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Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

Spector29 posted:

Honestly, all of this is making me feel bad for wanting to play EP 2. Not that it isn't bad, or poorly edited, but I really like the super sci-fi transhumanism stuff.

Are there any good versions of this kind of thing that I should be looking at, or can I get by with pointing out the AA and Anarchists are lunatics and reigning in a few character exploits? Gatecrashing has really got my players excited, and I don't have the heart to tell them a game I thought was alright was actually trash garbage.

I know this isn't a recommendation thread so I'll keep this short.

In cases like this, I'll always suggest at least taking a look at Shadows Over Sol. If that's not a good fit, the three other RPGs that SOS lists as its inspiration are EP, The Void, and Transhuman Space (well, it also mentions The Expanse but that wasn't a game at the time SOS came out).

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Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Deities & Demigods 1E
Part 11: Three Synonyms for "Tentacle"



Not sure why this time the title is right-justified and the artist's monogram migrated to the left side. Maybe just to mix things up.

And here, at last, we get to one of the two Mythoi famously appearing only in the first printing of the book: the Cthulhu Mythos, based on the cosmic horror works of H. P. Lovecraft and others who built on his ideas.

Deities & Demigods was my own first exposure to the Cthulhu Mythos. Nowadays, Cthulhu has become a fairly common part of pop culture, and referenced in comics and TV shows. That wasn't the case back when Deities & Demigods first came out, or at least if it was, I missed it. I had never heard of Cthulhu or H. P. Lovecraft before reading about them in this book. I knew nothing about the context of these creatures, but I loved the pictures and descriptions, especially of the Great Race and the Primordial Ones. (And yes, I did use many of these creatures in campaigns I ran, though not necessarily in a way that really made sense for their background or had anything to do with their context in the stories.)

We haven't seen anything of Erol Otus since the third post, but we'll be seeing more of him now. With one or two exceptions, each pantheon was assigned to a single artist to illustrate (as you've probably noticed), and Erol Otus was given the Cthulhu Mythos. That was a good choice; otherworldly Lovecraftian monsters are an excellent match to Otus's organic, unearthly style. And he really went all out with the wild monstrosities... okay, Cthulhu himself is nothing special to look at (though I do like the sort of silhouette of R'lyeh surrounding him), but wait till we get to the last two gods of the pantheon.

All the gods in the Cthulhu Mythos are chaotic evil, with the sole exception of Azathoth, who's chaotic neutral—possibly because it's described as mindless (and given no Intelligence or Wisdom score), and the authors figured you'd have to be intelligent to be evil (but not, apparently, to be chaotic). Whether this really reflects the original stories is debatable—the introductory text says that "all of [Lovecraft's] gods were evil and chaotic, and the best mankind could expect from them was indifference", but in fact much of the point of Lovecraft's cosmic horror was that the only thing mankind could expect from these beings was indifference. They weren't actively hostile toward humanity; they just didn't care about humans; humans were essentially beneath their notice; and their very existence happened to be inimical to human life. I suppose you could make a sort of an argument that not caring about humans is itself chaotic evil... but then D&D alignments in general are a dubious subject I'd rather not get into further just now, so I'll drop this topic for the moment. Like the gods of the "American Indian" and Central American Mythoi, the gods of the Cthulhu Mythos don't inhabit the Outer Planes—some live in the Astral Plane, some live in the elemental planes, and some live in the Prime Material Plane.

Before we get to the text of the chapter, let's address the elephant in the room: Lovecraft was a gigantic racist, even for his gigantically racist time. Some people like to make allowances or mitigations for Lovecraft's racism—oh, he had a sheltered childhood; he got less racist as he got older; he married a Jewish woman; he may have written horrible things but he was always unfailingly polite in person. That all may be true, and yes, like every other human being Lovecraft was a complex, multifaceted person and not a one-dimensional cartoon. That doesn't change the fact he was still pretty drat racist. And so his whole cosmic horror theme is often interpreted in that lens, as derived from his fear of the Other, only he used metaphors and made the Other into tentacled space gods instead of people with differently colored skin.

I think that's been exaggerated, though. Not Lovecraft's racism—the guy was absolutely racist as heck. But the extent to which that racism informed the Mythos. It doesn't even really make sense to say that the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods were a metaphor for other races, because, well, the basis of the horror surrounding these beings is that they were greater and vastly more powerful and more intelligent than man, knew secrets of which man was ignorant, and were utterly incomprehensible. All of that is... basically the opposite of what Lovecraft thought about other races. Lovecraft could (and did) portray some people of other races as depraved servants of these cosmic entities, but that doesn't mean those cosmic entities themselves represented other races. Sometimes a cosmic space god is just a cosmic space god.

That's not to say there's no racism in Lovecraft's work, though, by any means. When he mentions people of other races in his stories, he uses language like "men of a very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type", "[d]egraded and ignorant... creatures"— (both from "Call of Cthulhu"), "a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, with abnormally long arms which I could not help calling fore legs, and a face that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings under an eerie moon" (from "Herbert West—Reanimator"), and "prowlers" with "swarthy, sin-pitted faces" who speak in "the blasphemies of an hundred dialects" (from "The Horror at Red Hook"). And while the overall idea that the Great Old Ones reflect Lovecraft's racism in that they embody Lovecraft's fear and hatred of the Other doesn't make much sense on examination, the idea that, for instance, The Shadow over Innsmouth is driven by fear of miscegenetion holds a lot more water. So, yeah, Lovecraft was super racist, and there's racist stuff in Lovecraft's stories, but the core concept of the Mythos is not fundamentally racist.

Besides, Lovecraft may have made up Cthulhu, but he's not the only person who contributed to the mythos. Even during Lovecraft's lifetime, many of his correspondents and contemporaries wrote their own stories expanding the Mythos, including Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth (who coined the term "Cthulhu Mythos")... and Robert E. Howard, whom we'll be dealing with here a dozen or so posts from now. That's not to say that those authors were free of any taint of racial prejudice—Howard, in particular, certainly wasn't—but at the very least they weren't as ragingly racist as Lovecraft himself. Even today, many writers continue to explore and expand on the Mythos, often putting their own idiosyncratic spins on it. Neil Gaiman, for example, wrote an entertaining Doyle/Lovecraft mashup pastiche, "A Study in Emerald", which I just found out is now available as a PDF on Neil Gaiman's website, amusingly formatted to look as if it appeared in a period newspaper, complete with referential vintage advertisements.

So anyway, I guess all I'm really getting at here is that while Lovecraft was a humongous racist, I don't think that makes the "Cthulhu Mythos" necessarily inherently and ineradicably racist, and I don't have a problem with its being included here. (Of course, as discussed before, Chaosium had a problem with its being included here, but that was for an entirely different reason.) On the other hand, I admit I'm not really in a position to make the call about how much Lovecraft's racism should bother people. I'm a mixture of at least seven or eight different ethnicities, but all the ethnicities in question are very, very white, so I haven't personally ever been a target of racism, and I have no experience with what that's like. So if someone is uncomfortable with any use of the Cthulhu Mythos because of Lovecraft's racism, I certainly won't say they're wrong to feel that way.


The World Fantasy Award used to be a caricature of Lovecraft, until some winners understandably objected to being honored with a bust of a guy who would have considered them subhuman.

