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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts® Space Part 7: "Another wrinkle about the schizoid in particular, is that the VRRDS Steel Dragon operator will begin to think of himself as not being human, but a dragon."

Robot Vehicles & Power Armor

The "standard features" are just like normal power armor in Rifts (see my corebook review), only that ones in space generally have linkups to station or satellite sensors.

KLS Glitter Boys

And now, we find ourselves to the most controversial part of the book. Glitter Boys, undoubtedly the most powerful combat machine from the corebook, gets upgraded version. This often gets pointed to as part of the "power creep" of Rifts, but I think that's a mistaken assertion. First off, the Glitter Boy in the original book is already broken - adding 33% extra damage is devastating, but the problem is with the original design, not the versions in Mutants in Orbit. Secondly, the orbital setting is about as divorced from the core setting as they can make it, so the new Glitter Boys can't appear in most games. Thirdly, the newest model of Glitter Boy in this book, as we'll see, is actually notably worse than previous models.

No, the dumb part about Glitter Boys... in... spaaaaace is that they're just tactical embarassments. Their attack range is rated in a mile or two miles, and they move in space via thruster at 150-300 MPH. The problem comes up in that missiles in Rifts have a range of a few miles to hundreds of miles. The solution: load space fighters with missiles, fire at Glitter Boys until all the Glitter Boys are dead.

Of course, in theory laser weapons should also outrange most of the Glitter Boys, but for some reason this book ranges lasers in thousands in feet (around 1 or 2 miles), when they should have a potentially much, much higher range. In most Rifts books, I'm willing to handwave the complete unrealism of most rayguns - that's fine. The problem is that Mutants in Orbit bases itself more in realistic weapon systems like chemically-based lasers we have real data for, and then gives them extremely limited ranges... in space.

In any case, on to the glam mecha.

Glitter Boy - Mark III


Dozens of Glitter Boy pictures, only one picture of a GB pilot so far: Rifts!

This is supposed to be the same Glitter Boy from the corebook, but retrofitted for flight in space (up to 150 MPH) and boosted jumps in gravity. However, it gives up about 25% of its M.D.C. for this, so its armor is significantly lessened.

Mutants in Orbit posted:

The jets enable the GB to maintain its position when floating in zero gravity, while the pylons, acting with the jets, hold the armor steady on a surface and can even attach themselves to spaceships (inflict one M.D. and rarely punch all the way through the hull).

Yes, they still have the boom gun, despite the distinct lack of a boom while in space. And the laser drill pylons somehow don't seriously damage spaceship hulls... despite going 4.5 feet deep.

Alternately, instead of the boom gun, they can be retrofitted with a "VL-07 Variable Frequency Laser Cannon" that does less damage, but overcomes the laser resistance Glitter Boys have, meaning it's at least marginally more effective against other Glitter Boys. Mind, since the KLS Corporation has almost all the Glitter Boys, having them develop a weapon to mostly fight... themselves... is of questionable efficacy.

Old-Style Glitter Boy - Mark IV


Horns.

This is the guy on the cover, and is probably the best Glitter Boy unit in the game at this point. It's tougher than any other at 800 M.D.C., and replaces the Boom Gun with a "PB-20 Rapid Acceleration Particle Beam Cannon" that does 4d6 x 10 M.D., instead of the Boom Gun's 3d6 x 10 M.D. The big drawback is that it has about a tenth of the Boom Gun's normal ammo capacity, so it can conceivably run out of ammo in a single combat, though it recharges one shot per minute.

Oh, and when it runs out of ammo, it gets a laser backup weapon that does... 4d6 M.D. You can't see me twirling my finger right now, and there's no emoticon, but let's just say it's pretty unimpressive. "Hey, if you lose your sword, you can use this toothpick as a backup weapon!"

New Style Glitter Boy - Mark V


Headwings.

This is supposed to be the first Glitter Boy designed largely for zero gravity combat. It can rocket around at 300 MPH. A blistering speed, until I remember that a relative piloted a Curtiss C-46 Commando during World War II, a sluggish transport plane that went around the same speed... not real impressive in space, in any case.

It has 700 M.D.C., so it has about 10% less armor than the basic model. Where it falls down is the armaments - there's a "PBM-15 Rapid Acceleration Particle Beam Mini-Cannon" with a measly 1d6 x 10 damage - 33% of that of a Boom Gun - and only 15 shots. The text makes a big deal of their secondary armaments - a 6d6 arm laser and a 3d6 head laser. Unfortunately, dual-wielding toothpicks does not make them more alarming as weapons. Thankfully, they can be retrofitted with weapons from the Mark III.

And that's the big power creep controversy! Only the Mark IV stands out as more powerful than the basic model and might be accused of such, but it has real issues in long-term fights of over a minute or so.

Cyberworks
Robots of the CAN Republic

verrrrrrds for nerrrrrds

All of the CAN robots - except for the hard suit - come in both a piloted and VRRDS version.

CAN Hard Suit
Power Armor


This is a suit more for mining and space work than combat. It has only light M.D.C. for power armor, improves one's physical attributes, and can fly at very modest speeds in space. No art for it.

VRRDS Samurai


"It's really more like power armor."

It looks like a samurai because "they have VRRDS operator a psychological edge in that he or she would effectively become/control a recognizable heroic figure, famous for their combat skill, valor, and discipline." In other words, the designers were deeply weeaboo.

In any case, it's modestly tough, and can fly around at 150 MPH in space. It has a laser rifle that does modest damage. It's variable frequency lets it to full damage to Glitter Boys once it adapts, but most likely the Glitter Boy will have blown the samurai to hell at that point. It also has a vibro-sword that does modest damage as well. They also have lovely laser eyes and also have detailed hand-to-hand damage lists if they want to do lovely damage in hand-to-hand.

What I'm saying is I'm glad they have VR technology because these things are likely to get the hell blown out of them by Glitter Boys that are decades-old designs. For being so technologically advanced, Cyberworks is still struggling to make a decent giant robot, about a third as powerful as a Glitter Boy at about eight times the weight. Not much war machine per pound.

VRRDS Mikado


Assaulting both your space station and your cultural sensitivity.

Also known as the "Little Emperor", even though Mikado = Emperor is a western misnomer. (But then, this is a book that had a "Sino-Japanese" space station...) This is the heavy assault version of the Samurai, and actually gets a rail gun competitive with the Boom Gun. It's still weaker than the Glitter Boys, but only modestly so, and can rocket at a blistering 500 MPH in space and actually fly in an atmosphere. It also has the lovely sword and lovely eye lasers as the Samurai.

Usually I don't even acknowledge the hit locations - for the most part they're boring and pointless, but the Mikado in particular has a "Protective Armored Skirt" listed as a location that can take 150 M.D.C. Now, in the illustration, I don't see a skirt at all. I see a crotch protector. So it's a 150 M.D.C. crotchguard, apparently. And what happens if you blow it up? Nothing! Nothing at all. Why is it listed? I got nothin'.

The Steel Dragon


"It's really more like a dracotaur."

This is a big, four-legged monster-styled tank-thing. Its big advantage that uses one pilot and two gunners, getting the combined attacks of both gunners. For some reason it lists each gunner as having 6 attacks (and operates on that assumption) even though that could vary based on their stats and level.

Despite being a 32 ton war machine, it's only about 33% tougher than a glitter boy. It has laser arms, mini-missles, head lasers (all heads must have lasers, tiny laser turrets, and a blade tail. It does middling to solid damage, depending. It can barely move in space at 40 MPH.

Here's an issue: this thing costs 100 million IOU. A Mark IV Glitter Boy costs 25 million IOU. With two Mark IVs (50 million IOUs) against one Steel Dragon (100 million IOUs), which do you think would win? Let's put it this way: my 50 million is firmly on the Glitter Boys.

Laika Station
L-7 Explorer



Tiny t-rex arms can never hug.

This is a dinky 22' exploration mech. It's actually pretty tough and can zoom around, and has a 1d6 x 10 Variable frequency laser, which is loving stupid - why does this thing need an anti-Glitter Boy weapon? It'll take 8 or so shots for it to "align" to the Glitter Boy's armor, and then another 14 shots to actually pierce it. The Glitter Boy needs... 3-4 shots to obliterate the L-7 Explorer. What where you thinking, cosmonauts?

It also gets a laser and some mini-missiles, and it's the last of the robots in the book.

Next: How not to design rules to design spaceship designs.

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Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011


Asimo posted:

More importantly, I encourage folks who have similar sorts of fliers, posters, advertising, and all that from the 70's and 80's and even the 90's to scan them and put them up. Archival is important, and every bit of art and information posted helps to flesh out the history of the hobby.

"History of the hobby", you say... well, I'm not even gonna pretend this was ever remotely my own, but the mod I ran it by gave it the green light, so in the interest of archival:

"The Lost Caverns of Tsojconth" - Original 1976 Tournament Edition

Some of you may recognize that name from AD&D's salad days. Well, you're almost right. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth () was released in 1982 as the fourth in TSR's "S"-series of AD&D adventure modules, which also includes such luminaries as The Tomb of Horrors (covered in this very thread by DAD LOST MY IPOD), Expedition to Barrier Peaks (covered by WTF D&D!? a few years ago, a must-read if you haven't already), and White Plume Mountain (I'm sure it'll be your turn someday, just keep waiting by that phone). Like Tomb and Expedition, Tsojcanth was first written and designed by Gygax himself as a tournament module for a convention, in this case the Metro Detroit Gamers' "Wintercon V". The official TSR release was extensively rewritten, revised, and respelled for private campaign use; I don't have a copy on-hand I can use to compare the two versions, but it's a safe bet that the term "rough draft" could be applied.

