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Jan 6, 2012


jadarx posted:

I'm going to have to stop with my review of Houses of the Blooded. I don't have the time to make reasonable updates and frankly don't have the writing skills to make them interesting.

And if you don't mind, I'll pick up where you left! I could restart the Dragon Warriors review I was doing oh, around the time the last thread ended, but I think no one was reading it anyway.

But this? Oh boy. And now that we're fresh out of the Eldritch High review...

Houses Of The Blooded - Part 6

You don't get it, it's art

Sorcery is blood magic. Remember, the ven are essentially sentient spell components created by the sorcerer kings. (Aside: I really like the idea of "yeah, your entire race was created just to make this ritual work better" but the only settings I've seen that roll with it are HOTB... and Carcosa. :gonk:) The ancient and unholy art of senvu should have gone forgotten but alas.


Scholars do not agree on when the ven began using sorcery.

You know, it must be a weird world where Ven Scholar!Wick is writing from. Sorcery is "sure, they used it, no biggie" and Atlantean and Hyperborean civilizations are taken as fact. I think I'd rather read about than than the ven but it's what we have so.

The Serpents are, as we know, the most sorcerous of the Houses. They pushed to make sorcery illegal through the Senate so as to strengthen their position - after all, everyone was knee deep into sorcery by then. It's still used all over the place though, and it's still considered a crime anywhere, but because the Blooded are what Wick wanted L5R samurai to becareful not to point around their own hypocrisies, all the Houses keep a minor noble that's never used sorcery or been the target of it to level accusations when it's politically convenient.

Ven are also fond of ritual: there's a proper form to do everything, from saying goodbye to smoking a joint. You want chaos, go live with the orks, that's bad form, yadda yadda. Wick also invite us to make sense of the "sh'vla controversy" over ven weighs and measures, but he's magnanimous so he won't bore us with that poo poo! Ven measure things the same way humans (and that is to say, specifically Americans) do: pounds, gallons, etc. He also swears he can write an entire book on the complicated way ven had of keeping time but nah, let's use our own measures. Which is weird seeing as Seasons take a specific amount of our months to pass.

The Blooded sent their children off for education at a young age, six or seven. The kids have a ritual last supper with their parents, some last minute gifts, and they're gone by morning. Noble schools teach their students manners, etiquette, politics, self defense, and so on, and are technically independent. Not so much their faculty, however. :v: Other ven prefer private instructors, and considering we're dealing with doomed murderous highborn manchildren here I wonder why any ven would send off their kids away unless they were trying to get them murdered.

Which, honestly, they might be.

Let's talk about capital-A Art! Ven loving love it. It's what transforms us, strikes us with awe, it's


Try explaining the Grand Canyon with just words. “Big” isn’t big enough. “Enormous” isn’t big enough. In fact, there is no word big enough to convey the BIG of the Grand Canyon.
You just have to stand in awe.

Sure okay.

The greatest ven art is the Opera. It's "Jim Steinman meets John Woo" and where all hell breaks loose. It encompasses all other arts, and it is called "The High Alchemical Art". Ven are so particular about Opera they only recognize seven basic plots as fit for it: Wick tells us it's like how King Arthur automagically evokes images of the Knights of the Round, Guinevere, Mordred and so on. If the plot strays too far from what we know, "we feel betrayed." But the plots can be used to tell many different stories, so they're not repeating the same seven plays all the time.

They all end the same though. Tragedy and Blood. Also they all need that the hero dies or is undone, and always by their own hand. Even in in-setting fiction, PCs can't catch a break in Wickverse. The seven plots are represented by the Seven Fools, the archetypical protagonists of each:

The Actress: she (or he, the Fools can be any gender) is a ven that rises through society by means of an Art, lose sight of her beginnings by the praise of others. Usually commits suicide at the end.
The Dowager Duchess: an old ven that refuses the call of Solace. She acts like a young woman until the hard truth of the world comes around, and is ultimately robbed of Solace.
The Husband: the archetypical neglectful spouse, undone by underestimating his wife's desire for independence and happiness.
The Rake: an unmarried ven, rising in society through romantic conquests, undone by his own shallow heart.
The Swordsman: a high Prowess, high pride type, he refuses apology for any slight and answers all threats with Sword. Of course he's hosed in Wickland.
The Wife: the Wife is :sigh: demanding, selfish and proud. That's how she got as high as she did, that's what will cast her down.
The Wise Man: the rarest and hardest to write for, the Wise Man isn't really described other than he's the most difficult to make compelling for a ven audience. Hint! Manchildren. The sample Wise Man is actually a common soldier that ends up in a hosed Chance The Gardener situation.

You know, I think Wick is trying to make a point on what the PC's fate will be. Maybe?

There are also two Servants, always named the same, that work as the Greek chorus of the play. The boldest writers use them to comment on the moral of the play, which is dangerous because of Reasons.

And then there's Theater, which is basically improv theater for the masses. No self-respecting noble would be caught dead at the theater, but they usually show up in hooded robes anyway, because it's a loving riot. Theater actors are essentially extreme LARPers, and audiences can tell when they're faking it. But no one can blame an actor for what a character demands them to do, right? Love, revenge, murder...

Something something ven instruments. Meh. Ven music tends to be repetitive, and uses silence a lot as punctuation. At the time the game is set, ballads did not exist. Ven painting was akin to German Expressionism, and always focused on people. Ven did not paint still lifes. No Truth in apples, you know.

The Senate! It's the voice of the ven - the ones that matter, the ones with land. They sit on the Senate because they fought for it, bled for it, killed for it. Senators are ranked according to, well, their noble rank, and have as many votes as land they control. The dukes lead the Senate, recognizing speakers and so forth. Once a Senator is recognized (by three others that outrank him) he gets to talk as long as he can, and must answer questions directly. Else, he is removed from the floor. There are no duels and no bloodshed on the Senate. The Senate gathers on the first new moon of each Season: emergency meetings can and have been called, but they're rare and difficult to pull off. Senators also engage in dachanau, the dance of words, which is basically one-on-one debate. They're mostly used to illustrate the finer points of complicated issues, and multiple debates can be held over a single vote. Dachanau is popular in the Senate, and has spread as a pastime to parties and taverns alike.

If the Senate needs independent eyes, they can call in vashna, Senate investigators. They dress in black and silver to signify their lack of identity and subservience to the Senate, and no ven is above their authority. Of course, that black cloak does poo poo when you're deep in Count Assh'le's lands and you get offered a cup of poison wine or have a chance encounter with 'orks.' The vashna are usually disgraced or indebted nobles, or those who want the power of the Senate and its vengeance. But wait! The Senate does not declare Revenge, no. Just vengeance.

Ven fashion is exaggerated and opulent. Wick plays the "it's so complex and scholars don't agree" card again then tells us to play it up however we see fit. Some details that are clear are that men wore common stuff like hats, gloves, boots and coats, and that women crossdressing was not seen in any form of positive light. And colors, colors mattered a lot.

  • Black: the color of shame, think ASoIaF's "taking the black." It's what you have to wear when you're someone else's personal guard, the color that makes everyone else ignore you. (You can wear black boots and gloves normally, though)
  • Red: the color of Romance and Revenge. You wear it when you declare one of those two and it means that nothing can stand in you way. No law, no ven.
  • Grey: the color of mourning. No Solace in death, remember.
  • Yellow: :cthulhu: No ven wear yellow. There are worse things than orks. It's forbidden.
  • Green: the color of springtime and youth. Characters wearing it in literature are naive and generous. Also worn when seeking forgiveness.
  • Blue: the color of curiosity and wisdom. The deeper the shade, the wiser the ven (think they) are.
  • Lavender: the color of idle leisure. Playing, but not for keeps.
  • White: the color to wear when you, or someone you care for, is moving into Solace.
  • Brown: the color of honest labor. Even ven realize they have to put their manchild poo poo aside for society to work sometimes. Also signifies appreciation for the unblooded.
  • Gold and silver: the colors of nobility. Only Blooded wear them.

Let's talk about the economy! No money, no coins. Ven economy is based on barter, trade and promise, and Contracts. Contracts are formal and ritual, and it all makes the economy bureaucratic as gently caress. And don't you dare break one, it's against the law.

