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Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:

Grimey Drawer
Knights of the Dinner Table did an arc that was a pretty dead on satire of the WLD. The end of quarter is approaching and the Hard Eight design team needs to pump out something fast so the new hotshot kid gives them his pitch for "The Biggest drat Dungeon Ever!" He hasn't written up any of it though so they just use a bunch of old maps and populate them with alphabetical entries from the Hacklopedia of Beasts.

When the Knights play it, they first insist on going through the door for high level characters and are TPKed several times , but then when they do finally go through the beginner door an invisible poison gas kills them all.

Maxwell Lord fucked around with this message at 18:57 on Apr 24, 2013

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MalcolmSheppard
Jun 24, 2012
MATTHEW 7:20

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

I am shocked!

I wonder how "old-school" the designers think they are. Is this an example of accidental bad design or deliberate groggy anti-design?

You're not going to get something called the World's Largest Dungeon playtested. 16,000 encounters at 20 minutes per encounter would require about 667 days of playtesting at 8 hours per day. Anybody who wants something this big for a reasonable price is not going to get a playtested book. 3e has CR and EL to help out, but leaving aside the mistakes that are going to come along with a book of this volume, some of WotC's CR figures were wrong to begin with. The book is pretty much the epitome of the D20 bubble, before a self-conscious "old school," but with the Back to the Dungeon ethos, where designers were strongly encouraged not to care too much about setting design except as a vehicle to get characters into dungeons, but it was generally thought that all pre-3e dungeons sucked because they were not designed according to 3e principles.

You have to remember that at one point, the semi-official line was that D20/3e was so well designed that even vaguely applying its structure would make anything you did better than pretty much any other game. It was basically sold as a nearly-infallible, potentially universal system, that would eradicate all others by virtue of its sheer design superiority and connection to D&D.

I think books like this do have a connection to the OSR however, by shaping expectations of rumored-but-unseen old school megadunegons like Greyhawk. OSRniks vaguely imagine a final product that's an "old school" mix of stuff like this and classic tournament modules. I had a chance to see Gary Gygax's notes when I shared a game room with him ages ago, and they were just point form lists of hit dice and treasure that would be nonpunishable except for their nostalgic/collector's value. Fleshing these out for Castle Greyhawk would be a significant undertaking, and that dungeon was six levels or so. So when we move forward to look at a failed project like Dwimmermount, we can see all the problems with it clearly. James Maliszewski probably had a map and some rough notes, and a lot of blank spots to improvise or develop pacing. Thanks to books like WLD and tournament modules (which were always a little more complete due to their brevity and need for specificity--D&D tournaments used to be competitive, with seed ranks and everything) folks developed this expectation of giant projects that were never really authentic old school and nearly impossible to profitably develop in the first place.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009

MalcolmSheppard posted:

You're not going to get something called the World's Largest Dungeon playtested. 16,000 encounters at 20 minutes per encounter would require about 667 days of playtesting at 8 hours per day. Anybody who wants something this big for a reasonable price is not going to get a playtested book.

1) $100? Pricey enough.

2) Not a loving excuse. If your product isn't balanced, either don't put it out or balance it.

Lemon-Lime fucked around with this message at 19:24 on Apr 24, 2013

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Not to mention that this is only a problem is you literally run a single group of playtesters through the entire dungeon from start to finish. The dungeon is explicitly meant to be modular, each Region is self-contained. You can use one group of playtesters (of appropriate level) per "block" of the dungeon.

Now, sure, it'd still be time consuming and expensive (but see the dungeon's 100$ price tag, it was the most expensive RPG book published at the time). But A) most playtesters aren't paid anyway and B) even a very cursory playtest would catch many of the glaring errors (vastly overpowered traps and enemies for instance, as well as rooms with incorrect or mislabeled encounter conditions).

It doesn't help that so far (from what I've read) Region A is by far the worst when it comes to both the quality of the editing (encounter conditions that aren't properly labeled, some that don't even exist, incorrect stats, CRs and ELs not matching, etc) and the deadliness of the encounters. In a later Region it might be more tolerable, but Region A is the introduction to the dungeon, it is the one Region that is not optional (every other region could potentially be bypassed or moved around), and it is terrible.

After the WLD was released many blogs and websites sprung up devoted to chronicling people's adventures through it, but the majority (of those still online at all) peter out during Region A.

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky


ASHEN STARS
Website
pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 2: Meet the Peoples

Every space game needs nifty aliens. The Combine is made of seven major (i.e. playable) races. There are always more aliens out there, even non-humanoid ones, but they aren't in this book. The cultural details are left up to the players who choose them, outside of some broad, general facts laid out below. Even then the bok encourages you to use your table's ideas if they conflict with the presented material.

These profiles also cover species' mechanical benefits. You get 3 boosts to abilities, meaning a reduction of 1 for spends and an increase of 1 on the result of rolls. Also some cybernetic/Viroware gear is either cheaper or costlier because of your species' genetic code. Your species can also suggest a unique drive and supply a unique ability. So let's dig in:


Chapter 2: The Seven Peoples



Meditation on the Space-Lotus

The Balla

Balla are known for calling the shots and a strange cultural practice where they affix knives of about 50cm in length to antelope-like creatures from their home planet.

Actually, Balla are a variety of space elf that grows more attractive as they age. This of course begins with really ugly babies, but by the time Balla are old enough to leave the planet and seek their fortune they are invariably smokin'. Elderly Balla live in isolation so they don't drive everyone who sees them mad with desire. Balla retirement homes sound like a heck of a party.

Balla are also known to have powerful emotions that they are constantly working to control and conceal. They even have a little bit of handheld tech to focus on in meditations, and losing it risks "slipping forever into a hallucinatory fog". Emotional outbursts are also contagious, like yawning, so acknowlewdging emotions at all is a major taboo.

To get back to the elf thing, they have a general cultural affinity for nature, their own ancient history, music, and speech patterns that are translated as formal and pretentious.

Balla get boosts to botany, geology, history (balla), and zoology (pick 3). Their unique drive is self-exclusion, and have the species-specific Emotion Supression ability. Their special is Inspiring Presense, a 1/episode power to refresh one of another PCs general ability pools during a calm moment.



Cyber-gloves are a booming industry

The Cybes

During the Mohilar War regular human soldiers just weren't doing the trick, so Combine scientists made Cybes. Now the war has ended, and what to do with them is a hot topic. Most Cybes consider themselves a new species and want to build their own cities and culture like any other. Attempts are not yet sucessful, and there's the matter of the built-in aggression they were given during their creation as super soldiers. Still, there is hope for a rational utopia of self-improvement and self-determination.

There is also a small minority of Cybes who consider themselves human and seek integration. The rest are either somewhere between the camps, or of a completely different, idiosyncratic persuasion.

Cybes get bosts to culture (Cybe), bullshit detector, and virology. They may have the integrationist or social engineer drives. They are compatible with all cybernetic implants and viroware, as you'd imagine. They also have specific abilities called enhancement integration and neural rewiring. Neural rewiring allows Cybes to reallocate their ability points at will, but with a cost.



You'd be grumpy too with that harcut, outfit, stature... he has his reasons is what I'm saying

The Durugh

The Durugh were an enemy of the Combine until recently, and were actually allied with the Mohilar at the start of the war, until they learned of Mohilar plans to eliminate them and swapped sides. The Durugh like to take credit for winning the war, but thanks to the Bogey Conundrum good luck proving it. A small faction wants to go back to war with the Combine, but most Durugh appreciate the benefits of membership.

Change comes hard. The rigid caste system of the past has died and now all Durugh are able to phase through walls. Play as a Durugh if you want to phase through walls. Now all Durugh worlds are in some state of anarchy and restructuring or other, and the predjudices of old enemies face those who go to other Combine worlds.

Durugh get nine abilities to choose from for their three boosts, pretty much all the sneaky ones. Phase Rider is their unique drive, and as mentioned their unique ability is Phase.



Early Wreck-It Ralph concept art? You decide.

The Humans

Humans are everywhere and are politically dominant in the Combine. Of course they may not always look like today's people, cosmentic genetic alteration was all the rage a few centuries ago and the results are still in the gene pool. Humans have a bit of a narrow view of galactic life, so when one makes a speech about the power of the "human spirit" most species have learned to just nod politely.

Humans are known for their adaptability, including the ability to believe the impossible. Sometimes it leads to tribalism and schism, and sometimes to the impossible dream the Combine was at its height and could be again.

Humans get four boosts to abilities instead of three, from a list of sixteen interpersonal and general abilities. I guess we aren't inherently academic or technical. Humans have no unique drives, abilities, or implant interactions, but they do have a special power. In any sort of contest when a pool drops to 0 you can roll a die. If it comes up 1 the pool is instantly refreshed.



I'm here to shoot rayguns and chew bubblegum, and I don't have the necessary mouthparts to chew bubblegum

The Kch-Thk

These guys are the best. They are born in the thousands, their eggs inspected for flaws. At birth they are trained in the six deadly arts and their DNA is imprinted on less worthy larva. When they die, their consciousness migrates to one of those backup larva and they are regrown, ready to fight again.

They're good at fighting, and better at eating. The Mohilar war was a glorious time for the Kch-Thk as they were let loose to consume planets and battle the enemy. Sanctions on reproduction were lifted so great multitudes of warriors could go to the front, but now there's a population boom the Combine can't support. Kch-Thk speech is littered with references to how the creatures they meet probably taste.

They choose three of history (Kch-Thk), intimidation, scuffling, and shooting for their boosts. Their unique drive is Hunger Tourism and their specific ability is migrate consciousness.



Pictured: A big softy who just wants a hug

The Tavak

Long ago the Tavak were a serene, pastoral people who instinctively sought harmony. On reaching space they discovered a need for war and a natural advantage in their thick hide and retractable claws. Tavak are now known for their ability to switch between their thoughtful, serene nature and a dedicated warrior's actions... except in the case of battle frenzy. Watch out for that.

They're generally wise people of few words. Lots of grunting helps to accentuate the words part.

In addition to the normal boosts and compatibilities, Tavak get +1 to their hit threshold and damage using claw attacks, as well as the ability to do lethal damage with a weapon tuned to a non-lethal setting at-will, requiring no spend of shooting points to switch the weapon's setting. Their unique drive is meditative reconciliation.



Okay, now imagine him armed to the teeth

The Vas Mal

The Vas Kra were energy beings unbound by linear time and space, perfectly joined with the cosmos. They took notice of humans and nursed them gently as they explored the universe. The Combine only came to be because of some odd coincidences and unseen connections manipulated by the Vas Kra. One cannot change a system without leaving their mark though, and the Mohilar found a way to remove the Vas Kra from the equation. Their doomsday device devolved them into the weakly and mortal Vas Mal.

Five years later the Vas Mal are a recognized part of the Combine, largely set on discovering the cure for their condition and again becoming what they once were. They have powerful psychic abilities, but using them taxes their frail bodies. Vas Mal get three boosts from a list of seven, mostly related to communication and unknown energies. Their unique drive is reevolution. Vas Mal biology clashes with every cybernetic or viroware enhancement.

