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Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




The Lone Badger posted:

And... magic in general.

Well if there's one thing SR has been consistent with it's that Magic is ridiculously powerful.

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90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006
:gay:


Flail Snail posted:



New Horizon Part 5: Supplemental supplemental

There's an NPC creator. Roll 1d6 per column - name, gender, personality, body, country, and race. This is where we discovered Sha'Quita.
I feel like it's worth pointing out the content of the gender column here. Available genders (roll 1d6!) are: Straight, Bisexual, Homosexual, Transgender, Cisgender, and Confused.

I guess it's the one place the author kind of tried, even if he didn't get it at all? Probably giving him way too much credit there.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I'm pretty sure those aren't genders, but orientations?

Well, most of them?

...Yeah, the more I think of that table, the more I am "Confused."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



So, you can be either straight or cis, huh

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

90s Cringe Rock posted:

I feel like it's worth pointing out the content of the gender column here. Available genders (roll 1d6!) are: Straight, Bisexual, Homosexual, Transgender, Cisgender, and Confused.

I guess it's the one place the author kind of tried, even if he didn't get it at all? Probably giving him way too much credit there.

Sorry, I'm not sure what happened. I think my eyes were glazing over at that point.

It seems like it's really a combination gender/orientation table written by someone with only an inkling of what should go in it. Or someone who needs to mush things into a d6 table. Half of the supplements are anti-somebody so maybe this is a dig at the "ess jay dubyous".

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Unbidden
Part 1: Going Back In Time



Our trip through the monsters of the nWoD has taken us out of 2nd edition and, indeed, out of the past decade. We're heading back to 2009 and the release of...what is technically the only Night Horrors book for Mage, The Unbidden, because for some reason Intruders, the giant book of Abyssal monstrosities, is not actually a Night Horrors book. Technically. Technically. Also I guess it only contains Abyssal beings rather than the full gamut of mage foes. There's also Left-Hand Path for other particularly bad kinds of wizard. That's also not a Night Horrors.

The Unbidden starts off with a section on Mages, then into weird critters and mage-like beings, then to magical objects of power and danger, then on to magical diseases and transformative conditions, and finally magical places. We'll be taking our trip through it, and it's been forever since I've read this book so I don't remember which bits are good or bad, so that'll be fun.

We also get a big sidebar on that the themes of this book are magic-as-weird-living-thing, hubris and hamartia. Hamartia being the act you do when the pride of hubris drives you to do a stupid thing. Essentially, most of the problems in this book are, to some degree, the fault of wizards deciding they can handle something and then doing some extremely stupid poo poo.

Next time: Extremely Bad Ideas

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



(said while gesturing to a pile of Mage books)

Mors Rattus posted:

Essentially, most of the problems in this book are, to some degree, the fault of wizards deciding they can handle something and then doing some extremely stupid poo poo.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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



Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Setting
Interlude: A History of Face Grabbing
Chapter 3: Storytelling
Chapter 4: Rules
Chapter 5: Character
Chapter 6: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans
Chapter 7, Part 2: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 3: Disciplines
Chapter 8, Part 1: Dramatic Systems
Chapter 8, Part 2: Dramatic Systems
Chapter 9: Drama

quote:

Sundown, you better take care
When I find you been creepin’ round my back stair

--Gordon Lightfoot, “Sundown”

quote:

That’s not a joke. They quoted a Gordon Lightfoot song in this book.

--Halloween Jack, FATAL & Friends 2020: The Other WoD Thread

Appendix, Part 1

Chapter 9 concludes the formal rules. (If you missed the writeup of the terrible combat rules because the old thread closed, the link is above.) Everything after this is lumped together in an appendix. This update will be a quick one before I get into the more important part: a sample campaign outline and intro adventure.

Example of Play

Chapter 9 ends with an example of play. Its text is split into two columns: a narrative of what the PCs are doing, and the way that’s reflected in the rules.

Clarissa and Ian are searching for Emily, Clarissa’s missing sire. They’ve come to investigate a cemetery where she was last spotted. They run into Dre, a Brujah who claims the cemetery as his turf. After some bickering, he agrees to let them look around.

Together they espy a group of three men: a minion of the Prince called the Sheriff, a notable Toreador still wearing a dinner party tuxedo, and a ghoul lackey--Ian can tell by the fact that this one breathes.

Clarissa hears the Toreador admit that he killed Emily in exchange for the Sheriff’s help against a rival, and presents her ring as proof of her death. She flies into a frenzy and attacks him, igniting a brawl. Clarissa beats Michael to a pulp, the Sheriff does the same thing to Dre, and when the ghoul pulls a gun, Ian uses Dominate to make him stop in his tracks and throw up. Seeing the tide turn against him, the Sheriff grabs the other two and runs.

It’s a fine example of play that includes some physical checks, some perception checks, combat, Disciplines, and an example of when to invoke rules like frenzy. It involves too many die rolls (the PCs roll to sneak up on and detect each other) but that’s the point of the thing.

The most notable thing about it is that “Sheriff” became a common Camarilla political office in later editions, a hatchetman for the Prince.

Antagonists

These are statblocks and notes on some common enemies you might face. The most interesting thing about this section is that because none of the other games had come out yet, they give advice on modeling things like werewolves, wizards, and ghosts with vampiric Disciplines and special traits. It’s also odd that they waited until this section to give you the rules for ghouls.

Vampire doesn’t advise combat encounters for their own sake, and some of these come with reminders that you really shouldn’t fight them head-on. For example, cops. The average cop statblock has unrealistically high stats (Firearms 3?) but that’s not why you should worry. Cops have basically infinite backup if you’re stupid enough to keep fighting them. Also included are stats for police detectives, SWAT troopers, and federal agents. The Camarilla really frowns on tangling with FBI agents.

Witch-hunters are officially unofficial agents of the Roman Catholic Church who hunt the supernatural. But the archetypal Inquisitor is apparently a priest with nothing but a cassock and a crucifix. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to be worried about people who have no combat training, can’t go to the press or the police, and that I’ll see coming a mile away.

