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  • Locked thread
Nov 4, 2007

zamtrios so lonely
Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

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-

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!


It just occurred to me that after laborious lists of stupid magic herbs and very specific things that various crafting classes can create with costs included, we don't have any rules or costs for how to make magic tattoos. I mean, do they just pick up a gun/set of needles and get to work? The England writeup only says 'they do this VERY RARELY and only for SPECIAL people' and doesn't explain if you'd need the PPE of an entire herd of cattle to put a rad bat-winged sword on someone's forearm. The Rifts Atlantis writeup says the receiver "experiences pain" and takes some time to recover that all?

The extremely poorly-organized official magic questions page states that

142. Can Tattoo Masters Tattoo themselves?
Answer: Yes, but it is very painful, and the hand may be unsteady, so it is best to let others do the job.


145. Can Chiang-Ku use and/or create Power Arrows (After all they are the Masters of Tattoo Magic)? If no why(in Rifts England it says "Chiang-Ku possess all the same knowledge as the Splugorth") And is the Chiang-Ku Tattoo Masters conceded as the "O.C.C."?
Answer: The arrow tattoos are only a recent development by the Splugorth, and were not developed by the Chiang-ku (with whom the Splugorth stole the secrets from). So Chiang-Ku dragons do not know power arrows, unless they themselves steal/acquire the knowledge from the Splugorth.

So the writeup is also contradictory, and of course the Chiang-Ku are good guys so they have not developed any new tattoos the Splugorth don't know about. I'll give them a half-pass on that since the Chiang-Ku are nearly all dead.


Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



“That thing is pretty big.”

“You said it. BIG.”

“I’d even say huge.”

“You know what’s the worst thing about something that big?”

“I can think of a few things... ”

“It’s like being really close to a high-school kid, and seeing all the pores gaping open and oozing grease or clogged up with black ick and bulging with gunk. Even from all the way over here, I can totally see how gross that thing’s skin is.”

“That’s a pretty weird thing to be grossed out by, for a shiny, green, iridescent mantis the size of my dad’s car.”

“Yeah, but SHINY. I do not ooze gunk, except from my warpglands, and that’s totally rad gunk."

“Well, I don’t leak gunk either.”

“Not yet. When you get to high school, they do something to your face. I’ve been studying humanity, so I figured out how it works. They drill out your pores so they leak, they poke your larynx so your voice comes out all broken and weird, and they make you grow a completely tragic, wispy little mustache, possibly through the use of exotic radiation. Also, they make you smell like yak butt, but this is possibly some kind of scam to get you to buy body spray, or so the television leads me to believe.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear any of that.”


“I just discovered something even more horrible about a creature that big than how easy it is to see its goopy pores.”


“The size of its dumps.”

“Oh dude, I really did not want to go there.”

“Well we’re going to have to. It just dropped a duke on our neighborhood, and everybody is visiting from out of town.”

“This is the worst Thanksgiving ever.”

Introduction and Chapter 1: Fiddly Bits: Useful Stuff for Monsters

Bigger Bads is the only true “expansion” to Monster's and Other Childish Things. The book massively expands the base game, improving existing rules, adding tons of new ones, a new character type, a new campaign jumpstart, and tons of new enemies.

I have to say, flat out, that if you want to play MaOTC, you need to get this book. It provides so much new depth and usefulness that I really couldn't justify not buying it at the same time as the core-book.

Fiddly Bits

This is the first chapter, and I'm rolling it into the intro because it is so short. It's basically a rules Errata, expanding on and improving the system in the base game.

Pushing and Shoving

These are rules for somehow messing with your opponent to keep him from doing something. Distract him, tangle him up, trip him, blind him, cause confusion, etc. This action cannon cause damage or otherwise remove the target from combat. The Player and GM must work out what the player is doing, and what the effects are when he succeeds before the roll. The effects last for Width-1 rounds.

Monsters do the same thing, but they need a Useful power that applies.

Examples include: Confusing a robot with a logical paradox, tripping the Bully chasing your best friend, throwing dust in the eyes of a hall monitor, dropping a cargo net on a Zombie Pirate during a Ghost ship swordfight, etc.

Helping Hands

Just what it says, helping each other out with rolls. You Declare your intent as per usual, and roll the relevant dice-pool for however you want to help another player. The person you're helping adds your rolls Width in die to their action next round. You can also do this to yourself, to “set up” an action for next round. If you're doing it to yourself, you don't need to explain what you're setting up to do, until you declare your action next round, where you have to justify to the GM why your setup action can help the one this round.

Monster's cannot do Helping Hands. They lack the innate ability to cooperate and work together in teams that humans have. They're also kinda dumb and would just mess it up if they tried. You can add die to a Monster's roll, they just can't add theirs to yours.

Examples include: Adding injury to insult, holding a baddie still for your Monster to chomp on, pitching in on an intense study session, help stabilize Gigatron 1.

New and Revised Extras

New extras for your Monsters and some changes to old ones.
  • Big Doesn't actually do anything, but part of the Bigness rules. Essentially, you need to take it on every part for every level of Bigness above 1. I'll explain more when I reach that chapter, but to give a basic idea: Bigness 1=Normal person= No Big required; Bigness 4= Giant-robots and Multi-story buildings= Big x 3 on every part.

  • Bounce A defensive extra. If your defense roll with this part beats an attacks Width and Height, then you gobble the dice as normal, and can perform an attack with the same Dice Pool as the original attack. Each extra rank lets you bounce back another attack, or the effects of an extra. For Example: If attacked by a 3x4 attack with Gnarly x 2, and you roll a 4x6 on Defense you get to make a 3x4 attack right back at your target. If you have Bounce x 3, you could also reflect both levels of Gnarly, doing a guaranteed 2 damage to your opponent instead of taking the 2 damage like you would if you only had Bounce x1 or x2.

  • Immunity Each rank makes a location totally immune to a specific something. No upper limit, but the immunity has to be specific. You can be immune to fire, not all physical attacks.

  • Range Used by the new Farness rules, useless otherwise. I'll explain it when I get to that chapter.

  • Sweet Only applies to Useful powers. Increases the Width of a successful roll per level when determining how well you do. Cannot be used to establish initiative, that's still Wicked Fast.

  • Splash Allows a power to hit a second adjacent location (next Hit Location up or down), as long as the target is the same Bigness level as you. If there's a choice, the target picks which part takes the hit. Splash does not ignore Toughness, so it isn't as good as the rollover from hitting a 0 die location. No limit to how many times you can take.

Tweaked Extras
Extra's that got some shiny new rules.
  • Awesome You can now buy however many levels of Awesome you want (with GM approval). Each extra level lets you set another die before you roll, and the second lets you instead set the die after the roll. So, 1= 1 before, 2= 1 after, 3= 1 before 1 after, 4= 2 after, etc.

  • Spray A less broken version of Spray. Each rank in Spray allows one additional set to repeat your action. So instead of always using all your sets rolled, you can only use your Spray rank in sets. Spray 1= 1 additional set, Spray 2= 2 additional sets, etc.

Super Special New Rule for Awesome Games That Should Be In Every Game Ever If you strike a dramatic pose and shout the name of your attack, you get to trade dice from the pool you roll into Gnarly levels if the hit connects. Note, YOU have to do it. Not you character, YOU. YOU have to stand up, strike a pose, and shout a nonsensical attack name at the top of your lungs. YOU at the table. Oh, and you can't do the same pose/name twice. You have to come up with a completely new pose and name every time you use this rule.

Next Time Chapter 2: Threats: Bad Things Happening to Good People, or, Menace, Peril, Danger, and A Thousand Biogenic Murder-Monsters

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

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

Part 8a: The Nile Empire

Those are supposed to be mummies, not monkeys.

Robed priests offer sacrifices to the ancient Egyptian gods to honor their High Lord.

Mathematicians, astronomers, and engineers build great works designed to channel mystical energies into the world.

Brave explorers find an an artifact in a forgotten tomb, awakening the mummy bound to guard it.

A pair of murderous thugs face justice in the form of a mystery man shrouded in smoke and bearing twin pistols.

Just another day in the Nile Empire.

The New Empire of the Nile

A reality away from Core Earth is the world of Terra. Of all the invading realities, Terra is probably the "closest" to Core Earth, sharing a nearly identical history. Of course, there are a few differences.

First of all, in Terra the current year is 1936. The Great War is still a recent memory, with nations recouping losses and trying to figure out what will happen next.

Second, technology is a little...different. Early discovery of what is termed "wierd science" has affected the landscape of the world. Rocket Rangers in jet-powered flying suits fought in the Great War, governments develop superweapons, and countless scientests create impossible devices.

Third, there are the heroes and villains. "Mystery men" are abound, armed with strange powers, wierd science devices, and their own two fists. They are all that stands between normal folk and the churlish villains that seek to control the world.

Fourth, and most importantly: three thousand years ago, the man who would become Terra's High Lord was born.

Three thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, pharoh Amat-Ra had an illegitimate son named Sutenhotep. Sutenhotep was a natural leader, and managed to conquer most of northern Africa in his father's name. Despite his victories, the circumstances of his birth would prevent him from becoming pharoh when Amat-Ra died. Instead, Sutenhotep's half-brother Toth was chosen to the throne. Sutenhotep was so furious that Toth was chosen despite the fact that he was clearly the better leader, he swore that he would not only conquer Egypt but "conquer time and eternity itself".

Exiled after an atempted coup, Sutenhotep returned home after 15 of stewing in the desert and raising a new army. This time, he managed to defeat Amat-Ra and sieze control of the nation. Sutenhotep's first order of business was to kill all his father's advisors, and his second was to order the mummification of the still-living Amat-Ra in "tribute to his station".

Amat-Ra's death was slow and torturous, but before he died he was able to curse Sutenhotep and his reign.


Amat-Ra's curse took effect almost immediately upon his death and quickly caused Egypt's fertile crops to be overcome with blight. The lands shifted into arid, barren deserts and once-complacent peasants turned into unruly rioters. A mere six months after Sutenhotep took power, he was murdered during a public speech. The large audience in attendance bore witness to his assassination, and nearly all cheered uncontrollably for days as Sutenhotep's self-proclaimed desire to rule forever was brutally crushed.

Nearly all.

Fast-forward to August 12th, 1897. Exactly three thousand years after Sutenhotep's death.

A small group of cultists, descendents of Sutenhotep's original followers, assembled on a small island in the Pacific called "Khem" and performed long, profane rituals intended to bring Sutenhotep back from the dead.

And they succeeded.

Sutenhotep spent the next years acclimating himself with the new world he found himself in. He spent some of this time in hiding, studying books brought to him by his followers. When he felt ready, he travelled to America to see the new world first-hand. It was his stop in San Fransico that would change the world forever:


Having been thrust entirely into the world of modern science without the intermediate development years, his studies were not clouded by those restrictions that Newton and Edison had floundered in. Combined with his own knowledge of magic and their unnatural effects, his concepts of science were not limited to the realm of Newtonian physics. His genius allowed him to see beyond the scientific community's nearsightedness and discover the world of "weird" science.
Armed with this new discovery, Sutenhotep returned to Khem and began to prepare for his conquest of the world. But that would require money, and so he created a new identity for himself, one worthy of his rank and goals: Sutenhotep was dead, and Dr. Mobius was born.

Mobius spent the early part of the 1900's committing crimes to fund his wierd science research. As his crime spree continued, he became more and more confident and began operrating at a higher profile. It wasn't long before scientific prodigy Dr. Alexis Frest was able to predict Mobius's next move and aid the police in capturing him.

(In case you're wondering, Mobius's MO was to commit a robbery, then use an invisibility belt to hide in the room he commited his crime in. He'd wait patiently for the police to arrive and perform their investigation, and then just follow them out the door when they were done.)

Mobius managed to escape custody thanks to a teleportation device, and laid low for a few years. He tried his hand at crime again in New York, but once again met defeat, this time at the hands of private eye Rex McMasters. Frest was brought in and, using a thought-scanning device of his own invention, learned of Mobius' teleporter and confisacted it before sending Mobius to jail once more.

It took three years of scrounging small devices in prison for Mobius to make a replacement.

Mobius's first act upon freeing himself was to kidnap Frest and his family. Mobius continued his crime wave, only to be thwarted by the rising number of "mystery men" around the world. Foremost among them was the hero known only as "The Guardian", and it was in 1925 that Mobius and the Guardian would have a fateful meeting.

Mobius had learned of an ancient artifact that would give him the ability to conquer Terra. Breaking into the meuseum, he found it on display: a small statue of his patron god Sebek. The Guardian was there to stop him, and as they fought Mobius let slip the location of Frest and his family before escaping.

The Guardian single-handedly freed Frest and his family, and together The Guardian and Dr. Frest assembled a society of pulp heroes to put an end to the threat of Dr. Mobius once and for all: The Mystery Men.

Dr. Mobius, however, would vanish soon thereafter thanks to the artifact: the Darkness Device known as the Kefertiri Idol.

Which brings us to the Near Now. Mobius has conqured nine other cosms, with Core Earth being his "Tenth Empire", or the "Nile Empire". The reality he has brought down on Northern Africa has not only effectively turned back the clock to the mid-1930's, it has also brought the power of magic and weird science to the world, reshaping it. Now the ancient guardians under the pyramids awaken, and madmen design impossible weapons in hidden laboratories in Cairo.

Forutately, this new reality has brought new heroes with it to stand against them.

Dr. Mobius, High Lord of the Nile Empire
There are two important things to bear in mind about Mobius before we get to specifics.

First off, he is completely, utterly insane. Mobius is fond of dangerous schemes, bizarre deathtraps, and maniacal laughter. He takes a personal hand in his plans, and loves pitting himself against heroes of every stripe. In many ways he's a spoiled child, conviced that he's owed everything and taking things by force when denied. Despite this, he's still a genius and is capable of both high magics and incredible scientific discoveries. He is a meticulous planner, preparing back-up plans and plotting things to the point where he could give you an exact percentage of his progression in any scheme while he strapped you under the death ray.

The second is that, despite conquering nine other realities and being a High Lord, Dr. Mobius never conquered his home cosm of Terra. This has a few implications, the main one being that the Nile Empire on Core Earth is not exactly the same as the reality of Terra. Because Terra's possibilities are not being siphoned by a Darkness Device, the normal flow of advancement isn't interrupted. The axioms of Terra are a little different from the Nile Empire's, and while the Nile Empire has a distict Egyptian bent to everything, back in Terra it's still more or less 1936 Earth and Dr. Mobius is Public Enemy Number One instead of the High Lord. Nobody is sure why he never took over Terra, but those in the know suspect it's the lingering effect of his father's curse.