Vas Mal have a selection of species-specific abilities that have some extra rules applied. Here's the list:
Consciousness Simulation
Dreamsight
Farsight
Neurosight
Timesight
Pathway Amplification
Probability Override
Psychic Vitality

Psychic Vitality is automatic, and you get up to two others of your choice free at character creation. Any of the five you passed up can be bought as well, but the first ability point will cost five build points, so be sure you really want to be a super psychic at the expense of other skills.


So that's the species profiles, but this chapter has two sidebars worth mentioning. Yhe first is Inter-Species Romance. Basically, everyone is able to be romantic with anybody else and the heart wants what it wants, no matter how many hearts you happen to have. The Tavak and Kch-Thk have parts that are not compatible with anyone else's parts, so they have to get creative. Cybes are infertile even among themselves. Vas Mal can reproduce with humans and Balla but they don't like to. Balla and Human parings can create offspring, but the pregnancy often doesn't come to term, and the children that are born just look like ugly Balla. The destruction of the war made tolerance less popular than it was in the golden age, but you never know what's going on when prying eyes aren't around.

The second is about non-standard characters. What if you don't like the seven peoples and want to be something entirely different? In that case it's your job to sell the GM on your concept. How does it reflect the game's theme? Will it make a good story? Are you just trying to get superpowers? Making a unique character is up to cooperation between the player and GM, the only hard rule is that the boots and gear affinities for your custom 'species' aren't already given to one of the existing ones (and personally, I'd happily fudge that).

Next time: your job and how to do it.

MalcolmSheppard
Jun 24, 2012
MATTHEW 7:20

Lemon Curdistan posted:

1) $100? Pricey enough.

2) Not a loving excuse.

Let's see: You're adding at least $120,000 in labor (two people working full time at 30K each for two years) and probably more, since the truth is that AEG would not have the money for that, and would probably employ freelancers willing to hold off on part of the payment for more money to cover taxes and expenses. And of course, we can up the materials costs for notes and sundries, and management costs for regular feedback. So let's actually bump this up to $200,000 for your thoroughly playtested megadungeon.

Now let's estimate the basic cost of the book, before we do all your playtesting. It's about 840 pages. We're gonna assume we got some guys to write and edit on the cheap, for maybe 5 cents a word, combined (it's probably more, though). At about 500 words per page We're looking at $21,000. Three buck a page layout is $1800. If art is the super-cheap rate of $100 per page and we assume the equivalent of 10% of the space being devoted to illustration (which is less in the actual dungeon, but the huge colour maps probably lead to it actually being more, we're paying $8400 for art.

So now we're at $31200 before we do all that playtesting. Let's at %20 for materials and project management again. So, $37440.

So, to get a fully playtested WLD we're looking at something in striking distance of quarter of a million dollars, before printing costs. without counting that, we need over 2000 sales gross just to break even -- but of course, we won't be getting gross sales. Through retail distribution, and waving our hands about other fees for a sec. (we won't even get into warehousing, shipping, handling and paying inventory taxes) we'll just pretend they get 20 bucks a copy free and clear. So the 2000 sales required to break even just became 10,000 sales in a market where an average successful run is 1000.

When we don't playtest, and stick to the other costs, we need under 2000 sales, which is an achievable point for a company like AEG heavily pushing a premium supplement.

JamieTheD
Nov 4, 2011

LPer, Reviewer, Mad Welshman

(Yes, that's a self portrait)
Alternity: That's The Way To Do It! (Chargen Part 1)


The Future Of Customisation... Robots Cuttin' Your Head Up

So, making characters in Alternity is, sadly, not without its pitfalls. We're going to explore some of those now, with two fictional goons, PlaidXII and TheDextrousWaffle (any resemblance to goons living or dead is purely coincidental, and are not light hearted ribbing of said goons. Also, I have pieces of the Brooklyn Bridge for sale.)

PlaidXII is a sensible roleplayer, with one major quirk: He really loves bug-dudes. Mantis-dudes, cockroach-dudes, it doesn't matter, they loving rawk. Unfortunately for him, the Alternity PHB doesn't have bug-dudes, or anything with a hive mind, so he decides to go for the next best thing: A T'Sa. For class, he's going to go for a Diplomat-Tech Op, because talking and toys sounds like a good idea.

TheDextrousWaffle, on the other hand, likes things that kill poo poo. He likes things that kill poo poo hard. So, rather naturally, he goes for a Weren. Because they kill poo poo. Hard. Because they also kill things hard, he rather predictably goes for the Combat Spec class.

Statwise, PlaidXII looks at the requirements: WIL 9, PER 11. That's just fine, he wasn't planning for an overly physical character anyway. Starting with an average of 10 in each stat, he adjusts up and down to eventually get STR 7 (moderately beefy for a T'Sa, but still weakish), DEX 12, CON 8, INT 12, WIL 10 and PER 11. His character, Fred The Gecko, is a friendly, moderately smart chap who is nonetheless not too good at these whole “fisticuffs” or “physical effort” things. As a result of this, he gets an action check of 14+/13/6/3, a bonus from being a T'Sa of -d4 every time he rolls that, 8 Wound and Stun points, 4 Mortal and Fatigue points, 2 actions a round, 2 Last Resort Points (his maximum), and he can get 6 Broad Skills and can spend 55 skill points. He's happy with this. He also notes that he has natural armour of d4+1 LI/d4 HI/d4-1 EN. It doesn't have a quality listed, so he assumes it's Ordinary. Finally, he notes down his free broad skills, and resistance bonuses.

TheDextrousWaffle, on the on the other hand, immediately puts max points into the physical. Killey dey rear end, survive to the end. For a Weren, that's 48 points, and the GM points out that that might be a wee bit much. No fucks are given, and the stats of STR 16, DEX 12, CON 16, INT 4, WIL 4, and PER 4 are noted down. Dumb as rocks, angry at the world (and unlikable for it), and about as perceptive and strong-willed as a cauliflower. Just the way he likes it. he gets an action check of 12+/11/5/2, and immediately bitches about it. The GM sighs. He then gets to sigh even more, as Grr'Arg (Waffle's character) gets 0 LRPs, 2 actions a round, 24 Wound and Stun, 12 Mortal and Fatigue, and can take a total of... 2 Broad Skills, with 15 skill points to go around. Waffle then realises that Weren can't use far-future bangtubes and pewsticks without penalties, and starts to cry about it. The GM reminds him that he's also harder to hit at range, and has natural weapons that do d4w/d4+2w/d4m (LI/O) (that's d4 wounds on an Ordinary Unarmed check at one end, and d4 Mortal on an Amazing on the other). Waffle bitches some more, and it is the GM's turn to give no fucks.

Meanwhile, some random goon makes a human, and nobody cares, because in base Alternity, humans are good, but neither interesting nor amazing. He sits in a corner, unaided by the GM, and talks to his hands.

Moving onto skills, the two goons see... a table. A big two page spread. With lots of pretty numbers and letters. They ask for an explanation. The DM then explains that skills come in two flavours: Broad Skills, which are general categories like Heavy Weapons or Life Science, and Proper Skills, which come in lots of flavours, and can be upgraded, unlike Broad Skills. You need to buy a Broad Skill before getting a specific skill, the ones marked with the same first letter as your class are one point cheaper, and it costs (cost+current level) to upgrade a skill.

TheDextrousWaffle starts weeping openly, as they realise they can only afford two Broad Skills and two specialty skills, at best. They also notice that space tactics are only available cheaper to Tech Ops. Finally, they notice that none of the gun skills explicitly mention weapon maintennance, and definitely don't include weapon repair. The GM mollifies Waffle (slightly) be saying that they take weapon maintennance as sort of read for someone who knows how to use a weapon. So Waffle, still a little teary-eyed, buys the broad skills Melee Weapons [STR] and Ranged Weapons (Modern) [DEX], which start at 16/8/4 and 12/6/3 respectively, and take 10 of his 15 skill points. For specific skills, he takes one level each in Blade Weapons and Rifles respectively, which wipes his out. The GM reminds his of the -d6 penalty to pretty much all of the latter, and Waffle screams in rage.his 13/6/3 is now effectively a 10/3/1 on average. For any skill he doesn't have, which is allowed to be used untrained, he not only uses half his stat as the base (so Primitive Ranged Weapons would be 6/3/1), he also takes a -d4 penalty for not knowing the skill (as if he had only the broad skill). This is most of them.

PlaidXII, meanwhile, is delighted to find that, while nearly all the combat and physical skills are normal price, pretty much everything in his favoured stats is cheaper than normal. However, he finds himself spoiled for choice, with only 6 Broad Skills to pick. He eventually decides that he wants Modern Ranged Weapons (6 points), Vehicle Operation (3 points), Business (3 points because it's a Diplomat skill), Navigation (5 points), System Operation (4 points), and Technical (6 points). He was tempted by the interpersonal skills and Law, but has to drop them in favour of his core idea: A space-trader. But at least Interaction as a Broad Skill was free! This still leaves him with 28 points, and there are certain things he absolutely needs. For example, Space Vehicle is trained-only, so he buys a rank of that (4 points). The same with Drivespace Astrogation (3 points). 21 points left, and he can potentially get a lot. Because he gets a racial bonus in it, he gets Juryrig (2 points), and because he wants to trade, he gets Bargain and Charm (2 points apiece). He then gets Small and Illicit Business (2 points each), Pistols (4 points), and, to round things off, he gets System Astrogation (2 points), Engineering (2 points), and Intuition (3 points) to round it all off.

