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DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




Now seems like a good time to discuss Acererak's plan.
Return to the TOMB OF HORRORS Part 7.5: I love it when a plan comes together!

So Acererak is old. Very, very, very old. He was an apprentice of Vecna when Vecna was alive (or undead, maybe, but still farting around on Earth Earf Oerth.
Acererak is very smart. If you were to, say, arbitrarily assign his intelligence a numerical value on a scale of 1-18, it would be 20. Watching adventurers burned, poisoned, impaled, annihilated, crushed, turned to green slime etc. was probably pretty entertaining for the first three thousand years, but the novelty's worn off. Plus his old master is now a God, and Acererak wants a piece of that pie. Not just divinity, though. He played second fiddle to Vecna for centuries, now to do it for eternity? No thanks.

Acererak wants to be more.

So he came up with a plan. A really, really horrifying, awful plan. Acererak has found a way, through the EXTREME expenditure of arcane energy, the sacrifice of literally thousands of souls of peerless quality, and magic unknown to anyone else, to bind his very essence with the Negative Energy Plane. If he were to be successful, he would merge with the plane entirely. Not even a perfectly worded wish would extract him. From there, his power would be godlike; all undead everywhere take their energy from the Negative Energy Plane, and so Acererak would be able to directly control any undead on any plane at any time. Any of them. Anywhere. Combine that with complete and true immortality beyond even that of the Powers (because the field of Dead Gods in the Astral points to their "mortality," even if it's not like ours) and nigh-infinite magical energy, and there'd be almost nothing beyond his reach.

Acererak's already partway through this plan (called the Apotheosis). He can directly control any of the undead under his command, hopping from body to body at will. He can control a demilich skull (of which he has more than one) just as easily as a humble skeleton-- and while the skeleton doesn't have "immune to nearly everything" listed under special defenses like the demilich skull, it DOES have access to all of Acererak's spells. Which, let's recall, include wish.

The Dark Intrusion is a side effect of this process, and a wholly unintended (but welcome) one.

So Acererak's goal is to collect the last few souls. The souls he needs now have to be of EXTREMELY high quality-- that is, they have to come from high-level PCs. He can't just soulsuck a bunch of 0th-level NPCs and call it a day. The TOMB OF HORRORS, the city of Moil, and the Fortress of Conclusion serve as a sort of sieve, killing any PCs who can't hack it and leaving only the toughest. Acererak's biggest flaw is his arrogance-- he's confident that any PCs who make it through all three can be defeated by him personally. He is an incredibly dangerous mage with extremely well-prepared defenses, so he's probably right, but that's the only hope left.

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Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


That is... actually a surprisingly sane and cool master plan for a world-threatening villain to have. Not what I was expecting at all.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




Lemon Curdistan posted:

That is... actually a surprisingly sane and cool master plan for a world-threatening villain to have. Not what I was expecting at all.

There's a reason I picked this adventure. A lot of modules cashing in on the well-known names of old modules are kind of "this, but again" but RToH actually has a really competent and well-sketched out metaplot. Like I said, there's tons of notation of what's going on the background of all of the neat places the PCs explore, so you can actually wing it easily if they get off track and the whole thing hangs together really well. Plus there's sooooo much new stuff; the TOMB OF HORRORS is one thing, but Moil has a real explicit "test" vibe to it, and is personally one of my favorite set pieces ever. I really, really want to use Moil next time I GM a fantasy game. The Fortress of Conclusion is really wacky, it's like TOMB OF HORRORS redux; lots of callbacks, it's like the old TOMB OF HORRORS kind of mixed up with a lot of cool new elements and turned a bit on its head.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: 2ND EDITION - The Complete Psionics Handbook
Chapter 8 - METAPSIONIC SCIENCES AND DEVOTIONS OR ARGUABLY, THE BEST WAY TO PLAY A PSIONICIST IS TO ROLL AS ANY OTHER CLASS AND GET LUCKY ON THE WILD TALENT CHART

The final chapter that contains psionic powers, chapter 8 is loosely based around powers that make your existing powers better in some way. It's debatable whether or not this goal is accomplished, because half of the powers in this chapter just function on their own without relation to your other abilities, and the ones that do modify your other powers usually cost an obscene number of PSPs to activate; my guess is that this was a way to discourage low level characters from taking powers that they wouldn't even be able to activate, but trying to make these modifying abilities equivalent to the other powers just smacks of bad game design to me. Hey, it's like I've discovered the running theme of this entire supplement!


SCIENCES:

Appraise - You get to play Mother May I? with your DM and attempt to get him or her to reveal a portion of the plot of the adventure you're currently playing. The power flat out says that a single person can't possibly comprehend all of the various possibilities and threads of fate and unintended consequences that are attached to any given action, and tells the DM to be as vague or misleading as they want, even if the psionicist seems like they've worded their intended question as tightly as possible. Why this wasn't put in with the Clairsentient powers I have no idea.

Aura Alteration - You can mask a given character's alignment for d6 hours. There's no maintenance cost and it only requires 10 PSPs to manifest. I'm not really sure why this was given placement in the Science tier of power when it would have worked just as well as a Devotion; the utility of this ability is of dubious use as well.

Empower - This power lets you make psionic weapons and armor and items. It's the psionic version of crafting magic equipment.

Psychic Clone - This power causes the psionicist to fall into a deep coma and manifest a psychic clone that can see and hear whatever is around, and for reasons only known to Steve Winter, the comatose psionicist keeps their sense of touch, smell and taste. What the heck is the deal with Steve and his obsession with the sense of taste? The clone can hover around and do everything the psionicist could do, but it's also completely indestructible and immune to damage, except for psionics or mental attacks. Basically this power is of marginal usefulness if your psionicist is a special snowflake in the campaign, but of considerably less usefulness if the DM populates the rest of the world with other psionicists or psionic empowered monsters.

Psionic Surgery - Either cure existing mental trauma (marginally useful if you're playing in the Ravenloft setting maybe) or allow a character to roll for wild psychic powers. Remember that in AD&D if your character rolled a random power and got, say, disintegrate, you also automatically are given all necessary powers that would normally be required to access disintegrate as well as enough PSPs to manifest each of those powers once a day. Potentially the best way to play a psionic character is to play a cleric or wizard and roll well on the wild power chart.

:siren:Split Personality - This power requires several pre-requisite powers and also requires the psionicist to be 10th level (or roll very well on the wild power chart) but it's pretty much worth it. With this power, your psionicist can perform two actions at once, or perform two different actions in the same combat round. Definitely one of the most powerful sciences from a mechanics perspective (if not the most powerful). Anything that lets you gently caress with the action economy in a turn based game is automatically amazing and worth taking (see also: any game where the number of combat actions your character receives is linked to a stat that can be intentionally manipulated by the player). The initial cost of 40 PSPs isn't going to be a huge deal for a 10th level psionicist, and the meager 6 PSP/round maintenance cost means every 10th level psionicist can run this power for basically every combat scenario (and realistically should).

Ultrablast - Unleash a psychic scream that stuns everyone else for 2d6 turns if they fail a save vs. paralyzation and also drains all the PSPs of any enemy psionicist that are affected. Also if you fail the power check when manifesting this power, you immediately go into a coma for d10 days! If you critically fail the power check, you DIE! A power that replicates the first level Wizard spell sleep is totally worth the risk of spontaneously dropping comatose (or dying!) during combat. Why wouldn't you want the power with ULTRA in the name? It's not like there's another power that allows you to act twice in every combat round.


DEVOTIONS

Cannibalize - Trade temporary CON damage for more PSPs at the rate of 1 CON : 8 PSP. The power doesn't cost anything to manifest so maybe it could be useful if you were somehow in a position where you were out of PSPs but had a surplus of hit points and needed to teleport home immediately or something.

:siren:Convergence - Ostensibly, this power allows psionicists to combine their powers Captain Planet style and manifest more powerful psionic attack or defense modes. However, RAW this power is way more useful than Steve Winters intended:

The Complete Psionics Handbook posted:

. . . If one participant knows a power, now anyone in the [linked group] can use it.
This is awesome because there's no follow up language about how leaving the convergence causes a psionicist to lose access to powers he or she did not originally have access to. So, once you reach level four (pre-req for this power) there's absolutely no reason that every psionicist in the game world couldn't come together to link up with each other so that everyone could have access to every power. Big sweaty psionic orgies where bald noggins rub together in psychic bliss as they share all of their accumulated knowledge like so many STDs.

Enhancement - Manifest this power right after you manifest another power to give yourself a two point bonus to further attempts to manifest powers within the same school. Note that this power requires a 6th level psionicist, while learning every psychic power ever only requires that you attain 4th level.

Gird - Maintain any power without having to think about it just by spending TWICE the usual number of PSPs. This is supposedly useful so that a psionicist can continue to manifest his enlarge-ed dong while he sleeps or whatever, but the power specifically says that you continue to burn PSPs on a power you gird regardless of what other activities you're doing and that sleeping while gird-ing doesn't let you restore PSPs, so this seems like a complete prank power if I ever saw one.

Intensify - Raise CON, INT, or WIS, by one point by reducing the other two by two points. The stat that is increased is only treated as increased with regards to manifesting psionic powers, while the two stats that are decreased are decreased with regards to everything (loss of HP, etc.). Sure, okay, this is a great deal.

Magnify & Prolapse - Precursors to 3.X spell caster meta-magic in that they allow you to double the damge or range or duration of another power as long as you spend 25x the number of required PSPs. There is no way that any math was involved to see whether a 2500% increase in casting cost was worth dealing a few more d6s worth of damage.

Psionic Inflation - Make an area of mental static that causes every other psionicist to pay twice the number of PSPs to manifest a power within your zone. Not an altogether terrible power, but its usefulness is going to depend heavily on how common psionics are in your DM's campaign.

Splice - You can try to manifest any number of psionic powers simultaneously. You have to succeed at way too many rolls and pay way too many power points to make this viable if you try to manifest more than two powers, and at that point you should be using split personality to achieve the same effect for way less effort. If you fail the power check for any of the powers you're trying to manifest, you lose all of them! Fail the fifth of five rolls, when the first four were successful? Sucks to be you!

Wrench - You force a creature that exists on two planes simultaneously to exist only on one of your choice. You could force a creature like a ghost that exists on the ethereal and prime material to only be on the prime material, which might make it easier to kill in combat. On the other hand, this power requires continuous maintenance to use, so you're probably better off just getting a +1 sword or whatever.


IN CONCLUSION - It's good to know the Metapsionic School is just as schizophrenic as every other school. You've got some thoroughly underwhelming powers like gird next to heavy hitters like convergence or split personality, further cementing my belief that absolutely zero play test time was put into this product. In this case, the good powers outweigh the bad by miles (and are likely among the best powers in the entire supplement) but the whole thing still reeks of being an unedited, untested play test doc that somehow got professionally published.

On the other hand, there's only one chapter left! Chapter 9 is the wrap up chapter that attempts to give DMs advice on how to run psionics in their campaigns and provides some sample psionic monsters. Will it be just as underwhelming as the other eight chapters? Is a psionicist completely outclassed by a wizard or cleric of lower level?

NEXT TIME: CHAPTER 9 - A PSIONICS CAMPAIGN OR BAD ADVICE FOR DUMB PEOPLE

Synthbuttrange
May 6, 2007



Out of everything that's been posted in the last few pages, the fact that Femforce is still being published is the only one that caused me to go 'Bullshit!'

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

The wording I have here for Ultrablast implies that psis who fail both saves either lose access to their powers, or lose all their PSPs and can't regain them, until they visit a friendly psychic surgeon. Still kind of useless, especially since you have to spend three whole rounds worth of actions mentally grumbling before you can poo poo in everyone's brains, but an enormous 'gently caress you' to anyone with the poor judgment to roll a PC psionicst, and the worse luck to blow two saves in a row.

SynthOrange posted:

Out of everything that's been posted in the last few pages, the fact that Femforce is still being published is the only one that caused me to go 'Bullshit!'

Hold me, I'm scared.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


A Song of Ice and Fire Chapter 3: Character Creation and Example Characters
Now we start in with the character creation

Step 1: The Noble House
First off, the game suggest generating a noble house that all of the characters belong to or serve directly. This gives everyone an inbuilt reason to work together, a support network for the group and plot hooks, plus ASOIF has mechanics for playing at the “house” level, a la Companies from Reign.
I'm going to generate a custom house for the characters, but in the interest of keeping things organized in this thread I'm going to put all the specifics of that part in it's own post.

Step 2: Character Concept
First we decide the kind of character we want to make and the first part of that is your age. Life expectancy in Westeros isn't too long and there are a lot of young people carrying a whole lot of responsibility on their shoulders.