We go back to sorcery (because gently caress editing, right), and specifically the two main rituals for nobility: Blood Oaths are magical agreements to ensure noble loyalty, which is kind of a big deal when everyone is a doomed murderous highborn manchild. If a noble bound by Blood Oath breaks it, the old tongue word for oathbreaker is magically tattooed on their forehead, which is kind of lovely for your social life. And then there's the Senvu Swordsman ritual that binds swordsman and sword as if they were one. It's very secret, and the senvu Swordsmen see themselves as an elite brotherhood that will murder anyone that so much hints at revealing the ritual. There are other rituals, of course, and ven are always getting themselves killed in sorcerer-king ruins and palaces looking for them.

Next: Romance and Revenge, or the 'murderous' and 'manchildren' sides of the foursome.


Jan 6, 2012


Houses of the Blooded

Just like high school. Except... no, just like it.

A small aside for ven hospitality. It's really important for reasons. A ven invites you into their house? They protect you from all harm. No poison, no treachery. In exchange, the guest agrees not to sneak around the house or be a douche in general. This is one of those that are taken seriously. No one said anything about being a douche to other guests though.

And now, Revenge!


Vrentae. The Hate. The Old Tongue. A red spirit possesses the Heart. Hungry. It can only dine on retribution. To satisfy the Hate, one must undertake High Revenge.

It's a big deal, because see, for ven there's no such thing as justice. Wick says it's the only time we'll see this word in the book, in fact! (He lies. It shows up about five times.) But Revenge, that's in every Opera, in the mind of every ven. They're obsessed with revenge because first, since Shanri really can't support armies or large-scale warfare and war is forbidden by law anyway, ven turned to small scale action. The smallest scale action is, of course, the ritual duel. It's all Artsy and stuff because nobles have to uphold civilization, you know. Second, there's no word for "crime" in Venspeak. There are only the Three Great Offenses, and only Blooded may commit violence (no unblooded, not for any reason, so I guess there are no legal peasant hunters or anything in the entire world). So the idea is, if a ven breaks the Law, they have committed Insult or Injury. The wronged party goes before a Jury, makes a case, and if found to have merit, then they're allowed to seek Revenge. Again, this is not about justice: this is about making the other rear end in a top hat suffer as much as you did. It always ends in tears.

And now, Romance!


Vrentae. The Lust. The Old Tongue. A red spirit possesses the Heart. Hungry. It can only dine on the rage of Passion. To satisfy it, one must undertake Romance.

SPOILERS ROMANCE AND REVENGE ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN WOOOOOOO. In fact, it all depends on how you pronounce the drat word - VREN-tae means Romance, vren-TAE means Revenge. Anyway, the thing about Romance is that basically, love in ven society did not exist as a concept, at all. Because this is a Wick game, all marriages were politically convenient alliances. No, no love, but there was lust because ven are horny assholes. And then someone, somewhere, came up with the idea that maybe this whole funny butterflies in the stomach business wasn't wrong. Maybe it was right, maybe it was worthy, even sacred.

Ultimately, both Romance and Revenge are obsessions (the word literally means "holding my heart"), which is why ven under them wear red. If they're wearing it for Revenge, they're marking themselves because legal Revenge means they simply cannot be bound by anything. No law, no ven. But this vrentae is ritual, of course, and must be carried out in a given period of time, or the ven's reputation will be severely harmed. Ven under Romance wear red for similar reasons: they're considered not to be thinking with a clear head so they're expected to have some more lenience from their peers. But just a bit. And neither Romance nor Revenge last forever - just enough to ruin a ven's life. Romance isn't silly, by the way! Did you know those fantasy novels you care about so much would have been called Romances in old times? Yes, even "The Professor's War of the Ring."


(Technically, he called it a “history,” but we’re willing to allow the Professor a mistake or two now and then.)

gently caress off, Wick. gently caress off.

But yeah, people would do crazy poo poo for Romance! More than those murderhobos and their quest for gold coins. That's boring.

Anyway, I need audience participation for the next one! I want doomed highborn manchildren concepts to run through character creation. However, I can't promise exact faithfulness to the concept because...

Next: random generation? Really?

Jan 6, 2012


In Wick's head, I'm sure that's the game he was designing. The examples of rolls are actually pretty drat swashbuckly.

Houses of the Blooded

Colonization was a pretty cool game

What passes for art in this game goes between chapters, like this. As jadarx mentioned, there's a lot of "I, John Wick, discovered this" in here. This one is fairly unsmug.

So it's on to character creation! It's long and scary but don't worry, we have John Wick creating a character along as we read through this chapter. Said character is Blooded of the Fox Shara Yvarai, and many of the fake book quotes are from the pillow book named after her. She's also the star of the sample scenario such as it is, but fortunately she's no Kachiko. Still, Wick fawns over her a little too much for a Spring character. What's a Spring character, you ask? You'll see.

So let's use our two character sample concepts as we go through this. R'shana Al'gri (Al) and D'io Bu'land'o (Dio) will be our merry companions through this post. As hinted earlier, there's an element of randomness in chargen, and it's the background phase. See, Wick thinks we can't pick our family, so we might as well roll for it, and he gives us a number of tables to roll on. We get three pips to modify our rolls up and down, but that's it. Now, we can just pick our options if the GM agrees; Wick says he's just a control freak. Hey, words from the man himself.

First, we roll for the Houses our mother and father belonged to. This matters because the House our character will be part of is going to be one of these two. For Al, I rolled Falcon and Serpent; and for Dio, I got Serpent and (using up all the pips) Wolf. Then we roll to see which parent was yvestra (dominant) and which was ytola (submissive). See, instead of the man always wearing the pants in the house, ven marriages arrange for one partner to rule the roost - and thus be exposed to greater social risk - and the other to stay quiet and have no authority - but no responsibility, either. It's all in the contract. Let's say Dio's dad and Al's mom were the dominant partners. Finally, we pick a House: both our characters take after their parents, being Serpent and Wolf respectively. The Wolf idea of "being a tool or a weapon" suits an rear end in a top hat like Dio.

Then, we roll up our siblings: first our personal birth order, then the number of surviving siblings. Dio was born sixth but he's the only survivor (I wonder why :rolleyes:), and Al was born second but he's also the lone surviving child. Had they had living siblings, we would roll for their genders as well.

Our names! Names have meaning, and that thing matters in this game. A name is composed of the family name (we get that from our house), the secret name (the one mothers whisper to ven children at birth, it's sekrit) and the public name (your real, regular name). So Al is Al, and Dio is Dio. Then we decide on our age: our characters can be Spring (10-19 years old) Summer (20-49) Autumn (50-79) or Winter (80-100). And Shara is Spring, and Wick is a little too appreciative of her. :gonk: We'll say our guys are both in the Summer of their days and leave it at that, holy poo poo.

We also roll for marriage. This one is optional, because hey, we do get a bit of a say in whether we get hitched or not. Most likely, our characters are married and have kids.


While such trivial matters would not matter if you were a wandering mercenary, looting and pillaging your way through the countryside, without care or ethics or morals, but you’re a noble now, and your priorities have to change. Besides, there are mechanical advantages to having a spouse and child.


Anyway, I used the charts: both of our characters are married with a single kid.

As starter characters, our characters are Barons, the lowest land-owning noble rank, but we still get to roll for our parents' rank. Remember, ven don't really do the inheriting thing. As it turns out, Dio's parents were just Barons, while Al's folks were Marquises.

Now on to actual stats! Like in Blood & Honor, our characters are defined by Virtues. There are six Virtues, conveniently mapping to the six Houses in the corebook:

  • Strength: Bear virtue. Physical strength.
  • Cunning: Elk virtue. See patterns where others can't, make up cunning plans.
  • Courage: Falcon virtue. Will and determination.
  • Beauty: Fox virtue. Creativity, expression, charm.
  • Wisdom: Serpent virtue. Memory, learning ability.
  • Prowess: Wolf virtue. Martial skill.

We get one Virtue at 4, two at 3, two at 2, and one as our weakness. Our weakness gets nothing. 0. We add one more point to the Virtue our house represents, but nothing if it happens to also be our weakness.

Now here is the thing: your weakness is not something you're mediocre at. It's not something you're bad at. It's something you're absolute poo poo at. Right from the start, all characters have a glaring weak point to stab at. Just how Wick likes it.

So for Dio, I decide to go with a Str 2, Cun 3, Cou 3, Bea 2, Wis 0, Pro 4+1 spread. Yes, I know, he should have Beauty at 9 or something, but I work with what I have. Al, in a stereotypical nerd way, gets Str 0, Cun 3, Cou 2, Bea 2, Wis 4+1, Pro 3.

