Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Locked thread
Dec 13, 2011
So since daughters belong to the mother's clan and males belong to the father's, does that mean the Dagger and the Jewel have been siblings for a very long time?


Nov 10, 2012

Tribebook: Black Furies

Chapter 2 Part 4

Let’s finish up Chapter 2 already and go go go go go!

Symon tells Anxi not to underestimate the importance of the Litany, since it’s one of the few things the Garou Nation could agree on. I’m only going to tackle the notable ones, since a lot of these don’t add anything to the corebook description.

Garou Shall Not Mate with Garou: Symon, as a metis, doesn’t really like this tenet. After all, would you feel comfortable telling a metis that his existence is a bane on werewolf kind? Well, obviously some werewolves do feel comfortable with that, but nevertheless it’s complicated. Like all the tribes, the Black Furies claim that they treat their metis better than their peers.

Carlotta says that “mate” doesn’t necessarily mean “have sex”. You know what that means! Lesbians. Preventative measures for pregnancy tend to go screwy for werewolves, so gay sex is the only way to get your werewolf jollies. Of course, not everyone’s gay, so straight people have to deal with that.

Toto likes to watch.

Personal aside: I get what the designers were trying to do when they put such an emphasis on werewolf sex. It’s all very Freudian, with the Eros and Thanatos urges duking it out. In a constant crisis war situation, those urges are going to be stronger than ever, and in part werewolf is about confronting your own RAGE. That conflict invites the parallel with Eros. The problem is that most gamers are going to sign on for RAGE and less for freaky werewolf sex. At the table you can downplay the emphasis on werewolf lovin’ or recast it as courtly forbidden love a la Tristan and Isolde, but why put so much wordcount into something that’s going to appeal to so few people?

Combat the Wyrm Wherever it Dwells and Wherever it Breeds: Apparently the Litany verbatim states that the Wyrm is the source of all evil, but Symon doesn’t buy it (and if I recall correctly none of the other tribes believe that either). The Wyrm does profit off evil and make it worse, so fighting it is still important in the battle of good vs. evil. After all, the Black Furies spend a lot of time enforcing justice, and the Wyrm exacerbates those problems.

Amethyst is less enthusiastic. Fighting the Wyrm as the werewolves do now only targets the symptom. The disease itself is unbeatable.

Respect the Territory of Another: Pretty standard. No mention of Greek hospitality codes, though, which is lame.

Accept an Honorable Surrender: Don’t fight other werewolves. Even if you have to deal with a formal challenge, you should make sure it’s a fight to first blood, or even change it to a contest of wits, like a chess match! If you lose a fight with another good werewolf, call it quits before you die, because a dead Garou is a useless Garou. Carlotta warns that this can be difficult, because of the RAGE.

Submission to Those of Higher Station: Higher station usually means a man, so Black Furies don’t like this tenet. At least, that’s how other tribes see it, which creates tension in inter-tribe relationships. Furies also don’t like submission. Younger Furies will be particularly rebellious. Carlotta agrees with the young Furies, recommending that they stick up for lady werewolves that are browbeaten by a male alpha.

The First Share of the Kill for the Greatest in Station: This leads to pissing contests between wannabe alphas. Black Furies are better, though, so they take a more egalitarian approach, sometimes letting their underlings pick a valuable fetish from the spoils.
Amethyst tells a story about a Glass Walker who found a fetish in a vampire’s haven. Against the Black Fury’s protest, he took it for his own, since it had Glass Walker markings on it. Later, he was put down for eating humans. Apparently, the Glass Walkers gave the vampire the fetish to make him less hungry. I guess it had the opposite effect on werewolves? :iiam:

Ye Shall Not Eat the Flesh of Humans: Humans are addictive, apparently.

Do Not Suffer Thy People to Tend Thy Illness: Although the Furies are potent healers, sometimes they just have to let some werewolves go. It’s sad, but that’s life.

The Leader May be Challenged During Peacetime: This is the most controversial of the werewolf laws, since werewolves are constantly at war. The Black Furies have it even worse, since the Inner Calyx is completely anonymous. You can’t challenge a leader if you don’t know where to find her.

Carlotta wants to add her own tenets to the Litany! These are rules that the Furies consider equally important to the Litany. First, Suffer No Abuse to Women. Second, Remember your Parents. This is to prevent Furies from hating all men, since they have important fathers to remember. Train the Weak; Protect the Helpless: nothing’s going to advance if the weak stay weak, so it’s the Furies’ job to make them stronger. Keep the Wyld Places Pure means to focus on protecting Wyld hotspots, and also to protect your virginity for as long as possible.

The narration shifts to Carlotta as the Face of the Mother (the atlas section) begins.

Europe: there are a lot of different civilizations here! Most of the European Black Furies are in Greece, but they’re allowed to populate wherever they have permission. The Get of Fenris don’t like them, though, so there are very few German or Scandinavian Furies.

The Calyxes are based in Greece. The Inner Calyx is rumored to have a super-secret island in the Aegean with their own caern. Any Black Fury can visit a Greek sept for certain moots. It’s a festival of revelry and occasionally righteous murder, fun for the whole family.

In the early 2000s, when this book was written, the Balkans were in a crisis. The Black Furies work with the Shadow Lords to help out. The Furies fear that some Wyrm creature is pulling the strings, but they recognize it’s probably just humans being humans.

Asia belongs to the Stargazers. There’s lots of rumors of crimes against women, but no word of organized Black Fury activity. There are Black Furies around, though.

The Middle East! Carlotta knows about the reputation that the Middle East has (before 9/11), but she wants to make sure Anxi knows that the Quran is more complex than a lot of people give it credit for.


The Quran, for example, states that women must wear veils so that they will not be molested and may maintain their dignity. The idea is for men to talk with them rather than ogle them. Can’t say I disagree with the spirit, but the problem is that it has the effect of making women the same, and I can’t help feeling that might make us interchangeable for some men. Also, it isn’t just the veil that causes us problems. Female circumcision, while not an official Islamic practice, does happen. There are certain circumstances where it is legal for a father to murder his daughter.

This is…actually pretty culturally sensitive, but a little misplaced. No mention of stoning rape victims? Women are seriously oppressed in certain Middle Eastern countries, and while bringing it up might make the book a little too “real” for some, presenting this front doesn’t really work either.

Carlotta warns that there are a lot of vampires in the Middle East, so be on the lookout. Remember, pre Afghanistan and Iraq invasions.

Africa’s pretty bad. All the massacres strengthen Banes, which makes things even worse. There’s some talk about the Ahadi, which is a contender for the coolest thing about Werewolf: the Apocalypse, but the Black Furies can’t breed with African wolves. Why they can’t breed with African humans is anyone’s guess. Only the Red Talons, Silent Striders, and Bone Gnawers have kinfolk there.

THERE’S NO BLACK FURY SECT IN SOUTH AMERICA. The Amazon War rages on, and a Get of Fenris member is in charge. The Black Furies are frustrated, but they just barely manage to admit that Gogol Fangs-First is doing a good job. Electra Shildmaiden is the key Black Fury player, collecting stories of the war and of native peoples.

America is the land of the free! :911: Carlotta goes on about how much women suffer in the United States, mostly about rape culture in a roundabout way. Women feel uncomfortable in their bodies due to ads and sex is repressed. It’s a bad deal all around. If only they lived in the Middle East!

There are very few Black Furies in Australia because of the Bunyip ghosts. The Black Furies who do live in Australia are based in the Kangaroo Island Protectorate. They’re still guilty for their part in the Bunyip genocide.

Why is this giant naked lady smiling? I'm concerned.

The Wyld Umbral realms are the most important to the Black Furies. Pangaea’s a nice place to kick back and relax. They send cubs to train and learn in the Heart of the Wyld. The Inner Calyx may meet in the Black Fury homerealm. The Atrocity realm is the most important non-Wyld Umbral locale, since it allows Furies to see all the crimes against women taking place in the world. It’s important to remember, though, that what you see in the Atrocity realm has already occurred. You can’t stop something going on in the Atrocity realm. Many Black Furies go crazy trying to prevent all those tragedies.

Carlotta prepares an interview with two Furies to discuss the other tribe and breed stereotypes. Cara is a young liberal and Konstantina is an conservative Crone.

Bone Gnawers: Cara doesn’t trust them. They’re gross, creepy, and they deal with Weaver spirits. Konstantina doesn’t like them either, but she does appreciate their connections. Using their networks doesn’t come cheap, though.

Children of Gaia: They adopt male Furies, which makes them okay in Cara’s book. Konstatina knows that even though they’re the peace tribe, they can still fight!

Fianna: They’re alcoholics and they always hit on the ladies. Cara begrudgingly accepts them, while Konstantina values their fighting spirit. Amethyst interjects to let us know that drinking is a skill too, and a valuable one at that. It can get info without the use of any magic.

Get of Fenris: Cara knows this one Fury who left the Get. She didn’t get any respect, and the ladies won’t stand up for themselves. Konstantina believes they fought for the Nazis. Amethyst agrees, the Get of Fenris is worthless.

Glass Walkers: Cara believes the Glass Walkers are okay. They’ve got connections, but they might be cyborgs and cyborgs are creepy. Konstantina believes that they may be corrupted by the Weaver!

Red Talons: Cara just kind of avoids these guys. Konstantina fears that they may join the Wyrm out of RAGE.

Shadow Lords: They’re untrustworthy, says Cara. Konstantina has fought with the Shadow Lords in the Balkans and she trusts them. The Silver Fang propaganda machine may be wrong about the Lords. Symon, though, believes that the Shadow Lords have a big scheme going, and it might involve the Furies!

Silent Striders: They’re quiet (:haw: ) but they have good info. Pay whatever they ask. They’re good people.

Silver Fangs: They’re too old! Konstantina respects them. Carlotta suspects they’re going crazy (they are).



Cara: The Uktena look like the end result of a Klansman’s nightmare: they’re a delightful medium-brown, with the features of all six continents wrapped up in each face

:thumbsup: Konstantina doesn’t trust them for dealing with Wyrm spirits. Symon doesn’t like them for killing the Bunyip and then stealing their caerns. They also kicked out a lot of Fera from their caerns.

Wendigo: They’re assholes! And racists!

Stargazers: Whatever.

It turns out that the other Fera aren’t extinct! Carlotta alone’s giving us her opinion on the breeds.

Ajaba: Carlotta heard from a Fury who heard from a werecheetah that there were werehyenas who named themselves “Choosers of the Dead”. Carlotta didn’t believe the hype, but there was this one time that her library was broken into, but the only book missing was about a giant hyena demon! Eh, probably just a coincidence. :what:

Ananasi: Maybe they have to do with the mythical Arachne! They’re bitter about something…

Bastet: Some Furies take Panther as their totem, but the Furies don’t have good relations with the werecats. They don’t know what their role is, but they do take advantage of their secrets.

Corax: The Furies like them since their warriors are female.

Gurahl: Extinct, but they were pretty cool.

Mokole: Dragons have it rough, just like witches, so the Black Furies look out for these guys.

Nagah: Extinct, but it’s weird how few records there are of them…



I once saw a man approach a pack of Black Furies and hail them with “Hey, girls!” Of course, they surrounded him menacingly; he didn’t flinch. They shoved him a bit; he didn’t lose his smile. Finally, one of them asked him what he meant by addressing them so disrespectfully. He just grinned wider and asked if they really were girls. And none of them knew how to answer him. After all, if they said “no”, they would be denying their sex. If they said “yes”, they’d look rather foolish. I don’t remember any of them answering, but the Nuwisha just walked on, leaving them confused and frustrated.

:iceburn: Symon says they’re loving trolls.

Ratkin: They’re creepy. Don’t trust them.

Rokea: Weresharks?!?

:drac: Vampires are city folk and sponsor efforts to pave over paradise to increase their feeding grounds. They can enslave werewolves. Basically they’re the antithesis of the Black Furies and they must be destroyed.

