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Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid

Bitchtits McGee posted:

JohnOfOrdo3 - Kabaddi, nodo kara te ga deru, "a hand from the throat"; an impossible request; asking for the moon.

I get the feeling my character gets drunk and asks for a lot of stupid poo poo... Either that or he goes around commanding everyone to lick their elbows to prove their loyalty to him.

Hey, what are royalty for?


Now grow 9 extra arms so you can carry all this cool poo poo I found in the dungeon. Grow...! Grow faster dammit!


Sep 3, 2006

Grey Worm's Ken doll-like groin throbbed with the anticipatory pleasure that only a slightly warm and moist piece of lemoncake could offer

Young Orc
Avalanche Eclair is a pretty badass name.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Ugh, people who are doing the Tribebook writeups, do you really need to repost the SCAR art? :( "Art" is a generous term there, mind. Strangely enough, I can't find anything on SCAR - whatever happened to them? Sadly, using a word as their pen name makes it pretty much impossible to look them up through google, presumingly they ever had any online presence.

Oct 23, 2010

Open up your senses
Maybe they're as in WtA I believe that had names like "Howls-To-The-Moon" and stuff like that

Tuba/Organ ryoute ni hana no, "flowers in both hands"; doubly blessed; alternately, to have a pretty woman on each arm.

Now I can see the knight with her two "flowers" as in two sword fighting or a wenching knight like Don Cardeño in the sims medieval LP

Let's better go with the dual swords figter idea...

JohnOfOrdo3 posted:

You could call the swords your "Gladiolus" and then it would be doubly true.

The More You Know :eng101:

Well thanks let's call them that :D

dereku fucked around with this message at 00:55 on Jul 2, 2013

Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid

dereku posted:

Maybe they're as in WtA I believe that had names like "Howls-To-The-Moon" and stuff like that

Tuba/Organ ryoute ni hana no, "flowers in both hands"; doubly blessed; alternately, to have a pretty woman on each arm.

Now I can see the knight with her two "flowers" as in two sword fighting or a wenching knight like Don Cardeño in the sims medieval LP

Let's better go with the dual swords figter idea...

You could call the swords your "Gladiolus" and then it would be doubly true.

The More You Know :eng101:

Nov 10, 2012

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Ugh, people who are doing the Tribebook writeups, do you really need to repost the SCAR art? :( "Art" is a generous term there, mind. Strangely enough, I can't find anything on SCAR - whatever happened to them? Sadly, using a word as their pen name makes it pretty much impossible to look them up through google, presumingly they ever had any online presence.

SCAR studios is a Voltron gestalt made up of Steve Carter and Antoinette Ryder, who now spells her name "Rydyr". They have a website! Despite appearances, it does update semi-regularly. They're apparently a key part of the Australian alternative art scene and continue to draw for zines and comics. Some pictures show some improvement. :nws:Others:nws:, um, don't.

In all honesty, they're actually making some oddly interesting outsider art. I actually recommend checking out their gallery just for the sheer :staredog:. They're oddly fascinating.

They also make music. It can only be experienced.

Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God
Yeah Avalanche Eclair actually sounded interesting, would be useful for a Butler or something. But I think it is actually Avalanche ishibashi o tataite wataru. Which doesn't have the same snap as Avalanche Eclair.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
I'm amused that Gygax makes the list as an exotic name, with Intel and Bronson.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine
Flexible Olive. I yam what I yam, and I yam the silence of the night.

Aug 22, 2008

You wanna get through this?
Second Names actually kind of remind me of the latest Metal Gear Solid V trailer where each character has a phrase associated with them. These ones seem a bit more poetic, though.

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011

PunkBoy posted:

Second Names actually kind of remind me of the latest Metal Gear Solid V trailer where each character has a phrase associated with them. These ones seem a bit more poetic, though.

Put that way, the idea makes sense. I still don't get what they're hoping to accomplish with the list they've given us, though. They seem more like personal philosophies than anything anyone would actually call themselves, but that doesn't quite jive, either, since personal philosophies are generated later.

As a corollary to the whole Second Name mess, I should point out that the example sheet at the end of the chapter shows a four-player Court, each with Second Names, but none from the tables (Lizzy "of the Seven Mysteries", "Leave It to Chef" Wasabi, "Doctor Strange" Yusan, and my favorite, "Fall Damage" Tetris). Also, out of the characters I've found posted on blogs and such, it seems like the majority of Japanese players don't use Second Names of any sort. :iiam:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

PunkBoy posted:

Second Names actually kind of remind me of the latest Metal Gear Solid V trailer where each character has a phrase associated with them. These ones seem a bit more poetic, though.

Yeah, it seems like a Japanese thing in some games and manga, I have no idea where it comes from, though. I'm reminded how the Japanese version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had descriptive titles for each character, like Hulk was "A Giant with Mysterious Strength, Able to Destroy Mountain Ranges", Ken got "King of Fighting Clad in Violent Flames", Strider was "Living as a Modern Day Ninja", and so on.

Oct 10, 2012
idiot asshole bitch who should fuck off
Second names remind me of epithets - "Jack the Ripper", "Alexander the Great", "Basil Bulgar-Slayer", etc.

Just, somewhat more verbose than is usual in English.

Nifty stuff! Seems like a good hook for a character, honestly.

Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.
I'm guessing it's based on the Chinese idea of style names, which is a sort of secondary name that people take when they reach majority.

Winter Stormer
Oct 17, 2012

Bitchtits McGee posted:

"Second Names"... I honestly have no solid idea what the gently caress these are supposed to represent. Kotobank defines the term basically as "a name one is called aside from their actual name", which makes it synonymous with "nickname" or "alias". So it should be simple, except that all of the "Second Names" provided are actually aphorisms and proverbs, a lot of which could only marginally be considered descriptive. Listing all of these would necessitate explaining their meanings and take way too much space, so I'll just stick to the rolled examples:

    JohnOfOrdo3 - nodo kara te ga deru, "a hand from the throat"; an impossible request; asking for the moon.
    dereku - ryoute ni hana no, "flowers in both hands"; doubly blessed; alternately, to have a pretty woman on each arm.
    Everything Counts - tora no o o fumu, "stepping on a tiger's tail"; walking fearlessly into danger.
    Ryuujin - ishibashi o tataite wataru, "strike the stone bridge as you cross it"; take nothing for granted; one can never be too cautious.
    Mr. Maltose - kaze ni yanagi no, "like a willow in the wind"; flexible.
    goatface - doragon mo hadashi de nigedasu, "even dragons flee barefoot"; a fearsome reputation.

Sooo... names? I got nothing. You figure it out!
The closest analogue I can think of comes from Slayers, where one of the main characters was called by a wide variety of epithets. The first epithet introduced, and probably the best remembered, was Dra-mata (ドラまた), from ドラゴンもまたいで通る ("even a dragon would pass over it"), derived from the proverb 猫も跨いで通る ("even a cat" etc.)

This kinda feels like the sort of game that would enshrine a reference to Slayers in its core rules, so that's my vote :allears:

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

I aten't dead! But we do need to kick this into high gear cause this isn't that interesting and it's taking forever. So WARP SPEED!

Issues, Ethics, and Culture

Turns out universal sur/sousveillance has some moral and ethical issues!

Privacy vs. Transparency

Or, Freedom vs. Security. The Transparency argument goes that if everyone knows everything about everyone else, everybody is safe! Crimes are reported by dozens who are totally reliable witnesses due to recording everything they see and hear, accidents and medical emergencies can be detected and aid dispatched as fast as possible, scandal and corruption is impossible to hide, and things are just plain terrific and utopian! The Privacy argument goes that that's a whole load of bullshit. First, you can catch anybody committing some sort of crime or blackmailable action, because yes, you do have something to hide. Plus, it's just submitting to the authorities, because knowing something is useless if you don't have the power to act on it. There's also just the fact that people like to keep some things private. Like romance, illness, and pooping. There's also the fact that Mercurial's like to keep a low profile in order to avoid anti-Mercurial prejudice, which is a lot harder in a fully transparent society.

Power Dynamics

Yeah, like I said, it's important to realize that those in power can do a shitton more about what they know than you can. I mean sure, you could expose a Direct Action security mook who was stomping on a poor neo-Chimpanzee, but it won't do anything. He'll get a slap on the wrist and a reassignment to another security detail while you just made mortal enemies with an organization that makes Blackwater look like Rent-a-Cops. True transparency requires a society of equals, which you won't find outside of outer-system Autonomists. In pretty much every-other society, you've gotta be sure that your sousveillance isn't noticed by others surveillance. Or else.

Information Control

Who controls the eyes and ears of the Panopticon? Who gets to watch through the cameras and listen to the mikes surrounding you? Everybody, or just the authorities? And who owns what data is collected? I mean, sure, you bought that camera, but did you read the TOS in the software? Did you know that the hypercorp you bought the blueprint from gets a copy of everything your camera records? Did you know they can delete your copies whenever they want?


Essentially, those in powers must be held accountable for their choices by those they represent. In the outer system this is true, with all power-structures heavily monitored by the public. If an outer-system representative doesn't do what their constituents want, or makes a mistake, everyone knows and they are instantly chastised for it. The intention is not only to prevent abuse of power, but to help the entire society improve. By holding people accountable for their actions, everyone sees what not-to-do. People learn from the mistakes of others, and things get better.

In the inner-system this isn't the case. While there is some power-level transparency, the Planetary Congress is a famous spectacle, those in real power are hidden from the public eye, free from the chastisement of those they rule.

Anonymity and Infamy

Privacy in a transparent society means anonymity. Now, this can be a good thing! Maybe you want to go morph-shopping without all your friends and family butting in with their “suggestions”. Maybe you don't want your boss to know you're dating the clerk from that law-firm on the third floor of the habitat ring. Maybe you'd rather your bio-con parents not know you've started hanging out with a neo-Dolphin you met on the mesh. But it can also be a bad thing. First off, people just seem to act like dicks when they can be anonymous, which can seriously make the mesh unfun. Then there's the informatioin factor. You can't confirm an anonymous source, and you can't confront them either, opening up a well of false and misleading information with no way to prevent it. Then there's the criminal concerns! Everything from un-punishable slander to organizing criminal enterprises and terrorist attacks!

The end result is that most habitats have ended up with pseudo-anonymity, similar to the modern internet. People are tied to online personas and pseudonyms, which allow them to operate anonymously while still building up a social circle and reputation. A newly-made anonymous persona is very likely to just be ignored, seriously limiting their ability to cause trouble, and if they are engaged in illegal activity, there is still an “electronic trail” that can be traced.

Truth vs. Fiction

Never trust the Mesh. Nowadays it's sometimes hard to tell a fake news story from a real one, or a photoshop from a genuine photograph, but it's worse in the future. Technology has gotten so advanced that false information and forgery is almost impossible to detect, and so nothing on the Mesh should be taken seriously without heavy independent collaboration.

But false information still exists due to its difficulty to disprove totally, and from good old lazy bookkeeping and lovely archiving and datamining procedures. This can leave incorrect information sitting around in databases far longer than it should, with dangerous consequences for people's reps.

That's ignoring the issue of purposely false information-spread. Astroturfers, greifers, memeticists, propagandists, hackers, criminals, and terrorists all use mass-misinformation to push their agenda and to cover their tracks, making the Mesh a minefield of lies and illusion.

