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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Sundered Eagle: The Theban Tribunal

Macedonia has the weirdest undead.

Heading on to the Aegean islands...well, there's Delos. Delos was the birthplace of Artemis and Apollon, and the island floats. It was fixed to the sea bed by their mother Leto with four columns, but somewhere between 800 and 1200 years ago, it started floating again. It has no natural resources, but it is where the Theban Tribunal meets. The isle is now guarded by three nymphs of Hyperborea, who came there to guard shrines to Artemis and Apollon. The nymphs are the personifications of archery - Opis, who rules aim, Loxo, who rules trajectory and Arge, who rules distance. Two other nymphs, Hyperoche and Laodice, came to Delos from Hyperborea, but left. The three nymphs are quite eager to hear news of them. The nymphs will shoot anyone who disturbs their relics, though in accordance with Zeus' law, the trespassers will not die until they leave Delos. You see, Zeus ruled that the island would be home to neither birth nor death. It has been generations since that was tested, and no one really wants to try, to avoid pissing off Zeus. There are no predators on the island, and the magi have banned all predators from ever coming to it. The island flows through the Mediterranean over the year, following the currents, and returns home once every 19 years. The place is magically enchanted by its aura, causing restlessness in all that come there, so that no one ever thinks to settle on Delos.

The bay of the island Thera was created by a cataclysmic battle in the age of titans more than a thousand years before Christ. It was the site of the final battle between the Olympians and the Titans, and Zeus hurled the greatest titan, Typhon, into Tartaros where the bay now is. Typhon is imprisoned in the volcano that lies at the center of the bay, where he occasionally lets loose ash and fire to ravage the Aegean. Outside the bay is the most common haunt of the Thelassomachos, the Warrior of the Sea, a fairy who steals the nets of fishermen and summons winds to annoy them. He will not enter the bay, however, and his sudden fleeing from Thera may herald the arrival of one of Typhon's storms.

The island of Candia was once protected by the bronze man Talos, who was defeated by Medea and Jason. A local alchemist eventually restored Talos, and his ichor contains Ignem vis. For much of the Byzantine period, he was bound in one of the cellars within the Labyrinth of Knossos, but the ancient spell failed recently, releasing the bronze man. He is a giant, immensely powerful being who now circles Candia three times a day, hurling huge rocks at enemy ships or attacking enemies who land on the isle. This has been a huge problem for Venetian shipping, and the rulers of Candia have put out a decree saying they will handsomely reward anyone who can defeat the "demon" Talos. The true nature of the bronze man would also be of great interest to House Verditius.

On to Constantinople! Constantinople is a patchwork of auras from all four realms - Faerie from the ancient gods, Divine from the work of Constantine and others, Infernal from the atrocities the city has been home to and Magic from the work of the local magicians. The Hippodrome, site of Justinian's massacre of 30,000 rioters, suffers ghosts on the anniversary of their slaughter, January 14. Hundreds of Infernal ghosts rise that night, wailing in the Hippodrome. Before now they could not escape it, but since the Divine auras are now weakened at night, the ghosts may freely roam Constantinople on January 14 after sunset.

The Hagia Sophia, or Church of Divine Wisdom, is mostly a Divine place, though the nave is an Infernal aura, thanks to the slaughter of a thousand innocents by the Crusaders there. Most of the relics of the church were stolen, so they cannot weaken the Infernal aura. A few remain, however, due to being impossible to move. For example, the Column of Saint Gregory the Thaumaturge is literally part of the church, and it blesses the wound, healing them faster than nature allows.

Off to Anatolia! In the time of Saint Andrew, the city of Nicaea was haunted by seven demons. Andrew banished them into the form of dogs, which killed a young man. The young man was resurrected by God after Andrew prayed for him, and became one of his followers. The seven demon-dogs still prowl around the city's walls, though they may never enter Nicaea. They like to attack travelers at dusk, and kill maybe one person a month or so. They only attack lone travelers.

Next time: The supernatural forces of Greece.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 17:02 on May 21, 2013


Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

DC Heroes (Mayfair) created the logarithmic stat/power system that Underground used. When they lost the DC license they changed it to 'Blood of Heroes' right?

Not quite. The engine got sold off to Pulsar Games, which put out Blood of Heroes with it. The DC license, of course, went to West End.

May 4, 2013

Enough sideburns to last a lifetime.
I feel bad that I haven't posted anything for Mutant in a while, but the next update is coming soon. Rather than translating/utilizing the play examples in the text, I decided to run a short play demo with my usual player group and take notes of the results. As it's been a while since I ran Mutant, I totally forgot that it leads to weird situations.

So, Mutant will continue soon, with such exciting elements as Bat-mutant breaking the play scenario, an example of why trying to activate something you find randomly is a bad idea, a series of awesome tables, and the fact that Mutant can get recursive. Everyone here is just doing such a good job that my half-assed translation of a venerable Swedish RPG feels pretty lazy in comparison.

Here's a picture of a robot eating grapes, taken from Mutant: UA, the next system/book I'll be covering.

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.
For everyone following the Monsters and Other Childish things reviews, and thinking of picking it up for yourself, well: Now is the time.

First 100 people can buy the entire gameline for 50 bucks.

Nov 5, 2010

Warning, Internet
may prove lethal.

unseenlibrarian posted:

For everyone following the Monsters and Other Childish things reviews, and thinking of picking it up for yourself, well: Now is the time.

First 100 people can buy the entire gameline for 50 bucks.

unseenlibrarian posted:

First 100 people can buy the entire gameline for 50 bucks.

unseenlibrarian posted:

the entire gameline


there are more books for Monsters & Other Childish Things...?
:aaaaa: :aaaaa: :aaaaa:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG

Part 6: Magic (Miracles cut for length)
FUN FACT: At the end of this I will actually show you how to cast a spell in Torg.

Okay. This is going to suck.

Magic. Oh lord, magic.

Throughout the whole game line, there are seven main categories of player powers: magic, miracles, martial arts, pulp powers, cybernetics, psionics, and biotech. Martial arts are pretty much unique to Nippon Tech, and only Nile Empire characters can get access to pulp powers. Cybernetics can come from either the Cyberpapacy or Tharkold. Biotech and psionics will come from a cosm that was introduced later in the line, which I'm keeping secret for now.

Magic and miracles, however, are pretty much universal to every realm.

They're so universal, in fact, they each have their own axioms. And like anything tied to an axiom, there can be hard limits on what's available in a given realm. For the most part, magic and miracles are possible in every realm with a few exceptions. Nippon Tech has very low Magic and Spiritual axioms, and the Living Land has a Magic axiom of 0, meaning that no magic is possible there at all. And yes, magic and miracles are possible on Core Earth all of a sudden.

(Just for the record, magic and miracles are two separate things. They have separate mechanics, so are refered to as magic and miracles in the text.)

Let's start with magic.

Oh good christ Torg magic.

Casting spells in Torg is a loving mess.

To start with, spells come in four different categories:
  • Alteration magic is about changing existing things.
  • Apporation magic is for moving things around.
  • Conjuration magic creates things.
  • Divination magic covers perception and interpritation.

Every magic spell in the game falls into at least one of these four categories, and some spells can fall under more than one type. So you could have a spell that conjures something (conjuration), then flings it at a target (apporation). The game describes these as the "verbs" of spells, and that's as good a description as any.

Each of these magic styles is a skill in the game. There's an alteration magic skill, an apportation magic skill, and so on. If you start the game as a caster, one of these is probably your tag skill, and you can buy a few more with the skill adds you get during character creation. I should also point out that the magic skills can't be used without

The game then explains that a caster doesn't make his spells up (that will come later in the Aysle book), but that spells were created by other people and stored in grimoires. Yup, you need a spellbook.


To cast a spell from a grimoire requires only the skill necessary for the most important component of the effect. Secondary effects may be subsumed under the spell at the time of its design, but are not necessary to cast the spell. For example, altering a small sphere into a fireball is the most important element of a fireball spell; moving the fireball is secondary. The magician who designed the spell would have to take into account the problems of moving it (apportation) and accuracy (divination) as well as the initial alteration, but once designed and placed in a grimoire these effects are "built in"; the only skill the caster need furnish is alteration.

Now, that's a little more complex than it needs to be, but still manageable, right? I mean, even if a spell falls under more than one skill it looks like you only need the one to cast it, right?


There's a second factor to spells beyond the skill needed to cast it: arcane knowledges.

Remember how the skills were refered to as the "verbs" of the spell? Arcane knowledges are the nouns and modifiers. They determine what the spell can affect. When you make your character, you get 12 extra skill points that can only be used to by knowledges and spells. That's right, arcane knowledges are technically skills, can't be used untrained, and cost just as much as normal skills to improve. However, unlike all the other skills in the game, arcane knowledges aren't based off a stat. You just use the flat skill ranks.

So what are the arcane knowledges? Glad you asked!


The Essences
True Knowledge

The Principles

The Mixed Forces
Inanimate Forces
Living Forces

The Elements

The Seven Kindred

Theory Knowledges
Cast Time
I'm not going to go into what all those mean, since they're mostly self-explanitory, but here's some highlights:
  • Magic skills and knowledges work the same way regardles of what reality you're in. The "metaphysics" of magic are constant throughout the multiverse. Funny, that.
  • Folk are intelligent beings whose defining relationship is with others of their kind, rather than with any of the elements or with magic.
  • Living forces include Dexterity, Perception and the other attributes.
  • The theory knowledges do nothing in the core game. They don't see any use until we get to spell creation, which is in the Aysle book.

All told, there are 24 arcane knowledges, and 4 magic skills. That's 28 skills you have to keep track of if you're a spellcaster.

Why? Because every spell has a skill and arcane knowledge, and if you don't have both at the right total level you can't cast the spell. So if a metal-moving spell is "apporation/metal 17", your apporation magic and metal skills need to total up to at least 17, or you can't cast the spell.

Oh, but we have a few things we still need to talk about before we actually hit learning how to cast spells.

Like the Principle of Definition, which states that a subject cannot be under the influence of more than one "active" spell with the same knowledge at a time, with "active" defined as any spell that's still got some duration left. When someone is under the influence of an ongoing spell, then is the target of a second spell, then the spells have to duke it out. Each spell has a strength equal to its casters' magic skill, and the spells roll off against each other. Whichever spell gets the highest total sticks around. So if you're under the influence of a Strength spell (folk knowledge), you couldn't also be under the effect of an Understand Language spell because that's also based off the folk knowledge.

You can get around this with the idea of Synonymous Knowledges, which involves having multiple definitions of a single knowledge. If a fire mage had three definitions of "fire", he could keep three active fire spells running on himself at once. This is useful, and would have been more useful if they'd explain how you actually went about doing this.

A character starts with zero spells. You have to use those bonus 12 points to buy new spells one-for-one, and later on you have to spend a Possibility to learn a new spell and put it in your grimoire.

Finally! Spellcasting! To cast a spell, you generate a total using the appropriate magic skill, and try to beat the difficulty of the spell. If you make it, the spell goes off.

Before you start going "wait, that's it? We had to go through all that for 'beat the spell's difficulty'?", hold on. This is Torg. Nothing is that simple.

Just because you successfully cast the spell doesn't automatically mean it goes off. Between the skill roll and the effect of the spell is the speedbump of backlash. Backlash is the "resistance" of the spell, and you have to check it regardless of whether or not you made the skill roll. Once you determine the success or failure of the you then take your skill total (or your Mind stat if you're casting a spell in your grimoire, whichever's higher) and compare it to the spell's backlash value. If your total is less than the backlash, then you take the difference and apply it to the Damage Table to see how much you get hurt; unlike normal damage, the damage isn't reduced by Touchness. If you get knocked out or killed, then the spell doesn't go off even if you made the initial spellcasting roll.

Yes, it's possible to successfully cast a spell but not have it go off.

Damage taken from backlash is actually mental damage, which is exactly the same as normal damage with two fun kickers:
1. When you're KO'd by mental damage, you lose the arcange knowledge used to cast the spell for 24 hours.
2. If suffer wounds from mental damage and go above "heavily wounded", you lose the arcane knowledge and the magic skill for 24 hours. On top of that, you can't be healed below "wounded" status until you get the skills back.

So if you manage to cast the spell and not blow your head off, the spell happens. The bonus generated in the initial casting roll is applied to part of the spell's effect. This varies from spell to spell.

Those of you whose eyes haven't glazed over yet will have noticed the "casting from the grimoire" bit up there. It's possible to actually cast spells on the fly, making up a whole new spell on the spot. The way you do this is by buying the Aysle sourcebook, because that's where the rules are.

Also mentioned but actually put off to that book are the focus item rules (casting a spell into an object) so I guess we'll worry about those later.

Some spells have to be cast impressed, which is sort of Vancian pre-casting. Spells that have to be cast impressed are "cast" in advance, generating a total and figuring backlash as normal. However, the spell's effect doesn't happen until the caster releases it. When you release the spell, you generate a new bonus number to determine the spell's effect, but you don't have to check again for backlash. Not that it really matters, because only two spells in the core book have to be cast impressed: "conjured fireball" and "cleanse".

You can impress a number of spells equal to the sum of your conjuration magic adds and your state knowledge. On the plus side, impressed spells never fade unless you "clear" one out to make room for a different spell.

From there, we get almost a whole page about illusion magic.


Illusions are magical "cheats," ways of conjuring reality without expending the energy necessary to create the full reality. Illusions can run the gamut from fully illusory (merely a sensory impression of the object "conjured") to almost real (there is some reality conjured, but not the whole amount). Illusions "borrow" possibility energy from those around them who believe in the illusion, and thus become more real over time (the amount of possibility energy taken from a believer is minute — no energy is lost by those who believe). This effect is temporary, though — as soon as the belief ceases (either because the believers leave the area or because someone becomes convinced that the object is an illusion), the illusion vanishes as well.
Disbelieving an illusion (remember that? Ah, memories...) requires a difficulty 8 Mind roll, although different spells might tweak that number a bit. Also, the more people who believe in the spell, the harder it is to disbelieve. So if someone conjures an illusory bridge, and a squad of troops think it's real, then it's harder for someone to disbelieve it. This includes the caster; if the caster follows the troops across the bridge, he has to make a disbelief check for himself because he knows the bridge isn't real.

