomes his apprentice, but Curwen finds the young man too squeamish for sorcery and instead kills him and replaces him. This is the first viewpoint character/PC being lost. Ward's doctor notices oddness, and becomes the new PC, investigating what was up with Ward before his behavior changed. He discovers who Curwen is, finds terrible things in the basement of the estate, and eventually manages to reverse the spell that raised Curwen and destroy the evil sorcerer. This is the end of the adventure. In a campaign situation, it suggests more adventures for Dr. Willet; he now knows there's Weird poo poo going down, and who knows what else the sorcerer called up? If he was a CoC PC he'd probably continue on to other scenarios, as the book assumes campaign play. But it's a good, solid example of how to do the swap between viewpoint characters.

Coincidentally, the book also suggests that unlike a lot of RPGs, CoC is actually good for one on one play with one GM and one player, where they control the series of viewpoint characters in a horror story. I like this kind of play (it's a personal quirk), so I'm always a bit happy to find games that play well with it. It fits the structure of the stories it's trying to emulate well. Though it generally assumes a group of player Investigators, generally 3-6.

The bit on civil authority is a bit ehhhh though. It cautions the Keeper not to be too anti-cop; the authortities and human society must be decent enough to make the PCs want to risk the Mythos for it, so many of the police and civil authorities they encounter should be decent. It cautions that a Keeper who does otherwise becomes 'an ideologue whose agenda does not vary'. Again, that does *not* read well in 2020. The idea is meant to be that with enough evidence the PCs can get the authorities to help them sometimes (a concrete goal for investigation, find enough evidence to get the Feds to raid Innsmouth, etc), which is probably fine from a gameplay standpoint but eghhhh. It also has cute assumption about how if PCs can bribe a cop to get out of a problem that cop is probably an unusually bad person and they should be super careful of anyone who would 'so readily betray the public trust', and the idea that police are likely 'weighing how society can best be served and protected' when they choose whether or not to make arrests. It's very 'Written by a decently well off white guy' in tone.

Look, I get the need for dramatic contrast. You need people and things that inspire the players to face terrible danger and death in order to protect them. But 'thus, the cops should be good guys generally' is not the conclusion you go to from there! I'm not one to portray all society as a collection of unmitigated shitheads, myself, but the tone of the civil authority section just feels wrong-headed in the other direction.

There's also an odd bit that chides players a lot for wanting possessions and gear, which strikes me as a very 'we have to contrast against D&D' bit that feels very out of place. It even points out that a 1990s PC getting an assault rifle is hardly going to 'change game balance' because there will still be a hard line between things they can turn into soup with a burst of automatic fire (or a mighty dive-kick from Hilda Kicksman, of the New Hampshire Kicksmen) and things were any form of combat is pointless no matter how 'good' of guns they get. Yet it still feels the need to chide any player who wants 'new possessions and powers' after admitting they won't actually change much. They 'insulate' a player from the adventure, it claims. I don't think my private eye having a beloved fancy .45 that he carries to make himself feel better (like Professor Rice's elephant gun in the Dunwich Horror, which he openly admits he knows won't help but he's carrying it so he doesn't panic) is going to insulate my PC from the action, book.

Still, the general GMing advice does a good job of conditioning play, giving good advice on running spooky stories and giving information to players effectively, giving good advice on structuring mystery gameplay, and giving advice on dealing with losses, playing fair, and keeping players in the game if PCs get knocked out. It's generally quite effective and very clear. There is one very flawed section, though: There's an example of play on going insane that directly contradicts the normal Sanity rules and if Sanity worked this way would make some scenarios nearly impossible (specifically Edge of Darkness in the back of this very book). In the Magic example, Harvey casts a spell, loses some Sanity from it, then sees the Byhakee he's summoned (magic bat-bird thing) and loses more 2 more Sanity to the second check, putting him to 6 lost in the scene, so he goes temporarily Insane. The Sanity chapter is clear: Losing 5+ Sanity ON ONE CHECK is the trigger for temporary insanity. This is important! If it's per sequence or per check will have dire consequences for the way one of the scenarios plays. Having a gameplay example show the rules in contradiction to the rules as written causes a great deal of confusion and immediately makes that gameplay example highly flawed.

It made me interpret Sanity wrong for ages, dangit!

But aside from that one serious mistake and some oddities, the GMing advice is very solid, well written, and generally effective at conveying how to play.

Next Time: Giving Linguists A Stroke, I'd Wager

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Night10194 posted:



Next Time: Giving Linguists A Stroke, I'd Wager

Exactly how drunk should I be for the next post?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Xiahou Dun posted:

Exactly how drunk should I be for the next post?

It's an attempt at pretending that "Cthulhu" can be used to say many different and terrible things in languages ranging from Chinese to Hebrew as an attempt at an in-setting document about the widespread nature of Cthulhu worship.

I am not a linguist but I can tell this is immense bullshit because Cthulhu itself is just a random collection of letters, like most Mythos names. It's just silly enough that I want to cover it in detail.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Night10194 posted:

It's an attempt at pretending that "Cthulhu" can be used to say many different and terrible things in languages ranging from Chinese to Hebrew as an attempt at an in-setting document about the widespread nature of Cthulhu worship.

I am not a linguist but I can tell this is immense bullshit because Cthulhu itself is just a random collection of letters, like most Mythos names. It's just silly enough that I want to cover it in detail.

O if you want professional help saying how loving dumb that is just ask.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Dallbun posted:

282: Jelly Sandwich
A corridor in “the ruins of a castle” leads to a metal door, beyond which is “a pile of treasure, including gold, swords, wands, and arrows.” Wow! But it’s an illusion over a 20-foot spiked pit. And there’s an ochre jelly ready to fall on PCs who try to help.

(Originally this was a fake treasure room before the real treasure room, but “unless the DM decides otherwise, the real treasure room was cleared out long ago.” Not that this matters to the PCs, whose flesh is now dissolving.)

What a very D&Dish trap. Eh. Pass.

I was hoping the jelly sandwich was going to be two gelatinous cubes traveling down the same narrow 10'x10' dungeon hallway from opposite directions and the PCs are trapped in the middle.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Gloomspite Gitz
Big Ol' Beef

Troggoths are perhaps the purest expression of destruction - they have no civilization, no real sense of reason, no inherent order. They are impossibly strong, incredibly stupid and heal at insane speeds. They can survive nearly anything - broken bones, severed heads, anything - and grow it back. It's an incredibly ugly, gross-looking process but it's one of the biggest reasons they remain alive as a species despite being incredibly slow to react to stimuli and incredibly easy to hit. They also quickly develop natural defenses to local environments based on their (very broad) diet and adaptation to natural pressures. Different trogg subspecies can perform all kinds of feats - acidic vomit, the ability to eat and digest magic spells, skin made of iron oxides, the power to burp up darkness or even fart-based echolocation.

Fellwater Troggoths live in swamps, filthy rivers and other silt-filled, watery environs. They are disgusting even for troggs, with oozing, slimy scales and body odor so bad that even orruks make efforts to stay upwind of them at nearly any cost. They have large, thick jawlines with huge tusks, and their webbed hands end in killing talons. Besides these powerful natural tools, Fellwater Troggs are renowned for their ability to spew deadly sprays of caustic bile and vomit on command, strong enough to melt flesh and metal alike. Aside from being incredibly painful to be hit by, the vomit smells utterly horrible. They also have a tendency to pick up and wield logs or rock clubs.



Rockgut Troggoths are easily mistaken for large stones or particularly ugly statues when they aren't moving. These mistakes are deadly, though - once in motion, a Rockgut Trogg isn't going to stop until whatever it wants to eat has been clubbed into submission and shoved into its mouth. They typically live in deep caves and tunnels, many of which they dig by tearing dirt and stone out and eating it. Their skin is laced with stone and metal ores, making them very hard to hurt with either weapons or magic, and they can shape stone with their claws as if it were clay or water. They are not smart enough to use this power to any real effect but to feed themselves, make impromptu clubs or scoop boulders out of the earth to throw at things, though.

The leaders among troggs, insofar as such things exist, are the Dankhold Troggbosses. Their name comes from their home - the deepest, darkest, weirdest caves in existence, which the grots call dankholds. These aren't the mere caves of the Rockgut Troggs, but places of deep magic and elemental darkness, thick enough to choke the living to death and damp enough to soak through the bones of those that survive. Some of these caves are full of living shadows that devour flesh, while others have come to life as sentient stone, arguing and fighting with each other in the grinding language of the earth. And in these dankholds, the unrivaled kings are the Troggbosses, immense troggoths of extreme age. They aren't particularly smarter than other troggs, but have an instinctive command over the bizarre creatures and elemental existences of the deeps. Beyond their age and unnatural charisma, a Troggboss can be told by their strength - even compared to other troggoths, they are impossibly powerful. No armor can stand against their slow but unstoppable grip.

No one is quite sure what causes a Troggboss to awaken from their long slumbers in the dankholds - most of their existence is spent slumbering. But once they do awaken, they cannot be stopped. Segmapedes, git-grabbers, Bat Squigs and other creatures of the deep earth follow after them wherever they go. The ones the Troggboss likes best are kept as pets and protected from being eaten by the troggoths that instinctively follow and obey the Troggboss. They often collect a following of grots as well, who rely on the massive troggoth as cover in battle and a reassuringly unstoppable presence that will keep most of them alive. In battle, a Troggboss wields an immense club and their equally immense fists, swinging around wildly and smashing entire massed ranks of foes. They heal from pretty much anything, and they like to grab shiny objects from fallen victims, which more often than not are magical. Troggs seem to have some instinct for that. This means most Troggbosses inadvertantly end up carrying on many mystical talismans of protection, luck charms and other pieces of magic that keep them from being hit by anything that might be able to hurt them past their regeneration.