Now let's introduce our example characters:

Tasoth posted:

If you don't make at least one Northman, especially one bearing an axe and a grudge for Southern knights, you will upset my need for petty vengeance against characters from the book.
Victarion Snow, bastard Hedge Knight (from a different family) and house master-at-arms. Despite his skill at arms, he resents all of the disrespect shown to him by knights from southern kingdoms, sitting fat and happy in their warm homes and peaceful lands.

dereku posted:

If you're taking ideas how about a mischievous/manipulative noble
Rodrik Sunderly, House Heir. An intelligent and sociable young man from a family of rough-and-ready warriors, he dislikes how his father has become so old and lacking in energy while awkwardly crushing on his new, hot young step-mother. Plots and intrigues as a hobby.

Count Chocula posted:

I'd like to see a eunuch.
Eustace, Family Maester. The first son of a Westerlands noble, he was castrated as a young boy by an uncle in a plot to steal his inheritance. Intelligent and happy to learn, he joined the Maesters.

You need to pick your characters age, which is measured in categories.
  • Youths are young children, 9 years old and younger, born after Greyjoy's Rebellion and the War of the Usurper.
  • Adolescents are 10 to 13 born around the time of Greyjoy's Rebellion.
  • Young Adults are aged 14 to 18.
  • Adults are 18 to 30, old enough to have lived under mad king Aerys and fought in Robert's Rebellion.
  • Middle Age is 30 to 50 and people at this age have lived through most of the trouble Westeros has seen in the last century.
  • Old is 50 to 70. People at this age have a different opinion about the Targaryens, having seen the house during it's good times as well as the bad.
  • Very Old is 70 to 80. Old person is old.
  • Beyond even Very Old is Venerable, anyone older than 80 years.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

Victarion is Middle Aged.

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Rodrik is a Young Adult.

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace is Middle Aged.

Next is Status. Your character's Status is your rank in the social hierarchy of Westeros. The maximum Status that you can have is determined by your house; the more important and influential it is, the higher the Status characters can have. There are lots of advantages to high Status, but it has to be bought like an Ability.

After that is character Role. Role is the characters archetype. This doesn't have any mechanical effect, it's just a guide to help you make a particular kind of character and gives a few examples from the novels.

The roles given in the books are:

The Expert, someone who specializes in a narrow range of skills. (Syrio Forel, Gendry, Maester Luwin, Jojen Reed, The Tickler)

The Fighter is any kind of warrior. (Robert Baratheon, Gregor Clegane, Victarion Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, Barristan Selmy, Brienne of Tarth)

A Leader is anyone who command others. (Stannis Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Jeor Mormont, Jon Snow, Eddard Stark, Daenerys Targaryen)

Rogues are sneaky characters who get along on the outer edges of society. (Tyrion Lannister, Meera Reed, Davos Seaworth, Arya Stark)

Schemers are plotters and conspirators. (Petyr Baelish, Cersei Lannister, Grand Maester Pycelle, Sansa Stark, Varys the Spider)

”Victarion Snow” posted:

Victarion is a Fighter.

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Rodrik is a Schemer.

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace is an Expert.

After Roles is fleshing out the character with their before play history and the building blocks of their personality.

The book suggests thinking up one important event for every age category above Youth the character is.

Personality wise, the book talks about four elements: the character's Goal, Motivation, Virtue and Vice.

The Goal is something the character wants to achieve.

While the Goal is the what, the character's Motivation is the why.

A Virtue is something good about the character, while their Vice is the most noteworthy negative trait.

The game provides tables for randomly rolling all five of these.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

Victarion is Middle Aged.
In his Youth, Victarion was involved in a battle. (4) In both his Adolescence and Young Adulthood, he was kidnapped and somehow got away. (5, 5) As an Adult, he had a torrid love affair. (3)

His Goal is Revenge.
His Motivation is Lust.
His Virtue is that he is Humble.
His Vice is Licentious.

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Rodrik is a Young Adult.
In his Youth, he was involved in a battle. (4)

His Goal is Mastery in a field of expertise.
His Motivation is Love.
His Virtue is that he is humble.
His Vice is that he is Cruel.

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace is Middle Aged.
In his Youth he kept the company of a famous individual. (8) As a Young Adult he had a torrid love affair was involved in a villainous scandal . While an Adult and his Middle Age, he was involved in a battle or fight. (5, 5)

His Goal is Wealth.
His Motivation is Greed.
His Virtue is that he is Devoted.
His Vice is that he is Licentious Prejudiced (10)

All right, there is a bit of a problem with the tables they give for randomly determining stuff: for simplicity, they're all just a number of dice to get a table entry. However, having multiple dice means the results get weighted to the middle of the table, so if you roll a lot of times, you're going to get similar looking results.

Step three is Abilities. ASOIF doesn't have any attributes, all of that is rolled into Abilities, the way FATE does the same with Skills. This is the first part where your age plays a factor in the mechanics: the older you are, the more experience you get and age also determines the maximum level you can have in an Ability. Characters hit their peak at Adult, when their maximum rank is 7.

Every ability starts at a rating of 2. You can, with permission from the “Narrator” drop a single Ability down to a rank of 1 and gain 50 more experience.

Increasing an ability costs 10 experience to increase by 1, plus 30 for every rank after that.

The Abilities in the game are:
  • Agility- Dexterity, nimbleness, reflexes and flexibility.
  • Animal Handling- Skills and techniques used to train, work with and care for animals.
  • Athletics- The degree of physical training and application of fitness, coordination, training and raw muscle.
  • Awareness- Senses and how quickly you can react to changes in your environment.
  • Cunning- Intelligence, intellect and the application of knowledge.
  • Deception- You gift at duplicity.
  • Endurance- Physical health and hardiness.
  • Fighting- Ability to wield weapons in combat.
  • Healing- Skill with and understanding of medical knowledge.
  • Knowledge- General awareness and understanding of the world.
  • Language- Facility with a language. Your starting rank in this covers your native language.
  • Marksmanship- Skill with ranged weapons.
  • Persuasion- Ability to manipulation the emotions and beliefs of others.
  • Status- Social rank and knowledge of getting along in high society, such as recognizing heraldy, knowing etiquette, etc.
  • Stealth- Remaining unseen and unheard.
  • Survival- Ability to get by in the wilderness.
  • Thievery- Covers all “larcenous” skills like lockpicking, pickpocketing, etc.
  • Warfare- Talent at tactical and strategic military tasks.
  • Will- Mental fortitude.

Each ability has a bunch of sections describing how and when it's used, Difficulties, etc. in chapter four.

After you buy all your Abilities, you can buy Specialties, again with an amount of Experience determined by your age. Each rank of a specialty costs 10 Experience and gives a Bonus die, and you're not allowed to have a Specialty with a rank higher than that of it's parent Ability.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

As a Fightan Man, Victarion should get high ranks in Agility, Animal Handling, Athletics, Endurance, Fighting, Marksmanship and Warfare, according to the book. Middle Age gives Vic 270 Ability and 100 Specialty experience.

Agility 3 (10)
Animal Handling 3 (10)
Athletics 4 (40)
Endurance 3 (70) Specialty: Resilience 3B (30)
Fighting 5 (70) Specialty: Axes 5B (50)
Warfare 4 (40) Specialty: Command 2B (20)

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Schemers should get Awareness, Cunning, Deception, Knowledge, Language, Persuasion, Status and Will. As a Young Adult, Rodrik gets 180 Ability and 60 Specialty experience.
Awareness 3 (10) Specialty: Empathy 2B (20)
Cunning 4 (40)
Deception 4 (40) Specialty: Bluff 1B (10)
Fighting 3 (10)
Knowledge 3 (10) Specialty: Education 2B (20)
Language: Westeros Common Tongue 3 (10)
Persuasion 3 (10)
Status 3 (10)
Will 4 (40) Specialty: Dedication 1B (10)

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace is an Expert, so uses whatever skills are important to his field of expertise. He gets 270 Ability and 100 Specialty Experience for his age, the same as Victarion.
Cunning 5 (70) Specialty: Logic 2B (20)
Healing 4 (40)
Knowledge 5 (70) Specialty: Education 4B (40)
Language: Westeros Common Tongue 4 (40)
Persuasion 4 (40)
Status 3 (10)


Step five is Destiny Points and Benefits. You get Destiny points based on your age, except you get more the younger you are. A Youth gets 7, and a character gets one lest for every age category

You can do two things with your starting Destiny Points: Invest them in benefits or save them to be spent later. Chapter 5 has bunches of things you can buy with your Destiny Points.

You're also limited to a maximum of 3 Benefits, if you have more than 3 Destiny Points.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

For his totally pimpin' Axe skills, Victario gets Axe Fighting I. Whenever he makes an attack with an Axe, he can sacrifice any of his Bonus dice and inflict that much extra damage. (For a benchmark, a suit of full plate prevents 10 damage)
He is also a Leader of Men, and may automatically reorganize or rally a unit once per round of battle.
The Blood of the First Men flows in his veins, adding 2 to any Endurance tests he makes and giving him 2 extra Health.
Victario starts play with no Destiny Points.

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

First, Rodrik must take Heir for his position as the heir to the house. He gains +1 to all Status tests and becomes the Head of House if anything happens to his father.
Treacherous lets him add his Cunning rank of 4 to his Deception test results.
Courteous adds half his Persuasion ranks to his Deception test results, and whenever anyone tries to use the Read Target action on him, he adds his Cunning ranks to his defense against it.
This leaves him with two Destiny Points.

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace is a Maester, which ties his fortunes with those of the house he serves. He adds his Cunning ranks to all Knowledge and Will test results. He also must Knowledge Focus two or more times to qualify as a Maester, so he also gets ]b\Knowledge Focus: Alchemy[/b] and History and Legends.
He also must have a Flaw, and takes on in Endurance.
He has no Destiny Points remaining.

In Step 6, we get to Drawbacks. Once a character hit Adult, they have to start taking Drawbacks. These are just like Disadvantages or whatever from any other game you've seen. There are also Flaws, which just lower an Ability by one rank and are caused by the ravages of age.

You can take extra Drawbacks, gaining a Destiny Point for each, though you cannot have more Drawbacks than Benefits.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

Because of his age, Victarion gets a Flaw in Agility.
He is also Lascivious, inflicting a -2 penalty to Intrigue Defense if the first action he takes in an Intrigue isn't Seduce, and suffers a -2D penalty to Persuasion tests to Charm.
Being Bastard Born earns him a -1D penalty to Persuasion tests with anyone with higher Status than him.
Victation gets two bonus Destiny Points.

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Rodrik is Haughty, suffering a -1D penalty to Awareness tests for Empathy, and whenever he deals with someone beneath his station or acting improperly, his starting disposition must be Dislike or worse.
Rodrik gets a bonus destiny point, leaving him with a total of 3.

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace us a Eunuch, taking a -1D penalty to persuasion tests, but is immune to Seduction and cannot have kids.
He also has a Flaw in Athletics.
He gets a single bonus point,

Step 7 is Starting Possessions.

Each character makes a Status test. The result is the amount of Gold they have to purchase starting possessions. A character must use at least half of their starting money. Going through equipment lists for stuff to buy is one of the worst things in RPGs, so I'm going to skip this part.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

Victarion has 2d6 = (2 + 2) = 4 Gold Dragons.

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Rodrik has 3d6+1 = (6 + 5 + 2 + 1) = 14 gold.

”Eustace” posted:

Eustace has 3d6 = (3 + 4 + 3) = 10 gold.

Step Eight is calculating all the Derived Statistics.

In Intrigues you have Intrigue Defense and Composure, equal to Awareness + Cunning + Status and Will x 3, respectively.

In Combat you have Combat Defense, equal to Agility + Athletics + Awareness + Defensive bonus from shields/parrying weapons – Armor penalty; health equal to 3 x Endurance; Armor Rating determined by the armor you wear; and damage, based on your weapon.

”Victarion Snow” posted:

Intrigue Defense: 6
Composure: 6
Combat Defense: 6
Health: 11
Armor Rating: 4
Damage: 4 (Battleaxe)

”Rodrik Sunderly” posted:

Intrigue Defense: 10
Composure: 12
Combat Defense: 7
Health: 6
Armor Rating: 0
Damage: 0 (Unarmed)

”Eustace” posted:

Intrigue Defense: 10
Composure: 6
Combat Defense: 6
Health: 4
Armor Rating: 0
Damage: 0 (Unarmed)

Step Nine requires a bit of audience participation:

"Play the Game!"



This chapter ends with character advancement.

You can improve your character in three ways: money, Glory and Experience.

Money lets you buy stuff, or invest it in your House.

Glory is only invested in your house, as your awesome deeds reflect well on it.

Experience can be spent to improve your Abilities, gain or improve specialties or buy Destiny Points.

Specialties cost 10 experience per rank increase, with the maximum limit of the Ability it's under.

Improving an Ability by one rank costs 30 experience. It also takes 1 week of training by someone with a rank at least one higher than yours, or 1 + 1d6/2 weeks of self training.

An additional Destiny Point costs 50 experience. When you buy it, you can bank it, invest it in a Benefit or remove a Drawback.

The next chapters are the Abilities and Specialties and Destiny and Qualities chapters. I'll combine those and go over them briefly, because there isn't a whole lot interesting about lists of skills and such. Then is the chapter on creating a house, where I'll go through the house I generated for these guys.