So, the character sheets so far:

pre:


Fred The Gecko

STR: 7  (+0 steps)  WOUND: oooooooo     MORTAL:  oooo
DEX: 12 (+1 step)   STUN:  oooooooo     FATIGUE: oooo
CON: 8  (+0 step)
INT: 12 (+1 step)   Action Check: 14+/13/6/3 (-d4)
WIL: 10 (+0 step)
PER: 11 (+1step)

SKILLS
STR
Athletics 7/3/1 (+d4)
DEX
Manipulation 12/6/3 (+d4)
Ranged Weapons, Mod. 12/6/3 (+d4)
  Pistol 13/6/3
Vehicle Operation 12/6/3 (+d4)
  Space Vehicle 13/6/3
CON
Stamina 8/4/2 (+d4)
INT
Business 12/6/3 (+d4)
  Small Business 13/6/3
  Illicit Business 13/6/3
Knowledge 12/6/3 (+d4)
Navigation 12/6/3 (+d4)
  Drivespace Astrogation 13/6/3
  System Astrogation 13/6/3
System Operation 12/6/3 (+d4)
  Engineering 13/6/3
Technical 12/6/3 (+d4)
  Juryrig 13/6/3 (-d4)
WIL
Awareness 10/5/2 (+d4)
  Intuition 11/5/2
PER
Interaction 11/5/2 (+d4)
  Bargain 12/6/3
  Charm 12/6/3

WEAPONS
                                          DAMAGE (O/G/A)   TYPE   RANGE
Fisticuffs (Marquis of Queensbury Rules) d4s/d4+1s/d4+2s   LI/O   Personal

ARMOUR
		      LI       HI     EN    Quality
Natural Armour        d4+1     d4    d4-1  Ordinary
pre:


Grr'Arg

STR: 16 (+3 steps)   WOUND: oooooooooooooooooooooooo   MORTAL:  oooooooooooo
DEX: 12 (+1 steps)   STUN:  oooooooooooooooooooooooo   FATIGUE: oooooooooooo
CON: 16 (+3 steps)
INT: 4  (-1 steps)   ACTION CHECK: 13+/12/6/3
WIL: 4  (-1 steps)
PRE: 4  (-1 steps)

SKILLS
STR
Athletics 16/8/4 (+d4)
Melee Weapons 16/8/4 (+d4)
  Blades 17/8/4 (-d4)
Unarmed Attack 16/8/4 (+d4)
DEX
Ranged Weapons, Mod. 12/6/3 (+d10)
  Rifles 13/6/3 (+d6)
CON
Stamina 16/8/4 (+d4)
INT
Knowledge 4/2/1 (+d4)
WIL
Awareness 4/2/1 (+d4)
PRE
Perception 4/2/1 (+d4)

WEAPONS
                     DAMAGE           TYPE  RANGE
Punching poo poo Hard   d4s/d4+1s/d4+2s  LI/O  Personal
Clawing Faces Off    d4w/d4+2w/d4m    LI/O  Personal

ARMOUR

None!

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


MalcolmSheppard posted:

Let's see: You're adding at least $120,000 in labor (two people working full time at 30K each for two years) and probably more, since the truth is that AEG would not have the money for that, and would probably employ freelancers willing to hold off on part of the payment for more money to cover taxes and expenses. And of course, we can up the materials costs for notes and sundries, and management costs for regular feedback. So let's actually bump this up to $200,000 for your thoroughly playtested megadungeon.

Now let's estimate the basic cost of the book, before we do all your playtesting. It's about 840 pages. We're gonna assume we got some guys to write and edit on the cheap, for maybe 5 cents a word, combined (it's probably more, though). At about 500 words per page We're looking at $21,000. Three buck a page layout is $1800. If art is the super-cheap rate of $100 per page and we assume the equivalent of 10% of the space being devoted to illustration (which is less in the actual dungeon, but the huge colour maps probably lead to it actually being more, we're paying $8400 for art.

So now we're at $31200 before we do all that playtesting. Let's at %20 for materials and project management again. So, $37440.

So, to get a fully playtested WLD we're looking at something in striking distance of quarter of a million dollars, before printing costs. without counting that, we need over 2000 sales gross just to break even -- but of course, we won't be getting gross sales. Through retail distribution, and waving our hands about other fees for a sec. (we won't even get into warehousing, shipping, handling and paying inventory taxes) we'll just pretend they get 20 bucks a copy free and clear. So the 2000 sales required to break even just became 10,000 sales in a market where an average successful run is 1000.

When we don't playtest, and stick to the other costs, we need under 2000 sales, which is an achievable point for a company like AEG heavily pushing a premium supplement.

Or you could do what most RPG companies do and find volunteer playtest groups willing to tackle a single region and send in any problems they find. This would take a few months and cost nothing. It doesn't replace proper editing (which the WLD is in desperate need of), but it would catch many of the more glaring errors.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

MalcolmSheppard posted:

When we don't playtest, and stick to the other costs, we need under 2000 sales, which is an achievable point for a company like AEG heavily pushing a premium supplement.

You're spot-on about paid playtesting not being viable. Taking the Paizo method of "playtesting" might be better - release and early version for free and take what feedback you can get might be viable. It isn't going to be nearly as meaningful, but if you can mobilize even a tiny portion of your fanbase, it can help at least catch glaring errors.

Not that any of such excuses the remarkably lovely design on display, mind. It's not practical to do a full playtest, but what you could do is just playtest the first section or two, since gently caress, not like most groups are going to get further than that.

Edit: Of course, the fact that it's unplaytestable points to the glaring oversight that makes it practically unplayable, too. The thing about megadungeons as some platonic idea of D&D ignores the fact that they're just not practical for the grand majority of gaming groups. Or even necessarily that much fun.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 20:43 on Apr 24, 2013

MalcolmSheppard
Jun 24, 2012
MATTHEW 7:20

oriongates posted:

Or you could do what most RPG companies do and find volunteer playtest groups willing to tackle a single region and send in any problems they find. This would take a few months and cost nothing. It doesn't replace proper editing (which the WLD is in desperate need of), but it would catch many of the more glaring errors.

I've seen the back end of playtests. Beyond a frenzy of initial activity you often get what you pay for. Given the way the project is structured I'd guess that this thing was scrawled off fast to hit Gen Con and distro deadlines.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Part 5: B is apparently for Goblin

So, Region A had a fairly interesting premise and lots of opportunities for the PCs to roleplay with the various humaniods but it was brought down by extremely uncreative encounters and several that were waaay out of the league of the expected number and level of the PCs

Region B is the zone for levels 4-6 (one of two, the other is Region E to the north of Region A), and like Region A it has a theme: goblins! Because they've got to stick them somewhere before the PCs get too high level. Like Region A (and indeed many Regions) this area features multiple hostile factions that have recently suffered a shakeup prior to the arrival of the PCs. Fortunately, it doesn't feature the overpowered magical traps or the high level boss encounters, but it makes up for it with stupid ideas and general lameness. Lets lay down the backstory:

So, originally this was apparently a place where experiments were performed by angels on the inhabitants of the dungeons, to better understand the nature of good and evil. Apparently this was approved of by the LG and NG angels, but CG and LN ones were fine with it so they went ahead and allowed it to continue. Because that sounds plausible.

So, after the dungeon was ruined gobliniods moved into this area and basically fought among one another for centuries but never managed to completely kill any other group off. The goblins mostly dominate through sheer numbers but they never have the opportunity to really take over due to the superiority of the bigger species.

Recently the goblins have undergone a religious awakening, discovering a new god (Norendithas Stoneshaper the quick thinking, smiter of foes!) and ousting their old king and forging an alliance with the hobgoblins which allowed them to push the bugbears to the edges of their territory. However, rebel goblins still dedicated to the old ways have splintered off and carved out a chunk of the region of their own. So now there's the holy goblin empire (w/hobgoblins), the rebel goblins and the remaining bugbear forces.

Confused yet? Well, it gets worse.

You see Argliss the new goblin king is actually a doppleganger! And the new religion is a fraud! Now, compared to your average goblin a doppleganger is really drat charismatic, so it's not terribly shocking that he managed to lead a rebellion and overthrow the old king. It's the details that make it mind-numbing. Here's the history:

You see, apparently at some point a cocatrice from Region C wanders into the NE portion of Region B where it encounters a goblin hunter and petrifies him. At some point later, the stoned corpse of the goblin hunter is found by other goblins. Now, keep in mind that this is just a statue of a regular goblin caught just before he died. The one significant feature is it's extremely lifelike stonework. Now, this inspires the goblins to form a new religion, eventually leading to the overthrow of their king and a civil war.

There's two problems with this:

First, it's stupid. Unlike orcs, goblins are not any dumber than humans so while the statue might be noteworthy it's hardly worth considering it as a religious icon. Especially when you consider that there are two divine spellcasters among the goblins, both follow the old ways and are part of the rebel camp. This means that the goblins kicked out people capable of performing actual miracles to worship a completely mundane, but well-carved, statue of a life-sized, terrified goblin. Oh, and to top it off, if the goblins are really that into statues this region is full of them. There are three other statues (B16, B 34 and B45), created by the celestials and featuring actual supernatural phenomena.

Oh, and to top it off, the cartography of the dungeon makes it impossible for these events to have actually occurred. As I mentioned before, the statue is found in the NE of the dungeon, the goblin empire is SW. Lets trace the path:



The green area is the territory of the religious goblins. The aqua is the location of the statue. The purple path is the only route through the region to reach the statue. The first red X is a place called "The killing grounds" and features six ghoul paladins. The next is a place filled with bugbear traps (ironic since the bugbears wouldn't be able to reach the area either) plus a few locked doors between them.

In fact, B118 features a lowered portcullis which can only be raised by a lever in the room behind it (meaning that it's impossible for anyone from the goblin area of the dungeon to enter from that side without destroying the portcullis somehow). That not only makes it inaccessible to the goblins, but also to the PCs...in order to get to the statue at all they would have to enter Region C along one of the two SE passageways (both are controlled by the rebel goblins) and loop back around to get into B.

So, not only can these goblins not reach the statue they apparently worship, it would never have been discovered in the first place and indeed never been created at all because no goblin hunter would be able to make it to this area. Oh, and as a cherry on top: the cocatrice from C would have to have made it through several locked doors in order to reach this part of the dungeon to turn anyone to stone in the first place.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Clearly, that is why the goblins thought it was a miracle.

Mexcillent
Dec 5, 2008

oriongates posted:

Or you could do what most RPG companies do and find volunteer playtest groups willing to tackle a single region and send in any problems they find. This would take a few months and cost nothing. It doesn't replace proper editing (which the WLD is in desperate need of), but it would catch many of the more glaring errors.

They should do what most rpg companies do: be exploitative and shady. Got it.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003



... Ghoul paladins? :raise:

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Zereth posted:

... Ghoul paladins? :raise:

Well, corrupted paladins. Sort of a weird homebrew "anti-paladin". it's probably the worst written of Region B's rooms mechanically, so it'll definitely be one of the highlights.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Mexcillent posted:

They should do what most rpg companies do: be exploitative and shady. Got it.

Nerd business and exploitative shadiness are two great tastes that go together.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Zereth posted:

... Ghoul paladins? :raise:
I'm hoping they literally are ghoul Paladins, and not like Antipaladins or Blackguards or something. That would just be the icing on the cake.

EDIT: Well, drat, just Antipaladins.




Chapter 2, part 1: Demons
The denizens of two of the three other dimensions that exist in Supernatural, angels and demons are two sides of an eternal struggle: Heaven versus Hell, creation by God versus corruption of humanity, and cold logic versus twisted passion. Of course, if you're human, neither side is really a good option in the end. Sure, demons like to do horribly twisted things, but angels have a tendency to put on the jackboots with little justification. We'll be covering demons first, as they had a cursory glance given to them in the core rulebook while angels are entirely new to the Guide to the Hunted. A lot of this section consists of "these are demons that the Winchesters killed, but here are their stats anyway just in case you want them to return somehow or feature them in a campaign set in the early seasons" until it gets to the non-unique demon species rather than individuals.