Granted, they have True Faith, which we also should have seen the rules for before now. So some truly devout people have a True Faith rating. They can use it to ward off Kindred, who must roll against a Difficulty equal to the rating to approach them, or else suffer a level of damage and suffer Rotschreck. Meh. The Church is still more dangerous to children than to vampires.



Ghouls are people who drink vampire blood without being drained first. Humans who feed on vampire blood “regularly” get some benefits: they can spend the vitae in their system like a vampire can, they get a dot of Potence and the ability to learn Disciplines, and most importantly, they don’t age. The only vampiric weakness they develop is the potential to go into frenzy when angered, and a long-lived ghoul will age rapidly if their supply of Kindred blood is cut off.

Since the Blood Bond works on mortals, nearly all ghouls are slaves of their creators. Kindred usually treat ghouls like mushrooms, keeping them in the dark and feeding them more bullshit than blood. Creating ghouls is still a Masquerade breach, so you’d better have the Prince’s permission. The most common use for ghouls is to guard their master and run their errands while they sleep the day away.

Although Werewolf: the Apocalypse was released in between the 1st and 2nd editions of Vampire, they don’t try to cram in the rules from a different game. “Lupines,” as Kindred call them, are modeled with Disciplines and some unique abilities. They can assume man, wolf, or man-wolf form. In wolf-form, their Physical Attributes are doubled. In man-wolf form, they get the benefits of frenzy in combat. They regenerate 1 Health Level every turn. Their claws and fangs do aggravated damage, and they get multiple actions is if they had Celerity 2-8! They can also have whatever other Disciplines you think are appropriate.

Kindred are urban creatures, and they’re kinda stuck there. They need population density to hunt, and shipping your carcass from city to city is precarious. But if that’s too complex for your players, you can just tell them “Rural areas are dominated by Lupines, and fighting them is suicide.”

Magi, uh, exist. We’re only told that they are wary and disdainful of vampires, and hold the Tremere in special contempt. Mages have powers that are equivalent to Disciplines, especially Thaumaturgy, with the ability to use each effect once per scene.

Ghosts are also real, and vampires being dead themselves, you’re likely to come in contact with them. They have the equivalent of Auspex and Thaumaturgy powers. (A funny thing about the World of Darkness, as it developed over time, is that Kindred don’t actually have much reason to interact with wraiths and various spirits. It seems they tried to patch this by giving necromantic powers to new clans and bloodlines, with mixed results.)

Faeries are creatures who live in the mystical realm of Arcadia and visit our world only when the stars align. They “range from tiny sprites to mighty tree-lords,” and have Obfuscate, “a variety of Disciplines,” and “various illusion powers.” In other words, whatever powers you want. This is very different from what “Changeling: the Dreaming” turned out to be.

Finally, the biggest thread to vampires? Other vampires. There’s a rundown of how you should stat out vampires of a given Generation range: neonates, ancillae, elders, and Methuselahs. One notable thing is that old vampires have lower Virtues than younger ones as the Beast takes its toll. The other notable thing is that they suggest you give Methuselahs 15 dots of Disciplines. That’s very low by the standards of the “signature NPCs” that were statted up over the course of the game line. They typically have 20-35 dots of Disciplines regardless of their Generation.

Antediluvians don't get stats. They're godlike, and can’t be confronted directly. Only a large-scale coordinated effort can thwart their plans.

Next time on Kindred the Embraced: Built on Sand, Forged in Steel.

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!


Halloween Jack posted:

Ghosts are also real, and vampires being dead themselves, you’re likely to come in contact with them. They have the equivalent of Auspex and Thaumaturgy powers. (A funny thing about the World of Darkness, as it developed over time, is that Kindred don’t actually have much reason to interact with wraiths and various spirits. It seems they tried to patch this by giving necromantic powers to new clans and bloodlines, with mixed results.)

Weren't there always at least the Giovanni, though, the requisite weird-rear end necropires? I always thought they were kind of interesting villains, being basically the vampire mafia even more than the other vampires, and to an extent interacting more with mortals and the other undead than the rest of vampire society, not even really bothering to take a stance on the Camarilla vs Sabbat mess, instead forming their own third faction kind of like the Setites.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Giovanni were one of the clans introduced in the Player's Guide, which came out before 2e, but none of those clans made it into the 2e rulebook. Wraith didn't come out until '94. So Necromancy, AFAIK, winds up being this sort of self-justifying thing: the existence of ghosts is backfilled from this one clan that has ghost-bothering powers.

At this point in its development, the WoD has a problem that would often be seen in its many imitators: you're told that this whole other plane of reality exists, with its own denizens and landmarks, but there's not enough information to do much with it.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Maxwell Lord posted:

And that’s it. So yeah, a few flaws, I’m convinced ship maneuvers were supposed to do something but it was getting to be too much rules (the other problem with ship combat in RPGs, how much additional complexity do you want to introduce?), but I do like the bones of this. Does better than most at giving people poo poo to do, attacking systems matters, and because close range is so advantageous you get a kind of age of sail feel with ships pulling up alongside.

Yeah, I always thought it was one of the most glaring flaws in this game: it's named for a guy who's supposedly the best pilot in the cosmos, it has an entire class dedicated to flying things, and there's no actual guidelines for using piloting skills in a fight other than "uh, roll dice and make something up."

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

Halloween Jack posted:

Giovanni were one of the clans introduced in the Player's Guide, which came out before 2e, but none of those clans made it into the 2e rulebook. Wraith didn't come out until '94. So Necromancy, AFAIK, winds up being this sort of self-justifying thing: the existence of ghosts is backfilled from this one clan that has ghost-bothering powers.

Nerd gods forgive me, but after having read this, all I can imagine is a vampire crimelord commanding a Mega-Gengar and maybe a ghost Mewtwo or something.