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 09:23 on Jul 21, 2013

Kaja Rainbow
Oct 17, 2012

~Adorable horror~

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

Chapter 3: Character Creation and Example Characters
Now we start in with the character creation
Uh, it's a good idea to mention what game you're doing, possibly with a banner for the game title or something (look at the other F&F posts). I don't even remember which game this is.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Kaja Rainbow posted:

Uh, it's a good idea to mention what game you're doing, possibly with a banner for the game title or something (look at the other F&F posts). I don't even remember which game this is.

This is why feedback is good, because I'm dumb and don't think about obvious things sometimes. :downs:

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Meanwhile, on



...we have the manual. It's the only non-comic book in the box, it's perfect-bound, and weighing in at 128 pages (plus a handful of character sheets) it really doesn't make a compelling argument for the huge amount of space in the crate. In my case this is fine, because it leaves room for all the other Femforce books I picked up off of eBay when I was younger, stupider, and flush with student loan money. But anyway, let's pick up the manu-- and whoops, the cover came off!

Remember that GM's screen bullet point? That's the cover for the manual. Rather, the inside cover of the manual. Sandwiched between the two is a sheet of glossy paper printed with full-colour character stand-ups, the sort of thing you'd find in an old-school Battletech box. These ones are apparently meant to be cut out with flaps to glue together underneath, but whoever did the layout didn't leave much room for that.

There are twenty-four human-scaled figures, mainly heroines and villainesses, with a few guys in spandex and bystanders of either sex. There are also two mailboxes and two fire hydrants, presumably for use with the throwing damage table tha takes up a quarter of the GM screen. There are also two oversized stand-ups, one of a woman that's nearly twice as tall as the smaller stands, and another that... unfolded, takes up most of one half of the sheet. I presume she's supposed to be the giantess on the front cover. My favourite is a fellow who looks a bit like Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap. With all of the characters and the few bits of scenery, there's an impression that Super Babes is meant to simulate the highly kinetic fight scenes of comics that existed before property damage became something to worry about. It's a bit surprising that they went to this trouble, but didn't put any sort of combat maps in the box.

I'd call the GM screen a reference card, more than anything else: it's thin cardboard, and only has one broad fold, so it's likely to fall over with the slightest breeze. Game stats are only printed on one side, and almost all of them are the sort of thing that players would want to consult too... unless you're the kind of GM who tries to hide everything from your players, and gets upset when they suss out the to-hit math despite you.

Terminology aside, almost a quarter of the space is given over to the 'Common Objects Damage Table', which gives damage ratings for hitting things with anything from a human body to an aircraft carrier. High-energy combat? Looks like it! Below there's a table for 'Normal Weapons' which ranges from brawling punches to rifles, rayguns and explosives. It's a much smaller table than Common Objects, and strikingly handwavy compared to the then-contemporary games that could spend whole books modeling the differences between calibers and manufacturers. The opposite page has a 'Combat Results Table', an old-fashioned To-Hit matrix. There are fiddly-looking tables for martial arts offensive and defensive maneuvers, and a list of what look like costs for regular combat maneuvers. The only things not of direct interest to players are the 'XP Award Table' and 'Fame Award Chart', which could both fit on a single index card.

I have to come back to the Common Objects Table, because at first glance it's really impressive looking: there are thirty eight different sorts of things to hit a villain with, but also huge amounts of duplication in the damage formulae. Manhole covers, saplings (or bushes), dining room tables, and king sized beds all do the same damage, but take up four consecutive entries on the table, and this duplication continues through the chart. Bizarrely, while the list is split into two sets of columns, it isn't split evenly: there are twenty entries in the first and eighteen in the second. I know layout software wasn't the best in the early Nineties, but this looks sloppy and the weird descriptive granularity of the table looks obsessive, especially when compared to the weapons table.

Actually, forget the manual for now. Let's make this the loose bits post. It'll be like a clips show, only not.

Leftover bits:
  • Full-sized comic. I'm not touching this one again. Actually-- you'd think they might commission a special one-shot comic or something, but this is Issue 66 and Part Two of Three. I think Horace called this technique 'you're on your own, dude'.
  • Special collector's edition mini comic. Despite the box's claim that this is unique to the game, there's a price tag printed on it too. Same price as the full-scale one, despite being black and white. It's basically a collection of action shots that frame short blurbs of origin stories and the evolution of the Femforce. Not a lot of detail, but a bit more engaging than a dry timeline and it fits the comics schtick.
  • Poster. Cheap paper, poor colours; the stock weirdly reminds me of temporary tattoos. Can't get the image of someone with a back-length tattoo of a fuschia-skinned heroine standing before the stars and stripes, surrounded by smaller heroines out of my head now.
  • Character sheets! Three of 'em! One's got a blank character drawing, one the outline of a guy for you to pencil your own costume onto, and one with a heroine they took the liberty of giving huge, glam hair to. Thanks for that, guys.
  • Paper Dolls Instruction Sheet (now with Conversational Tone)! Cut 'em out, fold 'em up, and-- oh, hey. Apparently you're supposed to glue them to pennies. Probably a quarter's worth in the case of the 50' Woman. At least they're less likely to blow away than the GM's screen is, like that.
  • Maps. Maps of Orlando and Florida, totally useless for tactical play, but apparently the writers thought it was very important that we understand where they filed the serial numbers off and wrote their own bits in. Attractions include 'Dizzy World' which '...showcases all of the creations of cartoonist Malt Dizzy', and the Burperware Auditorium. Comedy gold right here, folks. The maps themselves are really kind of useless; neither has a scale, so you get to guess at distances, the 'important' landmarks could be plopped down anywhere narratively convenient, and dumb, one-note jokes like 'Florida's Turnpike: A toll road on which many Florida residents try to break the land speed record' read like rejects from the Devil's Dictionaries. They're more accurate than your average Rifts maps, but that's all they have going for them.

Next Issue: The Manual! Some of It! For Real!

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012





Appendix Three describes historically significant Children of Gaia. Remember how Bone Gnawers reminded you that their sample historical characters were meant to inspire you and give you some stat blocks to work with? There’s no such preface for “The Blessed”, so we’re left to assume that these guys are so important and awesome that we’re meant to be eager to read about them. Obviously, this is not the case.

Lore-Speaker Gron can be found in the most esoteric of Children of Gaia historical records. After all, they have the best records out of all the tribes, save perhaps the Fianna. Gron was a hermaphrodite caveman werewolf who was instrumental to ending the Impergium. She challenged the head werewolf to a Gamecraft challenge, but Gron put a Stargazer surrogate into the ring. Somehow, this ended the Impergium. I guess it was supposed to show that the peace movement had much wider support than the Silver Fangs thought, but I don’t know why they would care. Gron was assassinated soon after, but Gron’s work was done. He’s meant to be an inspirational figure to modern day Children of Gaia, so I guess he can work as a character hook, but only to a player who is really :sperg: about Werewolf. So me, I guess.


This certainly does look like a figure of exceeding wisdom.

Siduri Sabitu from the Epic of Gilgamesh gets a write up here. Awesome. She was the head of a large network of kin and werewolf priestesses at a time when vampires ruled over humanity via their puppets. While most of the Garou wanted to just kill the vampires’ servants, Siduri wanted to educate rulers about why vampires suck so hard (:downsrim:) and why choosing life is so much better. Gilgamesh was just the first. Sabitu’s program probably averted an apocalyptic war between the legions of the undead and werewolves, so she’s pretty cool.


I've given Kane a hard time through this whole review, but pictures like this demonstrate that he's a talented artist who is not served well by black ink.

Jasper Covington was born an English aristocrat to Children of Gaia kin parents. (Isn’t it funny how the Children of Gaia hobnob with the rich and famous, despite their communistic rhetoric?) He was taught that open violence against the Wyrm was ineffectual at best, and so he focused on pulling political strings to get Gaia’s work done. So, he started the Enlightenment! He bought salons and lounges and invited philosophers to philosophize and patroned the best ones. His get-togethers popularized Deism, and he invented the noble savage to save the Indians. Wasn’t that nice of him? :tizzy: Basically, he’s responsible for compassionate governance.


And pictures like this show that he also can't draw faces.

Sarah Rasheeda Ben-Fasil is a key player in Middle Eastern politics, at least as far as the Children of Gaia are concerned. Her parents were Israeli and Egyptian Garou kin, which is actually kind of bold of the writers. Sarah served in the Israeli army as a guerilla, but she spread peace wherever she went and never killed anybody, no sir. I guess the writers’ courage only goes so far.
She was the one who discovered that Malkav was sleeping beneath Jerusalem and was responsible for driving hundreds of pilgrims crazy. Apparently this is medically documented as “Jerusalem Syndrome”, and linking vampires to a mental disease is bad whether it’s real or fictional. She wants to kill Malkav, but instead she’s developed antidotes to vampire crazy. You might think that would make Sarah too famous, but she doesn’t give it to people, just to other Children of Gaia. Thanks, Sarah!


Look, I know she's supposed to be young, but I'm pretty sure she's not twelve.

Despite her youth and setting in the present day, Sarah’s not our signature character. The sigs never really got traction until Revised, but I want to include every signature character in these write-ups, because they’re honestly one of my favorite things about the game. Even though the line made a ton of mistakes with its fluff and spawned several irritating GM PCs, the signature characters strike a good balance. Pretty much all of them are relevant to the metaplot (although some more than others), but they’re low powered (at least in the fiction), and so unlikely to step on your players’ toes. Your pack could actually meet Jonas Albrecht and stand a good chance of taking him in a fight, provided they had a little XP under their belts.

They’re also all really likeable, too. I have a feeling that they were all built like starting PCs (some of them actually were used for examples of character creation), and that gives them really basic but meaty backstories and cool, but not overpowered, abilities. It also has the effect of bringing them down to earth. You really could play as one of these characters and develop the respect they have in the setting naturally.

It helps that their fiction is just plain fun. Unlike Vampire’s Clan Novels, the Tribe Novels are straightforward epic urban fantasy. Albrecht’s pack and the Silver River Pack wander around the world, pursuing alternately political ends, personal character development, or Wyrm monsters. It’s hokey, but the characters are all presented as goofy, likeable dudes. The novels are also written by White Wolf all-stars. Bill Bridges and Justin Achilli wrote several books, and the people responsible for the non-bad Vampire novels (there are a couple), were put to work on this series.

But, it’s not even necessary to read the novels to know these characters, because they’re all featured in the Revised core. Every tribe picture is the picture of its signature character. The examples of character creation are always for the signature characters, who you would see in action in the inter-chapter fiction. It’s a remarkable feat of integrating the sigs into your game and having them be key players in the setting, but at the same time leaving room for your own games.

We’ve already met a member of Albrecht’s pack, the signature Black Fury Mari Cabrah. Running parallel to those stories is that of the Silver River Pack, which is supposed to be the more traditional pack, that is, more like player characters. Bone Gnawers had a write up for Carlita “Big Sis”, but the pack also includes the signature Child of Gaia, Cries Havoc.


This guy.

Cries Havoc is unusual among the signature characters, as he’s the only Metis. His role for new players is to demonstrate a standard Metis backstory. As a Galliard, he’s taught how to tell stories and be personable from childhood. As an adolescent he ended up teaching other Children newbies how Garou society works, but once fully inducted they spurn him, which is all very teenage drama, but it still provides easily roleplayed character hooks.

Cries Havoc was also personally visited by Unicorn as a baby, which doesn’t confer on him any special powers or make him the Chosen One any more than any other Child of Gaia. As his mother tried to escape her sept with him, Unicorn confronted the pair and asked Havoc whether he wanted to live up to his destiny. Since Cries Havoc was a baby, he said yes. This gave Unicorn the right to murder his mother, because Unicorn is loving metal. Cries Havoc was taken back to the Children of Gaia sept and taught how to be cool. Eventually, he was recruited by Storm Eye, the Red Talons sig and alpha of the Silver River pack to help save the world from Jo Cal Matric, a Serbian Wyrm monster.

Cries Havoc is consistently described as a low power Galliard, but he’s still capable of doing so high action epic fantasy feats. He personally defeats high Rage Banes, he solves ancient riddles, and helps defeat the aforementioned elder evil. His pack’s arc is very much in step with that of PCs. They start off threatened by minor enemies, but once they get some experience they’re capable of charging through hordes of Wyrm monsters and saving the world. The battle with Jo’Cllath’Mttric is pretty much a chronicle ender. He starts out as kind of a baby, but he ends up becoming an auxiliary leader and problem solver that’s integral to the team. He’s great.

And so concludes our look at the Children of Gaia. Was it, as the fans say, better than the Revised edition? Honestly, yes. At the very least, this book didn’t try selling particular, named character to us as totally cool and relatable. It just presented the tribe’s viewpoint. Of course, the tribe’s viewpoint is inane, asinine, and completely unworkable for player concepts, but I feel like the book doesn’t even care about that, so it can’t really fail. The sample characters it offers are actually pretty good, so there is some value to this book. I would never, ever recommend this book to a Werewolf fan, but I don’t necessarily regret reading it. It did what it could with a completely worthless splat. I can’t really be angry at it.