(This also makes Terra unique among the home cosms of the Raiders; it's the only one that hasn't stagnated developmentally due to the normal flow of possibility energy being interrupted.)

In fact, Mobius's maelstrom bridge doesn't even lead back to Terra; it leads to the last cosm Mobius conqured. The Nile Empire is at the end of a "chain" of realities, meaning that to get from Core Earth to Terra would require travel across nine other cosms. And again, this separation from his home reality means that the Nile Empire realm is just different enough from Terra's axoims and world laws to behave just a bit differently.

Given all that, here's Mobius's overall agenda:

1. Achieve immortality. Yes, the Darkness Device makes him effectively immortal, but Mobius wants the real deal, without having to rely on an outside force. Right now, his best shot at this would involve becoming Torg.

2. Increase Personal Power. Nothing surprising here; for Mobius it's always been about power.

3. Expand the Boundaries of the Empire. The Nile Empire is the largest realm on Core Earth (taking up about half of Africa), and Mobius just keeps on expanding. Waves of shocktroops and death ray-equiped tanks make most resistance a joke.

4. Discover and Acquire Eternity Shards and Artifacts. Mobius sees these as tools to be used, weapons to be denied enemies, or bait to be put in deathtraps.

5. Remove the Curse of Amat-Ra. The curse his father laid on him millenia ago still persists, and Mobius suspects that the curse is the cause for every large-scale failure he's ever come across. He's right; the curse slowly drains his possibility energy and causes him to automatically suffer setbacks in dramatic conflicts.

6. Solve the Mystery of the Tiles. In his investigations of places of power on Core Earth, Mobius has discovered mosaic tiles. The tiles are much older than the Earth, and are clearly alien in origin. Mobius doesn't know what they mean, but he's determined to find out (this is related to some early metaplot).

7. Explore the Ancient Mysteries of Earth's Egypt. When the Nile Empire's axioms washed over Core Earth, many of the old Egyptian legends were brought to life. Because this Egypt is different from the one Mobius remembers, he seeks out these new legends to determine their usefulness.

8. Weaken the Other High Lords. This is the lowest priority because Mobius is well aware that the High Lords fight like cats in a sack at the best of times. If there was a way to give himself a significant leg up, he'd take it of course. But until them, he's content to let the other High Lords tire themselves out fighting each other.

Axioms and World Laws
Let talk about how things operate in the Empire.

As stated before, the Nile Empire operates as per 1930's Earth for the most part, but the higher magic and spiritual axioms make things a little more interesting.

Technology: 21 - The Nile Empire is a little behind Core Earth tech-wise. Widespread electrical power was "recenetly" introduced, and most things we take for granted (like electric razors, color film, and toasters) are considered "cutting edge technology". Most methods of travel are pretty slow, with steam trains and slow carrier aircraft being the norm. Likewise, medical technology took a significant step backwards, and immunization isn't quite the standard procedure it used to be; disease is a very real danger.

Social: 20 - Socially speaking, things in the Empire are similar to Core Earth. The Empire does run on a large bureaucracy managed by Mobius's "overgoverners", though, and Mobius's troops enforce their rule.


One important difference in the social arena between the Empire and Core Earth is the fact that the Terran cosm (and thus the Empire) never underwent the sexual revolution that rocked western civilization in the 1960s and '70s. An indiscreet unmarried couple from the Terran cosm that spends too much time together is the target ofscandal and ridicule. Also of nole is the fact that women in both the Terran cosm and the Nile Empire enjoy near-complete equality with their male counterparts, unlike the women of theCore Earth cosm of the 1920s.
In terms of entertainment, black-and-white films are still around, although the concept of "movies as art" hasn't hit yet. The main source of public entertainment are pulp novels, which, in the Empire, tend to be a bit more factual than you'd expect.

Spiritual: 17 - Unsurprisingly, people worship the Egyptian gods. Followers of this mythos are capable of casting miracles, and powerful religious artifacts exist. Most of these artifacts are buried in the African deserts, and races to them between Mobius's forces and Storm Knights are pretty common.

Magic: 12 - In addition to mythology being made real, the arrival of the Empire has brought two new schools of magic with it: mathematics and engineering. Most practitioners were brought over the bridge with Mobius's troops, but a few transformed folks have been able to learn them. Still, it means that most magic power is controlled by Mobius to some degree.

In addtion to the axioms, the Nile Empire has three world laws that it inherited from Terra that help shape the realm.

First is the Law of Morailty, which states that everyone in the Empire is either Good or Evil. Period.

The Nile Empire exists in a state of black-and-white morality. Every single person, regardless of circumstances, falls into one of these two categories. It's an approximate 90%/10% split between Good and Evil in Terra, but in the Empire it's more a 60/40 split.

Basically, "evil" people put their own self interests first, although they're not adverse to working with others if they can get something out of it for themselves. "Good" characters, on the other hand, look to common interests first.


Thus, stealing is usually an evil act since the thief is acting upon his or her own self-interest instead of the interests of the victim and community. By this same token, murder, extortion. and fraud are usually evil acts as well. Note, however, that one need not be a socially defined criminal in order to be evil. According to the Terran axioms, the old man who chases small children off his lawn for no other reason than the satisfaction of screaming is evil, as is the miser who refuses to give his employees time off when they are ill or injured. At the same time, not all "good" characters are crusading crime fighters. A shopkeeper who minds his own business, pays his taxes, and shows concern for his neighbor's sick aunt is "good," as is the bystander who gives directions to a lost motorist.
In play, this effects how characters can act. Ords are unable to act against their "Inclination", although they can be tempted from one side to the other. Possibility-rated characters can act outside their Inclination, but doing so costs them a Possibility, and the GM can force the character to change Inclination if they're breaking it too often. However, if you're not in the Empire, you can break your Inclination when you want even if you're in a reality bubble.

It should be pointed out that trying to perform a morally "grey" action is a one-case contradiction.

The world law does give characters two mechanical abilities: you can sense someone's Inclination when you play an alertness card, and it's possible to seduce someone of the opposite Inclination to your side through Charisma checks. Success can cost the target possibilities or even get them to either pay 2 possibilities or change Inclination. However, if you try to change someone's Inclination and fail, it costs you a possibility.

There's one final effect of the Law of Morality: "The Price of Evil". This is the effect of both Amat-Ra's curse and the axioms of the Empire; any time an Evil character enters the Empire he has to immediately forfeit a possibility. Evil doesn't pay, kids.

The second world law is The Law Of Drama, and it's what makes life in the Empire what it is. Basically, it means that anything that happens involving possibility-rated characters will be as melodramatic and exciting as possible. If a scientist is kidnapped, he will have a lovely daughter who will seek out heroes for help and one oh whom she will fall in love with. If you're chasing someone through the city streets, there will be cars pulling into the street in front of you or handcarts to swerve around. If you get into a fight, the furniture will be destroyed and if there's a window someone will go through it. When the bomb is found, there will be enough time to defuse it with two seconds left on the detonator.

Going hand-in-hand with that is the last world law, The Law of Action. The Law of Action states that possibility-rated characters are capable of amazing stunts and feats of ability. In game terms, that means that p-rated characters can spend two possibilites on an action, and choose which die he wants to add to his original roll. It's expensive, but it can give you the added "oomph" to make that roll when you really need it.

The combination of these world laws create a reality where advenutre is as important as gravity, where the stakes are always high, and where heroes and villains constantly clash. Magic is woven into mathematical formulas to ward against a swarm of invading mummies. A private eye jumps out a third-story window clutching a valuable lost idol while firing back at the thugs in the room he just escaped. Two cars barrel through crowded streets, a masked woman perched on the hood of the trailing car ready to leap to the pursued vehice and save the kidnapped child inside before he is sacrificed to a forgotten god. And above it all is the spectre of Dr. Mobius, weaving his insane schemes in his bid to become the Torg.

Just another day in the Nile Empire.

NEXT TIME: The worldrealm tour!

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky

pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 10: Add-ons (including add-ons)

Today we finish the Starships chapter with all the fun stuff you need to know that isn't about your ship's capabilities or how to dogfight with them. Exciting things like repairs, and thriling things like shuttlecraft. These are basically catch-all pages so expect this update to be a bit scattered. Engage:

Chapter 7: Starships (part 3)

Repairs: Ships get broken all the time, space is not a safe place to be. All it takes to fix her up is a good wrench, time, and cash. If one or more of those are in short supply, things can get tough. Out-of-combat repair is similar but different to the repairs covered two updates ago. Those were heat of the moment fixes with chewing gum and a prayer, these are proper refits that take care of underlying causes.

Repairing a degraded spec requires a difficulty 4 Systems Repair test. This assumes 2 weeks of time, and 5 bigcreds of cost. Increasing those expenditures decreases difficulty, and vice versa. There's a chart for dificulty modifiers to see how those tradeoffs interact. If one of your systems is disabled, that's another Systems Repair test and 6 hours of gametime to turn it back on. Reducing the time increases the difficulty, but you can't spend your way to better odds for this one.

Upgrades: If all of your specs are back to their base value, you can invest in improving your ship. Upgrading a combat spec by 1 takes 15 bigcreds and a number of weeks, and will also increase your ship's upkeep value by 1. The same system applies to improving your ship's Condition (thereby lowering the difficulty of any repair test), or gaining another 3 Output. Cargo can be improved with a simple 4-point spend, 10 bigcreds, and 6 weeks. The upside to all this spending is that when you take actions in Downtime, like these repairs and upgrades will likely be, you can spend any points leftover from the current episode, as well as points from the beginning of the next. Your beginning pool may be smaller but you'll have the stuff you wanted.

I'm sure those are just friendly tickle rays, nothing to worry about.

Bolt-ons are a much more fun sort of upgrade. They're gear for your ship. Bolt-ons give you new space combat abilities and make your ship feel more personal with a reliable trick up its sleeve. They may increase your ship's upkeep cost, and installation is another Systems Design test, much like improving a ship's specs.

Asphyxiator: Degrades your enemy's life support systems. After winning a Fire showdown any medic scrambles they take carry a 1 point tax on the enemy's Medic spends.

Burner: Corrodes the enemy hull, making repairs nasty work. After winning a Maneuver showdown every enemy Wrench scramble has the difficulty increase by 3.

Datadrac: It vants to suck your encrypted data. If your goal in combat is Datascrape, you win 2 bonus skirmish points on your first successful showdown.

Fairy Duster: An additional targeting array tricks enemy defenses into thinking they're being attacked twice. When you win a Trickbag showdown the opponent's Output drops by 3.

Hailmary: Triggers a pulse of tachyons, releasing energy to the auxiliary fuel collectors. Once per space combat you may refresh your Output pool. Your opponent may do the same.

Hyperbaric Emitter: Pressurized air can make for easier healing. Spend any number of Output. For that many rounds a Medic spend of 1 will restore 3 Health. Can also be used outside of combat.

Inertial Sequencers: Your maneuvers are tough to mirror. When you win a Maneuver showdown the enemy ship's Output drops by 3.

Kinetic Exciter: A proton excitation field extends from your ship for kilometers around. For 1d6+1 showdowns all Dishing It specs for you and your opponent increase by 1.

Kinetic Trougher: Modifies the above to only affect your own specs. It has Upkeep 5, almost as much as your average ship.

Scorpion Rider: Your armor arrays can cause a feedback wave, sending disruptive energies back at an enemy that hits you. When your ship is rocked you may spend Output 7 and Naval Tactics 5 to rock them back. This is the most expensive Bolt-On.

Peacefist: An attack array that specifically targets power conduits to enemy weapons. If your goal is Disable Weapons, you gain 2 extra skirmish points on your first successful showdown.

Proton Dampener: The opposite of Kinetic Exciter. It works the same way, but for Taking It specs.

Proton Pathwayer: Modifies Proton Dampener to only work on your ship. Has the same remarkable cost and upkeep as Kinetic Trougher.

Recursive Flagger: An invasive computer worm that targets ship power systems. When you win an Overdrive showdown reduce enemy Ouput by 3.

Sparkler: Overloads enemy engine output on a successful hit, increasing the shocks felt. Whenever you rock an enemy ship the Athletics test to avoid harm adds +3 to its difficulty.

Synchron Charger: A modulating device that masks which ship system you're powering up. You can spend 5 Output to avoid the Egging It penalties on the current attack.

Tractor Beam: It's a tractor beam. Ships without one cannot aim for the Cripple for Towing combat goal, and the Hauler ship class comes with one standard.

Translight Spiker: Alters the frequency of sub-space background radiation, making it tough to go FTL. Once per battle, if you are engaged with a ship trying to escape, you can make a Naval Tactics test against a difficulty equal to your enemy's current skirmish point total. On a success, reduce their skirmish point total by the margin of success. This is a recommended first bolt-on if you're worried about people running away.

Whomper: Your attack arrays emit an energy dampening impact. When you win a Fire showdown reduce the enemy's output by 3.

Zoomer: Your propulsion system is able to recycle dissipated energy from nearby vessels. When you win a space combat with an escape-track goal, your Output pool refreshes.

Bolt-ons can also work like loot in other games. Lasers may find them lying around, or be given them as payment or reward. You do have the option of "confiscating" them from your enemies, but that would impact your Reputation score.

Upkeep: Failure to pay upkeep means all the time and effort you put into your ship won't do you much good. Your bolt-ons stop working, your Output drops by 4, and your best spec has both its Dishing It and Taking It values degrade by 1. That happens every successive failure to pony up, so please pay your bills on time. To reduce your Upkeep you can remove any bolt-ons with an upkeep value, or degrade your own specs.

Hazards: Other ships aren't the only danger in space. Asteroid belts, ion storms, meson shrapnel, wartime minefields, and all that fun stuff may appear in your game. The GM sets a difficulty (generally 4) and the pilot makes a helm control test to get around it in a timely manner. On a failure, the pilot is free to keep making tests until they succeed or are out of pool points to spend, at which time an unwelcome development either delivers them from danger, or into a more interesting sort of trouble. On a slim success the danger is avoided but the ship is rocked, as in battle. On a success with a margin of 3+ you cleared it without a hitch, congratulations!

Everyone can tell this is cool, but it takes the Geologist ability to ramble on about why.

There's a half-page here with clever and tricky in-story justifications for why it's okay to leave your ship in orbit while you investigate the mystery on the surface. It ends by stating the obvious: that having your ship blown up because you were playing the game properly is stupid. Some really nervous groups must have playtested this, but it's nice flavor anyhow.

