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ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Amechra posted:

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?

I remember reading a thread on that where someone else did a Let's Read, where like 90% of the people immediately sided with the evil antagonist empire, because they were mostly a bunch of vanilla humans with popguns and tin can spaceships against the multicultural alien space marines that were the protagonists.

Edit: Actually, although I can sympathize with rooting for the plucky underdog even if they're the bad guys, the rapidity with which that thread descended into people saying they'd like the fascist humans to genocide all the aliens was... "weird," to put it mildly.

Edit 2: So yes, absolutely make it happen.

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 02:29 on May 9, 2013

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Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012



Okay, it's time for that "and the rest" post.

The Appendices
Appendix I: Creating Monsters
Just in case you wanted the creation rules from the core rulebook restated again. You also get multiple reiterations of "you can file off serial numbers to make one stat block work as something else ".


Appendix II: Sympathy With the Devil
This right here is, hands down, one of the best chapters in Guide to the Hunted. And it's not even a full-fledged chapter, just ana appendix! For all of its moral black and white moments concerning humanity vs. "monsters", Supernatural the show does sometimes dip into the idea that, shock-horror, supernatural beings are not always bad. While it doesn't really provide any new rules and is often pretty obvious, the allowance of actually playing a werewolf, vampire, or other changed human allows for another layer of Hunting. Besides, the Winchesters have been more than willing to allow paranormal entities into their team if it benefits them, so why shouldn't you?



Final Thoughts
As I said before, I don't own nor would I want to review the book of sample adventures for Supernatural: The Roleplaying Game, which means we're at the end of this road. This brings us back to the question I posed when I started going over these books: is Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game one that died before its time?

Not really, no.

Supernatural: the Roleplaying Game covered only the first four seasons of the show, with some elements of the fifth being hinted at, and that's probably a good place for them to have stopped. Season 5 was a huge turning point for Supernatural that seemed like it could have been the series finale, and seasons 6 and 7 are hard to view as not being lurching zombies in a way, even if season 8 has started to get back into form. That and Supernatural isn't a series that really lends itself to a ton of sourcebooks, especially in a somewhat abstract light rules system like Cortex. This doesn't explain why Margaret Weis Productions let the Supernatural and Marvel Comics licenses wane but is remaking their Firefly/Serenity RPG of all things, admittedly, but it's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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

Next time: It's time for a new review series. Be prepared for war. A world war, in fact. A world war involving Dungeons and Dragons rules and the occult.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


To be fair to MWProductions, they weren't selling enough units of Marvel to keep the license and not hemorrhage money.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Infernal

Hermetic magic which focuses on the Infernal Realm is nigromancy, black magic. It is sometimes confused with necromancy. Magi usually refer to it as diabolism or dark magic, though. Dealing with demons is against the Code, and displaying Infernal powers is usually seen as proof of it. Spells that summon demons are seen as terrible and criminal, and hard to defend in court. Of course, not all black magic involves Infernal powers - you can use it to kill demons. While this is technically breaking the Code by dealing with demons, no one's going to prosecute you for it if you're defending yourself. Probably, anyway. Most magi after the purging of Tytalus focused only on destruction of demons with Perdo Vim or wards with Rego Vim, but it's been three centuries. People are starting to get over the old superstitions. Other applications are starting to pop up.

Some magi have made a point of pushing the boundaries of the Code by becoming demon hunters. The Order has no official position on such actions, and rulings have been made both for and against them. Generally, it is seen as a crime to anger demons but a laudable act to kill them. One group of demon hunters in the Order call themselves the Venatores, or Hunters. They also sometimes refer to themselves as the Apotropaic Magi, those who ward off or combat evil. They do not train their apprentices in their ways; rather, they seek those magi troubled by demons and offer to teach them the ways of the Venator. Venatores can of any House, tend to be at least a decade or so out of apprenticeship (but not always) and often specialize in Vim magic. It usually takes at least a year to learn what a Venator has to teach, and once it's over, they leave. No more formal contact is had. The Venatores have a poor reputation due to their obsession, and any demon hunter is likely to be called a Venator even if they don't strictly have the training.

The Quaesitores have deep reservations about Venatores, feeling that delving too deeply into knowledge of demons and the Infernal realm, even in the name of killing them, makes you susceptible to corruption. Second, everyone knows they antagonist demons, and no one wants the Devil to turn his full attention on the Order. One of the most infamous Venatores, Rudolphus of Bonisagus, was actually the subject of a Wizard's March in 1151 when he antagonized enough demons to endanger the Order itself. Venatores may be distrusted by the Order, but Hell absolutely hates them...and respects (or, more properly, fears) their power.

The Venatores are masters of Vim magic, utilizing it in Apotropaic spells. Two spells, in particular, are known to every demon-hunter worth their salt - the Demon's Eternal Oblivion, which strips demons of magical might, and the Circular Ward Against Demons, which wards against them. Both, however, suffer from the fact that they need high levels to be of much use - and the Eternal Oblivion needs good Penetration to even land. However, the Venatores have developed other, more...questionable spells.

Creo Vim can be used to restore a demon's might, as Perdo destroys it. Of course, no Venator would ever use it, but infernalist magi tend to. More importantly, it can create temporary Arcane Connections to demons, allowing them to be more easily tracked or harmed by magic. Still, better to force the demon's True Name out of it - or to find it in a grimoire.
Intellego Vim can be used to speak with demons, which can sometimes be useful.
Muto Vim may convert Infernal magic into fire or other things, destroying it, or bind demons within objects. Very useful for the Venator who finds themselves unable to kill immediately.
Perdo Vim can weaken Infernal magic and, of course, tear the infernal power out of a demon. It can also exorcise possessing demons.
Rego Vim can summon demons - and there are Venatores who do. Why not bring your enemies to the battlefield you prepare? It can purify infernal vis as well, though imperfectly, and it may aforce demons to obey commands. Sure, you can't force the truth out of them with Intellego magic - but with Rego? Well, that's another story. Many Venatores learn the art of commanding demons in order to find their weaknesses by their own tongues.

Suppose a magus wishes to learn Infernal magic, though? There are other things that can be done than hunt demons. Some magi practice chthonic magic, which is associated with the Infernal realm not due to being diabolic but due to associations with underworld gods and spirits of darkness. Chthonic powers are only ambiguously Infernal, so more sinister magi can practice them without being accused of diabolism. A Chthonic magus is not warped either by Magical or Infernal auras and may use Infernal vis safely. However, his magic appears tainted and unholy when investigated by Divine or Infernal powers (but not Magical or Faerie ones). This quite useful for demon-hunters to learn, as well as wardmasters, summoners and necromancers. Chthonic magi also gain access to the special spell criteria normally used only by maleficia, and may utilize maleficia in the casting of ritual magic. By ritually committing sinful acts, they may also improve their laboratory work. (Typically, this is done via blasphemy or idolatry, not the sort of sin that most demons encourage.)

Some magi have learned to adapt Goetic magic to Hermetic usage, utilizing Rego in place of the Goetic arts and Vim in place of the lore that Goetic summoners study. Further, by studying the Goetic arts more deeply, a magus may bind a spirit as a familiar. Finally, Goetic magi learn how to use the Goetic arts to improve spells that target Goetic spirits.

More tragic is the False Gift. False Magi have done nothing wrong, in and of themselves. Their Gift is simply not the true Gift, but an unholy mockery of it. The False magi typically doesn't even know that's the case for a time...and when they discover, well...if they go and confess of the sin of using their demonic Gift, becoming cleansed of sin and exorcised of Infernal influence...the magic is gone. Forever. They can no longer use the knowledge they have, for they have no Gift. Oops.

In fact, all False Powers work that way. Hell really likes handing False Powers to people and watching them squirm as they realize that if they stop being evil, they lose their powers - even if they want to use those powers for good. Even if they didn't actually sell their souls but just got tainted by, say, something their parents did.

Next time: Infernal Traditions!

PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy




Soiled Meat



Who’s ready for 128 pages of pure EVIL™? Me too.

EVIL™ was released in 2001, about a year after the launch of D&D 3rd Edition. I’m not sure what niche in the ‘third edition ecosystem’ this book was intended to fill, but my gut says it was a quick and easy cash grab aimed at 14 year olds trying to be ‘edgy.’ So, all speculation aside, let’s crack this thing open.

EVIL™ was written by A. A. Acevedo, J.D. Douglass, Noah Dudley, Peter Flanagan, Chris Hussey, Mike Leader, Mike Mearles, jim pinto (sic), and Ree Soesbee.

I’m not sure why jim pinto wasn’t worthy of caps, but the very first thing I noticed is: this is consistent, jim pinto is also credited as an editor, the art director, and the project manager. My only conclusion is that jim’s name not being capitalized was intentional and that we have uncovered the first EVIL™ plot of the book! We’re off to a great start already!



Section One: The Evil That Men Do consists mostly of basic general advice for running villainous characters. All things considered, this is probably the best section since the core advice tends to be decent, even if it is obvious the writers were being paid by the word.

Oh, and I should also mention that the art is usually pretty good. Usually.





The very first header of Section One is Defining Evil, which is two paragraphs long and fails to define evil but does offer some potentially good advice which I will paraphrase: You can use bigger monsters and stronger spells to challenge the PCs, or you can use smarter monsters working in organized groups. This makes sense in theory, but not even Drizzt could make a thousand Orcs more frightening than a Balor.

It’s also a preface to about the evil D&D alignments. You’ve heard it all before, but EVIL™ comes to some startling conclusions:

Chaotic Evil is lazy evil, and tends to represent either lone crazy people or monsters so individually powerful that they couldn’t care less about ever developing a personal morality. The book also insists they’re glass canons who aren’t in it for the long haul. I’m sure the Red Dragon and/or the Balor have something to say about that.

Lawful Evil is sneaky evil. Lawful Evil isn’t going to commit to a fair fight when it can smother you in your sleep or change the zoning laws to turn your house into a freeway. Lawful Evil bears a striking resemblance to Chaotic Evil.

Neutral Evil is, as usual, where things fall apart. The book waffles between describing it as exactly like chaotic evil; and describing it as exactly like lawful evil except more self-centered. So, exactly like lawful evil. Then the book says Neutral Evil is nothing like what it just said, and that Neutral Evil is the most unpredictable form of EVIL™.



Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but in third edition D&D “unpredictable evil” was already a thing. It’s called Chaotic Evil. So Neutral is still the dumbest alignment, and EVIL™ still fails to justify why it exists.



Evil™ then asks Why Evil? in the next heading, then says that nearly every villain’s motives can be characterized in terms of D&D’s three evil alignments. Yes, we’re still talking about the alignments I guess. Our counter rises to 1 as the book talks about “jackbooted sadists” for a paragraph before suddenly calling “dinosaurs, sharks, badgers, and lions” Chaotic Evil monsters.



EVIL™ then fails spectacularly to justify Neutral Evil again:

Evil™ talking about Neutral Evil again posted:

Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil find excuses for what they do. Not these villains. Neutral Evil is all about you, you, you. […]It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, friend, and if you’re not looking out for Number One you’re wearing bone underclothes.



I’m going to run out of psyducks for this book, but credit where it’s due that is some pretty evocative imagery.