Next time: Croatan Song, the most boring book ever written for Werewolf

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


pospysyl posted:

Croatan Song
I swear to god I've been working on this since before you posted that.

I know someone had asked for this, but I only just got around to actually reading it cover to cover today.

I apologize profusely for the delay because this book is amazing for all the wrong reasons.


Rage Across Australia.

This was one of the relatively early Apocalypse books, and it shows. There's cultural insensitivity in spades, an inability to do basic math, and blind ignorance of their own rules. Basically the only thing I'm pretty sure the book got right is the chapter on the geography of Australia, and even then I can't know for sure.
The one unique thing that this book had was information on the Bunyip. Before this they were just another name on a list with the Croatan and the White Howlers. Even better, the book's opening fiction is the story of how they died!

Legends of the Garou: The Death of the Bunyip

quote:

Moonlight shone upon the gathered tribes as they waited for Grek Twice-Tongue to begin his song. Light in the outback is harsh and unforgiving; it reveals everything in the starkest fashion. Grek was metis, and the moon mercilessly exposed his deformities. Those jealous of the Philodox's power said Grek's spirit was as twisted as his body, but few heeded such rumors.

And we're off to a confusing start. I've heard of sunlight being harsh, and I can understand it being worse in the outback due to the lack of shade, but the idea of light itself being more malevolent due to your location is just amusing. as far as his "deformities" and his "twisted body", I'm not sure what they're talking about. His description in a later chapter only mentions that he's bald and albino ("white as Meeka the Moon").

quote:

His Skin was daubed with red, black, and yellow ochre. Feathers had been affixed with blood to his wrists. He looked like some incarnation of Kurpannga, the Devil Dingo, come to deliver judgment and retribution upon the Garou. The didgeridoo's moaning breath washed over the gathered tribes as the dancers whirled into the clearing, their bodies painted with ochres of white and red... some had small feathers plastered to their chests and backs with blood.
So other than being being wordy and redundant, it's slightly racist, as Grek at the very least isn't Aboriginal. There's one person in the circle who isn't dancing, though, the one who is playing the role of "Wyrmbaiter". Who apparently was the Alpha of the Red Talons during the War of Tears. He got his name because he would lead Wyrm minions into traps using himself as bait. You know, because suicidal tendancies is a quality you want in a leader.

quote:

The dancers' movements and Grek's voice rolled back the barrier of time, and once again the last Fianna moot sat in judgment in the Australian bush...
Wyrmbaiter stood stiff-legged before the decaying, ravaged body of Greyflank, his sister. Occasionally he would lower his muzzle to nuzzle her cold flanks. He had allowed no one to touch her corpse, let along dispose of the body as was fitting, since it was discovered five days ago near the Three Sisters. Greyflank's cadaver had been found spread across a large carving of the Rainbow Serpent, ribs cracked open and head severed. Her guts had been devoured and her heart burnt to a cinder. The charred lump of muscle still glowed like an ember, radiating soft waves of heat. The best Garou hunters had been unable to find her head.
Now Wyrmbaiter's muscles rippled as he changed, swelling upward from Lupus through Hispo to Crinos. He swung his heavy head this way and that, glaring at the assembled Garou gathered in moot around him.
"Greyflank's killers must die," Wyrmbaiter said with difficulty, his voice harsh and guttural. "Death to all bunyip."
Yeah, cause, you know, when I kill someone my first inkling is to go find one of my most sacred sites and leave their rotting disemboweled corpse right on top of it.

The Fianna Righ, Keally O'Shannesy, is trying to figure out what to do. She's leery of making a decision without more input, and all attempts to get a message to the Bunyip had failed. Of course if she doesn't act she'll be seen as weak.

The Glass Walker representative speaks up and points out that the evidence isn't irrefutable, since anyone, wyrm or not, could have killed Greyflank and left her there. The Stargazer representative also speaks up, saying that it would be incredibly stupid on their part to intentionally piss them off like this, and they've never been violent in the past.

Of course the Get of Fenris representative, Black Ivan(yes), disagrees "Are the Fianna so weak that they cannot judge what is obvious? All here know the detestable Bunyip murdered Greyflank." To which the Shadow Lord, Tepes Godkin(No, seriously) speaks up, "Why have the Bunyip hidden from us for so long? Because we will smell the stink of the Wyrm on them. We should destroy them know before they can ready their defenses."

Wyrmbaiter, egged on by the two Werewolves with names from a metal album, demands a decision. "The time for talking is past. Let us Rage."

Keally is panicking because if she doesn't give in, the Get, Lords, and Talons will have her removed from her position, and she's worked too damned hard to get removed from her position now! She even glances over to see Godkin cleaning his fingernails with his Klaive and making throat slitting motions at her. So she finally decides that in three days time, they will begin the hunt for the Bunyip.

quote:

"Hunt, Wyrmbaiter, until your grief has been assuaged by Bunyip blood." Surely, she reasoned, his genocidal fury would be quenched once Greyflank's killer lay dead at his feet; his rage could not be so great that he would destroy an entire tribe.

It's like fate(or bad writing) conspired to bring together the absolute worst people in the world to make a rational decision. Of course, the book isn’t done yet, oh no, we still have to see what shenanigans the Uktena are up to.

quote:

The dawning of the third day was red and wild, as if Gaia herself sensed the threatening tempest. Garou had gathered from across the land, bringing with them tales of floods, of strange spirits walking abroad, of great unrest in the Dreamtime. Sings-with-the-Moon, an Uktena Theurge viewed such omens and marked well their meaning, but said nothing, only smiled a small, secret smile. The Uktena were as yet few in this oldest of lands, and even if he had called for peace and parley between the Bunyip and Garou, none would have listened to his words. Soon, Sings-with-the-Moon knew, the secrets of the Bunyip, jealously guarded, would belong to him and his tribe.
“Yeah guys I think we’re kind of doing something bad here, but since I know you won’t listen to me go ahead and slaughter them all. They were dicks and wouldn’t share their toys anyway.”

The war party gathered on the third day is mostly Red Talons, Shadow Lords, and Get. Keally is there “lest her judgment was needed” and so she could tell future garou the tales of what would transpire. There are a few Bone Gnawers, Silent Striders, Uktena, and one Child of gaia, “A bitter outcast from his tribe”. Wyrmbaiter just says “We have come to kill Bunyip. Let us kill.” After that, uhh...

quote:

Facing the setting sun, Wyrmbaiter drew his klaive and screamed rather than sang the Litany of the Hunt. With claw and klaive he ripped through the Gauntlet, tearing a ragged opening into the Dreamtime. This was not the proper way to enter the penumbra. This was spiritual rape.
Wow, only five pages in, including the cover, before a rape reference. I think that beats CoG.
When they enter the Dreamtime, all hell breaks loose. The ground starts rippling in protest, the sky shimmers with strange colors and sounds. Cockatoos fly overhead, screaming like hte Wyrm itself. And a Diprotodon bellows nearby, because apparently they were still around in the dreamtime back then.
A young Red Talon, Terror-in-His-Teeth, is the first to find a Bunyip. None noticed that she was already weak and wounded from a previous battle, and covered with crusted blood. Nope, he just leapt on her and ripped her throat out, before swaggering back to the war party.

Where Wyrmbaiter chopped him in half with his klaive, because as war leader the first kill was to be his, and he wanted “the creature’s agony to rival that experienced by his sister” Hey, Keally? Remember how you said your judgment might be needed? He just killed someone for kill stealing and for not torturing them long enough. Maybe you should reign it in a bit.The campaign carried on for another year, and the book takes special note to point out that the Stargazer who spoke up to try and stop the campaign was killed by Tepes Godkin for protecting a Bunyip cub.

Finally the last Bunyip was tracked to a cave in the physical world, and Wyrmbaiter entered the cave alone. And of course, they have a melodramatic speech-off before the inevitable.

quote:

”So you are my death. I shall be glad to die. You have spared none of my kindred, and were I to live, I would be so lonely that death should seem a blessing.”
Wyrmbaiter said nothing, but the bloodlust and madness in his eyes made words unnecessary. Trembling he transformed into Crinos.
“You are no Garou,” Wyrmbaiter grunted, his voice thick with rage. “The Wyrm’s taint marks you.”
“The only Wyrm I see is the Wyrm in your eyes, cousin,” the last Bunyip said with resignation. Outside the wind sobbed around the mouth of the cave, while the greatly diminished hunting pack waited for Wyrmbaiter’s triumphant return. “Enough words now. You would not listen to us when we tried to show you the error of your ways. When we tried to tell you that Black Spiral Dancers hindered us from attending your moot and mourning your sister, you turned away. I am weary. All I crave is death.”
Wyrmbaiter obliges and lops off the top of his skull. But as he raised his head to howl triumphantly he saw only the face of a 16 year old boy, oh no. And he felt no evil in his spirit as it left his body, no taint of the Wyrm. “The spirit told him of a life lived in tranquillity and peace, of a level of communion with Gaia about which Garou could only dream.” Because apparently none of the other Bunyip’s spirits did this, only this 16 year old. Wyrmbaiter collapses into Lupus form and begins to weep.

But then the wall of the cave falls away and a woman steps out. “Her eyes swallowed the light of the Bunyip’s fire. Long, straight hair, black as the shadows from which she had sprung, fell over her pale shoulders. Her skin was pallid and faintly phosphorescent, like subterranean fungi. ‘You have been magnificent, as I knew you would be. The greatest tool I have ever used.’” yeah the whole thing was a Black Spiral plot, surprise.

What follows is a speech worthy of a Bond villain.

quote:

"Come now, my love, do you not recognize your own mistress? Ah, I forgot, we have never been formally introduced. My name is Mara. Mara the Scream. I knew your sister, intimately. In fact, she gave me a little present for you."

Yes, that is his sister's rotting head.

quote:

"You have done the Dancers a great service by destroying the Bunyip. This little gift is the least we can give you in return. The Dreamtime is now defenseless. Its spirits will turn against you, having witnessed your destruction of their guardians. Once we have gained control of the Dreamtime, the whole of Australia will fall to the Wyrm. Don't you see how clever we have been?" Mara the Scream laughed, an evil, liquid gurgle.
"We killed your sister. We delayed the Bunyip from reaching your moot. I was listening when you demanded justice, a hunt against those who had done you no wrong. Oh, Wyrmbaiter, what a magnificent fool you have been!"

She walks back into the hole in the cave, still laughing. While the rest of the hunting party come into the cave to see what's wrong. Wyrmbaiter gives them the lowdown "It was not the Bunyip who had slain his sister. The hunt he had launched was an obscene mistake. He must atone for his sins." So he leaps in after her, no one else was brave enough to follow. He was never seen again...

That's where the story ends. Up until recently, the Bunyip never had any rules for actually playing them. Their only reason for existing was so that the Garou Nation could be tricked into killing them and turning Australia into even more of a blighted hellhole.

Next we have the credits page, informing us that of the writers, one never did anything else for White Wolf, the second was tapped as a reference for Bunyip in the Wild West supplement.
The third was Richard Watts, who worked on first edition Wraith(along with many other authors, so I'm not holding that against Wraith), CB:Setite :siren: , and :siren:Freak Legion:siren: so we know we're in for a trip.


Introduction
The book helpfully informs us that the Aboriginals are the oldest living contiguous culture. They were around before Egypt raised the pyramids, in fact they were alive before the Garou instituted the Impergium upon humanity, and before the War of Rage. That means that they were immune to the Delirium. So the Bunyip were free to shepherd them into a gentle and spiritual people that existed in peace and harmony with Gaia.

Then the Europeans showed up in 1788 and hosed everything up, whoops.

Theme:Strangers in a Strange Land
To put it bluntly, the local spirits hate the Garou. The Dreamtime itself rebels against them, and most of the spirits have been seduced by the Wyrm. Those that haven't are being tainted by the Black Spirals, Vampires, or Pentex. Some call for the Garou to treat peacefully with the spirits, "Most Garou, however, sneer that such diplomacy is the way of the weak, and that the Garou must force the spirits to aid them." Which one of these is the correct path? Hint: The one that the writers won't let the Garou take.

Mood: Guilt and Atonement
The book is going to hammer this point in, The Garou hosed Up, and no one will let them forget it. Their only hope for atonement is "placing the needs of the Aboriginal Australians before their own."