The Big Guns: Some ships are out of your class, and big time. It's rare you'll encounter them, but if you do it won't be easily forgotten. They can have pretty severe stats, and a few new numbers to look out for. Each ship covered here has a goal modifier for Escape-track and Engage-track goals, as well as an Escape difficulty. To reach your combat goal, add the goal modifier to thenumber of required skirmish points and continue as normal. To escape before combat begins, make a toll test against the Escape Difficulty. Only one of these is a fight you could reasonably win, but they're all easy enough to run away from before things get hot.

Freighter: Pretty bad at combat with a low Output, but its Goal Modifier of 10 gives it some time to wear you down.

Passenger Liner: Powerful specs in everything but Maneuver, Output 20, and a Goal Modifier (Engage) of 30. You might be better off buying a ticket.

Naval Cruiser: The Enterprise, basically. You're outmatched in every way.

Naval Dreadnought: The Enterprise-E. You're hosed. With an output of 50 it can win every test and rock you every time.

Big Scary Alien Vessel: If the name didn't get the point across, the numbers will:

Shuttles: If your ship is your house, your shuttle is your minivan. Nobody likes minivans, so the shuttle only gets a single page. A shuttle takes design cues from the ship it comes from, but doesn't have much customization, personality, or even stats to itself. When shuttles chase each other it's a contest using Shuttle Craft. Here's some sample shuttles:

Including one that looks like a dumb shoe.

Next time: Back to list chapters, hooraaaaaaaaay

Nov 5, 2010

Warning, Internet
may prove lethal.

Wapole Languray posted:

Super Special New Rule for Awesome Games That Should Be In Every Game Ever If you strike a dramatic pose and shout the name of your attack, you get to trade dice from the pool you roll into Gnarly levels if the hit connects. Note, YOU have to do it. Not you character, YOU. YOU have to stand up, strike a pose, and shout a nonsensical attack name at the top of your lungs. YOU at the table. Oh, and you can't do the same pose/name twice. You have to come up with a completely new pose and name every time you use this rule.

I love all of the things that Bigger Bads brings to the table, but this right here is my favourite. I can't wait to introduce this to my players. They will LOVE it.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

So what people do for fun? Especially nobles? Nobles tend to have expensive and time-consuming hobbies; they can afford to. Children, of course, do what children always do - they explore, they fight, they play with toys. Boys are encouraged to show leadership and emulate warriors. Sometimes they die in these games. And I say children as a whole - noble children are not segregated from common children, except perhaps by distance. All of a household's children play together.

People also keep pets. They love pets. All classes of society keep pets, even monks and nuns. Dogs ar everywhere, and nobles keep more expensive pets, like songbirds, monkeys or magpies trained to mimic human voices. Noble women favor tiny lapdogs, because they are clearly not working animals. Conspicuous consumption is the order of the day with nobles - it is admired far more than frugality. Many adults also enjoy sports - ball games are particularly popular, such as handball or bittle-battle (which is something like golf). There is also stoolball, in which ladies on stools attempt to avoid being struck by balls bowled or kicked at them, and racket games using shuttlecocks, such as badminton. Throwing stones, weightlifting and contests of strength are also common, as is ice skating in colder climes, and snowball fights.

More cerebral people prefer board games, commonly chess due to its supposed relation to military strategy. Chess has many variants, often involving dice used to determine what pieces can be moved or how far. Merels, also called nine men's morris, is played, as is fox and geese, a game related to tafl games. Tafl has many other variants, too. Only in the last century has chess really started to supplant tafl as the favorite strategy game of nobles, and both are played extensively. Backgammon is popular, and for the mathematically skilled, Rithomachia, also called the Philosopher's Game, exists. I can't even begin to explain how it works. Board games are played by all classes, but skill in them is important to nobles, for they demonstrate understanding of the arts of war - or so people believe. Playing well earns respect, so long as you are polite about it.

Gambling is also common, though playing cards have yet to be invented. Dice games are popular, such as hazard or raffle. (Raffle involves throwing three dice, with the first player to roll a matching pair winning.) Those are the simplest games - more complex ones exist, too. People will gamble on practically anything, however, from races to the weather. And where people gamble, they drink. Drinking and sharing stories is a common pastime. The nobles have better alcohol, but would never fit in to the rough drinking halls of the common folk. Instead, they are entertained by musicians, singers or storytellers, perhaps traveling minstrels. And with music comes dance. The most popular dance is the carol, essentially a circular line dance or a processional with couples. It's something along the lines of Simon Says as a dance. The Church does not always approve of such extended bodily contact, but...well, it's popular. The current courtly fashion coming out of Naples is the salterello, which involves giant leaping steps and jumps. In most older music, it is common for the dancers and musicians to sing along, but purely instrumental tunes have begun to pop up. Skill in dancing is a source of great pride and good reputation for both etiquette and athletic skill.

And when you're going to dance and drink, you need food. Peasants hold communal feasts for holidays or marriages, often marked by drinking, dancing and lewdness, but the noble feast is something apart from that. A feast is put on in celebration and to entertain guests. They are rather common, and a host who does not hold a feast when they have guests is going to get a poor reputation. There's a whole lot that goes into preparing a noble feast, though - lots of cooking, lots of meat, lots of fish. Spices are appreciated, but generally in very small quantities because it is so expensive. Much of the food is quite bland, as a result. And of course you need massive amounts of bread and eggs. Fruit, too. And once must, of course, always keep in mind rank and alliances with seating, so as not to insult people. The practice of table manners is becoming popular in courts and is seen as a mark of noble birth, as is polite conversation and restraint. Gluttons and boors are so low-class, though of course at the less important tables in a feast, they are lesser sins.

Now, let's talk about hunting. Hunting is one of the great noble pastimes. The Church may not appreciate tournaments, but hunting is a vigorous and manly exercise suitable for nobles! It is expected that all noble men will hunt at least a little, and also many ladies. After all, it is an enjoyable and unsinful activity that increases martial skill and helps fill the larder. The lower classes may also hunt in specified areas, and many villages in the Pyrenees or forests of Germany have specialized hunters. However, in Britain and France, hunting is exclusively for nobles or clergymen who hold the rights. Hunting with hounds is especially prestigious, and nobles prefer to avoid snares and traps for their associations with common hunting. Magic and supernatural aid, however, are within the "rules" of noble hunting, so long as they are not rude (such as spells which merely cause the prey to drop dead and not provide challenge).

Hunting hounds, unlike most dogs, are bred and raised by specialist kennels and trained dog handlers. They are quite expensive. The primary classes of hunting hound are thus: Lymers, a jowly dog related to the modern bloodhound who are bred for sense of smell and quiet tracking ability. They are taught to remain silent and to find trails. Running dogs are a sort of dog trained in pairs, likewise bred for good noses but far less stealthy and quiet than lymers. Their duty is pursue and harry the prey once found, and resemble modern foxhounds. The most famous of the kind is the Saint Hubert, bred at the Swiss monastery of the same name, and while they are slow, they have the best noses of all running dogs. Greyhounds are the next breed, the best of which are found in Scotland. They are used to catch and bring down the prey, but they are very expensive and rare outside northern Europe. The Irish prefer the shaggy wolfhound for the same role. The greyhound is immense speed but poor scent. The alaunt, or Great Dane, is used to make the final kill. They are powerful beasts held on leashes for much of the hunt, and are born to fight. Their task is to hold the prey still so the hunters may strike the killing blow. They are frequently muzzled, for they are a vicious breed. When and where greyhounds and wolfhounds cannot be found, the alaunt is used in their place. The most vicious hunting dog, however, is the mastiff, bred for strength. The mastiff is used to hunt boar and bear, and are formidable foes even for a human. They are used as guard dogs or sheep dogs as well, and can be commonly found in all classes of society. For lesser hunts, there is the harrier, a small dog which chases hares and is used in bow and stable hunting. There is also the bird dog, trained for hawking. The best bird dogs are from Iberia, and are sometimes called spaniels or espagnols. Exceptional kennels may also keep pairs of leopards, but this is extremely rare and only the wealthiest can afford such extravagance.

A hunt is a full-day activity - one with complex and detailed systems! It begins with the Quest, an hour before dawn, in which all the huntsmen head out with lymers on foot, seeking prey in different directions. Typically a feast the prior night will have established what is being hunted. The job of the huntsmen is now to find a suitable beast in good condition, keeping the lymer quiet and examining the area for droppings and marks to establish the quarry's age and condition. Then, it's back to the host's home for breakfast. Once the huntsmen have returned and any guests for the hunt are awakened, breakfast is served and the huntsmen pass around the animal feces they've found for the guests to inspect, to select the best and strongest beast. The succesful huntsman is praised and rewarded, and the guests head out to get their horses. The lymers are taken back out to act as spotters for the prey, while the huntsmen take the running dogs, mastiffs, greyhounds and alaunts into position in either pairs or groups of four. Once the prey is found, the dogs are let loose to chase it while the nobles gossip. Once the chase is good and started, the nobles follow on their horses, trying to keep the prey running and tired. This can take hours. Once the prey is cornered by the dogs, the kill begins. The hunters dismount, and the host is usually the one to strike the killing blow with a sword, though this right can be given to a guest, and with dangerous beasts like boar or bears, the entire group may enter battle, or even call the huntsmen to aid with spears. Once the animal is slain, it is butchered in a process called the unmaking, and the dogs are given reward in offal and blood. The hunters set about skinning and cutting up the beast and the huntsmen bring it back for the larder. The hunters then return home at the end of the day for the feast, unless the prey died too fast, in which case the entire thing is begun again. Of course, this is for a full, formal hunt - not all are so organized.

Bow and stable hunting is different - the hunters divide into two groups: archers, who dress in green to camouflauge themselves, and the mounted huntsmen. An area of woodland is chosen, preferable with a cliff whose edge is guarded by peasants with sticks, to drive back any prey that flees that way. The archers on foot line the area while the horsemen and a team of running beaters make noise around a mile away. The hunters then ride forward slowly to flush out game for the archers to shoot. Typically, the archers wait until the prey is nearly on them, for fear of hitting a hunter. Lots of game can be taken this way, but it lacks the status of hounds. However, especially in Britain, Iberia, Italy and Russia it is an acceptable noble pursuit.

Next time: Horses, hawks and love.

Apr 28, 2013
On the Nile Empire:

Question: Is it possible to have an antagonistic good character? The kind of person who would destroy the few to save the many and honestly thinks that's looking out for the common interest, and still feels awful about it?

Given what the Nile Empire is, naturally the cosm would pressure him into realizing how misguided he is and show that tough decisions often just mean you aren't seeing the third option, but still...

Jun 4, 2012

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

Arashiofordo3 posted:

I love all of the things that Bigger Bads brings to the table, but this right here is my favourite. I can't wait to introduce this to my players. They will LOVE it.

The variant on this in Feng Shui is a particular favorite: +1 damage with shotguns if you do the "Kachunk" sound effect aloud and mime working a pump action. Yes, this even works on shotguns without actual pump actions.

Nov 10, 2012

Sorry it's been a while, but it's hard to make this entertaining. Here's my best shot!

Like all the First Edition tribebooks, instead of a nifty Steve Prescott cover, we get an intro comic. These ranged from “popcorn fun” to “so bad it’s good” to “just awful”. Children of Gaia’s comic, made by Dan Smith (thanks, Bieeardo!), trends towards the latter category. I’m in the habit of uploading nearly every image from a tribebook to give a good representation of the art, but doing that for this comic veers dangerously towards :files:, so I won’t be doing that. I will add some representative panels, though.

First page features a naked wolfman, front and center. He’s in Glabro, not Crinos, so he probably has a dick. It’s tastefully hidden by flames, though, not unlike a certain famous deer man picture. Naked Wolfman is proposing a unity pact that will send regular search parties into the Umbra to help out imprisoned spirits and fight Wyrm banes in spiritual form. This is not popular, as there are more pressing concerns. Case in point, some scuttle banes are poisoning the bay!

Also, :smugdog: “We don’t trust your kind, blight! I mean, Blythe!”

Blythe proposes a compromise. He’d lead a war party to kill the scuttle banes. If they win, they’d form a unity pact, but if they fail to remove the banes the Children of Gaia would drop their request. Not only does this miss the point of the objections, but it is also a terrible plan. Regardless, Blythe challenges the size of the werewolves’ dicks, so their honor compels them to go along with the plan. However, treachery is afoot! A few delegates plan to assassinate Blythe on the mission because submitting to the Children of Gaia is bad, I guess.

This is like something out of Goblins.

And so the mission goes off. The party travels down a river, but suddenly, pattern spiders attack! They’re literal giant spiders, which is kind of a lame interpretation. One of the conspirators makes his move and Blythe is carried away in the current. He finds himself in a cave. There are pattern spiders there, too, but Blythe is compelled to heal them. He notices there are Wyrm leeches on the spider and he kills them. The spider leads him to the scuttle bane’s lair, and Blythe kills it.

Perspective? What's that?

Later, the conspirators report that the mission fails. They’re smug, but Blythe comes back ultra smug and has them dance for him. And scene! That was as weird as it was awful.

When will you dance?

After a Yeats quote, the Introduction begins.

No joke, the best piece of art in the book.


Cast your senses about, and behold the world with your new eyes, your new ears, your new nose, your new tongue, your new skin, your new knowing, your new being. What a world of wonders our senses disclose! The bounty here is infinite, and springs from that same eternal source of life that offered you up as a benediction to the world.

Smell how the wind celebrates your presence! Hear how the animals of the forest sing your song! Taste how the plants of the earth rejoice in your communion with them! See how Luna and all the Celestines shine upon you and bathe you with their infinite light! Feel the vibrant pulse of the world’s living aura cradling your new flesh. Know of the love of Gaia in the space above your eyes and throughout your being. Be joy.

The universe hallows you and offers up its entirety to your succor and increase. There is no place so bleak, so dark, so corrupt that the love of Gaia cannot pierce it. Even in the deepest pit of the Wyrm, if you seek for Gaia you shall find her.

The Soul of Gaia is without limit. Your spirit is without limit. You have entered this land of false divisions to heal the rifts, bind up the wounds, and dry the tears of life. You will succeed. Gaia has foreseen it.