Which is the trade-off; illusions are easier to cast, but have the slight disadvantage of winking out of existence if someone goes "wait, hold on..." But since there's only one illusion spell in the core book, again we can pretty much ignore this for now.

There's one last thing before we finally get to the actual spells, and that's The Primary Rule of Magic. It's a long-rear end thing about how magic isn't technology and therefore doesn't follow the same rules and blah blah blah. I can post it later if people want, but this is getting long as hell as-is, so let's hit the spells!

There are 36 spells in the core book, and they're pretty much the standard issue list of mage tricks; fireballs, feather fall (called "floater"), mage light, open locks, stat boosts, and so on. The Worldbook that came with the boxed set and acted as the "lite" sourcebook for all the cosms had another 10, so your options were pretty limited until you bought the Aysle or Orrosh sourcebooks, or bought "Pixaud's Practial Grimoire".

Anyway, all the spells have the same statblock format, so let's take a look at the basic attack spell in the game:



Axiom Level: 7
Skill: apportation/metal 13

Backlash: 16
Difficulty: 10
Effect Value: 15
Bonus Number to: effect

Range: 5 (10 meters)
Duration: 5 (10 seconds)
Cast Time: 3 (four seconds)
Manipulation: control

The spell is set for metal the mass of a small sling bullet, or a coin about the size of a quarter. The magician pantomimes the whirling of a sling with the hand holding the metal, then releases it aiming at his opponent. The apportation total must exceed the Dexterity or dodge of the target character in order to hit him.

First, yes every spell has an axiom level. Casting spells above your axiom can cause contradictions.

The backlash and difficulty we've already covered. The effect value is the mechanical part of the spell. For an attack spell, that's damage. "Bullet" is about as powerful as a 9mm. "Bonus to" tells you where to put the bonus generated by the initial casting roll; in this case it's added to the effect value.

Range and duration are self-explanatory, and include the values from the Value Table in case you need to convert them for some reason. Combat pells have to have a cast time of 3 to be used in combat, and a cast time of 4 to be used on a friendly target. Anything with a cast time higher than 23 can't be cast in one go. Lastly, there's Manipulation, which is used for the spell manipulation rules which are, again, in the Aysle sourcebook.

So let's put this all together.

I'm playing a mage from Aysle with an apporation magic of 15 and a metal knowledge of 2, which is possible for a freshly-made character. I want to cast Bullet on a possibility-rated guy with a dodge skill of 12 and a Toughness of 9.

First I have to make sure I'm within my axioms. For the sake of this example let's say I'm in Nippon Tech, which has a magic axiom of 2. My magic axiom is 18. That's a one-case contradiction, so I better not roll a 1 or I'll disconnect.

The difficulty of Bullet is 10. I roll a d20 and get a 9. I look that up on the bonus chart for a result of -1. Adding that to my apportatiom magic gives me a total of 14. That beats the difficulty, but is 2 less than the backlash value. Looking that up on the Combat Results Table gives me a result of "O1", so I take 1 shock and an "O" result. That's fine, I'm still up so the spell goes off.

I add the bonus generate by my roll to the spell's Effect of 15 for a total of 14. That beats the target's dodge 12 (barely), so I take the final effect total (14) subtract the target's Toughness (9) for a final result of 5. Looking that up on the Combat Results Table gives me "O2", so that's 2 shock and an O.

Just for the record, if I had rolled a 1, then I not only would have disconnected, I would have taken a backlash result of 15, which is "3Wnd KO 5"; or 3 wounds, a KO, and 5 shock. Assuming I would have survived that (and about the only way I could would be to be uninjured to begin with or spend some Possibilities), I'd lose access to apporation magic and metal for 24 hours, couldn't be healed below wounded in that timeframe, and would still need to get a 17 with my reality skill to reconnect while I was in Nippon Tech.

Bear in mind, this isn't the complete magic system. The rest of it is in the Aysle sourcebook, and we haven't even touched on miracles yet.

Just wait until we get to spell creation. Ooooh, you just loving wait.

NEXT TIME: Miracles! They're almost as bad as magic!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

DC Heroes (Mayfair) created the logarithmic stat/power system that Underground used. When they lost the DC license they changed it to 'Blood of Heroes' right?

I've considered doing the character / world section from Blood of Heroes, but I already have too many F&Fs on my docket.

It is really




Jul 19, 2012

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

Evil Mastermind posted:

Part 6: Magic (Miracles cut for length)

:psyboom: This is a really awesome setting but the rules make it seem not all that fun to play.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Sundered Eagle: The Theban Tribunal

The most potent magical beings in the entirety of Greece are, without doubt, the Titans. They are not gods, nor are they fairies, but potent beings of magic who govern over the nature of the magic realm. The six male Titans govern time in the Magic Realm - Hyperion orders day and night, Krios keeps the constellations in order, Koios rules the axis of the heavens, Iapetos oversees mortality, Kronos rules that all-devouring time which decays all things and Okeanos orders the tides. Their wives, the female Titans, rule the natural forces. Theia is the brilliant sky, Mnemosyne (called Eurybia by some) is the weather's mistress, Phoibe is the prophetic earth, Themis (called Klymene) is the cavern of the underworld, Rhea is nature's fecundity and Tethys is the power of the waters. They are primal creatures, without need or desire for worship. Many of the Theban Tribunal are fascinated by these creatures, and those who study them can be roughly divided into three factions.

The Seekers of the Fallen see the Titans as governors of the universe, created by God before all others. They believe that should the Titans rule once more, a new age of magic will dawn, a reborn Garden of Eden. The most respected of these is Evantia of Moero's Garden, and they are known to seek out magical regiones and portals for study. The Legion of Atlas see the Titans foremost as enemies of the gods. However, they approve - they seek to undermine the faerie gods of Olympos, for they seek not to preserve the Magic Realm but to make it anew. This is dangerous, for the gods are potent and molesting them is against the Code. They have made an ally of the charismatic evangelist Kristophoros of Bonisagus, who seeks to purge the Tribunal of pagan practices. Kristophoros despises the Olympians, but does not mind the Titans, for they do not ask for worship. Last are Kampe's Lovers, who view the Titans as a government-in-exile, a group that can be used without being supported. They have no quarrel with the gods, nor any desire to free the Titans. Rather, they seek to find a greater bond with the primal beings, calling on their power without weakening their prisons.

Other than the titans, the most famous magical beings are the sibyls. Legend has it that ten sibyls were entrusted with the secrets of the cosmos. All predate Christianity, yet all predicted the birth of Christ and his life. Several theologians, including Saint Augustine and Peter Abelard, have declared them true prophets despite their pagan ties. A collection of their many sayings, the oracula sibillina, is widely circulated. What is known is that all sibyls are Magical humans, immortal and with true sight. Some are said to have been born mortal, and it may be that 'sibyl' is a role, not a nature. Each sibyl lies within a potent Magic aura or regio and cannot leave without risking loss of prophecy. Five of the known sibyls live within the Theban Tribunal, though each has a quirk in the manner of their prophecy.

Demophile lives in the town of Erythrae, and is closest to Christian teaching in her prophecies, so is more celebrated. She typically prophesizes in the form of riddles, often acrostics, which she is said to have invented. Herophile lives in the sacred cave of Delphi at Mount Parnassus. She is not and never was the same as the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo that is called the Delphic Oracle. Herophile gives prophecy only for those of royal blood, though she cares not for how dilute it is. Phyto of Samos is one of the more approachable sibyls. She demands any questions put to her be in the form of a riddling rhyme, though her answers are refreshingly plain. Amalthea dwells in Dardania on Mount Ida, though she hails from Troy. She will prophesize for any native-born Trojan, but will not speak of Troy at all or the city that stands now where it once did, and has not since she foresaw the Trojan War. Lamia of Phrygia has an unsavory reputation, though is probably not the monster which shares her name. You see, she needs to be physically defeated and forced to speak prophecy, unlike other sibyls, and is monstrously strong.

The other Sibyls dwell in ancient Babylon (Sambenthe), the Libyan Desert (Phemenoe), the Holy Land (Sabbe) or Italy (Carmentis and Albunea). The sibyls may not leave their shrines, but sometimes bear children to their visitors. Such children, called Sibyllides, are kin to magic, and always possess powers related to prophecy and supernatural sight. At least one has become a magus, specializing in Intellego magic. The Sibyllides are obligated to visit their mothers once per decade, reporting on all they see in the world so that the sibyls may judge if it is right to release more prophecy.

There are a number of non-Hermetic magical traditions in the area - the elementalists known as the Apostles of Apollonius are there, as are a number of folk witches, many of whom have been infiltrated by Infernal witches. There are Goetic sorcerers, and while there are no native mathematici, some may have come with the Venetians, while Constinople was notable for its alchemists and the rural areas had their cunning-folk. There are also a fair number of Nightwalkers and peasant magicians, who possess Folk Magic, the natural power to produce spells related to one of the four fields that naturally appear among the people: abjuration (the warding against supernatural beings or beasts), divination (magical senses for health, wealth and mental state), healing or the evil eye.

Now, the faeries. The most famous of all faeries in Greece are the Olympian gods. Twelve of them, Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, Artemis, Apollon, Athene, Aphrodite, Hermes, Ares, Hephaistos and Dionysos, are the most famous, but the pantheon is large, containing others, such as Hades, Pan, Asklepios and Hestia, or the Heroes who descend from the gods. Many of these heroes produced bloodlines which bear some measure of their power - for example, the descendants of Akhilles are generally immune to harm from any metal, but suffer from terrible fury and rage.

The magus Lucian of Merenita has discovered a supernatural power he names the Elysian Ecstasy, which allows for the use of revelry and ecstatic channeling to call on the nature of a Greek god, gaining a touch of their personality and power. He has also found a greater form of this, the Olympian Pact, which grants greater influence over the personality to the god...but also gives access to the god's faerie powers rather than just their nature. Lucian is the only one who can teach these powers at the moment, and they do not follow the standard methods of the Merenita mysteries - anyone can learn them.

Next time: The Divine and Infernal in Greece

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky

pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 8: Set lasers to Fun

Space games need spaceships or else there's really no point. Ashen Stars has plenty of those and some rules to use them, and puts them all in one chapter. This one is going to be broken into chunks too, starting with ship combat. Ship combat is yet another different system built onto the same point buy, 1d6 structure. I think it does a good job of emulating familiar space battles. If you wanted to make a Star Trek game there are far worse games to steal from. Let's get to the pew pew:

Chapter 7: Starships (part 1)

The object of a battle is to accumulate a certain number of Skirmish Points. The first step is to set a goal for the outcome of the battle. Each goal has a number of skirmish points necessary according to their difficulty. Simply running away is a lot easier than blowing the other guy to smithereens. The combatabts are free to choose different goals, which will probably always be the case, and the first ship to reach the needed number of skirmish points gets their chosen outcome. I cover the details of those below.

Next step is initiative, which works a lot like in fights. If a ship has surprise, they go first. Otherwise, you compare the ships' Maneuver ratings. It's a simple system.

The first ship to go picks their attack from one of four modes. All attacks are showdowns. The two parties make a roll and the higher one wins, rather than both aiming for a target number:
Maneuver: An attempt to outflank your opponent. The two pilots have a Helm Control showdown.
Override: An attempt to hack into your oppontent's arrays and databanks. The two hailers have a Communications Intercept showdown.
Fire: Shoot your lasers pew pew. The two gunners have a Battle Console showdown.
Trickbag: You pull something weird and awesome. The two stratcos have a Naval Tactics showdown.

Keep in mind you're trying to avoid this result.

Ships have different specs that give some clear advantages over others. In order to prevent anyone from just hammering an 'I win' button, you have to cycle through them. You can do them in any order, but you have to attempt all four once before attempting any of them a second time. Otherwise, your enemy will anticipate you leaning on one strategy and compensate. This is modeled with a +3 to their showdown and an extra skirmish point if they win it. Going for it in the face of the possible consequences is called 'egging it'.

After you see who wins the attack, it's time to dole out skirmish points. Winning the showdown gets you 1, then there's a number of modifiers to apply:
+1 if the winner was also the attacker
+1 if the winner exceeded the loser’s showdown result by 2 or more or +2 if the winner exceeded the loser’s showdown by 4 or more
+1 if the loser egged it
+1 if the winner attacked with surprise (only possible during the attack’s first fight)
+1 if at least one combatant is already within 3 skirmish points of reaching its goal (unless that goal is on the escape path).
apply modifier from the winner and loser’s relevant ship specs

Ships' specs include values for Dishing It, and Taking It which are the most important modifiers to determining skirmish points. The winner's Dishing It value and the loser's Taking It value are both added. A positive Dishing It value means a ship is really goot at attacking that way, while a positive Taking It value means it's susceptible to that attack mode. High is always good for the winner, even if it isn't good for you.

If the total skirmish points awarded is 3 or greater, the losing ship has been Rocked. That's the part when the camera shakes and everyone leans over the railing. Every character makes an Athletics test, failure means they take 1d6 damage. The winner can also make one of the loser's 8 specs worse for them by 1. That means reducing a Dishing It value, or increasing a Taking It value.

drat it, the Stratco's just playing flash games again.

