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Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




Hedningen posted:

So that's the basics of Mutant. Definitely an interesting way to handle things – rather than the usual “Nuclear apocalypse wipes out everything”, it was a mutated alien plague that managed to kill most of the people, and the mutations are considerably more intentional.

This is part of why Mutant is so good – it handles the idea of mutation really well. There has to be a reason for all of these mutated things somehow surviving, and knowing how long evolution takes, they figured it had to have gotten a little bit of help from the various scientists attempting to survive the plague.

It also gives the person running the game a poo poo-ton of freedom – there's a huge number of available plots to be found in just the setting introduction alone, and it fleshed out the world quite a bit without going into too much detail. I'll cover some of the important (and specific!) bits later, but for now, you've got the general idea of the world.

Next time – Basic Rules, Character classes, and some awesome tables to roll on

It's worth pointing out by the time Undergångens Arvtagare came out they pretty much used the same background as this edition but made it even more vaguer and mythic. But having read the UA book I do recognize a lot of the elements in UA coming from this edition but expanded by a whole lot. Fun to see it's origins though as my only real contact with Mutant comes from UA and some Mutant 2089. (I'd almost want to do a write up of the specific adventure I played back then but I think it'd be kinda out of context.)

If anything if and when you come around that you should probably post a translation of either the background story or the story of the founding of the nation of Pyris. Otherwise I'm pretty sure there is a semi-finished translation you can use or link to for that purpose.

Cooked Auto fucked around with this message at 01:08 on May 8, 2013

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Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




Another short shot- pg 31 to 45



Welcome to your new BFFs

In the C:tL setting, the PC group (called a Motley) can easily have all escaped from the same Arcadian durance. This being a White Wolf game, however, you must assume that there are other odd duckings just like you hiding from humanity and, especially, punishing you for not hiding as well as you should.

Thankfully, for all your antlers and lightning sparks, you still have the Mask, which only other changelings can see through. So when a fellow Lost sees a fellow monster in the midst of the medical center, they will, typically, freak the hell out. At this point, the other fae points the newly-escaped to the closest place of hospitality of a Freehold.

What is a Freehold? A faerie Court, or arrangement of Courts, that rules their fellow lost with the weight of sacred pledges. The court is always ruled by a Monarch- who, while blessed with the Wyrd, still may rule however they wish. The most important element of the Monarch, however, is that they must somehow share power; be it by exchanging absolute power at an agreed upon time, dividing their zones of control, or abdicating their Crown when the weight of story changes from bright hope into dreary fatalism, or another other arrangement1. What is important is that somehow, absolute power is limited and shared for no reason other than to chase the True Fae away, for the True Fae cannot understand someone who would not use their Wyrd powers to dominate completely.

A Freehold serves as a regulatory body, keepers of a masquerade, defenders from loyalists and freebooters within the hedge and without, emotional and financial assistance. Above all else, the Freehold is your new home, so get used to it; even the worst freeholds have few willing to leave, as to travel into the wild blue yonder is a fear that few changelings can bear.

The primary element of this trust of the Freehold is the oath of hospitality: a (sadly undefined) weight of tradition that keeps frenzied ogres & beasts from making GBS threads at the public watering hole. Usually, this is in a communal hollow, or a place owned by someone very powerful.

Going to the place of hospitality is, for changelings of a Freehold, a big deal. Changelings find it very difficult to trust anyone, when every other person might secretly be selling your secrets to their Keeper. And only in the smallest freeholds can a changeling be in a sensible personal pledge with everyone. So your best bet is to go hear the gossip- see who is trustworthy and who is not. Reputation is everything when it means trusting someone to not kill you in your sleep.

But what to do with someone who does betray the Freehold? Ah, this is where the fragile minds of the changelings must be considered. Few changelings can give or receive bondage to another because of the nature of their Clarity and durance. And only a changeling that agreed to the sanction of banishment in the first place can be so bound. Therefore, most of the time Changelings will simply kill shitheads that they don't like if a public slap on the wrist won't do. The Lost are sad, broken people.

But what if you don't want to make new faerie friends? Perhaps they stink. Then, well, there is always an attempt to go stealth in the human society- a fine and supported way to play the game, if you so choose, if in opposition to half the pages written in the book. Many changelings do attempt to reclaim their past lives as best they can; just because they were fated to fail doesn't mean that you are, right? You've got Wyrd luck on your side, and that never fails!2

A sidebar of a new rule: Functional Mortal Personality. A form of split personality where half of you still believes it is a real mortal, and only when necessary does your fae side come roaring out, blocking itself from being recalled outside its Fugue state. Being a werewolf, essentially, without the fuzzy stuff.

(next time: a/the great seasonal courts!)

1 - In Winter Masques, they mention a Court of Donkey opposed by a Court of Elephant; while never expanded upon, its your invitation to go nuts.
2 - C:tL also tells of changelings that attempt to "go straight" and then sneak out of the house to play in the fae world in a totally-not-about-being-a-closeted-homosexual way.

Gerund fucked around with this message at 06:37 on May 29, 2013

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





pospysyl posted:

What a story! It’s pretty dang good. The problem is that it literally tells you that our hero’s life pre-Werewolf is crappy. The “homeless people have it great!” moral is also a little disconcerting. It’s one thing to believe that homeless people deserve their misery, but to actually believe that they’re better off homeless is, to my mind, even worse. Still, the description of low wage America is furiously awesome. It shows what the werewolves are fighting against superbly. It also gives us a good look into the kind of life a less homeless werewolf might lead. It goes for something very different than most tribebook intro fiction, and I like it.
I think the only way I've managed to reconcile my love of this tribe with the very real issue you raised is to imagine the grinding poverty of the World of Darkness being so loving bad that just getting off the train is a small blessing. The kinfolk in the opening fiction is living such a lovely life without realizing that there's some way of breaking free from it that it literally takes a walking manbeast beating the poo poo out of him to go "huh. Maybe I should give up on this useless poo poo". The only reason it "works" is because the setting itself is set up for the end days just being around the corner - while the narrator doesn't have a roof over his head like the others out there, at least he's not trapped in the same repeating cycle and can focus on survival, a focus that is very much at the core of the tribe. Who knows, maybe he'll end up with a bunch of hillbillies out in the sticks making moonshine for when it all comes down.

I think the issue with the Gnawers is that people focus on the trashcan fires without considering the other poverty out there - the tenement buildings, the "three families sharing half a duplex", the Walmart telling you how to get on to food stamps so they don't have to pay you while keeping you working lovely hours. The opening narration does a very good job of hammering that home, as well as showing that the Bone Gnawers have decided to not take part in the system - there's pride there.

Finally, I'd say that most of the artwork in this book is amazing and will stick fight anyone who says otherwise.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Mors Rattus posted:

If by elderly you mean '35', sure. I, at least, never let starting characters go over 35 because at that point the Aging rules get involved, and also you tend to become way more powerful if allowed to be super old.

That said, 35 is basically the moment right before you start being middle-aged at best. Or old, depending on your health and medical history.

Completely fine. Assuming Ars Magica aging is similar to the time period, that would start to put him at the point where his age would start to catch up to him and he'd have lived a pretty interesting life.

Hedningen
May 4, 2013

Enough sideburns to last a lifetime.


Cooked Auto posted:

It's worth pointing out by the time Undergångens Arvtagare came out they pretty much used the same background as this edition but made it even more vaguer and mythic. But having read the UA book I do recognize a lot of the elements in UA coming from this edition but expanded by a whole lot. Fun to see it's origins though as my only real contact with Mutant comes from UA and some Mutant 2089. (I'd almost want to do a write up of the specific adventure I played back then but I think it'd be kinda out of context.)

If anything if and when you come around that you should probably post a translation of either the background story or the story of the founding of the nation of Pyris. Otherwise I'm pretty sure there is a semi-finished translation you can use or link to for that purpose.

I'd love to use the translation of M:UA, as it's an awesome game. Part of this is practice for working on larger-scale translation projects (because I am awful at them) and part of it is "How fast can I give commentary on these sorts of things?", because Mutant is loving awesome. I definitely will talk about Pyris, because everybody loves them, but for now, it's time for a bit more learnin' about Mutant!


Mutant: Let's Get Some Rules Up In This Zone!

Chapter 2: The Obligatory Explanation of the Hobby?
This is the obligatory “this is how you play a role-playing game” explanation of the text. Pretty boilerplate stuff, and it doesn't really contain anything too interesting for people who are used to this sort of thing. We all probably understand that there's somebody who tells everyone else what happens, explains the results of the actions, and that the players are more involved in exploring a world than they are in winning the game.

It also gives a few pointers, namely that the whole point of these sorts of games is to keep things moving – everyone needs to participate, and just because the SL writes the story and the rules tell you what to do, it doesn't mean that the players can just sit back and do nothing..Hanging around doing nothing may mean that you're safe, but you're also not having an adventure. I really like that they include that advice, as it's so goddamn Swedish-collectivist that it's beautiful.

Chapter 3: Numbers, Codes, and Mysterious Glyphs of the Gamer

First off, some quick RPG terms in Swedish for those of us who (somehow) have a copy of any of these Swedish-language texts, yet cannot read Swedish. This is also so that I can use similar terms to what appears in the text, so you're not searching in vain.

Seeing as we're in another language, we're not gonna be rolling 3d6 – no, that's for filthy Americans with their hamburgers and their alliances with the Russian empire. Instead, like decent god-fearing Swedes, we're gonna roll tärningar, which are like dice but in Swedish. Otherwise, the terminology is the exact same thing: we're rolling 3T6.

For Mutant, you're gonna need the following dice, at least according to the book – 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, and 1d10. One of the ways you can tell that this is an old-school product is that it explains how to roll and read these madness-inducing shapes, because such things are not intuitive and you may, for example, manage to kill yourself while rolling 1T4.
Here's my favorite description:

quote:

Rolling T4 is a bit complex. You read the upright number on the side of the die (it's the same figure on every side). The upright number is the one closest to the table
For some reason, it just cracks me up that they needed to explain this, as I can't think of anyone who has ever had trouble reading a four-sided die. I also worry about the poor soul who has a T4 that had the numbers on the top, because then there would be multiple numbers near the bottom, and the book would offer no solutions. Many a curse must have been shouted at Mutant over T4.

We also get this wonderful relic of the 80s – how to roll T20 without having a twenty-sided die. For those who don't know, there was once a time when it was actually a bit difficult to get certain dice – twenty-siders could be a bit weird to find, but for some reason, ten-sided dice were easier (I believe some places used them for math or other counting games – I know I use them when teaching foreign language because it helps students to learn how to quickly read numbers). So, if the book calls for you to roll 1T20, roll 1T10 and 1T6 – if the T6 shows 1, 2, or 3, you've take the T10 as shown, but if it shows 4, 5, or 6, then you add ten to the T10.

While we have the luxury of twenty-sided dice, I have never allowed their use when playing the original Mutant, because it just feels more old-school. If I'm gonna play an ancient game, I'm gonna be as grodnardish as possible in this write-up, and so if I roll dice for any sort of examples, I'll be doing it the old-fashioned way.

There's also a bit about miniatures and maps – while there's no explicit rules for them in Mutant (Remember – it's the 80s), it recommends their use to make things clear for your players. It also does a good job of pointing out the limits of maps – they point out that a good SL can describe a hell of a lot more than fits on a map, and that you're better off using your imagination for a lot of the game and looking to these sorts of aids as just that – supplements to make some of the bookkeeping a little easier.

You've seen me use the term “SL” a few times by now – it stands for Spelledare, and it's just the Swedish word for GM. Again, I'm using it for consistency with the manual, as a lot of what I'm going to post in terms of images (especially stuff like character sheets) will be in Swedish, and if you know what to look for, you'll be golden.

Some other helpful terminology:
Rollperson – Your character in this wonderful realm of madness.
Grundegenskaper – Basic stats. You see this in most games.
Färdigheter – Skills. These are important to your character
Mutationer – Mutations. The best goddamn part of this game.

So, you can probably read a character sheet now (were I to post one), because if you can't guess some of the other terms from English context clues, then I fear for your literacy.

Chapter 4: Let's Make a Character!
Okay, so now that we're aware of what a game is, how we roll dice, and the world of Mutant, we need to work on the basic rules. So, how do we make ourselves a character?

First off, you need to know the stats. For the sake of convenience, I'll post the Swedish and then the English, but I'll stick to the Swedish abbreviations so that the character sheets match up. When generating a new character, roll 3T6 for each stat – this is an old-school game, so you do it in order.

First up is STY, which is an abbreviation for styrka, which means Strength in a language that doesn't sound like a drunken clown fighting Germans. It's pretty much how much you can lift and carry with you.

There's also an important number that comes paired with STY, which is BEP, or Belastningspoäng. That basically means “load points”, and it's an abstraction of weight. You can carry as many BEP as your STY without impairment, but every BEP over that (including partials) means you take a -5% on all skills, plus you can only move at half speed if you're over your max load. It's a pretty nice little mechanic, and it means you really think about the stuff you're carrying.

Then we get INT. You get one guess as to what it means, and it's pretty clear, I'm willing to bet. It also helpfully points out that the lower the number, the dumber you are, and that you should be sure to play somebody with INT 5 as someone of exceptional dumbness.