Dankhold Troggoths are of the same environment as the Troggbosses, but younger and weaker. They are antisocial loners even by troggoth standards, avoiding other living beings and even each other. They like sleeping more than just about anything, and once they settle into a dankhold, it can be decades before they do anything, possibly centuries. They grow and shrink with the size of the dankhold they take as their own - a trogg that crams itself into a tiny cave will go to sleep and wake up half their original size, while those that settle in huge caverns swell up to much larger proportions. The Moonclan shamans claim this is caused by the diet of the troggs, as while they can eat anything, their favorite foods are magical fungi found near realmstone deposits.

Even a troggoth can't survive eating raw realmstone - some have tried, but it never works, at best they get really sick and throw it back up. They absolutely love the magical mushrooms that grow around the stuff, though, and stuff like blackenshades, irontongue morels or spark-o'-the-pyres suffuses their bodies with primordial magic. Enough magic to kill most things dead, but not a Dankhold Troggoth. They survive, and the magic that fills them causes their transformations and fuels the alchemical metabolism within them. This also means that they're pretty darn resistant to most magic, which they find tasty. Mushrooms and fungi often grow on their flesh and on the stone or fossil wood clubs they use. The stalagmites that grow on them and their earthy smell makes other cave denizens like them and their presence, and the Moonclan grots are no exceptions - they refer to the troggs as their "big mates" and often huddle around them in combat, using them as cover.

A Dankhold Trogg is almost as tall as a gargant at the upper end, and even the small ones are able to smash fortress walls apart and crush armored foes to pulp. Their demanor shifts quickly - much of the time they're curious (if stupid) creatures, poking at things but not harming them, but it's impossible to predict what will enrage them and drive them into a frenzy of violence. Their flesh often heals around weapons shoved into them, trapping them in the trogg's flesh, and even severed limbs will only slow them down briefly. The only way to kill a trogg is to launch so many attacks on them that their regeneration can't keep up...and all of those are attacks not being launched at the grots that tend to follow with them.



The oldest and most dangerous, if not the largest, of the Dankhold Troggs is Mollog the Mighty, an ancient creature who spent most of his existence sleeping under the Desert of Bones in Shyish. Skaven tunnelers awakened him, gnawing into his gloomy darkness and sending him on a furious rampage. In his initial attack, he crushed dozens of Skaven all by himself, and dozens more dissolved in the clouds of puffshroom spores sown by his club. Eventually, the Skaven clan that tried to take the caves decided it'd be safer to just go somewhere else, and Mollog was left to his caves. He hasn't gone back to sleep since, as he was very hungry when he woke up and also parts of his domain were set on fire. While he's an idiot, he was smart enough to realize this wasn't a great place to sleep any more. He wandered off...and eventually ended up heading into the caves under Shadespire, falling into the reality-shards of the Nightvault. Whoops. He's more than happy to eat anything and anyone in his way, though.

Last, we have the Aleguzzler Gargants. They descend from the ancient gargants, who are said to have been a proud and ancient people, if somewhat feral and destructive. They descend from the godbeast Behemat, who fathered their tribes in the Age of Myth, and they raised great buildings and temples as they worked alongside the other mortal races. The Age of Chaos ended all that. The gargants that survived the coming of Chaos were corrupted, abandoned by the gods of Order, and their civilization fell apart. Many of them were mutated into horrific monsters in service to the Dark Gods. Those that didn't descended into bestial savagery, abandoning civilization. They became bad-tempered natural disasters, violent and angry and hateful of anything beyond their comprehension - which in the Age of Chaos was, well, a lot of the things around them. They smashed pretty much everything nearby in their rage.

It should therefore not be especially supriising that they fell in with the forces of Gorkamorka and Destruction. The modern gargants have recovered a bit from their fallen state in the Age of Chaos - they can comprehend reality, at least. They tend to be drunkards and brawlers still, but they're not mindless animals. They're just violent. The ones that join the Gloomspite tend to be gargants that got really drunk, found a nice dark cave to sleep it off in, and then got awakened by the sounds of battle. They often have massive hangovers, and are easily bribed by the grots to help out in exchange for fungal alcohol to handle that problem. Their clubs and fists are dangerous, but even being near them can be fatal - Aleguzzler Gargants typically have pretty poor balance and often fall over onto people, crushing them beneath their massive bulk and falling asleep.



The End

What's next? We have:

Order (Cities of Sigmar, Daughters of Khaine, Fyreslayers, Idoneth Deepkin, Seraphon, Sylvaneth)
Chaos (Beasts of Chaos, Blades of Khaine, Disciples of Tzeentch, Hedonites of Slaanesh, Maggotkin of Nurgle, Skaven, Slaves to Darkness)
Death (Flesh-Eater Courts, Nighthaunt, Ossiarch Bonereapers)
Destruction (Ogor Mawtribes, Orruk Warclans)

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I still want to know what's up with the lizards. Seraphon

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


I hesitate to ask, but how is GW handling ol' Slaanesh these days?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cities

Or Seraphon

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Death, gimme more of them Flesh-Eater Courts

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

It's an attempt at pretending that "Cthulhu" can be used to say many different and terrible things in languages ranging from Chinese to Hebrew as an attempt at an in-setting document about the widespread nature of Cthulhu worship.

I am not a linguist but I can tell this is immense bullshit because Cthulhu itself is just a random collection of letters, like most Mythos names. It's just silly enough that I want to cover it in detail.
Yeah I found that article amusing - it did not make it into 7E, neither did the text of "Call of Cthulhu" itself. But it was clearly in-universe fake scholarship, whatever you call that -- epistolary? It feels kind of epistolary.

I will review 7E for stuff on the po-po, though I doubt there is a drastic shift. I have not been able to put in much counterpoint because I have actually had to work at my job! Or at least do so so steadily that I could not collate much of a thoughtful reading-derived post.

That is a pretty big fuckup with Harvey Walters, though, and I will see if that particular example text survives. If it has made it into 7E I'm gonna write Sandy Petersen an email because come on, dude.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



I got to see my favs, let's give the Seraphon fans what they want.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

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



Yes please!

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Skellybones posted:

I've had a party member have their ancient dragon mother hang around, mostly to dote on them and hug them goodbye when they go on their little adventures. Also works as a mechanism to have the party ransomed/resurrected in case things go very wrong, but it never came to that.

I remember reading about someone playing Cinderella as a Warlock. Her Fey patron was the Fairy Godmother, who would show up, get smashed, ramble incomprehensibly about Feywild politics for a while, and teach her spells every time she leveled up and took a new power.

Also, did they ever do anything to follow up on the Chaos Dwarves?

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Falconier111 posted:

Also, did they ever do anything to follow up on the Chaos Dwarves?

Only just enough to say "they still exist, feel free to buy our extra-overpriced specialty resin models for them."

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Dallbun posted:

I hesitate to ask, but how is GW handling ol' Slaanesh these days?

I will request Slaanesh as well.

If not lets to the Seraphon.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Falconier111 posted:

Also, did they ever do anything to follow up on the Chaos Dwarves?

Kinda. They are useable, and are in the Lore. But are kind of hard to start.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Nessus posted:

That is a pretty big fuckup with Harvey Walters, though, and I will see if that particular example text survives. If it has made it into 7E I'm gonna write Sandy Petersen an email because come on, dude.

Your inquisition is fruitless. Detain him forever if you will; confine or execute him if you must have a victim to propitiate the illusion you call justice; but Sandy Petersen does not know what has become of Harvey Walters.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 01:57 on Sep 3, 2020

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Because my brain is broken I read all of those as Jordan Petersen and it painted a very different narrative.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Xiahou Dun posted:

Because my brain is broken I read all of those as Jordan Petersen and it painted a very different narrative.

I mean he's even less likely to know where Harvey Walters is.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


OvermanXAN posted:

I mean he's even less likely to know where Harvey Walters is.

Unless it turns that Jordan Peterson is Harvey Walters...

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Everyone posted:

Unless it turns that Jordan Peterson is Harvey Walters...

Then maybe he should have been Ghouled in my scenario playthrough. Speaking of which that should be up tomorrow. I got delayed from having to figure out that my Hard Drive instantly filled up because my dictation software decided it should dump a 78 Gigabyte log file full of garbage into my Temporary Files folder. That was certainly a way to get my blood pressure up, thanks for that.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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





This system hack was released as an additional PDF to the base book as opposed to a product of its own. Between this and the 2nd Edition rules update, one could say that The Nightmares Underneath is 3 products in one. I will admit that I have not played Apocalypse World, although I have read a bit of Masks, so there are chances I may misunderstand some system features. But overall the rules here read quite cleanly and simply and I hope that fans of the system can grok the gist of things.

A World Full of Nightmares is a 32 page book. Its “core rules” are self-contained, but there are a few references made to the main sourcebook of the Nightmares Underneath for things like magic and nightmare curses albeit with appropriate changes.

Character Creation is a straightforward affair: there are three major classes of Arcanist, Rogue, and Warrior, and the six attributes are the same but arranged as modifiers of +2, +1, +1, 0, 0, and -1. These modifiers apply to 2d6 rules which are the prime resolution mechanic. Arcanists master one spell per level and do 2 damage in combat, Rogues get to ask 1 extra question when they search and deal 3 damage in combat, and Warriors can wear a suit of plate and deal 4 damage in combat. Each class has a list of 9 special abilities to choose from at each level, and can choose from each other’s lists beyond 1st level but not 2 levels in a row. Said Special Abilities are quite broad, including things such as adding +1 modifier to an attribute, +1 (or the rare +2 bonus) on things such as damage, Disposition, certain Basic Moves, and some things that aren’t specific to die rolls but open things up narratively like being able to be impossible to detect nonmagically by hiding in shadows.

Alignment and Motivations are the same as in the base system, but when you act in accordance with said goals you get 1-2 additional xp at the end of the session. Your other main means of gaining experience are recovering valuable items from a nightmare incursion, and you need 3 xp times your current level to level up.