Now that everybody's got some idea of what they're going to be looking at, let's get a look at it.


No printers or image editing back then, every page was typewritten and photocopied. I'm assuming for this one, the typewriting was done before the big detailed art piece was drawn on.


Credits up top, backstory down below. I do like the lore justification for the tournament set-up.


DM's notes. Sucks to be you, Weslocke.


The lower level. VIPs only.


The upper level. General admission.


Encounter notes for the upper level. A few small puzzles mixed in with the sort of "ha ha you die" moments you'd expect from this era, pretty standard stuff, except... CHINESE hill giants. This doesn't get explained any further in, either, so your guess is as good as mine. Between the nationality and the oddly specific taps on the boots of dancing, I'm wondering if it wasn't some sort of in-joke.


First part of the encounter notes for the lower level. Less "save or you're screwed" than the upper level, offset by a larger number of things far more likely to kill you the old-fashioned way and an overarching puzzle you have to solve to win.


The rest of the lower level's encounter notes. The vampiress' stunning hotness is described in detail, of course. Also, the Chinese giants become even more Chinese and are stated to be less intelligent than a living, thrashing tube of water.


The talking faces from the entry hall, and that bloody "10 seconds to TPK" bridge.


Apparently, the Monster Manual wasn't published until the year after, so this is probably the first published appearance of an otyugh. Thrills, eh?


God drat, that water weird. It's even at a dead end for that little extra bit of gently caress you.


Why would a flesh golem be healed by lightni-- ohh. Yeah, okay. Cute.


Nothing for the vampiress final boss? That seems like one hell of an oversight...


Another of those handy at-a-glance character attack tables. Still missing the vampiress, though. Am I missing something?


Our Heroes, Part One. "Location carried"... wow.


Our Heroes, Part Two. Back when you could still call them hobbits.


Our Heroes, Part Three. Huh, turns out it doesn't suck to be Weslocke. Not even a little bit.


THE END

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007



Oh wow. Those hand-drawn maps and sketchy monsters, and classic old typewriter formatting, the tables...

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts® Space Part 8: "You think it's a really stupid idea? These things exist!"

Spaceships


It's time for Newton Ewell's bizarro ship parade!

This is where we diverge from the usual Rifts robot parade - instead of getting a laundry list of spaceships, we instead get a spaceship creation system. This is a adaptation of the vehicle design rules from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles supplement, Road Hogs. I cannot emphasize how terrible the vehicular combat rules from Road Hogs were, and it's a small mercy that they were never brought over to Rifts.

For spaceship types, we have:
  • Shuttles: Based off the old space shuttles (i.e. the ones that just got retired a few years back), but newer ones are adapted for Moon or Mars landings.
  • Solar Yachts: These are small, expensive crafts that have immense solar sails that propel them around.
  • Military: This covers everything from transports and battleships to assault craft and bombers.
  • Cargo Transports: yeah yeah yeah space truckin'
  • Self-Sustaining Ships: Also known as "S-S ships" by people with no sense of history, which serve as flying space stations.

Designing Ships

And now we get to the actual design system. Now, a note: all of the ship designs refer to T.M.F. from Road Hogs, which won an award I just made up, the 1986 "Arbie" award for Most Tortured Acronym In A Gaming SYstem. That's Transient Manuevering Factor, by the way, and it's a balancing factor for certain ship sizes or drive types. But since it doesn't exist in Rifts, any ship can dart about equally well.

The Hull


Meanwhile, this is what a ship might look like in a different setting!

Mutants in Orbit posted:

All hulls complete with walls, radiation shielding, piloting computers, power plants or solar panels, docking gear, airlocks, automatic pressure doors, acceleration couches, rader, basic repair systems, distress beacons, two-way radio with a range of 2000 miles (3200 km - double in space), reserve batteries, furry dice, go-faster stripes and everything else that a ship will need except for a drive unit, fuel, armor, weapons, recycling plant and a crew.

Too bad we don't even get basic stats in addition to all that! The main issue we have is that they have no standardized price, weight, T.M.F., available space for the hulls for the various spaceship types. The book gives us vague ranges, but nothing definitive. What's more, all hulls have only 90 M.D.C. without armor, so it's possible to have a 2000 ton cargo ship with 90 M.D.C. because you forgot to armor it up. Ooops.

Drive Type


Xavier called; he wants his plane back.

This section also brings in another nonsequitur from Road Hogs: Speed Class, aka the top speed of a vehicle. For Rifts, that top speed is all it matters for, and the book does give a summary of Speed Classes 28-34, which covers the speed ranges in this book - MACH 1 to MACH 5. Which is curious, because achieving low Earth orbit requires MACH 25. I understand most of these will be purely orbital vehicles, but it doesn't seem in like with how acceleration and speed actually work in orbit, as well as in zero gravity.

Also, fuel costs are standard, meaning it costs as much to rocket around a light 1-ton fighter as a 2000-ton freighter.

In any case, there are five drive types provided:
  • Chemical Drive: This burns a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen to rocket a ship around. It's responsive but kind of sluggish.
  • Ion Drive: This converts hydrogen into an ion stream to propel a craft, and is pretty swift. It's more expensive than a chemical drive, but cheaper to fuel.
  • Plasma Drive: This runs off a nuclear reaction powered by deuterium and helium-3. It's still largely an experimental technology, but has good speed and fantastic range, though the fuel itself is very expensive.
  • Traction Drive: This, uh, creates a "very powerful and specialized psuedo-magnetic field which attaches itself to the fabric of the space=time continuum and pulls the spacecraft along after it." It can run off of solar or nuclear energy, giving it an immense range. Even though it's given a low Speed Class for a spaceship (MACH 1 to 2), it says "Theoretically this drive system could reach the speed of light, but it would take a year of constant acceleration." Manueverability is horrible, but Rifts doesn't care.
  • Solar Drive: An underpants gnomes sort of drive; it runs off of solar power, and then provides thrust through... um... it doesn't say. Expensive and kind of average, though long range as long as it's catching rays.

Spacecraft Armor


This one's a little lopsided.

The cost, weight, and effectiveness of armor is basically determined by a vehicle's tonnage, and what sort you select (light, medium, or heavy). Heavier armor costs more, but provides more M.D.C. A shuttle might have 300-2000 M.D.C or so, and a freighter would be around 1500-15,000 M.D.C., for example.

There's also Radar-Invisible Armor that gives you a 89% chance to avoid radar, and Reflective Armor, which halves laser damage like a Glitter Boy does.

Weapon Systems


This is the terrible thing that happens when you ask Ewell to draw a missile.

Weapons! The number of weapons you can mount is limited by your hull type. It's a drat shame they never strictly define hull types, and the limitations are confusing as it is. A "small shuttle" can only mount two weapon systems. Looking at the shuttle weights, the lightest weight I see for a shuttle is 60 tons. The thing is, a jet fighter (around 20 tons) can mount more weapons than that... hell, as listed, a small shuttle can't even mount any missiles (it's too small, apparently?), when a fully loaded fighter can carry roughly a dozen.

Most of the weapons are generic; there are light and heavy weapons of each type, and you always want the heavy if you can afford it, it's mostly just price increase for double damage. There's lasers, ion, particle beam, and rail weapons. The large rail gun is probably your best bet, at 45,000 IOU - a fraction the cost of other large weapons, but the same or better range and damage. You can also mount a mini-missle launcher or, if your ship is very large, regular missile launchers.

There are a variety of defensive countermeasures also listed, like anti-missile missiles (which do work using the Rifts RPG missile vs. missile rules, for those who are excited to see the advancement of the missile race), chaff, sand-caster (disrupts lasers), magnetic shield (disrupts particle beams), scrambler (disrupts missiles). Under "utterly pointless" we have hardened circuits (in case you want to defend against the one... maybe two EMP weapons in the game?) or a turret (there are no facing or maneuver rules).

Other Spaceship Features

Aerobrakes and alarms and landing gear ugh you don't care. It also refers us to Heroes Unlimited or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Guide to the Universe, neither of which have vehicle rules really compatible with this! In addition, TMNT Guide to the Universe has interstellar technology, which doesn't really mesh with the feel of this book. If they had said Ninjas & Superspies or Road Hogs, that might make some sense, since those have the rules these spaceship bits are based on, but I guess it's a bit much for them to know their own game line...

Satellites


This is a satellite, I think?

Apparently there were about a 100,000 satellites previously in orbit, but a good number of those were wiped out. Scavengers search for old satellites, however, and many of those remaining have been captured or stripped. In addition, the stations have added their own satellites - mostly for communications, navigation, or surveillance, but more rarely new "killer" satellites have been added. Most combat satellites are used as part of the Earth Containment policy, but some are used to protect stations.

