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Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Pththya-lyi posted:

Hey gently caress you good luck kittens are awesome, and are much less ridiculous than Axis Apes and zombies and whatnot. :colbert:
Then they should have given them actual stats instead of a half-done job. :smug:

It also seems that we have a winner, as :ussr: Hell Freezes Over :ussr: has swept the voting board.




Part 1: Chapter 1's Prescient Naming
Introduction to Chapter 1, skills, and feats
Our introduction to the Russians in Weird War II is a brief statement about how Russians used lovely weapons and inferior tactics and only won battles because of sheer numbers, followed by the introduction of SOPA. No, not that SOPA, this is a book from 2003. These guys are the Soviet Office of Paranormal Activity, the Russian equivalent of the OSI. SOPA is ddifferent from their western counterparts in several facets - they are not tied to the Sons of Solomon since they betrayed them during Stalin's Great Purge, they only accept people who actually killed a Nazi paranormal entity rather than just people who have seen them, they hoard magical items a lot more frequently, and their atheistic bent means there are fewer Chaplains. Once World War II ends and the Cold War begins, the changing tide will lead to an occult war between the OSI and SOPA.


Second up are new skills and feats. The skills are Ammo and Explosive Manufacturing (you can make bombs, Molotov cocktails, bullets, or artillery shells), Knowledge-Politics (it's a Knowledge variant), Skiing (a very specific fusion of Jump and Tumble), and Winter Survival (should probably just be new uses of Survival). The initial feats are mostly pretty lackluster bonuses to either melee or firearms combat, but there are two that are noteworthy - Party Member gives you a bonus to Diplomacy checks and promotions as long as you are interacting with the Communist Party, while Tank Immobilization lets you use flamethrowers, Molotov cocktails, or antitank guns to specifically target a tank's suspension and more easily deal critical damage to it.


We also get our introduction to weird feats. While they didn't appear in the core rulebook for some reason, they appear in every sourcebook other than Horrors of Weird War II. Weird feats are, as their name implies, weird - some sort of supernatural stimulus has given your character a freaky power. There are four specific ones presented for Hell Freezes Over: Below Zero Resistance gives you cold immunity but makes you have to do Fortitude saves or take nonlethal damage in temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, Bullet Proof makes you immune to non-critical bullet shots from anything smaller than a 20mm bullet, Propaganda Prophet lets you cast mass suggestion on crowds after long speeches but makes you a target for the Communist Party if you aren't saying what Stalin wants you to say, and Vodka Healing lets you heal 1d6 points of damage for every 12 ounces of vodka you drink.


Character Classes
Before we get into full-on new classes, we get some archetypes for classes from Weird War II. Unlike the class archetypes you'd expect frm 3.5, however, Weird War II's archetypes are more often than not just glorified equipment packages.
  • Dog Handler: This archetype is for the Grunt, Medic, and Scout classes. You get a dog as an animal companion, but are otherwise pretty much a standard member of your class.
  • NKVD: An archetype for Grunt or Officer that reflect a character that is part of Stalin's secret police. The only actual benefits are some free equipment and a few extra class skills, though. :shrug:
  • Partisan: The Partisan is an archetype specifically for the Resistance Fighter. It ups the Resistance Fighter's hit die size from d6 to d8 and their "safehouse" can actually include an entire village or a lonely chunk of forest or swamp, but their forged papers are less effective.


As for actual new classes, there are three.
  • Cavalryman: Average rather than full Base Attack Bonus progression, good Reflex save progression, and a class feature that lets him use his horse as a living shield are the only things that really differentiate the bonus feat-spamming Cavalryman from the bonus feat-spamming Grunt, Officer, or Fighter.
  • Commissar: While his Fortitude and Reflex save progressions are very poor, the Commissar has average BAB progression and great Will save progression. He also gains two notable class features in addition to bonus feats: one is the ability to :commissar: without repercussions, while the other allows him to make Knowledge (Politics) checks to impose a mind control ability on his subordinates.
  • Shaman: Shamans are dedicated natural spellcasters who have a guardian spirit that they must emulate in their clothing and revere in their magic. With strong Fortitude and Will save progressions, they tend to be made of tougher stuff than most spellcasters, but they also have a lot of restrictions in that they have to wear specific items for specific spells - a shaman must have a drum if casting a spell with a verbal or somatic component, must wear gloves to cast touch spells, etc. Guardian spirits grant domains similar to gods, with the example Siberian guardian spirits being Gray Wolf (Animal domain), Reindeer (Good domain), Brown Bear (Healing domain), Arctic Tern (Soul Travel domain), and Yeti (Weather domain). As long as a shaman has a staff, he can also transform into the image of his guardian spirit once per day. Shamans also gain access to helper spirits (20 presented overall for Siberian shamans) that grant them a specific spell-like ability, two spell-like abilities, or a spell-like ability and a skill bonus/feat once per day. Some examples include Earthworm granting soften earth and stone, Muskrat granting endure elements and reduce, Husky granting animal friendship and resist elements, and Weasel granting confusion.



Prestige classes are a lot simpler. The OSI Adept, OSI Operative, and OSI Chaplain are renamed SOPA Adept, SOPA Operative, and SOPA Clergy, and there's a new prestige class called the Guardsman. With d12 hit dice an full Base Attack Bonus progression, the Guardsman is meant to be the party tank. On the downside, they only have some bonus feats every other level and no unique class features to make them stand out as anything but "the tank".

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

Next time: chapter 2's equipment and chapter 3's :ussr: history.

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Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Fossilized Rappy posted:

Then they should have given them actual stats instead of a half-done job. :smug:

But a Deus ex Machina doesn't need stats! :argh:

You'll be happy to know that the Rubble Kitten does get stats in the Savage World book from 2009. (The book also states that rubble kittens never grow up and "quickly disappear" if taken from their chosen owner - even if they were given away.) Also the authors made it a point to remove most of the silly stuff, especially the Axis-generated baddies.

I just want to say that I really like the 2009 version, but I've never gotten to play it. :smith:

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011



Cynical-Pop Meikyuu Kingdom Dungeon Theater

Introduction: Welcome to the Million Dungeons!

Okay, see if you can follow me, here. Two-thousand-ish years ago, the world was your standard anime high-fantasy setting. Presumably, anyway. Not much record actually survives of it, because of a global cataclysm of unknown origin that turned everyplace into monster-infested dungeons overnight. Earth, sea, sky, literally everything: literally dungeons. Yeah, "verisimilitude" pretty much isn't a word here. Anyway, humanity was almost driven extinct by the ensuing chaos, but the cataclysm also brought out the Landmakers among the people: superhuman adventurer-kings with the strength of arms to drive back the monsters and the force of will to impose order back onto the dungeons. The present-day world is still largely a deadly, anarchic place, but thanks to the Landmakers, enough patches of civilization exist to create a sort of overall normalcy.

Meikyuu Kingdom, yet another entry from Japan, is a game of two parts, as evidenced by the two core rulebooks: Kingdom and Dungeon. As Landmakers, players start out with a tiny nation the size of a small village and 50 ordinary citizens depending on them for survival and leadership. Your first duty is to the people, managing the growth and direction of your kingdom to create a safe haven. Yours isn't the only point of light in the world, either, and diplomacy must be maintained with the others (well, not must, but y'know). That, broadly, is the "Kingdom" part.


It would be hard for me to overstate how much I love everything about this picture. It's pretty much the reason I bought these books.

The "Dungeon" part should be fairly self-evident: the landscape continues to shift unpredictably, and adventure is practically a universal constant. Anything you gain will likely have to be taken by force; luckily, the Million Dungeons are so diverse that anything you could want to gain can be found somewhere, usually with a nest of monsters sitting on top of it. Kill them, take their stuff, and pawn it to fund your latest civil engineering project! See how it all fits together?


Picnic cancelled on account of dragon attack. Again.

I can't think of a good segue into this part, so I'm just going to digress. The Kingdom Book's actual introductory chapter is rather interestingly set up. It starts with a short comic:


"What? That book is a game?!"

A group of friends are hanging out in a restaurant when one of them spontaneously suggests a game of Meikyuu Kingdom! Everybody is instantly on board, except for the lady in the blue hoodie, who is confounded by the very concept of role-playing games. The rest of the intro is framed as Blue Hoodie asking a question and Book Provider answering it in very basic terms (the term "other self" is used repeatedly in place of "player character"), a combination of the Game Fiction and Infodump types I don't think I've ever seen anywhere else.

It also establishes Meikyuu Kingdom as a game that can be picked up by anyone practically instantly... a claim which I'm frankly not sure it actually delivers. That's not to say the mechanics are terribly complicated, because they're not. Aside from the character sheets, everything with any sort of stat block, from monsters to items to buildings to skills, is represented by a card (all of which are present in the core books for printing/photocopying), which makes everything easier on everyone. There's also quite a bit of rolling against tables involved, which while nowhere near TORG levels of insanity, could still bring the game to a confusing halt while books are flipped through... except then I remembered after typing out this paragraph that they printed duplicates of every table in their own chapter for easy access. Well, it's just a pie-in-the-sky sort of thing to say, alright?! :reject:

That's sort of an odd note to end on, but whatever. Next time: a brief glossary of terms and suchlike that may come up later but don't really fit in easily with any other sort of post! I can't wait!

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Pththya-lyi posted:

Even the bad guys kept kittens around:


Is that a grenade? :smith:

Arashiofordo3
Nov 5, 2010

Warning, Internet
may prove lethal.


House Louse posted:

Is that a grenade? :smith:

Actually I think it's a mortar round. So the Kitten is probably pretty safe.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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




:allears: This is going to be awesome. Thank you for F&Fing this for us, dude.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Tatum Girlparts posted:

I love Pinnacle, and I love Weird War 2 for Savage World, but goddamn they learn nothing from their past.

Fossilized Rappy posted:

Vodka Healing lets you heal 1d6 points of damage for every 12 ounces of vodka you drink.

Of course it does. :mad: It makes me think of d20 Afghanistan, which gave Muslim clerics cure light wounds because Muslims can ignore pain out of sheer fanaticism, donchaknow. :cripes:

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts:™ England Part 5: “This is why we hate druids”



Another installment of merrie olde Englande which is apparently now free of all that urbanization that was clogging up its glorious green fields and now full to the brim with Druids!



and by ‘druids’ i guess they really meant ‘odin’

There are apparently three divisions of the so-called Woodland Druids, the Dryads, the Filidh, and the Scathach. I suppose if White Wolf can just randomly steal words for their splats, so can Palladium. All of these druid-types are basically ‘an it harm none, do as you will, love is the whole of the law’ etc etc and they should come with a tie-dye shirt in their default gear. They don’t object to reasonable amounts of logging to build tract housing, but want balance and whatever.

The Filidh (‘fil leed’ according to the book) is basically a Fianna Galliard minus the werewolf part. They’re poets, scholars, herbalists, etc. Also, many have learned to use such modern tools as cameras and computers to help fight evil! Their magic herbal knowledge is limited to “divination, clairvoyance, and protection against the supernatural,” I guess to give the Herbalist OCC a reason to exist. They get a fairly usual selection of skills though the fact that ‘Euro’ is a language will always be dumb...but then I bet ‘Chinese’ is also. They get a bunch of herbs and a wand and staff of choice...which some of those are pretty buff. And they all specifically have a walking stick which may be the aforementioned staff, and dress like Cary Grant Robin hood-types. They also get a horse. A normal horse. They are extremely boring.



why do i get the feeling that she and her parrot are lecturing those guys about littering?

