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Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Dragonlance Campaign Setting Part 9: Other Eras of Play

This is the last chapter of the Dragonlance Campaign Setting. After that we have a short appendix containing two adventures, one of which I already covered in the Key of Destiny Adventure Path. This chapter covers two historical eras in Dragonlance: the War of the Lance, during which the original 1984 Chronicles and modules were set, and the Early Age of Mortals, when the Dragon Overlords first came to Krynn and the gods fell silent again.

War of the Lance

As detailed in Krynn's history in Chapter 6, the War of the Lance was a 4 year conflict when Takhisis' Dragonarmies set about conquering much of Ansalon, aided by the might of chromatic dragons and the goddesses' priests. The Heroes of the Lance, originally a group of 8 friends reuniting at the Inn of the Last Home, played a vital role in saving Ansalon from the Dark Queen's forces. They helped restore knowledge of the Gods of Light and Balance with the discovery of the Disks of Mishakal, learned how to forge the legendary Dragonlances and united the forces of Good on Krynn under the Whitestone Council, unearthed the deadly secret of the draconians' creation and convinced the metallic dragons to enter into the war, and destroyed the temple of Takhisis in Neraka and killed Emperor Ariakas.

Games set during the War of the Lance are a different affair than the default 5th Age. For one, most of Krynn around this time does not follow any of the Gods, Takhisis' forces notwithstanding. The Wizards of High Sorcery still receive aid from the Gods of Magic, but otherwise the deities are silent, and the Wizards don't go around telling people that they gain their magic with the help of the gods. There is still much resentment over the Cataclysm, when they tossed a giant meteor onto Istar and wrought much death and destruction onto the continent. The Gods of Darkness return first to the world, but they are secretive and trust their aid to a select few clerics. Takhisis is the exception, as she begins recruiting humanoids and monsters to Neraka via divine guidance, to eventually form the Dragonarmies.

We get a detailed write-up of how each of the deities interacts with the world when they return to it. The evil ones had a 200-year head start, with the rest coming very recently (at the beginning of the War of the Lance). Branchala gives his spells to clerics with a knack for music and travel, and directed them to help combat Lorac's Nightmare, the force which is destroying Silvanesti. Habbukuk set about gathering clerics and druids to help heal nature and communities afflicted by the wars. Kiri-Jolith's faithful joined the Knights of Solamnia and helped the Order of the Sword reconnect with the deity. Majere's worship and knowledge was preserved in a few Ergothian monasteries, even if he did not grant spells, so it wasn't hard for them to recover. Mishakal first came when Goldmoon, a Hero of the Lance and daughter of an Abasinian Plains chieftian, discovered the Disks of Mishakal and helped spread the word of the Gods' return to the world along with Elistan. Paladine was instrumental in the spread of knowledge as well, often taking the form of a senile wizard named Fizban to subtly help out the Heroes of the Lance and others to help defeat the Dragonarmies. Solinari foresaw the coming war and instructed the head of the White Robes to find a "sword," or wizardly pupil to train, to help fight the evil. That sword was Raistlin, a Hero of the Lance.

For the deities of Neutrality, there's not really much that hasn't already been said, other than that Lunitari guided Raistlin into joining the Red Robes, Reorx was still worshiped by dwarves (although a lot of it was for show before the War), and Shinare's faith rose quickly during the war.

For the deities of evil, Chemosh's faith flourished in hopeless people willing to do anything to avoid death in this miserable Age, Hiddukel's priests quietly kept to the north, Morgion gained a following among the Zhakar dwarves who hoped that he could cure their fungal plague. As for Nuitari, the Black Robes were traditionally enemies of Takhisis' faithful, but they entered into an alliance with the Dragonarmies and helped them form the ritual to create draconians and flying citadels (airborne castles carrying troops which attack cities from the air) for military dominance. Takhisis, of course, had her faith grow exponentially with the power of the Dragonarmies. Zeboim's faith is small and secret, by fearful sailors placating her wrath.

We get a rundown of character classes and how they differ during the War of the Lance. Bards cannot cast spells due to them being of primal sorcery, mystics and sorcerers don't exist (except for fey and dragons), and divine spellcasters could not gain spells until their respective deities come back to the world. The Legion of Steel and Knights of Takhisis/Neraka don't exist yet in this era, and thus cannot be taken.

We also get a brief rundown on some countries and how they differed back during the War. Abanasinia was a theocracy ruled by the Seekers, worshipers of false deities who sought to exploit and control the populace before the Dragonarmies invaded and occupied many of the ruins and towns. Balifor was rugged country, but much more plentiful than the modern Desolation. Blode is an ogre country in the southern Khalkist mountains, and they live in the ruined cities of their ancient empire and view themselves as more "cultured" than their cousins in Kern. The Maelstrom, a giant red whirpool covering much of the open sea in the Blood Sea Isles, makes travel treacherous in the region. Estwilde was one of the first countries to be dominated by the Dragon Empire, and its more evil-inclined tribes joined the Dragonarmies. The kender of Goodlund was under siege by the Black Dragonarmy, but they managed to hold their ground. The ogres of the nation of Kern live lives as scavengers in their mountainous country and united under the Dragonarmies eager to recruit them. Kharolis is a relatively stable country, and some wizards living nearby used their magic to help them, earning them much goodwill among the populace (a rarity during this time). Qualinesti was evacuated during the early War of the Lance when the Red Dragonarmy invaded, and Silvanesti went to war about a decade before the War began. The Silvanesti king Lorac used a Dragon Orb to repel the Dragonarmy, only to unleash his nightmares into the world and turn his forest nation into a monstrous hellscape. The dragonarmies retreated out of Silvanesti along with most of the elven population, due to it becoming virtually uninhabitable. The Taman Busuk region is the heart of the Dragon Empire and home to the capital city of Neraka, which is thriving in this time. Here and in the city of Sanction the Dragonarmy forces are omnipresent, with clerics, draconians, and all manner of monstrous soldiers ready to be shipped off to far-away lands for conquest. Thorbadin's gates are closed off to the rest of the world, and internal politicking almost results in them being invaded by the Dragonarmies as the dark dwarves made a deal with them; the Heroes of the Lance help repel their efforts.

Admittingly, this is really a bare-bones description of the era. The War of the Lance sourcebook by Sovereign Press goes into far more detail on this era, as do the original Chronicles.


The Early Age of Mortals

This era is set after the devastating effects of the Chaos War, when Takhisis stole away the world and the Dragon Overlords discovered the Material Plane. Once again the gods lose touch with the world, except now even the Wizards cannot gain access to magic. With the appearance of the Dragon Overlords, people are desperate to find new forms of magic hinted at by Fizban in a note before he vanished. This magic was sorcery and mysticism.

There are actually rules which I forgot to cover in the Magic chapter, where a Wizard can become a Sorcerer, or a Cleric a Mystic, and vice versa. Basically spells in a spellbook become spells known and vice versa, and divine casters either gain or lose one domain (or both if a mystic becomes a cleric of a deity whose original domain is not among the selection). It's a process which happens during the next level up, and the convert is saddled with a -20% penalty on experience points gained until the new level.

We also get stast for Beryllanthranox, the Green Dragon Overlord. She is a Challenge Rating 26 dragon with some pretty beefed-up stats (893 hit points, 38 armor class, saving throws in the high 20s to high 30s, a 30d6 acidic breath weapon, and can cast 9th-level spells).

During this time the Dragon Overlords (as well as many chromatic dragons) set about stealing the essence of their own kind to gain power. In the Overlords' case it was to solidify their power base, while in the weaker kins' case it was a desperate struggle to find a way to survive. This horrific event resulted in a near-genocide of dragonkind, known as the Dragon Purge. All but one of the metallic dragons had no choice but to go into hiding to avoid death, but even then many died. Eventually Malystryx calls for an end to the purge, and sets up borders with the other Overlords of the land they ruled. The Dragon Overlords ruled entire countries at this time.

The five Dragon Overlords are: Malystryx (Red, ruler of the Desolation region, Khur, and Kern), Khellendros (Blue, ruler of much of Solamnia), Beryllinthranox (Green, ruler of Qualinesti), Onysablet (Black, ruler of Blode, Estwilde, and southern Nordmaar), and Gellidus (White, ruler of Southern Ergoth). All but the last two died by the time the current era came, and Onysablet got slain by a hero in a novel sometime after this book was published. As for Gellidus, well he's the final boss of the Key of Destiny Adventure Path, and has quite an epic showdown (I won't spoil things here).

After her theft of the world, Takhisis was too weak to grant divine spells or exert her influence upon Krynn, and the spirits of the dead could not move on to the afterlife. She promises the dead to free them in return for service, and sends them out to leech what little magic remains in the world. Over time she gains more power, and transfers a semblance of power into Mina, a young orphan girl. Mina originally washed up up on the shores of Schallsea and is adopted by mystics of the Citadel of Light. In reality she is a goddess who was put into a dreaming state around the Age of Starbirth to preserve the divine balance. Possessing the powers of a true cleric, she is a prophet of the One God, a god she claims never abandoned Krynn, who in reality is Takhisis (but she doesn't tell anyone this). She ends up joining the Knights of Takhisis (who are distraught over the apparent loss of their goddess) and quickly ascends to a leadership position. She forms an army of soldiers across Ansalon to fight the Dragon Overlords and kills Khellendros by turning his own breath weapon against him with Divine Retribution spell (mentioned back in Chapter Three), and uses a Dragonlance to slay Malystryx.

Takhisis comes to her end when the surviving Heroes of the Lance use the Device of Time Journeying to restore a connection between Krynn and the Gods. Furious, they punish Takhisis by cursing her with mortality, but Mina is still faithful to her. She is slain by an elf who loved Mina, and Mina takes her goddess' body to parts unknown, swearing vengeance upon elvenkind. Paladine becomes mortal to preserve the balance, and Krynn is once again reunited with its gods.

Naturally, there is also a sourcebook for the Age of Mortals. Unfortunately, it was developed by Fast Forward Entertainment, and wasn't very good.

Thoughts so far: This doesn't have much in the way of advice for playing in the era beyond a list of events and how they can be used for stories. Unfortunately, more detailed play will require additional materials to fully understand the era.

I also heavily recommend making your player's original PCs the Heroes of the Lance if gaming in the Age of Despair. Making your own heroes be the stars of the show is quite the rewarding experience, and playing your own characters with their own pasts is overall superior than using another group's pre-designed PCs or playing second fiddle to Raistlin and the gang.

On that note, there is a super-updated 3rd Edition version of the original Dragonlance Chronicles (D&D's very first Adventure Path), which I plan on reviewing after I complete the Key of Destiny. But all will come in due time...


Adventure: The Ghost Blade

Rounding out the book are two adventures. We will cover one of them, the Ghost Blade, a short little dungeon crawl for 4 PCs of 5th level.

Basically in times long ago, a Qualinesti princes named Enarathan wielded a blade which allowed him to stealthily approach his foes. Unfortunately this proved to be his undoing, as the magic of an ogre magic warned of the elf's presence when he tried ambushing an ogre patrol. Enarathan escaped, but was mortally wounded. He died and was buried with honors in a tomb by his people, his blade with him.

The adventure takes place in the village of Chisel in southern Solamnia, near the coast of the new sea.

Now a map to the tomb has been discovered by a group of rogue draconians. While preparing for some tomb-robbing in town, a kender managed to "find" the map laying around; the draconians pursue him, but the kender thinks it's all a game of tag, and the group runs right in to the PCs, and are willing to fight to get it. The draconians are baaz and six in number. Once the PCs kill them or drive them off, the kender introduces himself as Thorn Troublefinder, and shows the PCs the map ("I was trying to return it to its owner when these strange men started chasing me!"). Said map is in Evlish script, and if the PCs are reluctant to go to the tomb, Thorn will mention that the draconians already know where it is and are more than willing to raid and defile it. He will accompany them on the adventure if they so desire (he's a 2nd level Rogue).

Three more Draconians stalk the PCs on the way to the tomb. They will try hiding or ambushing the PCs when it's most convenient, but opposed rolls allow the party to detect their presence.

The tomb itself is located in a heavily overgrown forest, and is unimaginatively named the Ghost Blade Dungeon by the book, and consists of 6 rooms. An entryway covered by a tree's roots which can only be found via searching, an antechamber leading into 4 other rooms (north, south, east, west, last two are secret doors), and a pit trap in the middle. The western way leads to a former purification chamber, where visitors bathed in the waters; it is now home to a gray ooze. The eastern way leads into a shrine to the god E'li (Elven name for Paladine). The statue of the deity is magical, and bathes the room in a consecrate spell if set during an era where the Gods have returned to the world, and can be used to petition the Gods of Light to make a faithful person a cleric.

The northern way leads into a room full of tiles, of depictions of Enarathan in his life battling ferocious enemies (such as that ogre magi). On the far northern side of the room is a secret door leading to the actual coffin, and is sealed with a glyph of warding which scours fire on intruders who don't dispel the runes. Additionally, four wooden statues in the room will come to life and attack the party. They're very weak Challenge Rating 2 constructs, with slam attacks and minor hardness (deducts 5 points of physical damage).

The final room contains Enarathan's preserved corpse, along with Alurashean, the Ghost Blade. His silver breastplate is cursed specifically to deal with tomb robbers. It is a +1 Breastplate of Elven Rage, which grants morale bonuses on attacks against the wearer by elves and a -6 penalty on Charisma-based skill checks with elves. The Ghost Blade is a +1 longsword made of silver which grants a +10 on Hide and Move Silently checks when unsheathed, as it muffles the wearer's sounds and makes them appear shadowy. If the blade is used to strike an opponent, the bonuses are lost until it's sheathed and unsheathed again.

Once the PCs leave the tomb, more draconians, 3 baaz and 1 kapak ambush them. The kapak has a +1 short sword.

Regardles of whether the PCs take Enarathan's possessions or choose to preserve the sanctity of the tomb, the adventure is over.

Overall I feel that the monsters are a little too weak for a party of 5th-level PCs. It also feels out of place in Dragonlance, as a traditional dungeon crawl for loot, especially of a beloved elven prince, doesn't seem in line with earlier themes of the book. An adventure where the PCs have to protect a town from clerics of a deity of darkness, or help a knight's squire on a quest to prove his worth, would be more appropriate.

Concluding Thoughts: A wonderful book for a wonderful campaign setting. Dragonlance Campaign Setting does a great job of detailing the world and converting it to the 3rd Edition ruleset. It blends the fluff and crunch together so that they feel seamless and help tell a greater picture, as opposed to other sourcebooks which just dump new spells and prestige classes without giving a wider context to the world they're in. The game mechanics are rusty in parts, with unbalanced options, but overall this is a very comprehensive and entertaining book which really captures the feel of Dragonlance. Dragonlance has not made a resurgence in 4th Edition, and time will tell if D&D Next picks up the setting. Until then, this is one of the most informative and up to date sourcebooks for the world of Krynn and its people.


There's actually some unused artwork of the book on the Wizards of the Coast page for this adventure, as well as others. Here they are:

Enarathan's Rest:


The Ghost Blade:


Tag and Chase:


Gnome Work Crew:


Mobile Bookshelf with Selector Arm (Gnome invention):


Dragon Mountain Monument:


Untitled (Looks to be a Gnomish Contraption):

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ulmont
Sep 15, 2010

IF I EVER MISS VOTING IN AN ELECTION (EVEN AMERICAN IDOL) ,OR HAVE UNPAID PARKING TICKETS, PLEASE TAKE AWAY MY FRANCHISE


dereku posted:

But could you picture other RPGs having their own leveling speed depending on the classes? It might be just me but it feels kind of weird.

It may be weird, but it's also how Dungeons & Dragons worked until 3rd edition. Thieves leveled up the fastest, mages the slowest, with fighters and clerics in between. See also:
http://rotgrub.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/the-melange-of-xp-tracks-of-classic-dd-and-add-weal-or-woe/

Redeye Flight
Mar 26, 2010

God, I'm so tired. What the hell did I post last night?


Libertad! posted:

Your avatar is prophetic, for I was working on this review before you posted a reply.

Hah! This avatar has been an excellent friend.

I'm always interested in seeing more pony homebrew. It's interesting to me how people take various angles to making the generally upbeat and idealistic setting jibe with tabletops, which are generally combat-based and often have a shades-of-grey flavor. Casting them as fey is a new one for me, though.

quote:

Edit: The creator David Silver saw my review when I first posted it on Min-Max Boards, and sought to correct some changes and beef up the underpowered feats. I downloaded the book again, but I didn't see any of the changes implemented aside from a shorter OGL.

Props to him for paying attention to feedback, then. Maybe it'll come out soon. I would offer looks at some of the other stuff I've seen over the last two years or so, but I'm not very mechanically smart, so I don't think I could do a good job of reviewing anything.

And while I'm making this post, I'd like to thank you for doing the Dragonlance setting stuff. I loved the original books when I was a teenager, and I still have The Doom Brigade (in hardcover!) on my bookshelf here at grad school. Draconians rule, Dragonlance in general is pretty great, and I've been really enjoying reading the stuff you've been posting.

Redeye Flight fucked around with this message at 08:37 on Dec 23, 2013

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Selachian posted:

That's a funny-looking P in the title. When I first glanced at the image, I thought it said Gor.
I imagine at least half of those men would enjoy welcoming you to a world known as Gor.

NorgLyle
Sep 20, 2002

Do you think I posted to this forum because I value your companionship?



Libertad! posted:

Next up we have the Draconians!

As a race, draconians of all varieties are of the Dragon type, are immune to all diseases, gain +1 morale bonus on saves/attacks/skills when serving under a chromatic dragon leader, have Spell Resistance which scales with Hit Dice (the higher CR ones have better values), and can survive on 1/10th the food and water of a regular human. All but the Aurak have wings which can grant limited flight in the form of gliding. All of them also have their own death throes.


I've always thought it was a little strange that Aurak Draconians lacked wings, presumably because the original 1977 Monster Manual Gold Dragons were wingless, when the Krynn...ish? Krynnian? version of the Gold Dragon canonically has big flappy wings.

Libertad! posted:




Gold Dragons are the most intelligent, powerful, and magically-inclined of all dragons. They are defenders of justice and fight for those unable to defend themselves. They only kill when there is no other option available, using restraint in all their actions. They can change into humanoid form, but rarely do so due to the form's relative fragility. They make their lairs anywhere and in any climate, and have been known to re-appropriate humanoid castles and fortresses once home to evildoers (which they either killed or drove off). They eagerly help people seeking their aid if the cause is just, but often use divination magic to ensure that people don't try to trick them.

With their doing good deeds for free and a code against killing except in the direst of circumstances, they're pretty much the Supermen of dragons.
See?

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Eh, I don't really know why Auraks have an exception. Maybe because they can fly via animal transformation or something.

In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to a little sourcebook known as Sisters of Rapture:

It Came From Drive-Thru RPG: Sisters of Rapture

Trigger Warning: This product's really, really creepy and really, really bad. We're talking 14 year old scantily-clad warrior-priestesses, "harlot boots" which attract rapists, making light of real-world gender identity issues by turning them into harmful spells, among other things. If this kind of stuff can ruin your day, I'd recommend avoiding this review.



Ah, sex, the always-thorny issue which is destined to spring up time and time again in table-top role-playing games. Most gamers treat the act as an afterthought or minor element in their gaming sessions; sex is something which can be hinted at, alluded to, or in some cases helps develop a character’s personality, but it’s rarely a centric focus of the game or player character.

But some people prefer to expand it further, say, making a set of game rules around it or even an entire sourcebook! This is actually old hat in the industry: before the Book of Erotic Fantasy there was the Guide to Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Before the Guide there were Dragon magazine articles on rules for orgies, wandering prostitute random encounters in 1st Edition, and rules for courting women in City-State of the Invincible Overlord (the first 3rd party D&D product). Personally I feel that reducing the sexuality (and all its related drama) to a handful of die rolls, skills, and number-crunching character options detract from the subject instead of building upon it. Something just gets lost in the process when you focus on game mechanics to the exclusion of the world and society.

Sisters of Rapture, written by the ‘erotic artist’ TCatt, touches upon the subject of sexuality, although it takes a different approach than its predecessors. It’s framed primarily around an order of warrior-priestesses dedicated to the Goddesses of love, beauty, sex, passion, and similar concepts and portfolios. They’re dedicated to feminine empowerment and a free-love attitude towards sex. The Sisters are heavily based upon the cheesecake fantasy art which began in the 70s, where buxom warriors fought in hardly anything at all alongside their practically-dressed male companions. The Inspirational Source Material in the book’s introduction is almost entirely examples of artists of this bent, along with the Book of Erotic Fantasy (which they recommend using in conjunction with this product, providing some conversion in the necessary areas).

Chapter 1: Love’s Blessed

The first thing we lay our eyes upon in this chapter is a picture of three women, armed with swords and spears, surrounding a slain insect monster. Their dresses aren’t so much dresses as they are short pieces of fabric which cover the front areas downstairs but leave the breasts bare. The woman on the right must be wearing one of those funeral-style articles of clothing, for it only goes halfway around the front but gives you a clear view of her rear.

You might be thinking that the author’s trying to draw you in by putting the sexy up front, but this is pretty much par for the course when it comes to SoR’s artwork. The art is definitely well-drawn in parts, and can be titillating at times, but overall it’s sort of hit and miss (but mostly a miss). Nudity comprises a significant part to arousal, but it has to be done well. It’s not enough to just draw tits and rear end, a large part is in the execution.

The Sisters are pretty much naked or almost-naked in pretty much every situation, be they a pair of temple prostitutes lounging amid colorful pillows and beckoning the viewer to come join them with their arms, or a topless axe-wielding maiden dismembering orc limbs and covered in their blood. The former scenario is definitely sexy and works, but the latter picture fails; the gore and violence overshadows everything and makes the nudity come off as haphazard and unnecessary. Sheer overexposure can desensitize a person, or come off as dumb and silly if it doesn’t fit the situation.

Another factor is that strategically covering up the right areas can be hotter than going for the Full Monty. But TCatt goes for the latter almost every time, and it hurts the work (especially since he’s going for a ‘sexy’ nudity as opposed to non-sexual ‘naturist’ nudity).

Since I can’t post them here due to board policy, I’ll be pointing out if I find any particularly ridiculous pictures and do my best to paraphrase them.

Sex rant over, on to the chapter itself!

quote:

The following material is designated as Open Game Content: all classes, prestige classes, abilities, powers, skills, feats, spells, magic-items and monsters, excluding proper names of characters, organizations, creatures, settings or places. No other material is to be consider Open Gaming Content.

Basically the Sister of Rapture is a 20 level core class of a divine warrior-maiden. It grants Medium BAB, d8 hit die, good Fort and Will saves, a slightly more expanded skill list than the Cleric’s with 2 + Int per level, 9th-level spontaneous divine casting, simple and martial weapon and light armor proficiency, as well as some class features revolving around sex, sensuality, and love. They must be non-evil aligned, and traditionally worship goddesses (never a male deity) related to love and passion, although the setting and mechanics heavily revolve around Aphrodite, Isis, and Freya.