The basic satellite types are detailed in the book are:
  • Communications: Not used so much anymore, as they largely were used for surface communications. The few new ones built are used to ensure station-to-station communications as well as communicate out to the Asteroid Belt.
  • Navigation Satellites: These are both new and old satellites that are basically beacons for ships to orient around.
  • Sensor Station Satellites: All the stations use these to monitor solar activity and ship movements, generally, though some are used to monitor Earth as part of containment.
  • Surveillance Satellites: Most of these are old military satellites that watched the Earth or part of the S.D.I. program (which would actually go defunct a year after Mutants in Orbit was published). New ones are, of course, used as part of containment.
  • Defense Satellites: These were originally built as a part of S.D.I., and, in a fit of "wait, what?!" were fitted with AI and self-defense systems, so these are basically the wandering damage of space. Oh, and all of them can self-destruct. They "communicate in a simple programming language similar to English", and can make basic logical conditions, and can be shut down with old commands. Or... "presented with a convincing, factual argument, can be persuaded not to attack." There are also those like kinetic kill weapons and "brilliant pebbles" that are basically rockets that activate and home in on targets. (This was a cutting-edge idea when Mutants in Orbit was published; the program, similarly, was cancelled two years later.)

More evidence for the "bigger dick" theory of warfare.

Then we get stats for murdersats:
  • Old Kinetic Kill Rocket: Does 3d6 M.D. For the record, medium-range missles have 10 M.D.C. (only a 62% chance of destroying it) and long-range missles have 20 M.D.C. (can't destroy it). As an S.D.I. missile defense system, this is a boondoggle.
  • Brilliant Pebbles: The real "Brilliant Pebbles" were just kinetic-kill weapons like above; the Rifts version packs a nuke for good measure, and does the standard nuke damage in Rifts (4d6 x 10 M.D).
  • Rail Gun: Does the standard Rifts rail gun damage (1d6 x 10 M.D.) despite weighing 2-7 tons.
  • Old Chemical Laser: Now, real chemical lasers require chemical reactions to keep firing (hence the name) and thusly can run out of chemical "ammo", but this can just requires a recharge period. Why call it a chemical laser, then? No idea.
  • Old X-Ray Laser: One of the most devastating weapons in Rifts, this uses a nuclear explosion to generate a beam of focused X-Rays, doing 2d4 x 100. Still not enough to likely take down a Glitter Boy... in any case, it includes the comment "You think it's a really stupid idea? These things exist! - James". Well, no, they don't exist, but the idea was tested by the U.S. military and discarded, probably because it's a really stupid idea. Sorry, James.
  • Standard Laser: Does less damage than a chemical laser, but doesn't need to recharge.
  • Giant Free Electron Laser: Does a nuke's worth of damage for whatever reason, unlike real free-electron lasers.
  • Particle Beam: A mid-range death ray, not much else to day.
  • Mini-Missile Launcher: Carries 24 mini-missiles and can fire up to 4 at a time. "Can be manually reloaded", presuming you can chat its AI out of murdering you, I guess. Mind, there's no satellites noted that carry regular missiles.
  • Basic Decoy Satellite: This creates a "false radar image" that makes it look like a spaceship to attract missiles and pebbles.
  • Advanced Decoy: As above, but with thrust systems so it can jet around and really fake its spaceship act.

This satellite is known as "The Escher".

Also, a lot of these satellites have "NEW!" after their names, as if there had been old rules for satellites. It's a weird notation to make, and probably shows Siembieda's hand in the whole section.

Equipment

It refers us to other RPGs for equipment, noting that explosives are only delivered to miners, and only off-station, and that most space stations don't allow firearms, but melee weapons and their ilk are common. In addition, most people don't have access to energy weapons save for the military and the wealthy. It notes weapons costs "two to three times" more than their parent RPGs, and cybernetics and bionics cost 2-10 times as much. We also get a random "availability and cost table", which mainly jacks up the price by two to three times whenever you roll on it - it never makes anything cheaper, so it feels like a dick move for the GM to ever roll on it.

Special Weapons

Though weapons are illegal on stations, guards and military still carry them, and a lot of folks carry them outside of stations. There are key requirements most spacers look for: a lack of recoil (for zero-g) and weapons that don't blow holes in stations or ships. They key weapons are:
  • Laser and ion weapons: These are ones designed to just boil and detonate flesh, but only do half damage to inanimate objects.
  • Dart pistols: These are basically gauss guns that fire a poisoned dart. "They are virtually silent", which I guess makes them subsonic. Non-M.D., so don't fire them at a mutant bug or dragon.
  • Recoiless weapons: These are standard guns that have no recoil because... they're made out of ceramics or plastic? Uh. Physics failure. It is possible to have reduced recoil weapons, but through other means that actually make sense. Granted, most of those aren't terribly practical, which is why they're so rare. A lot of folks use rubber bullets in stations, though Rifts has explosive rounds that let them do a dinky 1d6 M.D.
  • Fletchette weapons: These actually fire explosives that somehow deliver a bunch of tiny shards to one target in one shot. I'm confused by how this is supposed to work, but whatever. The book has steel shards (stabby damage), magnetic particles (impair vision and works like a tracer), explosive phosphorous (you're on fire), poison (mild disorientation), and tranquilizer (knocks a person out, maybe). None of these do M.D.
  • Gas grenades: Like it says on the jam tin. The book has smoke, stun (actually knockout gas), tear gas, and flash (actually a taser) grenades listed. It notes "none of these grenades work in a vacuum" which I think they actually mean work well.
Vibro-blades are also popular, as it turns out. And those are real vibro-blades, not the energy-field weapons that are misnomers from the Rifts core. Somehow vibrating an ordinary blade gets it to do mega-damage and slice through a tank. Who knew?

Other Weapons

Being a Rifts book, the weapons go on:
  • Chemical Laser: Does marginally above-average damage for a rifle. Once again, the chemical nature of the firing system is ignored.
  • Railgun: It has serious recoil, and there's some basic rules for that. It's a low-damage rail gun, otherwise.
  • Jet Pistol: This isn't used for combat, but instead to propel yourself in space if necessary.
  • Rocket Flare Pistol: "... visible to the naked eye for up to 3200 miles..."
Hardware

And we get an equipment list, including:
  • Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU): Like real astronauts use, even 300 years later.
  • Magnetic Shoes: Will stick onto metal floors or walls.
  • Mini-Disk: "A small, one inch, silvered disk is used to record and store computer information. Each mini-disk can store up to 100 megabytes of information."
  • Rescue Sphere: An infatable ball that can save you from the vacuum of space, with enough air for ten minutes, "although an auxiliary oxygen pack can be fixed to the outside for a much longer period of air." Doesn't do you much good once you're in one, mind...
  • Vacuum Suit: Apparently the ones from before the Rifts are your standard suits we know from the real world. See, this is dumb, but I'll get to that later. There's also an emergency survival suit and a fitted modern suit with 20 M.D.C. They can also have a jet pack attached that's way beter than the one listed above, or an exoskeleton that gives you a Physical Strength of 30. Lastly, they can have a recycling system that "recycles all oxygen, meaning it can be worn indefinitely". I'm not sure that's possible, but sure. We already have giant bugs that breathe carbon dioxide, why not an infinite oxygen supply?
Bioware

This is mostly redone from other Palladium books - new stuff includes... an alarm eye! Replace your eye with an alarm that goes off when you see something (even when you're asleep, somehow, maybe you had your eyelid removed too?). A clock eye so you always have a clock in your visual field! A database that scans things! A fletchette hand that shoots fletchettes! A grapple hand that can't be used to hold things but can grapple things (the Bionic Commando tradeoff, I guess). A remote control hand that can run around! A micro-manipulation hand that adds to your Physical Prowess when doing fine work (even though that stat does not play into such rolls at all). A "dataplug" so you can go "cyberjacking". An oxygen recyler that reduces your oxygen intake. Hardened circuits that protect you from EMP weapons that really aren't even covered in the game! Whee!

One last thing I'll mention is a real issue with equipment sections like this. See, originally they were written for After the Bomb, which is a post-apocalypse setting that occurs decades after an atomic war, so the idea of having contemporary spacesuits and other technology makes sense. But in Rifts, which was supposed to have a high-tech "golden age" about two centuries after the present day, it just doesn't work. Of course, there's no acknowledgement of this contradiction in timelines, and so things get a bit goofy.

Next: The exciting conclusion: a wizard and the bugs that loved him!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at Nov 21, 2013 around 14:20

Pussy Cartel
Jun 26, 2011



Lipstick Apathy

Alien Rope Burn posted:

[*]Solar Drive: An underpants gnomes sort of drive; it runs off of solar power, and then provides thrust through... um... it doesn't say. Expensive and kind of average, though long range as long as it's catching rays.

It sounds like they were trying to describe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail, but it's been so long since I read Mutants in Orbit that I can't be sure anymore.

goatface
Dec 5, 2007

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

I remember it being shit.


Vibro-blades make a sort of sense. Ultrasonic blades certainly exist (though mainly in the textiles & food industries from what I know), the vibration stops the material sticking to the blade, so it cuts exceptionally cleanly.