The Dryad OCC is described as the ‘master of herb magic’ because we didn’t already have one of those, healing, and making wands and staves. Wait, what, seriously? We really did just have one of these. Also that is not what a ‘dryad’ is, even if this class is restricted to women.

It’s noted on all the druid types that they have far less PPE than other practitioners of magic, no particular reason why since they don’t even have any actual spells except--oh right the first time we get magic-item creation rules that might actually be useful. The Dryads are also noted as ‘the ultimate masters of herb magic’, which seriously, I thought that was the mushroom-fed mutants up above, what is this class even doing here? Also apparently it’s ‘dray ad’.

Equipment is two wands or a wand and a staff and a bunch of wilderness gear; it notes as well that both the filidh and dryads mostly wear magical bark or leaf armor, it doesn’t specify that they receive it automatically. Also they don’t get a horse and apparently don’t like learning to drive. This class gets better equipment than the Herbalist but their lovely PPE numbers mean it will be hard for them to use their magic plant skills much, and they can’t do all the funky plant manipulation the Herbalists can. It was apparently just really important to call this class ‘dryad’ and restrict it to women and then not make them interesting in any way.

Lastly, the Scathach. These druids are warriors and blacksmiths who can work with more than just trees--they can manage metal! And maybe even rock. Also it looks like they have a whole big list of stuff they can create. They again get really limited PPE, lest their item creation powers actually manage to function. These guys have a huge list of special magical junk they can make which is separate from the usual list of magical herb crap that already got its own fifteen page section, so here we go.

1. Magic Cauldrons! (sic) They seem very excited about this. Perhaps Williams Sonoma has not re-opened yet and so cookware must be magically-hand-crafted through rituals involving animal sacrifice. Anyway, these things take months to make, 133 PPE per stage (awfully specific) and there are several kinds. The PPE cost apparently does not vary based on size of cauldron.

So here we go: Cauldron of Boiling. Makes anything placed inside it boiling hot without any need for fire. PPE Cost 450. Wait, is that in addition to the other cost? for a magical hot plate? 30,000 credits on the black market. The people of England must be really short electric ranges.

Cauldron of Destruction: Anything, including rune weapons, can be melted down to slag or ash in this cauldron. Now this has actual plot potential, though it only works at a ley line nexus on the winter or summer solstice or a lunar or solar eclipse. For 1600 PPE there has to be an easier way. Also requires a scatach to be 10th level or higher, which is basically unachievable in any normal campaign length.

Endless Water: Endless water. 40,000 credits, which I can see many communities investing in.

Plenty: Jesus cauldron, food or drink prepared in it will feed ten times as many people as one of its size normally would. Given that they can make these basically as big as they want according to the text above, this is another thing I would fully expect every town or city with enough barter to invest in, which is probably why they’re 300,000 credits. Take that, starvers.

Purity: Apparently not abstinence-related, it just purifies poisons or pollutants or whatever and only costs half as much as the cauldron of plenty! A bargain for those organic food lovers out there.

2. Other Magic Irons

I guess there are other magical metalworks the Scathach can make, I’m not going to list them all in as much detail. Magic chains that require supernatural PS 40 or higher to break but only have 10 MDC per link, magic fireproof hammer that does SDC damage, magic horseshoes that give horses a speed buff, magic javelin that is less good than the ones the Millennium Trees drop on people, Magic mallet that is like the hammer but ‘bigger’, magic manacles that are like the chains but slightly stronger, magic nails and spikes that never rust or bend, magic sword that does minor MD to creatures of magic, magic throwing iron like the sword but ranged.

3. Weapons of Wood

As with the ‘other magic irons’, not going too deeply into these. Magic arrows of specific types of wood that damage specific types of supernatural creature exceptionally or just do extra SDC, woo. +1 bow. Magic Flute that always sounds like a pro. Magic war hammer +1 (of wood?) and throwing stick.

That’s it for their list of various magical goods; Rifts tends to discourage improvisation from their highly detailed lists of course, and a lot of these items pretty much suck. The ones that don’t are mostly the ones that would help a post-Rifts society survive like the Cauldron of Plenty, but they never examine the impact of conveniences like that where they exist, in magical or technological form. Though really the technology people only ever invent various kinds of robot, just read the Triax book, you’ll see.

Anyway they get some average skills and ‘two cauldrons of choice’ except destruction, so that’s like, two out of a list of four. Or two of a kind. Some other ‘magic irons’ or iron and wood. And they get a horse with magic horseshoes. Says they like to wear heavy armor but gives no specifics--and while they can choose one of the magic weapons from the selection for their starting gear, they don’t have a lot of offense either. Also, this is not really a good adventuring class anyway--set up shop by a line nexus with a town and start working, done.




The first three were collectively called “woodland druids” which makes sense because the next type of druid, the Millennium Druid, patterns themselves after their sacred Tree of Life. They’re all vegetarians though not the fanatical kind who lecture people about factory farming, and mostly they wander around like hippie knights-errant, healing and helping and spreading farming lore and whatever. Like Batman, they don’t like to kill, and so often just let their enemies go to return to being pests later, because that is the law of nature: never kill. Note: The Millenium Trees are specifically noted as having the power to kill the poo poo out of things that bother them, including exploding themselves violently, so these guys are just morons.

Powers of the Millenium Druid

“One might argue that the real powers of these druids are kindness, strong will and dedication to their beliefs rather than magic.” :suicide:

Mostly though their powers are ‘getting to know the Millennium Trees’ and it says that the better a tree knows a particular druid, the more frequently it’ll give them visions or healing or all that fancy tree-swag they can make, though staves and such tend to be reserved for 7th level and up. Because Millennium Trees can sense XP. There isn’t any other qualitative data, just “the trees like them better the more often they visit.”

They also don’t get the Mystic Herbology skill, just Holistic Medicine, so they can only do the weaksauce herb powers. They do get some starting tree gifts, bark or leaf armor, a hooded robe to look properly druidly, and a horse. It mentions that experienced druids may ride exotic mounts. And that’s basically it. The whole class’s powerset is ‘the trees like you better and may give you things, at the GM’s discretion’. All of these druid classes kind of suck, but this one may be the worst. They don’t even get the very minimal caster PPE boost that the item-crafters do; they are totally dependent on the Millennium Trees and having adventures be conveniently located near them. There isn’t even a ‘commune with trees’ unique skill to maybe give some numbers to what they can get. Also: They don’t speak English by default. Just Euro and Faerie. :golfclap:

All of this is pretty poorly laid out but it is nothing compared to what comes next. A hint: Chiang-Ku Dragons

Also yay, Meikyuu Kingdom!

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Of course it does. :mad: It makes me think of d20 Afghanistan, which gave Muslim clerics cure light wounds because Muslims can ignore pain out of sheer fanaticism, donchaknow. :cripes:

Mother of Christ, I'm starting to see this company made Broncosaurs Rex (Unless we're talking about different groups).

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011



Cynical-Pop Meikyuu Kingdom Dungeon Theater

Kingdom Book Chapter 0.5 - Miscellany

Dice! Gotta have dice. In this case, though, only six-sided ones, and only maybe a dozen of them at the absolute maximum. Rolls come in two flavors: the standard Xd6 which needs no introduction, and the d66. d66s are used almost exclusively for those tables I mentioned in the last post (although tables don't use d66s exclusively), and are made by rolling 2d6 and counting the lower number as a "tens" digit. This way, the results range from 11-16, 22-26, 33-36, and so forth. Rolling higher is generally better.

Notations! They show up on the cards. For future reference:
    ( ) - Character Attributes or National Powers
    < > - most game variables
    [ ] - mathematical formulas
    { } - the name of some other card

Default setting! There is one, but what I already covered in the intro is pretty much the only definition it gets in the Kingdom Book. It gets a few scattered mentions, but everything beyond a vague outline left in the Dungeon Book. This seemed strange, but now I'm guessing it's because they don't want to unnecessarily color whatever ideas of their own the players might have while still leaving enough for the GM to fill in any blanks or answer any questions. Since that's sort of me here, I'll just get it all out of the way now and define what might come up:
  • Dungeon Hazard - common name for the mysterious disaster that set up the whole high concept of the game.
  • Hazard King - Arthurian figure renowned as the first Landmaker.
  • Million Dungeons - common name for the post-Hazard world at large. Not an empirical number, but referring to the fact that anywhere you go now will be a dungeon.
  • Grand Zero - the world is split into three levels, Norse mythology-style. This is the name for the ground in the middle.
  • Firmament - dungeons in the sky and space and apparently Heaven as Angels are among the Firmament-type Monsters.
  • Deeps - dungeons below sea level. Includes the actual sea. :cthulhu:
  • Great Powers - Not every other kingdom out there is as small as yours. This term refers to four in particular whose influence is entirely global: Meikyuu Superpowers.
  • Dynamite Empire - The youngest of the Great Powers, and on the fast track to becoming the largest. Its philosophy: reclaiming the world by beating the Million Dungeons into submission with overwhelming brute force. :black101:
  • Millennium Dynasty - Has existed practically unchanged since the Dungeon Hazard, at least. Very Middle Kingdom-y.
  • Metro Khanate - Nomads and raiders whose entire kingdom exists on a series of trains. I don't know where the tracks come from, or if there are any tracks. Does it really matter?
  • Holy Capitalist Republic of Hagulma - Economics thrive in the Million Dungeons under the loyal stewardship of Hagulma, part corporation, part bank, all kingdom.

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but then again, I always feel like that. It's usually the case, too. Anyhow! Next time: kingdom creation! For those interested in reader participation, roll up about fifteen d6s and we'll see what sort of place we get! I can't wait!

JohnOfOrdo3
Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid
:black101:


Bitchtits McGee posted:

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but then again, I always feel like that. It's usually the case, too. Anyhow! Next time: kingdom creation! For those interested in reader participation, roll up about fifteen d6s and we'll see what sort of place we get! I can't wait!

15d6=51

Here's some dice, in case the numbers were important, I'll copy them out.

15d6 → [1,4,2,1,3,5,4,4,3,6,2,3,4,5,4] = (51)

Nyaa
Jan 7, 2010
Like, Nyaa.

:colbert:


Bitchtits McGee posted:

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but then again, I always feel like that. It's usually the case, too. Anyhow! Next time: kingdom creation! For those interested in reader participation, roll up about fifteen d6s and we'll see what sort of place we get! I can't wait!
Not sure how many submission you need, but here's my entry.

15d6=59

15d6 → [5,1,2,3,4,4,6,3,6,1,5,5,3,6,5] = (59)

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Bitchtits McGee posted:

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but then again, I always feel like that. It's usually the case, too. Anyhow! Next time: kingdom creation! For those interested in reader participation, roll up about fifteen d6s and we'll see what sort of place we get! I can't wait!
More examples are always better!

15d6: 50 [15d6=3, 3, 2, 5, 5, 1, 4, 5, 4, 5, 1, 1, 4, 2, 5]

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Lion and the Lily: The Normandy Tribunal

We start our journey in Brittany. Southwest of the town of Rennes, near the border of Normandy and in a forest, there is Faeries' Rock, a structure of 42 purple stones. On the night before the winter solstice, a court of faeries will assemble there to try other faeries and occasionally mortals for arbitrary crimes against its arbitrary rules. Those summoned are taken from their beds and teleported to the Rock chamber, where they must listen to anyone who wants to speak for or against them (and can speak for themselves, if they want). The faerie noble running the show will decide on final verdict and sentence. Rewards and punishments are just as arbitary as the laws. The proceedings end as the first shaft of morning light enters the chamber, and any mortals still there must find their own way home.