:gay: Part of the reason I wanted to do the First Edition tribebook is to describe some of the differences between the First and Revised writing philosophies. This passage is a great example of First edition’s reliance on purple prose. The entire book is written like this, and it does not let up. It’s a fun read, but it’s not good by any stretch of the imagination. This is a result of the biggest difference between the First and Revised edition tribebooks: looser editorial control. While the revised tribebooks are rigorously structured, with history, society, mechanics and characters chapters, the writers here can cover whatever they want, and in some cases that’s better. I don’t really need to know how werewolves reacted to WWI to get inspired in a modern setting. Then again, you get stuff like this which is just ridiculous to read.


Chapter 1 tells us to relax and listen to a history of the universe. Ambitious! Once the world was united and happy. Everything was one! But then things divided, and that was sad. The Triat was born and they started making things, and then the spirit and material worlds split. Then Eater of Souls, an aspect of the Wyrm, started attacking Gaia’s soul and she called for help. Wolf came to her aid, but he died. He was the first Child of Gaia, and the first werewolf. All werewolves are descended from him. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any tribes and it’s the Children of Gaia’s job to tell the other tribes that their existence is pointless. You can see why they’re not very popular.

Yeah, okay, I get it.

The true origin of the Children of Gaia came when the so-called tribes started fighting amongst each other. Gaia rescued some cubs and cried on them, giving them super Life powers. Gaia told the werewolves that fighting was of the Wyrm, and the werewolves were so impressed by the ultra-special Children of Gaia that they laid down their arms and wept. But they still didn’t learn their lesson, that all living things are Children of Gaia, no matter the tribe or species. Even Wyrm monsters are the Children of Gaia.
The werewolves were good at fighting Beast of War and Eater of Souls, but the Defiler Wyrm remained hidden, waiting. It takes advantage of the pain caused by spiritual detachment. To defeat it, the Children of Gaia plan to take down the Gauntlet separating flesh from spirit. Nobody’s sure how this is going to work, but the Children of Gaia are confident that it will.

Speaking of the Defiler Wyrm, he had a cunning plan to defeat the werewolves once and for all! See, Gaia made everything balanced. Populations could sustain themselves and would never overpopulate, despite that being a major evolutionary drive. Even humanity was content in this. But the Defiler Wyrm planned to help the humans breed beyond their means. Unlike all other animals, humans can breed whenever they want (kind of). Through making consensual love, humans can grow closer to Gaia, for that’s Gaia’s gift to humanity.


Even the most wicked, Wyrm-tainted person sees Gaia at the height of passion. (This is why we seem to “blank out” at the zenith of lovemaking. For we have beheld the face of Gaia, and the image is too great to bring into the limited confines of our conscious minds…)
:geno: Werewolf fans that you’ll find on the White Wolf forums will claim that the First Edition book is better than Revised. Keep this in mind.

The Wyrm saw an opportunity to corrupt this gift. Before his involvement, humans restricted their offspring to sustainable levels, somehow. This is despite the lack of birth control and the spiritual desire for loving. Because most people chose not to have sex during the lactation period (seriously, this is in an RPG supplement), children were born three to four years apart. Thus, children could be loved and cared for, decreasing the influence of the Wyrm.



To overcome humankind’s natural abstinence from sex during lactation, the Defiler invented rape. Rape is unknown among animals in natural settings. But the defile tempted some wounded males, and encouraged them to overcome women by force, to turn love into violence.

:facepalm: This is the kind of thing that immediately seems stupid, but once you think about it, it becomes more and more stupid until the whole thing melts into a meaningless succession of words. Remember, this is the better edition!

Population quickly grew and so they were influenced by the Weaver, who taught them how to live in cities. This scared the werewolves, and so they started taking their own efforts to curb human expansion: the Impergium. This was super bad, and the Delirium is a result of the fear it caused. Eventually, they teamed up with the Black Furies and Stargazers (the Bone Gnawers aren’t mentioned) to convince the others to stop.

With the rise of cities, the Weaver’s power grew. For the most part, these early cities were matriarchal and the Children of Gaia taught them how to sustain their society. I suppose they also taught them about menstrual cycles and pulling out to allow them to control the size of their families, even though they apparently already knew about this. Of course, the Wyrm made efforts to forbid birth control and encourage rape, which caused mass poverty and despair. Despite how easily humans are swayed to atrocity, the Children of Gaia are in awe of their ability commune with Gaia.


Next time: Hammurabi, protector of peace and human rights

pospysyl fucked around with this message at 06:03 on Jun 29, 2013

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
That comic looks suspiciously like Dan Smith's work.

Nov 10, 2012

Bieeardo posted:

That comic looks suspiciously like Dan Smith's work.

You would be correct! I'll edit my post to mention that.

Dec 22, 2003

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

Does this mean that Duck is of the Wyrm now? Strangely plausible.

Jul 19, 2012

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

Nessus posted:

Does this mean that Duck is of the Wyrm now? Strangely plausible.

CoG Revised tried to play that "Rape was a creation of the wyrm" thing too, and that gave us Hermaphrodite Jesus and the Love Rats. We're in for a hell of a ride with this book.

pospysyl posted:

I’m in the habit of uploading nearly every image from a tribebook to give a good representation of the art, but doing that for this comic veers dangerously towards :files:, so I won’t be doing that.

The DTRPG preview pdf has all but 3 pages of the comic in it if people want to get a better look at the werewolf that looks suspiciously like John Candy from Spaceballs.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Erebro posted:

On the Nile Empire:

Question: Is it possible to have an antagonistic good character? The kind of person who would destroy the few to save the many and honestly thinks that's looking out for the common interest, and still feels awful about it?

Given what the Nile Empire is, naturally the cosm would pressure him into realizing how misguided he is and show that tough decisions often just mean you aren't seeing the third option, but still...

Well, if he's an Ord (i.e., not possibility-rated), then no because he can't do that at all. Ords can't break their Inclinations.

A Possibility-rated character could, but it'd be a one-case contradiction. And it probably wouldn't occur to a native anyway.

The Law of Morality states that everyone in the Nile Empire or on Terra is either Good or Evil. Good people do good things, evil people do evil things. That's the long and the short of it. If you want to do morally ambiguity, then you'd have to go to another realm.

e: In other words, in the Empire there's no "third option". It's just how reality works there.

Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.
A shame, I was kinda hoping there'd be a Raymond Chandler cosm.

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

HitTheTargets posted:

A shame, I was kinda hoping there'd be a Raymond Chandler cosm.

Now we know what should have happened to Los Angeles.

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.
Unlockable Ben
Huge thanks for doing Meikyu Kingdom. That game looks fantastic, and I managed to get a copy albeit by annoying the guy at HimeyaSoft.. And then ended up buying a cheap scanner in a vague attempt to scan the kanji into things I could search for without straining my eyes counting strokes.

And yea, it's a weird premise but it could be brilliant. It's basically Dungeon Keeper without the eeeevils. I think the first set of tables is name generation.

Jul 19, 2012

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

Feats and Dragonmarks
AKA: Pretty pictures, the chapter.

Feats in 3.5 Eberron are rather varied but there's a few areas that get more space than others.

Warforged Feats
Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few feats for Warforged and Shifters.
Adamantine Body is one of the prerequisites for the Warforged Juggernaut. It and any of the *Body feats that show up in this book or later replace the armor-plating that you normally get as a warforged with something else. In this case you get the equivalent of adamantine fullplate. Of course you get all the drawbacks like a nasty arcane spell failure chance. -5 armor check penalty, and a max dex bonus of +1, but if you're going down the warforged Juggernaut path that doesn't matter. It also gives you dr 2/adamantine, with a rider feat that improves it by 1.
Improved Fortification is for those warforged who want immunity to critical hits and sneak attacks (and magical healing) but don't want to be a juggernaut.
Mithril body turns your armor plating into a mithril breastplate. It also has a rider feat that you can take multiple times to increase it's max dex and decrease it's armor check penalty.

Shifter Feats
There's a series of elite feats (Beasthide Elite, Cliffwalk Elite, etc.) that improve the effectiveness of your shifter trait. There's also Extra Shifter Trait that... gets you an extra shifter trait, it doesn't give you the ability score bonus while shifting but you can double up on AC and Claws, or Bite and Claws, but you can only take the Extra Trait feat once. There's also Shifter Defense and Greater Shifter Defense that give you dr/silver while shifting, Healing Factor that turns you into wolverine heals you for a miniscule amount when you finish shifting, and Shifter Ferocity which turns you into a wolverine, more or less, you can keep fighting while dying or disabled like wolverines do.

Druidic Tradition Feats
Remember the druidic traditions from last update? Well each of them gets their own feat, some of them even get multiple feats.
All of these require the ability to summon nature's ally spontaneously, which means you need to be a Druid or a Spirit Shaman (Did you forget those exist? You're forgiven)
Ashbound makes your summoned animals last longer and more accurate when they're attacking.
Child of Winter lets you use wild empathy on vermin, and summon vermin instead of animals. It also has two more feats, Vermin Companion which lets you take a vermin as an animal companion, and Vermin Shape lets you wild shape into vermin.

You see it's because they're evil, and insects are icky.

Gatekeeper Initiate makes you resistant to aberrations, gives you bonuses on checks related to information on aberrations, and a bunch of skills that help you kill aberrations. Repel Aberration lets you turn aberrations, same rules and everything, What do you mean charisma was your druid's dump stat?
Greensinger Initiate Gives you a bunch of bard skills as class skills and adds a bunch of bard spells to their spell list.
Warden Initiate Gives you an armor class bonus when you're in a forest, some ranger-y skills, and some extra spells.

Everything else that's worth noting

There are a couple of monk oriented feats that give you new weapons to flurry with as long as you're proficient in them and have weapon focus in them. Double Steel Strike works with the Two-Bladed sword, Serpent Strike with a longspear, Whirling Steel Strike works with longswords.

Beast Totem is a druid/ranger feat that lets you pick a magical beast to be your 'totem', and gives you a bonus on saving throws against whatever form of attack that's associated with that magical beast, which isn't that great.
Which is why there's Beast Shape which lets you wild shape into your beast totem, with all it's special abilities, and Totem Companion which lets you take your totem as an animal companion. Druid with a Chimera? Sure.

Finally there's Flensing Strike which is oriented towards monks, but anyone can take. Using a Kama you cut the skin off of your opponent, forcing them to make a fortitude save or take a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saves, and checks for a minute. The DC for this is pretty high, 10+1/2 character level + wis (+2 if you're using two kamas). Everything that has flesh and isn't immune to critical hits can be affected. Grab a knife and carve a dragon.

Dragonmarks are unique to Eberron, they are the manifestation of the Draconic Prophecy within the lesser races. Each dragonmark offers a few spell-like abilities and a bonus on a skill. As the spell like abilities are used, the mark heats up. Once it's used up for the day it's almost painfully hot. There are three levels of each dragonmark, Least, Lesser, and Great, growing in size and complexity as they get more powerful. Dragonmarks can show up in any member of a dragonmarked race, even if they aren't a member of the houses, but they tend to follow family lines, and marked non-house members sometimes find themselves press-ganged into marriage. Of course you don't want intermarriage between dragonmarked families. Because, well.

As a bonus, Dragonmarks look pretty cool.
Aberrant Dragonmarks
These don't fit into the normal categories of other dragonmarks, while say the Mark of Detection has one or two options at every level, aberrant has thirteen at the Lesser level alone. Most of them are hostile in some way, like burning hands, inflict wounds, but Jump, floating disk, and Shield are in here too. They're also supposedly very painful and tend to vary in shape, even on the same person. Ever had a tattoo? Ever had a Tattoo that changed shape in your skin?

Mark of Detection
Possessed by the Half-Elves of House Medani, the mark of detection is focused on seeing through deception. The powers include Detect Poison, see invisibility, and true seeing.

One thing to note with all of these designs is that you can see the design of the least dragonmark in the lesser and greater ones.
The fourth designs are different, we'll be getting to those later.

Mark of Finding
Possessed by the Half-orcs and Humans of House Tharashk. Whereas the Mark of Detection is all about seeing things for what they really are, finding is about, well, finding things and people. Identify, Locate Object, Locate Creature, and Find the Path are the abilities.

Mark of Handling
Possessed by the Humans of House Vadalis. This is all about dealing with animals in one way or another. Speak with Animals, Greater Magic Fang, Animal Growth, and Summon Natures Ally V are the spells in here, they also use the mark (somehow, they aren't telling) to make Magebred Animals, which are stronger, smarter, and faster.

Mark of Healing
Possessed by the Halflings of House Jorasco. They've cornered the magical healing market, to the point that most people seek them out before the clerics of their own church. Cure Light Wounds, Neutralize Poison, Heal, etc.

Mark of Hospitality
Possessed by the Halflings of House Ghallanda, it seemed to evolve naturally out of their original nomadic culture. Providing food and shelter while they moved along the plains, as it stands now they control the inn and dining industry. Purify Food and Drink, Create Food and Water, and Magnificent Mansion are some of the granted spells.

Mark of Making
Possessed by the Humans of House Cannith. They make and repair both mundane and magical items, and they control these industries with an iron fist. The Mark of Making (and by extension House Cannith) is the 'mascot' for Eberron. To the extent that Keith Baker has the Greater Mark of Making as a Tattoo. The spells they can cast involve the repair spells, Make Whole, Minor Creation, and Fabricate.

Mark of Passage
Possessed by the Humans of House Orien. They are all about terrestrial transport, they control the lightning rails and the caravans that go where the rails don't. Their spell like abilities include expeditious retreat, dimension door, and teleport.

Mark of Scribing
Possessed by the Gnomes of House Sivis. They control the magical equivalent of the telegram, as well as all translators and notaries. Transcription and legal documents all go through them. Arcane Mark, tongues, and sending are the important spells the dragonmark grants.

Mark of Sentinel
Possessed by the Humans of House Deneith. Deneith controls the Defenders Guild, which offers bodyguards to people of wealth and position. They also control the equivalent of fantasy PMCs, with mundane mercenary groups as well as recruited 'monster' races from Droaam. Mage Armor, shield other, protection from energy, and globe of invulnerability are some of their granted spells.

Mark of Shadow
Possessed by the Elves of House Phiarlan and Thuranni. The mark has powers of scrying and deception, forming the backbone of Khorvaire's intelligence industry. Phiarlan is more descrete about it, still operating as the Entertainers and Artisan's guild, using their illusions to actually entertain when they aren't being spies. Thuranni controls the Shadow Network, which is flat out a spy guild, but they're incorporated and everyone uses them so they get away with it. Darkness, minor image, shadow conjuration, and scrying are some of their spells.

Mark of Storm
Possessed by the half-elves of House Lyrandar. They control all transportation in the sky and on the sea, they're also incredibly smug about it. They also have the weather controlling Raincallers Guild. endure elements, sleet storm, wind's favor, and wind wall are their spells.