Sounds all fine and dandy, given the subject matter, right? Oh no, be afraid, be very afraid.

quote:

The Sisters of Rapture (SoR) are warrior-priestesses dedicated to the service of love goddesses and their churches. Any female volunteer from any humanoid PC race may become a Sister of Rapture, although most novitiates are adolescents introduced to the Sisterhood by older members. As such, the starting age for a first-level human SoR is (12 +1d4) years. For longer-lived nonhuman races, subtract five from the starting age listed in the Core Rulebook and add 1d4. Critics have often chastised the Rapturous for indoctrinating girls at so young an age, but the Sisters do so only in order to properly shape novitiates’ sexuality at their most crucial stage of development. SoR novitiates are always volunteers and are never prepubescent.

The Sisters of Rapture are very sexual, sensuous creatures. They exist to spread pleasure and love throughout the world in the name of their patron goddesses and do so with abandon. Most of them are bisexual, seeing no difference between the love of a woman for a woman and the love of a woman for a man. For the Rapturous, love knows no gender or race and has no intrinsic boundaries. Love is divine and sex
is a celebration of love’s divinity. Sisters of Rapture are not, however, promiscuous sluts willing to jump into bed with just anyone. They’re always selective and always make sure their partners understand that the act is as much a religious experience as a pleasurable one.

Seriously, I don’t know where to start. Okay, number one, there’s a real chance by RAW that your sensual, scantily clad warrior maiden’s going to be a 14 year old girl. Second is the serious misunderstanding of sexual orientation; you can preach all you want about spreading love throughout the world, but some people only get turned on by people of a certain gender. It explicitly focuses on love of the sexual kind: a bisexual matchmaker can be just as much of a champion for love as a heterosexual peace negotiator. It comes off more as narrative wank material than anything else. And then there’s the whole “no, no, they’re not promiscuous!” vibe. I get that the writer wants to show the Sisters as being respectful of the bonds that sex can form, but promiscuity and casual sex can still fall within the bounds of free love and mutual joy.

Unlike the core full casters, the Sister gets several class features during the level progression. At 1st level she gets spontaneous divine spellcasting drawn from the Cleric list (and a few new spells from this book, but no turn/rebuke undead). Divine Health is like the Paladin’s, and the Sister produces no fertile eggs unless she desires, thus eliminating the threat of unwanted pregnancy and STDs so that you can get your character’s freak on. Carnal Spells are like a Cleric domain, where you automatically add sexually-themed spells to your spells known when you achieve a new level of spellcasting. And finally, Distracting Beauty grants a sacred bonus to Armor Class equal to your Charisma modifier as long as you’re nude or scantily clad (wearing armor negates the bonus) because enemies find it hard to focus when fighting “such exquisite examples of womanhood.” But it’s divinely granted, so it works on creatures who ordinarily wouldn’t find women attractive. Contradiction, much?

At 2nd, 6th, 12th, 18th, and 20th levels, a Sister learns a special ability known as a Kiss of Power. An individual Kiss is a Supernatural ability which can be used once per day on a living, corporeal target the Sister successfully kisses (with a melee touch for the unwilling), and the Save DC is 10 + ½ level + Charisma. Kisses are ranked levels: Kiss of Power 1 abilities can be selected at 2nd level onwards, Kiss of Power 2 at 6th level and so forth. They’re thematic and appropriate for the most part (kiss to put someone into a pleasurable sleep, kiss to heal wounds, kiss to charm, etc.), but a few bear special mention:

quote:

Kiss of Curses: This Kiss places a sexual curse on the victim. The recipient must
make a Will save or be afflicted with one of the following random sexual curses. The curse is indefinite, remaining until someone removes it with remove curse. The Sister bestowing the curse can never determine which curse the victim will receive.

Roll 1d6:
1 = Polymorphic Arousal: Each time the victim becomes sexually aroused, he or she
is polymorphed into a random animal (GM’s choice) as per the baleful polymorph spell,
except with a duration of 10 minutes. No additional save is allowed.
2 = Emotional Instability: The victim suffers from extreme and seemingly random mood
swings, ranging from extreme euphoria to deep depression to total apathy. The GM
determines the specific moods and their triggers.
3 = Aberrant Sexuality: Victim suffers from a common aberrant sexuality— such as pedophilia, necrophilia, sadomasochism, nymphomania or exhibitionism—chosen by the GM. The curse does not force the victim to take any action, but it does make the aberrant urges seem extremely desireable. At GM’s discretion, the affected person
must make a Will save, DC (5 + 1/day since receiving the curse or last acting on it), in order to ignore the unnatural urges.
4 = Repulsion: Members of the opposite sex automatically find the victim repulsive no matter how charismatic and charming he or she is. NPC attitudes automatically begin at “unfriendly” (see the Diplomacy skill in the Core Rulebook).
5 = Sexual Inadequacy: The victim becomes incapable of physical sexual arousal. As a result, he or she loses one point of Charisma per month until the curse is removed. As his or her Charisma decreases, he or she loses self-confidence and grows deeply depressed. A victim might seriously contemplate suicide in the latter stages of affliction.
6 = GM’s option (these or any).

And here I thought the Sisters were the Good guys! I’m sure that those within the S&M community will appreciate having their hobby being called “unnatural” and compared to necrophilia and pedophilia. And randomly being capable of driving a target to suicide seems more appropriate to the Book of Vile Darkness than a holy power.

quote:

Kiss of Life [Healing]: This kiss can restore health and/or life to a living creature, as per the heal, regenerate, greater restoration or resurrection spells. The Sister may
choose which Kiss to bestow, but she can use only one of the choices per day. No additional spell components or extra casting time is required. This Kiss channels
positive energy and may be used to harm undead, as per the aforementioned spells’ descriptions.

Bestow life to a living creature? I figure that this is meant to be an exception to the “living, corporeal” limit, especially given how it can work on undead. But it’s still a poor choice of words.

At 4th, 10th, and 16th level, the Sister receives a Love’s Blessing from one of the three Goddesses (Aphrodite, Isis, Freya). There’s around 4-5 Blessings for each of the 3 deities, and they can be used at will unless otherwise noted.

quote:

Olympian (Aphrodite)
• Add the spells of one of your goddess’s domains to your Spells Known.
• Matchmaker: (Affects two sexually aware, emotionally inclined people within 30 ft.) Both people fall madly in love with one another unless at least one of them makes a Will save (DC 10 + ½ SoR’s class level + SoR’s Charisma modifier).
• Beauty Sleep: Recover hit points equal to Charisma modifier per full night’s (eight hours) rest in addition to normal healing.
• Lying Eyes: Receive a +6 competence bonus to Bluff and Sense Motive.

Matchmaker can be a pretty powerful battlefield control spell in certain situations (especially the at-will part), but it does raise some thorny issues of consent.

quote:

Pharaonic (Isis or Hathor)
• Add the spells of one of your goddess’s domains to your Spells Known.
• Kiss of Protection: 3/day add a resistance bonus equal to (1/2 your sister of rapture level) to another character’s next saving throw. You must kiss the person in order to bestow the bonus.
• Patron’s Blessing: Bestow a bard, wizard or other arcane caster a +20 competence bonus to her next Perform (Hathor) or Knowledge (arcana) (Isis) roll. This blessing may be bestowed a number of times per day equal to 1/2 your sister of rapture level.
• Mother’s Magic (Isis only): Gain spell resistance equal to (10 + 1/2 your sister of rapture level).
• Mother’s Luck (Hathor only): Once per day, reroll any one roll. The result of the second roll applies even if it is worse. This ability gives a cleric with the Luck Domain an additional reroll per day, but not on the same action.

Oh hell, anybody worth their salt’s going to go straight for the Spell Resistance.

quote:

Asgardian (Freya)
• Add the spells of one of your goddess’s domains to your Spells Known.
• Cast charm person as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to 1/2 SoR levels. Your caster level is equal to your SoR class level.
• Righteous Rage: Gain the ability to rage as a barbarian of 1/2 SoR levels. No rage powers are gained with this ability.
• Comforts of Home: Once per day as a spell-like ability, you are able to use tiny hut as a spell-like ability. Additionally, when you and at least one lover of yours (any person with whom you have had consensual sexual contact) are present in the tiny hut, you all gain the benefits of protection from evil while inside it. The caster level for these effects is equal to your sister of rapture level.

At-will rage!

At 8th level you gain Sisterhood and rise to the rank of Honored Sister, where you’re freed from the service of your Patron Mother (a mentor in the order) and expected to go out into the world and forge your own path. That’s a rather late time to grant such a class feature for a typical adventuring party. The Sister ceases to visibly age, suffering no ability score modifiers (positive or negative) for aging, and your corpse is under the effect of a constant gentle repose spell upon death.

At 14th level you gain Motherhood and are eligible to take the rank of Patron Mother. You gain the Leadership feat for free, and can gain a cohort if you don’t take on an apprentice, or gain an apprentice provided you take a level in the Patron Mother Prestige Class. Seems kind of unnecessary; just grant Leadership normally, then discuss the cohort and apprentice stuff in the PrC itself.

Other artwork in this chapter includes a Sister wearing armored sleeves, a corset which leaves the breasts bare, see-through underwear, high-heeled boots, and a white cape; and that aforementioned orc limb-cutter.

And so ends Chapter One.

Thoughts so far: Problematic sexual content setting off mental alarms? Check? Gratuitous nudity? Check. It's going to be one of those reviews, isn't it?

The class itself is a solid tier 2 and versatile. It’s got some Charisma-based skills and debuffing abilities in line with the class’ theme. While the Sister can’t tank as well as a Cleric can (barring min/maxing your Charisma), access to martial weapons proficiency, at-will rage, and spell resistance make up for it.

Next time, the Love’s Chosen chapter, which covers prestige classes and alternate class features!


Chapter Two: Love's Chosen

The opening illustration shows four topless women (presumably Sisters of Rapture) sitting around a dinner table in an inn, which looks medieval for the most part except for modern-looking overhead lights. They're all chatting happily, but a barmaid is looking nervously over to a tiefling-looking fellow in the shadows eyeing the Sisters with an angry stare. A suspicious bearded man in a dark cloak is at the other end of the picture, also looking angry at them.

I get the feeling that the Sisters are being incredibly obnoxious and pissing everyone off in the inn.

So this chapter is also short, and details 4 prestige classes and 3 class archetypes (Pathfinder equivalent to alternate class features). They all require Sister of Rapture levels in the case of PrCs, or are based off of the class in terms of archetypes. Let’s start with the Prestige Classes.

The Inamorare is basically a muse who inspires others to greatness with their presence. They have the Sisterhood class feature and had a 1 month long sexual relationship with an equal to or higher level character (why so specific?), and some easy to meet skill requirements. The class itself is 5 levels long (as are the other 3), d8 hit die, medium BAB, 6 + Int skill points per level, poor Fort and Ref and average Will saves, and gains +1 to spells per day in the Sister of Rapture core class at 1st, 3rd, and 5th levels.

The major class feature Inamorare have is Inspire Greatness. It bears no resemblance to the Bard ability of the same name; it’s an Extraordinary ability, activated with a full-round action and a kiss on the target to be affected, and grants a competence bonus on rolls to certain things equal to levels in the PrC. 1st level it can be applied to skills, 2nd level saving throws, 3rd level attack rolls, 4th level Armor Class, and 5th level it increases a spellcaster’s caster level by two! This ability has an unlimited amount of uses per day and lasts two rounds per level. Allies can only benefit from one kind of bonus at once.

Also, the Inamorare herself is inspired by this act, and receives a bonus on Charisma-based rolls and skill checks equal to the number of people currently affected by this class feature, maximum +20. But if the maximum duration is 10, and it takes a full-round action to bestow, isn’t this bonus impossible to achieve without some serious action economy abuse?

The only other class features include Gift of Beauty at 2nd level, granting a +4 permanent increase to your Charisma score (!!!), and Gift of Grace at 4th level which does the same for Dexterity.

The artwork's nothing special; the first one's a woman with dark-skinned complexion dressed in a see-through Greek robe gazing upon a handheld statue. The other's a woman kissing a man on the cheek while walking on a forest trail.

The verdict: This PrC is really powerful. Losing 2 effective caster levels is balanced out by +4 Charisma and an unlimited-use buff for your allies. The other spellcasters in the party will love your 5th-level ability.


Next up we have the Patron Mother, who are basically the senior mentors responsible for training new initiates. The concept of motherhood is very important, but most Sisters do not have the inclination to raise children while performing their duties. Thus came about the Patron Mother, who is just as much an adoptive mother to the initiate as they are their teacher. Once the initiate is confirmed to be entering of her own free will, the Sisterhood enacts a ceremony to create a spiritual and mental bond between the two. The Patron Mother is considered the initiate’s true mother from then on, even at the expense of her actual biological mother.

Wow, that’s pretty harsh. A metaphorical motherhood is fine on its own, making it literal and excluding the actual mother will just create more unnecessary problems and heartbreak. The text also mentions that Patron Mothers are forbidden from engaging in romantic and sexual relationships with their initiates, and must keep a maternal distance when instructing the initiate about love and sex. The penalty? The Sacred Council nullifies their bond and separates them. No imprisonment or exile from the Sisters, just a goddamn slap on the wrist.

First 13-year-old Sisters, now they’re tolerating sex abuse scandals. This is literally the furthest thing from sexy I can think of, TCatt, please just stop it.

Pre-requisites involve the Motherhood class feature, cannot have any living natural offspring or cohorts from Leadership, undergo the Rite of Sacred Motherhood, and 7 ranks each in Knowledge (Carnal), Knowledge (Religion), and Sense Motive.

The class itself is 5 levels, same skill lists as the core class and 2 + Int per level, Medium BAB, poor Fort and Ref and average Will saves, and +1 spells per day for Sister of Rapture levels per level gained in the PrC.

1st level you gain an apprentice who is treated as a cohort. She’s 1st level in the Sister class, and is a “willing female of the appropriate age (see Chapter One) and may be of any humanoid race.” Per RAW, I could get a Bugbear Sister. Given the vast level difference, this isn’t really appropriate for typical adventuring parties.

Also at 1st level is Mental Bond, which acts as a permanent Rary’s Telepathic Bond and a one-way Status spell from Patron Mother to Initiate. And Inspire Confidence, which works differently than the Bard’s in that it last 10 minutes for each round the Mother spent inspiring (to 5 hours max) and requires a DC 10 + 1 per 5 allies Diplomacy check to activate. It can only be used once per day, and the bonus rises by +1 at 3rd and 5th levels.

At 2nd level they gain a Love’s Blessing, like the class feature of the same name of the core class.

3rd level’s a Physical bond which allows a Mother to transfer hit point damage from her apprentice to herself (up to apprentice’s hit point total + her Consitution score). It can work even if the Mother does not know her location, and it cannot save an apprentice if the damage she just took would kill her.

4th level is a Spiritual Bond, which also works in transferring ability damage and drain, negative status conditions, negative levels, and the results of failed saving throws. Except the apprentice must be within line of sight for it to work.

5th level grants Mother’s Sacrifice, which allows the Patron Mother to cast True Resurrection with 10 minutes of her apprentice’s death, at the cost of the Mother’s own level in the PrC. However, if she chooses not to resurrect the apprentice when given the opportunity, she cannot make use of this class feature again (although the apprentice can still be resurrected normally).

One of the two pieces of artwork for this PrC depicts a Patron Mother, naked, watching her also naked apprentice (who is obviously in her 20s, as are all the other Sisters depicted in this book, thank God!) caress the leg of a third naked women lying back on a bed. “A Patron Mother instructs her Apprentice in the ways of love.”

No, Tcatt, you’re still not getting it!

The verdict: I can’t see this being of use in a normal D&D game. It revolves around protecting an apprentice too low-level to be going on adventures with you, anyway. And a 1st-level Sister PC effectively has a 15+ level patron watching over them and indirectly protecting them.

Third class is the Spellswinger, the mystic theurge of Sisters and metamagic specialist. They fuel their magic with sexual energy.

quote:

These Sisters of Rapture combine natural arcane magic and divine magic, fueling them with sexual energy. The most promiscuous of all Sisters of Rapture, the Spellswingers have a reputation as wanton sluts who’re willing to bed anyone or anything that can give them the energy they need. Some Spellswingers deserve this reputation, but most are as careful in the selection of their partners as any other SoR is. (They simply make said selection more often than the others do.)

Spellswingers are rare among the Rapturous, but their promiscuity and outrageously extroverted personalities attract more attention on average. They are overtly sexual and unabashedly forward in their presentation of themselves to others. That’s not to say they are rude, crass or uncouth, but local sexual mores (or repressive laws) do not greatly concern them. They are confident, forceful, sensual, straightforward and hedonistic. To them, life is one long celebration of love, magic and sensual pleasure.

Can we please stop it with this whole “promiscuous women have no self-respect and will bed anybody” thing? Although it’s an in-game perception, having the text say that “some women deserve this” flies against the face of the book’s emphasis on spreading free love and feminine empowerment. It also ties into the whole real-world societal double-standard of saying that promiscuous women are devaluing themselves, but men who do so are viewed with admiration and envy (he’s a ‘playa,’ he’s got Game, etc).

The Prc is 5 levels, and in terms of pre-requisites requires CG/CN alignment, the first Love’s Blessing (4th level in SoR core class), able to spontaneously cast 2nd-level arcane spells, any metamagic feat, and 3 ranks each in Perform (sexual techniques) and Knowledge (Carnal).

The class has a d6 hit die, 2 + Int skill points per level, poor BAB, good Fort and Will saves, and +1 to divine and arcane spells per day per level taken in this class.

1st level nets you Sexual Channeling, where you gain a pool of Sexual Energy Points every time you engage in some form of sexual activity (which doesn’t necessarily require another partner), gaining one point every uninterrupted 15 minutes. She can’t gain more than twice her class levels in Points per day, and can be stored for 16 hours after which she must sleep for 8 hours. Unspent Points bleed off for 1 every 2 hours, and they cannot be restored until she sleeps for 8 hours and performs a new sexual activity.

Sexual Energy Points can be used to buy off level increases for metamagic feats, until the spell is equal to its original level. Spending 3 points on a maximized fireball treats it as a 3rd-level spell.

At 3rd and 5th level the Spellswinger gains a bonus metamagic feat.

Artwork shows a sample woman in a see-through dress, the other an Egyptian princess-style woman masturbating to a statue of a goddess while making an "o" face. "A Spellswinger performs her daily ritual." Yeaahh, this is kind of over the top, don't you think?

The verdict: Spontaneous metamagic spells still take at least a full round to cast. It’s much like the original Mystic Theurge, albeit slightly more powerful.

The final PrC here is the Stormsister. They’re a feminist organization dedicated to fighting for women’s equality in society; they target oppressive and sexist traditions, individuals, and institutions which hurt and abuse women and children. In areas where the law is not on their side, they enact a style of vigilante justice, and often clash with the authorities of more patriarchal cultures.

Although it’s implied that they’re a separate organization than the Sisters of Rapture, you have to have levels in the core class to enter this PrC. Pre-requisites include the Kiss of Curses ability (seriously, that lovely power?!), 5 ranks in Knowledge (local) and Diplomacy, 7 ranks in Sense Motive, and must have been the victim of (or witnessed) sexual, physical, or emotional abuse at some point in her life. Combat does not count as “abuse” for these purposes.

I have a problem with this last pre-requisite: you do not need to have personally experienced suffering to fight for peoples’ rights. It’s impractical for the Stormsisters to limit their options in such a way.

The class itself is 5 levels, has a d10 hit die, +1 to spells per day at 1st, 3rd, and 5th level, good BAB, good Fort and Ref saves, and 4 + Int mod skill points per level.

1st level grants Judge the Soul, which is kind of like Ghostrider’s “Look into my Eyes” thing in that it allows you to learn facts about the target’s past injustices. You look into a target’s eyes for up to 3 rounds and learn things about them: 1st round their alignment, 2nd round if they’ve been involved in an abusive incident within the last month; 3rd round their role in the incident of abuse, or if they’ve been involved in one within the last year. The ability grants an objective view of the situation as imparted by the patron deity. “Abuse” for this purpose counts as non-consensual sex, torture (physical and non-physical), and non-consensual violent contact (but full-blown combat doesn’t count). This class feature does not give off any obvious supernatural aura or signs, nor does it require verbal or somatic components. It can be used an unlimited number of times per day, although a successful Will Save prevents the target from being affected again for 24 hours.

1st level also grants Insightful Understanding, providing a +8 insight bonus on all Sense Motive checks.

2nd level grants Favored Enemy: Abusers, like the Ranger’s class feature, but it can only be used on targets the Stormsister determined to be an abuser (circumstantial evidence doesn’t count, only via witnessing it or Judge the Soul). It stacks if the Stormsister has a Ranger’s Favored Enemey and it also applies.

At 3rd level the Stormsister gains Defend the Innocent, where at the start of combat they can declare a target to be their charge and switch places with them whenever they’re within 5 feet and subject to an attack. The attack hits the Stormsister instead.

5th level grants the Lying Eyes Love’s Blessing of the Sister class feature of the same name. It grants a +6 competence bonus to Bluff and Sense Motive checks, and if the Stormsister already has the Blessing the bonuses stack.

So a Stormsister can potentially gain up to a +20 Sense Motive bonus!

The Stormsister’s artwork is admittedly the best one I’ve seen so far in this book. It portrays a woman wielding a shield and hammer standing in front of an injured woman in an alleyway. In front of the Stormsister is a pirate lying in a pool of his own blood, and two of his buddies are advancing upon her while their leader angrily points and shouts at her. The Stormsister looks resolute and has her hammer raised, ready to knock some more heads in.

This picture illustrates clearly exactly what the Stormsisters are all about. Despite being clad in a fur bikini exposing her breasts, the woman in this picture comes off as badass and heroic, and not just a piece of eye candy just there to pose for viewer’s enjoyment. It’s clear that she’s about to do something rather than just stand around like she’s in a supermodel shoot.

The verdict: Despite not being rather underpowered, the flavor text alone makes it my favorite of them all. If you removed their connection to the Sisters of Rapture and the Kiss of Curses ability and found an appropriate setting for them to matter in (ie one with a villainous, oppressive patriarchal society), then they could really have potential.

We’ve got the PrCs out of the way, let’s do the Class Archetypes now!

Class archetypes are alternate class features which replace existing ones. While the ones made by Paizo allow you to pick and choose to an extent, the ones in Sisters of Rapture are an all-or-nothing deal. You must accept all the features in the package in order to benefit.

The Abbess are Sisters of Rapture who emphasize personal love of their deity, and maintain a closer divine tie to them. They gain Domain Focus, where they trade Carnal Spells to gain access to one domain of their patron deity, gain proficiency with the deity’s favored weapon, and can wear armor and concentrate for 1 round to have the Glamered property apply to it. The armor appears as a skimpy, revealing piece of clothing, allowing it to stack with Distracting Beauty.

A pretty good bargain overall.

The Divine Virgin forsakes sexual love in favor of other forms of love. They cannot have sex, which is defined in this entry as any action which can result in pregnancy. Uhh… I think this leaves open a pretty big loophole.