Next step is Mop-Up. The Medic is free to patch up anyone who needs it, and the Wrench has a chance to repair ship specs degraded when the ship has been Rocked. This all continues with the ships taking turns attacking until one ship's skirmish points total meets or exceeds the requirement for their goal. Then, they get it. Anything about taking a ship out of the game only counts if it doesn't violate the needs of the current storyline. The exception to the exception is destroyed ships. Ships don't un-explode:
Escape (6 points): You get away and if they care to chase you they won't be able to track you down for at least one interval/They escape and you'll need one interval and 2 Energy Signatures points to find them again.
Datascrape (8 points and at least 1 skirmish point gained from an Override): Same as Escape, but you get at least one important clue hacked from their database/Same as Escape but they get something off you. If it's leaked to the media you can counter it with a Public Relations test to protect your Reputation score.
Rake (9 points): You escape for the rest of the scenario and the enemy ship has 2 of its specs degraded/They escape and the GM chooses 2 of your specs to degrade.
Disable Weapons (9 points): The enemy is unable to use their weapons and iwll remain so for some time/Your weapons are offline for at least one interval and you must make a steep Systems Repair test to get them back.
Disable Engines (10 points): The enemy is unable to fight and drifting in space/You are unable to fight and drifting in space until you make a steep systems Repair test. These tests are normally once per interval, but if drifting prevents you from gaining more core clues and thus entering a new interval, it is every 12 in-game hours instead.
Slash (12 points): You escape, the enemy crew takes 1d6 damage each, and you select 4 specs to degrade. The ship is out of the scenario/They escape you, and the GM chooses 4 specs to degrade.
Cripple (12 points): Disable Engines + Disable Weapons
Cripple for Towing (15 points): Same as cripple, but the loser is able to be towed. Suggested destinations include the proper authorities, a penal colony, or a lonely bit of space light years away from any possible mischief.
Cripple for Boarding (18 points): Same as cripple, but the loser's shuttle bays are unable to prevent entry.
Destroy (21 points): The enemy breaks up, if the skirmish point total is over 24 it immediately explodes instead/Your ship breaks up. It's assumed that when ships go down they do so just slowly enough to allow a heroic escape to the shuttle bay where one of the characters flies everyone through the firebal just in the nick of time.

And that's how you dogfight in the Bleed. There are guides for asymmetrical fights, and the possible consequences of continuing to fire on an incapacitated vessel, but it's not that vital to repeat. However, because there's a big chart related to the Public Relations ability I'm going to. The base difficulty for getting out of trouble for destroying a helpless vessel is 8, and the base hit to your Reputation score is 4. This chart is a general guide to extenuating or aggravating circumstances and how they should modify those base numbers:

Public Relations: The discerning player's Ability of choice.

Next Time: Ship Shopping

General Ironicus fucked around with this message at 23:08 on May 21, 2013

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

That's a pretty cool ship-to-ship combat system, though my complaint with those is pretty much always that a ship is treated as one character, so most of the party ends up just twiddling their thumbs for the dogfight while the pilot does all the work.

Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Sundered Eagle: The Theban Tribunal

Just to be clear: the division between the Eastern and Western Churches was finalized in 1054 over a theological dispute involving the phrase 'filoque', meaning 'and from the Son'. The breach has since widened until both the Latin and Orthodox Churches see each other, often, as heretics. Still, attempts at dialogue have continued, at least until 1204 and the burning of Constantinople. The entire issue has to do with how the Trinity is viewed. In the East, it is the Father, from whom proceeded the Son and the Spirit. In the West, it is the Father, from whom proceeded the Son, and the Holy Spirit proceeded from both Father and Son. Even in 1220, theology remains a major point of debate among the Greeks, and the lack of understanding of the Trinity by the Latins is a favorite joke. A baker in Constantinople may well engage you in theological debate simply to show he knows more than you do, and good theologians are often quite popular among Byzantines.

The Orthodox have a deep and abiding mystic tradition, dating back to the Desert Fathers, hermits who practiced ascetic contemplation, and the stylites, who climbed on pillars to fast, preach and meditate. There are no real groups of stylites left today, but there is a tradition of mystics creating a major impact on the Orthodox: the hesychasts. Hesychasm dates back to the Desert Fathers, but is now gaining influence. Essentially, a hesychast repeats the Jesus Prayer over and over while remaining perfectly still, enterting a meditative state via controlled postures and breathing. Ecstasy, premonitions and other supernatural phenomena are side effects; the real quest is to achieve control of emotion by letting the mind be drawn into the heart and the quest for God and salvation. The ultimate aim is to mystically experience the Divine and be illuminated by the holy spirit. Hesychasts can be ascetic or monastic. The ascetics specialize in Meditation, Purity, Transcendence and Understanding, while the monastics practice Meditation, Transcendence, Understanding and mass ceremony. All hesychasts are Orthodox at this time.

The Society of Saints Cyprian and Justina are a holy tradition that recall the pagan wizard Cyprian, who gave up his magic when he realized the sin of using it to try and force a young woman to love his client, the noble Aglaias of Antioch. He repented, burned his books and became a priest. The girl, Justina, became a deaconess, and they had many adventures together before they were martyred. They are the patron saints of magicians who repent, and the Holy Society is a small group in the Order of Hermes that specializes in Holy Magic, Invocation, Wonders and the sensing of holiness and unholiness.

Orthodox craftsmen can produce eikons, mundane but beautiful religious icons which empower prayers to the saint depicted on the eikon. There are also a number of relics in Constantinople, including several fragments of the True Cross and the Holy Lance of Longinus. The most important, though, were the Three Symbols of Divine Authority: the Imperial Battle Standard, the Emperor's Crown and the Hagka. The standard, when wielded in battle by the imperial standard bearer, empowered an army led by the Emperor with the power of his commanding aura. The crown, made personally for the emperor, allowed the other two to be augmented to greater power. Each emperor has had a personal crown, made just for them. The hagka is the symbol of the Empire, the double-headed eagle, which is made of bronze and mounted on a lance. It grants magic resistance to the bearer, and in conjunction with the other two, extended that to the entire army of the Emperor.

Mothers are particularly revered in the Empire for their tie to the Virgin Mary, mother of god and protector of Constantinople. All Byzantine mothers possess the holy power to curse their children. A mother's curse penalizes one are of skill, and can only be laid for good reason. The only way to remove a mother's curse is to complete the task she assigned with the curse or to receive direct divine intervention. Saints can remove the curse, but only will if it fits God's plan and you're a good person. After all, the mother's curse is meant to enforce Christian principles.

Remember the League of Constantine? They want to restore the Byzantine empire to glory, and believe that the fall of Constantinople was caused by Infernal influence. They are correct. The hagka has gone missing, and they want to recover it. Returning the hagka to the city would help, but would not ensure success. Still, the hagka will grant the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of David and the mercy of Saint Paul to a truly devout Emperor. Unfortunately, the League has not accurately determined whom the Infernal manipulated. The demons are immune to their investigative magic, and finding a specific culprit has been impossible. The hagka could be anywhere, and they have no idea where to look.

Also the Hagka is a bird.

The truth is, the Infernal was on both sides. They corrupted the Byzantines, and even before the sack, the Byzantines were falling to decadence and infighting. Demonic agents gained a foothold in the soul of Emperor Andronikos Komnenos, who embraced his Infernal patron. After being exiled for plotting against his cousin, he sold his soul to a demon in the shape of a woman in 1182, conquering Constantinople with Infernal power. He let loose a terrible string of atrocities, and he sowed the seeds of conflict with Venice and Montferrat. Once he did that, his Infernal patrons betrayed him, and he died in agonizing torture.

The Crusaders, likewise, were cursed by Hell. They caused the death of the first leader of the Crusade, Thibaut of Champagne, and his replacement, Boniface of Montferrat, was less influential. Only 12000 agreed to follow him. When the Crusaders took Zara, Infernal influence prolonged the siege by telling the locals that the French would not fight them. (Which was false.) Then, they sacked Zara...and the horrified Pope excommunicated them. This opened them to true corruption, and the more pious crusaders abandoned the Crusade. Suddenly, the rebellious Alexios Angelos had the ear of their leaders, perhaps through intentional diabolic influence or perhaps as the unwitting puppet of Hell. Either way, they followed him and took Constantinople, encouraged to great violence by infighting and Infernal influence. Demons accompanied them into battle, pushing them to greater atrocity. Even the magi of Thermakopolis could not defend the city, and it fell with the aid of Infernal power.

Also the anti-Hagka.

Worse, the Tribunal itself has been infiltrated. One of the founders of the League of the Vigilant, Proximios of Mercere, is a secret diabolist. He uses demons as spies and tormentors, compelling his fellows to sin. He hopes to use the Thebans to destroy the Order of Hermes, though he must work covertly and patiently. He is using his position to hunt for weak links, founding the League of the Vigilant to persecute magi who appear to be diabolists in order to throw suspicion off himself. (Naturally, none of his preferred targets are actually Infernally influenced - he's going to use demons to trick everyone.) He also plans to induct true diabolists into his service to cause more Wizard's Wars and infighting. He hopes to become the next logothete to aid his plans, which are still very much not ready to be enacted.

There are also a few Infernal traditions in the area. The Stringles are a form of witch that seek to undermine the Church and aim to make man the slave of woman. They deal with demons, and outwardly appear normal, though their ankles and wrists do become deformed over time. A stringla is a powerful witch, by and large, and often works with normal folk witches. They specialize in Debauchery, Effusion, Phantasm and mass ceremony. The Paulicians, on the other hand, are a heretical sect in the Empire. They have not been persecuted since 990, when they were granted freedom of religion. They are a Manichaean sect, holding that Satan and God are eternally at war and that they are the only chosen people. They are outwardly ascetic and pious, so they are not seen as a threat. However, secretly, they hold that the material world is Satan's, and despise the Orthodox and the Jews. The inner circle know that their faith is not truly with God but with Satan, and they yearn for the day that they, like their forebears, may raise rebel armies to destroy the Byzantines. They plot in secret and denounce Jews and Christians, trying to strike at them when possible. The Paulicians specialize in Debauchery, Diablerie, Malediction and mass ceremony.

The End!

Choose: Choices are: the True Lineage Houses of Hermes and their secrets (Houses of Hermes: True Lineages), Mystery Cults (The Mysteries, Revised Edition), the Mystery Cult Houses (Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults), more depth on Covenants (Covenants), 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 Faeries (Realms of Power: Faerie), nobility (Lords of Men), the Church (The Church) or Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal).

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 2: Chinese Dragon to Hades Corps
Chinese Dragon (CR 9 Large Dragon)
A Lawful Good dragon that claws and bites at evil people and dazes non-evil people if forced to fight them. Eh.

Composite (CR 5 Medium-size Construct)
Tied directly to a later monster called the Doctor X (we'll get to those in a little), composites are heaps of flesh and limbs sewn together haphazardly and animated. They have a primitive intellect compared to mindless things like golems, but only to the extent that they can comprehend simplistic plans and desire to help their Doctor Xs in things such as guard duty, kidnappings, or just plain-out warfare. As far as anything beyond basic combat goes, though, it's sort of a crapshoot of the dice. The composite's extra limbs may or may not work depending on a dice roll, and sometimes a dice roll will have their redundant organs bring them back to life after being apparently destroyed.

Curse of Frankenstein (CR 8 Large Monstrous Humanoid)
The curses of Frankenstein, or Frankenstein troopers, are the results of Nazis taking Victor von Frankenstein's original scientific papers and expanding on his work. After repeated tests, they have created brute warriors who have no fear but can induce fear in others with their aura, are still vulnerable to fire but no longer fear it, have fast healing and damage reduction, and are equipped with Wolverine-style hand blades and a machine gun.

Dead Man's Helmet (CR - Tiny Undead)
The helmet of a dead man. Specifically, it's the helmet of a soldier who died a very traumatic death and their spirit is bound to it. If anyone puts the helmet on - which is more likely than you'd think, as it has a compulsion aura - they'll get spammed with random incoherent flashes of the dead soldier's life and gain PTSD for 2d6 hours, at which point the spirit departs. It's basically meant to be a hazard more than an active monster.

Deserter (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
The deserter is the undead spirit of a soldier who deserted their unit and died on the run. It can't really do much besides shoot its rifle, which it will at pretty much any uniformed officer it sees as it panics.

Der Einzelgaenger (CR 5 Gargantuan Undead)
Ghost U-Boat! As you might guess from the low Challenge Rating, however, it's not a big brutish war machine like a haunted vehicle. It's incorporeal and has no weaponry. Don't let that fool you, though - Der Einzelgaenger has a dark trick up its sleeve. With decent ranks in Bluff and Intimidate, it can spook and mislead an Allied ship crew into falling right into an ambush by very corporeal and very armed active U-Boat patrols.

Djinn (CR 7 Large Elemental)
Yadda yadda smokeless fire made etc. etc. blah blah. Weird War II interprets the description of genies as meaning they are invisible fire elementals, whose actions can vary widely depending on the personal outlook of the specific djinn in question. They have the power to spread disease or possess an animal and are healed by fire, but suffer photophobia that forces them to hide or possess an animal during the day. If push comes to shove, they can also just simply whack people with their giant invisible scimitars, which certainly works just as well as sneaking around.

Doctor X (CR 5 Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid)
As if regular Nazi mad scientists weren't enough, the creatures known as Doctor Xs were formerly reputable doctors before being brainwashed and forced to endure and dish out physical and psychological torture until either they committed suicide, died, or went insane. Those that su rvive all call themselves Doctor X, all have scars and deformities from self-experimentation, and prey upon either wounded soldiers or the downtrodden such as prostitutes or mental institute patients. They torture and experiment on people and use the bodies of those they kill to create the composites we saw a few entries up. As far as their own combat capabilities go, they have a scalpel (stats the same as your standard 1d4 damage D&D knife) that deals triple damage as long as the Doctor X is engaging one-on-one or has the superior overall numbers compared to his foes.

Electrical Man (CR 2 Medium-size Construct)
Straight-up Nazi robots. They look vaguely like diving suits made out of metal and rubber joints, have flashlights and human brains inside of their domes, and are proficiency with submachine guns. They are considered to be experimental and rarely seen outside of their creation facility in Haigerloch, Germany.

Explosive Zombie (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
It's a zombie filled with explosives. Doesn't get much more straightforward than that.

Fever Spider (CR 1 Small Animal)
Particularly intelligent for an invertebrate and capable of keeping pace with a wolf, these blood red Indonesian jungle-dwellers are one of those things that seem tailor-made to mess with arachnophobes at your game table. To make things even worse, they are stated to be extremely territorial and will follow someone they bite until they die. Their name comes from the fact that their bite spreads a bacterial infection that induces a high fever and Constitution damage.

