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Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


CommissarMega posted:

I don't know; it sounds like your typical antagonist nation. If you hadn't pointed it out, I wouldn't have seen any connection to the Protocols at all. If anything, I'd rag on them for being too stereotypically evil.

Zilargo are actually "good guys" - in a setting where everyone is a political dickbag who is trying to conquer the world, they're political dickbags who just want to be left alone.

There have been a few Eberron games, but sadly none of them have focused on what makes it really unique (the politics, national and corporate; the pulp/noir turn-of-the-century bits; and the planar setting). D&D Online is nominally set in Eberron, but it only uses the blandest bits.

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Mirthless
Mar 27, 2011


CommissarMega posted:

I don't know; it sounds like your typical antagonist nation. If you hadn't pointed it out, I wouldn't have seen any connection to the Protocols at all. If anything, I'd rag on them for being too stereotypically evil.

Also, we need a video game in this setting right the gently caress NOW.

Haha, there is!

Dungeons and Dragons Online is set in Eberron. They just took the generic city of Stormreach because it's Dungeon City USA (no really it is a city built on a series of megadungeons) and it was designed (seemingly deliberately) to be as generic and boring a setting as humanly possible. Every third house connects to a dungeon, and you are basically a door to door rat killer. You occasionally get to go on a wilderness adventure into a jungle. The times when you are not in Stormreach are the only times the game shows us how interesting the MMO could have been. Lots of airship pirates and geurilla battles with jungle hobgoblins.

I feel like if they weren't going to play up the pulpy/noir aspects of Eberron that make it so drat interesting, they should have just made it a Forgotten Realms mmo. People getting to pal around with Drizzt and Elminster might have brought players into the game before it went free to play.

Mirthless fucked around with this message at 13:03 on Apr 27, 2013

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Lemon Curdistan posted:

Zilargo

The one really uncomfortable part of the setting.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

Zilargo is a nation of secretive power-brokers who use their influence to ensure they nearly always get what they want, whose spies are rumoured to be everywhere and possibly even nefariously guiding events in other countries, and who control the media. They are physically weak, but their mastery of other people’s secrets have allowed them to thrive. Oh, also, Zilargo is a utopia because their secret police “disappears” and “reforms” any dissidents.

Apart from that last part, that is pretty eerily redolent of the kind of stuff you’d find in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Admittedly, the banks and financial institutions have been handed over to the dwarves, but I still find Zilargo a really uncomfortable part of Eberron. Don't get me wrong: Baker isn't in any way racist, but this is still creepy and weird.

That first paragraph is essentially the extent of their characterisation – they’re a nation of gnomes ruled by a Triumvirate, whose secret police are called “the Trust;” they thrive as information brokers and their primary instruments for influencing foreign policy are blackmail and intrigue; and they run the biggest newspaper in the Five Nations, the Korranberg Chronicle, which is edited and printed in the city of Korranberg, which contains what is possible Khorvaire’s biggest library. Whereas the Sharn Inquisitive is little more than a sensationalist gossip rag, the Chronicle is a respected news publication whose reporters write about current affairs, politics and economics.

Next time: the history of all hitherto existing society
Honestly I always thought they were more of a Soviet pastiche more than anything with the whole fascist police state thing going on. I find it amusing that apparently a third of all Zilargo gnomes are a part of the trust and apparently one of the 4E adventure hooks with them involves one of the Houses actually just being the ones in charge of everything.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Hold on, the orcs aren't just rampaging, always chaotic evil barbarians? That's actually rather cool.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



hectorgrey posted:

Hold on, the orcs aren't just rampaging, always chaotic evil barbarians? That's actually rather cool.

Yep. This extends from Eberron's "Let's flip your expectations around" approach.

Just wait until Religion is covered. I'm pretty sure they did away with Alignment restrictions for a lot of things, since the gods are so distant from the mortal plane.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



hectorgrey posted:

Hold on, the orcs aren't just rampaging, always chaotic evil barbarians? That's actually rather cool.

Hell, they're technically the Goodest Guys. They patrol the borders of the Demon Wastes, I think they founded one of the druid orders, and half-orcs are considered "favored sons" because they're the best of both their human and orcish parents.

It's amazing how interesting you can make a setting when you're not locked into alignment expectations.

e:

Green Intern posted:

Yep. This extends from Eberron's "Let's flip your expectations around" approach.

Just wait until Religion is covered. I'm pretty sure they did away with Alignment restrictions for a lot of things, since the gods are so distant from the mortal plane.

There are no alignment restrictions on anything. The only reason it has "alignments" in the first place is because it's D&D and it's required, but it's never actually used for anything.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



oMage: Dragons of the East

So, how are the Traditions doing in Asia? Well, the Celestial Chorus has actually been there, despite common belief otherwise. The Messianic Voices came with the Nestorian Christians and the later missionaries, and for a time they were even fairly successful in China, friendly with both the Akashics and Wu Lung. However, with the 18th and 19th centuries, there was tremendous backlash against them due to imperialism. Today, they have only two real strongholds: Bali, in Indonesia, which has nearly three million Hindus, as well as the shrines of the native Gunung Kawi religion, which hold a very old Chorister Chantry. The second is the Philippines, one of the only predominantly Christian nations in Asia, and where the more 'Eurocentric' Asian Choristers hang out. Outside that, most conservative Chi'n Ta don't much like them, thanks to the Taiping Rebellion and Boxer Uprising, and Chinese Choristers tend to be shunned. Even Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese Choristers don't get on well with others, though now that the Avatar Storm has locked away so many elder mages, that may be changing, since the younger ones don't really give a poo poo about the 19th century any more.

Sidebar: In Myanmar (or Burma) for the past 12 years, there's been near-constant civil war, as the military junta tries to enforce its rule over the ethnic minorities. One of those minorities is the Karen, many of whom became Baptists during the 19th century. Three years ago, the Karen National Union was nearly destroyed, but a pair of twin boys stepped forward to lead them. These two, Johnny and Luther Htoo, claimed to hear the voices of God, forming God's Army. They are something of a cross between prophets and folk heroes, attracting over 200 fighters to their banner and forming a Christian fundamentalist guerilla army. God's Army believes they have supernatural powers, including telepathy and invisibility. Recently, the Burmese and Thai joint forces were able to destroy their main camp, and the two twins went missing. Their whereabouts remain unknown. It is left as an exercise to the GM whether they are Awakened, members of the Celestial Chorus or just two guys.

Asia is home to two Ecstatic sects. First and largest are the K'an Lu of China, a Taoist group that combine martial arts, meditation, diet and tantric sex. By the standards of the Western Cult of Ecstasy, they're quite tame and reserved, but by the standards of the local Akashics and Wu Lung they are hedonists. The past decade hasn't been good to them; government crackdowns have sent them into hiding, and more than a few of their Masters were trapped in the Umbra by the Avatar Storm. Many of them now seek closer ties to the Akashics, while others look to the Hsien, the Beast Courts or even the Wan Kuei for allies. The other sect are the Tibetan Ka'a, and they've had it even worse. They are all female, a sect of tantric mystics who traditionally use astral projection to visit unsuspecting men as 'dream lovers', draining them of energy. The Avatar Storm has made astral journeys very dangerous, and at least one trio of Ka'a Masters were lobotomized by it. Worse, since the summer of 98, when nerve gas was accidentally released and killed three villages and a regiment of Chinese soldiers, Tibet has been stalked by darkness in dreamscapes. The reamining Ka'a are divided, with some fleeing to India to seek refuge with the tantric Vratyas sect, and others heading to the USA. Still, many refuse to abandon Tibet.

Sidebar: For a decade, the Ecstatics serving Marianna of Balador have been hunting an Infernalist cult of child abuse and rape. Proof of the cult remains elusive, but the horrible actions they're accused of are not. Marianna is believed dead, but her agents continue the fight. Other Mages call it the Children's Crusade, perhaps because they have no loving idea what the original Children's Crusade was and why this is not an appropriate use of the name. Anyway, most of them are Ecstatics, some are Choristers, Euthanatoi or others, and they work to help abused and exploited kids via many methods. They've found an unexpected ally in the Technocracy, which has many sympathetic agents who turn a blind eye to their activities. In Asia, the Crusade concentrates on Bangkok and Manila, but have few resources and fewer agents. They recruit heavily, and hope that the new age of Mages who do not need to fight the old wars will have more time to help them.

People often forget that Dreamspeakers exist outside Australian aborigines, African natives and Native Americans. The Ainu of Japan, the Mongols, the Koreans and the Hmong and Mien hill tribes of Laos as well as the Wektu Telu of Indonesia and tribal Filipinos all had shamans long before the Council of Nine even formed. However, just like the Lapp shamans in Scandinavia, these native shamans have been largely ignored by the "civilized" European Traditions. They have even been marginalized and persecuted. Only now do the Akashics and others begin to talk of peace and alliance with these Dreamspeakers.

Ever since the Himalayan Wars of 900-300 BC, the Euthanatoi have been unwelcome in Asia. Even after the Council of Nine formed, the Akashics have had those unwilling to forget the past. Rather than force the issue, the Euthanaoti have just avoided east Asia, focusing on India, Africa and other regions. Younger Euthanatoi are beginning to question this approach, asking how much longer things like the Cultural Revolution or Khmer Rouge can go unpunished by the Golden Chalice if not by mundane authority. Of course, some of the Madzimbahwe sect would have sharp answers to that, but a good number of idealistic young Euthanatoi have come to Asia now, seeking justice.

The Order of Hermes has never been welcome in Asia. They are seen as barbarian upstarts with delusions of grandeur, especially by the Wu Lung. The local paradigms are very hostile to them, too, as they were unwilling to lower themselves to register with the Ministry of Works, and so their magic was always vulgar. (More on that later.) Ironically, it was the Technocrats who cleared a path for them. During the 19th century, the Hermetics came as colonists, merchants and military officers, setting up Chantries in places like Hong Kong, Macao or French Indochina. Often, they were disguised as wealthy clubs. However, the 20th century has not been kind to their interests. Revolution and war destroyed many clubs; the Japanese one remains active, but is under Technocratic surveillence, and those in Hong Kong and Macau are debating their post-handover fates. A group is trying to rebuild the Chantry in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, while another is planning to retake the Bangkok Chantry from the Kuei-jin who seized it during World War II.

Sidebar: The Hong Kong Chantry has been trying for the past few decades to integrate traditional Chinese practices of the I Ching, feng shui, Taoist alchemy and tzu wei into Hermetic practices. In 1992, nine Asian Hermetics petitioned to be recognized under House Ex Miscellanea as House Hong Lei, the House of Crimson Thunder. Over the past 8 years, they've doubled their membership, but the the handovers of Hong Kong and Macau have forced several of them to relocate to London, San Francisco, New York and Sydney. Only time will tell if distance will destroy them.