:smugwizard: They can be okay, but they sometimes abuse spirits. Sometimes, though, they misinterpret werewolves as demons and try to suppress them.

:ghost: Help lady ghosts, but don’t feel too bad when you see the ghost of a man you killed.

:orks101: (Best I could do, sorry) The good news: satyrs are real! The bad news: they’re rapists.

And just like a cheesy movie, the three spirit wolves bid Anxi adieu and she wakes up.

Next time: Mechanics! (finally)

Sep 2, 2012

Cool; I often worry I'm sperging out about Powers & Perils.

Tasoth posted:

So since daughters belong to the mother's clan and males belong to the father's, does that mean the Dagger and the Jewel have been siblings for a very long time?
You know, it's one of the many things that I don't think is completely thought out. But since marriage isn't for having kids in Caldo, I'm assuming the man has kids with some other women, while the woman has kids with some other men? Then those kids rule the country when the oldest of them turns 18 and they marry each other.

The oldest male child of either is heir to the Dagger, while the first daughter of the Jewel inherits the Jewel. If the Jewel has no daughters, one of the Dagger's daughters will work. So there's probably incest a lot of the time?

They're a weird little country.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

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

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


Grimey Drawer

Robindaybird posted:

I - what the gently caress was that formula poo poo doing in there?

Least the abortion bit isn't as cringe-worthy as I feared it'd be, considering WW's track record.

Are there any examples of TV shows doing episodes where breastfeeding kills infants? I honestly don't think I have ever seen that ever.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth
Wait, Bone Gnawers don't get love, even though they're constantly the dudes protecting the lower classes (protect the helpless...) and often based out of things like women's shelters and all, because their connections 'cost a lot' but Glass Walkers, Gordon Geko the werewolf, who also have connections that cost a lot, get the respect?

edit: Also unless I'm forgetting something isn't the 'cost' of Gnawers using their contacts for others stuff like 'go give that hobo a burger' or 'volunteer at a soup kitchen' kinda stuff?

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

Kurieg posted:

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 Best Game Company.

edit: Apparently Thai Cuisine is also evil?

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Maxwell Lord posted:

Are there any examples of TV shows doing episodes where breastfeeding kills infants? I honestly don't think I have ever seen that ever.

I've seen a Law and Order where a girl claims it did kill her baby. But it's Law and Order.

Oct 19, 2004

Long ago, I started a write-up for the first thread, on the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game. I remember getting a message from someone about their taking over on that particular write-up, but I can't seem to find that message now, nor can I seem to find where those further updates would have been posted.

That said, I beg the indulgence of some of the more active posters in this thread in clarifying a concern I have with picking back up with reviewing MHR. The game is very light, so I'm worried about veering too close to just paraphrasing right from the book and infringing on copyright. I know that fair use usually applies to excerpting portions of a work for purposes of review, but how much is too much? I don't have mountains of setting details to draw on for content like a lot of other games being posted. Is this even something I need to worry about?

vv I want to apologize for doubting the TOC. Seriously, bang-up job. vv

PrincessWuffles fucked around with this message at 06:51 on Apr 30, 2013

claw game handjob
Mar 27, 2007

pinch pinch scrape pinch
ow ow fuck it's caught
i'm bleeding

PrincessWuffles posted:

At the risk of being rude, does anyone know if any more updates on MHR were ever posted?

If they were, they're in the table of contents on the wiki, I anal-retentively update every single thing written in these threads there.

So no. Nobody did.

Oct 21, 2010

Her style is new but the face is the same as it was so long ago...

Syrg Sapphire posted:

If they were, they're in the table of contents on the wiki, I anal-retentively update every single thing written in these threads there.

And for that you have our eternal appreciation, even if we don't mention it that often.

Jul 19, 2012

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

Spoilers Below posted:

The Best Game Company.

edit: Apparently Thai Cuisine is also evil?

The Apocalypse book actually has a side bar of what happens to Black Dog Games. They start up a marathon gaming session because the city's shut down and they've lost power. After they run out of vending machine food and the Swords and Sorcery developer dies of starvation, "Evan Stump" kills and eats the entire staff and ends up dying when one of "Jason O'Kelly's" piercings make it into his Developer Bisque.

I love it when White Wolf makes fun of themselves.

Robindaybird posted:

I've seen a Law and Order where a girl claims it did kill her baby. But it's Law and Order.

It was a premature baby who was too weak to breast feed and the Doctor had basically told her that the baby would die if she ever gave it a bottle. She tried taking it to the hospital but they turned her away because she obviously wasn't "Trying hard enough"

I watched way too much Law and Order as a kid

Aug 6, 2009

Spoilers Below posted:

edit: Apparently Thai Cuisine is also evil?

It is foreign, therefore dirty, godless and communist.

More Eberron will be coming later this week, incidentally.

Lemon-Lime fucked around with this message at 08:27 on Apr 30, 2013

Sep 29, 2008

Oba-Ma... Oba-Ma! Oba-Ma, aasha deh!
Responding to a FR post from a few pages back:

Arivia posted:

I was honestly surprised by how many deities came from real-world pantheons. I knew about Loviatar and Oghma, but I hadn't read the deity section of the Old Gray Box before, so it was a little surprising. (Legends and Lore & Deities and Demigods are the same book, just two different printings with different names.)

In the article in Dragon Magazine #54 that introduced the gods of the Realms, Greenwood spelled out the inspirations for the FR deities. More than half of them started out as repurposed gods taken directly from Deities & Demigods:
  • Azuth: Aarth, from Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar
  • Bane: roughly based on D&D's rather loose interpretation of Druaga, but less monstrous and more distantly villainous (basically Sauron)
  • Chauntea: a less powerful/versatile version of the Greek goddess Demeter
  • Gond: Hephaestus, with added influence over inventors and artisans
  • Ilmater: despite the name, he's actually a copy of Leiber's Issek of the Jug, with added moralizing
  • Mask: Hermes, minus the positive associations like healing
  • Milil: shares some loose characteristics with the Norse god Bragi
  • Talona: directly taken from the minor Finnish goddess Kipu-Tytto, sister of Loviatar
  • Torm: a placeholder for St. Cuthbert
  • Tyche hadn't yet been renamed to/replaced by Tymora
  • Tyr: taken from Norse myth, but as a god of justice (ahem, "benevolent force") rather than war
  • The elemental gods that would later be renamed Akadi, Grumbar, Kossuth and Ishtishia are (respectively) Misha, Grome, Kakatal and Straasha, the elemental lords from Michael Moorcock's Melniboné
  • Aslan is the Beast Cult god that would later be called Nobanion
  • Lurue/Silverymoon is taken from the titular unicorn in Elizabeth Goudge's novel The Little White Horse
  • Other minor Beast Cult gods that were (AFAIK) never mentioned again are briefly covered here; most of them are renamed versions of gods with animal characteristics, like Lieber's Rat God and the Egyptian Apep

And Loviatar, Mielikki, Oghma, and Silvanus are all directly lifted from mythology (well, from the Deities & Demigods versions of mythology), albeit in slightly skewed forms.

Oct 19, 2004

Lemon Curdistan posted:

It is foreign, therefore dity, godless and communist.
I always thought the Thai cookbook right next to the bound cat was meant as a jab at the stereotype of Asian restaurants using less than desirable ingredients.

But enough racism ...

Better late than never, it's time for another thrilling installment of MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: BASIC GAME!

Last Time: I gave a broad overview of the game and how awesome I think it is. Then, I talked about Hero Datafiles and Dice. All of which you can read here.

Now, without even further ado,
There Ain't No Point to a Plot With No Plot Points

Chapter 1: Introduction
Plot Points

When we last left this examination of a really cool superhero game, we were talking about all the damned dice it takes to play the thing properly. All through the previous updates, there has loomed a spectre in the shadows, a feature only almost glimpsed, but never fully observed. That spectre, my friends (because this is Marvel not DC where there's a character with that name), is plot points!

At their most basic, plot points are like Action Points or Bennies or any other such dramatic currency with which the reader might be familiar from any of a number of other games. The main difference is that plot points are totally awesome.

Most games that have this sort of thing will start a player with a set number of them, per session or otherwise. Then, it's up to a gentlemen's agreement between players and GM to see that more are given out over the course of play, even as the things are spent on making things more interesting for everyone involved. I had a regular GM who gives out Action Dice in SpyCraft for making him laugh, for example.

Back to the point, or plot point as it were, plot points are basically like Awesome Dollars. You get them for investing in the story, for your own good or ill, and making things interesting, and then you get to spend them on being even more super-heroic! If you really go for it, and really try to do something super amazing, but you fail, you can actually earn back plot points for screwing up!

I come from a wary school of player thought that says I should always hang onto expendable special advantages like these, and so might prospective players of this game, but fear not GM's of wimpy players! One of the things that makes the plot point mechanic so much fun is that the idea is for these things to be going back and forth across the table from GM to players and back so often that no one would think of just sitting on such sparkly tickets to Awesome Town. We'll get to how you get more plot points in a little bit, but for now, you might be asking ...

What can I really do with Plot Points anyway?

I'm glad you asked, disembodied voice of the idealized reader. Plot points can be used for all kinds of things. You can use them to add to your dice pool, in the form of an extra d6 called a push die, use another power or distinction, a stunt die, or use an SFX from your power set. What's a stunt die? What's SFX? Patience, True Believer. You waited just under a year for this post, you can wait longer, and the book is going to make you.

So that's stuff you can do before you even pick up the dice. What about after? Well, you can keep an extra die toward your total, but you could also keep an extra effect die. Extra effect dice let you effect another target with your action, so you don't necessarily have to prioritize which of the fleeing muggers to stop in his tracks with Spidey's webs or Punisher's bullets.

What else? If the Watcher rolls an opportunity (1 on any die), you can activate it with a plot point to make things more difficult for the opposition. You can also use a plot point to use an effect die from a reaction roll.

A more interesting use comes in the spending of a plot point to change stress damage to a different type. Before, we looked at the fact that there are three kinds of damage in MHR, and maxing out your damage taken in any of the three categories is a bad thing. We'll talk more about that later, but for now, you can use plot points to avoid this. Think of it like mind over matter in a really literal sense.

Plot points can also be used to buy resources, which are basically temporary advantages drawn from a character's specialties. Usually, resources are bought between action scenes, when there's time to acquire the special device, knowledge or whatever advantage this particular resource is.

Plot Points sound awesome, where do I get more of them?

Everyone starts the game, and every session, with at least one plot point. The easiest way to get more plot points is so easy you'll literally fall into it by accident. Every time a player rolls a one on any die, they can trade it on a one-to-one basis for plot points.

Another way to earn plot points is using a hero's distinctions against him. It might seem counter-intuitive, but bear with me, and those who remember the previous example with Captain America defending protesters from riot police, bear with me especially.

MHR: Introduction: Dice posted:

... if you choose a distinction that might actually hurt you in succeeding, you still get a d4, but you also get a plot point to use on this or a later roll. ... Maybe you just want to build up a pool of plot points. That's cool, but you're going to take a cut to your distinction die on this action, which helps to deepen your character by exposing a weakness. I mentioned before a hypothetical situation wherein Captain America sees some protesters being pushed back by riot cops. Maybe Cap sees this as the authorities impeding the right of these protesters to express themselves. Obviously, if riot cops are on the scene, there's probably a reason, but not necessarily so bear with me. Maybe the protesters are out in force against a corrupt politician, who's using the police to keep back his dissenters. In this belabored example, Cap's status as the "Sentinel of Liberty" might actually work against him, as engaging the riot police will likely endanger not only him, but also any other heroes on the scene if the cops decide to strike back. Hell, Cap might be seen as leading a charge of sorts that ignites the protest into the full-blown riot that the cops are trying to prevent. Cap's player gets a plot point for taking the smaller die that shows a disadvantage to his character's personality or convictions or status or whatever, and the scene is made more interesting as a result. Awesome.