They trade Carnal Spells for Bodily Denial, which grants a deflection bonus equal to half her class level (minimum +1) against melee touch attacks, natural weapons, and unarmed strikes. If she ever haves sex, she loses this bonus until she atones.

At 14th level, they trade in Motherhood for Mystic Purity, where once per day she can impose a penalty on a target, which applies to the next roll made to resist one of her spells of her Kiss of Power. The penalty is equal to ½ the Sister’s class level, to a maximum of the number of different people the target has ever had sex with. The penalty applies to Armor Class (if it requires an attack roll) or a save (if it requires a saving throw). It doesn’t work against creatures which do not engage in sex, or virgins (as defined by those who didn’t engage in sex which can cause pregnancy).

I don’t think it’s worth the trade-off for bonus spells and Leadership. Mystic Purity can be a big debuffer, but it’s highly situational.

The Sacred Prostitute is the last archetype. I will say that the illustration accompanying it (the archetype with the only one) has the most appropriate form of artwork, in that the nudity and sex fits the scene. A naked elf is beckoning to the viewer, while an unclad half-orc (who merely looks like a voluptuous human woman with some small canines and light green skin) lounges behind her. The nudity fits and doesn't jar with the scene, in comparison to the see-through clothes and bare breasted warrior maidens.

The class features, however, are another matter. Anything I can say about them are better illustrated through direct quotes instead.

quote:

Carnal Communion (Sp): A sacred prostitute may engage in ritualistic sex with a willing character to use a special effect on them. She may do this once per day per person, and it requires a Perform (sexual techniques) check to determine the amount of time it requires. No saving throw is allowed, as the person engaging in carnal communion is willing.

The person seeking carnal communion with a sacred prostitute must choose before having sex with her if they want succor or guidance. Once the character and the sacred
prostitute finish their sexual encounter, the character is affected by a spell of the conjuration (healing) school if they were seeking succor, or of the divination school if they were seeking guidance. This spell is always of a spell level equal to one-half the sacred prostitute’s class level (minimum spell level 1) and has a caster level equal to her class level. The sacred prostitute does not know what spell effect will be used ahead of time – her goddess is the one using the spell, with the sacred prostitute merely serving as a vessel (the GM picks the spell that is used, which may be from any class spell list).

This power effectively grants additional spells per day, even ones which may not be on the Cleric list. However, they’re limited in that the specific spell is determined by the DM, and require a hefty price for payment. A PC Sacred Prostitute of even middling level can actually make a lot of gold, provided she finds a demand for her services.

quote:

Divine Judgment (Sp): At 14th level, once per day a sacred prostitute is able to use sex to bring someone before her goddess for judgment, even if the person is unwilling. When using this ability, the sacred prostitute must have sex with someone and make a Perform (sexual techniques) check as normal. When the sex ends, the person is judged either favorably or unfavorably by the sacred prostitute’s deity (GM’s discretion).

Those judged favorably are affected either by an atonement or imbue with spell ability with a spell from the cleric spell list or one of the deity’s domains. Those judged unfavorably are affected with a necromancy or transmutation spell of one-half the sacred prostitute’s class level with a caster level equal to her class level; this is always a spell harmful to the subject. The sacred prostitute does not know how a target will be judged beforehand, and does not know what spell will be used on the target; it is determined by her deity (the GM picks the spell). The target gains a saving throw as normal for the spell selected. A sacred prostitute may use this ability on characters that are helpless or pinned. This ability replaces the motherhood class ability.

Sacred Prostitutes dedicated to Aphrodite are known as
“Porné.”

You read that right; they explicitly pointed out that this class feature can be used while raping someone.

And Chapter Two ends on a rather creepy note.

Thoughts so far: Things went downhill fast. By this rate of progression, Chapter Six will look like FATAL.

However, I think that the Stormsister is worth saving. I might redesign it from a fluff and crunch standpoint sometime later.

Next chapter, Love’s Method! New skills, feats, traits, spells, and magic items!

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Chapter Three: Love’s Methods

Today’s opening picture is a pair of bare-breasted Sisters back to back fighting a pair of what looks like Hezrou demons. One wields a sword, the other has magical flames emanating from her raised fists. There isn’t much in the way of artwork otherwise in this chapter.

Chapter 3 deals with all of the other crunchy stuff: skills, feats, traits, spells, and magic items. We start with two new sub-skills: Knowledge (Carnal) and Perform (Sexual Techniques).

Skills

Knowledge (Carnal) is your knowledge of various races’ sexual habits and reproduction, whether certain ones can interbreed, and determining a person’s racial ancestry. Kind of useless and situational.

Perform (Sexual Techniques) is copypasta from the Book of Erotic Fantasy.

Nothing interesting to see, move along.

Feats

There are 8 feats; three of them involve enhancing the Sisters’ class features: two work on the Kiss of Power, extending its range (Blown Kiss) and to work on incorporeal targets (Ethereal Kiss), while Improved Distracting Beauty adds +2 to the sacred bonus to AC.

Three of them involve social skills: Pillow Talk allows you to substitute Perform (Sexual Techniques) for Diplomacy for the purposes of improving attitudes; Charmed I’m Sure allows you to make full-round Diplomacy checks without penalty; and Popular is quite possibly one of the most overpowered feats I’ve seen.

quote:

Your beauty, charm and charisma have made you friends in high places.
Prerequisites: Charmed I’m Sure, sisterhood class feature
Benefit: Due to your previous social and sexual encounters, you have a group of influential individuals who are friendly toward you and your cause. As a result, a number of contacts can aid you in certain situations. The GM determines the exact nature of these contacts and the aid they provide. The contacts’ levels, however, are determined by adding your class level to your Charisma modifier. This sum provides a “level pool” from which your contacts’ levels may be drawn.

For example, Myria is a 6th-level Sister of Rapture with a Charisma of 19. Therefore, her contacts’ levels may all be drawn from a level pool of 10. She may have a single 10th-level contact, 10 1st-level contacts or any combination in between.

Once determined, the contacts provided by this feat cannot be changed, nor do you gain more contacts when you increase in level. Your contact level pool is calculated when you take this feat. It does not increase unless you take the feat again. Contacts need not be fleshed out immediately, though. If the GM wishes, he may draw new contacts from the contact level pool at any time, until the pool runs dry. If a contact is lost or killed, a new contact of equal level may be substituted at a later date, at the GM’s discretion.
Special: You may take this feat more than once, each time increasing your possible contact level pool by the aforementioned amount. There is no limit on how large the pool may be, although no single contact may be over 20th level.

You know how Leadership grants you mostly low-level followers? Well this potentially can provide you with several NPC allies of equivalent or greater level, more if you take it again. Given that charismatic PCs will be taking this, they’ll quickly drum up a few competent allies.

The last two feats are magic-related. Healing Caress adds your Charisma modifier to damage healed with healing spells if you sexually stimulate a conscious target (yeah they specified the conscious part :twitch), but extends the casting time to 1 full round; given that healing spells have a touch range as well, this really limits its practicality in combat. Orgasmic Spell is a +1 level metamagic feat which can daze the target of the spell for 1 round. If the spell does not allow a save, the daze gets through with no save; if the spell requires a save and the target succeeds, the target ignores the daze.

Hear that? Put Orgasmic Spell on touch spells and rays, no save daze!

Traits

Traits are basically things in Pathfinder which provide a small bonus of sorts, and are usually based upon things like backstory, race, religion, occupation, etc. SoR, being the ever-enterprising sort, decides to create an entirely new subset of traits: Erotic Traits!

Most of these traits are kind of “bleh,” being stuff like “gain +1 on Perform (Dance) if it’s sexually suggestive, although a few bear special mention:

quote:

Goose-Blocker: You’re used to people trying to touch you when you’d rather they not, and have plenty of practice avoiding unwanted physical affection. You gain a +1 bonus to your touch AC; this does not apply to your CMD.

In all my years of reading books, I never thought I’d stumble upon the term “Goose Blocker,” much less as character option in a fantasy RPG.

quote:

Grabby: You’ve never been able to keep your hands to yourself, unable to keep from copping a quick feel when the opportunity presents itself. You gain a +1 bonus to melee touch attacks against characters you’re sexually attracted to.



quote:

Lewd Thoughts: You often have sexual fantasies about the attractive people around you, finding it easier to imagine them naked rather than focus on what they’re currently doing. You gain a +2 bonus to Will saves against compulsion effects from characters that you’re sexually attracted to.

"Maybe if I think of the sorceress’s bare rear end, I can resist her powers!"

quote:

Promiscuous: You have experienced the ecstasy of a lover’s touch far more often than most. The bonus that others get against you on a Bluff or Diplomacy check or a mindaffecting effect DC as a result of Perform (sexual techniques) is reduced by 1 (to a minimum of +0). This does not increase the penalty they take if they get a low Perform (sexual techniques) result.

Talking about promiscuous people without immediately screaming “slut!” Bravo, writers!

quote:

Rapturous Upbringing: You were brought up learning the tenets of the Sisters of Rapture. Perhaps you were raised to become a Sister, or maybe your mother was one. Regardless, you are so intimately familiar with their dogma and beliefs that you’ve learned to emulate one of their signature abilities. Once per week you can cause someone to experience a mild sexual release; you can use cause orgasm as a spell-like ability with a caster level of 1, and on a failed save the victim is not fatigued.

‘Orgasm’ and ‘victim’ should never be used in the same sentence.

quote:

Symbolic Weaponry: You can’t ignore the phallic nature of spears and similar weapons, and get a thrill of titillation when you drive such weapons home. You gain a +1 bonus to confirm critical hits when using any type of lance or spear.

“Hey Beavis, check it out, uh huh huh. I’m penetrating your defenses.”


Spells and Domains
So we get a new domain, the Carnal Domain. It’s available to the 3 goddesses in this book, and Sisters of Rapture add the domain’s spells to their spells known with their Carnal Spells class feature. It has 4 granted domain powers, including a constant endure elements effect (Comfortable Nudity, no really), the ability to make creatures within 30 feet of you sexually aroused (although they’re not compelled to have sex and has no game effect, no name), and the ability to grant a bonus on Perform (Sexual Techniques) checks equal to ½ your Cleric level with a touch 3/day + Wis modifier (Sexpert) . At 8th level you can cause the armor and shield of a creature within 30 feet to vanish until the next hit on them on a failed Will Save (Feeling Exposed). A nifty debuffer.

We also have two subdomains: Attraction (trade out Feeling Exposed for Beguiling Allure, failed Will Save makes person want to emulate you and changes their alignment to yours), and Fertility (trade out Comfortable Nudity for Cause Pregnancy, which makes touched creature hyper-fertile for 24 hours).

Aside from the 8th-level abilities and endure elements, none of the granted stuff is widely usable in a typical adventuring context.

And now for the spells. There’s not too many of them, just 9 of them, all of which are part of the Carnal domain.

quote:

Cause Orgasm
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level
carnal 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target 1 creature
Duration 1 round
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell causes the target, regardless of sex or age, to experience a sudden, intense orgasm, with all the normal physical results. The target can be any humanoid of Large size or smaller. While in the throes of this orgasm, the target is considered dazed. In addition, once the spell’s duration is complete, the target remains fatigued until she rests.

I’m just going to pretend that I didn’t read that.

quote:

Crystal Balls
School transmutation; Level carnal 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range touch
Target living creature touched
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Fort negates (see text); Spell Resistance yes
The target of this spell takes [1d6 per two caster levels (maximum 5d6)] nonlethal damage in the form of excruciating pain from a perceived blow to the groin. If the target makes a Fortitude save, he negates the effects. In addition, male targets who fail their saves, must make a second Fortitude save or become nauseated and prone for 1d6 rounds. Female targets, or targets without testicles, do not need to make the second save. Targets without sexual organs of any kind are immune to this spell.

It's a kick in the balls.

quote:

Eyes of Green
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level
carnal 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets 2 living, intelligent creatures within 10 ft. of each
other
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will negates (see text); Spell Resistance yes
When this spell is cast, both targets must make a Will save. If either target succeeds, the spell fails. If both targets fail, their natural, covetous feelings of jealousy are instantly magnified to the exclusion of any other source of distraction or danger. The subject of their jealousy is up to the GM but should usually pertain to something each has that the other wants. Examples include a particular magic item, a valuable piece of mundane equipment, a position of power or even the affections of a lover.

This spell’s effects differ depending on the alignment of the targets. A good-aligned creature simply quarrels verbally for the spell’s duration and will only defend himself from the other affected person. A creature of neutral alignment quarrels for a minimum of two rounds before the player makes a second save at the same DC on the third round. If that second save fails, the neutral character attacks the other affected person. If the neutral character makes the save, he remains under the spell’s effect for the duration but is not compelled to attack. An evil creature instantly attacks the other affected party in a jealous rage. Regardless of alignment, the compulsion to quarrel and/or fight ends at the end of the spell’s duration. The targets may continue their dispute on their own as the GM allows.

Quarreling subjects are considered flat-footed in regard to attacks from outside parties, but every time they take damage from such an attack, they may make a new save to break the effect of the spell. Success affects the attacked target only. His partner continues to harangue him until either he too is granted an additional save or the spell’s duration ends.

Potentially funny and a good save-or-suck spell. I actually like this one.

quote:

Heartbreaker
School necromancy; Level carnal 9
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, DF
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target 1 living creature
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Fort negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell induces a sudden heart attack in a single living creature. If the saving throw fails, the target is stunned for 1d4 minutes and takes 1d8 Constitution damage and 1d8 Strength damage. Furthermore, the target takes one point of Constitution damage every round thereafter. At 0 Constitution the target dies. The casting of restoration, greater restoration, heal, miracle, limited wish, or wish upon the victim ends the heart attack but does not restore lost ability points without further castings. Note that this spell requires the victim to have a functioning heart, so only living creatures can be affected.

Hey, I think I saw this spell in the Book of Vile Darkness!

quote:

Lovesickness
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level carnal 6
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, DF
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target 1 living creature
Duration 1 day/level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell makes its recipient become infatuated with another person of the caster’s choice. This infatuation is so intense that the victim begins to waste away upon losing sight of the object of his desire. He might lose sleep, turn to drinking or become basically unable to concentrate on anything other than his obsession. Along with the accompanying social problems this spell creates (the abandonment of friends and family, loss of work, health issues, etc.), the victim takes one point of Charisma damage per day while it is in effect.

Furthermore, the victim is treated as if under the effects of a dominate person spell in regard to any commands given by the object of his obsession, including actions intended to separate them (such as, “Leave me alone!”). There is no save versus these commands unless the command is directly against the target’s alignment or directly endangers the target’s life, at which point he gets to make another Will save against the spell’s normal DC. Success means he does not have to perform the commanded action but is still under the effects of lovesickness.

The target gets an additional save every day to shake off the spell’s effects. Once the spell is broken, the Charisma damage heals as normal.

I don’t see how this spell can be used for anything other than torture.

quote:

Orgiastic Frenzy
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level
carnal 8
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, DF
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area 20 ft.-radius emanation
Duration 10 minutes + 1 min./level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell compels any living creature within its range to immediately engage in sexual activities with wild abandon with anyone else within the zone, without regard to sex, orientation or race (although no one so affected will cross species unless it is already in her nature to do so). Those within the area of effect may individually make a Will save to stave off the effects, but they must save again if they come into physical contact with anyone else within the zone until they leave the spell’s area or the spell’s duration lapses. In particularly dense crowds, Acrobatics checks may be required to exit the spell’s area without touching an affected person. The compulsion to engage in sexual activity is all but overwhelming. Regardless of alignment, victims of the spell might attempt to force themselves on those in the area of effect who are not affected. Those affected by the spell are unable to do anything other than perform sexual acts or grapple with intent to do so. As a result, everyone affected is considered flat-footed. Targets engaged in sexual congress are considered grappled and possibly prone.

Furthermore, after the end of the spell’s duration (or the natural conclusion of the orgy, whichever comes first), everyone affected falls prone (assuming they’re not already) and is considered exhausted. Normal rules regarding sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy apply.

If only one viable target is in the area of effect, that target will masturbate until another viable target enters the zone, at which point the affected victim will attempt to copulate with that person.

Keep in mind that I paid actual money to read this thing. Seven dollars and twenty cents I will never be able to get back.

quote:

Sex Change
School transmutation (polymorph); Level carnal 7
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target 1 living creature
Duration permanent
Saving Throw Fort negates; Spell Resistance yes
The target of this spell permanently changes to the opposite sex, causing males to become females and vice-versa. The target’s new body is an extrapolation of what the person would have looked like if he or she had been born of the opposite sex originally. This change is more than just skin-deep. All sexual organs, both internal and external, are present and function normally, and the target’s skeleton and musculature changes to match. Cosmetic details, such as skin, hair and eye color, remain the same, although weight and height may be adjusted appropriately. Race and age are not affected. Despite the new sex, the person’s mind remains largely the same. While the victim will adopt certain inherent gender-related psychological tendencies as the result of altered brainchemistry, the overriding personality remains unchanged. (That is, alignment, racial abilities, sexual preference, basic likes, basic dislikes and learned quirks all remain the same.)

As a result, targets of this spell often feel extremely awkward and even embarrassed by their new body. If they fail to have the effects reversed, their altered brain chemistry will eventually cause them to adjust, even to the point of switching their sexual preference appropriately. About 5% of the time, the target of the spell is unable to cope and goes slowly insane. A successful Fortitude save at the time of the casting negates all effects.

The change takes one full round to complete. On the round after the change is complete, the target becomes immediately nauseated for 1 round and simultaneously shaken and stunned for 1d4 rounds.

Transgender people are born where their gender identity (how one self-identifies) does not match their sex (genitals). A person’s gender identity is literally how their brain is wired; a man who gets castrated still mentally registers as a man, while a woman who gets her breasts removed still mentally registers as a woman. Gender is what's between your ears, sex is what's between your legs. The stress from the identity and sex not matching is a very real problem that transgender people have to deal with, and so should not be reduced to a harmful spell to inflict on other people in a game. It makes light of an issue affecting millions of people, and given that the ratio of transgender tabletop gamers is higher than the general population, should not be inserted into an escapist game where people joke around with their friends, slay dragons, and have fun.

quote:

Striptease
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level carnal 5
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, DF
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target 1 living creature
Duration 1 min./level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
This spell compels a person to perform a striptease act, dancing in an erotic manner to spectral music while taking off all armor, clothing, weapons, jewelry, worn magical items, et cetera until she is totally nude. Removing armor takes the minimum amount of time shown in the Core Rulebook, though the target attempts to do so in as sexually arousing a manner as possible. The affected target can take no other action until either the performance ends (resulting in total nudity) or the spell’s duration elapses. The spell compels the victim to perform enthusiastically and to the best of her ability. (She cannot drag the performance out in an attempt to run out the duration.) If she has ranks in Perform (dancing), she may make a skill check to determine the quality of her dance. Normal skill check rules apply. If the spell’s duration is greater than the amount of time it takes the victim to remove her armor and clothing, the victim is not only totally nude when the striptease ends but also fatigued for 1d4 rounds.
Tipping is customary.

It neglects to mention whether threatening and harmful actions break the spell’s hold. This is far more powerful and long-lasting than Otto’s Irresistable Dance, and lower level as well. Game balance!

Oh wait, we’re not done; we have the Magic Items section left to do. Ugh.

Magic Items

So we have 8 magic items. This section opens up by explaining that most of the Sisters’ magic items are made by the Isis worshipers. Freyans dabble in it at best, while the devotees of Aphrodite simply convince others to do it for them.

First up we’ve got the Brass Balls of Tyr (sex joke!), which grants the owner immunity to fear and +4 bonus to Charisma and on Will Saves. But it makes the wielder reckless.

The Bedroll of Constant allows for restful sleep in any environment, and grants a +1 Perform (Sexual Techniques) bonus to people inside it. Even with a totally non-sexual magic item, you guys just couldn’t resist.

quote:

Boots of the Harlot
Aura faint enchantment; CL 4th
Slot feet; Price 2,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
description
These high, soft ladies’ boots are made of supple leather and sport medium-high to stiletto heels. When worn by a female humanoid with a Charisma of 10 or higher, the boots enhance her sex appeal, making her appear even more sexy and selfconfident than she already is. That is, they provide a +4 competence bonus on all Cha-based skill checks except Use Magic Device.

Furthermore, NPCs who are naturally inclined to find the wearer sexually attractive and are meeting the wearer for the first time automatically start as “friendly” on the Influencing NPC Attitudes chart in the Core Rulebook (modified by circumstance, of course).

Finally, the boots provide the wearer with the ability to cast charm person once per day, as an arcane caster of a level equal to the wearer’s Hit Dice.

Boots of the harlot have a downside, though. They tend to attract unwanted attention from unsavory sorts who automatically assume that anyone wearing such boots is actively looking for sex. Also, the boots are designed for looks, not comfort. As such, they inflict one point of nonlethal damage per consecutive hour worn.

(A version for males—boots of the rake—is available, but far less common. They have the same magical abilities as boots of the harlot.)
construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, charm person; Cost 1,000
gp

This magic item is horrible, and here's why: in the real world the majority of rapists and sexual predators do not abuse people based upon what they wear, but actually seek out people who are in vulnerable positions. Trusted friends and family members, children, senior citizens, etc. The whole “what was she wearing?” thing is a serious problem which impedes both justice and healing via victim-blaming and creates the assumption that victims were “leading on” their attackers. And finally, the idea that rapists are attracted to self-confident/sexually forward women also reinforces unhealthy and regressive attitudes.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Boots of Nakedness is a cursed item which can only be removed by remove curse, and cause a person’s clothes to teleport off of their body into a neatly folded pile 5 feet away.

Necklace of Attraction allows the wearer to fascinate and enthrall onlookers who find her attractive.

Penelope’s Portable Playroom is quite possibly the most original and well-thought out thing to come out of this entire book:

quote:

Penelopes 'Portable Playroom
Aura moderate conjuration; CL 10th
Slot –; Price 30,000 gp; Weight –;
description
This item looks like a miniature wooden door from a
dollhouse, painted and decorated like the entrance to a beloved child’s room. When the door is set on the ground and the proper incantation is spoken, it grows to the size of a normal door. It stands upright in a freestanding frame firmly affixed to the ground and seems to lead nowhere. When opened, however, the door leads to a large, extra-dimensional dwelling that has a single-room interior 10 to 40 cubic feet in size. The room is thickly carpeted and decorated as a child’s playroom, complete with toys, finger-paints, books and other things to occupy a child’s time, as well as a variety of Small sized furniture (including a single bed and crib) and a single Medium-sized rocking chair and side table. The room remains dry and comfortable, regardless of the conditions outside. In addition, the walls contain unbreakable glass-paned windows that overlook an illusory pastoral scene and allow the room to be lit by strong, warm sunlight. The illusory scene follows the standard day/night pattern of the world upon which the item was created, including a colorful sunset, a starry night with a crescent moon and a beautiful sunrise. The room does not provide food or water, but the air is constantly refreshed. At night, a simple everburning chandelier that can be dimmed with a vocal command lights the room. A single adjustable, everburning lamp is also provided for use as a night-light.