When the Meiji Restoration began, the Electrodyne Engineers were the first Technocrats to enter Japan. Eager to teach their new allies the wonders of Enlightened Science, they began all sorts of research and experiments, including, it is rumored, a forty-foot-tall steam-powered robot made of wood and steel. Disagreements in methodology and philosophy drove the Engineers from the Technocracy, but not Japan. Much as the German Sons of Ether helped the Nazis, so too did the Japanese Sons of Ether perform all kinds of horrible experiments for the Emperor throughout the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. While many of these Awakened war criminals were purged either by the Technocrats or Traditions, more than a few are believed to have escaped to the Soviet Union, beyond the Wall or to strange places. Today, the best place to find Sons of Ether in Asia is the Academy of Advanced Technology and PRogressive Science in Osaka. It was founded in 1965 by Professor Bo Buro-su and has been the primary recruiting grounds and training center of Etherites in Japan. The Japanese Technocrats traditionally turn a blind eye to the rogue technomancers there, letting them do what they please and then coopting any successful developments.

When the Verbena came together as a Tradition in the 15th century, it was formed with a core group of Celtic, Norse, German and Slavic mages. The two founders, Nightshade of Harrowgate and William Groth of Baerwald, then set out, one going west and one going east to find more to join the Verbena. Groth went east, to Asia, and never returned. At least once a generation, Verbena strike out for Asia to try and rediscover his path and perhaps learn how he died. Most return empty-handed. Some do not return. Over time, this has become known as Groth's Pilgrimage, and those who complete are respected for their courage and dedication. The most recent batch of pilgrims has another goal: recruit Asian mages into the Verbena where Groth could not. While a few Korean and Chinese peasant wizards have joined, success has been very limited. However, the recent Akashic recruitment of the Wu Lung has buoyed their hopes and given them a new plan: recruit the Wu-Keng. Many believe this is what Groth tried to do. So far, the Wu-Keng women have proven elusive, but they're still searching. When asked about the rumors of Wu-Keng Infernalism, the Verbena dismiss the stories as nothing more than slander such as that the European witches and pagans had to endure.

The Virtual Adepts are the youngest Tradition and have very little history in Asia. The early Difference Engineers saw Asia as too primitive for their Enlightened Science. Even after the Meiji Restoration, most Engineers found the militaristic society too constraining. However, in the past few decades, the Adepts have started to take an interest in Asia. Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore get the most attention, as Adepts try to involve themselves in the future of communications technology. Gradually, the Asian Adepts have come into contact with local technomancer cells focusing on bleeding-edge tech and even homemade cybernetics. The Virtual Adepts hope to recruit these independents, the Five Rings Gama, the Thunder Cranes Society, the Gon Lo and others, but for now those groups are wary of giving up their independence.

Next time: Secret societies!

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Evil Mastermind posted:

Hell, they're technically the Goodest Guys.

Yeah, in case I wasn't 100% clear the orcs are practically the only reason why the world wasn't conquered by horrible alien creatures from beyond reality (practically, because without the goblins fighting they'd never have been able to do the world-saving).

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


My favorite part of Eberron (It's all my favorite part) is how Druids are complete badasses.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


404GoonNotFound posted:

The best part* of Eberron
*Every part of Eberron is the best part.

unseenlibrarian posted:

The best part of this whole bit

Mr. Maltose posted:

My favorite part of Eberron (It's all my favorite part)

You're in luck, I got the go ahead from Lemon to review the books in more detail once he's done with the overview.
As for which books

and a copy of Explorers Handbook I can borrow from a friend

Which means I should probably finish Hengeyokai, another chapter will be up tonight.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Is Necromancy still considered automatically evil in Eberron, since it's negative energy and blah blah blah? That and the whole 'poison is evil because poison!' thing always struck me as pretty stupid in D&D in general, so it'd be nice to have the ability to be a good assassin for whom killing is killing, front or back doesn't make much difference, or a Necromancer who uses the dead as cheap labor to build a series of affordable, reasonable low income housing and improve his community.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

Is Necromancy still considered automatically evil in Eberron, since it's negative energy and blah blah blah? That and the whole 'poison is evil because poison!' thing always struck me as pretty stupid in D&D in general, so it'd be nice to have the ability to be a good assassin for whom killing is killing, front or back doesn't make much difference, or a Necromancer who uses the dead as cheap labor to build a series of affordable, reasonable low income housing and improve his community.

I don't believe so; I certainly remember hearing about some kind of undead but non-evil religion. Blood of Vol, I think?

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Sort of. There's positive energy necromancy which creates good undead(it's mostly an elf-only thing though), and while raising dead is still sort of an evil act (and most of the intelligent undead are evil) you can do that poo poo all day long while neutral, and you can be evil and still be civic minded.

There is a religion that worships the deathless but it's elf only.

Blood of Vol is something different. It really is an undeath worshipping cult to the upper echelon, but to the lower ranked people and the peasants who worship it it's just a religion about believing that divinity is within ones self, there is no afterlife because the soul is the blood. The religion itself is Lawful Evil, the lay people can be good though.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Night10194 posted:

Is Necromancy still considered automatically evil in Eberron, since it's negative energy and blah blah blah?

If you're asking if Necromancy still has the Evil spell tag, then yes. If you're asking whether anyone gives a flying gently caress and if paladins go around automatically killing necromancers because "they're evil, right?" the answer is no, because this is Eberron and alignment is one of the things it subverts.

The Blood of Vol will be covered in more depth when I post about religion, but basically it is entirely a religion about transcending mortality through zen. Some sects believe that the most perfect expression of that transcendence is undeath, and also secretly some of its members work to further the goals of a liche. It's complicated.

Like everything in Eberron though, it isn't one-dimensional and there are actually a variety of non-orthodox versions of each religion.

Lemon-Lime fucked around with this message at 22:27 on Apr 27, 2013

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


So Eberron basically allows me to play as fantasy versions of the ABC Warriors? Okay, I'm interested. :allears:

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




This so far fairly brief overview of Eberron has done an amazing job of selling me on the setting.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Lemon Curdistan posted:

If you're asking if Necromancy still has the Evil spell tag, then yes. If you're asking whether anyone gives a flying gently caress and if paladins go around automatically killing necromancers because "they're evil, right?" the answer is no, because this is Eberron and alignment is one of the things it subverts.

The Blood of Vol will be covered in more depth when I post about religion, but basically it is entirely a religion about transcending mortality through zen. Some sects believe that the most perfect expression of that transcendence is undeath, and also secretly some of its members work to further the goals of a liche. It's complicated.

Like everything in Eberron though, it isn't one-dimensional and there are actually a variety of non-orthodox versions of each religion.
IIRC, the exalted guardians of one of the elf cultures voluntarily become liches so they can serve and protect their elvish communities for eternity, which is both an example of good-guy necromancy, and a REALLY good reason not to gently caress with the elves.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Kurieg posted:

Blood of Vol is something different. It really is an undeath worshipping cult to the upper echelon, but to the lower ranked people and the peasants who worship it it's just a religion about believing that divinity is within ones self, there is no afterlife because the soul is the blood. The religion itself is Lawful Evil, the lay people can be good though.

I've always felt that the Blood of Vol had a strong objectivist, "will to power", bent to it. That in turn just gets people ready for the next step, undeath. It's all just a pyramid scheme from an undead dragon/elf who once held the mark of death.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth


Yea in Eberron necromancy is less 'KILL THE ABOMINATION' and more 'dude get your gross skeleton hand out of my grill, it's nasty'. They're not exactly loved and respected by most, but until they actually do evil poo poo with necromancy they're not treated any different than other creepy mages.

Eberron is the best, I'll always be bummed in 4th ed it only got a couple books due to their silly 'THREE BOOKS PER SETTING NO MORE NO LESS" thing.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009




Eberron, part 3: the Dragonmarked Houses

About three thousand years ago, humans settled the continent of Khorvaire, having left from Sarlona, the cradle of human civilisation in Eberron. No one’s really sure why, but it was a few generations after that that the first dragonmarks appeared.

There are theories – some believe that dragonmarks are at least partly linked to exposure to dragonshards (essentially crystallised magical energy which are required for crafting certain things) – and that the marks only appeared on Khorvaire because Sarlona is exceptionally poor in dragonshards. It’s certainly true that exposure to a dragonshard will bolster the powers of a dragonmark, but beyond that, you don’t need to be exposed to shards to manifest a mark – they’re essentially genetic traits and will appear in a small number of individuals in any given generation of a marked family.

Either way, the dragonmarks give their bearers the ability to cast certain spells as innate abilities. Each dragonmark can only cast a handful of spells, and they’re all related to a specific commerce or economic activity. It’s thanks to these that the various dragonmarked families were able to establish themselves as merchant families first, then flourish until they became the Dragonmarked Houses of today.

There are 12 marks, and each mark is associated with one specific House (with one exception: there are two Houses with the Mark of Shadow due to a schism a few decades back) and one specific species – the marks do not manifest outside of their chosen race. Within Khorvaire, the Houses enjoy legally-enforced monopolies (as rewards for their part in uniting the Five Nations into the kingdom of Galifar) – it is in effect not possible to operate a business in any of the Five Nations or any of the “civilised” other countries without paying tribute to a House. The Houses control essentially all economic activity, and it is in their vested interest to make sure that no one is allowed to operate outside of their rules.

Those who try anyway tend to find that their goods are stolen, their services slandered, their equipment broken and their shops “accidentally” burnt to the ground while suppliers refuse to sell them product and credit lines dry up – those who still don’t get the message sometimes suffer injuries or worse, although nothing can ever be pinned on anyone, of course.

As a “carrot” to go with that stick, the Houses’ seal of approval guarantees a certain quality of service to any prospective patrons, who can then purchase from a business without worrying about what they’re getting for their money. The Houses also maintain trade schools that provide training in their specific trades – a guarantee of employment in most businesses. Additionally, belonging to a House means that the House will look out for your business interests and make sure there are as few things as possible to get inbetween you and your business’ money. In that same vein, belonging to a House means getting access to all the other members’ services.

In exchange for this monopoly, the Houses have a few restrictions applied to them: first, they’re neutral – even though they might own territory in so-or-so city or have senior members who grew up in so-or-so country, the Houses are obligated to not take sides and to provide their services equally to anyone who can pay (as long as they haven’t been blacklisted on an individual level). Secondly, members of each dragonmarked family (not all families that belong to a House are dragonmarked, of course) have to adopt a specific surname and cannot marry with other dragonmarked houses – doing so risks producing a non-standard, “aberrant” mark, which would be bad for business.

That’s pretty much it, though. Thanks to some canny political manoeuvring over the last few centuries, the Houses are beholden to no one; their possessions and territories are considered sovereign and they have the right to maintain armies to protect them.

Pretty much all of the Houses are structured as follows: first, you have the patriarch/matriarch who is in overall command of the House. Below them, there is a council made up of one representative from each nation where the House operates – the lord seneschals. Each lord seneschal manages several viceroys, each of whom is responsible for a specific region and commands the allegiance of local guildmasters.

House Cannith

Race: Human
Mark of Making (allows for magically repairing or creating items)

Based out of Cyre until the Day of Mourning, House Cannith is the artificers’ and engineers’ House. They make and maintain most of the magical artefacts that modern-day civilisation requires to operate (from street lighting to weaponised wands), and they’ve essentially invented mass-production of goods. With Cyre destroyed, the House is now split in three parts, each ruled by a different person, each of them vying to gain control of the entire House.