And the Team Rocket Trio dressed up as Draculas.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



that's frankly far more interesting and less skeevy than the actual Giovanni Clan (where they only embraced members of their family, and often practice incest and/or necrophilia)

PoontifexMacksimus
Feb 14, 2012




Flail Snail posted:



New Horizon Part 4: History and a bit of adventuring

So, a question to the peanut gallery. There are thirteen free supplemental items for this game and more are coming out all the time. Do you want to hear about ezo-latin food? How about stealing breastmilk from babies? The author's apotheosis? They're all one page, I believe, so there might be one more update in me if people want more.


I'm guessing this is the same guy?

https://www.enworld.org/threads/new-horizon-development-coming-q1-2020.660215/page-3

quote:

Expect more haters to rise along the way, it comes with inevitable success. NH is a premium product without a label, not your typical Indie TRPG. And like previously mentioned, some will stop at nothing to stain its image. You who possess thy book, must spread its message to your fellow brothers because this is our only true outer haven.

PoontifexMacksimus fucked around with this message at 22:22 on Oct 14, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



...wait, does he think he's tabletop RPG Big Boss or tabletop RPG Liquid Snake in this analogy

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure


That's one of the tamer quotes available, but yes.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Mors Rattus posted:

...wait, does he think he's tabletop RPG Big Boss or tabletop RPG Liquid Snake in this analogy

and he misses the point Outer Heaven was basically an extreme and lunatic fringe response to a real issue.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Robindaybird posted:

and he misses the point Outer Heaven was basically an extreme and lunatic fringe response to a real issue.

Yeah, the thing to remember about Metal Gear is that NOBODY who sets out to solve that issue and inherit the will of The Boss does any good in any way. That's maybe kind of the point, even in the metatextual sense since the entire drat series starting from MGS2 is about the disconnect between message and audience.

So about par for the course for the Chud demographic, who never seem to realize they're the villain who isn't helping anything at all.

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Deities & Demigods 1E
Part 14: Curse Be On You Forever


Okay, let's finish up the Egyptian Mythos. When we left off, we were just about to get to the...

Minions of Set

So, minions of Set are lawful evil "go-betweens for Set and mankind" who can turn into giant snakes, and some of them can also turn into "cave bears, giant crocodiles, or giant scorpions". And that's about it. Here, have a picture.


It's Bruce Campbell's evil twin.

SHU (god of the sky)

Shu posted:

Twin brother to Tefnut, this god appears as a normal man.

Not a rather ordinary man, mind you. Just a normal man. These distinctions are important.

And all the rest of his description is about his combat abilities. What do his worshippers do? Does he have any special ceremonies? Who knows? Let's move on.

TEFNUT (goddess of storms and flowing water)

Tefnut posted:

Shu is Tefnut's brother, and he is very protective of his sister. Anything that dares to harm her will suffer his immediate vengeance, and there is a 75% chance that Horus will also help.

Deities & Demigods was secretly a plot to sell percentile dice.

Anyway, that's all we get about Tefnut besides her combat abilities, the only one of which worth noting is that she has the ability to summon water monsters. Which is italicized as if it were a spell, but... isn't a spell.

THOTH (god of knowledge)


"Wait... am I pointing this thing the right way? I can never remember."

Thoth posted:

Thoth was the teacher of the gods, and this role allows him full knowledge of everything and anything, particularly magic. His spells always inflict maximum possible damage (saving throws are still applicable).

Yup. We get one sentence of potentially useful (if vague) description, before we dive right in to combat abilities.

Well, we do get a little more in the next few paragraphs: he's instantly aware of any new knowledge discovered on the Prime Material Plane, and his worshipers are primarily interested in the acquisition and spread of knowledge. Also, he has "a set of 3 books that detail all clerical knowledge, all magical knowledge, and all divine knowledge. They have been stolen several times during his existence, much to the regret of the thieves when Thoth caught up to them."


The third book is Deities & Demigods.

Then we get to this chapter's one magic item:

TRUE ANKH

True Ankh posted:

This magical device, carried by all of the gods of the Nile at one time or another, enables them to raise any dead creature fully (as the spell) as long as all of the body pieces are present at the time of the raising. The device will kill by fire any non-divine being that touches it. It is about one foot long, with a cross shope, having a loop on the top. It is usually bright blue in color. There are only 7 of these in any given plane at any one time.

It's bright blue? What the heck is it made of? And saying there 7 "in any given plane" implies there could be more on other planes. So what happens if you try to bring one from another plane to a plane where there are already seven? Does it just... not work? Or is that there can have more than seven True Ankhs on a given plane but just currently aren't?

There's actually still a page and a half left in this chapter, but before I get to that, let's go over the gods, monsters, and items that are in the Egyptian Mythology section of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" but not in Deities & Demigods. We've already seen one, Apesh, but he's not alone. Here are the rest, in the seemingly random order in which they appear in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes":

RENENET   GODDESS OF GOOD FORTUNE

quote:

Renenet looks like an ordinary woman

Oh, good, this again. Kuntz and Ward's raw descriptive power never ceases to amaze.

quote:

and when looking upon another being gives them the Luck of the Gods. The being will make their saving throw every time, will always hit their enemies, and will never be struck by their foes.

:eyepop:

I... wow. What? How long does this last? Is it permanent? She can just look at someone and make them... basically invulnerable forever? Well, technically I guess people with the Luck of the Gods would still take damage from area spells that do half damage on a save, but still... dang.

(Bast, incidentally, has no area of effect abilities, so I guess if you get Renenet to look at you, you can slaughter displacer beasts with impunity.)

Okay, maybe I can see why she was left out of Deities & Demigods. I mean, sure, the writers could have just changed her powers, but that would have been too much work.