In addition to the toys and other objects, Penelope’s portable playroom also comes equipped with a large, friendly looking toy bear. This bear is fully animate, it answers to the name Grumbletum, and it functions as a friend and nanny to any child left inside the room. Grumbletum is perfectly capable of taking care of a single child between the ages of one month to six years (human equivalent) for a period of one month and is qualified to watch up to four children at a time, albeit with divided attention. It can change diapers, tell stories, sing songs and perform the regular functions of a babysitter. It cannot, however, provide the child with love. It can only emulate human affection.

This animate toy has no defensive capabilities, but it mentally alerts the playroom’s owner if a child within the room is suddenly endangered and requires assistance. There is no range limit for this mental contact, except that it cannot cross planar boundaries other than the extra-dimensional threshold of the doorway. Grumbletum extends this courtesy only for sentient children left in its care. It ignores any other creature left in the room (such as a pet or familiar) once the mother or other designated guardian has left. Grumbletum’s basic abilities are Str 18, Dex 10, Con —, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 14. It has Profession (nursemaid) +23, is Medium sized (barely) and has 75 hit points. If Grumbletum is reduced to 0 hit points, the room collapses, unceremoniously spitting the child and all foreign contents out into normal space. The room cannot be reactivated for 24 hours thereafter. After that time, the room is reset, complete with a new Grumbletum. The new bear is identical to the old one but has no memories of prior events.

A child left in Penelope’s portable playroom is safe in Grumbletum’s care for a total of one month, assming adequate provisions are provided. After the first week, however, Grumbletum begins to periodically invite the parent to open the door and visit her child. This invitation grows more urgent and frequent (and less polite) as the one-month limit approaches. When the month has elapsed, the chance of the room spontaneously collapsing and the child being ejected increases by 10 percent each day.

Grumbletum’s personality is exceedingly pleasant as long as it’s caring for a child. Adventurers who use the room as nothing more than a storage area, however, find the objects they store there broken or vandalized upon retrieval. The longer the room is used for purposes other than childcare, the less pleasant Grumbletum’s personality becomes. It never physically attacks anyone, but it might hurl insults and/or toys at them.

Nothing created by the room can be removed from it, though objects brought in from the outside remain until removed. The room is magically cleaned, and any damage done to the objects it creates is automatically repaired every time the room is reactivated. It will not repair or clean outside items.

Finally, from without, a second verbal command causes the door to return to its miniature size, which can be easily stored in a pouch or pocket. (The room’s extra-dimensional interior retains its full size.) The door cannot be minimized unless it is shut and locked with the key. If the key is lost or destroyed, the door cannot be re-opened until an arcane caster of equal or greater level than the caster who created the original forges a new key. In its miniature form, the door has 250 hit points and a hardness of 15. The key is a normal iron key.

Penelope’s portable playroom is named for a legendary Aphroditan Sister who bore 32 daughters after proclaiming to a prince that she would give him a son more beautiful than Eros.

Grumbletim owns.

Persistent Lipstick is a multi-use (50 kisses) item which increases the duration on a Kiss of Power by 10, 30, or 60 minutes depending on the item’s quality (minor, medium, major).

Rings of Faithfulness come in pairs and are placed upon the couple upon a lawful marriage. They cannot be removed without magical assistance, and if one of them is unfaithful the other immediately becomes aware of the transgression. I really like the touch on this last time; it’s the kind of thing I can see Clerics creating for people, as opposed to magic items specifically tailored to dungeon-crawling.

Thoughts so far: Penelope’s Portable Playroom is the silver lining in this dark and stormy cloud. I find it disturbing that so many of the spells and abilities of the Sisters revolve around emotional torment and pain. Sometimes I wonder if this book had any role to play in the inspiration of this creeptastic homebrew. Because the Knights and the Sisters both seem to share quite a bit in common.

Next time, Love’s Divinity, the Goddesses of the Sisters.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Chapter Four: Love’s Divinity

The opening art of this chapter is a naked woman offering a bounty of food in front of a statue of a naked woman, presumably one of the three Goddesses, alongside two other scantily clad statues. We’ve got naked artwork in our naked artwork! It’s getting all postmodern in here!

This short chapter details the three most commonly worshipped Goddesses of the order (Aphrodite, Isis, and Freya) and their relationship to the Sisters. It’s acknowledged that there are other Goddesses of love with a more minor presence, such as Parvati (Hindu Pantheon). Hmm, I don’t think that it would be wise to translate a deity’s game stats from a popular religion with ~400 million followers, doubly so if you’re going to associate her with a very skeevy order. The Sisters have differing religious rituals and beliefs, but are unified by the Power of Love. The only restriction is that worship of male Gods of love/beauty/lust/etc. are not allowed. But there’s hardly any around supposedly, so this doesn’t cause any problems for the group!

We first get Aphrodite, a Chaotic Good goddess of love, beauty, and passion. Her favored weapon’s the dagger and her domains are Carnal, Chaos, Charm, Good, and Healing. Her blurb is mostly real-world Greek knowledge about her, notably her passion makes her just as capable of vengeance as she is at love. Sisters of Rapture associate her as an unadulterated portfolio of love, although some of a more martial bent venerate her war-goddess interpretation of Aphrodite-Areia. Sisters who worship her usually multi-class into cleric, bard, and Paladin (even though she’s Chaotic Good, this is not called out as an exception in the text. Editing FTW!). They can never be barbarians, rangers, druids, or rogues. Never explained why.

Isis is the Neutral Good goddess of love, fertility, magic, and marriage. Her favored weapon’s the quarterstaff, and her domains are Carnal, Good, Magic, Protection, and Water. Her worshipers claim that she was the one who first discovered the secrets of arcane magic and eternal life. She is the most cerebral of the three, encouraging calmness and the promotion of knowledge and education. Sisters who worship her usually multi-class into an arcane spellcasting class; they can’t be fighters, rogues, barbarians, paladins, or druids. I don’t get this restrictive multi-classing, it’s never explained anywhere.

quote:

Like her people, she is dark of feature and exotic in her beauty. She always dresses in fine, flowing linens and adorns herself with jewelry made of lapis, onyx and gold. A golden, glowing sun-disc often appears above her head as a symbol of her power and divinity.

“Exotic” as code word for non-European. She’s the only deity here with this description.

quote:

Of all the Sisters who worship from the Trinity of Love, those who follow Isis are the least likely to follow a marshal lifestyle, choosing the ways of words, wisdom and magic over that of the sword, bow and spear. Some even go so far as to reject violence altogether.

Because poor editing is kewl!

Freya’s the Neutral Good Goddess of fertility, love, magic, and vanity. Kind of overlapping with Isis, don’t you think? Her domains are Air, Carnal, Charm, Good, and Magic. Personally I would’ve gone with War and Death, considering that’s part of her real-life portfolio, and she’s connected to the Valkyries.

They describe her in the text as a war goddess, and is the most outright erotic of the three. Aphrodite represents love, Isis represents feminine power, Freya represents raw sexuality. She’s the most violently inclined of the Goddesses, and half of all Norse men and women who die in battle come to live in her hall in Asgard.

The pictures of Aphrodite and Isis are typical “beautiful naked Goddess,” although Freya’s clad in that ridiculous chainmail bikini. Only this time, the bikini top does not extend to cover her nipples (classic T. Catt apparel in this book, we need a name for this), and the bottom part reveals a slightly darkly discolored outline of her vagina. It’s gross, it looks like she wet herself.

Her worshipers tend to love proving themselves in martial competitions and are the most forward and strong-willed. They usually won’t have sex with someone until they prove their worth to them (usually by winning some sort of physical competition). They usually multi-class into martial roles, and are never rogues.

The ending text explains that the 3 Goddesses might not be appropriate to all campaigns, and briefly lists a bunch of names from real-world pantheons of love deities. They encourage the Gamemaster to create their own Love’s Devotions for new deities. I personally would have gone with making Devotions as broad as possible for the most common kinds of love/passion deities, but that’s just me.

Calling all board Hindus, we've got 3.X stats for Parvati! Did T. Catt thoroughly butcher her, or was his interpretation mostly accurate (I’m putting my money on the former).

Parvati is a Lawful Good goddess of love, devotion, and family. Her favored weapon is the Kukri, and her domains are Carnal, Glory, Good, Law, and Protection. She’s the supreme feminine force in the Hindu pantheon, the second consort of Shiva, the reincarnation of Sati, and the mother of Ganesha.

Parvati’s Devotions are Lion’s Rage (1/day a combined beast shape and rage spell), Wife’s Devotion (status at will), and Shared Love of Life (can transfer her own Charisma to an ally on a 1-1 basis. Her Charisma can’t be lowered to 0, and it comes back at a rate of 1/hour. Super-buff for the party Paladin/Sorcerer.

Chapter Five: Love’s Order

The opening picture is a conclave of women clad in breast-exposing threads of cloth sitting on luxurious chairs at the top of stairs to a temple. A crowd of women is gathered as one among their number ascends, presumably to bring some matter of import to the council. Although their backs are towards the viewer, I’m pretty sure that everybody in the crowd is topless as well.

This chapter’s about the Rapturous Sisterhood, the proper name of the organization. It’s a hierarchal power structure, and members can only ascend the ranks through promotion from a higher-ranked member. The chapter goes over each rank, its required class level, and its responsibilities.

Apprentices, or novitiates, are not considered true Sisters yet. They’re levels 1-7, and their most common roles are as students and doing menial chores and duties around the temple. Most apprentices live in the temples, although a few go out adventuring with a Patron Mother, or alone at the behest of the Patron (which is the most controversial option). Most apprentices who reach 8th level are automatically promoted by their Patron Mother assuming they performed to her standards. In the rare case she did not, she must multi-class into another class and leave the Sisterhood permanently. She can no longer take SoR levels from then on.

Honored Sister is the next rank, and comprise the bulk of the Sisterhood. They’re 8th level and considered true Sisters, but don’t have any other special privileges. They can also choose to leave the service of their Patron Mother and encouraged to venture out into the world on their own to spread the Sisterhood’s teachings.

Patron Mother is a title bestowed upon any Honored Sister who chooses to take an apprentice under their wing.

Divine Sisters oversee the administration of a single temple and the religious leaders of the local group. They must be 10th level and possess a knack for organization and running the affairs and upkeep of an establishment.

The Rapturous Sisterhood divides large areas of land which possess multiple temples into districts. A district has 3-10 temples (but never above this maximum), and an Honored Mother oversees all of them. They must be 13th level with levels in Cleric, and their duties including mediating disputes between temples and officiating larger-scale matters individual temples can’t handle. Twice a year, they call the Divine Sisters together to share news and exchange ideas in a 3-day event known as an ecstatic assembly. Oftentimes they’re an excuse for Sisters to engage in dance, drink, and orgies.

Divine Mothers are 15th level and relocate to the Sacred Council’s headquarters. They represent a district and their interests. When Honored Mothers cannot settle a problem within the district, the Divine Mother steps in to settle it or brings its attention to the Sacred Council. Divine Mothers are also in charge of handling applications to the Rapturous Sisterhood, and presents those she finds worthy to the Sacred Council.

The Sacred Council is the ruling body of the Sisterhood, and is comprised of 8 people: 2 for each of the three major goddesses, and the remaining 2 from separate minor goddesses. They have final say over all official policies and ratify the decisions of promotion of Sisters by superiors.

quote:

The approval of apprentices involves the ceremonial presentation of the applicant to the Council by the Divine Mother of her district. The Council then puts the apprentice through a detailed, intimate interview to assess her understanding of the choice she is making, as well as her general sexual maturity and her potential benefit to the Sisterhood. An accepted candidate is then ceremonially and magically bonded to her Patron Mother in a brief but elaborate ritual, not unlike a marriage ceremony.

Why is the inner circle of an international organization interested in the sexual habits of new recruits?

quote:

The Council enjoys its power over the Sisters of Rapture due to the belief that it retains the ability to commune with any goddess of love the sect’s members worship. The Sacred Council is highly revered because it represents a living link between the Sisterhood and the divine. It is believed that the goddesses themselves choose which Sisters have the honor of becoming members of the Sacred Council. Those so chosen are elevated to the rank of Oversister.

Commune’s a 5th-level Cleric spell, meaning that it’s available to 10th-level and up Sisters of Rapture. The Sacred Council is not enjoying a unique privilege.

Oversisters are one of two ultimate leaders of one of the religious sects and at least 18th level. They often apply pressure to Divine Mothers to further their own interests. When the Sacred Council makes unanimous decision, official policy is that their decision represents the Goddesses themselves.

Self-interested leaders claiming to speak on the behalf of a deity are usually signs of hypocrisy and corruption in works of fiction, although it’s not portrayed this way. Does the Sacred Council cast Commune at every meeting? Do they summon arch-celestials to carry messages between them and the Goddesses? It’s never said one way or the other. That’s what I’d do if I were writing a D&D-style hierarchal, centralized church.

The Overmother is the highest possible rank in the Sisterhood. She represents the wills of all the Goddesses the organization serves, minor and major. An Overmother acts as an oracle/mouthpiece for the deities, and it’s left to the Sacred Council to interpret the proclamations. Yeah, sounds like a corruption-proof plan to me, fellas.

The Overmother is always chosen by her predecessor, and can be from any rank within the Sisterhood. The decision must be ratified by the Sacred Council, but they have never contested the choice due to her divine status. An Overmother holds her position for life, or until she chooses a new person.

Thoughts so far: This is the least terrible portion of the book, although the problems tend to be less weird sex stuff and more in the realm of a priesthood system just begging to be abused. I think that the deity domains overlap too much.

Next chapter, Love’s Relations, detailing monsters and antagonistic organizations!


Chapter Six: Love's Relations

This time we've got a sensibly-dressed heroine in the opening artwork, at least by the standards of this book: a skirt and blouse covering up the naughty bits. She's hiding behind a tree and wielding a sword, watching a legion of sinister-looking men in wolf hides escorting a crowd of chained and naked women away from a burning village. The dead bodies of the town's defenders are all men. This is the Congress of the Wolf, the preeminent evil organization in the sourcebook. We'll be getting to them later.

Chapter 6 covers a list of 9 new monsters, both friendly and malicious, and a new antagonistic organization. The chapter starts out by saying that the Sisters consider anyone of evil alignment to be an enemy of their order, although they don't rely just upon alignment to designate who's an enemy: generally it's anyone who oppresses people (which would generally fall under Evil) or denies free will (which would probably include a lot of the extremities of Law).

First up we've got the Passion Archon:

stat block posted:

XP 3,200
LG Medium outsider (archon, extraplanar, good, lawful)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12
Aura aura of menace (DC 24)
DEFENSE
AC 21, touch 12, flat-footed 19 (+2 Dex, +9 natural)
hp 85 (9d10+36)
Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +9; +4 vs. poison
DR 10/evil; Immune electricity, petrification; SR 18
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., fly 50 ft. (average)
Melee 2 slams +10 (1d4+1)
Ranged +1 thundering longbow +13/+8 (1d8+1/x3 plus 2d8 sonic)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th)
At will – continual flame, cure light wounds (DC 19), detect evil, enthrall (DC 20), greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only)
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 26
Base Atk +9; CMB +10; CMD 22
Feats Healing Caress, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot,
Toughness, Weapon Focus (longbow)
Skills Bluff +17, Diplomacy +17, Disguise +14, Escape Artist +8, Fly +11, Heal +12, Knowledge (carnal) +13, Knowledge (planes) +12, Knowledge (religion) +9, Perception +12, Perform (sexual techniques) +19
Languages Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; truespeech
SQ kiss of restoration
ECOLOGY
Environment any (Heaven)
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Kiss of Restoration (Su): As the divine spell greater restoration, except that it can only remove effects from contact with creatures of evil alignment, such as succubi or certain undead. For this power to work, the Theliel must kiss the target for at least 1 minute (10 rounds). If the kiss is interrupted before a full minute is complete, the magic is lost and nothing happens. The Passion Archon may use this ability once per day

So a Passion Archon represent divine love and sacred bonds. They look like beautiful naked angels with golden bows and arrows. Sometimes deities of Law and Good send them out to have sex with mortals they fancy, who then relay the sensation back to the deity to avoid direct dalliances. In cultures which place great emphasis on marriage, Passion Archons enforce and uphold those bonds, acting against those who would disrespect them via adultery.

Next up we have the Beloved, which is actually a template. They're people who died as a result of the succubus' negative level drain, and their souls continue to linger in their bodies to seek out that addictive embrace once again. They travel great distances, across planes even, to find the succubus who killed them.

Their hit die changes to all d8s (instead of the normal d12), their alignment shifts to CN or CE, can sense the presence of demons within 30 feet, and their kisses bestow a geas spell on victims to help aid them in their quest. They also get a Wisdom decrease, an increase to all ability scores other than Constitution, a +4 natural armor bonus, and DR 10/Cold Iron or Good.

The next entry is the Congress of the Wolf. They're not a monster, but an organization. Basically, they're a Chaotic Evil group who believes that all women are a lesser species who should be the slaves of men, no better than labor and breeding stock. Their ways of carrying this out vary, although it regularly includes the rape, torture, and killing women who fit outside this mold, and raiding and burning down small communities and temples of female deities. They're widespread and disorganized, more akin to autonomous cells than a centralized hierarchy. Every man (and only men) who joins must take a vow. The specifics are unknown, but no known member has betrayed the organization's secrets, and captured members end up getting killed before authorities can interrogate them.

We're presented with the stat blocks and descriptions of 3 members for low, mid, and high level parties. The first guy, Cyrvrim C'Vel is an elf Ranger who sticks to the wilderness and ignores almost everyone he encounters in his domain, except for women, who he rapes, tortures, and murders at the earliest opportunity. The second guy, Rhem Rammerspike, is basically a big orc Barbarian who leads raids into communities to take women and girls to add to his harem. He likes to talk in great detail about his sexual conquests and the size of his dick. The third guy, Karl Reichart, is a human Roguer/Assassin who gets off on sneaking into the bedrooms of married couples and slitting the wifes' throats before leaving. He imagines himself to be a super-stud, but most women view him as a creepy perv.

Now I can understand the whole contrast of a blatantly misogynistic order with the Sisters. I don't really have a problem with them being relatively flat antagonists, as D&D is no stranger to such groups (devil-worshipers, the drow, slavers, et cetera), but the NPCs feel really one-dimensional and lacking in characterization, more appropriate as minions or short encounters. There's also the fact that the Sisterhood isn't very saintly itself when it comes to sexual abuse; the Congress of the Wolf is just more blatant and violent about it.

Next up is Lileetha, the Succubus Queen. She's basically a powerful demon who has an Abyssal layer. She has a beautiful palace of marble and obsidian. Inside is an endless maze full of demonic minions, and she regularly hosts orgies in the main chambers, of which attendant demons consume the souls of mortals at the end. An entire army of balors guards the palace, while the entire sub-level is dedicated to torture chambers. Also, she enjoys raping children, because apparently the torture chambers and soul-eating wasn't enough of an "ick" factor.

Her accompanying picture, of course, is a naked succubus lounging on some propped-up pillows.

quote:

Lileetha, Succubus Queen CR 16
XP 76,800
Female succubus sorcerer 5/rogue 5
CE Medium outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, extraplanar)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect good;
Perception +22
Aura lustful presence (supernatural ability; all humanoids within 30 feet, regardless of gender or sexual preference, must make a DC 20 Will save or become dazzled by lustful desire. If the creature has a Wisdom score lower than 10, it is automatically dazzled and must make a DC 20 Will save or become fascinated. This effect lasts as long as the victim remains within 30 feet of Lileetha.
Creatures that successfully save are not subject to this ability for 24 hours.)
DEFENSE
AC 32, touch 20, flat-footed 27 (+4 Dex, +1 dodge, +12 natural, +5 deflection)
hp 179 (18 HD; 8d10+5d6+5d8+95)
Fort +9, Ref +15, Will +16
Defensive Abilities evasion, trap sense ++1, uncanny dodge; DR 10/cold iron or good; Immune electricity, fire, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10; SR 18
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., fly 50 ft. (average)
Melee +3 scythe of wounding +18/+13/+8 (2d4+6 plus 1 bleed/x4) or dagger of venom +18/+13/+8 (1d4+3/19-20) and claw +12 (1d6+1) or 2 claws +17 (1d6+2)
Special Attacks energy drain (DC 24), profane gift, sneak attack +3d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th)
Constant—detect good, tongues
At will—charm monster (DC 24), detect thoughts (DC 22), ethereal jaunt (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), suggestion (DC 23), greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), vampiric touch
1/day—
dominate person (DC 25), summon (level 3, 1 babau 50%)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 5th, concentration +15)
2nd (7/day) – blur (DC 22), flaming sphere (DC 22) 1st (9/day) – cause fear (DC 21), mage armor (DC 21), protection from law (DC 21), shocking grasp
0 (at will) – arcane mark, detect magic, mage hand, message, prestidigitation, ray of frost
Bloodline arcane
STATISTICS
Str 14, Dex 18, Con 20, Int 23, Wis 16, Cha 30
Base Atk +13; CMB +17; CMD 40
Feats Agile Maneuvers, Combat Reflexes, Defensive Combat Training, Dodge, Eschew Materials, Extend Spell, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Mobility, Persuasive, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +14, Appraise +16, Bluff +36, Climb +12, Craft (alchemy) +16, Craft (traps) +16, Diplomacy +29, Disable Device +16, Disguise +21, Escape Artist +15, Fly +15, Intimidate +27, Knowledge (arcana) +21, Knowledge (carnal) +23, Knowledge (local) +17, Knowledge (nobility) +13, Knowledge (religion) +13, Knowledge (planes) +16, Perception +22 (+24 to find traps), Perform (sexual techniques) +28, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +21, Stealth +15; Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff, +8 Perception
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic; tongues, telepathy 100 ft.
SQ arcane bond (familiar), change shape (alter self, Small or Medium humanoid), bloodline arcana, metamagic adept, rogue talents (combat trick, trap spotter), trapfinding +2
Gear +3 scythe of wounding, dagger of venom, amulet of natural armor +5, sandals (boots) of speed, ring of invisibility, ring of protection +5, rod of enemy detection, wand of fireball (CL 8, 43 charges)

She's only CR 16, but can command an army of Balors. It's not really expounded upon her relationship to the Sisters of Rapture. I get that she's supposed to be an enemy, but all we really have is a statblock and headquarters description. What do her mortal cultists do on the Material Plane, what schemes is she plotting against the Sisterhood?

Next up, the Half-Nymph template. They're the union of mortal men and nymphs, naturally. They're always women, and usually given over to elf and druidic communities to be raised.

quote:

Unfortunately, like half-elves, half-nymphs often find life in their adopted communities difficult. Their fey enhanced beauty tends to attract more attention than they might seek and can often lead them into trouble, especially during their adolescent years.

"Dammit those teenage girls keep starting trouble by being too hot! Turnin' decent folk into creepy molesters and all that!"

Half-Nymphs get a luck bonus equal to Charisma modifier on saving throws or armor class, chosen at character creation. They also get DR 5/cold iron, +2 Dex/Int/Wis, +6 Cha, and the Dazzling Beauty (like a Nymph's Blinding Beauty, but dazed for 1 round instead of blinded).