Azazel
The Lore: In Judaism, Azazel is basically the spiritual garbage man, a demon of the wastes that takes the scapegoat of Passover. In Supernatural, however, his role is much more prominent. He is presented as "the Yellowed-Eyed Demon", a mastermind who managed to kickstart the prelude to the Apocalypse before being felled by the Winchesters.

The Game: Azazel has it all - amazing attribute scores, a powerful Pyrokinesis skill, the highest Telekinesis skill die possible in the game, and high levels of intimidation. Exorcism is the only way to temporarily put him out of commission, and the only way to end him for sure is with one of the major plot weapons of the show.

The Show: Azazel was the primary villain in the myth arc that covered the first two seasons of Supernatural.


Alastair
The Lore: Alastair is not a real world demon, but presumably draws his name from the real world occultist Aleister Crowley.

The Game: Just like Azazel, Alastair has top percentile attribute scores and the highest Telekinesis possible. He also has an insanely high Interrogation skill, which he combines with his telekinesis for torture sessions. His arrogance and short temper are pretty much his only weaknesses.

The Show: Alastair appeared in four episodes of season 4 as the top torturer and servant of Lilith. He was killed by psychic godmode powers.


Lilith
The Lore: According to old Hebrew lore, Lilith was the first woman. She was replaced by Eve when she had the :monocle: desire to be equals with Adam, and became a demon of the winds.

The Game: Lilith is the demon for those who think that Azazel just wasn't tough enough. Not only does she have exemplary attributes and highest possible Telekinesis, she also has the highest possible Pyrokinesis. So uniquely high, in fact, that it gives her a special explosive AoE called Pyrokinetic Blast.

The Show: Lilith replaced Azazel as the big myth arc threat for season 3 and 4. Like her lackey Alastair, she was axed by psychic godmode powers as the last step in getting Lucifer walking the earth.


Ruby
The Lore: Ruby is a demon that is obviously entirely unique to Supernatural. Her job was as the agent and instigator of the plot to raise Lucifer.

The Game: While her attributes are 'merely' above-average, Ruby makes up for it in having high skill with knife combat and acting. She is meant to be more of a subterfuge-oriented challenge than a physical combat one.

The Show: Ruby was a common sight through seasons 3 and 4 of the show before being killed with her own demon-killing knife after her true nature was revealed.


Samhain
The Lore: Samhain is the name of the great Celtic festival of the final pre-winter harvest, as well as the origin of Halloween. As in many forms of media, Supernatural personified Samhain as a specific entity rather than a holiday: namely, a powerful demon.

The Game: Samhain has low Alertness to mar his otherwise high attribute scores, but he makes up for it by being bloodthirsty and having the highest-tier Telekinesis and decent Unarmed Combat skills one comes to expect from greater demons in this game. He also has the ability to summon other supernatural creatures, which is in and of itself a definite danger sign. On the other hand, wearing even the most simple of masks keeps Samhain from seeing you, which kind of lessens his impact.

The Show: Samhain appeared in season 4, episode 7: "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester". Unlike most of the other demons presented, Samhain could actually be used legally in your campaign, as he was exorcised back to Hell in his one appearance rather than being outright killed.


The Seven Deadly Sins
The Lore: Greed, Lust, Sloth, Wrath, Gluttony, Envy, Pride. Surely you've heard of these guys a few times.

The Game: While somewhat average on most fronts, the Seven Deadly Sins have a whopping d12 Mind Control skill that allows them to force their sinful ways onto humans.

The Show: The Seven Deadly Sins appeared in season 3, episode 1: The Magnificent Seven. Envy, Lust, Sloth, and Wrath were exorcised back to Hell, while the others were killed by Ruby in her first appearance as a way of showing off her fancy demon-killing knife. Given the nature of sin, however, one could presume even killing one of the Seven won't keep them gone forever.


Tammi
The Lore: Tammi is another Supernatural-original demon. She is a collector of souls lured in by dark sorcery, taking normal people and training them in the ways of demon-fueled black magic.

The Game: Tammi is mostly an average demon, save for high impersonation skills and powerful magic. She also happens to be weak to magic, dark or otherwise, which means the best way to fight her is with a dose of her own medicine.

The Show: Tammi appeared in season 3, episode 9: Malleus Maleficarum. She was killed by Ruby's knife.


Tom
The Lore: Yet another demon original to Supernatural, Tom is the son of Azazel.

The Game: Tom is a mostly average demon, but pushes his brawling skills to the top with both skills and traits focused on making things suffer when he gets into a melee fight.

The Show: Tom was featured in the final two episodes of the very first season of the show. He was killed by the magic kills-anything Colt revolver, back when that was actually a thing the show used.


Acheri
The Lore: The spirit known as the acheri is a bringer of sickness in Indian mythology, said to come down from the Himalayas to spread disease in the lowlands.

The Game: Acheri aren't particularly bright, having the lowest possible Intelligence score and a low Willpower to boot. They make up for this by being very fast, very strong, and capable of doing a lot of damage with their wickedly sharp claws before spreading disease.

The Show: An acheri was summoned during the battle royale of season 2, episode 21: Hell Breaks Loose Part One.


Crossroads Demon
The Lore: Crossroads and bargains with beings from them are common across multiple cultures.

The Game: A crossroads demon has high overall attributes, but has low Telekinesis and no real combat skills to speak of. Instead, all of its skills are high-die social ones, allowing words to do the deed for the demon.

The Show: After being introduced in season 2, episode 8: Crossroad Blues, crossroads demons have appeared in every season since.


Daeva
The Lore: Daevas are hostile demons from the Zoroastrian religion, not to be confused with the benevolent devas of Hinduism.

The Game: A daeva has amazing physical attributes, which helps them to deal insane amounts of damage with their claws. In addition, they are swift and made of shadows, making them decidedly stealthy. On the other hand, daevas have two obvious weaknesses: light and breaking the altar used to summon them.

The Show: A summoned daeva was the foe of season 1, episode 16: Shadow.


Hellhound
The Lore: Hellhounds are demonic dogs, often with associations to fire or darkness, from British folklore.

The Game: A hellhound has the lowest possible Intelligence die score, obviously, but has average Willpower and high physical attributes. It also has insanely high stealth and combat skills that allow it to sneak up to you and tear you apart with its jaws. It's pretty hard to fight something that's invisible, after all.

The Show: While hellhounds in the show are dispatched by crossroads demons to collect the souls of those damned by crossroads deals, they are surprisingly less prevalent overall. Hellhounds have appeared in nine episodes scattered over seasons 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8.

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

Next time: the lowdown from those on high with the introduction of angels.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Down With People posted:

Nerd business and exploitative shadiness are two great tastes that go together.

What they needed was a ridiculous Kickstarter to fund the $250k they needed for playtesting, and everybody would be too invested to care about the years of delays. :allears:

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

General Ironicus posted:

The Balla

Actually, Balla are a variety of space elf that grows more attractive as they age. This of course begins with really ugly babies, but by the time Balla are old enough to leave the planet and seek their fortune they are invariably smokin'. Elderly Balla live in isolation so they don't drive everyone who sees them mad with desire. Balla retirement homes sound like a heck of a party.

The Kch-Thk

These guys are the best. They are born in the thousands, their eggs inspected for flaws. At birth they are trained in the six deadly arts and their DNA is imprinted on less worthy larva. When they die, their consciousness migrates to one of those backup larva and they are regrown, ready to fight again.

The Vas Mal

The Vas Kra were energy beings unbound by linear time and space, perfectly joined with the cosmos. They took notice of humans and nursed them gently as they explored the universe. The Combine only came to be because of some odd coincidences and unseen connections manipulated by the Vas Kra. One cannot change a system without leaving their mark though, and the Mohilar found a way to remove the Vas Kra from the equation. Their doomsday device devolved them into the weakly and mortal Vas Mal.

How is nobody commenting on a game that has poo poo like this in it? Holy hell. They literally made "Troubleshooters: The Species" among other things.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007

The posts about the WLD made me think of something - wasn't there at some point a D&D-compatible OGL campaign setting whose premise was that the entire world was one huge dungeon? I seem to recall it being some sort of demiplane or something. Anyone remember this?

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!
Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade part 3

Izou Empire
The Empire is the world's superpower, looking strong from the outside with tightly defended borders and garrisoned cities, but on the inside it's ready to blow up.

Through the Ages
The Empire was born in an era of constant warfare. A fisherman named Izou Zurui commanded the respect of his villages warriors by being a super awesome swordsman and when civil war threatened his homeland and family, he ultimately mustered an army that overthrew his kingdoms government.

He battled corruption and eventually gave his cousin Izou Junshin the kingship, while he commanded the armies. Zurui defended the kingdoms as supreme general while Junshin ruled justly, a division of military and civil power that the Empire maintains to modern times.

It was Junshin's son Junshinichi who ended the 45-year-long peace by invading a neighboring kingdom and conquering it. The Izou kingdom grew into the Izou Empire over generations of gradual conquest under many Emperors.

A man named Izou Mamoru was born 691 years after the founding of the empire. He was born during a battle, to a soldier who died in the fight and carried to his father, the Emperor. This took part during a super hardcore war between the Empire and the Land of Five Blades.

Mamoru was a "Chosen One" level badass: had killed multiple men by age 8 with swordsmanship and ninja techniques he'd learned from some Ronin ninja.

His dad was poisoned by the court food taster (this is the equivalent of being blow up by a mine detector) when Mamoru was 10. Normally such a young Emperor causes turmoil, but everyone understood their place and fell into line. He ultimately won the war. Afterwards, he expanded the army, feeding the populace stories of the dangers outside of the Empire. He build a huge rear end navy and improved agricultural output.

While doing so, he met a geisha named Hana whom he married after "only" a one month courtship, which seems really long to me; considering his position as probably the greatest Emperor in history, I'd expect it to take last exactly the amount of time required for her to hear his proposal and say "yes" i.e. nine seconds. But maybe he's a romantic.

Hana, as a "delicate and fertile flower," had two sons and a daughter, which is strange because the book tells us he had the hots only for her and unless she's using ninja birth control, she should have a hell of a lot more children than that.

The two sons, Yasuo and Kano were trained in battle to be as bad rear end as their father. While training out in the forest (apparently unsupervised, like all direct imperial heirs should be) they were caught up in a battle between rival ninja clans and Kano was killed. (Spoiler alert: this will prove to be a big deal) Yasuo develops a grudge against ninja.

The Emperor cracks down on chi users, banning the use of chi techniques by anyone outside the army. (This is how it always begins; first you're not allowed to concealed carry your shuriken in pocket dimensions, next the army's breaking into your house, confiscating your ancient scrolls.)

As if the Emperor wasn't pissed off enough over the death of his son, a unknown group of ninja attack his wife and daughter, cutting the formers head off and afflicting the latter with a wasting poison that slowly kills her over months or years.