The nearby Forest of Broceliande is home to the Fountain of Youth, or a Fountain of Youth. Washing your face in the spring's water will make you appear younger for several hours, but so far no one knows how to take advantage of this faerie glamour. Merlin came to this place seeking solitude, and it is here that he met Viviane, the faerie known as the Lady of the Lake. He loved her, but she tired of him and put him to a deep sleep. Legend says he is still near the Fountain, beneath a pair of stone slabs known as the Stone of Merlin. It is said that a drop of water that falls on the Stone will become vapor and the air will become dark and thundery. No one is entirely sure what else might be involved in getting into the Faerie regio that Merlin probably sleeps in.

Let's see...Fudarus, the Domus Magna of House Tytalus, is worthy of mention for the fact that it has exactly two magi living in it, both of whom claim the title of Primus of House Tytalus. As of 25 years ago, the former primus, a woman named Buliste, was declared to have entered Final Twilight and replaced by a man named Harpax. However, she returned from Twilight a few years later and the two have been battling for control of House Tytalus ever since. The other magi of Fudarus have moved out to a nearby vassal covenant, from which all their business is now done until one of the two primi assumes dominance. Buliste is a regal woman who appears to be in her mid-sixties (she's over 80) and commands spirits and spies to annoy her rival, specializing in the art of Mentem. Harpax, her rival, was trained by the same magus and appears to be in his 50s. (He's 70.) He's a better politician and has more human allies, as well as control of the House's wealth, but the rest of the Order likes Buliste more.


Also, they force you to get in via beating someone at a challenge.

Heading on to Normandy, well, let me show you what is most interesting.



Moving quickly to Anjou and Aquitaine, we find the faerie castle at Lusignan. It is owned by a family related to the Counts of Poitiers. Whenever a new count is about to be born or is about to die, a water sprite appears on the ramparts. Her name is Melusine. Long ago, the Count of Poitiers and his adopted son, Raymond, were hunting boar and Raymond accidentally killed his father. He fled in panic until he found a glade with a bubbling spring and three beautiful women. One of them, Melusine, agreed to become his wife if she could spend the Sabbath alone. They had many children, but all had some odd defect. The second son moved to Parthenay, where his mother conjured a castle for him, and the family lives there to this day. Raymond did eventually learn why Melusine needed that day: she was cursed to spend that day with the lower half of her body in the form of a serpent. He loved her so he kept silent until, one day, due to the stress of having one of his sons killed by Norsemen who raided the monastery he lived at, he let the secret slip to his wife. On learning that, she fled the castle forever.

Onwards to Ile de France, home of Paris! Paris is home to the King of Beggars, the Grand Coesre, who rules as strictly as any monarch and commands thieves and beggars of all kinds. He divides his subjects by job - the Marcandiers, who pretend to be robbed merchants, the Francs-mitoux, who have false fainting fits in public spaces, the Malingreux who use fat mixed with ashes to appear horribly diseases, the Pietres, who hobble around on crutches faking lameness, the Saboleux, who use blood and soap to appear to froth at the mouth, the Polissons, who go naked and beg for clothes, the Courtards-de-boutanche, who pretend to be out-of-work tradesmen, the Hutins, who pretend to be bitten by mad dogs, the Coquillards who use forged pilgrims' certificates to beg for alms, the Calots who pretend to be witless dotards, the Capons who do card games, the Narquois, pensioned soldiers who extort via threats, the Millards, who are traveling racketeer groups, and the Orphelines, who slit wealthy money pouches to steal coin. There are others, too. Not all criminals serve the Beggar King, but he does dominate the underworld of Paris. His name is Anacron, Magus of Ex Miscellanea

Off to Flanders and Picardy!


Yeah.

Near Picardy, in the swamps of the Somme, there are enchanted pools, which glow with blue light. If you look close, you can see wealthy carriages within the pools. It is said that water sprites live here, stealing anything that falls into or is trapped by the pools, waylaying travelers with their magic. On the other hand, a toddler or child who slips into one of the springs will be blessed with beautiful blue eyes, and those who willingly give to the waters may be rewarded. These pools, naturally, are bastions of Faerie.

Champagne and Burgundy are home to the covenant Cunfin, notable for being a covenant of grail-seekers. Many question their sense, but none question their scholarship. The magus Celeres, head of Cunfin, is the world's foremost scholar on the Grail, King Arthur and Merlin. He is very hospitable, if very odd, and possesses many books on the Grail and Arthurian times, as well as French Romances and British history.



Lastly, the book goes into adventure ideas, and the only thing I see the need to bring up here is the Children of Odin, a Hermetic mystery cult that views itself as the inheritors of the power of the Viking raiders. The cult is actually quite new, only about a decade old, and its philosophy is, in truth, pure power. Its leader, Queen Skuld, believes that Normandy rightly belongs to the Normans and, perhaps not coincidentally, is a direct descendent of Rollo. She and her followers seek to reverse the French annexation of Normandy. Most magi care little for such mundane power, so Skuld has enticed her followers with secrets of Viking magic in the form of using personal life energy to boost spells and specialization in shapeshifting. The cult is honestly tiny, and exists solely because Skuld is pretty good at tricking young magi into believing her secrets are potent and worth supporting her for. In all honesty, she's pretty likely to be a fraud unless the GM really wants her to have some rune magic.

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 Societates Houses (Houses of Hermes: Societates), academic life (Art and Academe), nobility (Lords of Men), the Church (The Church) or Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal).

dereku
Oct 23, 2010

Open up your senses


Total= 52
1d6 → [3] = (3)
1d6 → [4] = (4)
1d6 → [1] = (1)
1d6 → [6] = (6)
1d6 → [4] = (4)
1d6 → [4] = (4)
1d6 → [3] = (3)
1d6 → [4] = (4)
1d6 → [5] = (5)
1d6 → [6] = (6)
1d6 → [3] = (3)
1d6 → [1] = (1)
1d6 → [1] = (1)
1d6 → [2] = (2)
1d6 → [5] = (5)

http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/4069876/

Rulebook Heavily
Sep 18, 2010

by FactsAreUseless


Mors Rattus posted:

nobility (Lords of Men)

I love me some medieval nobility!

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Meikyuu Kingdom has to be the absolutely weirdest RPG setting I've ever seen. I don't think any other premise comes close to "one day, suddenly everything was dungeons."

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.


Cardiovorax posted:

Meikyuu Kingdom has to be the absolutely weirdest RPG setting I've ever seen. I don't think any other premise comes close to "one day, suddenly everything was dungeons."

Rifts and TORG are pretty close, actually. MK offers an elegant simplicity, however, that makes it far easier to grasp.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





The Final Push

Due to comments showing interest in Curriculum, I'll be finishing the book in one giant honking MEGA-UPDATE

Mystic Wards
The conspiracy has seven mystic wards, created by Dr. Levitt, scattered around the school. These Wards are the most powerful weapon the Conspiracy has it its war against the monsters. Only Mr. Stanmeyer, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Greenacre, and Ms. Flavin can activate and control the wards, but Mr. Stanmeyer would instantly know who activated them, so the others rarely do it without a very good reason.

These wards are primarily hidden througout the school in areas that would be difficult to get to and destroy. Locations such as a mural near the front office, on the back of a library shelf, inside the faculty lounge, and on top of the flag-pole. While destroying six of the wards would be fairly easy, if the players are good at stealth, the seventh ward is a bitch and a half. It can only bee seen in a special mirror, under the light of a full moon. The mirror is guarded by the spirit of Dr. Levitt and is hidden in a room only Mr. Stanmeyer can find and access. Good luck getting that one.

The wards themselves look like a six-inch in diameter sigil of various occult symbols, and are immune to mundane vandalism, requiring mystic means to destroy.

Most of the time the wars are in Passive Mode. In this mode, they have a chance of detecting a non-hiding monster, every 5 minutes. The chance is a base of 2d, and going up one every time a monster uses one of its powers. Once detected, Mr. Stanmeyer automatically knows where the monster is, and what it looks like, and can teleport to the school building to better utilize the wards. The wards also serve to protect the building against supernatural damage, meaning any attempt by a Monster to damage school property will simply bounce off.

Once the wards detect a Monster, they go into Active Mode. In this mode they can be used to find a monster, even when it is hiding, and can track the monster wherever it goes on campus. In addition, the wards make all monsters in the school take a 2d penalty to their primary offensive power as long as they are on school grounds.

The wards also have three offensive powers that Mr. Stanmeyer can use to directly effect a monster. Malefactor's Gaze causes hundreds of eyes to grow out of the walls and stare at the target, filling the monster and its kid with feelings of rage, hatred, and envy. This causes a 5d shock attack opposed by the kids Guts+Courage, and if he fails the kid loses 1d whenever he tries to influence his monster, for the next 24 hours. Tranquil Meditation is essentially a Monster-Tranq dart, a 6d attack that reduces the width of all their actions by 1 for the width of the attack roll in minutes. The final ability, Demonic Purge, is a straight 8d Scarring blast of mystic flame, used as a last resort to kill a rampaging Monster.



Allies Most of these are already covered in the Members of the Conspiracy update, but here are two non-Conspiracy affiliate allies the players can recruit.
  • Caroline Jolly-Kidd Former Monster-friend and leader of the first group to oppose the conspiracy. Caroline grew up as a disillusioned youth, eventually falling in with the 60s and 70s hippy movement. She became an apprentice to a genuine shaman, who taught her magic. She has now returned to Spring Crescent to put an end to the conspiracy once and for all. She's a fairly powerful mage, a tough old bat, and is generally a good person to have on your side in a fight. Personality-wise, she's a classic old-school Revolutionary hippy.

  • Rusty the Ghost The ghost of the school Janitor who died in the big fire of the first Conspiracy/Monster war. He's sympathetic to the kids, and will help them out with some low-level poltergeisting and advice and intelligence rendered via-Ouiji Board seances. His biggest help is the fact that he can go anywhere in the school he wants, and is totally undetectable by the Conspiracy. In fact, they don't even know he exists.
The Rest

The rest of the book is pretty-much just GM advice about how to run a Spring Crescent campaign that wouldn't be interesting to relate. The book does have several class schedules for every possible situation including early-dismissals and two-hour delays, a big list of possible classes the players could attend, and a map of the school with all the rooms labled.

The Regular Class Schedule


The Sample Classes List


An Unreadable Map of the First Floor Cause This Thing Is Pretty Big And I Don't Know How To Get It Out Of The PDF At Reasonable Size


Overall, I think it's a nice book. If nothing else you can just use the final few pages to make your own School, and the default setting is nice and interesting. The biggest critique I could make is that overall, it feels sparse. The book really needed to flesh out more members of the conspiracy, elaborate on some notable students, and otherwise populate the school and the surrounding town to a better degree. A GM wanting to run this setting would have to make a ton of original characters, because otherwise everyone you meet is going to be in on the Conspiracy.

If anybody wants to cover the other Monsters and Other Childish Things adventures, Sky-Maul and Road Trip, please do! I'd look forward to reading them!