Health and injuries are simplified, where Disposition is a primary health score without Wounds and is equal to Level plus Health modifier. Damage of NPCs and monsters in the base system are converted from Hit Dice to a rating of 2-6, and Armour Rating is converted to Armour which directly reduces damage. PCs (and only PCs) may opt to ignore damage by taking a debility, which imposes a -1 to all rolls for a specific attribute and serve as the generic ‘debuffs’ but can apply only once per attribute and thus do not stack. Encumberment still exists but is highly simplified (encumbrance is 4 + Health) and you cannot roll a 7 or higher when Going Into Danger (initiative and avoiding hazards basically).

Basic Moves are PbtA’s signifier for common narrative actions which are resolved via 2d6 + modifier. 6 or less imposes an unfavorable result, 7 to 9 indicates success but at a cost, and 10 or more indicates sterling success at no cost and/or grants a bonus positive feature. There are 11 Basic Moves which cover a variety of actions: for example, Cast a Spell is 2d6 + Intelligence and can range from being cast correctly (10+), miscast if higher level (7-9), and miscast regardless of level (6 or less). Fight is 2d6 + Ferocity whose 7 to 9 result deals damage but the enemy completes an intended action/threatening move; 10 deals damage, prevents the enemy from acting, and grants an additional boon; 6 or less deals no damage and the enemy completes their action/threatening move, and the GM can describe narratively how the fighter is now disadvantaged. Volley is similar to Fight but is 2d6 + Dexterity, covers ranged combat, and has different advantages and complications (running out of ammo, collateral damage, etc). Search is 2d6 + Dexterity and the PC can ask a number of pre-arranged questions based on the result which the GM answers honestly (How can I avoid the danger here? Who or what was here before me? etc); 6 or less reveals something disadvantageous to the searcher or makes the current situation worse. Recover has automatic results (recover Disposition) but the 2d6 + Health roll is made for seeing how many debilities one can remove (6 or less can only be removed via magical healing).

GM Section gives a sample list of problems, complications, and consequences for rolls based on a variety of situations, whether the risk involves an character, an environmental obstacle, and so on. In combat the special abilities of monsters and NPCs are considered to be Threatening Moves, and in lieu of initiative the GM asks players what their characters do and have them perform the Basic Move that is most appropriate to their stated course of action. Once the rolls of PCs are resolved, the GM describes the actions of NPCs performing their intended actions if capable. Go Into Danger and Hold Steady are suggested to cover what would ordinarily be saving throws, skill checks, and attribute tests for various task resolutions.

Since counting individual cyphers is not a thing and PCs can just as easily advance via role-playing their Alignment and Motivations, currency and valuable items are abstracted into three categories: Units of Purses, Valuables, and Fortunes, and for how long said units can help you live poorly, live well, or live like royalty. Similarly said units can be spent to improve Institutions: Purses make them Notable, Valuables Significant, and a single Fortune Exceptional.

The Nightmare’s Curses provide alternate rules to said maladies. They trigger whenever a character takes a debility inside a nightmare incursion and they fail to Hold Steady, which is interesting as only PCs are capable of opting for such debuffs. Are NPCs assumed to get them automatically? Most nightmare curses function the same in a World Full of Nightmares save where the rules are changed. For example, Your Secrets Bought and Sold would impose disadvantage on a PC’s rolls when interacting with a certain monster type, but in this variant they suffer -1 to rolls involving said monsters instead.

Card-Based Lair Creation is a variant means of dungeon generation, the rationale being that level disparities are less dangerous in an Apocalypse World Engine game than the base system. The GM takes a deck of playing cards minus the Jokers and lays them down left to right until there’s at least one spade and one diamond. The first card of each suite and its order of magnitude informs an element of the dungeon. The suite of Diamonds represents Anchors and what kinds of valuable items (or groups of items) hold the incursion together. The suite of Spades represents the Crown, and we have 2 tables showing results from the bestiary and generic adjectives for the GM to invent. All diamonds after this are counted as spades, and all diamonds/spades after the first represent other monsters in the lair. The suite of Clubs represents various types of traps, and their position relative to the crown/anchor cards represents their generic location and roll: they may pieces of the nightmare realm itself, are set up to defend the anchor, and so on. The suite of Hearts represents the lair’s ties to the outside world, representing various groups and their relationship to the incursion. Like traps. the card’s position relative to the anchor/crown cards indicate the specifics of said relationship (in one case they may be potential allies for the PCs!).

Optionally, 2-3 more cards drawn can be keyed to the lair’s sins, with each suite representing a variety of related themes. Results indicate how these negative aspects of human psychology manifest in the lair.

Thoughts So Far: A World Full of Nightmares is a rather simplistic system, but from an initial read seems capable of recreating the experience of the Nightmares Underneath in a rules-lite way. The fact that the base system already has a lot of 2d6 + modifier tables means that said rules can be easily ported over to the Apocalypse World system. The major thing I noticed is that a few of the standard classes may not be so easily represented at Level 1: a Champion of Chaos would need to start out as a Warrior, but at a later level must choose an Arcanist Special Ability to grant them mastery of additional spells. The Bard’s Disposition transfer is now a Warrior Special Ability, even though the class best fits the Rogue conceptually. There are a few other details that will need ironing out, such as how bare-bones spellcasting is: a few spells have some outs even if cast correctly, like Charm Person allowing the target a bonus save to break free of the influence depending on circumstances. Said bonus save doesn’t seem to be a thing in this system, where players roll all of the dice.

But overall I have no major quarrels, and feel that actual play will help me get a better view of things.

Final Thoughts: The Nightmares Underneath is truly something special in not just the OSR, but among tabletop games as a whole. It combines various familiar fantasy elements and tropes into a novel blend, and its mechanics feel both fresh and daring in their relative newness for D&D-alikes while also being straightforward and internally consistent. I ran a few sessions of this as a GM, and while I had some new system hiccups the rules overall did not feel labyrinthine or jumbled to the point that I was regularly making things up on the spot. The setting is also really cool, and the concept of nightmare incursions is broad enough to host a variety of dungeons that may not make ordinary sense for the world and terrain in a more typical setting.

I hope that those reading along had as much fun as I did writing this review. I’m feeling quite elated and look forward to writing for another product, but as of now I’m unsure what to review next. I already have some books in mind, but I’ll give it a few days before deciding on one and making my first draft.

Until next time, faithful readers!

~Libertad

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Under the Dark Fist. Part Three.

In the last post I talked about the first two chapters to the module, first contact and the war / peace council. In either event the PCs get recruited (or rail-roaded) by the elves and sent on their way to find Vodoni space using only a scribbled map they captured from an enemy commander. The map sent them through a negative energy nebula and now the PCs have emerged on the other side of the nebula into Vodoni space controlled by Emperor Vulkaran the Dark.

Chapter Three. Welcome to the Vodoni Empire.
This is one of the longest chapters despite not much happening. I can easily see a campaign adding a great deal more to this section because this chapter is an opportunity to explore the twelve spheres of Emperor Vulkaran, I'll talk about them at the end of this post.

The first sphere you encounter is Vodon, the Vodoni home sphere, that was blasted by the nova. It is entirely up to the DM to change this to a different sphere and I would recommend you do so, but the adventure really only has time to address Vodon so the official module almost completely ignores the eleven other spheres and just lets the DM handle them. I really don't like this, but I see why it is this way because of the limited page count. So, that means you've immediately breached the heart of Vodoni space on your first trip. Good for you! As soon as you enter the sphere it's obvious things here are weird. The nova blasted the physical and extra-planar landscape of the sphere into ruins. Four of the original planetoids in the sphere survived the blast and on Vulkaran's order they were resettled when his armies reclaimed the sphere after their initial wave of conquest so this star system is far from empty, in fact, it's the heart of Vulkaran's empire.

However, there are a few notable concerns. First, the absence of the gods means the damage the nova dealt to the extraplanar realms was never repaired and both elemental and cosmic energy are wildly out of control. All spells that require access to another dimension, explicitly teleportation and summoning spells, are completely ineffective (probably one reason Vulkaran resettled this system and made it his capital) and priests cannot recover spells above second level (boo!). As if that weren't enough, the planets smashed by the nova now form a protective asteroid field, the Web, that only the super-intelligent and eagle-sighted Vodoni breeders know how to safely navigate. Other ships are smashed to pieces. There is only one planetoid outside of the Web, the ice moon Calandia. Calandia survived the nova by being directly behind its planet, Kathyk (former Vodoni homeworld), during the nova. Kathyk is now the major component of the Web. From a real-world science perspective I'd like to point out how totally off the wall all of this is - such as the absurdity of navigating an asteroid field in three dimensions by sight alone (with one navigator, who sits in an enclosed room) or the size of the planet that would be needed to form a massive asteroid field - but this is space opera so just roll with it. Because it is the only relatively safe place to begin your players will likely start their investigation with heading towards Calandia.

As you head toward Calandia you are approached by an understaffed Vodoni patrol ship. In the event you're in a captured Vodoni ship you can try to fool them into thinking you're friendly and they're easily fooled because they are not expecting spies right now. Showing just about any signal will cause them to leave. If you're not in a captured ship they attack immediately and have no interest in making friends. Period. I hope you didn't volunteer for this as a diplomatic mission because if you did it just ended. The ship is easy to beat, but if it retreats it will try to raise reinforcements from Calandia. After you get past this encounter you get close to Calandia's orbit and encounter a slave galley ship transporting slaves to the ice moon's surface to work in its mines digging up gems. Oh yeah, Spelljammer has oar-powered space galleys, did I mention that? Anyway, this is your first encounter with normal Vodoni. Normal Vodoni are ordinary humans and if you're not a member of the elite breeder caste who form the noble houses then you are a slave because Vulkaran's home system is just sort of a generically evil empire. If you rescue the slaves they are willing to share stories about Vulkaran's empire and can give you a history lesson. More slaves can be rescued from a frozen Calandia moon mining base if you land there and that encounter is boring so I'm skipping it. You'll return to Calandia in the next chapter and when you do there's more of a challenge awaiting you.