Anyway, today probably when the average person thinks of Lovecraft, they don't think of racism, or even of the powerlessness of humanity against cosmic forces (which was kind of a major theme of Lovecraft's stories). They think of tentacles. To such an extent that "Lovecraftian" sometimes almost gets used as a synonym for "tentacled", as if that's the only salient characteristic of Lovecraft's creations. For an example from an (infamous) RPG, "Venger Satanis" in the introduction to the core rulebook for Empire of Satanis referred to the setting of the game as "H. P. Lovecraft's version of Hell". Of course, Lovecraft, being a staunch atheist and materialist, didn't have a version of hell, but even setting that aside, the demons of Empire of Satanis are very personal and effable beings, and the hell of Empire of Satanis is a place that is very much focused on humans and (im)morality, pretty much the diametric opposite of Lovecraft's impersonal cosmos to which humanity is insignificant and irrelevant. It's not remotely Lovecraftian in any sense, except maybe one: tentacles. (Well, that and unnecessary overuse of obscure adjectives.)

Of course, this misrepresents the Mythos somewhat. Sure, the most famous figure of the Mythos, Cthulhu, had tentacles (except in Deities & Demigods he doesn't, exactly, for some reason), but not everything did, and many of Lovecraft's creatures he didn't describe at all. Still, here in the descriptions of the gods and beings of the Cthulhu Mythos in Deities & Demigods, we're going to encounter a lot of tentacles. Not every god and monster has tentacles, though. Some have pseudopods instead. And some have feelers, or cilia. Okay, there are a few who don't have any of those things... but they're in the minority. So, just for fun, let's count how many times tentacles and similar appendages are mentioned in the descriptions of the entities in this chapter.

Anyway, most of the introduction is given over to a history of the development of Cthulhu Mythos, and to recommendations of particular stories to read. I'm not going to quote or comment on most of this because it's not really germane to the use of this mythos in games; I'll just mention some of the bits that have more applicability to a campaign.

Cthulhu Mythos posted:

Beginning with "The Call of Cthulhu" in Weird Tales, Lovecraft began referring in his horror stories to a pantheon of beings known as the Old Ones, who had descended to Earth from the stars in pre-human times. First worshiped by the non-human races of the planet, the Old Ones were later banished or locked away by the elder gods. The elder gods do not enter into the stories much, and their identity is a mystery. They left the Old Ones weakened, but not destroyed. When man appeared, he found traces of the older civilizations and remnants of the pre-human races. Religions grew up around the Old Ones and legends of their imminent return to power — especially around Cthulhu. Bits of the old lore were discovered and transcribed into books, extremely dangerous books.

My first impulse here was to say that the first sentence here was inaccurate, because "The Call of Cthulhu" wasn't nearly the earliest story in the Cthulhu Mythos—the best candidate for that would be "Dagon", published in 1919, and "The Call of Cthulhu" didn't come till 1928—but the text doesn't actually say that it was the start of the mythos, only that it was the first time Lovecraft referred to the "Old Ones", and that much seems to be correct. I could quibble that the actual term is the Great Old Ones, but that's terminology that crystallized for the Mythos over time; Lovecraft actually did refer to them as "Old Ones" in "Call of Cthulhu" both with and without the "Great". Anyway, this part isn't bad as far as setting the stage for the mythos and hinting at how it could be used in the campaign. I could, again, quibble with the "especially around Cthulhu" part; I don't know that Cthulhu was ever supposed to be the most widely worshipped or the best known in-universe of the Great Old Ones—he's just the one that, for whatever reason, has become most famous and the "face" of the mythos.

Cthulhu Mythos posted:

Cults of men, and particularly of non-human creatures, keep alive the worship of the Great Old Ones and anxiously await their return to power. Various evil magic-users and priests, desirous of superhuman powers, experiment with some of the forbidden books (such as The Necronomicon) and occasionally unleash some horror on themselves or their surroundings. Merely speaking the name of one of the Old Ones results in a 5% chance that the god named will hear, for these deities are quite attuned to the Prime Material plane. If the god does hear its name spoken, it will appear and attempt to kill the being so rash as to speak its name (some of the greater gods will send minions to accomplish this).

Hm... "particularly on non-human creatures"? I don't know about that... sure, Dagon had the Deep Ones, but overall isn't there more mention of human cults of the Great Old Ones in Lovecraft's stories than non-human creatures? Though maybe the non-human cults are just better hidden, so, eh, I don't know, I guess this can work. Anyway, again this is okay for suggesting how to use the mythos in a campaign, though the gods having a 5% chance of showing up to destroy anyone who speaks their names is a bit silly.

We end the introduction with this "SPECIAL NOTE":

Special Note posted:

All creatures of nature are very sensitive to the presence of all creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos. They instinctively call out their warning sounds and flee if any of the Old Ones or their minions come within range of their senses.

Eh... same thing that's said of a lot of supernatural creatures, really. I don't know that this is really interesting enough to be worth having included here, let alone to be set aside in a "special note". But whatever. On to the gods and monsters.

While the Cthulhu Mythos did not appear in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", it did appear in Dragon Magazine #12, in the article "The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons", written by Rob Kuntz, one of the authors of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" and Deities & Demigods. Or actually I guess it wasn't—the byline says Rob Kuntz, because I guess it was part of a regular column he wrote ("From the Sorcerer's Scroll"), but Kuntz's introduction says the article was written by "J. Eric Holmes (known for his work with Basic Dungeons & Dragons) with additions by my humble self". Anyway, all the gods and monsters in this chapter in Deities & Demigods had appeared previously in this article, with "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes"-style entries—and so did the serpent god Yig, who for whatever reason does not appear in Deities & Demigods. This chapter is clearly based mostly on that article, just as many of the other chapters are clearly based mostly on the corresponding sections in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes". (I'll just abbreviate the article title to "TLMDD" when I refer to it below.) Furthermore, for what it's worth, H. P. Lovecraft was one of the seven authors singled out in Appendix N to the first-edition Dungeon Master's Guide, "INSPIRATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL READING", as having been probably "the most immediate influences on AD&D". (We'll be dealing in depth with two of the other authors in this list in later posts.)

By the way, as it happens, I'm posting this on H. P. Lovecraft's birthday. That's... mostly a coincidence, except that the last couple days when I realized it was almost his birthday I figured I may as well wait to post this part then, so there was no rush to get it done sooner. This may have just been an excuse for procrastination.

But that's enough preamble. Let's get to the goods. (Or evils.)

CTHULHU


He looks awfully smug for someone who got popped by a yacht.

Yes, of course good old Cthulhu is the god who gets top billing for this mythos, even though in the stories he's not necessarily the most powerful of the Great Old Ones—never mind the Outer Gods, who are arguably more powerful still. (And whom Deities & Demigods doesn't mention... but more on that later.) To be fair, though, it's not clear that the intent is to make him the head of the mythos anyway; yes, he has 400 hit points, but so do all but two of the gods in this chapter.