Gothic-Punk Australia
I just threw up a little. Yeah this is the author's "Well we couldn't be bothered to do real research but we want to sound like we did" card. Because the World of Darkness is Darker and Edgier and Gothic-Punk! Most of the social reforms that granted Aboriginals greater rights either never happened, or haven't happened yet.

quote:

Some liberties have been taken with the representation of Aboriginal culture, spirits, and legends in this book, although the authors hope that the material has been treated with sensitivity and care.
Remember this line, burn it into your memory.

quote:

Unfortunately, in this short work we cannot adequately detail the beliefs and cultures of the more than 250 Australian Aboriginal tribes. If you desire more information regarding this oldest of cultures, we urge you to visit your local library.
They also point out that many Aboriginal activists have embraced the name "Koori" as identification for the tribes of Southern NSW and Victoria prior to "European Invasion", and is becoming a term of national identification amongst all Aboriginals... but they aren't going to use it because this is GOTHIC-PUNK AUSTRALIA Gaia-dammit! We can't have our oppressed minorities get even the smallest inkling of empowerment!

Finally before we get into the first chapter, the book goes into References. "The films and books suggested below should familiarize you with the Australian landscape and culture. Other films, such as Crocodile Dundee and The Man from Snowy River, provide a more stereotypical view of Australian life."

"Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome is a more accurate view of Australian Life than Crocodile Dundee"-White Wolf, 1994

Next Up: Historical Revisionism and SCAR "artwork".

Bedlamdan
Apr 25, 2008




I'll admit that I lost interest in finishing this review earlier: I'm not making excuses, I was just being lazy. But I was surprised to see this thread linked on rpg.net talking about both Arrows of Indra and my review of it. Given that there is interest for it, I've decided to resume the review, and cover as much as I can in as short an amount of time as possible. RPGPundit commented on my review, saying that I stopped before talking about the setting chapter and I believe he is right in that I was unfair to do so. I want to stress that the author does know his source material, and has probably researched it more thoroughly than I have. The reason why this disappoints me is that even though he clearly knows his stuff, he has deliberately eschewed this knowledge to fit D&Disms. Regardless, I want to finish as much of the review as possible and to get to the parts that I do like. I thought this review was just me and some people on SA having a laugh at RPGPundit's expense, but I'll try to do a better job of balancing cheap wisecracks with more of an effort to be informative.

Part 4: Enlightenment Powers, Equipment and Money, Game Master Procedures

Priests and Siddhis, in addition to their class skills, also have a chance of gaining Enlightenment Powers. These powers are arranged from Rank 1 to Rank 3, and take the place of AD&D spells. Every time these classes level up they roll to see if they've obtained an Enlightenment Power, and then roll on a d20 to see which power they get. I am not in favor of this, but it certainly allows for another check-mark to be filled on a list marked "old school." Your odds of gaining a Power are determined by your INT or WIS score, your current level, and the rank of the Power you're rolling for. The maximum number of Enlightenment Powers you can get per rank is determined by your INT score, even for Priests whose odds of gaining a power are modified by WIS. Not exactly intuitive. The casting isn't Vancian, you can't prepare the same Enlightenment Power over and over in a spellbook. If you want to use Generate Food and Water more than once per day, then you need to roll this same power again when you level up to gain an extra per/day use. Finally, unlike AD&D there's no need to fiddle around with bat guano or speak some magic words: the powers just happen.

There. We've covered everything that makes this system different from spells in AD&D. Here are a few of the many similarities:

Arrows of Indra posted:

BLESSING/CURSE: This power allows the PC to grant either a blessing or a curse to a maximum of 6 beings, of the PC’s choice (all the beings chosen must either be blessed or cursed, the effect cannot be mingled). All beings must be within 50 feet of the PC. Any being affected by this blessing gains a +1 to their morale score and a +1 to hit for the next 24 hours; any being affected by a curse suffers a −1 penalty to their morale score and a −1 to hit for the same period.

AD&D Player's Handbook posted:

Bless: Upon uttering the bless spell, the caster raises the morale of friendly creatures by +1. Furthermore, it raises their "to hit" dice rolls by +1. A blessing, however, will affect only those not already engaged in melee combat. This spell can be reversed by the cleric to a curse upon enemies enemies which lowers morale and "to hit" by -1. Range: 6". Duration: 6 melee rounds.

Arrows of Indra posted:

SWIFTNESS: This power can be used on one creature per level of the PC, the PC may select himself as one of those affected. All those affected must be within 30 feet of the PC when the power is initially used, though they may move out of that range afterward. Anyone under the effect of this spell experiences time differently relative to the rest of reality, so that they appear to be moving twice as fast as anyone around them. In combat situations this means they can move twice as fast, and make twice as many attacks as they normally would. This power lasts for 3 rounds + 1 round per level of the PC using it. Multiple uses of this power do not have cumulative effects.

AD&D Player's Handbook posted:

Haste: When this spell is cast, affected creatures function at double their normal movement and attack rates. Thus, a creature moving at 6" and attack 1 time per round would move at 12" and attack 2 times per round. Spell casting is not more rapid. The number of creatures which can be affected is equal to the level of experience of the magic user. Range: 6" Duration: 3 rounds + round/level.

As you can see, none of the spells I've read are completely identical though they keep the same essential effects. For example, AoI's Blessing has a longer duration and a bigger range compared to its counterpart. Swiftness is identical to AD&D's haste in terms of effect and duration, but its range is larger. Almost all the Powers that have an analogue to AD&D spells have at least been tweaked slightly, with different durations, ranges, damage values, or at least cleaner prose and simplified effects. So if you want to see someone's house-ruled AD&D spell-list with some cleaner prose, this might be for you.

We then move on to Equipment and Money, while I silently wonder why the appendix for the AD&D Player's Guide is in the back of its Dungeon Master's Manual.

Your characters' starting money is determined by your Caste, with higher Castes starting out with more cash. The exceptions are non-humans and barbarian humans whose starting money is very variable, and Yogis, who start out with absolutely nothing. RPGPundit keeps the same GP to SP to CP conversion rates as prior D&D editions and also includes houserules on obtaining loans. Of more interest is how he handles money, describing the repayment of loans, penalties for unpaid debts, and a banking system one can have with a clan. But that's over in three short paragraphs because we've got to find out how much loot your characters can heft!

Encumbrance has been changed from AD&D, and doesn't key off your character's STR or CON score for reasons I do not entirely understand. Every character, regardless of their Strength or Constitution, gets 20 "items" worth of weight that they can carry. A thousand coins or a quiver full of arrows counts as a single item, while heavy armor counts as five items. It's not exactly an intuitive naming scheme, but I'm more than happy to not play Oregon Trail with adventuring equipment. Classes like the Priest, Thieves, and Siddhi can only carry up to ten items before losing their special abilities, while a Yogi isn't allowed to carry any items beyond their standard Yogi accoutrements, period. Because strict asceticism means that the Fighter can move his own damned couch, thank you very much.

Looking over the equipment list, I see that Arrows of Indra uses an ascending Armor Class! :aaaaa: However, it also still apparently uses Weapon Speed and Armor Class Adjustment from AD&D, dampening my enthusiasm considerably. It will mean that I will have to attempt to parse these mechanics, and then explain what, if anything, AoI does
differently.

To put it simply (very simply, I'm not going to explain the math here), Weapon Speed determines how quickly you can act in a round, and determines whether or not you get multiple attacks in a single round. In Arrows of Indra, Weapon Speed has been simplified considerably, and now only adds a flat bonus or penalty to your initiative roll. On the other hand, Armor Class Adjustments are unchanged from AD&D. To quote a very handy AD&D wiki:

quote:

The AD&D system also includes a set of rules for adjusting AC per the weapon being used against the target's armor type. The use of the Armor Class Adjustment[1] chart would indicate a footman's flail has an adjustment of +2 (10% more likely to successfully hit the target) when used against an opponent wearing plate mail armor, whereas a spear used against the same target would impose a -2 (10% less likely to hit the target). It should be noted the adjustment is applied against the "to hit" roll only and not to damage, though including a corresponding damage adjustment is a commonly encountered house-rule. The Armor Class Adjustment table is not used in some campaigns, being seen as a needless complication that slows down combat without really adding to the game. Proponents of this system defend it as being an improved degree of realism in a somewhat abstract combat system.

As I read the last sentence I transformed into Charles Heston, screaming furiously at the Statue of Liberty. While the values have been adjusted in Arrows of Indra and the table is less dense, it's still the case that something like a Trident gets a +1 to hit against an unarmored opponent with an AC 12 but a -1 against a man in heavy armor, while a Tulwar gets a +1 against someone who is unarmored and a +2 against someone in leather armor. It's certainly more succinct, and laid out more reasonably than its AD&D counterpart: generally speaking the to-hit values decrease as armor class increases, rather than a table of positive and negative numbers in AD&D laid out seemingly at random.

But why is Armor Class Adjustment even necessary? It's still a situation where the players have to consult a table with nearly every attack roll to determine what modifiers they have, and given the simplifications that Speed Factor and encumbrance were given earlier on I'm not sure why this couldn't have been cut out. Other than that there are rules for bronze and steel equipment. Iron is considered the default, while bronze armor and weapons get a penalty and steel weapons get a bonus. Also included are costs for equipment, services, hirelings, and slaves. Generally speaking if it's an item from AD&D, it'll have the same costs in Arrows of Indra.

Before I move on to Game Master Procedures, I'd like to draw your attention to one of the better examples of art inside the book.


This is most likely an example of the public domain art in the book, given that it lacks the artist's unique style.

Going on, I find myself pleasantly surprised in that RPGPundit does bother to explain what Armor Class, Hit Points, and Saving Throws mean, even though he doesn't do so until after he references them throughout the book with no explanation. His earlier statements in the introduction left me worried that he wouldn't be attempting this. Of course, the mechanics would work how you'd expect: roll a d20, add modifiers, and see if you beat the number inside the GM's brain. Aside from the skill system mentioned earlier, a lot of the new content consists of modifications or simplifications of existing AD&D rules. A key difference is that this section is only 9 pages, compared to the 240 pages of AD&D's DMG. To the author's credit he sticks to what would be relevant for a campaign, unlike AD&D which drowns us in rules that most people are likely ignore. Reaction rolls, morale, wilderness travel, experience points, combat, and sources of damage are everything that's covered in this section. Though if you really are concerned about the differences between charging outdoors versus charging indoors, or want a big old list of traps there's still always AD&D, which I assume RPGPundit still intends to be used as a resource. :v:

Significantly more word count is used in the Gazetteer, which clocks in at about fourteen pages and includes some detailed maps. To be clear, the setting of the game is the Mahabharata which is summarized in great detail here. The game starts smack-dab in the middle of the story, and that unfortunately leaves a great deal of exposition to cover. Long story of the Mahabharata is one depicting the conflict between the two royal families of the Kingdom of Kuru, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Pandavas are the story's protagonists and in the game rule one half of the Kingdom of Kuru. The villain of the story, Duryodhana of the Kauravas, wants their half of the kingdom. He later accomplishes this by getting to the leader of the Pandavas, Yudhishthira to lose all of his possessions in a game of dice.

With all this in mind, I'll try to get to the Gazetteer tomorrow because that one is going to take some more time.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Bedlamdan posted:



I'll admit that I lost interest in finishing this review earlier: I'm not making excuses, I was just being lazy. But I was surprised to see this thread linked on rpg.net talking about both Arrows of Indra and my review of it.

Glad to see this back. From the sound of it the art and mechanical aspects are laughable, but he has actually put effort into the setting?

I'm interested to see if he stats up the Pandavas and Kuravas (well, some of the Kuravas given that there were a hundred of them to the Pandava's 5.

I'm vaguely tempted to have a look at Sahasra, The Land of 1,000 Cities which is an India inspired setting for 3.5, though it sounds as if it makes the same mistakes AoI does - i.e. no effort made to change the system to fit the setting.

Bedlamdan
Apr 25, 2008


Angrymog posted:

Glad to see this back. From the sound of it the art and mechanical aspects are laughable, but he has actually put effort into the setting?

He has, though he might have missteped here and there. There maybe a lot of :words: about some muddy linguistic waters being sailed.

Angrymog posted:

I'm interested to see if he stats up the Pandavas and Kuravas (well, some of the Kuravas given that there were a hundred of them to the Pandava's 5.

That, he does not do. Given also that the Pandavas were demigods, I'm not quite sure that something like "high level fighter" would cover someone like Arjuna

Angrymog posted:

I'm vaguely tempted to have a look at Sahasra, The Land of 1,000 Cities which is an India inspired setting for 3.5, though it sounds as if it makes the same mistakes AoI does - i.e. no effort made to change the system to fit the setting.

I haven't looked at Shasra, but it sounds interesting. It would not surprise me if it made the same mistakes, though.

Frankly, I think the chapter on races and classes are the biggest disappointments: the D&Disms feel intrusive and out of place. But, I think I am satisfied with the gazetteer over all, whatever my issues with his mechanics. This is not to say that there won't be occasion to raise an eyebrow later on.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


quote:

Gothic-Punk Australia

This phrase makes me laugh because, despite the climate, there are a bunch of proper old school Australian goths who dress up constantly. And play Vampire LARPs. And Mad Max does capture some of the perverse weirdness of Australia, though Dogs in Space is not about dogs but punks. Romper Stomper is just a good movie about RAGE in general. I'd love to see a Werewolf Australia splat based on Wake in Fright and Wolf Creek. And a plot hook about weresharks holding the tourist industry hostage by eating people on the beaches.