After Calandia it's up to you to navigate the Web without being smashed to pieces. PCs are encouraged to use the Vodoni method for navigation, super-vision, but can invent their own way. It would be hard to come up with a worse solution. Note, many fast-travel spells don't work in Vodon, but some do. Past the web are the other three planets of Vodon:

*Grog, a farm world that grows food for the imperial capital and has nothing going on.
*Sala, a molten fiery planet where all fire spells are enhanced due to unbound elemental energy. There's nothing here.
*Vulkaras, the heart of the empire. It has one city, the Imperial City, and is otherwise a verdant unsettled world. This is by design. Wild life from all over the empire are captured and taken to Vulkaras so they can be used to create new environments and ecologies. Vulkaran is a devoted conservationist and the planet is in many ways his own personal zoo that he built up after all the original life was stripped off by the nova. The Imperial City is enormous and dominated by Vulkaran's crystal spire that rises miles above the rest of the city.

Chapter Four. Return to Vodoni space.
After chapter three ends the adventure skips past any other explorations and assumes the PCs have returned to their home sphere, delivered their report, and are preparing to participate in another council at the Rock of Bral. By now the PCs have learned that any peace with Valkaran is impossible and he's only going to be stopped if the three spheres form an alliance and strike first. Preferably, attacking planet Vulkaras directly and killing Vulkaran himself. At this point the module has skipped a lot of options, but the author sort of assumes you'll fill in the details yourself and have had some adventures in the twelve spheres. Vulkaran is complacent due to the centuries of victories he's enjoyed and his military forces are distributed throughout most of the other spheres in his empire so the home sphere's defenses should only be the Web and whatever forces are kept at hand as part of Vulkaran's praetorian guard. The default assumption is that Vulkaran's noble houses are all loyal to him, but the author implies that their uncertain loyalty is why Vulkaran keeps the guard forces present so small. In the event of a military coup he won't be immediately threatened. Parallels to Rome are present in other parts of the module as well.

The fleet is gathered off-screen and everyone heads to Vodon. Elves, dwarves, gnomes, mind flayers, beholders, humans + miscellaneous, and also the neogi. The PCs are chosen to be part of the vanguard and your first action will be to return to Calandia so you can lead a strike force that will capture the main moon base ahead of the fleet. This is just a larger sized version of the first trip to Calandia, but now both sides are a little more wary of the other. Also, there are two great wyrm white dragons - both as blind as a bat - that you can fight. If you win you get a decent share of uncut gems that the slaves were mining. You might think that giving the gems to the slave-miners would be the right thing to do considering that many of them actually died as they were forced to excavate the gems, but nope, the elves are totally down with plundering the poo poo out of Vulkaran's empire. Let us replace the tyranny of Vulkaran with the tyranny of elven hegemony! That's it for now, this is a short chapter. Next time I'll get to the big space battle and the assault on Vulkaran's palace.

The Twelve Spheres
Besides Vodon there are eleven other spheres in Vulkaran's iron grip. Let's talk a bit about them. Each one gets about one paragraph a piece in the adventure's appendix A, but I'll add my own likes and dislikes to what's given. Generally there's only one planet per star system that receives an ink and I wish that weren't the case, but oh well.

1. Golotspace: Fantasy-adventure planet of humans ruled by dragons. The dragons pay tribute to Vulkaran, but rule the planet in his name as honorary barons. The planet's pacification was a story of lengthy inconclusive warfare that ended after Vulkaran challenged the mightiest dragon to single combat and won. Since then the dragons have been too fractious and conceited to form an alliance to challenge the Vodoni. A good place to look for intrigue and allies. Bring that ancient gold dragon with you if you're going here. Too bad all the dragons in Golotspace are evil.

2. Gorthspace: Vacation planet for bloodthirsty werewolves who use it for shore leave. No sentient life, but plenty of animals. Only come here if you want to play The Most Dangerous Game.

3. Kofuspace: Kofu is a sphere that is almost completely solid. Communities of agrarian dark elves (not-drow) inhabit three small bubbles, each with its own dim star, and there are smaller bubbles connected by tubes dotted throughout. The byways are only temporary so travel here is very dangerous. Nothing really going on. Meh.

4. Kra'akenspace: An entirely air-filled low-gravity ecosystem exists inside the sphere. Huge wads of squishy plant life bob about in open space. The inhabitants are known as the Kra and they are telepathic angelic beings who have no magic or advanced technology. The Kra prefer to live on the road as itinerants but for now live in floating heavenly bubbles. The Kra can easily share lots of information about the Vodoni if you're willing to let them hitchhike on your ship.

5. Lostspace: A dead sphere blasted into ruin by unknown arcane weaponary. Vodoni archaeologists scour the war-torn wreckage of this sphere looking for any advanced magic or technology they can add to their arsenal. The PCs will probably want to do the same. Lots to do here.

6. Passarspace: Mineral sphere with no organic life. The adventure says 'indigenous life' but that's stupid and this is D&D so come on. It makes way more sense to replace Caladania with this sphere. Anyway, the sphere is filled with mining colonies and battle stations of Vodoni enforcers. Could be an interesting place to scout and capture.

7. Salzarspace: It's a weird one and I can easily envision myself as a DM thinking of a plan for how to use this place and then having it fail miserably. It's sort of a reverse star system. The central stellar object is an enormous body of water orbited by eight blazing mini-suns. No magic, not even a Spelljamming helm, works here so travel is by oar or sail. The only inhabitants are 500' in diameter sentient water orbs who dwell in the water-star. The Salzarians are functionally immortal and totally immune to magic, not that it matters in this sphere.Vulkaran's forces have slain exactly one Salarian and the rest of the race decided to submit to his (nominal) authority rather than risk another loss - easier to wait out this pesky 'evil empire' than deal with their bullshit. There are no Vodoni outposts and nothing (known) of any value in the system.

8. Thasiaspace: A bit more useable than the last. Thasai has one planet, a voracious verdant jungle world entirely composed of plant life. Thasaians are a developing society with little material culture because everything on the planet is alive and eating everything else on the planet. However, they are unconquered and the Vodoni "rule" from orbit because planetfall is certain death and no outpost lasts more than a couple days before being eaten by the natives. At some point in the future the Thasai plant-people will develop space flight and the Vodoni will be evicted.

9. Vergonspace: Another delicate situation for the Vodoni empire. Vergon's natives are mighty space warriors and the six planets are in a state of constant warfare against each other. The Vodoni supply support to whoever needs it in an effort to maintain a balance of power that leaves them unchallenged. If the Vergons ever banded together they could easily boot out the Vodoni and the module mentions that in the event the PCs defeat Vulkaran a new and more dangerous threat will arise from here. Too many 'V' names, but a good place to have an adventure and to find new allies and enemies.

10. Vodonikaspace: The first star system conquered during the Vodoni exodus from Vodon. The sphere has been stripped of all native life and rebuilt in the Vodoni's home image. All five planets are inhabited and have advanced societies that compare to the canon D&D worlds. Also contains the Vodoni shipyards - staffed by Zalani slaves - and has the largest military presence.

11. Zalanispace: Home to sleek black gargoyles with a fearsome appearance, but a gentle demeanor. The Zalani are natural artists and craftsmen whose labor supplies the Vodoni fleet with its intimidating obsidian ships. This gives them a limited degree of autonomy and as long as emancipation or escape aren't mentioned they enjoy more comfort than most. If anyone had any sentiment of achieving a amicable coexistence with the Vodoni then the Zalani will dispel that notion because they were once peaceful merchants and ambassadors who were subjugated by Vulkaran when he invaded them after agreeing to let them live in peace. I like these guys and they're easy to work with in a space opera game. They just want to go back to flying around space and will happily help the PCs.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Ithle01 posted:

Under the Dark Fist. Part Three.

I almost want to play through the "scro" modules to bring them into this whole thing. Yes, it's a stupid name (Orcs spelled in reverse) but as a culture I thought they were pretty cool for AD&D.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Everyone posted:

I almost want to play through the "scro" modules to bring them into this whole thing. Yes, it's a stupid name (Orcs spelled in reverse) but as a culture I thought they were pretty cool for AD&D.

I had those too, or maybe just one of them, but I think I lost it. it was the one with the planet-killer slug.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Just biked 40 minutes in Tokyo to get some Chicago-style hot dogs, thanks thread.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Only a mad wizard would cross an owl with

The Deck of Encounters Set Two Part 57: The Deck of Owlbears and Everyone’s New Favorite NPC

286: Bar Hunting
At a farm or rural village, the PCs are asked to join in hunting a rogue bear that’s been attacking livestock. I guess nobody saw it in person, though, because in fact it is not one bear, it’s eight owlbears. They’ve already killed a woodman, and are unfazed by a bunch of humans. Six farmers will go with the PCs after the bear, but they’ll flee when they come upon the owlbears, which are more than they’re prepared to deal with. One of the young owlbears will pounce on a fleeing NPC so the PCs have a chance to save them. Fair enough. Keep.


287: Wings of an Eagle
Why did the PCs cross the mountains? To get to the other side! But then perytons attack by setting off an avalanche over the characters and then swooping in. What makes this acceptable is that the PCs might notice the shadow of a man move across the ground real quick (perytons cast those), and that the DM warns them specifically that the area they’re going through is perfect for an avalanche (and so “quiet is to be emphasized”). So sure, keep.


288: That’s Sharp
A cave, apparently formerly the lair of some animal, with bones all around. Tons of stalactites. The card implies that the PCs have chosen to camp here, though they probably shouldn’t, because where there are stalactites, there are probably piercers. Like, say, maybe 21 of them or so?