Oh, remember what the introduction said about negative Charismas? Yeah, here's where it really comes into play. We have seen a few gods with negative Charisma in earlier mythoi: Hastsezini had a Charisma of −1; Morrigan's was "21 or −1" (this was not clarified in the text); Camazotz had −2; Mictlantecuhtli's was −4; Tlazolteotl's was "24/−5" (presumably depending on whether or not she was in her monstrous form, though this, again, wasn't clarified); Chih-Chiang Fyu-Ya's was −2; Lu Yueh's was −3. But Cthulhu has a Charisma of −7, the lowest Charisma listed in the table. All but one of the other gods in this mythos have negative Charisma, too, but only Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth have Charisma as low as Cthulhu's.

Cthulhu posted:

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wagh'nagl fhtagn." — "In his house in R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." R'lyeh is a great sunken city of non-Euclidian geometry hidden somewhere beneath the ocean. So bizarre is its construction that anyone entering the city (which occasionally rises above the waves) must make saving throws at +4 against fear and insanity. Cthulhu lies in a huge stone structure sealed with the Elder Sign (q.v.). If the seal is broken and the god released, everyone (and/or everything) in a radius of 100 miles must make a saving throw against death or go insane. This insanity lasts for a number of months equal to the creature's intelligence."

"And/or everything"? I'm assuming by "everything" the authors meant only living things, since it wouldn't make too much sense for rocks to have to make saving throws versus insanity. Even so, the "and/or" is odd. Sometimes people go insane; sometimes livestock and wild animals do; sometimes both.

We get a picture of R'lyeh, too:


Okay, that's pretty unusual architecture, I guess, but is it really non-Euclidean?

Cthulhu posted:

He will retreat into his lair if confronted with an intact Elder Sign, another of the Old Ones (such as Hastur), or some natural catastrophe, such as the re-sinking of the city of R'lyeh into the sea.

I said I wasn't usually going to mention the gods' combat abilities, but I was curious just how formidable Cthulhu was in a fight and how important it would be to get him to retreat, so I took a look at his stats, and... yeow. Okay, each attack only does 1-10 hit points damage (which is still very respectable damage in first edition), but he has thirty attacks. I... how does that even work? What is he attacking with? In the original story "Call of Cthulhu", the only actual physical attacks we see are "[t]hree men... swept up by [his] flabby claws". (A fourth guy gets somehow swallowed by geometry, but that's not really a physical attack, and anyway might be an effect of R'lyeh rather than Cthulhu himself.)

Cthulhu posted:

Cthulhu is served by the Deep Ones as well as his human worshipers, who often interbreed with the fish-men. Cthulhu's cult is usually hidden and secret, and is dedicated to bringing about Cthulhu's return and conquest of the world.

We'll get to the Deep Ones in a bit.

Tentacle Count: "Tentacle-like cilia". The judges are divided as to whether to count this as a mention of "tentacles" and "cilia", or just "tentacles". Though really, if he has an octopus head, Cthulhu does have tentacles, doesn't he? I mean, octopuses don't have cilia. (Okay, well, their cells do, like those of all animals, but the octopuses as a whole don't have macroscopic cilia.) Did Kuntz and Ward not know what cilia are? Or did they decide Cthulhu was a single-celled organism? TLMDD refers to "feelers" instead, which makes a little more sense, but this is the one being for which it actually would have been entirely appropriate to just say "tentacles".

AZATHOTH (the center of the universe)


This illustration was on the previous page, but I'm going to assume it's Azathoth, partly because I don't know what the hell else it would be meant to be.

Azathoth posted:

Azathath is a blind, mindless, amorphous mass the size of a star, floating at the center of the universe on the astral plane. It is attended by satellite creatures that provide an eerie music, like the sound of idiot flute players.

Putting Azathoth in the Astral Plane seems... odd. I'm pretty sure in the original stories it was supposed to be in outer space. Still, I guess PCs are more likely to travel to the Astral Plane than to outer space, so maybe this was a nod toward making it more useful in a campaign? Though considering that "[a]ny creature coming within 1,000 miles of Azathoth must save vs. spells at −6 or go permanently mad", I still question just how useful it'd be in a campaign. It's not specified whether you have to repeat the save if you stick around in the vicinity, or whether if you make the save you're free to hang around Azathoth all you want without any further risk... apparently it only attacks physically if you attack it first, and it doesn't have any magical abilities outside of the insanity thing.

Come to think of it, if Azathoth is "the size of a star", a thousand miles isn't really that far away. Though stars vary in size by many orders of magnitude, so "the size of a star" isn't very specific. Exactly what kind of star are we talking about?

Azathoth posted:

Those who worship Azathoth worship insanity, and Azathoth's clerics are themselves insane. It is unknown how Azathoth grants powers to its clerics, or even if Azathoth is aware of them (which is doubtful).

Given that it's "mindless" and that its Intelligence and Wisdom are both listed as "—", I'd say it's doubtful it's aware of anything.

Azathoth is even more outrageous in combat than Cthulhu—it only gets twenty attacks instead of thirty, but each attack does 3-18 hit points of damage instead of 1-10. (That's 210 damage on average, to Cthulhu's 165. Though Cthulhu does also have magical and psionic powers, which Azathoth doesn't.) On the other hand, given that Azathoth is so much bigger than Cthulhu, I think a good argument could be made that its damage isn't nearly outrageous enough...

It may be worth noting that in the Cthulhu Mythos as usually understood Azathoth is not, in fact, one of the Great Old Ones; he's an Outer God, which is a separate and more powerful kind of entity. (He's the ruler of the Outer Gods, in fact, so if anyone merits being called the head of the mythos, it's him. And yes, my choice of pronoun is deliberate; while Deities & Demigods refers to Azathoth as "it", Lovecraft uses a masculine pronoun to refer to Azathoth in "Haunter of the Dark"—though one could certainly argue that as Azathoth is a mindless, utterly alien being, "it" might be more appropriate.) To be fair, it's not clear to what extent Lovecraft himself intended to make that distinction, and to what extent the clear differentiation between Great Old Ones and Outer Gods was the work of other writers.

According to TLMDD, "[i]f Azathoth is destroyed the entire universe will collapse back to a point at the center of the cosmos with the incidental destruction of all life and intelligence." So even if you are somehow powerful enough to defeat Azathoth... maybe don't?

Tentacle Count: "Many pseudopods".

BYAKHEE (servants of Hastur)


"You rang?"

Byakhee posted:

These giant furry bat-like creatures have humanoid legs that enable them to stand like men. They can be summoned by clerics of Hastur through use of a gate spell (1-4 Byakhee will appear). They are able to teleport throughout the Prime Material Plane at will, carrying human beings with them on their backs or in their talons. They are intelligent, telepathic, and will obey those who carry the Elder Sign or who appeal successfully to Hastur.

That's their entire description. I have nothing to add, except maybe that in the original stories they could fly at tremendous speeds through the vacuum of space, but they didn't actually teleport. But then, in first edition the nature of the Prime Material Plane past the worlds' surfaces hadn't really been defined (Spelljammer wouldn't come along till second edition), and I guess it wasn't really clear that the vacuum of space was even a thing in D&D. (Though I suppose "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" kind of implied it was.)

Tentacle Count: None.

CTHUGA (master of the fire element)


I like that little divot to the left of its nucleus that kind of makes it look like it's smiling.

Cthuga posted:

This creature resembles a flaming amoeba with tentacles that appear to be flames emanating from its body.

And then after that one sentence of description we get seven sentences about its combat abilities. The last sentence of which calls Cthuga "him" when everywhere else in the description Cthuga is referred to as "it".