A hero's powers have limits, which are also a potential source of plot points. Limits are things that can shutdown a power or even an entire power set. The fact that Iron Man needs his suit to fly around and fire off repulsor blasts is a limit. Activating a limit complicates a hero's situation, and limits their abilities, but it also nets a plot point. There's more about limits later on, but for now they're just another way that heroes can make a situation more dramatically interesting for themselves in exchange for a later mechanical advantage. The Watcher can activate limits too, by spending dice from the doom pool instead of paying off the hero with a plot point, but we'll get into all that later when we look at the doom pool.

Next Time: Beware the Doom Pool!

PrincessWuffles fucked around with this message at 08:28 on Apr 30, 2013

Mar 17, 2011
Okay, well, I can't let a bunch of words about that newfangled shiny Eberron take over the crown of most involved writeup of a D&D setting, so let's return to Faerun!

Forgotten Realms: No, seriously, the donkey gets a full share, it's in the rules

Next up in the Cyclopedia, conveniently for our D&D players, is adventuring companies (or the common adventuring party.) We're pretty harsh here in TG on D&D's traditional murder hobos, but there's a bit of a different approach taken here in the Realms. The Cyclopedia entry puts adventuring parties on a continuum with merchants and mercenary companies. (Mercenary companies are closer to large private armies than anything else.) All of them have power and an inclination towards self-sufficient success; merchants just think about money the best, mercenaries war the best, and adventurers have a balance between the two kinds of inclination and an adventuring spirit.

In effect, the Realms' adventurers are freelance contractors - they have their reputations to manage, budgets to keep track of, and need to balance out their work and rest in order to guarantee that they have a good stream of income. This makes sense in the 1e AD&D setup, where an experienced adventuring company picks up henchmen and halflings - and then has to pay them out of the gross treasure acquired. Really, your average fighter dude at level 9 or whatever has his squire and a mule train with him to go to the Mountain of Doom: he's less of a hobo and more of a minor celebrity, complete with entourage and a habit of throwing stuff at inn workers.

Elminster's notes for this section develop this concept. The word Ed Greenwood picks to discuss the adventuring companies is "tolerated" - adventurers can be helpful to a community (by clearing out that band of goblins), but they are also big huge messes that cause a ton of chaos and often do as much good as bad. Because of this, nations and groups organize adventuring parties in the Realms in different ways. You see, an adventuring company isn't just a party of PCs, but a specific mercantile and commercial project. In the country of Cormyr, for example, adventuring parties have to provide written charters and lists of members to the Crown in order to be given basically an adventuring license - Cormyr is a lawful, settled country, so it has an interest in making sure adventurers do good deeds. The country of Amn just bans adventurers together, so any adventuring parties there often disguise themselves as small detachments of mercenary companies.

We're given a number of examples of adventuring parties (too many to list here, and not all of them are notable), but a few in particular reinforce this narrative of PCs as active participants in a world that responds to them. The Four are a largely evil group who were kicked out of the city of Waterdeep after accepting a number of contracts to murder this or that noble: it doesn't matter that the contracts were taken out by other nobles, but rather that the group itself was disruptive to Waterdeep's peace. (Which is probably a good thing, seeing as they are apparently really good at unseen assassinations and are also banned from Cormyr.)

Halfling Inc, as you can guess, is all halfings. "Inc." isn't generally a term used in the Forgotten Realms, but it's funny anyway. They scam people a lot, and have perpetuated a reputation for halflings as devious and dangerous, even despite the acts of heroism they have performed (such as closing a gate to the fiendish planes under the city of Westgate.)

The Knights of Myth Drannor are given a bunch of details here. They're notable because they were actually one of Ed Greenwood's own player groups, with their game set around the incredibly detailed village of Shadowdale; there's a set of novels he wrote with them as the characters and they eventually became the rulers of Shadowdale itself. There's nothing really to know about the Knights - they're just tied into a whole bunch of little details here and there. (The other group, not mentioned here, are the Company of Crazed Venturers, out of Waterdeep.)

Mane's Band and the Men of the Basilisk are both pretty normal groups; the first is involved in a bunch of political intrigues in the Dalelands and the second becomes really important in some late 2e stuff. I'm just mentioning them so you know they exist, I'll cover them later.

The Nine are really interesting. There kinda-sorta-is-but-not-really is a metaplot in the Forgotten Realms materials. It's not like everything points towards Cain returning, but instead there's a lot of long-standing secrets that Ed and other writers toss in and develop quite slowly. The Nine - and a very dangerous enemy they made - are one of these secrets, and it starts now (in 1987) and keeps getting developed until 2005 in a book called Lost Empires of Faerun. Even then, the full story still isn't told. What we do know is that they were extremely powerful, extremely rich, and are now retired after adventuring for a staggering 30 years. They were lead by the 24th level mage Laeral, who is known as a great creator of magic items. (Don't spoil that for people who don't know what's going on; and for comparison's sake, 24th is a really high level. Most of the other adventurers in the Campaign Set are less than level 10.) They had a hidden stronghold in some place called the Unicorn Run, and some of them are apparently on other planes even now.

Finally, we get an account of the adventuring parties in the actual rules of AD&D. All dungeon groups of NPCs are usually adventuring companies (back when, you could randomly roll up a level 11 human fighter and his friends on the fourth level of your dungeon), and they are usually registered by their name, symbol, and roster with any local authorities. However, registered groups can often get a tab with local merchants or traders, and can gain fame as a collective whole. For example, if you give a ton of money to the Temple of Mystra and are known for your donations, other priests of Mystra will look nicely upon you. (This is exactly the mechanism used to govern your reputation/fame in the Infinity Engine games like Baldur's Gate, so it's really a neat callback and keeps everything internally consistent.) Adventuring companies also need to figure out how they distribute treasure, who the leader is, and if they have any code of conduct (ie: don't whore too hard when you get back to town, Rogar the Fighter.) It does note that if you bully and intimidate everyone else into going your way, your adventuring company will probably split up before you make any real money or fame, which isn't very good then is it?

Aglarond, the first actual geographic entry we're getting to in the Cyclopedia, is a small nation formed on a peninsula jutting out into the Sea of Fallen Stars. It's our first place I have always wanted to run a game in but haven't yet. Aglarond, despite being pretty far off the beaten path, is fairly famous across the Realms: the ruler, the Simbul (also known as the Witch-Queen, but never to her face unless you want to know nothing but fire and pain for the last twelve seconds of your life), is waging a one-woman war against the nearby Red Wizards of Thay. (For the purposes of this entry, consider Thay to be a generic evil magocracy.)

Outside of the war with Thay, Aglarond generally keeps to its own - the problem is that it is all that stands between Thay and a full-scale invasion of the northern parts of the Sea, and for that reason, it is very politically important. The Red Wizards also don't like rival mages, so a powerful archmage as their closest enemy really doesn't sit well with them. The Simbul is one in a line of mages who have ruled Aglarond, many of them female.

Aglarond is heavily wooded, turning to swamp at the east where the peninsula meets the mainlands; otherwise it is barren. Travel is by trail, ship, or griffon (!). Its exports are lumber, gems, and copper, which it trades for food and iron primarily.

One problem with a 25 year-old franchise is that it definitely ends up retconning itself at points. There's a few things in this Aglarond entry that aren't going to stay the same. Apparently, Aglarond has no large cities (a falsehood if you look at the map above), and has no army nor navy, just a bunch of very motivated trappers and foresters. Which is really awkward next to a bunch of angry evil mages, who could probably just summon a bunch of minor devils or demons and scare the crap out of an army of 0-level commoners. Still, somehow, apparently Aglarond does hold them back, having won the famous battles of Singing Sands and Brokenheads (both over one hundred years ago.) Even today, Thay tests Aglarond's borders for weakness with mercenaries and raiding parties.

Little is known about the Simbul, but she appears to roam the northern Realms, constantly influencing events due to her own chaotic whims. She is said to be an ally or a member of a mysterious group known as the Harpers; who do work outside of Aglarond - this might explain the Simbul's wide reaching ways.

Question: So, the Cyclopedia is organized alphabetically, but it has a bunch of entries for cities and some settlements that come before the entries for the areas they are in. Would people prefer if I just kept it as written and focused on what I can say about the city itself, or would people prefer that I cover the area first (ie, Cormyr) before the city (Arabel) so I can talk about it in a greater context?

Next time: The most important desert and a place we are not going to hear about for years afterward.

Arivia fucked around with this message at 09:45 on Apr 30, 2013

Oct 19, 2004

This time, there's no escape from another installment of MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING: BASIC GAME!

Beware The Doom Pool!
Chapter 1: Introduction
The Doom Pool

Last time we talked about plot points, but now let's take a look at their nefarious opposite, the doom pool.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game posted:

The doom pool is the Watcher’s resource for adding to the heroes’ opposition and, at the end of an Act, populating the Event with additional threats, challenges, and situations.

Like the push dice that players can add to rolls, doom dice begin life as d6's. The doom pool itself begins every Act at 2d6. Acts, Scenes, and Events aren't really explained until later, but basically, an Act is like in a film or play, it's a set of Scenes, and an Event is made up of Acts. Depending on how high the stakes are for a particular Act, The Watcher gets more dice. Makes enough sense for now.

So we talked before about how The Watcher can buy players' opportunities with plot points, and then add a die to the doom pool, right? Well, they can. They can also, instead of just adding a new d6 to the pool, step up the lowest die in the pool by one, so a d6 already in the pool can become a d8.

If a player rolls more than one opportunity in the same roll, The Watcher can just straight up step up a new doom die once for each additional opportunity past the first, paying only for the original die. If you're just adding d6's to the pool, though, every one costs a plot point. These doom dice can come in the narrative form of a hero's actions causing collateral damage or otherwise adding chaos to the scene.

Another way to add to the doom pool is with effect dice from a villain's action. Instead of directly attacking the heroes, they're putting that effect to work in stirring up further chaos for everyone caught in the fray. Some hero powers also have SFX that add to the doom pool. There's those that SFX again. I swear we'll get to them.

So What Does The Doom Pool Do?

Mostly, doom dice work just like plot points. The Watcher can add them to a villain's dice pool for a roll or activate villain SFX.

Let me just stop here to clarify that SFX are basically like d20-style feats that you activate with plot points.

Anyway, Doom dice can also be spent to add a die to the total, after a roll, just like with plot points. They can also be used to keep an extra effect die in the same way. The difference with doom dice is that the extra die, whether to the total or effect, has to be of the same size as the doom die spent or smaller.

Okay, how about cool new things that separate doom dice from plot points? Well, a doom die of d8 or larger can become a new distinction for the scene, something like a burst steam pipe or a plummeting wrecking ball, or anything else that gives an advantage against the heroes.

A Watcher character can use a doom die to interrupt the established order of action. If I haven't established it yet, and I don't think the book has at this point, the usual order of action is determined by, usually, the Watcher asking a player, "What do you do?" and then that player selects the next to act and so on. So if the Watcher wants to get an action in edgewise, they can spend a doom die to do it.

Remember how some characters work better on a team, with a buddy, or alone? Doom dice are how the Watcher can separate a team or pair, or even force a loner in with a companion or companions.

In addition to power SFX, a spend from the doom pool can activate special effects tied to a Scene or even an Event. Maybe the scene takes place in Dr. Doom's castle, so this could have the effect of summoning fresh doombots to the fight, or maybe this spend advances Dr. Doom's progressive doomsday device another step toward it's catastrophic purpose, or whatever fiendish thing the Watcher desires.

The other thing doom dice do is force the end of a scene. It's expensive at 2d12 from the pool, but it can help keep things moving when a fight goes long or some other element of a scene is proving tedious or otherwise standing in the way of action progression.