Surveillance Insecurity

Basically being public with everything makes you a big fat target for scams, cons, robberies (tweeting going on vacation), and identity theft. Also, y'know, if the TITANs or similar things come back they can use them against us in horrible ways.

Cultural Openess

Now, the good stuff! Yes, the universal Panopticon has good sides. Mainly, that now humanity is more open, inclusive, and tolerant than ever, in a general sense. Formerly minority and “outsider” cultures are able to be experienced by everyone, and insularity and dogma whither in the face of such openess and inclusion. In the Panopticon, everyone literally knows your name, and you know everyone else's, making social interaction far less awkward as everyone to some degree knows everyone else.

Next Time: Surveillance Technologies

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

Ken Hite and Robin D Laws said they'll talk about 'roleplaying in an omnipresent surveillance society' on the next episode of their podcast. I can't wait.

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011

Cynical-Pop Meikyuu Kingdom Dungeon Theater

Chapter 2.4: Fiancee (Again)

Backgrounds! Those are always important! They give your character motivation, and provide possible plot hooks for future campaigning. In Meikyuu Kingdom, though, this is actually backed up by the game mechanics. Every Background must include a Mission: some long-term goal for your character to fulfill as a Landmaker, inspired by their past. (For the most part, these Missions are entirely driven and fulfilled by the players' actions, but there are still a handful that require a bit of GM fiat to see through.) When they complete their Mission during an adventure, your character gains a Level at the next Ending Phase of play; this Level not only stacks with the Level you'd usually gain for successfully completing a Scenario (assuming you did so, of course), but it's exempt from the Kingdom Level cap! So essentially, the maximum Character Level for a character who has completed their Mission is [Kingdom Level + 1]. Neat, huh?

Now, as with most things in this chapter, Backgrounds have a series of tables for random generation. Unlike most things in this chapter, though, the book explicitly INSISTS that newbies use said tables for their characters; only once you've played a few times and have a good feel for how the game works are you officially clear to make up your own. The setup for the Background Tables is a variation on the standard D66: instead of rolling both dice simultaneously and counting the lowest rolled number as the "tens" digit, roll them separately and take the first die as the "tens". The reason for this is most likely the significant increase in the number of available options.

Time for examples!

JohnOfOrdo3 posted:

1.3: You originally came to this Kingdom seeking asylum from a neighboring Kingdom. Randomly select a square of Terra Incognita from the map on your Kingdom Sheet; this is the site of your home country. Decide on a name for it, and mark its Relation on the Sheet as <Strained>. Your Mission is to raise your Kingdom's Relation with your home's to <Allied>.

:aaa: The king's a foreigner! But instead of producing a birth certificate, his Mission is to make peace with his homeland. Rolling additional dice along the X and Y axes of the Kingdom Sheet's Terra Incognita map, he gets 6 and 1, placing it in the southwest corner of the region, further rolling generating its name as the "New Adventure Alliance". C'mon and grab your friends.

dereku posted:

4.5: You are a spy for one of the Great Powers. Roll a 1D6 to determine your home nation: 1, the Dynamite Empire; 2, the Millennium Dynasty; 3, the Metro Khanate; 4, the Capitalist People's Republic of Hagulma; 5 or 6, roll again. Naturally, this is a secret from the rest of the Court, but your purpose is not exactly malicious. Your Mission is to maneuver the Kingdom into becoming a Vassal State of your home nation.

So the king's from out of town and the head of the military is a spy? This kingdom's off to a great start. dereku's next roll is a 6, so they reroll and get a 1. The Dynamite Kingdom has sent him to tell everyone how awesome they are, and convince them that they could be even more awesome together. Well, guess that doesn't sound so bad.

Everything Counts posted:

6.6: You were the slave of a monster or Tyrant (Dungeon Book, p. 64). Select one other character from your Court. This character freed you, and in return, you have sworn your loyalty to them. Start with 1 point of “Loyalty” <Sympathy> with this Character. Your Mission is to die for this Character while possessing at least 1 point of <Sympathy> for them. Whether or not your death was “for” them is at the GM's discretion.

Woo, yeah... this one's kinda tricky. Naturally, with this being a fantasy setting, death isn't necessarily permanent, but still, most deaths occur in combat, and Politicians typically aren't typically built for running into melee range. On the other hand, this also means they trend heavily towards the "squishy" side of the HP scale, so maybe if they just time it right... er, but that's getting way ahead of things. The text doesn't require random selection of the character, so unless EC has their own idea, the first unused roll of theirs is a 4, which comes out to Ryuujin's Priest on my Everyone But That Guy Table. Hmm... this could be interesting (Incidentally, a Tyrant is basically a Landmaker who's gone insane and started ruling over a patch of wild dungeon with an iron fist. Anyone who wanders through is taken prisoner and forced to play along.)

Ryuujin posted:

1.1: For whatever reason, your parents abandoned you, and you spent your early childhood in the dungeons. This experience inspires you to seek out a partner with whom to make your own family, and make it right. Your Mission is to establish a <Empathy> Status of <Lover> with another Character.

Empathy Statuses, which I don't believe I've covered, are attained by maxing out one of the three Sympathy sub-types: Affection, Loyalty, and Friendship. <Lover>, as you might guess, requires full points in Affection. There'll be more detail on what these Statuses actually mean in a later chapter. All that concerns us right now is that Ryuujin's looking to start a family. They don't have to pick any particular Character for this; they could even have several pokers in the fire, so to speak. Still, might make for some good RPing if they went for someone close at hand... someone showing them a bit of Loyalty, perhaps... wink wink nudge nudge ;)

Mr. Maltose posted:

5.5: You can barely restrain your lust for battle. The world is gray to you, only bursting into color for the instant when you take a life. Your mission is to get the killing blow on 100 Monsters.

:stare: Well. That's certainly... rather... straightforward. Works out fairly well for a Ninja, too. Might be kind of awkward rolling something like this up for a Politician or a Servant, unless you're looking for a challenge, I suppose. Anyway, not much to say about this one, so let's move on.

goatface posted:

4.2: A rival Kingdom is holding your family hostage and forcing you to act as a spy for them, sowing confusion and passing back whatever information they require. Randomly select a square of Terra Incognita from the map on your Kingdom Sheet; this is the site of the enemy country. Decide on a name for it, and mark its Relation on the Sheet as <Strained>. Your Mission is to establish an <Empathy> Status of <Rival> with another character in your Court.

Great! Another freaking spy! And this one's actually trouble! :mad: Still, it's not really their fault. <Rival> is the sole exception to the Sympathy monopoly on Empathy Statuses, being attained by maxing out one of the Antipathy sub-types while having at least one point of Sympathy for the same character; maybe they could team up later for a rescue mission, just like in that one Bruce Willis movie! Random kingdom generation puts goatface's parents/siblings/whatever in "The Third Demon City", at map point 2x4, just a couple spaces north of Kitty Planet.

Next step: Jobs! Apparently, you're born a Landmaker, but you don't actually realize it for a while, kind of like the X-Men. Since life is lived pretty much universally at the subsistence level, everybody's got to pull their own weight. Jobs are handed down through family units, so before you rose to power as a Landmaker, there was something that occupied your waking hours, and the skills you learned from that Job will stick with you forever. Each Job also gives a permanent +1 bonus to one of your Ability Scores, which is quite handy. A detailed listing of the basic Jobs and their attendant Skills will take up my next post (or possibly two, there's rather a few of them), so for now, I'll just leave this here:

    JohnOfOrdo3 - Astrologist (Charisma)
    dereku - Adventurer (Adventure :v:)
    Everything Counts - Aristocrat (Charisma)
    Ryuujin - Professor (Wit)
    Mr. Maltose - Magician (Wit)
    goatface - Chef (Adventure), Happymancer (Charisma)

Oh, Servants get two Jobs. Did I forget to mention that? Well, they do. It's a balancing mechanic, mostly, since they have such average stats in everything by default.

So now that you've got all your Abilities added up and your Sub-Stats accordingly calculated, what's left? Well, you still have to pick a Class Skill and mark down the starting Skill from your Job. Then, figure out your starting equipment. You've got a pool of Common Items to choose from, combined from the listings on your Class and your Job. You can only have up to six items in your inventory at a time, so anything you don't want or don't have room for can be passed to someone else; any unclaimed Items once the dust has settled are discarded. However, if you find yourself with room to spare, there's a quick 2D6 table you can roll on for some free general-purpose loot. Then, write down the names of the other members of your Court in the Acquaintances column of your Character Sheet, select one person from that list, and give yourself one point of <Sympathy> for them (sub-type chosen at random).

The last step is another one that's a bit unusual: Likes and Dislikes. Every character has two of each, determined by rolling D66 on each of the four Word Tables, which, as the name implies, are all made up of a bunch of words; the results are then assigned at will between the Likes and Dislikes entries. Note that these are purely for role-playing purposes - a Chef who dislikes cooking will suffer no penalty, nor will a Knight who likes martial arts enjoy a bonus.

    JohnOfOrdo3 - Darkness, War, Dungeons, Other species
    dereku - Fiancee, Royalty, Fireworks, Daydreams
    Everything Counts - Fiancee (again), Futility, Tradition, Medicine
    Ryuujin - Dressing up, Numbers, Tradition, Adventures
    Mr. Maltose - Staying up late, Getting up early (how symmetrical :v:), Meddling, Monsters
    goatface - Fiancee (again), Haircuts, Cooking, Crime

That's pretty much it for creating a character in Meikyuu Kingdom! Next time: a big ol' bastard list of employment opportunities! I can't wait!

Jul 9, 2003

... Happymancer?

Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid
So if I'm reading that right, I like causing wars and not buying enough candles, and hate the dungeons and other species. Or is it the other way around?

Still though, the background rolls are an interesting way to add tension into the game, it's pretty cool and means there will be some politics going on in game as people try to maneuver the kingdom in the direction they want it to go.

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011

JohnOfOrdo3 posted:

So if I'm reading that right, I like causing wars and not buying enough candles, and hate the dungeons and other species. Or is it the other way around?

The Like/Dislike results are free-assignable, the only requirement is that you have two of each. You could be a dungeon-loving king-of-the-night who's also a peacenik racist, or you could tack 'em down in order like that, or you can make up your own if you don't like what got rolled. There aren't any mechanics backing this up like with Backgrounds, so the tables are just there for convenience.

Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid

Bitchtits McGee posted:

The Like/Dislike results are free-assignable, the only requirement is that you have two of each. You could be a dungeon-loving king-of-the-night who's also a peacenik racist, or you could tack 'em down in order like that, or you can make up your own if you don't like what got rolled. There aren't any mechanics backing this up like with Backgrounds, so the tables are just there for convenience.