How that would help it cut through super-armour, I do not know.

Bieeardo
Aug 21, 2000

Someone bold, someone blue, someone borrowed, someone new...


Grimey Drawer

I always figured the 'New!' notation attached to orbital weapons was supposed to denote them being new, post-Rifts designs. Given Palladium's editing though... ARB's more than likely right.

The bit on vibro blades reminds me of a brief encounter early in my crew's first RIFTS game, where we came across a handful of city rats demolishing SDC houses by sticking one in the wall and knocking it down to zero in a few seconds.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



goatface posted:

Vibro-blades make a sort of sense. Ultrasonic blades certainly exist (though mainly in the textiles & food industries from what I know), the vibration stops the material sticking to the blade, so it cuts exceptionally cleanly.

Supposedly, they got their start in surgery, which makes since, because clean cuts are easier to close up than ragged cuts.

goatface posted:

How that would help it cut through super-armour, I do not know.

If they're anything like chainsaws, probably really horribly. Kevlar, like that found in modern ballistic vests and in anti-cut logging chaps, is probably one of the worst things to hit a chainsaw with, since those 20-times-stronger-than-steel fibers will gum up and seize a chainsaw motor in nothing flat. And actual hardened steel is the worse, since the recoil from the impact has been known to take off the operators' heads.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Pussy Cartel posted:

It sounds like they were trying to describe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail, but it's been so long since I read Mutants in Orbit that I can't be sure anymore.

Yeah, you're almost undoubtedly right. They obviously intend for them to exist (see the yachts, above) and the technology exists in-setting (see Yuro Station), the writeup for the drive system itself is just entirely vague.

goatface posted:

Vibro-blades make a sort of sense. Ultrasonic blades certainly exist (though mainly in the textiles & food industries from what I know), the vibration stops the material sticking to the blade, so it cuts exceptionally cleanly.

How that would help it cut through super-armour, I do not know.

Oh, yeah, they're not bad idea if you're a butcher. Being able to stab a spaceship to death with a glorified electric knife, though, is where I raise an eyebrow in skeptical puzzlement.

Bieeardo posted:

I always figured the 'New!' notation attached to orbital weapons was supposed to denote them being new, post-Rifts designs. Given Palladium's editing though... ARB's more than likely right.

You're probably right, actually, reviewing them again. It doesn't clarify that anywhere, but it's at least a consistent explanation.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...


goatface posted:

Vibro-blades make a sort of sense. Ultrasonic blades certainly exist (though mainly in the textiles & food industries from what I know), the vibration stops the material sticking to the blade, so it cuts exceptionally cleanly.

How that would help it cut through super-armour, I do not know.

You can buy a decent one for $70 these days, under the name "Oscillating Multi-Tool". I just used one to build bookshelves, and it cut through both wood and old screws without any hassle, and it apparently goes through drywall better than any other tool on the market. It could probably vibrate its way through a piece of plate or chain armor given enough time...

Scale that up to the future tech specifications, and I could see it going through super space armor.

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

AAAAAAAAAA


Stock RIFTS describes its vibro-weapons as being "surrounded by an invisible, high-frequency energy field that gives them mega-damage capabilities" which throws a (regular SDC) wrench into things. How does that work? Kevin only knows~

Do the space ones actually just get described as "MEGA-SHAKIN' MEGA-KNIFE?"

Majuju fucked around with this message at Aug 29, 2013 around 23:14

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mutants in Orbit posted:

Vibro-knives vibrate hundreds of times a second and can cut through thin metal and tough plastics such as space suits.

...

Vibro-knife
Weight: One lb. (0.5 kg)
Damage: 2d6 S.D.C. (or 1d6 M.D.)
Effective Range: 50 feet (15.2 m) thrown.
Cost: IOU 800

First damage value is for After the Bomb, second is for Rifts. If you wanted to be awfully generous, you could claim the Rifts version is actually the weird "blade with a force field around it" technology from the corebook, but that'd be an ex post facto justification.

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those bat-men.

Honestly the only thing more ridiculous might be Gundam's use of heat blades, which are literally just het' up swords and axes that somehow function on par with beam sabers.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


It's time to take my rifle and this review back behind the shed.



Rifts® Space Part 9: "It doesn't even phase him that he cannot actually control the insects and that they would destroy him in an instant."

Space Adventures

Most of these adventures are for After the Bomb, so I'm going to skip them. They're written by Wallis and are actually pretty extensive... it says you can modify them for Rifts, and to some extent that's true, but doing so is beyond the scope of a review like this. So I'm skipping them, even though one of them has a spaceship named the Pooh Jihad.

Instead, it's time to cover the one adventure that is written for Rifts, "A Visit to an Unfriendly Planet". First off, the PCs wander into a town and discover that giant mutant insects are attacking a small community, and go fight them to the death. Now, the matter of mutant insect PCs has been hinted at but not broached, but here it says:

Mutants in Orbit posted:

Note: At the GM's option, this could be a good time to introduce any player characters or a friendly NPC. Remember, insect characters will have a low I.Q. and react on instinct more than anything else.

Which contradicts the previous bits that portrayed them as killer remorseless eating machines, but honestly it would be more interesting to have some nuance to them than just being big bugs with thumbs.

So the locals tell the PCs that an insane shifter is responsible for the bugs. Apparently he's a local named "Mage William Targturn" or "Mage Targturn", who helped to build and protect the town, but has become megalomanical and insane... because the Splugorth drove him crazy and made him evil!... somehow. He's all hopped up on goofballs and ale these days, and often picks fights with people, sometimes murdering them. Oh, and sometimes he lets demons loose for no particular reason. Basically, he's a tremendous cocktip. Two months ago he showed up claiming he'd finally get revenge, being unspecifically crazy, and how he'd summon the perfect army to take over the world. Which is a little confusing, since it's clear the villagers can't stop him - why hasn't he just thrown fireballs at them until they're dead? Well, like I said, he is generically mad. Shortly after that giant bugs showed up, and they're pretty sure this is his "army".

The next section is entitled "game master information" (what, the first part was to be read by the players...?). Basically he's discovered a rift to Mars. He plans to use summoned demon slaves (there are no Shifter spells for enslaving demons) to bring insects to Earth. The book points out he has no actual means to control them and they'd probably just eat him, but once again, he's crazy. Anyway, the PCs bust into his tower, kill some demons and bugs, and then find the rift, which sucks them in automatically. There, they end up on Mars, fight some bugs, and then it tuns out Targturn's telepathic powers (not previously mentioned) have mutated (no reason for mutation is given) so he can mentally control bluebottle bristle flies. Wait, didn't it just say they would eat him? Make up your loving mind, Kevin!

And so the PCs have to kill him and close the rift. It's unlikely they can do the latter, since Close Rift is a 14th level spell requiring 200 P.P.E. (and a small permanent sacrifice of the PC's total P.P.E.). Thankfully, there's a low level shifter who studied over Targturn who can do it for them. Despite being low level, he can cast a 14th level spell somehow, and apparently was just sitting on his thumbs the whole time while his teacher terrorized the populace. Way to go, cowardly and gutless nameless low level shifter!

Mutants in Orbit posted:

Objectives: 1. Kill the shifter. 2. Return home and seal the dimensional portal. 3. Others...

... there are no other objectives.

We then get Rifts adventure ideas!
  • Things from the rifts come out and cause trouble.
  • Travelers from the rifts come out and cause trouble. Or maybe they don't.
  • An alien menace is found floating in space and brought back to a station. It causes trouble.
  • Yuro or Outcast Station are full of jerks who might be plotting something... and causing trouble.
  • Mutant insects are brought back to a station and cause trouble. (It notes the Splugorth might want some.)
  • A evil superbeing team might cause trouble.
  • Superhumans can always cause trouble.
Ugh, that's not a set of adventure ideas, it's just a group of antagonists! But then, the standard Rifts adventure so far is "find out about threat (usually from a rift) troubling a community, go after threat, and then blow it to loving hell." That's the same adventure we find in Rifts Sourcebook (both one and two) and Rifts Africa. It's a long, long time before Rifts starts to get proper adventure books, though, so don't hold your breath otherwise.

Speaking of holding your breath, we've reached the end of Mutants in Orbit Rifts Space.

One last note: you may be wondering - why didn't this book warn you about violence and the supernatural, or parental discretion? Well, as an After the Bomb book, there's no such warning! I didn't skip it. To be fair, it's much more tame compared to something like Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms and its human blood farms.

See you, Space Glitter Boys.

Next: A small preview of my next F&F disaster to come:

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at Aug 30, 2013 around 01:49

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


HitTheTargets posted:

Honestly the only thing more ridiculous might be Gundam's use of heat blades, which are literally just het' up swords and axes that somehow function on par with beam sabers.

It's not totally unreasonable. Most metals loose the majority of their structural strength when heated to about 80% of their melting point or so. If you have a metal that has a melting point much higher than gundanium or whatever the mechs are built out of, you can heat it in order to take advantage of that effect. Unlike a beam saber, you'd need to drive it in and keep pushing, which to be fair seemed to be the case for heat hawks (the heat rod was a slightly different matter if I recall).