Does the book include the real organizations that really are Werewolf-style ecowarriors? There's at least one Goon who fits the bill and Sea Shephard founder Paul Watson IS an oWerewolf character. He looked into the eye of a dying whale and became inspired to attack whaling ships!

Are there were-bunnies who hosed up the ecosystem?

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Bedlamdan posted:

That, he does not do. Given also that the Pandavas were demigods, I'm not quite sure that something like "high level fighter" would cover someone like Arjuna

I have this nagging feeling that Murderhobo + India would be fine in a low fantasy or historical India, but not in Mythic India unless you also make it more human scale. I get the impression that characters in this are the guys covered by 'And on the morning of the third day of the battle, 18000 warriors died...' (but don't worry about them, because Arjuna is going to confront Karna)

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

If I wanted to represent Australia in a Fantasy setting I would also kill off the most famous mythological creature there.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


FedoraDefender420 posted:

If I wanted to represent Australia in a Fantasy setting I would also kill off the most famous mythological creature there.

They killed off the Drop Bear (which was statted in D20 Modern) and Taz the Tasmanian Devil? I've never heard anyone reference a bunyip. There are enough fearsome crocs and spiders to keep things going.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

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

One thing I just realized about Werewolf is that it really suffers from the classical "overpowered lazy bums everywhere" D&D problem. Gaia and Luna and all those other spirits are so awesome, but do they ever fix their own problems? Nope. Everyone from evil spiders to evil worms to paleolithic almost-humans can gently caress their poo poo up.

It makes the whole setting so much more funny when you realize that the whole Apocalypse thing is basically just Gaia telling her pets to fetch the slippers because she's too lazy to do it herself.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Count Chocula posted:

This phrase makes me laugh because, despite the climate, there are a bunch of proper old school Australian goths who dress up constantly. And play Vampire LARPs. And Mad Max does capture some of the perverse weirdness of Australia, though Dogs in Space is not about dogs but punks. Romper Stomper is just a good movie about RAGE in general.
The one thing I didn't include (because it broke the flow of the review somewhat) is a footnote that says "Howling III: Marsupials and Walkabout should be avoided"

quote:

And a plot hook about weresharks holding the tourist industry hostage by eating people on the beaches.
They do something like this in revised, but we're 5 years removed from that at this point. At the authoring of this book, all the other shapeshifters are dead. (They 'magically reappeared' in Rage Across the Amazon but that hadn't been published at the time this book was written)

Hilariously this also means that, without Mokole intervention, the Bunyip just decided to start loving marsupials one day with no actual indication that it would work. Because animals breed across taxa all the time, right?

quote:

Does the book include the real organizations that really are Werewolf-style ecowarriors? There's at least one Goon who fits the bill and Sea Shephard founder Paul Watson IS an oWerewolf character. He looked into the eye of a dying whale and became inspired to attack whaling ships!
Positive human action in environmental affairs is very much a revised thing, before that, if you weren't a werewolf or a literal primitive you were part of the problem.

quote:

Are there were-bunnies who hosed up the ecosystem?
They mention the fact that bunnies are an introduced species that hosed everything up, but there aren't any official were-rabbit splats.

Unofficial though :unsmigghh:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I guess White Guilt Across Australia didn't have the same ring to it. Richard Watts also did the Australian section of World of Darkness (both editions). I guess he was White Wolf's go-to Australian for all their Australia needs.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Bedlamdan posted:

He has, though he might have missteped here and there. There maybe a lot of :words: about some muddy linguistic waters being sailed.

Do you actually know any more information about that? I was aware of the phenomenon of cultural mismatching resulting in words that don't have an exact translation (ie. Yokai,Kami) but I'm only aware of it doing rudimentary research for fun.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I burst out laughing at the badly drawn vampire with the dog head.

Marsupial pouches need to be a deformity for Australian-born metis.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Kurieg posted:

The one thing I didn't include (because it broke the flow of the review somewhat) is a footnote that says "Howling III: Marsupials and Walkabout should be avoided"

Wait, they don't like Nicholas Roeg? What about The Last Wave, another good Australian supernatural horror movie? Tell me there's at least stats for Hanging Rock.

quote:


Positive human action in environmental affairs is very much a revised thing, before that, if you weren't a werewolf or a literal primitive you were part of the problem.
I never called eco-terrorists 'human'; it would make sense to turn most of them into werewolves or kin.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


So how does oWoD handle the Khoisan? Pretty sure they're the oldest active ethnicity of humans with their skeletal structures matching those of Upper Paleolithic hunter-gathers. I would figure the way old primitives get handled, South Africa and Namibia must be a nightmare zone for wyrmspawn to show up.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Tasoth posted:

So how does oWoD handle the Khoisan? Pretty sure they're the oldest active ethnicity of humans with their skeletal structures matching those of Upper Paleolithic hunter-gathers. I would figure the way old primitives get handled, South Africa and Namibia must be a nightmare zone for wyrmspawn to show up.

There's a Tzimisce offshoot in the Khoikhoin people, but that's as much as I can tell for sure without buying KotEK. White Wolf kind of ignored all of Africa that wasn't Egypt until late in revised.

Bedlamdan
Apr 25, 2008




Part 5: Gazetteer, The Patala Underworld

What the Gazetteer shows me, more than anything, is that RPGPundit certainly did his research. I feel, however, that he went much too far in adapting the setting to D&D, rather than adapting to D&D to India. The author has certainly stated that making it into an OSR game took priority:

quote:

Now, Arrows of Indra certainly does make a lot of concessions to the OSR framework in which it exists. Anytime I had a choice between various ways of presenting something from Indian Myth, I always intentionally chose the way that was closest to what would fit in the framework of traditional D&D. I did this intentionally, because I wanted AoI to be as accurate as possible but as playable as possible in the framework of an OSR game. No one is pretending this isn't the case.

Whether this makes the game better or worse is a matter for personal taste. But speaking personally, I feel much more invested in Mythic India than the OSR. It shows me that while the author certainly could have created a setting that's more India and less Dungeons and Dragons, he deliberately chose not to do so.

We begin with the geography and culture of the "Bharata Kingdoms," the main region of the game and the home of the civilized humans. I think it's a good word to use! Bharata is a word with a lot of different meanings, but from what I understand the term first came from Emperor Bharata, who according to the Mahabharata united the Indian subcontinent, and then named it after himself. The Mahabharata, the setting for the game, can be translated as the "the great tale of the Bharata dynasty." Further, the word Bharata itself has become synonymous with India, to the point where it is accepted as the second official name of the country.

The individual kingdoms of Bharata are culturally similar but still possess considerable variation. I would like to note that nothing in the Gazetteer was spun out of whole cloth: pretty much every kingdom or region in this section is mentioned in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vedas, or another Sanskrit epic. It's certainly better than the sections on races and classes, which introduced some concepts that felt decidedly out of place. This doesn't mean that there's not some left for nitpicking, however.

The geography of the map is pretty much Northern India, ranging from just south of the Vindhyas mountain range in central India to just north of the Himalayas. Except he called the Himalayas "The Himayant Mountains" instead, for reasons that escape me considering that the word Himalaya is already Sanskrit. Along with geography comes a description of culture, including a section on holidays and festivals. And I have in fact celebrated some of these! :D Diwali (The book calls it Dipavali but that's also a valid spelling) and Holi are major events in even modern India, and are also celebrated in non-Hindu communities such as Punjab, where my family lives.

We continue with a description of the traditions of the Bharata kingdoms, including another explanation of the concept of Caste. Again, RPGPundit does stress that the setting's conception of Caste is much less solid, and that upward mobility is possible. So if one must have a game where Caste disparity exists even amongst player characters of the same group, that would probably be how I'd handle it. The section also goes on to explain politics in the kingdoms, what it's like to be part of an extended Clan within a caste, and what it's like growing up in this region, all of which provides some interesting flavor for the setting.

There is, of course, the :siren: Obligatory Note on Gender Roles :siren: that follows most pen and paper games. This one is fairly interesting.

Arrows of Indra posted:

In the default setting, as in the historical/mythological period the setting is based upon, women are strictly relegated to very rigid social roles, and there’s little room for women to be able to operate as the kind of wandering adventurers that would be typical of an Arrows of Indra campaign. While the setting material is set up to describe that form of culture, there is nothing to prevent a GM from deciding that in his campaign there is more flexibility for the roles of women in the setting.
In the default setting, there are biological males who take on the role of a “third gender”, the “kliba” gender, who from a relatively early age did not fit into the standard expectations of men in the culture, and instead are raised (and follow the standards of dress and behavior) as women. A GM could thus certainly decide that for his campaign, there could be a similar gender role for women who take on the roles of men; and there is at least one contextual story (the legend of Shikhandi) that involves the daughter of a king being raised as a boy and becoming a formidable warrior.
The “kliba” gender are, in any case, an accepted part of Bharata society. In addition to being dancers and concubines, it would not be uncommon for a Kliba to become a Siddhi as the “third gender” were often considered graced with magic power.

That's not entirely accurate and requires a lengthy explanation. I believe that RPGPundit has fallen into a rather difficult linguistic minefield there, but the precise meaning of Kliba is one that is heavily disputed. In modern times, the word hijra is used to refer to biological males who consider themselves to be of a third gender. However, that term did not exist until the 16th century, and older terms such as "kliba" are not necessarily a one-for-one analogue. Generally speaking "kliba" does not refer to individuals of a third gender, but rather acts as a pejorative that refers to what was considered at the time to be 'defective males.' For example, men who are eunuchs, sterile, impotent, transvestites, homosexuals, hermaphrodites, and men who only produced female children. A more appropriate term ancient term for the third gender would be trithiya prakirthi which literally means "third nature" and can be used to refer to transgender people of any type. In the author's defense, "kliba" has been translated to be synonymous with third gender in other works, including translations of the source material. If it were possible, though, I would have suggested a different term.

The story of Shikhandi is an interesting one, but aside from the version that RPGPundit mentions, where a king is told to raise his daughter as a son, there are other versions where she is literally transformed into a man. Shikhandini was born as a girl and either through prayer or in trading her gender with a Yaksha who wanted to be a woman, depending on the version you like, became a man named Shikhandi.

The book then goes on to describe the history of the setting, explaining that is now the Age of Heroes: unlike the Golden Age the gods no longer walk the Earth (though given the ludicrous amount of divine intervention happening in these stories, I question that), and the Silver Age, when the kingdoms were first established and the Ramayana took place. To be frank, I would have preferred the game taking place during the Ramayana as opposed to the Mahabharata, but that's just a personal preference. It would have also have made the mechanics even more of an awkward fit with the setting. :v:

We then continue with an overview of the various kingdoms, almost all of which are referenced somewhere in one epic or another. I am curious as to how much of the details of each kingdom were drawn from sources and how much was the result of authorial license, however everything I can confirm as accurate to the Mahabaratha is accurate. For example the book makes mention that the Bahlika kingdoms to the West are seen as sort of an outsider by the rest of the Bharata Kingdoms, and this is true. In fact Bahlika itself means outsider. The little details that the Mahabharata uses to describe the various regions are all there.

Overall, this section is very well done, and to the best of my knowledge done with a lot of care. I think it would be fair to say that the author knows the Mahabaratha better than I do. I can't attest to every detail, but I do not feel that a hundred percent accuracy to the Mahabharata is all that essential either, especially for a role-playing game. The Mahabharata certainly makes for an interesting roleplaying setting, and it's probably the most worthwhile section of the book. If I had to point out one failing, it's the fact that a large number of NPCs are described but none of them are given any sort of stats. I suppose it makes sense, because I don't think that AD&D can represent characters who are just that over the top. Why the hell would someone like Bhima stop at just strength 18? :haw:

I'd also like to provide one example of the artist's work that I do enjoy.



:3:

I still can't say it's quality art, but I still think it's rather cute.

Next we go over the Patala Underworld, which also has a mythological basis. And honestly, if the entire book were like this, I'd be much more well disposed to this product! The book presents an overview of the seven regions of the Underworld: Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala, and Nagaloka. This isn't mentioned in the book, but the interesting about Patala is that each region corresponds to a base instinct, summarized here. All these regions correspond to chakras along the leg where base instincts dwell. Sometimes, Patala is depicted as part of the legs of Vishnu.

The first realm, closest to the surface, is Atala. It contains a Naga Kingdom, a lot of aggressive monsters, and is also the home of the demon Bala, son of Maya. We'll get to Maya later. Bala also has a vast harem of succubi who basically have sex with you until you die of exhaustion. To be fair, multiple sources describing Hindu myth says that Bala's realm is full of magically created women that have sex with you until you die of exhaustion. Just not, you know, Medieval European demonesses. :v:

Next is Vitala, which is populated by angry ghosts and... goblin tribes. :what: I've noticed a lot of discussion about the goblins in Arrows of Indra, with the argument for them being that just because they have the same name doesn't necessarily make them D&D goblins. As stated by the author on his website:

quote:

One of Shiva's titles/names is Pramathadhipa, which means "he who is served by Goblins". The legends of Shiva make mention that his court was mostly not of men but of all manner of wild creatures: satyr-like Ganas, ghosts, demons, Apsaras, Gandharvas, Yakshas, and also the Goblins.