In addition to being a spendable resource for enhancing actions and scenes, the doom pool stands in for opposition when there aren't any villain characters to represent it. Let me clarify because that's a terrible sentence. When it would be dramatically interesting for a character to fail in doing whatever it is they're doing, it calls for a roll, but not every roll is directly opposed by another character, villainous or otherwise. This is where you actually roll the doom pool. Of course, the doom pool as a resource for enhancing rolls also extends to rolls made with the pool itself.

Oh, every time the Watcher actually spends a d12 doom die, any hero affected by the spend gets 1xp. That means if the Watcher uses 2d12 doom to end a scene, all the heroes in the scene get 2xp. Those look like pretty small numbers, I know, but this is a narrative game, where xp values tend to be low, so don't worry about it, and we'll talk about it later.

In the meantime, I'm spending 2d12 to end this update, so take 2xp and join me ...

Next time: The End of the Introduction! (Stunts, Resources, Push Dice, Assets, Stress, and Complications)

And then: Playing the Game! (Finally!)

Aug 6, 2009
Cover the area first and city immediately after in the next entry, would be my preference.

Mar 18, 2007

Good, bad. I'm the one with the power of Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen.
College Slice
If PrincessWuffles posts have piqued your interest in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, you should act on that now. Today is the very last day you can buy the PDFs as the license expires tomorrow. The Premium versions of event supplements have the rulebook as their first half (don't know if that includes all the superhero datafiles from the standalone rulebook, though).

It really is a fun game. I used to be a FASERIP junkie and also loved the MURPG system, but if I were to start a Marvel campaign now, this would be my system of choice.

Dec 19, 2012

ibntumart posted:

If PrincessWuffles posts have piqued your interest in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, you should act on that now. Today is the very last day you can buy the PDFs as the license expires tomorrow. The Premium versions of event supplements have the rulebook as their first half (don't know if that includes all the superhero datafiles from the standalone rulebook, though).

It really is a fun game. I used to be a FASERIP junkie and also loved the MURPG system, but if I were to start a Marvel campaign now, this would be my system of choice.

Besides datafiles and setting fluff, what do the other books add?

Sep 2, 2012


Syrg Sapphire posted:

If they were, they're in the table of contents on the wiki, I anal-retentively update every single thing written in these threads there.

So no. Nobody did.
There are not kudos enough in the world to thank you for maintaining that.

It's what makes this thread a true treasure.

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

Tatum Girlparts posted:

Wait, Bone Gnawers don't get love, even though they're constantly the dudes protecting the lower classes (protect the helpless...) and often based out of things like women's shelters and all, because their connections 'cost a lot' but Glass Walkers, Gordon Geko the werewolf, who also have connections that cost a lot, get the respect?

Bone Gnawers never get any respect. Ever. It's the Tribe's literal flaw.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer

pospysyl posted:

Why is this giant naked lady smiling? I'm concerned.

I'm more concerned about the heavily pregnant woman in Crinos form.

dwarf74 posted:

There are not kudos enough in the world to thank you for maintaining that.

It's what makes this thread a true treasure.

And yes, christ, this.

Mar 17, 2011
Forgotten Realms: The Land of The Purple Dragons

Okay, so, Cormyr. I'm breaking out of alphabetical format because Cormyr is really important, prominent, and receives a good four pages to itself in the Cyclopedia. It's actually a bit hard to think about how to boil this down.

As you might have noticed from the maps I've posted, Cormyr sits square in the middle of the Heartlands, the really detailed and really popular part of the Forgotten Realms I pointed out. It's so detailed that there's a 4e Dragon magazine article on it that served two purposes: 1) To provide a good primer for new 4e players to the nation and 2) To get into print a single, coherent map of Cormyr that had on it the hundred to two hundred communities and sites that had been mentioned and placed over time.

What is really notable about Cormyr, first off the bat, is that it is unique among the Heartlands - it is the only true nation among them. Famous cities in the Realms like Waterdeep and Neverwinter are standalone city-states, and the Dalelands are a loose confederacy of towns. Cormyr is the only one with actual borders, a ruler, and a single standing army. In fact, it is one of two traditional kingdoms in the Realms - that is, traditional kingdom in the D&D sense of a European fantasy with a hereditary monarchy and its own defined borders and national identity. The other one is Impiltur, and the best word to describe Impiltur right from the 1e Campaign Set until the 4e Campaign Guide is hosed.

Now, don't get me wrong - there are monarchies among the Realms, and there are other defined nations, and there are even other kings. But each and every one of those has a different twist that takes it a good distance away from the D&D standard, like "entire bloodline is cursed to be possessed by demons forever," "king is also archmage and can literally see the future 90% of the time," and "king is a dwarf. also dead or stone, not sure which." Because of this, not only is Cormyr popular and prominent because it was part of Ed Greenwood's original focus for the Realms, it is also really popular because it is the only example of the "standard" D&D nation-state in the Realms. So you get a large variety of products and adventures set in Cormyr because it is a really easy place for unoriginal writers (and let's face it, there are certainly no shortage of those in game design, even in TSR's hallowed halls) to latch on to and use.

That said, we aren't dealing with a horrible abomination of bad design fever dreams here. Cormyr has some cool stuff going on, and it's really worth playing in if you want a classic D&D feel. It's roughly square, stuck between the desert of Anauroch and an arm of the Sea of Fallen Stars called the Dragonmere. (There is also a place nearby called the Dragon Coast. Cormyr is called the Land of the Purple Dragon. In case you didn't get the message, here be dragons, at least long ago in history.)

Cormyr is commonly known as the Forest Kingdom; it was originally deep woods right from the Storm Horns in the west to the Thunder Peaks in the east, but it's been so well settled and for so long (the Cormyrean monarchy dates back 1300 years) that much of the forest has been cut down and turned into farmland. What is left is mostly in the single wood known as the King's Forest, which is actively husbanded by the King's men, and carefully logged and protected. You can't log in the King's Forest without royal permission, but as a form of royal grace, you can hunt for yourself and your family at any time.

Cormyr is so well populated because it is geographically well-situated. Not only does the Dragonmere create easy, rich farming, but Cormyr stands astride one of the major trade routes between the riches of the Sword Coast to the West and the Sea of Fallen Stars to the east. If you want to ship something overland from the west to the east of Faerun, it either comes through Cormyr, it comes in a very circuitous manner, or you put your life at extreme risk while traveling.

Cormyr is ruled by the slightly soft and intellectual King Azoun IV (of the house of Obarskyr), a sharp and funny man who isn't as much of a warrior as his father, the warrior-king Rhigaerd II. The royal court is located in the capital city of Suzail, consisting of not only the royal palace but also a veritable warren of public and noble buildings that surround it. Azoun is very rarely seen outside of the court, and almost never in the smaller or rougher towns and villages around Cormyr. Instead, he is rumoured to travel under disguise across the Forest Kingdom to see his people. Azoun is married to Queen Filfaeril, who is strong of will and brooks very little disagreement; still, those who know Filfaeril well say that she is caring and affectionate. Their marriage has produced three children: Foril, their son and firstborn, died at the age of two. Their two other children are girls. Tanalasta Obarskyr is the very image of a proper princess, dutiful in her studies and a delight at court. Alusair, the youngest, could not be more different. Known as the "Steel Princess," Alusair cares not at all for courtly duties or noble living. Instead, Alusair took to arms and fighting at a young age. She now leads a small detachment of Cormyrean soldiers, fighting among them. No one in Cormyr finds Alusair's martial inclination unusual or wrong (although her lack of respect for the court doesn't befit a royal.) What they do find troublesome are the rumours that she drinks and fist-fights as much as the best of her men (and then sleeps with them.) In effect, the Steel Princess is prized as a symbol of Cormyrean knighthood and heroism, and worried over as a sign of decadence.

House Obarskyr (and with them, the kingdom of Cormyr) has the arms of a purple dragon on a black field, a symbol carried by all of Cormyr's knights and soldiers. Because of this, Cormyr's army is popularly known as the "Purple Dragons," and they are known for being well-trained and richly equipped. The army is standing (kept perpetually active, unlike a militia or volunteer army that is called on in times of need), and is organized by the Lord High Marshal of Cormyr, Lord Bhereu.

Cormyr's date system dates back to the founding of House Obarskyr 1332 years ago (26 DR), so there is a discrepancy between the common Dalereckoning system and what is called Cormyr Reckoning. To switch between the two, subtract 25 from Dalereckoning or add 25 to Cormyr Reckoning. For much of Cormyr's history, there wasn't much to the country, just a handful of villages and Suzail itself: invaders even drove the current ruler from Suzail a few times.

There's a printed partial geneology of House Obarskyr here, and a mention of where Azoun IV fits into the overall lineage. It doesn't really work - it's printed in Cormyrean dates as opposed to the DR system used everywhere else in the Cyclopedia, so it is immediately confusing; it's also wrong and doesn't really match up with anything. Eventually, the lineage gets sorted out in the 3e supplement The Grand History of the Realms, but don't worry about it between then and now.

Cormyr is a peaceful kingdom, as much as a place can be peaceful in a world with man-eating trolls. There has been no true war since Rhigaerd II defeated the Border Raiders, and the Purple Dragons just succesfully put down the rebellion of Gondegal the Bandit King (who we'll talk about when I get back to Arabel.) However, patrols in the north and west often fight bandits, the goblins and other monsters of the area known as the Stonelands, and evil raiders have been known to ride out of Tilver's Gap and the other mountains in order to pillage farmsteads. In response, Cormyr has been building a mighty fortress for the past decade, Castle Crag, to defend against any attacks.

Direct power in Cormyr descends from Azoun IV to his handpicked lords, each of whom governs a large community and surrounding lands and are known as the local lords (in contrast to the courtly lords, who have a hereditary noble title and noble house with all the trimmings.) There are too many to list, but the most important are: Lady Myrmeen Lhal of Arabel, Lord Tessaril Winter of Eveningstar, Samtavan Sulacar of Immersea, and Sthavar, Lord Magister of Suzail. (In an example of wonderful RPG editing, the list of lords is supposed to be done in order from greatest power to least, but is actually presented alphabetically by area of control.) Each lord is served by several merchant lords who tend to mercantile affairs, and by a Herald.

Heralds are really important and basically get explained nowhere in the Forgotten Realms for like 20 years. Which is kind of stupid, because they're a huge part of the sociocultural makeup for the setting in general. So here's an explanation: Heralds (always capital, it's an actual title) are travelling journalists, judges, and record-keepers. Heralds travel from town to town delivering news, some letter-mail, and other important details; while they are there, they update the town's records (births, deaths, and marriages), and preside over any civil legal disputes.You can effectively think of them as the entire executive branch of the government minus the military and the tax collector. There's a single Herald listed for each of Cormyr's Lords; the detailed published material on Heralds suggests that each of these should instead be a local herald, who keeps the grand records; they are in turn reported to by the traveling court heralds who do the duties I listed above (and often act as eyes and ears for the Crown.) Don't call either type a High Herald; that's something else entirely (but still related!) that we don't need to cover for quite awhile.

Azoun taxes lightly - a silver piece per head per year to the local lord in tithe, and then a royal tax of 1 gold per head annually, with five gold more taxed from wealthy landowners. One gold is roughly what a peasant makes in a month, so it is a significant burden but not too much. Living in Cormyr is by no means easy for the common man, but at least there is a good, just rule of law and a stable military to watch your back: that's more than others in Faerun have, for sure.

Cormyr's military is divided into smaller groups, such as the men at arms kept by each local lord, and the standing army of bowmen and soldiers lead by knights. Most notable are the War Wizards, the mages who make up a good portion of Cormyr's magical talent. They are taught, trained, and tightly controlled by the Royal Magician, Vangerdahast. Because of the War Wizards, Cormyr's military might is feared - not only are their men well-trained, but they are one of a very small number of states who can directly bring magical might to bear in large numbers. Any wizards in Cormyr are required to identify themselves to the Crown and to Vangerdahast in particular upon entry on pain of death; native mages of Cormyr may be forced to join the War Wizards in time of need.