Next, we go to Phases. We take the age we got for our characters, then look up which Phase they're in. The older they are, the more Aspects and Contacts they get, but also the more Solace Aspects (age-related infirmities) they get as well. Aspects are, as we know, words or phrases that describe our character. We'll go into deeper detail with them later, but I'm sure most of you are already familiar with FATE already. Contacts are the connections the ven made through their life. Each Phase, you pick one of the other player characters as a contact. There are a number of advantages from having contacts, but they'll come up when we talk about the domain management rules. As Summer characters, Dio and Al get four Aspects and two Contacts each. Let's say their contacts are each other and Shara, because nothing wrong ever came of trusting Wick characters. As for aspects, I go over the sample list and give Dio Treacherous (of course), Ikhalu's Kiss (good at stabbing people in the face with knives :black101:), Swordsman and Thief; Al gets Academy Educated, Meticulous, Strange Intuition, and Warlock (:science:).

Our characters also have Devotions to the Suaven. Some of the ven that go into Solace are essentially worshipped the way saints are in our world. There are Suaven for everything, except for "winning rolls" because that's totally a thing a Bad Form player would ask for. We get three points to divide between Suaven devotions, with a maximum of three per Suaven. Nothing says you have to worship a Suaven of your house either. I say that scheming rear end in a top hat Dio puts all his faith in Tyane Bran, Suaven of Intrigue, while Al worships both Bran and Ashalim Avendi, Suaven of the Road - handy for a warlock explorer.

The other major half of chargen is Domain. Our dudes are just Barons, but they're still land-owning nobles, and they have a whole Province to begin with. Each province is divided in ten Regions. Of them, two are already claimed: the character's Castle and one Village. We get five points to buy regions with, or improve a region up to Rank 3. Yes, this does mean parts of the province will be unknown: they're still lesser nobles after all. Protip: you need Food at first, just like in Sid Meier's Colonization.

The regions may be:
  • Castle: urban, center of your power.
  • Farm: rural, produces Food or Industry.
  • Forest: rural, produces Food or Lumber.
  • Hills: rural, produces Metals or Lumber.
  • Mountain: rural, produces Metals or Stone.
  • Plains: rural, produces Wine or Spices.
  • Ruins: special, we need to loot those sorcerer-king goodies from somewhere.
  • Shoreline: rural, produces Trade.
  • Swamp: rural, produces Herbs or Poisons.
  • Village: urban, produces Goods.

You can buy more than one type of region if you want. We also get five points to spend on Vassals, ven under our command that help us run our Domain. Not full NPCs, though, not yet. They need at least one Food per Year to stay on our side, and they can be bribed or turned by our enemies unless we spend more. But that comes later. For now, we can buy or improve:

  • Apothecary: creates medicines and treats poisons.
  • Caravan: move resources around.
  • Artist: creates Art.
  • Court Scholar: more like court sorcerer.
  • Herald: propaganda service, useful on our people and the enemy populace.
  • Maid/Valet: helps you with mundane personal poo poo.
  • Personal Guard: increases your security, prevents assassinations.
  • Roadmen: knights wander the countryside and deal with trouble.
  • Spy Network: help secure our Domain and spy on others.
  • Staff: the assorted grogs that help the Castle run smoothly.
  • Spouse: yeah, they count as Vassals. Rank 1 Spouse for free if you're married.

We get three Style Points to begin with, but we're not told what they do just yet. Only that we can accumulate a maximum of five from session to session. Finally, we get five Bonus Points to buy up more Aspects, Contacts, old Artifacts, Suaven Relics, sorcerous Rituals, and buy/improve Regions or Vassals. We'll buy up a new aspect or two, some extra regions, improve staff a bit... Rounding up, our character sheets look like this:

D'io Bu'land'o, Blooded of the Wolf, Baron of Zwarudo
Strength 2 Cunning 3 Courage 3 Beauty 2 Wisdom 0 Prowess 5
Tyane Bran 3
Ikhalu's Kiss
WRYYYYY (of course!)
Castle Dio (Rank 1)
Diosville (Rank 1)
Dio's Farm (Rank 1)
Dio's Forest (Rank 1)
Dio's Plains (Rank 1)
Dio's Shore (Rank 1)
Dio's Swamp (Rank 1)
Dio's House Staff (Rank 1)
Dio's Herald (Rank 2)
Dio's Personal Guard (Rank 1)
Dio's Spy Network (Rank 1)
Dio's Valet (Rank 1)
Dio's Spouse (Rank 1)
R'shana Al'gri, Baron of Salamanca
Shara Yvarai, Baroness of Q'nn
Blood Sword (Rank 3!)
Kind of an egocentric jerk, isn't he?

R'shana Al'gri, Blooded of the Serpent, Baron of Salamanca
Strength 0 Cunning 3 Courage 2 Beauty 2 Wisdom 5 Prowess 3
Tyane Bran 2
Ashalim Avendi 1
Academy Educated
Strange Intuition
Salamanca Castle (Rank 1)
Danvers (Village, Rank 1)
Sleepy Hollow Farm (Rank 1)
Mirkwood (Rank 1)
Tomb of Spooky (Ruins, Rank 1)
Tomb of Real Spooky (Ruins, Rank 2)
Southern Plains (Rank 1)
Dagobah (Swamp, Rank 2)
Ashla Saberin, Court Scholar (Rank 2)
Salamanca Guard (Personal Guard, Rank 1)
Salamanca Irregulars (Roadmen, Rank 1)
Mirkwood Ghosts (Spy Network, Rank 1)
Lyra (Spouse, Rank 1)
D'io Bu'land'o, Baron of Zwarudo
Shara Yvarai, Baroness of Q'nn
The Eye
The Circle
Fun fact: these two might as well be dead. Guess who is the most hosed?

Next: wait, run Aspects by me again?

Traveller fucked around with this message at 04:26 on Nov 1, 2013

Jan 6, 2012


I want you to make Space Mary Poppins, which is most certainly an appropriate concept for this game I know nothing about.

Jan 6, 2012


Houses of the Blooded

Risky business


Now, in most roleplaying games , this section is called something like "game system" or "mechanics" or "task resolution." Sounds about as sexy as repairing your dishwasher.
This chapter is different. This isn’t about your character taking an action. It’s about your character taking risks.

I will not be kinkshamed by you, Mr. Wick. :colbert:

Anyway, actual mechanics! Like in other Wickgames, the basic roll is a risk. Roll a number of dice, and if you get 10 or more bam, you get privilege. This has nothing to do with the actual success or failure of the action you're attempting, mind you. If you make your roll, then you get to describe what happens. If you fail it, the GM gets to do so. But where do you get those dice anyway?

Let's talk about Style. Remember those points we got at chargen? Style is flamboyance and panache. You get those by acting ven: dramatic, tragic, lovestruck, hotblooded, etc. You don't get it by reading other game books, answering your cell phone, arguing about rules with the GM, or getting off of Mr Wick's wild ride in general. Anyway, they're used for a lot of things, most of which have to do with aspects. As mentioned in chargen, you can only bank a maximum of five Style on your own, but fancy gear (a good hat, good boots, a nice sword) lets you bank more. Like 7th Sea NPCs, you can be measured on how floppy your hat is and how ruffled your collar is.

To make an actual roll, you first declare your intention. For instance, let's say Dio's intention is "I want to kick this puppy." This is what you get if you succeed.

Then you gather dice for your pool. These come from:
  • Your name: you may declare your character's name if it means something appropriate to the risk. So if Dio means "rear end in a top hat" in Venspeak (how could it not?) you get one die. That's for your public name; if you reveal your SEKRIT NAME you get three extra dice... but anyone who hears you knows it.
  • A virtue: you can assert one single virtue per risk that's appropriate to the risk. You get as many dice as ranks in the virtue you have, 0 if it's your weakness. Note that you can roll a risk based on your weakness and still get dice from other sources.
  • Aspects: you can invoke one of your aspects for three dice, or tag someone or something else's aspect for two dice. Invoking an Aspect is free the first time it's done in the session, then it costs one Style. Tagging or compelling an Aspect costs one Style, and getting tagged or compelled gets you one Style at the end of the risk. You only get one invoke and one tag per risk unless the Aspect in question is defined as a Free Aspect, in which case you can always tag it (still costs you one Style though)
  • Other sources: artifacts, rituals, orks, etc. We'll get to those later.