Next up is the Huldra, a 1 hit die LA 0 race. They're fey who live in northern/Viking climates, and the women usually appear as village girls with the tail of either a fox or cow. The men are squat, ugly, and bear a closer resemblance to trolls. They tend to live a simple life of woodsmen, herders, and farmers, and are more work-oriented than most fey.

Also, the females of the species lose Charisma as they age, until they become venerable and resemble hags. This can be alleviated if they marry a male humanoid, during which their tail drops off. Divorced and widowed huldra lose these changes. This is pretty much in line with the mythical folklore.

Huldra who are female gain +2 Wisdom/Charisma and -2 Strength, males gain +2 Strength/Constitution and -2 Charisma. Both genders can cast create water, plant growth, purify food and drink, and speak with animals 1/day each as spell-like abilities.

Next monster's the Pleasure Ooze, an ooze which takes the form of a sexually desirable creature, and uses mind-inducing euphoria to compel people to have sex with it and thus drain their Wisdom for sustenance. No really.

stat block posted:

XP 2,400
N Medium ooze (shapechanger)
Init -4; Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Perception -5
Aura euphoric aura (30 ft.; DC 18)
DEFENSE
AC 6, touch 6, flat-footed 6 (-4 Dex)
hp 52 (5d8+30)
Fort +7, Ref -3, Will -4
Immune ooze traits
OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft. (20 ft. in humanoid form)
Melee slam +5 (1d6+2 plus 1 Wis)
Special Atks wisdom damage
STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 2, Con 22, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 22
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 11 (can’t be tripped)
SQ change shape (small or medium humanoid)
ECOLOGY
Environment temperate marshes or urban
Organization solitary
Treasure none
SPECIAL ABILITIES

Change Shape (Su): A pleasure ooze has the ability to take on the form of its victim’s most desirable humanoid sexual partner. Once it has done so, its speed increases to 20 feet (regardless of its new size) and it gains a slam attack and the ability to feed through sexual intercourse. No other traits are gained or lost. As a mindless creature, a pleasure ooze cannot control the form it takes. The appearance of its new form is solely dictated by the sexual desires of its victim. For instance, a male human who is sexually attracted to tall, blonde, female elves will cause the ooze to form a tall, blonde, female elf. The ooze retains its overall mass regardless of the size of the creature it copies. It cannot become a creature larger than itself, but it can take on the shape of a creature one size lower. For the pleasure ooze, changing shape is a standard action.

Euphoric Aura (Su): A pleasure ooze constantly exudes an aura that affects the subconscious minds of living creatures, filling them with sexual desire for the ooze. Whenever a living creature moves within 30 feet of a pleasure HD + Charisma modifier). Failure indicates that the ooze has made an empathic connection with its target, pulling the shape of her greatest sexual desire from her mind. In addition, the victim becomes filled with lust for the ooze’s new shape and desires nothing more than to have sexual intercourse with it. She is effectively stunned for 1 minute equal to the pleasure ooze’s Hit Dice, except that she may take actions to fulfill her sexual desire (such as disrobing and engaging in intercourse with the ooze). Those who make the save are not driven to have sex, but are filled with feelings of euphoria, becoming fascinated with the pleasure ooze and must save again next round. All living creatures within the range of euphoric aura are affected, but a pleasure ooze may feed from only one victim at a time. In the case of multiple targets, the ooze will take the shape of the victim that failed the saving throw by the greatest amount. Anyone else who failed the save is affected by the aura, but remains fascinated while waiting his turn.

Wisdom Damage (Su): Any living creature that has sexual intercourse with a pleasure ooze automatically takes Wisdom damage equal to the ooze’s Hit Dice per round. After the first round of intercourse, the victim may make an additional Will save against the pleasure ooze’s euphoric aura (see above) each subsequent round to break the effect. A pleasure ooze will continue to feed until the victim succeeds in a Will save or falls unconscious or until it becomes “full.” A pleasure ooze generally becomes “full” when it has absorbed (20 + its HD) points of Wisdom per day, and will usually retreat to a safe lair after it has done so. There is no actual limit to how much Wisdom a pleasure ooze can drain, though. A pleasure ooze may choose to inflict Wisdom damage via its slam attack, but in this case, the damage is equal to only one point per successful attack.

Look at how much Wisdom it needs to eat in a day! It could depopulate a whole dungeon in a week.

The last monster in this chapter is the Venus Mantrap, a plant which lures prey by creating the illusion of a sexually attractive person in its clutches, thus compelling horny adventurers to try and free the illusory victim. This is not the creation of a mad wizard, it adapted this as a survival mechanism to feed itself in the middle of the wilderness. Sounds plausible.

stat block posted:

Venus Mantrap CR 12
XP 19,200
N Huge plant
Init +4; Senses blindsense 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +7
DEFENSE
AC 14, touch 8, flat-footed 14 (+6 natural, -2 size)
hp 225 (18d8+144)
Fort +18, Ref +6, Will +6
Defensive Abilities plant traits
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft.
Melee 4 tentacles +22 (1d8+10 plus grab)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Atks constrict (1d8+10), swallow whole (2d6+10
plus 10 acid, AC 13, hp 22)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th; concentration +20)
At will – illusory bait
STATISTICS
Str 30, Dex 10, Con 24, Int 2, Wis 6, Cha 15
Base Atk +13; CMB +25; CMD 35
Feats Improved Critical (tentacle), Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Knowledge (carnal) +11, Perception +7, Perform (illusory bait) +14; Racial Modifiers +12 Knowledge (carnal)
ECOLOGY
Environment temperate marshes
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Illusory Bait (Sp): Venus mantraps can cast major image as a spell-like ability at will, in an attempt to lure unsuspecting creatures to it. The mantrap uses its instinctual knowledge of living creatures (represented by its Knowledge (carnal) skill) to attempt to create illusions to which the creature in question may respond. The illusions can make simple sounds, such as screams, moans, grunts, et cetera, but are controlled by the plant and thus, unable to speak. Upon first seeing the illusory bait, the potential victim may make a Will save with a DC based on the venus mantrap’s performance of the illusion (the DC equals the venus mantrap’s Perform (illusory bait) skill check total). If this save is failed, the target believes the illusion to be real, but is under no special compulsion to react to it. Upon interacting with the illusion, the target may make a second Will save (same DC) to disbelieve it. This ability is the equivalent of a 5th-level spell.

Swallow Whole (Ex): A venus mantrap’s swallow whole ability deals 2d6+10 bludgeoning damage and 10 points of acid damage per round to swallowed creatures from the mantrap’s powerful digestive fluids. Unlike other creatures with the swallow whole ability, the venus mantrap has four digestive sacs (+1 for every 2 Hit Dice beyond 18), each of which can hold swallowed creatures. The individual digestive sacs are large enough to contain a single Large-sized creature, two Medium-sized creatures or four Small-sized creatures at one time.

That's a rather high CR for something with a slow speed and melee-only options. It could be tough for anybody unfortunate enough to get into melee with it. The Illusory Bait doesn't necessarily have to involve a helpless person being attacked by the monster, so it's not necessarily forced into one type of trap.

Thoughts so far: These are all the chapters. Overall the book was lackluster at best, tasteless at worst. The artwork's nudity is too frequent, too obvious, to be sexy most of the time. The class/feats/spells are either too situational, weak, or offensive to see use in most gaming sessions.

My recommendation: give this book a pass. Sisters of Rapture doesn't provide anything you can't get with the Book of Erotic Fantasy, which covers more ground and has less rapey vibes all over it.

We have two appendixes left: one detailing 5 write-ups of influential NPCs within the Sisterhood, the other a Prestige Class, the Nefer-Set (worshipers of Isis who bond with an arcane spellcaster).

Next time, the appendixes!

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Appendix One: Who's Who Among the Rapturous

So we've got 5 sample NPCs, including the Overmother and 4 Oversisters representing the 3 major goddesses and Parvati. The other 4 members of the Sacred Council are left for the DM to create for their campaign. I really don't see the need to past their stat blocks here, considering that they're not unique monsters or anything.

Theophania is the current Overmother, chosen by her biological mother who was the previous one as well. She worships Aphrodite, as did the previous 6 Overmothers. Although she does her best to hear the concerns of other sects, some Sisters are concerned at the Aphroditian sect's entrenched power structure. She's rather staid in her leadership, preferring to keep the status quo instead of doing more ambitious projects. She secretly feels alone, as she has never gotten over the death of a boy she knew as a teenager, who was killed by orcs.

Althea is the Oversister of Aphrodite. She's a half-nymph who was placed at the doorstep of a Sisterhood temple. The Sisters tried their best to find her parents, but to no avail. Althea is very religious, and splits her time between the Church of Aphrodite and the Rapturous Sisterhood. She loves to party, and can fight just as hard if pressed.

Saereid is the elven Oversister of Freya. While she was still a toddler, the Congress of the Wolf slaughtered all the adults in town and sold the children as slaves, and Saereid ended up sold to a warlord as a sex slave. Over the decades she grew to know hate, and killed him with a kitchen knife one day before escaping in the dead of night. In the wilderness she had a vision of the goddess Freya, who told her that if she let go of all her hate and embraced love she would be saved. Saereid accepted, and was eventually saved by a passing longboat of the Freyan Sisterhood.

The warlord's castle was set ablaze, the girls freed and the men slaughtered. Saereid has now joined the Sisterhood and regularly crusades against the Congress of the Wolf and other slaver groups, earning her much respect.

The aesop of the story is kind of ruined, considering that she's taking revenge against the Congress for what they did to her. Plus in this case it's entirely reasonable to hate such people.

Ninythys is the Oversister of the Isis sect and an "exotic beauty" (this is going to be a recurring theme when discussing Isis' followers). She came to join the Sisterhood at 17, which was considered a "remarkable age." Her past is unknown, of where she trained and who trained her. She has a harem of men and women who eagerly please her, and her critics remark that she pays more attention to them than the administration of the Council.

Kamala is the Oversister of Parvati. Her mother, Ahmina, was an Oversister and trained her in the Sisterhood since she "was old enough to understand the concept of love." At age 15 her mother was slain in combat and the lesser sects elected Kamala to the position of Oversister. Despite being the youngest-ever elected, she has been a skilled leader for 23 years. She's also a mother and adopted several orphaned children to raise, earning her much respect.

Thoughts: I really don't have much to add to this. The histories are very brief, and there's not much in the way of conflict or adventure hooks. Kamala is probably the most interesting character, considering that she's not defined by her sexuality (like Theophania and Ninythys) or uncomfortable subject matter (like Saereid).

Appendix Two: The Nefer-Sefet

The Nefer-Sefet, or the Companions of Isis (also described as "exotic beauties" in the text!), are Sisters who believe that the greatest way to spread their goddess' teachings is to support those who use her gift, aka arcane spellcasters. They form a bond with such a person, using their powers to enhance their spellcasting. Oftentimes such bonds take romantic overtones, but this is not a requirement.

The PrC is 10 levels long, has a d8 hit die, requires the Sisterhood class feature, 2 ranks in Diplomacy, 5 ranks in Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft, one metamagic feat, and worship Isis or a goddess with love and magic in her portfolio. They have a Medium BAB progression, an average Will Save, 2 + Int skill points per level, and full spellcasting progression.

At 1st level, a Nefer-Sefet can establish a Bond of Friendship with an arcane spellcaster with 50 gp of components and a 30 minute ritual, during which they create a pair of tokens. Once per day, the bonded arcane spellcaster can call upon this bond and receive:

Gain a +1 boost to the caster level of the next spell cast.
• Gain a bonus equal to the Nefer-Sefet’s full character level to next concentration, Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft check.
• Gain a bonus equal to the Nefer-Sefet’s Charisma bonus (minimum +1) to next caster level check to penetrate spell resistance.
• Treat as if 2 levels higher for 1 round when using a bardic performance, bloodline power, arcane school ability, or hex. Alternately, the spellcaster may opt to treat their familiar or eidolon as if the spellcaster were 2 levels higher for 1 round.

Both parties must be within 60 feet of each other and aware of each other's presence, and must continue having ownership of the tokens (although not on their person) in order to benefit. Which means that if the tokens are stolen, the class feature can still be used.

At 2nd, 5th, and 8th level, the Nefer-Setet gains a bonus metamagic feat.

At 3rd, 6th, and 9th, the Nefer-Setet gains Metamagic Aura, which is keyed to one metamagic feat and can be activated as a free action. As long as they remain within 30 feet of each other, the arcane spellcaster and Nefer-Setet can benefit from the feat without increasing effective spell level or caster time, and the arcane caster doesn't need to have the metamagic feat (just the Nefer-Setet) in order to use it.

Only one aura can be up at a time, but it has unlimited amount of uses per day.

gently caress, this is amazing.

At 4th level, the Nefer-Setet gains Marriage of the Mind and she and the arcane caster can sense each other's exact location up to 60 feet. Beyond that requires a concentration check and a standard action.

At 7th level, the Nefer-Setet gains Marriage of the Heart and can transfer the results of a failed saving throw or damage from her partner to herself, and she makes the roll/resistance as though it targeted her.

At 10th level, the Nefer-Setet gains Marriage of the Soul, where she can sacrifice one of her own spell slots to replenish a slot of her partner of an equal or lower spell level. Spontaneous casters get one more use back, while prepared casters gain back the use of a spell they had previously cast that day.

Thoughts: Metamagic Aura and Marriage of the Soul can make spellcasters ungodly. I would not allow it in my campaigns, as it's buffing an already powerful tier of classes.

Next time, the Rapturous Factions!


The Rapturous Faction Guide

This is a separate product written by someone other than T Catt. It was made by Shane O'Connor, one of the staff members of Drive-Thru RPG. He was so enamored of Sisters of Rapture that not only did he review and promote it on the site, he helped convert it to the Pathfinder system and made this product for it.

The guide's only 7 pages long, and uses the Faction Rules from Pathfinder Chronicles: Faction Guide. Basically, when you're part of a faction, you gain points known as Prestige Awards by performing important quests and deeds on behalf of the group. It represents a combination of goodwill, favors owed, and status. It's measured in two ways: Total Prestige Award (TPA), which is the amount of points you've ever gained, and Current Prestige Award, which represents the amount you currently have. Current Prestige Award can be spent for in-game benefits, such as goods and services.

Faction is a poor choice of words here. The 3 organizations are entirely separate entities: the Rapturous Sisterhood, the Congress of the Wolf, and the all-new Autarch Sorority, who stands opposed to both groups.

The Rapturous Sisterhood mostly goes over what we've already covered, except that the organization is Neutral Good, and they're a feminist organization which promotes equality between men and women. Their headquarters is the Temple of Eternal Love, a place so large it's a community unto itself. No men are allowed entry beyond the periphery, and none have successfully infiltrated the complex. Most women who join the Sisters of Rapture are invited in at a prepubescent age, and are majorly comprised of orphaned girls and those rescued from abusive relationships.

They gain Prestige Awards by taking levels in the SoR and related PrCs and promoting the cause of love and fighting oppression against women. Most resources and Prestige Awards revolve around divine magic and sexual services, and temples supplement their income via sex work such as bordellos and massage parlors.

Services posted:

For the cost of 1 CPA, you receive free sex! Yay!

5 TPA, and varying CPA, you can buy spell services. consecrate (1 CPA, 24 hours duration), disarming smile* (1 CPA), hallow (3 CPA plus 3 CPA per level of the spell to be included in the area), heroes’ feast (4 CPA), imbue with spell ability (1 CPA), lovesickness (3 CPA), speak with dead (1 CPA, one question per caster level). You mean the Sisters will help me drive someone crazy for 3 CPA? Good to know.

20 TPA allows you to reach 8th level in the Sister of Rapture base class, and 10% off of magic items in the SoR book.

Nothing too numerous or interesting.

The Congress of the Wolf is detailed, including their secret initiation ritual and how they prevent members from betraying the organization. The Congress almost always approaches a member they think is suitable material and asks them to join. The other way around is not impossible, but it rarely happens.

They have no centralized headquarters, and the initiation ritual involves the member taking a woman they personally hate and proving their sincerity by gang-raping and murdering her. He then recites an oath to never betray the Congress, which is actually a super-powerful form of the Quest spell which prevents it from being removed unwillingly (even by Wish or Miracle). Additionally, this oath allows the member to mentally commit suicide as a free action, usually in the event of imprisonment.

Members gain prestige by performing large-scale operations which result in the degradation of women, such as murdering prominent female leaders and slavery rings.

Services posted:

5 TPA you gain Favored Enemy (female humanoids) if you're a ranger.

1 CPA gain +10 Knowledge (Local) to learn info about a single female in a community.

10 TPA purchase female slaves at a 10% discount.

10 TPA, 1 CPA grants one week use of female slaves, who are treated as followers of someone with Leadership 10. They're loyal to the point of servitude.

15 TPA, 3 CPA grants you a magic wolf tattoo which grants wild empathy with wolves, and the ability to make a female struck in combat to roll a Fort Save (DC=damage dealt) or fall unconscious. This last use makes the tattoo lose its powers, and must be purchased again.

15 TPA, 10 CPA grants a one week service of a single skilled female slave with class levels in a PC class equal to the member's character level.

20 TPA grants 10% discount on weapons with the following properties: bane, keen, mighty cleaving, vicious, wounding.

40 CPA grants you a wolf animal companion, with effective druid levels equal to character level. If he already had a wolf, the wolf gains the Advanced Creature template.

Much more benefits than the Rapturous Sisterhood and more varied. I can't see any PC making use of these things unless the groups running a FATAL-style game, given the subject matter.

The Autarch Sorority is a movement dedicated to women's liberation. Their symbol is a rose based off of the real-world Venus symbol, where the "t" part is the stem and leaves and the "o" part is a circle of red petals. They believe that their organization is the only one capable of bringing about universal positive change for women. They're basically elitists, and they have a selective process where they determine who's worthy to join. Anybody who comes up to them and asks to join is refused; they come to you.

The Sorority views the Rapturous Sisterhood's methods as "naive or ineffectual at best, counter-productive at worst" as described by the text. Out of character, they're right, especially in regards to the latter!

The Sorority is united in its goal of ending sexism against women, but is comprised of varying factions who all have their own ideas and goals on how best to achieve this. Which results in partisan politics and groups doing their own thing. Most of them want an egalitarian society, but a vocal minority argue for matriarchy or gendercide (eliminate all males!).

The organization is Lawful Neutral and largely non-violent, and bring about social change via protest, legal reform, and appointing qualified women to prominent positions in the community. Unfortunately, they favor Autarch members first and foremost.

The governing council is known as the Gynic Senate, and Senators are elected to their position. The Senate also determines who is eligible to join the Sorority. They have no headquarters, instead communicating via long-range magical communications and hidden safe spaces for meet-ups.

Services posted:

1 TPA, 1 CPA grants you a permanent +1 on Diplomacy checks with female humanoids within one alignment step of you. Requires spending a week studying under the tutelage of an Autarch member.

1 TPA, 1 CPA sets up a living residence for somebody in another community. This provides the cost of transport and one month of an "average" lifestyle. Primarily used to relocate women from abusive communities and relationships.

5 TPA, 1 CPA grants a permanent +5 to Knowledge (Nobility) when dealing with women in authority.

10 CPA you undergo a secret ritual and gain DR 5/lethal against male humanoids. Stop non-lethal damage only.

15 TPA, 5 CPA grants the assistance of a female-only monster (gynosphinx, harpy, hag) for one week. Find me a high-CR monster like this, and we've got an abusable exploit.

15 TPA, 10 CPA the Sorority provides you with legal and community assistance in times of trouble. Usually successful except for the most severe of crimes (ex: murder).

20 TPA 10% discount on following items: amulet of mighty fists, bead of force, circlet of persuasion, dust of tracelessness, eyes of doom, hat of disguise, restorative ointment, rope of entanglement.

25 TPA, 10 CPA allows you to declare one specific person THE ENEMY OF WOMEN EVERYWHERE! The Gynic Senate debates the issue for a week, and if they find just cause, that person takes a permanent -5 on Diplomacy checks against women all of them automatically start with Unfriendly attitudes.

40 TPA, 25 CPA you gather all the women in a given community to organize a protest group against an organization hostile to women's rights. Rallies, demonstrations, and sit-ins incur for a number of weeks equal to your Diplomacy check, or until the organization reaches a suitable compromise or acquiesces to the group's demands. The text mentions that most of the time it's successful, or the organization leaves the community.

This last one seems only useful in peaceful communities. An evil or tyrannical ruler would send in their minions to violently disperse the protests.

Thoughts: Despite being portrayed as stuck-up elitists, I'm much more partial to the Autarch Sorority. They're a more genuine women's liberation movement than the Sisterhood, who seem more concerned with sexy-times. Hell, the Autarchs relocate abused women out of their own pocket at the behest of even new members with little political pull. The Rapturous Sisterhood takes abused girls and indoctrinates them into the order, ostensibly to grow up as apprentices and sex workers.

One of these things is not like the others
one of these things just doesn't belong
can you tell me which thing is not like the others
by the time I finish this song?

And so ends our review of the Sisters of Rapture. It's been a very scary and soul-scarring ride, but I'm finally free, freeeeeee!



I'd also like to point out that despite heavy advertisement on Drive-Thru, I was literally the first person to have written an honest review of this book. Look at what the other folks are saying about it:

quote:

This is what a d20 splatbook should be - focused on one aspect of roleplaying and weaving the rules around it.

You get your standard prestige classes, feats, et all. But rather than just a list of these, which are a dime a dozen in d20 books, the twist is that it is all built around a well-thought out organization.

The art is a unique in its style and fantastic. The pdf itself is laid out that it looks like it went through a few professional editors.

I really appreciate the author including the "stripped version," the bookmarks, and the errata notes. You can really tell the author cares about his creation.

My only peeve is a good one, I want more! I'm sure the author researched a lot, especially on the three real world goddesses. More on their clergies, churches, clerics, and differenfes would be awesome!

quote:

Ive read through this product and it was well done. The layout is awesome and makes it easy to read. Everything is layed out in a perfect system. The pictures are awesome and coloring is beautiful. I like this product and I hope that T.Catt and gang put more products in the near future.

quote:

It's added an interesting and certainly enjoyable twist to my groups game. Thank you very much.

quote:

I will admit, I had been hoping for something a little less ... fanservicey ... and more a straight-up treatment of an alternative cleric class dedicated to a more generalized idea of pleasure and love as opposed to just orgasm.

That said ... I'm a pretty rabid feminist. It's not all that hard to offend me. But the only things in this book that made me raise an annoyed eyebrow were a single class ability's "you must be naked or scantily clad to use this power" and the Pleasure Ooze monster. The rest was ... tasteful. I was shocked.

While this material wasn't what I was looking for, it's a well-illustrated, high production value, high quality book for those looking to add a very explicit choice to their class selection.

The first 3 read more like cheerleaders. The feminist in the fourth one seemed to have missed all the slut-shaming, rape culture, sexualization of children, and other sick stuff.


PS The Congress of the Wolf kind of reads like a Men's Rights Redditors.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 20:13 on Dec 25, 2013

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Stats for Jesus




Who's your buddy?

