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Will the Great
Dec 26, 2017



I was never clear on what this image was supposed to be, or where it was to be encountered. It's included in the paragraph with the Oracle but...the Oracle is a digital entity running on the Covenant's mesh network so idk why it would have or need a physical form? Is it the Oracle's mesh avatar? Why would a superintelligence need a discord profile pic? Does it post on dead gay comedy websites?

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mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


Will the Great posted:

I was never clear on what this image was supposed to be, or where it was to be encountered. It's included in the paragraph with the Oracle but...the Oracle is a digital entity running on the Covenant's mesh network so idk why it would have or need a physical form? Is it the Oracle's mesh avatar? Why would a superintelligence need a discord profile pic? Does it post on dead gay comedy websites?
My guess is it's a graphic developed by the researchers to visualize it. With the right visual filters and cognitive enhancements, those weird curves probably communicate information about the AI's behavior in the nested simspaces.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Will the Great posted:

I was never clear on what this image was supposed to be, or where it was to be encountered. It's included in the paragraph with the Oracle but...the Oracle is a digital entity running on the Covenant's mesh network so idk why it would have or need a physical form? Is it the Oracle's mesh avatar? Why would a superintelligence need a discord profile pic? Does it post on dead gay comedy websites?
My God, JC. It's a superintelligent optimization tool - beyond any human limits. And its goal is... posting.

mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


Nessus posted:

My God, JC. It's a superintelligent optimization tool - beyond any human limits. And its goal is... posting.
That's terror

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

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


I do wish cool battle monks didn't always end up kind of crappy.

Both of the two big examples end up being either Spess marines or the Jedi, and I dislike both because the aesthetics are so good and the driving force so crappy.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Skaven
Thunderstruck

Warp Lightning Cannons are built and maintained by the Arkhspark Voltik enginecovens, who center them around giant chunks of warpstone. These are used to generate an extremely powerful electrical charge, which is channeled down a runic barrel that is enchanted to channel it. When it reaches the end, the electricity fires off as a ball of warp energy, and everyone standing even slightly nearby gets a minor shock - enough to make fur stand on end and cause all kinds of after-images to appear in vision. The ball arcs across the field, passing through anything in its path towards the ground and then exploding in a mass of warp-lightning. The shot is too quick for the eye to follow, but it leaves a trail of burned, blackened ground and bodies that ends in a crater several feet wide. They are excellent siege weapons, as most walls cann't really handle repeated bombardments by electrical blasts like this...as long as the crew is able to keep the weapon from overloading and discharging all of its potential energy at once by exploding.

The Clans Skryre sometimes team up with the Clans Moulder in order to get access to newly made Rat Ogors. They need them to be in a still-gestative state, not yet trained, because Clan Skryre has plans for the creatures. They take these mindless beasts and inject them with warpstone serums, then augment them with arcane cybernetics. A Stormfiend is created this way, even bigger than a normal Rat Ogor and with thick armor plating fused to the skin. They also overcome one of the biggest weaknesses of the Rat Ogors: stupidity. The Rat Ogor's brain is still tiny, of course, but to fix that, the Clans Skryre prepare a surgical alteration, attaching a "brain-skaven" directly to the back of the Stormfiend. This is an atrophied Skaven subspecies kept alive with wires and tubes; their bodies wither to nothingness, and they serve pretty much solely as an auxiliary mind directing the power of the Stormfiend they're attached to.

Stormfiends are extremely tough, feel no pain and are strong enough to smash through nearly any armor. These are the Skryre, however - that's not enough. They need to staple guns to them. A Stormfiend can be a walking artillery position or a devastating shock trooper, and the brain-skaven are conditioned to keep them fighting even against impossible odds by shooting them full of rat cocaine. Those armed with ratling cannons can spew clouds of bullets at a moment's notice, while those with warpfire projectors are devastating against enemy infantry thanks to their killing flames. Windlaunchers are used for more long range ability, serving as grenade launchers full of poison wind globes. For a more close combat focus, they can instead be equipped with doomflayer gauntlets - essentially giant gloves covered in chainsaws and wrecking balls. Alternately, a shock gauntlet can be used to turn the Stormfiend into a walking lightning blaster that kills anyone who gets close enough for lightning to arc out. There's even been experiments with grinderfists, special drilling gauntlets that allow the Stormfiends to tunnel around the field and attack from unexpected angles.

Warplock Jezzails are one of the more reliable Clans Skryre innovations - massive long-barrel rifles that require a two-rat team to load and fire with any regularity. The bullets are made from refined warpstone, which makes an excellent armor-piercing munitions round and can punch through even sigmarite. These bullets leave glowing green trails in the air and strike with a distinctive and very loud crack. They're popular guns among the assassins of the Clans Eshin, because they're fast and accurate at a long distance, though if you don't kill in one shot your position's been given away. As a form of protection, each jezzail is equipped with a large wooden pavise to block return fire for at least a short time. By weapon team standards, a jezzail is actually quite fast to relocate and very light, plus easy to maintain without blowing up. This makes them very popular with Skaven forces operating outside of ruins, which have many good sniper perches and enable a lot of sneaky ambushes with these long guns.



The Clans Pestilens are lead by the Plague Priests, who form conclaves to command each clan's Churches of Contagion. Their power is maintained by a mix of religious fervor, base cunning and brutal violence. Each bears a warpstone-tipped stiff that can rot those it touches or a plague censer that spews forth diseased smoke. They are also able to perform vile prayers that can weaken and corrupt their foes. They are true believers, often quite insane, and shockingly brave for Skaven leaders. They lead from the front, unlike most other ranking Skaven, and prefer to claw and bite their way through battle as they speak their prayers and call on their filthy blessings. Some of them do so because they're simply too far gone to tell what's dangerous any more, while others are merely eager to earn their god's favor but will happily shove their minions into harm's way if any really tough foes show up nearby.

Winning the esteem of the Horned Rat is the primary goal of all Plague Priests, because it's the key to gaining more power in the Clans Pestilens. Even the smallest will have multiple competing Plague Priests vying for control, and larger clans may have hundreds or even thousands. Their internal ranking structure is convoluted, fluid and volatile, being built around fear and violence. Each one is always trying to gain an edge over the others, and they're happy to use any method they can to control or take down their rivals.