House Cannith is best known for its Creation Forges – immensely powerful complexes that allowed Cannith artificers to bend tremendous power to the creation of magical items. It is thanks to the Creation Forges that House Cannith was able to create the warforged during the Last War – sapient construct soldiers who were made in vast numbers and many shapes when manpower became an issue towards the end of the War.

Essentially, think of the Creation Forges as the magical equivalent of a sci-fi replicator – capable of making essentially anything from raw materials and ambient magical energy. Per the Treaty of Thronehold, the Forges have officially been shut down and dismantled, but that doesn’t prevent the various Cannith factions from doing their best to lobby for the re-activation of the Forges – it’s even rumoured that they still operate one or two of them in secret.

House Deneith

Race: Human
Mark of Sentinel (provides protection to others)

House Deneith provide two kinds of services: bodyguards and mercenaries – and that’s it. Not that that is an obstacle to anything, of course – House Deneith has the largest military force of any of the Houses, and I’m not just talking about the troops it rents out as part of its business.

On its own, House Deneith is probably enough to challenge any one of the Five Nations militarily. Unfortunately, with business waning now that the war is over and with the Five Nations being much weakened by the conflict, there are those within its ranks who believe House Deneith should do just that – flex its muscles and carve out its own kingdom.

House Deneith also operates the Sentinels – the only transnational police force recognised by the Treaty of Thronehold, authorised to serve warrants across the borders of all signatory nations (so yes, you can be fantasy bounty hunters/FBI agents).

House Ghallanda

Race: Halfling
Mark of Hospitality (create food, water and shelter)

House Ghallanda is one of the two halfling Houses, both based out of the Talenta plains. Their business is hospitality – inns, taverns, restaurants (and other less savoury entertainment businesses, if you catch my drift); wherever there’s money to be made out of catering to patrons, House Ghallanda is there to offer its services.

The main interesting thing House Ghallanda has going for it is that it represents a bridge between two worlds for the halflings: on the one hand, its traditions are very firmly rooted in the nomadic culture of the Talenta halflings; on the other, it is the main face of urban, “civilised” halflings as most of Khorvaire knows them.

House Jorasco

Race: Halfling
Mark of Healing (healing wounds and diseases)

House Jorasco is the other halfling House. Unlike House Ghallanda, the Jorasco halfling have abandoned their traditional, nomadic ways entirely – to the point where the House is headquartered in Karrnath. This is the source of some tension between the two Houses.

House Jorasco operates practically every hospital, clinic, sanatorium and dispensary in civilised Khorvaire, in one way or another – thanks to the Last War, their business has done very well. They will provide their services to anyone who can pay for them – and if you can’t pay, well, tough.

House Kundarak

Race: Dwarf
Mark of Warding (alarms and traps)

Based out of the Mror Holds, House Kundarak operates every bank, vault and financial institution in Khorvaire. It is its financial might that provides backing for Khorvaire’s shared currency – combined, these factors mean that there is perhaps no House that has more influence than House Kundarak. In addition to this, the House also operates Khorvaire’s prisons.

House Lyrandar

Race: Half-Elf
Mark of Storm (weather manipulation)

Based out of Aundair though originating in Thrane, House Lyrandar provides weather-manipulation (usually in the form of summoning rain to counter droughts or negating the effects of rain- or snow-storms) and transportation services. As an equally-important but less-renowned aspect of the former, they are also Khorvaire’s foremost experts on irrigation, dam/reservoir construction and flood prevention, and are responsible for implementing and maintaining these systems throughout the civilised nations.

Much more interesting for the PCs and much more visible in the public eye is Lyrandar’s exclusive control over bound-elemental-powered airships and galleons. Unlike the Lightning Rail (which is operated by House Orien and maintained by House Cannith), Lyrandar’s elemental-powered ships can go anywhere – for a fee.

Airships are made of lighter-than-air wood and powered by an enslaved elemental that provides propulsion – travel is fast, convenient and bypasses almost every possible danger, especially as airship captains are almost always marked members of the House who are therefore able to make sure weather patterns can’t damage their ships. Elemental galleons don’t fly, but use bound elementals to transport cargo or passengers over water at much greater speeds than a conventional ship would reach. Combined, these mean Lyrandar vessels are responsible for transporting the majority of cargo in Khorvaire.

House Medani

Race: Half-Elf
Mark of Detection (sense-enhancement)

Based out of the Brelish capital of Wroat, the half-elves of House Medani are Khorvaire’s premiere counter-espionage and anti-assassination experts. Whereas House Deneith bodyguards specialise in physical protection, House Medani’s skills lie in detecting attacks before they have a chance to actually happen and preventing them. Although secretive and not well-known outside of official circles, House Medani’s services are always in high demand – especially in these troubled times.

House Orien

Race: Human
Mark of Passage (translocation and mobility enhancement)

If House Lyrandar controls the seas and the skies, House Orien controls transportation over land – whether goods or people. They own and operate Khorvaire’s postal services as well as all major roads and caravan routes. House Orien also operates the Lightning Rail (pretty much a magical maglev train), which stops at every major town or city in the Five Nations and is therefore used to move cargo as well as transporting passengers in extreme comfort and style – think of the Orient Express and you’re not far off (of course, a highly-secure luxury train transporting a bunch of rich people is just begging to be robbed at wandpoint…). Finally, House Orien are the only providers of teleportation services in Eberron.

Just a reminder: operating a postal service in a world with bandits and roving bands of monsters isn’t quite the same thing as signing up to work part time for the Royal Mail. As a lucrative little side-business, House Orien has élite troops who specialise in secure, high-risk deliveries. I like to pretend they’re called the “Special Delivery Service.”

House Phiarlan and House Thuranni

Race: Elf
Mark of Shadow (concealment, divination and illusions)

Publicly, the elves of Houses Phiarlan and Thuranni are known as the finest providers of entertainment and art in the land, and they have control over all forms of public and private entertainment in Khorvaire. In actual fact, this business is little more than a façade of legitimacy: the real money lies in their very extensive networks of spies-for-hire.

House Phiarlan is the original House – during the Last War, the tensions of working for every side eventually lead a small faction to split off and create its own House. While Phiarlan is neutral and content to work for the highest bidder, Thuranni refuses to do so and aggressively pursues its own agenda. Additionally, House Thuranni is willing to take on assassination contracts as well as simple spying – something which House Phiarlan refuses to dabble in.

House Sivis

Race: Gnome
Mark of Scribing (communication over distance)

Thanks to the powers of the Mark of Scribing, House Sivis is responsible for providing instant, magical communication across all of Khorvaire. In addition to this, House Sivis runs all notaries, advocates, accountants, translators, bookkeepers and other such bureaucratic businesses. While publicly, House Sivis appears to have no desire other than to promote its services, its gnomish members are constantly jockeying for positions of power within the House, and rumour has it that the Trust sometimes uses it as a recruiting ground.

House Tharashk

Race: Human and Half-Orc
Mark of Finding (locate items and persons)

The youngest of the Houses (only five hundred years old, versus several thousand for all the others), House Tharashk originated in the Shadow Marches and is quite likely the only occurrence of a dragonmark “jumping” from race to race – for example, while Lyrandar’s Mark of Storm only occurs in elves, the Mark of Finding occurs in both humans and half-orcs (but not orcs, suggesting it was a human mark originally and was passed on to half-orc offspring).

The Mark of Finding lets House Tharashk scions be very good at finding things. This has lead the House into two separate but related businesses: first, the House controls most of Khorvaire’s bounty hunters. Secondly – and more importantly for the House – the Mark of Finding’s powers has allowed them to develop a complete monopoly over dragonshard prospecting, mining and trading, putting their wealth on par with the other Houses despite their relatively very young age, since dragonshards are an integral component in the manufacturing of magic items.

Additionally, as the “least civilised” of the Houses which counts as members half-orcs and orcs as well as humans, House Tharashk also acts as the intermediary between Khorvaire’s “civilised” nations and the “monstrous” nations of Droaam and Darguun when necessary.

House Vadalis

Race: Human
Mark of Handling (control animals)

Thanks to the Mark of Handling, House Vadalis has been able to set itself up as the primary provider of mounts, livestock and other domesticated animals. In addition to this, Vadalis businesses also provide care, training and stables for animals in urban environments.

More importantly, the Mark of Handling has allowed House Vadalis to breed magically-engineered (“magebred”) animals, both for war and labour. Magebred animals are tougher, stronger, faster and much more intelligent than their mundane counterparts, and for those who can afford them, provide a sizeable competitive edge over businesses who cannot pay for House Vadalis services.

The Mark of Death

It is a virtually unknown fact that there was a originally a thirteenth dragonmark: the Mark of Death, whose powers were rumoured to extend over death and undeath. An elven dynasty from the continent of Aerenal, the entire family was eradicated by a union of elves and dragons, who considered its powers an affront to all life.

What the Mark of Death can and cannot do is another of Eberron’s deliberate mysteries, much like the cause of the Mourning or the true nature of the Silver Flame.

Next time: everywhere everywhere else, for real this time

Lemon-Lime fucked around with this message at 13:16 on Apr 28, 2013

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: 2ND EDITION - The Complete Psionics Handbook
Chapter 4 - PSYCHOKINETIC SCIENCES OR 5% OF THE TIME YOU WILL DISINTEGRATE YOURSELF

The Psychokinetic Sciences attempt to gate off the more powerful abilities by giving them prerequisites that require you to take chains of powers. In practice this means that a psionicis has to wait until level 3 to learn the really cool tricks, like disintegrating stuff with no save. I guess this is one of the few redeeming things for psionicists - they can access their cool powers way before mages and clerics.

Create Object - You draw matter from the surrounding area and create a solid object which exists for as long as you maintain the power, after which it breaks into its component parts. Anything you create has to fulfill one of four qualifying conditions (describing the general size limitations of the power) but since you only have to meet one of the conditions instead of all four, someone who is creative could come up with some seriously outside the box uses for this power. The catch is that the power can only draw materials from whatever physical area is near the psionicist out to a 20 yard radius. You can also combine this power with molecular rearrangement to make diamonds from coal dust or a sword from rocks containing iron ore. The prereqs for this power require that you be at least level three, although the preceding example of making coal into diamonds is held back until your psionicist is level five. Not a lot of mechanical limitations in this power, so get ready to play "mother may I?" with the DM when you try to create something particularly clever.
POWER SCORE / 20 / 1: The object is permanent and requires no power points to maintain / The power backfires and a random personal belonging of the psionicist's disintegrates (no definition of belonging is given so prepare for an rear end in a top hat DM to tell your psionicist that his heart just disintegrated) / The item contains a flaw (although the specifics of what this means are also left to you interpretation).