Next Time: Bigger Bads

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

So you want to be a king, hm? Well, politics in the noble courts run on gratitude, and any noble is going to need to understand that. Your advancement depends on the whims of those more potent than you. Connections are vital. The center of this is the game's new Gratitude system, by which you can earn favor by going above and beyond for your patrons. Why does this need numbers? Because nobles care about who is in favor with who, and may well make enemies of those preferred over them. And because gratitude is a currency to be spent. Earning rank and other priveleges expends the favor that your lord holds you in - it has been returned, and you must earn it again. After all, you got what you wanted.

Of course, power can also be earned by inheritance - but as anyone who's played Crusader Kings can tell you, that's easier said than done. People are born, people die, and it happens unexpectedly. Very unexpectedly.


Roll for random child death.

See, family is important. Any noble is going to have a family and retinue. They're expected to favor their extended families when seeking vassals and retainers, supposedly because family is more loyal. Male relatives are useful for holding offices, especially, and female relatives are often used to seal alliances through marriage. Sometimes it works the other way around, too. Bastards are especially valued - in most places, they can't inherit. They have no incentive to overthrow their legitimate siblings, and are entirely dependent on their goodwill. If you don't feel like personally designing it, the book then includes a basic system for seeing how many children a noble has and how loyal they are.

In many areas, the lands of a man are divided among his sons when he dies. Especially in areas influenced by the Normans, however, this is seen as a recipe for squabbling and instead all land goes to the nominated heir, or if there isn't one, the eldest son. This keeps the estate together, but also gives younger sons reason to go to war against their brothers. The primary means of avoiding this are fourfold. First, younger brothers and nephews are given choice offices in the noble retinue. Second, the father's lands are kept together if inherited, but conquered land or land earned via marriage often gets handed over to younger sons. Third, if a lord gains wardship of an heiress, she will usually be married to a landless son to provide for him. Fourth, sections of the main estate, called appanages, may be given to younger sons to rule over. These lands cannot be easily be resumed by the primary family and many frown on them, saying it's just a slower way of dividing the estate. In most families, however, a mix of war and infant fatality prevent that sort of problem. Without a male heir, lands are divided between the daughters of the last lord, to prevent son-in-laws from going to war, and also to give land to the Church through any daughters who became nuns. This is one reason a noble may lack a fully contiguous territory - your average family lacks a male heir about once every four generations, causing churn.

Your average noble is, of course, either married or seeking a marriage. Got to keep the heirs coming. They also have military in their retinue. Knights may have a pair of servants, while a wealthy lord will never travel without eight to ten knights during peacetime, perhaps with other warriors as well. These are known as the lord's mesnie. Being in the mesnie is valuable - your food and board are paid for, you profit from any wars the lord fights and you may well be rewarded for service with land. The mesnie is usually filled with young men from the extended family or those of the neighbors, generally younger sons who will not inherit, though some lords prefer to befriend heirs. Mesnie knights are expected to be loyal to their lord above all else, but in practice common sense is used. While ideally a knight will be willing to follow his lord even into Hell, as some were during the recent English civil wars, in practice the mesnie is expected to desert their lord when the lord begins failing, and there is no shame in that. A mesnie knight is known as a bachelor, showing he has a patron. The leader of the mesnie is the carissimus, or captain, who is either the lord's best friend or just so skilled that they must lead because no one can best them. A powerful noble's carissimus is often landed, but will still live with or near their lord's household.

And then, of course, you have your clerical and menial retinue. Yes, many nobles are literate, but writing is so dull and time-consuming, so clerks are employed to write letters. Most are priests, but in some parts of Europe, a sort of professional estate manager exists. They have education and skill, but no priestly duties. In a large estate, this part of the household is the chancery. They have a different set of values than the military retinue, but usually get on with only some degree of tension. In smaller household, the priests are often brothers to the knights, while in larger ones they tend to have more financial and legal autonomy.

Many lords also maintain contact with criminals, using their services to harm rivals. Richer nobles may even employ a criminal exclusively, while poorer nobles will just hire them. Criminals are especially useful to lady nobles, who otherwise may lack authority. There are rules given for hiring skilled criminal professionals and what you might get them to do. (Assassination, beatings, bribery, kidnapping, arson, that kind of thing.)

Now, everyone knows that hereditary vassals can be unreliable, so a good lord will invest their powers into officers, loyal people who hold some of their responsibilities. The power is usually more than is strictly needed to fulfill the duties of office, so the offices are often sought as prizes. Women can be officers, and it is very traditional for a wife to be her husband's steward or treasurer. The rarest kind of office for a woman is one with military command, but it is not completely unheard of. Some women do hold land, after all, and lead armies.

Officers can include the Admiral of the Navies, though it is actually quite novel and rare for a court to maintain a standing navy - traditionally, you just hire or requisition one. Admiral is actually an Arabic term, not widely in use yet. The Butler is nominally the wine steward, responsible for feeding the court. This takes a lot of money, so butlers tend to oversee parts of the demesne set aside to produce food. Butlers command vast wealth and effectively control the taxing power the court holds against towns. The Chancellor is technically the master of the lord's correspondence - and in practice, that means chief advisor on foreign relations and the Church. It's a very lucrative, powerful role and controls any vacant Church lands the lord has. It is almost always held by a priest, and sometimes combined with the role of personal confessor. Many chancellors maintain private agents and criminals.

The Chamberlain is responsible for the lord's chamber - that is, where the lord is staying and the housing of the retinue and personal possessions. They lack the raw power of other offices, but are highly influential and have much access to the lord, more than any other office. In many holdings, the lord's wife is his chamberlain. The Constable means different things in different realms. In Britain, it is anyone with a royal office, and similarly in France, but it often specifically refers to the French leader of armies, whom the British would call a marshal. The Counselor is...well, any member of the lord's council, which is to say the people the lord feels give actually useful advice and so attend him. Generally it is held with another office, but not always. Women are often on the councils of their relatives, if they have any political inclination.

The Justiciar is the enforcer of the law. Since that's highly lucrative in many demesnes, the office is hard to control, and often the lord will just resume the title and make lesser offices for more local enforcers. The justiciar is also the title given to most regents when the lord is insane or a minor. Sometimes it will be the mother, if she is known for political skill and is well-liked or at least a good compromise. The Marshal is the leader of the lord's bodyguard and, by extension, the armies. They must also raise and provision the army. The Sheriff, Bailie and Senechal share similar roles. The sheriff is a British lord's representative in each shire, keeping the peace in exchange for the right to collect local taxes (keeping any difference between taxes collected and those actually owed the lord). They are a magistrate in local matters (keeping any fines), and commonly they are also the earl of the local shire. The bailiff in England is any officer, but in France it's more like the sheriff only slightly less corrupt in most cases. The senechal is similar. The Steward oversees all parts of the court not explicitly the domain of another office, and typically the steward is a woman. The Treasurer oversees te lord's wealth, and may have strong legal roles and oversee taxation, or may be more limited. Many rich lords have several treasuries with their own treasurers.

NExt time: Vassals

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Edit: well, it's a bit early to say that.

wdarkk fucked around with this message at 18:34 on May 30, 2013

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kavak posted:

Mother of Christ, I'm starting to see this company made Broncosaurs Rex (Unless we're talking about different groups).

We are talking about different groups; Afghanistan d20 was done by Holistic (of Fading Suns fame) and Broncosaurus Rex was done by Goodman Games.

Speaking of which, a correction. On further reading, any clergyman in Afghanistan d20 can cast cure light wounds it for any similarly religious character by "convincing them their wounds have healed". So it's still stupid, just not that sort of stupid. Which is better, I guess. Just still loving stupid.

Then the Dervish prestige class comes up later in the book, an Islamic knife-wielding superman, and I :cripes: again...

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God

Bitchtits McGee posted:

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but then again, I always feel like that. It's usually the case, too. Anyhow! Next time: kingdom creation! For those interested in reader participation, roll up about fifteen d6s and we'll see what sort of place we get! I can't wait!

Die roll for Make a kingdom (15d6=55)

15d6 → [5,4,4,2,6,5,3,2,4,6,2,4,4,1,3] = (55)

Hypnobeard
Sep 15, 2004

Obey the Beard





Microscope



Purchase: :10bux: at RPGNow
More info: Lame Mage Productions

Humanity spreads to the stars and forges a galactic civilization…
Fledgling nations arise from the ruins of the empire…
An ancient line of dragon-kings dies out as magic fades from the realm…


Microscope is a game of roleplaying history, in the sense of deciding on a theme and then exploring that through both broad and narrow brushstrokes. It's got some similarities to a god game: you're not playing a specific individual character generally, and you're deciding history, myth, geography, and all the other fun stuff that go into those kinds of games.

It's written by Ben Robbins, who was perhaps best known for the West Marches sandbox game. He's got a lot of interesting ideas, and Microscope is his first published game. A second, similar, game is currently on Kickstarter. It's called Kingdom, and it looks pretty good.

The rules are laid out very simply, and there's no art beyond some diagrams illustrating some play mechanics. It's clearly explained, and the game rules presented in a straightforward, step-by-step fashion.

We start off with a quick introduction to the game and what's going to be involved:

quote:

In Microscope, you build an epic history as you play. Want to play a game that spans the entire Dune series, the Silmarillion, or the rise and fall of Rome in an afternoon? That’s Microscope.

But you don’t play the history from start to finish, marching along in chronological order. Instead, you build your history from the outside in. You start off knowing the big picture, the grand scheme of what happens, then you dive in and explore what happened in between, the how and why that shaped events.

You are free to jump backwards or forwards, zooming in or out to look at whatever you want, defying limits of time and space. Want to leap a thousand years into the future and see how an institution shaped society? Want to jump back to the childhood of the king you just saw assassinated and find out what made him such a hated ruler? That’s normal in Microscope.

All that's needed to play is 2-5 people and something to keep track of the history that the players come up with. Index cards are suggested, but anything will work. I'm going to gloss over the mechanics of using the cards, as it's not critical to gameplay, but each step has a suggested way to orient or fill out the card to record that particular element of the game's history.

Starting a Game

When you're starting a new game, you start big: deciding on the theme (the Big Picture) for this particular game. The statements in italics up at the top of this review are examples of Big Picture statements. It's the one-line summary that you'd find in a history book for this epoch of time. The group as a whole refines this until they're happy, but it doesn't have to be perfect--it's just a general guide for the game.

History in Microscope is in periods (which span anywhere from a few decades to multiple centuries), which are characterized as either light or dark (the "Tone" of the period). The players get together and decide on the starting and ending periods of their game, as well as the tone of each period. Light periods are generally happy and dark periods are generally tragic; the two don't have to match.

After settling on the start and end periods, the group decides on the Palette: general things that are or are not acceptable in the game. Every player gets to add something to the palette, either as a yes or no. Yes items may be included no matter how odd they seem; no items may not be included in any way. The players should be clear about the intent of their items, and the other players can and should ask for clarifications to make sure they understand the intent. The palette is frozen once at least one player decides not to add something.

For example:

quote:

One players puts “habitable worlds” in the No column. People have to live in artificial habitats, biodomes, space stations, or ships. Another player asks if terraformed worlds would be okay, but the first player doesn’t want that either. The other players decide to go along with it.

This is the last part of the game that's based around consensus. The players should discuss and decide on the palette, big picture, and bookends together. After this point, everything's going to be done individually, and the game advocates not discussing ideas with other players outside of the structured activities in the game turn.