AMSET   GOD OF THE SOUTH
HAPI   GOD OF THE NORTH
TUAMAUTEF   GOD OF THE EAST
QEBHSENNUF   GOD OF THE WEST

Yeah, these are four separate beings, each with their own stat block, but they're listed right next to each other and are obviously related. They all have the same stats, and the same powers, and differ only in their appearance: Amset "looks like an extremely short man", Hapi "like an extremely short dwarf right out of D&D", Tuamautef like "a man with a crocodile head", and Qebhsennuf like a random sequence of Scrabble tiles. I mean, "like a man with a hippo's head".

SPHINX

Sphinx posted:

A sphinx is one of the most powerful of all Egyptian magical beasts. It has the body of a lion and the head of a woman, sometimes having wings, but not always.

Well, uh, that describes the Greek sphinx, but not the Egyptian. Oh well.

Sphinx posted:

While it is very short tempered and likes the taste of human blood, it is also curious and will spare a person with a good story (judges option). ... Its saving throw against everything is 02 and it loves riddles.

Riddles? Oh, goddammit, this is just the Greek sphinx. You're not even trying.

WINGED SERPENT

Winged Serpent posted:

These snakes are about 1 foot long with 2 foot long wings. It flies about its treasure and has only one power; it can spit a contact poison that will seep through even armor at a distance of 30 yards. This snake will try not to close with an attacker, spitting every melee round.

What do these have to do with Egyptian mythology? Search me.

LIFE SCEPTER

Life Scepter posted:

A magical weapon found only in the hands of Gods.

Oh, great, another of those.

Life Scepter posted:

Its main power is the ability to make the being holding it unkillable.

Uh... I think gods are pretty close to unkillable already. (Unless you're Waldorf.) So what does the life scepter do for them?

Life Scepter posted:

It acts like the magic jar spell but it holds the hits points [sic] of the being. The holder can be hacked at forever with no harm because whenever he wishes he can return his hit points to his body.

That... kind of makes it sound like hit points are tangible objects that fly out of the gods when you hack them like candy out of piñatas, but okay.

Life Scepter posted:

It is made out of a woody material and is easily affected by anything that affects wood and destroying it destroys the user.

Wait, hold on. That's not making the gods unkillable. That's doing the opposite of making the gods unkillable. It's a lot easier to kill a god if all you have to do is destroy some dumb wooden stick they're holding.

But this point does not go entirely unaddressed:

Life Scepter posted:

It is not used often by the Gods except Thoth because he is able to negate all the forms of damage inflicting wood.


He... he is? I don't recall that being mentioned among his powers. I guess aside from its making him the only god for whom the Life Scepter is remotely useful, it must not come up very often.

Anyway, that's it for the Egyptian Mythology section of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", so let's get back to that last page and a half of the Egyptian Mythos chapter of Deities & Demigods. These last pages deal with a single topic:

HIEROGLYPHS

We get a few paragraphs of description, which I'm just going to go ahead and quote in full because I'm getting tired of trying to summarize things.

Hieroglyphs posted:

Egyptian written language did not use an alphabet as we know it; rather, ideas were conveyed by means of hieroglyphs, or word-pictures. Each hieroglyph could mean one simple word, or it could stand for a whole phrase or concept.

Well, no, I don't think it was normal for hieroglyphs (if you're using "hieroglyph" to mean a single symbol) to stand for entire phrases. They didn't even all stand for entire words. Many hieroglyphs had phonetic values, and could be used to represent particular sounds within a word or name. But let's continue.

Hieroglyphs posted:

A hieroglyph could be altered slightly with the effect of negating, emphasizing, or otherwise modifying the meaning of the base hieroglyph; however, this practice tended to confuse meanings when artists couldn't agree on their depictions. Later, archaeologists would face these same difficulties in trying to uncover the meanings of the hieroglyphs they found.

DMs using the Egyptian pantheon may wish to use hieroglyphs on maps, scrolls, temple writings, and anywhere else runes might be found (warning of danger ahead, etc.). These hieroglyphs con be combined to make phrases and sentences; for more information consult The Book of the Dead, a translation of ancient hieroglyphs found in Egyptian tombs.

The bibliography (which we'll get to in the appendices) does indeed include The Egyptian Book of the Dead, specifically the translation by E. A. Wallis Budge. Now, this does not strike me as necessarily the most logical source to look to for more information on hieroglyphics. Yes, it does include translations of passages of Egyptian hieroglyphics, with the English translations presented below the hieroglyphics they're translating, and yes, I guess by looking through it you could make some guesses about what hieroglyphs corresponded to what English words. But it doesn't really include a summary of how hieroglyphics worked, and it certainly doesn't include any ordered lexicon or dictionary that would allow you to look up specific words. Unlike Budge's two-volume An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, which, well, includes exactly that. So why did Kuntz and Ward suggest The Book of the Dead as a source for information on hieroglyphs, and not the much more apt An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary by the same author? I don't know, but I'm guessing maybe only the former was available in their local library.

To be fair, of course, old books like that weren't as easily accessible when Deities & Demigods was written as they are today. I happen to have physical copies of both Budge's translation of The Book of the Dead and his An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary—I've had them long enough I don't actually remember where I got them—but even if I didn't, both books are old enough now they're in the public domain, and easy to find online. But obviously that wouldn't have been the case back in 1980, and Kuntz and Ward's access to these books would have been more limited. Of course, there's also the fact that since those books are so old, they're kind of outdated; anthropologists have learned more about ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics since then, and revised some of Budge's translations, but for the purposes of the following discussion I'll go ahead and use Budge's Hieroglyphic Dictionary anyway.


Here's what E. A. Wallis Budge looked like, in case you were wondering. You probably weren't wondering.

Anyway, the rest of this section is taken up by a big chart, filling the rest of this page and all of the next, giving the hieroglyphs (supposedly) corresponding to various English words. I'm not going to reproduce the whole chart here, but I'll show the first bit of it to give you the idea:


Creative writing challenge: Come up with a short story using only the words in this chart.