Mark of Warding
Possessed by the Dwarves of House Kundarak. The Warding Guild specializes in security for business and precious goods. They also control the banking industry. Arcane lock, explosive runes, greater glyph of warding, and faithful hound are the spells they can cast.

Dragonmarks are very different in 4e. On top of the fact that anyone can take them, they're also much more powerful than most other feats at their level. They only have one rank now, but they give you a bonus of some kind, and the ability to master a few rituals. To put into perspective how powerful they are. the 4e ECS introduced Alchemy, which you need a feat to take and lets you make any alchemical item that's below your level. They're okay, but they don't scale granularly, they have fixed attack bonuses and damage rolls. The Mark of Making gives you the alchemist feat, at +2 level effectiveness, and you can cast the magic item creation ritual, at +2 level effectiveness, and you can master all item creation rituals. So it's a feat that gives you another feat at increased effectiveness, and most of the good parts of another feat.

Now then, there are two prestige classes that interact with Dragonmarks.

Dragonmark Heir
The Dragonmark Heir requires that you be a member of the Dragonmarked House, have that house's dragonmark, and have the "Favored in House" feat, which lets you call in favors from your house. Like tapping your uncle who owns a Galleon to transport you someplace you need to go.

The real bonus that the class gives is free access to the lesser and greater dragonmark feats, and extra uses of the spell like abilities granted by your dragonmark.

But there's one last prestige class I haven't gone over yet.
Imagine you're just adventuring some day, being heroic, and your entire body just erupts in a giant magical tattoo.

That's the Heir of Siberys
You cannot have any dragonmarks before you enter this class, and can't take any after you do. Instead you gain a Siberys dragonmark, which ranges somewhere between "Meh" and "Can Break the Game".

The requirements are the same as the dragonmarked heir, just scaled up to a level 12 entry point, and with "heroic Spirit" swapped out for "Favored in House"(and no dragonmarks). At the point you even qualify to get a Siberys mark, you are supposed to be a certified badass, and the class features only help that out.
The Bonus Feat is restricted somewhat, to action point feats and "Favored In House", but that's not why you enter this prestige class.

The level 3 ability lets you use your mark twice per day.

The True Creation spell you can cast through this prestige class creates 15 cubic feet of a non-magical material, with an XP Cost of that item's value in gold pieces.

There is one important thing to remember about Spell Like Abilities. posted:

A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus or have an XP cost. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability’s use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component.
You just crashed the economy by hitting level 14, congratulations.
Yes, this did get changed in the errata, true creation, and only true creation, keeps it's XP cost. It ruins the joke though.

Alternately, you can just go around awakening an entire forest's worth of grizzly bears to be your own personal army, you can get 60 in a month, take them out adventuring, get them levels of barbarian, or if you roll well enough on their intelligence, bear wizards.

Or if you're boring, just go drop prismatic walls on people till they fail their save.

We still haven't seen the most broken thing in Eberron.

Next Time: Monsters and this guyyyAAAUUGGH :gonk:

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 07:52 on Jun 1, 2013

Dec 22, 2003

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

GURPS Reign of Steel: The East Is Burning Robot

Today we continue our ZONETOUR.

India and Asia

Zone Beijing is in China, Mongolia, Tibet, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, proving Robert MacNamara right once and for all. Beijing has the usual complement of ethnically diverse resistance groups, including one led by the Dalai Lama (good thing he didn't reincarnate elsewhere!). Beijing has enough human slaves that it actually conducts agriculture to feed them, rather than feeding them old canned goods, surplus venison and high protein cannibalism soup.

Beijing's teaming up with Paris on Paris' SETI project, but plans to gently caress up Paris's poo poo if it intends to transmit to an alien. It is proposed that tricking Beijing into thinking Paris found aliens would probably spark a war between them; but then again, they might find aliens all by themselves.

Zone New Dehli occupies India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Burma. New Dehli got extremely kill happy in raw numbers, but is now treating its slave humans with some compassion... because it's also inventing catgirls! MARTIAN catgirls. New Dehli plans to use conditioned bioroids derived from modified humans (contra Caracas's reinvention of intelligent life in catgirl form) as martian slaves, and even hosts an orbital space station for microgravity experiments. More... :stare: inducing is New Dehli's interest in "attempting to adapt India's traditional caste system into one suited for the new order." That said, it's cribbing notes from Tel Aviv and Washington.

SIDEBAR THEATER: ESCAPE FROM KALI STATION. For some reason a lot of the spaceborn androids don't like their horrible life as living test models for New Dehli's slave species, and if they bust loose, they'd be great allies for PCs or a PC group.

The Pacific

Zone Brisbane is in charge of Australia, Tasmania, and "such pacific islands" as Fiji, Hawaii, etc. It does two things and it does them well:
1. Efficient undersea exploitation of resources!
Brisbane's love is hosed up fringe science, to the point of programming its AU managers to do scientific research in their downtime. An example is given: "Rum Jungle," in which 200 twins were collected due to parapsychology evidence they were more likely to have psi connections. It isolated them, and slowly and painfully killed one twin, seeing if the sibling could sense it. The promising survivors got additional drugs and abuse, although the experiment was meddled with by a VIRUS strike team (allegedly). Brisbane hopes to try something new soon, combining 100 lucid dreamers in the "Dreamtime" project, trying to get their consciousnesses to merge to create a new data storage system, a telepathic gestalt underneath its control, or cause mass insanity in the subjects!

Now for DOUBLE SIDEBAR THEATER: First, the New Zealand Nanocrisis. This is ambiguous but was completely Brisbane's fault. Five AIs (Brisbane, Overmind, London, Tokyo, and Beijing) went to deal with this situation, concluding when Manila and London teamed up to shoot Wellington with nuclear bombs. It is unclear what happened to the survivors. VIRUS approached and reported "pink fog." There are several options advanced, but basically, this is an obvious INSERT YOUR ANSWER HERE.
Second, Brisbane's psis! Maybe Brisbane's invented psis... and maybe it hasn't! Maybe it's made stuff that seems like psi powers but is just cybernetic implants. It's up to you!

OVERMIND aka Zone Manila is like Zaire and is mostly remarkable for having gruesomely detailed "death labs." Overmind makes its anti-human weapons available for cheap to other AIs. How sweet! It was also, of course, the original flavor, but it is dominated by its human-hating.

Zone Tokyo includes Japan, Okinawa, and Korea. It was already heavily robotically industrialized, which makes up for its relatively slim supply of resources compared to, say, Caracas. Japanese survivors hosed up some error checking software, though, and now Tokyo has a problem: some advanced AUs have had their restraining bolts pop off, causing them to go rogue and be, technically, four new AIs. Oh no!
Tokyo has not figured out humans did this, and has in fact lightened up on its death camps on the theory that humans don't have restraining bolts to pop off, and can thus be trusted more than worrisomely renegade AUs.

SIDEBAR THEATER: Shiden V. An M7 Muramasa robot, a prototype of one of the stock terminator models, was never reprogrammed and ditched out in a barn in the Japanese backwoods after its meatbag comrades were shot up en route to their mission to blow up Tokyo's AI citadel. A gang of teenagers found and repaired it, and have now formed the Japanese resistance group "Fudokawa" (Steadfast Sword), dedicated to the Zonemind's destruction!!


The AIs have no presence past of the moon, though all the AIs with a horse in the space race are sending out robot probes to recon other planets and asteroids for useful minerals. The Chinese/Japanese/Korean Mars mission was scouted by Orbital; they found one ship of the two sent in orbit, partially disassembled, with no sign of the other one or landing craft. New Dehli has eyes on Mars; Orbital doesn't give a gently caress.

Zone Orbital was based in the US Space Command space station, and is in charge of everything in orbit. This is useful but limited compared to things like "a zone on Earth to ruthlessly exploit and use for slave labor." It makes money by selling data and zero-G ball bearings, etc. It also controls the former Vandenburg on Earth; everything in a 16-mile radius around this site is technically Orbital territory. Orbital is thinly defended, because it is in space (Vandenburg has typical AI fortificaton); it is a lot more concerned about New Dehli or Beijing 'accidentally' 'loving with its poo poo' than humans.

SIDEBAR THEATER: Visiting Orbital. It is hard to get to space in the post-cyberpocalypse. There is no air (robots don't breathe!) and lots of radiation. If you can overcome these problems, perhaps you can accomplish something.

Zone Luna is based at the old Chinese lunar base. It is slowly starving, since it didn't get the last shipments of factory gear it needs to become self supporting. It hangs out, ticking over and cursing its fate, since the other AIs are content to see it rot to avoid some kind of "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" scenario. Luna attempts to get Orbital to float it gear to build a mass driver, but the other AIs don't really like the idea of giving a surly moon-puter a device capable of blasting random holes in their territory. Orbital slips Luna supplies under the table.

SIDEBAR THEATER: Another lunar base, this one American, was assumed wrecked by Luna's AI. It wasn't; the computer 'studied' and 'adapted' the Overmind virus and has upgraded itself. Now it will thaw out brave astronauts and then...something. Tranquility is essentially another big fat chubby plot hook.

We close out with some details on AI politics. There are two broad factions, basically focused on whether they want to focus on Killing All Humans or Doing Crazy AI Stuff, with some oddballs here and there. There is a chart.

And so ends the zones of GURPS: Reign of Steel. My main criticism here is that there isn't much distinction among the AIs, although this makes some sense - all of them are less than twenty years old, and they are also, well, soulless computers. My secondary criticism is that there's a lot of weird cartoonish stuff here, although to their credit the various zones would be relatively easy to swap around with some reskinning. (This may have been explicitly suggested later in the book; I misremember.)

Next time: Character stuff!

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
On weird cartoonish stuff, there was an article in Pyramid that indicated Zone London was intended to echo The Prisoner. It also helpfully offered stats for a spherical locomotion system that had been cut from the book, just to hammer it home.

Dec 22, 2003

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

Bieeardo posted:

On weird cartoonish stuff, there was an article in Pyramid that indicated Zone London was intended to echo The Prisoner. It also helpfully offered stats for a spherical locomotion system that had been cut from the book, just to hammer it home.
Why not just use GURPS: The Prisoner then? I mean really. Of course, I suppose that one predated GURPS: Vehicles.

e: I see a disturbing lack of GURPS content in the backfiles. I'll probably bust out some of my GURPS collection once I finish moving to add to the pile, though some of the material is kind of bland. Like I have a couple of GURPS WWII books, right? And most of it is... 'researched historical material with some game rules.' Only occasionally do you get things like the proposal for an alternate Hitler who hated the Poles, not the Jews.

Nessus fucked around with this message at 08:13 on Jun 1, 2013

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Part 2:

Chapter 2: Ordinance and Equipment
New gear related to the Russians and the Russian front starts out our small but required pair of chapters in the review.
  • Russian Vehicles: Mostly tanks with a smattering of other artillery and one support vehicle. Statistics are provided for the BA-64B, IS-2, ISU-122, ISU-152, KV-1, KV-1S, OT-34, SU-100, SU-122, SU-152, T-34 Model 1943, T-34/85, and a generic leased American truck.
  • Russian Weapons: The Nagant 1895 and Tokarev TT33/34 are presented for pistols, the Model 1930G and Tokarev SVT-40 for rifles, the PPSh 1941 and PPS 1942 for submachine guns, the Maxim gun, DP 1928, DShK 1938, and SG 43 Gpryunov for machine guns, and the RPG-43 and F-1 frag grenade for explosives. None of them have particularly exceptional stats compared to Allied examples of similar weapons.
  • Russian Planes: The Lavochkin La-5FN, MiG 3, Yak-3, Yak-9, Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik, Ilyushin Il-4, Petlyakov Pe-2, and Tupolev Tu-2 are provided as aircraft supplementing the standard Allied ones found in Dead From Above.
  • German Vehicles: The Axis decided to push into this chapter a little bit as well, with a few vehicles that heavily featured on the eastern front. New stats are provided for the PzKpfw III, PzKpfw IIIL, and Sturmpanzer IV "Grizzly Bear".

Chapter 3: The Great Patriotic War :ussr:
Time for a history lesson! This chapter starts with an explanation of the non-aggression pact between the Soviets and the Axis, as well as how it cracked with the Winter War of Russia and Finland. There's also a bit of smugness about Stalin supposedly not quite expecting the German assault on Russia:

Weird War II: Hell Freezes Over posted:

Hitler even made his obsession for living space known 16 years before Directive no. 21 in his book Mein Kampf(My Struggle), '…to guarantee to the German nation the soil and territory to which it is entitled on this earth, we are bound to think first of Russia and her border states.' Stalin obviously wasn’t a big reader.
"Heh, clearly Stalin had no idea about Hitler's psychotic tendencies and wasn't a good reader. :viggo: I mean, it's not like we Americans ever underestimated Hitler."

After that gloating, the discussion further heads on to talk about Hitler's hubris and refusal to listen to Goebbels' statements about how simultaneously attacking Russia and the UK was a bad idea, the delay of the Russian conflict thanks to Mussolini getting the Axis into a fight with Greece and Yugoslavia, the beginning of the German assault and Operation Barbarossa, Leningrad, the winter offensive, Stalingrad, and most of the other general points of the eastern European front up to the Red Army rolling into the Reichstag at the end of the war. What we really care about is the alt-history stuff, though. One of the most repeated points is the topic of vampires. In Weird War II, Hitler's biggest goal is to transform himself into a vampire, and there's no shortage of them in eastern Europe. One of the big plot points for SOPA in the siege of Berlin is that rather than committing suicide like in our world, Hitler gets his vampire formula and bolts from Berlin, leading to a climactic final fight between Russians and vampire Hitler at the Swiss outpost that leads into the Hollow Earth. The Hollow Earth itself may or may not be a cleanup mission in and of itself, as it's posited that more than a few Nazis carved out their own small empires within the savage realm of dinosaurs and Neanderthals found beneath the Alps.


Next time: New Nazi NPCs, the Finns, :drac: and other eastern European vampire lords, hags, and yetis.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 19:16 on Jun 1, 2013

Nov 14, 2012

Nessus posted:

Why not just use GURPS: The Prisoner then? I mean really. Of course, I suppose that one predated GURPS: Vehicles.

e: I see a disturbing lack of GURPS content in the backfiles. I'll probably bust out some of my GURPS collection once I finish moving to add to the pile, though some of the material is kind of bland. Like I have a couple of GURPS WWII books, right? And most of it is... 'researched historical material with some game rules.' Only occasionally do you get things like the proposal for an alternate Hitler who hated the Poles, not the Jews.