It is common for them to invent new and grandiose titles for themselves based on their religious duties, all of which are extremely overblown. This gives them an excuse to attack anyone who fails to show proper respect to, say, the Arch-Squealer of the Followers of the Furnace. They know it sounds absurd to anyone but their followers - but that absurdity is itself a way to see who actually fears them. Fear's a good idea, too - each Plague Priest has to have at least some skill at producing bioweapons and toxic alchemical concoctions for use in battle. The great masters of the art are especially respected and viewed with awe and terror, as they are able to produce poxes so virulent and contagious that they can take down entire armies if properly deployed. You can tell these by the company they keep - they lead the Foulrain Congregations in battle or perform the blessings on Plagueclaw catapult loads.

Plague Monks form the seething, horrible masses of the Clans Pestilens. They are no braver than any other Skaven, but their devotion to their cults makes them especially dangerous when they get enough numbers up to want to fight. They move in a fetid, stinking tide, climbing over each other to tear into the enemy with eager glee. Their robes seem to blend together, and the stench is horrific. Those who can't get close enough to claw and bite chant endless verses from the liturgies of plague and death, and many of them have holy scriptures stapled directly to their skin or carry relics as impromptu clubs. Their mere numbers would be enough to make them terrifying, but they also tend to have several contagious diseases that they are happy to share with their foes. Their rusty blades drip with poison and their claws are coated in filth. Even a scratch all but guarantees infection in survivors.

The chiefs among the monks are the ambitious sorts known as Bringers-of-the-Word, who hope one day to become Plague Priests. They will typically attach themselves to a Priest they hope will promote them, acting with slavish servility (until, at least, they see a chance for advancement in betrayal). As a reward for this, they are given potent plague-scrolls and copies of the Book of Woe, which they may read from to invoke the dark prayers of the Horned Rat and unleash plagues in imitation of their masters. They inspire battle frenzy in the Monks around them, which can make a horde of Plague Monks very hard to kill, as they fight through wounds that should kill them. It's made worse by the fact that most of them have leathery, deadened skin with rotting or damaged nerve endings, making pain hard for them to feel in the first place. Enough damage will get through, though, and send them fleeing for their lives. It just takes longer than for most Skaven.

The most devoted become Plague Censer Bearers. They tend to be quite insane, hopped up on hallucinogens, feverish and, of course, armed with extremely large, fuming flails. Their life expectancy is very short, but they can do a ton of damage before they die. Each censer is filled with the favorite concoctions of the local Plague Priests, often using materials like rotshade, the hearts of plague-bloated corpses and cursed ashes of the victims of nasty disease. This is then soaked in warpstone-infused oil and set on fire, then used to bludgeon people. The fumes are enough to blister flesh on their own, as well as corrode metal and spread horrific illness. The Plague Monks tend to be rather resistant to these fumes, but even they can't last forever - too much time around the censer bearer will lead to dissolving into a pile of goo.

That's why only the craziest become Plague Censer Bearers in the first place, and the most far gone even see it as a blessing that brings them closer to their god. Most chosen for the "honor" resist at first, though, at least until the fumes send them into a mad frenzy. Often, they are chosen from underlings seen as too ambitious, and are forced into the role by being ambushed and knocked out. They wake up on the field, the censer chained to them. Others are slaves or captives of other clans, given the choice of wielding the censer or becoming a breeding ground for new diseases. Whatever the case, once in battle the fumes of the censer quickly drive the bearer into a maddened frenzy. They charge at the enemy with none of the normal Skaven self preservation, trying to take as many as they can with them to the grave.

Plague Furnaces are the favorite war engines of the Clans Pestilens, because they are both a weapon and a profane altar of death. Their caretakers are known as Virulent Processions, and they are as much worshippers of these hideous relics as they are guardians. Each Furnace is a huge carriage of rotting wood and rusting metal, pushed into battle by the Monks. Their bulk makes them dangerous when they run people down, and the wheels are often spiked, but the real danger is what lies within them. Each is ridden by a Plague Priest that uses it as a lectern from which to chant curses and blessings, and only by using the bubbling, pulsating and glowing slop within the Furnace can the deadliest plagues of the clan be summoned. The runic cauldrons magnify the power of the Great Corruptor massively.

At the heart of each Furnace is a massive censer full of raw warpstone soaked in various foul substances, then doused in alchemical fluids and set on fire. The toxic smoke that belches forth constantly drives the Pestilens into an ecstatic state of pure violence, and also induces rapid decomposition in everything nearby and speads plague among the foe. The huge censers are swung around by massive chains tugged on by favored Plague Monks of notable strength. The Furnaces shake back and forth, emitting a low roar and striking at nearby enemies like a wrecking ball. They can even smash open fortress gates with ease as they spread their killing clouds.

When the Pestilens can't get close to the enemy, they rely on Plagueclaws, creaky catapults operated very close to the breaking point of their materials to increase range. They load the basket with decaying organic matter laced with whatever diseases they have on hand. Pull the lever and the thing is then hurled at the enemy at speed. The brews used are always fast acting and often quite acidic. Made from rotwood and stained dark by their payloads, many have compared their silhouette to a gallows or hanging tree. Often they require a lot of effort to move, as their wheels tend to rot. Despite this, the Clans Pestilens see them as divine tools of the Horned Rat, blessed by his will to bestow pestilence on the worthy and unworthy in his loving viciousness. When used against a besieged population, they can rapidly infect entire city populations.

Each Plagueclaw is operated by a Plague Priest, who will generally make a huge show of calling on the Horned Rat before each shot, blessing the ammunition and so on. The firing of the weapon is a ritual, a sort of baptism that brings them to communion with the Great Corruptor. Many compete to come up with ever deadlier brews to use in the payloads, and for battles of extreme import, some will even use small doses of the Great Plagues to supplement them in hopes of infecting far more than one battlefield. The crew generally has little concern for accuracy - as long as the shot lands in the vicinity of organic life, it's going to infect things, and if that means some Plague Monks die horribly...well, they should feel blessed. Serving as crew on a Plagueclaw is seen as highly prestigious, because it lets a Monk fight but also remain safe from the melee. To distinguish themselves from their fellows, the Plague Monks on the crew typically coat themselves in some of the filth they ladle into the cauldron-shots, which means they tend to die fairly often of disease. Again, the Plague Priests say, they should feel blessed.

Next time: The Clans Verminus

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Josef bugman posted:

I do wish cool battle monks didn't always end up kind of crappy.

Both of the two big examples end up being either Spess marines or the Jedi, and I dislike both because the aesthetics are so good and the driving force so crappy.
Rhetorically the key issue with any monk is that they connect to a higher authority of some kind, however tenuously.