The next header is Making Evil Look Good, and there’s some genuinely good advice in here. Summarized: the difference between an effective villain and a forgettable one is style. It doesn’t do a good job of defining what style is, but it’s still good advice for a new GM. This advice is then lost in paragraph after paragraph of Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain as it attempts to describe a recurring villain; then ends with another bit of good advice:

MELG posted:

Even if you feel the urge to go over to good, do it in a big way. No one is impressed with wishy-washy evil.



The next header, Who Says We’re Evil?, basically amounts to: give your villains actual motives, since very few people are going to murder for murder’s sake. Obvious? Yes, but maybe it wasn’t to a 14 year old back in 2001.

The header after that Evil and Proud of It throws that good advice out the window and says: sometimes EVIL™ is just EVIL™

We’re then treated to two pages of a villain monologuing, which I will spare you.



Fallen Heroes is actually deserving some attention, since it puts an emphasis on how and why a villain becomes a villain. Skipping over the obvious, this section discusses some of the common reasons for a hero to fall: Betrayal, torture, cowardice, love, magic, and revenge are the six listed.



I think this is where I’ll call it for now. Next time EVIL™ will talk about untrustworthy backstabbing idiots, followed immediately by talking about Demons. Also: sexism.

PoptartsNinja fucked around with this message at 03:18 on May 9, 2013

404GoonNotFound
Aug 6, 2006

The McRib is back!?!?


pospysyl posted:

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.

I almost want to say yes, but any 2e readthrough would ultimately involve Infernals, so... gonna have to pass.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012

SO EMBARRASSING



I should be more clear: the travelogue would be an F&F of the Compass of Terrestrial/Celestial Directions. The Infernals are tangential to all of those except Malfeas.

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

As a new fan to Exalted I'd love an overview.

Also, AEG had a ton of books that were basically {ONE WORD CONCEPT} and if I'm remembering rightly they all sucked terribly.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Infernal

Infernalists tend to gather in groups. Cults, covens, sabbats. Traditions. It increases the amount of evil they can do and the power they all have. They tend to be organized by a single demon, who gains status as they gain power. It's mutually profitable! Companions or magi who have been touched by evil can join a Tradition and learn supernatural powers from them after character creation. That's how you go and get the rest of the Maleficia, for example - or pick up other powers later. Well, one of the ways. As long as you have Infernal taint, you can study with the Traditions and gain their powers. Now, the Gift and other supernatural abilities will interfere with your studies...including new ones you learn, so you have to be careful. But each Tradition has a few favored abiliites, which can be studied without any interference at all. However, a character can only belong to a single Tradition. Ever. Period.

Some Traditions are not, in theory, evil. They are misguided, deluded by the demons that organize them into believing they are doing good - or at least not doing evil. However, because they use Infernal power, evil is all that comes of their actions, and the demons tend to nurse their sinful traits and resentment towards the Divine. The Luciferans are a misguided Tradition, favoring the powers of Debauchery, Diablerie, Malediction and the ability to sense passions and emotions. Many Luciferans do not truly believe themselves to be infernalists at all, for they believe that God himself speaks to them. They blindly obey their "God", committing sins at his orders - and they remain sinful, though they know not what they do, for the deep pride they take in their special relationship with God. They pray for selfish miracles, believing themselves to be chosen. Some of those who learn of the Infernal nature of their God accept Lucifer as their true savior, renouncing the true God and believing that Lucifer and the demons were cast from Paradise unjustly, and that their rightful place is to storm the throne of Heaven. These Luciferans believe that they will be invited to Heaven with Lucifer when he seizes it.

The Luciferans blasphemously claim that the first of their number was the apostle Saint Paul, stating that his vision on the road to Damascus was sent by Lucifer. They claim Paul as their patron saint, and his image often appears in their iconography and rituals. They believe that by following his example and the "true" faith while hidden within the "false" Church, they are doing the will of their god. Luciferans learn to summon up aspects of their god, communing for instruction and blessings. They also learn to curse their foes. Because of their belief in the reversal of evil and good and demons and angels, the upper echelons of the Luciferans believe that which is sinful above ground is virtuous beneath it, so their Infernal rites are done in caves and catacombs beneath towns and cities. The Luciferans are strongest in Germany, Austria and Bohemia, especially in cologne, Krems and Vienna. They have tried to infiltrate the French Cathars as well.

The Strigae were once a pagan cult of the god Pan. When it appeared that Pan died somehow, a few demons came to replace him and usurp his cults. These groups became the night witches, the strigae, variations of whom appear everywhere in Mythic Europe. Many believe that their nightly journeys to perform Infernal rites are nothing but dreams, that the Devil has merely tricked them - and thus that they need not confess these sins, for they never committed them. After all, has not the Church declared their "night rides" to be nothing but illusion? And the Church does know, doesn't it? Each group of strigae is led by a senior infernalist who has a special relationship with a demon and calls the others to the meetings by sending out dark dreams. The Strigae specialize in Debauchery, Effusion, Phantasm and the dark art of mass ceremonies, by which great evil power can be gathered.

Incidentally, a related tradition of witches in northeastern Italy is the stregoni, secret cultists within a village. By day, they are normal villagers. By night, they take the form of owls to meet with their sisters, and the male witch that leads them, the strego. They seek to cause misfortune and chaos. Fortunately, they are opposed in this by secret dreamers, the Benandanti, who meet in dreams and wield swords of fennel. The Benandanti engage in dark dream battles with the stregoni, and if they win, the stregoni cannot do their dark magics on the village. The Benandanti, however, must remain secret - for they too draw power from a foreign realm, often the Infernal. They hold views contrary to Church doctrine. And you are born to be Benandanti - those born under the caul are destined to become the nightwalkers who fight the stregoni.

The Witch-Hammers are a rather unusual Tradition - infernalists who battle other infernalists. Of course, demons do fight other demons. The Witch-Hammers were formed when a letter circulated in the early 600s containing advice on how to battle pagans and their dark magic. The letter contained rituals meant to counter such magics, and it repeatedly quoted the famous verse of Exodus, 22:18: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. The Witch-Hammers, named for the first sentence of the letter, which refers to the hammer of the witches, do not realize they perform evil magic. They do not communicate with each other. They merely anonymous copy and forward the letter to others, as the hammer-letter (as it is known) instructs. (Yes, it's an evil chain letter.) The letter's key message is that it is no sin to torture or kill heretics and pagans. After all, God does not punish the good, so if you make a mistake, it merely speeds them on to paradise. God would intervene to protect the innocent from pain. The letter's rituals are dark magics, teaching the powers of Ablating, Incantation, Psychomachi and Summoning.

Other Traditions are plainly corrupt, evil and not at all worried about it. Demons tend to see focusing on these as wasted effort - they hardly need the help to drat themselves - but some like to manipulate them to corrupt others. Some corrupt Traditions do not realize they serve Hell but do evil for philosophical reasons, while others embrace their masters. The Dark Gnostics, for example, are a Gnostic sect that preach that doing evil has moral value. They worship God but do evil in his name, becoming infernalists. The Ophites are a Dark Gnostic group that worship the serpent of paradise as a symbol of God, reveling in original sin as the freedom to follow natural impulses. The Brethren of Free Spirit believe that by giving way to desire in the name of God, they do God's will, despite the depravity. The basis of such ideas is that God is everywhere, and so God was the serpent of Eden, God is the Devil - all things, in fact, are God. So therefore every person is God. Thus, they need obey no law for they are each the Truth and can do no evil. Such heretics tend to be well-educated, understanding but rejecting the Church. They learn Diablerie, Incantation and Phantasm, as well as the art of hypnotizing and controlling people with their eyes.

The Dread Host, on the other hand, believe that by serving Hell in life, they can earn status there in death. They work to become Infernal ghosts and thus demons when they die, typically by binding demons as servants or even into their bodies. They venerate and worship those members of the Dread Host who succeed in their aim of becoming demons after death, binding them into Infernal relics and enslaving the living to their superiors and the dead spirits. They perform dark, macabre rituals for the amusement of the dead in order to remind others of the brevity of life. The Dread Host are a dark and terrible cult, to which belong such luminaries as the entire family of the Count of Mecklenburg. They specialize in Binding, Effusion, Incantation and Summoning.

The Mulhidin are a group of devil-worshippers from the part of Persia occupied by the Seljuk Turks. They worship a demon who claims to rule the world, saying that God merely made the world and does not care about it. Their 'god' is Enais, the Peacock Angel, who freed man from slavery and extinguished Hell. However, he also released Hell's demons and it is the task of the Mulhidin to control and command these spirits, forcing them to labor and thus preventing them from doing evil. Unfortunately, the demons they command have corrupted them, and they now use the power of demons for selfish purposes. They seek comfort, not salvation, and torment the Muslim tribes of Persia and Armenia. Hell allows them to exist because their work enslaving demons encourages them to sin, and also they make the local Muslims jealous of their prosperity, encouraging them to sin. All Mulhidin are infernalist, though only a rare few are true sorcerers.

You may have noticed that these guys sound a lot like a stereotype of Yazidis as devil-worshippers. The book knows this. It has a sidebar.


What do you know, cultural sensitivity!

Non-magi are not the only ones seduced to Infernal ways. There are Infernal traditions within the Order of Hermes, too. For example, the Damhadh-Duidsan. When Pralix marched on Damhan-Allaidh, she was joined by a Gaelic wizard named Damhadh-Duidas (roughly translated: 'malice-writer') who was of the same magical tradition. He could carve strange runes which cursed and stole life from his foes, healing him in return. Many believe he joined Pralix to betray her Ordo Miscellanea, but she did not trust him and forced him to prove his loyalty. Two battles were won decisively thanks to him, but he didn't fight in the final offensive (perhaps because Pralix held him in reserve so he could not betray her) and, well, he didn't ever betray Pralix. Despite his allegiances, he gained the respect of his allies and joined the Order as part of House Ex Miscellanea. There, he taught two apprentices, to whom he never revealed the true, Infernal nature of his power. He nursed a deep grudge against Pralix, however, and many believe he caused her death.

Those few of the Damhadh-Duidsan who practice the infernalism of their ancestor do so in secret, and most do not know he was an infernalist. They may know their bloodline was tainted, but not that infernalism still exists among them. Many have no desire to be diabolists, after all. The infernalists among them specialize in Consumption, Incantation, Malediction and shapeshifting. This makes them hard to detect, for many among the pure Damhadh-Duidsan possess giant's blood or shapeshifting abilities, for the tradition descends racially from the giants of Scotland, Scandinavia and Iceland.

The Ordo Vagorum, or Order of Vagrants, are a religious order of clerks who chose not to become priests, but still wander and claim the alms and priveleges due to priests. This is sin, and few seek pardon for it. Rather, they exist in mockery of the Church. Most are mere buffoons and satirists, or hedonists who do not realize that they are on the path to infernalism. The secret society of infernalists within them is quite modern - perhaps 50 years old at most - and seeks to make their ways look more attractive to people. They hold loose ties to the Order of Hermes, for many Redcaps have joined the Goliards, the entry-level members of the Ordo, though neither group knowingly associates with the other. Rumors of a secret society among the vagrants are assumed by both the Ordo and Redcaps to refer to themselves. Still, it's hard for two secret groups in the same population to not rub shoulders, so perhaps there's more than meets the eye there. The infernalists of the Ordo Vagorum specialize in Consumption, Corruption, Debauchery and Psychomachie.