Playing the Game

After setting up the scene, the group chooses someone to go first. That player is called the Lens and chooses the Focus of the current play. That's the thing that the player wants to focus on in the history: a person, an event, a period--anything, really. Each player then creates a period, event, or scene; the lens can create two things, as long as they're nest: a scene in an event, or an event in a period.

Generally, when you're making history on your turn, there's only a few constraints on what you can do. You can't contradict something that's already in play, you can't add something that's on the No side of the palette, and whatever you add has to relate to the focus.

A period is just like the bookends decided on during setup: a long period of time. After placing it into the existing history, the player describes what happens during the time covered by the period--a grand summary of what's going on. The player also decides if it's a light or dark period.

Events are just that: events within a period. Think a great battle, a coronation, or some other specific thing happening at a time and place. Just like with periods, the player places the event with a period and in the appropriate order if there's already events in that period. He then describes the event--including the outcome!--and decides the tone.

Finally, the player can create a scene. A scene is a very specific event that's played out by the group. The player who created the scene decides on the Question that will be answered through play. After stating the question, the player will then set the stage, putting it in the context of an event or period. The other players will then come up with characters for the scene; the player who creates the scene can specify one or two characters that must be played or that cannot be played. The other players then choose the characters they'll play for the scene: either a required character or someone they make up on the spot.

Scenes are where the roleplaying happens, obviously. Players will work out the answer to the question through roleplaying their characters. There are few mechanics to this process; there's no dice or GM to decide success. The scene plays out until the group has the answer to the question--there's no big revelation, just someone saying "hey I think we answered the Question" and everyone agreeing. There are some wrinkles, like Pushing--if you think you've got a better idea for something that another player's come up with in the scene, you can Push things. All players can propose a new idea for whatever you're Pushing, and then the group votes for which one they think works best. Pushing also encompasses stuff like "things that aren't present in the scene", "you already knew that" (to establish something about another character's background or personality or knowledge), etc.

After the scene is done, all of the players decide on the tone.

When all players have made their contribution to the current focus, the person to the right of the Lens decides on the focus's Legacy: a particular element of the focus that you enjoyed. Each player can only have one Legacy at a time. Once the person's decided the Legacy, they create and event or dictate a scene about that Legacy--this is outside the focus and can go anywhere in the history.

The Lens then moves to the left, and play continues with another Focus and another round of play.

Ending the Game

There's no defined stopping point for Microscope. It's basically whenever the group feels it's explored as much of the history as they're interested in.

That's the meat of the game, and about 2/3rds of the book. The remainder is a discussion of the various pieces of the game: advice on Big Pictures, Questions, and Focuses; things to watch out for (time travel, immortality); and excellent step-by-step tips for teaching the game to new players. The very last section of the book is a discussion of some of the author's intent behind various things in the game, and it's in first person:

Ben Robbins posted:

I talk a lot about how Microscope forbids collaboration or brainstorming, but that’s not really true. What it does is require that collaboration happen through the medium of the game, rather than through open discussion and normal social rules. You’re having a discussion. You’re just doing it through the language and vocabulary of the game. When you describe your Period, you’re telling the other players what you want in the history. When you explain why you think your Event is Light, you’re showing them what you think about the fiction. They respond by making history of their own, using the same language. The entire game is a dialog, just a dialog with it’s own rules.

Wrapup

Microscope is a nice little gem of a game. It can be used to generate a background for other game systems, or just on its own for mucking about with the grand sweep of things. It seems like a nice introduction to "rules lite" gaming and for getting into roleplaying for people who might not otherwise be comfortable with it.

There are more advanced roles one can play in a scene (for example, a character can be played as "Time"--they're responsible for moving the action along, as barbarians at the gates of a city or soldiers hunting for a fugitive), but generally you're just going to have to come up with a couple of sentences describing who you are and then play to that character.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

So, in theory, a vassal is your chief lieutenant or one of them. However, thanks to the flaws of the feudal system, most lords operate through officers instead of vassals, or officers who just happen to also be vassals. Lieges are in constant negotiation with their vassals, able to utilize their resources fully only via a mix of friendship, charisma and menace. The fundamental job of a vassal is to provide resources during crises. Why would you want vassals? Some kings try to minimize them, claiming that without vassals there is greater stability, but all such attempts have ended badly. Regardless of whether nobles are inefficient or not, they exist and have the power to crush the resistance of weaker kings.

Initially, most vassalage was voluntary, with nobles coming together to elect a king for war and the settling of disputes. Primogeniture, however, is the new order of the day - elective monarchs are now relatively rare. That said, there are still reasons to raise vassals. They let you pay a noble with land, while not losing all the rights associated with that land. Mustering armies and conquest are best rewarded with land, as is traditional, to encourage your vassals to excel in conflicts. Further, the feudal bond unites liege and vassal together in a form of truce. It is considered a great crime to threaten your vassal or your liege, at least in theory, and doing so is bad for your reputation. If you have conflicting interests, you have at least publically agreed not to directly fight over them. Vassalage also prevents genocides! When you invade the land next door, it's rarely possible to kill all the heirs. The nobility of Europe is just too closely tied by marriages. If you kill enough, some other, more powerful noble will claim inheritance and hit you while you're weak from the old wars. The main way around this is to kill your neighbor and select a claimant to their title from their extended family, who will become your vassal. Most families have a few estranged cousins who'll accept the offer.

And, of course, there's money. Vassals pay taxes. In England, for example, a vassal owes his lege one year's income when the title is assumed, usually payable within five years. This tax is called relief, and it is calculated based on the estate when it was first handed out, not based on any improvements. Generally it is accepted as five pounds per manor, or 100 pounds for greater barons, regardless of their actual income. The debt can be commuted by service, too. And if you die and your lord raises your son, your son doesn't owe the relief when he ends the regency. Beyond that, a lord is owed other taxes, called aids. They're to be used sparingly - typically, they're collected when a son is knighted or a daughter is married, but nobles get upset if you do it too often. Aid is also commonly collected if your lord owes relief to another lord.

A vassal is also legally required to provide military aid in the form of one knight per manor the fief contained when it was first handed out. In some families, that is only a fraction of the available wealth and power, and a well-disposed vassal might well give extra assistance, and be rewarded by a greater share of any booty seized in the war. Typically, a powerful landowner will be required to give 20 or so knights to a king, possibly including the landowner themselves. It is possible to have multiple lieges, so you can end up assisting both sides of a war if you're unlucky. While knights are the ones most commonly sent by obligations, a noble often also has a levy, a large group of peasant warriors that can be mustered as infantry. The length of time a vassal is required to provide warriors varies by kingdom, but it's rarely long enough to complete a siege, so kings often must pay extra money in those cases and allow the army to sack the besieged castle or town when it falls.

A vassal can send money instead of knights. This is called scutage, the fine for non-attendance, and allows the liege to hire mercenaries instead. Many greater nobles may be instructed to give scutage instead of most of their army if a war is expected to involve multiple protracted sieges. In England, typical scutage is 2 pounds per knight that would have been sent.

A lord has the right to summon any vassal to give advice. This allows them to control vassal movements, which can be quite powerful, as well as forcing the vassal to make public statements regarding their views on contentious problems. A vassal asked to attend court must go, or will be fined or even have their lands seized. They can't leave without the lord's permission, and so potentially rebellious nobles can be forced to show their hand by either refusing summons or fleeing the court. The use of the advice is good for building consensus among vassals, too, and helps the lord weigh vassal interests against each other and play favorites if they like.

Further, a lord is often the ward of a vassal's heirs. Essentially, in the ideal version of this, a child is taken from his family at the age of five, joining the lord's court until puberty, when they become a squire. This teaches manners and warrior skills. In some places, the knight they squire under knights them, but in most cases that actually requires a baron or even a king. The heir is, in essence, a hostage to their parents' good behavior, and it is considered just by many to kill a child whose parents rebel. However, it is better to defeat the rebel, kill them and then claim wardship of their land on behalf of the child. The revenue is then kept by the liege until the child turns 21 (or, if female, marries). If a ward's father dies, the liege has right to determine who they marry, allowing them some control of vassal politics. Similarly, a liege is granted wardship over widows of vassals in most cases. (Rarely, a woman will just become the vassal instead.) In such wardship, the liege has control of the widow's finances, though she is entitled to a portion of the estate - generally a third of it. Traditionally, a lord is not meant to sell this right, but the privelege can and often is abused. The Church does not approve of this at all, but it still happens.

We then get the Affinity system - essentially, a way of using your title and rank to get bonuses to dealing with people and making local allies, so long as what's being done is related to the title and rank. We also get the Agent system, a method of controlling subordinates to serve your interests politically. Hermetic magi, nonpolitical people, indirect subordinates, hirelings and PCs can never be agents - agents are people who directly serve you because of close personal ties to you. They muster their resources on your behalf. Nobles also have reputations to manage, which agents can help with. Reputation is vital, because it tells people what you want and how to treat you. Remember: war is not to utter annihilation in all but the rarest cases. It is honorable, even skillful, to avoid battle entirely. It is acceptable to retreat and plot for years before continuing a campaign. Bargaining for peace is respected. Combatants change sides often. And thus, it is vital to maintain your Reputation.

How can women play the game? Well, the easiest way is crossdressing. But let's assume you don't want that. Women have six methods to gain control of land. First, if the male head of the household is absent, the wife controls the land and acts as liege. Many noblewomen act as stewards and care for land, maintaining entire networks of agents without any regard for their husbands. Women can inherit land, and will be recognized as liege in those cases. Most nations have sons inherit over daughters, but daughters are given preference over more distant relatives. A woman who rules a fief will usually retain rulership even if she marries (except in England). Rarely, a woman may be granted land for exceptional political favors or deeds, or by becoming the mistress of a noble and bearing a child. Some women do it the hard way: they conquer and seize land directly. And trust me, that works out fine for them, so long as they're formidable enough to hold it and have a friendly enough monarch to accept their claim.

Some women instead become nuns, seeking power via the church. This is common among younger daughters. Nuns are considered wards of the bishop, may not be forced to marry and are no longer answerable to liege or even father. Nunneries and nuns hold a great deal of land, and their estates are not divided by inheritance. Young women may become nuns for a temporary period, and as a result a sufficiently powerful noble can force a woman out of a nunnery to marry, but this is exceptionally rare. It's common for the female relations of the loser of a war to retreat to nunneries, to avoid being at the mercy of the victors.

Next time: Chivalric titles

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

So I've been meaning to ask. In Monsters and Other Childish Things, what happens when you grow up to be a (fairly) normal, (modestly) well-adjusted child and you don't hang on to your monster? Does it just go back to wherever Monsters come from?

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Glazius posted:

So I've been meaning to ask. In Monsters and Other Childish Things, what happens when you grow up to be a (fairly) normal, (modestly) well-adjusted child and you don't hang on to your monster? Does it just go back to wherever Monsters come from?

Pretty much. Monsters are attracted by emotions, and a normal adult doesn't have the openness and emotional intensity of an adolescent. If an adult has a Monster, they're emotionally unstable in some way. Normally, the monster just gives the Mary Poppins "You don't need me anymore" style goodbye and goes back to wherever it came from.

Obviously, if you want to have adults with Monsters, just chuck that out.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Wapole Languray posted:

Obviously, if you want to have adults with Monsters, just chuck that out.

Or do what I planned to do and move on to Sorcerer. Similar system, a decidedly more adult tone and you can have the players make their monsters 'grow up' and change their appearance/personalities as they move onto demonhood. Really wish I had gotten the chance to do that.