Ahhh! That makes more sense. It'd be interesting getting the background I got and ending up hating foreigners. Do you hate yourself? Or your entire kingdom? :v:

Have you ever played a game of this McGee? I know you're attempting to translate it according to the japanese role play thread

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

Astrological inceptions are the formulae of the Artes Liberales. An inception is a sort of astrological chart that asks a specific question about a person, object or event. The creation of an inception requires at least a season of observation of the stars and long calculations, but once drawn, they are relatively easily used. You just have to complete them by adding the horoscope of your target, perform the last few calculations and get your answer. Each formula is therefore generic, with blanks for you to fill in. Still, you do need your target's nativity horoscope, which means knowing the date and place of birth, creation or initiation. It takes about a day to calculate a nativity horoscope, but you only ever need one for each target. Some inceptions have two targets, and you'll need horoscopes for both. Once you have the nativity horoscopes, it only takes a few minutes to plug them in and activate the inception.

The more detail you want, the harder an inception is to make. A simple, binary answer (such as yes/no) is easy. A basic, three-word answer is harder, a brief, single-sentence answer is harder than that and the hardest is a thorough and detailed answer. Questions about events more than an astrological month away are harder than about the present, and the near future is even moreso. Predictions of the future are subject to change due to free will, and may not happen. Inceptions can tell you the visible qualities of something, the properties that might require close examination or even those that are not normally learnable by casual means, or even information that requires complex examination.

Some examples: You can learn whether someone is currently closer to life or death, whether they are inclined to love another person, whether they are more or less likely to be lying, what their true feelings are, who made an object, how a battle is going in terms of relative number of casualties or what caused someone's death. Handy stuff, and none of it magical.

Alchemical reagents are the formulae of Philosophiae. A reagent is a natural substance made in the lab via combination of minerals, botanicals and animal components. It can have unusual properties, but not unnatural ones. Thus, a reagent may corrode metal or freeze water, but this is just speeding up natural processes - they can't turn water into metal, for example. Alchemy works directly on the prime qualities, and cannot create new matter, though it may cause alteration by increasing relative amounts of hot, cold, dry or moist particles. Alchemists recognize two kinds of material: simple matter, which is the most basic form and contains only small mixures of other kinds of matter, such as soil, air, flame or water. And complex matter, which has significant mixture, such as glass, oil, vinegar or lightning. Alchemy cannot transform one base substance into another, nor cause increase or decrease in amount. Soil made unbreakable remains soil, not rock. Some speak of turning lead into gold, but a true philosopher laughs at the idea, for it is impossible by philosophy alone. Alchemists require materials, usually gained from apothecaries, to do their work.

A reagent takes a season to make, and each dose can only be used once. Once made, they last until used, but many must be stored carefully due to their volatile nature. The more significant the change in properties or appearance that the reagent causes, the harder it is, and the more matter it affects, the harder it is. Reagents may enhance or diminish the qualities of matter or purify matter. Examples include causing fire to burn in different colors, creating a powder that makes dirt as hard and binding as cement, a crystal that freezes water, a stone that boils water, a greek fire bomb that can be thrown at people, an acid that will eat through anything but glass and so on.

Pharmaceutical theriacs are the formulae of Medicine. The term 'theriac' is used by commoners and poorly trained medici to refer to a sovereign cure for all ills, which is often sold by charlatans. In reality, the theriacs are merely formulae, whose power to heal is provided by the ingredients. The secret is knowing which to use, as identified by God's hand in the creation of plants and minerals. Theriacs are made via apothecaries' ingredients, much like reagents (or normal medicines) are.

A theriac affects the human body (or animals, if designed for animals rather than humans, but one for humans won't work on animals or vice versa) and, once made, last until used, but can be ruined by damp or vermin. Wounds and disease healing require different theriacs, naturally. The more serious the injury, disease or fatigue being affected, the harder a theriac is to make. Theriacs can improve natural healing, relieve pain by causing fatigue, reduce the potency of poison, cause wounds, cure diseases over time, restore fatigue or cure wounds over time. Very useful.

Now, let's talk about schools. It's a big time for schools of all kinds. You've got your parish schools, where the local parish priest teaches able-minded children of both sexes to read and write, for a fee. Adults can also be taught if the priest feels like it. The cost is notable, so only the prosperous can afford it. Parish schools are a mere foundation for further learning, however. They teach grammar and little else. All classes are in Latin, and the practice was originally meant to educate future priests - most just realize that the laity benefit, too. Of course, not all parish priests are great teachers, either.

Next, you have the cathedral schools - the pinnacle of learning in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They were both intellectual havens and training centers for priests. They still do that, but they have been surpassed in recent years by the university educational model, free of direct ecclesiastical control. Many famous scholars were taught at cathedral schools, and many teach at cathedral schools, even still. Several cathedral schools are famous for their intense skill in a single topic. In 1079, Pope Gregory VII decreed that schooling was compulsory for priests, laying the foundation for folks like Peter Abelard (who taught at the Paris cathedral school of St. Genevieve), William of Conches and Thierry of Chartres (who taught at Chartres) and others. Later pressure strove for a systematic approach to teaching, and when the secular interest in law and learning grew, cathedral schools began to accept non-clerical students. Despite the recent emphasis on universities, they remain beacons of learning, centered on the cathedral of a diocese. Some of the more famous schools are Toledo of Castile, Bordeaux, Poiters, Chartres, Rouen, Reims and Tournai of France, Milan, Ravenna, Florence and Rome of Italy, Canterbury and York of England and Utrecht, Worms, Mainz, Metz, Speyer, Bamberg and Magdeburg of the Holy Roman Empire. Most university cities with a cathedral also have a respectable cathedral school. They're also great places to meet artists and masons, since cathedrals are almost always under construction in some way.

Some monastic orders also give educations. The Benedictines and the Dominican friars are most interested in it, and the Franciscans will join them in the coming years. All monastic leaders need an education, too. And that's why there are monastic schools. They're reluctant to take on lay students, preferring to focus on the monks, and some even refuse regular clergy, but that's not universal. Many Benedictine monasteries allow lay study, but none have an open invitation or accept large numbers of lay students. Most are monks or become monks. In the late 11th century, the Pope forbade monks to leave their monasteries to get educated, but this is changing, as Dominican friars begin to form hospices in university towns, designed specifically to allow friars to get their educations.

Some towns maintain public education based on the practices of the Roman empire, continuing to run municipal schools. Those are most common in the Lombard towns of Italy, such as Milan, Pavia, Bologna or Modena. Municipal schools tend to heavily favor the practical over the theoretical, especially focusing on civil law and the liberal arts. Sometimes, they teach medicine, but almost never theology or canon law. Students are laymen who can afford to pay the teachers' salaries, and teachers are notable citizens but not generally famous. They lecture from texts, and most schools rely on the instructor's own library. Foreign students are rare, and have no legal rights in the city. This was one of the major reasons for the formation of student guilds and universities, actually.

Next time: More schooling

Feb 15, 2012

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

Zereth posted:

... Happymancer?

I have no idea what that is, but I want to be one!

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011

JohnOfOrdo3 posted:

Have you ever played a game of this McGee? I know you're attempting to translate it according to the japanese role play thread

Well, if you dig way way back in that thread, you'll find I actually tried running a test game on IRC with players from my old Maid RPG channel. Long story short, it only lasted two sessions (character creation and a fight) because we tend not to be very good at scheduling in there. :sigh:

Nov 7, 2011

My other car is an asteroid
We could try putting a play by post together. But it would end with only you knowing the rules since no one else could read the book. Maybe one day, eh?

Dec 5, 2007

I had a video of that when I was about 6.

I remember it being shit.

Grimey Drawer
I am the Happymancer Chef Spy, I will make you so happy with my cooking that you will tell me all your secrets.

Mar 25, 2011

Hah, I remember a dude whose nick was Happymancer on IRC. Didn't got along with him at all, but I wonder if the nick came from Meikyuu Kingdom. Also crap I should lift my rear end and continue my 3D&T writeup.

Bitchtits McGee posted:

Well, if you dig way way back in that thread, you'll find I actually tried running a test game on IRC with players from my old Maid RPG channel. Long story short, it only lasted two sessions (character creation and a fight) because we tend not to be very good at scheduling in there. :sigh:


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

Obviously, private tutors are a thing. They're the most common kind of teacher for magi. Which should really be obvious. Anyway, Muslim schools tend to be more appreciated than Christian ones in their communities, though with the rise of the scholastics, that's changing. The Prophet said that education was a great thing, you see. Muslims believe the entire populace should be educated, an idea still foreign to Christians. There is actually a huge ongoing debate about whether the Greek philosophers are worth listening to - in the 11th century, the Arabic writer al-Ghazali wrote The Incoherence of the Philosophers in an attempt to discredit Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. In the 12th century, he was refuted by Averroes in The Incoherence of the Incoherence, and the debate is far from over. Ideally, every Muslim gets an education, generally at the house of a religious teacher, and higher education mirrors the university structure only without the recurring violence. The school is called a madraash and is generally attached to a mosque. The oldest madraash is Jami'at al-Qarawiyyin in Morocco, and the most famous is the Bayt al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. Historically, the House of Wisdom will be destroyed by Mongols in 1258. Muslim scholars tend to know more about Christian theology than Christians do of Islamic theology, and tend to enjoy debates. Most madraashs and Islamic teachers, obviously, do not really focus at all on non-Muslim students, however.

Jewish schools, like Muslim ones, tend to be insular and operated by and for Jews. Muslim schools are actually more tolerant of foreign students than Jewish ones, which really is unsurprising given how Jews tend to get treated by outsiders. The school is called a yeshiva and is overseen by a local rabbi, teaching grammar, the Mishnah and the Talmud. Jewish schools are almost exclusively male, and generally teach pairs of students with help from an elder student, focusing more on one-on-one instruction than most other medieval schools. Cordoba and Granada have particularly large yeshivas, while those of Arles in Provence and Narbonne in Catalonia are also famous. The most important Jewish philosopher is Maimonides, who wrote the Guide for the Perplexed in 1190, 14 years before his death. It is an excellent book on Jewish theology and philosophy, very Aristotelian and somewhat controversial. It has been translated to Hebrew from Arabic, and has caused Aristotelian ideas to be heavily argued in Jewish scholarship. The French and German Jews have branded Maimonides a heretic for his work, and it will only worsen once the book gets translated into Latin.

Now, universities. We get a bunch of new social status virtues for various positions at university. A university is a group of masters and students with some degree of autonomy from papal or imperial authorities. Universities focus on the group, not any one master, and this is the biggest difference between them and other schools. The university is defined not by any property, but by the rights enjoyed by its members. It must have at least two branches of instruction, known as faculties, one of which is a Faculty of Arts and the other one of which is one of the higher faculties - medicine, civil and canon law or theology. Universities are urban, and tend to have tension with the local ecclesiastical, imperial, secular and town rulers. There are two types: student-run and the university of masters. The northern universities are the latter, like Oxford, Cambridge or Paris, while southern universities are often the former, such as Bologna, Montpellier and Salamenca. Even so, no two are exactly alike, as they have differing statutes and regulations. Both types of university mirror each other in many ways - the distinction is in who sets the statutes, not what they are. In the south, masters tend to have more rules to follow, and vice versa in the north. Eventually, the two types will converge into one type of organization.