Finn Haunt (CR 2 Medium-size Undead)
These are our first example of a creature that actively opposes and targets the Allies alone but isn't of Nazi make. The Finn haunts are the ghosts of Frisian warriors who remember when the Anglo-Saxons killed their people, and are pissed as hell that Anglo-Saxon descendants are descending upon Germany once again. Their spell-like abilities are all tied into what they do to British people when they find them: ghost sound[./i] to lure people into buildings, hold portal to close the doors of the building, and [i]produce flame to set the building on fire. When they are in fire, Finn haunts can fully manifest and use a Wisdom-draining attack to further complicate matters for the poor Brit.

Flagellant (CR 4 Medium-size Undead)
There...there are not enough :psyduck:s in the world to describe this entry. Intelligent undead made by blood mages from Nazi soldiers who suffered major stomach wounds, flagellants act like the most twisted moral support ever, using their entrails as bullwhips to attack the enemy and to whip themselves or Nazi soldiers under their command into a barbarian rage. This exists in this book. I swear to you I am not using hyperbole on this monster.

Fog of War (CR 4 Large Aberration)
The fog of war is a rather twisted monster, a gaseous maliciousness that rises in times of war for the sole purpose of instigating friendly fire. To achieve this end, it has a litany of spell-like abilities related to illusions and the ability to attempt to force itself into someone who fully enters its foggy body and thus dominate their actions. As for fighting back? Well, it's fog, so most attacks aren't going to do much and explosives or non-AoE spells in particular only do half their normal damage on top of the prodigious damage reduction being made of mist grants. On the other hand, strong winds and heavy rains can damage if if you can whip them up, and electrical and water-based attacks deal double damage to them.

Gangrene (CR 1 Medium-size Undead)
A plague zombie by any other name.

Gehrinesser Gruppe (CR 7 Medium-size Shapeshifter)
One of the more insidous experimental entities of the Nazis, the gehrinsser gruppe are faceless folk who can take on someone's form, skills, and feats by consuming their brain. Depending on how they conserve their brain matter, this ruse can go on for months, which makes them a very dangerous unseen foe. The only flaw of their mimicry is that they have to consciously make an effort to avoid using the opposite hand of the victim they are impersonating. This means that a proper Bluff check can blow the game away as the gehrinesser gruppe literally shows its hand.

Ghillie (CR 5 Medium-size Aberration)
These freakish parasites have a vaguely humanoid shape made out of brown and green mulch and leaves. It can take over a host by engulfing them and beating them at a Will save, effectively using them as both a defense and as a food source for their blood draining attack. As long as ghillie is attached, the host gets the boon of its abilities and camouflage, but is also liable to take damage that is actually intended for the ghillie. The ghillie also grants the Sniper prestige class's crippling shot ability, as it likes to leave its potential new victims alive.

Ghost of the Red Baron (CR 10 Huge Undead)
The ghostly figure of Manfred von Richthofen and his soul-bound plane are one of the most dangerous tricks up the Nazi air command's sleeve. He can manifest anywhere in Germany (but not outside of it) and is effectively immortal, simply reappearing later if he is shot down. The only way to truly end Richtofen's second reign of terror is to find the bone talismans that the Nazi blood mages used to summon his spirit, take them all to his grave, and then consecrate it in a funeral ritual. It's more or less a whole adventure of its own, which is probably for the best when dealing with such a historical figure.

Grendel (CR 11 Huge Giant)
For some unknown reason, this infamous giant of legend has managed to survive his apparent death in the old sagas. He still has a lost arm from his fight with Beowulf, though, and he has an obsession with ripping off people's right arms in vengeance. Then again, he tends to rip things off in general, as he goes from town to town with no real goal other than slaughter and sustenance. He's certainly a beast in combat as well - even if you discount his ability to go into a rage and make his already prodigious strength even higher, his amazingly rough hide forces a save-or-break on any melee weapon every time you hit him. The only saving grace is that he is sluggish and weaker during the day, which means that you could defeat him easier if you somehow manage to find his sleeping spot.

Hades Corps (CR +1 or +2 Template)
The Hades Corps are the ultimate SS soldiers, ones who literally survived going to Hell and back. Their origin is in an experimental attempt to harness infernal energy for the Nazi war machine that instead sucked the research facility into Hell, where only the toughest SS soldiers managed to fight their way back to our world. A soldier with this template becomes an Outsider with the Fire subtype. Their touch burns, touching them burn, and on top of that they can burn with various fire-related spell-like abilities. And if you manage to kill one, they explode into a fireball for even more fire. Examples are provided of putting the Hades Corps template on a Grunt 4 and an Officer 7.


Next time: French cannibals, Japanese ghost samurai, Arabic temptresses, and more.

Nov 9, 2011

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

Ryuutama, Summer Part 1: Basic Mechanics

So! I've already gone over the basics of how Checks work in Ryuutama. There are generally two kinds: Single die, and Two die.

Most of everything is handled by rolling two dice. They are described by the names of two attributes, like STR+AGI or WIS+WIS. You roll the die associated with each stat (so if Strength is 8, then 1d8), add them together, and add any modifiers. If the result equals or beats the target, you succeed.

Like so.

On some rolls, like most Damage rolls, you only use one die. These are simpler, but also are incapable of a critical success or fumble.


If you roll two dice and get a 1 on both, the result is a fumble! Technically they call it a "1 Zero", but that name looks really weird in English, so fumble it is.

A fumble is usually some form of special catastrophic failure, and is always at least a regular failure. However, every time you roll one, every party member gains one Fumble Point. More on them later.


If you roll two dice and either get a maximum possible roll OR a double six, it's a Critical. It's an interesting system in place to counteract the fact that, if the double six line was removed, becoming stronger would make you LESS likely to score a crit. It's still not perfect (raising all your stats from 8 to 10 makes crits less likely), but it's a decent band aid.

Criticals are usually some form of special success, and are always at least a regular success. No Critical Points, though.

Opposed rolls are about what you'd expect. Both contestants roll, higher wins, magnitude of win is winning roll - losing roll. In the case of a tie, you roll again, but no matter the outcome, the magnitude of the win is 0.


Sometimes, succeeding at a check is very important.

This is not one of those times.

Accordingly, you can use Concentration to help yourself succeed at a crucial moment.

You can Concentrate either by spending half of your remaining MP (rounded up), or by spending one Fumble Point. Either one gives you a +1 bonus to the roll (or +2 if you're a Technique Type). You can use both, if you want, for a +2 bonus (+4 for Technique Types), but that's the limit.

Next: Condition.

Jan 23, 2012

Yes, the dude in front has metal spikes in place of his eyes. And yes, what's shown here is actually possible in game

The Mistborn Adventure Game

Drivethru RPG link

In 2011 Crafty Games, the makers of Spycraft and Fantasy Craft, released the Mistborn Adventure game which coincided with the release of Alloy of Law, the newest novel in the Mistborn series. Since then it has received little support as it's splats have been stuck in development hell, even though most of the mechanics are apparently finished.

That being said, it's a fairly obscure game that is actually kind of fun to play, and there a lot of hinting that the Alloy of Law expansion will be coming. And hopefully by the time I'm finished this, Alloy of Law will be out for me to continue on with this.

The Eleventh Metal

The book opens up with a small story to sort of introduce people unfamiliar to the setting, and to give fans of the setting a little bit more information and insight on one of the main characters of the novels.


The book introduces us to the world of "Scadrial", which is basically earth gone horribly, horribly wrong. It's an arid, heavily sun-baked land covered in volcanoes and ash, where even the sturdiest of crops have troubles growing. And at night, a dense, inpenetrable Mist materializes through the lands, shrouding the dangers that come out at night.

And it isn't just the environment that's dangerous. The only society, known as the Final Empire, is a massive theocratic police state, run by a god-emperor who, a thousand years back, apparently saved the world. He holds an iron grip on everything, and is backed up by his priest-police. In this society, wealth is measured not in gold, but in secrets, and having magic without birthright is a death sentence by creatures most brutal.

This is the world of Mistborn.

Next: Peoples Places and Things

berenzen fucked around with this message at 00:44 on May 22, 2013

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.
Clapping Larry

Evil Mastermind posted:

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG

The burns...

The thing is, I can see what the designers were trying to do and why they did it that way.
  • They wanted a modular system (easier to build spells (HA!)).
  • They wanted to use the base game mechanics.
  • They wanted to establish a system in which the wildest imaginations of players (due to the flexibility of the spell creation system(HA!)) would be balanced against the other types of 'powers'.

On the first one they definitely succeeded. It is not easy or conprehensible to any mortal mind, but it is modular. On the second one they pretty much succeeded. Yes it's stupidly long, but it does pretty much use all the same rules as any other attack or skill (except backlash of course). On the third goal I honestly don't know because most people I played TORG with were not insane enough to want to play a caster (which means however that there definitely wasn't any caster supremacy seen in the party :psyduck:)

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

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

I'd like to see the Realms of Magic sourcebook Mors.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Magic

So, magic. Again, we need to define the term. Magic is of your nature - while you can become more Divine or Infernal just by changing how you act, Magic is what you are. It's in the blood. And what magic does is approach the Platonic ideal. A magical wolf is better at being a wolf than a normal wolf is. It is more wolflike, and worse at being a non-wolf. Three things are true of magic: First, it is objective. Magic is constant and measurable, not changing based on the viewer. It cannot change a thing's essential nature - indeed, magic is about getting closer to that essential nature. Magic is ancient - the older a thing is, the more powerful it is, with magic. This is because things get more magical over time; a new thing can still be very potent and an old thing weak, but as time goes on, magic increases. Last, magic is mysterious, unpredictable and strange. It has no guiding force, but a multitude of spirits. The less people know about a thing, the more potent its magic probably is. Magic prefers secrecy and isolation.

Magic auras are found in the glory of nature, in areas that are ancient and associated with magic (such as temples or stone circles), in areas where great acts of magic are done, and in places where powerful magical beings live. Places that naturally form vis also generally cause a magic aura to spring up. The use of magic can strengthen magic auras, while draining an aura to gain vis will weaken it. Magic auras generally strengthen the beasts and plants within them, makes the weather more extreme, enhances creativity and eccentricity and can even grant sentience to animals or cause strange portents.

The Magic Realm is one of the least understood places in Ars Magica. You can physically go there, unlike Hell or Heaven, but it's not nearly as easy as visiting, say, the Faerie Realm. Even magi cannot agree on what the Magic Realm really is. Some say that it is a collection of worlds each contained within a single thing - so a tree can contain an entire forest, say. Everywhere you visit in the Magic Realm is thus tied back to some object. This theory posits that these worlds are cosms, tied to objects and influencing them. A single pebble could contain a country, and this is a microcosm. All wolves may contain, within them, a fragment of the domain of King Wolf, who lairs in a macrocosm in the magic realm. Changing a cosm would thus somehow influence the real worl, though not always in predictable ways. Cosms resemble the mundane world superficially, but with differing or suspended natural laws, especially those involving geography or gravity.

Some others claim the Magic Realm is a physical place, part of the natural world which is somehow connected to it, like a giant regio overlying the entire world, a sphere of magic beneath the lunar sphere, or perhaps just another place on the globe. They say that every location is like an island within a great sea, or a distant country. These metaphorical islands are called insulae, appearing as places in the mundane world supercharged with power. Journeys between insulae are perilous, traveling the Twilight Void, and travelers between insulae are much respected by the creatures of the insulae. Insulae are often foreign and exotic, with alien ways and strange beings.

And some claim the Magic Realm is a record of the events of the world, and that traveling in it is like traveling in the past. Each location, these people say, is a moment in history, a tempus. As you get further from the mundane world, the tempora get older and older, so the most potent ones are ancient. The Criamon especially love this theory. In a tempus, time may behave strangely, perhaps stopping or repeating an event over and over, or going backwards. Some tempora reenact historic events, and proponents of this theory say they are perfectly accurate to the true event, so long as outsiders do not change them.

None of these theories has been proven. For those who hold the cosm theory, insulae are just very metaphorical cosms and tempora are cosms that capture a moment in time. The Twilight Void is the space between cosms. For the insula theory, cosms and tempora are just very strange insulae, some of which can influence the mundane world apparent reason. The Twilight Void is the ocean in which insulae sit. For the tempus theory, cosms and insulae are tempora that have been changed by the creatures within them or which have visited them. The Twilight Void is the time between times. All of these theories have some evidence, but none are definitive.

Those who visit the Magic Realm do not grow or improve while there; they are static in their capabilities. Rather, they gain vis. They do not age, though they heal as normal. Magical spells with long durations do not end normally, but last until the turning of the season, and those that last for a year are effectively permanent within the magic realm. Arcane connections are temporarily interrupted while in the Magic Realm. Of course, getting there is half the trick. Some regiones may allow access, and occasionally a magical creature will possess the power to travel there, with or without others. Some magical disasters can drop you there. Other than that, well, good luck finding another path.

The Twilight Void is part of the Magic Realm, but fundamentally different from the rest of it. It is a place that connects places, or something of that nature. It is a ghostly, mysterious place that can only be reached by traveling between the locations in the Magic Realm or by magical disaster. It is known that there are ten 'provinces' of the Void, each corresponding to a Hermetic Form. When traveling in a province, one can see ghostly images of that Form - so plants in the Herbam province, but no animals, say. Those in the Void need not eat, drink nor sleep, and they do not age. Their wounds neither heal nor worsen naturally, and long-term fatigue is not restored by rest. They neither gain new experience nor gather vis like in the rest of the Magic Realm; they are unaffected by their time there entirely. Travel is based on comprehension, not distance. There are creatures native to the place - Daimons, powerful magical beings that cannot leave the Void without forming an Aspect. More on Daimons later.

Next time: Magical characters.

Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

I gotta say, half of what sells me on this game is the super-darling art.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

berenzen posted:

In 2011 Crafty Games, the makers of Spycraft and Fantasy Craft, released the Mistborn Adventure game which coincided with the release of Alloy of Law, the newest novel in the Mistborn series. Since then it has received little support as it's splats have been stuck in development hell, even though most of the mechanics are apparently finished.

That being said, it's a fairly obscure game that is actually kind of fun to play, and there a lot of hinting that the Alloy of Law expansion will be coming. And hopefully by the time I'm finished this, Alloy of Law will be out for me to continue on with this.