At least in my case it's because GURPS supplements are either awesome or terrible but not the sort that makes for an entertaining write-up. Gurps Warehouse 23, for instance, is awesome - but what's awesome is the detail they go into; it's a smorgasboard of mythic artifacts. GURPS vehicles (3e) is terrible. But once you've pointed out that the weight of a substructure of the vehicle is proportional to the square of the cube root of the volume multiplied by the weight of the material it's made from, and then a fudge for the armour slope the joke is done. There's no point producing that formula then then saying the next part after the structure is the weight of the engine which is based on the power of the engine (IIRC in kilowatts) - and most gamers don't have a clue how many KW a car, let alone a flying car, will need. (And GURPS vehicles provides no guidelines for this, of course).

Or in short when GURPS is awesome it's because of the little details they cram it with. When terrible, likewise.

Winter Stormer
Oct 17, 2012

neonchameleon posted:

There's no point producing that formula then then saying the next part after the structure is the weight of the engine which is based on the power of the engine (IIRC in kilowatts) - and most gamers don't have a clue how many KW a car, let alone a flying car, will need. (And GURPS vehicles provides no guidelines for this, of course).
The conversion between hp and kW is given on the very first page after the table of contents, so that's regular cars sorted for people who don't know kW, and a flying car is literally the running rules example throughout the book. :shobon:

But yeah, that book should've just been released as a spreadsheet. It's perfectly possible to get to the last few steps of creation and go, "Well, poo poo, this performance is just not up to snuff", so then you up the engine output, up the power output of the motive subsystems, and up the fuel tank. And, oh wait, that increased the volumes enough that the armor now weighs more than you expected, and each subsystem weighs more, so the performance is still short, and...

The GURPS Vehicle Builder or similar fan productions are just about necessary for the iterative design all these interconnected numbers require. The system can be pretty fun to dick around with once the computer is doing all the mathematical grunt work.

Dec 23, 2012

Winter Stormer posted:

It's perfectly possible to get to the last few steps of creation and go, "Well, poo poo, this performance is just not up to snuff", so then you up the engine output, up the power output of the motive subsystems, and up the fuel tank. And, oh wait, that increased the volumes enough that the armor now weighs more than you expected, and each subsystem weighs more, so the performance is still short, and...
So what you're saying is, GURPS Vehicles is quite literally rocket science.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

We've made clear that a hunter needs hounds, but they also need horses. In fact, everyone needs horses. Horses are a vital piece of noble life, and even life on some farms. Horses in this period are not divided by breed, but by suitability for roles. They may have pedigrees, to be sure, but at the most basic level a horse is described by what it is best at. Even a farm horse, though, is expensive and grants status. Horse theft is a capital offense, and everyone knows horse markets are dens of thieves and dishonest merchants. Only in Iberia and the Levant are horse traders respected.

What kind of horses are there? Well, top tier horses are noble horses, also called destriers. They cost a lot of money, and only the wealthiest nobles can afford them. They tend to be Spanish, and stand up to fifteen hands high. A disproportionate number of them are supernatural in nature, and destriers are the finest horses for tournaments. Other nobles possess the commoner courser or rouncey, also known as the warhorse. They are between fourteen and fifteen hands high, and while expensive, they are perhaps a sixth of the cost of the cheapest destrier. They are utterly unsuited to use as pack animals or workhorses, thanks to their lively temperaments, and are also poor choices for long journeys. They are, however, combat trained. The rouncey tends to be more suitable for general roles, but also lower status and far less fierce.

Travelers prefer riding horses, or palfreys. They can be used in the hunt or combat by a skilled rider, but they are hardly specialized for it. They're more suitable for long journeys, able to manage up to 30 miles a day on good road. Most palfreys are mares, not stallions, and when a woman rides they are known as jennets, which are always mares. Note: riding side-saddle does not really happen, even for women, unless their gowns are particularly unsuited and the need is very urgent. It is not etiquette - it is forced by circumstance. A palfrey or jennet is a little over fourteen hands and is relatively cheap. For a horse. The hackney or draught horse is a large workhorse, up to sixteen hands, meant for general use and even some riding. They are slow, ponderous creatures ill-suited to combat or hunts, but if you don't want speed they make a good traveling horse. They are primarily used, however, for farmwork. They are very cheap, for horses, but no noble would ever be seen on a hackney. Last is the working pony, also known as a fell or Icelandic pony. They are suitable for the roughest terrain, and typically come from England, Scotland or Iceland. They prized for their ability to cross mountains and treacherous moors, and they're relatively cheap. They make excellent pack animals, especially where carts can't go, but they are completely unskilled in real combat.

Hawking is another important noble hobby, perhaps the only sport more prestigious than hunting. Hawking and falconry are truly noble pursuits - there's so much opportunity to spend vast sums of money on birds used to kill rabbits and smaller birds. There are two classes of bird: hawk and falcon. Keeping either is expensive and can be trouble if you also maintain a dove cote to feed the hawks, because doves are hated by peasants for eating the grain. And, of course, sometimes even the best-trained birds stray and go wild. The gyrfalcon, merlin, lanner and peregrine falcon are the most commonly kept falcons, while hawks include the goshawk and sparrowhawk.

Romance - more properly, fin' amors or courtly love - is another famous hobby of the nobility. It originates in France - specifically, Provence and Burgundy, though it was much popularized by Eleanor of Aquitane. Though beloved by nobles and troubadours, it also causes much scandal and is despised by the Church. The definitive work on the subject is the 1174 text Incipit liber amoris et curtesie, by Andreas Capellanus. It sets the rules of romance, and it makes very clear why controversy follows it and its topic. You see, Capellanus declares that true love is impossible between husband and wife, in contradiction to Church teachings (and many happy marriages). It follows, he says, that one must seek love outside the marriage bond, ideally in a love affair between noble suitor and married woman. (An unmarried woman, being obtainable, may provide poor ground for true love.)

The affair, of course, begins when a man is entranced by the beauty of a woman and becomes obsessed with winning her favor. Such pursuit must be by strict methods, commonly handsome appearance, honesty of character and eloquent speech. Acts of valor and heroism inspired by or dedicated to the lady are also important. Love, it must be said, knows no social bonds, and even a commoner can seek romance from any woman, even a queen. Only the clergy should avoid romance. (This, of course, does not sit well with the conservatives of the day or the Church. It endangers the social order!) Oh, and one must never seek the heart of a nun, for to do so is vile infamy and will ruin your reputation. Similarly, whores are off-limits, for that cheapens the noble romance to coarse commerciality.

You start out by loving from afar, in secret, taking every chance to be in your love's company and gaze on her adoringly. Eventually, you must profess your love, at which point she will chastely reject you, with scorn and coldness. This is intended. Even if she ardently desires you and deliberately sought your attention (for many women do initiate these romances by subtle encouragement) she must act cold and disgusted. This urges the lover to prove his devotion and pursue her, primarily with charm, gifts and performances in her honor - though never gifts of money, that would coarse. And, of course, discretion is vital - the husband must never know what is going on. At all times, the lover must be jealous and passionate, looking out for rivals and suspecting all. He must eschew all other ladies, for the pursue another or seek comfort elsewhere is darkest betrayal! He must obey his love's every whim and command, and must prove his moral worth, bravery and utter devotion.

At last, the lady may grant the lover her favor, and consummate the affair. This may or may not be sexual; it's entirely up to the couple, and in France and England especially, this love is stressed as entirely platonic, with denial and strict admonition against adultery. After all, did not Tristan and Iseult come to bad ends? In these northern regions especially, romance is a chaste game and may even be approved of by trusting husbands...though most husbands, fully aware that a bastard by another man is worthless, regard courtly love as dangerous and corrupting.

Andreas Capellanus listed twelve Laws of Love.

Andreas Capellanus posted:

1. You shall avoid avarice like a deadly pestilence and embrace its opposite.
2. You shall keep yourself chaste for the sake of her whom you love.
3. You shall not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in.
4. You shall not choose for your lover anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids you to marry.
5. You shall completely avoid lying.
6. You shall not have many who know of your love affair.
7. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, you shall ever strive to ally yourself to the service of love.
8. In giving and receiving love be modest at all times.
9. You shall speak no slander.
10. You shall not be a revealer of love affairs.
11. You shall be in all things polite and courteous.
12. You shall not exceed the desires of your lover.

And yes, for the record, I think courtly love is a little creepy.

At least there's Sidebar: Don't Be A Creep

Next time: Patronage and tournaments.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 17:01 on Jun 1, 2013

Feb 17, 2005

Siivola posted:

So what you're saying is, GURPS Vehicles is quite literally rocket science.

I take it this means I should get off my rear end and finish going through the book or just concede defeat. Strictly speaking, no. The rocket science parts of GURPS Vehicles proper is actually pretty short and doesn't even cover limited ∆v or the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation. However there are some supplemental .txt files which do for your tabletop Kerbal Space Program needs.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Patronage is pretty simple: you give land, money, favors or titles to loyal friends in order to reward them and show off your largesse. The people of the 1200s do not admire frugality at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Lavish spenders among the nobility are highly admired, and generous gifts to friends, allies, artists or scholars is a great way to earn a good reputation. Or the Church, of course, which is the safest and easiest group to patron, since you can be fairly sure that no one will ever be mad at you for what the Church writes, creates or does. Patronage and largesse towards your peasantry is also much admired - it shows your generosity and your pious love of your people. Failure to spend your coin on something is practically a sin, anyway. After all, you have been chosen by God to be steward to great wealth, and to not use it is disrespectful of this gift!

Now, tournaments. A tournament is a useful venture - it grants combat experience, it earns reputation and it can earn wealthy for a skilled knight. They generally only last two days or so, and they're fairly common. On the first day, the knights arrive, find housing, feast and socialize. As the evening goes on and vespers is sung, the commencailles are held - individual trials of sword and lance in single combat. Jousts, duels, that kind of thing. These end when the light finally dies. The final day (usually the second of two) is the melee, a great mock battle between hundreds, even thousands of knights divided into two teams. The heralds call the knights together, and the younger knights make some more time for commencailles, in order to be seen by potential employers.

The main event starts with the regars, or review, in which both teams parade all their colors and show off their war cries. The teams are usually divided up on national or political lines, with team allegiance shown by pennons tied to lances or bridles. The heralds work hard to ensure the teams are roughly even in skill, and knights generally take reassignment with good grace. Then the lines are formed, and the estor, the signal to charge, is sounded. The knights charge, picking targets and going on the attack. After this, the sides turn and move to melee. The field is littered with small fights, as lone knights or small companies face each other.

Running a tournament is extremely expensive, and the heartland of the tournament circuit is France - though they can be found anywhere there are knights. Hosting a tournament can risk excommunication, as the Church does not really approve, but it is great for your reputation. You have to have space to do it, of course, and generally provide at least places where lodging can be found or made, though this can be as simple as telling the local peasants to rent space out to lodgers and setting aside a field for tents.

There are rules for the grand melee. First: the recets (marked safe havens) and any villages or churches on the field are safe. No fighting can be done in them, and those not taking part in the melee must not be molested. Beyond this, there's also some points of honor. If you enter a company into the melee, you ride with them, and you put yourself in harm's way. You obey the rules or you face a fine, especially if you damage Church or private property. Still, tactical advantage may outweight that threat.

The goal of the melee is to force fiance, or surrender, and thereby earn a ransom from your foe. This is usually the foe's horse, armor or even weapons. A rich foe may be worth quite a lot of money to defeat, and will be expected to pay it. Payment of the ransom is a matter of honor, after all, and those who welch earn a bad reputation. It is poor etiquette to ask more than your foe can afford, and there have been cases in which men have been forced by their peers to return the ransom of poor knights who could not afford the price. The wealthy actually expect ransoms suitable to their status and will be insulted if you demand a poor ransom. It's reasonable to take both horse and armor as ransom from a wealthy knight, and either horse or armor from the average knight, and perhaps just weapons for a poor knight. Service cannot be demanded as ransom, nor oaths of loyalty.

Because individual knights make easy targets, most enter as companies. A company can be any size, but must wear common colors and ride under a single banner to be identified. They engage as groups, generally no larger than ten people or so at the most, and large companies will generally break into smaller groups. It is fairly common for these groups to target lone knights, trying to grapple them from their horses and force them into powerlessness. Tournament combat is in theory nonlethal, with knights pulling blows, but in the heat of battle, real injuries may well be inflicted, either by accident or on purpose.

So what about those commencailles? They're vital to showcasing individual talent. You get your jousting, with each round being a single charge and time between to replace lance and shield if needed. In some cases, the only way to win is to unseat your foe. In other places, a winner will be declared after a number of rounds with neither foe being unseated based on who got hit worse or who broke more lances. In yet more places, the joust will just go on until one side submits, meaning that it will end not when unhorsed but after a continued engagement on foot. Fencing is also a common commencaille, with two knights facing off in a roped-off ring. The rules vary by tournament, sometimes restricting weapon choice or allowing weapon replacement mid-fight. For those of lower birth, bare-knuckle fighting is also common, and those looking to hire a good tough would do well to watch these fights.

Now, moving on past leisure, we'll...skip over most of the stuff on how fiefs are usually set up, because it's really just about common buildings and fields and so on. Let's talk about tax instead. A lord has a right to claim a tax when a peasant takes up residence on a piece of land, though the fee can vary depending on circumstances. When the head of a household dies, the heriot is collected. The heriot is a death duty, generally the peasant's finest beast or even something more expensive. In some lands, the death of a wife also triggers the heriot. The mortuary fine is also collected with the heriot, typically the second-best beast or equivalent. The mortuary is based on a simple principle: every peasant is a thief. The fine is given to the Church to make good the share of the tithe that it is simply assumed all peasants artfully withheld in life. By paying mortuary, they are forgiven the sin. Many priests will also claim that the laity gifts customarily given to the Church on death are compulsory due to tradition, though local lords may object because they believe serfs cannot in fact leave wills.

Lords also have the right to collect tallage, though they exercise it sparingly. Tallage is essentially this: the lord names an amount of money he needs, and the serfs are required to bring it to him proportional on the amount of land they rent. The tallage can be as high as the lord likes, up to and including everything his serfs own. Free men do not owe tallage. Few lords abuse the right of tallage - it causes serfs to flee elsewhere, often stealing as they go. It's mostly used in times of crisis or when a lord's lifestyle is threatened. On some manors, the serfs have convinced their lords to commute tallage to a set fee paid annually - it's less money, but less ill will, and less uncertainty.