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

AAAAAAAAAA


Gundanium's melting point is 12,000 degrees Celsius. Jet fuel only burns at 800 degrees! Zechs did 9/11 AC 198!!!!

ShinyBirdTeeth
Nov 7, 2011

Raaaar! I'm a dinosaur.

Wait are those damage values right for the nuke? According to that, getting hit by four metal rods from a rail gun does the same damage as a tactical nuclear weapon. A nuclear weapon is roughly on par with a fancied up bullet.

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



MrMenshevik posted:

Wait are those damage values right for the nuke? According to that, getting hit by four metal rods from a rail gun does the same damage as a tactical nuclear weapon. A nuclear weapon is roughly on par with a fancied up bullet.

No, those are the right damage values for nukes. Says a lot about the game really.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007

But it soon became quite clear that while losers flourished everywhere, winners were a rare and reticent breed with preferences for camouflage and anonymity.



Biscuit Hider

Punting posted:

No, those are the right damage values for nukes. Says a lot about the game really.

Some (a lot) of the science-fiction Palladium RPGs had gonzo weapons. The Reflex Gun on the SDF-1 in Robotech has a range of 60,000 miles and instantly destroys anything in its path, no save possible. Also no height or width of the beam, apparently!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


The M.D.C. system - and the damage and durability values that are assigned in accordance with it - are possibly the worst element of the Palladium system. There are systems that are conceivably worse but that's the main aspect in making Rifts a miserable slog to actually attempt to play.

As for nukes, they're miserably represented. A multi-warhead ballistic nuclear missile has blast radius of fifty feet, and basically makes no attempt to even slightly represent the effects of a nuclear explosion. It's just there because it looks cool in a list of ammo types, as far as I can tell.

ShinyBirdTeeth
Nov 7, 2011

Raaaar! I'm a dinosaur.

Fifty feet - that's awesome. I think some mortars could beat that. Rifts seems like it is wants to be crazy, cartoon powergaming and then just oddly balks sometimes. "Well, I'll give you the eye lasers, but they can only do as much damage as a steak knife!"

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



HitTheTargets posted:

Honestly the only thing more ridiculous might be Gundam's use of heat blades, which are literally just het' up swords and axes that somehow function on par with beam sabers.

Actually, heat hawks and rods use a condensed, localized Minovsky field in conjunction with spent plasma from the reactor. That's why Char's heat hawk can deflect the Gundam's beam saber and thus be somewhat equal in a fight.



Alien Rope Burn posted:

As for nukes, they're miserably represented. A multi-warhead ballistic nuclear missile has blast radius of fifty feet, and basically makes no attempt to even slightly represent the effects of a nuclear explosion. It's just there because it looks cool in a list of ammo types, as far as I can tell.

Well, they're more like tacnukes like the Davy Crocket recoilless rifle shell. Coalition Navy ended up adding in actual rebuilt Tomahawks with 200 kiloton warheads. Those do 3D4x100 MD with a blast radius of 1000 feet, with an add-on blast radius of 1D4x100 MD for the next 3 miles.

Bieeardo
Aug 21, 2000

Someone bold, someone blue, someone borrowed, someone new...


Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Next: A small preview of my next F&F disaster to come:



I think that image is the closest that Palladium comes to realizing that MDC was a ridiculous attempt to legislate plot armour.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Young Freud posted:

Well, they're more like tacnukes like the Davy Crocket recoilless rifle shell. Coalition Navy ended up adding in actual rebuilt Tomahawks with 200 kiloton warheads. Those do 3D4x100 MD with a blast radius of 1000 feet, with an add-on blast radius of 1D4x100 MD for the next 3 miles.

Are they? The nuclear missile I mentioned from the corebook has a range of 1800 miles (no idea on how you target something that far away with Rifts technology, mind...), and isn't man-portable in the slightest. What's more, the tomahawks only have a range of 1000-1300 miles (Coalition Navy contradicts itself on the same page)! That doesn't sound like a tacnuke to me. It mostly just sounds like the original nukes (of which 4d6 x 10 was the top yield... most were only 2d6 x 10 or 3d6 x 10) were just a half-baked set of numbers thrown together on a chart and never really thought out. In addition, the nuclear tomahawks use the exact same long-range missile slots the nukes in the core rules use, to further confuse matters!

Coalition Navy is also roughly twenty books ahead of where we're at with our F&F reviews. It's an interesting attempt by Mr. Nowak to try and give us somewhat more realistic nuke stats, but it doesn't stick. That same crummy old missile chart from Rifts RPG is reused again in Rifts Ultimate Edition for nukes, only now with the stipulation that explosives only do half damage outside of a direct hit, making the nukes in the core rules even less deadly.

I really, really wish the game line got better over time, and some things do improve, but most of the attempts to "fix" things in later material just end up muddling things overall.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Aren't the nukes anyway reprinted tables from Robotech, when they referred to nukes as "Reflex" missiles?

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

Your friend and protege,
Tom Copperfield.


Briarios, noooo!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Bieeardo posted:

I think that image is the closest that Palladium comes to realizing that MDC was a ridiculous attempt to legislate plot armour.

I think it's mostly just Kevin Long drawing what he thinks is cool and giving no fucks if it matches the system or not.

Young Freud posted:

Aren't the nukes anyway reprinted tables from Robotech, when they referred to nukes as "Reflex" missiles?

Wow, you're totally right on that, from looking it up last night. It's the exact same chart, only with "Reflex" instead of "Nuclear". Good catch!

Payndz posted:

Briarios, noooo!

Yeah, Tekkaman Axe sure gave him the business.

HitTheTargets
Mar 3, 2006

I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those bat-men.

Young Freud posted:

Actually, heat hawks and rods use a condensed, localized Minovsky field in conjunction with spent plasma from the reactor. That's why Char's heat hawk can deflect the Gundam's beam saber and thus be somewhat equal in a fight.


Pssh. That's head canon to explain an animation goof. Errbody knows plasma contained in a dense Minovsky field is what beam sabers themselves are made of.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

So, in keeping with our latest round of Palladium exploration, I present you all now with Palladium's first (and sort of last) foray into an entirely new and unplumbed wilderness!

Rifts:™ Dimension Book One: Wormwood Part 1: “The Publisher’s Soap Box”

In publication order, Wormwood came out right after England, and closer to on time than many other Palladium offerings. It was teased in England without much detail, but now it is ready for us. You see, in addition to the blasted and changed wasteland that was Earth, Siembieda intended for adventurers to be able to go around exploring other entire worlds as well. The rifts are two-way gates, after all, and there is probably some dimension that is even now trying to build a gigantic dimensional fence just to keep out the rabbits.

But first we get Wormwood. Here’s the cover, to start us off:



As covers go it’s alright, certainly that guy looks like a badass wanderer in a forsaken land. The book starts with Siembieda’s usual warning about violence and the supernatural and as a bonus feat, accompanies it with this image:


he may be undercutting the kid-friendly image of Rifts there

This book credits Timothy Truman and Flint Henry as ‘Created By’ and then KS as ‘Written By’ which may be some of that famous control freakery at work. Truman and Henry are credited with interior art as well, along with Siembieda and Roger Peterson. Truman and Henry are working comic book artists, though often on independent or lesser-known titles like Grimjack and Jonah Hex. Reading up on Truman, he’s more significant than I realized, though not someone I’ve ever followed. I recall this book looking a little bit different than some of the others, we’ll see.

The Wonders & Horrors of Wormwood

This section starts off explaining that Wormwood is a land of struggle between men and monsters, and then goes on to talk about what dimension books are meant to be. In brief: extradimensional adventure worlds, of course. More importantly, they’re meant to be stand-alone capable, that is, you should be able to run a whole campaign just from the book’s presented classes and material, using the core rules, though you can also combine all the other things together because why wouldn’t you do that? This is Rifts, this is grabbing your toys by the handful and setting up huge battle-scenes. We will find out in time that this is a lie, but it’s a nice thought at least.

Apparently Truman had known Siembieda for a long time and called him up to pitch Wormwood as an RPG. Kevin said ‘why not make it a Rifts book?’ and Truman agreed. Kevin explains how he had been busy with stuff like trying to get Rifts Miniatures going. He brags on himself a while about how Truman and Henry submitted some awesome proofs and he totally worked it into the Megaverse to make it awesome.


the guy with the sword is like, super-high

This illustration is side-by-side with another column titled the Publisher’s Soap Box which is a second warning that Wormwood is a work of fiction and nobody should try this at home and some dumb college jocks tried to imitate that movie The Program and now some of them are dead and everyone wants to censor things when that happens but you should know the difference between truth and fiction.

This is the first few pages of the book with any non-index text on them, and so far we know nothing except that Wormwood is a world where great evil threatens to overwhelm the forces of good and that we should consider it fictional.

Next: An intro comic by a couple actual industry pros

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

You pick up the nugget of URANIUM and...

Oh that was so stupid. Why would you do that?


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


Part 9a: The Cyberpapacy


An ordained priest plugs a cable into a coaxial port installed in his temple in order to gaze upon the face of God. His mind interfaces directly with the GodNet, giving him access to every computer system in France. Digital angels watch over him as he works to seek out the forces of the Antichrist.