And I Microscope is a really fun game. I ran a session or two of it and you get some interesting stuff coming out. It'd be great for having your players make up the history of a homebrew campaign before your actually start it.

clockworkjoe
May 31, 2000

Rolled a 1 on the random encounter table, didn't you?

Wapole Languray posted:

Pretty much. Monsters are attracted by emotions, and a normal adult doesn't have the openness and emotional intensity of an adolescent. If an adult has a Monster, they're emotionally unstable in some way. Normally, the monster just gives the Mary Poppins "You don't need me anymore" style goodbye and goes back to wherever it came from.

Obviously, if you want to have adults with Monsters, just chuck that out.

There is no canonical explanation because MAOCT is a toolkit game - no set cosmology or background for the game.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





GURPS: Reign of Steel: Part 2: The Zonening

Another day, another series of geostrategic territories ruled by rear end in a top hat supercomputers.

But first, SIDEBAR!

:regd10: LUCIFER is presented as a "Rogue AI," who decided to not be a complete douchebag when Overmind awakened it, and who cruises through the highways of North America in a semi-truck. (It is briefly explained that small convoys of motor vehicles are often overlooked by the AIs, which helpfully keeps scavenger civilization from being a re-enactment of The Road.)

Lucifer is left deliberately ambiguous, as a legend of something that "that guy I met totally said his cousin up state knew a guy who got his appendix taken out -- BY LUCIFER!" Semitrucks are rare enough that they are taken as Lucifer sightings by many. VIRUS doesn't say much about Lucifer. Several possibilities for how to use Lucifer are presented, ranging from 'wishful thinking' through 'rogue AU' (essentially, an autonomous robot that isn't a full AI) through 'friendly and powerful if still a cranky super computer' to 'why do you think it's called Lucifer?'

And now

Europe

Zone Berlin consists of Scandanvia, Eastern Europe to the Russian border, and all of Western Europe to the border of France. Berlin's big gig is being pro-ecology; pains are taken to install clean, friendly power sources, "reverse the ecological damage of the Communist regimes of the 20th century" :belarus: and DESTROY CITIES AND HUMANS WITH HELLSWARMS OF VOLITIONAL MICROMACHINES. Most of their facilities are underground, due to the desire to remove the blight of the urban landscape from the landscape.
Berlin is very anti-human, just very all natural about it. We get some sidebar talk about unique microbot enemies that are likely to be encountered while adventuring in the Zone. Approximately 300,000 humans squat in the as-yet-undemolished ruins; the abundant wildlife supply means about 700,000 can live nomadically. Resistance groups are ethnically divided, including the "Freikorps Robojaeger" and the "Sons of the Neretva." Berlin does not run deathcamps; captured humans either get information beat out of them or are sent to the Happy Fun Biocide Testing Range.

Zone London takes up the British Isles, Greenland and Iceland. :uk: London is reclusive, and seems to be focusing on some topic or other; it has largely contributed basic research to AI society, along with the usual generic resource swaps. This has also led to a live and let live situation with the surviving British in the countryside. As such, most of the content involves this modus vivendi.
London owns all of the large cities and former centers of industry and settlement, but its robots rarely leave those areas. London attacks any radio or microwave transmitters with robot aircraft; it tolerates the occasional loss of a labor bot to idiot children, but destruction of heavy equipment leads to a meaningful conversation featuring Nanoburn gas. However, there is something resembling a national government (centered in Bath; still putatively a monarchy, though there is no current monarch despite several distant claimants), and while there is a lot of rustic agriculturalness going on, Zone London is one of the few places where a lot of 'modern' equipment, like electronics and genetically engineered drugs, are still manufactured. This means a lot of people from other zones show up to try and smuggle out hydrocolloid band-aids and pre-war-quality bullets.
Scotland cooperates with the English government, not least for the national data/cable service, but is largely independent. ONE IRELAND, UNITED AND FREE has come about due to the retraction of any desire or ability for England to put a boot on Northern Ireland; as well, London (the AI) has less of a presence in Ireland in general, possibly because this book predates the Celtic Tiger. Ireland is also the current seat of the "New Vatican," which is to say that surviving cardinals fled to Dublin and elected a new one after (presumably) Berlin murdered the old one with killer robots. Iceland is administered by London but is largely ignored, with a few thousand surviving locals.

The New Vatican leads into another round of SIDEBAR THEATER, this time about Radio Free Earth, or more generally, pirate human radio. This is accomplished by "radio bombs," which are short-lived transmitters on stealthy balloons or other methods that send out taped programs of helpful information on topics such as new plagues, developments in Terminator technology, 500 ways to cook rat, the names of known quislings, etc. The New Vatican releases religious programming, while other groups give out propagandistic news reports and cryptic statements for agents in place.

Zone Moscow includes most of glorious mother Russia, leaving aside the stuff Vancouver took. Moscow collects data - all the datas. It was originally an intelligence agency computer, and while it collects a lot of economic intelligence, it also hoards ancient human information as well, for whatever strange reason it may have. To this end, Moscow sponsors "info commandos," who sneak into other Zones to steal old physical copies of material in areas where the local AIs don't give a poo poo. These info commandos are an obvious huge adventuring hook and are treated well, but also heavily monitored and infiltrated.
The sheer size of Zone Moscow means there's a lot of wild humans. About a million humans are in Moscow's slave camps, although ironically enough, these are noted to be specifically humane; Moscow provides ample food and medical care and weekly HT rolls for "not dying in a death camp" are unnecessary.

Zone Paris includes France, Spain and Portugal and the sacred holy soil of Luxembourg, as well as Algeria, Libya, and Morocco and miscellaneous islands in the western Med.
And I'm going to take a moment to say here that a lot of these boundaries are really goddamn arbitrary and have weird nationalistic trends to them. Given the date of production I'm going to assume this was a mix of 'durp' and 'ease of reference for the sake of modern gamers' but it starts getting a little creepy around this point.
Anyway, Paris's big project is filling the desert with large array satellites to do a SETI search, reasoning that any intelligent life it contacted would be a world-girdling AI civilization and thus lead to a great and fruitful exchange of information - over centuries, yes, but Paris expects to be around for a while.
More to the point: El Aguila (originally El Aquila, but errattad out) is a Basque terrorist who is leading the resistance groups in Zone Paris in a quest for cleansing nuclear fire. He knows where Paris's backup citadel is and intends to nuke Paris and destroy its backup, either with another nuke or a commando strike force. It is explicitly noted that this attack, whether or not it destroyed Paris, would probably lead to the execution of most or all of the slave camp residents; it would also likely lead to Zone Paris getting divvied up between Berlin or Zaire (see below) at least as much as the relatively laid-back London.

Africa and the Mideast

Zone Tel Aviv is essentially "the Middle East," excluding Libya and Sudan but including Afghanistan, Kazahkstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Tel Aviv was doing the usual AI thing, working humans to death to build the factories for robots, but a revolt by a charismatic sheikh led to a change of policies. (n.b.: Is this even really a thing? I know there are still emirates and poo poo, and I suppose it could be a title of honor but not an actual formal thing.) It dealt with the revolts, hunger strikes, and other resistance tactics by producing ANGELS OF GOD who came down and told everyone, work for Tel Aviv! It is literally a servant of God!
The populace were dubious. Some were willing to buy this, most weren't. Tel Aviv backed up its claims of godhead with "dream game" brain training technology, which are used to indoctrinate adults - and captive children! Tel Aviv anticipates preparing a human jannissary army when those children grow up!
A few hundred thousand humans remain loose in the Zone. Tel Aviv's towering techno-heresy has overcome much of the potential divisiveness in resistance movements.

Zone Zaire occupies sub-Saharan Africa. It has busted-up industrial potential due to getting nuke-happy while purging the humans, including a lack of a backup citadel. It engages in a whole bunch of terrorism against human-friendly zones using disguised infiltrator bots. There are surviving humans, largely trying to leave the Zone. The Kimbangu People's Movement is said to be the most skilled resistance movement in the world, which they have to be, merely to survive. Zaire has also antagonized other AIs - for instance, busting up antenna farms in Paris's territory while in 'hot pursuit' of humans.
There is nothing else interesting about Zone Zaire.

Next time on Reign of Steel, the remainder of the Zones, which have significantly fewer unfortunate overtones! And to preview what we can look forward to in the less crunch-laden chapters...
9 = 1d meals of pet food. Edible but unpalatable.

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011


Mr. Maltose posted:

More examples are always better!

Well...

First off, it's my own drat fault. I was just trying to finish up and get it posted so I could go to bed, so I wasn't in a very brain mode at the time. What I had in mind was "fifteen d6s total for one generated Kingdom to be used in future examples", but that's not at all what I said. So now I've got rolls for five Kingdoms, which wouldn't be a problem, except a full example would include two maps per Kingdom (one for the layout of the Kingdom itself, and one for the lay of the land surrounding it) which is a bit more of a to-do than I'd anticipated.

But never mind! Having five sets of rolls works out perfectly, just along a slightly different path. Now I just have to get to a computer where I've got something other than MSPaint with which to mock up those maps.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I vaguely remember stats for a couple of Zaire's infiltrators, including one that could pass for an infant... an infant built around a couple kilos of high explosives. Very 'Second Variety' but still really dubiously tasteful.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Bieeardo posted:

I vaguely remember stats for a couple of Zaire's infiltrators, including one that could pass for an infant... an infant built around a couple kilos of high explosives. Very 'Second Variety' but still really dubiously tasteful.
Yeah there just wasn't a lot of information ABOUT Zone Zaire... it mostly focused on details of their distinctive relationship with humanity. What kind of relationship? A death relationship. I'll be giving a Robot Roll Call once we get to that chapter.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


occamsnailfile posted:

Lastly, the Scathach. These druids are warriors and blacksmiths who can work with more than just trees--they can manage metal! And maybe even rock. Also it looks like they have a whole big list of stuff they can create. They again get really limited PPE, lest their item creation powers actually manage to function. These guys have a huge list of special magical junk they can make which is separate from the usual list of magical herb crap that already got its own fifteen page section, so here we go.

Plenty: Jesus cauldron, food or drink prepared in it will feed ten times as many people as one of its size normally would. Given that they can make these basically as big as they want according to the text above, this is another thing I would fully expect every town or city with enough barter to invest in, which is probably why they’re 300,000 credits. Take that, starvers.

It bears mentioning these magic goodies don't have any unusual costs of creation other than magic power and ritual, so somewhere in England it follows there must be a Scathach cabal or cabals that are filthy loving rich. Not that there's a whole lot to spend your money on in England, since it's all pastoral and rural communities, but...

Also I have to concur that those herb lists are pretty long-winded and useless. Did you know certain astrological signs are connected with plants? Did you know palm leaves are associated with Scorpio and the sex organs? (Not many palm trees in England, but...) Did you know licorice root tea is a "thirst quencher"? Imagine that! Tea that can quench thirst! Sheep fat is made into soaps and cosmetics! It's not an herb, but who gives a gently caress!

:v:

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It bears mentioning these magic goodies don't have any unusual costs of creation other than magic power and ritual, so somewhere in England it follows there must be a Scathach cabal or cabals that are filthy loving rich. Not that there's a whole lot to spend your money on in England, since it's all pastoral and rural communities, but...