Next up is STO, which is an abbreviation for storlek, or size. It's how big you are, and there's even a little chart that explains your size based off of this, and an optional rule that you can roll 1T10 for each of them to add some variation into it.


If you can't figure out how to read this chart, please contact your doctor.

Then, we've got FYS, which stands for fysik, which I've chosen to translate as physique. It don't matter how tough you are if you don't have a good constitution or the ability to withstand the various dangers, like radiation and poison/marriage.

We also get our first derived stat here – Kroppspoäng, also known as body points. This is how much damage you can take, and you get it by adding together your FYS and STO. Looking pretty familiar, right? It's just like some systems that we're used to playing, except in a foreign language and with intelligent Badger-men.

Then, it's on to MST!

Er . . . not that one.

Nope, it's mental styrka, or mental strength. This is your strength of will, which represents how good you are at directing your thoughts. It's kind of a weird stat, until you remember that Psychic Mutant is a class/race/whatever and realize that it's necessary to really interact with a lot of their powers. If you're a Psychic Mutant, this is pretty much your most vital stat.

SMI, which stands for smidighet, is a measure of your speed, agility, and smoothness. Not too much to say here.

PER is the last stat, and one of the coolest, in my opinion. Rather than copping out and going with charisma, we instead get personlighet, which translates to personality. It's a clever way of dealing with the fact that you may be a mutant gecko with a laser gun attempting to converse with a unmutated human about whether or not he'll take a handful of pre-Catastrophe bullets for his mutated, carnivorous chicken.

We also get a neat little table for encounters, which says that you roll 1T6 when you encounter folks, and then check the result, modifying it based off of PER and any relevant conditional modifiers, such as if the people are xenophobic of mutants or if you've come with a giant tin of delicious, delicious fudge.


Mmm . . . delicious fudge

Result of 1T6 Roll
0: Hatred- The person furiously attacks you.
1: Disgust-They immediately start attacking, but you can negotiate your way out of it.
2: Irritated- Roll 1T6. 1-3 means that they'll attack, but only if provoked.
3: Neutral - Solid disapproval . . .
4: Neutral - Some positive feelings.
5: Positive- Roll 1T6. 4-6 means that they'll help the characters.
6: Friendly- If it's not too dangerous, then they're willing to offer some help.[/td]
7: Enthuastic- Help in rain or shine!

There's also some modifiers associated with high or low stats, but only three of them change depending on what your stats are.

A STY of 16 means you do an additional point of damage with melee weapons. 17 grants àn additional two points, and 18 is +3 points of damage. Likewise, a STY of 5 gives you a -1 to damage, 4 gives -2, and 3 gives -3.

INT is pretty much the same thing, except for figuring out how to work ancient technology. Basically, you get to roll 1T4 whenever you try and make the device work. On a 1, you figure something out and it works – on a 4, you've done something stupid, and you may have broken it/it might have exploded hilariously. It works just like STY – an INT of 16 lets you ignore the first 4 you roll and so forth, and an INT of 5 makes you ignore the first 1 you roll, continuing in the same pattern.

I bet you can figure out what table is affected by PER, right? Let's assume you can, but remember that unless you can communicate or somehow deal with folks, you don't get the bonus.

You also get another derived number – SMI-kastet, or “Reflexes”, as I've chosen to translate it. Basically, it's the percent chance you have of doing something that requires immediate movement with no thinking, like dodging a falling stone, ducking beneath the boomerang that was just thrown at you, or catching the really fragile bottle of deadly virus that the goddamn robot just threw at you.

You also figure out how fast you can go in a round by FYS + SMI. If you're humanoid, add +3. If you're a mutated animal, +6. This number can be modified by various factors, such as environment.

Holy crap, we know what all the stats mean now! It's awesome! But that's nothing, because we need know how to really make a character, and that's what I was telling you.

Mutant is pretty basic in that you choose a class and your previous employment. I'm not really sure why they chose the word class – I'd say it would be better represented as “Race”, but my opinion cannot travel back in time and change a book written in 1984. You also get some skills, but we'll handle that poo poo later. Right now, we're gonna go down the “classes”, and be drat happy with it.

First up, we've got Unmutated Humans (which I may have called non-Mutants earlier, but consistency is for hookers and fat people), who tend to be the easiest to deal with – and also the most boring, at least in terms of rolling on tables. You're also pretty awesome because you haven't been mutated by the whole “massively irradiated and plague-filled planet” thing, so you get +2 to STY, FYS, PER, and INT. Yes, that's a lot of bonus, but you also don't get any cool tables, which is boring and lame.

It's also pointed out that Unmutated Humans are kind of dicks to all their poor, mutated cousins, because they're clearly better, what with the not mutating and everything. Mutated animals also get that treatment, because being racist is cool in the apocalyptic future. You also are told that you get to try and command robots, because there has to be something cool about being human in the apocalypse.


Pictured above - the glorious perfection of mankind, after a ton of poo poo happened

Then we get to Mutants, the bread and butter of the game. Your stats remain the same, but you get to roll on the mutations tables that come up in the next chapter, which is loving awesome, because some of them are patently ridiculous, like having two brains. You can also get defects, which are “bad” mutations.

In terms of fluff, you're supposed to have a complicated relationship with Unmutated Humans, because they act all superior thanks to the fact their genetic code doesn't resemble a ladder made by a drunken performance artist who thinks that little things like “straight lines” and “structural integrity” are for suckers, but you know you're better because your mutations make you more awesome. You're also a little bit more likely to get along with all the other classes, because most of them are a little bit mutated.


Because pointy ears just scream "horrendous mutation", don't they?

Moving on, we get to Psy-Mutants, who are your stereotypical “brains bulging out of forehead after the apocalypse” kind of mutants. You get psychic powers, but at the cost of physical strength, being the apocalypse's answer to nerds. First off, say goodbye to that STY – roll 1T6+3 for your new score. Then check out your FYS, because it's now 1T6+6. If it makes you feel better, you get psychic powers . . .
This is actually one of the bits of the system I find really elegant. Rather than choosing to be a Psy-Mutant before rolling, you get to wait until you get a good MST score. Otherwise, you'd end up like one of my original groups, who assumed you should choose class before rolling stats, and ended up with Reginald, the Psy-Mutant with a MST of 6. Many fun times were had, at least until he managed to blow himself up by starting a car we tried to fix with several pounds of C4 in place of a carburetor.

In terms of fluff, you're kind of a dick to everyone, because let's face it, you're above those puny mortals who can't make things explode with their minds. People tend to distrust Psy-mutants, so think of a good reason you'd be hanging around the groundlings if you're gonna play one in your group.


Pictured above - douchebags.

Now, we get to talk Robot. I'm not gonna lie – when I first played Mutant, the opportunity to play a robot seemed incredibly goddamn cool. First off, you get some bitchin' stats – STY is 2T6+6, and FYS is 1T6+12, so you're hard to kill. This also comes with a penalty – you have to repair yourself, which means you get a skill called Repair when you choose to play a robot. It starts at 20%, and once you've managed to get it up to 90% or higher, you can start teaching the primitive screwheads how to repair some advanced technology. Finally, you've got steel skin, which absorbs 4 points of damage like armor (which we'll talk about later).

All this badass comes with a price, however. You might have to obey any Unmutated Human who gives you an order. You have what is basically a skill – Obedience – that you actually want to fail. When you make a Robot, roll 1T100. On a 50 or lower, your Obedience is 30%. Otherwise, it's 1T10+30% for your obedience. It notes that playing in a party with a Robot and an Unmutated Human can lead to some supremely dickish moves, so pay attention. You've also got to note that Robots can never intentionally harm an Unmutated Human, because of the Three Laws of Robotics.

Generally, Robots are meant to be polite, but knowledgeable and efficient. You can play a somewhat crazy robot if you'd like, but the book doesn't recommend that. You also learn that robots can look like imitation humans (which is generally the best way to play one, because then you're not being dicked around by Unmutated Humans), or you can look all badass and robot-y.


Definitely Not Roy Batty. Nope. Not at all.

Finally, we have the reason all you cats showed up to this little party – Mutated Animals, the classic feature of Mutant. They're made exactly the same way as a regular Mutant, but you can fluff your character however you'd like to. Generally, try and make it match your stats – the example given is that a character with low FYS but high SMI is probably a mutated cat-person, whereas the other way around would probably be a mutated bear.


You wish you were this awesome

As far as personality, Mutated Animals tend to be loners or to stick to others of their kind. They also are supposed to hate Psy-Mutants (who are apparently complete dicks) and generally don't trust robots, because technology is evil or something.

Well, those are the major classes. So, why don't we select three characters to roll up, and we can get started on showing how this game performs under the hood.

Coming up next: some sample characters, MUTATIONS, and more mechanics!

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

JohnOfOrdo3 posted:

I found the idea of a personification of the hate of an entire nation and the deaths from world war 2 kind of interesting, and it could be a fantastic final boss.

Then I remembered what game this was for and was really disappointed

I admit I'm no WWII scholar, but I'm pretty sure that, for all the stereotypes Americans attributed to the Japanese, sexual deviance wasn't one of them. In fact, I understand a lot of the fetishes associated with the Japanese today (most notably tentacle rape) stem from post-WWII censorship laws and other policies imposed by the Allies.

gtrmp
Sep 29, 2008

Oba-Ma... Oba-Ma! Oba-Ma, aasha deh!

pospysyl posted:

What a story! It’s pretty dang good. The problem is that it literally tells you that our hero’s life pre-Werewolf is crappy. The “homeless people have it great!” moral is also a little disconcerting. It’s one thing to believe that homeless people deserve their misery, but to actually believe that they’re better off homeless is, to my mind, even worse.

That's been a recurring theme of the Bone Gnawers ever since their inception - if anything, it was even worse in the earliest sourcebooks, where the majority of Bone Gnawer NPCs and suggested character concepts were some variation on the Wise and Magical Homeless Person stock character.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I can't get past the five hundred meter long spines poking out of that silly thing's back. It keeps making me think of Citizen Kabuto wearing a semen anemone.

Ettin
Oct 2, 2010


Mors Rattus posted:

Tell me about our Devil Child, our Diabolist and our Summoner.

Devil Child: Calvin is the child of Adramelech, the peacock-bodied supervisor of Satan's wardrobe. He is still a tragic, doomed figure but he also has the power of looking stylish all the time and always having the right outfit, so at least he looks really cool. He is considering seeking redemption because being damned is just so last season. Also look at that peacock tail, Adramelech is clearly a player.

Diabolist: Preston is a nerdy wizard who made a deal with demonic powers because he was lonely and frustrated that all women are into jerks instead of nice guys like him. Now that he is a jerk, ladies are totally all over him! Actually not really, Preston is starting to think that maybe this was a bad idea and he should have tried losing some weight and the fedora instead. Preston is planning to make a deal to lose some weight because he is not very bright.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...



pospysyl posted:


We have a light art staff for this book, and if there's one huge weakness to this tribebook, it's the art.


The Bone Gnawers have a long and storied history of hitting dudes in the face.


This juxtaposition doesn't jive at all. Is there anything even remotely weak about awesome Revolutionary War Soldier Wolf smashing a guy with the butt of his rifle?

That said, that opening story stuck with me every since I read it in high school. It was one of the first experiences I had with the idea of the "working poor," and the unrelenting trauma of trying to maintain even a passable lifestyle on minimum wage hit home despite the cheesy "and he was actually a werewolf so it was actually awesome in the end" twist. It wasn't that I had no idea about how hard it was to be poor, as my folks were pretty poor for most of my childhood (in that strange time when you still believe that your parents just "go to work" and it's all fine, fullstop), but that there was something wrong with the system that even allowed someone to work 80 hours a week and still be scraping by to make rent and eat ramen noodles.

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 03:54 on May 8, 2013

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Well I've had enough downtime from the bad stuff. Time to review something that I enjoy.



Eberron Campaign Setting

Introduction

Around the time that Dungeons and Dragons 3.5th edition was being developed, someone at WOTC realized that Forgotten Realms was no longer serving the role of 'gateway setting' that it once was. It rightly had it's fans in some of the more experienced players, and the Neverwinter Nights games probably helped drive some interest; but with the amount of backstory the setting had, and the very large amount of supplemental material available for it, starting players might be a little bit intimidated.

Thus began the 2002 Fantasy Setting Search, from over 11,000 entries, they narrowed it down to 3, one by Rich Burlew (of Order of the Stick fame), Philip Nathan Toomey (who I can't find anything on), and Keith Baker. They chose Keith Baker's setting and turned it into the book I'm reviewing today.

Whereas the other review is more of a general overview of the setting, I'm going to be covering the books themselves. Specifically the 3.5 edition books, if there was a big change in the 4th edition books, I’ll make a notation with this icon


The Tone of Eberron

The major thing that sets Eberron apart from other settings is that Eberron is a Pulp setting. It takes place in a post-war world on the continent of Khorvaire, where a single empire was shattered into many. Everything was designed with a cinematic flair in mind, and the art reflects this; lots of creatures, items, or vehicles have a distinct design or profile that is instantly recognizable and sticks with you, like the Elemental Airships.



There are also lightning powered maglev trains.