The University of Bologna is the model for the student-run university, with Montpellier a close second. Iberian universities are often student-run, but closely tied to a local ruler and so less autonomous. Southern universities tend to focus on law and medicine, with laymen as most of the masters, though with the right to be legally treated as clerics. The studium generale was formed by the students, and initially a large percentage were foreigners, with no rights to property or legal redress. Urban citizens had rights the students wanted, and they try to get and maintain social parity with the locals. Students were also determined to set the standards for their education, and the university is maintained by student pressures. Statutes do exist for proper behavior of students, but far more exist for the masters, who must conform or be dismissed. The focus is on quality of education, set texts and lengths of time for texts to be studied, ensuring teachers are accountable for their work and maintaining a safe environment.

Example statutes include: Masters must be on time for lectures. Masters may not miss more than one lecture per term. A master must prepare original instruction and may not merely repeat information from one term to the next. Masters may not directly read from the text when lecturing, but most offer commentary and argument to gloss the text. A master may only leave the city one week per year. A master should not marry, and if married, must still conform to all other statutes. A master must attend all university meetings and observe all religious holidays. A master must march in religious parades with the staff. A master must host a disputatio once per term at least. A master must attend the student exams of their faculty. A master must retain a good reputation with the city and university and should be of unquestionable moral character.

The University of Paris is the model for the university of masters, and in northern Europe it was the masters who initially sought the right to teach, so they couldn't be moved around by ecclesiastical whim. Oxford and Cambridge copied the structure, and northern universities tend to focus on the liberal arts and theology. Most of the masters are clerics, not salaried but given a percentage of cathedral income or rights to agricultural profits and tithes from a diocese or parish. The pope has recently allowed the rector of a parish the right to live away from it, allowing income from somewhere the master does not live. The university is governed by the masters at all levels except the lowest, which allows for student representation. The masters set the standards of education, the curriculum, and the hours. They also make statutes defininf student behavior.

Example statutes include: Students must wear academic robes and not dress flamboyantly. Students may not bear arms. Students may not ride a horse to lectures. A student may not keep dogs as pets or affect other forms of noble behavior. Students must not gamble. A student must be in their residence by nightfall. Women may not enter student residences. Students must always speak Latin at class and in their residence. All students must attend mandatory university meetings. Students must own their own textbooks. A student must be matriculated by their faculty and swear the Oath of Matriculation. A student may not be absent from university for more than a week, except during the "Great Vacation" of the summer. If fined, a student must pay the fine promptly, generally in liters of wine.

A university is always subdivided. There are the faculties, the nations and in some univeristies, like Paris or Bologna, the hospices. Every university has faculties, most have nations and currently only those two have hospices. The faculty is the complete course of learning needed to achieve a license in a specific subject. There are four faculties: the Faculty of Arts, which all universities have, and those of medicine, canon or civil law and theology. These are ranked by their perceived religious characteristics, intellectual dignity and social usefulness. Theology is seen as highest, followed by a tie between medicine and law. All three are higher than the liberal arts. The Faculty of Art teaches only the liberal arts, and all other faculties require a degree in that, teaching only the subject they are named for. Law is considered a single faculty, despite division into canon and civil law. They're different enough to really deserve seperate faculties - they just don't get them. Each faculty is led by a rector, the eldest teaching master in most cases, though nominally the position is elective. They have many duties, from finance to inter-student quarrels to awarding degrees and handling town politics. In some cases, the rector is also called the chancellor, or actually is a chancellor appointed by a bishop. The rector, being very busy, is assisted by beadles, a group of assistants who run errands and perform minor functions. One of the rectors is elected rector of the university, usually called the dean. The dean deals with kings and the pope in receiving privileges and maintaining existing privileges.

Nations are collections of students from the same area geographically. See, initially, foreign students had no legal protections, prompting the foreign students of Bologna to seek the right to incorporate themselves into the studium generale, subdivided into nations corresponding to their homes. Nations live, study and play together. They have the same rights as locals and no longer fear legal discrimination. For convenience, local students often have a nation as well, despite having no legal need of it. Nations are led by a proctor, an older student elected as representative with the masters. The proctor has both administrative and financial power. Not every student in a nation is in the same faculty, and religious parades are grouped by faculty, so they don't march together. Still, it's a stronger bond for most than faculty is.

Hospices, also called colleges, are buildings funded by benefactors that give room and board to a small student group. Only a few exist as yet, either Dominican houses or otherwise ecclesiastical. In the years to come, secular lords will found hospices for secular students. They are primarily for poor or very intelligent students, and most students find their own residences. Colleges for secular students will not, historically, begin until mid-century. Each hospice allows a specific number of residents, usually between eight and twenty, and a lay caretaker. Members are known as fellows or socii, and they live, eat and socialize together. In theory, a hospice is a safe haven from the trials of urban life.

Universities hardly exist in a vacuum. Most are beholden to the Church because academic licenses can only be awarded by the bishop's chancellor. Even if the degree is awarded based on the acknowledgement of masters, the chancellor is the only one legally empowered to grant the title associated with it. Those few who don't get degrees from a chancellor get them from a king. Thus, universities are subject to bishops and kings. In theory, they are extensions of the church, and the church relies on the theologians of the universities to correct heresy. The mendicant orders, especially the Dominicans in 1220, have entered the universities, and many masters see this as an intrusion, since friars are sworn to each other, not masters, and can be demanding students. It is, however, the pope's will and thus irresistable. Most universities are willing to give the pope political power, getting more demands in return.

Most universities owe their political autonomy to Frederick I Barbarossa, who gave the Bolognese scholars freedom to move through the Holy Roman Empire and safe residence. The initial royal grant of 1190 has since been copied extensively, with many kings offering similar protections and immunities. Universities, with their focus on theory, intellect and spirituality, pose little threat to secular lords and kings. Only very rarely must the king intervene directly. Most are content to let scholars do as they like in their classrooms, as universities give a king a reputation for enlightenment. Politically, they can also be tools against the Pope, as in Spain, where the king has great influence over the staff and chancellor. What tension there is with secular leaders tends to be on the city level, as the townsfolk must deal directly with the student body and the scholars. Students bring wealth, but also demands - rent control, books, food, hours of drinking...the list goes on. And it's the town officials who must handle problems. Still, most town burghers appreciate the financial gains.

And because the Order of Hermes is also interested in academics, it's no surprise that they keep tabs on the universities. (Not so much the other way.) Formulae are often seen as interesting but irrelevant diversions, more easily done by magic. On the other hand, universities make prime recruiting grounds for covenant staff - instructors, accountants and autocrats all often come from universities. Students can become scribes, and they're used to living away from home already. Covenants near university towns have been known to sneak members into the university for free training, especially poor covenants that can't afford to just pay the fees for a teacher. Universities are big enough that stealing an education isn't that hard if you're quiet and unobtrusive. Magi are also often interested in the libraries of the masters, which include books undocumented in the curriculum or catalog. Most scholars are rabid bibliophiles, after all, and will buy books on any subject just to own them - even the Hermetic Arts. Some find them interesting if useless reads, though many think them to just be a lunatic's understanding of Platonic forms, and so a good number of scholars actually scrape the pages clean to prepare the books for other works. (This pisses magi off to no end, naturally.)

Next time: University life.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

So, once a student gets to university, they need to find a master to register under. Every student, even in the southern universities, is attached to a specific master, whose job is to oversee their studies and private life and who has some responsibility for their conduct. There's no educational requirements to be accepted, and students are judged on moral character (and, sometimes, bribes). Once a master is found, the student must matriculate, which means paying an entrance fee and swearing the Oath of Matriculation. Every master keeps a private register, and it will not be until next century or so that the universities compose registers of all students. A master usually has twenty to thirty registered students. It is not actually vital to matriculate before taking classes, and many students who lack funds will just make a deal with the master to matriculate before they would graduate. This is especially common with younger students, since oaths are not legally binding until the age of sixteen. Because registers are private, not all masters know who's enrolled or matriculated, making it fairly easy for a false student (or falsi scholares) to dress in student garb and get free education. This is rarer in the higher faculties, which have a smaller student-to-master ratio.

Once accepted by a master, matriculated or not, a student must then find and join their representative nation, living with them, enjoying their fixed rent and boarding fee and their companionship. They also generally assume the prejudices of the nation and help in the prank wars. There are also the poor students, those unable to pay tuition, who are overseen by the Church on scholarships, generally living in squalid conditions and studying the Faculty of Arts. Besides lectures, students are expected to attend daily mass and weekly sermons. Ordinary lectures begin at sunrise (usually) and are taught by masters out of rented houses. Students are expected to bring their own copies of the text and notetaking materials. Lectures are not interactive at all. Attendance is mandatory, but absence is not always noticed. Some masters employ an assistant to take attendance, but many just arrive and start talking. Late students are refused entry and disruptive ones are dismissed. The lecture is usually two to three hours, after which students can leave and do as they like until lunch.

Universities have a strict curriculum, with every text taught approved by the masters and any ecclesiastical superiors. Few students can afford to outright purchase a text, so most rent a few pages from a book seller and make copies. The courseload's big, and copying texts is a daily chore which takes even longer than normal due to the other work. After lunch, students can attend extra-ordinary classes, which last into late afternoon. These are not taught by masters, but elder students and specialists. They do not count towards graduation and are purely elective, but are not regulated and can have nearly any topic. Teachers often base their lectures on more recent commentaries, making them more vibrant than ordinary lectures, and experimental philosophy is sometimes taught. These lectures can be controversial, so they are very popular. After that, there's free time until supper. This daily pattern is not universal, but the division of lectures is.

Once per week, students participate in disputatio, a formal debate against other students or a master. This is the test to see if you understood. They vary in difficulty, and technically you can't fail, but you can do poorly. The masters use these to chart progress. Students also meet periodically to discuss things, overseen by their nation's proctor, and fines are levied at these meetings. (Fines are in wine, not money.) The proctors also advise the dean on student matters. It's hard to imagine, with such a busy schedule, that students can get into much trouble. They absolutely can. The townsfolk and students often resent each other, with the townsfolk seeing them as overpriveleged, lazy and arrogant, while the students see the townsfolk as dim, lazy and mean-spirited. National prejudices also get involved. The town and university leaders try to keep things under control, but sometimes they fail and things get violent. Most student statutes are aimed at preventing violence by, say, forbidding drinking or local women, and each nation has a curfew, but such statutes are easily ignored and most boarding houses are easily snuck out of. Many young men just can't resist the nightlife.

University students take only one exam per stage of their career. There are no periodic or regular exams, and often it'll be three years of study before taking your only exam. This is the private exam, an exhaustive test of knowledge in which the faculty propose complex questions and debates for you to answer or defend. This is a day-long oral exam, and by the end, you either pass or fail. Most fail, both because it is very hard and because failing means spending another year studying. Which means another year of tuition. Your masters want you to fail. After the private exam is the public exam, in which the passing candidate must participate in a ceremonial lecture before the university, displaying their knowledge. At the end, they receive their license. The public exam cannot be failed. Not every student who passes the private exam takes the public exam - see, you have to pay for the public exam, including the mandatory feast and gifts. This means few actually receive their academic licenses, but the only career barred to someone without a full degree is university teaching. A degree is nice for other jobs but not vital, and does not guarantee employment.