If the roll succeeds we get our intention, but that's it. Dio kicks the puppy. To get extra effects out of our risk, we make wagers. Like in L5R, we can penalize our own rolls by setting dice aside. Say Dio gets ten dice to kick the puppy: that's overkill for the TN of 10, so he can just set, say, five dice aside and trust he'll get a 10 with his remaining five. Wagers can be used to take narrative control of the scene and add elements. So if Dio makes his roll with five wagers, he could say "I kick the puppy: it lands on a brazier, and its coat catches on fire, and it runs away yelping through the dance hall, and it sets the dresses of several dancers on fire, and finally dies right on top of an expensive carpet." His intention, plus five extra details from his wagers. Wagers cannot contradict previously established elements of the scene or do something that would require a risk to happen.

If another character opposes the risk, it becomes contested. The resolution is mostly the same: characters announce their intentions, then go through each step of gathering dice in turn (A declares or not their name, B does the same, A asserts a virtue, B does so, etc.) until they both run out of dice sources. Wagers are made in secret, then shown, and then the dice are rolled. The player that rolls higher is the winner, as long as they get over 10; the loser gets only half of their wagers rounding up, or none if they don't even make 10. If they both fail to roll 10, the GM takes over. The winner decides who spends their wagers first, then they do so until they run out of wagers. Ties are solved either by the largest pool, or by the GM asking how much Style the involved ven are willing to give up to win. All rolls that involve 2 or more characters are contested, even if they're trying to help each other.

So let's say Al doesn't want Dio to kick the puppy. They make their declarations and gather their dice. Dio again rolls five dice and wages another five, while Al wages four out of his seven dice, rolling three. They both make their rolls, but Dio rolls higher, and decides to go first.

  • His intention triggers first: he kicks the puppy.
  • Then his first wager: it lands on a brazier.
  • Then Al takes over: the brazier was mercifully not lit.
  • Dio: the scared puppy kicks the brazier down in its haste to get out.
  • Then Al makes his final wager (he gets half of his original four, remember): the puppy flees the scene through a door, yelping but safe!
  • Dio still has his wagers to go through: the crash of plates is heard, something smells as if burning, and the chef comes out screaming "That runt ruined the cake!"

loving Dio, seriously.

So far, so good? Great, because now things go to poo poo.

You can lie on your rolls. Those bits about gathering dice, declaring name, and all that poo poo? Lie as much as you want, as long as your lie is not greater than the dice you can actually roll. If you don't want to reveal your name could be used for rear end in a top hat poo poo? Say it's no good. You can roll less Virtue dice than you actually have. You can say you have no appropriate Aspects. And you can lie about the result of your roll as long as your lie is not greater than your actual roll.

You can lie on your rolls. You can LIE ON YOUR ROLLS.

Why would you do this?

:smug: posted:

Think about it.

No, Wick, seriously. Why the gently caress would you do this.

:smuggo: posted:

Lots of different reasons… but I’ll let you find those out on your own.

Character creation is supposed to be done all together, remember? You can't make Contacts if you don't have fellow PCs next to you. The character sheet is not two-sided like in Paranoia. How the gently caress would you lie to another PC about your rolls? And for that matter, how would you ever know the GM lied to you---

Oh. Oooooh.

We get a list of "skills" that are essentially common tasks and the dice we could get for them. A "decipher" roll could involve Cunning or Wisdom, or an Aspect related to secret tongues, that sort of thing. This is actually useful to get how the system works.

As long as people are not literally lying on their loving rolls, that is.

Next: no, seriously, the gently caress is wrong with Aspects. And Virtues, for that matter.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 20:11 on Oct 26, 2013

Jan 6, 2012


Houses of the Blooded

Compel Aspect: :words:

The following chapters deal again with Virtues and Aspects. Broadly, they repeat and expand on what we've seen of them so far, and they're another chance for Wick to get on his soapbox and preach. Still, they clarify some things, so you might as well read them if you've not set your copy of HotB on fire yet.

Virtues! Mostly, this chapter is about how to use them in game, and when they're good for risk calling. Strength is for all physical risks, as well as unarmed fighting. Strength lets you do things like leaping across rooftops, grabbing wind vanes, swinging down into balconies and rolling through glass doors. You know, swashbuckly, stylish things! Cunning lets you put together facts, think on your feet, spot the important details. You roll Cunning when trying to find clues - but, since this is all about cooperative storytelling, what Cunning lets you do is actually make up the clues yourself.


Now, when I say “find clues,” I truly and honestly mean “find clues.” Because right now, I hear a bunch of players saying, “But won’t that mess up the Narrator’s plot?” See, look how you’re being responsible! That’s so cute. And we Narrators really do appreciate it. But don’t worry about the Narrator’s plot. Honestly. I’ve got him covered in the Narrator Chapter.


Courage is used to, well, be courageous. Want to do something dangerous? Roll Courage. (What is this, Rock of Tahamaat?) Most Courage rolls are simple risks, and you have to spend a Style point if you fail it and still want to go through with the action. If you make wagers, though, you can turn them into Style at a rate of 2 wagers per Style (if it's a non-dice action) or extra dice for the next roll (if it's a risk.)


Courage is often overlooked by the players. “Ah, my character is as brave as I want him to be.”
Not so here.

Also, orks have something called Terror.


I’m not going to tell you how Terror works because the Narrator will show you that soon enough.

Beauty is used to create stuff. Moving, heartrending, passionate stuff, the details of which are still a while away. It's also used for Contract writing (contested Beauty risk) and for debate (contested Beauty risk, people who agree with the winner gain Style, people who agree with the loser lose Style). Wick tells us Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but in the hands of the Fox; if Serpent are Soshi, the Fox are Bayushi, I think.

Speaking of Serpent, Wisdom is knowledge. Cunning is Sherlock Holmes examining the guy that walked into the room; Wisdom is Sherlock Holmes knowing that an object is not in the room. Wisdom risks are also used to define the world of Shanri. You can make up an ork out of whole cloth with a good roll and some wagers. You can also add details to other characters: they can spend a Style to veto it, but if they accept it they get one Style. Don't try to drain them of Style this way, that's Bad Form. Prowess is all about martial matters, but in general it's about determining advantage. If Cunning tells you the guy in front of you is lying and hiding a knife, Prowess lets you know he's a capable fighter and that it's better for you to get between him and the door. Prowess risks can also be used to give Aspects to a scene - in particular, Aspects that works as martial advantages.


The Aspects chapter opens with a long tirade about how Wick found out about Fate, and how he thought Aspects were the poo poo, but---


My experience with player-vs.-player roleplaying games—and I’ve played in a lot of them—made me realize that Aspects were too open-ended for that kind of environment. In a PvP game, every player is looking for any advantage, looking to exploit any weakness.And, frankly, players can get drat emotional, exploiting every loophole, interpreting vague or unclear rules to far extremes to protect their own characters and crush those they didn’t like. This is PvP after all, and there’s a reason board games don’t have Aspects, but clear and concise rule sets that can’t be “interpreted.”

So why allowing lying in the rolls? In a bit. Anyway, Wick limits Aspects to deal with one single thing to stop these damnable PvP players. But you can play them up as broad as they were meant to be, honest! Wick isn't going to stop you! There's a lot of blah blah on the invoke/tag/compel mechanics and how they work with Style. Some things stand out, though, most importantly that you can't tag or compel an Aspect that you don't know about. You have to see the Aspect invoked/tagged/compelled first, then get on a contested Cunning risk with the target (if the target wins, they gain Style: secrets are cool.) So not playing to your full strength all the time makes sense: you can imagine a situation where Dio is dueling some two-bit Blooded that can barely hold on to his sword. Dio could easily trounce him with his Prowess and Swordsman Aspect, but there might be someone else in the audience that Dio wants to shank later. So Dio could not use his Aspect and thus not allow the other guy to spot a weakness in his fighting style (the Swordsman tag), or allow him to see it while keeping his Prowess in check.

See, that's actually cool. What's not cool is straight up lying on your rolls, and it's telling that in Blood and Honor there's no mention of it.