Oh, great to see you covering this. I have a copy but haven't gotten to read enough of it, but it definitely deserves an airing.

Though, knowing Crafty Games, the belief that anything is coming more soon seems awfully optimistic... :(

Nov 10, 2012

Tribebook: Bone Gnawers

Chapter 3, Part 1

Way to uphold the Veil, guys.

Like all the tribebooks, the book sees fit to advise us on how to pick Backgrounds for our Bone Gnawer character. Unlike other tribebooks, they actually offer non-generic, useful hints.

Bone Gnawer Allies are often influential but charitable figures that can give a Bone Gnawer a hand, in some ways replacing their nonexistent Resources. You might get shelter from an Ally, and it comes with no supernatural or political strings attached. Sounds good, right? Well, when one of the suggested Allies is a kindly old lady who recognizes you from a homeless shelter, it kind of puts the utility of mundane Allies against, say, a Fetish into question.
Bone Gnawers can’t access their Ancestors, so don’t try it! If a player wanted, I would probably be amenable to letting it fly, though. There’s less compelling reasons to deny Bone Gnawers access to Ancestors than Resources or Pure Breed.

Contacts are something of a Bone Gnawer specialty. They keep their ears low to the ground, so they can get all kinds of juicy information from a variety of street level sources.

More so than other tribes, Bone Gnawer Kinfolk can be anybody. They do tend to be poor or at the very most low middle class, though. Kinfolk can be a little more useful than Allies, though, so you can create Kinfolk with a very special set of skills. Dock workers might be useful for physical aid, or you could have some seedy criminal relatives.

The book actually gives good guidelines for creating your own Fetishes. A good rule of thumb is to allow Fetishes to replicate a Gift of a level equal to the Fetish’s dot value. A two dot Fetish could have a level 2 Gift, for instance. This is especially appropriate for the Bone Gnawers, whose Stuff based magical system lends them to have a lot of easy to use Fetishes. Bone Gnawer Fetishes tend to be common, but broken modern day items. They don’t really have a lot of tech uses, per se. Instead, they focus on practical needs. Examples include a Styrofoam container that refills with cheap fast food, milk cartons that can track missing children directly, or a bucket that deals lethal damage if you hit someone over the head with it.

Because Bone Gnawer kin is so scattered, they can’t take Pure Breed. As discussed previously, there’s no such thing as the idealized Bone Gnawer.

Bone Gnawers also can’t take Resources, but dealing with that is a little more nuanced. Resources indicates a reliable income stream, which defies the basic notion of a Bone Gnawer. They can have money to use, but it’s always transitory. Money is spent quickly, and borrowing it can be a risky venture. Sources for borrowing money tend to dry up fast when you can’t pay your debts. There are ways for a Bone Gnawer to come up with money, though! You can make a modified hunting roll to “hunt” for money. Just replace Primal Urge with the appropriate ability. You can only make this roll once a day.

Unlike Merits, the nWoD equivalent to Backgrounds, Backgrounds usually can’t be increased with experience points. You can only get Backgrounds in play via Storyteller fiat. Befriending people gets Allies or Contacts, finding a Fetish gets you Fetish dots, and so on. Bootstrapping is an optional rule to change that. You can buy Backgrounds based on their current rating. This means that adding a new Background where you have no dots can still only happen by Storyteller fiat.

But there’s another optional rule to fix that! You can take a Background dot where you didn’t have one before for that chapter, but you get half the experience for that chapter. You can’t keep it though unless you really earn it.

Since all of this is contingent on the Storyteller using these optional rules anyway, you could just ask him for the opportunity to earn Backgrounds, but most roleplaying game rules preclude actual adult communication. These rules are silly, but if a Storyteller is a grognard who really can’t handle players getting stats for “free”, then he might like these better.

Without any introduction, here are the Bone Gnawer Gifts! Like last time, we’ll look at both the Revised core Bone Gnawer charms and the tribebook’s additions. While it may have seemed weird for the Black Furies, there’s a very good reason to do this with the Bone Gnawers.

First, the core. The trademark Bone Gnawer Gift is Cooking, a Level 1 Gift that allows the Gnawer to cook anything and make it edible. It doesn’t necessarily taste good, but it can be eaten. Resist Toxin is found in several tribes’ Gift list, but the Gnawers learn it from a trash spirit. Tagalong is a weird one. It allows a Gnawer to receive the benefits of a pack totem without actually joining the pack. The pack does have to consent to the Gnawer tagging along, though. From the 20th Anniversary Edition, there's Scent of Sweet Honey, which sounds lame until you realize it allows a Gnawer to sic a bunch of fleas and rats on a person for a day, penalizing every action they take. It also includes Trash is Treasure, which allows a broken or worn item to function as if it was in perfect condition. This incidentally allows you to fire an unloaded gun.

Similar to Cooking, The Hungry Hound allows the Gnawer to find the nearest source of edible food. Ironically, it’s taught by a raccoon spirit. Cooking is generally better than this Gift in every way, though, since it allows the werewolf to eat anything everywhere, without a hunt required. Smell of Success is much better, enabling a Gnawer to smell how wealthy a passerby is. Urban Ward sets up an alarm around a certain area. As you can imagine, the LARP rules for this are ridiculously complicated. Similarly, The Mark allows you to mark your territory in the traditional canine manner. A dog spirit teaches this gift, of course.

Declamation allows a werewolf to read things really quickly and remember all of it. It’s used by the Frankweilers and Ratfinks. This is where the problems with the Gifts in this book start becoming apparent. While most of the Gifts here are mechanically sound, there’s some conceptual drift going on. There are so many Gifts in this book, but so few that you can actually imagine a Bone Gnawer actually taking. Look at Desperate Strength. It allows you to take aggravated damage to improve a Feat of Strength roll, but what about that suggests “homeless werewolf”? It would be much more appropriate in Get of Fenris or Silver Fangs. W20 handles this better by downgrading the damage to bashing and decreasing the bonus accordingly. It's less allowing you to do ridiculous stunts via self harm and more draining your energy to perform certain tasks.

:siren:Kitchen Chemistry:siren:. Hoo boy, Kitchen Chemistry. With ten minutes, one point of RAGE, and any three common kitchen chemicals, you can make a bomb. How much damage does it do? One level of aggravated damage for each dot of permanent RAGE the Gift user has. This means that an Ahroun that doesn’t buy up his RAGE can get a Gift that does five levels of aggravated damage at chargen. Since aggravated damage is unsoakable and unregenerable, this is enough to kill some supernaturals in a single explosion. The only complicating factor is that it requires an Intelligence+Science roll to use reliably, but it’s difficult 6, meaning that on average you’ll get half your dice pool in successes. Basically, any Homid or Metis that takes this can render any combat irrelevant. “Imbalance” is a term that’s thrown around a lot, but this right here illustrates all the problems imbalance causes. If you have decent RAGE, Intelligence and or Science stats, why would you take any other Gift? I mean, if you were a Bone Gnawer IRL, Cooking would be really cool, but most Storytellers aren’t going to really call for hunger checks. No one’s going to look at a flavorful thing like Cooking when Kitchen Chemistry exists. Again, the LARP rules on his are complex and onerous.

Rat'll just teach anyone how to blow up entire rooms of people.

Next time: Holy poo poo, there are a lot of Gifts.

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 08:40 on May 22, 2013

Sep 9, 2007
I am very witty: nit-witty, dim-witty, and half-witty.

To be fair with the whole lack of Pure Breed, considering that the Bone Gnawers are a hodge-podge of cast-offs and loose ends from other tribes, isn't the lack of a Bone Gnawer Platonic Ideal in and of itself a Bone Gnawer Platonic Ideal?

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib
I love the idea of werewolves who are all "Yeah yeah, nature red in tooth and claw's a sucker's game, kid. You wanna know how to really ruin someone's day? Grab that drain cleaner and I'll show you."

Feb 2, 2012

I finally understand everything there is to know about axes!
Given the fangs and the cross on the guys surrounded by Werewolves, I might suggest that they are Vampires and are thus either not an issue or are at least a grey area where upholding the Veil is concerned.

Nov 5, 2010

Warning, Internet
may prove lethal.

HiKaizer posted:

Given the fangs and the cross on the guys surrounded by Werewolves, I might suggest that they are Vampires and are thus either not an issue or are at least a grey area where upholding the Veil is concerned.

Plus if two vampires are surrounded by that many 'wolves means they've probably walked into somewhere they really shouldn't be. So it's their own fault really.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Arashiofordo3 posted:

Plus if two vampires are surrounded by that many 'wolves means they've probably walked into somewhere they really shouldn't be. So it's their own fault really.

There's still dozens of lit windows people could see from, and the area seems well-lit. Those are likely vampires, yes, but there are probably onlookers out of frame having a serious freakout.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

This one's kind of short, but largely because there was no room for what would follow it.

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Magic

A 'magic character' is one with Magic Might. They are not truly human, even if they take human shape. They have innate Magic Resistance, natural magical powers, never need to eat, drink, sleep or age, do not need shelter and, indeed, do not even need to breathe. They can still benefit from doing all that if they felt like it, of course - if they don't do it, they don't recover magical power. They just don't need to. Magic characters may consume vis, using it to empower themselves. Further, magic charactes find it much easier than normal people to visit the Magic Realm and interact with it.

There are four kinds of magic character: First, Magic Animals, the most common, whose true form is that of a beast. They generally look like a normal animal, but larger, more wild or stranger. Most animals cannot speak and have no hands or ability to grasp things, though some animals possess a natural power to speak language. Smaller animals tend to have more potent magical powers, though that is far from always being true. Second, Magic Humans are naturally human-shaped, though some are so changed by magic that they cannot pass for human. Indeed, all magic humans possess a monstrous appearance, making them obviously supernatural. Some of them have the Gift, but it is extremely rare, and because they are often not considered human, a magus of this nature would probably seek to hide their true form. Third, Magic Things possess a natural form made of inanimate matter, made animate by magic. This can be a magical tree, a statue that moves, or even an elemental, made of raw fire or water held together by magic. Their magical power is strictly limited by their size - the larger the matter is, the more powerful they can become. This size can be increased literally (by absorbing matter into the self) or metaphorically (a sword becomes metaphorically larger when wielded by a human, for example). However, a magic sword that gains power by such a metaphorical increase would lose it when the wielder no longer holds it. Magic things can move on their own, though generally quite slowly, and may pick things up if they can touch them, even lacking hands. This often looks strange and frightening, as if an invisible spirit were doing it. Magic things can usually speak and make noises appropriate to their form, as well, though many refuse to, or lack the ability. Magical things never get tired, but their powers are easily weakened by damage. Last, magic spirits are naturally insubstantial, such as ghosts, living illusions or Daimons. Their forms are not physical and are usually invisible. While in theory immortal, a spirit which is banished or somehow torn apart in its incorporeal form is effectively dead, even if it returns to life later. Magic spirits always possess an innate magical air, similar to the effects of the Gift.

Because magic characters do not actually age, they are divided instead by Season: a Spring character is like a child still adapting to its power, with little practical experience and often little history. They are equivalent to a five-year-old child, compared to humans. A Summer character is more like a young adult, effectively around 20 and just beginning their prime. An Autumn character is more mature and experienced, effectively 35 or so - in the prime of life and knowledge. A Winter character is truly ancient and powerful - old, even by magic standards, and generally distant and detached from the world. If human, they would be 50 or older.

Besides standard Virtue and Flaws, magic characters have Qualities and Inferiorities, natural magical traits that are much easier for them to gain or lose. These can range from truly immense size to magical powers to the ability to hide their true nature or speak with the tongues of man...or gain specific weaknesses, heal more slowly, and have limited ability to gesture or use hands. As an aside, there's some neat new powers for normal people here, too. Atlantean Magic allows a magus to learn how to extend their powers to have greater effect over water and things on water.

Magical characters, meanwhile, do suffer some problems compared to humans: they can't learn very well. They resist change due to their magical power, and so any study they do is weakened by it, unless they offset this with the consumption of vis. This can get expensive. Further, they suffer Acclimation, a process that weakens their magical power if they do not maintain sufficient contact with magic. This can be avoided by three methods. First, a magic creature that spends time in a magic aura might be protected, though often this requires the aura be very strong and the creature not leave it for very long in a year. Second, by utilizing magic powers on magicians or by being affected by magical spells, they can maintain their connection. Lastly, they can consume vis to prevent acclimation.

Magical characters and, more rarely, normal humans touched by magic may also possess Essential Traits. An Essential Trait can be good or bad, but it does represent an unchanging facet of your essential nature. For example, you might be Sure-Footed, or Shy. These traits will change your stats when they apply, for the better or worse...and more importantly, no magic will ever make you act against your Essential Traits. If you are shy, no magic can ever force you not to be. Which can be handy, assuming you don't want the magic to work.

Next time: Specific Types of Magical Animals

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

I can't wait until you reach the next tier of gifts, if only so other people can experience the glory. :allears:

HiKaizer posted:

Given the fangs and the cross on the guys surrounded by Werewolves, I might suggest that they are Vampires and are thus either not an issue or are at least a grey area where upholding the Veil is concerned.
I think they're meant to be Gangrel.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

There's still dozens of lit windows people could see from, and the area seems well-lit. Those are likely vampires, yes, but there are probably onlookers out of frame having a serious freakout.
Probably the reason why the whole "they have a nasty habit of breaching the Veil" was brought up earlier.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

And that's enough excuse for me to push this one out because I seriously want to share it, it has some of my favorite things in the entirety of Ars Magica.

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Magic

Many magic animals aren't intelligent, though obviously any PC is going to be. They are often sought out as familiars, or as vis sources...though, on the other hand, magical animals also often seek out magi to eat their vis. (Note: a Familiar never suffers from Acclimation, which is why many magical animals will actually agree to the otherwise arduous job.) Beasts of Virtue are especially sought after, for they make great familiars. However, they are very rare - in a large habitat such as an entire forest, there may be exactly one Beast of Virtue. A Beast of Virtue epitomizes all the traits of its species, generally to supernatural degrees. They possess the mythic qualities ascribed by bestiaries, unlike their mundane counterparts, and they solely possess powers related to the perfection of their mythic properties. No Hermetic has ever been able to create a Beast of Virtue; all attempts have, instead, produced Transformed Beasts.