The military history of Cormyr, stretching back to the first Obarskyrs, is characterized by hit and run guerrilla tactics and rebellions, so the Crown is very suspicious of armed men gathering in any number. Gatherings of mercenaries are forbidden unless registered with the local Herald (see adventuring companies, above), and any weapons are often surrendered to a caretaker for safekeeping. Unless you have a direct contract, the only way to gather as an adventuring party is to pay for and acquire a royal charter (in Suzail, Arabel, or the fortress of High Horn.) Charters are expensive - a thousand gold up front, three hundred in taxes a year, and if you don't pay your taxes within a tenday your charter is cancelled and you get thrown in jail. Charters individually identify the members (and you have to wear a badge or other sign that matches the symbol you put on your royal charter), so officers of the law can identify and imprison improper members of adventuring companies.

Finally, there's a handful of Cormyrean customs. Everyone bows for royalty; there's wakes after burials; don't kill cats because cats are the messengers of the gods. In fact, don't clip the ears, tail, fur, or even spay one because that's a sin. Don't even try to keep one in a cage. (You may just want to skip the cat thing all together.) If you're a woman, you can say you're available by wearing a purple scarf around your neck or your hip, as if you were flagging for vaginal fisting at a BDSM club. Adventurers tie up their weapons in giant safety knots known as peacestrings to prevent them from being drawn; an art form is being made out of complicated knots that come apart to free your sword with a single pull. How that actually keeps the peace, I don't really know.

Next time: Anauroch! Amn! Arabel! and then the Dalelands before I can do Archendale!

Arivia fucked around with this message at 15:36 on Apr 30, 2013

Jul 19, 2012

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

citybeatnik posted:

Bone Gnawers never get any respect. Ever. It's the Tribe's literal flaw.

They also were discouraged from having high levels of starting resources, which lead to the Bootstrapping rules. Which also allowed you to one day wake up and suddenly have more Pure Breed than you did the day before.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

oMage: Dragons of the East

There are plenty of necromancers in Asia, so plenty of people who deal with ghosts. While the virtuous can expect to reincarnate, take up heavenly posts or escape the Wheel of Existence, those who deserve punishment or who are chosen to further the Bureaucracy of Hell are sent to the Yellow Springs, ruled by Yu Huang, a terrible tyrant. At least to some ghosts. For mages, how you think of Yu Huang depends on where you're from. Are you from China? If so, Yu Huang has rightfully asserted Chinese dominance over the Yin World just as China must over Asia. If not, well, your ancestors are tormented by the wicked devil Yu Huang who conquered the Shadowlands centuries ago. Even the Akashics have been split on regional lines over whether this was okay, especially with the arrival of the (heavily Yu Huang-loving) Wu Lung. However, after Yu Huang's failed invasion of the West, his army is weak, and many rebellions now rage against him in the lands of the dead, even in his native China.

The Wu Lung are very close to Yu Huang (or, as he was called in life, Qin Shihuang, the First Emperor), both others have contacts among the dead, too. The Avatar Storm has made things harder for everyone - not communicationwise, but the storms are bringing chaos. Some even speak of the dead returning to their bodies like Wan Kuei. Ghosts outside China are little more than slaves to Yu Huang, which is distressing for many mages. However, many rebel groups exist and often seek out their Awakened descendants for aid.

Sidebar: It's not uncommon for wraiths to be born consumed by their P'o. In the West, these are known as mortwights, vengeful spirits of rage. The Jade Empire of the Dead may have tamed the mortwights of the Taiping Rebellion, the Rape of Nanking and the Cultural Revolution, but not the ones of Cambodia or East Timor. Indeed, renegades in CAmbodia's underworld have turned the mortwights on Yu Huang's forces. However, finding your ancestors are insane rage ghosts can be distressing, so perhaps a PC will learn how to return such ghosts to the ways of righteousness.

Mages actually get on relatively well with the Hsien. Of course, the hsien are also not quiet about telling mages how they were the ones to teach them how to use magic so long ago. Their formal association, however, doesn't mean they understand each other. Not at all. The hsien know very little about mages, and vice versa. Historians among the Awakened know that they were once the messengers, scholars and ministers of the Celestial Courts, but were somehow stripped of glory and trapped in borrowed human bodies. No one knows why. The hsien divide themselves into kamuii (nobles) and hirayanu (commonerS), and will typically make clear which one they are. There's one race of each for each of the five Chinese elements, which is relatively easy to figure out. They also have some animal form that each one favors - again, relatively easy to learn.

However, the hsien also divide themselves on political lines that are only sometimes geographical and have little relation to the modern world's boundaries. Other groups are philosophical and some are purely convenient. The mages know almost nothing of them and cannot easily generalize. It's best to deal with hsien on an individual basis. They seem to have some talent for elemental magic, but it's utterly unlike Awakened magic, apparently deriving from the belief of those they protect. It is known as the Five Alchemies, but apparently there may be a mysterious Sixth Alchemy which hsien do not speak of. The Five Metal Dragons and Zaibatsu view them as relics of an ancient past, perhaps remembered fondly, but never returned to. At best, they are ignored. At worst, they are hunted down and killed, then their lands destroyed by progress. The hsien fight the Technocrats as best they can, but their ties to the land make them vulnerable, and their retaliation makes the Zaibatsu angry.

The Wu-Keng maintain friendly contact with the dark Kura Sau, the corrupt hsien who pledged themselves to the Yama Kings, for they practice the same magic, the warped Hac Tao. Of course, any knowledge comes at a price, for the Kura Sau are favored servants of the Yama Kings, and very valuable. The Wu-Keng often summon them with rituals of murder and mutilation, for the Kura Sau need the bodies of victims to manifest in the physical world.

Skimming over some monsters (kirin have vanished for the last century, even in the Umbra, fu lions are becoming increasingly depressed, dragons are mega rare and kappa hang out in sewers). Then we move on to notable Yama Kings, the demons who grew corrupt and rebelled against their role in punishing the wicked, choosing instead to try and take over the universe. Mikaboshi, Lord of the Wicked City, used to be a human Infernalist of the Dalou'laoshi who became one of the weaker Yama Kings. However, when the Meiji Restoration happened, he rapidly adapted to the new technologies and is now one of the most powerful Yama Kings, whose mortal servants (both mundane and Awakened) serve in places of power in corporations and crime syndicates, often with cybernetics that rival Iteration X.

Rangda, the Queen of Pestilence, is strong with the current age, thanks to disease across Asia. Japanese biological warfare and now the southeast Asian HIV epidemic have grown her empire, and her servants work to spread disease wherever they can, whether by preventing health education, encouraging unregulated prostitution or researching nuclear and chemical weapons. She especially prizes corrupted Progenitors and Etherites. Hana no Fukami, the Empress of Pearls, is charged with punishing crimes against the ocean, as well as crimes involving fire or water. Unlike most Yama Kings, she has not rebelled against this purpose. While she can draw power from the suffering of her realm as other Yama Kings do, she gets most of it from the elemental strength of the oceans and volcanoes in the South Pacific. Sorcerers and even some Micronesian Dreamspeakers honor her and gain benefit from her patronage. (Despite Wu Lung and Akashic rhetoric, they are no more Infernalist than Verbena Odin cults or Euthanatos Kali worshippers.)

Moving on, we get stats for Mikaboshis Demons of Iron and Violence (read: evil cyborgs), Rangda's Plague Zombies (exactly what they sound like) and generic Bakemono. A Bakemono is a human (or, rarely, an animal) that is a minion of a Yama King, warped physically and mentally. Traditionally, they're made by demon summoning, Infernalist pacts or random chance, but they showed up at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, too, and rumor persists that use of Agent Orange in Vietnam has led to isolated village clans of bakemono. One Iron Triangle Triad is led by a willing servant of a Yama King and is said to sell opium that can make bakemono with psychic powers, and some Japanese mages claim there are tainted manga out there that can make tentacled monsters. Asian Nephandi are known to use the Bakemono as bodyguards and servants, and several Triads and Yakuza clans are said to have them, wittingly or not, as assassins and enforcers. Some more monstrous Kumo and Kuei-jin keep them as pets.

Hunters! There's the Ministry of Public Security, China's police force. They have to deal with the fallout of supernatural wars, so they send in Office 21. Like their counterparts in the FBI-SAD, they specialize in paranormal crime. Isolated incidents usually get investigated, filed away and ignored unless a pattern seems to show up, but if the supernaturals in question threaten Chinese national security, Office 21 uses all force available between themselves and the paramilitary Special Rapid Reaction Force. Regardless of outcome, they always cover up paranormal events. Mages can come under their scrutiny if they appear to be "subversive" - ie, leading cults, attempting reforms, stealing cultural artifacts or spying. Tradition mages often believe Office 21 is a front for the NWO, but in truth, it happened entirely on its own. (The NWO are just happy to lend a hand as needed.)

The Arcanum first took an interest in Asia in the 1960s. Since then, they've established chapter houses in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, with colony houses and lodges in other major cities. They investigate supernatural events and traditions, and some mages have been watched them - often hopelessly naive hunters, or scarily astute ones. Over the past year, a chapter house in Seoul was burned down and all four members killed. So far, two lodges are investigating, and neither has been heard from in months. The Tokyo chancellor fears the worst.

Strike Force Zero has existed secretly under the Japanese government for ten years now. They are a corporate-sponsored band of monster hunters, drawn from many backgrounds. They have advanced cybernetics and high tech weapons, and they're a problem. Their intelligence on mages is sketchy at best, and they tend to believe magic is just a form of psychic ability, often focused via props or rituals. Their parapsychologist, Dr. Burukkusu Deidera, has made a classification system for "Psionically Active Humanoids" based on types of power and level, including biokinesis, psychokinesis aqnd clairsentience, from Class 1 (weak powers) to Class 3 (extremely dangerous). At present, Strike Force Zero has only ever seen two Class 3s. One is Hei Yugou, leader of the Black Demon Tong, a biokinetic said to have turned at least two agents inside out while leaving them alive and aware. The other is Ravil Ashimin, a Kazakhstan expat and ex-KGB agent turned corporate spy. Of the five men sent to arrest him, two committed suicide and a third appeared months later as the leader of a doomsday cult among the homeless people of Kobe. The other two are missing. Dr. Burukkusu has theorized about the existence of Class 4s, but the team prefers not to think about that.

The Shih...well, the Shih are travellers, solitary warriors whose sole duty is to protect humans from supernatural beings. Their goal is timeless and they favor traditional methods. They move constantly to avoid being caught by monsters and to avoid attachments to others that monsters could use to hurt them. Their only attachments are to their students, the survivors of attacks who have enough drive to survive the 15-20 years of brutal training the Shih undergo. They are vengeful, but not indiscriminate. Everything has a purpose, and it is only when a Kuei-jin goes too far, slaughtering innocents, that they act. Only when a hengeyokai butchers the families of those involved in harming nature, not just the criminals themselves. The Shih exist to enforce the implicit rules of supernatural society. Of course, mages are more human than most monsters, so they tend not to be targets as often - they remember what it's like to be human and don't often overstep. That doesn't protect them if they harm the innocent, though, or are willfully negligent. The Shih have also occasionally intervened against the Five Metal Dragons pogrom - not to save Mages, but the common people caught in the crossfire. They tend to be very uncharitable about vulgar use of magic, and they are staunch foes of Nephandi and Marauders. They're especially effective against Marauders, since they don't suffer amplified Paradox (or Paradox at all), and they're immune to the temptations of the Nephandi. They often die, but they die well.