That's another theme of Eberron, magic is everywhere. It's a part of everyday life for many of the people living in Eberron. Not in the sense that everyone can cast spells, but that cities have everburning torches used in street lamps. There's a telegraph service provided by magical sending stones. The aforementioned trains allow for shipment of goods across continents, the airships allow for exploration of other continents. And the vast majority is controlled by an aristocracy of merchant families with a monopoly due to dragonmarks, hereditary magic marks that manifest within certain racial lines.

As for that war that was mentioned. In setting it's referred to as the Last War. It happened when King Jarot, king of Galifar, died. According to tradition, his eldest child would ascend to the throne, and her children would assume control over the Five nations of the Empire as had happened when Jarot ascended to the throne. Unfortunately three of her four siblings didn't agree, either because they wanted to be on that throne, or they didn't want to lose the power that they had. The war lasted 102 years, and alliances shifted quite often over that time frame, and only ended when one nation was literally blasted out of existence. The remaining Twelve nations signed the Treaty of Thronehold, ending the war and spreading an unsteady Peace. Espionage and border skirmishes are still common though (and a fine place for Player Characters to find themselves).

Ten Things(Keith Baker Thinks)You Need to Know

1. If it exists in D&D, then it has a place in Eberron

This was actually a condition of the Fantasy Setting Search. Wizards wanted to make sure that the setting they created had an entry for every monster in the Monster Manual, for every race in the various supplements, and for every class in every book. To their credit, they also took this as a design philosophy going forward as well, every 3.5 supplement after Eberron's release has an entry detailing not only where it's contents fit into Eberron's landscape, but the Forgotten Realms as well.

2. Tone and attitude

Alignment and appearance are not an absolute judge of moral character anymore. Evil Silver Dragons and good vampires exist. There is an entire nation of 'monsters' that just want to be left alone. Druidic traditions as this world knows them were pioneered by good orcs who fought to keep the world from being destroyed. Good nations may fight against each other when their interests are at odds, and evil organizations may offer help with no strings attached simply out of civic interest. This is also the setting that embraced Action Points as a concept. They weren't the same as their 4E counterparts, but they served a similar purpose: to try and capture the cinematic nature of the swordplay and spellcasting of the setting, and to give players a chance to decide when things were really important to them.



3. A world of Magic

This is a world that developed not through the advances of science but through mastery of the arcane. The end results are the same, the means are different. There is a working class of minor mages that use simple rote spells to provide energy and other necessities that keep the wheels of society moving. Advances in magic item creation have led to everything from self-propelled farm implements to sentient, free-willed constructs.

4. A world of adventure

Steaming Jungles, colossal ruins, giant towering metropolises, and blasted wastelands all Exist in Eberron. The advent of affordable and commonplace magical transportation allow your Players to get there. DMs are encouraged to make quests that travel all over the place to keep with the cinematic style of the game.

5. The Last War has ended - sort of.

The setting is set 2 years after the Treaty of Thronehold and the Establishment of the twelve recognized nations carved out of what was once Galifar. Overtly, the peace has held, but the conflicts and anger that are born out of a war that lasted five generations don't die down just because a piece of paper was signed.

6. The Five Nations

Even during the time of Galifar, the Five Nations existed: Aundair, Breland, Cyre, Karranth, and Thrane. The human-dominated civilizations each developed their own cultures and traditions. Even though Cyre is a blasted waste now known as the Mournland, "By The Five Nations" is a common epithet in Eberron.

7. A world of intrigue.

In the post war world, the nations of Khorvaire are trying to build themselves up and usher in a new age of peace and prosperity. They still compete on many levels - economy, political influence, territory, magical power - stopping short of starting another all-out war. Espionage and sabotage are big business. The Dragonmarked Houses, churches, crime lords, monster gangs, psionic spies, arcane universities, royal orders of knights and wizards, secret societies, evil masterminds, dragons, and numerous other organizations all jockey for position in the aftermath of the Last War. That's not even getting into the ancient secrets that the land held long before Humanity set foot on it.

8. Dragonmark dynasties

The great dragonmarked families are the barons of industry and commerce throughout Khorvaire, and even beyond. They are technically extraterritorial entities, outside of politics and political boundaries, and to join a dragonmarked house you have to forsake any nationality you possess. But people are individuals, they have friends and relatives, they can play favorites. That's not to say that being a member of a Dragonmarked house is a horrible existence. To the contrary, through their businesses and holdings, the matriarchs and patriarchs of each house live like Nobles. Their scions are well cared for as well, since you don't want your public faces to be disgruntled.



9. Dragonshards

Ancient legend describe the world in three parts, the ring around the world, the subterranean depths, and the land between. Each of these is tied to a dragon: Siberys, Khyber, and Eberron. And each of these parts produces crystals imbued with arcane power known as dragonshards. These are most of the reason why Eberron has the level of magical development that it does. Dragonshards make Dragonmarks more powerful. Dragonshards let you bind and harness elementals. Dragonshards make magic items easier to make, and in some cases possible to make at all. They're rare though, and difficult or dangerous to obtain.

10. New races

Eberron introduces four new races. Changelings are the result of interbreeding between Dopplegangers and Humans, and possess minor shapeshifting power. Kalashtar are descendents of humans who merged themselves with extraplanar entities, giving them great psionic power. Shifters are distant descendants of human lycanthropes, with limited shapeshifting power and instincts from their bestial heritage. And Warforged are sentient constructs created as weapons during the last war, it just so happens that they were created with free will and were granted personhood in the treaty of Thronehold.

At this point the book indicates that how we proceed is up to us, we can go to chapter 7 for more info on the world, chapter 8 for more info on the organizations in it, chapter 2 and 3 for more info on the new classes and rules, or chapter 1 for more info on the races. That's where we'll be going.


In which a warforged throws an orc into the wall while a Zombie looks on?
Chapter One: Character Races

Eberron has all of the races from the base 3.5 Players Handbook, as well as four brand new races, the Changelings, Kalashtar, Shifters, and Warforged. There's a description of each race, their lands, and what Dragonmarks they may possess. Which brings me to my first 4e difference. In the original campaign setting, only the base PHB races got dragonmarks, Humans getting five, half-elves and halflings getting two each, everyone else gets one with the Half-Orcs sharing one of the human marks. In 4e, anyone can develop any dragonmark, even Warforged, though the houses are still divided along the 'base race's mark' lines. Though I guess that's a valid concern when half-orcs and gnomes didn't even make the cut for 4e core races, it does open up storytelling and player options quite a bit.

It starts with humans (of course) but after that it goes Alphabetically.



Humans

The dominant race of Eberron, they're described as "A Relatively Young Race", which I find somewhat amusing since there are no less than five other races (in this book alone) descended from Humans. Humans are originally from the continent of Sarlona, the first wave of settlers landed in the area called the Lhazaar Principalities, and spread across the entirety of Khorvaire. Though most modern humans don't give two shits about Sarlona, or even know that that is where they came from.

Humans have five dragonmarks House Cannith has the Mark of Making, and controls the trade of repair and manufacturing. House Orien has the Mark of Passage, dominating the courier, shipping, and transportation trades. House Deneith has the Mark of Sentinel, they dominate the trade of personal protection, and are the only Dragonmarked House that is allowed to maintain a standing army. House Vadalis has the Mark of Handling, making them the leaders in the business of livestock breeding and training. Finally there's House Tharashk, it's primarily seen as a Half-Orc house, but there is no small number of human members. They have the Mark of Finding, which places them at the forefront of the dragonshard hunting business.

There's not much of a description here because Humans are rather varied across the five nations, and get more description there.



There is something about that armor that makes me feel uncomfortable

Changelings

In Eberron, Dopplegangers and Humans interbred enough that they eventually created a separate unique race. They lack the full shapeshifting capacity of Dopplegangers(And their +4 Level Adjustment) but can change the way they look superficially. They can emulate humans, dwarves and elves, but not halflings or gnomes.

Changelings are prudent and cautious, almost to the point of being paranoid. Only taking risks when their chances of success are all but assured, or the payoff is too good to ignore. They enjoy opulent lifestyles whenever they can have it, either through their own wealth or pretending to be someone who can afford it. They're soft spoken and stealthy in both their conversations with others and method of combat, striking from stealth and beating a hasty retreat when they need to. As far as their physical appearance, they favor their Doppleganger parents more than their Human ones. They have noses and mouths, even if they're barely visible. They also have hair though it's thin and wispy. The largest difference they have from their Doppleganger parents is that they have a distinct gender. Though they can assume either gender, and are fully functional as both. (And thankfully that's really as much detail as the book goes into).

The other races don't trust changelings, but most have reason to do business with them in one way or another. In their alignment they tend towards neutral but they're too fiercely independent to see that as a limitation. They possess no real lands of their own, though sometimes they form small changeling communities within larger ones, either living openly or hiding in plain sight.

They're Medium Humanoids with the Shapechanger subtype. They get bonus saves vs sleep and charm effects, and bonuses on Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive checks. Speak Language is always a class skill for them, and they have the supernatural ability to cast disguise self. The changes are physical (and tactile) unlike the spell. But they cannot change their carried gear. Changelings often either have reversible clothing or carry multiple sets as a result. Their favored class is Rogue, surprising no one.



They'll make you an offer you can't refuse

Dwarves

Dwarves are the miners and smiths of the world of Khorvaire. Even more, they mint the coins and run the banks. Issue loans and collect debts. To an extent Dwarves are feared, since they're legendarily ruthless when it comes to their means of collecting those debts. The Dwarven Homelands are the Mror Holds, a federation of dwarven clans that are otherwise unrelated. They never had a unified empire so they didn't rise to prominence like the humans or elves did, but their vast mineral wealth has made them powerful movers and shakers in the political arena regardless. They were subject to the King of Galifar before the last war, but shortly after the opening shots of the war they seceded from Karranth, declaring independence as one of the earliest of the new nations. Clan Kundarak carries the Mark of Warding, allowing them to protect their wealth and vast stores of material goods.



I can't think of anything to say.

Elves

Tens of thousands of years ago, the Elves were slaves to the Giants of Xen'drik. When their society waned, the elves rebelled and fled to the continent of Aerenal, which is covered in fertile tropical rainforests. From there a few elves decided to leave Aerenal and settle on Khorvaire, before humans even set foot on the island. These elves have integrated into human society rather well, and bear little resemblance to either the Aerenal Elves, or the Elves of Valenar.

During the last War, Cyre hired a great many elf mercenaries from Aerenal to fight on their side. After fifty years of fighting, however, they claimed the vast majority of southern Cyre as their own. Apparently back during the Hobgoblin empires, the Elves of Aerenal maintained a trading outpost on the location where Valenar is now. There was some argument over the elvish claim to the land, but the Day of Mourning has made those debates rather academic. There are two Elven Dragonmarked Houses, at one point Phiarlan and Thuranni were one house, but they split during the last war. Both possess the Mark of Shadow, and with it the powers of Scrying and Illusion.



Don't gently caress with Zilargo

Gnomes

Gnomes are knowledge hungry little bastards. No fact is too trivial, everything might be important some day. They make excellent librarians, accountants, bards, and alchemists as a result. That said, they are also excellent spies, and gnomish society is filled with webs of blackmail and intrigue that pass completely unnoticed by the humans. Not all of this is malicious, however, most of them consider it a form of courtesy. Being paranoid about your friends means that you find them competent enough to be a threat. Gnomes have never had an empire, but their talents for diplomacy and espionage have kept their nation of Zilargo independent throughout the history of Khorvaire. In addition to their skill as alchemists, Gnomes have mastered elemental binding, and they build the air and sea ships constructed in Zilargo's dry docks. Their only Dragonmarked house is House Sivis, which carries the Mark of Scribing, which gives magical abilities related to the written word and translation.



You are beneath Half-Elf Harlock.

Half-Elves

Half-Elves are a unique creation of Khorvaire, and most Half-Elves there are their own distinct race, breeding true amongst their own rather than unique instances of human-elf pairings. To my knowledge Eberron was the first setting there half-elves are a race rather than an exception. They have no lands of their own, though they are found throughout the Five Nations, most commonly in Aundair, Breland, and Thrane. A few migrated to Valenar to take part of the new nation. There are two dragonmarked houses amongst the Half-Elves. House Lyrandar carries the Mark of Storm, and operates all sailing ships and flying vessels, as well as bringing rain to Farmlands. Lyrandar is actually quite powerful as far as Dragonmarked Houses go. They control all transport between Khorvaire and the other continents, and they know it. The other house is Medani, which holds the Mark of Detection, offering services related to personal protection, such as food tasting and trap detection.



That bard is having the time of his life.

Half-Orcs

Half-Orcs are rare on Khorvaire as Humans and Orcs haven't lived in close proximity in any location except the Shadow Marches, where they thrive. Though they have made some inroads into the Eldeen Reaches and Droaam. They're about as civilized as the humans they live with, and are often mistaken for humans other than their size and strength. House Tharashk is their dragonmarked house, and is described earlier.



The one on the left is likely a bigger badass than you can ever hope to be.

Halflings

In their homeland, Halflings are nomads who have domesticated the dinosaurs native to the plains.

Yes you read correctly.



I'm cheating a bit again here, this is from Races of Eberron, but it's an excellent example.