Example Beasts of Virtue include the Black Boar of the Bog, which can make boar herds harder to kill, resists earth magic and can cause mortal terror. It guards its home against all predators and humans, regardless of their intentions. The Caladrius is a bird of Virtue written of by Pierre de Beauvais, which may detect whether someone is sick and how serious it is, and which may cure non-fatal diseases with its gaze. Royalty loves owning them, for they will gladly heal any disease which is not fatal. The Panther of Virtue possesses a breath that smells of spice and flowers, as written of by Pliny the Elder, which entices prey to its doom. It is not a brave creature, however, and prefers ambush and to flee those that fight back.

The Birds of Nephelococcygia derive from the magical regio Nephelococcygia, the land in the clouds written of by the playwright Aristophanes. They are not Beasts of Virtue, and are one and all intelligent as men. Some, including their king, Tereus, claim to be humans transformed into birds, but this may or may not be true. Their city is built of guano and terracotta, with many perches. Those who cannot fly in the city are not respected, and must deal with gatekeepers, while those who can fly can bypass them and earn the respect of the birds. Each year at winter, all Birds of Nephelococcygia attend the Assembly of Birds, and while little of importance is discussed there, missing it will cause a bird to be ostracised, and so winter is spent rehearsing songs and visiting the Assembly. All Birds of Nephelococcygia may find their way back there without error, guided by instinct. They also possess good vision and reflexes. They also often possess magical songs which can command birds, the weather or the aging process.

The Magical Lineages of Cats are well known to magi. The Black Lineage descends from the Familiar of the magus Jerbiton, who was a prince of Egyptian cats and bore the blood of the queens of ancient Bubastis. The Black Lineage is ruled by an elected monarch, who lives within the domus magna of Jerbiton, Valnastium. They are aristocratic and aloof, and they see themselves as defenders of the home. The White Lineage descends from the Familiar of the magus Mercere, and are often found in Mercer Houses. They are indulgent, friendly cats who like to see themselves as protectors of people and world travellers. The Tortoiseshell Lineage is a largely female lineage descended from the cats of pre-Hermetic Celtic sorcerers. They may have had links to House Diedne, and in the Schism War they split in two, so now a king of cats rules them in both Scotland and the Rhineland. Male tortoiseshells are often more magical, for they are rarer, and they tend to act very feminine, which is offputting to other cats. (Humans tend not to notice.)

Cats can possess many magical powers. Some have the ability to cow humans, in order to help them overcome the shock of talking cats. Some can steal breath or the milk of cows. Some can raise corpses by whispering to them. And some possess Humans are Easily Misplaced, allowing them to unerringly track any person they have marked with scent, or Incredibly Cute, which impairs the reason of humans with excessive endearingness. The Black Cats of Jerbiton are especially notable for possessing the power to patrol and area and thus ward it against magic power, especially demons. Magic cats are great.

Dragons and Dragon-kind are some of the largest and most fearsome magical beasts. They come in several types. Serpents are the least of the dragons' kin, little more than glorified snakes with potent bites or stings and some magical powers. The greatest of serpents is the Basilisk. Magi use the term 'serpent' solely to refer to magical snakes with no mundane counterparts. Drakes are caricatures of dragons, misshapen and generally rather dumb. All drakes have two or four legs, and many have wings that are too stunted to fly. They generally possess some form of dangerous breath, and can range in size from a chicken to more than an elephant. Worms are essentially gigantic serpents, though they occasionally have stunted legs or wings. They are generally venomous and can often exhale a cloud of poison, or fire. Most are also able to crush things in their coils. True dragons are the mightiest and most potent of them all, intelligent and crafty. They have four legs and (usually) functioning wings. Dragons may have any number of powers, and range from slightly smaller than a human to as large as a castle.

And yes, you can play as a dragon, though a PC dragon will usually be magus-level. For a weaker one, look to a drake or worm. One of the sample dragons is my favorite NPC in the entire game: Varkos the Fire Drake. He breathes fire and desperately wants you to take him seriously. He isn't actually very fierce on his own, but he knows many dragon legends and strives to live up to them. (His treasure horde, he feels, is coming along nicely. It can fill two handbaskets.) He lives in a cave and raids livestock, but tries to avoid hurting humans because if he can just terrify them they will spread his legend. Occasionally he builds up the nerve to rob travellers and is looking forward to the first time the villagers bring him a virgin sacrifice. (Varkos does not know what a virgin is, or what a real dragon is supposed to do with one. He just wants one, because that is what dragons get.) The main reason he is doing all this is that Varkos is incredibly lonely and bored, and wants to attract a mate so that he has someone to talk to. He really likes talking to people, and enjoys encountering humans because it gives him someone to talk to. Unfortunately, he's a really goony dragon and is not good at conversations that don't involve stories about dragons. He may well spare people if they promise to spread his legend. He resembles a gigantic, red, scaly bulldog with a crocodile head and an underbite. He has tiny, useless wings.

Transformed Animals are the term which magi use to classify those beasts which are touched by magic and warped by it. The primary difference between them and Beasts of Virtue is that Transformed Animals possess powers utterly unrelated to the normal qualities of the creature they resemble, but rather related to the magical incident that created them. Many also are not true creatures of magic, lacking Magic Might. Examples include felis aquatica, the Cat-Fish of Champagne, which is a feline mermaid that steals fish from fishermen. It is believed that it was a cat warped in a magical regio in the river Seine.

Other magical animals are, of course, possible - gryphons, for example, are neither Beasts of Virtue nor Transformed Animals, though likely would be classified as closer to the former. (Or as fairies. A gryphon might well be a fairy.)

Next time: Magic Humans

Jul 19, 2012

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

pospysyl posted:

The trademark Bone Gnawer Gift is Cooking, a Level 1 Gift that allows the Gnawer to cook anything and make it edible. It doesn’t necessarily taste good, but it can be eaten.

Yes, cooking, the gift that as-written allows you to cut a hole in the roof of a high-rise, stick a ladle in it, and turn everything in the building, living or dead, into a nutritious slurry.

They changed the wording in W20 for this reason.

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

Kurieg posted:

Yes, cooking, the gift that as-written allows you to cut a hole in the roof of a high-rise, stick a ladle in it, and turn everything in the building, living or dead, into a nutritious slurry.

They changed the wording in W20 for this reason.
Had a player once that would get rid of Wyrm-tainted objects, talens and fetishes by tossing them in the stew pot and slurping down the harmless gruel you end up with.

Aug 6, 2009

citybeatnik posted:

Had a player once that would get rid of Wyrm-tainted objects, talens and fetishes by tossing them in the stew pot and slurping down the harmless gruel you end up with.

That's actually a legitimately cool thing that should be supported by the rules.

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

Lemon Curdistan posted:

That's actually a legitimately cool thing that should be supported by the rules.
It was allowed by the ST. He took a Wisdom hit from the sept Elders because they were horrified that someone would do something so bone-headed and stupid, they prepared a punishment rite for what they saw as a gross violation of Garou decorum... and then the spirits showed up and went "nawh boss we cool", causing the rite to fail.

Good use of taking something a player did off the wall and tying it in to the story as a whole I always felt; the pack suddenly had to deal with some embarrassed elders out to smack down the uppity Gnawers and the player who came up with the idea got to feel like a boss. drat shame that game feel through.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Magic

There is much debate over whether magic humans have souls and what happens to them when they die. The most famous and largest of them are the giants, who range from eight feet to perhaps 30 feet tall, typically. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that the giants were the original people of Britain, before humans arrived. Giant bones can be found embedded in stone throughout Europe, and it is believed that these are the remains of giants killed in the Deluge of Noah. Some say giants are the cursed descendants of Cain, but magi tend to prefer the idea that they are descended from primeval giants such as the Titans or Ymir, or perhaps that they are some enchanted offshoot of humanity, Warped long ago by forgotten magics.

British (and, in general, most non-Norse) giants are typically violent, boorish and cruel, coarse and ugly in appearance and manner. The males especially are boastful and easily provoked to violence, and many giants are gluttons or drunkards. They are not usually very smart. A rare few are peaceful or even gentle, but they are very much the exception. Most giants lack magical powers save for their immense size and strength. Trolls and jotnar of Norse legend, however, are different. They are more elemental, tied to fire or storms or frost or mountains or the sea. Some have full-on magical powers - there are jotun vitkir out there, along with trollsynir and muspelli. Some are very wise, able to divine the future. Some can shapeshift, or even change their size, and the jotnar are not necessarily ugly or brutish, unlike their British cousins. Your average jotun is between eight and 60 feet tall. The trolls of Scandinavia are on the shorter end, for giants - generally no more than 17 feet or so - and typically very ugly or misshapen. They are equally likely to be magical giants or fairies, and often possess monstrous features.

Spirit Votaries are not actually magical beings, but a form of Mythic Companion human. In pre-Christian days, they would head entire cults, but now they tend to be solitary. They possess second sight, and have made a pact with a spirit (or more than one spirit, but generally it is just the one). They often possess other supernatural powers, but it is the spirit pact that makes them so powerful. You see, a spirit votary channels the power of the spirit into their body, gaining access to the magical powers of the spirit despite not actually being innately magical themselves.

Then there are the Magic Kin, families of strange magical beings in human form. They often do not live and reproduce as humans do, passing on their traits in other ways. (Some, of course, do breed as men do.) There are all kinds of Magic Kin, but the book only lists ten. Atlanteans are strange creatures of the deep oceans, and most take the form of fish. Some, however, become almost human when they leave the waves, perhaps caught in fishing nets. Some Hermetics claim the Atlanteans are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the continent Atlantis, while others contend that they are merely magical beings of the sea and utterly unconnected to the continent written of by the ancient Greeks. Some Merenita believe that mermaid stories come from garbled tales of Atlanteans. Atlanteans possess powers related to the ocean and water, and all of them may command beasts of the waters. They can interbreed with humans, and a few magi have studied their magical powers, learning to use them in Hermetic spells.

Flame Dancers are born with fire in their blood. They are possessed by the spirit of flame - some say literally, while others say it is a metaphor for madness, and some believe they are nothing more than hedonists. Whatever the case: they are fire given the life of a human body. They have two loves - fire and flesh. The love a good bonfire, and their name comes because most cannot resist dancing around a fire. All Flame Dancers are compelled to do something related to fire - to play music before fires, to drink next to a crackling fire, to fight with flames. The compulsion and the fire are deeply intertwined. While the fires burn, they feel no fatigue, and they may set fire to things with a touch. Unlike most magical beings, they age as men do, for it is in the nature of flame to die.

Forgotten Gods were once powerful magical beings, worshipped or feared by pagan men. Over time, they have been forgotten, replaced by fairies, angels or demons as the things they embodied became viewed not as magical, but as divine, infernal or story. Eventually, these gods ceased to exist. A few may remain, sleeping, in the Magic Realm, as they await their time once more. However, there was another way for these gods to survive: by taking on living shape. Within their new bodies, they could interact with the world, constrained by mortal flesh but not withering away. Forgotten Gods often possess great magical power over the domain they once represented. Some say that the Founder Mercere was the reincarnation of Mercury himself in human form, though most believe he was, rather, a man born with the blood of gods whose nature was close to that of the god Mercury, rather than being literally Mercury in human flesh.

It is believed that the trees are connected by magic, and it is known that in strong magical areas, the trees talk to each other. Some trees even awaken as magical beings. And once every generation or so, a tree is born in human shape, or takes on human form. It is the duty of these Loamwalkers to represent the trees in the human world. They hide their natures as much as they can, and use their powers to go into human society and protect forests. The Loamwalkers fear being revealed, but they try to join and influence groups interested in nature. They are shy and antisocial, and usually must spend years getting to know people, often in the shape of a tree, before they feel comfortable around them. Some Loamwalkers have possessed the Gift, and some have even become magi. All may teleport between trees nearby, become trees and visit the Twilight Void of Herbam.

Sometimes, a child is abandoned by parents who cannot care for it. Very few survive. Those that do, however, tend to be left in magical regiones or auras where they gain power from the magic. They cease to be mere humans becoming magical Lost Children, forever young and unchanging. They typically appear to be between the ages of 5 and 15, and all possess the power to close minor wounds with a touch. Many, however, are cursed never to become mature or, indeed, anything but eternal children.

A rare few lakes are home to the Men of the Lake, something like a water elemental that can become human. When they travel on the surface, the Men of the Lake claim they are seeking scholarly information on the surface world, and it is unclear if they are in fact elementals or just something similar. It is believed that their lakes are all connected by magical regiones or underwater tunnels, for it is known that what one Man of the Lake learns, all soon become aware of in the next few years. It is believed that they once helped and sheltered House Diedne, so the Men of the Lake are not well-trusted. They claim not to understand Hermetic politics, and no one is entirely sure what the true power of their leaders is. It is known, however, that five magi who attacked a Lake stronghold in the Schism War never returned. Their society is based on strict seasonal lines. Spring Men rarely venture forth, while Summer Men explore the world and Autumn Men join societies based on their interests. Winter Men return to the lakes, and no one seems entirely clear on what happens to them, even other Men of the Lake. They appear to become something like great, sentient libraries for the Men of the Lake, and possibly also leaders. No one is really sure. Either way, the Men of the Lake possess the power to take on the shape of anything they touch, though made of solid water, and possess many powers related to water.

Occasionally, the impossible happens: a child is born to one or more parents that are ghosts. These are the Orphan Born, real humans born of the dead. They often grow up in monasteries or nunneries, for they have no parents living to raise them in most cases. (If only half-ghost, the living parent tends not to take things well.) The Orphan Born can see and interact with spirits, and many are able to become incorporeal. As they age, they become more and more transparent, do not cast shadows and easily spook animals. They are often disturbed by ghosts, especially their ghostly parents.

High above the clouds in the great magical sky-sea regiones, there are flying ships, navigated by sailors who never touch the ground. The magic of the air is in their blood, or so it is said, and in the blood of their children. These are the People of the Clouds, very close to true humans. They are said to be descended from sailors caught up in such a storm that it hurled their ship into the sky itself, from which they never came down. Little is known of these cloud-people, but it is believed that all can command and harness the winds. Some can walk on clouds and treat them as solid, and most are afflicted with a terrible wanderlust.