Mechanically, ehhh. I think their big problem is that in D&D, which is the majority of a lot of tabletop headspace, they are not on the same 'gear and spell list' treadmill as everyone else.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Will the Great posted:

Does it post on dead gay comedy websites?

It's trying to learn whether the human pet guy is genuine or is it just a gimmick.

mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


ECLIPSE PHASE - THINK BEFORE ASKING - PT 7: WRAPUP


I think I need to explain why I call this the best module for Eclipse Phase - given that it expects a high level of system and setting knowledge. Every session I’ve ever run or played of EP has been with people who devoured all the rules and setting books, and who came together for the purpose of finally playing the game. This was a path lots of people followed for the first few years of the game's life cycle, though it seems to have died off and not come back, even after the release of 2E.

What’s a good first adventure for a group that isn’t already superfans? I don’t know - I’ve never seen anyone successfully introduce brand new players to the game. The couple attempts I’ve seen stumbled when the players repeatedly hit walls and got frustrated by their inability to navigate an alien world that operated according to different rules than a “normal” game setting. While the GM desperately tried to condense massive amounts of setting information into something that would help the players understand and move forward.

I haven’t looked at any of the 2E modules, which I know are slowly dripping out of Posthuman’s Kickstarter apparatus. Maybe one of them solves the problem. Hell, I haven’t read most of the 1E modules in years either - maybe there’s something there too.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
Think Before Asking is still my favorite Eclipse Phase adventure, even after re-acquainting myself with all the problems. But how does it stack up from a more critical perspective?

Pros
  • Brings the setting to life with evocative street level details
  • Offers players a mix of diplomacy, exploration, stealth, combat, and technological challenges
  • Explores Eclipse Phase’s core themes in a novel way
Cons
  • Investigative content is linear and potentially fragile, if players miss connections that only exist in the author’s head
  • Descriptive text is sometimes sparse, counting on the GM to fill in the gaps with pre-existing knowledge of Eclipse Phase setting
  • Lack of stat blocks makes generating combat encounters a drag

EXAMPLES OF PLAY
There are several recorded Actual Plays of Think Before Asking out there.
  • RPPR - The most famous AP of Think Before Asking.
  • Twin Cities By Night - I have not listened to this one and can’t vouch for its contents or quality. I'm predisposed to liking this show because they did a couple episodes of my Delta Green scenarios.
  • Technical Difficulties - Ditto
  • The RPG X Cast - Same. I don’t listen to a lot of Actual Plays, to be honest.
  • One Two Three Four part writeup on the Eclipse Phase subreddit.
Here’s an illustration from the RPPR run of the scenario, by artist Patsy McDowell.


"This definitely contains the most dead children child-shaped morphs of any piece I’ve done to date."

I’ve personally played this scenario twice - once for the first time, then again to fill out the roster in a game run on the old Eclipse Phase Missions server.

The first run I played Esme Parkreiner - an async janissary who was seriously unpopular in the Outer System due to some minor warcrimes committed while indentured as a mercenary. Also in attendance:


By me

We got into a brawl aboard Rinlog Wodd when the local anarchists voted to repossess some of Esme’s weapons, provoking a shootout with the Buffalo Bills - and subsequent friendly encounter with the Nyasgardians. After that I let the other players do the talking, and we followed the trail to Fornjot without too much fuss.

On the moonlet, a lucky hit from one of the security saucers jammed the team’s communications, but didn’t impede us from reaching the habitat. We thankfully found the report before poking the Oracle - though everyone was setting-savvy enough that I doubt anyone would have poked it anyway. By chewing through the archived security footage the Oracle had strewn all over the mesh, the team hacker was able to spot the antimatter bomb being buried outside the habitat. We used some stacked demolition charges to set it to blow, then called the extract (I remember we had some transportation solution arranged with a local freighter captain, but not any details beyond that). There was a tense moment where the shark man ran inside to grab the saved egoes of the original Covenant after the timer had been set. Then everyone flew back up to the ship on their maneuvering jets and the moonlet exploded.

The second time, I played Pelagius Brueghel - a swashbuckling merchant and cutthroat capitalist/anarchist, depending on who he’s doing business with.


By me

I don't remember much about the other players - a mercenary and a steel liberation activist/guerilla.

The GM did a lot of the investigative game in a series of text posts leading up to the session itself. I tried to stay in the background and let the other players chip away at the mystery, rather than metagame and skip to the solution. By the time we got to the live session, we were most of the way to Fornjot. From there, the run went similar to the first. The main difference being we had our own ship this time - the fast antimatter courier Summer of George, owned by Pelagius’ shipping firm. My memory of the actual encounter on the moonlet is also a bit hazy - I think someone phoned Firewall and almost got it nuked while we were still on it, and we took off just in time to avoid getting blasted by Ship.

That’s it for now. I might review more Eclipse Phase fan content in the future, but not for my next post.

LaSquida
Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.


I really enjoyed seeing a pretty good Eclipse Phase Firewall adventure. It's one of those games where I like a lot about the setting that's outside the assumed core activity, but something like Think Before Asking makes me a lot more interested in actually trying Firewall stuff.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

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

Nessus posted:

Rhetorically the key issue with any monk is that they connect to a higher authority of some kind, however tenuously.

Mechanically, ehhh. I think their big problem is that in D&D, which is the majority of a lot of tabletop headspace, they are not on the same 'gear and spell list' treadmill as everyone else.

Even attempts to toss them onto the treadmill usually make the mistake of promoting/limiting them to crazy martial arts weapons that are rare, expensive, and generally inconvenient

Will the Great
Dec 26, 2017


mellonbread posted:

My memory of the actual encounter on the moonlet is also a bit hazy - I think someone phoned Firewall and almost got it nuked while we were still on it, and we took off just in time to avoid getting blasted by Ship.

I still have the mission debrief from that session.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Falconier111 posted:

Even attempts to toss them onto the treadmill usually make the mistake of promoting/limiting them to crazy martial arts weapons that are rare, expensive, and generally inconvenient

Base them off of Sengoku-era Souhei. Preferred weapons: Naginata, archery, swords, giant-rear end iron clubs, and motherfucking handcannon.

Nanomashoes
Aug 18, 2012



The Smoking Ruin Part 11: Overview of Act 5


Act 5 has a lot of text but very little happening, because it has to cover all the possibilities of how the adventure went. There’s four general endings, one where the PCs give the mirror to Leika, two where they give it to Daravala (Leika either knows about the adventure or not), and one where nobody gets the mirror. Add in the option of either having Treya or Thinala and there’s a lot of little things to take into account, and also a lot of rewards to hand out.