Well, okay, I guess one of those seven sentences isn't really about its combat abilities, but it's buried among six other sentences that are:

Cthuga posted:

It moves as a blink dog and attempts to destroy everything within any area to which it is summoned.

Okay then. I guess the only reason to summon Cthuga is if you really want a place trashed. (And if you think you can get out of there after summoning it but before the destruction begins, I guess.)

Cthuga lives on the Elemental Plane of Fire, and...

Cthuga posted:

The creature has a direct connection with the Prime Material Plane by way of a Palace of Fire that it has created in an active volcano. This palace is said to be filled with treasure resistant to flame and heat: gems, certain magic items, and the like.

So... is this intended to be an adventure hook to entice PCs into finding the Palace of Fire and looting its treasures? Because I think there are a lot of much less dangerous ways for PCs to get rich than trespassing in the lair of a chaotic evil greater god...

First of all, Cthuga's name is misspelled—it should be "Cthugha". And second, I don't know why Cthugha is here. Yes, technically he did appear in the Cthulhu Mythos (he didn't appear in Lovecraft's original stories, but was a creation of August Derleth), but uh, he's not one of the most prominent Great Old Ones, and certainly not one of the most interesting. (Nor, arguably, is he really a good fit for the Mythos; Derleth had this odd fixation about matching up Great Old Ones to the four classical elements that wasn't followed by any other major Mythos writer.) I can think of a bunch of entities from the Cthulhu Mythos that aren't in this chapter and probably deserved to be more than Cthugha does. Chaugnar Faugn, Dagon, Tsathoggua, Ubbo-Sathla, Yig... But oh well. Enjoy your boring weird fire amoeba.

Tentacle Count: "Tentacles that appear to be flames".

Cthuga's Flame Creature

These are basically smaller versions of Cthuga (but still huge; they have a thirty-foot radius compared to Cthuga's forty-yard radius). It mentions in Cthuga's entry that Cthuga's first act when appearing in any location is to summon 1-20 of these things. (TLMDD just lets Cthuga summon fire elementals rather than giving him bespoke monsters.) Also,

Cthuga's Flame Creature posted:

One of their functions is to appear when the god is supposed to appear but is too busy or chooses not to come.

We're given absolutely no information about what these things do when they're not being summoned, or sent on behalf of their master. Just hang around and be on fire, I guess.

Tentacle Count: None explicitly mentioned, but if they're smaller versions of Cthuga, they presumably also have "tentacles that appear to be flames".

DEEP ONES (followers of Cthulhu)


"Oh. 'You seem fishy.' Now I get it."

The Deep Ones are fish guys with "great strength (18)" but no special properties. We're given a few sentences about how they can breed with evil humans à la The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and told that they "promote evil in preparation of Cthulhu's return".

Deep Ones posted:

They do this by collecting treasures from the sea and using them as funds to spread the cult of Cthulhu and the Old Ones

...How exactly do they use these funds to spread the cult? Printing pamphlets? Hiring a PR firm?

Tentacle Count: None.

GREAT RACE


The Great Race was also a 1965 comedy starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, but that's clearly not what's depicted here.

Great Race posted:

These creatures populated the world eons ago and their cities still exist buried in deserts or other out of the way places. They hod a highly advanced scientific civilization, with psionics rather than magic. When their civilization was destroyed, some of them were frozen in time, and these are occasionally discovered... Humans discovering and freeing them are sometimes rewarded with gifts of knowledge.

Their big schtick in the original stories in which they appeared was that they could temporarily swap minds with people in other times. There's no indication of that here, though to be fair I guess that could be kind of difficult to work into a D&D campaign. Actually, their mind-swapping is described in TLMDD, so I guess it was just cut for Deities & Demigods.

Tentacle Count: "4 ten foot long tentacles".

HASTUR (He Who Must Not Be Named) "Master of the Air"


Hastur's stats say he's six hundred feet tall, so the scale here is actually about right. (He's only a hundred feet tall in TLMDD, though.)

Hastur posted:

Hastur is half-brother to Cthulhu, and like him Hastur has been imprisoned by the star-shaped Elder Sign. He lies in a crypt at the bottom of Lake Hali near the alien city of Carcosa. Hastur exists partly on the Prime Material Plane (and this part is imprisoned in the crypt) and partly on the Elemental Plane of Air (thus he is immune to cold and the vacuum of space). Hastur is never more than partially on the Prime Material Plane and is therefore not completely solid. This accounts for much of his great size.

I'm... not sure how any of that is supposed to work. So if you travel on the Elemental Plane of Air, can you encounter the part of Hastur that's trapped there? Can that part of Hastur ever leave the Elemental Plane of Air? Does it look the same and have the same characteristics as the part on the Prime Material Plane? What happens if both parts come to the same plane? Or is that impossible?

Anyway, remember in the introductory text how it said any of the Great Old Ones had a 5% chance to respond if you spoke their name? With Hastur that chance goes up to 25%. At first he'll just send 1-4 Byakhee (yes, it's capitalized), but if you defeat the Byakhee there's then a 25% chance that Hastur will appear himself, which... you probably really don't want to happen.

Combat-wise, Hastur's more ridiculous than even Azathoth (though just barely). While he only gets two attacks instead of Cthulhu's thirty or Azathoth's twenty, each attack does 20-200 hit points of damage. (So that's 220 hit points on average, to Azathoth's 210. And in case you're wondering whether there's a difference in their chances to hit, nope, Cthulhu, Azathoth, and Hastur all fight "As 16+ HD monster"—as does every god in this chapter except Ithaqua and Nyarlathotep.)

Tentacle Count: "200 tentacles projecting from its body". Hastur is the tentacle champion.

ITHAQUA (lord of the air)

Yes, Hastur is Master of the Air, but Ithaqua is lord of the air, so... I don't know what that means about their respective dominions. Oh... wait. "It is known that Ithaqua serves Hastur in special missions of great importance." So I guess Master > lord. Okay.

Ithaqua posted:

Ithaqua, the Wind Walker, appears as a cloud of fog or snow, huge but human in shape with blazing red eyes. When seen passing overhead, one gets the illusion of two bright stars close together.

"Ithaqua is worshiped by the natives of the far North" who "propitiate him with human sacrifices", because racism. He carries off the sacrifices and their frozen bodies are found years later, or sometimes they show up still alive only to soon "die from strange unnatural causes".

Ithaqua posted:

Ithaqua will also pursue and capture anyone who sees or annoys him, or meddles with his worshipers or their stone altars in the forest.

So he's a particularly active, hands-on type of Great Old One.

Ithaqua was another Derleth creation, who was identified with the wendigo (as mentioned in TLMDD but not in Deities & Demigods) and maybe the yeti, and in some ways his original description was a little less racist than his description in Deities & Demigods, in that only a few people made sacrifices to him—rather than it being a general practice among the "natives of the far North" as Deities & Demigods implies—and even they weren't so much worshipping Ithaqua as propitiating him. Ithaqua is another minor and not very interesting figure from the Cthulhu Mythos, and probably the only reason he's here instead of a better known figure is because he played a prominent rôle in Brian Lumley's Titus Crow series, which had been published only shortly before Deities & Demigods. (Lumley is explicitly namedropped in the introductory text to this chapter as one of the "younger authors" currently writing stories based on the Cthulhu Mythos, so Kuntz and Ward were certainly aware of his work.)