A master's life is somewhat less structured. Most masters are thirty or older, and each must prepare their lectures beforehand, to avoid routine. A master must have intimate knowledge of the text, and ideally should not comment on more pages than a student can reasonably copy before the next day. Masters receive little feedback on style or pace, however, and move at their own discretion. Each week, the master most hold a disputatio, either between students or in which they themselves dispute against a student. Masters must also ensure the copies of their texts are accurate. They also oversee and advise those students registered with them, acting as judge if any are caught breaking laws. Masters and students have the right to trial under canon law, so most have some knowledge of it.

Masters are also in charge of the reformatio, the review of university statutes, classes and lectures in search of necessary reforms. The university is endlessly self-critical, routinely exploring its organization and curriculum to ensure accuracy and stability. Reforming committees are made of students and masters, but it is the masters who are under most pressure to maintain high standards. Masters also maintain a monopoly on their own positions. They choose who gets accepted as masters, and those with teaching positions, called chairs, are also known as resident masters. A resident master's position cannot be taken until they want to step down, usually due to age. They can be dismissed by their fellows, but dismissal must have grounds in poor behavior, heresy or excessive absence. Visiting masters are those who teach for a limited time, usually a year, and receive salary. They do not sit on committees, register students or have guarantee of position after their term of hire. They are usually foreigners hired to teach grammar or other fundamentals. Masters are divided by faculty, with each faculty usually having six to twelve chairs endowed for resident masters, with about half again that many visiting masters.

Heresy, as we know, is the expression of unorthodox theological opinion, and radical scholastic thought risks being deemed heresy, with consequences of book burning or, in drastic cases, scholar burning. This doesn't mean, however, that there is no room for originality. There is. The Church recognizes that it is no sin to investigate God's work by rational methods. Many theories that may seem heretical are merely error and need only be corrected, not censured. Still, two of the most unrepentant heretics were Parisian teachers pursuing theological licenses, and both taught a sort of pantheist heresy, claiming that "God is everything and everything is God." This violates the idea of God as seperate and outside reality, and also denies transubstantiation. The first, Amaury de Bene, had a large following, which was suppressed when discovered. His bones, four years dead, were exhumed, excommunicated and tossed on unhallowed ground. Four of his followers were imprisoned for life, and six others burned at the stake by secular authority. The second heretic is David of Dinant, who was found to be a heretic in 1215 by Cardinal Robert Caurcon. His book, Quaternuli, was confiscated, but he refused to recant and fled. Amaury was merely heretical; David is Infernal, and rumor has it that David is writing another Infernal text. His whereabouts are unknown.

Rules are provided for disputatio - in short, there are three types. The epideictic, in which you attempt to praise or insult an opponent, the deliberative, in which you argue a point or opinion, and the forensic, which is used judicially to prosecute or defend an issue. The first challenger is the opponent, the defender is the responder and together they are disputers. They debate until one proves the other's argument inadequate or faulty. There is a judge, who poses questions on the topic being debated, and both sides get to make a statement and response to the other's statement. Sometimes, disputationes are held against a crowd, with the disputers defending positions but not making attacks on the crowd's statements. Public disputationes are highly entertaining and much-loved, and the winner is whoever can stand against the crowd longest without failing in argument. Disputationes are often flamboyant and flagrant displays, but they do not change laws. They may influence opinions, but it is a slower and less entertaining process to actually alter or make a law.

We'll skip over the details of specific universities - you can look 'em up if you care to. Instead, it's time for art! Artists are everywhere. Art, it is said, is the literature of the laity, and it is by art that scholastic principles are handed down to the public. Just as academics hunt for the correct model of the universe, so do artists combine their skills and understanding in construction of cathedrals and sacred art. Artists are divided, essentially, into two groups: production and performance. Production artists work in stone, metal, glass, whatever. They are like craftsmen, and often are craftsmen on the side. The most visible art produced is the cathedral, made by masons. It is the greatest of artworks. Then there's metalwork, painting and vernacular literature (which includes poetry). Performance art is stuff like juggling, acrobatics, animal training, miracle plays, music or performed poetry. Rules are provided for the creation of art, including rules on experimentation within an artistic style, which can improve quality but risks the art being declared heretical.

Artistic reputation is quite valuable. As it grows, you get all sorts of benefits - social roll bonuses at normal levels, but eventually, you attract a muse, if you're good enough. Muses can be refused, but you only get one chance to get one. The player refuses or accepts - the character may not know the muse even exists. Faerie muses tend to be obvious, while demonic ones tend not to be. Angelic muses are mysterious and magical muses often act authoritatively. Muses are very useful in creation of art, and also tend to get you embroiled in various plots and problems. When your reputation gets high enough, you are allowed to sign your work - which has no mechanical benefits, but is the highest honor afforded to any artist, anywhere. You become as famous as your works do. Eventually, you may acquire and even more potent muse, who will brush aside your lesser muse to replace it. Eventually, on reaching the pinnacle of skill and fame, an artist is known across Europe and gets a permanent bonus to any art they make. They need not create to earn livelihood, and do so only to please themselves. It is very hard to lose such a reputation once you get it, and your muse will try to push you even further. Should it succeed, you become a legendary artist, no longer of the mundane world. Your muse removes you to its home, and you become a supernatural being. Sometimes the muse will leave a corpse behind, and sometimes it won't. Eventually, you'll be presumed dead, and you technically are no longer living. (Indeed, Divine muses' artists actually do die and ascend to Heaven.)

Legendary artists are supernatural beings, with all that entails, and have Might based on their skill. They are immortal, unaging and unchanging. They can die from wounds, but are very unlikely to do so, and are immune to disease and most debilitating effects. However, they are vulnerable to magic and can no longer easily improve themselves. They may only improve their abilities by immediately producing art which serves as a supernatural mnemonic, binding the experience within as long as they carry the art with them. (This is a problem, as many art pieces aren't easily portable, or quick to make. Often, this is gotten around by starting the piece before the study begins, so it can be finished quickly, and making sure it's a portable piece. Performance artists often record their works in diaries or journals for this purpose.) The other method of fixing experience is to enlist the aid of a supernatural familiar, binding it. Such a familiar has no similarities to a Hermetic one - it serves purely as a mnemonic aid to retain XP as long as it lives.

Next time: The Maestro

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

The Maestro is a new form of Mythic Companion, an artist of immense power. They are turbulent, exciting people with strong temperaments. They are known as maestros, regardless of what their medium is, and no one knows what makes some people become touched by power. They have no ancestral link to explain it, unlike the Blood of Heroes. Some say it is the whim of the old gods or faeries, while others speculate that perhaps the Divine and Infernal are playing at some game beyond mortal understanding. Whatever the case, Maestros receive power by one of the four supernatural realms, and because their powers are often so similar, it's usually hard to tell which. Maestros receive for free either an affinity to learning Craft or Profession skills, a natural talent for inspiration or free expression or puissant skill at craft or profession skills. They decide which of the four realms empowers them, but they do not have the Gift and do not suffer its penalties. They may take Heroic Virtues and Flaws, much as the Blood of Heroes can, and all are susceptible to either Divine, Infernal or Faerie power.

Maestros can possess Hermetic Inclination in (Form), allowing them to study a single Hermetic Form out of Herbam, Imaginem, Mentem or Terram, which they may then express via their art. This allows them to improve their art by their magical knowledge and also to produce magical artwork, similar to Hermetic enchantments. Because they lack vis or any ability to use it, they imbue the enchantment by the force of their own fatigue and will. They and other artists may have Life-Linked Art, allowing them to wound themselves in order to spur their artistic visions on to ever greater quality. However, any artwork so improved is a permanent Arcane Connection to them.

The book then lists a number of important philosophers and scholars and their works, along with very brief biographies. Handy for an academic game. It also mentions three future scholars who will be very influential. The first is Albert Magnus, a Dominican who will teach in Paris but is currently only 20 and perhaps already studying. The second is Roger Bacon, a Franciscan who will teach at Oxford but who is currently age six. The last is Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican who will fully synthesize Aristotle's categories and Plato's universals with Christian theology, but who is five years away from even being born.

The End!

Choose: Choices are: Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal) or Hungary and Bulgaria (Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal).

Apr 28, 2013
Germany. I was always interested in the political situation of the place before Germany was fully unified into the country we know today.

Apr 28, 2007

Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952

Erebro posted:

Germany. I was always interested in the political situation of the place before Germany was fully unified into the country we know today.

Have a handy map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1648.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011



Example statutes include: Students must wear academic robes and not dress flamboyantly. Students may not bear arms. Students may not ride a horse to lectures. A student may not keep dogs as pets or affect other forms of noble behavior. Students must not gamble. A student must be in their residence by nightfall. Women may not enter student residences.

Forget mages. You could just play Animal House: Mythic Europe. And I love the rules for Muses and Maestros. I've always wanted to RP Dante.

Mar 30, 2012
There's a fresh recruitment thread just waiting for your toll-free call!

Another vote for Rhine Tribunal, btw.

Oct 10, 2007

Can you see that I am serious?
Fun Shoe

Count Chocula posted:

Forget mages. You could just play Animal House: Mythic Europe. And I love the rules for Muses and Maestros. I've always wanted to RP Dante.

If you're into history at all, it's fun going back and looking at some of the town/gown conflicts from this period. A shocking number were basically small battles in all but name, with people getting shot by crossbows and randomly lynched.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

Surveillance Technology

One of the big things in surveillance is Total Information Awareness, being aware of everything happening within your sphere of surveillance. Now, this is the end goal of every surveillance system and is the state of perfection of said system, but it is impossible. Nobody and nothing can be actively aware of everything at all times. Things will slip through the cracks, and something observed could take minutes or hours to notice even with AI and infomorph monitoring.

This means that just because you were seen doesn't mean you were noticed. If you can get out of dodge before your watcher can respond to what they've observed, you've got a good chance of getting away for good. If you're trying to go unnoticed, act fast, quiet, leave as many false trails and confusing records as possible, then burn any evidence you can that connect you to the act. If you're lucky, you could be on another planet under another name before they ever realize something happened.

Another advantage is the fact that even if you're being watched, it might not be by something that is useful to your watcher. A satellite view can be used to track your movements, but would totally miss out on anything you said or did beyond gross movement. A thermal camera can't pick out a design on the clothes you're wearing, and visible light is worthless if you turn off the light.

Sensor Types
Woohoo crazy future tech!

Visual Spectrum

Good old light! These detect what you can see with your normal human-type eyes. Cameras nowadays are so tiny they're almost impossible to see with the naked eye, and need a laser lens detector to find. They can record in 3D, and at resolutions, framerates, and magnification's that make our professional quality film cameras look like cellphones. A big strength is the ability to rewind and replay recorded footage at slower speeds, most useful for detecting micro-expressions and body language. Their biggest weakness is hyper-real holographic displays, but these can be detected by using non-visual detectors. Some types are:

  • Flat Camera System: Camera made up multiple super-small micro-lenses networked to a central CPU. Harder to detect with the naked eye, and able to cover any direction one of the lenses is pointed.

  • Networked Camera Systems: Often used by pilots and drivers, an AR connection can allow you to literally see around the next corner, or the next block.

  • Quantum Dot Camera-Displays: Almost undetectable, a Quantum Dot display can be “painted” onto a surface, turning it into a combination security camera and display. These are undetectable by lens-spotters.

  • Quantum Ghost Imaging: A high-tech type of recording found mostly in military and hazardous environment fields. Allows cameras to record clear images through fog, smoke, and dust.