The mystic powers of the Shih are a mystery. They work sensically, with rituals and foci, but the source is unclear. They don't focus power through an Avatar - it seems to come from within them. They draw on their own life energy as a weapon, and it is always painful and damaging. This is perhaps why they prefer martial arts when possible. Mages never quite get why the Shih don't look for another source of power or Awaken. The Shih don't speculate, and none wish to become one of the monsters they hunt. They shun the ways of the Awakened and focus instead on internal skill and power, lacking the desire to enforce their will on the world. Many scholars may claim that Yi the Excellent Archer, the first of the Shih, was Awakened, but never to a Shih's face. (Incidentally: neither the Shih nor Strike Force Zero count as witnesses for the purposes of most vulgar magic, thanks to their familiarity with monsters and supertech.)

Next time: The Five Metal Dragons.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

Kurieg posted:

...which lead to the Bootstrapping rules. Which also allowed you to one day wake up and suddenly have more Pure Breed than you did the day before.

Would love to hear more about this.

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
Since the Bone Gnawers have a bunch of background restrictions, their tribe book has an optional rule called Bootstrapping that allows you to buy-up backgrounds with XP. As Written it was supposed to be the result of months of "behind the scenes" planning on the part of your character, culminating in one or two sessions of a story revolving around your epic quest to the tribal homelands to meet your great uncle marty and convince him to be your ancestor spirit or cashing in a bunch of favors to get yourself that extra dot of resources.

In practice most Storytellers were kind of leery of devoting so much time to one character, particularly if only one person was using bootstrapping, and just letting people spend XP to raise backgrounds. Once that precedent is set, the sky's the limit.

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

Spoilers Below posted:

Would love to hear more about this.

To be fair, Bone Gnawers could actually use Merits to get around their starting restrictions on Backgrounds.

It's just that what Bone Gnawers consider Merits are actually Flaws to just about anyone else.

Dec 13, 2011
I always liked the feel of the Demonhunter X supplement, especially the Shih. They're martyrs, they know it and they're going to go out on a mountain of bodies that they believe are unjust. And it pulls no punches describing that many of them are just horribly hosed up from what they've seen. Was DHX the basis for what would become Hunter?

Defiance Industries
Jul 22, 2010

A five-star manufacturer

Xelkelvos posted:

Besides datafiles and setting fluff, what do the other books add?

Annihilation introduces some new mechanics that are pretty interesting. There are a group of power set templates designed sk you can mash together to make a new character easily and quickly, or represent the character getting a new powerup like Kree combat gear or the Power Cosmic. There's also a mechanic designed to represent countdowns, like a crashing ship or whatever.

Oct 19, 2004

ibntumart posted:

If PrincessWuffles posts have piqued your interest in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, you should act on that now. Today is the very last day you can buy the PDFs as the license expires tomorrow. The Premium versions of event supplements have the rulebook as their first half (don't know if that includes all the superhero datafiles from the standalone rulebook, though).
Thanks, man. I just came to post about this, but it doesn't surprise me that you got here first. As for the datafiles included with each book, if I'm not mistaken, there is some but not complete crossover between Civil War and the Basic Game, since the datafiles in Basic Game are intended for the Raft scenario in the back of that book. Gone from Civil War, also, are probably a good number of the villain files for those attempting to escape from The Raft. I only have Basic and Civil War Essentials, though, so I don't know what all additional is included with CW:Premium, aside from the Operations Manual Section.

Xelkelvos posted:

Besides datafiles and setting fluff, what do the other books add?

The other books are a guide to running established comics events through the game. They're a sourcebook to the event and then an outline of key scenes that defined the event, so you can see how your heroes react and change history or follow what went on in the comics. If nothing else, the event lines are a great way to focus your thinking on running a comic book style campaign, even if you just end up picking and choosing from what's already there and altering it to your own purpose.

Editing for clarification: The event lines are more than just a plotline, each scene might have cool new Special Effects or other goodies that make it fun and unique, and that could serve any Watcher well in creating their own Event.

PrincessWuffles fucked around with this message at 19:43 on Apr 30, 2013

Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!

part 8: Finally, some actual encounters!

So, the first part of Region B was trying desperately to be a sort of D-list Tomb of Horrors: lots of traps and "puzzles" with very few actual enemies. Of course it did not manage anything nearly as clever as the Tomb and ended up being just a lot of automatically closing doors and annoyed PCs.

However, if your players are still willing to talk to you after the first section then they'll come into the Region proper which, while still very stupid, is at least less dense with frustrating encounters.

The thing that stands out the most in this area is the absolutely terrible dungeon design. It really does seem like it was made with a random dungeon generator and then sub-sections assigned practically at random. I've already shown that the goblins for instance could not possible reach the statue that they're meant to worship (and in fact, neither can the PCs). Another great example are the bugbears and goblins.

The red is the northern portion of the goblin kingdom, the blue is where the bulk of bugbear forces are located, safely sheltered from the goblins, the purple is where the bugbear leaders and shaman live.

You may note...there's no direct connection between the blue and the purple region. That means that if the bugbears wish to see their leaders (or vice versa) then they must travel far to the East, loop around and head west again to reach the area where they've apparently decided to set up shop.

Now, also recall that the bugbears and goblins are at war, but there is practically no separation between the two...just one long hallway which features no traps, no barricades, no guard posts. There's nothing to stop either side from simply walking into the other's territory. And remember, since the purple section houses the most important bugbear leaders, there's absolutely no way for them to get reinforcements should the goblins discover the secret door their hiding behind (the one that they have to use should the bugbear leaders ever want to communicate with their followers at all).

Room 67 (the big one around the middle of the picture, is supposedly the bugbear's "last line of defense". It's a heavily trapped room and apparently the plan is to retreat there should all be lost and hole up in room 68.

So, to be clear, in the event that the goblins attack them and they cannot win their plan is to retreat towards the goblin stronghold and then hole themselves up inside an empty room with no escape instead of taking the exit to Region A, which as far as they know is empty and hospitable (as the humaniods and feindish critters arrived only recently). No wonder they're losing the war.

Next is the holy goblin empire, which deserves a whole post to itself just because of the monumentally bad advice it includes.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

oMage: Dragons of the East

One thing you may have noticed about Dragons of the East: there's very little out of character talk about how Asians are superior. Sure, the Wu Lung are completely self-centered, but that's just, you know, being Mages. We're about to get into the Elemental Dragons, and that's all about to end.

See, the Elemental Dragons, the secret power behind the Five Metal Dragons, has been hidden for centuries, even from the Technocrats! Many have passed themselves off as devoted TEchnocrats, and Iteration X and the NWO truly believe they're in control...but they're not! The Elemental Dragons have leaked information on Technocrat agents from time to time to the shen, to keep them occupied and their own work undisturbed. They can blame any options on the Metal Dragons, the Technocrats, while directing the chaotic shen at people they don't like. This is, in fact, their official policy, keeping technology from overrunning Asia and order in place. The Elemental Dragons keep secret in part because, as Asians, they hate to show sensitive matters openly.

I did mention the good part was over, right?

The secrecy began to fall a bit in the 20th century, when the Zaibatsu declared itself as a seperate group openly, but even then, they're thought of as just the Japanese Technocrats, perhaps a mix of NWO and Iteration X funded by the Syndicate. Sure, occasional agents have broken the silence. In the late 70s, a few Taiping Tianguo agents admitted to "assisting" North Vietnamese forces in the Vietnam War, but they immediately claimed after that they did it on Syndicate orders. In the 90s, 4 NWO agents left China for no clear reason they could give. But those are the few, and most of the Miao Guan actions remain secret due to their mental powers. See, a sidebar tells us that the Elemental Dragons have heavily infiltrated the Technocrats but would never think of themselves solely as Technocrats. Their mental conditioning is so good that they're never detected.


To the Elemental Dragons, the Five Metal Dragons are upstarts who have fostered technologies that they don't completely understand and destructive social constructs, but their techniques might be turned to useful results - barbarians with potent toys, if you will.

The Elemental Dragons have only now begun to reveal themselves as truly seperate, though not all of them are revealing it. They were the first in Asia to explode agriculture, learning to sense the energies around them. These people named themselves Dragons, with each Dragon feeling the call of an element, until each guarded a seperate place and element, all working in harmony. In truth, the Dragons did push Asian civilization and order, and this who would become Zi Guang did notice that rice was good food that should be grown in certain ways, while the ancestors of the Zaibatsu did tame fire, and those who would be Saensaeng learned to make clay and buildings, but they were trying to force order, not guide it. Their imperfect order was surrounded by chaos and war, which they largely ignored, feeling it provided a needed balance.

The fall of the Khmer Empire in the 14th century proved that the balance was not being kept. A new threat came - the gweilo, the gaijin. In the 16th century, they descended on Asia, introducing new technology without care for consequences and spreading dissension. The Elemental Dragons were horrified - some of these outsiders even said the individual was more important than the group! The Japanese Dragons sealed their doors to all outsiders except in Nagasaki, and the other Dragons sought other solutions. Some hunted the shen, blaming them, while others blamed "two previously unimportant groups", the Akashics and Wu Lung, who were now keeping humanity stagnant and adding to chaos.

Unfortunately, the Dragons proved unable to drive out those mages, so they welcomed the aid of the Order of Reason. They can't be blamed for not foreseeing the result. In their quest for money, they deliberately allowed the Chinese to become addicted to opium, using it to fund ever greater technology, pushing the Elemental Dragons out of power in Southeast Asia as they set up their trade networks. The Dragons became desperate to modernize. In Japan, they caused the Meiji Restoration, and they enjoyed some success in keeping the Technocrats out of China. World War 2, however, set them against each other. After the bombs were dropped, they met up again and agreed to return to their ancient beliefs in order, rejecting their old courts and names for new ones. The Court of the Chrysanthemum became the Saensaeng of Japan and Korea. The Zaibatsu took open control of Japan from them. The Taiping Tianguo retreated to Taiwan and Hong Kong, while the Miao Guan and Zi Guang struggled to bring peace to China. They even united briefly to eradicate every Western Progenitor or Iteration X agent in China, as a response to the Rape of Nanking. (Both groups deny responsibility in that, of course, but the Elemental Dragons don't believe it.) Sure, Iteration X claims to control China, but really they have only a handful of agents there. Some say that Iteration X holds to the claim due to Miao Guan mind control.

The Taiping Tianguo, Saensaeng and Zaibatsu all built formidable financial empires, much as the Syndicate, NWO and Iteration X did in Southeast Asia. The Elemental Dragons now care mostly about China, where peace has finally come. All five Elemental Dragons and three of the Five Metal Dragons all have a Chinese presence now. Their success has had one unexpected side effect: a massive upswelling of Chi that is hard to control. The Zaibatsu and Taiping Tianguo have made control of Chi rather than order their top priority. A secondary side effect may also be the growing strength of the shen. Also, their economic growth is recently struggling for no clear reason.

The Elemental Dragons hold strongly that the best thing is to combine old and new, mixing the best of the ancient world with the newest tech. Thus, they build offices according to feng shui rules and maintain their title of Dragons. In theory, they work alongside the Technocracy and each other perfectly, but theory and practice are not the same. The Zaibatsu and Saensaeng, for example, hate each other, and the Zaibatsu blame the Aum Shinrikyo attacks on the Saensaeng, while the Saensaeng hate that the Zaibatsu seem to embrace the West. The Miao Guan distrust technological advances and suspect the Taiping Tianguo of working with chaos forces. Only the Zi Guang are truly friendly with the rest. Still, they are united in distrust of the shen and their desire to rid Southeast Asia of the Technocrats, whom they see as inferior and honorless. Still, no one can deny that they've done good things and helped bring order to some places. (Side note: The Elemental Dragons? Sexist. Women are not expected to do as well, despite the fact that ladies in the Technocracy do just fine.)