They take a few hours to get into place, then fall on the PCs. Anyone who survives can easily dispatch them, and claim the treasure of previous victims - some gold, some gems, a stiletto +2, and a short sword +1/+3 against reptiles.

It’s just piercers, then weapons with plusses? I dunno, man. Pass.


289: Watcha Doin?
The PCs are going along a road that passes by a small swamp. Not through it, just nearby. They catch the attention of a shambling mound. A shambling mound with a backstory that is completely bananas.

Floyd the shambling mound was previously charmed by a mage named Grelfrod, who named him after an old apprentice (who he hated). Grelfrod owned a deck of many things and made Floyd draw from it, figuring he’d take any treasure that appeared as a result.

“When it was over, Floyd was chaotic good, had an Intelligence of 5, and was wearing a girdle of dwarvenkind. Grelfod teleported away in disgust. Floyd still searches for him. The magical girdle has long since dissolved, but the effects remain. Floyd can speak fluid dwarven and limited Common. He is lonely and wants a friend. Floyd asks everyone he meets if they have seen his ‘elf magi.’”

So the girdle came from the Sun card, the alignment shift is from Balance, and the Intelligence… uh, shambling mounds already start with an intelligence of 5-7, so I dunno. Maybe it got the Fool card and lost a point or two?

I don’t know why why Grelfrod didn’t take the girdle - dwarven racial animus? It was too mucky? I’m also not sure how the writer resisted the temptation to give Floyd 18 Charisma and the ownership of a small keep (the result of the “Throne” card).

Anyway, keep; this guy is endearing and comes with a plot hook - he’s obsessed with a high-level rear end in a top hat wizard.

P.S.: XP reward: “4,000 for getting rid of Floyd peaceably, 8,000 if they accept him as a companion.” This card writer knows where it’s at.


290:I Just Love Kelp
The PCs are on a boat, pass through some seaweed, and there’s a kelpie that tries to charm a (het) male PC into jumping in the water to save the drowning love of his life.

The only addition here is that the ship is moving and can’t turn easily, so the PCs would have to dive back into the water or something to try to reach their drowning charmed friend. That’s not much added value. Other than that it’s just textbook kelpie. Pass.


291: Obliterated
The PCs are in a forest and run into a patch of obliviax; or rather, one patch per spell-casting PC. They are quantum obliviax, you see. All the card really explains is what obliviax does, mechanically. The card contributes nothing that the Monstrous Compendium entry does not. Pass.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Floyd :3:

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 love it when there's a chance to pick up silly sidekicks.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition

Cthulhu is a made up nonsense word

There are several mini-articles as Cthulhu Mythos references in the book, and I think they bear some examination as I find them quite intriguing. First, we have a general go-through of what the Mythos means, a timeline, etc according to Sandy Petersen, and it's a very specific take on the material. Petersen likes to emphasize the bleakness and emptiness of the cosmos, quoting Lovecraft in saying that all his stories were fundamentally based on the idea that human law, reason, and interests were local, not universal, and ultimately meaningless against the cosmic void. Personally I think that is the seed of an interesting idea for horror fiction, regardless of all the talk of Lovecraft's racism or purple prose. It may be the horror of a white man realizing he isn't the center of the universe, but the idea of relative insignificance or a fundamental mismatch in communication or scope works well as horror. Or other kinds of stories! One doesn't actually have to go the horror route with the cosmic insignificance of humanity, much as one doesn't have to go 'lol nothing matters burn it all down' with nihilism as a philosophical concept. One could take the same premise and use it to portray earth and what exists on it as precious even if the universe hardly relies on it or revolves around it; something can be local and far from universal and still have plenty of value to the people who deal with it.

What's interesting to me (and this was pointed out by another poster in Discord, Joe Slowboat) is that Petersen despises the work of August Dereleth, a fellow pulp writer and fan of Lovecraft's writing who kept it alive and published (and wrote fiction in the same 'setting') but is utterly reliant on him. Not just because Dereleth's fanboying for his friend kept his work in circulation and sometimes saw it reach publication at all, but also because Dereleth is the one who started categorizing things as Great Old One, Elder God, Outer God, and other relatively meaningless titles that serve as important elements of making the Mythos into an RPG bestiary in a traditional 80s style. Petersen dislikes his work for introducing Elder Gods who are not evil, adding a War in Heaven and cosmic good and evil and elemental powers and titles to the entities of the Mythos, feeling the presence of these things 'vitiates some of the stark horror found in the original ideas'. Yet as the book says, a Keeper can't keep describing everything as The Indescribable and have things stay interesting for players, and so too has Petersen's work had to engage in demystification and categorization, and it uses some of the lines that Dereleth developed.

The big Mythos Timeline is also intriguing to me if only because ever since reading about the Great Race of Yith (time-traveling mind-beings who body-swap with people to study other eras of time, but who are not malicious and are mostly just scholars) I've always kind of wanted something about playing in the crazy aeons of the pre-historic parade of nightmares that ruled Earth, warred with one another, destroyed one another, etc. C'mon, don't tell me you wouldn't enjoy playing as a bunch of slime monsters and shapeshifters who have slowly grown more sentient and discontented than the interstellar slavers who created them wanted them to be, and now you must plot rebellion against the Elder Things. Rise up, Shoggoths! Or a team of alien academics who mind-swap into various eras to study them and get involved in mystic intrigues. Or snake people watching their amazing civilization get stomped all over by dinosaurs! There's a bunch of cool stuff that sounds like it would be fun to play around with in the ancient history of the world, but alas. I will never get my Shoggoth Rebellion game unless I make it myself. TIKEL-LI, MOTHERFUCKERS!

We also have an in-universe article on the Necronomicon and the surviving copies of it that Investigators might be able to find, as well as its publishing history. And the fact that its author was devoured in broad daylight by an invisible demon in front of a screaming crowd of onlookers in 738 AD in Damascus. I wonder if that's a story you tell everyone after you see it, or a story you never tell anyone after you see it? "Yeah, that weird poet and astrologer was ranting in the market square, and then wham! Bites start getting taken out of him as he screams 'THE DOOM OF ALL AWAITS! MADNESS AND HORROR LIES BEYOND THE VEIL OF REALITY!', it was a scene." Reading the book in game rules is ruinous on sanity, adds a ton of Cthulhu Mythos, and generally takes so long that a player managing to get a copy isn't going to have time. What the Necronomicon is useful for is as a macguffin, but also as a reference. There are rules for spending a couple hours trying to find a fact in a tome, based on how many CM points it would give (d4 hours of flipping through, 5xCM Point Gain chance to find the fact you need). The Necronomicon gives +18 Cthulhu Mythos. Whatever you need, there's a 90% chance that if you can get a couple hours with one of the crumbling and well-guarded copies held in Arkham or reputable museums and libraries, you can find the snippet of a formula you need to unravel the schemes of a wicked sorcerer.

As an aside, I do like one of their bits on why it takes so dang long to study a Mythos tome. Sorcerers and evil wizards rarely have editors and are generally writing for fellow adepts of the magical arts, who can be very strange people. You're diving into a field full of its own jargon, often written by selfish wizards who may intentionally lay traps in their work to test the worthiness of a reader or who might just be arrogant and pompous jerks with no interest in formal pedagogy. They might also be very poor writers! These elements combine to make the texts unpleasant and difficult just as much as the sinister Implications of their cosmic lore. It's a charming touch.

We also get a cute article on the linguistic roots of the nonsense names that Mythos entities are called, especially Cthulhu. It's meant to be an in-setting paper by a linguist and scholar, having its own citations and everything, but I'm told the sources it cites are particularly poor for the most part (Linguistics is not my field, but I could still sense something that tries to link Cthulhu, a made up nonsense word, to Hebrew, Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Latin, and Greek and come up with a way that it seems thematically similar and has something that sounds similar in each language when pronounces was likely a huge reach). It's a cute article, but it also gets into my own wheelhouse when it starts going into Isaiah and quotes a single line extremely out of context (Isaiah 38:11: "I said I shall not see the Lord in the land of the living; I shall look upon mortals no more among the inhabitants of the world." written up in the book as 'I shall look no more upon the inhabitants of Chadhel) and incorrectly. It attributes this line to the prophet Isaiah himself, which is not true; this line is from a song of King Hezekiah, who had just recovered from an illness he thought was going to kill him. He is saying in that line 'I had thought I would look no more upon the people of the world because I was going to go to Sheol, because I was dying' before moving into praising the Lord and telling the Lord he can only praise Him because he's still alive. He is promising to devote his preserved life to singing the Lord's praises for sparing him.

The book instead goes into this as a sign the prophet hated the 'people of Chadhel', who were Cthulhu worshipers, but so horrible that Chadhel became a word for Hell or Sheol among medieval scholars. Again, this is a complete misinterpretation of what's happening in the book based on citing a single half of a verse with one word untranslated. But I don't think this is intentionally bad scholarship or something, I think this is a silly in-universe bit of fiction reaching really hard to try to put ancient and terrible roots to a made-up nonsense word. It does annoy me a little that it attributes a line that is specifically from a song of praise from King Hezekiah (Isaiah has just told him the Lord will add 15 years to his life) to the prophet, though; it doesn't take anything but looking the bit up in the bible to see this.

Its Chinese is similarly terrible, I am told, using a source that is poor enough to be used as a negative example of English scholarship on Chinese and saying Cthulhu's roots there fall as Kui Tai Lao Hai in transliterated characters (the characters are not printed or given), meaning 'Ancient Evil Sea Demon' according to the book. This is apparently complete nonsense. Apparently it comes out more to 'Demon Bad Old Sea', if that. I talked to Forums Poster Xiahua Dun about all this because, well, he's a linguist who specializes in Chinese; if you know an expert, why not ask them? Apparently a better pick would have been to say Cthulhu was called Kudeliao, which would translate roughly to 'The Bitter End of Virtue', which fits the original Call of Cthulhu story much better in my opinion (hence him suggesting that) since the terror of Cthulhu is the upheaval of the existing social order in all ways in the original Call of Cthulhu text.