Detonate - This power is disintegrate but it only works on inanimate objects and corporeal undead without free will (animals are specifically excluded and the book makes sure to remind you that humanoids are animals). The power requires that you multiply your power check by 10, and if the roll is 100 or greater (in this case abstracting 100%) then the entire object (or up to 8 cubic feet of material in the case of something huge like a castle wall) is destroyed. If the result is less than 100 then the power abstracts to a rough percentage of destruction (ie 26% or 68% or whatever) and states that several significant chunks of the object remain. Also, anything within 10 feet of the target take d10 damage with a save vs breath weapon for half damage. The actual target doesn't get any kind of save, some portion (between 10 and 100%) of the object is just flat destroyed. The book doesn't explain what might happen if you fail to detonate at least 51% of a hostile object, but I guess you can argue with your DM for 40 minutes about whether or not the skeleton can still crawl over to you and bite on your butt. This power costs less to manifest than disintegrate and is arguably more useful, in that the target doesn't get any kind of resistance to your attempt. You can't nuke a person with this, but you could easily nuke the roof down onto their head or just nuke them 8 feet into the ground. You can learn this power at level three, which is pretty boss.
POWER SCORE / 20: All results of this manifestation are doubled (area disintegrated and damage and etc.) / The air around the psionicist detonates instead and everyone within 10 feet takes d10 damage (no save).

Disintegrate - Works exactly like the 6th level Wizard spell of the same name. It also costs more than twice the number of PSPs to manifest this than detonate and for some reason this power allows objects to save vs disintegration with a successful save meaning the power didn't work; this makes the power straight up inferior to detonate because there's a chance that the power will just fail even on objects. The advantage to this power is that you can target living things, but they also get a save vs death magic to completely avoid the effects. Considering that detonate can blow the ground out from under a dude or collapse a building on his head, I'm having a hard time seeing why you'd choose this power instead. You can't select this power until level three either, and it costs more than detonate, but I guess if you had to fight something in a seamless void and needed to remove it from existence, this power has you covered (assuming the target fails its save).
POWER SCORE / 20: The power affects 16 cubic feet of matter and saves are made with a -5 penalty / BACKFIRE! Disintegrate yourself unless you make a save vs death magic with a +5 bonus. This happens 5% of the time, which makes this power infinitely worse that the Wizard spell.

Molecular Rearrangement - Convert lead to gold, or whatever else you feel like converting. Very specific math given to make sure that players can't turn a profit by using this power indiscriminately. You can also use this power as part of the process to make psionic weapons but the manifesting psionicist also has to make a successful weapon smithing proficiency check when the weapon is fashioned and failure means the weapon is permanently mundane. This power has no effect on living tissue, so you can't turn someone's heart to stone or whatever.
POWER SCORE / 20: The new material is extraordinary (no mechanical benefit is given for this outcome) / The item is seriously flawed (likewise).

Project Force - Throw a psychic punch at someone up to 200 yards away for d6 damage, plus bonus damage equal to their AC (but a negative AC reduces the damage because they're wearing armor). The target also gets a save vs breath weapon to reduce the damage by half. You are also allowed to use this power to push open doors or knock over rocks or whatever but it doesn't allow for the fine manipulation of objects or anything. This power is basically the lovely psionicist version of the first level wizard spell magic missile only it doesn't scale damage with level and the target gets a save and you can't take this power until level three. Yeah this is pretty poo poo.
POWER SCORE / 20: The attack also knocks the target prone if it is the size of a humanoid or smaller (no save) / WHOOPS you psychically dick punch yourself, take the damage like a man.

Telekinesis - Psychically lift and manipulate objects. This power actually lets you swing an axe with your mind or open a door or fling a dude off a cliff. It's the entry level power for Psychokinesis so it's arguably better than everything but detonate. Moving heavier things is harder and trying to attack with a psionically levitated weapon takes a huge penalty to your THAC0 but I guess it sounds cool and hopefully that's enough to offset the fact that doing anything remotely interesting with this power creates such a significant penalty to your actions that you're not likely to actually succeed at doing anything.
POWER SCORE / 20: The character can lift a second item of equal or lesser weight simultaneously but only for the first round / You fumble the item and drop it in a very embarrassing manner.

NEXT TIME: CHAPTER 4 - Psychokinetic Devotions OR MOST OF THESE POWERS AREN'T EVER GOING TO BE WORTH MANIFESTING

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



oMage: Dragons of the East

Okay, you know the ninja stereotype? Black pajamas, honorless dogs with magical powers? Never existed. That was not a thing. Until recently, anyway - the Go Kamisori Gama are trying to change it. On July 4, 1864, the imperial army of Japan fought against the shogitai, the samurai loyal to the shogun, on Ueno Hill in what is now Tokyo. The battle took a full day, but the shogitai's loss was a foregone conclusion - the imperial army had guns. Most of the shogitai fought to the death, and those who didn't committed sepuku after. Only three chose another way. These three men, from the families of Uchida, Satoh and Ishida, put side their code of honor as irrelevant when guns were used instead of swords and foreigners had access to the Emperor. Refusing to commit suicide, they became ronin...and ninja. Their families lost much honor with their refusal, but retained their ancestral lands. With that support, the three men came together as a clan, the Go Kamisori Gama, and began to train in the art of budo taijutsu, the fighting style of bandits.

They had only moderate success, as it takes a lot to reject a lifetime's training. Their skills were enough to survive, though, and their children started training with a clean slate. Their descendants have mixed fighting, stealth and new technology, taking the lesson of Ueno Hill to heart. At first, that meant guns. Now, it includes cutting-edge cybernetics, computers, plastic explosives and sniper rifles. But even these tools are not the sole weapons of the Go Kamisori Gama. Budo taijutsu also encourages mental focus and internal harmony, focusing mental energies via hand signs, called kuji-in, taken from early Buddhist meditation postures. The families learned the kuji-in, of course, but it was not until one of the Satoh granddaughters unlocked their true power via religious fasting and prayer that the clan realized their magical potential. They adapted their training to focus on balance and harmony of mind, body and universe, but some warriors had a knack for the kuji-in, while others did not.

The Go Kamisori Gama have taken the title 'ninja' - it's the simplest way to describe what they do to those with the money to hire them. They are assassins, corporate spies, security consultants, hackers, thieves or bodyguards. They can even do gardening and housecleaning, should you be willing to pay their exorbitant fees. Their clients have ranged from government ministers and military figures to movie stars. They have subcontracted for the Yakuza, and remain on good terms with them. All of the Go Kamisori Gama are no longer lineal descendants of the original three - blood and marriage are no longer needed to be in the clan. There's enough work for twice their number, so they accept talented outsiders. It's rare for a family member to leave, though. They no longer force all members into the same training, and have broad enough interests that practically any talent can be used.

The status of ninja in pop culture gives a great cover for recruiting. Most metropolitan areas have at least one ninjitsu or taijitsu club or dojo. Go Kamisori Gama ninjas attend these as observers, heading even to NEw York or Belgium if needed. They buy customer lists from those magazines that sell inja-to swords and black pajamas, then cross-reference them to medical records, library loans and criminal records. Hell if I know how they get your library records. Those who stand out are stalked by trainees to evaluate them and test the trainee. The clan prefers young recruits, but not exclusively. Experts in unique fields like cybernetics are bought, blackmailed or both. These consultants never learn the true nature of the clan, however, until they are so deep in they can't get out. Many of them commit suicide.

The Go Kamisori Gama hires out its members on short and long-term contracts, referring to them as 'consultants.' Older or heavily wounded members take on the jobs of vice presidents and executive vice presidents, assisting in administration. The current "President" of the clan is Ishida Jiro, a man in his late forties. He still does field ops and is quite good. He is the uncontested leader of the clan, and he lets the vice presidents handle repeat clients and their entertainment. All new prospects, however, he meets personally to ensure their needs are met. He is unworried about maintaining the clan's position; rather, he worries more about their secrecy.

Budo taijitsu teaches grappling and nerve strikes in addition to standard blows. The ninjas also learn staves and swords. The shuriken has largely been traded out for the hand grenade, which is rather more reliable at ending pursuit. Most other traditional ninja weapons have been discarded as too unusual and attention-drawing. The Go Kamisori Gama have access to cybernetics as a result of the Zaibatsu via blackmail and bribes...thought doubtless the Five Metal Dragons know more than the ninjas would like. Typical mods for a ninja are implanted weapons, enhanced vision or boosted strength or speed. The cyberware isn't easy to use properly, and is never given to novices. As for the kuji-in, well, they can do magic. They're the only foci the ninja use, as they hate the idea of being caught without tools. As of now, the ninjas know of 81 symbols, the most potent of which strengthen the mind and body, mask the presence, provide balance, heal, endure extreme environments, read minds, channel power through the voice or hands, or provide momentary enlightenment.

Sidebar: Did actual real ninjas exist? Because of the heroic samurai figure, most Japanese historical accounts are considered biased. The legends of the ninja probably come from lower-class survivors who lost their livelihoods during the Civil War period. They were not assassins but revolutionaries. Entire families were killed and landholders driven out, forced to flee into the woods. Driven by revenge or desperation, they turned to farm tools for weapons and resorted to banditry for money. Some might have been desperate enough to go after local nobles. Due to their lower status, they'd be ignored in most places, as anyone of their status would be. Thus, they could come and go unnoticed, perhaps even killing their target and stealing some money. Nobody paid attention to the peasants and butchers - the assassin, then, must have been someone who could walk through walls! Desperate men fight dirty, using rusty caltrops (whose tetanus-causing powers led to legends of poison), traps to catch food which might occasionally catch an unwary person and add to the legend, using guerilla tactics and so on. Mix in a few Chinese myths about forest demons and the stories of the wandering yamabushi and bam, instant mystical assassin. If there are real ninja, not just the image-focused Go Kamisori Gama, they are today focused on surviving, as always. There were no ninja clans passing down family techniques, probably. Odds are, there is no truth to any of it. But hey, it's fun, right?

Meanwhile, in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge ruled a desperate nation. From 75 to 79, the secretive Angkar ('The Organization') pulled the strings of power, commanding their puppets and destroying many Cambodian lives. The infamous Tuol Sleng prison, referred to as S-21, housed and executed suspected traitors. Of more than 14000 sent there, only seven survived. When Vietnam claimed the capital, Phnom Penh, between 11 and 20 percent of Cambodia had been killed. It's no real surprise to learn that among the Angkar lurked the Toc Faan, the secret Infernalist cannibals of Cambodia. But really, the Toc Faan are not so odd or simple as they first sound. Their founders may have been demon-worshipping maneaters, but today, they have a rather complex situation.

Those who would become Toc Faan were the Devaraja cults of the ninth century, devoted to the divinity of the Khmer kings. The men guarded the lingam that contained the divine nature of the king, performed human sacrifice and laid the dead kings to rest. The women guarded the kings themselves, training for years with weapons to serve as their personal guard. For 400 years, the Devaraja cults used blood magic with full endorsement of the Khmer Empire. Hinayana Buddhism from Tibet stole away the hearts of the people, and eventually the king as well...perhaps unsurprising, as the Buddhists focused on the people while the old ways benefited only the priests and king. As the Khmer declined, the Devaraja cultists withdrew.