The book advises you to skip the return journey to Clearwine unless the PCs have any business that they specifically want to attend to along the way and just have them make it back to Clearwine the night before the Holy Day. As long as the PCs got the mirror, they get to take part in the Ernalda Holy Day celebration, which is a parade that starts in Clearwine and ends in the Earth Temple outside the walls. The parade mimics Ernalda’s wedding procession, and there’s a couple of stations along the way where PCs can have fun and gain some reputation, like if you win a wrestling match with the guy playing Yelm. Leika will force herself into Orlanth’s role in the ending if she knows about the mirror, and if you give it to Daravala the magic of the mirror causes her to reconcile with Ereneva, who will play the part of Ernalda from the beginning. Either way, you get some loyalty passions and favor.

What the PCs also get from a successful adventure is a shitload of reputation, the full backing of the Orlanth and Ernalda cults, and the promise of future patronage from their chosen Clearwine Leader. PCs can potentially pick up 17+5d6 rep here if they get the mirror, kill Vamargic, and make it through the Makes Scratches side stuff with the beastmen. They get free training from the Orlanth and Ernalda cults if they get the mirror, which sadly only applies to Orlanth and Ernalda initiates. You should probably just give that to everyone for at least a month; as I said earlier the mirror is absolutely invaluable and everyone in Clearwine is gonna be singing songs about the PCs for some time. The adventure ends with a list of more plot hooks for adventures in the Smoking Ruins, like finding Korol Kandoros’ tomb or exploring down the well (there’s a hidden Ernalda temple down there). I like that the adventure really pays out for a low level introductory quest. It's a neat way to give your players some nice stuff and get them invested in the system.

Since this is a short update, I’ll put my final thoughts on the adventure down here, having run through it in detail a second time. I like a lot of the lore of the Smoking Ruin and think it has a lot of potential for other adventures. I did say I have multiple hangups about the core parts of the adventure itself. I think if you want to run it you have to really make sure that your players are right for it, and understand that this system is very lethal and warnings should be taken as seriously as Call of Cthulhu. As we’ve seen though, the lethality of the combat can also swing the other way if your players roll a bunch of crits. When I ran the adventure the first time, the players recovered the mirror but lost to Vamargic. They were frustrated with the fight and didn’t care about the Treya plotline, but they were also interested in the Ruins and made returning and killing Vamargic an overarching goal. They came back a year later with an army, killed Vamargic, and spent much of their free time in the rest of their campaign digging into the ruins looking for more artifacts and interesting stuff.

My overall opinion is there’s a core here that’s a neat adventure, but you’re going to have to put in some work as a GM to make it run well.

Next: Our party completes their journey, then we get to the good stuff.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Skaven
Rats of the Storm



Clawlords are the leaders of the Clans Verminus, savage, merciless and cunning. They are arrogant rats, prone to bluster and swagger, and they are brutal fighters in personal combat, but they shouldn't be mistaken for being less obsessed with their own survival over all else. They are willing to do anything to take out a foe and survive. Blow dust in the eyes, throw a minion into a weapon's path, prepare devious traps in the caves - anything at all is fair game if it helps you win or survive. Recognition as a Clawlord isn't earned or worked towards - it is seized and claimed in a burst of violence. Take your rivals out, whether that means arranging "accidents," hiring assassins or openly challenging them to single combat and tearing their throats out. (The real power move is considered to be eating their corpses afterwards as their underlings look on.)

Just earning the title isn't enough, either. Once you're a Clawlord, you're a target, and a successful Clawlord must be manipulative, cunning, able to set rivals against each other and able to enforce loyalty among minions - typically through fear. Any threat must be crushed without mercy or hesitation, and much of a Clawlord's time is spent quashing potential rivals and usurpers. The rest is spent building up achievements through conquest and battle, to ensure that other Clawlords are afraid to spread rumors or try to stael their power. Many Skaven believe this mass of constant competition and intrigue is why the Clans Verminus are so aggressive militarily - to keep up with their rivals, a Clawlord must always be taking new trophies and proving their strength, no matter how many Clanrats must die to do it.

The Clanrats form the main body of the Clans Verminus, vast hordes of Skaven warriors. They outnumber all other kinds of Skaven, with the exception of the dreg class (that is, common workers) and the slaves. They are barely above the dregs, and most Clanrats are not particularly enthused at being warriors - or very good at it. Their gear is usually rusty and poorly maintained, and they only really get better stuff by scavenging it off bodies, whether from fallen comrades or murdered ones. They have poor discipline, are as cowardly as any Skaven and are prone to vicious infighting for influence and petty power. What they are is fast, creatively vicious and capable of working themselves into a frenzy of temporary courage when gathered in large numbers.

In combat, Clanrats fight as a disorganized horde, overwhelming foes in a mass of claws, blades, shrieking and the musk of fear. In just about any major assault, hundreds of Clanrats will die. Each individual Clanrat knows, however, that this just means as long as they survive, they're down hundreds of rivals for power and scavenging rights. The mass death also ensures the rather sizable Clans Verminus are not generally without food after battle, which can be a real problem. See, after frenetic activity (such as combat) it isn't uncommon for the Skaven metabolism to go into overdrive and send them into what they call the "black hunger," a near-mindless state of intense need. Either the Skaven eats enough meat to replenish the energy expended in battle or their body devours itself from the inside. Having a lot of their own dead around after battle is what keeps the Clanrats alive long enough to wake up from their hunger.

The Stormvermin, on the other hand, are the elite forces of the Clans Verminus. They are larger than their fellows, often a full head taller, and heavily muscled. Each is marked from birth for their role by a combination of dark fur patterning and an innate willingness to dominate and control the others around them. (Not, mind you, that most Skaven are unwilling to do so, but Stormvermin are born large and powerful enough even as children to actually do it.) Unlike the Clanrats, Stormvermin are given the best weapons and armor their clan has access to. They often serve as a Clawlord's bodyguards or as sentries for key clan assets as well as being linebreakers and shock troops.

Obviously, Stormvermin revel in the status and respect they get, and have the right of first claim to any corpse they want to eat after battle. They also often claim slaves and warrens as their own, operating as petty tyrants within their clans. Their services are often sold out to other clans to serve as bodyguards - Gray Seers, Arch-Warlocks, Master Moulders, any skaven leader that wants to show off their power is going to hire their own personal pack of Stormvermin bullies. Bought loyalty is never particularly strong, of course, and far less so among the Skaven. More than one Skaven leader has fallen to their own purchased bodyguards thanks to a better offer from their old Clawlord.