No one knows who committed the assassination, but the Emperor knows it was ninja, so if he kills all the ninja, he'll have killed the perpetrators and gotten justice. He makes his surviving son his general, who brings in some of his Hidden Strands of Fate allies (!) who aid him in assaulting the ninjas hidden villages (!!) and help him train special chi-technique wielding soldiers (!!!).

Wow, what assholes.

Next: Living in the Empire

Mimir
Nov 26, 2012

Comrade Koba posted:

The posts about the WLD made me think of something - wasn't there at some point a D&D-compatible OGL campaign setting whose premise was that the entire world was one huge dungeon? I seem to recall it being some sort of demiplane or something. Anyone remember this?

I assumed that Dungeon World was that sort of thing at one point. It isn't.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

Syrg Sapphire posted:

How is nobody commenting on a game that has poo poo like this in it? Holy hell. They literally made "Troubleshooters: The Species" among other things.

Playing a Kch-Thk does sound pretty rad. Like a hungry, chitinous HK-47.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Comrade Koba posted:

The posts about the WLD made me think of something - wasn't there at some point a D&D-compatible OGL campaign setting whose premise was that the entire world was one huge dungeon? I seem to recall it being some sort of demiplane or something. Anyone remember this?

Yeah, it was actually called *Dungeon Word Universe* by Fast Forward Entertainment, and by an amazing coincidence I picked up a copy from the game store yesterday. It's...okay, so far. The basic idea is that the dungeon is a self-contained demiplane that's a sort of afterlife for adventurers. Really, I just picked it up because it's also called "Dungeon World" and I thought it'd be funny to see if it could be converted into Dungeon World. :shobon:

It's a d20 product, but from what I've read, the problem with FFE's books was that they didn't really "get" the 3e rules, and anything they didn't know or understand about 3e they'd just use AD&D rules. Apparently they went under because they were'rt using the OGL correctly.

The biggest problem I've seen via skimming is that it's the type of dungeon where every level is "themed" and none of them affect or interact with each other.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP

Down With People posted:

Playing a Kch-Thk does sound pretty rad. Like a hungry, chitinous HK-47.

Dark Sun wants its Thri-Keen back.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine
Thri-Keen wish they could step to the Kch-Thk.

Also,I seem to remember something similar to the Vas Kra becoming the Vas Mal happening in one of the later Lensman books.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011

Mr. Maltose posted:

Thri-Keen wish they could step to the Kch-Thk.

Also,I seem to remember something similar to the Vas Kra becoming the Vas Mal happening in one of the later Lensman books.

It actually happens with all the Lensmen books as the four Arisians tasked with watching over the civilized races kind of coalesce into a single entity when they have to deal with meat-based sapients coming to talk to them. There is also the fact that the Kinnison brood can do the Voltron bit and link up with themselves and every lensmen mentally to make a massive galaxy spanning super intelligence.

jadarx
May 25, 2012

Comrade Koba posted:

The posts about the WLD made me think of something - wasn't there at some point a D&D-compatible OGL campaign setting whose premise was that the entire world was one huge dungeon? I seem to recall it being some sort of demiplane or something. Anyone remember this?

It's not D&D, but the Japanese RPG Meikyuu Kingdom's world was CURSED! and transformed into a huge dungeon. So you would have Sky Dungeons and Forest Dungeons and Dungeon Dungeons.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

oMage: Dragons of the East

The Wu-Keng section is inexplicably written in first person. It is one of those incredibly annoying White Wolf sections that is all first person, all the time. I will do my best to summarize it for you. The narrator is Shiu-Chung, a young woman in the Wu-Keng. She wasn't always a woman, though. See, the Wu-Keng exclusively recruit boys. Always boys. Young children. All of the Wu-Keng are biologically male. However, they are trained, as Shiu-Chung was, to not be men and to become girls, mentally and spiritually...and, to some extent, physically. They don't get operations or anything, but they practice footbinding and so on. Once upon a time, they used to be the guides of the Shang Dynasty, bringing writing and teaching them the ways of the gods.

However, the Chou rejected the Wu-Keng, siding instead with the scholars and Legalists who focused on books and scholarly virtue. The Wu-Keng and their oracular practices and peasant magic were rejected. Only the princes of Feng-tu came to their aid, the rulers of the underworld. Three thousand years ago, the Wu-Keng petitioned Lord Ku of the Thousand Tears for help. However, Ku needed proof of their loyalty, and one of the Chou yan, the ancient Wu-Keng shamans, sword to love him forever. She promised that every year, she would kidnap a boy and raise him as a shaman for Ku, honoring him with the Juk Ak, the Wu-Keng Avatar. Lord Ku gave the prophecy of the Sam Chin Ak. For a thousand years, there would be secrecy, and the Wu-Keng would hide from the world. For another thousand years, there would be silence, when the shamans served the will of Feng-tu. Finally, the Age of Motion would prepare the Wu-Keng to control Asia. Lord Ku forbade the Wu-Keng from binding spirits or changing the passage of time, so they might not cheat his desire or the pact he made with them.

When the Chou fell, the Wu-Keng did all that Ku would permit them to to protect the people. They even turned to the scholar-wizards for help, learning of the newly formed Wu Lung, who placed Qin Shihuang on the throne. The Wu Lung were jealous of Wu-Keng youth granted by Feng-tu, and so they boiled one Wu-Keng alive each day they refused to give up the secrets of immortality. At last, they claimed a Wu-Keng in the shape of a cricket gave them the secrets, and ordered the death of all Wu-Keng. Feng-tu, in that realm's wisdom, disguised all the Wu-Keng as women and brought them to freedom.

The Juk Ak then declared that from then on, all Wu-Keng would live as women and bind their feet for the pleasure of the Juk Ak, to remind the Wu-Keng of their imperfection. They obeyed, settling in the south. At last, the Age of Motion came, when the West invaded and the Japanese conquered, as the Wu-Keng encouraged them both. The great Chou yan named Zhen Di, one of the last surviving ancient Wu-Keng, led an army to massacre the Wu Lung, though the communists killed her before she could succeed.

The Wu-Keng initiate their new members at the same place every time - the tomb of the Yellow Emperor, where they call forth the Juk Ak and ritually marry it, taking on a jade bracelet as a sign of the pact. They suffer great pain, in the hopes of preventing it in others. They learn the arts of the oracle bones and sacrifices. They obey the will of the Juk Ak, no matter what horrible act or thing they are requested. And in return, they get great power. However, some of the Wu-Keng are unhappy. The oldest know the nature of the deal they made, and know that in the year 2000, it is meant to end. Their service to the Juk Ak should be over then. A few are secretly training shamans in the use of the Spirit arts and the pure, ancient ways they once followed.

You see, the truth is, the Wu-Keng are infernalists. Most of them don't know it, but Feng-tu is a Yomi realm, not the underworld. Ku is a Yama King. The Juk Ak are demons. The shamans taught by the ancient Chou yan know the truth, carrying one the true spirit of the peasant shamans. When Ku learned of this duplicity, he used it to justify a new age of service, until the renegades are destroyed. The Chou yan are some of the most potent wizards alive, so they managed to protect the shamans and hurl Feng-tu into disarray until Ku devoured their Juk Ak and the demons holding their Avatars, condemning them to nonexistence. The new shamans have multiplied to the point that they rival the Wu-Keng in number, but not power. The Wu-Keng beg for Ku to allow more initiations, but Ku is holding to his bargain: one a year, no more. If his slaves become strong too soon, after all, he'll be denied their suffering.

Before they made a pact with the Princes of the Slain, the Wu-Keng described their relation with the spirits in familial or romantic terms. Ancient songs describe the gods as lovers and the shaman as companion. If a child died at birth, they acted as Khay ma or Khay kong, a symbolic parent. The initiation of modern Wu-Keng is a perversion of that bond. The demons twisted its love into bondage and servitude. The jade bracelets and Avatars that linked the shamans to Heaven were twisted to the Juk Ak, the yokes of the Yama Kings. A Juk Ak demon treats the shaman as a slave, lover and victim. Magic comes from flattering it. However, the Juk Ak is not watching every second of every day. The Wu-Keng's belief in their servitude grants the power, and the power can be used without the approval of the Juk Ak. Of course, all who ever tried were caught and now lie in the Thousand Hells for the pleasure of their masters.

Wu-Keng magic was born of shamans and herbalists, and they usually received it after some form of trauma, like a difficult birth, a lost family member or some other terrible loss. Those who were born shamans had Divine Bones, 36 joints that connected their souls to Heaven. In most, the Bones are broken at birth, but these shamans never lost them. Pain and loss allowed them to find the Divine Road that runs through the spirit world. An Awakened shaman bound themselves to the Bones and the Road, sending their soul to the Heavenly Flower Garden. There, they courted the gods until accepted as divine agents. If they'd lost lovers or children, those became spirits of the shaman, to gain the merit needed for an auspicious rebirth. Magic was an art of divine romance and guardianship of the dead. Under the Chou, however, they turned to Feng-tu and were bound to only one lover: the Juk Ak. They were forbidden to contact their children beyond the Wall, and Heaven rejected them. Their magic is a perversion of the old ways, compelling them to love the very demons who twisted them.

The shamans believed that the gods literally existed, but that the Celestial Bureaucracy was new, a device of the gods to try and reach out to an overly intellectual people. In the Heavenly Flower Garden, the gods cultivate the souls of the next generation. While the Infernalist Wu-Keng can no longer go there, they do believe that when the Sam Chin Ak is lifted, all the souls in the Juk Ak will return to the Garden, where virtuous births await. The gods, the shamans said, must be flattered and flirted with. The Wu-Keng mirror this with their devilish marriage, gaining access to demonic gifts. Affairs between gods and mortals were ultimately doomed and one-sided, but command of poetry and oracles allowed the shamans to end them without danger. The Wu-Keng still use sacrifices and poems to get power from their patrons. As the old shamans used the dead as divine advocates and guardians, the Wu-Keng sometimes are granted petty demons that abuse them but serve at the same time. The shamans have retaken the name Khay ma, with their leader being the Man Sang Phax, or Venerable Lady, to distinguish themselves from the Infernalist leader, the A-ji. With the loss of the Chou yan, neither side has any real advantage. The shamans grow in number, and each side fears that a war will soon begin between them.

Both the shamans and the Wu-Keng use oracle bones to influence fate or reveal the future, carved block clappers to alter minds, and pits to contact either dead spirits or the Juk Ak. They often go into trances to either speak to the spirits and dead or the Juk Ak. Songs and poetry are excellent tools to gain spiritual favor, as is the reenactment of significant historical events. Written charms are also common to send messages or bend minds by invoking the power of money.

The two groups use similar rotes, but the Wu-Keng receive demonic investments as well, with access to a number of listed Investments, or any of the powers in Infernalism, Freak Legion or The Thousand Hells. Which, yes, can make them very powerful even though they aren't allowed to use either Spirit or Time magic. And, yes, the Wu-Keng are generally ignorant of their masters' true nature. They believe that their shame and suffering is entirely deserved, as is the shame and suffering they cause. They are unwitting tools of evil, but they don't feel a lot of regret for what they do. They accept their lot but await the day their bargain will be ended. They believe the Juk Ak are benevolent spirits who demand harsh proofs of loyalty. They are biologically male but mentally and spiritually female, though instilled with shame in their identities because such shame pleases the Yama Kings.