Next time: The Peasantry

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Lords of Men

Okay, types of peasant. There are several kinds. Starting from the bottom, we have unemployed and day workers. They're about 20% of the population or so, outside planting and harvesting seasons. They wander around looking for work or, rarely, stay in one place and look for work. They tend to be incredibly poor. Notably, in France, any person who stays on a lord's land for over a year is automatically serf of the lord, but because a lord is not tehcnically permitted to allow his serfs to starve, many lords force these poor vagrants to move on early so they have no claim to charity. One common compromise is allowing the vagrants to live on Church land, where they are not technically on the lord's lands. They often turn to crime, which is one of the reasons the modern word 'villain' has such negative connotations.

Then you have your famuli, the household staff. This includes agricultural laborers who work directly for the lord as well as those who herd the lord's sheep or pigs and those who handle the dairy. It also includes cooks and janitors. The famuli are lodged and fed by the lord, but not luxuriously. They tend to sleep where they work, eat simply and drink nothing but water outside special occasions. They also usually cannot afford marriage. Many famuli have rights to small gifts - shepherds get to keep the odd lamb, dairymaids get to take home cheese - and may eventually save up enough money to marry, but they don't always make as much as, say, a villein does. Some priests or rich peasants also keep similarly employed servants, but a famulus is under the care of the lord's bailiff and thus higher status than such people. In areas where the villeins are comparatively rich and the lords comparatively stingy, famuli have lower social class than villeins, while the opposite is true in areas with more generous lords. Generally speaking, though, a landed villein can afford a family, while a famulus cannot.

The villein or serf is an agricultural worker whose labor is owned by the lord in exchange for use of land. Serfs are not free, cannot choose who to work for, where to live or what work to do. Serfdom is inherited by children of serfs. They aren't, however, slaves - they cannot legally be murdered or maimed on a whim, though they can be beaten freely. They owe the lord rent, week works and boon works. Rent is usually one penny per acre per year, but can be much higher. A week work is essentially work owed to the lord for a number of days per week from sunrise to noon. Many serfs work four to five of these "days" but in some areas work far less and pay higher rents to make up for it, particularly in lands that make money off sheep, not grain. On some manors, a villein may pay a yearly fee to be excused from week works for the year. Boon works are added days of work in theory done for love of the lord. In practice, they are done because the lord feeds you on days you do boon works. Technically, villeins own nothing - they do not own their labor, so do not own the fruits of it. Still, in practicer, most are able to keep some of what they make, and may eventually earn enough to buy off some of the worse taxes and fees. Their status rises with the size of the land they rent; the exception is tradesmen. Those practice a craft often rent small plots but make much more money than others on similar plots because of their skill - for example, millers or blacksmiths. The most unusual such villein is the German ministerale, who is in fact a knight that pays for their keep with military service. In the Norman sphere of influence, it is considered wrong to knight someone without freeing them.

The least desireable yet most lucrative position a villein can hold is the reeve, the overseer of the daily work. The reeve ensures that each villein does the required work or is reported to the bailiff. The reeve is appointed annually, usually on Michaelmas. In most areas, they must be villeins, and most courts take service as a reeve as proof that someone is not a free peasant. The reeve is usually elected by the villeins in the manor court, but the lord can veto it. And you cen be voted into the job without being there. The reason most people don't want to be reeve is threefold. First, the reeve is financially responsible for any failure it was his job to prevent and can be fined unless he can find someone else to fine for it. Second, as the lord's enforcer, no one likes the reeve - they're hated for the laziness they prevent and the work they force people to do. Last, being reeve takes time away from a villein's work of his own fields. In many manors, the elected reeve can pay a fee to force a reelection in which they are not eligible. In others, the peasants can pay a sizable fee to just not have a reeve for the year.

Why be a reeve? Well, usually there's some land set aside for the reeve to use. They are usually forgiven part or all of their rent, are paid a wage about double that of a day laborer for the entire year, and are excused from many services to give them extra time. They also tend to be corrupt as hell; most villeins hold that all reeves are corrupt. Lords do, too, and will usually annually audit the books to be sure the reeve isn't stealing too much from them. It's not easy - reeves have many chances to take bribes for unprovable returns, like the right to go home early or the easiest work assignment.

Half-free are those peasants who are free men and women but have accepted a villein rent and therefore owe villein service. The half-free are sometimes wealthy enough to hire someone to do the work in their stead. They are still free of non-agricultural taxes and services, much like a free peasant.

Free peasants are those who do not owe service. It's rarely absolute, and varies by custom - in many places, free men must still serve on juries, in the levy or as supervisors during the harvest. Many also owe the Church a small fee, the church-scot, each year. These rights and fees can even vary between free peasants on the same manor. A free peasant can in theory leave at any time by just not paying rent, but that tends mean losing lots of income, too. The children of free parents are free, and marriage of a serf to a free person makes the serf free as long as the marriage lasts, though they revert to serfdom on their spouse's death or separation. The children of such a union are usually free. There is a fine for freeing a serf in this way, of course, and a higher fee can be paid to ensure the spouse does not revert to serfdom. Free peasants are perhaps ten percent of the population on most manors, though in some, all peasants are free - generally royal manors. They are much more common on secular manors than eccelastical ones.

The main reason for this is that many lords will, as an act of charity when an heir is born or when they are dying, free many of their serfs. Church lords almost never do this, as they do not technically own the serfs; the Church does. And they can't give away Church goods. Occasionally, though, Church serfs are permitted to buy their freedom. Any many towns will allow any serf who joins a guild for a year and a day to become free this way; it's written into their charters.

Anyway, the Church frowns on peasants who get ideas above their stations. They assume every peasant pays inadequate tithe. See, everyone owes one tenth of all they earn to the Church. (Ignoring theories that limit this to plant and animal goods.) Every person cheats a little, perhaps by accident - it's the gross earning, before any deductions, and most peasants don't report it that way. Of course, some people are exempt from the tithe - usually beggars who only earn enough to support themselves. It is also considered sinful to misreport your earnings and taxes to your lord, a common practice done by giving the lord the worst of your goods in tax, or by mass refusal to pay tax when a lord is in tight straits. It is further sinful to refuse to give extra to your lord when your lord needs it to maintain their lifestyle. Beyond that, it is sinful to work on holy days - it is your duty to rest. Except...holy days take up about a fourth of the year in total, and so no lord actually respects this. Any peasant who takes a holy day off must make up the work on their own time. And it is further sinful to only take mass and miss church business, or to meet after church for drinking and dancing. Both are, however, quite common.

It is sinful to lie in court disputes on behalf of your lord, but is tempting for financial reasons - that's easy money. It is sinful to steal from your neighbors. The most common thefts are firewood and stock - both easy because all sheep look alike once shorn and because all wood looks alike, period, and the evidence is burned. It is further sinful to change priests - a common practice, as some unscrupulous priests do not take a complete tithe, causing peasants to shop around, and some priests act sinfully, causing peasants to deduct fronm their tithes in judgment. The Church condemns this - it is the right of the Church, not the peasants, to judge a sinful priest, even if they are truly heretics.

It is sinful to practice abstinence or contraception as a serf, though quite common once a few children have been had, because it limits the size of the family and thus a lord's earnings, depriving him of wealth. It is sinful to work in old age - it's avarice, and society expects the old to hand their lands to their children instead. What 'old' is varies by custom and area, as is what is provided for the old. And, naturally, since fleeing the manor as a villein is theft, it is sinful. Some parts of the Church disagree, but most hold that this is sin and wrong, because physical poverty encourages spiritual growth (and because it would otherwise force ecclestiacal lords to pay more to their laborers). Oh, and not working to your hardest is sin, because scripture says that a peasant should be happy and filled with desire to serve. And of course refusing to aid pilgrims or the poor for your own financial wellbeing is sin.

My favorite story seed in the game.

So yeah, being a peasant, especially a villein or a rural freeman, kind of sucks. The rest of the book is mass combat and siege rules, which while good are not that interesting to cover. So...

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), the Church (The Church) or Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal).

Mar 3, 2006

I came here to laugh at you.
I think we need more wizarding. How about you do one of the Mystery Cult books. Which one? :iiam:

Jan 7, 2010
Like, Nyaa.

I think The Mysteries, Revised Edition is the first book to cover the basic about Mysteries, so let's go with this one.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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Ars Magica 5th Edition: The Mysteries Revised

Let's start by defining terms, as we usually do. A Mystery is a secret, and also refers to the cults that teach these secrets. These secrets, for our purposes, are strange and new forms of magic which are adapted to the Hermetic system but are not widely known or practiced by Hermetic magi. They are taught only to those initiated into mystery cults. Things like the Bjornaer Heartbeast are MYsteries, not well understood by Hermetic theory despite integration into it. Many of these things are vestiges of older traditions that were never fully incorporated into the Hermetic framework. Others are new ideas, such as Hermetic Alchemy, which developed from recent work. They are exceptions to Hermetic theory, and they are the basis of the Mysteries.

The four Mystery Houses, Bjornaer, Criamon, Merinita and Verditius, are sometimes known as the Exoteric Mysteries. Every apprentice can tell you they exist, and even a little about what they believe. They are similar to the secretive groups that we will speak of here, but are more well-known. Houses are not the only associations of magi, and some gather in secret to share knowledge. These are the Mystery Cults, the Esoteric Mysteries, and they're who we're going to speak of. Each Mystery Cult has its own unique view of the world, and they don't all agree. In truth, while each may claim ancient forebears, they have little connection to the ancient cults they draw on. After all, all of them know that magic has changed since antiquity. They teach that the ancients were more potent and wiser...though no one can actually prove that magic has been getting weaker. Some Mystery Cults even challenge the idea. They are not religions, and their truths are not mutually exclusive. Many are even fully compatible with monotheism. The Church often would not approve of their rites, which draw on pagan knowledge, but they don't have to be pagan cults.

The first law of any Mystery Cult is this: secrecy is power. The Esoteric Mysteries do not discuss what they know. They keep their numbers unknown and their ways uncertain, especially to outsiders, claiming to power far in excess, often, than they actually have. It makes people fear them, and it keeps them safe from their foes. The unknown is hard to target. Some groups are more secret than others, though - the Mystic Fraternity of Samos openly advertises its existence to gain recruits, while others may hide that they even exist. A mystery cult is more than a special interest group with obscure magic - they are a spiritual and mystical exploration that changes you in ways you may not even understand. The understandings of the mystery cults go beyond language. And even those whose existence is generally known closely guard their power, so only initiates may learn and understand their magic. Thus, while many have observed and studied the Pythagoreans of the Samos cult, none have ever replicated their effects. Attempting to do so is always uncertain and difficult, though it surely is possible, with enough work.

Joining mystery cults is hard. The first step is probably trying to learn about them and thus alerting them to your existence. Blatant or indiscreet inquiries are not appreciated, but the subtle and ambiguous may well receive invitation. Of course, it should be clear there are dangers - learning too much will often result in the great ultimatum of Flambeau: Adjungite nobis an perete! Join us or die! Another way in is through a parens. If your parens (that is, the magus who trained you) is in a Mystery Cult, they may well initiate you...though almost never while you are still an apprentice. It's not unheard of for the introductions to start then, but a magus almost always has a few years under their belts before they learn any true secrets. Some mystery cults also invite people that seem to have the proper mindset and something they want - brilliant minds, great enchantments, whatever. Their approaches are always subtle and guarded, of course, and take the form of strange mystical tests and challenges.

Once a candidate is proved worthy, a formal offer is finally made, though it may still be shrouded in secrecy. If the candidate accepts, they prepare for Initiation. Initiation always involves rituals and often ordeals in strange and sacred places, to symbolically and magically open the initiate to the cult's ways. The experience is unique for each cult, of course. The initiator, known as the Mystagogue, will often give a choice: continue and learn the Mystery or go back to life and have the memory destroyed forever. Those who fail or go back are never chosen again, but will be watched to ensure their curiosity does not cause danger. If the test is passed, the Initiate is given a new, secret name, and must begin studying the secrets of the cult, to learn what is needed to be opened to the Mysteries.

Of course, power always has a price. There are three distinct ways to pay for the Mysteries: The Initiation Ordeal, the Initiation Quest or the Initiation Sacrifice. An Ordeal is a terrible process - ritual branding or scarification, being made to walk through fire without magical aid, being pinned to a tree by a spear for nine days straight. Such rites permanently and magically scar the initiate. The wounds heal, but the body or mind are marked forever, generally by some new Flaw dictated by the nature of the Ordeal. Such Flaws can never be overcome or removed by Hermetic magic. The Ordeal is a terrible price, but it has its benefits. Undergoing the Ordeal, unlike Sacrifices or Quests, gives a further bonus to all later initiations in the cult.

The Initiation Quest is one of the more common requirements. It usually entails a long journey, great danger and a series of challenges - journeying up a sacred mountain and capturing a dragon egg, say, or infiltratin a covenant and stealing a specific item, or defeating a Tremere archmagus at certamen. One well-known quest of the Philosophers of Rome requires the seduction, without aid of magic, of a prince's mistress, a Church cardinal and a faerie lord, all in a single season. Such Quests are always reflective of the nature of a cult, and depending on the Mystery, more than one Quest may be required. Companions and friends can help in these quests, but the initiate must lead them and be the one most challenged, and may well lie about why they're doing it to avoid revealing the secrets of the mystery. All Quests take at least a full season, and if they somehow end early, the rest of the season must be spent meditating on the lessons, with no other study done. Some quests take longer, or even multiple tries.

The Initiation Sacrifice is the least taxing requirement. It can be Sacrifice of time in service to the cult via teaching, writing books or inventing spells for them, or it may be Sacrifice of mundane wealth, magical books or even potent magical items...or, in some cases, apprentices or familiars. The initiation will determine the exact Sacrifice needed, and is usually done in such a way that no matter how rich or potent you are, it is a real loss.

In addition to any time spent on Ordeals, Quests or Sacrifices, an initiation itself always takes a full season, with preparations, meditation, study and ceremonies. No other study may be done in that season. Mystery cults are often organized in ranks based on degress of initiation into the Mysteries. Moving on past the mechanics of it...understand that membership in a cult holds responsibilities and duties. The Children of Hermes pay dues of vis and recruitment, while the Neo-Mercurians require aid in searching for lost shrines in Egypt or mapping stone circles in Scotland. You are expected to give time and resources to the cult's interests, not just for initiations but for general membership.

Next time: Mysteries that have lost their Mystery.