Tentacle Count: None.

MI-GO (the fungi from Yuggoth)


Those mouths(?) might look alien, but I have no idea how they're supposed to actually function.

Like the byakhee and the Deep Ones, these are monsters rather than gods, and like the byakhee they have only a single paragraph of description.

Mi-Go posted:

These red, bat-winged creatures somewhat resemble lobsters in that they have many legs, feelers, and eyestalks, and forearms that end in great pincers. Though they appear to be crustaceans, they are actually fungus creatures. Mi-Go are immune to the effects of cold, dark, and vacuum, and can fly across interstellar space. They cannot speak, but communicate by clicking their pincers.

Of course, if they're completely alien beings with no connection to Earth organisms, it doesn't make any sense for them to be crustaceans or fungi, but, well, the Lovecraft Mythos was never hard sci-fi. "Yuggoth", in the Lovecraft Mythos, is a planet at the edge of the solar system. When Pluto was discovered in 1930, Lovecraft made a perhaps tongue-in-cheek suggestion in a letter that Pluto might be Yuggoth, but not all contributors to the Mythos followed this suggestion (nor did Lovecraft himself make this identification explicit in any of his stories). TLMDD does say that Yuggoth is "the planet Pluto", though.

Tentacle Count: "Feelers".

NYARLATHOTEP (the crawling chaos, the messenger of the gods)

Nyarlathotep posted:

Nyarlathotep appears as a tall dark man. His appearance in the world is said to foretell the return of the Old Ones from their imprisonment.

Actually, Nyarlathotep was associated with the Outer Gods, not the Great Old Ones, but whatever.

Remember I said all but one of the gods in this pantheon had negative Charismas? Nyarlathotep's the one. He has a Charisma of 19. He's a charming guy.

Actually, he's literally a charming guy. He can charm with his gaze "humans, humanoids, and non-magical animals", causing them to "either obey him or behave in a purely chaotic manner"; good creatures get a bonus to their saving throws, and evil creatures get a penalty. "Thus his progress across the face of the land is followed by riot, war, mass murder, suicide, and insanity."

As for what he looks like, we're told that "[t]he god is believed by some students of the occult to have various guises, including a red bat-like form with three evil eyes." Nyarlathotep did indeed appear in various forms in the stories of the Lovecraft Mythos, including the form described here (which appeared in Lovecraft's last story, "The Haunter of the Dark"), but this form doesn't seem to have been one of the most prominent, so I'm not sure why it's the one that gets singled out here. TLMDD says instead that he "appears as a tall dark man, often dressed as a pharaoh, but is sometimes portrayed as a faceless sphinx".

Tentacle Count: None mentioned, but if he has "various guises" there's a good chance he has tentacles in at least one of his forms.

PRIMORDIAL ONE


Those wings look far too small for flight.

More monsters rather than gods, but not mere monsters but "actually an alien race of high intelligence and advanced science." The alignment of the Primordial Ones is given as lawful evil, which is... disappointing. In At The Mountains of Madness, the Lovecraft story that introduced these creatures, much was made of how for all their weird physiology, these things seemed to have been very close to human in thoughts and behavior; I'd rather have seen them as neutral, or maybe even good. Here we get the description that "[t]hey hate all other types of intelligence, and will destroy them if possible". That makes me sad. We need more bizarre, utterly inhuman entities that aren't necessarily hostile, goddamit.

(For what it's worth—which admittedly isn't much"when these creatures finally appeared in Pathfinder as "elder things" in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 4 (Pathfinder really has a thing for using creatures from the Cthulhu Mythos, despite their not remotely fitting with Pathfinder's cosmology in any way), they were lawful neutral, which... okay, I guess that could be justifiable.)

In TLMDD, these creatures aren't called primordial ones, but "The Old Ones"—though this is followed immediately by a disclaimer that this is "[a] misnomer, since this refers not to the ancient gods, but to a minor race of interstellar beings." Actually, neither name is the one usually used for them in the Cthulhu Mythos; they're usually called "elder things", like in the Pathfinder Bestiary 4. To be fair, in "At The Mountains of Madness" both the terms "Elder Things" and "Old Ones" are used for them, though "primordial ones" seems to have been an invention of Kuntz and Ward (presumably to avoid the ambiguity of "Old Ones").

Tentacle Count: A twofer: "wiry cilia" and "5 powerful tentacles". Again, I do not think Kuntz and Ward knew what cilia are.

SHOGGOTH


Did it form a missile launcher out of its protoplasm?

Another monster, another one-paragraph description.

Shoggoth posted:

Originally created by the Primordial Ones as servants, the Shoggoths eventually rebelled and destroyed the civilization of their masters. Shoggoths resemble huge, intelligent amoebae, able to form almost any shape out of their near-transparent bodies, including legs, eyes, mouths, huge weapons, or whatever is needed. The few remaining Shoggoths lurk in distant, long-deserted areas, sometimes aiding servants of Cthulhu or other Old Ones.

In TLMDD, their name is spelled "shaggoths"—which is in fact how the name appeared in one printing of "The Thing on the Doorstep", but that seems to have been a transcription error.

Tentacle Count: None mentioned, but given that they're described as resembling huge amoebas, the authors really missed an opportunity to use the word "pseudopods" again here.

SHUB-NIGGURATH (black goat of the woods with a thousand young)


So is it eating that thing in the lower right, or is the thing coming out of its mouth? I'm going to assume the latter.

Shub-Niggurath posted:

This fountain of uncleanliness is a huge pool of gray matter, 100 feet across, in the caverns beneath Mount Voormithadreth. It is constantly bubbling and putting forth mouths, limbs, pseudopods and whole creatures. 1-100 small monsters are created from the pool each round, and they go crawling, flopping, or flying away into the caverns above. Some fall back into the pool, which then grows mouths and devours them.

Did I say Druaga was my favorite god from this book? Hm... I don't know. Shub-Niggurath was up there too. That is, Shub-Niggurath as presented in Deities & Demigods. Lovecraft frequently mentioned Shub-Niggurath in her stories, but never really described her; the closest he came is in a letter in which he said she was a "cloud-like entity". The Deities & Demigods description is, on the other hand, a very good fit for a different figure from the Lovecraft Mythos, an Outer God named Abhoth created by Clark Ashton Smith. This was not, apparently, entirely an accident; TLMDD said that Shub-Niggurath was "[p]robably identical with the god Abhoth of ancient Hyperboria and Ubbo-Stahla the unbegotten source"—though I don't think those three gods are conventionally identified with each other in most sources. Anyway, of course at the time I first got this book, I didn't know any better and didn't realize this version of Shub-Niggurath wasn't really faithful to the stories of the Mythos, but I guess the idea of a giant slimy puddle that continually churned out random monsters really appealed to me.