Lastly, the Witches of Thessaly. The greatest resistance to the Order when it first formed came from Thessaly. The Thessalians worshipped sinister gods practicing sorcery and necromancy as well as cursing. The Hermetics who sought them could not defeat their tomb-guardians and were forced to abandon the war against them. The Thessalians never joined the Order, and a tiny number of them still survive in Greece today, known as the Daughters of Erichto by magi. They use Faerie portals to travel throughout the Cambunian Mountains of Thessaly. They follow pagan rites, but many have been corrupted by dark ways, and the line between true Thessalian practice and demon worship is thin, so many have become infernalists.

When House Ex Miscellanea approached them almost a century after their war with the Order, a few joined the House, as the Dominion had been steadily weakening the Thessalians and the Ex Miscellaneans weren't asking them to swear loyalty to any Founder. Other traditions similar to the Thessalians have been seen throughout Europe, such as the Volkhvy shamans of Russia, some of whom have taken up sorcery and call themselves Koldun. Some speculate that House Diedne suffered the same taint. Trianoma, as a note, was from Thessaly, and her sister Veia stole some of Bonisagus' secrets and fled, perhaps to establish her own lineage elswhere. Some Thessalians have left Greece to settle elsewhere, too. The Thessalians who practice dark ways specialize in Cthonic magic, Commanding, hexing others and Summoning. Some Thessalian magi keep in touch with their sisters outside the Order, learning Infernal powers from them.

The End!

What's next? Choices are: the True Lineage Houses of Hermes and their secrets (Houses of Hermes: True Lineages), the power of God and its impact on you (Realms of Power: The Divine), Mystery Cults (The Mysteries, Revised Edition), the Mystery Cult Houses (Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults), more depth on Covenants (Covenants), mercantile life (City and Guild), the lost magic of the past (Ancient Magic), the Societates Houses (Houses of Hermes: Societates), France (Lion and Lily: The Normandy Tribunal), academic life (Art and Academe), the realms of magic and magical beings (Realms of Power: Magic), the other spellcasters of Europe (Hedge Magic, Revised Edition), the Faeries (Realms of Power: Faerie), nobility (Lords of Men), other rival spellcasters of the world (Rival Magic), the Church (The Church) or the Middle East (Cradle and Crescent), Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal), a book on various grand goals a magus might have (Hermetic Projects) or Greece (Sundered Eagle: The Theban Tribunal).

PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy




Soiled Meat



Picking up where we left off, we’re immediately presented with an extremely inappropriate sidebar. Interrupting their advice for GMs on how to play evil villains, EVIL™ interrupts itself (how nefarious!) to do some worldbuilding for… nothing. This sidebar is in a really weird place, but it’s worth talking about since it contains the gem of a good idea:

The Sisters of Dust is an organization of all-woman Necromancers who study death in order to learn how to better heal the living.

I like that, it’s short, concise, and—oh, they spent half of an entire page talking about them. Why is this here and not among the prestige classes? Because it’s not a prestige class. I checked. They put a lot of emphasis on the Sisters of Dust being all-women even though that strikes me as a campaign-specific detail. I suppose they couldn’t use “Dustmen” though. I miss Planescape.



Right, so, awkward sidebar done with, the next heading is Common Cause which is GM advice for running an evil campaign. Now, I’m a big fan of “evil overlord” campaigns wherein the players are playing something like neighboring dragons enacting vanity plans that take centuries, or an Overlord’s trusted Lieutenants doing their best to avoid a one-way visit to the Kraken pens, so this should be right up my alley right? I am not anticipating good things.

So, EVIL™’s first assumption is very oldschool: all D&D players are murderous idiots who will rob and kill each other the moment they write ‘EVIL™’ on their character sheet.

Fortunately, and this surprised me, EVIL™ does make a good effort to discourage players in evil campaigns from actually doing this. I came into this expecting utter garbage and so far most of the actual advice as been on the positive side of ok. I’m not sure what I was expecting when we started the “roleplaying an evil character” section, but it wasn’t this:

EVIL™ posted:

These are still your friends sitting around the table with you, and unless you’ve agreed in advance that you’re playing against each other, this sort of campaign can have tensions running high. And if you actually succeed in killing off the others, it either becomes a much smaller group or the new characters come in knowing that the last person standing wins.

It then talks for a paragraph or so about how evil groups can work together well: it comes down to individual motivations, if the party all have separate but equally feasible goals, then they can feel comfortable helping each other since they all want slightly different forms of power in the end.



The next heading, Who’s In Charge Here, opens with a little italics section that I’m going to quote:

EVIL™ posted:

“Ok, so one of your spies stumbles into your secret lair,” the DM begins.

“Is it about my plot to corrupt the priests of the Sun God?”

“It’s probably one of my informants with the skinny on where Mr. Hot-Shot Paladin is.”

“Did he find out who has the Wand of Power?”

“Those idiots on the border had better not give away my Legions of Doom.”

“Sigh…”


Ok, in all honesty? That sounds like four players having a lot of fun. They have plots going, rivalries, and personal ambitions that aren’t interfering with each other. It’s supposed to showcase the difficulty of DMing an evil campaign, but all the problems in the above section are the DM’s fault: by specifying which of the player’s spies was returning he could’ve nipped the derail in the bud.

The section then goes on to discuss the differences between a Good and EVIL™ game, insisting that villains are usually active heroes are usually reactive; which means that a GM used to be the one making the world move might be a little disoriented when he’s the one who has to react to the players instead. This is absolutely true in an EVIL™ campaign, since the players are absolutely going to pursue their own plans and can test a GM’s ability to improvise. This is not a flaw, and EVIL™ both acknowledges this and then offers good advice on how to keep it from becoming problematic.

EVIL™ advises the GM to, and bear with me on this because I know it’s strange, talk with the players and get a feel for their general motives and plans in advance to make sure you’re not offering inappropriate plot-hooks. This may be the best advice in the entire book and I’m amazed it’s in here at all.

It then demolishes my positive reactions by encouraging the GM to, well:

EVIL™ posted:

There’s always the possibility of taking the dungeon and reversing the roles, forcing the villains to react to heroes. This allows the DM to craft an adventure where the players can act in character while the DM is still in control.





Come, we must plan for tomorrow… because we’ve reached the end of the good advice train. Instead, this section discourages the players by telling them that their plans are probably going to be wrecked by random adventurers. It’s trying to encourage them to have a fallback plan or two; but instead is basically saying “you can’t win, so gently caress it.”



We then move on to the section I was dreading: The Other Side of Evil, which talks about Demons and Devils. This is going to become important since a good portion of this book is about summoning Demons and Devils. This is going to get rough, so buckle up:

Summoned Demons have to be beaten up for their lunch money physically dominated before they’ll work for you, since Chaotic Evil beings apparently only respect strength. This section also contains no information you wouldn’t find in the original 3rd Edition Monster’s Manual. Bargaining with demons is stupid.

Summoned Devils are fops, apparently, but they’ll take pacts and contracts and follow the precise letter. If a Devil bargains with you it’s stupid.

Also, since this picture was in this section, this is where I’ll share it:


Don’t ask me how the Dark Queen got here, but I haven’t seen the BattleToads anywhere!

DAEMONS: A CODICIL is the next section. D&D has a third race of infernals called the Yugoloths, which were folded into the Demons in D&D 4th when the Neutral Evil alignment went away. They’re basically exactly like demons which means bargaining with them is stupid. Why do I keep mentioning this?



Bargains
EVIL™ pretty much says outright that bargaining with demons and devils is stupid, but people will still do it for power. Ok, that’s pretty reasonable.

EVIL™ posted:

Negotiating with a demon is much like arguing with a petulant child.

Ok, I’ll buy that. It suggests keeping terms simple such as “help me and I’ll help you” or “help me or I’ll trap you in a bottle for eternity,” which don’t seem like good bargaining postures to me but hey, bargaining with demons is stupid.

It then says that Devils are always happy to bargain with mortals, which makes them sound less like Devils and more like Ferenghi. Making a deal with a Devil would be one of the few cases where Profession: Barrister would be useful, but this section doesn’t even offer up that much advice. Instead, it portrays Devils as the ultimate Rules Lawyers, emphasizing Rules As Written wherever it’ll allow them to make a loophole to create Pun Pun or avoid grapple attempts.

That actually strikes me as a pretty decent idea for a non-serious character: a demon who can manipulate events because he knows the setting’s rulebook.



Serving a Dark Master is basically advice for a PC who wants to serve Satan. The advice is as follows: treat it like worshipping an evil god. Got it? No? Ok, let’s talk about it for ten paragraphs.



Talismans is where EVIL™ starts to go completely insane. Basically, by holding a Demon or Devil’s “talisman” hostage, you can force them to do what you want. This is a terrible mechanic, but it’s here to give the players an option in case they roll a natural 1 on their “convince the Demon to help me” roll. It says using a Talisman to control an extraplanar critter is risky and probably stupid, then includes a catch-all gotcha so the DM can snicker behind the player’s back by saying that another critter’s Talisman is the one thing any Demon or Devil would absolutely be willing to trade for.

I can see this working as campaign-specific advice, but EVIL™ isn’t supporting a campaign book. It’s a standalone, and so while this makes for an interesting adventure hook it isn’t really relevant. That’s going to be a trend from now on.


Next time: Infernal Pact Feats!

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


The Ordo Vagorum intrigue me, I could see using them in a game as low-level antagonists making trouble by just being a poorly informed wrench in the works. I really like how Ars Magica embraces medieval conceptions of sin and turns them into game mechanics with effects on magic, the section on what exactly constitutes being in a state of grace in different religions was great. I followed your last thread on this game where you were selling each individual House as the best one, and this writeup is definitely making me interested in trying the game for the Mythic Europe setting alone. It scratches the same itch that Dark Ages Vampire did for me, the combination of archaic magical stuff and really focusing on the peculiarities of medieval life and culture.

With that in mind, I want to hear about City and Guild, but if it's not sexy enough I vote Hermetic Projects instead.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Mors Rattus posted:

What's next?

Do Hedge Magic so we can actually BE Benandanti.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Tatum Girlparts posted:

Also, AEG had a ton of books that were basically {ONE WORD CONCEPT} and if I'm remembering rightly they all sucked terribly.
I'd say the rule of thumb is that most of them suck but have at least a few ideas that are good. Still, overall, I'd have to agree. None of the AEG "one word title" books have ever had their full package scream out to me like sourcebooks from, say, Green Ronin or Monkey God Enterprises.

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons 3E material, though, let's talk about...



Introduction
From the same people who brought you Deadlands d20 came Weird War II. Coming out of that turn of the millennium d20 system boom, Weird War II was another product like Broncosaurus Rex that made the effort to push the Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 rules into a more modern setting before Wizards of the Coast even started thinking about d20 Modern. Thankfully, we won't have any Confederate heroes and Union villains this time, just good old-fashioned Nazi punching.