Now, I admit as a child I found this chart pretty nifty, even though I don't think I ever used it in a game. But how accurate is it? Well... not entirely, of course, but maybe more than you might expect. (Certainly more than I expected.) I didn't take the time look up every hieroglyph (or set of hieroglyphs) in this chart, but from those I did look up, it seems that the hieroglyphs for the gods, at least, are somewhat mangled but at least close to correct (though not unique; the important gods had multiple variant sets of hieroglyphs that could be used to represent them). The other words are a bit more of a mixed bag; most of them are more or less correct ("at", "behold", "bones", "crown", "every"), but others have entirely different meanings from the ones the chart ascribes to them ("before", "blood"—according to Budge those hieroglyphs actually mean "to know" and "magical protection", respectively). There were some I was unable to locate in Budge's Dictionary, but I'm guessing that's because Kuntz and Ward misinterpreted and/or miscopied them; I get the impression they were at least trying to give authentic hieroglyphs and meanings, even if they didn't always succeed. That is to say, I don't think they made any of these hieroglyphs up, though they did get some of them wrong.

Their choice of words to include, however, is somewhat baffling. Why fire and earth, and not air and water? Why before, but not after? Why come, but not go? Life, but not death? Yesterday, but not tomorrow? And, but not or? He and his, but not she and her? This, but not that? Right, but not... wrong, or left, depending on which "right" they meant? (For that matter, why didn't they specify which "right" they meant? "Right" as in the opposite of left and "right" as in the opposite of wrong happen to be the same word in English, but that's certainly not true in most languages.) Why are there no numbers or colors, two very common and useful categories of word? It could be that this is simply because they didn't run across those words in their perusal of The Book of the Dead, of course, but it does somewhat limit the sentences that can be made using these charts. Still, I guess you could write a sentence like "Enter hidden door within north passage", though certainly not in the way that the ancient Egyptians would have really written it, given that the book gives no information on ancient Egyptian grammar and word-for-word translations from one language to another don't really work.

The weirdest bit is the "curse be on you forever", the longest multiword phrase represented in the charts, and in fact the only multiword phrase besides "magical charm", "magical powers", and, oddly, "to give", which unlike any other verb in the charts includes the "to" with the infinitive. Please note that the charts do not include the words "curse" and "forever"; they do include the words "is", "on", and "you", but the hieroglyphs it gives for those words don't match anything in the "curse be on you forever" hieroglyph. (Well, okay, they do include "eternity", which I guess could be used for "forever", but the "eternity" hieroglyph doesn't appear there either.) Apparently Kuntz and Ward just thought this one specific phrase was useful enough to warrant inclusion, and that no Dungeon Master would ever have occasion to refer to curses in any other context. Unfortunately, this is another hieroglyph they rather badly misinterpreted... I may not be getting the meaning exactly right, but as far as I can tell, the hieroglyphs they've translated as "curse be on you forever" actually mean something more like "shrine of Ptah".

Anyway, I guess that's a good note to end on, which is fortunate because this is the end of the chapter anyway.

Next time: "All Mothers Will Conform to the Following Statistics"

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Drakli posted:

Nerd gods forgive me, but after having read this, all I can imagine is a vampire crimelord commanding a Mega-Gengar and maybe a ghost Mewtwo or something.

Robindaybird posted:

that's frankly far more interesting and less skeevy than the actual Giovanni Clan (where they only embraced members of their family, and often practice incest and/or necrophilia)
I would like it if ghosts (with a bestiary of ghost familiars) and the astral realm were more integrated into the game, if they were going to do it at all. Necromancy eventually became like Thaumaturgy's little brother, where there are several versions of it practiced by several odd clans and bloodlines introduced in supplements.

I don't understand it, and it makes me grit my teeth a little. Necromancy, and a few metaplot elements, introduce this other dimension of the setting that I can't understand without picking up Werewolf and Mage and Wraith books. I have only a vague idea how the Umbra and the Underworld relate to each other. I don't think those games introduce stuff that make no sense if you don't read Vampire books.

From the POV of a player, Vampire is the most influential RPG since D&D, the flagship of the World of Darkness, and a hugely popular game with a community of its own. From the POV of a lore geek, Kindred are this weird dead end sitting next to the shared cosmology of the other WoD games. (I know none of them quite jive with each other, but Vampire seems the odd man out, especially since most Kindred's concerns are petty compared to fighting Technocracy, the Wyrm, and Oblivion.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

I would like it if ghosts (with a bestiary of ghost familiars) and the astral realm were more integrated into the game, if they were going to do it at all. Necromancy eventually became like Thaumaturgy's little brother, where there are several versions of it practiced by several odd clans and bloodlines introduced in supplements.

I don't understand it, and it makes me grit my teeth a little. Necromancy, and a few metaplot elements, introduce this other dimension of the setting that I can't understand without picking up Werewolf and Mage and Wraith books. I have only a vague idea how the Umbra and the Underworld relate to each other. I don't think those games introduce stuff that make no sense if you don't read Vampire books.

From the POV of a player, Vampire is the most influential RPG since D&D, the flagship of the World of Darkness, and a hugely popular game with a community of its own. From the POV of a lore geek, Kindred are this weird dead end sitting next to the shared cosmology of the other WoD games. (I know none of them quite jive with each other, but Vampire seems the odd man out, especially since most Kindred's concerns are petty compared to fighting Technocracy, the Wyrm, and Oblivion.)

Can't that partly be chalked up to the general direction the World of Darkness took as a setting? Moving more and more towards apocalyptic conflicts and metaplots (in part, as you've said, due to publishing demands)? Like power creep, but for the scope and style of the setting. After all, when you only have Vampire, you don't even have the idea of needing a 'shared cosmology' yet.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Flail Snail posted:

I will not be covering the inevitable supplements that will keep coming out.

That is the only fitting end for this. One could sense your mind unraveling as one read your description of the rulebook adventure.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Vampire's weaknesses in both the oWoD and nWoD/CD is definitely down to being the first in the line, and not wanting to really expanding the scope of the Vampire world for one reason or another.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Robindaybird posted:

Vampire's weaknesses in both the oWoD and nWoD/CD is definitely down to being the first in the line, and not wanting to really expanding the scope of the Vampire world for one reason or another.