Anyway, yes, I did use Shub-Niggurath in at least one campaign. According to Deities & Demigods, when Shub-Niggurath senses the approach of enemies she randomly generates monsters from this chapter to defend her—Byakhee, Deep Ones, Great Race, Mi-Go, Primordial Ones, or Shoggoth. (And yes, in the illustration you can see one of the Great Race going up a staircase in the background. Wait... why is there a staircase in this cavern anyway?) But even back then knowing nothing about the Mythos beyond what was in this chapter, that didn't make sense to me—all of those monsters were either tied to different gods, or weren't associated with the Great Old Ones at all; why would Shub-Niggurath create them? So instead I used the "RANDOM GENERATION OF CREATURES FROM THE LOWER PLANES" tables in Appendix D of the Dungeon Master's Guide (itself copied from an earlier issue of Dragon Magazine) to randomly generate her monstrous spawn.

(Okay, admittedly once again I'm using a different pronoun from Deities & Demigods; Deities & Demigods refers to Shub-Niggurath as "it", but most other sources seem to use "she", so that's what I'm doing, I guess.)

Shub-Niggurath posted:

Though its body is trapped deep in the caverns, Shub-Niggurath travels the Prime Material Plane in astral form, using its psionic powers to do evil and aid its worshipers.

Does she still look like a big grey puddle in astral form? Can she still spawn monsters? It doesn't say. Oh well.

Tentacle Count: Well, they did use "pseudopods" in this entry... and "a huge powerful tentacle". Another twofer.

YOG-SOTHOTH (the key and guardian of the gate)


I know the text said he would "mate with human beings", but I don't think we needed an illustration of this. (Though, given how bizarre her anatomy looks, maybe that woman isn't human...)

Yog-Sothoth posted:

Yog-Sothoth exists on the astral plane. He has the ability to enter the universe at any point in space and any point in time. His astral shape appears as a congeries of iridescent globes like giant soap bubbles. When he takes shape on the Prime Material Plane he is partly material and partly astral and appears as a gigantic mass of feelers, legs, and stalked organs. In this shape he will mate with human beings, producing the Spawn of Yog-Sothoth (see "The Dunwich Horror", by H. P. Lovecraft).

Fortunately, the text does not dwell on that any further. (For what it's worth, though, in "The Dunwich Horror" there's no indication that the mating was nonconsensual—though if Yog-Sothoth is chaotic evil I guess that sort of thing wouldn't be beyond him.)

Yog-Sothoth posted:

Yog-Sothoth is not subject to the laws of space and time and can, for example, appear at various parts of the universe simultaneously.

That's kind of something I'd have thought all gods ought to be able to do, but in Deities & Demigods I guess they can't.

Oh... like Azathoth and Nyarlathotep (and maybe Shub-Niggurath, but the jury seems to be out on that one), Yog-Sothoth is supposed to be an Outer God, not a Great Old One, but oh well.

Tentacle Count: "Feelers".

I guess I may also cover the one god that appears in TLMDD but not in Deities & Demigods:

Yig, Supreme God of Serpents

Yig posted:

Yig is represented as a great (17+) long snake, although he (it?) may alter shape slightly to appear as a Naga (see Monster Manual), with the upper part of the body appearing as a human and the lower that of a snake.

Hm... kind of interesting that Yig's entry would refer to the Monster Manual, actually, since his stats are given in OD&D terms like in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" and the Monster Manual was, of course, for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. But at the time this issue of Dragon Magazine came out, though, the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide had yet to appear, so the Monster Manual was the only AD&D rulebook yet available. Anyway, Yig's entry is fairly long (in general, in fact, the gods' descriptions in TLMDD are longer than the descriptions in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes"), but aside from the quoted sentence it's all about his combat abilities, so... meh. In the story "The Curse of Yig", Yig is described as somewhat more human than in TLMDD—and, interestingly, is also explicitly said to be "not wholly evil".

Okay, that's it for the gods of the Cthulhu Mythos, but we now have two magic items to cover...

...and dang it I went over the maximum message length again. Not by too much this time, so I could probably edit a few paragraphs out and squeeze it in, but, eh, I'll just split the post again. Next post is going to be short, then.

Next time: If You're Smart Enough to Read This Book, You're Not Stupid Enough to Read It

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I think casting the Elder Things (which are what the Primordial Ones are) as lawful evil is defensible, because they were slavers, at least towards the end. It seemed like early drafts of the shoggoths were more like biomechanical tools so I'd give early-period Things a pass, and of course any individual horrid fivefold symmetrical creature could adopt its chosen ethical path. Like Drizzt. In fact, make Drizzt an Elder Thing.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




It's true. When Lovecraft's protagonist says with amazement and horror (paraphrased) "What did they do that we would not have done in their place? They were men!" that's his own perspective as a racist who loved the British Empire.

Jerik
Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Yeah, OK, regarding the Primordial Ones' alignment, those are totally fair points. I still think the bit about their hatred for all other intelligent life is a bit much.

Primordial Ones posted:

They hate all other types of intelligence, and will destroy them if possible, striking with three of their powerful walking tentacles if no advanced weaponry is available.

I mean, even Lovecraft, horrible racist though he was, didn't fly into a violent rage every time he saw someone of another race and try to pummel them to death.

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!


Spector29 posted:

Honestly, all of this is making me feel bad for wanting to play EP 2. Not that it isn't bad, or poorly edited, but I really like the super sci-fi transhumanism stuff.

Are there any good versions of this kind of thing that I should be looking at, or can I get by with pointing out the AA and Anarchists are lunatics and reigning in a few character exploits? Gatecrashing has really got my players excited, and I don't have the heart to tell them a game I thought was alright was actually trash garbage.

I'll say this, EP2 requires considerably less houseruling than EP1 did, since the combat is less broken. Be prepared to provide some cheat sheets and summaries of, for instance, combat, that the game itself fails to handily supply.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Yeah, that's bullshit. They had million year peace treaties with some other prehuman aliens on Earth.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Spector29 posted:

Honestly, all of this is making me feel bad for wanting to play EP 2. Not that it isn't bad, or poorly edited, but I really like the super sci-fi transhumanism stuff.

Are there any good versions of this kind of thing that I should be looking at, or can I get by with pointing out the AA and Anarchists are lunatics and reigning in a few character exploits? Gatecrashing has really got my players excited, and I don't have the heart to tell them a game I thought was alright was actually trash garbage.

This isn't exactly a recommendation thread you know that right? I'm sure if you can tolerate the sloppy editing you can muscle through it. Resleeving and character creation are both better and those fixes alone solve a lot of issues EP had before. Personally, I think the pool system is significantly better than the older system. Sure there are some other problems, but I find it best to try not to think about them and ignore them. Just make sure to put some limits on fork swarms and other cheesy poo poo.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


EthanSteele posted:

I feel it flips from full auto being cooler once its enough guys firing one bullet at the same time.

FIRST RANK FIRE
SECOND RANK FIRE

A battalion-strength unit of Napoleonic Wars recreationist in EVA suits takes down a Scum barge with massed fabbed musket fire over disagreements about fab use to print lace

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



JcDent posted:

FIRST RANK FIRE
SECOND RANK FIRE

A battalion-strength unit of Napoleonic Wars recreationist in EVA suits takes down a Scum barge with massed fabbed musket fire over disagreements about fab use to print lace

They'd have to be using matchlocks, since flintlocks wouldn't be able to strike sparks in vacuum.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



The Lone Badger posted:

They'd have to be using matchlocks, since flintlocks wouldn't be able to strike sparks in vacuum.