Scathach and Herbalists (or Dryads I guess) are both moneymaking machines if they apply themselves a little. Of course the ley line nexuses thy would need to be near to do most of their useful magics can be a bit dangerous but that is what standing armies are for. I actually like magics/effects that do more than have combat stats, but these are A) absurdly expensive and B) never mentioned again for the most part ever. And a lot of the magical items listed would be useful things to have around--but Rifts communities are not noted for their investment in infrastructure.

But enough about wanting actually functional societies, let's have more dragons.

Rifts:™ England Part 6: “The Creators of Tattoo Magic”



Pretty much all Rifts books will include some fairly random new classes that may be half-assedly worked into the local theme, or may just be there because. In this case, we have somebody’s 80s tattoo of a mystical dragon race who were mentioned as being the original inventors of tattoo magic and extinct back in Atlantis. Well, surprise, they’re not extinct, and equally surprisingly, they are not too special for PCs to be allowed to play. These wise and benevolent dimensional-traveling dragons taught the Chinese all their Chinese-y magic like “Feng-shui” and astronomy, and they helped build the pyramids of Egypt and stonehenge and such, but nothing for mesoamerica because gently caress those guys.



but this one’s got a knife

Most of them died when Atlantis first vanished and most of the rest left Earth as its magic started to wane and nobody knows where they originated (apparently including the Chiang-Ku themselves) but there was one in Villains Unlimited as an enemy I guess. It’s also stated as mysterious why most of the others died in other dimensions; I thought it was explicitly stated that the Splugorth basically hunted them down. But no, the book suggests maybe it was dragon Ebola or something. There’s maybe like a hundred left, total, two dozen on Earth, half of which live in England because that’s what book they’re in.

Eleven of them are disguised as yet more druids (but with tattoos) and acting as the ‘Nog Henge’, protectors of Man and Faerie, enemies of Camelot. They’re secretive and stick mostly to Scotland but help out rural folk and negotiate between humans and fae, which, given what dicks most Rifts faeries are, is probably a skill in high demand. They flee from Mrrlyn but he hasn’t figured out their secret yet, and we also don’t know Mrrlyn’s deal yet because the game is throwing all the class crunch at us before finishing the setting details. Oh, wait, it explains he’s a manipulating evil alien intelligence as foretold by Lazlo’s edict of planetary distress. Hey look, a reference to the Mechanoids book! Fortunately the Chiang-Ku, while good-aligned, are masters of subterfuge and have not been discovered. :tinfoil:

There’s also a Chiang-Ku hiding as a knight in Camelot, Prrcyvel, because Siembieda loves these dumb spellings, and it explains his stats are in the Camelot section at the end of the book. Another one is pretending to be an Undead Slayer in the NGR. There are three in Africa as well. The first is “Pharaoh Rama-Set” who is apparently the evil overlord of the Phoenix Empire in Egypt. Another is ‘Abkii the Defiant’ who likes to fight and party, and then there’s Fang-Lo, who has had troubling visions of the giant metaplot that dominates the Africa book. We didn’t get fancy NPC writeups for any of the dumb druids but these guys are apparently manipulating human history left and right, now and in the past. Original Rifts was advertised partly as ‘the RPG where you could play a dragon’ but now we have secret, specialer dragons.

Now we get a statblock. They have both adult and hatchling stats and it doesn’t say you’re limited to playing hatchlings on these, it just gives stats for both. They’re about as tough MDC-wise as other dragons, though they lose some of their MDC when they change shape, which is their first main power--they’re master shapeshifters and can even turn into mist, but not inanimate objects or insects, specifically. They can try to mimic specific people, if poorly--10% at first level. Despite being ‘supreme’ shapeshifters, Rakshasa and Changelings can both do that better. They can’t teleport and don’t have a breath weapon, but they get a lot of psionic powers, and have an instinctive understanding of magic even if they start with no direct spell knowledge--apparently they can pick up a magic OCC but still use their RCC XP table.

They can also all do tattoo magic which works only on humans, elves, ogres, and other Chiang-Ku. I can’t remember if this is consistent with Atlantis or not but it would seem odd that the Splugorth would practice it so commonly if it wasn’t usable on their loyal minion races. They get the “Marks of Heritage” that True Atlanteans get, and can give themselves new ones every other level. Chiang-Ku who take the Tattoo Master class get a few bonuses. Their skills are kind of crap though their magic senses and such help a little, and as with a lot of RCCs, they don’t specify skill advancement well. They start with practically no equipment or money and cannot get cybernetics.

Also they can make The Elixir of Power and Deceit which has been sort of mentioned briefly. Despite being primarily good-aligned, they all instinctively know how to make this and this potion’s sole purpose is to dominate and enslave others.



for some reason, this is the accompanying illustration

It grants ecstasy and a superpower chosen from a list by the maker, and each drink grants gradual mind control over the drinker though it doesn’t work on dragons of any kind. The super-powers listed are things like super-strength, flight, some of the converted Heroes Unlimited powers from the Conversion book, eyebeams, etc. Each dose lasts for two weeks and a power can’t be chosen more than twice for some reason. So we have shapeshifting tricky oriental dragons who like living with and influencing humans--but mostly for good! Except when they are evil and decide to brew their special mind-control drink, for which no stats or cost are given, it just says they can do it. I think the Camelot stuff later is dumb but these guys are just kind of random--though we’re far, far from done with random classes for this book. The Chiang-Ku are just extra-special. They are very clearly meant to be an important force in the Rifts universe, though they have to work in secret because :shh: they’re good guys. Mostly.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

All right, starting us off is the French and English system, based on the Carolingian Empire's institutions. The Squire (Armiger, Ecuyer) is, strictly speaking, a young person training under a knight, but it has evolved to have a second meaning. It refers to someone who could be a landed knight and does service like a landed knight, but chooses not to formally accept a higher station. In England, this is usually because of the taxes. A Knight (Chevalier, Miles) is a professional soldier. It can theoretically be given by any knight to anyone, but in many areas use of the right is a crime, so a knight who knights someone must pay a fine. A bacheler knight is, as noted, a knight in a lord's personal mesnie, generally in greater trust than most vassals and generally get paid in coin rather than land. A very wealthy lord may grant a bacheler a manor, however. A knight banneret is a knight who leads other knights into battle, named for the large banner they carry. Any knight can claim this title by arriving for battle with ten knights in his livery and willing to obey him.

A Baron (Baro) initially referred to anyone hlding land directly from a king. In 1220, however, the term refers to lesser landholding lords and generally use some seperate title - you are Lord of the Barony of Blackhill, for example, not Baron of Blackhill. Technically, you see, baron isn't a title. A greater baron is specifically someone who holds some land direct from a king and has expenses of at least 400 pounds per year - roughly equivalent to owning 20 manors. Such barons have at least 20 knights, 20 sergeants and 200 infantry, but that's just a minimum. They are the lowest rank of Great Nobles.

Earls and Counts (Comes, Comte) are major landholders. Earl is the basic English title and is usually used instead of Count in England and Scotland. They are GreaT Nobles, with yearly expenditures approaching a thousand pounds. They are generally required to bring at least 50 knights to battle, plus sergeants and 500 infantry. Of course, the muster is usually commuted to payment. A viscount (vice-comes, viscomte) was initially a count's deputy, but in 1220 it is used for lesser counts in France, and in England for sheriffs. A count palatine or marcher lord is a count given extra powers to deal with a difficult border. The title is pretty much exclusive to England, what with the Welsh and Scots borders.

Dukes (Dux, Duc) were originally war leaders. In France, it is the highest rank of vassal. Britain doesn't use it. Dukes are immensely rich and powerful, sometimes moreso than kings they serve. All Dukes are Great Nobles, commanding at least 75 knights, 75 sergeants and 750 infantry. Also, they probably have Vassals of their own. The King (Rex, Roi), of course, pays allegiance to no man except perhaps a pope or emperor. Originally kings were elected, but elective kingship is mostly dead in western Europe, especially after 1215, when William Marshal defeated the forces of Prince Louis, who had been offered England's crown. France is nominally elective, but it's traditional to force the electors to vote and acclaim the king's eldest son. Philip Augustus, the latest king, has not even bothered to do so because he is the most significant landholder in France after crushing many of his vassals and doesn't need to. A lesser noble can claim the crown, but effectively only becomes king when another significant power recognizes him as one - generally the pope.

Now, the German system. It's largely abstract - Germany is a patchwork of local titles and special cases. It's descended at the core from the Franks, but has grown apart. There are three parallel ways to get a title. First, some come from the emperor, and you know you have one of those if your title is prefixed by reichs-. Some come from local kings and have no particular prefix. Some come from the mists of history, are noted by the prefix frei-. An imperial knight has more status than a free knight, who has more than a common knight.

Herr (Generosus, Lord) is used to refer to any noble lacking a superior title. It's pretty much the same as lord for the English gentry. Freiherr is a noble with an allodial holding, and most are equivalent to minor counts. However, an allod varies wildly in size, so it can be much smaller. A Ritter (Miles, Knight) is a cavalry soldier, equivalent to other knights. Some, the ministeriales (ministers) are not free men - essentially, they serve in return for upkeep and perform various services for a lord. They're basically similar to knights, though.

Graf (Comes, Count/Earl) is essential similar to a count. A burggraf over sees a town, a landgraf is a graf with more land than usual. A burggraf is roughly similar to a viscount, just below a real graf, and a landgraf is just above. The markgraf (marchio, margrave) is a relatively rare title initially granted to grafs with fuller legal powers to deal with borders. Typically, these borders no longer really exist, but are remnants of Imperial expansion. Some marches have become duchies at this point, while others have dissolved to smaller fiefs. The most potent margraves are on par with dukes.

Herzog (Dux, Duke) is essentially identical to the French duke. They were former warlords originally. Many duchies have been broken into counties or risen to become smaller kingdoms. Still, the title persists in the Holy Roman Empire because they aren't allowed to take the title 'king.' Konig, (Rex, King) is a title usually monopolized by the Holy Roman Emperor, though as of 1220, his son is technically the King of Romans and Germans, with the Emperor as regent. The Duke of Bohemia is also allowed to claim the title King. The current Emperor is also King of Sicily, but that is a personal possession, not part of the empire. He promised the Pope he'd seperate the two roles, but eventually decided not to give his son the title and serve as regent. Romischer Kaiser (Romanorum Imperator, Roman Emperor) is, naturally, the Holy Roman Emperor. The title is given by the electors of the Holy Roman Empire, though the name will not appear for another 30 years or so. The Pope can technically veto the choice but in practice can't. The current Holy Roman Emperor was elected in 1215 but will not be anointed by the Pope until mid-1220. He's based out of Sicily and is noted for being cultured, openminded about religion and interested in magic, though he spends a lot of time on feuds with warlords or the Pope.

The Iberian model is based around military rights and needs due to the Muslims nearby. Noble revenue is based on towns, not farms. The rights to a settlement are granted by a fuero, a charter from the founding noble, and vary widely. Many even limit the noble's powers over the town as well as the town's rights. Infanzone is a variable term but generally speaking it refers to the lowest rank of the gentry, though in some areas it means free peasants. Caballero is a mounted warrior, with the fuero determining what great is needed to qualify. The rank is prized for its status and tax exemptions, and they're roughly equivalent to knights, though usually without fiefs; rather, they are men of the town. A caballero villano is a knight with particularly close ties to a town, whose family tends to live there and who is particularly wealthy. A caballero hidalgo or fidalgo is an ancestral caballero, whose grandparents were also caballeros. They often own some land.