I’d argue that’s a strength in Requiem - you can pick it up with no general knowledge and immediately you have enough context for Vampire to be robust. There are basic rules for ghosts and things in the blue book, if you want to expand on that, but Vampire is built to play well at a local level with local concerns about surviving and building power night by night. Vampires being generally uninterested in any cosmic conflicts is a feature, not a bug, because the antagonist in Requiem is ‘other vampires, your immediate surroundings, and yourself, not in that order.’

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Unbidden
Part 2: Name It And Claim It


rear end in a top hat Wizard Count: 1

Brother Ben, AKA Brother Father and Benaiah Clover, is an evangelist and leader of a Christian cult/evangelical church named the Golden Quorum. And he's a Scelestus, which is to say he's made deals and wields power from the Abyss, which is the vast anti-reality hole between the human world and the Supernal. Short form? The Abyss is horribly bad for everyone. It's not evil in a moral sense only because evil is a thing that is real and exists, and the Abyss is representative of everything that cannot and must not exist trying to displace and replace actual reality. Anyway. Ben was an abused child who spent a lot of time locked in his family's attic in the dark because his dad was an rear end in a top hat. His dad was a mage called Thorn, a cocaine and heroin addict who helped run a smuggling ring of stolen magical artifacts. His mom abandoned the family when Ben was five, largely because having a kid around would make it harder for her to get drugs.

Thorn locked his son in the attic when drunk or high, largely because he figured the kid was easier to deal with if locked in an attic with some food and a flashlight and maybe some comics. So, not so much active hate of his son as being a completely awful parent. Anyway, Thorn's underground artifact dealing got him into trouble often, and he stored broken, cursed or evil artifacts...in the attic, where, again, he locked his son to keep the kid out of his hair while getting hosed up. So Ben grew up mostly trapped in an attic with evil artifacts, some of which tried to convince him to kill himself and the rest of which were often haunted or just creepy as gently caress. Eventually, this drove Ben to find ways to drown out all their voices and ghostly wails, and he found the solution in an old book, a bible with entirely blank pages. As Ben began to imagine words on the pages, words formed there. He'd imagined a story about a prince seeking vengeance on his cruel father, but the story that appeared was about Jesus leading a revolution against God.

The item Ben found, which he calls the Blank Bible, always twists the stories imagined into it to a Biblical form. Ben would imagine stories, and the Bible would twist them to Biblical parables. It's probably the only thing that kept the kid relatively sane and functional. It kept him going until he turned 15. He hid the Blank Bible in his pants one night when his father let him out of the attic, set up a trap to distract the old man and removed the cloth from a weeping painting. The noise of it became deafening and it froze Thorn in place, allowing Ben to smash a ghost lamp over his head, releasing the ghostly flame inside into his father's ear. The man fell, clawing at his own face while Ben left the house. This was all before Ben Awakened as a mage himself. Possibly that was due to his father being a wizard, his being so close to magic items all the time or just chance. Ben took to magic easily, though, as a way to realize his imagination and the tales of the Blank Bible.

Ben developed his own kind of Mage cosmology, believing that the world was Fallen from God's grace (rather than any magical ideal), and that enlightenment and power were found in the dark, in pain and torment and suffering, as his own life had been in the attic. To gain more magic, which he saw as God's power, Ben decided to start loving with the Abyss - what better test against the darkness? He never even realized he was tainting himself and becoming Scelestus as he focused on Abyssal power in his quest for God's nature. He just decided you had to smash through Hell to get to God, and that's what he wants to evangelize. Ben's a well-put-together, charismatic kid, coming off both as humble and insanely proud simultaneously in his weird vision of God and Christ. He's not always good at personal space, which some appreciate and others find offputting. Behind the charisma is need. Ben craves affection and people liking him, having never even really had company as a kid. He's desperate to be praised and admired.

When that doesn't happen, Ben's kindness and earnestness ends immediately. He becomes cruel and vindictive, finding the areas that will hurt most for him to comment on and exploiting them so that he can be, if not loved, at least seen as a superior. If doing this can make someone realize how amazing he is, he can shift back to the kind evangelist, but he's fine either way. His actual behavior, in either case, rarely changes much - he's still all smiles and touching, even when he's carving someone a new rear end in a top hat with words. This and his carefully cared-for attractiveness (in a preppy kind of way) means that many have trouble thinking of him as nasty even when he's being cruel as hell. His nimbus (read: magical aura visible to mages when he's doing magic) is all flashing lights, swords clashing and the rolls of thunder, plus the smell of ozone and blood. He believes these to be symbols of his holy war and the quest for Heaven.

Ben's Scelestus nature is unknown to all of his allies - and to himself. He's pretty sure he's no more Abyssally tainted than average, despite actively reaching into the Abyss for power. That's part of his job, after all, and it couldn't possibly taint him, right? He's in active denial about both this and his own extremely low self-image. He refuses to acknowledge that he hates himself most of the time, but personal failures, even on the level of knocking over juice or forgetting his keys, cause him to spiral out of control and become deeply depressed. He's also a virgin and deeply in repression about his own sexual desires. He's never so much as kissed anyone and it's getting to him because he is, at most, just past his teen years. He believes that he cannot express his lusts except in marriage, and can't conceive of anyone who might marry him given his quest except, possibly, an equally driven mage.

The Blank Bible's text cannot be read by most people. It manifests text only to those with whom it shares a sympathetic connection, and because of its nature, that means they share some connection to the Abyss. Anyone else who tries to read this text finds it meaningless scribble in some alphabet unlike any other. This is actually a magical language, the Low Tongue, which is kind of the Abyssal version of the High Speech. If translated, the text is essentially a string of curses against reality. Despite this, the Blank Bible is not an Artifact in the sense of Mage's Artifacts - it's magic, sure, but it has no powers beyond manifesting text and teaching the Low Tongue...though even those that learn it can only use a spoken version - written Low Tongue is not really a useful thing to anyone. Even Scelesti.