The Clans Moulder, meanwhile, are ruled over by the Master Moulders. They are deranged geniuses of the flesh, brutish creatures that often resemble the very monsters they make thanks to self-experimentation and warpstone exposure. Many are hideously bulked up, have grown extra limbs or developed secondary faces or extra organs that require them to support themselves by a near constant diet of still-living flesh. In battle, the Masters wield long whips and immense, spring-loaded polearms they call "things-catchers." These end in sharp, biting jaws that seize the enemy and either kill them or capture them. Of course, the biggest weapon of a Master Moulder is the horrific menagerie of beasts they create in their labs. The book honestly has very little on the Moulder as people compared to the other clan leaders.

The beasts are driven into battle by Packmasters, Skaven trained in goading animals (and, well, things that are part animal) into a war frenzy. They are cruel and vicious, and each one is basically aiming to become a Master Moulder someday. Once again, very little is actually said about them. Like their commanders, they favor the whip and the things-catcher as weapons. They get to be quite good at that, because anyone who isn't good at it is going to eaten by their beasts. These include the War Rats, which range in size from massive swarms of normal sized but vicious rats to larger ones that are about the size of a hound. In either case, they are deployed in large groups to take down the enemy in a wave of bites and flesh. Most will not survive any given battle, but enough rats can take down even great warriors.

The most famous and successful breed of beast, though, is the Rat Ogor. They are made largely from fusing Skaven with Ogors in a mix of stitchwork, fleshmelding and occasionally growing body parts in vats via magic and cryptosurgery. They should be impossible, but the Clans Moulder have discovered how to use warpstone balms to prevent organ rejection, and the end result is gigantic, vicious and exceptionally stipid rat monsters. The Rat Ogors are either used as shock troops in Moulder armies or sold off to other clans at very high prices, and they can be relied on to tear through the enemy in a blind fury. Their survival is considered a non-factor.

The pinnacle of the fleshcrafting art, however, is the Hell Pit Abomination, an unholy mountain of ratflesh. These creatures are grafted together with the aid of warpstone from many different monsters. Each one is unique, but all are disgusting, revolting masses of undulating flesh and limbs. They are typically mounted on top of a wheeled cart to allow easier movement, as they are usually cancer-riddled masses of fat holding together the actual dangerous bits. They are usually blind, hunting by scent, sound and vibrations as they shamble about the field. Those that do not flee these monstrosities in terror must face a thing of muscle and fat that can crush them under its massive bulk as easily as it can tear them apart with fang or claw, of which it has many. They have a surprisingly high survival rate for a Moulder creation, largely because they're too big and nasty to easily kill.



Finally, we have the Clans Eshin. Their war-leaders are known as Deathmasters, servants of the true leadership of the Clans Eshin, who rarely leave Ulgu. The Skaven find these assassins terrifying, though little concrete is known of them. Most of it is rumor and fear - they can move through cracks barely large enough for a hair, their shadows are poison, they can communicate telepathically. Most of that is false. They are, however, extremely sneaky, fast and good at murder. A Deathmaster is able to leap many times their own height, can wall-run easily and are nearly impossible to land a hit on if they have room to dodge. They can tell a poison by its scent alone, can catch a bullet in mid-air and can kill with their bare claws as easily as any weapon.

Not that the Deathmasters exclusively fight unarmed - each one tends to carry a vast amount of knives, throwing stars, poisons and other tools, including explosives. Murder is also not their only business - many work as arsonists or spies as well. Deathmasters are granted almost total autonomy in the pursuit of the missions of the Clans Eshin, as it's been found to make them most effective. Micromanagement tends to end poorly, as the Deathmasters think very highly of themselves and their own ideas and do not appreciate their plans being second-guessed by employers.

In battle, the elite forces most often seen by the enemy are the Gutter Runners, rats all in black that have proven themselves cunning and skilled by being able to survive among the lesser Night Runner packs for an extended period. Their leaders hand-select each one of them to be initiated into the secrets of the Clans Eshin. Of course, many try to push their way faster up the ladder of selection by murdering and tricking their way to the top...but getting too ambitious about that in the Clans Eshin is a good way to be disappeared. It's often easier to bide time and prove skill at survival. The Gutter Runners are trained in multiple forms of armed and unarmed combat as well as sabotage and stealth. They serve as the scouts for Eshin armies, often working to destroy supplies, steal intelligence and otherwise spread chaos among the foes of the Skaven. In battle, they favor hit-and-fade strikes, ambushing foes for a brief moment of violence and then vanishing into the shadows to seek a new opportunity.

The Night Runners are by far the majority of rats among the Clans Eshin. They are sneaky compared to, say, Clanrats, but they're simply not in the know or particularly well trained. Their job is to strike at flanks or encircle enemy units, attacking with throwing stars and slings to weaken the enemy, then fall back and draw them into am abush of knives. When possible, they aim for vulnerable spots in enemy lines and attempt to maximize damage and minimize the amount of time they can be attacked. This is because Night Runners caught in a melee tend to die fast and often, and their packs will go to great length to retreat if they can't immediately overrun foes.

The End!

Available options:
Chaos (Beasts of Chaos, Blades of Khorne, Disciples of Tzeentch, Maggotkin of Nurgle, Slaves to Darkness)
Death (Nighthaunt)
Destruction (Ogor Mawtribes, Orruk Warclans, Sons of Behemat)
Order (Daughters of Khaine, Fyreslayers, Idoneth Deepkin, Lumineth Realm-Lords, Sylvaneth)

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

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


Lumineth Because I have no idea what they are about.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Josef bugman posted:

Lumineth Because I have no idea what they are about.

Radioactive lizardmen I think?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Lumineth are, in the words of Games Workshop’s announcement of them, the Pointy Elves.

Froghammer
Sep 8, 2012





Thanks for your work on rat chat, rats are clearly the best race in AoS

That said, I'm eager to learn more about the Sons of Behemat.

(They're the giants. They worship whatever god has the biggest feet)

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Josef bugman posted:

Lumineth Because I have no idea what they are about.

Also going for the Lumineth.

Servetus
Apr 1, 2010


Nighthaunt we can finish off death as a category, and I honestly don't know what they are.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Servetus posted:

Nighthaunt we can finish off death as a category, and I honestly don't know what they are.

Agreed. Let the Nighthaunts be the end of Death (as a category).

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Sons of Behemat. Giants felt like a chronically under-used element of WHF fluff, and I'm kind of curious how Age of Sigmar treats them.