There are urbanized Halflings who have established themselves across Khorvaire as merchants, politicians, barristers, healers, and thieves. The tribal nomads of the plains can sometimes be found in the cities, but the Halflings found in the cities normally blend in as well as their parent races. They originated on the Talenta Plains, and that is where they thrive. There are two Dragonmarked houses. Ghallanda has the Mark of Hospitality, granting magical abilities related to food, drink,and shelter. They control most inns and restaurants, and operate as chefs for royalty or prepare food for their nomads on the plains. The other house is Jorasco, which carries the Mark of Healing. They control hospitals and other curative services throughout Khorvaire.



No you didn't just stroke out there for a moment, most Kalashtar artwork looks like it's been put through a soft focus filter, I really dislike it.

Kalashtar

The Kalashtar are a compound race, incorporeal entities from Dal Quor, the region of Dreams, merged with human bodies and spirits to form a new and distinct species. The entities were a minority of Quori, the residents of Dal Quor, and they were hunted and persequted for their religious beliefs. Thousands of years after the Quori invaded Eberron and the connection between the Realm of Dreams and Eberron was severed, the Kalashtar were the first of the Quori to figure out a way to get back to the Material Plane, where they possessed willing humans. A quirk of the process was revealed when they tried to breed, as their children inherited a connection to the Quori of the parent of their same gender. New Kalashtar were born, not possessed. At this point the connection to the quori is spread across so many Kalasthar that the connection is mostly instinctive. It does not exist as a separate consciousness in their mind, but they have memories of places they've never been and of realms that do not exist.

Of course three hundred years later the other Quori figured out a way to psychically project their way to Eberron. Though rather than traveling physically, they project themselves and possess human bodies known as the inspired. They leave their own bodies behind much as mortals project their minds to Dal Quor when they dream.

Kalashtar are true fusions of human and Quori, they possess keen intellects but are not ruled by logic. They seek perfection of their mind and spirits, sometimes to the exclusion of physical pursuits. They're compassionate but are often alien to the other races. They're more interested in their own Psionics than any magic that Khorvaire has. They also cannot dream, as they are outcasts from their home plane. They look similar to humans but are 'elegant' and 'almost too beautiful'. They're born diplomats and relate well to everyone, they also tend to Lawful Good in alignment. Their homeland is a region of the continent of Sarlona known as Adar, a land of mountains and hidden fortress monasteries. Ironically they're probably more numerous across Khorvaire than they are in their homeland, as on Khorvaire at least they aren't actively persecuted by the inspired lords of Sarlona.

They follow no gods, but they do have their own religion known as the Path of Light. They believe that there is a universal force of positive energy called il-Yannah, "The Great Light". Through meditation and communion with this force they believe they are strengthening their minds and bodies against the darkness they must fight, and hope to usher Dal Quor into a new age of light.

They're Medium Humanoids, with a saving throw bonus against mind affecting spells and possession. They also get a bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Disguise checks to look like humans. They sleep, but cannot dream, and as such are Immune to any spell or ability that relies on such. They get bonus power points, and can use the Mindlink psychic ability once per day, which allows them to communicate telepathically with any willing creature within 30 feet. Unsurprisingly their favored class is Psion.



Uhh apparently the feral werewolf people have invented the wonderbra.

Shifters

Sometimes called "the weretouched", shifters are descended from humans and the natural lycanthropes that are almost extinct on Khorvaire at the time of the setting. They can't fully change shape, but they can take on some animalistic features, a state they call Shifting. They evolved into a distinct culture with their own traditions and identity. Their personality is affected by their animal nature, some are boorish and crude, others are quiet, shifty, and solitary. Most have a predatory personality, as they're descended from carnivores, and think of things in terms of hunting and prey. They view survival as a challenge to be won.

They're humanoid in shape, but they're lithe and move in a crouched posture, springing and leaping rather than walking normally. Their faces have a bestial cast, flat noses, and sideburns(in both sexes). They also have heavy hair on their arms and lower legs. Many races feel uncomfortable around shifters, in the way most people get worried if there's a wild bear sitting next to them. Halflings though, in general, get along with them. And most people can get along with individual shifters.

They tend to be neutral, and have no lands of their own, though they are most commonly encountered in the Eldeen Reaches and any other remote areas, and now we get into the fun rules.

They're humanoids with the Shapechanger subtype, get a bonus to Dex with a penalty to Int and Cha, you know, cause they’re animals. Low Light Vision, +2 bonus on balance climb and jump checks, and Ranger as their favored class. And they get Shifting as a supernatural ability.

One per day a shifter can tap into their lycanthropic heritage in a manner similar to a barbarian's rage. Each shifter has a shifter trait, there are 6 in the core book with more added later, each one grants a +2 bonus to an ability score and another advantage unique to each trait. it lasts 3+Con rounds, and one additional round for each shifter feat they've taken, and they can shift one additional time per day for every two feats they have taken.

The traits in the core book are Longtooth and Razorclaw, which give strength bonuses and bite/claw attacks respectively. Cliffwalk and Longstride, which give dex bonuses and a climb speed/land speed bonus. and Beasthide and Wildhunt, which give con bonuses and an AC bonus and the Scent quality.



Oh Steve Prescott, is there anything you can't draw awesomely?

Warforged

Finally the main event. Built as mindless machines to fight in the Last War, they developed sentience as a result of the arcane experiments to make them better fighting machines. With each new generation that emerged from Cannith's creation forges they evolved until they became new creatures, living constructs. They're renowned for their combat prowess and their single minded focus. They made steadfast allies and truly implacable foes. They were literally built to fight, and they continue to serve that purpose as well as any one can. They fight without remorse and with an adaptability unseen in other constructs. Now that the war has ended, however, they search for a place in the relative peace. Some have become artisans or laborers, while others have become adventurers.

They look like massive humanoids molded out of obsidian, iron, stone, darkwood, silver, and organic material, though they move with a grace that belies their construction. Each warforged has a unique sigil on their forehead known as a Ghulra, the Dwarven word for truth (Thanks for the unfortunate implications, Eberron). If a warforged is injured in such a way as to remove the Ghulra, and then repaired, the mark will re-assert itself on their forehead, and if a Warforged is ever able to cast Arcane Mark, it will take the form of their Ghulra. They have no physical distinction of gender, though some have mental or vocal ones. Most are unconcerned with matters of Gender. They do not age naturally, though their bodies still decay as their minds improve through experience.

Some Warforged were built special, either having additional armor plating, special construction materials, or no armor plating at all. Other warforged have modified themselves 'after-market' with embedded weaponry or other enhancements. Though they were officially granted freedom, in the nations of Thrane and Karranth they're still seen as indentured servants. The military spent a lot of money to get them and they want their money's worth. Most warforged accept this state with equanimity, though others seethe with resentment and hate their 'masters'. More often than not they're neutral in one respect or another, they weren't built to ponder moral quandaries but they're learning how.

The first Warforged off the line were Barbarians, Fighters, rogues and the like. In recent years some have been built for more esoteric tasks such as wizards or artificers. Uniquely this means that their randomized age chart is reversed, scholarly professions have younger Warforged than the simple ones.

There's a sidebar here on The Nature of the Warforged. During the last days of King Jarot's reign, he grew increasingly paranoid about perceived threats both in and outside of the kingdom. He tasked House Cannith with creating a new immortal soldier to protect his kingdom both in his lifetime and afterwards. The first warforged were created by Merrix d'Cannith, and they walked off the line during the last days of Jarot's reign. When the nation fractured each faction had their own compliment of warforged fighters. Merrix's Son Arren was the first one to make breakthroughs in true sentience, and the first Living Constructs were created only thirty-three years ago. And Cannith started selling warforged to anyone with the coin to afford them.

As a part of the Treaty of Thronehold, two important decisions were made regarding Warforged. First, they were people, not property. Second, the creation forges were shut down, and the creation of new warforged was forbidden. This has become a point of contention amongst some Warforged, as they are considered living creatures, but cannot reproduce on their own. There are two current sources of new warforged, operating in defiance of the treaty. Merrix d'Cannith, grandson of the original, continues to run an illegal forge in the depths of Sharn. The other source is within the ruins of the Mournland, and is run by the Lord of Blades, unfortunately he's not as proficient as Merrix, and his are... defective, some are mutated.

Warforged are members of the Living Construct subtype, which was created specifically for them. Specifically it lets them get class hit dice and a constitution score. Unlike normal constructs they don't have low light vision, or darkvision. They're vulnerable to mind-affecting spells, critical hits, nonlethal damage, stunning, ability damage, ability drain, death and necromancy effects. They are immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, disease, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, the sickend condition and energy drain. They don't heal naturally, and normal magical healing (Cure) is only half as effective on them. There's a special line of Repair spells that do work on Warforged at full strength. They also always count as wearing metal armor for the purposes of Heat Metal and shocking grasp and similar spells. they can't bleed out, and don't need to eat, sleep, or breathe. But they can eat magical items to gain their effects.

They get a bonus to Con and a penalty to Wis and Cha, because they’re robots. A +2 armor bonus that comes with a 5% arcane spell failure chance that counts as light armor. They've got a natural slam attack and light fortification as well. Surprise surprise their favored class is Fighter.

4e Races

Dragonborn originate from Argonnessen. Legend holds that there are great dragonborn city-states that war throughout the interior either over the Draconic Prophecy or the behest of their masters. Dragonborn on Khorvaire are remnants of a Dragonborn outpost nation that once existed in Q'barra, but it fell as swiftly as it rose, and no modern Dragonborn remembers what happened to it.

Eladrin actually have one of the more interesting origins. There are seven great cities of the Eladrin known as the Feyspires, and they have been appearing on Eberron since the Age of Giants. They would appear, allowing the Eladrin to intermingle with the mortal races before bringing them back to the Feywild. Some would remain behind but they were the exception, not the rule. That was at least until Shae Tirias Tolai was ransacked by the Giants of Xen'drik. Those Eladrin were enslaved and the long years separated from the Feywild turned them into the Elves of Today. That would be the end of the story if not for the fact that all of the Feyspires were on Eberron when the Day of Mourning occurred, and none of them have left since. They have left no lasting mark on Khorvarian culture, but they mean to, now that they're stuck there.

Tieflings are descended from the corrupted human bloodlines of the Sarlonan nation of Ohr Kaluun. Sarlona tried to wipe out the competing arcane society but they fled to Khorvaire. Honestly it seems more like an afterthought than anything else.

Eberron 4e came out between the PHB2 and PHB3, so there are rules for Deva(spirits of light that fight the Rakshasa), Goliath(They were slaves on Xen'Drik and then somehow got to Khorvaire, it isn't explained), and Shifters(since they got upgraded into a ‘core’ race), but no Shardminds or Gith.

Up Next: This guy right here

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region B: goblin zealots

So, the next part to Region B is the territory of the "holy goblin empire" which covers most of the southwest section of the Region. The individual room descriptions are pretty dull and the only NPC of note (Argliss, the "goblin" king) is pretty uninteresting (a 1st level doppelganger rogue). Most of the rooms are just full of various goblins.

What makes this section noteworthy (and terrible) is the tendency of the writers to give out free special abilities and ignore or break rules. They often assign feats without checking prerequisites and tend to give fighters the ability to rage like a barbarian, make random groups of goblins Fearless, etc.

The real kicker is the goblin troops themselves...you see part of the theme of the holy goblin empire is that they're expertly trained by hobgoblins to use military tactics and special skills.

The standard goblin troops are 1st level Fighters who have Power Attack and Improved Sunder, despite having a Strength of 12 (something the writing says is due to their training by the hobgoblins)...although considering a strength of 13 meets the prerequisites and has the same modifier I don't really see why they couldn't have just given the goblins that extra +1 instead of houseruling the feats.

Of course for 1st level fighters armed with shortspears (which are incorrectly listed as having 1d6 damage rather than 1d4) Power Attack and Sunder are quite possibly the worst feat choices available...seriously, with 1d4+1 damage how the hell are they going to sunder anything? They couldn't even manage to break own of their own spears. And Power Attacking when your attack bonus is only +3 is a pretty poor bet.

Their "elite military tactics" are even worse. You see, when the goblins face an enemy they form into square formation, 4 goblins wide and move together. This seems to a sad attempt by the writers to emulate "military" combat but they completely fail to actually think how it'll work during play.

You've got small groups of weaklings (the goblins) facing down a smaller group of powerful enemies (the PCs)...so rather than surround their opponents and take advantage of their numbers and teamwork the goblins apparently form into tight ranks meaning that only 3 goblins can attack a single foe at a time, they can't flank and any goblins not in the front row will simply do nothing. And they're sitting ducks for any area of effect spells.

Oh, and then comes the "tactics" section which...well every single one of them basically fills you with a boiling hate for the writers. So rather than comment I'll simply share:

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Bieeardo posted:

I can't get past the five hundred meter long spines poking out of that silly thing's back. It keeps making me think of Citizen Kabuto wearing a semen anemone.
Please tell me you meant 'sea anemone'.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Infernal

Calvin Cockscomb

Calvin here is the devilish offspring of the potent demon Adramelach. He is primarily a social character, though he can handle a sword decently well. His real power lies in his nature as a Devil Child. He is extremely charming and an excellent liar, and due to his demonic blood he may change his appearance once a day at midnight. Such changes last as long as he likes, unless he enters holy ground, in which case he reverts to his natural form. He is a proud man, vain and fascinated by fashion. This is how his father controls him, often. (That and his poor memory for names and faces mean that while he's an excellent socialite, he'll often piss people off, and potentially ruin his father's plans, however.) His father has created him for a purpose - likely the destruction or corruption of the noble house he was born into as a minor noble.