Centuries later, their descendants made a terrible choice: they devoted themselves to the Yama King Malaveyovo, He of the Insatiable Maw, in exchange for power. Their rituals were reduced to grotesque mockeries. These new Toc Faan devoured their victims. They only needed the liver to please the Yama King, but the truly faithful devoured entire corpses. Autocannibalism was highly regarded, if limited. The Toc Faan used their regained power in solitude for a time, only in the company of their victims, until they became involved in the Angkar in the 1970s. The few (but memorable) exceptions came when Euthanatoi or Akashics rooted out isolated cult cells. Their lurid skirmishes led to the current reputation of the Toc Faan as demon-loving cannibals among mages. Behind that, however, the Toc Faan have long known something was very wrong...or perhaps right. The founders, certainly, were evil people. Certainly, while they didn't keep notes, it can be surmised that their original deal with the Yama King entailed the ritual murder and devouring of innocents, and possibly any Devaraja who did not approve. The ritual propitiation of Malaveyovo involved annual slaughter and consumption of human flesh, and more need for power meant more dead. Yet some of the Toc Faan, in the midst of this depravity, began to gain a conscience. As things went from bad to worse, since Yama Kings really don't take 'no' for an answer, they found they suffered a curse: every human eaten by a Toc Faan left a tiny piece of good karma in their souls. The karmic accumulation was continuing to uplift their souls, until their rituals seemed repugnant and murder was an ordeal.



This was not, of course, intended by the Yama King...probably. Certainly not intended by the Toc Faan. Perhaps Malaveyovo tricked them for the perverse joy of cannibalism under duress, or perhaps an outside force intervened in the hope of improving the Toc Faan. Some worried they were a scheme on the part of Yomi to damage the karmic cycle by collecting goodness and then carrying it to hell when they died. To this day, the Toc Faan do not understand the cause of their curse, despite their great knowledge of Infernalism, demonic pacts and the Yama Kings. There is much disagreement over what is to be done when the true nature is found. Some want to free themselves of both curse and pact, ending the need for atrocity. Some fear removal of the curse and pact, which might return them to their previous morality...which, given the people they tend to be when they join, would mean a return to evil. Some refuse to consider options until they know the cause of the curse, devoting themselves far more to that than to eating human livers. In the meantime, they continue eating human meat - dead wizards or those dragged to Yomi cannot free themselves at all.

The Toc Faan and their involvement with the Angkar and Khmer Rouge in exile is a point of puzzlement for those few in thek now about the cult. Perhaps they made the alliance so they could consume the Angkar's victims rather than causing even more death. PErhaps they sought to make Pol Pot a new god-king and focus for their power, thus cheating Maleveyovo. Maybe the Yama King forced the alliance. Whatever the case, the Toc Faan certainly did aid the Khmer Rouge in return for access to the victims. Any benefit gained was short-lived; Pol Pot's paranoia and purges caught several of them. Decimated by their own allies, the Toc Faan fled to the mountains and forests of the northwest, where the remaining Khmer Rouge hides today.

The Toc Faan continue to appoint a High Priest from their ranks, who has the unwelcome duty of treating with the Yama King's minions, the Kura Sau or the akuma Kuei-jin...or even the Yama King himself. Due to intense scrutiny from their nominal ruler, the High Priest selected is usually powerful but very uninformed - a promising initiate whisked to the top of the ladder without ever seeing the tense spiritual situation of his fellow cultists. The true knowledge and power of the group is in those who select the High Priest, the elders. Only the eldest are trusted to have gained both the necessary distaste for Infernalism and mental fortitude needed to keep the cult's secrets safe. Ironically, many have gone beyond the human lifespan thanks to the Yama King's gifts. When one dies, the next eldest cultist joins the council. Khmer Rouge purges claimed several of these lives. While the Council has refilled, they are unsure, even decades later, how trustworthy the new members are. They recruit from the dregs of society, for entirely pragmatic reasons: only the deranged and sadistic have the stomach for cannibal rites, and they sorely need the reform the Toc Faan curse grants. However, that's not all an acolyte needs - they must also be smart and careful, or they will be killed and eaten. Those who are too strong-wileld and cunning, though, are very dangerous until the curse takes hold. Even today, the Toc Faan prefer to recruit only among the Khmer; sadly, there's no shortage, as the constant strife of Cambodia can make life very hard and killing very easy. Many of the current cult were once child guards at Tuol Sleng and other horrible atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

Most of the power of the Toc Faan comes from Maleveyovo, typically Forces powers such as calling forth fire or ice, or Spirit effects which twist or corrupt the soul. Male Toc Faan typically use Life and Entropy due to their traditional powers of life and death, while female Toc Faan use Life and Mind to hone their bodies and skills. Artifacts of the Khmer empire are common foci, whether portable or not. Small vials of bodily fluids are used as foci by the male priests, and the female warriors use lances and shields. The greatest focus they have, the god-king, is unavailable, for no new god-king may be anointed while they are under the Yama King's thumb, and perhaps none remember how the ritual is done anyway.

Next time: Others.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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



This chapter is peak :smug:, you have been warned.


What's Were-Tiger for "You Meddling Kid?"
Chapter 7: The Courtly Dance
It opens up with Uncle Hu and Mei waiting outside a cave, Uncle Hu goes inside, whispers a bit, and comes out looking pale, then tells Mei to go inside. There she meets a lone four-tailed Kitsune wearing threadbare brocade robes, surrounded by gnawed bones, his fur matted with dirt and mud. This is her father. He looks up at her and whispers "Su Vui Ve..." which if google translate isn't lying to me, means "Playfulness", someone screwed up and I'm more willing to believe it was white wolf. She introduces herself with some flowery prose i won't repeat, and he just stares at her some more and then says "Sit".

Kinfolk and the Curse
For every kitsune that is born, a life must be paid. No one knows why this is (the implication is because Gaia was too weak when she created the kitsune) but when a kitsune is born either their mother or father dies. Sometimes both are spared, sometimes both die, "Luna always takes her fee in the end".
In ancient times families would send their young ones (or the young ones of families indebted to them) to the foxes to be brides and grooms, knowing that the end goal was that they'd never see them again. There are still some arranged marriages, but most foxes just blithely mate with whoever. Others, like Mei's father, remain more aloof and never become attached to the other parents of their children.

"If only this were always possible, I do not want to speak any further of these things, I will give you a token to take to the Shining Cliffs Court, where you will speak with matsuko Sun-Devil and Katsuko Moon-Saint. I have lost interest in the formal affairs of our kind and you are much better off learning such important matters from those who still enjoy talking of them. Good-bye Mei, I think we shall meet again but I dare not say when."

I'm going to be honest, I really dislike this. I'm as guilty of using 'mother died in childbirth' as a character backstory as the next guy, but having it required just bothers me. The entire race has TRAGIC BACKSTORY pre-baked in. On top of that, if you decide you don't want your parents to die then you're doubly special and thus super blessed.

Oh, and Moon-Saint and Sun-Devil?

Long Life and Laughter

quote:

The tight knot of Western Garou strode proudly to the foot of the hillock on which the Gai'nan had gathered. The court and its guests - emissaries, wanderers, and two foot-weary travelers from San Francisco - watched quietly.
The twin Kitsune regents, Matsuko Sun-Devil and his sister Katsuko Moon-Saint, stepped forward in unison and bowed gracefully to the Sunset people
Yup, not only are they twin kitsune, they're fraternal twin kitsune.

quote:

"On careful consideration of your most generous offer of assistance, cousins -" said Matsuko, smiling sweetly.
"And consultation of our noble colleagues - " the vixen gestured courteously to the three behind them.
"Taking into account the tenor of opinion among our fellow courtiers and allies -" her brother nodded to the ring of hengeyokai that encircled the clearing.
"And not neglecting the truces, treaties, and understandings with the other courts whose interests would be affected by our decision -" the female Eji bowed deeply to the cluster of ambassadors; enemy and ally, shen all.
"We have decided not to avail ourselves of your aid," declared Matsuko. "We deny you passage through our territory. We deny you use of our sacred sites. We deny you the guides and information you have asked for."
They're fraternal twin kitsune who are smug dicks.

quote:

The Westerners, stunned but growing in anger, growled amongst themselves. Half of them were staring, openly, at the ambassadors, and sniffing the air in deep suspicion. Their leader cried out, "What is this? We came to help you. There are forces of the Wyrm advancing which you know nothing about - Pentex - formori -"
"Are there none of these to fight where you come from? Who defends your homes while you are away?" asked Katsuko, sharply.
The Westerners mutterings found their leader's ears, and his shoulders twitched and rippled as he fought to control himself. "We are Garou! We are Gaia's own, like you! We are your Kin! We should be your allies - but you turn us away and bargain with the walking dead before us!"
The twins' eyes met, and their sleek red heads nodded.
"We have an offer for you, gaijin," said Katsuko.
"We hesitate to ally with you because we know little of your character," her twin went on. "We have heard much of how you treat your friends."
"Bring to this Court one living Bunyip to testify on your behalf, and you may do here what you will."
They're fraternal twin kitsune who are massively smug dicks.

A note: the Bunyip were the Australian Garou. They got there back before there were any canids on the Island, so they negotiated a deal with the Mokole, they taught them a ritual that allowed them to breed with Tasmanian Tigers. So the Bunyip were were-marsupials that still called themselves Garou. The Garou arrived on Australia and were generally distrustful of them since they were different. Then the black spirals tricked the Garou nation into slaughtering them wholesale. They were created by the writers exclusively to be 'the other' and then get killed to provide a source of racial shame.

Of course Rage Across Australia has a different opinion

Rage Across Australia posted:

Some of these biologists say this defamation (of marsupials) stems from "pouch envy" and the fact that marsupial males' genitalia are much bigger in comparison to those of placental males. The Bunyip, by the way, bred with marsupials
The rest of the authors seem to think that the Garou killed them because their dicks were bigger. Rage Across Australia was very bad.

Any way you slice it the Kitsune are basically going "Ha ha you guys suck because you kill people!" when the beast courts themselves slaughtered the Okuma wholesale. So they're hypocrites as well.
Regardless, back to the :smug:

quote:

The assembled shen murmured approval, and the intruders, eyeing the throng, walked swiftly out. The courtiers drifted off. Uncle Hu and Mei-Fei were left alone with the Regents, and Matsuko and Katsuko led them away into the night.
They're Fraternal Twin Kitsune who are massively smug dicks and also both jointly hold the highest position that a court can have.


After this we switch into First Person Matsuko. Apparently having two Eji remain at one court following the Way of Emerald virtue is strange. Andthe fact that Mei hasn't questioned them is polite. Though the way it's written there isn't even a pause between 'ha ha your dicks are small' and 'so I should tell you about stuff'. We're told it's okay because "being of the beast courts diminishes the way of Kitsune only a little bit". "Diminishes"? So the kitsune themselves are saying they're better than the beast courts.
Well, apparently Luna rewards them for their service by giving them extra tails. (They get 1 tail for every rank they gain above 1st) And each tail they gain doubles their life span, by the time they reach rank 5 they might as well be functionally immortal living, 3200 years. If they survive to get their ninth tail, however, they become literally immortal. They also mention that the Kitsune are so dutiful in their service not because Gaia commanded it, but because they're being rewarded with tails for doing well. "We Foxes intend to continue in our affairs until the Sixth Age comes, and if at all possible we shall be running freely as Foxes when the Seventh arrives." Gaia told Bai Mianxi that they would be free in "the last ages", where in theory all of the shapeshifters would be free, since there would be no more conflict. The point of the Kitsune's creation is that in the sixth age Gaia will give them a purpose, their job is to ensure the world gets to that point.