The Elemental Dragons have five organizations. First are what were once the Temple of the Eternal Mountain, the Wood Dragons or Zi Guang. They started rice farming and care about the people. They want to slow the growth of Chi by discouraging population growth and using inner Chi to improve the body. They carefully harvest excess Chi from the un-Awakened and use it to power projects. Next are the Temple of Heavenly Peace, AKA the Water Dragons or Taiping Tianguo, who believe that Chi should be allowed to keep increasing. The energy can be used to solve world problems, though they have had trouble finding tech that can control it, largely due to lack of funds. So they're trying to make money enough to find either solutions or paths to solutions. Third is the Court of Chrysanthemums, AKA EArth Dragons or Saensaeng, who guide South Korea and attempt to keep Asian traditions alive. Only by maintaining societal order can Chi be controlled, they say, and the JApanese Saensaeng hope to use conservative politicians to overtake the Zaibatsu and halt their campaign of change.

The Court of Plum Blossoms, AKA the Fire Dragons or Zaibatsu, are in Japan, disguised as the Mikoshi conglomerate and other companies. They develop high technology, hoping to find a way to control Chi with it. The Temple of Eternal Harmonies, AKA the Spirit Dragons or Miao Guan, are the last. They prefer to study the effects of the new elsewhere before allowing it into their borders, and have deliberately kept Chinese technology at a low level, though that's starting to change thanks to the Taiping Tianguo. They are very good at order and community, though. There is no group for the Chinese element of metal. Some say that the Wu Lung were the Metal Dragons, and others say that was once the Miao Guan, while still others point to the Technocrats, who after all are called the Five Metal Dragons.

All of the Elemental Dragons care about controlling Chi and maintaining order above all. In a changing world, they maintain balance, for too swift change brings chaos and so they maintain tradition. It's too much for one group, so they split the duties. Saensaeng maintain tradition, Miao Guan maintain peace at any cost, the Zaibatsu make Chi-controlling technologies, the Taiping Tianguo fund it all and the Zi Guang use Chi to make superior beings. No one is entirely sure what the actual Technocrats are planning to do with the rising flood of Chi (or, as they call it, Quintessence).

Next time: More Elemental Dragons.

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky

pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 4: Clues can run, but they cannot hide

The meat of this investigative game is the investigative abilities, and here they are. Remember, a Laser crew from the point of character generation will have all of the following abilities covered by at least one member. Anybody can make a living one way or another in the Bleed, but your mastery of these techniques sets you apart as a Laser. Time for the list:

Chapter 3: What You can Do (part 2)

Anthropology (Academic): You know about the customs and culture of every well-documented people, and can extrapolate from that to cover the rest pretty well. You can even predict how outside stimuli will likely impact social development.

Archaeology (Academic): You know all about uncovering, preserving, and identifying artifacts left through the ages. When its time to chart a path through an ancient tomb or tell the genuine article from a fake, you're the guy. Your skill with written documents is in new demand where technology has come in short supply.

Astronomy (Technical): Interpreting star maps is a good skill to have when making a living in space. You can plot courses, guess where other ships' courses will lead, call someone's bluff on a forged itinerary, and all that cool stuff.

Bio Signatures (Technical): You can use scanning tech to find lifeforms and learn useful information about them from afar.

Botany (Academic): You get plants. Be one with the green mother and identify poisins, genetic modifications, planet of origin, and forage for foliage.

Bullshit Detector (Interpersonal): Nobody pulls the wool over your eyes (noncorporeal entities, psychic projections, and robots not necessarily included).

Bureaucracy (Interpersonal): Every world is different, but every government official is the same. You can get the documents, cut the red tape, find the whistleblower, and translate the legalese it takes to get the info you need.

Chemistry (Technical): All that lab analysis stuff you've seen on TV? That's your job.

Consciousness Simulation (Special - Vas Mal): This is the first of the Vas Mal abilities we're seeing. When sentient beings die, their brainwave signature lingers for a bit. You are able to spend 3 points to enter a trance where you see and hear a recreation of the deceased as they saw themselves. It will answer any question you ask, but each question requires an additional spend of one point. It behaves as it would have in life, so be careful and polite. While communicating you can also use other interpersonal abilities to navigate the conversation.

Cop Talk (Interpersonal): Like bureaucrats, all cops are the same and you know the drill. You have the ability to connect with them as peers to gain information, support, and to have them overlook some of your methods.

Cybe Culture (Academic): Cybes seeking to build their own society is big news and you have your finger on the pulse. You can translate Cybe slang, identify an individual's beliefs and affiliation, guess their past occupation and enhancements, and establish rapport with a Cybe (much like Cop Talk). Any non-Cybe with this should explain why they have such in-depth knowledge.

Data Retrieval (Technical): Break through the firewall. Zoom, enhance. Isolate the audio.

Decryption (Technical): Analog codes and cyphers, as well as digital scrambles and fractal encryption buckle before you, given time and computing power. Creating codes of your own is also an option. The skills involved also give you the ability to triangulate a transmission's origin, isolate fakery in a transmission, and all that fun stuff. It should probably be paired with Communications Intercept (that's next update).

I think clues are like catnip to the Balla. (Elfnip?)

Dreamsight (Special - Vas Mal): Just what it says, you can peek on dreams. The sleeper is aware of you if they become lucid (Difficulty 6 Sense Trouble test, or if the GM finds it dramatically appropriate) You can see what they see, though you cannot influence the dreamscape. On waking the sleeper may mate a difficulty 4 Sense Trouble test to know their dreams were peeped, and on a result of 8+ they know who did it. Kch-Thk do not dream and are therefore immune to this ability.

Downside (Interpersonal): The end of the Combine's golden age of prosperity and law gave rise to a new criminal underground. They are known as the 'downside'. You speak their language and can even pass as one of them. No matter what they say you don't actually have to tell them if you're a cop.

Energy Signatures (Technical): A Lot like Bio Signatures, but without the "Bio" part. Is the enemy vessel charging its weapons? damaged? full of robots? loaded with illegal tech? You tell me.

Evidence Collection (Technical): The name seems humdrum, but this covers a lot of nifty skills like discovering hidden trace evidence, extrapolating a sequence of events by the spatial relationships of evidence, and recognizing tampering or inept work by other investigators.

Explosive Devices (Technical): Red wire or blue wire, you make the call. You can also learn about bombs from their exploded remains and build your own.

Flattery (Interpersonal): A knack for sweet talk.

Flirting (Interpersonal): A knack for sweetie talk.

Forensic Accounting (Academic): Often, crimes are motivated by the almighty bigcred. You can tell the health of a company from its records or even just seeing it in action, and also find evidence of malfeasance. You can also use this ability to cook some books yourself.

Forensic Anthropology (Technical): You're the autopsy guy. Also DNA analysis, and the ability to reconstruct how deaths occurred from the arrangement of wounds, similar to Evidence Collection.

Forensic Engineering (Technical): Your knowledge of mechanics gives you the ability to identify damage and sabotage and learn about them. Actually fixing things falls under Systems Rapair (next update).

Forensic Psychology (Academic): The magic of criminal profiling is in your hands. Your skill with knowing what motivates individuals and why even extends to unknown species in a limited capacity.

Geology (Academic): You can analyze soil samples and other various minerals. yaaaaaaay.

History (Academic): History is actually six different skills, one for each of the peoples that has a history longer than a generation, plus one for the Combine as a whole, but I'm rolling them into a single entry here. They all provide the ability to understand obscure references, recall significant figures, provide context for artifacts, and all that historical stuff. Each also has a specific reference to their focus and the Kch-Thk entry proves their superiority again:


can recite the chittering proverbs of the great texts of rational materialist poetry, such as Krktl’s The Errors Of Sentimentality and Trk-chk’s Sublime Hierarchy of Foodstuffs

Holo Surveillance (Technical): You have the technical know-how to use holographic surveillance recorders and analyze their playback. More primitive technologies are available and within your skillset, but come on, holograms.

Imaging (Technical): Like Holo Surveillance, but for non-surreptitious imaging devices. You aren't just a shutterbug, your images are loaded with information suited for high-grade analysis. A properly captured image is admissible evidence, which puts it above fingerprints or even DNA with how far forging technology has developed.

Impersonate (Interpersonal): Sometimes you just want to be somebody else. Long-term cons are difficult enough to require ongoing spends, but a quick job is easier to pull off.

Industrial Design (Technical): Your knowledge of design lets you identify the make and model of most anything, reliably guess the layout of unfamiliar places, and even guess the technical capabilities of an unknown people from a few example devices.

Inspiration (Interpersonal): People tell you things by appealing to their better selves. This was an oversight in earlier GUMSHOE games that was added to Ashen Stars after Robin D Laws watched FRINGE and realized you couldn't really make Olivia Dunham in his investigative procedural system.

Operation isn't just a boardgame, its a far-future bomb squad training tool

Interrogation (Interpersonal): Use your authority as the law and the intimidating ambiance of a concrete cell to get what you're after.

Intimidation (Interpersonal): It's intimidation. Not sure what to say that isn't clear from the name.

Kinetics (Technical): Ballistics, but generalized to the wide array of space guns found in the Bleed.

Law (Academic): You intimately know the Combine laws you are contracted to represent, and have the ability to unravel the local laws that have sprung up on planets all through the Bleed. A rating of 2 or more means you are licensed to practice law in the Combine.

Linguistics (Academic): Translation devices are ever-present, but your studies let you go deeper. You can understand unknown languages if you have a suitable sample text and can even add it to your translators.

Negotiation (Interpersonal): Let's make a deal.

Neurosight (Special - Vas Mal): You can see people's auras and learn various things from them, depending on how many points you spend. It can work as a mood ring, a medical barometer, can if someone's been psychically influenced, or other such uses at the GM's discretion.

Reassurance (Interpersonal): Nobody is very helpful when they're stressed out in a crisis. You can bring people down so they will help you out.

Respect (Interpersonal): Those who think they have power over you will want to continue to believe so. You give proper deference and smooth over the rough patches that often come with Laser contracts.

That thing looks dangerous, but knowing the Kch-Thk it probably shoots ketchup or something

Timesight (Special - Vas Mal): You still retain a shadow of your past Vas Kra ability to see non-linear time. For each point you spend the GM describes a detail related to a core clue you will soon discover, or one revealing unknown facts about a clue already found. This ability can only be used once per episode.

Vas Mal Culture (Academic): See Cybe Culture above.

Virology (Technical): Bodily transformation via engineered viruses has become a common practice. You can identify these alterations and their designers, reverse-engineer a virus from a tissue sample of someone who used it, and determine if one has been altered into a contagion. The Viro Engineer general ability lets you do things beyond gaining information.

Xenoculture (Academic): You have studied the various intelligent species the Combine has contacted outside the Seven Peoples and have command of the relevant details.

Zoology (Academic): Your knowledge of animals lets you identify animal attacks, track specimens from evidence, extrapolate the size, behavior, and other information about a creature from basic facts, and tell whether animals have undergone modification from tissue samples or observing their behavior.

Basically, that covers every way there is to gain information out in the Bleed. GMs are free to make their own investigative abilities if they see an oversight, so long as they also increase the number of build points so everything is covered.

Next Time: Abilities beyond collecting facts

My 'Not Being an Idiot' ability is telling me this guy didn't make it.

General Ironicus fucked around with this message at 16:33 on May 2, 2013

Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!
Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade part 5

The Five Kingdoms
The nations outside the Empire are called the Five Kingdoms. They are all fairly xenophobic and make a point of not accepting outsiders, because the Empire has historically tried to conquer and assimilate them.

They have their own internal issues and even if they'd like to see the Empire collapse, it would likely throw everything into chaos. Because of this they provide grudging aid in the Ninja Crusade.

The Land of Crashing Waves
Across the Western Ocean, the Land of Crashing Waves has used their superior navy to fend off attempts by the Izou to invade. However, they eventually became the allies of the Empire and the two have pretty warm relations now.

The Land is a collection of islands, ruled by the Island Council. Each island elects someone to represent them on the Council.