It's also worth mentioning that tagging only works when there's dice rolls involved, and that you can't compel an Aspect when rolling risks - compelling is strictly for narrative advantage, not mechanical. Incidentally, you can resist a compel, it costs you two Style to do so. Other than that, it's repeating things already mentioned about using Style to invoke/tag/compel, Free Aspects, and Solace Aspects (which are never secret, everyone can see you getting old.) And this gem:


Perceptive readers will notice that denying the compel actually costs you three Style: the two Points you give up to deny the compel and the point you would have gotten if you accepted it.
Perfect, flawless Mary Sue characters don’t belong in this game.

Wick is perfectly right, of course. This is not Legend of the Five Rings.

Then there's some talk about specific Aspects and what makes a good or bad Aspect. You can already suss out how to build a proper Aspect from what we've seen so far, but there are a couple of sample Aspects that are essentially hotb.txt:

:smaug: posted:

Tag: You just aren’t very clever are you? Can be tagged whenever someone is trying to outsmart you.
Compel: Used when another character wants you to act like a clod.

Dolt is a special kind of Aspect I reserve for players who just don’t get the hint. When putting Bad Form on their heads doesn’t make the point. When they’ve gone far enough that I have to act like a jerk to correct them.
Here it is. Dolt.
And yes, I’ve used it. Don’t think I haven't.

GMs can just slap Dolt on anyone if they feel they're acting in Bad Form. :rolleye:


This is an Aspect just begging to be messed with. Good form on the player who chose it. They’ve given others the opportunity to take advantage of a serious gap in
character integrity. No advantage at all.

Good Form is giving more and more weaknesses to your character. :rolleye:

I'm being evil here though, these are the worst. The rest of the sample Aspects are legit for a game of doomed highborn manchildren (i.e., they won't gently caress you over nearly as much as these two.) There are also Aspects related to the Houses, which can be houseruled so that everyone gets the appropriate Aspect of their House from the start, or even make them Free Aspects. The Wolf Aspect is interesting as it straight up breaks the so far standard form: it only gives you two dice for the invoke, but it has no tag whatsoever because Wolves don't allow themselves weaknesses. At the end of the chapter there's even a number of "character class" Aspects that Wick includes in case you wanted to see something more familiar, because we're all brain-damaged D&D goons. It's where the Swordsman aspect can be found, btw. Two things of note: Swordsman has as compel a "code of honor" that makes you protect others, which is terribly inappropriate for Dio and kind of weird to have for doomed highborn manchildren; and one of the class aspects, Talashan, is only described as "Speaker to the Soil" and related to the unblooded, and Wick can say no more about it. No invoke/tag/compel for it. :effort:

You can also add Aspects to scenes with two Style points and an appropriate action (like setting a room on fire, then declaring the room is On Fire), and the first one to tag it can do so without using a Style. Or you can add Aspects to other people: specifically, by Insulting them. This is essentially the Ven Dozens: contested Beauty risk where people use wagers to ice burn the other guy. Once someone runs out of wagers or has had enough, they declare "Enough!" and the dice are rolled. The loser gets an appropriate Insult Aspect with a rank equal to the winner's wagers, that can be tagged by others if appropriate to gain bonus dice equivalent to its rank. It's also easier to Insult someone if you're of higher noble rank than them. Dolt is an Insult! :v: The burns fade away, however, and the Insult loses one rank per Season until it's gone.

Next: swimming Foxes, and Dio stabs someone in the face.

Jan 6, 2012


Ratoslov posted:

Wait, does 'Dolt' even work mechanically? It's an aspect with no invoke, and you can only tag or compel it if you've seen it invoked, tagged, or compelled first and win a contest. There's literally no way for anyone to get into a position to actually use this Aspect.

The GM gave it to the playercharacter. They know the Aspect is there. Of course they can tag/compel it. Keep it in mind, it's not the last we'll see of it.

Really, a big issue with HOTB is that, for all of the "no, this is totes cooperative, I swear" stuff Wick throws at us, the GM still had a lot of power the players won't even get close to. Which wouldn't be as bad, if this were a comedic game like Paranoia. But we're meant to play HOTB seriously.

Jan 6, 2012


Houses of the Blooded


The next chapter is about Poison. jadarx said the Poison chapter in the Wick of the Scorpion was a teaser of this and well, it was.

Wick says one of the most common forms of murder in ven opera and books is poison, so there's the temptation to make the system very complex... only not, because when you get poisoned you die. No one makes "saving throws" against arsenic, cyanide, mercury, spider venom, etc. (Disclaimer: I've been bitten by these beauties twice and well, I'm still kicking. And I'm not nearly as tough as a doomed murderous highborn manchild!) But maybe we want rules that are more than just "poison fuckin' kills you."

:smug: posted:

Okay, so you’re not that ruthless. You’re not that cruel.
(Why are you playing this game?)
Here’s Poison for Wimps. Enjoy.

There are five poisons ven know and trust. These are murderin' poisons, no pussyfooting around. Making a poison takes a Season Action and one Poison resource, and ready poison lasts until the end of the Year. Ven are tough enough that they can take small doses of one of the Big Five to make themselves immune to it: this takes one Season Action and a ven can be immune up to three of the Big Five. If you're poisoned and immune to that particular poison? You're fine! If not? You're fuckin' dead! Interestingly enough, ven can't just wait and drop poison in a cup for someone else to drink. That takes patience, and patience isn't a Virtue. You can justify using Beauty (sweet talk the target into drinking the poison), Strength (throw it into their eyes, this totally works you guys), Prowess (poisoned weapon), maybe even Courage... but the old Scorpion trick of carrying poison in a hidden ring compartment just plain doesn't work. If nothing else, this puts HOTB a bit above Wick of the Scorpion, as you will have to make at least one roll to poison someone. Of course, we're talking about one-shot kills here, so...

The five main poisons are:
  • Arsenic: it fuckin' kills you. Death comes in hours. It must be ingested.
  • Cyanide: it fuckin' kills you. Victim dies from asphyxiation. It may be ingested or inhaled.
  • Hemlock: it fuckin' kills you. A Fox specialty because death is slow, agonizing and beautiful. Must be ingested.
  • Oleander: it fuckin' kills you. Almost immediate death, but it's pretty obvious. Must be ingested. (Yes, oleander isn't poisonous at all in real life, but it kills ven dead. Go figure.)
  • Strychnine: it fuckin' kills you. It's about as subtle as a hammer. Method of administration? None!

There are also lesser poisons, that actually don't fuckin' kill you. They grant a Poisoned Aspect to the target, which can be tagged or compelled as the target feels like utter poo poo. Most importantly, while the Big Five are highly illegal by Law, using lesser poison is just clever. The Aspect lasts until the end of the day, or until the end of the scene if the target uses a Style.

Narcotics! Ven love their drugs. Brewing drugs takes a Season Action, some resources and a Wisdom risk, with the resulting narcotic having a Potency of 1 + wagers. Potency has a maximum of the Wisdom of the maker, which means that Dio can't roll a joint to save his life, while Al could turn into Walter White given the opportunity. Apothecaries can also make narcotics. Ingesting a drug grants the user an Aspect with invoke, tag and compel. The invoke gives a variable number of bonus dice, and the tag gets a number of dice equivalent to the narcotic's Potency. Ven can also get addicted: roll the drug's affected Virtue against its Potency, and if the drug wins the ven is Addicted (Aspect with a rank equivalent to the drug's Potency) and the tag/compel apply to the ven even if they're not under the drug. Like Insults, Addiction disappears at the rate of one rank per Season, you just have to go cold turkey.

Some drugs here!
  • Attar of Poppies: sweet oil, when burnt it makes you feel ~*euphoric*~. You're better at resisting pain and duress, but generally lack energy or focus.
  • Icefire: dangerous to brew, as it involves denatured oleander. Makes you rage when your wounds are tagged, and you are essentially on a running 'roid rage.
  • Foxwine: usually served with wine, a hit at parties. Bonus dice to Courage, but you're drunk as all gently caress.
  • Silken Veil: an oil you must burn and inhale to use. Bonus dice to Cunning rolls that have to do with perception, but you're twitchy and easy to freak out.

The odd thing here is that only the latter two have a Virtue listed for the Addiction roll. The other two mention nothing of Virtues. How do they even?

And now, finally, Revenge! Time to stab people in the face. But first, a look at ven Law, because Revenge is so ritual and stuff. Some history! Ven law is based around seven Laws left behind by Jonan Drax, one of the first ven that dug out the rest of his kind from the ruins after the sorcerer-kings were gone. Drax and his followers were essentially ven paladins, and they built the beginnings of ven society. But ven are hypocrites and they claim to follow them all while ignoring Drax's code all the time! Wick, well...