There's a very real feeling that there's almost two kitsune books that got smashed together somehow. One book involves Bai Mianxi being contrite and dutiful. The other book involves smug rear end in a top hat kitsune trolling the rest of the beast courts until their immortality kicks in.

quote:

Of course, there is another gift that makes the many years bearable. We have seen so much death, so much suffering, so many loved ones and things lost forever. And yet - we laugh. We laugh because we must not cry. Let all others fall into Harano and despair - such is not our lost. If a Kitsune must cry, she does so in the privacy of her owned darkened den, her faced pressed to the earth so that her tears fall directly from her eyes to the mother. Others may consider our humor black, vindictive, even malicious. Perhaps it is. I understand that of all the Emerald Mother's children, only one other received this blessing. But it is a noble gift, the gift of laughter. Would that we could share our humor with them, for perhaps then we could bring laughter to all the tribes.
Their tears are not for you. They're for Gaia alone. And the less said about the Nuwisha the better.

Gatherings
Now we switch to Katsuko. When the Kitsune gather, they do so in the most :doh: LUCKY numbers: one, two, and four. Everyone else in the middle kingdom thinks that four is death, that is because they aren't Kitsune. and if you want you can add another Hengeyokai to make a Sentai, "is that not perfection?" :smug:

Among the Beast Courts
Matsuko again. While it is true that most Kitsune serve the Kitsune first and the Courts second. The courts are still worthy of respect. Not all Kitsune who pledge fealty to the Courts do so forever, since they live forever, one "lifetime" is usually enough. Kitsune usually only adhere to the roles of Regent and Seer. They don't like General since they aren't exactly built for fighting. And "what kind of Balladkeepers would we be, considering that we first tasted knowledge in the late Fourth Age?" uhh, the kind that are literally immortal? Sure the Mokole cheat and can remember everything forever, but actually being that old has to have some value.

Moots
Kitsune rarely have moots, since they have enough enemies that doing so would basically be handing them a very large soft target. If they need to get information out they've got a big underground network of contacts that keep everyone in the loop

Camps
[quote = Katsuko]We do not have so many "camps" of the sort you see in other Changing Breeds' ranks - for we are the youngest, and we have not had quite so much time to misinterpret our place on the earth and argue what is most "important." We know.[/quote]
That said they do have one Camp, Inari's Messengers. Though it's really more of a form of penance for poor service or improper behavior. Or to repay a debt from an elder or sempai. They set aside their own wants and goals and do what is best for the good of all Kitsune.



Treading the World
Matsuko!
Japan
Apparently the Kitsune believe they are descended from Inari and Ameterasu? :psyduck: So Japan loves them.

The Mainland
But they acknowledge that they were created in China, not japan. Oh whatever I stopped trying to make sense of this paragraphs ago. There are enough forests here that foxes can hide well enough, there's also a quote that makes no sense. "Hm? Oh, that rumor? Perhaps, and perhaps not. I would not know." What rumor?

Korea
More reference to Korea being founded by a Bear. It would have been a province of china long ago "If only the humans there had not foolishly drawn their petty lines and built their petty walls." Apparently Korean Kitsune are expert negotiators for some reason.

The Americas
North America is full of neat things, and has foxes, so there's plenty of things for a Kitsune to see and do here. South America has 'strange foxes' which are unfamiliar and "Beneath our superior breeding. If Gaia had intended us to intervene in this continent's affairs, she would have placed red foxes there." Since only places with red foxes matter.

Europe
A land choked with Kin-jin and territorial werewolves. "Any land which fosters fox-hunting as a pastime is a land of barbarians."

Australia
There are foxes here but they're an invasive species and well, kind of screwing everything up. Of course the Bunyip were here and the Kitsune are apparently mystified by them. "It is our hope that by finding and preserving the secrets of the Bunyip, we will strengthen Gaia and atone for the wolves' mistake." Of course they won't tell the Garou those secrets until proper penance has been done. Which judging by the Kitsune's standards, will be never.

Africa
No foxes, not worth the time.

Shen
Katsuko. "Listen closely and we shall advise you on who are most likely to be your friends, foes or pawns."

Hakken
Noble and taken with their own Virtue. Their way of doing things doesn't fit with the Kitsune way, but compliments it. "When we operate together, they are the thunder and we are lightning. Such storms are poetically beautiful, and most potent besides."

Khan
Fine people, and nowhere near as insufferable as the cats from elsewhere. The fifth age has humbled them.

Kumo
If you can use them to kill some other servant of Yomi, go right ahead. Just be careful about it

Nagah
"I... We shall not speak of the Nagah. I am sorry, but we have our reasons." No I have no idea why, maybe Inari really disliked snakes for some reason.

Nezumi
Less hobbled by scruples and human sensibilities with most. They can share a joke with the Kitsune and they share a task with them as well.

Same-Bito
"I doubt they could have developed cleverness on their own the way the White-Faced one did, but who are we to criticize?" But, Gaia, argh. They fight great in the water which is soemthing foxes can't do. So they're okay.

Tengu
loving awesome. Tell us more stories mister crow.

Zhong Lung
Awesome, and worthy of respect.

Sunset People

quote:

The more time one spends with the Sunset People, the more one understands Gaia's wisdom in granting us Foxes the gift of Changing. For every error the hengeyokai make, the Sunset People make two more. They are fractious and argumentative, and their lands are filled with angry Garou and their bitter cousins.
If that's the case wouldn't it make sense to put foxes everywhere and not just in the middle kingdoms?

quote:

The only ones out of the lot that seem worthy friends are the Corax and the Nu-Isha; if only we could meet with those "kai-otes," perhaps they might be able to explain why the Sunset People misbehave so!
Stop it, pidgin English isn't adorable anymore Hengeyokai.

Kuei-Jin
Dangerous folk, and pretty bad people. You can use them though, just be careful you're not on the wrong side of the deal.

Namebreakers
They are exceedingly dangerous and clever, and make poor pawns. They are usually of better genetic stock than most, and since they're mortal, they have the good sense to die after giving up a new Kitsune.
:stare:
Can I go back to the previous chapter? It was nice there.

Hsien
Yay changelings! They're great! Kitsune love them!

Ghosts
Uhh, they're ghosts.

Mortals
"Like trees, they grow across all of Gaia, and like trees they have their distinct uses - both alive and dead. If one must hew a few down to save a forest, so be it." Apparently the only ones who are trustworthy are those that "still walk barefoot on the mother" which is either meant to be poetic or completely bizzare.

The Laws of Heaven
Matsuko again. The Laws of Heaven were spoken to Bai Mianxi by Luna. She drilled them into her head over her year of tutelage until she could recite them in their sleep, then she asked what they meant.

"I am going to teach you the words as often as you wish. I will explain them once. A year from now you will be able to recite them in your sleep, and I will ask you to explain them in your own way."

I command you to destroy that which harms Gaia
The first and most important rule. Do whatever you can, make pacts with whoever you have to, just get it done.

I command you to aid your brothers, your sisters, and that which serves Gaia.
Don't bare your throat to angry wolves and tigers. And don't give all your secrets to crows. Do give your assistance, but they must ask first.

I command you to revere your Mother, your Aunts, your Uncles, and our favored servants.
Be humble before the spirits, as they can probably do bad things to you if you don't.

I command you to keep your duty first in your heart, and to listen for my teachings.
Don't give into mortal temptations.

I forbid you to exterminate the humans.
Humans had a purpose once, and they might again, and killing them all would probably break the wheel just as badly.

I forbid you to make war on your brothers and sisters.
Pretty self-explanatory

I forbid you to break your word.
Nothing is requiring you to GIVE your word of honor. Just to keep it once given.

I forbid you to commit suicide for reasons of honor.
Depriving the world of a Kitsune is apparently a grievous sin. To say nothing of the fact that a life was given for every Kitsune born, so dying needlessly dishonors them.

I free you to do anything else necessary to achieve our goals.
Also self-explanatory.

That's the end of this (surprisingly) picture light chapter.

Up Next: Making your own Kitsune, or "May we congratulate you on your good taste?"

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012


Mors Rattus posted:

Sidebar: Did actual real ninjas exist? Because of the heroic samurai figure, most Japanese historical accounts are considered biased. The legends of the ninja probably come from lower-class survivors who lost their livelihoods during the Civil War period. They were not assassins but revolutionaries. Entire families were killed and landholders driven out, forced to flee into the woods. Driven by revenge or desperation, they turned to farm tools for weapons and resorted to banditry for money. Some might have been desperate enough to go after local nobles. Due to their lower status, they'd be ignored in most places, as anyone of their status would be. Thus, they could come and go unnoticed, perhaps even killing their target and stealing some money. Nobody paid attention to the peasants and butchers - the assassin, then, must have been someone who could walk through walls! Desperate men fight dirty, using rusty caltrops (whose tetanus-causing powers led to legends of poison), traps to catch food which might occasionally catch an unwary person and add to the legend, using guerilla tactics and so on. Mix in a few Chinese myths about forest demons and the stories of the wandering yamabushi and bam, instant mystical assassin. If there are real ninja, not just the image-focused Go Kamisori Gama, they are today focused on surviving, as always. There were no ninja clans passing down family techniques, probably. Odds are, there is no truth to any of it. But hey, it's fun, right?

If I recall correctly the ninja and their methods (or at least the most mundane facets of them) had their origins in secret police in ancient China.

No clue on ninja history exclusive to Japan, though. :v:

dwarf74
Sep 2, 2012






Buglord



POWERS & PERILS 4.0.



4.0.1 Perilous Lands Overview

Also known as, 'Let's Un-Abandon This poo poo'

Wow, so Powers & Perils. You may or may not remember my seizure-inducing math-fest many moons back. If you need to re-read it to remind yourself, go ahead. I'll be here. Waiting.

Anyway, Lemon Curdistan's excellent Eberron write-up has reminded me of two things: (1) I really need to read those Eberron books I bought a long time ago, and (2) I have a setting write-up of my own I need to finish.

If you just can't wait to read more about it, you can review this extensive wiki thing. But take heed! As it says on the page, "NOTE - Players of P&P should note that these pages may contain background material unsuited for their eyes. Check with your GM first." So to the approximately three dozen players of this early 80's masterpiece, no cheating.


Any resemblance to Eurasia and parts of Africa is ... well, yeah, that's what it is.

(The image above links to a 7.5mb excellent resolution .jpg of the entire map, FYI. Read on to find out why it looks funky and why it's a big deal.)

Because Powers & Perils was supposed to be Avalon Hill's D&D, I suppose Perilous Lands would be Powers & Perils' Greyhawk. It's a vast, sprawling sandboxy/hexcrawly sort of place, with dungeon sites scattered here and there. It's essentially what you expected out of a setting in the 80's; a loose veil of cultures and a whole lot of dungeons to explore. The box set contains three books...


I dunno what's up with the Michelin Man armor, don't ask.