Pyrolocutus
Feb 4, 2005
Shape of Flame





Throwing in a request for Blades of Khorne. I remember at AOS launch everyone was mocking the BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD naming scheme, but GW seems to have made the fluff for Khornates in AOS a little less atrocious with time.

sasha_d3ath
Jun 3, 2016

Ban-thing the man-things.

I want them Big Bois in the Sons of Behemat please.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I'm never gonna get an ogre update am I.

Monk E
May 19, 2009


Sons of Behemat. Haven't heard much about warhammer's take on giants.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Lumineth

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Why are doing this to me guys? I specifically asked for no more elves.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


By popular demand posted:

Why are doing this to me guys? I specifically asked for no more elves.

Should have asked to cover a faction with a less stupid name.

Trick question, it's all of them

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Democracy fails me again.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


This being Elfgames, we can never truly escape elves so might as well get them closer to being done with in this context. Lumineth

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Looks pretty neck and neck between Lumineth and Sons of Behemat.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I flipped a coin and it said Pointy Elves.

Good news: a lot of the problems Pointy Elves have are explicitly and textually because they're hubristic, arrogant assholes.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar Lore Chat: Lumineth Realm-Lords



The Lumineth Realm-Lords are the graceful, wise and mystical pinnacle of the aelves. (According to themselves.) They are the blessed inhabitants of the Ten Paradises of Hysh, proud of their advanced civilization (which they claim is the most advanced in existence) and in an ideal world would like nothing more than to focus their long lives on pursuit of excellence in their chosen fields of expertise. However, they have been forced by the encroachment of Chaos to take up arms and protect reality from the forces of evil. After all, they live in reality and want it to continue existing.

As in all things, the Lumineth pursue precision in battle, with each strike, dodge and parry made in accordance to calculated and carefully designed styles executed with the speed and skill of a dancer. Their magic is no less calculated or beautiful, and they pride themselves on the accuracy of their burning energy lasers and the artistic purity of their magical practice. They do not fight in anger or joy, but rather in a state of painstaking care and logical analysis of conditions. It is only now that the Mortal Realms are coming to understand how amazing they truly are. The gods Tyrion and Teclis have elected to send their children to war alongside their ally, Sigmar, for the first time since the Age of Myth. The aelves move in perfect phalanxes and elite formations, matching their movements to each other without need for words. Their spiritual allies support them with the wrath of Hysh itself.

The Lumineth have not always been so lucky. They were almost consumed from within by the power of Chaos, their focus on precision, perfection and artistic beauty making them natural prey for Slaanesh. They survived, though, and have returned from the brink of destruction. In doing so, they have refocused on finding flaws and identifying them, that they might never forget their own imperfections even under Hysh's light. After the Reinvention, the Lumineth have made peace with their homeland. And yet, despite this, they are still unable to acknowledge or notice the core of hubris around which they have formed their self-image. They are very quick to judge others as inferior to themselves and to point out their flaws, but even with their new cultural focus on imperfection, they all too often prove unable to see imperfection in themselves.

The Lumineth culture has attempted to tamp down and deny the emotions felt by the aelves, and it is widely held among Lumineth philosophies that emotion clouds the mind and detracts from the perfection of thought. Further, powerful emotions are known to be able to incarnate echoes within the aether - for example, Slaaneshi daemons can be summoned, and powerful emotion is the key to rediscovering the forbidden texts of summonation that past scholars of the Lumineth have created. The most prevalent philosophies argue that anger causes hasty and rash action that endangers all, and even excess compassion can be dangerous, as it may lead you to save one life at the expense of thousands. This dismissal of emotion, arrogance and aloofness have made many enemies for the Lumineth. For millenia, they have fought only in defense of their homes, as they saw all other realms as inferiors unworthy of them. They have gained a reputation for being very deadly in battle but also very unpredictable and not worth dealing with, as even an allied force will be turned on if the Lumineth considered their destruction to be necessary for the wider goals of their nations, and they have never been prone to explaining themselves.

The detachment which the Lumineth seek has also proven a great weakness to them in the past. Devaluing emotion and burying it entirely is what caused the Spirefall that nearly destroyed Hyshian civilization entirely. By repressing their own desires so completely, the Lumineth were driven to self-deception, as their desires flared up within them as acts of sabotage, violence and even open warfare against each other, self-justified by sophistry and solipsism. The amount of wizards in the Ten Paradises meant this war was no simple thing, but instead an apocalypse of magical attacks that tore down almost everything of the Lumineth empire.

It has forced the Lumineth to re-evaluate themselves and radically change their basic philosophies and the way they made use of the natural resources of Hysh - especially the aetherquartz that is their realmstone. It is only very recently that they have completed their reconstruction of themselves in symbiosis with the environment of Hysh. Now, they work with it rather than attempting to transcend it as their Age of Myth ancestors did. Teclis has led them in this rebirth, and he even sends his own avatars to aid the Lumineth in battle, alongside the elemental spirits of the rivers, mountains, winds and skies of Hysh.

The Lumineth armies are primarily made of "citizen warriors," non-professional soldiers who lead full and normal lives in the Ten Paradises when not called on the muster for war. The Lumineth prefer to avoid war in general, and were it not for the state of reality right now, they would rarely march out. The vast majority of them refuse to even take up the role of citizen warrior, spending their lives in pursuit of mental or spiritual transcendence. Physical conflict is seen as brutish, unrefined and unworthy in Lumineth society. However, at the dawning of the Age of Sigmar, the Lumineth put forth the Decree Tyrionic, requiring that each of Hysh's nations create and maintain a standing army of Vanari, hosts of trained and highly educated soldiers led by the mage caste, the Scinari. Their goal was to take excellence of spirit and match it to excellence of body, in emulation of their twin gods, Tyrion and Teclis. Treating mind and body as two parts of the same whole has been a revolution in Lumineth thought.

Vanari forces have been deployed since their formation to fight the hosts of Chaos across the Mortal Realms...starting with Hysh. Their success in reclaiming much of the Realm of Light from Chaos has proven to them they are on the correct path, and so the aelves have seized several dozen Realmgates in order to bring their skill and wisdom to those in need elsewhere. (Not always with concern over if their 'lessers' wanted the help.) After battle, the Lumineth perform geomantic rituals to purify the land and engrave them with arcane sigils, rendering them permanently stable. They don't especially care if doing that means destroying allied fortifications or farmland, though. This has made them few friends among their nominal allies, and may be a key weakness by which Chaos can tear them apart. Slaanesh especially is good at taking advantage of internal strife, after all.