  • Super-Wide Camera: Mostly found on aerial and orbital drones, allows recording of an area up to 300 square kilometers at a 0.1 meter resolution.
High Electromagnetic Spectrum

Often bundled with Visual cameras, these can see infrared, radio, and terahertz wavelengths, making them useful for low-light and low visibility environments.

  • Infrared: Heat, represented in visual color that can approximate standard vision. Most useful for low-light environments and tracking the heat-residue of another person. Precision thermal scans are used in lie-detection devices.

  • Terahertz: Used as a more portable and safe alternative to x-ray and gamma-ray sensors. Able to see through walls, clothing, and other materials. They are often used as security scanners, but cannot penetrate skin.

  • Active Radar: Only really used for traffic control and detecting things in space, as they are big, obvious, and have trouble detecting small or organic objects.

  • Quantum Radar: An advanced variant used for detecting hostiles in combat situations. They are higher resolution with similar range to a portable active radar system, and are able to create rough images through solid objects.
Low Electromagnetic Spectrum

Ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma-rays.

  • UV: Used in security-tagging. Many security systems, mainly anti-theft, paint a target with UV visible dye, making them easy to track.

  • X and Gamma Rays: Rarely used outside of security checkpoints due to health risks from radiation exposure. Able to see through almost anything with the right settings, they are used to detect contraband and to spot radiation leaks in space stations.
Audio Sensors

Microphones. They are as ubiquitous as visual-light cameras and input is often constantly compared to a database of “known sounds”. This allows quick detection of gunfire or yells for help inside a habitat. Sophisticated ones can isolate a single sound or conversation from surrounding noise, and laser microphones can listen to a closed room by detecting the vibration of glass or aerogel.

They are not as relied upon due to their ability to be fooled by recordings, and voice identification is difficult for biomorphs and impossible for synths.

Chem Sniffers

Used to detect explosives and weapons at security checkpoints, as well as to monitor toxic or dangerous substances in a habitat's air supply. Some are keyed to detect pheromones to locate hostile or nervous individuals for further scrutiny. There actually is a neat version of these, with bio-engineered plants designed to change color when a chemical is detected.

Biometric Sensors

Basically obsoleted outside the Jovian Republic due to the whole body-swapping thing. Gait analysis is still used though, as people naturally keep their same method of movement between morphs assuming a bipedal construction.

Smart Dust and Scout Nanoswarms

Pretty much any security system you want, but the microscopic flying robot version. Basically the “perfect” surveillance device.

Mesh Surveillance

Following data-trails and the like, particularly intercepting and scanning wireless transmissions.

Psi Surveillance

Some asyncs can read thoughts, but they are so rare and scattered that any widespread use is impractical. They are highly prized by covert-ops organizations though for targeted surveillance.

    Eclipse Phase Aside

    This is the first time we've had Asyncs and Psi mentioned, so I'll explain a bit more. Asyncs are people infected with the Watts-McLeod strain of the Exsurgency virus. This seemingly benign form gifts the infected with psychic abilities, which often come bundled with some form of mental illness. Asyncs are split into two rough categories depending on what powers, or “sleights” they are capable of using. Chi asyncs are limited to powers that affect themselves, changing and improving their mental and physical traits, while Gamma are powers that affect other people such as mind reading.

Misc. Other

  • Enviro Scanners: Habitat scanners that detect air content, gravity, tenperature, water quality, hull strain, and everything else you need to know to not die in space.

  • Lidar Systems: Able to make a hyper-detailed 3D map of an environment in real time and mark any changes in the area. Used in secure areas and major public areas.

  • Metal Detectors: Yep, just like at the airport. Still drat good way to find hidden knives and guns and such.

  • Nanodetectors: An air filter designed to detect the presence of nanobots. Found in high-security areas and custom entry points to protect against possible TITAN remnants.

  • Organic Sensors: Grown organic variants of everything above. Only found in biohabitats. Don't ask.

  • Pressure Sensors: Used to detect traffic patterns and the movements of heavy machinery.

  • Proximity Sensors: Detect if anything gets near them by detecting electrical fields.

Data Correlation

Now you got shittons of data from every-which-where, so do something with it. Putting all that disparate info together is a hard, long, and annoying task often carried out by trained professionals and advanced AIs. The correlation of so much data has resulted in some interesting uses:

  • Probability Mapping: Get enough info on someone or something and you can reasonably begin to predict what they're going to do on a normal day. People don't normally upset their routines in a major way, and with enough data the predictions made can be scary accurate.

  • Behavioral Psych: Being able to watch someone 24/7, or whatever counts as full time for your day/night cycle, is pretty drat useful for psychological research. Some habs have a full-time staff just dedicated to watching people and taking detailed case-notes.

  • Precog Systems: No, it isn't three teenagers in a hot-tub and no weird wooden-ball delivery system. It's using a combination of probability mapping and behavioral psych to predict crimes. Unlike Minority Report, people are never convicted with precog info alone. The most severe punishment is generally mandatory therapy or psychosurgery, though a warning or placing the suspect into protective custody is generally considered good enough.

Okay, I'd like to know if anybody is bored, and would like me to skip to some more “interesting” parts? This stuff is great for a GM running a spy/criminal/heist style campaign, but I don't want to bore you guys.

Next Time: Countersurveillance

Nov 10, 2012

Chapter 3 and Gifts

Sorry Alien Ant Farm!

The three great cosmic forces are the Wyld, Weaver and Wyrm, but the most powerful forces of all are Gaia’s love and compassion. :frog: It is these forces that are set against the evil anger, hatred, and spite of the Wyrm. Any division between people is the fault of the Wyrm. Gaia’s will is for all humanity to be united as one.

This battle is everywhere, even in the text of the Bible! Sometimes God is portrayed as loving, and sometimes not. The book of Deuteronomy is set against the Song of Solomon, and so on so forth. It’s not the accumulation of books written under different social
necessities; it’s good guys versus bad guys, way more interesting.

To illustrate the challenges of being the Children of Gaia, the narrators tell of a time when the United States government sent federal workers to relocate the American Indians. The Uktena requested that werewolves help defend the Indians from being forcibly marched for miles, a march that would result in hundreds, if not thousands dead. The Children of Gaia decided to send only a few packs to their aid, while the majority continued to side with the government. Now, they acknowledge this was a mistake, but they don’t feel too bad about it. After all, we only learn by making mistakes. What’s a few hundred dead Indians, eh?

The good news in the fight against the Wyrm is that its forces are divided between its own triat. The Defiler Wyrm spreads hate and weakness, which can even hinder the efforts of Eater of Souls and Beast of War. Eater of Souls spreads fear and hunger. It encourages over consumption and violence born out of fear. How do you fight against such evil? Loving Gaia, of course, “and the world shall magically transform before your eyes to a loving home overlowing with love and respect and friends who care for you.”

Think of the Eater of Souls as Mola Ram. Apologies to Alien Ant Farm

Beast of War is all about hate. It makes things really angry, and that’s bad. The Defiler makes sociopaths, and that’s also bad. The Defiler makes personal pleasure seem to be the most important thing in a human’s life, weakening their empathy. Worse yet, they target children, turning them into adult sociopaths. Eventually everyone on earth will be a sociopath and everyone will just start killing each other and everyone will die. Loving them should do the trick, I guess.

:drac:! Vampires are just the worst. They have no empathy, no souls, and no way to avoid degenerating into insanity. But, some Children of Gaia have managed to make them act slightly more human. They don’t explain how, so that’s that, then.

The worst thing vampires have done is ruin ankhs. Ankhs used to symbolize sexuality, with its ovals and crosses, but really because everything symbolizes sex to the Children of Gaia. Vampires turned ankhs to a symbol of the undead! But, it could be that they like ankhs so much because they secretly want to be redeemed! This is seriously the weirdest thing in this book!

Okay, this is the last one, I swear!

Most werewolves think vampires are of the Wyrm by default, but some want to be redeemed, even though they have no empathy. Even if they do awful things, they might still secretly really really want to become good people again. Still, don’t trust them, because at heart they’re terrible awful people. This is a good effort to inject some character doubt to the morality of killing vampires, but it doesn’t work because it’s in this book, which condemns all of the Middle East to constant warfare.

:smugwizard:! Wizards, are, well, smug. Sometimes they work towards pagan ends and practice good spirituality, other times they just want to see the world burn. Verbena are witchy which is cool, the Celestial Chorus worships Gaia, the Akashic Brotherhood are secretly Children of Gaia (whatever), Dreamspeakers chill with the Children all the time, and the Virtual Adepts are pretty open about allowing werewolves to explore cyberspace. But, the best Tradition of all is the Cult of Ecstasy, because they love getting high, and getting high is of Gaia.

:orks:! They’re living magic! They can be allies, but also enemies! Be friendly, but not too friendly. Honestly, if you wanted to invoke a sense of uncertainty to these guys, you shouldn’t have mentioned them at all.

:ghost:! They’re the worst. They’re all mopey and sad and they harsh our mellow. Kill them. Kill them all. (Or, whatever you do with a ghost, I guess.)

The Children of Gaia focus their numbers in war torn areas. They also party in Switzerland, where they can teach peace to peaceniks. They facilitate adopting Russian babies. They’re most populous in the United States. They have plans to move into the Balkans so that the Shadow Lords stop helping their kin carry out genocides.

And with that, our Rite of Passage is over! Just remember, you can make a difference every day. :thumbsup:

I miss SCAR already. :v:

Mechanics are stuck into the back, like an embarrassing secret. First up is the optional tribe weakness. Under the tribe weakness rule, Children of Gaia provoke less severe Delirium (in short, if a werewolf shapeshifts in front of a normal human, the human is likely to go batshit and forget the whole thing). Pretty lame.

Gifts! From the corebook Level 1 Gifts, we have Mercy, which downgrades your natural attack damage to bashing. Kind of sets the tone, doesn’t it? Mother’s Touch heals, and Resist Pain does just that. Right away, these Gifts really set the Children of Gaia’s program in motion.

W20 has Jam Weapon which disables all weapons within earshot of the werewolf(!). If you use rocks or sticks, it won’t work, but even swords or knives will refuse to cut. I can just imagine the arguments at the table whether a spear is sufficiently natural to escape this Gift. Brother’s Scent gives the werewolf complete anonymity, so that nobody specifically on guard will notice the werewolf. Even if you’re naked, bloody, and holding a giant sword. These are also appropriate to the Children of Gaia, but I’ll leave it as an exercise to you as to which ones anyone would actually take.

Core Level 2 Gifts include Calm which takes away RAGE from a single target. If the target doesn’t have RAGE but can still frenzy (i.e. vampires), this Gift ends a frenzy. Luna’s Armor buffs soak. W20 adds Unicorn’s Arsenal which makes your claws and teeth all glowy. When these natural weapons attack an opponent, the opponent loses 2 dice from all attack rolls against you during the rest of the battle. Para Bellum is a little bit weird. It can only be invoked when somebody else starts a fight with your pack. It gives your pack additional dice in all Strength and Dexterity rolls for the whole fight. Children of Gaia don’t start fights, but they can definitely end them.

You know how you'd turn in the same paper for two different classes in college? Kane's made an entire career of that.