4.0.1.1 The Culture Book
This is a 68-page staple-bound book which mixes freely between too-loving-much detail and not-nearly-enough. It's comprehensive, dry as all poo poo, and mostly reads like an encyclopedia with a few random entries to talk about powerful magic items the players will never get to use. It's rough, and it's where I stalled on this review a few months back.


The men read the maps, the women dress like belly dancers. This is because men have bonuses to Strength and Intelligence in Powers & Perils

4.0.1.2 The Site Book
Okay, now this one is really cool. In keeping with the general sandboxy nature of the setting, this has details on fifteen (seventeen?) adventure sites - more or less mini dungeons that fit into the world. It's the sort of thing I like to have around even as a modern kind of DM, but for a sandbox it's golden.

Confusingly, it also contains stuff about gods and calendars. So ... we'll have to get to that.



4.0.1.3 The motherfucking Map Book
Oy. What can I say about the Map Book? Sadly, nothing good. It's brilliant and innovative and makes this whole drat setting nearly unusable and unreadable.

Take a nice, functional map. Cut it up into pages. Staple them together in a rather unfathomable and counter-intuitive order. Why do you want to do this? I dunno, but it's the 80's so, printing costs? It makes it hard to read the setting because you can't put the lands in context and a single nation is usually spread out over many pages, including some cases where it's just a few hexes. It makes it hard to run because you have to flip through the book to see where you're going. It's Powers & Perils, so it's not like you expect it to be easy in any way, but still! This is needlessly cumbersome even by Powers & Perils standards. Check this sage advice...



So yes, as presented, the maps go south to north in columns. If you head east from Map 1, you go to Map 4. Oh, and that thing about the edge rows of hexes lining up? It's a lie. Utter bullshit. Don't believe me? Click on that map I posted above and check out all the areas where nothing lines up at all. On the plus side, it has some pretty maps.



As a result, I'll be referring frequently to that 7.5 mb jpeg I linked to above. It's the first time I've ever been able to put all this poo poo in context, despite owning it for 30 years.

-=-=-=-=-

So that's Perilous Lands, and what I'll be poking through for the next few posts. Much like the rest of Powers & Perils, there's many ways in which it's terrible, but ... I just can't quit her, you know? P&P continues to fascinate me; it's an evolutionary dead-end in RPGs, and I can't think of too many games which are even similar. It's the anomalocaris of RPGs. And for all its boringness and uncanny resemblance to Eurasia, Perilous Lands is still one of my favorite settings.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes this time, eh?

404GoonNotFound
Aug 6, 2006

The McRib is back!?!?


Great Eberron write-up, but

Lemon Curdistan posted:

There are 12 marks

I feel it would be more fitting (and not that spoiler-y since you already mentioned the Mark of Death) to say that there are "thirteen minus one" marks. Having 13 (minus one) is a major recurring theme in the cosmology of Eberron.

Thirteen Moons (one destroyed, now little more than a ring of dust)
Thirteen Planes (one severed from the Khorvaire)
Thirteen Months (one excised from the modern calendar)
Thirteen Dragonmarks (one wiped out)
Thirteen major regions of Khorvaire (goodbye Cyre!)

Just a nice little recurring element that DMs can have fun with. The fact that 13 is also a Baker's Dozen is a complete coincidence, of course.

404GoonNotFound fucked around with this message at 04:10 on Apr 28, 2013

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


All the Werewolf related writeups so far are making me really sympathetic to Pentex's case.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Evil Mastermind posted:

Hell, they're technically the Goodest Guys. They patrol the borders of the Demon Wastes, I think they founded one of the druid orders, and half-orcs are considered "favored sons" because they're the best of both their human and orcish parents.

It's amazing how interesting you can make a setting when you're not locked into alignment expectations.


One of the leaders of House Tharask is actually siphoning profits off to fund the Gatekeepers which is the druid order that protects against people trying to open up the gates to unleash abominations. I don't know if it was something that my DM worked into her Eberron game by accident or by purpose but we managed to score some major kudos with Maagrim Torrn d'Tharashk by stopping an abomination attack while in the process of going to another job for that house.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Kellsterik posted:

All the Werewolf related writeups so far are making me really sympathetic to Pentex's case.

To be fair, we're explicitly writing up all the bad books.

And there's a Pentex book too that reduces them to puppy kicking evulz.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012



Kellsterik posted:

All the Werewolf related writeups so far are making me really sympathetic to Pentex's case.

You won't feel that way when you read more of Tribebook: Black Furies! You must definitely will feel that way.

It’s Symon the Metis’ turn to speak, as the Furies teleport to a clearing. Symon begins discussing the discomfort Anxi may feel when addressing a male metis member of the Black Furies. After all, the traditional familiar term among the Furies is “Sister”, but Symon isn’t a woman. People do address him as “Sister”, though, but he allows Anxi to call him Symon.

The Black Furies are weird about metis. Even Black Furies have to go through all the effects of pregnancy, and it can be unpleasant, even dangerous. Pregnancy alters the entire body dramatically, which is particularly bad for warriors. They can’t shapeshift when the baby reaches a certain stage of development, as it would kill the child, just in case you were wondering. Black Furies tend to eschew hospitals and modern childbirth in favor of natural locales and methods, even in the Wyld. Wolves have it easier. Metis’ deformities can make childbirth disastrous, nearly always killing the mother in childbirth, hence the discomfort.

Apropos of nothing, here’s a sidebar! I have to quote it in full because wow.

quote:

Carlotta speaks of poison:

Everyone agrees that breast milk is best for babies: doctors, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and parenting gurus. But nobody makes money from breastfeeding. Sure somebody can make a little cash selling how-to books, bras with funny hooks and latches, or other paraphernalia, but the real money comes from selling something people use up and have to come back to buy more.

So how do formula companies get people to buy an obviously inferior product? They fill baby magazines with images of happy white families gathered around beautiful bottle-sucking babies, while the images of breastfeeding feature minority women without wedding rings. They give “seminar” trips in exotic locales in exotic locales to hospital administrators and ply the nurses with free pens and coffee mugs in return for their complicity in making sure every new mother leaves the hospital with a bag full of formula. They buy privileged patient information from doctor’s offices to carefully time doorstep deliveries of free formula to coincide with an infant’s growth spurts, when a mother may panic that she’s not providing her baby with enough milk. They compile free “how-to” tip booklets for breastfeeding that make it sound overwhelmingly difficult. They sponsor episodes of TV dramas in which young mothers kill their babies trying to feed them naturally, with special attention the unattractively cast breastfeeding zealot. They set the terms of the national dialogue on the issue stating that breastfeeding makes babies smarter and less likely to fall ill, rather than acknowledge that their product makes babies dumber and sicker.

If that weren’t enough, they ship their poisonous product to the third world, marketing it with images of prosperous American families. Poor families, wanting the American best for their families, spend a huge percentage of their monthly income on powdered formula and mix it with local unsafe water, and their babies sicken and die. They send cases and cases of artificial milk for disaster relief, knowing full well that it will not only go to the orphaned, but to young mothers who will be forced to buy it once both their milk and the disaster supplies have dried up.

And people buy it. They buy in and put it in their babies’ mouths in spite of the fact that it tastes terrible, is expensive, and isn’t subject to scientific testing or oversight.

Sound familiar? It should. It only gets worse when the Wyrm actually takes a hand.

So Tribebook: Black Furies weighs in on the breastfeeding vs. formula debate and completely embarrasses itself. I don’t want to derail this review, so I’ll just say that this rant just recycles really trite talking points that are easily countered. There are good arguments against formula, but they’re not here.

In an earlier update, I promised a tirade about how Werewolf best handles politics. Now’s as good a time as any, so here goes. The lead developers for Werewolf: the Apocalypse call it a “metal album cover come to life.” The world of Werewolf, then, is the crazy pseudo-spiritual metal realm of those covers. It’s emphatically not our own world. Every World of Darkness game brings that to the front, hence the title. When issues in our own world are present in the world of Werewolf, they’re writ spiritually large so that werewolves can have epic kung fu battles with them.

You might argue that Carlotta’s rant here is about the formula companies in the World of Darkness, not our own. But her use of common talking points in our own debates and that last line especially really make me doubt that. Having a werewolf lecture me on feeding my child formula when jobs and daily life make breastfeeding difficult comes off as :smug: and baseless. Having werewolves deal with real life issues in real life contexts doesn’t work, or is at least really difficult to sell well.

Matt McFarland handles the abortion debate a little bit better, but not much. His Black Furies are divided on the issue. On the one hand, abortion rights are an emblematic women’s right too. On the other, life is sacred to the Furies, and killing babies with technology is not great. In the end, McFarland’s approach is to just not tackle the issue at all, which is fine, but it raises the question of why it’s brought up in the first place. I think that precedent in Werewolf literature created an expectation of political talk in Werewolf books, forcing McFarland’s hand. The Kileys might have pushed him on it too.

That out of the way, let’s talk about the breeds!

Homids are the most politically engaged of the breeds, which makes sense. There’s also an aside on sexuality here. There are a lot of lesbians in the Black Furies, and nobody really cares. Sexuality is a complex issue. Furies are wary of scientific explanations for homosexuality. They’re more focused on the lovin’.

Lupus are the extreme minority in the tribe, and their wolf populations are threatened, like all the other tribes. They used to be the leaders of the Furies as the breed most connected to the Wyld, but as the homid majority has grown, they’ve lost influence.

Metis are unique in the Black Furies, since they can be male. In fact, male metis are more valued than females, and more are allowed to stay in the tribe. Symon theorizes that they’re kept because male metis are less likely to be accepted by other tribes. He also provides a much less charitable theory that female metis are less female because they’re barren. :stare:

The Black Fury kinfolk section mostly deals with how the Furies treat their male kin. They still respect them, but they treat them very carefully, and vice versa. They value marriage, but not as a contract.

Age roles are important to the Black Furies, as it’s a vital concept to the triple goddess.

quote:

Ah. You’re familiar with the concept; yes it’s like Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, or if you prefer, Urd, Skuld and Verdanda. I’m glad they still teach the classics in public schools – eh? A comic book? Well, I’ll be.

Maidens are women pre-motherhood. This doesn’t mean virginal, mind you!

Mothers are, well, women who have had children (whether a miscarriage still counts is debatable). The Black Furies want every member of their tribe to proceed into this group, but more and more young Furies want to avoid it.

Crones are those too old or otherwise unable to bear children. Yes, this does mean that all female metis are Crones. You can move straight from Maiden to Crone through injury or birth control.

Next time: Of calyxes and camps, which means more werewolf nuns!


Thank you so much for picking this back up! It's what inspired me to start participating in the Something Awful forums. I'm glad to see that the horrible charts are consistent, even in the art department.

edit:

Kurieg posted:

And there's a Pentex book too that reduces them to puppy kicking evulz.

That was actually written by my favorite member of the White Wolf old guard Richard Dansky. I like it, since it's basically a really good dark re-imagining of Hoggish Greedly and Looten Plunder. It also fleshes out Black Dog, which is great.

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 05:29 on Apr 28, 2013

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth


Yea, I could write up the Pentex book if none of the other WoD people here want to, but spoiler alert I unironically love it because as others have said, oWoD Werewolf works best when it's Captain Planet with an only slightly more hosed up value system.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Go ahead if you want, I only meant that they're not really meant to be sympathetic in any fashion, it just so happens that also makes them hilarious. I tried to find the Black Dog Games picture earlier but failed.