Of course, if you couldn't guess from the name Weird War II, this is the big war with a twist. Those Nazi occultists you heard about? They have real magic, forged out of either blood rites or Germanic runes. They also have undead soldiers, mad science-produced abominations, automatons, and apes with human brains. Furthermore, the Japanese have oni marching alongside their soldiers, the Allies have spirits of battle aiding them against the occult powers of the Axis, haunted vehicles are trundling around the battlefields, and things from old mythology are stirring and none too happy about all of the stupid humans waging their country wars without respect for the peace of the old beings. It's a paranormal mess, and you play a military member or resistance fighter caught smack-dab in the middle of it.

I'm going to be covering all of the books from the D&D 3.0 era of Weird War II, but don't expect any really set order to stick. I'll be obviously doing the core book, Blood on the Rhine, first, but after that it's a crapshoot. I'd say that second will probably be the bestiary Horrors of Weird War II and then the third will be the Russian sourcebook Hell Freezes Over, but after that I'll probably just move on a whim.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 23:48 on May 17, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



As an aside for those of you playing along at home: You may have noted that the entire House of Mecklenburg are infernalists, members of the Dread Host.

What I didn't mention? The House of Mecklenburg, in the real world, became the legitimate rulers of Sweden in 1364. They have a legitimate claim to the throne of Sweden. This claim was formed very recently in Ars Magica - it's based on the marriage of Duke Henry Borwin II of Mecklenburg to a daughter of the King of Sweden. Henry dies in 1226.

And that's an entire plot hook right there, isn't it? What happens when an infernalist becomes the rightwise born king of a country? That's a longterm plan worthy of a ranking demon. Especially if they can manage to get the guy crowned by the Pope, and therefore protected by Divine Right.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




I'd actually really like to see Realms of Power: The Divine.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Tatum Girlparts posted:

Also, AEG had a ton of books that were basically {ONE WORD CONCEPT} and if I'm remembering rightly they all sucked terribly.
They were the literal definition of D20 Shovelware. Just 128 pages of unplaytested, unedited STUFF jammed out in a hurry so the writers could go on to the next one-word supplement, and the next one.

The grognard.txt threads are full of people who consider this era the absolute high point of Dungeons & Dragons, and have nothing but cold hatred for WotC since they wound down this particular sideshow (with the more-restrictive license they used for 4E).

PoptartsNinja
May 9, 2008

He is still almost definitely not a spy




Soiled Meat



Infernal Pacts talks about infernal pacts, which is basically a precursor to Infernal Pact Feats. You knew it was coming! If you have a demon or a devil for a Master, they can grant you demonic gifts in the form of (typically overpowered) feats. But hey, it wouldn’t be a 3rd edition splatbook without new feats and prestige classes, so let’s get right to it.

All Infernal Pact feats have a benefit and a drawback intended to balance them. This doesn’t always work and holy hell some of these feats are stupidly overpowered! Surprise! I’m going to go ahead and list them, but invariably every feat is either Prerequisite: Infernal Pact or Prerequisite: Infernal Pact + XP Loss (which would cause you to immediately lose the feat).

Broken Feats are marked with a

Feat: Infernal Pact
Benefit: You can take Infernal Pact feats
Drawback: You are trapped in an Evil alignment forever

Feat: Claws/Fangs
Benefit: 1d8 unarmed damage, you can take this twice (once for claws, once for fangs)
Drawback: You have claws and fangs

Feat: Darkvision
Benefit: You get Darkvision(60ft)
Drawback: You get kitty-cat eyes!

Feat: Elemental Resistance
Benefit: You gain energy resistance 25 against one energy subtype, you may take this feat multiple times
Drawback: You get hairy/soft/rubbery/scaly/or your skin turns green

Feat: Flight
Benefit: You can fly 1/day as the spell, you may take this feat multiple times
Drawback: You can’t bull rush as well

Feat: Improved Flight
Benefit: You can Fly as per the spell AT WILL
Drawback: You grow tiny anime girl demon wings, preventing you from wearing most armor oh wait no it doesn’t.

Feat: Immortality
Benefit: You don’t age and can’t die of old age
Drawback: You can still be killed, costs 5000xp

Feat: Immunity
Benefit: You are immune to all diseases, including magical diseases
Drawback: You have a persistent cough

Feat: Imp
Benefit: You gain an Imp familiar if you’re an Arcane spellcaster
Drawback: The Imp kills and eats your old familiar

Feat: Regeneration
Benefit: You regenerate as per the spell
Drawback: You are cold-blooded and take 2x damage from fire

Feat: Improved Regeneration
Benefit: You Regenerate as per the Supernatural ability, all damage taken is subdual, you may take this feat multiple times
Drawback: You are a pasty nerd and lose 1 Charisma forever, but even that's a price well worth it!

Feat: Increased Movement
Benefit: +20ft movement
Drawback: Your feet are cloven hooves, you can’t wear boots (but can you wear horseshoes?)

Feat: Infernal Soul
Benefit: You gain 10 hp
Drawback: You radiate evil so Paladins can detect you from further away

Feat: Invisibility
Benefit: You can turn invisible 1/day as per the spell, can be taken multiple times for extra uses
Drawback: You lose an effective 3 charisma for skill tests

Feat: Shapechange
Benefit: You can Shapechange as the spell 1/day, can be taken multiple times for extra uses
Drawback: Requires Infernal Soul Lose 1 Intelligence permanently

Feat: Wealth
Benefit: Gain 15,000 GP
Drawback: Nothing

Feat: Magic Item
Benefit: Gain a magic item of your choice the DM randomly rolls a magic item for you
Drawback: Requires Wealth, the item might be cursed

Feat: Multiple Limbs
Benefit: You grow two extra arms, legs, or a prehensile tail
Drawback: Requires Shapechange, you look like an idiot

Feat: Poison Blood
Benefit: Your blood is poison of your choice
Drawback: poison sucks you are now a cold-blooded, nocturnal lizard monster and can’t wear armor heavier than leather

Feat: Rot
Benefit: You inflict mummy rot any time you touch anyone
Drawback: You smell bad

Feat: Undetectable Lie
Benefit: Detect Lies can’t detect your lies
Drawback: You have a forked tongue

Feat: Unholy Blessing
Benefit: Permanent Unholy Aura
Drawback: You get Horns, just like in the hot new video game Fable!

Feat: Unholy Strength
Benefit: +2 Strength, can be taken multiple times
Drawback: You look like you have a Myosatin deficiency

Feat: Wish
Benefit: You gain a single wish
Drawback: You waste a feat



So, yeah. Those are all things. Also a thing: Prestige Class: Demon Summoner which is presented next.



Requirements: Wizard 5, Sorcerer 6, Cleric 7; evil alignment; some laughable skill requirements that most casters will take anyway, and they have to be able to speak Abyssal or Infernal. That’s it.

They’re spellcasters, d4hp, 2+int skills, gain spells as per their old class, and instead of having a ton of dead levels where only spells are gained, they gain six free metamagic or Infernal Pact feats over the course of their progression, get an apprentice (a free trap detector spellcasting cohort) at 3rd, 6th, and 8th levels in the class, and an imp cohort at 5th level. So, basically, it’s a wizard (or sorcerer) with no downsides and a bunch of free poo poo stapled on.



Next Time: More demon summoning!

PoptartsNinja fucked around with this message at 06:02 on May 9, 2013

Ettin
Oct 2, 2010




Mortal Remains: Undefined Immersion Object

One of the big complaints I've heard about my reviews on rpg.net (behind "You can't make fun of game designers YOU WILL REGRET THIS!" and "that adventure where the PCs are abducted by rape furries doesn't count because if you interpret the rules like this it means the PCs are immune to their rape aura. See, that makes it okay!") is that they are hyperbolic, and all those posts where I directly quote the book aren't accurate or something.

So I just want to be clear that the Migou I've made based on suggestions here and over IRC probably wouldn't be approved in an actual CTech game. Just saying.

Mortal Remains posted:

NOT YOUR ISLAND ANYMORE

Presented here is a ready to run story for a Migou game. It should require little effort on your part to prepare and is designed to give you someplace to start a new story. It follows a group of Migou who have been assigned to infiltrate Iceland, a place taken from the Migou by the forces of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. It gives new Migou players a chance to fight against a familiar threat, instead of turning the tables right off the bat. This way, you can ease them into battling the New Earth Government, who up until now have most likely been heroes for your players.

For purposes of this story, Migou will be given numbers to designate them as individuals. You can feel free to substitute whatever representative naming conventions you’d like to use in your game.

Characters can be of any sort, including Blank or Loyalist, but those whose primary vocation is as a mecha pilot may feel under-utilized. This is a mission of infiltration and sabotage, and straight up fights will be discouraged – and dangerous.

For the purposes of this adventure, we'll be running the following Migou PCs (I can stat them if you want but otherwise nah):



N01RR15: A Migou Private Eye, genetically tweaked for optimum hardboiled. Actually on a job to recover the legendary Scroll of Heroes, a heinous scroll that nobody likes, but that investigation is going nowhere so it's working another job. Also a Vanguard. It carries copies of its resume around and gives them to everyone it meets.

900-N: 900-N the Battletroop has a bad case of migoutism. It is also the most effective member of the group, because disorders don't define a person or stop you from accomplishing great things. It is also a brony though.

Athena Darkroad: The put-upon Shadow Tager cop from the other adventures, because I was told the Eldritch Society and the Migou can unite against common enemies. Athena has agreed to help in exchange for a null ray to shoot Children of Chaos cultists with, but to stop other Migou freaking out and trying to assimilate her she is wearing a Migou suit.

Himigo-chan: Himigo-chan is a para-psychic here on a week-long internship as part of an assignment at Azumigou Academy. She is incredibly tsundere, and also an NEG turncoat (she just thinks they're too kawaii to kill.) She drinks alcohol and is here to score some space mead.

Mak: A Blank. Even before his assimilation Mak had trouble with basic social interaction; now he is so incomprehensible his comrades think he is a Migou. Only Athena calls him out on this. Earnestly believes that the NEG are Tipper Gores out to censor the galaxy.


The characters need to start near Iceland, so Act I: In The Land Of Lutefisk puts our team in Bergen, Norway. The Migou in this captured arcology are part of the supply chain to the British Isles and get attacked by the Esoteric Order sometimes.

Mortal Remains posted:

Here is a good place to create the routine of your Characters’ lives. What is the average everyday run of their vocations? Where do they live and what kind of recreational activities do they enjoy? Migou lives aren’t all work and no play, but they will be dedicated to an efficient routine.

900-N connects to the Something Pluto message board and posts a thread about how it is not in the place it wants to be in its life right now, and it's girlfriend wants to know if it's cool with her seeing other Migou. Seven people tell him to switch jobs and sever, and one person calls him a human being. 900-N does the exact opposite of both of those things. N01RR15 mails people copies of its resume, Himigo-chan gets into a crazy love triangle with two other Migou, Mak does regular human things but in a lovely way I guess, and Athena goes around in her googly-eyed Migou suit telling everyone that she is definitely a Migou.

Eventually, they get a call in their living quarters from another Migou, 166 ("It is a thing that is known for taking young Migou under its wings and guiding them through the rocky days of their first missions"). 116 has a job for them!

Mortal Remains posted:

It is here that the Characters should begin to feel the strong Migou community. Where new soldiers in the New Earth Government are likely to be barked at or even insulted, new Migou soldiers are cared for and properly guided.

Baka humans!