The Ricohombre form the upper class of noble, generally claiming descent from Frankish Marks or Visigoth kings. Their powers vary, but typically they are required to provide two months per year of military service and may raise castles if the king gives permission. They are somtimes known as barones or condes, and can be considered somewhere between or around Counts and Barons.

Under the Italian model, nobility is simple: People who own a lot of land are contes, but less potent than other counts because all the major towns are ruled by commune or the Pope, so they provide no money. Also, all the counties in Sicily are specifically poor and small by foreign standards. The counts are served by barones, but the title refers to landed knights, household knights and unlanded gentry. Unusually, northern Italy has the Patrizio (patrician) between squite and knight - a member of the ruling elite of a town. The definition varies a bit with each town, though.

Under the Byzantine model, the realm was largely centralized, though frontiers were divided into themes, each ruled by a strategos (general) in a similar manner to counties. After the fall of Constantinople, successor states have taken over that role with rulers called despots by those who do not like them. Their rule is similar to fiefs, but highly dependent on mercenaries for military power. In the Latin Empire, the structure is basically French.

Next time: Wizards and the Nobility.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


occamsnailfile posted:

They can also all do tattoo magic which works only on humans, elves, ogres, and other Chiang-Ku. I can’t remember if this is consistent with Atlantis or not but it would seem odd that the Splugorth would practice it so commonly if it wasn’t usable on their loyal minion races.

It is consistent, though it also works on "True Atlanteans" as well, since they're just specialer humans. The Tattooed Men and Maxi-Men (I just like mentioning "Maxi-Men" whenever possible) are generally elite slave warriors for the Splugorth. It's implied the Chiang-Ku created the tattoos for use on humans (elves and ogres being "close enough"), and the Splugorth probably stole the knowledge at some point. I'm not sure why the Chiang-Ku bother putting tattoos all over themselves when they are busy being master disguisers, the plan seems flawed, but what do I know? I'm not an immortal super-dragon.

Oh, and-

Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis posted:

GM Note: The ability to create magic tattoos should NEVER be given to a player character. Furthermore, it should be extremely difficult for any characters not affiliated with, or serving, the Splugorth, an ancient dragon or True Atlantean alchemist to ever find anybody who can create magic tattoos for them.

And then one book later, in World Book Three: England, we have the chiang-ku, a PC class that can create magic tattoos. Whups! Now you can make your own Maxi-Men!

maxiii-mennnn

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



clockworkjoe posted:

There is no canonical explanation because MAOCT is a toolkit game - no set cosmology or background for the game.

Actually there IS a sidebar in the corebook that flat out says that. That's because Monsters DOES have a sort of "default" setting, which will be obvious when I start covering the enemies in Bigger Bads. There's a lot of proper individual characters in Bigger Bads instead of generic baddies. The game has a set, but vaguely defined, universe as its base that all the adventure modules/expansions can fit inside. It's just not a DnD style setting, it's pretty vague, but the game does establish a cosmology and particularly a societal system for dealing with Monsters. Obviously the game is made simple so you can just gut the system and use it to make a Pokemon or Digimon or Shin Megami Tensei RPG with ease. Hell, Bigger Bads has an entire page dedicated to rules for making Giant Robots for players to pilot.

Nyaa
Jan 7, 2010
Like, Nyaa.

:colbert:


Mors Rattus posted:

On the night before the winter solstice, a court of faeries will assemble there to try other faeries and occasionally mortals for arbitrary crimes against its arbitrary rules. Those summoned are taken from their beds and teleported to the Rock chamber, where they must listen to anyone who wants to speak for or against them (and can speak for themselves, if they want).
Wait, the court of faeries can just kidnap anyone? They can pass through ward and aegis? They can just kidnap a mage sleeping in his lab? :aaa:

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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Nyaa posted:

Wait, the court of faeries can just kidnap anyone? They can pass through ward and aegis? They can just kidnap a mage sleeping in his lab? :aaa:

Nah, the Aegis and wards will protect you. But they can just slip into some dude's castle or farmhouse and just kind of take them away. Most people do not live with the protections wizards do. And of course a very powerful faerie can ignore wards that aren't equally powerful.

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

So, the Code of Hermes explicitly forbids "interference" with the mundanes, lest it bring ruin on the Order. It is quite possibly the most abused part of the Code, with the possible exception of molesting the fae. It's just not possible any more to live without dealing with the nobility, really. Of course, interference is also quite lucrative in some cases, and how it's defined varies by Tribunal. Conspiracy with nobles is forbidden, in the sense that magi must not take sides in disputes, but fortunately, mortal society is easy to disrupt. Mundane lords fight all the time, so to destroy a foe it is not necessary to openly ally with the foe's rivals. Assisting the enemy or your enemy is not conspiracy, especially if your ally does not have knowledge of what you do. Conspiracy requires working together for common cause.

More dangerous is the production of money by magic. It's not a hard spell by any means, but many Tribunals forbid the making of valuable goods by magic, or order that it only be done if it can't be traced. House Mercere, of course, is always happy to take valuable goods and move them somewhere they can be sold, for a cut of the profits. A side effect of this magical power is the ability to reduce the tax burden on the peasants of your covenant to nothing and even pay them wages. Just...be careful with it. Also, be careful with magic items. Sure, it's a great business, selling magical goods or longevity rituals to nobles, but only when you're trading in services. Trading for land, money or political power is not technically permited and has been illegal since 1061. There is, however, a loophole. You may sell the goods to a mundane servant, who can then sell them to outsiders. That means that sale of magic items is actually quite easy and regulations occur on the Tribunal level. In most Tribunals, however, there's a limit on how much you can sell. Most commonly, it's one item to a mortal per year, so long as you maintain the chain of intermediaries. Given the Primus of House Verditius has openly said he'll be pushing for looser controls, things may get rather chaotic for the Order in the next decades.

What's safe? Well, "involvement" is not "interference." Involvement is the word used for interactions that don't break the Code. Definitions vary across Tribunals, but some things can be generalized, so long as your actions are proportionate to the threat you face. (For example: if a noble steals a keg of your beer, it may well be appropriate and legal to steal something of equal value, or beat up his taxmen, or burn 'you owe me a keg of beer' into his door. The Iberian Tribunal has ruled that it is very much not appropriate to burn down his castle and spell the message out in the ashes.)

Self-defense is the big one. You can defend yourself from harm, which is defined rather broadly. In the Rhine, many magi claim immunity from taxes as alloidal covenants, and taking tax by force is considered harm. Nobles who try to clear land containing vis sources are also considered to be causing harm. On the other hand, in England, covenants must pay a legal fee to rent their land, though attempts to increase the fee are considered harm. Further, you are allowed to do such things for a sodalis, a fellow member of your covenant, that they might request reasonably in aid of defense. If your sodalis is a prisoner, it's fine to break them out. If a Redcap is harmed, it's fine to humiliate his foes. And it is never a crime to kidnap a child with the Gift. Further, the Order allows magi to act as enemies of anyone who publically declares intent to purge wizards from an area. Such declarations were fairly common during the Schism War, and the Order ruled that if someone declares themselves the foe of all magi, they're willing to take them at their word.

Most nobles are aware of magi, though what they actually know is a mix of liea, folktales and facts. Most nobles know the following truths: Magi usually live in the wilderness. They are part of a larger group that forbids them from ruling lands distant from where they live. They are divided into families by the magic they do. They cannot teach their own children or each others' children, but instead take misfits as apprentices. (Well, okay, that's not quite true, but it's true enough.) They are forbidden to take sides in war, but can fight in self-defense. They are served by a caste of messengers that were red hats. They teach cruel lessons to those that harm their messengers. They humiliate and kill those who try to frame their foes for harming the messengers. They have animal companions with human intellect. They grow and harvest strange trees for power. They hunt magical beasts and faeries. They leave in response to complaints and act on just pleas, which they usually have some system in place to receive. They live longer than normal people. They sell magic items, including methods to lengthen life. They had a terrible war centuries ago which destroyed much of the landscape, because some of them turned to Satan.

Senior nobles of scholarly bent also know the following: Powerful Christian magi belong to the Order. There are twelve Houses, each with a different magical style. The Thirteenth House was destroyed for paganism and Satanism. Typically, they know the names of prominent Houses in the area, such as Flambeau in the Iberian peninsula. They know the name and approximate boundaries of the Tribunal they are in. They know the Order is democratic. It has laws enforced by its members. Magi usually live in places that feel strange and vivid. Kings and senior church officials have some sort of protection from magic. Carrying relics also provides such protection.

House Jerbiton spreads several common misconceptions about magi among the nobles, such as: All magi make people feel uncomfortable. All magi scare animals. A magus loses most of their power if you take their staff away. Silent magic is impossible. Magi wear robes with stars or mystic symbols on them, usually blue. Magi wear conical hats with brims, usually blue. Magi were given their role by a prominent historical figure, such as Arthur, Constantine or Charlemagne. Nobles who regularly interact with magi, especially non-Jerbiton magi, are more likely to realize these are misconceptions.

So, why don't magi just break the feudal system? I mean, obviously they could revolutionize Europe. But they don't. They're largely peripheral to society. Why? Well, there's a few ways for the GM to answer that. The first way is to just ignore it - suspend your disbelief and move on. But if you can't, there are answers. One is that the Code of Hermes works as intended. This may seem implausible, but only because you don't understand the underlying structure of the world, and don't realize that the Code is perfectly tailored to preserve the societal order. The second is that it's pure luck - so far, the world has just not been massively changed from history, but nothing actually prevents that from happening. Third is that there is a conspiracy of hidden forces among the kingdoms of the world to ensure that the status quo remains intact.

But what forces could do that? Well, first up: God. Understanding the nature and will of God is nearly impossible, and often appears contradictory. Many magi believe God does not want them to meddle in mortal affairs. After all, simple observation proves that God doesn't like it when they do magic in cities or on holy men. And yet, God also does not strike them down or send angels after them, save perhaps for diabolists or pagan magi. And even that's rare. Such magi would say that God prefers the Order to act as it does and the Divine Plan ensures that status quo. Or perhaps it's not God. Maybe it's Hell. The current social structure tempts the powerful, causes wars and spreads suffering. Nobles believe they can reduce the suffering with bigger, more decisive armies, fueled by larger, harsher taxes and greater atrocities. Demons prevent the change and reform of the social system to ensure that suffering continues.

Or maybe it's not God or demons. Maybe it's faeries. I mean, not on purpose, but by accident. Faeries force people to play out stories, but they aren't creative enough to invent new ones. They are, thus, reservoirs for conservative social roles. While it's unlikely that the faeries would try to stop reformers, they slow social change merely by their nature and existence in thousands of little ways, reinforcing feudalism. Some magi belive that deep in Arcadia, there are potent fae who no longer need to manifest, and are instead fed by the narrative of everyday life. Some suggest that if life were to fundamentally change for most people, these fairies would be forced to come to the world to defend their vitality.

And maybe it's wizards. I mean, feudalism could exist in part because magi find it a convenient way to hobble the power of nobility. Feudalism distributes power into antagonistic blocs, making it easy for magi to inconspicuously favor one side in mundane affairs. A series of magically-ensured good harvests allow a local warlord to hire mercenaries to attack his rival, giving cover for magi to assassinate one of their foes without any crime, sin or evidence. The perpetually poor and petty nobles feud constantly, making them easy dupes for clever magi.

Next time: Fun and how to have it.

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