For most people in the Mortal Realms, Hysh is just...the sun. It is a bright light in the daytime sky, illuminating reality until Ulgu orbits around to eclipse it and bring nightfall. Its glow brightens the mind as well as the landscape, and its power encourages healing and purity of thought. Natives of Hysh are often seen as unusually intelligent, as their minds are naturally ordered and efficient, but they are also often too inquisitive and ambitious in their scholarly pursuits. The light of Hysh can bring enlightenment, but also blindness and confusion, and those who are unprepared for it can become driven to addiction, obsession and death. It's no wonder Slaanesh found the original Lumineth culture so easy to infiltrate. The current culture attempts to balance the power of Hysh's light with spiritual purity and discipline so that they do not become consumed. Every Lumineth, at least in theory, is seeking the state of balance that will allow them to become truly enlightened.

Next time: Elf History

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




My god, their hats are even dumber. I didn't think it was possible.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


wiegieman posted:

My god, their hats are even dumber. I didn't think it was possible.

Future ones will likely have Fox's and Dragons on the hats. The Cow ones are a particular group of them.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Half-eldar, half-high elf, all hat.

mellonbread
Dec 20, 2017


Delta Green Shotgun Scenarios - Pt 1: 2005, 2006, 2007

Hey FATAL and Friends, let’s read some Shotgun Scenarios for Delta Green.

DELTA GREEN
What’s Delta Green? It began life as a splatbook for Call of Cthulhu in the 1990s, presenting an alternate setting to run modern day games. Players are agents of the eponymous Delta Green, a secret conspiracy dedicated to protecting the United States, and the world, from the forces of the mythos. The original Delta Green books debuted just before the X Files, but both drew from the same UFO conspiracy lore, and presented a similar mix of monster-of-the-week and metaplot heavy episodes to cement the comparison in everyone’s minds.

DG got an intermittent trickle of splatbooks through the early 2000s. A new, standalone edition of the game came out in 2016, with no ties to Chaosium or the Call of Cthulhu IP. The standalone game has a revamped system, an updated setting, and a steady trickle of new content since its release. It’s one of my favorite RPGs ever, but we’re not reviewing it today. We’re reading Shotgun Scenarios.

(I might post huge spoilers for both specific scenarios and the Delta Green setting as a whole in this series. You have been warned)

SHOTGUN SCENARIOS
What’s a Shotgun Scenario? Back in the primordial mists of time (2005), discussion of Delta Green happened (among other places) on a page called the Delta Green Mailing List, run on the Yahoo Groups platform. The primitive inhabitants of this platform had an idea: a contest, to see who could write the best Delta Green scenario in 1,500 words or less.

(Ok, it was more complicated than that. The original concept was an “ultra condensed” scenario described in a few sentences. But the guy who came up with that concept, Ken Scroggins, regularly entered submissions of 5,000 words or more into subsequent contests, so it seems even he wasn’t interested in something that condensed).

Originally launched as a repository for Delta Green fan content salvaged from defunct websites, the Fairfield Project is better known today as the home of past years’ shotgun scenario entries. You can view the webpage here and read all the scenarios if you want. Until recently, entries were dutifully uploaded (and painstakingly converted from assorted submission formats into wiki markup) by community member Ed Possing, who administered the contest.

The wiki framework the site is built on is no longer supported by the original developers. Nobody knows how to create a Fairfield account, or contact the guy who’s in charge of the webpage. There’s a bot that inserts advertisements into the text as hyperlinks, and nobody knows if it’s a spambot or something deliberately added by the owner to cover hosting costs. The whole thing could disappear tomorrow. This year’s contest is being run on a separate platform by the Forums' very own Elendil004. Voting finishes up at the end of the year, so by the end of this series I’ll probably have a 2020 entry to review too.

MISC HOUSEKEEPING
There are literally hundreds of scenarios spread across the contest’s 15 year (and counting) lifespan, so I’ll only be covering the winner for each year.

Scenarios from 2005 to 2016 were written for the old Call of Cthulhu sourcebook, and use those rules, mechanics and stat blocks. Scenarios 2016 and onward (mostly) use the new Delta Green mechanics. There’s enough mechanical compatibility between the two that conversion isn’t hard. The real sticking point is that the pre 2016 entries (and often the ones after that) include lots of references to lore elements from the original books, assuming that the reader recognizes them and knows how to incorporate them into the scenario. This means a lot of the entries (though thankfully not too many of the winning ones) are hard to use for anyone who’s not a Delta Green superfan.

I’ll link directly to the winning scenarios for each year. To get the most out of each post, I recommend reading them yourself. In many cases, trying to describe the contents is hard without essentially rewriting the scenario in a post, since they’re short and already written very tightly.

There’s administrative stuff on the contest side that went on in the background for some years, which I’ll mention if it’s relevant. The big one to understand is that stat blocks aren’t included in the total wordcount, so some of the scenarios are substantially longer than 1,500 words once you total up the NPCs, monsters, magical spells, etc.

A handful of the winning scenarios have been repackaged and published in an official Delta Green zine called The Unspeakable Oath. I will be reviewing the original fanmade shotgun scenarios as posted to the Fairfield site, rather than the updated official versions.

So let’s get to it. First three years:

2005
Schrodinger's Dilemma - by Jonny X. A message, possibly from the future, says a man must be killed in Washington D.C. 4500 words.

Right off the bat, the word count on this one is over the line. The 1,500 word limit wasn’t a hard cap until a couple contests ago. Until then, you could make your scenario as long as you wanted, you just got a penalty to your total vote count. Future entries are easier to read, I promise.

Anyway, this is the first winning shotgun scenario entry, and also the first Delta Green scenario I’ve ever played. It starts with some cool evocative detail about a mysterious package your character gets - a scrap of human leather with the Elder Sign, the holography in a dollar bill from the future, a mysterious note with code and some lyrics from a Tom Waits song. Then you get a cryptographic puzzle that the Keeper (Handler in the new edition) can give the players to solve OOC. Unfortunately, two of the three links given in the text are now dead - they worked a couple years ago when I played the scenario, dammit!