Gang members with cybernetic arms drag the bodies of their victims to a street doctor, who plans to extract the organs from the bodies to sell on the black market. They use the money to buy new guns and cybernetic upgrades so they can fight alongside the French Underground...for the right price, of course.

A "heretic" is trapped in cyberspace by the Church, his soul downloaded into an eternal prison of a computer chip. He will "live" there forever, unaware of anything until his chip is plugged into a body's cybernetic hardware. At which point, he will be nothing but a tool to strip skills and experiences from...unless he's strong enough to take over his host and seek revenge.

A woman suspected of witchcraft is tortured by the Church Police, who bind her hands and feet and plunge her deep into frigid water. If she drowns, she is innocent. If she does not, she will be burned at the stake. If she manages to keep her mind together enough through the pain to summon her bound demon, things will go differently.

This is life in modern France, under the watchful eyes of the CyberChurch and its pope, Jean Malraux I.

The Cyberpapacy

Out of all the realities invading Core Earth, the Cyberpapacy is unique because it's an example of how powerful the High Lords actually are, and the kind of stakes everyone's fighting for.

France has been almost entirely taken over by the Cyberchurch. The Church bears many similarities to the Roman Catholic church of the 16th Century with the strong doctrines and slaying of heathens. The biggest difference, of course, is the high technology. Cybernetics and virtual reality are commonplace, and in fact are part of church doctrine: cybernetics are the body of Christ, and to jack into the virtual computer network is to gaze upon the face of God.

In fact, the CyberChurch is so dangerous because they have such tight control over France's new technology. The church controls most places that can install cybernetics, so if you're not part of the church (or "accepted" by the church), if you want to get something installed you're probably going to have to go to an illegal street doc and hope that he knows what he's doing, scrubbed the operating table in the past month, or isn't just going to strip you for parts as soon as he puts you under. In addition, the CyberChurch controls all computer-based media in the CyberPapacy. Not just the normal computer networks, but also phones, radios, and TV broadcasts. France is off the global grid now, and the Church controls everything its followers watch and hear.

At the head of the church is Pope Jean Malraux I, the High Lord. Insane and paranoid, he is convinced that God Himself has given him the mandate to conquer, and his church has spread out from his home reality of Magna Verita, moving across cosm after cosm. What is interesting, however, is that until the invasion of Core Earth, Magna Verita barely had a medieval level of technology. In fact, any "technology" more advanced than a horse-drawn plow was banned by the church.

So how did Malraux go from banning the printing press to cybernetic implants practically overnight?

To answer that, we need to talk about his home cosm of Magna Verita, and the cosm of Kanandra.

The historical development of Magna Verita, like that of Terra, closely resembled that of Core Earth. The main physical difference was that Magna Verita is indeed the center of the universe; the sun, moon, and planets revolve around it.

As on Core Earth, when Pope Urban VI was elected head of the Catholic Church in 1378, many of the cardinals rebelled and elected Clement VII as Pope. As a result, there were two popes at the same time: Pope Urban VI ruled from Rome, and Pope Clement VII was based out of Avignon. This cause the Great Schism within the church, and both popes actually excommunicated each other.

Just over 20 years later, a Church Council was convened and declared both Urban and Clement heretics. They elected a third pope, Alexander V, as head of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, neither Urban or Clement wanted to step down or even accept the power of the Council. Now there were three popes, each declaring themselves the true pope while decrying the other two.

The major convergence point happened in 1415. On Core Earth, the Council of Constance was convened and kicked all three popes out, placing Martin V as the true leader of the Catholic Church. On Magna Verita, however, Avignon pope Benedict XIV (who took power by poisoning his predecessor) refused to attend the Council. Instead, he funnelled his not-inconsiderable wealth towards the king of France. The king used that money to buy mercenaries to bolster his military in their battles with England and King Henry V. The French forces won, and Henry V was killed in the conflict, driving England into civil war over the succession.

Benedict now had France's backing to be the one true pope, and through force of arms Benedict drove out the Council and declared himself leader of the church, sacked Rome, and gave control of England to France.

Over the next few centuries, the church expanded out of Europe bringing every country under its aegis whether they wanted it or not. Northern Africa and western Russia fell quickly to Crusades, and it wasn't long before the Crusades reached the Americas.

quote:

Following much heated debate, Pope Countenance II decreed that the native peoples of the Americas did not possess souls and were therefore the same as animals. Millions of Indians were enslaved and worked to death by their masters. Belief in religious and racial superiority, and the blessing of the Pope, meant that little compassion was shown to the human “animals”.

History rolled on. Japan and China fell to the Popes. Africa was explored and the natives converted. India was quickly eaten up, and the Australias became outposts of the Papacy. By 1841, the Papacy ruled supreme.
In 1842, Pope Julian II rewrote the Bible to reflect "modern" thought. What it really did was espouse the superiority of the Church and confirm the earthly power of the clergy. It also brought technological advancement to a halt, because it was declared that anything that contradicted the Bible in any way was heretical and punishable by the forces of the Inquisition. Great thinkers and scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo were proven wrong, tortured, and killed as heretics.

quote:

Magna Verita is very similar to Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Gunpowder is used in cannons and in primitive hand guns, but the main missile weapons are still the crossbow and bow. The Papal armies are composed of halberdiers and swordsmen, with large numbers of heavy cavalry in plate armor. Hand to hand fighting is the standard way of winning battles.

Only the telescope and the printing press have had an impact on Magna Verita. After an initial period of liberalism, during which thousands of heretical books were published, the Church began to destroy printing presses and published an Index of Banned Books in 1489. Anyone caught in possession of these forbidden books was accused of being in league with the Devil, and duly executed. Now, all presses are under the direct control of the Church. The evil of free thought has been expunged and God’s word holds sway.
This was the way of the world for about 400 years.

Just over 100 years ago, Jean Malraux was an Inquisitor working in the New World, hunting down, torturing, and killing those who thought they could escape the church. It was during his "divine work" that he witnessed a beam of divine light. It shone down upon him, revealing a glowing crucifix that spoke to him with the voice of God about power and destiny, and about taking this world and others for his own.

And thus did the Darkness Device Ebenuscrux choose its High Lord.

Armed with the power of the Darkness Device, it wasn't hard for Malraux to rise up in the church's ranks and sieze control of the church, declaring himself pope and killing anyone who said otherwise. He renewed the wanning Crusades, destroying his enemies without mercy. Ebenuscrux fed Malraux's ego more and more, egging him towards the Device's own agenda: conquering and destroying other realities.

Malraux set his best minds on the task of creating Maelstrom Bridges in preparation of spreading the word of God to heathens in other realities.

quote:

Over half a dozen cosms have been destroyed to feed the Darkness Device and the Pope’s craving for religious purity. The Inquisition has tortured millions. Smoking, barren worlds are all that remain. Fire and blood have cleansed them of sin.

The Vicar of Christ has eradicated heresy and heaped millions of souls before the gates of heaven and hell. Fueled with vast quantities of possibility energy, the Pope and his Cardinals have extended their lives manifold.

Malraux came to the attention of the Gaunt Man when Malraux met his lieutenant Uthorion, then-High Lord of Aysle. Malraux was tapped by the Gaunt Man to aid in the invasion of Core Earth, and he agreed to bring the heathens under his heel. Choosing France as the central point of his invasion, Malraux sent operatives there via dimthreads to prepare the French people for the word of God. Thousands were converted to the "true faith" as stelae were planted and prepared.

When the Maelstrom Bridge dropped in Avignon, the axiom wash began to destroy or transform all technology in France. Phones, cars, televisions, and computers stopped working. The faithful gathered around the bridge of light, waiting for their pope to save them from this decadent world and the failure of their technology at the supposed hands of the Antichrist. Malraux's plan was to wait until the initial axiom wash finished, then decend upon a bridge of light from Magna Verita to Core Earth, an act that would cement the people's belief that his was their savior.

What Malraux did not expect was that he would be attacked by Storm Knights between realities.

One of these Storm Knights was Dr. Hachi Mara-Two, from the cosm of Kanandra. Kanandra was a reality without a High Lord, a high-tech world that had first learned the truth of alternate realities when they managed to stave off an invasion by Tharkold. Learning that Tharkold's next target was Earth, Hachi volunteered to take a one-time, one-way artificial dimthread to Earth to warn them.

When she arrived, the invasion had already begun. Tharkold had been repelled from Russia, but she landed in North America shorty after the Living Land's arrival. Too late to warn of the invasion, she allied with a group of Storm Knights and ended up confronting Malraux on a Maelstrom Bridge.

Hachi Mara-Two knew that she would never see her homeworld again. To help her deal with this, she brought a dataplate with her that contained a virtual simulation of her home world. She also had an item called a Jaz pack; jaz is a chemical that creates a temporary connection between a person's nervous system and some cybernetic systems, allowing people to access cybernetic technology without getting implants.

In an attempt to distract Malraux, Hachi attached her dataplate to the jaz pack and jammed the whole contraption into the pope's body. The jaz pack caused Marlaux to experience the contents of a dataplate: a full simulation of a world with cybernetics, high technology, and a world-spanning computer network people could plug their minds into directly.