Next time: Other wizards!

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Part 6: Stupid Sideplots

Before we get to Region B's individual sections, there are some sideplots that deserve mentioning.

First is the halfling rogue Bartleby and his search for what is only referred to as "the artifact". Now, there are two conflicting stories behind this. The first states that during the rebellion and ousting of the old kind the doppleganger Argliss lost an artifact of his, it's not something he considers essential but he wants to avoid having it fall into the hands of his enemies. So he struck a deal with the halfling to search for it in exchange for protection. The second version of the story says that the artifact belonged to the goblin king and that it is in fact the entire reason for the doppleganger's coup. Unfortunately the king somehow hid the artifact and Argliss has sent the halfling to find it. Doesn't make a lot of sense when you consider that Argliss is a literal mind-reader.

Bartleby himself is one angry little dude. His entry implies that he doesn't have any intention of honoring his bargain with Argliss (odd that Argliss would choose to take his help when he is...again...a mind reader) and that he knows how to enter and leave the dungeon. But don't worry about your players finding this out from him, he'll refuse to answer any questions if captured (because it's not like spells like charm person or detect thoughts exist).

So, as the the artifact itself, what is it? Well, there's no definite answer, the book basically leaves it up to you but does provide some terrible suggestions:



*A clay golem would be a powerful tool for PCs, except of course even with the manual you still need half a ton of clay and 1,600 gp in rare ingredients which will be...difficult to purchase while trapped in a giant dungeon. Since it also requires a cleric to use it is of absolutely no use to Argliss (in fact, there are no clerics in the region remotely high enough level to use it).

*A medallion of thoughts is pretty much the definition of something Argliss doesn't need, the only thing more ridiculous would be him searching desperately for a hat of disguise.

*A necklace of adaptation could potentially be useful to the PCs in a few regions, but there's nothing to justify the fuss being made over it by the NPCs.

*A phylactery of undead turning is actually completely useless to anyone but the PCs in this region. Argliss is, again, not a cleric and in fact the only clerics in this region are evil and thus do not turn undead.

*The rod of cancellation is possibly the only one that might be considered important enough to everyone to search for, but considering how few magic items the WLD gives PCs I'd be very reluctant to give them an item whose only purpose is to destroy magic items.


-------

The other little sidequest is the Key. Apparently when the rebellion hit the Celestials tried to seal off the Region. What exactly they were trying to close off is unclear: Region F was a prison for minor demons so it hardly seems worth the effort, but if they were trying to seal off Region B then they kept the key on the wrong side. Of course, since the dungeon is a square it didn't actually seal anything off it just means you can't go directly from B to F and must detour (either A-E-F or C-G-F). The passages from B to F are sealed with unbreakable, unpickable and un-knockable doors (boy, perhaps they should be using these on all those demonic and undead prisoners) which will blast you with an 8d8 sonic damage trap (DC 31 to find/remove, out of reach of most rogues of this level). I can kind of understand that they want to make sure that PCs don't wander from one region to another freely so it makes sense to have a "quest lock" like this. But it's still kind of a dick move to blast anyone trying to pick the lock with a trap that the rogue probably won't find.

The upshot is basically that no-one is actually going to be moving directly between B and F, because the key is hidden in Region C behind a ridiculous number of traps and "tests of character". By the time the PCs have it (if they ever find it) they'll be already higher level than Region F is designed for, rendering the whole exercise rather pointless.

But, I think we can thank the designers for making it less likely that anyone will actually go to Region F at all, because that place is a huge pile of crap and best avoided completely.

Next we'll be doing the abandoned "testing" portion of the Region.

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky


ASHEN STARS
Website
pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 3: Career Day

The third chapter is all about defining those abilities you picked during character creation. It's also really long and mostly made of lists, so I plan to tackle it in (at least) three parts. This update is all about crew packages, the loose equivalent to a character class. When making your character you and your group divided up the warpside (on-ship) assignments, the the groundside (off-ship) ones.

If your group has four or fewer people, a warpside assignment can be given to background PCs controlled by the players when they're needed, and not really present any other time. The sidebar on background PCs offers these words of wisdom "If there's a funny accent everyone in the group can do, that's how a background PC talks". If my group played this our pilot would be Krang, and that's awesome. Groundside assignments should be doubled up so the PCs do all the investigative work themselves. Now, let's take a look at the jobs:

Chapter 3: What You can Do

Warpside Assignments

Communications Officer (Hailer)
Receptionist/frontman/psychological warrior. It's your job to make sure data only goes where you want it to, and everyone knows everything they need to know. You get some interpersonal abilities and decryption for your investigations, high skill in communications intercept, and a real nose for trouble.

Pilot
You fly the ship, and with how crowded a warp corridor can be, not to mention laser fire, that's no easy task. Pilots have the skills to drive or fly anyting, and their helm control is expert.

Strategic Coordinator (Stratco)
Navy ships have captains and strict military rank. Laser crews are democratic affairs where everyone has equal say. Even so, when the going gets tough and the weapons go hot the crew looks to you to pull their asses out of it. The Stratco gets no investigative abilities, but does have well-rounded abilities for running, punching, and shooting, along with their hard-won naval tactics skills.

Systems Officer (Wrench)
Everyone else gets to stay clean on the bridge, but its your work that keeps the ship flying. It can be grimy and thankless, but nobody understands the old bird like you do. Systems officers have a working knowledge of system design as well as their high skill in repair.

Weapons Officer (Gunner)
A good Gunner works with their Stratco like a hand in a glove, just don't ask them which is which. No matter how fancy the other guy's flying is he's still right in your sights. A weapons officer gets their own share of scuffling, shooting, and sense trouble, as well as their impressive battle console skill.



It isn't required for the medical officer to scream "We're all gonna die!" but some groups may find it helpful.


Groundside Assignments

Cultural Officer (Face)
Every Laser needs to know how to talk to people and get what you need from them, but you make it an art form. Nobody on the crew gets how people work quite like you do, and they defer to you when it's time to face the truly unusual. Cultural Officers get some interpersonal abilities along with things like history and anthropology to boot.

Operations Officer (Bagger)
Bringing law to the lawless is a business now, and seeing that through is your job. You handle the creds, the contracts, and the books. That means you also have what it takes to follow the money; always useful in an investigation. Baggers cover things like forensic accounting and bureaucracy for investigations, and have the all-important business affairs and public relations abilities.

Survey Officer (Mapper)
Space is a big place, and not as well known as it used to be. Your job is to understand the biology, geology, astronomy, and kooky alien energy signatures that often play a role in the contracts your crew will take on. In addition to all those sorts of investigative abilities, Mappers get a big heap of sense trouble.

Security Officer (Chopper)
The funny thing about criminals is they don't like to be caught. You've got what it takes to persuade them. Sometimes that's a bit of hard talk, sometimes a disruptor pistol, and sometimes the ol' knuckle sandwich.

Technical Officer (Techo)
Folks on both sides of the law have a slew of gadgets at hand and you know them backwards and forwards. Suspects can run, but they can't hide from from your surveilance.


Mixed Assignments

Medical Officer (Doc)
Lasers get it rough, and it takes people like you to hold them together until the job is done. The bad guys tend to get it rougher and the team can always use a medical examiner. You're useful in every situation, a unique part of the job. Medical Officers are equally good with spotting lies and disease, and have a strong medic ability.


Next Time: 12 pages of Investigative Abilities!



In space, no one can hear you scream about male gaze.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011
By the way, since someone's currently doing a write-up of Forgotten Realms, I was wondering if anyone felt like doing one for Eberron. I've heard bits and pieces, and those bits and pieces interest me greatly.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

hectorgrey posted:

By the way, since someone's currently doing a write-up of Forgotten Realms, I was wondering if anyone felt like doing one for Eberron. I've heard bits and pieces, and those bits and pieces interest me greatly.

can't do it myself, but I second the suggestion. Eberron was a setting that has bits and pieces I like but the whole set didn't appeal for reasons I can't explain.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:
I could definitely start Eberron if someone else hasn't picked it up by the time I'm done with Hengeyokai. I think I'm only missing three or four of the books too.

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




Where the Magic Happens 101

We open on pg20 with a pull quote from "Goblin Market", a fairly noteworthy poem. The theme is about running, escape, and a looming threat tinged with gendered violence (imperiled woman, likely young innocent and ignorant). CtL lays its themes down with the grace of a rogue bull hippo.

Arcadia: the idyllic utopia of romantics and idealists pining for an unspoiled paradise filled with idle pursuits and tolerance1. But no, Arcadia is where the scary stories live; only the bright and unspoiled Kindly Ones get to be the featured heroes and villans; to them, mortals are silly distractions best used as local color, like the audience for a play. And some of their play is downright mean and cruel, and altogether abusive.

Everything is Faerie down here. Time, Truth, and Territory is relative and flexible, and the True Fae are the masters of their domain. Like with a freeform RP or MUD, the only reality that exists is what you can get everyone to agree to; however, that 'everyone' also includes the fire and the trees and the concept of doorways. These agreements become codified into program-like legalisms that without which the whole system would crack and fall apart. These are Contracts, and this is the Fae magic of the Wyrd.

Describing 'a' True Fae is impossible; they are the swift coursing river, the great forceful typhoon, the raging fire, and the mysterious dark side of the moon all in one. So why care? Why does this collection of overblown internet RP'ers matter? Because they steal people, crossing the wild sea of thorn and bramble called the Hedge that 'borders'2 our two worlds, to seize mortal souls and drag them back to live their lives in faerie. The only way for a human to visit Faerie is to be taken3, and this fact is a crucial element to a changeling.

You got taken. The book details methods in which this would happen to you (all secretly your fault all along, of course). Were you taken as a child? Did you walk into the wild? Was a hunt or dance your evil trap? How about at random- snap snap snap? Whatever the reason, the point is made that anyone can be taken, at any time, from any place, by a being far more random and arbitrary than a vampire's embrace.

But there you are in your durance, and your relation to the Keeper creates your Seeming (think Path/Clan/'Race') and Kith. Because to survive your Durance you 'choose' to change (coercion is such a naughty word) in order to fit the Keeper's world-view. You become a faerie, inexorably touched by fate. You gain features that will be your Seeming and Kith and Contracts and essentially half of your splat features, all from this one period of your life. This is where creative players can come up with very interesting concepts out of their id or superego... or just go vague and say that your character doesn't remember. Part of having lower Wyrd is that you simply don't remember all the facts of your time in Arcadia; it increases over time, and by your memory and awareness of the strange thing that happened to you, you become more in-tune with those powers. Unlocking an inner forgotten power that was 'put' into you is a theme.