No. I'm not going to comment on anything from this page, and I'll let the man speak for himself.

:staredog: posted:

Before we go any further, we should probably talk a little bit about this. Anyone remotely familiar with ven culture how they flagrantly ignored their own Laws. And while this may sound hypocritical to a modern audience, I assure you, it isn’t such a foreign idea.

For example, let’s talk about our own traffic Laws.

You never break the speed limit, do you?

You never make improper turns.

You always make a full and complete stop in an empty intersection.

Don’t you?

Ten thousand years from now, some archaeologist will look back at 21st Century America and take a look at those Laws. Then, he’ll make an assumption. Everyone followed them. Nobody ever broke the Laws regulating the speed at which we drive on freeways, side streets and highways. And those who did were viewed as criminals. Like thieves. And, because he’s an expert, everyone will believe him.

Of course, we know better.

Another example. Lying.

Lying is always wrong.

I have never told a lie. Not once.

And if I did, it was for the right reasons.

And if it was for the wrong reasons, it really didn’t hurt anybody, did it?

No, I’ve never ever told a lie. Not once.

Americans make a big deal about the virtue of honesty. We say we want honest politicians. We say we want honest police. We say we only deal with those who never lie.

Yeah. Right.

Lying isn’t a crime, but it is a major cultural value. Honesty. Unfortunately, 90% of the population are, at the very least, occasionally dishonest.

And the other ten percent? They’re lying about it.

Marriage is an important pillar of our culture. A sacred institution.

And sixty percent of marriages in America fail.

We hate murder and drug use and crime. Despise it. And organized crime is the worst. Degenerate scum who take advantage of our loose and liberal Laws. And The Sopranos is one of the most watched shows on TV and The Godfather is one of the “greatest movies ever made.

And don’t get me started on “gangsta rap.”

We have plenty of our own double standards. Plenty. Once you acknowledge that, “ven hypocrisy” is a lot easier to understand.

CTRL-C, CTRL-V. (okay, I edited some line jumps.)

Anyway, let's talk about the Laws.

  • No Ven Shall Be Above The Law: seems straightforward enough, but law applies differently if you're Blooded or not. Unblooded can't own land, but they can be owned by the Blooded. They can't hold Swords, or any other weapon really if their master doesn't want them to own weapons. Not even spears or bows. If an unblooded harms a Blooded in any way, the punishment is almost always death. (Mercy is not a Virtue~). And there are no crimes against the unblooded - you're just harming someone else's property.

  • You Will Not Commit Murder: this is generally taken seriously. As the ven don't believe in an afterlife, murder is a Big Deal, and punishment for it is usually death, sometimes banishment or permanent crippling. This one only applies to ven on ven murder. Unblooded don't count, but killing one may be an Insult to their owner.

  • What You Own Is Yours: kind of tricky but basically, ven own whatever they have a claim to and can hold on to. If you put something down and someone picks it up? They own it. Someone tries to take something from you? If they fail, obviously it belongs to you. If they succeed, obviously it belongs to them. People are also property!

  • You Own Every Promise: you Promise something, you're legally bound to go through with it. Being a flake is against the Law, so ven are very careful on the promises they make. Breaking this Law means wearing the black for a year and a day.

  • You Will Not Practice Sorcery: as we already know, pretty much all ven break this law. But as long as it's not in public, no one is using sorcery!

  • You Will Not Raise Armies For The Purpose Of War: no armies, sure. But a noble's personal guard has to protect them and their property, so it can get kind of big. They're just taking care of your stuff, so your guard is not an army. Of course, some ven raise secret armies all the same, and spec-ops raids on enemy territory are all the rage in Opera. If the Senate catches you with a secret army, though? They declare you fair game and everyone turns on you, because we're not having another EmperorHigh King.

  • The Penalty Will Fit The Crime: the most open to interpretation, and the base of legal Revenge.

Wick tells us he can see all the oversights and mistakes the ven make, but he's not going to correct any one of them! He will be true to the ven. Also something about American immigration law.

There's also supposed to be an eight Law, but records are spotty regarding it. It might have something to do with hospitality, or not! Anyway, when matters of Insult or Injury take place between the Blooded, a Jury is called. The Jury is of at least three nobles, and at least one of them must not belong to an unaffiliated House. They hear the matter and if they determine the case has no standing, they dismiss it. If the case has legs, it proceeds. The Jury's decision is final and it's a very bad idea to go against it, as you're Insulting the authority the Senate has vested on the Jury, and by extension you're insulting every Senator in the Senate. Both parties have to be present before the Jury, so they're usually called right after the Insult or Injury took place, and in fact ven parties preselect a Jury because they know any gathering of ven will require one before the night is over.

A Jury can recognize three offenses. Insult, Injury, and True Pain. The first one can be settled by the offending party surrendering something minor to the offended. This is usually a certain amount of resources like food, stone or iron. The other two require payment in Blood. The ven guided themselves using a manual, The Swordsman, that established proper ways of redressing offenses and seeking revenge through dueling. According to this manual, Insults can also be grounds for a duel (huh? but you just said... nevermind), which is why nobles prefer to couch their sick burns using innuendo so that they don't become Insults. Then there's Injury, a crime that results in a physical, spiritual or financial scar. The wording is ambiguous, so many nobles use this as a claim for Revenge. And then there is True Pain, for offenses that cannot be undone. The whole thing is pretty ritualized, involving a lot of Jury deliberation, signing and countersigning of letters, seconds setting up the duel, selection of weapons and so on. Duels can be to the touch (first hit wins), to Blood (first to bleed loses), to Injury (like to Blood, but a party that bleeds has a chance to apologize - if they don't, the duel continues until one duelist cannot continue) and to the Death (which is not as common as you may think because if things have gotten this far, then High Revenge is really the only solution) Once the duel is over, the issue is settled, no matter the outcome.

High Revenge is serious business. Wick found only two instances of it in the four volumes of Shara's history, and you can't just go around declaring it for every little slight. It involves writing a letter in the offended party's own blood, to be sent to their liege, then a formal declaration before the Senate. The Senate makes a Jury, then decides if the High Revenge is valid. If it is, they decide how long it lasts (one month, one year, one lifetime...), then both parties have to spill Blood on the document to make it sorcerously binding (sorcery is explicitly allowed by law in this case) and then they're given one week to prepare. When under High Revenge, parties have to wear red colors, and they're bound under no law and no ven until it's over with the death of one of them. Literally no law at all, they can use the Big Five poisons or sorcery or whatever to get their pound of flesh. The only things they can't use is their Swords, or their personal guard. It's just them and their Hate. Also, if a third party ends up in the way of the Revenge, they lose all legal protections and can be killed on sight. Once the Revenge is over, by one of the parties dying or by time, the issue is also over for good.

The alternative to Blood is wearing the black, which marks the ven as shamed and as an outcast to society. No nobles speak to someone wearing the black, and the Senate takes over their lands. Wearing the black means the ven owns nothing. Maybe they can find someone to mooch off from, or someone that can take care of their lands. Remember the whole deal with owning stuff? Yeah.

Okay, actual rules now. Duels (or any kind of one-on-one combat, really) are fought in a series of beats, with one side being the aggressor and another the defender until momentum changes. First, each side declares their intention, then gather dice (a surprised opponent does not declare intention or gather dice), then they decide their Strike Bid to go first. They set aside a number of dice in secret and reveal them at the same time: the character with the most dice decides to go first or second. Ties go to the highest Prowess or whoever spends the most Style. Then the winner of the Bid declares an intention (I want to stab your wrist, I want to cut your thumb, etc.) and the other character responds in kind (I parry your useless attack, I bend sideways and leave you open for counterattack.) Wagers are made with the remaining dice, and then it's rolling time. A successful attack deals a Rank 1 Injury, with wagers adding to its rank. Injuries 1-2 are just a flesh wound and heal one rank per day. Injuries 3-4 are crippling wounds and heal one rank per Season. Injury 5 is a mortal wound and drops the ven on the spot. They can only take actions (not risks) by spending Style and they're helpless for the rest of the adventure, and anyone can attack the ven and spend a Style to kill them. Injuries can be tagged to gain bonus dice equivalent to their rank, and you can spend 5 Style to turn them into a Scar (permanent Aspect), but you never lose dice to roll because of Injuries you have. Vassals, if they're involved, can take an Injury up to their own Rank before going down.