Thanks to being of Demonic Blood, Calvin does count as an Infernal being, gaining Infernal Might (and with it, natural magic resistance). He possess two demonic powers inherited from his father: the Withering of Limbs, which lets him merely glare at a foe and exert his demonic power in order to wound them, and the Unbinding Desire, the ability to touch someone and cause them to act on their immediate desires for two minutes. Both are stymied by pretty much any magic resistance, but that's okay. Calvin was designed to handle normal people. Those aren't his only supernatural abilities, however.

Calvin is naturally good at seduction, though there's nothing magical about that - he's just very charming indeed. His supernatural abilities allow him to entrance and hypnotize those who gaze into his eyes, commanding them. He can also command a group of animals and expect obedience, for such is the nature of Adramelach's blood. His final power derives from the same rage that fuels the Withering of Limbs: Calvin has the Hex, allowing him to curse those who cross him. He specializes in causing blindness, but the Hex can even kill, though it's not easy to do. Of course, not all is good for Calvin. He doesn't visibly age or anything...but for every year that passes, he ages two. He's only twelve, though you'd never know it to look at him - he appears to be twenty-four, both physically and mentally. He will die twice as fast as a normal human. Such is the lot of a Devil Child.

If you wanted to make a character like Calvin but without the sheer power of the Mythic Companion, as a Companion you might make a normal demon-blooded character rather than a Devil Child, or perhaps just a Tainted Child character - both receive several of the same benefits, though as a Companion-level character they have significantly less access to sheer amount of power. (A Tainted Child is a normal human born under influence of a demon and granted some demonic mojo. Demon-blooded means one of your parents was literally a demon.)

Preston

Preston is a Diabolist...though you'll note, even as a Mythic Companion, he does not have access to the whole of the Maleficia. He has Debauchery and Incantation, the two methods that are used to invoke infernal power, and he's got Psychomachia, Effusion, Consumption and Malediction of the Unholy Powers. He is good at stealing the power of others, controlling objects, cursing people and controlling emotions. He is also the creepiest motherfucker I have ever written. I would not choose this character to be in my game.

See, Preston here is an rear end in a top hat. He specializes in dark magic against young women. He's really good at it and not much else. His demonic masters have given him unholy skill with women (though he's still not very good at it, thanks to his depression and unnatural air about him). He's half-decent at a few social skills - mostly lying - and not much else. He was tutored by demons, giving him an edge in penetrating magic resistance...and he's decently literate, at least. But really, everything he does that he expects to succeed will involve unholy magic.

The good news is that he's too depressed to do much to people. He is a sad sack of poo poo and likely to become a social outcast thanks to his poor demeanor and stupidity. He is an evil man, but a petty one, and not useful for much. Do not be Preston. As with Devil Children, you can play a less potent form of the Diabolist as a normal Companion - they don't require the Gift or anything, and anyone can learn the Maleficia if they have proper training. There are whole cults devoted to it. But you'll be significantly less broad in your skill at it than Preston is. A Hermetic Magus can also learn the Maleficia if they wanted, but that's spreading yourself a bit thin. On the other hand: the Maleficia can do things Hermetic Magic just can't, and you don't have to study spells - you can just cast them on the fly.

Adam Zhidkov

Adam's a much nicer, more tragic fellow. As a young man, he fell deeply in love with a woman who saw through the air of magic that hangs around him. Adam lacks the Gift, but suffers from all of its social effects thanks to his natural talent for spirit-summoning. It makes people nervous even if they don't know he can do it. However, his wife vanished one night - except for a few body parts, anyway. This loss drove Adam nearly mad with grief. He's spent years training in the Ars Goetia, hoping that his power could be used to help people. He'd travelled across Russia and Germany, learning much. And then she died and vanished...and he had to find her.

He doesn't realize that he's been getting help from demons. His old mentor was a diabolic summoner, not the kind man he appeared to be. After his mentor's death, the old ghost has become a demonic spirit...but Adam believes he's a normal ghost, one who can help him find his wife's spirit. The association has made people even more nervous about Adam, sensing the evil of the ghost that hangs around him. Adam's an older man, skilled in lying (he is, after all, a necromancer - people get nervous) and other social skills. His real power, however, is knowledge: he knows much about the Realms of Power and the undead, and he can speak several languages and read at least three different alphabets - including rudimentary Hebrew. He's a half-decent apothecary, though not much good at fixing wounds, just sickness...and only if it can be cured by herbs.

And, of course, he is a summoner. He has extreme skill in calling things up, though he's no slouch at binding or commanding what he summons. He prefers to avoid dealing with demons in favor of ghosts, but given the manipulation from his old teacher, the demonic spirit, he doesn't always have a choice. What he's worst at is banishing - it's an area his teacher has deliberately neglected, though his natural talents mean that he's not completely useless at it. Unfortunately, he's quite gullible and trusting despite his genius at academics, so it doesn't look like he'll be free of his impious ally any time soon.

As with the Diabolist, you don't need to be a Mythic Companion to perform Goetic magic. A normal Companion can learn parts of it, but will never be able to learn all of it, no matter what - there will always be some aspect they can't do, and they'll tend to have more than one. So really, it's not very safe to be a normal Goetic summoner. A Hermetic can also learn Goetic magic, though, again, spreading yourself a bit thin there. Especially since calling up ghosts or demons is something you can do with normal Hermetic magic, albeit slightly more difficult.

Next time: Maleficia in detail.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 14:21 on May 8, 2013

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





Spoilers Below posted:

This juxtaposition doesn't jive at all. Is there anything even remotely weak about awesome Revolutionary War Soldier Wolf smashing a guy with the butt of his rifle?
If you like that wait until he gets further in to the history.

Nostalgia4ColdWar
May 7, 2007

Good people deserve good things.

Till someone lets the winter in and the dying begins, because Old Dark Places attract Old Dark Things.


Christ, the guy who wrote Black Tokyo and the spooge hate monster couldn't even bother to get his loving mechanics right either. That shouldn't surprise me, though.

I'm loving the whole Mutant thing, reminds me of early Gamma World versions. Not that d20 trainwreck, but the old box stuff.

What's sad is I used to hear about the WORLD'S LARGEST DUNGEON on ENWorld and Circus Maximus all the drat time. They were talking some serious poo poo, and it's kind of funny to me to see that it's like Undermountain's retarded cousin. That goblin section is just terrible, and that first level is pretty terrible too. Their playtesting was horrible as gently caress, and when they were working on it, there were all kinds of people who were familiar with the d20 scene willing to do playtest and give it looks over for free. People who had products already out there that were selling pretty good. IIRC there were even people who where willing to do artwork really cheap for pieces that normally charged like $100 for.

They have no goddamn excuse for that horrible shitpile they put out. Not after all the bragging they did, all the help they were offered, and all the buzz on ENWorld and other places about how this was going to be the greatest dungeon ever, even better than Undermountain, Castle Greyhawk, everything.

Hell, when they mentioned having a whole section with a goblin kingdom down in the dungeon, there were shitloads of suggestions and it looks like they took exactly none of them.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me that the World's Largest Dungeon is the World's Shittiest Dungeon.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Shotgun bear mom and cubs is fuckin' adorable. I guess I'm buying Ars Magica the next time I get some spending cash. Yet another PDF for me to read.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Infernal

First, a note. While Calvin and Adam didn't, you may have noticed that Preston had Infernal Reputation. Any infernalist character can begin with Infernal Reputation 1 (or higher, with an appropriate Virtue), and what it does is help command demons and protect against loving up Maleficia. Handy! Any infernalist may also harvest infernal vis by ritually tainted and corruption a holy object, profaning it and creating a vessel of Infernal power. Most commonly, infernalists do this to the Host, the transubstantiated bread and wine handed out by priests, because it's easy to get. Lastly, all infernalists may empower magic by ritually sacrificing objects or living beings. Including humans.


Onward, to darkness!

The maleficia are, like Hermetic spells, designed in two parts: a Method and an Unholy Power. There's only two Methods, though. First is Debauchery, the performance of an evil ritual which corrupts the body, indulging in sin with such passion that the caster becomes fatigued or even wounded. This ceremony summons the power of magic from within the self, drawing on the passion and desire involved. When used with fatigue, it takes around two minutes to do - not good for combat. Sometimes the fatigue comes from the effort of sin, but often it is merely from the sheer passion of reliving the memories of sin. You can instead choose to hurt yourself, perhaps cutting your flesh to summon emotion and passion via pain - that's about on par with a Hermetic casting for speed. Debauchery may also be extended out to last an entire season, slowing the casting but allowing for greater skill and focus to be brought to bear.

Incantation is the other Method, involving the chanting of words and names of power, pulling magic directly from the Infernal realm. Such magic requires the expenditure of Confidence, to focus the will and shape the maleficium involved. Alternatively, the caster may accept Infernal Warping by committing a sin during the casting, regaining the Confidence used to focus the spell. Incantation has the benefit of allowing the caster to use vis during the casting, though it's not very safe to use any but infernal vis this way, and divine vis simply can't be used unless profaned first.

The six Unholy Powers focus what a maleficium actually does. Consumption...well, understand: the Infernal cannot create anything real, it can merely twist, corrupt and destroy. Consumption draws on the life and health of others, turning it to evil. When you gently caress up Corruption, it tends to deform or mutilate you.

Corruption by Debauchery involves the transformation of flesh, blood and spirit. It may increase strength in battle at the cost of slowing you down, or speed you up at the cost of reducing battle strength. It can tire you to make your strikes more potent, or weaken you to make you tire less easily. It can steal the ability of one person to recover from wounds in order to gift it to another, or boost one person's abilities at the cost of another's, either temporarily or permanently. It may transfer pain from one to another, cause pregnancy, wither plants or animals to cause other plants or animals to grow, or even do the same to human beings at high levels.
Corruption by Incantation involves the theft of life from others to heal and restore. It may boost skills at the cost another's ability, or allow one person to resist aging by cursing another. It can animate corpses or restore fatigue by stealing it from a victim. It can do the same to wounds or problems of age. It can even put the caster's soul into a prepared vessel, saving them from death, though such maleficia are extremely difficult.

Diablerie is the unholy ability to control the supernatural. It is limited by range, unlike the Goetia, but is broader in ability. loving up tends to mean getting the wrong demon or freeing a bound demon to do as it likes.

Diablerie by Debauchery involves summoning or resisting the supernatural. It can dispel magic, ward against supernatural beings, see through the eyes of supernatural beings, forge Arcane Connections, perceive supernatural power, scry on supernatural beings, release demons from imprisonment or even create Infernal auras or regiones, at high levels.
Diablerie by Incantation involves commanding supernatural beings and granting supernatural powers. It can grant magic resistance and restore the power of demons, force the invisible visible, bind contracts with supernatural beings, compel the supernatural to manifest or obey, grant False Powers (unholy mimicry of real power), or even, at high levels, utterly dominate supernatural beings and taint vis...or grant the False Gift, the Hellish mockery of true sorcery.

Effusion is the power of the Infernal to control the physical, or perhaps merely an extension of the burning flame and freezing ice of Hell. It controls the elements unnaturally. However, it cannot create living things...or, in truth, anything. It can fan a flame or cause a thing to combust, but not call fire from nowhere. It can summon an object, but not create what does not exist. loving up tends to mean losing control.

Effusion by Debauchery controls the warm elements, Fire and Air. It can weaken and soften objects, cause greater heat from fire and greater corrosion from smoke, ignite flammable objects, heat objects or make weather more severe. It can control weather, dry things, ward against weather or even ward against flame and heat at high levels.
Effusion by Incantation controls the cool elements, Water and Earth. It can harden and strengthen objects, enchant objects to contain a maleficium that is released on breaking it, telekinetically move objects, weaken weather, chill objects, change one substance into another, teleport objects or ward against non-living material.

Malediction is curses. Hell is good at curses. loving up tends to hurt the caster or their friends.

Malediction by Debauchery destroys objects, causes direct harm to people, causes physical problems, can give disease or, at high levels, even just strike someone dead.
Malediction by Incantation causes bad luck, penalties to specific types of action, curses objects to harm wielders, weakens abilities and, at high levels, can even suppress Virtues and grant Flaws.

Phantasm is the the creation of Hellish illusion. The Infernal cannot create true things, but its illusions are so convincing that they are impossible to tell from the real thing in every way. The Divine easily destroys such lies, of course, and phantasms cannot touch Divine beings or exist in Dominion auras. Further, all Phantasms of a specific caster are weak to a specific thing, chosen when they learn the ability. Should that thing ever touch the illusions, they are destroyed. loving up tends to hurt you or make the wrong thing.

Phatasm by Debauchery conjures phantasms or transforms real things into phantasms. Such phantasms can be dangerous to the touch, can grant abilities to the target by changing them, can mask the senses or cause invisibility or silence, grant supernatural powers, or even create apparently living demonic creatures or seperate the spirit from the body at high levels.
Phantasm by Incantation allows senses to be used at a distance, sees through illusion, or even grants visions of the past or future - something no Hermetic can ever do.

Psychomachia is the magic of the mind and emotion, influencing and controlling others. Failure tends to confuse or affect the caster, or manifest in the wrong way.