Ben believes he murdered his father. He is wrong. Thorn survived the attack, though it scarred his face heavily and the scars can't be healed by magic. The event drove Ben's father to clean himself up and seek out some form of redemption. He feels intensely guilty and has been hanging around Ben's church in an effort to get close enough to ask his son for forgiveness...or, well, he was originally. He didn't expect his son to also become a mage - and he can sense the darkness in the boy. He wants to save his son and has no desire to harm him, but he has no idea what to do. He knows he has to act, and he will act soon - but he has no idea what action he's going to take. He can feel Ben on the brink of damnation, and he's afraid he'll have to put the boy down. Ben's bodyguard doesn't help. Some say he's the Devil in human form - but Deacon Thrush isn't. He's not even really trying to take over Ben's little cult. He's just far more aware of the Abyss than Ben is and wants to help the boy end the world. He's been going behind Ben's back to create an army of cultists and likeminded wizards that'll help once Ben realizes his calling. Not out of any malice or rebelliousness, of course - he just knows Ben's not comfortable with fame and being a cult leader just yet. He needs someone to pave his way. And that's what Thrush is for. He's planning to recruit maybe half a dozen more wizards to bolster their cabal (which remains largely ignorant of Ben's Scelestus nature or Thrush's plans) and to expand the cult to another dozen members who would die at Ben's orders.

Ben is a Matigos and does not belong to any of the Pentacle Orders. He's charismatic and manipulative, but otherwise relatively average. He's an excellent public speaker, investigator and sneak, with decent skills in a brawl. He's also quite persuasive and good at lying and reading people. He has a destiny - and it's not a good one. Thrush thinks that destiny is to destroy the world, and it's certainly possible. (Fortunately, Destinies in Mage are not set in stone - they're just things the universe makes it easier for you to achieve.) He's also quite a powerful mage, despite his youth - Gnosis 5. Magically, he specializes in Mind and Space (as expected for a Mastigos) with his secondary skills lying in Prime and Forces.

Ben has also self-developed a Scelestus Legacy, currently unnamed. He's able to, once per day, sense the Vices of others and their Morality or equivalent. (To make this work for 2e, just swap in Integrity or equivalent, it honestly works out okay though it refocuses Ben's Legacy less on morality and temptation and more on mental stability.) This understanding takes the form of brief visions revealing whatever traits are being sensed. He can also touch someone to cause a scourging, invisible flame to consume part of their body, dealing Aggravated damage that increases the higher their Morality is and causes them to see visions of Hell. Were Ben to learn more Forces, he'd also be able to leave a brand on his victims for a scene, removable only via magic, that would make them easier to track due to the scent of burning flesh. This...could also be made to work for 2e with Integrity swapping out for Morality again, but it'd be harder, because the logic behind this is 'Scelesti hate the righteous;' the refocus would make it more 'the Abyss is shocking and painful to people whose minds and souls have not been broken.' Which, to be fair, fits. Ben has not yet developed the Legacy's 3rd attainment, but it would focus around the idea of pain as power, allowing Ben to turn harm he suffers into a bonus to his mental and social stats while wounded and would let him reduce wound penalties. With enough Life, he would also be able to make the wounds impossible to see (though still present) and also boost his physical stats the same way. This would translate well enough as it stands.

Note, I can't speak for the balance of Ben's nameless Legacy, but it's also unlikely to be used by PCs, given it requires you to be a Scelestus.

Next time: The General of the Abyssal Army and the rest of the Golden Quorum

Drakli
Jan 28, 2004
Goblin-Friend

So, is the Abyss basically like The Nothing from Neverending Story where it's a semi-sentient void, or more like the Dungeon Dimensions from Discworld or Yog-Sothoth from Lovecraft where it's crammed with Things Which Cannot Exist in our reality?

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Drakli posted:

So, is the Abyss basically like The Nothing from Neverending Story where it's a semi-sentient void, or more like the Dungeon Dimensions from Discworld or Yog-Sothoth from Lovecraft where it's crammed with Things Which Cannot Exist in our reality?

Yes.

The abyss is a vast expanse of malefic anti-creation that's anathematically opposed to existence, knowledge, and supernal enlightenment and also a blanket location for everything that isn't or won't be or shouldn't be or can't be and also host to a bunch of Lovecraftian nightmare things that would like to get in and end the world.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Omnicrom posted:

Yes.

The abyss is a vast expanse of malefic anti-creation that's anathematically opposed to existence, knowledge, and supernal enlightenment and also a blanket location for everything that isn't or won't be or shouldn't be or can't be and also host to a bunch of Lovecraftian nightmare things that would like to get in and end the world.

So how do the Abyss and the Idigam from Werewolf connect, since those are also impossible entities that shouldn't and/or can't be?

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Yes, I have a terrible new horizons question. If you get a stat bonus from drinking breast milk but only once doesn’t that mean that the majority of characters would have gotten this bonus before turning 1 year of age and thus it’s pointless to include?

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

DalaranJ posted:

Yes, I have a terrible new horizons question. If you get a stat bonus from drinking breast milk but only once doesn’t that mean that the majority of characters would have gotten this bonus before turning 1 year of age and thus it’s pointless to include?

I did not mention this in the update but the text says something about taking advantage of the opportunity to borrow some. That probably speaks for itself.

For daring to make me review the text again, I'm going to inflict the knowledge that a new supplement exists upon you.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



OvermanXAN posted:

So how do the Abyss and the Idigam from Werewolf connect, since those are also impossible entities that shouldn't and/or can't be?

They don't, unless your GM is deliberately connecting them. By default, the idigam are spirits that function in a way spirits are not "supposed" to but are wholly natural entities to the world.