So anyway, Iceland. Sometime in the past the Esoteric Order of Dagon surprised the Migou at night and forced them off the island, and the Migou left some of their poo poo behind. Apparently they left behind some null rays in a research facility outside Reykjavik, and as the Migou see the EOD as an actual major threat, they don't want them reverse-engineering the null rays. The PCs are assigned to infiltrate the place, destroy the null rays and get the hell out of there.

Mortal Remains posted:

Once the Characters understand the mission, 116 will be available to answer any questions they may have. Unlike New Earth Government briefings, the young Migou are encouraged to ask questions so that they are fully armed with the knowledge they need.

I can't even tell if this is more sheltered white guy social commentary or just setting fluff any more. This book has just run into a big hot mess in my memory. gently caress it, whatever. After pausing to give the GM Storyguide a handy excuse for why the PCs specifically are going on this mission, the PCs arm up (GM Storyguides are encouraged to not let them take lots of grenades to a stealth mission) and off they go!

Act II: In The Land Of Ice begins. The PCs spend eight hours flying a slow, circuitous route to avoid the Order (Mak spends the entire time telling Athena how "trannies" and people who people who think assimilation is terrible are secretly trauma victims who should be committed. Athena considers aborting the mission and choking him) and eventually sneak into the city:

Mortal Remains posted:

Iceland, as part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is an ideal place for the Esoteric Order of Dagon to occupy. There are miles of underwater mountains around, plenty of place for the Esoteric Order to build aquatic bases and house troops.

The mountains around Iceland are a) only on the far south and far north of the island and b) all active volcanos. I guess the EOD wants to house their troops in volatile active volcanoes because they're loving hardcore.

Mortal Remains posted:

When they finally get there, they’ll most likely realize that Reykjavik will not be an easy nut to crack. It was the biggest city in Iceland, home to a couple hundred thousand residents and the only arcology on the island. There’s a lot of ground to run into trouble on and who knows how the Esoteric Order has moved in.

Why would Iceland have an arcology? Who builds an arcology (a housing solution designed for incredible population density) in a city with a couple hundred thousand people? Did Reykjavik have a sudden population explosion or something? Actually, who cares?

Anyway, this happens on the way to the facility:

Mortal Remains posted:

Along the way, you may want to expose them to some of the reality that is Esoteric Order of Dagon occupation.

Mortal Remains posted:

Don’t be afraid to expose them to bizarre cult rituals, ritual cannibalism, and the ever-popular rape camps. You might even throw in a dirty, disgusting hospital converted to the birthing of Hybrids.

Mortal Remains posted:

Perhaps for the first time, your players may realize that the Migou, from the right perspec-tive, aren’t such bad guys.

A dirty hospital for alien births: Worse than rape camps.

The group proceeds as quietly as they can. Athena throws up in her suit and ditches it for now to go full Shadow Tager. Mak gushes about how this is all super edgy and mature and he can't think of anything scary to do with a penis before Himigo-chan orders him to shut up.

Soon, they stumble on the real reason the Order captured Iceland: Migou research! The Dagonites have captured thousands of bugs and have set up experimental facilities to experiment on Migou and see if their genes can be used to improve Deep Ones. This is pretty much impossible, but they don't know that, so medical experiments ahoy! Naturally this tweaks the Migou a bit, and they can do something about it if they want, but they need a plan. N01RR15 gives everyone a short (only eight hundred word) monologue on his talents before admitting he doesn't have a plan. 900-N suggests they sever. Athena actually does some scouting and discovers the place doesn't have very good security, and:

Mortal Remains posted:

if they watch carefully and succeed at a Challenging Observation Test, they may overhear that the lead researcher in this experiment is a Deep One male named Il’eran, who appears to be the underseas equivalent of Josef Mengele. He will hopefully become a target for later violence.

Luckily this won't be like the sex club and the PCs can actually kill this guy.

... Not yet though.

Mortal Remains posted:

A Complication

The biggest unknown of this mission is that Iceland is the perfect place for the Esoteric Order to hide an army in and among the underwater mountains. The bad news for the Characters is that since Reykjavik is a coastal town, it wouldn’t take much for such forces to respond if there were trouble. Anyone operating in Esoteric Order territory should always expect that there are more enemies than intelligence suggests.

As the Characters make their way through this horror show, they will eventually hear the sounds of something arriving. On the coast, something is afoot. The Characters may be in a position to witness it, or they may have to backtrack to discover what the commotion’s all about. As it turns out, they picked the exact window to infiltrate the island during which time the Esoteric Order is being reinforced.

Out of the ocean begin to climb fresh troops, including Deep Ones, Spawn, powered armor, mecha, and the like. Further-more, these are only the reinforcements they can see, the ones that are moving into the area on land. There are undoubtedly more hiding below on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. If the Characters didn’t have the idea that they shouldn’t engage in any kind of conflict before, they most certainly should have it now. The is-land has officially become a death-trap should they be discovered. The Characters will have to tread even more carefully than they did before.

So, I guess they're railroaded into heading for the research base. The Migou complain and Athena gets to be the one to tell them to suck it up this time. Mak asks Athena if she's read his friend Joe's Blank blog. Himigo-chan steals some Dagon Brew and gets hammered somehow.

The PCs "restrain themselves" and make it to the facility. It's in the basement of a plain-looking former bank and hard to spot, so nobody's found it yet, and N01RR15 has the codes so he lets everyone in after giving a short speech about it. This part is pretty easy - get into the empty facility, drop explosives everywhere (Athena stuffs a null ray in her suit) and runs like gently caress.

Mortal Remains posted:

Now they need to make their way out, so that they can be extracted by 224. However, they should have enough of a desire to destroy as many Esoteric Order research facilities as possible on their way out. They hopefully will have the luck to take out Il’eran while they are at it. However, the landscape is now crawling with enemies.

But oh poo poo, a complication! Somehow the Esoteric Order figure out someone is here and start spreading out to search. Time to run!

Mortal Remains posted:

Now is the time for violence, but with a twist. Have your Characters encounter small groups with just enough power to make the fight worthwhile. They should feel like they’re having to fight for their lives, as well as make their way through great stretches in a stealthy fashion, in order to get to the rendezvous point. If they didn’t plant explosives before and want to now, it will be doubly hard. In any case, things should be dangerous, but not lethal, for the Esoteric Order is herding them into a trap

In Act III: In Harm's Way, poo poo goes down, explosives go off, and the group flees - right into a group of Deep Ones and Hybrids! Don't worry though, it's just for dramatic flair. The GM Storyguide is instructed to provided just enough Migou so that the players can actually fight, but "know that a prolonged conflict will result in their capture or deaths". No powered armour except maybe at the end to make the players poo poo themselves. For the players, things get pretty bleak - Himigo-chan finally confesses her love to N01R15, Athena starts debating whether to go into stealth mode and run or kill Mak and then run, and 900-N ignores all chances to escape and sever in favour of complaining about his situation. Just when things get dire, though, 224 decloaks, lays down covering fire and picks up the PCs in its Stalker.

Mortal Remains posted:

Just as in any good horror movie, the last gasp comes after everyone thinks the action is over. As the Stalker turns to fly away, something bursts out of the water into the air. Several somethings, in fact – two very upset Spawn. Remember to have everyone, including 224, make Fear Tests, as these are creatures that scare the daylights out of just about anything.

If 224 and at least one of the Characters can keep their cool, they’ll want to fire on the things. If not, the Stalker will be batted about like a mouse on a string. Now is the time the Characters should panic.

Or maybe not just yet. Perhaps when the Leviathan, followed by two Hydras, fly up to join the battle is a better time. The Characters are terribly outnumbered and outgunned.

Choreographed chase scene GO!

The Migou panic and open fire. Athena buys everyone some time by putting on her Migou suit and ordering Mak to throw himself out and at the Spawn, and Mak does it because he's an idiot. Himigo-chan confesses her love to 900-N too and creates another love triangle. In what he thinks are their dying moments, N01RR15 decides he just wants Himigo-chan to be happy and lets her go with 900-N, or something. That cliche always confused me to be honest, it sounds dumb as hell, but whatever. The point is the Stalker gets slapped around a few times and then they escape:

Mortal Remains posted:

If the Characters can manage to win this harrowing Contest for five consecutive turns, they will finally break free. The Stalker’s top speed is way beyond anything they’ve been dealing with here, so they should be able to get away quickly. However, give the Leviathan and the two Hydras one turn of shooting at them first.

However, in any event, don’t let them get away unscathed. Bat them around at least once or twice, in addition to a turn of shooting at them, or the ending will be anti-climactic.

And... that's basically it! There's the usual "PCs get rewards" stuff, except Migou don't really hand out awards so whatever. 900-N and Himigo-chan start a serious relationship, N01RR15 lights a cigar and flies away into the sunset like all good Noir Migou, and Athena absconds with her null ray to get it reverse-engineered in America and take a six-hour shower.

Mortal Remains took almost a year to review and holy poo poo was it not worth it.


___

New book time!

It's been a while, so instead of going in publication order, I am putting it up to a vote. If you want to go in publication order just vote that.

Ancient Enemies: The Eldritch Society and Chrysalis Corporation! Basically Guyver Knockoff: The Book. It has metamorphosis and all kinds of other cool things. Not gonna lie, the new Dhohanoids are super bad.
Unveiled Threats: An equipment book! This would probably be the shortest review, I'd just be skipping pages and pages of guns and posting only the highlights. Oh boy, are there some loving highlights.
Burning Horizon: A metaplot sourcebook for 2087. This one came out just recently. It is the sequel to Damnation View, and I have been asked about it a lot. It sure is a book, I tell you what.

Ettin fucked around with this message at 06:30 on May 9, 2013

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

Unveiled Threats would be a great little break kinda thing. If you're going to avoid talking about the multi-page breaks of just 'this gun is cool, this gun is cool, this gun is slightly cooler' then I'm sure you can bang it out in a couple posts, but the stuff worth focusing on is totally insane.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Ettin posted:

N01RR15: A Migou Private Eye, genetically tweaked for optimum hardboiled. Actually on a job to recover the legendary Scroll of Heroes, a heinous scroll that nobody likes, but that investigation is going nowhere so it's working another job. Also a Vanguard. It carries copies of its resume around and gives them to everyone it meets.

quote:

Himigo-chan: Himigo-chan is a para-psychic here on a week-long internship as part of an assignment at Azumigou Academy. She is incredibly tsundere, and also an NEG turncoat (she just thinks they're too kawaii to kill.) She drinks alcohol and is here to score some space mead.

quote:

Act I: In The Land Of Lutefisk

That was everything I could have hoped for and more, thank you.

As far as books, I'd say Ancient Enemies because It's got some crazy crap in it, also Ifrits
But if you want a break doing what Tatum said works too.

Rulebook Heavily
Sep 18, 2010

by FactsAreUseless


Things in this adventure that took advantage of the fact that it took place in Iceland:

Ettin
Oct 2, 2010


Kurieg posted:


That was everything I could have hoped for and more, thank you.

Bonus Himigo-chan:

Flavivirus
Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

My vote's for Burning Horizons; I'd love to see where this crazy metaplot train goes next.

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Ettin posted:

Mortal Remains took almost a year to review and holy poo poo was it not worth it.

It was to me!