And lo, with the visions of another world thrust upon him in the space between worlds, he was transformed.

quote:

“Lo, I was bathed in the light. It flooded me and illuminated my soul. Though I was struck blind, I could see with eyes that looked upon a new earthly paradise. There the sins of the flesh were controlled by machines. No longer did mortals fear the betrayal of their own flesh. I looked and saw that it was good.

“I wandered with only my faith to comfort me. Then I knew what I must do. I knew that the Lord had chosen me a second time to do his work. The Cross floated before me. I merged with it and prepared myself for the task ahead.

“I walked upon the celestial bridge. The strength of the Lord poured through me. With each step I took the Lord imbued the bridge with new power. Its blinding white light was replaced by sparkling lines of circuity that erupted from my feet. I watched the cyber power streak toward the Earth and transform His chosen land of France.

“It was then I knew change was indeed upon us. My coming heralded a new age: The age of the Cyberpapacy. As His envoy upon Earth, I took up the burden of redemption and became the Cyberpope.”
Malraux used the power of his Darkness Device to change the realm's tech axiom. Originally, the tech axiom was 15, even though the church repressed technological advancement. Malraux adjusted it up to 26, making cybertechnology possible. When the new axioms washed across the realm, devices that had been rendered useless in the initial axiom was (referred to as the Collapse) started working again. Not only that, new discoveries were made in rapid succession. Cybernetics were developed, and became commonplace. Originally reserved for members of the Cyberchurch, illegal street doctors quickly set up in the corners of France to implant devices in anyone who could afford it, no question asked.

The internet came back up, but was transformed as well; with the new advances in cybernetics, people were able to connect their minds to directly to the net. What the first netrunners found was that the local network now existed as a group of connected "realms", and was populated by angels and demons fighting an eternal war. In the middle of it sat Ebenuscrux, having moved itself to this virtual reality. The power of the Darkness Device had transformed the internet into both a virtual reality simulation and a sort of "pocket reality" that exists alongside the Cyberpapacy.

This is the GodNet, and it is the second battlefield the war for France is fought on.

Cyberpope Jean Malraux, High Lord of the Cyberpapacy
Cyberpope Malraux is power-hungry, corrupt, fanatical, and completely paranoid. He sees heretics and enemies everywhere, and truly believes that God Himself has given him the mandate to conquer. He likes to think that he is a "father figure" to the people of France (he likes to be called "Père Jean" in the media), despite the fact that he is clearly oppressing them. After all, violence in the service of God is not a sin.

Malraux has also rewritten the Bible, "updating" it to take the new technologies into account. One of the central tenets is that cybernetics are the "body of Christ". As a result, every actual member of the chuch has some form of cybernetics. The only real exceptions are those operatives who must operate outside the Cyberpapacy.

His overall agenda actually hasn't changed much since his "ascension", and pretty much boils down to one single bullet point:

1. Bring the world under his control and convert everyone to CyberCatholosism. Everything he does, long-term or short-term, is to bring this world (and every other) under his "benevolent" control and save their souls. If that means becoming Torg, so be it. But for Malraux, this is a secondary consideration; he really doesn't care if he becomes the Torg or not. The righteous shall be saved, and the heretics will be "saved" via flame and sword and high-powered rifle. The tech surge has added a new tool to his arsenal: the "faith chip" that makes people loyal to the chuch whether they want to be or not. Until he can easily install these chips into the population, he makes do with propaganda broadcasts over the national TV networks, showing how he and he alone is capable of protecting the followers of the Cyberchurch against the forces of the Antichrist.

It's also worth pointing out that Malraux is pretty much the only High Lord who's delusional about his place in the world. When you get right down to it, all the other High Lords are quite aware that they're the bad guys in this equation. After all, they're the ones who are invading other worlds, subjugating the population, draining the world of Possibility energy, and leaving it a dry husk. Malraux, on the other hand, thinks he's saving people in that old-school Inquisition way.

Axioms and World Laws
Technology: 26 (formerly 15) - As stated, the Cyberpapacy's new tech axiom makes things like cybernetic limbs, chipware implants, and netrunning possible. Originally, the tech axiom was 15 but most sciences that were possible at that level were forbidden by the church. Now, the church embraces the new technologies. Fortunately, the gap of the change between the old and new axioms was pretty short, so most of France's technological infrastructure was still in place when the tech surge happened and hadn't transformed yet.
It should be pointed out that the new tech axiom has flowed back up the bridge to Manga Verita. But while the tech level has increased, almost nobody knows it. Malraux has sent agents back home to allow technology to progress at a pace of his choosing, but the actual inhabitants don't realize anything has changed (yet) and are still operating at a feudal level. Malraux's smart enough to realize that an increase in tech back home will destabilize his power base.

Social: 18 (formerly 13) - The social axiom is a little lower than Core Earth's, due to the fact that the only accepted form of government is the theocracy. The church does not adapt to change well, which is causing a few problems with the tech surge and related effects. In fact, until recently the social axiom was at 13, forbidding ideas like "personal liberty", but between the Tech Surge and mixing with Core Earth's reality, things have changed without Malraux's permission. This has allowed something new to occur: rebellion against the church itself. Ideally, the church would want to get the social axiom back to its old levels, but Malraux doesn't seem to want to tamper with the axioms again.
The social level is also responsible for the plodding, bureaucratic nature of the church. Those in power are corrupt and complacent, and (again) don't respond well to change. As a result, the Cyberchurch isn't really in a position to deal with rebellion because rebellion has never been possible before.

Spiritual: 14 - The spiritual axiom is higher than that of Core Earth, allowing miracles to be performed. It's not as high as you might expect, however, because for most faith in God is replaced by fear of the Church. In fact, the Cyberpapacy's spiritual axiom is only the fifth highest out of all the realities in the core set; the only two that are lower are Core Earth's and Nippon Tech's.

Magic: 10 - Magic is possible in the Cyberpapacy, but it's not very advanced, especially when compared to realms like the Nile Empire or Aysle. Minor conjurations and the alteration of living things is just barely possible. Unsurprisingly, "witchcraft" is forbidden in the Cyberpapacy, but magic is actually becoming widespread thanks to the sudden availability of mass communication and the ability to transfer knowledge over the GodNet.

The Cyberpapacy as four World Laws, none of which have really affected or been affected by the Tech Surge.

The most important is the The Law of the One True God. It's pretty straightforward: the catholic God is the only true god, He is the only source of divine power, and any other form of worship is heretical. In game terms, this means that people of any faith other than Cybercatholisism have a hard time performing miracles in the Cyberpapacy. The further away the caster is from "core" Cyberpapal doctrine, the harder it is for him to cast a miracle. For instance, a Catholic priest would have a +1 to his difficulty, a Jewish rabbi would have a +3, and a Buddhist monk would have a +6.

The Law of Heretical Magic is a bit of a double-edged sword. It makes magic more difficult to cast (since it's forbidden), but at the same time makes it more powerful (because it's "powered by Evil"). The difficulty of casting any spell is +3, but a successful spell has its outcome increased by 5. If you suffer backlash, however, then it's possible an actual demon will show up to try and possess you.

The Law of Ordeal is part of why the Church is in change, and works thus: "In the Cyberpapal view of the world, the choice of a priest to accuse a character morally obligates the character to prove her innocence through a trial by ordeal. Failure to take the trial is an admission of guilt, and not incidentally, heresy." There are four types of ordeals: having your arms thrust into boiling water, being submerged in frigid water, burning, and trial by combat. If you're actually guilty, then surviving these trials is more difficult, but if you succeed you're considered innocent. If you fail, you're either dead or will be killed as punishment.

The Law of Suspicion means that strangers are not trusted, and everyone is, if not guilty until proven innocent, is at least under close scrutiny. Attempts to use the charm or persuasion skills are easier to resist, but at the same time trying to intimidate or taunt increases your skill by 3.


This all results in a world where suspicion is enough to get you burned at the stake, where street gangs get cyberarms and implanted guns, where angels and demons clash in cyberspace, where the Church is in every computer, every television, every phone. The Cyberchurch sees all, knows all, and forgives nothing.

But don't worry. As your body is punished, your soul will be saved. And doesn't that make all the pain worth it?

Think carefully before you answer; you are probably being watched.


NEXT TIME: The power players of Cyber-France!

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at Aug 30, 2013 around 16:08

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007

But it soon became quite clear that while losers flourished everywhere, winners were a rare and reticent breed with preferences for camouflage and anonymity.



Biscuit Hider

Finally a setting that lives up to its cover art.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


occamsnailfile posted:

Apparently Truman had known Siembieda for a long time and called him up to pitch Wormwood as an RPG. Kevin said ‘why not make it a Rifts book?’ and Truman agreed.

Yeah, as some may recall, he did illustrations for Rifts RPG and Rifts Sourcebook (those chunky trukks from the corebook, the black faerie, and the witchling are probably his most memorable illustrations).

occamsnailfile posted:

This illustration is side-by-side with another column titled the Publisher’s Soap Box which is a second warning that Wormwood is a work of fiction and nobody should try this at home and some dumb college jocks tried to imitate that movie The Program and now some of them are dead and everyone wants to censor things when that happens but you should know the difference between truth and fiction.