Sadly, RPGPundit hasn't done much of anything to distinguish them from their D&D counterparts in the book. Their write ups are short and contain next to no flavor text, meaning that most people are going to fill in the blanks with the goblins they already know. Now, it is true that Shiva is served by creatures that could be construed as "goblin-like," certainly. But it still falls prey to the same same problems I had with Yakshas and Gandharvas: because they can be construed as analogous to D&D creatures, they are therefore D&D creatures.

While there are different interpretations of Ganas depending on what you read, I'd at least like to offer one that isn't cribbing too much from Western Fantasy Literature.

The Ganas: Hooligans of Heaven posted:


The Ganas (categories) are the host of spooks, hobgoblins and spirits who accompany Shiva. Some are said to dwell with him on Mount Kailasa, whilst the more fearsome and terrifying Ganas are confined to the cremation grounds. It is told that Uma once asked Lord Shiva why he liked to reside in cremation grounds, which were the abode of demons, jackals, corpses and vultures, when he had so many more beautiful places. Mahesvara replied that he had roamed the world, looking for a pure place to meditate in. Unable to find one, he, out of anger and frustration, he created the terrible pishachas, flesh-eating ghouls and terrible rakshasas, intent on killing people. Out of compassion however, he kept this terrible horde in the cremation ground. As he did not want to live without the bhutas and ganas, he chose to live in a cemetery. When the ghosts stayed with him, they caused no harm.

The presence of the terrible Ganas also acted as an honour guard to Shiva and a bar to the impure. Those who feared the awful ghosts and goblins were destined to remain outsiders. Only heroes could be near him in the cremation ground, heroes who had defied death and liberated themselves from passions and fear. These were the true devotees - those who had nothing to fear, who had mastered the onslaught of the multiple categories of threatening powers that were fatal to those who were less than heroes and could not control the frightening phantoms because they had not controlled themselves.

There was a ripe opportunity to show what made these goblins different from D&D goblins. As it is, the entirety of descriptive text the goblins get in this book are "short hideous fanged humanoids who have great tribes here, where they mine for gold" and their description in the monster section is as follows: "These creatures live mainly in the Patala Underworld, especially in Vitala, the 2nd realm of the underworld. However, they are sometimes found in mountain caves near the surface world." Nowhere is their status as Shiva's attendants made clear, and goblins are in fact treated as entirely separate from the creatures RPGPundit does refer to as Ganas, who are depicted as angry looking goat-men who serve the gods Shiva and Ganesha.

I spent way more time than RPGPundit did on the goblins, so let's quickly move on to the next level, Sutala. Sutala is ruled by a demon named Bali, who for all intents and purposes is a fairly decent fellow. The story goes that after Bali conquered three worlds, was banished to Sutala by an avatar of Vishnu. Rather than fight back, Bali surrendered willingly, and Vishnu rewarded him by making him filthy rich. Bali continues to worship Vishnu, though the book adds an extra wrinkle by leaving in question as to how sincere Bali's penances actually are. As such, the realm is guarded by Devas who make sure that nobody can get in and Bali can't get out. The Devas are led by Prahlada, who in the game is an Asura that became a devotee of Vishnu after being saved from his demonic father. It's a bit of an odd choice, especially since the most I know about Prahlada is that he was a human prince who was saved by Vishnu from his certainly evil, but still human father. I assume this was a deliberate choice on the author's part, and it at least is an interesting change rather than a dull one.

The next realm is called Talatala, and is ruled over by Maya, the demon-architect and the father of Bala way back on level one. Maya built three magical floating cities that were prosperous and dominant, but also very impious. As such Shiva destroyed the cities. Maya was spared only after he offered devotion to Shiva in exchange for his life, and Talatala is his place of exile. Shiva is pretty much the most badass god (SORRY VAISHNAVITES). Regardless Talatala is described in the book as a realm of magical wonders but also a realm ruled by a very bored demon. As an aside, Maya was featured in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata: in the former he was the villain's father in law, and in the latter ended up building a magical palace for the Pandavas in exchange for his life.

Next is Mahatala, which the book describes as a realm of powerful but violent Nagas, as well as the realm of the Asura Hiranyaksha, who tried to tried to destroy the world (according to the story, he picked up the world and put it into the bottom of the "cosmic ocean") and fought with Vishnu for a thousand years straight. It occurs to me that I have no idea how a collection of oldschool characters are supposed to contend against something that could fight Vishnu for a thousand years. :v: It should be noted that like the NPCs described in the Gazetteer, creatures like Hiranyaksha or Maya lack stats of any sort.

Second to last is Rasatala, a maze of tunnels and warrens ruled over by Asuras. That's all that can be said and that's all I really can find out on my own. :ssh:

Finally, we have Nagaloka, yet another realm where there are Naga. But in Nagaloka, there are the most Naga. Tons of Naga. There aren't malicious but they tend to be suspicious of outsiders. It's ruled by that Naga god-king Vasuki, and contains a magical pool that makes one immune to disease and aging. If you go down any further, you will reach Naraka.

The chapter ends with some tables for the random generation of caverns, including their size, lighting levels, hazards, and unique features. This is followed by random encounter tables for all seven levels of Patala. Nnnot exactly riveting stuff after the excitement that the rest of the chapter offered.

And that marks the high-point of the review, and probably the best part of the book. I'll be pretty busy for the next few weeks, and I'm not totally certain that I'll be able to make time for the review for some time. As such, I felt it was very important to cover these sections of the book beforehand.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Thanks for going over that, Bedlam.

I really need to find my comics again; there's a few good pictures of Shiva and his followers there.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I'm also glad to see the AoI review underway again.

U.T. Raptor
May 11, 2010

Are you a pack of imbeciles!?



quote:

So the Bunyip were free to shepherd them into a gentle and spiritual people that existed in peace and harmony with Gaia.
Which is a funny way of saying "wiped out almost every mammal larger than a dog (and several non-mammals of similar size, for that matter)" :allears:

U.T. Raptor fucked around with this message at 17:07 on Jul 25, 2013

Zerilan
Jan 11, 2008

I have to believe I can do this.







The AoI review just shows to me how stifling group mentalities like the OSR can be. Pundit clearly did his research on his material and has a chance to fully delve into a setting and culture rarely touched on in rpgs, but decides to make concessions to match a decades old games with hundreds of clones already.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012





Introduction

Croatan Song is the closest Werewolf ever got to making an actual tribebook for one of the lost tribes. It’s got the Gifts and a small writeup for the Croatan like you’d find in the core. But it’s mainly a setting book about how to run a game in the Americas before the Europeans came. It’s also an auxiliary source book for the Uktena and Wendigo. Since they borrow from their native culture more from any other tribe (for better or worse), getting a better idea of Native American culture viewed through the Werewolf lens would make for a richer roleplaying experience, I guess. As you might imagine, it’s a very focused book, so its utility is very limited.

Werewolf: the Apocalypse’ traditional position on the pre-Columbian Americas has been one of idyllic peace and tranquility. The Native Americans are “close to nature” (ugh), so they didn’t ruin the environment. Wyrm monsters didn’t run around with impunity and all the werewolves and Fera lived in peaceful harmony. Will Croatan Song subvert this picture? Do you even need to ask?

First, though, let’s talk about the Croatan. They’re all dead. All of them. No, you cannot play as a Croatan. Don’t even bother asking your Storyteller. They sacrificed themselves to imprison Eater of Souls. It’s possible that with more aid, they might have lived or at least killed Eater of Souls outright, but in any case, they’re dead.


Well of course he's wearing a feather.

Before their death they were the balance between the creepy mystical Uktena and the angry monstrous Wendigo. Where Wendigo was passionate, they were patient, and where Uktena was hubristic, they were humble. They were prone to gentleness and solitude, which may have been their undoing. They were focused on purifying land, as their totem Turtle was aspected to the element of Earth.

Appearance: As wolves, they’re mahogany, like the earth! As humans, they were very diverse, since their kin spanned a third of North America.

Territory: They populated the Mississippi River Valley and the Northeast coast, as well as the southern Great Lake basin.

Tribal Totem: Turtle gave the Croatan their steadfastness, as well as their stubbornness. They Croatan also followed Thunderbird, Corn Maiden, Trout, and the Earth-burrowers

On to the tribebook proper with the introduction piece Renown. Hmm, there are three Pure Tribes and three kinds of Renown. I wonder how this tale will end? Please, don't spoil me.

Once upon a time, everything was happy and natural and just like it is at the beginning of every stereotypical Native American folktale written by white people. Humans hadn’t become murderous, city building dicks yet, so that was nice. The werewolves fought amongst themselves, but they still did their job. But, there were three Garou, Uktena, Croatan, and Wendigo, that got into a huge argument. They were brothers, and were usually good about keeping up with their howling prayers to Luna and boasting competitions. One day, though, the boasting turned sour.

Uktena boasted that he had swum underneath the water for all its length, discovering all kinds of hidden caves full of secrets. Croatan had fully explored the forests and mountains and loved all the small animals he found. Wendigo braved the tundra and the glacier winds of the North and bested all manner of Wyrm monster. So, all three argued amongst themselves about which feat was the most bold and which brother was the strongest, and eventually it claim to blows.

Eventually, Croatan decided that they would have to talk to the spirits to settle their argument. The other brothers agreed and they went into the Umbra. Uktena found a river and cleansed himself, meditating on his impatience with Croatan’s gentleness and Wendigo’s rashness. His impatience washed away in the river. Croatan found some dirt and channeled his envy of Uktena’s wisdom and Wendigo’s strength into it. Wendigo found a snowstorm and allowed it to carry his anger at Uktena’s smugness and Croatan’s rationality away.

After that and more meditation, the brothers finally set off on their spirit quest. A moon bridge opens up before them, and Wendigo wants to go first. Uktena is about to invoke “age before beauty” privileges until Croatan interrupts him and suggests that they all go together at once, since the bridge is wide enough for all three. Uktena and Wendigo are embarrassed.

As they go along the bridge, they each see their totem. Uktena sees an uktena, Wendigo sees a wendigo, and Croatan sees a croatan a turtle. They each pledge to win the competition between them.

Eventually, they reach a giant hedge wall. Wendigo jumps over it, seeing it as a physical challenge, but gets nicked. Uktena sees a stream through the brambles and digs it wider, allowing himself to go under the bush without harm. Croatan goes straight through it, seeing it as a challenge of honor. He takes forever and is torn to poo poo. Still, they go on.

They pass through other similar challenges, where Wendigo takes the immediate physical route, Uktena comes up with a rational solution, and Croatan doesn’t give a poo poo. Eventually, they’re forced to fight some spirits one on one. Wendigo just goes for it, Uktena finds his opponent's weak point, and Croatan allows his opponent the first blow. They go at it until the spirits grant them a vision.

This particular vision is about the Europeans ruining everything!!! Well, this is coming out of left field. Wendigo wants to kill them, Uktena wants to study them, then kill them, and Croatan secretly plans to abandon his brothers to fight it. :monocle:

Then Gaia shows up and tells them that each brother represents a different kind of renown! Uktena’s Wisdom, Wendigo’s Glory, and Croatan is Honor, which the Croatan interpret as Suicidal. So, now both the Uktena and the Wendigo pursue Honor because they can’t increase their rank or learn new Gifts otherwise to remember the Croatan.

Wasn’t that a great, meaningful conclusion? No? Well, imagine having five full pages of story with no pictures leading up to that. It’s so monotonous and boring for such a lame ending. It tries to mimic the folk device of repeating motifs and patterns, but because this story is like three rolled into one it just drags things out. In-universe it’s probably an okay story, but we already know the Europeans ruin everything and that Croatan dies. That's the whole point of the Croatan.

Each tribe getting its own Renown ending is kind of a twist, but it doesn’t really mean anything. There’s no cosmological truth behind Glory, Honor, and Wisdom, they’re just game terms for the kinds of things werewolves can get Renown for. And for all that, the story is just way too long. Granted, most folktales are very long in their full forms, but when writing a book for an RPG I don’t think respecting the oral tradition of a fictional society is Priority A. This is going to be a problem throughout the book.

Next time: Another origin myth! It's less boring, but only marginally.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009





Okay if 20th anniversary Apolcalypse ever gets to stuff like this, I'm going to track down the authors, tie them to a chair, and force them to read at least a summary of this

InShaneee
Aug 11, 2006

Cleanse them. Cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe them in the crimson of ... am I on speakerphone?