Thank you so much for sacrificing those SAN points for us. Your reviews actually make this game fun!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


In case I haven't mentioned it before, your Cthulhutech reviews were a big inspiration behind me reviewing some dumb ol' book called Rifts, and in turn giving me an excuse to take my first big steps onto the board.

One thing I think it is interesting is that the Lovecraftian monsters, curiously enough, have almost never been put forth as PC fodder, and I think it's really interesting that Mortal Remains tries. It falls into bullshit boring bug-harmony, but it's one of the better things from Cthulhutech so far. (Mind, that's damning with faint praise.)

In any case, I'd vote for publication order, but ultimately do whichever one you think'll keep you posting!

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




Flavivirus posted:

My vote's for Burning Horizons; I'd love to see where this crazy metaplot train goes next.

This, give me my godawful metaplot fix!

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


I'll throw down another voice for "loving CTech reviews in general", but for what's next I'd like to see Unveiled Threats as a bit of a palate cleanser, then Burning Horizons for the doubtless wonderful additions a new metaplot book would bring.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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






Ryuutama, Spring Part 1: Preparations for the journey

Prologue and final notes aside, the book is divided into four sections, designated by season. Spring is character creation, and everything that goes into it. Summer is rules used during gameplay. Autumn is rules for the GM. Winter is the list of monsters.

For now...



Player Character Creation

There are seven steps to creating a Ryuutama PC: Class, Type, Attributes, Weapon Type, Personal Effects, Equipment, Details.

Class determines, more or less, what you did before you set out on your journey. There are seven total, with four being classified as "beginner" classes and another three that are slightly more complex. In practice, though, I haven't found any real difference in complexity between the two groups.

The beginner classes are Minstrel, Merchant, Healer, and Hunter. The advanced classes are Crafter, Farmer, and Noble. Each gives you three Skills that you can use during play.

Type determines what kind of abilities you have to get yourself out of danger, and is closer to what D&D would consider a class. There are three:

Attack Types specialize in defeating enemies by using strength and courage.
Technique Types specialize in using items and subtlety to get out of trouble.
Magic Types have a variety of supernatural abilities that they can use to solve problems.

Attributes are measured on a scale from 4 to 12, and always an even number. This number corresponds to a kind of die, so if you have an 8 in an attribute, then you'd be rolling a d8 to use it. There are four attributes:

Strength is used both for physical strength and endurance.
Agility is finesse, speed, and generally moving your body.
Wisdom is quick thinking, a wide base of knowledge, and good memory.
Spirit is concentration, courage, and connection with the supernatural.

All four are necessary over the course of a typical day of travel. At level 1, you assign your values out of one of three stat lines: 6/6/6/6, 8/6/6/4, or 8/8/4/4.

As long as we're into attributes, I might as well talk about the Core Mechanic. Most Checks will be listed as something like STR+AGI+1 - sometimes one, but usually two attributes, and they can be the same. Because of the way stats map to dice, this is pretty straightforward; If your Strength was 6 and your Agility was 8, then the example here would be 1d6+1d8+1, compared to a target difficulty. Snake eyes are a fumble, and a max roll OR a double 6 is a critical success.

Once that's out of the way, you need to figure out your HP and MP, which aren't quite what you'd expect. HP is physical well-being as well as stamina - a difficult day's travel will drain your HP. Your maximum HP starts at 2 x Strength, and will increase as you gain levels.

MP is not Magic Points, but Mental Points. Even if you're not a magic user, you can use it to put extra mental effort and concentration into any task. Maximum MP starts at 2 x Spirit, and will increase as you gain levels.

Weapon Type is the kind of weapon you're the best at using. Each type is good for a different kind of character, as the stats used to roll attack and damage are different.

Short Blades: Daggers, short swords, etc. Highly accurate weapons, but damage is unremarkable. Accuracy rolled as AGI+WIS+1, damage rolled as WIS-1.
Swords: Broadswords, rapiers, katanas, etc. Balanced weapon for a good physical fighter. Accuracy is rolled as AGI+STR, damage rolled as STR.
Spears: Long spears, tridents, lances, etc. High-damage weapons for a balanced fighter, but they require both hands. Accuracy is rolled as AGI+STR, damage rolled as STR+1.
Axes: Battleaxes, greataxes, etc. Inaccurate but powerful weapons ideal for the muscleman, requiring both hands. Accuracy is rolled as STR+STR-1, damage rolled as STR.
Bows: Short bows, long bows, crossbows. Difficult to land a hit, but has the advantage of attacking at a distance. Requires both hands. Accuracy is rolled as WIS+AGI-2, damage rolled as AGI.
Unarmed: Fighting with your fists or with whatever you can find lying around. Accuracy is rolled as AGI+STR, damage with your fists is STR-2, damage with an improvised weapon is STR-1.

You CAN fight using weapons other than the one type you choose, but you're not used to it. Every time you make an attack with a nonproficient weapon, you lose 1 HP (remember, it's stamina).

Personal effects: Think about your character, and freely pick one or two small items that are important to them. You get these for free, and they don't take up any room in your inventory, but they also don't give you an mechanical bonuses.

Equipment is purchased from the bigass list of items later down the chapter. You get 1000G to play with going out the gate, and will get more as you adventure.

It's worth noting that, for a character with 1000G, a weapon is a HUGE investment - a typical sword costs 700G. It's not uncommon for only one or two characters in a fresh party to have weapons. That's just the kind of game this is. In the game I've been running, characters were buying fancy tents and windbreakers before getting the weapons they were proficient in.

Details is everything else. Notably:
Name: First, last, and any sort of nicknames.
Gender and age: What it says.
Image color and appearance: Before breaking it down to details, the book advises you to think of your character as a whole, and decide what one color best captures that image. The further details flow from there.
Hometown and reason for travel: Where are you from? What was your life like there? Why did you leave, and why are you on the road now?
Other: Personality, speaking styles, what's important to them.



Have an extremely low-res sample character sheet. Next time: Classes.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Ettin posted:



Mortal Remains: Undefined Immersion Object

One of the big complaints I've heard about my reviews on rpg.net (behind "You can't make fun of game designers YOU WILL REGRET THIS!" and "that adventure where the PCs are abducted by rape furries doesn't count because if you interpret the rules like this it means the PCs are immune to their rape aura. See, that makes it okay!") is that they are hyperbolic, and all those posts where I directly quote the book aren't accurate or something.



Mostly what I remember from the discussion on the rape-furry stuff is people telling me apparently completely straight faced that it wouldn't work on NPCs or PCs because obviously they'd go after the rape furries while wearing full NBC suits, blinded, and deafened with white noise generators. How'd they'd be expected to talk to each other, not shoot each other or civilians instead of the monsters, or even interact with the adventure at all...

...Wait, maybe that was the plan.

I vote Unveiled Threats highlight reel and then Ancient Enemies, just for it being the other major book of "What no, you can't do that, only our NPCs can."

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


unseenlibrarian posted:

I vote Unveiled Threats highlight reel and then Ancient Enemies, just for it being the other major book of "What no, you can't do that, only our NPCs can."
Yeah, the rules for Metamorphosis are technically possible for PCs, but it takes ludicrous amounts of XP to even attempt.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I Forgot To Hail King Torg


My vote goes:
Unveiled Threats to give you a bit of a break ->
Ancient Enemies because it's kind of my favorite CTech book (for how purestrain anime-RPG/"it works because it's cool" Tager games get) ->
Burning Horizons because its metaplot and builds on the first two.

AmiYumi fucked around with this message at 14:50 on May 9, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Hedge Magic, Revised Edition

This book is all about hedge wizards - the wizards who, these days, are seen as far too weak to be impressed into the Order, by and large. (Part of the reason for this is that the most potent hedge magic lineages were forced to join or killed long ago.) Of course, some hedge wizards do join the Order, adapting their magical tradition to Hermetic ways so they can learn the Parma Magica, though the Order frowns on such converts maintaining close ties to their former comrades, for fear that the Parma will be shared. Of course, not all hedge wizard traditions require the Gift. The unGifted simply cannot join the Order (except Redcaps). There's no specific rule against it, but most magi just don't like the idea. (It is, as a note, a mid-level Intellego Vim spell to detect the presence of the Gift in someone.) One problem with Order converts, though, is that hedge wizards can't use certamen, which makes them a target for bullying, since they are considered the automatic losers of any certamen dispute. Some hedge traditions are not members of the Order but are allied to it. This isn't usually controversial, unless these allied servants are Gifted, mainly because those sorts of hedge wizards might learn the Parma by observation. Most hedge wizards, however, are neither converts nor allies - they live in the shadow of the Order.

As a note: Hedge traditions are generally bound by the Limits of Magic; they may break, at most, one Lesser Limit - never a Greater one. They also suffer the Limit of Magic Resistance. No hedge tradition has a general resistance to magic. It is unclear why, but it's very convenient for the Order! If a hedge tradition ever broke this Limit, the Order would ruthlessly destroy them, because their control of Europe's magical scene is entirely based on their own Parma Magica and ability to shrug off most spells from lesser wizards. Perhaps this means the apparent Limit is merely the effect of the Order hunting down anyone who broke it.

Some Hermetic wizards may find it profitable to study hedge traditions and integrate their special strengths into Hermetic theory. It's not easy - they need to find sources of information, study them over the course of several seasons, invent spells based on them, and continue this process until they reach a complete understanding of what they are studying. Once they do, they have a breakthrough, developing a new twist to Hermetic theory. this is one major reason a magus might seek out hedge wizards without trying to kill them - some hedge traditions have very valuable things to teach, or even ways around the Limits of Magic.

We start with Elementalists. It has long been known that the world is made of four elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Some ancient men and women had power over spirits - these became the summoners of the Ars Goetia. Some, however, developed their powers of medicine, theurgy and natural philosophy in order to affect the physical world, not the spiritual. These are the Elementalists, who command the raw elements of nature and even cause them together in the form of animate beings, called elementals. It is said that these arts developed in the Mediterranean area, in the Middle East and North Africa but spread to Europe with the Arab conquest of Iberia. Elementalists have tended to hide thei abilities, appearing as scholars or holy men. Over time, their traditions of scholarship have earned them a better reputation than their summoner cousins, and by 1220, they look more like academics than most hedge wizards.

Elementalists do not require the Gift, interestingly. They may be played as normal Companions (lacking the Gift), Gifted Companions or Mythic Companions (receiving the double-costed Flaws benefit and some free virtues). We're going to talk about Elementalist magic here! There are three main types of Elementalist: Elemental Physicians, whose power over the elements is based on special understanding of the four humors of the human body, and whose tie to the elements is based on medical skill. Elemental Philosophers, whose aptitude for elemental control is tied to understand the physical world and philosophy, and whose tie to the elements is based on philosophical knowledge. Elemental Theurgists whose skill with the elements is tied to experience with spirits and magical beings, and whose ties to the elements are based on study of the magical realms. Tese elementalists are able to use their power to affect different things.

Elementalists study, naturally, four Forms, based on the elements. First is Elementalist Air, the study of the supernatural qualities of air. Elemental Physicians may use Elementalist Air to affect the sanguine humors of the body, typically associated with lightheadedness and diseases of the blood, such as quotidian fever. Elemental Philosophers may use Elementalist Air to affect natural weather phenomena and animals with a predominantly sanguine temperament, such as birds. Elemental Theurgists may use Elementalist Air to affect air elementals and supernatural beings associated with air or the Auram form. Air elementals tend to be smart but physically weak. Regardless of what study the Elementalist has, Elementalist Air also protects against harm by air, such as asphyxiation, poison gases or bad weather. Being more Sanguine (carefree, optimistic, etc.) helps.