Nanoflint(tm) does! Looks like flint, sparks like flint, doesn't give a poo poo about oxygen like a magnetic propulsion system.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Ratoslov posted:

Nanoflint(tm) does! Looks like flint, sparks like flint, doesn't give a poo poo about oxygen like a magnetic propulsion system.
Is it powered by the data of a forsaken childmorph?

PoontifexMacksimus
Feb 14, 2012



Jerik posted:


I like that little divot to the left of its nucleus that kind of makes it look like it's smiling.

Looks like a sinister children's plush toy. "Hoho, hi there!" :haw:

8one6
May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!



LatwPIAT posted:

...

Me, I just converted the entire game to GURPS and used GURPS: Spaceships. :shobon:

Eclipse Phase may be the only game/setting where GURPS is the more elegant rules set to run it.

(Not trying to poo poo on GURPS. I like GURPS.)

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



The fact that Hastur responds more eagerly to his name than a golden retriever makes him a great way to tank any campaign you're bored with.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Of all the Ancient Outer Old Gods in the Lovecratian canon, Hastur is the one with the most tortured and fragmented history.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I'm going to give official warning, since it's been requested a number of times.

:siren: I'll be looking to reboot the thread on Labor Day here in America, which is September 2nd. :siren:

The existing thread will be archived as usual, but you may want to wrap up reviews before then, if you can. If you can't, that's not a big deal and can continue on as usual. But it'll allow us to revise the OP, start fresh, and lay down some new guidelines. If you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them on in the meantime.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Okay, fine! I'll stop reading five different books at once and finish up the Vampire corebook, Jesus

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I might squeeze in a Degenesis update before the date, but not finish anything.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Perhaps I can finally put a pin in the review that's been hanging over my head for over a year.
By which I mean a sword.


Hate to leave it unfinished.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



:ohdear:

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Barney Gumble IT BEGINS.gif.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





we must be reminded of fears we have forgotten

or something

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



hungry hungry hip-pos
hungry hungry hip-pos
hungry hungry hip-pos

they're in an eating race

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Oh, shrouded one in yellow, ruin of Carcosa, we beseech you. Who is a good boy? Behold, it is you, Hastur, you are a good boy! Yes, you are!

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:



Beast the Primordial Player's Guide: Chapter 2 Part 2
As I mentioned last time, we're going back to the start of chapter 2, because this book is poorly laid out. Especially so because the stereotypes and descriptions for the new hungers and families comes before the families, hungers, and inheritances they're describing.

They're also fairly redundant, as they're retreading old ground that was covered in the core book. It also rather terrifyingly misses the point again and again as they pull out old chestnuts like "Beasts love to pal up with Prometheans because all the people around them are terrified all the time and who needs to be a lovely old human anyway?"


Also Art like this is here because?
I mean it is in a section describing Namtaru horrors but What namtaru has a horror of "Nosferatu in blue jeans and a T-shirt?"

I've already covered the stuff in the families section for the Talasii and Inguma so we can move on.

The next section of chapter 2 talks about Hunger, more Mechanically than thematically. It gives helpful hints like "Don't pick a hunger that you aren't equipped to actually pursue." And "Don't pick one that you're so hideously overqualified for that feeding takes 5 seconds because that's basically all the game has." Which is refreshing in it's honesty.

Which is why this starkly honest description of what to do when you're Ravenous is kind of terrifying.

quote:

Thereís no getting around it: Being Ravenous is not good. You canít use Nightmares. Regaining Willpower is complicated. You take damage every day, and you canít heal it without help. Further, normal, low-intensity feasts wonít grant you any Satiety at all. If you get to this state, you need a plan. And, if you were smart, you made it before you got here. So, what do you do?

First, go berserk. Hit up one or more opportunities for low-rent feeding, if you can get away with them. You donít need grand schemes. You just need to smash the nacho machine at the local convenience store, steal all the coins from a fountain, or run over someoneís dog. Why do you do this? One, itís good roleplaying your characterís desperation. Two, you get a Beat every time you have a Feast with Satiety potential too low to help you.
I feel like this would be a good opportunity to engage with, you know, the moral ramification of this? "Kill someone's dog for some free XP, Pomaranians are worth double!" sounds like something you'd read in a satire of a horror game.

quote:

Second, donít go to sleep. For one thing, it puts you closer to taking unhealable lethal damage. For another, your Horror is going to start rampaging around and potentially spawning Heroes. If you have the Relentless Hunter Atavism, then youíre good to go. For everyone else, caffeine is easy to come by. If you manage to pick up and resolve the Fatigued Condition, at least you get another Beat out of it.
Sing it with me everyone. "Beasts don't make Heroes anymore!"

quote:

Finally, you commit that big score to get yourself into a better Satiety Condition. You need to build up factors until youíre going to roll at least eight dice. The easiest way to get there is to kill somebody, for +4, but study the chart on p. 108 of Beast: The Primordial for other clues. Alternately, if a Heroís been getting you down, just kill them. That automatically raises you to Satiety 1.
"Just loving kill somebody already."

The write ups for the remaining hunger conditions are similarly gamified. Straight up telling you "Plan some safe 'risks' ahead of time when you're starving to get some easy XP." "Don't feed if you're above 5 Satiety unless you actually want to go into slumbering." and "Waste Satiety on nightmares for some free beats if you're too high"

Hell the write up for Slumbering has this little chestnut.

quote:

You still have no Integrity equivalent, so you may continue to be a Nietzchean monster, beyond good and evil. However, you might also choose to have your character attempt to live a normal life for a while. This is a chance to answer an important question: Is your character a monster because of their Horror and their Hunger? Or would she find human moral conventions an intolerable prison even without the touch of the supernatural about her?
"Yeah you're a goddamned monster" would be another breath of fresh air were it not followed by the book climbing straight back up it's own rear end about how the various hungers sate themselves and what thematic resonances they have and how kinships play into it and how great it is to subvert the other gamelines themes in advancement of your own.
"You have a hunger for secrets? Vampire, Mummy, and Demon have veritable smorgasboards of ways to ruin everyone's day."

Are you a ravager?

quote:

While itís a subtle disturbance and may not be enough to satisfy a more violent Beast, Prometheans as a whole spread discord simply by interacting with the mortal world. Their uncontrollable spreading of the Wasteland wherever they roam makes a Ravagerís job easier, but often denies him a hearty meal, offering instead something meager. Itís easy enough for Ravagers to stir the pot when a Promethean is around, but they walk a thin line; bringing too much attention to the unnatural member of society may expose them and bring the community together as they attempt to drive the intruder out. Of course, if the Beast doesnít particularly care for the Promethean, she may be perfectly content to orchestrate the destruction of the Prometheanís life, driving her to lash out with her Torment or finding ways to keep her in one place, simply to see what happens when things go too far. Upsetting the delicate balance of a Prometheanís life is a simple task, but the sheer scale of the consequences means a satisfying meal for the Beast.
Just destroy a Promethean's entire life

quote:

Of course, in a tight-knit group like a pack, some of the heartiest meals can came from disturbing the close bonds among its members. Often the last thing a Ravager can accomplish before she chooses to move on, the implosion of a werewolf pack, or even just the ousting of one of its members, is no small task. This is the kind of plot the Beast seeds over months or years; itís in her best interest to flee shortly after she accomplishes her goal. While satisfying, meddling with the dynamics of a werewolf pack is incredibly dangerous. If her attempt fails and her treachery is brought to light, she can count on the entire pack turning against her in an effort to bring her down. While winning the fight would also provide a substantial meal for her Horror, a pack of werewolves looking to wipe her out stands a good chance of succeeding.
Or a werewolf pack, for the evulz.