And then you escape; there are as many examples of escape as there are your durance and your abduction; you can conceivably mix and match to taste. Speed, violence, luck, stealth, cunning, friendship (a motley of players fresh out of Arcadia is the 'preferred' way to start a game). But even after doing something magical like pushing the witch into the furnace, the prophecy game comes into play: if the True Fae are masters of your fate, how and why would you escape in the first place? (More than a few brains get blown out at this point)

At this point, the game nicely interrupts its own narrative to bring up the concept of the Mask; the strange faerie glamour that allows people "in the know" to see the horns and sparks of flame while keeping the normies from finding anything out. But it only works outside the Hedge and Arcadia, like a natural weirdness censor of Earth (or evidence that you're all experiencing a group delusion, on the lower Clarity side of things).

And so you return, to find that things aren't right:
  • Rip Van Winkle'd; you're 50 years too late or, oddly, too early.
  • Prematurely aged; a 30 year-old you trying to re-live your twelve year old life.
  • Doppleganger'd; you've got someone else wearing your face
  • Officially Dead or Missing; sometimes you come back and there isn't a you-shaped hole in the world you can just jump back into.

The Doppleganger is a nasty piece of True Fae trickery- during and/or after your abduction, the True Fae makes a copy of you to replace you, act its part, and in all cases be you (if slightly different). The game at this point assumes that a player with a fetch will kill it, if just to act as a sort of catharsis. But even so, what price are you willing to pay to get back at someone?

Now we come to the large social world aspect of the game- you're assumed to come into contact with the preferred social unit of "the Freehold". A place to belong, mutual defense, and a place to be as Fae as you want to Bae. It's mentioned here that the Freehold is in some way a reflection of the Arcadian politic, like day care kids having their own, smaller day care within it4

And then we get to the Hedge. It exists "between" the two worlds, and is described in this book as being a place of deliberately euro-style wild gardens and bogs other pulls from the David Bowie masterpiece Labyrinth. A place where you can't see the horizon past the brambles, and jumping to the sky is a foolish idea. And within the thorns lay Trods- paths to and from one place to another. some well kept (and therefore more likely used by powerful/evil fae) and some unkempt (more dangerous terrain). Either way, your Changeling is able to open doors from the Real world into the Hedge- but it maintains in the text that some places are easier than others (because of the time and method of your usage), and while you can come from anywhere on the globe to the Hedge, each door is another path for the True Fae to cross into our world, and humans to cross into ours. Wander away from the door as a human, and you leave your soul up for Fate to decide; but as a changeling, you are much more able to move around... and much more tasty.

So then we get another description of Trods. This time, they are fonts of glamour (power pool points) and sources of hedge-gates, much like ley lines and nexuses and Wyrm's Nests and other well-tread concepts from other White Wolf gamelines. Thankfully, this aspect of Trods gets dropped nearly instantly in the game itself. In every other piece of fiction of the game line, Trods are used interchangeably with the concept of 'paths' detailed above.

Then the book talks about Hollows- wide and safer places within the hedge created 'by the oaths of hospitality' and hearth and home. A place to rest your head, if you feel safe there in your lodge of choice. Hollows are places where 'things happen', and a well-defined hollow breathes life into the game in a way that a character-filled bar or street makes for a good trip. In the hedge, anything can happen; but in a hollow, anything can happen within a consistent and well-regarded backdrop.

Next time: Living life as a changeling.


1For the modern version, see Portlandia.
2I'll get to the medievalist invisible geography of the Hedge when I do Dancers in the Dusk
3At least until Equinox Road is published
4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM7DeaVwJPc

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: 2ND EDITION - The Complete Psionics Handbook
Chapter 3 - CLAIRSENTIENT DEVOTIONS OR THESE POWERS WERE DESIGNED TO BE AGGRESSIVELY TERRIBLE

Let's hop right in here shall we?

All-Around Vision - The character can see in all directions simultaneously, which prevents anyone from successfully sneaking up on the character, unless the sneaking character has some kind of concealment. Because tower shields provide a degree of concealment, RAW it is possible to sneak up on someone with 360 degree vision by crouching behind a tower shield and walking very softly. It stacks with Clairvoyance so you can see a 360 degree arc into Azathoth's bedroom. Also, you suffer a -4 penalty against gaze attacks while the power is active, because even if you succeed on your power check (60% of the time for a basic psionicist) you should still have some kind of punishment for using this power.
POWER SCORE / 20: You also gain infravision. Are you an Elf, or any other race with infravision? TOO BAD SO SAD NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS! / You are blind (no save) for d4 hours.

Combat Mind - The psionicist's "side in combat" gets a 1 point bonus towards initiative rolls. Marginally useful because 2E had you check for initiative every round. However, it doesn't define what "the psionicist's side" means, although since the range for the spell is Personal, I'm going to assume they mean that a psionicist can choose to have either the left side or right side of their body receive a 1 point bonus to initiative. This power is made even better by the fact that it keys off INT-4, so a starting psionicist is going to fail to manifest this power 60% of the time. It makes sense, because receiving a 1 point bonus to initiative rolls (and having to spend 1/5 of your PSPs per round for that privilege) is way too game breaking on its own. I mean, a Thief has to equip a Dagger or better to receive that kind of constant bonus (using optional initiative rules) and he doesn't have to commit to any other maintenance, and we don't want them to be overshadowed.
POWER SCORE / 20: You also gain a 1 point bonus to AC / The psionicist and his side suffers a 1 point penalty to their initiative rolls.

Danger Sense - You get Spider Sense, assuming Spider-man had spent the last twenty-four hours on a whiskey bender and he's barely coherent. The result of your check determines how much information you receive regarding the general level of a threat and the rough direction from which the threat will originate. If the power check is 8 or better, you get a full round's warning before the threat strikes; 12 or better also makes you aware of all threats located in a 10 yard radius. Power check of less than 8 means your spider sense goes off a second before the danger strikes, which the power doesn't really define in a meaningful way, except to state that the psionicist should maybe get a +2 bonus to a surprise check, assuming the threat is something that's waiting in ambush and not just an ogre charging down on you or something. The only benefit to this power is that the maintenance cost is 3PSPs / turn, so you actually only have to pay for it every 10 rounds. Considering the nebulous wording of the power, that's pretty damning by faint praise.
POWER SCORE / 20 / 1: You learn specifically how far away the danger is (but still not what it is) / You can't sense danger again for d6 hours / The power actually tells you a wrong direction for the upcoming threat (but again there's no mechanical definition of what this means).

Feel Light - Somehow your psionicist can experience light via tactile sensation, although the power explicitly states that you can't touch "darkness" because there's no light. I'm going to interpret this to mean that a psionicist manifesting this power can't cross any area that's blocked by shadows. This power at least gives some kind of mechanical function - you gain a +4 bonus when saving against gaze attacks. I guess you could use this power to offset the penalty from All-Around Vision, but this power actually costs more to power on and to maintain, so I'm not really sure what the point would be. I guess if your DM's campaign heavily features basilisk, medusa, and cockatrice encounters then you might spend all of one round considering activating this power before you forget that it exists entirely.
POWER SCORE / 20: You can feel light in all directions. No mechanical explanation is given for this, but since any humanoid can already feel light in all directions (in as much as light produces heat, which a body can detect), I really have no idea how this is supposed to benefit you. Maybe the regular version only gives a +4 bonus vs gazes in a narrow cone facing away from your front, and the POWER SCORE result gives the +4 bonus regardless of where the attack originates from? But doesn't a gaze attack, by definition, require you to make eye-contact with the target? :iiam: / You become overly sensitive to light for d10 rounds. You are blind, and exposure to any level of light deals 1 point of damage per round.

Feel Sound - Same as above, but with sound. You get a +2 bonus against sonic attacks or effects. Why this was even included is a mystery that's too dumb to solve.
POWER SCORE / 20: The psionicist can detect noise like a thief of the same level. This probably should have been the major effect of the power, especially because a thief of any level is going to have a range of possible Detect Noise percentages depending on race and how the player assigned their class points, and if it was the major effect they could have expanded more thoroughly on what this is supposed to mean / For d4 rounds, all sound causes at least 1 point of damage, and also the psionicist can't understand speech.

Know Direction - You can tell which way is north. I am fairly certain that a non-psionic skill that any character can spend a non-weapon proficiency on can completely replicate this power. Whatever, psionicists can fail to tell which direction is north 40% of the time and pay 1 PSP for each attempt, put that in the book and ship it.
POWER SCORE / 20: The power is automatically maintained for 24 hours / You can't use this power again for d6 hours.

Know Location - When the power works (60% of the time) the psionicist learns general information about his/her current location. Speficially "the information is usually no more detailed than the response of a simple farmer when asked 'Where am I?' and typical answers include 'a few miles south of <major city> . . . as the crow flies' or 'adrift on the <body of water>'". So, this power costs roughly 1/3 of a starting psionicist's total PSPs and channels the friendly hillbilly spirits of the astral plane to provide nearly useless information. If the power check is 8 or more, the location is specific to within a mile of the psionicist's actual position, if it's 7 or less, the location given is somewhere within 10 miles; essentially this means that a starting psionicist will completely waste 1/3 of his starting PSPs on this power 75% of the time (either through failing to manifest the power, or failing to roll a high enough successful power check). Also, if you psionicist wants, you can voluntarilly receive information that is less specific than what the power check result would have provided; why you would do this is not explained.
POWER SCORE / 20: You learn the exact location you're trying to determine (5% of the time here folks, this power functions as advertised 5% of the loving time) / This power gives a false location that is at least 100 miles from the actual position of the psionicist.

Poison Sense - Hey Jerry, are you poisoned? *vomits blood onto shoes* Yeah, he's poisoned alright. The type of poison isn't revealed, so gently caress you if your DM runs a super groggy campaign where a generic 'antidote' item or spell doesn't exist, because this power isn't telling you what kind of poison is making Jerry vomit blood all over.
POWER SCORE / 20: You learn what kind of poison is making Jerry hork up his lungs in glistening, pink chunks / You become psionically effected by the poison and immediately count as having been poisoned by the same type of poison.

Radial Navigation - As long as you manifest this power, you know where you are in relation to a fixed starting point. Not in a useful way, like you can use this power to retrace your steps back through a complicated maze to return to the entrance, but in a general way, like 'you're currently 500 yards from the entrance'. This is literally spelled out in the power's description. I guess the power is maintained at an hourly interval, but come on your body measures how hungry you are at hourly intervals and you don't even have to spend a non-limited resource to make that power work.
POWER SCORE / 20: This power actually lets you recall your positioning well enough to retrace your steps back to the fixed starting point. I can't even begin to speculate why this wasn't the major ability of this power in the first place / You forget where you are entirely for d4 rounds.