The Abyss isn't. Like...I'll probably cover Intruders at some point, but the Abyss does include some weird tentacle monsters but on a fundamental level, the Abyss is things like 'the number 2 no longer produces coherent mathematical results on a conceptual level because it is now evil' or 'if you perform this specific set of qigong movements, cancer happens, because this is nega-qigong that operates on physical principles that are not true' or 'causality ceases to function in the presence of this weird structure from a reality that is literally impossible.'

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

The Abyss is less "fundamentally evil and opposed to life" and more "it turns out when you stick your hand into all possible concepts and realities, the number that can support life as we know it is very small."

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




OvermanXAN posted:

So how do the Abyss and the Idigam from Werewolf connect, since those are also impossible entities that shouldn't and/or can't be?

Apart from the usual pat answer of "while they don't completely ignore each other, the game lines don't bother much with crossover (to varying degrees)", they really don't.

The Abyss is anti-reality that was created/summoned/tapped into/found, on purpose or by accident, by using the Lie to hide the Supernal from the Phenomenal World. Its intrusions seep into our reality and take forms we can sort of understand in order to explore, attack and eat reality, with the ultimate goal of destroying everything and replacing it with the nothingness-adjacent Abyss. Beings from the Abyss can be changeable, but most of them that intrude have a relatively set form and motivation.

Idigam are powerful monsters from the Before Times that Father Wolf couldn't find a way to properly kill, so he locked them up on the Moon. They were or became (I can't remember) formless spirit goop with no set natural states apart from "powerful" and "goopy gribblies." The Moon landings accidentally set them free, though a few weren't captured in the first place and have been around causing trouble since prehistory. In any case, nowadays these chaos monsters tend to grab onto some conceptual obsession (like darkness and deception, or disease) and use that to find new ways to experience and hunt the modern world, and to wage war against the werewolves who are successors to the hunter-god that imprisoned them. They want to rule over the world, not destroy it, at least not as fully as the Abyss and its entities do.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 18:24 on Oct 15, 2019

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Eh, that the Abyss is the set of all possible things not included in the Supernal is the Scelestus Archmaster party line. It’s deceptive. The Abyss is fundamentally antinomian; opposed to all laws and order, but also to ‘chaos’ as generative force. It’s not pre-ordered existence but that which cannot fit into any order; Intruders are basically holes in the world as much as they are alien invaders.

It’s true that you can acquire ‘anything that doesn’t exist’ in the Abyss but it’s also the case that Summoners states you will never, ever get a fair deal when you invoke the Abyss - the cost is never actually fair for what you get, because the Abyss is opposed to any rule like equivalent exchange or mutual benefit, in which summoning practices usually base themselves.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Joe Slowboat posted:

Eh, that the Abyss is the set of all possible things not included in the Supernal is the Scelestus Archmaster party line. It’s deceptive. The Abyss is fundamentally antinomian; opposed to all laws and order, but also to ‘chaos’ as generative force. It’s not pre-ordered existence but that which cannot fit into any order; Intruders are basically holes in the world as much as they are alien invaders.

It’s true that you can acquire ‘anything that doesn’t exist’ in the Abyss but it’s also the case that Summoners states you will never, ever get a fair deal when you invoke the Abyss - the cost is never actually fair for what you get, because the Abyss is opposed to any rule like equivalent exchange or mutual benefit, in which summoning practices usually base themselves.

I mean, I feel like it being the Scelestus party line doesn't necessarily make it wrong; it just means that the Scelesti are the mages who look at the long line of mages who got burned by dealings with the Abyss in the past and think "I can fit that in my mouth."

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I think that going by a number of things like the Summoners example, the Abyss isn’t actually just ‘too big to find what you want’ but actively malevolent towards existence as such, because it’s in direct opposition to ‘things having any kind of order’ which it will always seem to degrade. There’s an Aswadim who wants to replace the Spirit World with a less predatory one and he found what he wanted but it’s still degrading reality in various ways despite being what he was looking for.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


The Abyss is an rear end in a top hat DM, but for all reality.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





wdarkk posted:

The Abyss is an rear end in a top hat DM, but for all reality.

The Exarchs are rear end in a top hat rules designers, the God-Machine is the rear end in a top hat GM, and the Abyss is an rear end in a top hat player who intentionally screws with the rules to make everyone at the table unhappy because they want the game to die but won’t be honest about it.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

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



Joe Slowboat posted:

The Exarchs are rear end in a top hat rules designers, the God-Machine is the rear end in a top hat GM, and the Abyss is an rear end in a top hat player who intentionally screws with the rules to make everyone at the table unhappy because they want the game to die but won’t be honest about it.
Scelesti are therefore "well MY CHARACTER would do this," players, which makes a lot of sense.

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Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

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


Drakli posted:

So, is the Abyss basically like The Nothing from Neverending Story where it's a semi-sentient void, or more like the Dungeon Dimensions from Discworld or Yog-Sothoth from Lovecraft where it's crammed with Things Which Cannot Exist in our reality?

Closer to the latter, but both are good inspirations.

There are two major differences to keep in mind: Lovecraft's cosmology supposes a universe where the horrifying alien gods are the original and ultimate powers in the universe, representing the true nature of reality, and second, humanity is an insignificant speck by comparison to them and all we can do is keep our heads down and hope they don't notice us.

By comparison, the Abyss is specifically anti-real, more like a cancer of reality than its origin. And, even more importantly, the Abyss was created by human beings tampering with the nature of reality. Mage doesn't posit a primordial nothingness from which we came and which always threatens to crush us from the outside; it posits a wound or a gap between two parts of reality that were meant to be together and which cause horrible problems by being apart.

This is both way more optimistic than Lovecraft's understanding of reality, while also positioning Abyssal entities (however powerful and dangerous they may be) as much more subversive, parasitic, and evolving. They aren't the eternal, unknowable other -- rather, they're the embodiment of all the worst possible answers we could give to the questions "why does existing hurt so much" and "what should we do about it?"

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