Fun Shoe



Countdown, Chapter 3 - Skoptsi

This sacred texts of the Skoptsi say their history begins with a man named Semyon, a christian monk spreading the faith in what would later be Kiev sometime around 1200 AD. Semyon had the bad fortune to run into a Mongol expeditionary force, who torched and pillaged the village Semyon was staying in, and crucified him as a 'joke' on his faith. Semyon hung on the cross in the ruins of the village for two days before being visited by a monk in black robes. The monk started a religious debate with Semyon, arguing the village massacre disproved God's love, and after a day Semyon relented and accepted the monk's offer to accept a new faith. The monk taught Semyon to summon the Magna Mater (who you might know better as Shub Niggurath), who devoured Semyon and rebirthed him, completely insane and reborn as one of her chosen. After seeking out and taking revenge on the Mongols who nearly killed him, Semyon ventured into the Caucasus Mountains, where he established a temple to the Magna Mater.

For the next four centuries, the Caucasus Mountains would be the center of a number of kidnappings from christian and muslim enclaves in the surrounding areas. The Persians and Ottomans sent various expeditions into the mountains to root out the supposed cult there, but all either returned empty handed, or didn't return at all. By 1650, there was enough outrage over this to form an unprecedented alliance between the Cossacks, Ottomans, and Persians, who sent a combined 10,000 warriors into the mountains to end the threat permanently. They burned every building, tree, and living creature they found, even salting the earth behind them. They found the temple and (at the cost of more than half their number) killed nearly all the cultists, put down a Dark Young they'd summoned, and captured the insane 450 year old Semyon. Semyon was sentenced to be drawn and quartered...and when that failed to kill him, he was burned along with the bodies of the other cultists. Unfortunatly, the few cultists that escaped took the Black Icons, their religious text, with them, and went into hiding, disguising themselves as an esoteric, reclusive christian sect known as the Skoptsi ("the castrated"). The apparent beliefs of the Skoptsi revolved around the belief that all sex (yes, all of it) was a sin in the eyes of god. Thus, members participated in a "baptism of fire" (read: self-castration) to purge themselves of their sin (women could also participate; I'll leave you to guess how). Actual worship of the Magna Mater was contained in the group's inner circle, with new members only being brought into the true faith seconds before the Baptism.

In 1779, the cult's then high priest Kondratji Selivanov journeyed to Moscow, where he was introduced to Czar Alexander I via a German baroness who worshiped another manifestation of Shub Niggurath. Czar Alexander I had an interest in mysticism and found Skoptsi's apparent extreme christian piety inspiring. He forbade their persecution, patronized the cult with money, set Selivanov up with an extravagant mansion in Moscow, and inadvertently turned several influential members of the royal court to the cult. The cult enjoyed a place of luxury and power until Selivanov had the bad luck (possibly encouraged by enemies) to die in 1832 while out and about; when he was to be washed prior to burial, the hideous deformities from his rebirth were discovered, and his body was burned straightaway. Starting in 1840, Czar Nicholas began a pogrom against Skoptsi, arresting and deporting their members by the hundreds. However, this only served to spread the cult to new regions as members fled to various locations in eastern europe. During this period, Czar Nicholas' secret police were able to seize the Black Icons, a fact that frustrated the cult until 1901, when they were successfully able to bribe their way to their return.

The October Revolution in 1917 was nearly the end for the cult. There was a crackdown on all religious sects at the time, but the Skoptsi, with their secretiveness and perceived association with Czar Peter III, were treated particularly harshly, with the Bolsheviks maintaining a "shoot on sight" policy towards them. The purge was extremely effective, and outlying Skoptsi communities realized they'd need to flee if they wanted to survive. They made their way to Vladivostok, where they were able to convince the American occupying trooops there to smuggle them back to the US as "oppressed christians fleeing godless communism". A casualty of this period was the Black Icons, which ended up in private hands and have been scattered and passed from auction house to auction house ever since.

Skoptsi first arrived in Los Angeles, where they were able to remain concealed for some time. At least, that is, until they attempted to send emissaries back to the USSR. The emissaries never returned, and the group's high priest was killed by vigilantes who discovered their true worship. The group scattered once again and remained fragmented until 1935, when they rejoined and settled down in an unincorporated district on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Today, Skoptsi is about 360 members strong, all of whom have been indoctrinated into the worship of the Magna Mater, and all of whom do their best to project the image of a hardworking immigrant community.


Subtlety is a lost art

Skoptsi as an organization always faced one major issue: recruitment. Castrated members didn't tend to have many children, after all. Where in the past they had turned to kidnapping, the Land of Opportunity offered a new route: adoption. In 1948, the group founded Families without Frontiers, and orphanage with the stated intention of rescuing orphan children from behind the Iron Curtain. Set on a 200 acre farm, the property both gives the image of pastoral peace to outsiders, and affords the privacy the group needs to conduct their business. There are typically about 20 orphans on the farm at any given time. Conversion of the children is done by physically and mentally abusing the children constantly, with the group's matron (and fanatical worshiper) Yalena Kalamatiano acting as their 'savior', while teaching them of the Magna Matron. Those who follow her teachings are rewarded with treats and reprieves, and eventually, should they choose to take the Baptism of Fire, they are placed with a family within the cult. Those that refuse are sacrificed to a Dark Young the group keeps bound.

More recently, the cult has been forced to face the consequences of losing the Black Icons. Their loss meant the loss of the incantation for the Ritual of Rebirth, which summoned Shub Niggurath and provided the old guard their immortality. Without it, they have begun to wither and die in their extremely advanced age. The cult is presently working with the Russian Mafia in the hopes they will be able to locate the Icons and rejuvenate the cult.


Next time: The OUTLOOK Group, MJ-12's secret testing facilities.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Shub-Niggurath: where 'yonic symbolism' becomes 'yawnic'.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Guess what they do with the spell Wither Limb and win no prize.

Mechanics are included.:ohdear:

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Y'know, after the avatar of Y'golonac in The Stars Are Right, that dealt extra SAN damage if you noticed it had an extra mouth you-can-guess-where, I'm not surprised.

pospysyl
Nov 10, 2012





Introduction and the Most Boring Diaspora Ever

Before we start, I should mention the best thing about this book: the art. I complained a lot about Kane's art for the Children of Gaia book, but when properly inked he can do amazing work. The other artists are of similar quality and it really gives you a sense of the kind of personalities and images the book wants to evoke, better, I'd argue, than the writing itself.


Look at this! This is great.

One the credits page, we learn that each tribe has its own author. Jackie Cassada’s taking the Uktena, Nicky Rea is writing up the Wendigo, and Bill Bridges is handling the Croatan. Really, though, Cassada and Rea count as one writer, as they write pretty much everything as partners. They were one of those teams that got shuffled around and contributed to a huge amount of books for the oWoD. For Werewolf, they wrote the Gurahl (werebears) book, which was fine, and the original Uktena tribebook, which, aside from the completely awful intro comic, was among the best of the first series of tribebooks. They aren’t spectacularly inventive, but they understand this sort of spiritual/animistic source material well. Bill Bridges was one of the big writers for the oWoD and was a principal figure behind W20.

The introduction has an in-character piece introducing us to the story of the fall of the Pure Tribes and an out-of-character explanation of the Croatan Song setting. Unlike modern times, where nature is despoiled and such, nature here is untouched, meaning there’s tons of forests, mountains, and clear lakes to elevate your storytelling. This isn't exactly accurate, since the Native Americans used tons of slash-and-burn tactics, built large settlements, and hunted animals to extinction, but we'll get into that later. There are also monsters, which is also inaccurate, but I guess you could figure that one out.

Moods include: joy, excitement, fear, sadness, despair. Really, any mood. The same goes for theme, too, except there’s a bit more of a focus on initiations.

We have a sidebar about terminology, explaining that the various Indian peoples will be referred to as nations, rather than tribes, for both respect and to distinguish them from the werewolf tribes. Although there’s nothing wrong with tribes, I can respect their intentions here. They also provide a substantial bibliography, which just goes to show how far they had come from Rage Across Australia, where their sources were just one guy. It’s a mix of atlases, nature books, children’s story collections, and Native American histories, about what you would expect.


The art is so good they even retroactively add red-eye.

Chapter 1 has a werewolf invite us into his tent. He starts chanting “hey-a, hey” and already we’re going into what we might charitably call pastiche. This is vitally necessary to summon the spirits, who only respond to really cheesy Native American stereotypes. He’s talking about the distant past, so only the spirits would be able to remember what actually happened back them.

However, the spirits only know about this story through rumor. In fact, it might just be…a legend! :aaa: Croatan Song has a way of dragging out the obvious.

So there were once three brothers. Little Brother was all feisty, Middle Brother was contemplative but prone to isolating himself, and Older Brother was obsessed with secrets. Each of their weaknesses were softened by the efforts of the other brothers, so they were pretty chuffed with themselves. Are these brothers real? Who knows! It’s a legend. They're really hammering this point in.

Around that time, humans were starting to use and depend on their tools and their associated Weaver spirits. Some werewolves got pissed and attacked them, some literally cried (guess which tribe), but the Three Brothers isolated themselves from civilization and lived in the woods. They took their kin with them, and although they still used tools, they were still more in tune with nature, which is such garbage. The people who would become the Native Americans were just as “civilized” as every other contemporary culture. They built settlements and used tools just like everybody else and altered the landscape just as effectively. This is blatant noble savage nonsense, where the Native American precursors are animalistic but better for it.

Anyway, the Three Brothers protected their people from other werewolves and Wyrm monsters until they received a dream vision. An old woman was crying, saying that her home was being attacked by monsters and that soon it would be as bad as Eurasia! The Brothers asked how that could be, and the woman just said that it had more natural beauty and crap, but it didn’t have any werewolves to protect it. On the face of it, this is dumb because even though humans had begun altering their environment, it wasn't exactly on a grandiose scale, but as we later find out, there actually were changers that were protecting the region. This is a pretty racist origin myth, and I’m willing to believe that was intentional.

The Brothers compared notes and decided that they would help out this lady. When they dreamt again, instead of an old lady, they found a diseased dinosaur monster! Apparently it was meant to stop the old lady from calling the werewolves, but the Brothers scared it away. This proved to the Brothers that the Americas needed saving, and Gaia sent spirits to guide them across the land bridge. Among these spirits were the three totems of the Pure Tribes: Uktena, the river spirit, Turtle, the spirit that bore the Americas on its back, and Sasquatch, the Bigfoot. Joining the party was Crescent Vision, a Stargazer, the only non-member of the Pure Tribes to join the Brothers.


Maybe it was a dragon, I don't know.

The Brothers didn’t trust Crescent Vision, so they decided to haze him. First, they had him pull all the sleds in the party, and considering this included everybody who would become the Native Americans, this was difficult. Still, Crescent Vision did it. Then, he was forced to guide the team without any help from the spirits. Luna shined the way, so really Crescent Vision cheated. Despite this, the Three Brothers still trusted him.

Various groups of Kin left the party as the Brothers went along, settling themselves on what would be the Aleutians and the northwestern coast of Asia. Wyrm monsters attacked, but the spirits protected them, including the totems. Eventually, they reached the New World, and Little Brother and his tribe stuck with the stragglers in the North to protect them. Older and Middle Brother ran south and began breeding with the local populace. They had to wage a huge battle to keep their new land, and in the battle Sasquatch got really cold and froze into Wendigo. :iiam:

After the battle, the Three Brothers convened. They wanted to go get the people they left on the other side of the land bridge, which had by then sunk. To do this, they awakened a caern to create moon bridges across the ocean. After a few years, the search party returned, but they were pursued by Wyrm monsters. The Wyrm monsters hid the returners behind a silver mirror, which Crescent Mirror broke, sacrificing himself as prophesized. With his final words, he asked that the moon bridge be closed. Today, his spirit guards the caern. Why was he in this story, again?

The Three Brothers began migrating once again. Little Brother stayed behind, since they were used to the cold, Wendigo was a whiny pissant and refused to leave Canada, and the other brothers couldn’t handle the climate. As the two brothers left, various members of their tribes left the migration to settle among the various peoples of the Americas, forming kin relationships with the nations.


Seriously, this book has great art.

Eventually, Older and Middle Brother came to a disagreement. Middle Brother liked the forests and plains, while Older Brother liked the mountains and deserts. So, they split up. Some of the Older Brother’s tribe went to the Southeast, while members of the Middle Brother tribe settled in the Southwest. They fought Wyrm monsters as they went, but at that time they were dumb beasts, rather than the corrupted magicians that would show up later, so they could handle themselves.

They also encountered the Fera! The werecats were pretty cool, but they were selfish and wanted to handle things on their own. They were jealous of the werewolves, which is exactly what the werewolves would think. The Gurahl were more respected, since their rites weakened the Wyrm, protecting the Americas.

Next time: The evils of sun worship

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Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


pospysyl posted:

Next time: The evils of sun worship

...Hmm...

It's about Native Americans...it has something to do with their religious beliefs...the writers seemed to honestly believe Pocahontas was an accurate representation of either...which means Europeans, and Christians are the bad guys...

...This is gonna be the "Jesus is the Sun" chestnut again, isn't it?

Get ready for 90s White Wolf's opinion on Christianity, kids. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Erebro fucked around with this message at 04:15 on Jul 29, 2013

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