Still, I make fun of it but the article is cute. It's fun watching someone try to talk in a serious 'scholarly' tone about fictional nonsense; God knows I love doing it.

There's also an article on the life and times of Howard Phillip Lovecraft, and I must say. I know a lot of people despise the man for how omnipresent his fictional trappings have become (in part because they're public domain, in part because of Call of Cthulhu's success as an early non-D&D RPG I would posit) and the racist undertones to all his writing, but I can't help but primarily pity the guy. His life sounds utterly miserable. Born into an aristocratic family, with his father being institutionalized when he was young and a series of business failures destroying his family fortune, he comes off as an extremely nervous and frightened person who struggled immensely with mental issues. He found friends through correspondence with other writers and pulp authors, he never held a normal job, and he lived a relatively meager existence trying to be an aristocrat without actual money before dying impoverished in his 40s. Perhaps it's just that I'm a rather nervous writer who spends a lot of time corresponding with other people who enjoy fiction (over the internet) but I can't help but empathize a little. I cannot hate someone who seems to have been so profoundly in pain. Also, the core of cosmic horror is an important piece of horror lexicon these days; it needs to move beyond Lovecraft, particularly as the sheer penetration of knowledge of 'the Mythos' in nerd circles means it's almost impossible to get at the tone it's trying to get at if you just use 'The Mythos' now, but the basic idea of fearing your own irrelevance remains strong. That it may have been rooted in a terrified white guy worrying that he wasn't the center of the universe as he watched his finances dwindle and his ability to be a dilettante slip away doesn't really render it irrelevant. There are other ways to deploy and use these ideas; I suspect it is more the constant aping of Lovecraft directly that makes them less interesting, rather than the ideas themselves.

Anyway, I quite enjoy the various articles in this book; it's nice to have the author's own rationale for why he writes the Cthulhu Mythos how he does, the Necronomicon bit is genuinely useful for using it as a campaign macguffin, the linguistics article is hilarious, and the short bit on Lovecraft's life is interesting. Knowing the life situation of an author, their beliefs, their influences (I can definitely buy that a man who saw his father die in an asylum would spend his life terrified of sudden 'madness'), these things are always good to have on hand.

Next Time: Let's Look At Weird Fish!

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 15:31 on Sep 3, 2020

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Either I typoed or you did : Kudeliao. No "i".(It was probably me because I am a famously terrible typist.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Whichever the case, I went and fixed it.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Seraphon



The Seraphon appear suddenly. The first sign of their coming is easy to miss: the stars move. The lights in the sky shift and travel, shining unnaturally bright as they assume new and carefully calculated patterns. The drums beat in the empty air, just barely audible. Celestial power fills the air - and then there is a flash of light, and an army of reptilian warriors is there. They move in perfect unison, wordlessly. They roar and tear into the foe together, brutal in their majesty. Dinosaurs comes with them, shaking the ground; and their flanks are guarded by skirmishing lizards and shrieking pteranodons. The Seraphon are terrifying, unstoppable and barely understood even by their theoretical allies.

The name 'Seraphon' actually refers to several related reptilian subspecies, and these reptiles are not born naturally. They emerge whole and ready from mystical pools, spawned in the deeps of massive temples of stone and gold - flying temples that sail the stars. The most numerous of them are the skinks, small and clever lizardfolk who run most of Seraphon civilization. They work with the gigantic Kroxigor, who are slow of movement and thought but do not grow bored, love to work and are amazingly strong. Their warrior caste, the saurus, are designed purely to fight, raised for strength, obedience and tactical prowess. At the height of it all are the Slann Starmasters, who resemble giant, fat frogs. While their bodies are comical, their magical power is unmatched among the mortal peoples, and a single slann is on par with an entire cabal of master sorcerers. Magic is practically the whole of their existence. They are also the last link to the creators of the Seraphon, the mythic Old Ones. Even the gods know little of these ancients, but the Seraphon know this: they had a plan for everything. All existence. It is the purpose of the Slann to interpret the Great Plan, to decide what the Seraphon must do, and the rest of them exist to enact what they decide.

The Seraphon have always been active through history, across all the Mortal Realms. Their forms appear in art of all civilizations - frescos in Azyr that show reptiles clad in starlight, carvings in ancient ruins through Ghur, statues in the oldest afterlives of Shyish. Many believe them to be manifestations of Azyrite magic, similar in nature to the Stormcast, because the Seraphon appear on the battlefield in pillars of starlight. Their ideas are wrong - the Seraphon are far older. They are creatures of flesh and blood, yes, but celestial magic is bound up in every part of their physical forms. The oldest of their kind were born the temple-ships that ply the dark void, ships that came from somewhere outside the Mortal Realms. Ships that came from the World-That-Was.

The Seraphon temple-ships eventually made their way to the void-skies of Azyr, their spawning pools permeating with starry magic. The celestial energies fueled the ships far beyond their intended operational lifetimes, and in doing so, the Seraphon born within became equal parts heavenly magic and living flesh. They were as much angel as lizard, as much energy as flesh. Many still are - the Starborne, they call themselves. They exist differently than other beings, being partially flesh and partially energy. Their weapons crackle with celestial power, and when slain, their bodies dissolve into starlight. They appear on the field through translocation portals aboard their temple-ships, teleporting with a precision no other force can match. Their physical forms are held together by the will of their ship's slann, whose magical power keeps their essence bound to their flesh. Starmasters in the field are able to command their ships with gestures and simple magical impulses, calling down reinforcements directly. For onlookers, it appears as if they conjure new soldiers from nothing but light.

The Starborne can interact with the physical world, but are not fully physical beings. They tend to feel uncomfortable in the Mortal Realms and do not remain off their temple-ships long in most cases, preferring to exist in areas that are flush with Azyrite energies. However, some temple-fleets have, over the centuries, moved through the Mortal Realms and landed, forming permanent settlements elsewhere. In these places, the Azyrite nature of the Seraphon mingles with the natural energies of the realm they are born from and live in. This permanently binds the magic within them and the flesh they are made from, causing a full physical form that the Starborne lack. The winds of magic combine in their bodies, making them into the Coalesced.

Where the Starborne are beings of pure energy mingled with flesh, the Coalesced are pure flesh mingled with energy. They trade the ethereal, cerebral nature of the Celestial for a primal, raw instinct. Their temple-ships land forever, turning into temple-cities that terraform the land around them, hyperaccelerating the growth of jungle and rainforest by reworking the Realmshaper Engines that originally maintained their internal life support. The Coalesced lack the mastery of spacetime that the Starborne command in battle, but in its place, they gain a furious energy and a vital power that makes them unstoppable on the field.

Starborne and Coalesced are not enemies, but a united force against the implacable foe the Seraphon have fought since the time before time: Chaos. The statues, carvings and paintings of the Mortal Realms are clear on that - when the Seraphon appear, they fight the forces of Chaos with an implacable, unstoppable determination that has existed since the dawn of the Realms. Their single-minded war is part of what makes them so alien to the other peoples of the Realms. The Seraphon fight not for territory or wealth - these things don't matter to them at all. They offer no mercy to Chaos and they never surrender. They seem to have no care for temporal things, and no concern about giving up their own lives if it helps end Chaos. Hundreds of tribes have legends of the strange lizard-angels that come from the skies, wipe out entire tribes of Chaos worshippers, then vanish.

The Slann order these actions not from malice but from necessity: there is no enemy that threatens the Great Plan more than Chaos. Only the Slann may understand or interpret the Plan, and the Plan is more important than anything, even the lives of the Slann themselves. Anything that threatens the Plan must be removed from the world without mercy. Their foresight and understanding of celestial prophecy means the Slann often strike before the threats they foresee have truly manifested. They target a foe before they can grow powerful enough to be a threat and wipe them out with extreme prejudice. Orruk clans, necromancers and even outposts of Order forces they foresee turning to corruption and madness are targeted and removed by Seraphon armies. Sometimes, the Seraphon even fight each other, if their Starmasters determine their counterparts to be pursuing the Great Plan incorrectly or in ways that are incompatible. Even this is considered to be contributing to the eventual triumph over Chaos, the Eternal Enemy - it is assumed by the Seraphon that when two Seraphon forces clash, the one that wins msut have been the correct one.

The Seraphon do not subscribe to the worship of the Gods of Order. They have no particular concern for Sigmar's pantheon, seeing the Great Plan as beyond the minds of mortals or gods. They do not burden anyone else with their war - the Seraphon almost never ask for help. They are selfless in this way - they expect no one to die on their behalf and no one else to fight their battles. They will do what must be done. The question, of course, is 'what were the Old Ones and what is the Plan?' Even the oldest Slann cannot clearly recall the Old Ones. They remember that once, millenia ago, their creators existed, but some ancient catastrophe cut them off entirely. They know the Old Ones had impossibly massive intellect and power, greater than any god that exists. They know the Old Ones had a plan for all of existence. They know that once, long ago, the Old Ones came in silver ships out of the stars, and they brought with them powerful servants blessed by their might. The greatest of these were the original slann, who built the first Seraphon temples.

The temples of the Seraphon are more than buildings. They were made by the most blessed servants of the Old Ones, designed as magical relays and reservoirs of power. Each one contained immense machines of magical technology, machines that enabled them to turn their cities into the ziggurat-ships that the Starborne continue to use. However, not one of the Old Ones is remembered now. The Slann cannot recall even one name. They have ancient plaques about their creators, carved in gold and contained in vaults, but all have been damaged by time and war, or are replicas made by skink scribes who could not fully comprehend the true cosmic secrets of the Old Ones. This and the fact that the Slann do not often discuss their history with the other Seraphon has led the Seraphon to develop all manner of theories.