Psychomachia by Debauchery tarnishes Auras, encouraging those in them to sin, transforms the emotions of targets, strengthens or weakens personality traits, grants temporary personality traits, warps targets or even drives them insane or grants Confidence.
Psychomachia by Incantation can sense supernatural events, allow telepathy, sense emotions, compels targets to act on their desires, or even controls and commands targets, either physically or mentally, at high levels.

Next Time: The Goetia

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




Ryuutama, Preamble: Dragons, Seasons, Travel

The book opens up with an overall explanation of what kind of game Ryuutama is. The themes of the game are dragons, seasons, and travel in a fantastic world.

The unnamed world in which Ryuutama takes place was created by four dragons - one created Spring, one Summer, one Fall, and one Winter. Next were the twenty dragons reigning over the different spheres of land and weather - a dragon for the forests, a dragon for the deserts, a dragon for the winds, a dragon for the rain. Now that the world is running on its own, these dragons look over it from places unknown.

The players play travelers in this world. Not legendary heroes, but normal people who have set out to see the world. It is, of course, far from an easy place to travel across, what with the adverse and unpredictable weather conditions, the precarious and varied terrain, and the monsters. Will we safely reach our next destination? Will we run out of food and water along the way? Will our preparations be right for the kind of dangers on the road ahead? These are the daily troubles of travelers, and what this game is mostly about.

There is one more character, though, one controlled by the GM. The GM plays a dragon - not one of the twenty-four that created the world, but one of the rare people in this world who is a lesser dragon in disguise. The GM creates and runs the scenario as usual, but do it sort of halfway in character. The goal of a lesser dragon is to create and harvest stories from travelers and bring them back to the Four Dragons for them to eat. They have powerful magic unavailable to humans which they can use to this end. Things going too smoothly for your travelers? Use it to make their enemies craftier and their trials more difficult. Are they in over their heads? Use it to pull them out of danger.

Since the GMPC Dragon isn't actually a present party member - they're just watching from the sidelines most of the time - this becomes sort of a codified version of the standard GM rule of "if things aren't going in an interesting direction, fiddle with things until they are".

Very little is actually defined about Ryuutama's setting. All it says in the book about cities, nations, and famous people is that they aren't the same as the ones in our world. The reason for this is that worldbuilding is an important part of the game, and it's one that they're not going to do for you.



What is a TRPG?

I think it's interesting that, while TRPG works as an acronym for Tabletop RPG, that's not what it's being used for here - "TRPG" is expanded as "Tabletalk RPG." I wonder if that's normal for Japanese games in the field.

That aside, this is a basic What Are Tabletop Games section, and there's nothing too interesting in it. 1 GM, 1-6 players, 1 table. That aside, it's time for a bit more lore!



Travelers

It is a saying in the world of Ryuutama that everyone must go on at least one long journey during their life. But for some, it is a way of life.

There's no unifying type of person among travelers. They can be nobles or peasants, blacksmiths or farmers, magicians or thieves. Everyone has their own history and their own reason for being out on the road.

The typical traveler's journey will go for a year or two, before settling down. That year or two, naturally, will be fraught with peril from a variety of sources. When traveling through harsh forests, icy mountains, or deserts, food and water supplies can become a matter of life or death. Unwitting travelers may come across a monster den, and fight or run for their lives. Because of all the dangers of the wild country, travelers tend to move in parties of three to six - a group large enough to make the road a little safer, but still small enough to enjoy the easygoing freedom of travel.

When they're not deep in the wilderness, travelers do often enjoy visits back to the comfort of civilization, but that brings its own share of troubles - most prominently, money. Travelers need food, board, and supplies, and none of it is free. To this end, travelers will often offer their services for whatever sort of odd jobs are available where they go. It's not uncommon for people to seek out passing traveler parties to get hard or dangerous work done in exchange for a bit of coin.



Dragons are the closest existence in this world to Gods. The sort of dragons played by the GM are different from the Four Dragons who created the world, most commonly appearing as horned and winged humans. They do have full traditionally dragon-shaped forms, but it isn't easy for them to assume this form, so they usually remain as humanoids.

A lesser dragon usually finds a particular group of travelers and attaches themself to it, following them from a distance and devising adventures to inflict upon them, while also protecting them from danger. Just like the out-of-game duties of the GM, they want to make sure that the characters are never bored, but also that they don't all meet a grim demise, fudging events as necessary.

A dragon has three special powers that they can bring to bear in order to influence the course of an adventure. The first is Artifacts, sacred treasures from a past age infused with the power of the dragons. The second, Blessings, are the ability to invoke miraculous occurrences beyond the laws of reality. The third is Awakening, when the dragon assumes their true form and the powers that come with it.

Flow of Play (For the players)


Basically, it's this.

The last part of the prologue is a pair of charts laying out the shape of a typical session of play. For the travelers, it goes like this:

Step 1: Preparations before the journey
If necessary, learn how to play the game
Get together the required items (paper, dice, printed sheets)
Prepare for the game (character creation)
Make friends for the road (introductions, set party roles)
Determine your destination (town creation)


Step 2: Embark! What happens today?
Travel Rules (Condition Check, Travel Check, Navigation Check, Camp Check)
Events along the journey (Condition rules, Monster rules)
Town exploration (Shopping rules, Services, Animals)


Step 3: How to become a great traveler
Using your own talents (Skills, Types)
Using your equipment (Items)
Recover from injuries (Healing Herbs)
Use magic (Magic rules)


Step 4: The journey continues
Gain Experience (Level up rules)

Flow of Play (For the GM)


These two comics are my favorite images in the book.

Step 1: Preparations for the scenario
If necessary, learn how to play the game
Prepare for the game (GMPC creation)


Step 2: Create the scenario
Determine a scenario type
Make a scenario objective sheet
Make a scenario outline sheet
Make event sheets
Determine Blessing


Step 3: Begin the session
Before play (explain the rules, introduce your dragon, help the players make characters)
During play (run the scenario, dragon blessings)


Step 4: Return gathered stories to the Four Dragons
Record events of the session, Level Up

Step 5: In case of troubles
If there's something you don't understand (FAQ, more resources)

The prologue closes with a quick glossary for things like Player Character, Campaign, Check, etc, but we know what those are already.



See what I mean about the reduced image quality? Here's a picture showing the different dice types needed to play the game, with a Green Dragon explaining how to read a d4 and a Blue Dragon suggesting you come up with an image color for your character, then grab a set of dice of that color.

Next: Character creation.

Rasamune
Jan 19, 2011

MORT
MORT
MORT


ProfessorProf posted:

I think it's interesting that, while TRPG works as an acronym for Tabletop RPG, that's not what it's being used for here - "TRPG" is expanded as "Tabletalk RPG." I wonder if that's normal for Japanese games in the field.

Yes, it is. That's just what games of this type are called in Japan.

Hedningen
May 4, 2013

Enough sideburns to last a lifetime.


Mutant: Let's Make The Worst Explorers Ever!
Because the best sort of game is the kind where the audience gets to interact, let's talk a bit about making some example characters. I'll toss up some ability arrays and let people vote on what sort of people they should be in the horrible post-apocalyptic future. It's also good because it lets me talk a little bit about the various changes to the rules over the years.

Let's get some stats up in this!
Character 1:
STY:13
INT:9
STO:11
FYS:7
MST:13
SMI:12
PER:11

Character 2:
STY:13
INT:6
STO:14
FYS:9
MST:14
SMI:13
PER:11


Character 3:
STY:8
INT:5
STO:7
FYS:11
MST:10
SMI:7
PER:17

I should note that there's a bit of ambiguity in some of the rules - it implies that you can take mental mutations as a Mutated Animal, but it never outright says that you can, and it tends to contradict itself by saying that only Psy-Mutants can roll on the mental mutation table. It's stupid like that, and this is eventually fixed in future editions where the classes are divided into Unmutated Human, Physical Mutant, Mental Mutant, and Robot, with both Mutants being either Human or Animal.

Mutant: UA also fixes some of the problems players had with robots - namely, that they didn't have as many options in the beginning, despite being completely loving awesome. So, in M:UA, we get the addition of Options, which are like Physical and Mental mutations in original Mutant.

For those worrying - I intend to go through the various Mutant games in order, mostly concentrating on where things change, what sort of fluff comes up in this game, and the other awesomely neat stuff. There's also the reference to Roy Batty above - I swear to Satan that the guys who wrote Mutant had this really weird obsession with Blade Runner. Don't believe me? Here's a picture from Mutant 2:



Awesome.

So, give me some ideas what you'd like to see in action, and we'll see what sort of characters we can make.

Coming up next: the heroes of this demonstration, TABLES, and more about the changes over time

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011



The almighty dragon, one of the creators of the world, tugs impatiently on the lesser dragon's cloak to be fed.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



seriously the art is adorable.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


Bitchtits McGee posted:

The almighty dragon, one of the creators of the world, tugs impatiently on the lesser dragon's cloak to be fed.

He must be a contestant on that world's version of the Upper-Class Twit Of The Year Contest.

That was the "being rude to the waiter" event.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Hedningen posted:

For those worrying - I intend to go through the various Mutant games in order, mostly concentrating on where things change, what sort of fluff comes up in this game, and the other awesomely neat stuff. There's also the reference to Roy Batty above - I swear to Satan that the guys who wrote Mutant had this really weird obsession with Blade Runner. Don't believe me? Here's a picture from Mutant 2:



Awesome.

I can't read Swedish, but I can make out at least a few of those words and the grammar structure. It says "Where you can play Roy Batty, "Snake" Plissken or Mximilian Rockatansky", doesn't it?

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



Hedningen posted:



There are no non-mutated animals, apart from some insects that look the same as they did before the Plague.

I think this is my favorite detail out of the whole background (which is excellent itself).

Hedningen
May 4, 2013

Enough sideburns to last a lifetime.


Young Freud posted:

I can't read Swedish, but I can make out at least a few of those words and the grammar structure. It says "Where you can play Roy Batty, "Snake" Plissken or Mximilian Rockatansky", doesn't it?

One better. "This game is dedicated to Roy Batty, "Snake" Plissken, and Maximilian Rockatansky".

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Infernal

The Ars Goetia, literally 'the howling art', is supposed to be ancient, descended from the lost secrets of Solomon and the Witches of Endor, of whom the Bible speaks. Those who practice the Goetic Arts are sorcerers to most people - and that's not a good thing to be, the word has connotations of evil and madness. They refer to themselves as summoners or thaumaturgists, which are less stigmatized terms. The Goetic Arts are true Arts, learned similarly to Hermetic ones.

Summoning is the Art of drawing a spirit to your presence. It works on any supernatural being that is incorporeal, and also on demons, whose corporeal forms are made of pure spirit. (Only demons can be summoned despite being corporeal; all else must be incorporeal.) You can, however, summon an entity possessing someone or something - you pull them out of their possessed form. Summoning requires a circle, and most summoners use candles to light it, so they can tell if it breaks easily. Other preparations, such as a star in the circle, chanting or incense, can help focus. You can summon specific spirits, but you need an Arcane Connection to them. For demons, that's usually a True Name. You may also attempt to just generally summon a spirit; this practice is known as scouring and it calls all the spirits in the local area, usually attracting one affiliated with the same realm as the summoner's power comes from, though closer spirits come more often than farther ones. If you use it inside an aura, you get a spirit of the appropriate type. Scouring areas with Dominion or no aura tends to get demons more often than not, as low-ranking demons are disturbingly common in such places. However, many demons can hide their true forms. So it's best to know the area you're working in and what kind of spirits are there.

Depending on how far away what you summon or scour is, it may take hours for it to arrive, or even days or weeks if it's very far away. Still, if you manage it, the spirit appears in the circle. You can hear it, it can hear you and it has to stay there until dismissed, when it goes back to where it came from. It is automatically dismissed at the next midnight or noon, whichever comes first. If you aren't powerful enough, the spirit is not truly bound and you must concentrate to keep it from breaking free to remain or leave as it wishes. While in a circle, a spirit cannot affect you or use its powers on anything outside the circle. However, once the circle is broken, it can do as it likes. You may also will the barrier down to allow magic through if you want. Most summoners bargain with the spirits they summon, making deals for assistance. They may also use their other Arts on the spirit as they desire, and spirits stuck in a circle are weaker against those Arts. Free spirits, on the other hand, will tend to just leave rather than submit to Goetic magic unless they've agreed to it in advance.

Ablating is the Art of tearing away at a spirit, stealing its power for your own. Ablation is always Infernal and it always aggravates the spirits it is used on, for it permanently weakens them. Any spirit that survives Ablation will be an enemy for life - or beyond. No spirit will agree to being Ablated. However, Ablation is quite a potent Art. It can grant you Confidence, boost your natural abilities, heal your injuries, make you resistant to aging, grant you memory and insight that spirit had, give you knowledge and skill, grant you Infernal power (even if the spirit was not a demon), give you spirit powers or extract vis from the victim. All such benefits are permanent, save resistance to aging, which wears off when you suffer an aging crisis. Ablation also earns you Infernal Reputation and warps you. If the spirit survives, it is immediately returned to where it was summoned from, and it will likely seek revenge. Ablation is an excellent way to earn Hell's respect, for infamy is just as useful with demons...and really, it's quite tempting. After all, you're killing the demons anyway - why not seize their power, even if doing so is technically Infernal?