This is a golden moment where Siembieda tries to use the controversy stemming from The Program to justify the blanket warnings in every Rifts book. Because, you see, people do crazy things and it's their duty to make sure kids don't... I don't know... put on skull helmets and assault Neo-Pagans? I'm not sure what sort of imitative behavior Rifts would even inspire.

The real take-home lesson is that Rifts has less pop-culture impact than a middling, largely-forgotten sports film. Hell, Craig Sheffer - that guy that lies down in the middle of the road in The Network - was previously the lead star of Nightbreed, which was the clear inspiration behind Palladium's Nightspawn Nightbane.

What I'm trying to say is that Palladium dances to Craig Sheffer's sublime machinations.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at Aug 30, 2013 around 17:42

Bitchtits McGee
Jul 1, 2011


TORG always sounds so awesome until you start talking about the rules.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


Midjack posted:

Finally a setting that lives up to its cover art.

I'll say.

Holy poo poo, the Cyberpapacy needs to be adapted to other systems.

Not only is the core idea great (gothic era corrupt church that merged with the Adeptus Mechanicus and now rules a cyberpunk wonderland with supernatural elements) but Malraux is evil in a very human, very scary way; he's been told from birth that there is a real Devil in this world, and the only way to fight him is hardline, stab-first burn-second ask-questions-never fire and brimstone Catholicism. He's just as much a product of the insane morals of such a culture as he is the ruler.

In other words, he could actually exist, and that makes two varieties of awesome already. The whole Techpriest thing just adds their five on top of the pile.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Erebro posted:

I'll say.

Holy poo poo, the Cyberpapacy needs to be adapted to other systems.

Not only is the core idea great (gothic era corrupt church that merged with the Adeptus Mechanicus and now rules a cyberpunk wonderland with supernatural elements) but Malraux is evil in a very human, very scary way; he's been told from birth that there is a real Devil in this world, and the only way to fight him is hardline, stab-first burn-second ask-questions-never fire and brimstone Catholicism. He's just as much a product of the insane morals of such a culture as he is the ruler.

In other words, he could actually exist, and that makes two varieties of awesome already. The whole Techpriest thing just adds their five on top of the pile.

And it can still remain cyberpunk, with corporations and everything. If you read further into it (like do research into how the Church operated during the middle ages), in addition to corporations paying indulgences, you could have a Church bank that gives out interest-free loans to people it deems worthy of the loans, while the others have to go through shady channels or foreign banks that have high-interest and/or legbreakers.

And, I've mentioned this before, the other thing is that the Cyberpapacy is almost a cargo cult in it's understanding of technology. They can build rocket ships, but, because they suppressed Galileo and Copernicus, they don't have an understanding of orbital mechanics. They have the practical knowledge granted to them by the tech axiom increase, but not the fundamentals that get them there. Core Earthers or those transformed from Core Earth have a slight edge since over the cyberpriests because they know the basics better than them. Everything they've likely built is cribbed from Malraux's exposure to the data plate. When Tharkold is introduced, they have an equal tech axiom to the Cyberpapacy, but it's better utilized and more efficient, such as having not needing a Jaz analog to use cyberware since their neural processor tech is just loads better and cheaper and having a post-industrial society where everything is built through rough versions of Cornicopia Machines, despite them having three millennium of constant warfare and what was essentially WW3 with magic added on top of it.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


TORG so needs to be ported to something like Cinematic Unisystem. It really needs a semi-crunch system because of Probabilities and the concept of disconnect which is actually very important. What it does not need is eleventeen different magic systems.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Rifts:™ Dimension Book One: Wormwood Part 2: “Souls for Lord Lesion”



So, since this book was created by a couple of comic book artists, they decided to do a little intro comic for it. It has a definite 2000AD/B&W comic style to it, the art is not bad at all. The writing is pretty heavy-handed but I wasn’t expecting much there. But here, let’s look at the first page:



So we’ve introduced a tiny bit of the history of the world, and named the main character, and established that he’s sneaking into somewhere and he’s all shadowy and cool and stuff. Vespers proceeds to sneak into the room of a sleeping boy and comments on how he’s a freelance exorcist who usually expects to get paid, but this suffering child gets his help for free. He casts a spell, the boy’s parents hear the ruckus and kick him out for being a freelancer traitor, not for being a weirdo in their son’s room at night. Apparently nobody can ever understand why he broke his ties with the church. As he is ruminating on a high ledge, he sees the “soul-raiding Horde” flying their skelter bats out.

We then see innocent bystanders and their seriously leprous-looking priest pray for salvation before being descended upon by some extremely goblins using a giant multi-pronged fishing pole.



Vespers comments on how he expended too much of his energy to help them and I am glad they do not say “PPE” in character because really. The raiders are taking people back for various terrible fates in the Crawling Tower of Lord Lesion.

He continues expositing about stuff he can’t even see and explains that the knights of light (Rifts has a lot of knight taxa) are having morale issues because fighting Lesion is hard and the Knights Templar have resumed their rivalry with the Knights Hospitaller. I am going to just guess which of those has been secretly infiltrated by evil to turn on the others and say “both.” But they have to stay together to guard the last few crumbling citadels of man, like some messy knight-divorce.

At this point the view shifts though the voice still seems to be Vesper and we meet Char. Char is a knight. She looks like this:


displaying a proper knightly wax

As the panel says, she is presented as being pretty badass, and she has to breach the Crawling Tower to get the ‘soul cell’ which is a battery made from the people stolen before. She has to fight a bunch of evil fish to do this.


seriously

She gets the soul cell gem-thing and hauls rear end back to someone she calls Pilot in a big shiny temple. Pilot sticks the soul cell in the “energy chamber,” and comments that at least these doomed departed wretches can serve the Light again which is a bit and this makes the temple light up--and turn into a giant robot called a battle saint.

The battle saint’s timing is convenient, because the Horde had sent a giant building-sized ‘shock parasite’ to chase Char, so it wakes up just in time to rip that thing to pieces. Vesper has stopped narrating at this point since there are usually two or more people on panel to explain things. That doesn’t mean there’s no trouble left though, there are apparently ‘flankers’ and then ‘a lone figure fighting through the Horde!’

It’s the guy from the cover!


sorry if this post is a bit image-heavy

The Horde calls him a traitor this time, and when he takes off his mask he says he is called The Confessor. Then the knights call him a traitor too, guess nobody likes a good skull mask these days. Another knight riding a motorcycle says they should give him a chance.

Then, suddenly a D-port (a rift) is opened right beneath our heroes’ feet! Really you should just see this page, here.


i don’t know what the demon head on top is connected to

The Confessor exclaims that this isn’t Lesion’s work, it’s his dread lap-dog Salome. At this point Vespers shows up out of nowhere and seems to have regained enough of his energy to rift himself into Salome’s sanctum to challenge her directly, though he says he doesn’t wish her harm even though she totally just sent a bunch of demons to kill people. I should note that Salome actually gets to wear pants, but probably uses Marge Simpson-levels of hairspray daily.

They have a very brief wizard duel which Vesper wins by mind-blasting her when she’s distracted, and he grabs her ‘control gem’ which causes all the demons outside to go back where they came from. He comments to the reader that no one will ever know who was responsible for the knights’ salvation but the war shall go on, because he is way too cool to claim credit where it may be due.

Anyway, that’s the intro comic. It dumps a bunch of names and ideas at the reader in a pretty heavy-handed fashion but it is at least trying to explain the world. The writing is pretty leaden and I worry about meeting these signature characters in-character; the TOC says that Vesper and the Confessor get writeups so we’ll see how they work out in the wild world of Rifts NPC statting. I actually like the art generally, though there are a few places that don’t flow as well as others. It establishes a visual style for the book anyway.

Next: Erin Tarn

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Humbug Scoolbus posted:

TORG so needs to be ported to something like Cinematic Unisystem. It really needs a semi-crunch system because of Probabilities and the concept of disconnect which is actually very important. What it does not need is eleventeen different magic systems.

The latest version, the Revised edition, has conversions to OpenD6 system. The stats convert fairly easier, just divide by 3 and that's a die, and the remainders are done as pips. I believe the way they handle disconnect is through a reroll of the wild die whenever it hits a one.

Also, it pretty much resolves the "Glass Ninja" problem that plagued the original system, since you have to roll the hit resolution separately from the damage dice.

Diskhotep
Jan 4, 2008


Young Freud posted:

The latest version, the Revised edition, has conversions to OpenD6 system. The stats convert fairly easier, just divide by 3 and that's a die, and the remainders are done as pips. I believe the way they handle disconnect is through a reroll of the wild die whenever it hits a one.

Also, it pretty much resolves the "Glass Ninja" problem that plagued the original system, since you have to roll the hit resolution separately from the damage dice.

I've been tempted to convert TORG to the Fate system, and for a while someone was working on a Marvel Heroic conversion that seemed interesting. I might have to start devoting some time to that again.

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Bieeardo
Aug 21, 2000

Someone bold, someone blue, someone borrowed, someone new...


Grimey Drawer

occamsnailfile posted:


i don’t know what the demon head on top is connected to

I think that's supposed to be Lesion performing his Omniscient rear end in a top hat in the Background move.

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