The portrayal of real-world religious figures has always been a thorny issue in games, but it has happened. Long-dead pantheons run into no trouble, while surviving religious orders naturally require more care. The original Deities & Demigods ran into some controversy with stat blocks for Hindu deities, while the Greyhawk campaign setting had Al'Akbar, a Lawful Good deity explicitly based off of Islam (which you don't really hear about much anymore).

The author of Game Stats for Jesus asserts that a society of Western and Judeo-Christian values led to a sort of 'untouchable' status for God and Jesus, that they're beyond game stats due to omnipotence and omniscience. Other divine figures such as Brahma, who are technically equally omnipotent, do not get this treatment.

The author uses the writings of both the Bible and early Christian scholars, asserting that the earliest practitioners were not monotheist (our God's the only God), but monolatrist (God exists, but other deities are either lesser beings or demons in disguise). Additionally, Biblical passages pointed to various depictions of Jesus' abilities, and that Christian denominations have centuries worth of debate as to His nature.

Due to this, the author created several stat blocks to represent various popular interpretations of the Messiah.

Unitarian/Jefferson Bible Jesus



Thomas Jefferson believed that Jesus existed and that there might have been a creator for the universe, but he was a Deist. Basically, deism is the belief that reason and science are sufficient to determine the existence of God, and that certain Biblical values such as miracles and scriptural inerrancy were false. Basically, God is a non-interventionist Creator who set into motion the workings of the universe and sat back to watch.

Thomas Jefferson owned a Bible, but he cut out all the parts he didn't agree with, notably the blatantly supernatural passages.

Unitarian Universalism is a Christian denomination believes that God is one person, opposed to the traditional Holy Trinity. In regards to Jesus, they believe that he was a prophet and in a sense the "son" of God, but not God himself.

The section opens up with a passage from Excerpts from the Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, where he talks about how many religious institutions have added superstitious baggage to Jesus' teachings, and that it would be good to strip off all this and focus only on the words of Jesus himself.

Stat Block posted:

CR 8
XP 4,800
Human expert 10
CG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +4
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10
hp 90 (10d8+10)
Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +13
Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed +13/1d3+2 nonlethal
During Combat Unitarian Jesus attacks only in
defense of others and/or while confronting corrupt
or abusive worldly powers
Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 16, Wis 18, Cha 18
Base Atk +13; CMB +6; CMD 12
Feats
Iron Will, Skill Focus (Knowledge [geography, local,
nature, history], Diplomacy)
Skills
Appraise +14, Diplomacy +17, Knowledge (dungeoneering,
engineering, local) +13, Knowledge
(geography) +12, Knowledge (history) +14,
Knowledge (nature) +17, Knowledge (nobility)
+5, Knowledge (religion) +10, Linguistics +14
Languages
Aramaic, Hebrew
Combat Gear/Treasure
robe, sandals

Jesus, sans supernatural powers and miracles. He's incredibly skilled, knowledgeable, and physically and mentally fit, but that's the extent of his abilities.


Jesus, Mortal Ministry Version


This section opens up with Luke 5:17-23, where Jesus heals a blind man, and the Pharisees witness his preaching and take him to be a blasphemer.

Stat Block posted:

CR 18
XP 153,600
Human cleric 19
NG Medium humanoid (human, extraplanar
(good))
Init +4; Senses Perception +21
AC 15, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+4 deflection, +2
natural)
hp 219 (19d8+95+35)
Fort +17 (and may re-roll a Fort save once/day),
Ref +6, Will +20 (and may re-roll a Will save
once/day)
Speed 30 ft.
Space 5 ft.
Melee unarmed +14/+9/+4 (1d3+2) nonlethal
Special Attacks
Channel positive energy 7/day (DC 23, heal 10d6 to
living creatures or do 10d6 to undead)
Domain Spell-Like Abilities
Touch of Good (Sp): Jesus can touch a creature as
a standard action, granting a +9 bonus on attack
rolls, skill checks, ability checks, and saving
throws equal to half your cleric level (minimum
1) for 1 round. He can use this ability 9 times per
day.

Rebuke Death (Sp): Jesus can touch a living creature
as a standard action, healing it for 1d4+9 points of
damage. He can only use this ability on a creature
that is below 0 hit points. He can use this ability 9
times per day.
Healer’s Blessing (Su): All cure spells are treated as
if they were empowered, increasing the amount
of damage healed by half (+50%). This does not
apply to damage dealt to undead with a cure
spell. This does not stack with the Empower Spell
metamagic feat.
Water Walk (permanent)
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 19th; concentration
+25)
9th—mass heal (x4)
8th—holy aura (x2), mass cure critical wounds (x2)
7th—greater restoration, holy word (x2), resurrection
(x2)
6th—banishment (x2), heal (x2), heroes’ feast
5th—breath of life (x2), dispel evil (x3)
4th—cure critical wounds (x2), dismissal, holy smite
(x2), restoration
3rd—create food and water, dispel magic, invisibility
purge, magic circle against evil, magic vestment
2nd—gentle repose, hold person (x2, DC 18), lesser restoration, shield other
1st—protection from evil, remove blindness and deafness,
remove curse, remove disease, remove fear
0 (at will)—detect magic, guidance, read magic, virtue

Domains Good, Healing
Before Combat
Jesus casts protection from evil, magic vestment,
remove fear
During Combat
Jesus refuses to attack any foe himself, excepting
moneychangers occupying religious buildings,
which case He makes either unarmed or improvised
weapon attacks until they leave the area. He
also seeks to grapple/restrain any ally who draws
a weapon to defend Him.
Str 18, Dex 10, Con 18, Int 8, Wis 22, Cha 18
Base Atk +11; CMB +16; CMD +26
Feats
Alignment Channel (Good), Combat Casting,
Great Fortitude, Heavy Armor Proficiency, Improved
Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Improved
Unarmed Strike, Improved Iron Will, Iron
Will, Selective Channeling, Toughness, Turn Undead

Skills
Craft (carpentry) +4, Knowledge (local) +6,
Knowledge (religion) +13, Perception +21, Sense
Motive +10
Languages
Aramaic, Hebrew (?), Latin(?)
Gear
robe, sandals
Special Abilities
And on the third day . . .: If Jesus is ever reduced to
0 hp, 72 hours later, He is subject to a resurrection
spell and returns at 100% of normal hit points (although
those wounds responsible for initially reducing
him to zero hp remain). He gains Strength
25 for 10 rounds thereafter. He also then gains the
ability to cast fly and tongues at will.


I take this stat block to be Jesus in his "mortal" life, before he was crucified and resurrected.

I like the touch of unique special abilities, and his violent hatred for money changers. I notice that this Jesus isn't very smart in either raw Intelligence or Knowledge, and his skill set isn't very good.

By looking up "Mortal Ministry" on Google, the first results I get are all links to Latter-Day Saints websites. Perhaps some Mormon/Ex-Mormon Goons can fill me in on this? The product otherwise doesn't make any mention of Mormonism.

Jesus on the Day of Judgment


The Day of Judgment, more commonly known as the Last Judgment, is the final and eternal judgment of all living humans in every nation by God. It draws inspiration from the Bible itself, which describes Jesus as separating all the people by his right and left hands. Those on his right are worthy of entering the Kingdom of Heaven, those on his left are cast into fire.

Stat Block posted:

CR 23
XP 819,200
LG Medium outsider (human, extraplanar, good)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect evil, true
seeing; Perception +33
Aura protective aura
AC 45, touch 6, flat-footed 43 (+14 armor, +1 Dex,
+1 dodge, +19 natural, +4 deflection vs. evil)
hp 363 (22d10+242); regeneration 15
Fort +25, Ref +14, Will +23; +4 vs. poison, +4 resistance vs. evil
DR 15/epic and evil; Immune acid, cold, petrification;
Resist electricity 15, fire 15; SR 34
Speed 50 ft., fly 150 ft. (good); 35 ft., fly 100 ft.
(good) in armor
Space 5 ft.
Melee +5 flaming greatsword +35/+30/+25/+20
(3d6+18) or slam +30 (2d8+13)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th)
Constant—detect evil, discern lies (DC 21), fly, true
seeing, water walk
At Will—aid, animate objects, commune, continual
flame, dimensional anchor, greater dispel magic, holy
smite (DC 21), imprisonment (DC 26), invisibility (self
only), lesser restoration, remove curse, remove disease,
remove fear, resist energy, speak with dead (DC 20),
waves of fatigue
3/day—blade barrier (DC 23), earthquake (DC 25),
heal, resurrection, waves of exhaustion
1/day—greater restoration, power word blind, power
word kill, power word stun, prismatic spray (DC 24),
wish
Spells Prepared (CL 20th)
9th—mass heal, miracle, storm of vengeance (x2; DC
27)
8th—fire storm (DC 26), holy aura (x2; DC 26), mass
cure critical wounds (x22)
7th—destruction (DC 25), dictum (DC 25), greater
restoration, holy word (x2; DC 25)
6th—banishment (DC 24), heroes’ feast, mass cure
moderate wounds, undeath to death (DC 24), word of
recall
5th—break enchantment, breath of life, dispel evil (DC
23), plane shift (DC 23), righteous might, symbol of
sleep (DC 23)
4th—cure critical wounds (x3), dismissal (x2; DC 22),
neutralize poison (x2; DC 22)
3rd—cure serious wounds, daylight, invisibility purge,
magic circle against evil, prayer, protection from energy,
wind wall
2nd—align weapon, bear’s endurance, consecrate (x2),
cure moderate wounds (x3)
1st—bless, cure light wounds (x3), shield of faith (x3)
0 (at will)—detect magic, purify food and drink, stabilize,
virtue
Str 28, Dex 20, Con 30, Int 23, Wis 27, Cha 25
Base Atk +22; CMB +32; CMD 47
Feats
Cleave, Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative,
Improved Sunder, Improved Iron Will, Iron
Will, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Power Attack,
Toughness
Skills
Craft (carpentry) +31, Diplomacy +32, Fly +32,
Knowledge (history) +40, Knowledge (nature)
+40, Knowledge (religion) +40, Perception +33,
Sense Motive +40, Spellcraft +31, Stealth +21
Languages
All
Treasure
+5 full plate, +5 flaming greatsword
Special Abilities
Eternal and Uncreated: If Jesus is ever reduced to
0 hp, He is immediately subject to a resurrection
spell at the beginning of the next round and returns
at 50% of normal hit points.

Spells: Jesus can cast spells as a 20th-level cleric. In
His aspect as herald of the Day of Judgement, he
does not have access to domain spells or special
domain abilities.
Note also that in this iteration of Himself, which
emphasizes divine Righteousness rather than
Mercy, Jesus switches from the Neutral Good of
his earthly self to the pure Lawful Good of Heaven
Itself.

I can tell that they're going for the holy warrior angle here. I don't think that this really fits. Based upon the Biblical sources linked, it did not make mention of Jesus preparing for battle or using violence as part of his Judgment. Some of the offensive spells make sense for the wrath of God (Storm of Vengeance, Earthquake, etc.) but stuff like Blade Barrier, Power Word Kill, Prismatic Spray, and Full Plate Armor and a Flaming Greatsword on top of that clearly portray him as a holy death machine!

Oh well, at least this Jesus is smart and can fly worth a drat (yes, Fly is a skill in Pathfinder). He's also got a kick-rear end Stealth modifier; don't know how that fits with his character, but this stat block doesn't come off as the most authentic one we've seen.


Post-Tribulation Prince of Peace Jesus


Basically, there is a belief of Christian eschatology which posits that Jesus will return to Earth a second time during the End Time, or Great Tribulation. This draws heavily upon the Book of Revelations, where God comes to Earth to live among the people.

Stat Block posted:

CR 25
XP 1,614,000
NG Medium outsider (human, extraplanar, good)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect evil, true
seeing; Perception +40
Aura healing aura (see below), peaceful aura (see
below)
AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14
hp 310 (31d10); regeneration 50 (see also “Eternal
and Uncreated” under Special Abilities below)
Fort +22, Ref +22, Will +30
DR 25;
Immune domination, electricity, fire, acid, cold,
sleep, petrification
Speed 30 ft., fly 150 ft. (good)
Space 5 ft.
Melee N/A (never attacks)
Spell-Like Abilities (W 20th, CL 20th)
Constant—detect evil, discern lies (DC 21), fly, true
seeing, water walk
At Will—aid, animate objects, commune, continual
flame, create food and water, dimensional anchor,
greater dispel magic, greater restoration, heal, heroes’
feast, holy word, imprisonment (DC 26), invisibility
(self only), lesser restoration, power word blind, power word stun, remove curse, remove disease, remove fear,
resurrection, resist energy, speak with dead (DC 20),
waves of fatigue
5/day--limited wish (except: cannot duplicate
spells that directly do damage)
3/day—wish (except: cannot duplicate spells that
directly do damage)
Str 18, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 23, Wis 27, Cha Total
(Jesus automatically succeeds and/or outrolls adversaries
on all Charisma checks; in such case as a
numeric bonus may be needed, use +100)
Base Atk N/A (never attacks)
Feats
Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Great Fortitude,
Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will,
Improved Lightning Reflexes, Iron Will, Lightning
Reflexes, Mobility
Skills
Craft (carpentry) +30, Diplomacy +40, Fly +40,
Knowledge (history) +40, Knowledge (nature)
+40, Knowledge (religion) +40, Perception +40,
Sense Motive +40, Spellcraft +40, Stealth +40
Languages
All
Treasure
none
Special Abilities
Eternal and Uncreated: If Jesus is ever reduced to
0 hp, He is immediately subject to a resurrection
spell at the beginning of the next round and returns
at 50% of normal hit points.

Healing Aura: Within 100’ of Jesus, all healing,
natural or magical, is multiplied by 3. Also, all
creatures (including undead) have regeneration
10 and, if currently affected by poison or disease,
may make a save against that poison or disease
at +25 at the beginning of each round, before any
damage or other effects occur for that round. All
creatures affected by ability score damage regain
lost ability points at a rate of 1 per round per ability

Peaceful Aura: Within 100’ of Jesus, any character
or creature that would make an attack, use an ability
or cast a spell that would cause 1 hp or more of
damage must make a Will save (DC 50) in order to
carry out the attack, ability or spell casting. “Inanimate”
sources of damage (i.e. fires or traps) simply
fail to do any damage whatsoever. All Diplomacy
skill checks whose aim is to reduce conflict and/
or avert harm are at a +20 to succeed.

Check out that Charisma score.

Now this stat block makes a lot more sense. It's built around a concrete theme: complete and utter pacifism. In God's New Kingdom, there is no more violence, pain, and suffering, and Prince of Peace Jesus has abilities specifically tailored to eliminate these sources of harm.

His feat selection feels uninspired and limited, like the authors just said "let's just load him up with defensive stuff." I'd have gone for Leadership, Skill Focus (Diplomacy, Heal), and various healing and social stuff.

His Diplomacy modifier is wrong (+40), at odds with his Total Charisma (which has +100 if it has game stats at all).

And that's it. That's all the Jesuses.

Final Thoughts

Like the GOP Bestiary, I felt that they should have included more examples. Some of the design decisions for the stat blocks felt off, and I was sort of hoping that they'd go more for "alternate" Jesus interpretations in the sense of the Jefferson Bible (by far the most unique and interesting take in this product), but I figure one can only go so far.

I can't really see this being used in most games; it's really just a novelty purchase, but it's honest about what it's selling.

Would I recommend it? Well, aside from the stat blocks it has a foreward for the design decision and some Biblical and Jefferson quotes for each Jesus. 3 bucks is chump change either way, so if you like the idea and can spare the cash, support the creator if you're that kind of guy/girl.

Next time, The Book of Harlots!


And just for fun, I made stats for Supply Side Jesus.

CR 11
XP 12,800
Human Bard 11
NE Medium Humanoid

Init +4; Senses Perception +14
AC 19 (+3 armor, +3 natural, +3 deflection), touch 13, flat-footed 16
hp 79
Fort +6 Ref +10 Will +12
Speed 30 feet
Space 5 feet Reach 5 feet
Melee Unarmed Strike +8 (1d3 non-lethal); Supply Side Jesus avoids combat, preferring to let hired minions do the dirty work

Class Features

Bardic Knowledge (+5)

Bardic Performance (21 rounds per day), can start as a move action; countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage, suggestion, dirge of doom, inspire greatness

Versatile Performance (Act, Dance, and Oratory)

Lore Master (2/day)

Jack of all Trades

Spells Per Day: 1st: 7; 2nd: 6; 3rd: 6; 4th: 3
Spells Known: 0: Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation; 1st: Charm Person, Confusion (Lesser), Cure Light Wounds, Expeditious Retreat, Hypnotism, Silent Image; 2nd: Calm Emotions, Cure Moderate Wounds, Delay Poison, Enthrall, Suggestion; 3rd: Cure Serious Wounds, Glibness, Good Hope, Remove Curse; 4th: Modify Memory, Neutralize Person, Secure Shelter

Str 10 Dex 10 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 10 Cha 20
Base Atk +8 CMB +8 CMD 18

Feats

Extra Performance (x2), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lingering Performance, Skill Focus (Perform-Act, Perform-Oratory),

Skills

Appraise +8, Escape Artist +14, Knowledge (History, Nobility, Religion) +19, Linguistics +7, Perception +12, Perform (Act, Oratory) +25, Profession (Huckster) +12, Sleight of Hand +14, Spellcraft +14, Use Magic Device +15; substitutes Bluff and Disguise with Perform (Act), and Diplomacy and Sense Motive with Perform (Oratory)

Languages

Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, one other

Gear

Amulet of Natural Armor +3, Bracers of Armor +3, Ring of Protection +3, Robe of Resistance +3, Rod of Splendor, lavish estate, thousands of gold pieces worth of luxury goods

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.



Libertad you should spread that material out a bit more, give it time to breathe. Posting a whole book in one go is too much to handle!!

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Capntastic posted:

Libertad you should spread that material out a bit more, give it time to breathe. Posting a whole book in one go is too much to handle!!

Yeah, sorry about that. This will be it for tonight, and probably for quite some time until I get my Key of Destiny stuff retrieved. These are all my really interesting reviews, barring Way of the Wicked Book One (which I feel might be better served by reviewing the entire Adventure Path instead).

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

I found it really weird that Heffersonian Jesus had no ranks in Heal, but I guess he did it all through His Power. So I guess it works?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Have to second spacing it out.

I admit I take guilty pleasure in works along the lines of Boris Vallejo or Julie Bell, but none of the descriptions are remotely appealing even picturing them in those styles.

But eesh - I was expecting the worst with that oh so classy clitoris in the game's title, it was about as subtle as a brick to the face. I'm not sure how it managed to be worse then the book of erotic fantasy, but it is.

And what's worse is that there's... a couple of nice ideas buried in that crap.

Robindaybird fucked around with this message at 05:07 on Dec 24, 2013

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Capntastic posted:

Libertad you should spread that material out a bit more, give it time to breathe. Posting a whole book in one go is too much to handle!!

Yeah, it's something I learned with my early reviews is that spacing them out gives a chance for more discussion, but don't sweat it too much.

And yes, Parvati is wayyy off. I had to bone up on my Hinduism for Pantheons of the Megaverse, and even I know that if they wanted a sex goddess, they were probably looking for Rati, not Parvati. Parvati is a goddess of love, but in a pious, devoted, monogamous sense, not a free gently caress-for-all sense. Rati, on the other hand, is pretty much all about sensual pleasure.

So yeah. It's all wrong.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008



Libertad! posted:

Calling all board Hindus, we've got 3.X stats for Parvati! Did T. Catt thoroughly butcher her, or was his interpretation mostly accurate (I’m putting my money on the former).

Parvati is a Lawful Good goddess of love, devotion, and family. Her favored weapon is the Kukri, and her domains are Carnal, Glory, Good, Law, and Protection. She’s the supreme feminine force in the Hindu pantheon, the second consort of Shiva, the reincarnation of Sati, and the mother of Ganesha.

Parvati’s Devotions are Lion’s Rage (1/day a combined beast shape and rage spell), Wife’s Devotion (status at will), and Shared Love of Life (can transfer her own Charisma to an ally on a 1-1 basis. Her Charisma can’t be lowered to 0, and it comes back at a rate of 1/hour. Super-buff for the party Paladin/Sorcerer.

Close but no cigar. Not a practicing Hindu here, but I dig comparative religion and have read a bit on the subject. Full cop that I may have made an error or two in the specifics, though.

Catt nailed the glance-thought-Wikipedia summary points (wife of Shiva, mother of Ganashea, etc.), and the devotions are pretty good if we're taking into account Parvati's other incarnations (the Rage is for Kali, I'm guessing), but very idea of Parvati associating with anything like a free love cult is about as absurd as Jesus palling around with a group of pantheists. She's a loving spouse and devoted mother, and the idea of cheating on her husband or being in an open relationship wouldn't even occur to her. Replace the Carnal domain with, I dunno, Family? Healing? Knowledge? Destruction to represent her Kali incarnation? Meditation would certainly belong on any god of the Hindu pantheon... Anything but Carnal and you're much closer to the holy mother and wife that Parvati is.

Her alignment would shift wildly depending on incarnation, also, but I'd peg Parvati as closer to Neutral Good. Kukri isn't great for a favored weapon; it should probably be a trident or scimitar, or, as a bit of a stretch, a mace whose head is flattened and polished to shine like a mirror.

The whole "Gods who are multiple Gods" thing doesn't translate into D&D well at all, so how you would handle the shift to other incarnations of the divinity, some of which are kind of at odds with their selves is anyone's guess. For example, in her Kali incarnation, her domains would be something like Destruction, War, Gluttony, Death, and Time. And with Kali's central importance to Tantric yoga, you'd have a much more compelling argument for the sexual angle, even if that's a pretty minor aspect in the legit practice blown way out of proportion here in the West, but even then it's not the free for all love whomever that it's made out to be.

But overall a rather puzzling choice for a sex goddess from the Indian pantheon, with some odd choices in the adaptation that make her seem not quite authentic. There are many better choices. Some effort was put in, but not quite enough to really "get" the goddess. Mechanical adaptation fits the vision, but that huge glaring error early on taints the work something fierce. Overall D+/C- work.

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 07:37 on Dec 24, 2013

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Robindaybird posted:

Have to second spacing it out.

I admit I take guilty pleasure in works along the lines of Boris Vallejo or Julie Bell, but none of the descriptions are remotely appealing even picturing them in those styles.

But eesh - I was expecting the worst with that oh so classy clitoris in the game's title, it was about as subtle as a brick to the face. I'm not sure how it managed to be worse then the book of erotic fantasy, but it is.

Oh thank goodness, it's not just me. I looked at the cover, saw the stylized female genitalia in the title, and then said, "No, you're imagining things, no one could possibly be cheesy enough to do THAT."

Libertad posted:

Next up we have the Patron Mother, who are basically the senior mentors responsible for training new initiates.

Uh ... "matron," surely? There's already a perfectly good word that means what you want. I can't look at that phrase and not think "father mother."

Unless it's meant to be a Babylon 5 Psi Corps kind of thing. "The Sisters are father. The Sisters are mother. The Sisters are that creepy uncle who wants you to sit on his lap."