Elementalist Earth is, of course, study of earth. Elemental Physicians use it to affect the melancholic humors, including feelings of sadness or diseases such as constriction. Elemental Philosophers use it to control the earth and its minerals, as well as animals of melancholic temperament such as cattle, mice or badgers. Elemental Theurgists use it to affect earth elementals and supernatural beings associated with Terram. Earth elementals tend to be strong but stupid. It protects against damage by earth, such as suffocation, injuries by metal or stone weapons, crushing blows or falling. Being more Melancholic (depressed, reclusive, gloomy, etc.) helps.

Elementalist Fire is the study of fire. Elemental Physicians affect the choleric humors, which inspire anger and impatience, or dry, coughing diseases such as quartan fever. Elemental Philosophers control heat and flame, as well as choleric animals such as horses or predators. Elemental Theurgists control fire elementals and supernatural beings associated with Ignem. Fire elementals tend to be fast and socially skilled. It helps protect against damage by fire, heat or blinding light. Being Choleric (angry, hateful, etc.) helps.

Elementalist Water is the study of water. Elemental Physicians affect the phlegmatic humors, associated with listlessness and wet, phlegmatic diseases like flux. Elemental Philosophers control liquids and phlegmatic animals such as fish or reptiles. Elemental theurgists control water elementals and supernatural beings associated with Aquam. Water elementals are cunning and tough. It protects against damage by water, such as thirst, drowning, poison liquids, falling onto water or being crushed by waves. Being Phlegmatic (jealous, worrisome, envious, fearful, etc.) helps.

These forms are combined with one of the Elementalist Techniques, of which there are four. Summoning focuses on drawing elements from the area, often into a prepared medium or shape. Elementalists may claim to create these elements, but there's always enough in the area due to nature that they can just draw it out, even if it appears to be creation. The bigger a summoned mass of elements is, the harder it is to summon. Elemental physicians use summoning to alter the humors in the body, curing diseases, though not physical wounds. They may also use this to cause disease by imbalancing the humors, and their power is harder the larger the creature they're trying to affect is. They must touch their target. Elemental Philosophers conjure physical elements, and may exert more power to make them more dangerous and damaging, or harder and tougher. However, the materials summoned are raw and untreated - you can summon silver, but not a coin. They may also summon animals native to the area. Elemental Theurgists call forth elementals from pure base material, generating these temporary magical beings.

Controlling dictates behavior of summoned beings or objects, as well as examples of the element found in normal life. Elemental Physicians use it to control the emotions of humans by manipulating the humors of the body, as well as commanding supernatural creatures that have become part of the body, such as disease spirits or possessing demons, in the same way that a Theurgist can command elementals. Elemental Philosophers can command the movements of natural materials, and can command organic materials as well, though less well. (This can even be used to reduce damage in combat by slowing the weapons down.) They may also command animals. Elemental Theurgists command supernatural creatures associated with the elements, including elementals, forcing them to obey commands or banishing them.

Divining locates and communes with the elements. It is less costly to use than Summoning or Controlling. It may sense elemental vis, as well as detecting manifestations of an element and granting understanding of them. Elemental Physicians can recognize imbalanced humors, sense and diagnose illnesses, or use a deep and magical understanding of the body to help treat illnesses and wounds over time. Elemental Philosophers sense natural materials and their qualities, allowing them, for example, to seek out gold or silver. They may also understand the thoughts and memories of animals by touching them. Elemental Theurgists can sense elementally aligned supernatural beings, and may mentally communicate with them via touch, or even read the memories of unintelligent supernatural beings.

Refining allows an Elementalist to improve their target by purification or to break it down by combining opposed elements. It is a slow, seasonal affair rather than immediate magic. It can, incidentally, be used to make a potion equivalent to Hermetic longevity rituals, protecting against aging problems. Elemental Physicians can make such potions for others, too, or potions that increase vigor and skill, boosting a character's natural abilities. (This is much easier for them than Hermetics.) Elemental Philosophers may extract vis from auras, increase or decrease the magical power of supernatural animals, or move vis around. Elemental Theurgists may restore the power of supernatural beings or drain them for vis.

Elementalists tend to gather in societies of likeminded thinkers. The Apostles of Apollonius claim descent from the first elementalists, who were influenced by Greek philosophy. They claim the first elementalist was Apollonius of Tyana, a miracle worker in the 1st century AD. His followers are largely ascetic Christians now, who believe their work to be pious and natural. They are rare, but can be found anywhere in Europe, though most often in the Mediterranean. They are seen by the Order largely as curiosities. They specialize in elemental theurgy, focusing on summoning and control of any of the four elements.

The Ikhwan as-Safa', or Brethren of Purity, are a secretive Islamic sect that teaches the path to God is to attain purity via knowledge. They were founded by Islamic scholars in Persian Basra during the 950s, combining Greek philosophy and Indian and Persian classical texts. They are a variant sect of Isma'ili Islam, and their potential heresy means they tend to lie low a lot. They claim that all human souls derive from God, and will return to be part of God at the end of the world. They refuse to teach magical powers unless students also study philosophy and theology. They are philosophical elementalists, focusing on Summoning, Refining and any of the four Elements. While all members must be literate, but they're willing to teach the pious Isma'ili Muslims how to read. They will, however, accept literate non-Muslims.

The Tulab Ibn Sina are some of the best doctors in the Islamic world. They are known to Europeans as the Students of Avicenna, and they use their knowledge of elementalist medicine to serve rulers and maintain hospitals. They were founded by Abu Ali al-Hussain Ibn Abdallah Ibn Sina in 980, in the Persian city of Bukhara. Ibn Sina was a genius, developing his magical tradition from ancient writings of Persian, Arab and Indian wizards mixed with Greek philosophy as well as his own studies of medicine. When the Sultan of Bukhara, his patron, died, Ibn Sina used his magic to escape the ensuing struggle for the throne and fled. His Gift forced him to keep moving throughout his life, teaching many students. He only taught Gifted Muslims, however, or those Muslims who showed natural aptitude for the Elementalist arts. He would often dismiss those who were not righteous Muslims. All Tulab Ibn Sina, to this day, are Muslim. They also tend to be wealthy. They are elemental physicians, focusing on Summoning, Divining and any of the Elements.

Study by Hermetic magi of the elementalists is not difficult - the elemental Forms and the elementalist arts are very close to each other. Study of the theurgic, philosophical or medical traditions might allow a Hermetic to convert their ability to use mundane knowledge to boost magic into a Hermetic ability, while study of the Arts themselves might allow for a Hermetic to learn both the Art and Hermetic magic, using the two to empower each other, unlocking the ability to create elemental vis in the lab and summoning elemental targets without need for Arcane Connections. If this were done, it's likely that there would be little in the way of negative repercussions, and most elementalists would likely be invited to join House Ex Miscellanea...though summoning's poor reputation might lead some to wish them destroyed.

Next time: Folk WitcheS!

Tell me about our Elementalist. What's their focus? Are they a Mythic Companion, a Gifted Companion or an unGifted Companion?

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


So, is the CTech view on military organizations based on their reflexive 'HIGH SCHOOL WAS BAD' world view they have? Because I thought the big thing about being in the military was that it turns into a tight knit, second family for individuals and that is a both a huge boon and a source of some of the problems that happen inside it.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013



Ah, CthulhuTech. Where did you go wrong?

I have a confession to make: Once, when the setting book came out, I was the primary writer of its page on TV Tropes. I valued setting over rules in those days (I was a stupid child) and let's face it, CTech seemed like it was written by the weeabo gods for naive, post-Pokemon teens like me.

It was only after my dog, showing off his gift for prophecy, peed on a book, did I realize something was wrong with the gameline, and I chose to not buy any more. God I love my dog.

Reading this deserves a new word for what I am feeling: Cathartonement, a combination of atonement and catharsis.

I love you, Ettin.

And because I love you, I vote for Ancient Enemies, since it isn't as bad. Or Unveiled Threats your choice as to where my vote goes.

After that, Burning Horizons, since my mercy only goes so far.

Erebro fucked around with this message at 17:19 on May 9, 2013

Rulebook Heavily
Sep 18, 2010

by FactsAreUseless


Mors Rattus posted:

Tell me about our Elementalist. What's their focus? Are they a Mythic Companion, a Gifted Companion or an unGifted Companion?

They are a Gifted Elemental Physician with an especial fondness for the work of Galen. However, they are motivated primarily by jealousy of their peers and characterized by a strong ambition to equal or surpass Galen without necessarily being able to actually research things of their own on that level, so they turn to spying.

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.


Tatum Girlparts posted:

Unveiled Threats would be a great little break kinda thing. If you're going to avoid talking about the multi-page breaks of just 'this gun is cool, this gun is cool, this gun is slightly cooler' then I'm sure you can bang it out in a couple posts, but the stuff worth focusing on is totally insane.

I agree. And plus, more fodder for your Miami campaign, Ettin. Stuff's gonna 'splode.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Turns out that my Hiatus was shorter than I planned.



Campaign Jumpstarts

This section has several pre-made settings and themes to act as a starting place for a game. This is a very nice feature, and can really help a newbie GM get started on a campaign, and to give experienced GMs an idea of the variety of settings and moods a MaOTC game can be.

Welcome to Pluto

Pluto, California used to be your typical small cottage community, the sort of place where people who are too sophisticated for Beverly Hills go to live. Then Pluto, Outer Space got demoted from Planetary status, and that resulted in some kind of weird voodoo-style backlash on the sleepy town. Almost over-night the small town transformed into a medium-sized city, a miniaturized version of L.A., with all the crime, secrets, and weirdness of the big city concentrated down into a thick, conspiracy and scandal laden soup.

Rich and neurotic celebrities and Hollywood moguls hide away from the public eye in exclusive gated communities, class struggles between the wealthy Westside and working class Eastside turn Pluto High into a pit of petty politics and schoolyard backstabbing, the Yakuza use the town as a pipeline to funnel drugs along the west coast creating a diverse and thriving underworld, and that’s just the mundane stuff. Pluto is an epicenter for the weird, with psychics, occultists, mystics, cultists, and all the other assorted weirdoes that cluster around the rich and superstitious.

Monster Kids are seen as town misfits. They’re generally avoided and treated with suspicion. But, this makes them outsiders, free of the constrictive systems built into the city. Many citizens of Pluto use Monster Kids as a sort of free-agents and problem-solvers. A Kid with a Monster can stand to become a big wig in the town, building an arsenal of favors and an armor of prime blackmail material.
This setting is designed for High Schoolers, obviously, and is heavily based on the television show Veronica Mars, which should give you an idea of the sort of tone and adventures possible in Pluto. Popular subjects include the drug dealing underworld, deadly serious high-school politics, dealing with dark secrets of rich eccentrics, the confluence of occult persons in the town, and of course, Pluto is prime ground for some sort of shadowy conspiracy.