Then, Advanced Maneuvers come into play. Everyone knows how to Injure, and they can learn to Defend as well, but skilled duelists can learn fancier tricks. They cost at least 2 wagers to execute, they have ranks of effectiveness, and you must have a teacher and spend Season Actions to learn them. Note that we still don't know how Season Actions work, and that you need to learn how to Defend in game because you can't buy maneuvers at chargen.

  • Injure (basic, attacker): the basic attack. You can get more ranks on this to add more dice to your attack.
  • Defend (basic, defender): even if you get hit, you reduce that Injury's ranks by your ranks in Defend.
  • Bash: (advanced, attacker/defender): Requires Injury 3 and points in Strength. Contested Strength roll to push each other to the ground, with a free attack if you're still standing.
  • Bind: (advanced, attacker/defender) Requires Parry 3. Locks blades, all Maneuvers end and any remaining wagers go into Style for both characters.
  • Disarm: (advanced, attacker): Requires Parry 3 and points in Beauty. Disarms the other sucker.
  • Dodge: (advanced, defender): Requires Parry 3 and spending 4 wagers. Cancels any attack Maneuver.
  • Parry: (advanced, defender): Requires Defend 3 and wielding a Sword or dagger. Cancels Blind, Called Shot, Injure and Riposte. Reduces Injury ranks like Defend, can be used up to (rank) times in a fight.
  • Feint: (advanced, attacker): Requires Parry 3 and points in Cunning. After a successful attack, you may call for a Feint, which instead of Injuring the opponent gives you Style points equal to your Prowess to use in the next beat.
  • Lunge: (advanced, attacker): Requires Injure 3 and points in Courage. Adds Courage to the Injury rank, but cannot spend any more wagers that beat.
  • Press: (advanced, attacker): Requires two rank-3 Advanced Maneuvers and points in Prowess. Cancels Recover and Parry, lets you make a second attack. However many Style you spend on this is the rank of the Injury you deal.
  • Recover: (advanced, defender): Requires Dodge 3, points in Wisdom, and spending three wagers. Cancels Bash, Disarm and Feint.
  • Riposte: (advanced, defender): Requires Parry 3. Right after a Parry, you may make a counterattack with your remaining wagers. Does not count as an attack, but the riposte-r gets first attack on the following beat. A Riposte can be further Parried and Riposted itself.
  • Sap: (advanced, attacker): only 1 wager to use it, if you get surprise on an opponent you can knock them unconscious. Just one rank.
  • Step: (advanced, attacker/defender): also 1 wager to use, you step forward or back. If a duelist is at least one step away from their opponent, they must spend as many wagers to get close. Why the gently caress is this an Advanced Maneuver?

There are also Grappling Maneuvers that use Strength instead of Prowess, something something make your own D&D grappling joke.

  • Punch: like Injure, but the maximum rank of the Injury is the attacker's Strength.
  • Block: like Defend, but only works to its fullest with other unarmed attacks. Against attacks by weapons or tools, it only reduces the Injury in one rank. Also it lets you "gain Style", which I think means you can turn your wagers into Style maybe?
  • Grab (advanced, attacker): Requires Punch 3. Needs to go off before the other grappling Advanced Maneuvers. The attacker grabs the opponent, which is then immobilized. The defender can break the Grab with a contested Strength risk - the only risk they can perform until it's broken.
  • Squeeze (advanced, attacker/defender): Requires Grab 3. Now that the opponent is Grabbed, the user can cause Injury. Contested risk, winner deals an Injury equal to their wagers minus the loser's wagers. Yes, the defender can end up dealing damage this way.
  • Throw (advances, attacker): Judo throw! It does no damage on its own, unless you're like throwing them off a cliff or something.

And then there's Mass Murder, which is all orky and not ven-like and stuff. Because violence is an Art, a bunch of guys killing each other is not. These rules are used for fights with three or more characters involved. First, everyone picks a side (you can pick "Me" as a side), then everyone chooses a leader for the side. Dice are gathered, but only the leader adds name, Prowess, Aspects, etc. dice. Other ven give the leader just one die. Vassal bands like personal guards add one die per rank. The leaders make their wagers, then roll. The winner selects a ven on their side, spends a wager, and gives a Rank 5 Injury to anyone involved in the fight, even someone on their own side. Each ven can only be sent to attack once per beat. If you end up on a leader's sights, you may Dodge or Parry, but not just Defend. The attacking ven can spend two Style to counter your Dodge or Parry with an applicable Maneuver if they have it. Once a beat is over, a side may choose to surrender, otherwise the battle continues. Ven knocked out by Rank 5 Injuries no longer contribute dice: they are at death's door and any leader can spend a wager to murder them. Loyal Vassals can take hits for you or for their vassal leaders, though, and Vassal Bands lose one rank per Rank 5 Injury they take. Once they're down to zero, they're out of action. Wick tells us the point of this system is to make these scenes lethal, dirty, chaotic, fast, and to discourage them.

There's also some stuff about secret armies that we'll get a better look at when it's the Seasons chapter, fluff about how guards fight using a spear and shield style that is disgusting for proper-minded ven to watch but is actually pretty effective in groups, and how ven love to turn people they forced to wear black into their personal guards because there is no way this could go wrong what the poo poo is wrong with you, seriously. Also, if somehow Ikhalu, patron saint of Revenge, gives you his blessing, then not even the Earls are going to get between you and your revenge. How does that happen? Don't ask me.

Whew, that was a doozy. Sorry for the length of the post. I also skipped some stuff here and there and skimmed through the chapter because Wick's writing style is repetitive as gently caress, and I'm afraid I couldn't work a Dio example fight. But before I finish, let me mention that only Swords count as weapons because ven are swordophilic and if you don't have a Sword but you opponent does, you have the "Tool" aspect they can tag for two bonus dice in a fight. This only counts in hand to hand fighting, not if some guy is peppering you with arrows from afar.

Also, this, from two different sidebars:


Why is the system so lethal?
Because the literature is lethal and the point of this game is to emulate ven literature.
Look, if you want to adopt a hit point system where your character can take a knife in the eye, an arrow in the groin, lose an arm, burn a leg to a cinder but can still swing a Sword without any penalty, there are plenty of other roleplaying games that let you do that.
This isn’t one of them.


How many Injuries can I have before I drop?
You can have as many Injuries as you want. Really. The ven are tough. They’re robust. They can take it. Your character can have three 1 Injuries, five 2 Injuries, one 3 Injury, four 4 Injuries… so long as he doesn’t have a single 5 Injury, he can keep going.
I designed the system this way to reflect the way ven heroes and heroines act in the operas and pillow books of the time. They seem to acquire all kinds of Injuries—appearing as walking, bleeding wounds—until that one hit comes along that throws them to the ground.


Next: my first, my last, my everything~

Jan 6, 2012


scissorman posted:

Just so I get this right, as a ven you have to use a sword when fighting?
Can't you just use a spear/halberd/whatever, maybe with a debilitating poison on it to be extra 'clever'?

I get that it's probably strongly inspired by tales about samurai/knights (only with Wick feeling smart for telling us that honor/virtue/chivalry is a lie etc., even though it was never really a thing in the first place during actual combat) and its fetishization of swords/katanas but if it's going for a more gritty combat then I know I'd prefer to use a more practical weapon, especially if I'm playing a less skilled character.
Or would that just get me slapped with the 'dolt' aspect?

You don't have to use a Sword, but if you're not using one and the other guy is, you're a Tool. Not a Weapon. You can use a poisoned spear though, that's cool, but other than having/not having a Sword there's no mechanical difference at all between weapons. Oddly, Wick references the Riddle Of Steel to justify why weapons have no mechanical differences, which is just plain wrong.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It sounds just really unpleasant to interact with Ven, to be a Ven, to even be vaguely aware of the Ven's existence. They just sound like really unhappy people, even unhappier than Amberites, who are awful unhappy. What's this about Orks? Can we play one of them, instead?

Just like Americans. It's you, you are the ven.
I think you can play as orks, actually? I don't have the Wilderness sourcebook.

Jan 6, 2012


scissorman posted:

Well, that's disappointing; I almost expected there to be support for fighters to try to out-smug/out-sperg each other concerning their weapons before the fight.
How large is the difference between using a Tool and a Weapon/Sword?