The tribebook doesn’t have any Level 1 Gifts, but it does have a few for Level 2. Grandmother’s Touch (kept for W20) is the same as Mother’s Touch, but can be used on yourself! It’s an essential gift, but also not very compelling. Spellbinding Oration lowers the difficulty of Social rolls. Also pretty boring. Both of these Gifts are taught by unicorns.

On to Level 3. The core has Dazzle which paralyzes people with feelings of awe and love. It doesn’t really work on things without emotions or spirits of hate. Spirit Friend gives you more dice when talking to spirits. W20 removes this restriction, which I actually think is to its detriment. It’s kind of like how grogs hate the ability to trip oozes in 4th edition, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

Speaking of W20, it brings Lover’s Touch, which can heal wounds or add Willpower or Essence (to a spirit). It can even suppress derangements. The text explicitly states that you do not need to actually be lovers to use this Gift, nor is it used exclusively through sex. The user does have to have a personal connection to the target, pals at minimum. It does require giving the target a friendly pat on the back at the very least.

Interesting side note! These Gifts were updated for W20 by Holden Shearer, who’s currently working on Exalted Third Edition. If you haven’t been following that thread, there was recently some controversy over the inclusion of explicitly sexual charms, many which were rape-y, at the very least. All of these charms required sex, and some created ghosts to be used exclusively for continuing sex. That Holden understood that requiring sex for powers is bad in W20 is either encouraging for Exalted, or really sad.

The tribebook only has one Level 3 Gift: Good Faith. It creates an aura of goodwill and cooperation. Anyone who tries resisting the call to calmly discuss things in good faith will suffer uncontrollable flatulence. Yes, this is a Gift for making mean conservatives fart. Nineties Werewolf, everybody! It’s taught by the New World Trinity, who we’ll get to.

At Level 4, Children of Gaia can take Beast Life, which calls a whole bunch of critters to your aid (unless the critters could be hurt), and Strike the Air, which allows you to perfectly dodge every attack an opponent makes until you attack back. It can be used on multiple opponents, but since it requires a Willpower per target, it isn’t that feasible. W20 has Serenity, which causes an opponent to fail any and all Rage rolls. Uncaught since the Primal Moon is basically Expeditious Retreat. A common thread running through the core Gifts is that they are all awesome and really flexible. Serenity can be used to stop a frenzy as well as give your enemies a huge debuff, for instance.

Level 5 brings Halo of the Sun which scares Wyrm creatures, blinds foes, debuffs all attacks within a certain radius, adds dice to your attacks, AND deals true sun damage to vampires. The Living Wood brings a bunch of trees to life to fight for you. These trees can have a strength of up to 15, but I think 10 would be the average. These Gifts are so awesome that W20 retains them without change.

The tribebook’s Level 5 gift is Trust of Gaia which forces anyone you speak to to trust you completely. Not even mind control can override this, partially because this is mind control. Basically this is Charm Person, and as a pinnacle of power, it’s kind underwhelming.

Next time: Rites, totems, characters, and post mortem

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011

Cynical-Pop Meikyuu Kingdom Dungeon Theater

Chapter 2.5: Gainful Employment

Jobs! Everybody's got (at least) one! But I already explained all that. So what do you get out of them?

    Ability: Permanent +1 bonus to the Job's primary stat.
    Skill Groups: Whenever you gain a Level, you choose a new Skill, either from your Class or one of your Job's available Skill Groups.
    Equipment: A couple of items to start your Landmaking career.
    Prodigy Effect: Prodigies are a special type of Citizen, representing people who possess some singular ability or demonstrate exceptional skill in their profession. Any Prodigy who has stayed in the Kingdom for at least one full game may be tapped at will by the Court for their "Prodigy Effect", which generally amounts to an extra Skill. The number of Prodigy Effects that may be activated over the course of a game is capped by the Kingdom's Cultural Level.
    Job Skill: Some unique ability you picked up from your pre-Landmaking years. Obtained free at character creation and only ever lost if you change Jobs somehow.

Enough with that list. On with the list!


I know why the caged star sings...

In the Million Dungeons, Astrologists don't just read stars, they converse with them. Somehow, this allows them to influence the weather and improve agricultural harvests, because "star" seems to mean something different in this game than it does in your average dictionary. For one thing, they're apparently sentient. :psyduck:

    Ability: Charisma
    Skill Groups: Astrology
    Equipment: Star Fragment x2
    Prodigy Effect: (Aid) This ability can only be used if your Kingdom has a {Farm}. Increase your Kingdom's Budget by 1 MG.

    Voice of the Stars - (Permanent, Self) - no Check
    You may count each individual Star Fragment in your inventory as additional <Staff> or <Hope>. These Star Fragments do not count towards your maximum <Staff> or <Capacity>. You may treat this Skill as an Astrology Skill.


cuteness supremacy

Astrology, Summoning and Science are collectively referred to as "the Three Great Magics". Magicians dabble a bit in all three. However, since the Dungeon Hazard is widely believed to have been caused by an ancient magical experiment gone wrong, the practice of magic is frowned upon in many kingdoms and even actively oppressed in others. Recent generations have begun to shake off this prejudice, however, and it's no longer quite so unusual to find open practitioners holding office.

    Ability: Wit
    Skill Groups: Astrology, Summoning, Science
    Equipment: Grimoire
    Prodigy Effect: (Permanent) When Information Gathering during the Kingdom Phase, add 1 to the AV.

    Ritual - (Support, Single) - (Wit) / 9
    Select any 1 non-Permanent Skill known by a character with whom you have at least 1 point of Empathy. On a successful Check, you learn this Skill temporarily. Any time afterward, you can use its effect as printed by spending 1 <Hope>. Skills learned in this way are forgotten after one use, or replaced when learning a new one.


"Kingdom Hearts is light!"

Transport matter across great distances through the use of key-shaped implements called "Unchains". Cool, huh?

    Ability: Charisma
    Skill Groups: Summoning
    Equipment: Familiar
    Prodigy Effect: (Aid) Can be used at any time. Randomly select a Rare Item category, and then an Item within that category. The GM must then place the generated Item in a randomly chosen room in the current adventure map (hidden from the PCs, of course). The first PC to make a successful Search Check in that room acquires the Item.

    Minor Shift - (Support, Single) - (Charisma) / target's Level + 7
    While in combat, select any 1 Character. On a successful Check, you can spend 1 (Hope) to move that Character to an Area of your choosing.


"Remember, I know more than you."

Of the Three Great Magics, Science is a relatively new arrival. Adherents preach rationalism and experimentation above all, huffily disdaining any "fluctuations" which they cannot presently explain... such as Astrology, Summoning, or the Dungeon Hazard. Still, the advent of Science has advanced the understanding of more mundane matters considerably in recent years, making it the fastest growing of the Great Magics.

    Ability: Wit
    Skill Groups: Science
    Equipment: Glasses, Trap Encyclopedia
    Prodigy Effect: (Plan) During your Kingdom Phase, you may change this Prodigy's Job to that of one of the PCs or that
    of one of your other Prodigies. If you do, then change his Prodigy Effect to that of the new Job as well.

    Monsterology - (Support, Court) - (Wit) / 9
    While in combat, select any 1 Monster on the Battlefield, and make the check above. On a success, every Character in your Court gains a +1 bonus to their Hit Checks and Weapon Strength when targeting that Monster. This effect does not stack.


"Show us where it hurts, dearie."

Doctors, basically. This is one of those professions that's been helped out immensely by the aforementioned rise of Science, and life expectancy is the highest it's been probably since the Dungeon Hazard. There's some friction with Priests, though, as they tend to think of healing as their job.

    Ability: Wit
    Skill Groups: Science, Item
    Equipment: Stretcher, First-aid Kit
    Prodigy Effect: (Permanent) During the Ending Phase, before the Round-Table, you may recover 1D6 lost <Citizens>.

    Field Doctor - (Interrupt, Court) - no Check
    You may use this skill at the end of combat. Spend 1 <Hope> and recover 1d6 <Staff> lost in the battle.


"Ah do declayah!"

Descended from a noble bloodline, your "job" boils down to "being alive", which tends to make you unpopular in smaller kingdoms where time is measured in harvests and everyone lives three-to-a-room. Still, someone's got to keep a touch of class about the place, don't they?

    Ability: Charisma
    Skill Groups: Negotiation, Performance
    Equipment: Outfit, Full Course
    Prodigy Effect: (Permanent) Your Kingdom's (Cultural Level) is increased by 1.

    Noblesse Oblige - (Permanent, Self) - no Check
    While in combat, your (Valor) is equal to the number of Characters in the same Area with whom you have at least 1 point of <Sympathy>.



Yep. Eunuchs. Advisers and government officials, they willingly have their testicles removed in order to remove the physical distraction of sex from their largely intellectual duties, like a more drastic take on the Mentats from Dune. The flavor text specifies that the process of removal is dangerous, and the possibility of restoration is slim, yet somehow young men are still lining up for the position. Also, there's nothing rules-as-written about gender exclusion, so female Eunuchs are entirely possible. How that works out, I don't even want to know.

    Ability: Wit
    Skill Groups: Convenience, Negotiation
    Equipment: Golden Snacks, Watch
    Prodigy Effect: (Aid) One Character of your choice gains 1 <Antipathy> towards a randomly chosen Character.

    Conspiracy - (Permanent, Self) - no Check
    When a Character with whom you have at least 1 point of <Antipathy> fails an Action Check, you may spend 1 <Hope> to make the failure a Total Failure.



Fighter-types who love to fight. You guys can fill it in from there, I'm sure.

    Ability: Valor
    Skill Groups: Hand-to-hand, Shooting
    Equipment: Greatsword
    Prodigy Effect: (Permanent) Your Kingdom's (Military) is increased by 1.

    Blade Opera - (Aid, Self) - no Check
    You may combine this skill with an attack. Spend 1 Hope, then select a number of Characters up to your own (Valor) and roll to hit. Any of the chosen characters whose Evasion is lower than your to-hit roll take damage as from a normal attack.


"That back molar is going to have to come out."

Sometimes, you have to get a little barbaric in order to keep things civilized. Whether they're put to active use or just told to stand there and radiate menace, keeping an Executioner around tends to reinforce the peoples' loyalty to their rulers. The flavor text also mentions some common execution methods in the Million Dungeons, such as portable guillotines for justice on the go.

    Ability: Valor
    Skill Groups: Hand-to-hand, Negotiation
    Equipment: Battle Axe, Instrument of Torture
    Prodigy Effect: (Permanent) At the beginning of the game, add 1 to your <Vox Populi>.

    Headhunt - (Aid, Self) - no Check
    You may use this Skill after making a successful attack on another character in your area. Spend as many <Drive> as you like, then roll that many dice. If even one comes up as 6, then the enemy you attacked is immediately reduced to 0 HP.

That's about half of them. Next time: the rest! I can't wait!