It is said that there are men of earth and clay who are made human somehow, statues brought to life or giants of stone whose descendants became human. These Stoneskinned are men of living rock, moving statues. As they age, they typically become more solid and powerful. As children, only the nails are stone, and the skin becomes stonier with age. By middle age, all the body is stone save the hair, which falls out, and eventually, their features seem to wear away to mere rock. They are very hard to hurt, but generally quite slow. Many are afflicted by arthritis or are cursed to be unable to move in sunlight.

Lastly, the Warders of Mystery, also called Auditores, are a strange society of historians and philosophers touched by magic. They are said to have once studied magical events, but discovered that writing them down and spreading them killed the magic. Now, they believe that mystery is vital to keeping magic in the world (and their own immortality). They seek to prevent public display of magic, to help limit the damage caused by magical beings and to punish those who misuse their magic. They are naturally able to scry on areas they have an arcane connection to, and are typically not very good at avoiding meddling.

The next major type of Magical Human is the Transformed Human, a human being born mortal but transformed into something else by the touch of magic. (And, often, death.) Occasionally, a living magus will seek a way to become one of these. For example, there are the Drowned Men, those who drown at sea within magical regiones and are saved by the beings of water, changed into inhuman creatures of the sea. Typically, it doesn't happen by accident - you have to negotiate with magical creatures of water to arrange your being saved, and then drown yourself. Still, if you want immortality, it's...well, it's very risky, but it might work. There are similar tales of the Burned Man, saved by creatures of fire, and the Buried Men, saved by creatures of earth.

Last are the Revenants, the walking dead. Ghosts are disembodied spirits; revenants are corpses that walk. They move through some burning personal need, and generally possess only a tiny fragment of their living memories. They do not tire or feel pain, and they can ignore wounds that would kill a living man. When they fight, it is usually without weapons, for many are monstrously strong. The primary goal of most revenants is very simple: hunt down and kill their murderer. Still, they can have other goals, much like ghosts have different motivations and goals. There are other transformations that a magus can go through, becoming a Daimon, a living ghost or an alchemical being of magic, but those are detailed in the Mystery Cults Revised.

Next time: Magical Spirits

Nov 10, 2012

Tribebook: Bone Gnawers

Chapter 3, Part 2

The Bone Gnawer tribebook organizes its Gifts a bit differently than its counterparts. As we saw in Black Furies, most tribebooks have Gifts that only members of a particular camp could take. Sometimes this didn’t make a whole lot of sense, since some camps like the Amazons of Diana didn’t really formally initiate members, but it also did a good job of actually distinguishing one camp from another beyond the weak fluff writing. Here, though, the camps are described well enough to actually be compelling in their own right, so every Gift here can be taken by any Bone Gnawer.

On to Level 2 gifts, then. In the core, Bone Gnawers can pick up Blissful Ignorance from the Ragabash Gift list, allowing any Bone Gnawer to temporarily erase a memory to avoid giving away secrets. They also get Odious Aroma, which increases a Gnawer’s stank to the point that anyone in the vicinity gets a -2 penalty to all actions from choking. W20 has Cornered Rat’s Ferocity, which sends the werewolf into a frenzy, boosting all attack rolls. Between the Cracks points out a secluded urban area to perform rites or to set up a Stomping Ground. Guise of the Hound allows a werewolf to shapeshift into a dog, rather than a wolf, to better blend into an urban environment.

From the tribebook, Dead End allows the Bone Gnawer to create a misleading graffiti tag or redirect a street sign to prevent someone from tracking him. Basically, you become Bugs Bunny. It increases the difficulty of finding the Gnawer “beyond that point”, but I really have no idea what this means. Road Ward is better, allowing a Gnawer to jump off a car or other vehicle going 75 mph or more without taking any damage. A wanderlust spirit teaches the Gift. On Patrol is an enhancement to Sense Wyrm or other Gifts that can detect supernatural creatures, increases the Gift’s radius to an entire city block.

Stone Throwing Devil increases throwing damage. It’s useful for rioters. I Got a Rock also boosts your throwing capability. It says that it increases throwing accuracy, but really it lowers the difficulty of throwing anything, no matter how cumbersome, to 4, which is insane. You just need to be able to lift the item in question.

Hootenany is a standout Gift. Used by the Hillfolk, it’s basically Inspire Competence for werewolves. A werewolf plays a musical instrument, and every member of his pack gets dice to increase their Athletics or Brawl checks. Any enemies in the vicinity have to succeed a Willpower check or they’ll be forced to dance. The book recommends performing Dueling Banjos.

Core Level 3 Gifts include Friend in Need, which allows a Gnawer to lend willpower, RAGE, Gnosis, Gifts, or even health levels to a packmate or fellow Bone Gnawer. They also get Reshape Object from the homid Gift list. Instead of Friend in Need, W20 includes Call the Rust, rendering a metal device unusable, taught by a water spirit. Gift of the Termite does the same thing, but with wood. Gift of the Skunk is, of course, taught by a skunk spirit. It gives a werewolf musk spray, which can incapacitate targets. It doesn’t work on beings with no sense of smell, though.

The tribebook brings us Lucky Bastard, a once-per-session reroll. Streets Tell Stories gives a Gnawer limited postcognition on any city street. It’s taught by a City Father or Mother itself. Laugh of the Hyena boosts a Gnawer’s resistance to mind control, as long as he laughs out loud. Rant and Rave allows a Gnawer to speak crazy talk that can only be understood by packmates. The werewolf can also send psychic messages across a certain distance, across the state at its highest level. Yes, this does mean that it has less range in Rhode Island than Texas.

Cooter’s Revenge enchants a car repair tool, decreasing the difficulty of all repairs with that tool to 4. RAGE allows it to be used as a weapon. This isn’t the last Dukes of Hazzard reference in the book, either. Dumpster Diving allows a werewolf to teleport from one dumpster to another anywhere in the planet, at the Great Trash Heap’s discretion. After all, all trash piles are just fallen reflections of the Great Trash Heap’s might.

At Level 4, Bone Gnawers can learn Attunemnt from the core, allowing the Gnawer to ask city spirits anything. Infest summons vermin to wreck a house. W20 has Blink, a more quick and reliable urban teleport.

The tribebook offers Shadow of the Rat which is a straight difficulty buff to all Stamina rolls. Pretty boring. Face in the Crowd allows a Gnawer to direct an already extant angry mob. Trust Me makes one lie a Gnawer tells in a session completely believable, no roll required, as long as he ends the story with “Trust me.”

Level 5 core Gifts include Riot and Survivor. Riot creates just that, a riot. Five successes on a difficulty 8 Wits+Subterfuge roll can send an entire city into a riot. Survivor removes the need for sleep, drink, or food for a certain amount of days. An extra Gnosis point can add Stamina levels and remove wound penalties, but the duration is cut short.

From W20, featuring the cut Gift: Hug of the Raccoon

From the tribebook, Piping sends out a summons to all the Bone Gnawers in a city. Help Me makes a human so compassionate towards a Gnawer that he’ll go to ridiculous extremes to help the werewolf out. He might empty an ATM account, or lend the Gnawer is car. Abuse can carry Honor penalties, though.

Next time: Rite of the Pizza

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 20:35 on May 22, 2013

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

pospysyl posted:

Hootenany is a standout Gift. Used by the Hillfolk, it’s basically Inspire Competence for werewolves. A werewolf plays a musical instrument, and every member of his pack gets dice to increase their Athletics or Brawl checks. Any enemies in the vicinity have to succeed a Willpower check or they’ll be forced to dance. The book recommends performing Dueling Banjos.
You left off the bit where it's taught by an Ancestor-spirit that looks oddly similar to Elvis.

And nice to see that WW has continued the -fine- tradition of including new, lovely art in its X20 books.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG

Part 7: Miracles

Last time we cut through the hostile jungle that is spellcasting in Torg. This time, we're going to take a look at miracles.

Unsuprisingly, there's a completely different system for them.


Religion and spirituality differ from magic in a fundamental way: magic bends the forces of the universe according to alternate laws of nature; religion creates a spiritual community linked by a divine will separate from each individual's will.

Magic is much like an alternate technology limited only by the practitioner's mentality. A wizard can study in his tower for years, never see a living soul, and be unhindered in his quest for magic. Religion, on the other hand, connects people to their cosm through the community. When people of a belief gather and interact in a service or ritual, the community is reaffirmed. Even hermits begin their lives of faith in the community. When they leave to seek solitude, they are still bound to the community by their faith, linked to others through the divine principles they seek to explore.

The game refers to a religion and its accociated stories, symbolism, and such as a mythos. Why they can't just call a religion a "religion" is beyond me, but anyway.

To be able to perform miracles, you need to accept all the core beliefs of your mythos. If, for whatever reason, you stop believing in part of your religion, then you can't perform miracles anymore.

There are, surprisingly, only two skills needed for performing miracles: focus is the skill that's used to actually cast the miracle, and faith is the skill used to determine the actual effect value of the miracle.

Here's the thing, though. When you cast a miracle on someone, it's the faith skill of the beneficiary that determines the total effect. This is where terminology gets confusing: if the miracle is helpful to the target, the target is the "beneficiary" and you use his faith score to determine the outcome. If it's a harmful miracle, though, then the caster is the beneficiary and uses his own faith score.

On the plus side, if you're performing a miracle and there are other believers around, they can help you perform a miracle. Every character who wants to help with the miracle has to make a faith roll against the community rating of the miracle. The total number of people who succeed is then added to the caster's focus total. Or you can just use this formula if you don't feel like rolling for 50 NPCs.


Value of number of characters + average faith - community rating of miracle - 2 - bonus modifier for focus character
That'll give you the bonus to the caster's focus roll.

There is a limitation on this, though: people who don't have faith in the main caster's mythos can't contribute. It is possible to cast a beneficial miracle on a willing subject of a different faith as normal, but if you do so then a spiritual struggle will erupt as the two belief systems clash. Each character must generate a new faith total using the other character's faith skill total. Then you look up the result on the Combat Results Chart and apply the damage to the characters.


Example: In a pinch, Father Bryce performs a healing miracle on an Edeinos companion. The miracle succeeds, the Edeinos is healed. Even though the Edeinos wanted to be healed, there are still consequences to performing a miracle on a "disbeliever," or accepting a miracle from another faith.

Bryce's faith value is 13. The Edeinos' faith value is 14. Bryce gets a total of 13; no effect on the Edeinos. The Edeinos rolls a total of 19. Bryce takes 6 result points of stun damage (O 2). There are also "spiritual consequences."
I bet you think the next section is about these "spiritual consequences", you'd be wrong. Have I mentioned that the book isn't organized too well?

For some reason, the next section is about "evil enemies"; if you're around someone who shares your mythos but is an opposed side (like a Satanist around Christians), then the evil character's faith adds are treated as a penalty to the "good" character's rolls.

For some other reason, the next section after that is about conversion. It's possible to convert from one religion to another; doign so will reduce your faith adds by 1 (but if you go to 0 adds, you're still considered to have the skill), and converting clears all spiritual damage effects you're suffering from. Also, if you don't have the faith skill and someone performs a miracle on you with a spectacular success (beating the difficulty by 12 or more), then the target will automatically convert to the caster's religion, and must immediately buy an add in the faith skill for 2 Possibilities.

Oh, hey, spiritual damage effects! Like backlash, this is normal damage with special fun riders:
1) If you're KO'd by spiritual damage, you lose your focus skill. You can't get it back until you either convert or are the subject of the ritual of purification miracle.
2) If you suffer any wounds from spiritual damage and become heavenly wounded, you lose both your faith and focus skills, and can't get them back or be healed below wounded until you are the target of the ritual of hope miracle.

Next up is a list of various belief systems (monotheism, animism, polytheism, etc.). Surprisingly, the nature of your belief system doesn't have a mechanical effect on your character.

Unless you are an atheist! If you're an atheist, you can actually cancel out a miracle of any religion by making a faith roll and beating the caster's focus total. Yes, this means you can have faith in being an athiest.

Moving on from that interesting theological paradox, there's some information on the spiritual axiom. Interestingly, the higher a cosm's spiritual axiom, the more likely the belief systems there will become literal truths.


In cosms with lower spiritual axioms such as Core Earth, the documents of a religion tend to be slightly altered or vary more from the literal history of the religion — but they are still valid beliefs because they are true for the originating cosm of the religion, and faith in that religion will yield spiritual power in any cosm (at least those with an axiom greater than zero). A worshipper's faith tenuously connects her with the originating cosm, as well as other members of the community who hold the same faith.

Also, the higher a cosm's spiritual axiom, the more likely there can be religous artifacts. Artifacts have their own faith and focus skills, and someone of that faith can use the artifact's skills in place of his own.

Then out of nowhere we get some stuff about spending Possibilities on miracles. You'd think this would be back with the information about, you know, making the skill check but whatever.


Only one Possibility may be spent to enhance this roll, as usual; however, since there are two participants in the miracle, there are limitations on who may spend the Possibility. The focus character may spend the Possibility if and only if the focus total did not exceed the difficulty of the miracle before the additional roll. If it did, the faith character must spend the Possibility.

Oh, by the way, this rather important bit is just tossed out there:


If a miracle fails, the character may not attempt the miracle for 24 hours, or until he undergoes the ritual of purification. In addition, the character providing the faith must wait 24 hours or be cleansed in a ritual of hope before he can use his faith in any miracle.

If a character is providing both faith and focus, both restrictions apply.
Interestingly, there's no equivalent mechanic for spells. You can fail to cast spells with no penalty beyond backlash, but even then you don't lose access to the spell.

Oh, and because there's not enough stuff to keep track of, there are global modifiers to the difficulty depending on the situation the miracle's being cast in.

There are a few more small rules bits before we get to the actual miracles. First off, a character can only recieve healing once every 24 hours. Also, if you want to cast a miracle on multiple targets, it's not one-on-many, it's considered a multi-action. No, I don't know why. Oh, and the targets aren't all affected at the same exact time; if the miracle is beneficial then it affects everyone in descending faith order, and if it's harmful it's in ascending order.