Selachian fucked around with this message at 12:13 on Dec 24, 2013

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Redeye Flight posted:

Well, after giving it some more thought, what I'm doing it a whole lot less accurate, more... I guess stylized? I can't think of a good single word. But it's not a perfect 1:1 comparison, so I don't feel so bad now.
"Chauvinist" is the word you're looking for to describe Northern Crown. But then again it's basically "America Is The Best: The Roleplaying Game." You get what you pay for.

Cardiovorax fucked around with this message at 14:15 on Dec 24, 2013

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Good grief, that Yet Another Book of Sex is just dripping with wish-fulfillment and ridiculous suppositions about how people work. At least the old Netbook of Carnal Knowledge just collected stupid magic items and rules for the most part.

That sex change spell is just packed with someone's kinks and anxieties, from the excruciatingly specific 'extrapolation' to the creepily biotruthy (and vague) adjustments to mental processes over time, or the pole-swapping sexual preference, which... ugh, you could spend days unpacking that one. That isn't even touching the last-paragraph gotcha-again that Libertad! tore apart.

Selachian posted:

Uh ... "matron," surely? There's already a perfectly good word that means what you want. I can't look at that phrase and not think "father mother."

Unless it's meant to be a Babylon 5 Psi Corps kind of thing. "The Sisters are father. The Sisters are mother. The Sisters are that creepy uncle who wants you to sit on his lap."

I want to joke that 'father mother' makes me think of Zeno Clash, or that he was afraid of being sued by the estate of Frank Herbert, but I think it's just another artifact of the author's own attitudes. That, or an artifact of the one-handed writing process.

Kaja Rainbow
Oct 17, 2012

~Adorable horror~

As a transsexual person, I give a hearty "gently caress you" to the author for that sex change spell. I don't care about sex change magic in most RPGs and the like because it's usually just used for silly hijinks which I'm cool with, but this spell's description was just disgusting. I had mostly skipped over the book writeup because I wasn't interested in Yet Another Book of Stupid Sexual Crap, but seeing the discussion about that particular spell I just had to check it out. I appreciated Libertad's comments on said spell, though--they say everything I could and with fewer profanities than I would've probably used.

Really, there're a lot of reasons to give the author a hearty "gently caress you" in general just from a customary glance.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Kaja Rainbow pretty much said the exact same thing I was thinking. That sex change spell is pretty drat horrible, conflating physical sex with both gender identity and (even more bafflingly) sexual orientation. I've never seen a sex change spell in any game ever that had a mental component before, so what possessed this author to do so is beyond me.


Cardiovorax posted:

"Chauvinist" is the word you're looking for to describe Northern Crown. But then again it's basically "America Is The Best: The Roleplaying Game." You get what you pay for.
Yeah, the Sophians genuinely baffle me. Even with the First Ones, one of the topics you could very easily be one-sided on, Northern Crown treats them as conflicting nations that sometimes have less than noble goals, but that those goals don't magically erase how bad it is for the Uropans to encroach on their land either. The Sophians, though, are the shining city on a hill that break the tone of each nation, even the Holy Commonwealth, having its good and bad sides. I imagine it would have been better if Vandalia was the dark side of Sophia rather than removed as a rogue nation.


But enough talk about what could have been, let's talk about what was and is as we finish off Northern Crown.




Part 5: Of Magic, Science, and Heroes

Magic Items
As Northern Crown is still a high fantasy setting in spite of its more down to earth elements, it’s unsurprising that there is indeed a chapter on new magic items for characters to use. In addition to altering some SRD magic items due to the nature of the setting (for instance, the trident of fish command is changed to a shortspear called Mishi-bizeu’s fang) and removing others that don’t seem to fit, the First Ones have access to unique magic items known as earth effigies. These are basically the animal-shaped mounds seen in various Mississippian cultures in the real world, only with the added magical power to become an animated object or summon celestial guardian animals based on the effigy’s shape. The Uropans have a similar magic item called the standing stone, which gets the animated object ability but replaces the guardian summoning with the ability to connect to each other through ley lines to form a more magically powerful area. As for new magic items, there aren’t really all that many and most are artifacts, but I’ll note some of them nonetheless.


Black Book: Black books are the only way to summon extraplanar creatures unless you have levels in the Witch class. While the most ancient of the black books, the Key of Solomon, was written by a Biblical figure, all of the Christian churches ban black books and execute their users.


Maushop’s War Club: This +3 greatclub is named after the Wampanoag creator giant Maushop, who fed the Wampanoag with whales and made the pukwudgee. Those who wield the club are affected by enlarge person as long as they hold it.


Necklace of Lightning Stone: A magically-enhanced piece of fulgurite that grants the wearer electricity resistance 10, the ability to cast shocking grasp once per day, and the ability to cast lightning bolt once per week.


Sophia’s Bell: The Liberty Bell, but magical. Its rin strikes fear into evil creatures and bolsters the attack and damage bonuses of good creatures.




Inventions
While there weren’t a lot of magic items, inventions are the new hotness and get a lot of love. They range in nature from vehicles such as the aerostatic ship (dirigible airship) and piscatoform ship (proto-submarine) to automata that mimic horses and human soldiers. As with the magical items, below are some of the inventions that seem particularly worthy of note.


Demanafix: A rather terrifying device, the demanafix is basically an iron maiden that siphons spellcasting power instead of simply stabbing you. Spellcasters lose a caster level per minute spent in the device, while innately magical beings such as fey and outsiders sufer 1d10 damage per round inside. Any lost caster levels are restored if the demanafix is destroyed.


Electrostatic Gunlock: A special wire and charge system that removes the misfire chance from a gunpowder weapon, thus making them slightly less pointless.


Heliopyritic Mirror: While attempts to replicate this device in real life may have failed, the power of pseudoscience allows the infamous Archimedes death ray to be a viable weapon in Northern Crown. Its damage varies based on range and the amount of available sunlight, ranging from 3d6 fire damage with full sunlight at a range of 100 feet or less down to 1d4-1 fire damage with minimal sunlight at 125 feet or more.


Occam’s Blade Oil: This amber oil grants a permanent +1 bonus to damage rolls with a piercing or slashing weapon it is rubbed on. That’s not hugely impressive, but I like the joke of the invention’s name and thus will mention it anyway.


Transmogrifix: The metamorphosis cabinet trick, only it actually works. The cabinet is expensive to make, however, and breaks after 50 uses.




Living Legends
As we near the end of the Northern Crown Gazetteer, there are statistics provided for a handful of legendary figures meant to be big deal allies or enemies:

“Northern Crown Gazetteer” posted:

Like the dragons of a high-fantasy campaign, they are invaluable allies or dreadful foes, and provide rare but memorable encounters.
That’s right, high level NPCs should be like dragons. None of this constant GMPC nonsense for Doug Anderson, no sir! But rather than simply noting what the author’s opinion on big name NPCs is, let’s actually note who we have present.


Johnny Appleseed (Albian Cleric 6/Sower 10): I know, it’s shocking to see that the prestige class made to emulate Johnny Appleseed happens to be given to Johnny Appleseed. Not much is known about Johnny beyond that he is apparently in his 40s, is of Albian descent, and plants his magical trees all over the place.


Rebecca Blackwood (Witchling Witch 19): The coven mother of Naumkeag and its sovereign protector. Being able to cast 9th level spells is pretty helpful on that front.


Paul Bunyan (Commonwealther Commoner 8/Tall Tale Hero 10): Commonwealther by birth only, Paul Bunyan has more in common with the Coureurs he wanders the woods with than with anyone in the Holy Commonwealth. Uropans find him uncouth and First Ones think he’s a destructive menace, leaving Paul mostly beloved by lumberjacks and his mystical ox Babe.


Mike Fink (Kelt Raider 8/Wild Brawler 10): You know you’re in for trouble when you encounter a man whose nicknames all include some mention of ferocious river animals or his ability to beat the poo poo out of you. Fink plies the lawless stretches of the Espiritu Santo River and uses all those damage-boosting class features of his to get into brawls with anyone and everyone he can.


Chiron Franklyn (Sophian Expert 2/Natural Philosopher 12/Wizard 4): Diplomat, ladies’ man, fighter, scholar, wizard, and holder of the title Lord Magus, Chiron Franklyn is better than you will ever be. Then again, being based on Benjamin Franklin makes you kind of a hard act to follow in and of itself, even without the magic powers. Franklyn’s familiar is an owl and his chosen Natural Philosopher phenomena are Matter, Physics, and two degrees of Magnetism.


Cristina of Sweden (Swedish Aristocrat 3/Soldier 3/Rake 2/Fencing Master 4): The daughter of Gustavus Adolphus and ruler of New Sweden is known to be boisterous and roguish, which annoy her father and causes her handlers more than a fair bit of grief. She tends to have an entourage of other rakish duelists with her when she goes on excursions.


Garacontie of Onondaga (Onondaga Aristocrat 11): Garacontie is the golden-tongued leader of the Five Nations, master of many languages and the art of diplomacy. His mastery of diplomacy translates to a +20 to Diplomacy checks through ranks and ability modifiers, in fact.


Philathelias Jeferson (Sophian Aristocrat 3/Natural Philosopher 10): The founder of the Republic of Sophia, grandmaster of the Sophian branch of the Solomonic Order, and the man who decided having a clockwork butler carry around his rapier was totally not ostentatious. Jeferson considers natural philosophy to be his true calling and politics to be merely an important obligation, having a lot of Knowledge and Profession skills compared to Diplomacy and Sense Motive being his only major Charisma skills. He makes up for this by having his Natural Philosopher phenomena be heavily specialized towards messing with people’s heads, with one degree in Antimagic and three degrees all stuffed into Mentalism.


Francis L'ollonais (Buccaneer Sorcerer 3/Soldier 8/Sea Captain 4): In addition to being a twisted torture master and brutal pirate as he was in real life, Northern Crown’s Francis L’ollonais dabbled in the dark arts at a young age. He is one of the most infamous pirates of the Carib Sea thanks to his mixture of natural and supernatural talents and has a hefty Espaniard bounty on his head.


The Opener (Cimarron Commoner 8/Soldier 2/Firebrand 4): The Opener is a master tactician and leader of the slave rebellion in the colony of St. Dominique. Having studied Francais literature, he knows how to thwart their typical strategies and plans on making a New Nyambe in the Carib Sea for the freed slaves.


Tecumpease (Shawnee Paladin 12): Tecumpease is one of the two founders of the Woodland Confederacy, along with her brother Tenskwatawa. Why exactly Tecumseh is a woman named Tecumpease in Northern Crown is a mystery I cannot solve, but in any case she’s a brash and outspoken warrior and leader.


Tenskwatawa (Shawnee Druid 11) Also known as the Prophet and the Open Door, Tenskwatawa preaches that the Uropans are the spawn of the Evil Spirit. He is one of the driving forces behind the Woodland Confederacy’s “back to tradition” movement and may or may not be turning a blind eye to the extremists in the confederacy that have begun to kill First Ones who adopt Uropan traditions and religion.




Stock NPCs
Finally, tucked at the back of the Northern Crown Gazetteer, a collection of generic NPCs send us off. Statistics are provided for a bandit (Soldier 1), Dragoon (Warrior 2), Nyamban Fighter (Gamba 1), Witchling flight mother (Witch 4), Witchling flying skirmisher (Witch 3), greatsword (Warrior 1), grenadier (Warrior 1), halberdier (take a wild guess), highwayman (Rake 3), hussar (Warrior 2), musketeer (Warrior 1), pirate (Warrior 1), rowdy (Commoner 1), royal guard (Warrior 2), settler (Commoner 1), First Ones skirmisher (Warrior 1), and voyageur (Raider 1).

That sure is a lot of variants on first and second level Warriors, alright. You may also notice that the Nyamban fighter NPC has a single level in Gamba, a class that has never been mentioned once in this review series. That’s because it’s not a Northern Crown class at all, it’s a Fighter variant from Nyambe: African Adventures. Northern Crown is mostly good about avoiding leaning too heavily on you needing Nyambe for Cimarron characters, so this bit is somewhat perplexing.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


And that’s Northern Crown. While it isn’t necessarily something amazingly innovative, the setting does try to utilize the Dungeons and Dragons system for something novel, and in my opinion mostly succeeds. While its firearm rules are probably the most impotent I’ve seen in any d20 game ever, a lot of the new rules are quite nifty, especially those that deal with Druids and nature, and the book manages to avoid falling into the trap of making the Uropans or the First Ones entirely good or evil. Unless you are the Sophians, of course, which are the one blind spot the author has.


I’m also more of a fan of the timeline of Northern Crown than I thought I would be, as the “vague history” concept lets the author have a bit of leeway for colorful characters from both the early and late colonial eras. It’s a shame that the author’s plans for sourcebooks on the Spectral Realm, Uropa, and Southern Cross never panned out – I would have loved to have seen what he was going to do with the Inca and Aztec empires still alive and kicking.


There were, as I noted, two minor PDF supplementals to Northern Crown referred to as “Franklyn’s Almanacks”. These don’t need more than this footnote from me, to be honest. The three prestige classes given in Franklyn’s Almanack – the Sophian Winged Saber, Carolingian Hippogriff Lancer, and Francais Gendarme – are only three levels each and could very well have been Soldier variants, the two adventures are both nothing to write home about, and the other article is a collection of NPCs for Le Dragon Rouge which could be useful but aren’t really worth writing out a big chunk of text on.


Now, with all of that said, my question to you is this – should I head straight into Nyambe: African Adventures next, or take a break for some other series? Nyambe is technically part of the same universe as Northern Crown, but it’s rather...different. Namely, it has a far more traditional D&D theme that happens to have an African paint job – less natural philosophers and colonialism, more monkey-elves and baboon-headed orcs.

David J Prokopetz
Oct 21, 2008


Libertad! posted:

Why is the inner circle of an international organization interested in the sexual habits of new recruits?

More to the point, since they prefer to recruit preteens (did the author forget about that age roll?), exactly what sexual habits do they expect to be evaluating?

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!







Before I get into Region I, I should mention that I'm noticing that the Level guidelines are beginning to become more and more wobbly. You see, the problem is that the dungeon designers decided to make the whole thing a massive square, aligning regions by a grid pattern. Like so:




Now, the problems with this should have been obviously, but apparently they were lost on whoever organized this. First, since the dungeon design isn't anything like linear, the players are likely going to miss huge chunks of the dungeon. There are two potential exits: Region O (the "official" exit, as the highest CR section) in the top right, and Region H, two regions down (below the lake). Depending on where the PCs travel they could end up reaching the exit in as few as 6 Regions, missing about 2/3rds of the dungeon.

And of course, the other problem is the fact that the level-guidelines are only loosely linear. So, if your players do manage to hit up every Region in the dungeon then a good chunk of them will be "underleveled" (there are about 9 regions that are redundant in terms of what level range they're designed for). Running around blowing around monsters dramatically weaker than you could be fun for a while, but it'll get old when its the majority of the dungeon. And the reverse is true as well. It's extremely easy for players to stumble into regions they aren't ready for. A third level party could easily go north from Region A, take a right turn too soon and find themselves in Region F, designed for 7th level characters by sadists. Likewise Region F connects directly to Region J, which means it goes from 9th level all the way to 13th.

Anyway, dungeon design rant over. On to Region I...the squishy bits

Region I: The Halls of Flesh

So, Region I is a section of the dungeon coated entirely with living flesh. Icky, but interesting at least. Needless to say, this regions "theme" is aberrations and oozes. The sticky situation is caused by...you guessed it: crazy wizard. This time, a crazy Drider wizard. You know the drill here. horrifying experiments, lots of awful creatures made from other awful creatures. Most of the drow and driders are now just eking out a meager existence in the region while the aberrations run amok.

I'd like to mention that the writing here is some pretty terrible purple prose, even for RPG writing, and it's kind of painful to read. That said, at least the concept is slightly more original than some of the other regions. There isn't a war or anything going on, nothing about some trapped demon that's now lose, or anything of the sort. Just a whole lot of awfulness.

It's also got the interesting feature that healing here is extremely fast: hp are recovered every hour rather than every day. However, people badly injured in the Region will likely suffer mutations and disease runs rampant through the place. This region is apparently also lit using continual light tiles...something that was conspicuously absent from the description of every other section of the dungeon.

i2-15

The Region is themed for aberrations, but those don't tend to fit neatly into it's 7-9th level range. So one of the first encounters listed are large groups of Chokers (CR 2) and Gricks (CR 3). For some reason the writer decided to compensate for this by spending 5 paragraphs describing the culture and concerns of these mutated chokers. Something that could have been done in one paragraph and didn't need to be done at all, since they amount to little more than fodder. It also doesn't take long for the WLD's terrible editing to strike, the very first encounter is with the "choker leader". This is its statblock:



Not very helpful is it? The room's description claims its EL 6...but that's all we know.

There are some bright sides though. There's a +1/+2 Axiomatic, Bane (shapeshifters) two-bladed sword, which might be a great find if there just happened to be a non-chaotic PC who decided they would use two-bladed swords. There's also an intelligent, 10 HD, babbling Black Pudding, which I have to admit is a far more interesting creature than just an ordinary encounter with extra HD.

After that is a handful of easy choker encounters. And another encounter with a "Choker leader". This one actually has a stat block. Presumably this is a different leader than the one from I3, since it's HP and damage don't match. It's also not clear if this is the choker leader (the intelligent, cunning one) that was talked about in the intro to the section because it has the same Int 4 as all the other chokers.

i16-i18
This is the Grick territory (all of three rooms, so hardly an impressive domain). Despite how small this section is the writers decided to give every grick a random mutation on a d20 chart and its own random encounter table.

Amusingly, one encounter involves the writer suggesting the GM take inspiration from the movie 28 days later. Of course this is an encounter with half a dozen tentacled worm monsters so I'm not entirely sure how it overlaps with a zombie movie.

It's topped off with an encounter with 12 4 HD gricks and a pair of Large 6 HD gricks. Despite their numbers this encounter is probably not nearly as deadly as the writer seems to want you to think it is. If the PCs are 7th level they'll have plenty of ways to deal with creatures this "dangerous"

Next we've got a Dark Naga (apparently actually a drow permanently shapechanged into a dark naga) who bosses around several Cloakers. Then there is the inner sanctum of the drider wizard. It's got a few objects of special stupidity. First is a chamber full of spell components. These components have been tampered with so that if you attempt to use them the spell goes disastrously wrong as determined by a 1d20 roll. Of course, if the PC spellcasters have already spent 7+ levels in the dungeon they're clearly all outfitted with spell component pouches so there's no reason for them to mess with any of these materials anyway.

The inner sanctum is also guarded by perhaps the worst security system ever. It's a magical lock that asks two questions. The first "who is master of this place", the answer is of course "mahir" the name of the wizard who lived here. The second is "how many of Mahir's brood still live within these haunted corridors" wow...that's a strange question...it manages to be almost impossible to answer now, but much simpler when Mahir was still alive. Of course, the PCs have no possible way of knowing the answer...but apparently with a Bluff check they can get the magical lock to spill the beans on how many of mahir's servants came to the dungeon, how many were killed in the disaster that created the flesh-halls and what happened to the survivors of the accident.

So, Mahir created a magical lock that is intelligent, capable of speech, capable of tracking the whereabouts and status of himself and any of his servants seemingly without limit...but did not make it intelligent enough not to give people trying to get inside clues to its own riddle!


Sadly, I've got to say this Region is actually probably one of the high points of the dungeon. Aside from the bad writing and the awkward encounters there's a fair bit of creativity here. The place isn't just a mass of plain stone corridors, the writer definitely encourages creative encounter design rather than the "open a door, here are some monsters" philosophy you see in a lot of other places and while there are some over-inflated low-CR creatures there's also a lot of heavily customized or custom creatures that involved actual creative work from the writer as opposed to copy-pasting stuff from the srd.

The "main event" of the Region is the Twins, a pair of major mutants who are essentially unkillable: both will reform in a matter of days if slain. They're interesting template fusions: a Fiendish Half Dragon Gibbering Mouther and a Fiendish Chimera (with a few extra random abilities thrown in). They're interesting, but although the region plays up their unstoppability, it won't really matter too much to the PCs. Players will certainly not be spending days on end in the region, and once gone they're unlikely to return. The only other inhabitants are drow and aberrations so there is no one to "save", and the only method of destroying either of the Twins involves a great deal of effort and risk (a magical ritual that can easily go haywire). Ultimately, the best solution is just to walk away and leave the region to it's craziness after you've thoroughly looted it.


So, Region I gets a solid C, and becomes the first Region in the dungeon so far to qualify as Acceptable!

Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird


So does that mean you can slice out that region for use...elsewhere...in your, uh, nightmare horror D&D game?
Uh, the Drider Wizard's experiments, and because of the nature of the dungeon (to trap demons), has brought forth the Wall of the Faithless into the Prime Material Plane. On the Material Plane, they are decidedly material, organic, instead of Astral.

So, it's basically a level out of Doom that got dropped into the WLD.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





David J Prokopetz posted:

More to the point, since they prefer to recruit preteens (did the author forget about that age roll?), exactly what sexual habits do they expect to be evaluating?

Don't anyone attempt to answer this question please.

Vienna Circlejerk
Jan 28, 2003

The great science sausage party!


Midjack posted:

Don't anyone attempt to answer this question please.

Anyone who does should buy a :pedo101: smilie to go with the response.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Rockopolis posted:


So, it's basically a level out of Doom that got dropped into the WLD.

Essentially, which works quite well given the dungeon's theme. I only wish the other Regions had anything nearly this interesting.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

It Came From Drive-Thru RPG: The Book of Harlots



Several years ago I wrote up an erotic Arabian Nights part-setting part-house rules for D20. It involved stuff like receiving magical boons from having sex with genies, NPC stat blocks for fertility pagan cultists, and adventure hooks for harems and Turkish baths. I never posted it anywhere, much less published it in PDF format; it was but a product of a fevered gamer's mind, and I deleted it once I seriously thought of who could benefit from it other than myself. I can't use it in a typical group game, for obvious reasons. It really didn't help if you're doing one-on-one gaming with a significant other: the execution and enjoyment is in the characterization and mood, not game stats.

And I have to ask the same question regarding this 8 page minibook, because I really can't identify who it's for. It identifies as an OSR (Old School Revolution) product, derived from the rules of 1st Edition AD&D. Like other online D&D sex books, the majority of its content is dedicated to game mechanics, in this case random charts and tables and extraneous details. If you ever needed an average population figure for prostitutes in a hamlet or metropolis, or the level ranges of bodyguards, then this book's got you covered! Everyone else, eh I can't really recommend this. :/

The first part of the product expands upon the "wandering prostitute" random encounter in the 1st Edition DMG. Gygax's infamous prostitute sub-table consisted of an "[adjective] [prostitute synonym]" schematic, because apparently it's important for the party to know whether the DM's describing a "saucy tart" or "brazen strumpet." The Book of Harlots goes one step farther and provides a table for all the harlot types, including average Comeliness (optional ability score) and typical price for services.

quote:

Encounters with Working Girls will be difficult for the party to distinguish between types. As these can range from a "Slovenly trull" to an "Expensive doxy", general appearance is not all that telling, even for the keen eyed party member out on the town for a bit of frolic. For in some cases the encounter may be with nothing more than a local dancer, prostituting herself to augment her income or to fulfill some libidinous drive. Or it could be an elderly madam, out soliciting for her stable back at the Pleasure Palace.