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ars Magica 5th Edition: Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal

Our history of Germany begins in myth. The god Tuisto was born of the soil, and his son Mannus, from whose name comes the word 'man', fathered three sons. These sons were the fathers of the German tribes: the coastal Ingaevones, the interior Herminones and the fierce Istaevones. These people worshipped many gods in the forests of Germany, and the writer Tacitus tells us they were brave, honest and hospitable, yet also greedy, uncouth drunkards. Speaking of Tacitus, let's talk about Rome. At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from the Great Western Sea to the Rhine river, and from the Mediterranean Sea the Danube. In the first century AD, the emperor Domitian had a line of fortifications built to close the angle between the two rivers, the limes, which went from what would become Remagen on the Rhine to Abusina, upstream of what would become Regensburg on the Danube. The Rhine was a great trade route as well as a protective line for the western lands, the provinces Germania Superior and Germania Inferior. There were many Roman cities along its banks, which would become Cologne, Bonn, Trier and Mainz.

Within these cities, the Cult of Mercury worked to secure the border by magic, trying to restrain the wild lands. Meanwhile, the Cult of Diana went in secret into the interior, where they found the tribes that Tacitus named the Germans. They had no towns, just camps they could easily abandon. They worshipped the gods Vodans (or Woden), Thunrs (or Thunors), Tius and Fria, and the priests of Diana found that the German priests, like them, knew magic, able to take on the characteristics of the gods, shapeshift and, in dire need, take on the powers of the gods. The Cult of Diana built temples and learned the ways of the German priests, absorbing the cult of the Mother Goddess Fria into their own faith. There were also the tempestarii, the wind-witches, who could command the weather. The shapeshifters can still be found in Pomerania, but the wind-witches are largely gone outside for a line of weather-magi in House Ex Miscellanea.

In any case, the first major event that we'll talk about is the Volkerwanderung, the Great Migration. It was no sudden thing, for the German tribes had been heading south and west for many years. In about the 4th century, the Goths came, heading through Germany and on via Hungary and Italy towards Gaul and Iberia. The Vandals of Prussia headed on to northern Italy and the Burgundians on to the land that still bears their name, Burgundy. The Alemanni of southern Germany crossed the Rhine towards Gaul, and the Saxons, Jutes and Angles headed from the coast of Jutland (that is, Denmark) to the British Isles. The most dramatic of these movements, though, was in the 5th century, when the Mongolian Huns came under Attila and rode across Hungary into Gaul before eventually being driven back at the battle of Chalons by the armies of Merovech and the Roman general Aetius. The Slavs, meanwhile, headed into the basins of the rivers Vistula and Oder, which the German tribes had left. By 600 AD, the western movements of the Germans and Slavs came to an end, and in the land of the Rhine, between the Slavs and the old Roman frontiers, there now lived the Saxons, Swabians, Frisians and Bavarians.

The first dynasty of the Frankish empire, the Merovingians, descended from Merovech, a potent 5th century chieftain and wizard. His mother was descended from the House of David, King of the Jews, and was pregnant by Merovech's father Clodio when she went swimming in the ocean and was seduced and impregnated again by the Neptunian beast the Quinotaur. Thus did Merovech have two fathers, and had magic in his blood. In the early 6th century, his grandson Clovis was the first of the Merovingian line to be baptised, converted to Christianity by his wife, Saint Clotilda. Clovis united the Franks in a great campaign against the Visigoths, Romans and Burgundians. The Merovingian kings were blessed with grace. So long as they did not cut their hair, they were invincible in battle, could heal by laying on hands, could make crops grow by walking across the fields and could read the future in the calls of beasts. It is said that Clovis revealed the Holy Grail, brought to Gaul in the 1st century by Mary Magdalene. However, the Merovingians fell from grace when Clovis' grandsons, Sigebert and Chilperic, fought each other and divided the kingdom. They became corrupted, losing their powers and the Grail, and so the Merovingians faded away as the Carolingians rose to power.

Charlemagne, named Karl der Grosse in German, was by any standard one of the greatest figures in German history. From his palace in Aachen, he ruled over all directions, into France, Italy and Germany. With Charlemagne, the undoing of the Great Migration began. He carried his Frankish, Christian rule east, along with his Celtic-Roman scholarship, into the Saxons and other German people of the northern plain. With three campaigns, he marched to the Elbe and Danube, taking his bishops and teachers with him. In a few short years, he had utterly changed northern Germany. Where once had been simple heathen settlements were now the towns of Hamburg, Munster, Osnabruck, Paderborn, Minden, Bremen, Verden, Hildesheim and Halberstadt. On Christmas Day of 800 AD, while visiting Rome, Charlemagne was crowned with the Imperial Crown, proclaimed successor to the Roman Empire. He actually wasn't happy about that, but he clearly fit the role. By 814, his rule was all that was south and west of the Elbe, including Bavaria.

When Charlemagne died, however, there were problems. The Church wanted primogeniture, to maintain the empire, yet it was Frankish tradition to divide the father's land between all sons, and his family wanted to do so. Briefly, his son Louis the Pious reigned alone, ceaselessly troubled by his own children. When he died, the Frankish tradition won out, and in 843, a treaty was signed in Verdun, dividing the empire between the three sons of Louis. The western Frankish land went to Charles the Bald. The eastern Franks went to Louis the German. And the eldest son, Lothar, gained the imperial title and the strip of land between the two others, heading on down as far as Italy.

We are now going to take a brief detour into the Nibelungenlied, the great tale of the Burgundians of the city of Worms in the 5th century. By 1220, the tale has been immortalized in a very popular epic poem. Our tale begins with Siegfried, a knight of Xanten, who heard of the great beauty of Kriemhild, sister to the Burgundian king Gunther. He heads to Worms to woo her, but only Hagen, the most potent vassal of Gunther, recognizes him when he arrives. Hagen tells of his heroic deeds: Siegfried first won a great treasure from the brothers Schilbung and Nibelung by killing them. He took the cloak of darkness, Tarnkappe, from their dwarven treasurer, Alberich, and rose to rule the Nibelungland. Siegfried then killed the dragon Fafnir and bathed in his blood, becoming invulnerable to harm (save for one spot, between the shoulder blades, where a leaf had rested on his skin as he soaked in dragon blood).

Naturally, King Gunther is quite impressed and allows Siegfried to marry Kriemhild on condition that he helps Gunther gain the hand of Brunhild, the legendarily powerful queen of Iceland. Siegfried agrees, and they head on to Iceland, but Brunhild is disappointed that it is Gunther, not Siegfried, who seeks her hand. Still, she agrees to marry Gunther if he can best her in three contests of strength. By using Tarnkappe, Siegfried is able to substitute for Gunther and deceive Brunhild into believing Gunther defeated her. Returning to Worms, the two men hold a double marriage, and only Brunhild is unhappy, for she loves Siegfried. Gunther's marriage immediately is beset by difficulties when his wife overpowers him on the wedding night and hangs him on the wall. Siegfried again comes to help, restraining Brunhild so that the marriage can be, uh, consummated.


Look, I don't get to choose what the actual Nibelungenlied says. Anyway, Brunhild loses her great strength, for it depended on her maidenhood. However, Siegfried also takes her belt and girdle, presenting them as gifts to Kriemhild. He then returns home with his wife, where he becomes king of the Netherlands and lives happily for ten years. In Worms, Brunhild remains unhappily married to Gunther, unaware of how he cheated to win her hand. Siegfried and Kriemhild return for a festival, and while Gunther treats Siegfried as an equal, Brunhild believes him to be a vassal and treats Kriemhild as an inferior, leading to quarrel. Kriemhild claims her husband is braver and stronger than Gunther, thus revealing the deception of who had truly defeated Brunhild and claiming (wrongly) that it was Siegfried who took Brunhild's virginity, revealing the belt and girdle. Brunhild, mortally embarrassed, gives Gunther no choice but to confront Siegfried, who swears he never claimed to be Brunhild's first man, which Gunther accepts.

Brunhild conspires with the jealous Hagen to kill Siegfried, and Hagen persuades reluctant Gunther to help. He then deceives Kriemhild and learns Siegfried's sole weakness. Hagen then goes on a hunt with Siegfried in the Odenwald and challenges him to a race. As Siegfried then quenches his thirst at a spring, Hagen thrusts his javelin between Siegfried's shoulder blades, slaying him in his weak spot. Kriemhild is inconsolable, and at the funeral, as Hagen and Gunther pass the bier, Siegfried's wounds flow anew, revealing them as traitors.

Kriemhild remains at Worms, and in three years she is reconciled with Gunther, who persuades her to bring the Nibelung treasure to Burgundy, to which she has the right as Siegfried's widow. Thus, she becomes fabulously wealthy, but her acts of generosity displease Hagen, who fears she will use her money to raise an army against him. He steals the treasure, preventing Kriemhild from taking it by sinking it in the Rhine. Gunther does not punish Hagen, and apart from Hagen, only Gunther and his brothers know where the treasure is. Some years later, Etzel (that is, Attila), King of the Huns, seeks the hand of Kriemhild, for she is still the most beautiful woman in all the world. She is reluctant to marry a heathen and still mourns Siegfried, yet sees the marriage as a chance for revenge on Hagen. Etzel and Kriemhild marry in Vienna and travel to Etzelnburg, Etzel's capital in Hungary.

Kriemhild wins the trust of her husband's vassals, then invites her brothers to a festival in Hungary, knowing Hagen will come. Hagen persuades Gunther to take an army of a thousand men, however. In crossing the Danube, Hagen meets water sprites who tell him to turn back, foretelling that all, save one priest, will die. Hagen attempts to disprove the prophecy by murdering the priest, but he fails, and the priest escapes. Gunther and Hagen arrive in Etzel's court, but are met coldly by Kriemhild. After a day, the fighting begins, and many Huns die. Gunther allows Kriemhild and Etzel to leave the hall with his vassal Dietrich of Bern. Hagen, however, foolishly taunts Etzel and the battle begins again. Dietrich manages to overpower Gunther and Hagen, capturing them, but offers them safe return to their home. Kriemhild, though, confronts Hagen and demands the return of Siegfried's treasure. He mocks her, so she has Gunther beheaded and asks Hagen again for its location after showing him the head. When he refuses, she takes the sword Balmung, which Siegfried had wielded, and decaptitates Hagen. On finding the bodies, Dietrich's man-at-arms, Hildebrand, retaliates by killing Kriemhild. The tale ends in tragedy, and the treasure of the Nibelungs remains lost.

Anyway, moving on. While the heirs of Louis the German were in theory rulers of the united tribes of the Saxons, Swabians, Bavarians, Burgundians and eastern Franks (called Franconians), they were only willing to acknowledge nominal kings who did not interfere in their affairs. In the meantime, western Christendom was harried by enemies on all sides, with the Muslims of Spain raiding the shores of Italy and the northern coasts ravaged by the Northmen and Danes. Then came the Magyars. It was the Magyars that united Germany for a time under Henry the Fowler, duke of the Saxons, who took the German crown in 919. In the battle of Riade on the river Unstrut in 933, he defeated the Magyars, and earned so much prestige in the doing that he gained the consent of the other tribes to obey his son Otto on his death. The kingship was by no means hereditary, but self-preservation made the Germanic tribes see the wisdom of it. Otto was crowned at Aachen in 936, and justified his election by defeating the Magyars again at the Battle of the Lech in Bavaria in 955. The imperial coronation of Otto I in Rome in 962 served to legitimize his vast power, and the German kings, henceforth known as Emperors, became firmly entangled in Italian politics.

Next time: The Holy Roman Empire

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