The Extreme Monster Fighting League

The XMFL is a weird combination of Pro-Wrestling, professional MMA, and a reality TV show. In the ring (Or reinforced electrified cage) it’s all real, authentic Monster fights, but coated in the camp-riddled sheen of a Pro-Wrestling match, complete with over-enthusiastic color commentators and a big emphasis on spectacle. Outside of the arena, Kids are the subjects of a reality show, where their daily lives are recorded, edited to look properly dramatic, and aired alongside their fights.

The XMFL gets Monster’s interested by promising them all the fights they can ask for, Kids by promising them all the money, candy, and video games their heart desires, and parents by offering multi-million dollar scholarships to high-class private academies and Ivy-league schools. People who graduate from the XMFL intact have a near guarantee of a good life at minimum, and a ticket to easy street at best.

If you get out intact.

See, the XMFL is big business, and like all big businesses, especially show-businesses; it grinds money out of people. The XMFL can break a kid, subjecting them to more pressure than any Middle Schooler can take. Y’know all those stories about child-stars turning into drug addicts and tabloid fodder? Imagine that times 10. But surviving the relentless corporate grinding of your overlords isn’t the only concern. With any business this big, organized crime gets involved. XMFL betting is a big black market moneymaker, and crooks hate nothing more than losing money. So XMFL fighters can be expected to get more than a few offers they can’t refuse, if you know what they’re saying.

The XMFL is meant for Middle Schoolers, old enough to deal with some proper-heaviness, but not old enough to be armored by the cynicism of High School. The XMFL can be played a lot of different ways. If you want something light and fun, it’s perfectly playable as an expy of Pokémon. If you want something heavier, the Speed Racer movie is a good idea for inspiration, with some XMFL fighters trying to clean up their sport and chase the threatening, but still somewhat comedic, gangsters and corrupt owners out. Or, you could go full-on crime drama, with the kids having to deal with some very serious threats from the Mafia, and having to decide whether their integrity is worth a bullet to the head. Or, if you wanted to go full-darkness, look to Hunger Games or Battle Royale for how a monster-tournament could be a very very horrifying concept.

Ugly Secrets

Okay, Y’know how some people compare this to Little Fears? This is why. I’m not going to be flippant about this one. This setting is meant to be pure-strain horror. It’s about how little kids, Elementary Schoolers, deal with life when they have an invincible horror at their beck and call. It’s meant to be dark, creepy, and very very hosed up. This setting is all about abuse, alienation, vengeance, and the corruption of power. Your Monster is that in fact, not a big goofy beasty. He’s got a body-count, and it just keeps growing, and you don’t know how to stop him. Or why to stop him.

That wraps up the Campaign Jumpstarts. The next section I’m not covering, but it’s a short chapter about how to convert MaOTC to the ORE super-hero game Wild Talents, in case you want to use those rules or introduce it to an existing Wild Talents group. I’m not covering it, because I don’t own or know anything about Wild Talents. If someone else with the book wants to make a quick post about whether the suggestions are good or crap, then please do!

Now, next is the books sample adventure What Did You Get For Christmas? and I was wondering how you’d like me to cover it. It comes with several preset-characters, so the options are

    A. Basically Transcribe from the book, giving us all the details from a GM’s perspective. This will be pretty quick to do, and the easiest.

    B. Run through it like the players would, so that we can get a better idea of what it’d be like to play through it. This is going to take longer to write up, and may in fact be multiple updates.

Next Time: What Did You Get For Christmas? A Monsters and Other Childish Things Adventure

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Hedge Magic, Revised Edition

"Jean" of Paris

Jean, born Jeanne, is a woman with a cause. As a youth, she was fascinated by the scholars of Paris, and she resolved to become one of them. When her Gift manifested itself, she was aided by an older professor, who taught her basic literacy and Latin, the rudiments of elemental medicine and also how to hide her gender. He introduced her to the true world of academics, starting her on the path she now walks. She followed in his footsteps, becoming a Magister in Artibus, one of the most educated and skilled scholars in the world. While at university, she discovered the works of Galen, devouring them.

Now, Jean is determined to surpass the ancient Greek. She is not a genius, nor an amazing researcher...but she does know more than a little about lying, plotting and sneaking around. Her plan is quite simple: focus on her magical studies and use them to treat patients and appear to have amazing medical skills. In the meantime, use her position as a teacher of medicine at a prestigious university to get access to and "borrow" the research of others, collating and compiling it while adding her own touches. She will, she has sworn, surpass Galen. Of course, it helps that her Gift is particularly gentle, meaning that the other scholars do not innately distrust her.

Jean, via her mentor, belongs to the Brothers of Medicine, an organization within the European academies that is similar to the Muslim Tulab Ibn Sina. To be a Gifted Elementalist, you need to belong to a society, you see - you need a teacher. Due to her Gift, she has innate access to all of the arts practiced by her society, getting those free - very, very nice. Still, it was quite expensive to master the magical arts of the Elementalists, leaving her with few XP for anything else. She's a pretty great liar, at least, and absolutely amazing at Artes Libarales and Latin. This combined with her knowledge of medicine and chirurgy along with her teaching abilities mean that Jean is a valuable aid to any Hermetic - she's far more educated in the ways of academics than most Hermetics, and can teach them, as well as providing ample healing ability thanks to her magic.

Now then. Folk Witches. Folk witches are a widespread tradition, and many small towns have a folk witch. They use potions and spells, can fly, can turn into animals. Almost all of them lack the Gift, so the common folk are unafraid to approach them for help with supernatural problems or disease. Most but not all folk witches are women, and the Gifted ones are treated with fear and suspicion. The Church frowns on folk witches, whom it largely views (inaccurately) as remnants of pagan cults, but by and large folk witches are just ignored. A few priests may believe their power is Infernal and some have prosecuted for heresy, but folk witches are not Infernal at all. Note that widespread Church witch hunts would not begin until centuries after Ars Magica takes place.

Folk Witches are not organized; they are, at most, part of local covens. They tend not to leave the places they were born and many never meet other covens in their lifetimes. Their insular natures mean both that folk witch innovcations tend to be lost when the innovator dies and that covens often have wildly divergent practices and capabilities. The Order of Hermes is aware that folk witches exist, but they tend to arrogantly view the witches as poor peasant mages of no importance or threat. They are less aware that some witches are Gifted, and know very little about the specifics of folk magic.

Folk witches do magic via three main methods. Firstly, potions. Within the witch's kitchen, they may brew potions, which allow them to grant their supernatural powers to others. There usually isn't much benefit to a witch in drinking a potion herself, though. Of course, they can brew longevitiy potions that are as effective as a Hermetic's longevity ritual, so that's handy. Some witches are only able to use their abilities via potions, so must brew them and drink them before they can use the supernatural powers for which they are known.

Second, incantation. The powers of animal ken, healing and second sight may be invoked via incantation, the reciting of a small rhyming poem. The target must be able to hear the poem, and if the witch cannot speak, she can't use incantations to do her magic. If some hostile power erases the witch's memory of the incantation, there is a chance each day of the memory returning on its own.

Finally, fetishes. A folk witch using many abilities must brandish a fetish, a special item that is tied the power. If the item goes missing, the witch can no longer use the magic until it is replaced. Each witch must prepare her own fetishes, and they won't work for anyone else. It takes a full season in the witch's kitchen to produce a new fetish, but you can have multiple fetishes prepared for a single power, so that you can use them if you lose one.

Witches do not practice Arts; rather, they utilize supernatural powers, many of which can be learned by others via other methods. Animal Ken, for example, allows witches to speak to animals as if they were human beings. It grants no ability to command them, of course - but they can influence animals just as they might try to influence humans. It also allows a witch to bind an animal to her as a Familiar, which gains human intellect and aids in kitchen work.

Cursing may be used to curse people whom the witch has an Arcane Connection to, by turning hte Arcane Connection into a fetish or brewing a potion that curses the drinker. Such curses can be widely varied - disease, miscarriage, aging, inducing emotion, inability to speak language, transformation into animals or more. Cursing is very versatile, and the main thing limiting it is, well, that it can't be easily targeted. It takes work to curse someone.

Dowsing allows a witch to seek out objects, people or other things. The fetish required to dowse is, naturally, a dowsing rod. It's quite simple, really.

Flight is the power to fly. It's tiring but it is quite useful. A witch flies at the speed of a horse's gallop and may fly for several hours, though the flight ends the moment she touches ground. It's quite hard for a groundbound foe to fight a flying witch, too. The fetish used to fly is typically a broom, but some witches use buckets, baths or balls of twine instead.

Healing may be used on the witch or another person. It is true healing and can even recover fatigue, breaking the Limit of Energy, but it does cost vis to use. Without vis, the healing power is useless. The dead cannot be healed, and if someone is unconscious from fatigue, their energy cannot be restored.

Second Sight allows the witch to see through illusions and disguises, as well as to see the invisible. It can even see through Hermetic illusions, though not genuine transformations.

Shapeshifter allows the witch to become animals, anything between the size of a robin and a bear. The limit is the fetish - a fetish for shapeshifting is the skin of the animal being turned into. Some folk witches use another part of the animal, such as the foot. Either way, you can only become an animal if you have a ritually-prepared body part from it.

There are several reasons why a Hermetic magus might want to study the folk witches. Firstly, they may learn the art of Subtle Opening - that is, opening the Gift to Hermetic magic without making it harder to learn supernatural powers. It's a minor trick, but a useful one. Those who learn the trick are more powerful, but...well, it can't really help any magus that has already learned magic. It's only good for new apprentices. Still, some may fear a new generation of more potent magi...or interested in causing it. More importantly for many, a magus could learn to break the Limit of Energy, unlocking the ability for Creo Corpus to restore fatigue and Perdo Corpus to destroy it. It makes Spontaneous Magic much more flexible, as loss of fatigue is no longer a dangerous prospect. Magi will be more willing to fight in hostile auras, strengthening the Order against the Divine and Infernal. By studying Second Sight, a Hermetic might improve their Intellego magic, causing Intellego spells to no longer need to pierce magic resistance. This would greatly strengthen the ORder against magical and faerie foes. Finally, by studing folk witch potions, a magus might learn to incorporate ritual magic into a magic item. This would change little save for allowing a powerful magus to send an item rather than go personally to do a ritual.

Incidentally, a coven meets, it is called a sabbat. Sabbats are usually organized based on the solstices and equinoxes. Sabbats are used for grand rituals to brew more potent potions or initiate witches. Covens are created similarly to covenants, but generally less organized and powerful since the members meet rarely and live apart.

Next time: Gruagachan.

Also, tell me about our Folk Witch. Is she Gifted or unGifted? A Folk Witch is always either a Gifted Companion, an unGifted Companion or an unGifted Grog.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


An ungifted Grog who can only use her powers by brewing special potions, which she does when she's not busy brewing beer for the covenant.

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Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Wapole Languray posted:

Now, next is the books sample adventure What Did You Get For Christmas? and I was wondering how you’d like me to cover it. It comes with several preset-characters, so the options are

    A. Basically Transcribe from the book, giving us all the details from a GM’s perspective. This will be pretty quick to do, and the easiest.

    B. Run through it like the players would, so that we can get a better idea of what it’d be like to play through it. This is going to take longer to write up, and may in fact be multiple updates.

A A A A A. You've already given us a good write-up, don't burn yourself out when you're so close to the end.

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