See Sound - There's no actual mechanical benefit to using this power. Literally nothing. It does mention that by converting sound waves to visual impulses, you're actually blind in areas of silence. So, manifesting this power at best can cause you to turn blind unless you walk around shrieking like a bat for the duration of the power.
POWER SCORE / 20: You can maintain this power for only 1 PSP/round. That's right, you can voluntarily blind yourself for the low, low cost of 1 PSP/round / Lound sounds cause you to go blind (no save and no duration, so I guess it's permanent).

Spirit Sense - You can sense whether or not some kind of incorporeal being is within 15 yards of you. It doesn't give you any ability to interact with creatures that you might not normally be able to effect (like things that are ethereal) and you also can't pinpoint exactly where the spirit is, you just get some kind of nebulous sense that something is doing something else near somewhere.
POWER SCORE / 20: You learn the exact location of the spirit you're looking for. Still no means of communicating or interacting with said being / YOU HAVE ANGERED THE SPIRITS! There's no mechanical penalty for this one, so I guess it's the most competitive Clairsentient power because there's no literal penalty for rolling a natural 20 on your power score check. I don't even know if that's damning by faint praise at this point.

IN CONCLUSION: Don't ever take any Sciences or Devotions from this school. The powers that sound cool are all deeply flawed in some way, and the powers that sound kind of lame are agressively terrible. Friends don't let friends play psionicists, but they definitely don't let psionicists take Clarsentient powers.

NEXT TIME: CHAPTER 4 - Psychokinetic Sciences OR AT LEAST THEY AREN'T CLAIRSENTIENT POWERS

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012

Another week, another update to Tribebook: Black Furies

Chapter 2, Part 1: The Triptych, aka the Good Part

It’s italics time! The traditional revised White Wolf splatbooks share a common format. The first chapter is usually an in-universe history of the splat in question. Chapter 2, beginning now, features representative members of the splat explaining how they do things to an outsider of one kind or another. Different splatbooks experiment with this, but Black Furies is a bit more traditional, but that doesn't mean it's not great.

A cub, Anxi, wakes up wondering where she is. Upon getting her bearings, she realizes she’s in Ecube, the Black Furies’ Umbral homeland, essentially the resting place of Black Fury spirits. Three werewolves are with her, a lupus Theurge known as Amethyst Wing-Mender, a dark skinned Galliard in homid form named Carlotta Parts-the-Mists, and a giant man, Symon World-Reacher, Philodox. It seems that the Wyld chose Anxi to learn from these three representatives. Amethyst begins the lesson.

The Triptych!

quote:

The Divine is at once Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Where Gaia Herself is concerned, this three-fold entity explains the changing of seasons and the progression of the world. We lupus understand it just as we understand everything else: without thought. You have a long way to go, sister before you can know without thinking. If you ever conceive and carry a child, you will.

This is where this book gets juicy.


The big guy's the Matron.

You see, a lot of stuff in the Werewolf cosmology comes in threes, breeds, Virtues, and most importantly, the Triat. The basic structure of the Triat, Wyld, Weaver and Wyrm, is based on traditional triple goddess roles. There is a ton of mythological resonance here. The Scandinavian Norns, the Trimurti, the Morrigan, all of these partake in this symbolism. The triple goddess is popular in neopaganism, particularly in Wicca.

The Wyld can be understood as the Spinner or Maker. The Black Furies are based on the Greek mythos, so the Wyld is associated with Clothos of the Fates, Maiden spinner of infinite possibility, good or apocalyptic.

The Weaver is just that, or the Orderer. To the Black Furies, the Weaver is Lachesis. Once the Matron, it established limits on Clothos’ possibility. But, every rule must have exceptions, and Lachesis failed to understand that, going mad.

Finally, the Wyrm is the Cutter or Destroyer. Black Furies name it Atropos. Most tribes see the Wyrm as male, since it can’t create, only destroy. Black Fury narrator says that’s dumb. The Black Furies don’t understand why Atropos has gone insane. The narrator speculates that maybe Atropos has been replaced by something else.

There are plenty of triple figures in Greek mythology. The original Furies, or Erinyes, were Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera. The Furies act as inspirational figures to the Black Furies, obviously, and they’re common names among the tribe, so if you’re struggling to come up with a name for your Black Fury character, well, look no further. It’s not clear whether the Furies were actually Black or not, but they exist as Wyld spirits, too infused with chaotic energy to manifest. The Inner Calyx knows a rite to summon the Furies and incarnate them in three Black Furies to completely wreak vengeance on someone. After that, they continue enforcing justice and nobody can tell them what to do, not even the Inner Calyx. This has the tremendous potential to backfire, so the rite hasn’t been performed in ages.

Pegasus is awesome, mythical and so unbound by material reality. It’s a Totem of Respect, not War, which is contrary to a lot of Black Fury positions and points to an inherent tension within the tribe. Pegasus demands that her totem followers protect women who can protect themselves, which can be difficult to figure out. The Get of Fenris can’t, and so Pegasus doesn’t allow any of them to follow it. Pegasus’ spiritual retinue includes the Gorgons, the original Black Furies, Panther, for some reason (it may have joined Pegasus after leaving Lion’s brood once it fell along with the White Howlers), female spirits of all kinds, and Greek mythological spirits, even including centaurs. Pegasus keeps their rapaciousness in line.


Even the art's better in this section!

Auspices come from lunar phases. Each lunar phase is a particular behavior on Luna’s part, so each auspice corresponds to some facet of Luna’s personality.

New Moons (Luna Cries): During the New Moon, Luna turns her face from the world and weeps. Werewolves born under the new moon wonder why Luna’s crying, so they try to fix the world until it no longer makes Luna sad. Ragabash sometimes cause pain to effect change, but it’s a necessary evil. Basically, Black Fury Ragabash are a little more politically oriented and structure affirming than the general New Moon. In order for a Ragabash to join the Inner Calyx, they must make Luna smile during the New Moon, in other words, change the phase of the moon on their own.

Crescent Moons (Luna Ponders): The Crescent Moon is Luna turning back towards the world, trying to answer life’s most persistent questions. Theurges do the same thing. Learning is good, no matter if it’s the answer to a big question or a small one. Black Fury Theurges, then, are more about inquiry than lore accumulation.

Half Moons (Luna Speaks): Luna emerges from the darkness to give pronouncements. She reveals what she was crying about and what she learned in her pondering. Likewise, Philodox are to reveal accumulated wisdom and truth. Philodox enforce the law, but to avoid Weaver stasis, they’re sure to make sure judgment is deserved, following the spirit of the law more than its letter. Remember, every rule has an exception. Black Fury Philodox are more flexible than the mainstream.

Gibbous Moons (Luna Laughs): Speaking the truth cheers Luna up, so she comes into the light a little bit more and laughs. Of course, it may just be because the alternative is to cry, and the Galliard understand this. Galliards translate the pronouncements of Luna and the Philodox and make it relatable to the common werewolf. They educate more than rock out.

Full Moons (Luna Acts): Fully emerged into the light, Luna is ready to fight, becoming Artemis the Hunter. The Ahroun are her retinue. The Ahroun lead, deciding when to put down contemplation and act. They make mistakes, and the Ragabash are around to take care of it. See? Everybody has a role, and werewolf society is a cycle of these roles.

Canonically, lunar eclipses only occur during full moons, so all eclipse-born Garou are Ahroun. However, they’re more inquisitive and sneakier, but also moodier and prone to Harano (werewolf depression).
Black Furies test judgment, vision, fury, and mystery during their Rites of Passage. Why four tests and not three? One’s not a test. Okay then.

Judgment presents a cub with a moral quandary, either acted out, spiritually reflected, or even real. The cub needs to decide what to do. For instance, she might be taken to an elementary school to witness some bullies messing with a loner. What should she do to punish them and to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Vision gives the cub a riddle or spirit-quest. It’s not too difficult, since the elders don’t want cubs to die. Fury is really a test of the cub’s control over her rage. She may be taunted, or presented with a dangerous situation.

The last “test”, mystery, isn’t a test, but rather the initiation rite, where the fury drinks Elusian wine and gets a mystic vision. Elusian wine is an ancient drink, used in festivals honoring Demeter’s annual farewell to Persephone. It’s really kykeon, made from wheat and purple die. Its recipe was a well-kept secret among the Greeks. Great philosophers like Plato, Socrates, Epicurus, and Homer were initiated into the Elusian mysteries, and they learned a lot. Historians speculate that ergot is a key ingredient to kykeon, since it’s a common purple dye. It’s also a childbirth aid, which of course is exciting to the Black Furies.

I am almost entirely certain that this chapter was written by Matt McFarland, since tonewise it’s a complete 180 from the previous chapter, and therefore awesome. It cements the Furies as a unique and even necessary entity in werewolf culture as the Western mystics. There’s tons of flavorful hooks here and more to come. We’re finally at the good part and nothing can go wrong, right? Right?

Next time: The evils of baby formula and the official Black Fury position on abortion. It’s the return of the Kileys, ladies and gentlemen!

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 02:44 on Apr 26, 2013

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
Okay! That was a good folding together of Werewolf cosmology and real-world myth cycles. The Triat was probably built on those but, still, a very solid effort.

Were those bits about kykeon and ergot mentioned in the book? I ask because while it has been used as a childbirth aid, it's also been used as an abortifacient... which I imagine might have been a sticky wicket for the Furies and the rest of the Changing Breeds given their steady drift toward extinction. Moreso for the Furies, because they seem to be positioned as the line's nod to women's issues, and since reproductive rights have always been a central issue in the fight for female autonomy.

I'm imagining this, because I'm afraid reading the Kileys take on Roe vs Werewade might give me an aneurysm, and I may skip it just to be safe.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

Robindaybird posted:

can't do it myself, but I second the suggestion. Eberron was a setting that has bits and pieces I like but the whole set didn't appeal for reasons I can't explain.

I'd suggest this is probably, from what little I've played of Eberron, because it's really a relatively random collection of whatever seemed cool thrown together without that much actual concern for how it hangs together. I remember when I was playing in it, as a guest to a friend's RPG group, several of the ideas I was told about the setting sounded like they could be really cool if it focused on them, but it gets bored with, say, the horrible nightmare crabs from beyond reality (I hope those weren't just something my friend made up) and wants to tell you about the robot-men and oh right there was also this nuclear mage war up north (if I remember correctly) and-

You get the picture. It's a bunch of 'that seems cool' thrown together without much real rhyme or reason, so it doesn't hang together that well as a whole.

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Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:
To a certain extent yes, there was a bit of "Ooh this is cool let's throw this in" but then after that they went back through and created lore reasons *for* all those cool things existing. Nothing exists in a vacuum and there's a historical justification given for almost everything.
It really does flow together rather well organically because, the way Eberron is designed, there are a lot of isolated areas(culturally, geographically, or both) where things have developed in a certain way. *And* since this is the world with airships and the lightning rail, your party can visit them pretty easily should you want to.

Night10194 posted:

the horrible nightmare crabs from beyond reality (I hope those weren't just something my friend made up)


Your friend wasn't lying, they're in the realm of dreams and they really really want to get in your head and force you to dream about them too.

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