Binding is the Art of chaining a spirit to a person or thing, forcing it inside the target and changing its nature. If a spirit is successfully bound, it cannot leave the target, though it may use its powers and is aware of its surroundings, using the target's senses. Most spirits can communicate with the target, if bound to a person, and may speak telepathically to them with some effort. However, they are essentially part of the target and cannot be detected. A person with a spirit bound into them or the wielder of a spirit-bound item may use the spirit's magic resistance and magical potency. Further, a bound spirit acts as an anchor for other effects, allowing the item to have, say, maleficia bound into it as a magic item. A person bearing a bound spirit may learn skills from it, even supernatural powers if they have the knack, and may even learn to use the spirit's powers. Further, a person bearing a bound spirit does not age; instead, they are warped by the magical power. Binding a demon will earn Infernal REputation. Oh, and you can use the spirit's Personality Traits as if they were your own, and often do so unconsciously. If the person or object bearing the spirit is destroyed, the spirit is released. Breaking an object usually works, but sometimes it must be disintegrated utterly. Animals and people must be killed and cremated, because if they are merely killed the spirit will just pilot the body around on its own. Few spirits will agree to a binding, and they usually expect a lot in exchange. Spirits bound for long periods tend to be very cranky and disoriented when released, and are as likely to attack as thank their liberators.

Commanding is the Art of commanding spirits and forcing them to obey. Spirits that agree in advance to follow commands can willingly choose to let down their magic resistance against Commanding, making it much easier. It's harder if they're not in a summoning circle, too. The spirit only needs to obey until its task is completed, at which point it's free to go back to wherever it was summoned from. There's usually a brief window, however, before it leaves in which a summoner might elaborate on a task and follow up on it without releasing the spirit. For example, 'kill a pig and bring it to me' might be followed by 'roast the pig.' A command has force only until midday or midnight, at which point it must be reissued if the task is not yet done. Again, you have a few minute window to do that in. Open-ended commands thus need reinforcement each day.

The most common command is 'Follow me,' so the spirit travels peacefully with you until you give it another command that will release it. 'Follow me' is the only command that need not be reinforced daily, though if you go somewhere the spirit can't, it is freed. Powerful summoners are often followed by many spirits. Spirits are commonly compelled to answer questions truthfully, raise a sorcerer's abilities or skills for the duration of the command, leave and not cause trouble for the duration, share memories, grant temporary Infernal Reputation, heal the summoner or others, travel to specific places and do things, use their abilities for the sorcerer, return to whence they came peacefully (in which case they cannot seek to harm the summoner until summoned again), or teach the summoner new skills.

Naturally, you may combine orders - 'go to this place and kill this person' is a viable command. However, any command must be succinctly stateable in this form - no complex if/then statements or whatever. Demons are notably crafty and love to twist words and instructions, so unless clearly given orders, they will do the commands as they see fit. Spirits likewise retain discretion but tend to do jobs as they think best. 'Destroy yourself,' for example, tends to be a poor command, as the spirit can go through it extremely slowly and thus free itself when midnight or midday comes. Most spirits demand compensation for being commanded, and those who are not granted it usually bear a grudge, especially if their service has been long.

Next time: Infernal magic for Hermetics!

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012





Chapter 4: Curses and Magic
Here we are at the last chapter of this book - I thought it was the second-to-last due to the appendices and misremembering, but it is what it is. It's on curses, magical items, and magic itself, as well as a lot of GM plot talk.

Cursed Objects
The segment on cursed objects can be summed up as "this is plot-related, not dice rolling". The entire purposes of the cursed object is to have it drive the plot of that particular adventure, have the heroes deal with the problems it causes, and then either destroy it or seal it away in a magic-dampening curse box. Oh, and if wishes are involved, you have free reign to be a dick:

The Guide to the Hunted posted:

The granter of the wish doesn’t care about the spirit of the desire so much as it does the letter of it. It has no warm and fuzzy feelings for you—you are its entertainment. If you wish to fly, you could get turned into a mosquito. If you wish someone back from the dead, you might get a zombie. Wish up a tasty-delicious sandwich and you’ll find yourself supplicating to the porcelain god for the rest of the night. No matter how much you might attempt to lawyer-up a wish, it will always come back at you. In fact, the more you try and play the game, the worse it usually comes back at you.


The Colt
Missing since season 5 of the show, the Colt was the Winchester brothers' ace in the hole early on in the series. It can kill all but five beings (just what those are is unknown beyond that Lucifer is one of them) in the universe. In game terms, it's a d6 damage pistol that bypasses "Wound to Stun" immunities and has its own 13 special Plot Points used specifically for acts involved in firing it.


Death Visions
Sometimes people get omens or precognitions of death. It's mentioned pretty much purely as a potential plot hook.


Demonic Viruses
Referred to in-universe as "Croatoan" in the several episodes it has appeared in, the demonic virus more or less makes rage zombies. In game terms, the virus simply adds a spare d4 to physical attribute-related rolls, with the mental effects and hive mentality of the rage zombies Croatoans being purely decided by the GM.


Dream Root
Seen twice in the show's history, the African dream root is a plant (a real plant, but sadly one that doesn't have magical powers in real life, just drug powers) that can be made into a potion that allows someone to enter another person's dreams. While meant to be a special plot point, it also has a few specific game rules attached to it. When in the dreamscape, the players get a unique pool of Plot Points they can't use outside of the dreamscape, as well as a unique use of the Discipline skill called Dreamscaping that focuses on manipulating the dream world. Particularly seasoned dream travelers, such as the villain of season 3, episode 10: Dream a Little Dream of Me, get a unique trait called Dreamwalker that further boosts their ability to manipulate dreamscapes. It's established canon that the fantasy world that djinn poison creatures is the same thing as the dreamscape, so GMs could feel free to have fun connecting the dream root and the djinn in the same plot if they so desired.


Ghost Sickness
This was detailed back in chapter 1 with the ghost that causes it, so I have no idea why there are five paragraphs of reiteration about it here.


Nature Curses
Sometimes, nature happens to get really pissed and unleashes its wrath. That or someone lets out a nature-related curse, but who's judging? Either way, nature curses are meant to be the focus of a single localized adventure in the greater story, typically involving swarms. Stats are provided for a swarm of bees, murder of crows, and swarms of animated plants, though the game states that other animals from the Supernatural RPG core rulebook or foul weather could be just as involved in one of these hubbubs.


Cults, Covens, and Corporations
A group of stats of witches, warlocks, evil lawyers, cultists, and others that have sold their souls to the dark powers of Hell to gain power. Non-demonic magicians need not apply.


Grimoires, Tomes, and PDFs
Here's where some actual rituals are presented. If you were expecting rules for full-on magic like some of the particularly powerful witches in Supernatural manage to conjure, sorry, you're still as out of luck as you were with the core rulebook. Instead, we get rules for a handful of specific rituals taken from the show as follows.
  • Generic Summoning Ritual: A generic ritual to summon a demon. Surprising, that.
  • Devil's Trap: A special pentagram sigil that binds demons within its confines. Of course, it's not perfect, as you need to use deception and trickery to actually get a demon into one - after all, they're not going to step on a trap laid out in plain sight.
  • Spirit Binding: A ritual that binds and forcefully manifests a ghost.
  • Hex Bag: A little bag of mojo that ups the die size of a Lore skill check to perform a ritual by one step.
  • Anasazi Ward Against Evil: A ward that keeps monsters away. If you screw it up, you instead create a summoning circle that poofs in a wendigo. Whoops.
  • Blood-Magic Communication: You sacrifice blood into a demonic chalice and then say the magic words to have a special telephone line through the blood directly to the demon.
  • Curse of Honest: This curse forces someone to be completely, brutally honest until the next full moon.
  • Curse of Ill Luck: The cursed target gets the Rotten Luck complication for four days.
  • Curse of Illiteracy: The cursed target is unable to read words as anything but gibberish until the next sunset.
  • Cursed Object Cleansing Ritual: With the power of a cemetery fire and the spice of cayenne pepper, you destroy a cursed object and thus lift its curse.
  • Exorcism Ritual: The classic Latin chant.
  • Holy Water Blessing Ritual: More Latin chanting, this time to transform water into holy water.
  • Home Cleansing Ritual: This ritual startles spirits and draws them to attack, but if you complete it you banish them from a home completely.
  • Sigil from Possession: Whether a tattoo, a temporary drawing, or a special silver pendant, this ritual has created something that allows you to no longer have to worry about being possessed.


Alchemy and Mad Science
This is transmuting metals, creating homunculi, forging golems, and the like. There are no actual examples, though, just the stats of the immortal alchemist Thomas "Doc" Benton. He is a piece of New Hampshire folklore and a classic college scare-dare subject. He appeared in Supernatural for season 3, episode 15: Time is on my Side, where he ended up being buried alive by Sam and Dean since he couldn't be killed by mortal means. Doc Benton has pretty high stats and is definitely a dangerous figure, but he also happens to need fresh organs to function at 100% so he wouldn't be at full steam if someone happened to dig him up.


The Relic Hunters Campaign
Long story short: Indiana Jones, but with more active magic forces. The summary on running such a campaign also includes the statistics for Bela Talbot, an occult item hunter from season 3 of the show.

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

Next time: The appendices and final thoughts on Supernatural: the RPG.

Father Wendigo
Sep 28, 2005
This is, sadly, more important to me than bettering myself.



"Well yeah, it is going to get kind of dull with nothing but wave after wave of goblins... so cheat! BLATANTLY! The party will be so pissed off at you, they won't even remember that they've been doing nothing but roll-to-hit goblins for the past six hours! Did we mention that you can give each goblin +2 to craft: sharpened stick for each fine AEG OGL supplement you own?"

It's like the distilled essence of the OGL, bargain priced at $99.99.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
I AM A BIG FAT STUPID FUCKER WHO SHOULD STAY THE FUCK OUT OF CSPAM

Please say Ryuutama has been translated to english like Golden Sun Stories is being.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


Tatum Girlparts posted:

Please say Ryuutama has been translated to english like Golden Sun Stories is being.

As far as I know, there is no full translation. I've been running it with a "these are basically the rules as well as I can understand them" google doc I threw together.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: 2ND EDITION - The Complete Psionics Handbook
Chapter 5 - PSYCHOMETABOLIC SCIENCES OR POWERS CRIBBED FROM THE STAR WARS EU

As an interesting note, none of these sciences have any listed pre-requisite powers either, making me suspect that the whole pre-requisite system was developed simply to keep disintegrate out of the hands of first level psionicists.

Animal Affinity - Roll a d20 to determine which animal your aura aligns with most closely and then you can invoke this power to gain one attribute from said animal: THAC0 / AC / Movement speed and type / attack and damage qualities / hit points / "any other special ability".


You might end up being able to manifest something useful like Gryphon but you also might get stuck with Rattlesnake. AD&D game balance at its finest!

If you want to switch the benefit you're currently manifesting for a different benefit you get to spend your PSPs all over again and try not to fail another power check. You do morph the appropriate physical appendages needed to utilize the animal attribute you're emulating (the example given is emulating a hawk's ability to fly grows wings for you) so of course the first thing to do is hope you roll animal affinity for Draft Horse and immediately emulate having a huge dong.
POWER SCORE / 20: You can emulate two abilities at once / Your skin permanently changes to match the type of skin/scales/fur that your aura animal would have until you manifest this power successfully. For a certain group of people, this is not a punishing outcome at all.

Complete Healing - Take a 24 hour nap and wake up completely healed of HP and cured of any afflictions, except for the 30 PSPs it cost to use this power. Of limited usefulness if you were playing in an old school "trapped in a dungeon" scenario but completely underwhelming if your psionicist exists in a setting where divine healers have any kind of established churches.
POWER SCORE / 20: The healing only takes one hour / You awaken after 24 hours and receive no benefit but this only costs you 5 PSPs instead of the listed 30.

Death Field - If you aren't a Dark Jedi character with an evil alignment then using this power shifts your alignment one step closer to evil; this is cool because the alignment axis is really only 3 nodes wide so at most it takes two manifestations of this power to turn your character evil. You specify how many of your own hit points you're going to sacrifice and then force everything else within a 20 yard radius to save vs death or lose an equal amount of hit points. Might have a niche use for high level psionicists who want to take out a whole mob of weaker foes without having to pick them off one by one, until you realize clerics and mages have so many other ways to accomplish the same feat that puts them at no personal risk and you can only wildly speculate as to why Steve Winter was so dead set on making psionicists completely terrible.
POWER SCORE / 20: You only lose half the specified amount and all of your victims lose twice the specified amount / You lose the hit points you specified but every target immediately resists the attempt.

Energy Containment - You get a bonus to your saving throws against electricity/fire/cold/sound damage sources. If you make your save then you take no damage and if you fail your save then you only take half damage. Either way you also radiate visible light as your energy containment field harmlessly dissipates the absorbed energy. Interestingly there's no mention of what happens if you take energy damage from a source that doesn't allow a saving throw, so RAW this spell is completely useless against naturally occurring sources of energy damage (extreme weather or what have you). This power also has no duration listed and is given N/A for its maintenance cost, which leads me to believe that it can't be activated as a reaction to incoming damage and it can't be applied as a buff at the beginning of an encounter, so the only utility for this power is to waste your action each round firing up an energy shield which may or may not even function in the first place.
POWER SCORE / 20: For the first round that the power is activated, all saves against the specified types of damage are automatically successful / All saves against energy damage automatically fail for one round.