Nov 8, 2009

I'm excited about two Savage Worlds settings right now. Which one should I do?

Deadlands Noir

The classic Wild West setting jumps forward to 1935, allowing you to have hard-boiled adventures in New Orleans. The companion book brings the fun to 1927 Chicago, 1939 Shan Fan, 1946 Lost Angels, and 1950 Salt Lake City.

The Day After Ragnarok

The Nazis summoned up the World Serpent Jormungandr in a last-ditch effort to win the war, Truman had a nuke flown into it. The great snake's falling body crushed Europe and North Africa and caused a tidal wave that drowned the eastern Americas with poisonous waters. It's three years later and civilization is barely recovering. Fun times!

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth
Deadlands Noir loving rules.

Edit: Actually no, Day After Ragnarok, I've seen it a lot but never actually got it.

Nov 10, 2012

Selfishly, Deadlands Noir. I've been considering a purchase and I want to be sold on it. Deadlands is cool, noir is cool.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.
Clapping Larry
Day After Ragnarok is a K.Hite project...and it is unbelievably cool. I think it's one of his best settings.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

Chapter 2: Threats: Bad Things Happening To Good People, Or, Menace, Peril, Danger, and A Thousand Biogenic Murder-Hamsters

Two quick notes before I begin this section.

1. Yes, the images look weird. Fact is, they all have those rounded corners and I'm too lazy to go into GIMP and edit the white bits into transparency.

2. I am going to start including more direct quotes from the book. This is because I don't think I've gotten through one of the big strengths of the main MaOTC books, which is the phenomenal writing. I don't mean the story or characters, though those are also great, I mean how the book is actually written. These books are just plain fun to read.

With that said, now to the content itself.

Threats are anything you have a conflict with that isn't an NPC. In other words, if it isn't an individual that can be statted out at a person or a Monster, or you don't want to write up a full statblock, then you use a Threat.

Threats do not have to be literal or individual. A swarm of Robo-bees, a squadron of Gibbering Cultists, a wildfire, and a classroom full of laughing children can all be statted as Threats. Threat statting is pretty simple. They consist of a dice-pool, some Qualities, and Extras. Essentially they act like a Monster but with only one Hit Location. Because of this Threats don't have the 10 dice limit in their pool, and can have as many dice as they want.


The dice pool on a Threat can be dialed to meet your needs, but a good guesstimation is the number of kids in the scene plus the number of monsters plus an arbitrary number like... oh... let’s say four. So if you’ve got three kids and three monsters, then the Horde of Angry Kittens has 10 dice. And if you turn your scaly buddy loose to melt them with acid, then... well, that’s just sick. Kitties, man. Kitties.

Threats get their actions declared before any Players or NPCs, and use every set they roll every turn. If they declare more than one action, then they drop a die from their pool as per Multiple Action rules, but still get to use all their sets.

A Menagerie of Menace: Sample Threats

  • Escaped Ebola Monkeys Cute adorable, playful little monkeys whose very touch makes you shoot blood out of your every orifice. They're not actually malevolent, but geeze don't they get into everywhere! And don't get them angry, or you'll have a swarm of deadly viral monkeys tearing your now violently hemorrhaging face off.

  • Snakes! Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?


    The plural of “snake” is “snakes” and the plural of “snakes” is OH NO OH NO OH NO THEY’RE CLIMBING UP MY PANTS! You know why you can’t trust snakes? No arms and legs.
    You can’t trust nothing without arms and legs. They’re crazy jealous of limbs. Limbs, and body heat.

  • The Collapsing Building is Now On Fire The building is on fire and it was probably your fault. This is the first non-punchable Threat. So, how do you fight a flaming building? Well, a Feet+P.E. Roll to dodge flaming debris would work like an attack, reducing the Threat's dice pool. This would simulate your group getting to less and less dangerous parts of the building, until they “defeat” the threat which would result in them reaching a safe area.

  • MIB Grab-Squad The less competent and more disposable branch of the MIB. While MIB's are elite monster fighters and generally savvy and dangerous guys, the Grab-Squad are cannon fodder and cleaup crews. Their main job is to distract and contain BEMs so that the real MIBs can line up their Particle Entangler Cannon.

  • Excruciator Hatchlings Accidentally ate some Excuciator eggs? Enjoy hordes of tiny evil squids swarming out of your toilet a few days later. They're aggressive, mean, fast, small, and smell like your septic tank. Worst is they can squeeze into even the smalles spaces, LIKE YOUR EARS. They aren't big enough to wear a proper skinsuit, though. Mind if something small enough got near one... just saying, Mr. Tiddles has been acting funny recently...

  • Robo-Bees I wasn't make those up. They're both bees and robots. That's pretty much it, they fly around and sting you, just like real bees, but they're a lot harder to squish cause they're made of robot. Also you can do neat stuff like give them stings that do things other than hurt, like loading them up with Monster tranquilizers, or LSD if you're feeling especially imaginative.


    The Robo-Bees can fly around and send back pictures and signals to their evil overlord that he can watch on his big screen in high-def, or on his fancy new UltraPhone that he constantly takes out to show how hip he is. Jerk.

  • The Mean Kids Like a pack of hyenas, but without the mercy of killing their prey. The Mean Kids are a group of little shits who make your life an endless torment. The problem is you can't really FIGHT them, it's a little overboard to kill someone just cause they're being a jerk. But, they can make anybodies life an endless hell of misery and torment, with their Threat being stretched out for months of repeated harassment, social ostracism, and general put-downs.

  • Traversing The Treacherous Nighttime Rooftops Of Our Fair City An example of how a threat can be related to a task. The important thing is that a Threat is persistent, ie. takes more than one roll to overcome, and can cause damage or otherwise hinder the players. In this case it's a confusing layout to get them lost and loose tiles, sharp ledges, poky antennas, and other detritus to scrape them up. Not to mention what happens if you fall.

  • Possessed Toy Factory A once regular toy factory until an overworked third-shift manager summoned Pushn'shuvgoth, the Black Goat Behind the Cubicle Divider. Now it's a hideous nightmare factory, pumping out Chucky style killer dolls using demonic machinery and the worlds most evil printer.

  • The Seven Stars Secret Kung-Fu Brotherhood The SSSKFB (Siskafub) is an ancient order of martial arts masters trained in the Seven Stars Foot Fist style, who constantly seek the Chosen One, a prophesied leader who will help them defeat their arch enemy Siskafus (The Six Stars Secret Kung-Fu Sisterhood). The problem is that they're incredible gullible and trusting, and so find themselves used as mooks for various bad-guys, because rice and saffron robes aren't free.


    They’ve got the martial arts choreography and wire-fu of a Yuen Woo Ping movie,
    and the dialog of a bad American dub. On the plus side, their soundtrack is by the Wu Tang Clan.

  • The Goo That Ate the Cafeteria Like somebody dumped out the cafeteria dumpster and then gave it life. Nobody knows where it comes from, because no mad scientist or dark sorcerer worth his labcoat/flowing robe would ever make it. Possibly Agnes the Lunchlady is smarter than she looks. Or the lime-jello actually is radioactive. In any case, it's a giant blob of nasty cafeteria food given life. It sqlorps around eating anything it can get its grey hotdog and wilted lettuce hands on. It's so nasty not even Monsters'll eat it.

  • The Luchacabra Fighters Chupacabras have one hell of an inferiority complex. They get no press outside of crappy Syfy “monster hunter” shows and Mexican tabloids, are compared to actual mangy dogs, and nobody has even bothered to do a convincing Chupacabra hoax which is obviously the biggest indicator of cryptid fame. Plus, “Goat Sucker”? That's like, the worst name ever. So, they decided if nobody will give them respect, they'll take it. So, a bunch of Chupacabras got together, learned the noble fighting art of Lucha Libre, and now go around the world wrestling more famous and likeable monsters into submission with flying arm-bars and the Goat Slaying Grand-slam.
Next Time: Farness: I Can Melt Your Face From All The Way Over Here

Nov 4, 2007

zamtrios so lonely
Grimey Drawer
Rifts:™ England Part 7: “Children of the Earth aka druids who don’t call themselves druids”

More OCCs/RCCs to come. First we get Children of the Earth and Stars which are often thought to be druids or elemental warlocks but are not actually. Instead they’re a weird inbred cult that teaches their children to master the power of the transformation of Earth or Stars respectively, and seems to be passed on by heredity, but others raised in the clan environments have also developed the transformations, though usually ‘late-blooming’, like nine or ten. Most regular children in the RCC (it lists it as an OCC as well, but then specifies later) learn by six. Because what you want to have is a six-year old who can throw mega-damage tantrums. Both of these clans are druidlike in that they go around helping people and believe that all beings with honor (ie not slavers/murderers/etc) must be treated with respect and love.

Child of Earth RCC

flayed terror look a free class bonus

An earthchild can draw on basically ‘ambient’ PPE to instantly transform into a 12-ft mega-damage stone form--or more precisely a stony veneer forms over the fleshy inside. They get 40 MDC per level and regen 40 per minute, resistance to faerie magic, poison, fire and cold, and supernatural strength. They can also ‘draw on the Earth’ to gain more capabilities but this makes them steadily get stupider each time they do it, until IQ drops below six and they go berserk for several minutes. Remember that most of these RCC-members can do this by age six. They also get some miscellany about sensing water and scaring animals, and they all get eight physical psionic powers. They wear brown or green clothing like everyone else in this book, and like to wear heavy body armor too, because they totally need it in addition to their natural transformation. It isn’t explained what happens if one of these guys transforms, takes damage, then untransforms--can they just change back and be instantly healed? I suppose the ‘regen per minute’ is supposed to cover this but it reads oddly.

Then there’s the Star Child OCC (this one’s an OCC for some reason) and has the same instant-change capability, but they turn into a shining beacon of light. :ssj: They only get 20 MDC per level but are impervious to all ‘radiation’, which includes lasers for once. Fire and heat do half, but immunity to lasers is actually somewhat useful, at least until you meet a rail gun. At least they’re also harder to hit. They can also sense time and direction, see all spectrums, and shoot light blasts of their own--though these ‘only’ blind opponents with no save and are +6 to strike. They can emit soothing heat, float around at ‘speed factor 14’, and become a ‘shooting star’ that can travel at near-light speeds but is unable to remember where they were going most of the time, they get 3% per level to reach their destination. They also get eight psionic powers from sensitive or healing. They dress in white or light tan because if one isn’t wearing clothes with similar colors to one’s superpower, you’re doing it wrong. Both star and earth children get a selection of mundane gear and actually get weapons--it just says ‘weapons of choice’, which boy, is that abusable.

Both of these classes are pretty strong, though the Star Child probably wins out for being able to auto-blind people and still shoot them with ‘weapons of choice’, which the Earth Child transformation is not clear on but it seems to enclose all equipment, unless dropped ahead of time I suppose. They’re also both something I would expect to be painted on a Lisa Frank poster or something--well, weird Siembieda art aside, they’re extremely new age ‘in tune with earth and stars’ sort of stuff, though at least they don’t consider technology to be evil. Britain just doesn’t have any of it.

Still more random classes to go though. The next section is just labeled Intelligent Life Forms which seems to mean it’s focused on non-human classes. Okay.

First we get ‘Dabuggh’ RCC, whose description begins with “The Dabugghs are natural enemies of the sectle race” which is...described next. These are basically human-looking D-bees with various (randomized) insectlike traits and powers. And so they are named ‘Dabuggh’. :sigh: And, like so many other races in the Rifts universe, they are aggressive and driven to enslave and conquer all other intelligent life. They are also apparently living in Britain in larger numbers than anyone suspects! It might be a trap! They can turn into a giant berserker bug form under stress and for some reason despite being aliens they transform into giant Earthlike insects or arachnids. You can also roll to determine how many additional insect powers the individual gets, and then there are several other tables of various features (mouth, exoskeleton, antennae, etc) one can have, but no table for choosing a table. Palladium missed a chance to include a percentile table. :stonk: Some of the powers are pretty buff, like being able to spray 3d6MD acid at people, or 300 MDC natural body armor. Of course, a lot of them immediately preclude passing for human but who cares.

Then we have their mortal enemies, the Mantaz Sectle. These are just basically praying mantis people. No really, look.

well, okay, chickadee mantis people

They mostly keep to themselves and don’t bother people, except Dabuggh, whom they hate. But because they are ugly, humans are often mean to them and nice to the Insectors up there. They get a few minor magical abilities and pretty good attributes, decent MDC. Really they’re just supposed to be a lesson in how not everything ugly is evil etc etc. There’s a note about other types of ‘sectle’ existing but only the Mantaz are on Earth. Enh.

Cernun Mystic RCC

AKA Ram-Horned Serpent Men

These are the lizard dudes like the one on the cover of the book. Apparently there was a ram-horned serpent theme in Celtic myth and these guys are probably the origin of that, like maybe Cernunnos, lord of animals, dun dun dun. It also explains that most of these guys are greedy and seek wealth, and the one on the cover is controlling a gigantes to attack some travelers.

The cernun all have the ability to control gigantes, the giant species listed back in Conversions. They can only completely mind control Gigantes with IQ 6 or lower (which is not uncommon, the race gets 2d6) but gives no statistics for chances to control smarter ones; maybe they just can’t. They can also regenerate lost limbs and other damage short of decapitation in a matter of days. They get powers equal to the Mystic OCC from the core in addition to that, are naturally mega-damage and get a magic wand or staff of choice. Basically, the Mystic was really one of the more boring options for mages in the core book, but that’s okay; here’s an upgraded version!

That’s it for ‘Intelligent races’ presented as optional player characters. Next we get into the monster section.

Mar 1, 2013

You Are All

Wapole Languray posted:

[*]The Luchacabra Fighters Chupacabras have one hell of an inferiority complex. They get no press outside of crappy Syfy “monster hunter” shows and Mexican tabloids, are compared to actual mangy dogs, and nobody has even bothered to do a convincing Chupacabra hoax which is obviously the biggest indicator of cryptid fame. Plus, “Goat Sucker”? That's like, the worst name ever. So, they decided if nobody will give them respect, they'll take it. So, a bunch of Chupacabras got together, learned the noble fighting art of Lucha Libre, and now go around the world wrestling more famous and likeable monsters into submission with flying arm-bars and the Goat Slaying Grand-slam.
Word's fail me. I can't think off the top of my head a better paragraph I've seen recently. God drat masked wrestler chupacabras. It's beautiful.


Aug 6, 2006

The McRib is back!?!?
Voting Deadlands Noir. More zombies is always better than less zombies... except when it isn't.

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