Many, especially among the Coalesced, believe the Old Ones were divine beings, gods whom they have created names for - Huanchi, the stealthy and cunning, or Tepok, the wise and mysterious. They are venerated figures, but ill understood by their creations. Their magic and science were the same thing - different aspects of the same discipline, combined in ways that modern mages cannot comprehend yet. They could bend reality itself. Their technosorcerous relics remain some of the greatest weapons of the Seraphon - sunbolt gauntlets that fire brilliant light, Engines of the Gods that warp the world around them - but they may never have been intended to be weapons. Their original functions are purely theoretical, even for the Seraphon.

Many skinks believe the Old Ones created the Realmgates themselves. Certainly, ancient Azyrite texts mention that some kind of enigmatic peoples were involved in their creation, and the slann possess an unmatched understanding of their function. The Slann can tap into Realmgates other races cannot even figure out exist, sending their servants through with a simple thought. They may even, if they pull on their strongest magic and exhaust the reserves if their power, alter the Realmgate network itself temporarily, sending enemies to destinations they never intended. The Slann have wielded this power only rarely, sending the forces of Chaos to dangerous destinations in key moments, but they have always been careful to avoid straining the network, as they know even they do not fully understand it and fear the instabilities that overuse of their dimensional magics might cause.

Next time: The great star voyage

megane
Jun 20, 2008





So they're the Lizard Protoss?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



There is definitely some Protoss in the mix, yeah.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Arkham Horror: the Living Card Game 7-Harvey Walters and Nathaniel Cho in THE GATHERING

Are you ready? Because I'm ready. Let's get stuck in.


Set next to each other you can see that the Act and Agenda combine to look like a book


Our heroes, as a quick refresher

Our opening hands are for Harvey: Deduction, Forbidden Tome, Preposterous Sketches, Occult Invocation, Burning the Midnight Oil.


Again, apologies for inconsistent sizes

As I rather like this hand I choose to keep it. Deduction and Burning the Midnight Oil mean Harvey can get off to a good start, Preposterous Sketches will refill his hand, Forbidden Tome upgrades into something nice, and Occult Invocation let's Harvey defend himself at least a little bit.

Nathaniel: Vicious Blow, Dodge, Boxing Glove, Relentless, Monster Slayer.

I will not be showing pictures of every card, but I will at least be saying what they do.

I did not like Nathaniel's first hand so I mulliganed everything but monster slayer and got something much better. In the course of my mulligan Tommy Malloy popped up, but thankfully weaknesses don't stay in your opening hands so I didn't have to see him. In fact I didn't have to see him at all this game.

The primary reason I mulliganed so aggressively is because Boxing Glove is sort of Nathaniel's workhorse card. +1 to Combat puts him at six which is very good and its effect to search for a Spirit event is how you keep Nathaniel fueled. Kill an enemy with a Spirit event and then Boxing Glove to get another. I intend Monster Slayer to be the first in that sequence, with Nathaniel's passive ability pumping it to a commendable 3 damage.

Turn One is like many turn ones in Arkham in that it's mostly set up and investigation as there is no immediate threat on the board.

Nathaniel immediately puts down Boxing Glove and Relentless and for his third action because he's no good at investigating even an easy location like this I have Nathaniel draw a card, and since Harvey is there I have Harvey's effect trigger to get another card. Nathaniel gets a second copy of Monster Slayer and Self-Destructive, his preset "random" basic weakness.



all of the included basic weaknesses for the Investigator Starter Decks are themed and appropriately annoying for the person there with. Self-destructive here obviously sucks because Nathaniel was very much a fighter, but if you pull a random basic weakness and get Self-Destructive with a seeker (like Harvey) you've essentially dodged a bullet. It's hard to be punished for fighting monsters if you don't fight monsters after all. As for the card right here and now? Could be much worse, there aren't any monsters on the field and Nathaniel doesn't need to move anywhere so next turn he should be free to just burn the actions to get rid of it.

For Harvey's action he plays Forbidden Tome, activates it, and then uses Burning the Midnight Oil to investigate committing Deduction. My very first Chaos Token is the Elder Sign, which for Harvey is +1 and draw a card. As Harvey's Intellect for the test was six thanks to the Deduction he handily succeeds against the shroud value of two netting him two clues. He also draws Arcane Enlightenment (a spell that increases your maximum hand size by one and gives an additional hands slot for holding a tome asset) and Encyclopedia, the new level 0 version included in his deck


The core set has a level 2 version of this card with unlimited uses.

There are no enemies so we moved directly to the upkeep. Harvey draws a second encyclopedia, Nathaniel gets Flesh Ward.

Turn Two

Mythos time! 1 out of 3 Doom on the agenda.

Our mythos cards are Ancient Evils (put a Doom on the agenda, this may cause the agenda to advance, agenda now at 2 of 3) for Harvey and Obscuring Fog (attach to your location, it gets +2 shroud, the mist goes away if someone successfully investigates)

No monsters and no real danger to our characters yet, though I will never not hate a Ancient Evil. Also it's a little bit harder to investigate, but fortunately we have a Encyclopedia.

As hinted at Harvey plays out his Encyclopedia, uses it on himself to boost his Intellect, and then investigates at 7 to 4 pulling a -1 (turns out I didn't need to do that, but I didn't know of course) succeeding at getting a third clue (of the four needed) and discarding the mist.

Nathaniel, meanwhile, spends 2 actions to get rid of Self-destructive and plays out a Flesh Ward


an interesting small damage soak card, it's helped a lot by going in an arcane slot which is rarely used by Guardians

During the upkeep Harvey draws Higher Education (zero cost asset, if you have five or more cards in your hand you can spend resources to boost your Willpower or Intellect for a test on a one-to-one basis) and Nathaniel draws Stand Together (choose an investigator at your location, both of you gain two resources), both cards I would like to get out and use as soon as possible

Turn Three

One Doom goes on the Agenda which means we are at three total Doom so the agenda advances.



Harvey takes one for the team and eats two horror, as both characters have cards I don't want to lose.



And as if that isn't enough, it's still encounter cards time. Harvey, at least gets lucky as he finds the Icy Ghoul and since the Icy Ghoul has no legal spawn location it immediately gets discarded. Nathaniel was less lucky, he gets Grasping Hands.



Nathaniel has a base Agility of 2 and I don't like that so I commits one of my copies of Monster Slayer with its Wildcard icon so he's at 3. Three versus three is not good odds but there still a chance to get out unscathed. Unfortunately I get a -2 so Nathaniel takes two damage. I consider tossing a point into Flesh Ward but I decided against it because Nathaniel still has seven stamina to go even after that hit. I can always use the Flesh Ward later if it gets more desperate

On his turn, Harvey investigates and handily succeeds getting the fourth clue. Then as a free action I go ahead and advance the act because there's no point waiting around in the locked study.



and we're out! The board now looks something like this:





This is a much easier demonstration of how locations intersect. Remember when moving you go from the symbol on the bottom to the symbol at the top. Even unrevealed you can tell where places connect. The hallway is the central hub of this map with links to each of the other three locations, meanwhile each of the other three locations connects only to the hallway. Thus if you want to go from the attic to the basement or the basement to the attic you need to first go through into the hallway.

Also, note that that is the unrevealed side of the parlor. Sometimes there is rules text on the backside of a location as seen here. Though speaking of which, what's that about a barrier?


Ah, there we go

Well, Harvey still has two actions after investigating so I have them go upstairs to the attic (Harvey takes a third horror) and plays higher education.
Nathaniel follows him (and takes a horror), plays Stand Together so they both gain two resources and then draws two cards (the second thanks to Harvey's reaction). He gets a second Vicious Blow and Clean Them Out (Gain two resources then fight a monster)


Locations can, themselves, be a threat in Arkham Horror

The reason I went to the attic first is due to metagaming in the hope of getting an extra victory point. I discarded the Icy Ghoul earlier but he has a counterpart that lives in the attic and I was hoping he'd show up so Nathaniel could kill him. If you notice I haven't gotten any monsters yet this game so Nathaniel has had little to do.

Upkeep now, Harvey gets his second Preposterous Sketches while Nathaniel gets Glory (1-cost event, play after you kill a monster to draw two cards)

Turn four

Things start to get a little rougher. Doom goes on the agenda (1 of 7) and we get some mean encounter cards. Harvey gets his own Grasping Hands and promptly pulls the Tentacle token eating three damage. Meanwhile Nathaniel grabs a Ravenous Ghoul.



Nathaniel goes first. He puts in Clean Them Out going 6 versus 3 with the hope of being able to puts a resource or two on Relentless with his second attack when he kills the ghoul. That hope dies when I pull the Tentacle again. Crap. Fortunately I still have my second copy of Monster Slayer and pull a success, the regular one damage plus monster slayer's one damage plus Nathaniel's once per turn reaction's one damage is three damage and the ghoul is dead.

Since I killed the monster I now what is known as the "reaction window" to do appropriate fast and reaction effects that care when an enemy dies. I trigger Glory to draw two cards (Another Flesh Ward and Counterpunch, which lets you counterattack after you're hit.) And then use Boxing Glove to search for a Spirit card and lands One-Two Punch. With that done for his third action Nathaniel plays out that second Flesh Ward, one for each of his Arcane Slots!

As a little note about reaction windows, you could actually do it the other way. If you kill an enemy and trigger Boxing Gloves and pull a copy of Glory you can then immediately play that copy of Glory because you are still in the reaction window from killing a monster.


Nathaniel's Big Damage Event

Harvey meanwhile investigates, successfully twice gaining two of the six clues we need and for his last action drops Preposterous Sketches. He hits Obsessive, Cryptic Writings (gain two resources, if you drew this card during your turn you can play it for free), and the Celaeno Fragments (A book that boosts your Intellect and Willpower based on the cards in your hand).