There are also "freeform" miracles called invocations, which is an appeal for direct divine intervention. The community rating and focus difficulty for an invocation is 20 + (33 - local spiritual axiom). For instance the Nile Empire has a spiritual axiom of 17, so the difficulty for invocation is 20+(33-17)=36. When you invoke, there's no faith roll because the diety is powering the invocation. If you succeed, the degree of success determines the overall effect. A minimal success means that the effect goes off, but in a way that doesn't really disturb the world and can be written off as a coincidence, but a spectacular success will be undeniably a divine act and will also have an extra divine effect.

The miracles listed in the core book are the "Miracles of Core Earth", but some of them have a Spiritual Rating (the axiom level of the spell) higher than Core Earth's spiritual axion of 9. Which means that, even though "a Core Earth character who has a focus value has access to all of the miracles below", you couldn't try to cast them without risking creating a contradiction.

So let's take a look at a typical miracle.



Spiritual Rating: 10
Community Rating: 11
Difficulty: 15
Range: touch
Duration: na

Effect: reduces damage and wounds by number of success levels

If the miracle succeeds at all, the target removes all KO-conditions and shock. In addition, each success level of the miracle reduces the target character's wound level by one. For example, a character with a heavy wound who received average healing would be completely healed. A character suffering a loss of faith due to spiritual damage may not have his wounds fully healed, even via this miracle, until he undergoes the ritual of hope.

We've already covered what this all means, so let's do an example again.

I'm playing a Cyberpapal priest with a faith of 15 and a focus of 13. I need to cast Healing on Sir Franklin, a friend from Aysle who has a faith of 10 (he's a follower of Dunaad, god of honor), a focus of 13, and has been hurt pretty badly: 4 shock, a K, and two wounds. We're in the Cyberpapacy, so the local axiom matches my character's axiom.

The Cyberpapacy's spiritual axiom is 14, so that's not a problem. I make a focus roll and get a final result of 20. This isn't an immediate need situation, so that increases the difficulty by 5, but I still made it. The miracle is cast successfully, but now we have to see if it takes. Sir Franklin is the benifcator of the miracle, so he makes a faith roll and gets a 14.

So the miracle has taken effect on both sides because I made the initial casting roll and Sir Franklin got a positive result. All his shock and KO effects are healed. We look up his focus total on the General Results Table. Unfortunately, at no point does the book tell me what the target number is for the faith roll so I'm going to assume it's 0. 12 is a "spectacular" success (4 levels), so he also heals all his wounds.

But! The two characters believe in different mythoses, so there's a spiritual struggle. Each character rolls their faith against the other character's focus.

I bomb and get a total of 10 against Sir Franklin's focus of 13. I missed the roll by 3, so I take a K and 1 shock.
Sir Franklin gets a 12 against my focus of 13. He takes 1 shock.

Now, if I had beaten the difficulty of the initial faith roll by 12 or more we would have bypassed the whole spiritual struggle thing because Sir Franklin would have converted; he'd have to reduce his faith adds by one, and would become a devout follower of Cybercatholicism. Which will be interesting when he tries to follow the tenets of the religion and get some cyberware that wouldn't be supported by his personal axioms.

Maybe the miracle rules aren't better than the magic rules, after all.

Seriously, would it have been so bad to just say "roll your Cast Spell/Miracle skill"?

NEXT TIME: Equipment, and the end of the core book.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Magic

Magic spirits are very important to magi, but are also extremely limited in their ability things. See, their bodies are pure form, with no matter whatsoever. Without use of magical powers, they can't even interact with matter in any way, and without magic, no material being can sense or interact with them. They can fly, ignore physical damage and are immortal. However, they also lack...basic physical traits, like color or size. People see them as they imagine the spirit should look, and interpret their communication as sound, but in reality it's just...neither. Spirits typically have a handful of magic powers, one of which is generally some ability to interact with the physical world - perhaps by possessing a human, perhaps by creating a body from incidental matter, perhaps by telekinesis or possession of nearby objects.

The weakest spirits are the Airy Spirits, beings that are native to the material world. They can be found, in theory, anywhere, and are quite common in magic auras, though usually unnoticed because most Airy Spirits have no interest in material things at all. They are divided into Florae and Fauni, which represent specific plants and animals respectively (for no known purpose) and which are generally very dumb, Spirits of the Elements, which represent specific inanimate objects (and, again, seem to have no purpose for existence and tend to be very bad at dealing with mundane reality), the Imagines, embodiments of sensory phenomena, Eidolons, the spirits of emotions, and Genii Loci, the spirits of places. Jinn are a subspecies of genius locus. Almost none of these Airy Spirits are particularly suited for PCs, since few have much real interest in the human world except jinn, and jinn can't leave their locus without making a bargain with someone. Normal genii loci can't leave their locus at all.

Beyond the Airy Spirits are the Named Spirits, the Daimons. These draw power from their True Names, and may not send their true forms into the world. Rather, they can send only Aspects of themselves. Each Daimon is the spiritual reflection of some aspect of the world, perhaps the spirit of a river in its totality, or Helios, the spirit of the sun. Such beings are far too potent to be PCs in most cases, and also far too unable to interact with the world as normal characters. (Some magi seek immortality by becoming Daimons, however.) Above them are the Primal Spirits, known as Protogonoi and Kosmokraters. Protogonoi are truly ancient beings, the First Born, with no interest at all in the mundane world. Kosmokraters are slightly more active - these are the Titans, the jotun-father Ymir, the Celtic Fomoire. They are potent but generally imprisoned spirits of immense vastness and power.

A spirit you might be more likely to play is a Ghost. Ghosts have highly variable mental states - some are lucid and rational, while others are insane or delusional. Some magi suppose that ghosts come in different kinds, or that some are even Airy Spirits misidentified. The most common ghost is the kind that claims to be a dead person returned from the afterlife. These are known as apparitions, and they have some strong emotional tie to the world, which they desperately seek to resolve. They look and behave as they did in life, with nearly complete memory of life and normal awareness. They know they're dead and want to complete their quest so they can pass on. They can explain what keeps them there and how to help. You'd think they'd be safe to deal with, but they are obsessed with resolving their issue, and may resort to trickery or force to get you to help. Most other ghosts are less lucid than them, though.

Shades are those ghosts that appear as distorted reflections of the once-living. They, too, are kept to the world by an emotional tie, but they are so influenced by it that it dominates their existence. They are essentially a mental caricature of their former life, reshaped by death. They have reason, but are perpetually overwhelmed by a single emotion, which dominates their thinking. Their memories are complete only when related to what ties them to the world; all other memories are fragmentary at best. Shades tend to have a distorted sense of time, often reliving the leadup to their deaths over and over. They are often delusional and may mistake new people or places for familiar ones. They tend to have trouble remembering things that happen after their deaths, too. Most ghostly warders are a shade obsessed with protecting someone they knew in life.

Spectres are another kind of ghost - the kind that continues the role it had in life. Ghostly miners that continue to mine after a cave-in, say. They are less personal than apparitions or shades, more related to their occupation or role than their life. Their worldly ties tend to be rather abstract, so laying them to rest is harder. They often appear as mere shadows of the living, forgetting most of their lives. Their only skills are those relevant to their roles. Some Churchmen say that they are souls being punished for impiety, but magi believe they are more a shadow of the mind created by traumatic death and some unknown mystical phenomenon. Some claim they are not ghosts at all, but a form of Airy Spirit. House Tremere uses spectres as ghostly soldiers.

Some ghosts, as a note, do not even realize they're dead. Some believe ghosts are those who are in Purgatory, since no one can actually agree on where Purgatory is. Ghosts who know they're dead usually describe their existence in terms of the religion they followed in life, but this could well be an elaborate delusion caused by the trauma of death. Orthodox magi point to the fact that non-Latin ghosts never claim to come from Purgatory as proof that it doesn't exist, while others claim that is because only those of the "true" faith go there. No one has any real idea what the metaphysical status of a ghost is, and frankly, it doesn't really matter much.

Next time: Magic Things

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Realms of Power: Magic

First up, we get some new forms of vis - no, you can't play as vis. Basically, there are three kinds: Lesser Enchantment Vis, a form of vis that functions as a minor enchanted item, Spell-Like Vis, which can be consumed to power as single spell contained in it, and Dedicated Vis, which empowers some specific kind of vis usage, such as enchanting or spellcasting. Unfortunately, such vis must be kept in its natural form or the power is lost, so you may run into trouble with vis that is naturally, say, fog. On the other hand, some of the magical powers of the vis are annoying or unpleasant, so turning them off by transferring the vis into other forms may be what you want.

Herbs and Objects of Virtue are another thing you can't actually play. What they are is, again, the platonic ideal of whatever it is they are. Unlike Beasts of Virtue, they don't move around. However, they often contain vis. The other thing is that you can Enrich them, utilizing your magical knowledge to unlock the powers within them. Anyone can then use that power...but, sadly, the Aegis of the Hearth suppresses it completely, and the innate Hermetic magic resistance also interferes. As a result, Hermetic magi tend to ignore the benefits of Enrichment, though it is much more commonly used by hedge magicians.

Awakened Trees...well, you generally aren't going to play as one, because they're roughly as smart as a dog or cat, usually. They can move about somewhat, but become very lethargic in low magic auras. A very rare few are actually fully mobile. But hey, there are vaguely sentient trees out there, and they do talk to each other. They just don't talk about things any more complex than most animals do.

Awakened Items are rather more intelligent, and you...well, you can play as one, I guess. If you feel like being a cloak or a sword. They tend to be created when enchanted items are exposed to large quantities of magic by lab accidents or the Magic Realm. The example is Amiculum, an enchanted cloak that came to life when its master took it to the Magic Realm. Amiculum now tries very hard to stay clean and pure, and to protect its master from harm. It speaks Latin and can move around, but it prefers not to do so for fear of embarrassing its master.

Kelpies are strange magical...things that live at the bottom of pools. Their natural form is a mass of oily black tentacles with beaks, but they can transform into black horses. They attempt to devour other horses and any human foolish enough to ride them. They can, however, be tamed. They are about as smart as a horse, do not tire, resist magic and run very quickly. In horse form, they also don't look explicitly magical. They must rest in magical auras, however, and generally in pools. They're more (very dangerous) pets and less PCs.

Elementals, now, you can play one. Most aren't intelligent, but a very rare few will be. Elementals are magical creatures composed of pure elemental matter. They aren't actually alive, and neither grow nor reproduce. Rather, they are rarefied from atoms of pure matter, none of which have ever lived nor been forged into something new. Magi can create elementals, either on purpose or by accident. Further, high magic auras may naturally generate elementals. Once created, an elemental exists until destroyed. They do not age, hunger or suffer disease. They are driven by impulse, and almost no elemental possesses any capacity for rational thought in the traditional sense.


Even an intelligent elemental being is a simple-minded creature, and most are just not intelligent in any sense of the term. All elementals tend to be inexperienced, for they are just not things that learn easily. Their size determines their power. They also do not suffer wounds in the traditional sense; rather, damage done to them weakens the binding of their bodies, destroying the magic that holds them together. They can only be killed by being drained of vis; they will eventually regenerate from their inanimate, 'destroyed' state otherwise. However, their reanimation requires vis to happen, which might take years to show up, so that hardly matters.

Earth Elementals are known as genomi, gnomes, pygmaei or telluri. They can be made from any earth unworked by human hands - soil, sand, stone, naturally occurring metals. They are patient, long-lived creatures that thirst for moisture - especially that which lies within the living. They are highly territorial and will attack anyone in their defined territory. They make excellent guards. They general appear as rather cubic piles of rock or dirt, and move by sliding their cubic components in endless cycles. They are exceptionally strong and shockingly fast, and they can generally ignore most slashing weapons, though picks spades and hammers work well. They crush their foes with their heavy limbs, and often have the power to rust metal or consume the moisture within their victims.

Water Elementals are also called lymphae, undines, undena, ondines, aquacolae, nymphs or alcyones. They are made of natural liquids, typically salt or fresh water, and the liquid must not be seperated from its source. They are always perfectly pure. They are the most intelligent of elementals, for what that's worth, and are very tough. However, they are slow and unsuitable as guards. Their nature drives them to collect and mix substances together, and so their lairs are often home to an eclectic array of garbage. They smother and drown their foes, and can often extract heat from them and can usually scry via rivers or other bodies of water. They are made of symmetrical humps of triangle-faceted icosahedrons.

Air Elementals are known as zephyri, silvestres, sylphs, aeoliae, nenuphas or brontes. Any air under open sky or any natural weather can be made into an air elemental, which is made of octohedral chains, ropes and loops. They are utterly restless, unable to remain still. and move constantly unless constrained by magic. They are very perceptive creatures, aware of any movement, and cannot be surprised. They desire to dissolve barriers and rigidity, and many can dissolve matter. They attack by suffocating foes, and many may also shoot lightning and dissolve things.

Fire Elementals are known as phlegethi, ignigena, vulcans, rolamandri, salamanders and aethnici. They are rare, for they occur only from natural flame - usually lightning strikes, sometimes earth-fires, natural alchemical reactions or the fires of the upper atmosphere. They can form from natural fires fed later by fuel, and they tend to be short-lived, lasting only while they have fuel to burn. They are extremely fast and beguiling. Their flames are tetrahedral, long and thin or low and flat as needed. Their insticts are clear: burn, consume the cold and replace it with heat, and escape all confinements. They burn their foes, and often have the power to fascinate the minds of man with their colors or to shoot blasts of flame.

The End!

Choose: Choices are: the True Lineage Houses of Hermes and their secrets (Houses of Hermes: True Lineages), Mystery Cults (The Mysteries, Revised Edition), the Mystery Cult Houses (Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults), more depth on Covenants (Covenants), 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 Faeries (Realms of Power: Faerie), nobility (Lords of Men), the Church (The Church) or Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal).

Oct 10, 2007

Can you see that I am serious?
Fun Shoe
Ancient Magic


Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Yes, Ancient Magic.

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