The message from your “future self” tells you that A Cell (the Delta Green leadership) has been compromised, and unless you kill a specific guy (H. Scott Whitcher) at a specific place (Air and Space Museum in Washington DC) at a specific time (12 hours from now). Then there’s a descriptive text for the Agents in the new edition rushing across the country to make it to the site in time (along with a couple possibilities for what happens if they don’t believe the message). The text gives 5 possible explanations for what’s really going on:
  1. The sender really is one of the players from the future, and they really did send the message back to stop the apocalypse.
  2. As above, but the sender is wrong - killing Whitcher does nothing.
  3. As above, but the sender is deliberately misleading the Agents
  4. The sender is an enemy of the Delta Green conspiracy (such as a wizard or alien) trying to catfish them
  5. The whole package is a mundane fake, giving false information for some unknown purpose
The encounter with Whitcher likewise has five possible resolutions:
  1. Whitcher never appears. Turns out he never existed.
  2. Whitcher is grabbed by MAJESTIC 12 before the players can kill him (MAJESTIC are the evil counterpart to Delta Green - the Aspis Consortium to their Pathfinder Society, the Zhentarim to their Harpers).
  3. Whitcher explodes before the players’ eyes before they do anything to him, victim of some horrible magic.
  4. Whitcher is a totally normal dude, the only thing out of the ordinary is the intelligence agency he’s interviewing with for a job (the Keeper must choose which one).
  5. Whitcher is a mythos monster in human skin, if the Agents bring the scrap of leather with the Elder Sign, it forces him to drop his disguise.
  6. Whitcher is Stephen Alzis, an immortal out of control DMPC Wizard who leads the Fate, a supernatural crime syndicate detailed in the original Delta Green sourcebook
It’s also up to the GM to decide whether the future self was right about A Cell being compromised, or whether it’s just paranoia, and what A Cell does about it.

This scenario is rough. You’re never going to get something exactly right on your first try - this is the first contest, and it shows. There’s lots of unfinished text, or stuff that reads like a snapshot of an ongoing conversation rather than an RPG adventure - the line “Ask me about the Modern Ghoul Cabal at some point, they're my favorite candidates” dropped into one of the explanations.

There’s a lot of reliance on the Keeper adapting and improvising. The scenario suggests that whichever option the Keeper chooses depend on how the players approach the situation, in order to ensure that whatever crazy plan they come up with leads to further craziness. The whole product is more of a pile of plot elements to pick and choose from than an actual finished adventure. That’s something lots of the early shotgun scenario entries have in common. As the years go by, they get more structure to them.

As scuffed as the whole thing is, I definitely enjoyed playing this adventure. There’s enough supporting detail that it’s not hard for the Keeper to spin the rough collection of story hooks into something playable and memorable.

(2005 was also the year Last Things Last was entered into the contest. It eventually became the introductory adventure in Need to Know, the 2016 Delta Green quick start)

2006
Whereabouts Unknown - by Bret Kramer. An "exemplary" friendly has gone missing. 1500 words.

Exactly under word count. Let’s get into it.

This scenario begins with a lore refresher. “Delta Green is more than just twenty-six cells of three agents each. Numerous unofficial members, the ‘friendlies’, have long played a part.” Remember this description, it’ll help us not only with this scenario, but one we’ll read later in the pile.

This scenario is relatively straightforward, spending most of its wordcount on supporting detail rather than adding lots of elements to the story. A Delta Green friendly becomes obsessed with a secret tome that holds mathematical knowledge. She goes missing, the Agents track her down, find the hotel room with evidence that she cast a magic spell in the woods, then find the spot in the woods where she cast the spell. The text suggests a couple monsters that might spawn at the ritual site, but the woman herself doesn’t come back. There’s plenty of stuff for the players to poke at with their skills, all of which make the world feel more interactive, but none of which affect the ultimate outcome.

One thing to note about a lot of these early submissions is they don’t have an executive summary. They might have an evocative blurb, but the Keeper is left to discover what’s going on by reading through the entire scenario.

“Delta Green NPC secretly causes trouble by doing something they shouldn’t, players clean up the mess” is a very common structure for a Delta Green investigation. We’ll see it in future winning entries, and it shows up in countless other shotgun scenarios.

2007
Metamorphosis - by Graham Kinniburgh. An encounter with another team's op that has gone terribly wrong. First place.

This is a scenario about Delta Green Agents running into a mess made by other Delta Green Agents. These are pretty common for a few reasons. First, they allow you to reinforce the game’s themes of the player characters becoming corroded/degraded/villainous/meeting random horrible fates by showing other similar characters in more advanced stages of transformation. Secondly, Delta Green itself gets a lot of page space in both the old and new versions of the game, detailing the internal workings of the conspiracy. And thirdly, “kill someone on your own side who knows too much/got in the way” is a classic trope in spy fiction, which is where Delta Green draws a lot of its inspiration.

Anyway, you’re Delta Green Agents on the way home from a “successful” mission. You have some reason to visit a Green Box - a setting term for a clandestine storage facility of some kind where useful items and dangerous magic crap are left by Agents for future use/hiding. Whatever reason you give the players for visiting, they run into trouble when they arrive. Another three person Delta Green cell (O Cell) is already in the Green Box. They just busted up a spider cult, got shot up in the process, and one of their agents got bit by a spider person. She’s currently in mid-transformation into a spider lady herself, but O Cell doesn’t know that. They’re violently protective of her, because she’s one of them. Even the players knowing she’s there is a direct threat, because they might tell A Cell, and A Cell might order her to be killed. So there’s a tense standoff, then the spider agent metamorphoses fully and attacks the rest of O Cell, and then you have a boss fight against her.

This is one of the more popular winning entries from the early years. It’s a compact little adventure with some cool creepy details and a lot of personality. But it has a couple flaws.

First, the “moral dilemma” of having to kill someone you don’t want to because of mythos shenanigans is well trod ground. It’s also the plot of Last Things Last, the aforementioned Delta Green quick start. Some people even recommend running that adventure and this one back to back, which I don’t think is a good idea. The first time you have to do it, it’s spooky and heart wrenching. Afterward it becomes routine and tedious. Like the man said, “Atrocities, right? They seem horrible at first, but soon they lose their shock value.”

The other flaw is that the scenario itself takes place after something much more interesting just happened. The spider cult was running a domestic violence shelter as a front operation to recruit women. That is a much more interesting concept than shooting a couple NPCs and a spider in a storage unit. Make the scenario about the exciting thing, not cleaning up after the exciting thing!

That's the first three years taken care of. Come back next post for 2008 through 2010.

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Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




mellonbread posted:

The wiki framework the site is built on is no longer supported by the original developers. Nobody knows how to create a Fairfield account, or contact the guy who’s in charge of the webpage. There’s a bot that inserts advertisements into the text as hyperlinks, and nobody knows if it’s a spambot or something deliberately added by the owner to cover hosting costs.

For a Delta Green wiki this is hilariously appropriate.

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