Or if you have a hunger for transgression you c-

quote:

Changelings understand transgression all too well. The True Fae twist their victims into mockeries, forcing changelings to transgress against human morality as playthings and hunting dogs, or slaves to any manner of grotesque desire. Enablers must respect these traumas if they want Kinship, and thoughtful Beasts find that harvesting Glamour for them makes a good ice breaker. Enablers are experts in emotional manipulation ó sin so often leads to guilt, joy, dread, and anger all at once. With a few well-placed Nightmares, the Lost may reconsider their stance on deals with the devil.
OKAY gently caress THIS NOISE
That's enough of this chapter.

Next time: Chapter 3, When Beasts have Babies it's exactly as creepy as you think it should be, but it's on purpose.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



this is your reminder that pissing off a pack of werewolves to the extent that they are ready to fight each other means that they are getting ready to bring out their big guns

which is to say, the nearly unkillable rage-fueled murder form that, if stayed in too long, leads to them deciding to kill everyone nearby that isn't in their pack

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Mors Rattus posted:

this is your reminder that pissing off a pack of werewolves to the extent that they are ready to fight each other means that they are getting ready to bring out their big guns

which is to say, the nearly unkillable rage-fueled murder form that, if stayed in too long, leads to them deciding to kill everyone nearby that isn't in their pack

The notion of Beasts being liquefied by woofs in Death Rage is somewhat satisfying, admittedly.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Night10194 posted:

I suspect some of it is just the need to have the modern world look anything like the modern world, though. Hams Fantasy can have The Count giving monologues to his enormous army of skeletons because it doesn't have to give a gently caress about the consequences of LA getting overrun by a skeleton army, for instance. Whereas tortured vampires hiding in the shadows and having political struggles over feeding lets Chicago still look like Chicago.

i always thought the more horrifying conclusion was the implicit assumption that the fictional WoD almost perfectly resembles the contemporary modern world because even though you're a nigh-immortal super hero with the power to bend mortals to your ineffable will, there's still even more powerful nigh-immortal super heroes that are personally benefitting from the world continuing to work the way that it does, and they're so much more powerful than you that if you did try to get out of line and do something wacky like summon a zombie army to siege los angeles, they would obliterate you so thoroughly that you won't ever have existed in the first place and your immortal soul would get turned into a litter box for a giant demon cat with IBS.

it's like a real person moving from a retail job at best buy to a career as a computer software engineer at intel - sure, you're 100x better off than you were initially, but you're still nowhere near the level of jeff bezos or the koch brothers, and they're really the ones that are sticking it to you anyway and your minor increase in personal wealth isn't going to be sufficient to upset that balance. the true horror of the WoD is that even having super powers can't save you from the banality of modern ennui. meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


So, once again, why do they keep putting out more material for this line? For Beast, I mean. It was a bad idea from the start and no matter how much 'actually these guys are just loving monsters' they slather it in in the future, it feels like trying to take care of an OOC problem (this is abuse apologia at its origin) solved ICly (but they're bad guys from now on, we swear).

Is it just forever a part of the ineffable and extremely stuffed canon of the NWoD now?

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I am deeply annoyed that Beast had the temerity to call Beasts 'Nietzschean.' Because they sure as poo poo don't resemble anything interesting the guy ever wrote about, and their particular set of values is utterly uninteresting and utterly suborned to biology. "I have this deep desire to hurt people, and therefore I'm justified in doing so" is not Nietzschean, it's pathetically turning to the universe and saying 'see it's not my fault I do evil and enjoy it.' Nietzschean would be saying 'I do this because I choose to,' but Beasts are built entirely so they don't have to choose to be evil. The universe requires them to, so we should be sympathetic, according to pretty much the whole work.

A really Nietzschean Beast would be one who accepts the enmity of humanity and heroes as totally justified and can construct a purpose and value system beyond FEED TO LIVE, LIVE TO FEED, rather than lovely 'is it not you who are the real monster' equivocating.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Well Nietzsche's work has been famously co-opted against his will for the service of horrendous values and rhetoric since day one, so nothing new here.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Night10194 posted:

So, once again, why do they keep putting out more material for this line? For Beast, I mean. It was a bad idea from the start and no matter how much 'actually these guys are just loving monsters' they slather it in in the future, it feels like trying to take care of an OOC problem (this is abuse apologia at its origin) solved ICly (but they're bad guys from now on, we swear).

Is it just forever a part of the ineffable and extremely stuffed canon of the NWoD now?

They haven't, really.

This is the same book I was reviewing last year before I burned out on, well, the fact that Beast is Terrible. Contagion Chronicles and the new antagonists book for Werewolf reference Beast in a very begrudging way. "Yes they exist and this new terrifying thing eats them for breakfast."

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Poking around an nWoD Demon's secrets, because Demons are so very reasonable when you start shredding their Cover.

And Demons are iirc immune to the Poochie aura.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





It's still baffling that Beast just has nothing for the players to do besides feed on innocent people. It just has no major hooks.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Joe Slowboat posted:

I am deeply annoyed that Beast had the temerity to call Beasts 'Nietzschean.' Because they sure as poo poo don't resemble anything interesting the guy ever wrote about, and their particular set of values is utterly uninteresting and utterly suborned to biology. "I have this deep desire to hurt people, and therefore I'm justified in doing so" is not Nietzschean, it's pathetically turning to the universe and saying 'see it's not my fault I do evil and enjoy it.' Nietzschean would be saying 'I do this because I choose to,' but Beasts are built entirely so they don't have to choose to be evil. The universe requires them to, so we should be sympathetic, according to pretty much the whole work.
The funny thing is that Beast is the worst of both worlds when it comes to Nietzsche's master morality and slave morality. "I'm persecuted and despised, but that's just proof that I'm right, and I'll have my revenge" without any emphasis on the community over the individual, nor any condemnation of assholes doing whatever pleases them. Since, you know, that's what they are.

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



The werewolf beat reminds me of a lovely suggestion for interaction that a Beast should threaten to reveal a Demon not realizing this is an utterly stupid and horrible idea.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Terrible Opinions posted:

It's still baffling that Beast just has nothing for the players to do besides feed on innocent people. It just has no major hooks.

The remaining 3 chapters of this book may surprise you then!

It still doesn't redeem the gameline but it does give them other things to do!

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





ChaseSP posted:

The werewolf beat reminds me of a lovely suggestion for interaction that a Beast should threaten to reveal a Demon not realizing this is an utterly stupid and horrible idea.

And going off their stereotype quotes, Beasts love to go 'ha ha I can see through ow why did you pull my spleen out.'

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Say, do these guys also automatically know all this, too? I've never really thought about that part, but isn't that meant to be a huge part of NWoD? That nobody really easily recognizes one another on sight because every line is wrapped up in its own problems and really only deals with the others when they intersect? Do Beasts just know what a Promethean is and immediately start thinking about how they can ruin someone else's spiritual journey to grasp the essence of humanity?

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