Tricksy prostitutses! They think that they can fool us, precious!

quote:

Rates are times the harlot's combined charisma-Comeliness score divided by 2. [R = # (C+C/2)]

You know what really gets me going? Fractional mathematics.

quote:

Racial Preferences

It is difficult, at best, to regulate this factor into the role playing involved. Each player's character will have certain preferences based (most likely) on the player's own. Thus, the following table is calculated upon the harlot's racial preference(s) and not the clients'. For example, a female elf courtesan, is not likely to entertain a client or low social class regardless of his/her ability to pay. But if she is (say for need of instant cash!) so willing, then her rates would certainly inflate accordingly. Thus, the tables reflect an adjustment to the figures previously mentioned, based on the client's race and social class; note, the client's "looks" are not ignored, but enough money will overcome such as long as the other requisites are not compromised.

Half-orc prostitutes are choosier and stingier than their elven counterparts (they'll charge 15% more for a half-elf client as opposed to the elves' 5%, 50% more for a dwarf than the elves' 15%). And elves charge higher prices for humans than for halflings. I really just don't understand this table.

I think the author has a fetish for compound numbers; you're never going to get a flat 1 silver piece with this system. It's even more unnecessary complication for something which should be quick and simple. This sums up the Book of Harlots in a nutshell.

The next part is a full-page overview of sample NPC statblocks for prostitutes, separated by type (saucy strumpet all the way up to expensive courtesan). The majority are either 0-level characters or Thieves, with a few Fighters and a Magic-User for good measure. We also get the working girls' heights, weights, and ages. We also have separate class levels in parenthesis for prostitutes in larger towns and villages. You know, because this is all so important for a DM to know.

Next section discusses common working locations:

quote:

The actual working location will vary, of course, depending upon the status of the harlot. Those of the lowest ranks will gladly spend a few turns in an alleyway, or on the back porch of a business; few of these ever take clients to a room somewhere, unless it is the practice of their pimp to muscle the client out of even more money. Brazen tarts, Wanted wenches, the Haughty doxy and Expensive courtesan usually keep an apartment with at least 2 rooms--as many as 12, in which to entertain clients. These are furnished according to the status of the harlot; with the lower ranking ones residing in more pungent and less clean conditions.

You know, I think that the appeal of sexual themes in RPGs is to make them sexy. When I think of "The Book of Harlots," advertised with medieval artwork of naked women with a "not for minors!" warning, I get a very different vibe than a dry academic text. I can sort of get the "slumming out" appeal of some sexual fantasies, but even these descriptions do not inspire me in any way to use the material.

I don't see the excessive need for focus in all this. Would the author have devoted as much time and effort to stats and sale of breadmakers or other medieval occupations?

Next up, more game mechanics! Harlot class skills!

quote:

All Harlots have skills in areas that assist her in the performance of her normal function. This qualifies her profession as an unofficial class; though she does not gain experience points for performing her primary duty, gain levels and/or additional hp, as such. All Harlots have at least 1 Support Skill, while some will have many. The number of skills a harlot possesses is directly related to the sum of her INT/WIS and CHA/ COM divided by 10. The harlot uses the higher ability in each pair to determine the outcome. For example, using #1 from the previous list, the highest total this harlot generates is 21. Divided by 10, then she will possess 2 Support Skills (fractions are dropped). Once the total is thus determined, you can randomly roll or personally select the skills you feel the harlot would embrace according to her status.

Ugh, more unnecessary sub-systems. :psyduck:

We get 10 support skills and in some cases subsystems for using them. Quite a few make sense and fit (musician, eroticism/sexual performance, etiquette, dancing), but one in particular jumps out:

quote:

Animal Handling & Training
With these skills a harlot will be able to attract to her service a creature-companion. The type will vary from small to large size, as exampled by a cat, dog, dove, ferret, or horse. In some cases the animal-companion is used during the services she provides to customers, but such is not always so. There is no limit, except that which you decree, to which the animal companion can be used. You should determine which types of creatures you will permit in your campaign, and how much control and communication the harlot can achieve with the animal.

I don't know what's more disturbing, the fact that the author felt it necessary to insert mention of bestiality, or that the author believes that the DM needs to keep a lookout on limits for animal companion's number, variety, and power. Is this book geared towards prostitute PCs or something?

Harlot Society is a population distribution of prostitutes by city size. Even in the smallest thorp you're guaranteed as least one working girl.


We finally get to some fluff text, where the author talks about issues for the DM to handle before inserting this material into games. Namely determining the legality of prostitution in the setting, "empire by empire" in case the PCs like to do cross-country trips. Oh, and the punishment for prostitution as well! I'm pretty sure that this can work just as well when it comes up, in case during the course of the campaign the PCs never visit the frozen north or the other side of the continent.

He also discusses the age of consent and historical prostitutes:

quote:

Solving the legality of prostitution is not simple. But once done you should consider the following issues in order to avoid uncomfortable situations that are likely to arise. The idea of "minors" and our modern definition of what that means is not one shared with all of history. Not long ago, there was simply the state of childhood, and adulthood, with the doorway from one to the other usually being a brief moment in time, when a young girl began menstruating. Once started, she became a junior member of the adult females of society. You should, by all means, exclude young NPC females from your campaign if this concept goes against your moral beliefs, makes you and your players uncomfortable, or any other reason you like. For those not bothered by the concept, it is possible that young girls will be used by a harlot, or house, for soliciting customers. These girls will be dressed provocatively, and will know the rates and techniques of the harlot she works for; those employed by a house will know the names, ages and rates of all the women working there.

The societal standards of D&D do not perfectly align with our own ancient world (the whole "slavery is evil!" thing the most notable example), but for some reason I keep seeing gamers use the real world as an excuse to insert this stuff into their game sessions and worlds. I don't care if 13 year olds were married off, it's still really squicky to include in a game!

Oh, and deities dedicated to vice have temple whores, where the sex is free for new converts to their religion (I sure can't see this system being exploited!), and legalized prostitution has a system of building markers and clothes colors/badges to identify prostitutes.

Prostitutes in sufficient numbers employ herbalists and divine spellcasters at clinic to prevent and cure STDs. Even prostitutes in competition recognize the value of such a figure.

Our final section discusses companions and bodyguards, who are the prostitutes' supportive social circle (number determined by charisma) and the going rate and levels of bodyguards (determined by the prostitutes' Comeliness).

At 9-10 Comeliness you can hire up to a 3rd level Assassin, 4th level Fighter or Thief, along with multi-classed individuals of a similar level. 17-18 nets you 5th-7th levels. Forget money and experience and leadership qualities, all it takes to recruit the best hired help around town are some striking good looks!

Final Thoughts: This book is too matter of fact to be used in erotic role-playing, its rules too are cumbersome and specific to be of use in most games. I can't see who it's supposed to be for, or what it can add to gaming sessions. Just a bunch of house rules which should have never seen print.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

Hey, it's been forever since I last updated (insert joke about getting Mazed), but I'm going to restart doing updates for the Planescape Campaign Setting.

Since it's been a while, here are the previous updates I did. It covers 3/4ths of the campaign setting box. I'm pretty sure I'll finish off whatever's left of the box before losing interest again :sweatdrop:.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

Doorway to Sigil


A map of Sigil

The metropolis of Sigil is located at the center of the Outlands, and indeed is central to the Planescape Campaign Setting. As mentioned earlier, the only way in or out of Sigil are through special gateways known as “Portals.” There are thousands of portals within Sigil, and they can theoretically connect to any location in the Multiverse. What’s more, anyone with the right portal key can use a portal. Anyone, that is, except the powers. No one is exactly sure what actually bars them - it could be the Lady of Pain, it could just be the nature of the place. In any case, there is very little that a god can’t have, and Sigil’s forbidden nature makes it all the more desirable.

To get their hands on the grandest prize in existence, the powers have sent proxies and priests to Sigil in order to sway the inhabitants over to the worship of their god. If a god is able to accomplish that, he or she gains control of Sigil. There are, however, two catches. First, literally every other power is attempting the very same thing, as well as the numerous archdevils, countless demon princes, and the 15 factions that wrestle one another through a dizzying array of temporary alliances. Second, the Lady of Pain does not tolerate open warfare within Sigil. Those who break the peace either disappear or get flayed.

Thanks to the prohibition against open warfare, Sigil is the place to see unusual interactions-baatezu having a drink with devas, hardheads haggling over perfume with sensates, a high priest of Ra playing chess with an oracle or Corellon, it all happens in Sigil.

The layout of Sigil is truly fantastic. The entire city occupies a giant torus with the inside face cut out, allowing you to look up and see the other end of the city (when there’s no smog). The entire ring floats over the impossibly tall spire at the center of the outlands. Although it’s visible from the Astral Plane, Sigil cannot be entered via Astral spells, and indeed scrying into Sigil is similarly impossible. The same works in reverse. Interestingly, magic that simply requires an astral connection (like raise dead) work normally; its only the spells that can let you get in and out of Sigil that are blocked.

Portal Mechanics

All portals are anchored to a defined space through which an adult human can reasonably pass through - doors, windows, arches, sewer entrances, wardrobes, etc. Portals can be permanent, or they can come and go at random. Some even shift locations and destinations in a pattern. A portal can appear anywhere in the city, though the wealthy pay for spells to prevent random portals from appearing on their property. Portals are normally inactive and invisible, but can be detected with magic. The most common way of detecting one is with the warp sense spell, which is introduced later in the book. True seeing also works, but doesn’t give the user a sense of where the portal leads to. Warp sense has the additional advantage of being readily taught by all the factions to whomever can cast it.

To actully use a portal, a person needs to have a gate key. A gate key can be just about anything, even an emotional state, thought, or series of actions and events. To find out what a gate key is, the usual way is to ask either their faction or an information dealer. Of course, if the portal is of a temporary nature or leads somewhere special, finding out what opens the portal may not be that easy. You might have to buy it from someone, and the warp sense spell can give clues as to the key’s nature. But it’s implied that a player should not be forced to stand at a window and try to find out the key on their own. Once you know the gate key, it’s good as long as the portal is there.

Mickee Shafthammer of the Fated posted:

Sure I got a key to this Gate. It’s right there in your hand.

To activate the portal, you must pass the key past the threshold. When active, an opaque golden boundary fills the space-you can’t see what’s on the other side. The portal is open long enough to allow six to pass through. Spells and projectiles are stopped at the boundary. Aside from the Powers, certain extremely powerful entities are barred from entering Sigil, such as Demon Princes.

The Physical Nature of Sigil

Sigil is shaped like a car tire, with the city occupying the inside. Gravity is pointed towards the closest surface. There is a 24 hour day-night cycle (with Drow and the like suffering daylight penalties at peak hours), but there’s no actual source of the light-just a sort of luminous haze. Looking up, one would see the other side of Sigil through all the haze. The place is crowded, so in most circumstances it would feel the same as navigating any overpopulated medieval city (you know, one that had demons and chaos-frogmen in it). All the building material is either imported or recycled from abandoned buildings, and no concern is given to mixing wood and stone from one Plane with another.

Anyone that looks over the edge of the city will see nothing. No, really. There is nothing beyond the city’s edge Jumping over the edge will transport you to a random place in the Multiverse. Surviving such a trip isn’t out of the question, but you shouldn’t plan on it either (in practice, where a player ends up is the DM’s discretion).

Rain and smog are the dominant weather types in Sigil. It’s like if Seattle and London had an overly emo child, if you can bear the weird metaphor. The most prevalent plantlife is the aptly named razorvine. And this stuff grows everywhere. Folks with the money and patience use it as organic barbed wire. Gamewise, brushing up against it causes 2d3 damage, while falling into it does 3d6 damage. Thankfully, armor can reduce or negate the damage. The other wildlife in Sigil includes rats. Most are normal rats, but there are also cranial rats, which are described in the campaign boxes’ Monstrous Supplement.

The Lady of Pain

As stated before, the main thing that keeps Sigil from descending into open warfare is the Lady of Pain. Where she came from is a mystery, and while rumors abound, ultimately her origin is unimportant. She is not so much an NPC as she is a Force of Nature. While the Cage is definitely her home, she has no official residence. For whatever reason, the Lady does not want to be worshipped. Those that do have their skin-flayed. Occasionally, she is seen floating down the streets, though she never speaks to anyone. Obstructing her is also a bad idea. Any sod to do so erupts with horrid gashes.



Aside from instakill flagellation, the main tool the Lady has for keeping order are The Mazes. These are pocket dimensions that take a section of Sigil and copy-paste it over and over. Whenever someone in Sigil begins to amass enough power that they might be a threat, the Lady just waits for them to be isolated (even for only an instant) and then somehow teleports them to an exact replica of the confined space they just happen to be in, repeated to infinity.

There are a bunch of details that I won’t go into, but the three important things to remember are, 1) if the Lady decides to Maze you, there is ultimately no way to avoid it besides getting out of Dodge immediately, 2) the doomed target has no idea he’s going to get mazed until it is too late, and 3) once Mazed, there is virtually no escape. The Lady does include a single portal in the maze leading back to the spot the target was trapped, but otherwise there’s no way out. Food and water are regularly teleported in, and a traveler in the Etheral can slip into the Maze if he or she finds it. But the portal is without exception the only way out of the Maze.

The Lady of Pain doesn’t work alone, but is served by strange, humanoid servants called Dabus. The Dabus maintain the infrastructure of Sigil: repairing sewers, fixing roads, and keeping the razorvine from overrunning the city. In addition, they act as the Lady’s emissaries, and if they ever respond to a major civil disturbance, then it’s usually an indicator that someone is going to get Mazed in the near future.

So how does one avoid The Lady’s ire? It’s not hard, to be honest. She only responds to challenges to her authority. That includes attempts to mess with portals or find an alternative way into Sigil. She also frowns upon cutters that murders Dabus or inciting general rebellion. In addition, the Lady won’t tolerate actions that cause residence to question whether she actually has control over Sigil. So if a high-powered individual goes on a killing spree, they can expect to be sent to the Time-Out Box.



Given this environment, the Factions of Sigil have come to an understanding that going after complete control of Sigil just isn’t worth the effort. Sigil offers enough benefits that an ideological compromise here and there is worth the price of admission. Any Faction that couldn’t make such a compromise just stopped existing. As mentioned in the Players Handbook update, each Faction has found a niche to fill in the everyday life of the city, even if it’s just keeping other power groups in check. Although some Factions work better together than others, the truth is that none of them trust each other.

Factol Skall of the Dustmen posted:

The reason we’re all here? It’s because we’re Dead - every last, living one of us.

Last words of Franok Heiden, to a Mercykiller posted:

Pike it, Berk! I’m Thor’s Proxy, and you’re laws don’t apply to me.

Beringe of the Anarchists posted:

First we get rid of the old order. Then we’ll worry about the Truth.

Besides the rules laid out by The Lady, day-to-day laws are established at the Hall of Speakers. Representatives from every Faction and power bloc have a voice here, with the Sign of One Faction presiding over the mess. It runs about as well as any body of disagreeing ideologues - probably a little more functional than today’s Congress, but not by a whole lot.

Fantasy Heaven Economics

Sigil is a pure trade city. The only value is that it can be used to get anywhere and everywhere, and that’s enough to support a metropolis. Exchanging goods from one fantastic location for another, along with providing accommodations for such merchants, is the chief economic activity. Besides goods, one can find work opportunities, information, and services from every corner of the Multiverse. And since Sigil is so convenient, many just decide to set up shop in the Cage and let everything come to them. From a player’s perspective, Sigil has many advantages. Magic armor and weapons made in Sigil lose fewer enchantment modifiers on the Great Ring than blades made else where. And the Portals eliminate many of the logistical problems of running a campaign on the Outer Planes, even at low levels.

As for poo poo like currency, the writers encourage DMs to keep it simple. A gp is a gp, whether it was minted in Neverwinter, Greyhawk or the City of Brass. The game understands that Sigil is there to get to adventuring, and the atmosphere does a lot to reinforce this. Since everyone is a cynical bastard, then of course no one gives a poo poo about currency rates.

The chapter concludes by introducing two NPCs who are probably the most powerful figures in Sigil besides the Lady of Pain. First is Erin Darkflame Montgomery, the Sensate Factol (leader) and priestess of Diancecht (the Celtic god of healing). As the Sensates are Sigil’s largest Faction, Montgomery controls the largest voting bloc in the House of Speakers. Thanks to her natural charisma, she generally is able to get her way when it comes to politics. Her greatest political rival is Duke Rowan Darkwood. Although Darkwood was born a Prime, he has elevated himself to be Factol of The Fated. Stat-wise, he is a Dual-class lvl 19 Ranger/lvl 20 Cleric of Heimdall. In a clique of ambitious objectivists, he is the most ambitious of the lot. Following a whirlwind life of adventure, Rowan is now the fastest rising star in Sigil. Of course, the over-ambitious eventually get squashed by the Lady of Pain, but Rowan it seems is self-aware enough to realize that such a clash is inevitable. Sadly, he’s not self-aware enough to know that taking on the Lady never ends well. We’ll be seeing this plotline in the future (assuming I don’t just disappear again :v: )


Erin Montgomery and Rowan Darkwood, respectively.

Next Time: Sigil Without a Future Supplement Guide

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 02:15 on Dec 30, 2013

David J Prokopetz
Oct 21, 2008


The Factols just kill me. Every last one of them reads like somebody's creepy wish-fulfillment GMPC - no less than two Factions are currently led by nubile teenage girls with strange sexual predilections - and the setting not only furnishes an excuse to regularly get them all together in the same room, but renders them completely ineffectual on a day-to-day basis due to Politics. I can never decide whether it's stupid or awesome.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

David J Prokopetz posted:

The Factols just kill me. Every last one of them reads like somebody's creepy wish-fulfillment GMPC - no less than two Factions are currently led by nubile teenage girls with strange sexual predilections - and the setting not only furnishes an excuse to regularly get them all together in the same room, but renders them completely ineffectual on a day-to-day basis due to Politics. I can never decide whether it's stupid or awesome.

Why can't it be both? :v:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


SirPhoebos posted:

Why can't it be both? :v:

It is pretty much both. Rhys, for example, is fun despite being practically infallible. But then you have Alisohn Nilesia, a 16-year old at the head of the Mercykillers for sheer fanaticism, which basically makes the faction look like a pack of maniacs. Well, more than most, anyway.

Transient People
Dec 22, 2011

"When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently."
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It is pretty much both. Rhys, for example, is fun despite being practically infallible. But then you have Alisohn Nilesia, a 16-year old at the head of the Mercykillers for sheer fanaticism, which basically makes the faction look like a pack of maniacs. Well, more than most, anyway.

Considering their best known representative is the guy who said this...

Vhailor posted:

Mercy is for the weak. Punishment breaks souls and makes them worthy of service to their superiors. When the number of martyrs is great enough, rebellion crumbles.

There is only one truth in the multiverse. The multiverse shall be sharpened upon the blade of justice. With justice as its whetstone, the multiverse shall achieve perfection.

When the injustice is great enough, Justice will lend me the strength needed to correct it. None may stand against it. It will shatter every barrier, sunder any shield, tear through any enchantment and lend its servant the power to pass sentence. Know this: there is nothing on all the Planes that can stay the hand of justice when it is brought against them. It may unmake armies. It may sunder the thrones of gods. Know that for ALL who betray Justice, I am their fate... and fate carries an Executioner's Axe.

...Is it any surprise that their Factol makes them look bad too? They are lunatics. Hell, the 4e update for Planescape mentioned that Nilesia allied herself with Rowan Darkwood in his stupid ploy that caused the Faction War, IIRC, and caused a split between the reasonable and alright fellas in the Mercykillers (the Sons of Mercy) and the loonies who wanted to see her come back (the Sodkillers). I don't think she's meant to be relatable or sell anyone on the faction.

Transient People fucked around with this message at 09:29 on Dec 30, 2013

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Vhailor is probably a bad example to pick if you want to play the "Mercykillers are all nuts" card, considering that everything in that last paragraph is actually true. :v:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Transient People posted:

...Is it any surprise that their Factol makes them look bad too? They are lunatics. Hell, the 4e update for Planescape mentioned that Nilesia allied herself with Rowan Darkwood in his stupid ploy that caused the Faction War, IIRC, and caused a split between the reasonable and alright fellas in the Mercykillers (the Sons of Mercy) and the loonies who wanted to see her come back (the Sodkillers). I don't think she's meant to be relatable or sell anyone on the faction.

Yeah, that's part of Faction War, and honestly I'd rather not worry too much about its events when talking about Planescape's setting too much, because it's possibly the worst book for the game line. There may be an adventure or two that's worse, but it goes to great lengths to throw a lot of factols and factions under a bus. And I'm saying that as somebody that wrote a lot of material for planewalker.com that built off of Faction War's events, including the Sons of Mercy writeup.

If you go by Faction War, Alisohn Nilesia is basically a gullible child that Darkwood is leading by the nose, but I'm not entirely sure her earlier characterization really backs that up.

Transient People
Dec 22, 2011

"When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently."
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Vhailor is probably a bad example to pick if you want to play the "Mercykillers are all nuts" card, considering that everything in that last paragraph is actually true. :v:

One doesn't preclude the other, though - his mad devotion to an ideal of justice where justice is a Terminator makes him into one! :v:

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Vhailor is probably a bad example to pick if you want to play the "Mercykillers are all nuts" card, considering that everything in that last paragraph is actually true. :v:

I worry about you :ohdear:

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah, that's part of Faction War, and honestly I'd rather not worry too much about its events when talking about Planescape's setting too much, because it's possibly the worst book for the game line. There may be an adventure or two that's worse, but it goes to great lengths to throw a lot of factols and factions under a bus. And I'm saying that as somebody that wrote a lot of material for planewalker.com that built off of Faction War's events, including the Sons of Mercy writeup.

If you go by Faction War, Alisohn Nilesia is basically a gullible child that Darkwood is leading by the nose, but I'm not entirely sure her earlier characterization really backs that up.

What was your forum name on planewalker.com? I did some contributions at the site, mostly on the d20 module that I don't know went anywhere.

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FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

David J Prokopetz posted:

The Factols just kill me. Every last one of them reads like somebody's creepy wish-fulfillment GMPC - no less than two Factions are currently led by nubile teenage girls with strange sexual predilections - and the setting not only furnishes an excuse to regularly get them all together in the same room, but renders them completely ineffectual on a day-to-day basis due to Politics. I can never decide whether it's stupid or awesome.
Erin Darkflame Montgomery is pretty much the exact sort of name I'd have given my pretend girlfriend when I was 14.

And I always thought the purpose of the factions was to give the setting a little variety and intellectual space than the Great Wheel of alignments, that it was possible to approach the planes with an attitude that didn't slot neatly into a 3x3 grid.

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