The real sympathetic villain company is DNA, as far as they know they're just doing the right thing. It just so happens to be a very bad thing for the Garou.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


DNA are good people. Aren't they the company that somehow managed to kill a Garou that came in to rip poo poo up, and are now trying to study and understand these insane, murderous creatures and how their regeneration and such can be applied, medically?

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


That horse's legs are giving me a serious MC Escher vibe.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Yup, they're operating under the assumption that being a Garou is actually a genetic disorder (called GLS), like Sickle Cell, though they can't actually track it. They do know about Carriers(kinfolk) GLS-1 sufferers(Garou) and GLS-2 sufferers (Metis). And have created a drug that actually prevents the delirium from affecting them.

They're in Book of the Weaver, which is also a pretty good book.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


I want to start putting up longer updates now.

Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade part 4

A Look at the Empire
Living By Class
The Izou Empire has a class system based on Karma and reincarnation: the virtuous are born into a higher social class in their next life and the wicked are punished by being reduced in status.

Most ninja live outside this system, however.

The Empire has five classes:
Commoners are at the bottom and are the farmers, fishermens, shopkeepers, etc. Most commoners are loyal to the Empire and support the Ninja Crusade. The first ninja were commoners and most modern ninja come from this class. The most common way of "moving up" as a commoner is to become a land owner. You remain a commoner, but it brings wealth and prestige.

Artisans are people who make stuff with aesthetic value: painters, jewelers, florists, chefs, etc. Geisha are also artisans, as their job is to walk around looking pretty. Ninjas born as artisans are liked by clans for their abilities to make things, especially the Blazing Dancers and Virtuous Body Gardeners.

Merchants are anyone who primarily engage in trading things that they did not make. They range from individual shopkeepers to wealthy "Merchant Princes." Wardens of Equilibrium and the Bamboo Herbalists like recruiting merchants.

Warriors are anyone born into a family with a history of martial service to the Empire or by being raised up by the Emperor. They tend to be violent but with strict codes of personal honor. The Will of Iron and Grasping Shadows like warriors.

Nobles are the top dogs, living lives of intrigue and politics while being both hated and envied by the lower classes. As manipulators and smooth talkers, the Hidden Strands of Fate love recruiting nobles.

The Empire actually has a super-secret Sixth social class: Untouchables. If the Empire is a house and the other five classes are the floors, the Untouchables are the septic tank under the backyard.

Untouchables are butchers, blacksmiths* and gravediggers. Lots of people hate them for being filthy and the Untouchables resent them right back.

*Which makes little sense, a blacksmith is a very valuable member of a community. Historically, these "untouchable" classes were born out of religious ideas of purity and cleanliness, hence the association with handling dead bodies and animal parts, and discrimination against "tool making" isn't exactly a cultural survival trait.

A lot of Untouchables become ninja because the clans are often willing to overlook the social status of recruits.

Faith and Religion
There is no single religion in the Empire, but most people have beliefs that are similar in broad ways:

They believe in dharma and reincarnation, the idea that your current life is a result of your actions in a previous one. Rather than try to improve their lot in this life, they think that they should act appropriately for their station to get a leg up in their next reincarnation.

Obedience to the social order and loyalty to the Empire are great virtues that accrue good karma.

For people who are especially terrible, there are two severe penalties: reincarnation as an animal or insect. The second is you're such an awful bastard that you're kicked out of the reincarnation cycle into hell to be tormented.

The Emperor has decreed that refusing to rat out your ninja neighbors is bad for your karma.

The Enlightened
Fantasy Buddhists. There was a being named Ko who ascended to heaven and returned to help guide other to enlightenment. They have monasteries where they meditate and learn martial arts.

The Reconciled
Fantasy Underground Christians, kind of. There is a single, unnamed god in heaven. He is awesome and by worshiping and praying to this god and seeking forgiveness for your sins you avoid being punished when you reincarnate.



The Ten Provinces
The Izou Empire is big and it took multiple generations of Emperors to grow it so big.

The Empire is divided into ten provinces, each ruled by a Daimyo, though owned by the Imperial family itself; the Daimyo serve as appointed governors for the Emperor.

Edit: Forgot some maps.

The whole world


The Empire

Middle Province
The center of the empire, it contains the capitol city of Daiwa (Harmony City). The Imperial palace, surrounded by thirty foot walls is located here and the Lotus Coalition has yet to find a weakness in its defenses.

To the south of the capital is Nanchou (South City), which is a giant city-sized prison where undesirables are sent. No one has ever escaped from it.

East is Heigenchou, which used to be a center of agriculture. It was the first testing area for firearms and explosives, which ruined much of the land and killed lots of people.

The Wardens of Equilibrium are powerful here.

Silk Belt Province
A lot of nobles have homes here. It is named after it's primary export, silk, which the trade of provides a large portion of the funds for the Ninja Crusade.

The two cities of Unmeishi (Sister to Fate), the major port for trade with the Land of Mountains and Valleys and Jikankei(Brother to Time), a city of art, museums and history- the city was itself the first conquered by the Empire.

The city Tennokiba (Heaven's Teeth) is the seething heart of political machination within the province.

The Hidden Strands of Fate are most powerful here.

Bridge to the World Province
A very valuable province to control due to the great wealth the city of Kiwan (Turtle Bay) generates as the largest trade port in the Empire and serves as the gateway to the Land of Crashing Waves. The countryside is all rolling fields and cherry blossoms.

This province also contains Ninja Las Vegas- Yuukou or Oil's Light, a city of non-stop partying and excess.

The Living Chronicle are strongest here and they use there presence here to keep in contact with the Land of Crashing Waves, their actual homeland. The Chronicles largest and most well hidden temple is located here.

Cradle of Life Province
The breadbasket (or whatever Chinese or Japanese idiom means the same thing) province. The city of Souchou (City of Grass) is the center of it all and is even the source of some newly created crops.

This province was strategically important in the war of Withered Fangs. Higandou (Paradise Road, but actually a city) It was used as a staging point south into the Iron Province to outflank the Empires enemies.

The Pack of the Black Moon hold the most sway in this provice.

And at this point is where my interest begins to wane. The book feels like it's using an unnecessarily large amount of word count on just describing where things are in relation to each other.

Flame River Province
Ninja started here. Lots of mountains and some volcanos.

Famous for the Wu Ji Theater that the Blazing Dancers have taken over and where they used to put on the most incredible performances. Closed because of the Ninja Crusade.

Jokryuryu City (Breathing Dragon) is a city of monasteries and temples and rumored to be the home of the last dragons. Kakou is a trade port that connects to the Land of Exalted Flame by bypassing the giant Desert of Black Sand in the way.

Black Veil Province
Was devastated by the Great Desert (I thought it was the Desert of Black Sand?) when the Empire attacked the Land of Exalted Flame.

Kafukyuu (Widow's Tear) is famous for two things: its history as the site of the murder of a past Emperor and it's red light district.

There is also Arashi Port, which is dying as the conditions of the Arashi Sea it is located on have become so hostile travel is nearly impossible. That's why commerce has shifted north to Kakou.

The Grasping Shadows are in charge here and work like a gang, protecting the people against outsiders but forcefully keeping them in line as well.

Bridge to Battle Province
Located to the southeast of the capitol, located on the isthmus between the rest of the Empire and the Triumph Province, which apparently is nice because of possible rebellion.

Has a lot of mining work as a result of the awful conditions killing lots of workers.

The Body Gardeners are centered here and like the restive populace because it plays into their plans for a revolution, and there was nothing to suggest the people here are particularly unruly until just now. Plus the fact that the Gardeners are apparently pushing to start a rebellion sounds like a major plot point that doesn't exactly fit as a throwaway line in a location description.

Iron Province
The Empire sneaked here from the Cradle of Life Province to get around the Snake Plisskens during there war, eventually letting them attack from the north and south simultaneously.

These days, Kitenstuchou (Shiny Metal City) is an important mountain mining center.

Hotaru no Kouji (Firefly's Path) was established as a base that attacks against the Land of Seed and Blossom could be made from.

This is part of the homeland of the Will of Iron and they are powerful here.

Triumph Province
This is the home of the Slithering Gods, the snake clan that became the Recoiling Serpents. They defended it from Koshinchou (Sickle “Sity.” I'm seeing a lot of little gaffs like this scattered about)

The city of Dainiryoku was founded to aid the war effort and is the site of Ninja West Point, where lots of great soldiers were trained, including specialists like the Golden Lions.

During the war the Slithering Gods summoned Khis, a celestial serpent. The book gives the page for it's stats, but drat if I'll bother with that now.

After winning the war, the Izou Empire renamed the province to Triumph to rub it in everybody's faces. Imagine if after World War 2, the US had renamed Okinawa the “America, gently caress Yeah Islands.”

Oak Leaf Province
Given to the Empire by the Land of Seed and Blossom to avoid war.

The Bamboo Herbalists are from here and use magic to keep tabs on everyone who comes and goes and use illusions to lead them astray if they don't like them.

There is a city that is not really interesting.

Next: Foreign lands and then finally the clans.

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 07:49 on Apr 28, 2013

Doctor Shadow
Dec 12, 2008


That is a great Eberron writeup Lemon Curdistan. I really love Eberron, I have always found the setting so much more inventive and interesting than the cookie-cutter which is the Forgotten Realms. It comes a close second to Dark Sun for me.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



404GoonNotFound posted:

I feel it would be more fitting (and not that spoiler-y since you already mentioned the Mark of Death) to say that there are "thirteen minus one" marks. Having 13 (minus one) is a major recurring theme in the cosmology of Eberron.

Thirteen Moons (one destroyed, now little more than a ring of dust)
Thirteen Planes (one severed from the Khorvaire)
Thirteen Months (one excised from the modern calendar)
Thirteen Dragonmarks (one wiped out)
Thirteen major regions of Khorvaire (goodbye Cyre!)

Just a nice little recurring element that DMs can have fun with. The fact that 13 is also a Baker's Dozen is a complete coincidence, of course.

Holy poo poo, I never noticed that. :psyduck:

dwarf74
Sep 2, 2012






Buglord

pospysyl posted:

Thank you so much for picking this back up! It's what inspired me to start participating in the Something Awful forums. I'm glad to see that the horrible charts are consistent, even in the art department.
Wow, thanks! Yeah, I wish I could say I had a good excuse. Mostly it was a combination of the dryness of the material with other ways of loving around on the internet. But I am newly invigorated, I hope.

And yeah, there's some really :stare:worthy stuff the whole book. Just wait...

Payndz posted:

That horse's legs are giving me a serious MC Escher vibe.
I love oldschool FRPG line art, and Erol Otus is vastly underrated, but yeah... I think their art budget by this point was, "Chuck in Accounting knows how to draw! Let's ask him!"

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PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy




Soiled Meat

Kurieg posted:

Mortals
Apparently the only ones who are trustworthy are those that "still walk barefoot on the mother" which is either meant to be poetic or completely bizzare.

They mean babies and young children, they're just saying so in a really stupid way.

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