Because of their location and alliance with the only nearby nation, the islands are peaceful, with the only conflict happening between themselves and all the pirates. The Council had a hand in the creation of the Living Chronicles to keep records of everything from business deals to “boarder” alterations.

The Grand Library exists here, the largest collection of knowledge in the entire world. Access is strictly controlled by the Island Council.

The Land of Exalted Flame
This Land is an enigma to nearly everyone, both highly religious and pacifistic. The Izou thought they would be easy pickings and attacked, slaughtering hundreds of thousands. The Exalted Flame's most powerful Ninja-Monks enacted a ritual that ruined hundreds of miles of land, creating the Great Desert a.k.a. The Black Sand Desert, so inhospitable that it is uncrossable.

When the Empire tried to go around by boat, they created an enormous, unending hurricane that made the Arashi Sea impassible. They are the only Kingdom that hasn't provided any aid to the Izou for the Ninja Crusade.

The Land of Exalted Flame has isolated itself almost entirely from the rest of the world. They follow the teachings of the philosopher Kasai, who preached reverence for their ancestors and elders and other ways to be a goof person. The culture emphasizes community over individuality to a great degree: most marriages are arranged; “dancing, creativity and free-will are replaced with the Way.” ; the leaders are considered enlightened and thus infallible.

They don't interact much with the other nations. Sometimes pilgrims used to visit the Land of Five Blades but this has stopped since the beginning of the Ninja Crusade.

Kaen Island
An island east of the land of Exalted Flame, it is the holy land for it's people. When citizens of the Land of Exalted Flame become adults, they make a pilgrimage here and throw their most valued possessions into the volcano on it as a rite of passage. They must make this trip without any help from others and the trip starts at the Great Desert (the other side of the country, for those not keeping track).

The Land of Five Blades
A warrior nation to the south of the Empire, it has some conflicting history:

“They were the first to be attacked by the Empire during its expansion and conquering, knowing that they stood little chance of winning in a fair fight. They instituted many secret assassins, scout parties and covert assault squads to take out key locations to incapacitate their enemies. In the end, their surprise attack worked and the Land of Five Blades was pushed back and made an ally of the Izou Empire.”

How this parses to me: The Empire attacked Five Blades back when it was expanding. The Land used lots of unconventional tactics against the Empire. The Five Blades's tactics worked so the Five Blades were pushed back and allied with the Empire.

This makes no sense. Someone needed to specify who all those “they”s and “their”s are supposed to be.

The Land of Five Blades gives materials for producing weapons to the Empire along with some troops “by the dozen,” despite both being large enough this is an absolute pittance.

The Land is more a collection of city-states rather than a nation. They are industrialized and the skies are choked with smoke. They possess steam power.

They have strict codes of honor and they fight duels over everything- whether or not they'll marry, deciding arguments or as a rite of passage for young adults. They skirmish with the nations on their borders sometimes, but mostly fight each other. Sometime people go to challenge the great fighters there to make a name for themselves. This actually sounds like a loving awesome campaign idea: fight kung fu duels against the greatest warriors among the Industrial Revolution Samurai Spartans.

Celestial Animals like the Land of Five Blades because of their honor.

Sword Tower
A gigantic sword driven into the ground, supposedly left after a duel between two ninja who commanded gigantic Celestial Animals. The people carved the sword into a building and used the metal to forge many legendary weapons. This place is amazing.

Land of Mountains and Valleys
To the north of the Empire. Very mountainous land with a vast divide between the rich and poor. It's spent the last 20 years in civil war, which has actually helped spark the last Ninja War.

The Empire has allied with the western people and sends troops to help them keep their commoners in line and receiving saltpeter and other supplies in exchange.

The civil war started when the Kishin Family basically took over the entire economy and looted ancient ruins for profit. A group of masters in the Way of Earth generated artificial mountains that split the country in two.

The Land is safe from attack, both due to its difficult terrain and the fact that it has nothing work taking.

Frozen Wastelands
The North Pole, basically.

Land of Seed and Blossom
They're weird, apparently, “...seem[ing] quite foreign to anyone that doesn't live there.” No poo poo.

They're pretty peaceful, just wanting to expand into the Untamed Wilds on their eastern border. When they got stuck in a war (it doesn't say which one) they caved easily and passed over a chunk of territory to the Empire as well as providing medical aid and troops to the Empire in exchange for a pledge of non-aggression.

Everyone is essentially a member of one giant tribe and they live in one huge continuous jungle. They are a gerontocracy, with the oldest person moving to the capitol and acting as ruler, though the centralized government's authority is rather weak. The last Elder was killed early in the Ninja Crusade and a much more hawkish one has taken charge.

The territory between the Land of Five Blades and the Land of Seed and Blossom is held by the Izou Empire but the two are essentially locked in a cold war on the Hantei sea between them.

Ruins of Seiseki
The people of the Land of Seed and Blossom have a ritual where children have birthstones implanted in their foreheads. To me this sounds like it would be endlessly painful and ripe for infection in a jungle, but what do I know. This used to be performed at the Temple of Seiseki, which the Izou destroyed during their expansions, so now when they visit it's super depressing.

Next, Chapter 2 (Yeah, all the previous stuff was just Chapter 1) which is the Ninja Clans

Mar 17, 2011
Forgotten Realms: Depravity, deserts, and a disappearing man

Amn is one of the richest nations in Faerun, and a significant merchant power. It is the northernmost of the "Southern Kingdoms" along the Sword Coast along with Tethyr, Calimshan, and Erlkazar. It is geographically small, bordered by mountains and forests, yet its reach in trade stretches far beyond its borders.

You might be familiar with Amn from Baldur's Gate II, since it's set in the country, but there's far more to it than what is in the game. Amn is called the Merchant Kingdom due to its citizens' travels and trade all across the Realms, a habit epitomized by its rulers, the Council of Six. The Council of Six are all powerful merchants (called merchant-lords or merchant-kings) and have lead the nation for over two decades. Once a merchant has joined the Council, they are only known by their title; referring to a merchant-king by name is punishable by death.

The most powerful member of the Council is the Meisarch, a mage who travels widely yet always with at least fifteen bodyguards. The other members of the Council are the Tessarch, the Namarch, the Iltarch, the Pommarch, and the Dahaunarch.

Amn is easily the richest part of the Sword Coast, only rivalled by Waterdeep itself. Calimshan might have more money, but it's less of a single country and more a collection of city-states; it also arguably isn't on the Sword Coast anyway. Amn and Waterdeep see themselves as the predominant powers and rivals on the coast, and you can roughly arrange Sword Coast powers depending upon which of the two they trade with. Agents of Amn and Waterdeep often spy and scheme on each other, trying to disrupt the other's trade in any way possible.

We're given stats for the Meisarch (9th-level magic user, some absurd stats), but they don't really matter for a reason we'll see later. His bodyguards are all raised from birth to fight to the death for him, which is a job that must be made much harder by his predilections for debauchery and depravity. The Cyclopedia says his deeds are better suited for a tavern tale than Elminster's scholarly work; this is Ed Greenwood's way of saying "this stuff is unpublishable because of TSR's Code of Ethics."

Anauroch, or the Great Desert, is a huge cold desolation in northern-central Faerun. It is a barren wasteland where very little grows and even less water can be found, and it stretches from the glaciers in the utter north down to the Lake of Dragons, the eastern edge of the North, and the mountains that form the borders of Cormyr and the Dalelands.

Notably, it makes very little geographic sense - Anauroch grows in size every year, making ruin where arable land once stood, and driving savage tribes of goblins and other creatures into the civilized lands. Once upon a time, elven and human kingdoms like Anauria and Asram stood where only desert is now, their ruins disappearing under the inexorable march of the sands. (To illustrate this, there's a nice half-page map showing what the lands north of the Inner Sea used to look like 1000 years ago in the Year of the Tusk, 112 DR.)

Despite its desolate nature, Anauroch is not uniform. It ranges from warmer sandy wastes to rocky badlands, basins filled with salt flats where lakes once were, and even icy steppes in the very north. It is, however, the most inhospitable place in all of Faerun.

Elminster rumors that the expansion of Anauroch cannot be considered natural, and that divine or magical causes may be at work. (Gee, you think?) However, it should be noted that the great reach of Anauroch makes trade very hard across land, bottling caravans from the Sword Coast to the Inner Sea generally through Cormyr, the Dalelands, and Sembia, contributing greatly to their coffers.

Arabel is one of Cormyr's largest cities, along with Suzail and Wheloon. It is built at the crossing of two great trade routes - the East Way and Calantar's Way, and it is primarily a mercantile city because of this trade.

Many of Faerun's most prominent trading companies have offices and outposts in Arabel, and a significant number of mercenaries live here in order to service them. Arabel is Cormyr's main producer of coal from mines in the nearby Gnoll Pass, and it is famed for its jewelry (from the House of Thond) and lingerie (from the Net of Pearls.) There's a full page spent on a map of Arabel, and a list of interesting locations. A lot of them are typical of Ed Greenwood's way of designing cities - there's a lot of merchants, and they sell a lot of stuff, but he tries to infuse each one with something that makes them different. They range from one-man businesses (Psammas Durviir, the tailor) to the Thousandheads Trading Coster. There's 151 entries on the key, and they definitely aren't all described, but each name distinguishes it and tries to suggest some interesting character there. Not a bad system, really.

Just roughly five years before the start of play, Gondegal the "Lost King" took control of Arabel by military might. It is said that "Gondegal's reach was longer than his blade" - his insurrection caused a quick response by the Purple Dragons, by Dalesmen, and by allies from Sembia. While Gondegal was able to take Arabel, he was unable to hold it - he spent barely eight days actually at his court, and rules for less than a season, spending the rest of his time in the fields attempting to defend his kingdom. One thing that didn't help was that his troops were mostly mercenaries, and his coffers drained quickly; one night his troops just slipped away and disappeared.

The next morning, Azoun IV marched into Arabel and retook the city without a single blood of drop being found; Gondegal himself was nowhere to be seen, and has not appeared in Cormyr since. He fled north and then east via the city of Teshwave, and rumors spread from there. Most everyone believes he still lives, ruling a small patch of land with a band of loyal followers; those believers suggest he lives as a ruthless bandit who makes sure no one spreads his name. His name has become a spectre, suggested as a cause for any caravan gone mysteriously lost around the Inner Sea. Guards often warn penny-pinching merchants to pay for more escorts, "else thy gold'll soon be gilding Gondegal's throne." Gondegal was a tall grey-haired warrior, a master with the sword; his badge was a grey wolf with red eyes. He was a 20th level warrior, and this number actually sticks if I remember, since one of the adventures in the box deals with Gondegal's fate.

As I mentioned previously, Arabel is ruled by "local lord" Myrmeen Lhal, a ranger popular with the common people of Arabel. She makes everyone's life easier by allowing merchants and nobles to battle each other with any tactics short of full-on war, as long as no innocent is harmed and the Crown is not endangered.

Next time: Where Everyone You Hate In The Realms Comes From

100 degrees Calcium
Jan 23, 2011

Oh, is it time for the Underdark already?

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Evil Sagan posted:

Oh, is it time for the Underdark already?

The Dales, I'm guessing.

Nov 10, 2012

I never knew I needed a space detective game, but it turns out I do. Great review.

General Ironicus posted:

Flattery (Interpersonal): A knack for sweet talk.

Flirting (Interpersonal): A knack for sweetie talk.



General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky
Thank you! I planned to finish chapter 3 today but then things happened, so have a preview:

Neural Rewiring (Cybe): You can reshape your brain to recreate the thought patterns of historical experts. That means spending Neural Rewiring points to make spends for investigative abilities you don't have. The cost is the cost of the investigative spend you intend to make, plus one for using the Rewiring in the first place. The Investigative Abilities all belong to one of five past experts, and channeling them also brings an Emotional State your Cybe will exhibit for the next two intervals.

  • Locked thread