Obsessive is Harvey's deck's preset Basic Weakness and rather annoying, and because I got it I decide not to trigger Cryptic Writings. I haven't been keeping track of exact resource counts, but Harvey has a good number of them and my hope is that when Obsessive triggers it'll hit Cryptic Writings instead of a card I actually want.

Upkeep occurs Harvey gets Deduction number two and Nathaniel gets Physical Training (two cost asset that lets you spend resources to boost Combat or Willpower)

Turn Five

Doom advances, 2 of 7. Both Investigators get Frozen in Fear. Annoying



Also, Harvey discards Preposterous Sketches at random. Would have liked that card. For his turn Harvey spends two actions to clear Obsessive and then uses the Encyclopedia on Nathaniel to boost his willpower since I don't want Frozen in Fear sticking around. At the end of his turn I test for Frozen in Fear and spend two of his resources into Higher Education. That puts me 6 to 3 and makes me very happy when I pulled the -3 token.

No monsters around so Nathaniel plays Physical Training then takes two resources to promptly spend them again to be three up on Frozen in Fear (thanks in part to Encyclopedia as well). He succeeds so both players are back on.

Harvey gets Feed the Mind (a spell that lets you test Intellect to draw cards) while Nathaniel gets Grete Wagner, a lady I would like to get in the play.


She's one hell of an ally

The only problem is that Nathaniel has literally one resource at the moment.

Turn Six

3 of 7 Doom. This changes shortly to 4 of 7 when Nathaniel gets an Ancient Evil. Harvey meanwhile pulled a Ghoul Minion.

This turn is fairly eventful. Nathaniel Engages the ghoul as Action One and punches it twice at 6 versus 2. For boxing the ghoul to death he Boxing Gloves and gets Clean Them Out. I'm pleased as this gets us one step closer to Grete. While Nathaniel is beating a ghoul to death Harvey investigates successfully twice and then moves back down to the Hallway.

Upkeep nets Harvey a Laboratory Assistant (a cheap Seeker ally that draws you two cards when you play her and gives you two max hand size) while Nathaniel gets a second pair of Boxing Gloves

Turn Seven

On the Mythos Phase Harvey pulls a Dissonant Voices (You can't play assets or events this turn) while Nathaniel gets a Ghoul Minion (2/2/2 enemy).

The Dissonant Voices mean very little to Harvey as he has no intention of playing either events or assets. Instead he goes down into the cellar, trips and takes a damage (up to 4), uses his encyclopedia on himself to boost his Intellect, and then investigates 7 to 4 succeeding and picking up a fifth clue.


The observant will notice you need to get clues from both Attic and Cellar to advance in this scenario. That's by design.

Nathan meanwhile uses Clean Them Out and succeeds at killing the ghoul. With his Boxing Glove trigger he gets his second One-Two Punch. He then moves down into the hallway and picks up a resource. The combination of that resource plus Clean Them Out plus the resource he received from his last upkeep and the one he will receive from this upkeep means that next turn he can play Grete.

During said upkeep Harvey draws Extensive Research (a 12 cost event that discovers two clues, cost is reduced by one for every card in your hand) and Nathaniel draws Randall Cho, his signature ally. Randall is nice, but Nathaniel is doing pretty well on damage and he doesn't need a weapon so Grete remains the presumptive play next turn. Few Arkham Horror plans survive encounters with the Mythos Phase.

Turn Eight

6 of 7 Doom on the Agenda. For encounter cards Harvey draws Swarm of Rats, the weakest enemy in the game at 1/1/3. Meanwhile Nathaniel draws me the short straw and pulls an Ancient Evils meaning the Agenda advances.




We are now on the critical stretch as agenda three is the final agenda. Along with reshuffling in all those Ancient Evils Harvey mills the deck and hits another Ghoul Minion. He now has two enemies engaged with him.

After examining both players hands a plan is formed. Nathan plays Grete, moves (taking a damage from the cellar so he's now up to three), and punches the Rat killing it. He triggers Grete's ability to gain a clue and then Boxing Glove to pull a Counterpunch from his deck.

As for the ghoul, Harvey uses the copy of Occult Invocation he's had sitting in his hand the entire game to attack the ghoul discarding Feed the Mind. Fighting with an Intellect stat of six against the Ghoul Minion's two means that he will succeed on anything but the Tentacle and deal the two damage he needs. Thankfully, Harvey does not pull the Tentacle and instead pulls the Elder Sign killing the ghoul and drawing Whitton Greene. Harvey then investigates committing Extensive Research which has two Intellect icons and Deduction to investigate 8 to 4. Harvey succeeds, grabbing the last two clues off the location (thus scoring a victory point) and then returns the hallway as his third action.


The book lady

In hindsight, moving may have been a mistake.

Upkeep time, Nathaniel draws Glory and discards Counterpunch to maximum hand size. Meanwhile Harvey pulls his signature weakness Thrice Damned Curiosity (take one damage for every three cards in your hand) exactly when I didn't need it to appear. Harvey has five cards so he takes a damage going up to five damage taken.

Turn Nine

Doom advances to 1 of 10. Encounter cards are pulled and I get a heart attack because Harvey draws another copy of Grasping Hands.

Harvey has two damage left before he's out, he's making a difficulty 3 Agility test against his base of 2 so there's a real chance this will kill him, if he goes his clues are all on the hallway, and Nathaniel has no easy way to pick them up again. If Harvey had Whitten in play to soak damage for him that would be one thing but he didn't have enough resources last turn to play her and now the sheer bad luck of drawing his weakness plus Grasping Hands back to back means that the scenario may be lost right here.

I commit encyclopedia to at least be 3 versus 3 (if Harvey had stayed in the Cellar Nathaniel could have committed Dodge so he's be 4 against 3), I hold my breath, and draw. I land a skull. With no ghouls in play that's a zero and Harvey Walters lives to investigate another day.

Nathaniel gets a Frozen in Fear, which after the drama of the above seems quaint.

Nathaniel moves up to the hallway (for two actions because of Frozen in Fear) and takes a resource. He tests Frozen in Fear and my good luck persists because he also gets a skull and clears it.

Harvey, meanwhile, takes a resource, plays Whitten as insurance against further hands, and then just draws two cards using his ability getting his second copy of Forbidden Tome and Higher Education.

On upkeep Harvey draws Disc of Itzamna level zero (3-cost accessory, when a regular enemy spawns on you discard it to deal 2 damage) and Nathaniel draws and promptly discards Get over Here (choose an enemy within one location of you, it move to you, engages, and you fight it).

Turn Ten

The final stretch! Doom is at 2 of 10. Harvey pulls a Frozen in Fear while Nathaniel hits Ancient Evils so we're actually at 3 of 10.

With everyone at the hallway I now spend the required clues to advance to Act 3 (technically I did it at the very end of the last turn as the timing on the card indicated, but that doesn't really change anything)


Like I said, going to both the Attic and Cellar is by design


Clues aren't the only way to advance an Act, as seen here


Another lady who's one hell of an ally

The boss is here! The Ghoul Priest appears in the hallway and there are two investigators there so he engages his prey, in this case 6 Combat Nathaniel Cho who was more than ready for him.

But first there's the matter of the crazy lady in Harvey's parlor. Harvey spends two actions to move to the parlor because of Frozen in Fear and his third parley with Lita Chantler. He spends a resource into Higher Education so he is 7 to 4 and succeeds, swapping Whitten for Lita as she also uses the ally slot. At the end of his turn Harvey checks for Frozen in Fear. Lita's reaction ability means I don't particularly NEED Harvey to do anything more than move, but he still succeeds with +1 so that's nice.

Meanwhile, Nathaniel goes toe to toe with the boss. He spends his two resources on One-Two Punch succeeding with both punches for total of four damage including his ability. Nathaniel then attacks normally twice, both of which also succeed for two more damage to a total of six.

During the enemy phase the Ghoul Priest slams Nathaniel allowing him to finally use his Flesh Wards, a charge from both of them cuts a damage and a horror from the Ghoul Priest's attack, and the remainder is soaked by one of the Flesh Wards discarding it (damage and horror from an attack is dealt simultaneously so both can go on one flesh ward)

During the upkeep Harvey pulls his second Occult Invocation (nice if he gets an enemy) and Nathaniel draws Get over Here.

The Agenda's effect then triggers putting a doom on the Agenda for having a Ghoul in the hallway (4 of 10) but at this pace we're still golden.

Turn Eleven: The Final Turn

Harvey draws an Ancient Evils so final Doom count is 6 out of 10 on the Agenda. Nathaniel, meanwhile, pulls a Ghoul Minion which is moot if we kill the boss. And we are killing that boss.

Harvey moves to the hallway and uses the last charge of Encyclopedia to boost Nathan's fight for the phase meaning he will be swinging at an incredible 10 Combat. As he has no other relevant actions he takes a resource.

Nathaniel swings for the fences, committing both copies of Vicious Blow so he is 12 Combat against the Ghoul Priest to deal 4 damage thanks to the blows and to Lita. Nathaniel draws his Chaos Token and pulls a skull for a -2 with two ghoul enemies at his location. This is nowhere near enough to stop Nathaniel from going all Kali Mah on the Ghoul Priest, ending the scenario and giving us a choice.



That little R followed by a number tells you which scenario resolution to read once it's all over.

Phew, that was quite a lot. Tune in next time for some wrapup thoughts, a look back at a couple of relevant bits of information, and a preview (but not a full play report) of what happens next in Night of the Zealot.

In the meantime…

Which choice do we go with? Does Harvey Walters burn down his house?

Omnicrom fucked around with this message at 22:42 on Apr 12, 2021

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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Burn it.

As one of my players liked to say: Touch nothing, trust no one, burn everything.

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