Life Draining - Slap a bitch for d6 damage and absorb d6 hit points per attempt. You can only hold 10 more hit points than your current maximum and these bonus hit points vanish after one hour if they aren't used up in combat. I'm amazed that RAW this power doesn't require a successful attack roll in addition to a successful power check (because equally lame powers like ballistic attack did) but I'm also amazed that using this power doesn't send you down the dark side of the force path to an evil alignment. I guess you could argue that someone could willingly let you leech their hit points but I don't see that justification in the book so I'm calling bullshit on that logic.
POWER SCORE / 20: You drain d20 hit points rather than d6. Hope you didn't get the party's fighter to agree to this before you made your roll because he ain't getting those hit points back / WHOOPS instead you give the target HALF of your remaining hit points. This could actually work as an interesting power if it was an outcome you could intentionally choose but in this case it's just supposed to be an arbitrary punishment.

Metamorphosis - This power's description says it functions like the mage spell series polymorph self/other/etc. Actually works worse because you can only turn yourself into anything that has roughly the same mass and shape as your original form. So, you can't become a titan or colossal dragon and you also can't turn into a sneaky mouse or an agile hawk. You retain your own THAC0 and hit points but gain the AC and the attack and damage rolls of the new shape, but you also don't gain any of their special or magical abilities. The usefulness of this power seems limited to pretending to be your neighbor so you can bone his wife or something equally underwhelming. Also you have to make a system shock roll when you transform or else you lose the PSPs needed to manifest the power and pass out for 2d6 turns.
POWER SCORE / 20: The system shock roll automatically succeeds and you can actually pick a form up to three times bigger than your mass (but interesting not down to 1/3 your mass) / Save vs paralyzation or else the form you change into is your new permanent form! Again, there's scenarios where this wouldn't actually be a punishment for having an unlucky roll.

Shadow Form - You turn yourself and all your gear into a shadow that can only travel on two dimensional surfaces and can't cross any lit area. You're completely invisible in the darkness though, except this power doesn't grant you any ability to see in darkness if you didn't have that function innately, so good luck actually maneuvering anywhere useful in this form. You also can't physically interact with or harm anything, and I'm not sure why this power actually turns you into a shadow but the invisibility power only makes your target think they can't see you, but whatever Steve Winter has proven he has no concept of consistent or balanced game design.
POWER SCORE / 20 / 1: You gain all of the desirable powers of a shadow monster. There's nothing else given to define what this means and AD&D hadn't really hit on the template idea yet of 3.X monster design so get ready to spend 40 minutes semantically debating with your DM what this actually does / You have to roll a save vs lightning for your most valuable piece of equipment or else it turns into a shadow version of itself and is permanently lost to you / You turn into a shadow but none of your equipment does. Frequently a problem for Jessica Alba's interpretation of Sue Reed and any other female character who attempts this power I am sure.

NEXT TIME: CHAPTER 5 - PSYCHOMETABOLIC DEVOTIONS OR BECOME AN X-MAN IN JAMIE'S LUNCHTIME AD&D GAME

PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy




Soiled Meat

So, I was doing some cleaning (culling old D20 books I inherited when a friend moved away), and I tripped over this gem by AEG:



Would anyone be interested in a more in-depth look? At a glance it seems to contain: some half-decent advice for running villains (as a GM), some godawful advice for running groups of evil players ("Study Nazi Germany!" ), some awful prestige classes, some of the most poorly balanced Cleric domains I have ever seen, and Orcs with nipple rings.

Edit: Alright, will do!

PoptartsNinja fucked around with this message at 00:46 on May 9, 2013

Amechra
Sep 9, 2012


Do we actually have to tell you to do that one?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Do it! DOOOO ITTTT! We need as much and as possible, man!

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011


There's not much need for interest gauging here. We're always interested.

jadarx
May 25, 2012


Tatum Girlparts posted:

Please say Ryuutama has been translated to english like Golden Sun Stories is being.

Ryuutama is being worked on by Andy K (DiamondSutra here), the guy who did Tenra Bansho Zero.

From the Japanese RPG thread:

DiamondSutra posted:

(Kickstarter) Coming Early 2013! (after Tenra is "book in hand")

Now that was in Oct 2012 and the Tenra books are just now shipping. So Early 2013 probably isn't feasible. But it is coming.

Amechra
Sep 9, 2012


So, um...

Strike Legion.

I just heard of it.

Should I shell out 3 bucks and add it to the reviewing list, or does anyone have it?

By the way, sorry I'm delaying on Argh! I have finals to do.

To make up for it, if they are review-worthy, there are 3 other books by the same guy, using the same system.

Namely:

Kapow!
Zap!

and...

Zounds!

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pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012

SO EMBARRASSING



Tribebook: Bone Gnawers

As the Bone Gnawers grew accustomed to the city, they noticed the Weaver spirits getting stronger and stronger. Humanity grew more organized, more regimented. The Glass Walker enjoyed the resources progress and the Weaver provided, but the Bone Gnawers were more wary. While the Walkers sustain the institutions and spirits that protect humanity, the Bone Gnawers fight to free us from them. The Walkers love human society, the Gnawers exist outside it.


I'll grant that the interchapter art is alright, but everything else sucks.

The elder begins talking about the Gnawers of Ancient Egypt (made up of those rejected by the Silent Striders), but is interrupted by the alpha Teeth-of-the-Jackal, a metis. He denounces the idea that the Bone Gnawers have no pedigree, no history. The Gnawers are just more inclusive. They’ve widened their gene pool and are better for it. Considering how much problems the Silver Fangs have with inbreeding, this is probably accurate. The Bone Gnawers are spread out, but that’s not to say they don’t have a home.

Teeth argues that the Bone Gnawers are originally from North Africa, but the North African gnawers didn’t just follow Rat. Without wolf kin to call their own, the homid Gnawers followed scavenger spirits of all kinds, everything from jackals to hyenas to crows. The leaders adopted Jackal, the elders chose to follow Crow, the Ragabash and other politically oriented Garou took Hyena, and the rabble followed the universally popular Rat. Now that the scavenger spirits are returning, their stories can be told.

The Silent Striders are the canonical masters of North Africa. They were engaged in constant war with Set and his minions. The Striders were mostly losing, so they came to the Bone Gnawers for aid. Now, the Bone Gnawers were even then used to getting asked for help and then betrayed later. That made the followers of Rat not too inclined to strike the first blow against Set the blood god. The followers of Jackal, with more in common with the Striders and seeing an opportunity to earn some respect, did agree to help the Striders. Of course, both the Striders and the Jackal children lost. Set’s darkness wasn’t contained to Egypt, though. Eventually, it forced the Bone Gnawers out of their homeland. Today, the Bone Gnawers will never abandon another tribe in need, for fear that they’ll suffer the repercussions once again. It’s also why Owl demands rat sacrifices and hates the Bone Gnawers. Those Silent Striders who follow the Egyptian totems still are welcome among the Gnawers, however.


The Bone Gnawers always go for the face.

While the Bone Gnawers gained a lot of their population from less selective breeding, they gain even more from rejects from other tribes. Those cubs who can’t meet the expectations of their native tribe are accepted into the Bone Gnawers to prove themselves. In their native tribes, those cubs would be forced to eat last, to gnaw on the bones of the carcass. Hence, Bone Gnawers. The other tribes saw these rejects as expendable, and once the Gnawers believed that their sacrifice could earn respect. Now, though, they consider life too precious to give away on the expectation of other tribes. They’ll never sacrifice themselves today.

Smell-of-the-Crowd, a Frankweiler (a camp) picks up the story.

quote:

God’s wounds! What a tragedy this is, when Garou turns his back on Garou! Fear not, child! We shall shelter you from the night! We shall take you in as our own, clutching you to our very bosom!

I think we have a contender for Best Camp. The Bone Gnawers form their own kin, a family of all those who Rat accepts. There are serious disadvantages to not having a tribe, some of them even mechanical. You can’t earn rites or tribe gifts. Joining the Bone Gnawers, even if it’s not cushy, is better than not having tribe at all. You can eat anything! You can live in cardboard castle! It’s fantastic. This may seem like glorifying poverty, but trust me on this, there’s something else at work.

City life made it difficult for the Bone Gnawers to establish any organization. Without caerns to build a sept around, it was up to the oldest Gnawer in a given city to take care of all the other Gnawers. The way this worked was as diverse as the early cities. In some cities, every auspice had their own mother or father, a King of Fools or the Witch Mother. That practice is much rarer today, but it still survives. The Bone Gnawers have existed since cities have. In ancient Babylonian texts, there are records of Hammurabi dealing with rats; the Gnawers, of course.

And now, the most important sentence in the entire book:

quote:

We may look like fools, but we strive to be saviors.

The Glass Walkers are bound to the vice and greed and entrapment of the city, while the Gnawers simply do their work there. All the Walkers’ debts trap them even more. The Gnawers owe no one.

quote:

Friends and countrymen, attend! The Weaver is everywhere! (Stab! Parry! Thrust!) Every time you have to stand in line, with every form you’re dumb enough to fill out, with every bill you’re stupid enough to pay, she spins her web of deceit to bind you. Soon you’ll be anguishing how to pay our car bills, your espresso maker, your Franklin Mint miniatures. Soon, you’ll be blind to the world around you!

The Weaver’s all about conformity, but the Bone Gnawers break out of it, especially by devoting themselves to democratic ideals. The other tribes, rigidly hierarchical as they are, reject the concepts of democracy and equality, but the Bone Gnawers embrace everything the Garou Nation casts aside. With democracy, the Bone Gnawers could organize and help their human charges. They would even fight the Glass Walkers and the Shadow Lords to protect their kin.

All those ideals really came to a head in Rome. The Gnawers fought against the Glass Walkers among the patricians to protect the poor and maintain the ideals of the republic. They wandered the catacombs, feeding on the refuse of the Romans and pursuing their own goals. Eventually, though, they spread away from Rome, to the north. There, they assisted the Get of Fenris among the Vikings, serving as spear carriers. The Bone Gnawers always serve.


At sea or in an ice flow? You decide!

With that, the Smell-of-the-Crowd gives the stage to The Hood, a werewolf wearing a hoodie. He’s a member of the Hood camp. He gives a significantly more cynical view of Bone Gnawer history. Because of the Bone Gnawer’s commitment to serving the Garou Nation at large, they are the true source of power. Any Silver Fang or Shadow Lord ruler owes the Bone Gnawers a great debt, yet the Bone Gnawers persist at the bottom of the food chain.

quote:

Look at this poor sap. Living off garbage. Sleeping in the street in that smelly cloak. What’s so great about being homeless? Dropping out of life? Freezing at night? Starving by day? We’ve seen it up close. People around us dying a little each day. Day by day, they freeze to death. They starve to death. And if that’s not enough, they rip each other off along the way. For what? Money? Power? Privilege? For nothing.

We’re supposed to protect the world, and protect the people in it – even if the other tribal elders say we shouldn’t. The folks in our tribe slum just about everywhere. Because of it, the Garou howl that we’re rejects and losers. Don’t believe it. They say we’re cowards, bastards, lazy, selfish, or worse. Don’t buy it. Don’t forget the reason we stayed in the cities in the first place: to watch over mankind.

This right here is the ethos that makes this book. It speaks to the tragedy of the tribe. The intro fiction sells the misery of poverty, but this sells the misery of trying to fight it. The Garou Nation has failed to save humanity. The Bone Gnawers are doing the best out of any tribe, but they also fail. Not only that, but they’re rejects among their own kind. They can’t help anybody, not even themselves. They can only watch and try to put as cool a face on it as possible. They can be heroes, but they are going to lose in the end.

Throughout history, they’ve tried their best but have always lost. In the Dark Ages, Robins Hood among the Bone Gnawers would hide their identities with their hoods and do their best for the peasantry. Even today, a Bone Gnawer camp accepts that legacy and carries it on. Yet feudalism persisted. They fought against the plague and the Ratkin agents that perpetuated it. Yet millions died, and even today, those Ratkin still threaten humanity and the poor have to deal with plagues as bad or worse. The Bone Gnawers cling to heroism, because that image is the only thing they have claim to.

Murder-of-Crows, a Philodox, brings up the ultimate failure of the Hoods. They and the supernaturals who took a direct hand in human affairs spurred the Inquisition. Thousands of Gnawer kinfolk were hunted down by superstitious inquisitors. The Garou could hide, so the brunt of the Inquisition’s wrath fell on their defenseless allies. Eventually, the Gnawer leaders held a Piping, grand moots of all the Bone Gnawers. The greatest of these councils was held in Barcelona. There, the elders issued the Ban of Man. No Gnawer could help or hunt mankind unless the tribe was threatened. Vigilantes and heroes alike were forbidden (The Hood, of course, has left the scene by now). Of course, the tribe at large still continued to do so, but the official tribe policy was to maintain their own survival above all.

Next time:

edit: The upcoming Exalted kickstarter has me excited! Because my tribal catalogue isn't ambitious enough, I'm considering doing a travelogue of the 2e Exalted setting, culminating in...something special. It depends on how much info the kickstarter has, though.

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 02:24 on May 9, 2013

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