The Weapon-user can tag the Tool for two bonus dice.

Jan 6, 2012


Halloween Jack posted:

And like ARB said, they're the strongest and the smartest and are secretly controlling and manipulating everyone because they're sooo awesome and smart.

oWoD seemed to have regular trouble with that, making antagonists and factions within the super duper COOL FACTIONS what are you stupid staying with the old and busted.

The Camarilla rules the nights, and they fight the villainous Sabbat! Only the Sabbat are actually trying to hold off the monstrous Antediluvians (what are you, stupid?)
The Traditions fight to awaken humanity, and they are opposed by the villainous Technocracy! Only the Technocracy are trying to make the nights safer for everyone and they fight the real monsters (what are you, stupid?)
The Garou Nation protects Gaia and the spirits from harm, and against them is the villainous Pentex Corporation! Only--- wait, I don't think Pentex are ever shown in any kind of positive light ever. But you get the idea.

Jan 6, 2012


Naruto d20 sounds like a :stare: of bloat.

Someone should take up that one d20 40K book for the full dose of d20 cholesterol.

Jan 6, 2012


Houses of the Blooded

In case I’m being too subtle, let me be perfectly clear about one thing. The only way to maintain a Romance at its potential is with sex.

This is the Romance chapter. Still your hearts, we're in for a ride. The chapter opens with this quote from one of Wick's doomed highborn manchildren:

:pervert: posted:

Other people’s wives are like other people’s children. Fun to play with, fun hold, fun to tickle and fun to tease. But as soon as they start crying, you can hand them back.

Romance! It's dangerous, it's obsessive, it uses the same word the ven use for revenge, yadda yadda. It's asking for trouble, ven go head over heels for their lovers and act all stupid and poo poo. So why is Romance a capital letter Thing? About three hundred years ago, two nobles, Avreda and Ylvayne, fell for each other at first sight. Avreda was a composer, Ylvayne an older lady married to a guy going into Solace. Avreda composed his first great Opera the winter they met, dedicated to his "Winter Rose", and it was patently obvious the two were up to shenanigans. Eventually she was brought to court under charges of adultery, and she admitted her love for the composer, but refused to admit the consummation of the affair. The court ruled that adultery was a crime, but ~*love*~ was not. This new idea of ~*love*~ took off among the ven like corgi pictures on the internet, with a metric ton of pillow books and operas dedicated to poor ladies trapped in loveless marriages until the dashing Lover comes to rescue them. But no sex! That was illegal.

Ten years later, Avreda composed a sequel where the totally fictitious lovers from the first Opera reunited and consummated the affair. Everyone was clutching their pearls again and Avreda was brought to the court this time, as the husband put him down for a charge of True Pain. Avreda declared that he was guilty, yes - guilty of subverting marriage, encouraging love, and being in love with Ylvayne, but alas they had never gone through and he would forever regret it. The court ruled in favor of the husband and Avreda was "publicly whipped, castrated, and then hung by the neck until he was dead. His body was then burned until nothing remained." His lover poisoned herself soon after. And since everything was so tragic and stuff, Romance became part of ven culture.


In the beginning, these affairs were completely chaste—a kiss was a daring gift, and if discovered, could lead to banishment, or even death. Then, as the concept of courtly Romance became more popular, the lady’s rewards became more… rewarding.

So now there are, no poo poo, Courts of Love that gather to debate the nature of love. They're pretty grognardy about it too, with constants debates on the proper procedure, where the man goes too far, etc. The discussions are purely theoretical, of course, everyone is talking about fictional lords and ladies that are most certainly not inspired by real life shenanigans. Of course, the courts also love trying to figure out who the actual lovers are in the fictional tales. Most courts are women-only, but some include male members. The greatest of them was created fifty years ago by one Shoshana Yvarai, and lovers from all over Shanri want to go there and share their tales. Romance is now a very ritualized thing like everything else in ven culture, with the lovers setting harder and harder tasks for each other to prove their worth.

So, actual Romance rules! Yes, there are rules for this thing. Traditionally it's the man's role to initiate Romance and the woman determines how far it can go (same-gender sex happens, but it's just for fun; no same-gender Romance and certainly nothing like gay marriage for ven), but the Game has escalated since then. Only one Romance can be held at the time. First, the Romance begins with The First Game, the initial flirtation. This is a test to see whether the ven involved are skilled enough to play the game. The initiator rolls a Beauty risk with wagers, if it succeeds the invitation is on. The potential partner then makes a Beauty risk of their own, with as many wagers as the first player made. They can also make more wagers in order to increase the Romance's Potential. This goes back and forth as they make further and further insinuations until one fails: their heart failed them and they missed a beat, fumbled their response, or some other unfortunate circumstance. The winner is the Prey, having won the right to be pursued; and the loser is the Predator, forced to prove their worth by keeping up with the Prey. The Prey's wagers plus half the Predator's wagers make up the Romance's Potential, the number of Seasons it can last. The Romance has a rank as well, equal to half its Potential, rounded up.

Wick can't help but be an rear end in a top hat even to his fake scholar colleagues.

The Romance is an Aspect. Its invoke gives bonus dice to a task set by the other lover; if the task cannot be accomplished, the Romance loses one rank. Its tag lets others take advantage of the lovers' feelings for each other, and its compel forces the lover to protect the Romance (not the other lover, mind you) It's also a Free Aspect. Lovers can also take the Lover's Leap for each other: if they're both in a scene and one is about to take an Injury, the lover jumps and takes the hit in full. Nothing stands in the way of a Leap.

The tasks the Prey sets for the Predator start off simple and become progressively harder. Of course, a Prey can start off asking for the impossible (and showing they either trust their lover's skill a whole lot or not at all), or asking for trivial stuff (because they have little regard for their lover's skill, or because they're testing them before setting a real task for them, etc.) Connotations! Successfully completing a task means the Prey must award alta, the rewards of the ~*game of love*~ to the Predator, and the roles switch. Alta starts off small, like small gifts or kisses in the hand, and it progresses in boldness and lewdness as the Romance goes on.

But Romances can't last forever. The Romance grows up in rank each Season after it begins until it hits its Potential, then it loses one rank per Season until it's down to zero. If no alta is granted by either lover in one Season, it loses two ranks as well. Romances can end earlier as well. The two honorable ways out are to accomplish a task and not ask for alta, or not assigning a task. Or it can end poorly: you can refuse to grant alta, thus giving your former lover the Vazhna Aspect. Vazhna are "savage lovers" that are pissed off at the very idea of love, and it can be tagged by opponents in matters of Romance or compelled to make the vazhna act cruel and heartless to lovers and Romance. The Courts of Love can also force the Aspect on a lover that ended an affair in a public, awful way.

When an affair ends the lover that was cut off gets the Heartbreak Aspect. Its invoke gives the heartbroken ven its rank in bonus dice to harm the one that hurt them, its tag lets opponents turn their anger against them, and its compel is, well, you know Wick's fascination for scorned, vengeful Dragon Ladies? That's about it. Heartbreak also has a rank (half the original Romance's Potential), which goes away at a rate of one per Season. Heartbroken ven can also start new Romances, but their rank cannot be higher than the Heartbreak's rank.

Those ven that play closer to the fire can turn their Romance into a Liaison. This can be done as soon as the Romance hits its Potential. When the ven involved cross the line, the Liaison's rank no longer goes down in rank with each Season, as long as the Liaison is "maintained." Being discovered at this point means breaking out the Revenge rules. The chapter ends with that lovely bit at the very beginning of this post.

I need a shower. Fun bits before I go: new Romances usually give more dice than old ones, so players will want to dump lovers all the time; and having Romances with your wife/husband is almost on the level of munchkining as far as Wick is concerned. Okay, it can happen, but it must be ~*special*~ and the exception to the rule. Romance in marriages is alien to the Wick.

Next: Dio kicks the Puppy Factory. Al throws a kegger.

Jan 6, 2012


AccidentalHipster posted:

It's hard to tell if he's shaking his fist in impotent fury or fist pumping in triumph.

One and the same in the Megaverse©

Jan 6, 2012


The problem is that HOTB is not an adversarial LARP game where you can take people in private to shank them in the face, it's a tabletop game of quote-unquote cooperative storytelling with everyone's character sheets in the clear. Except, again, for the GM's NPCs.

Have a :wick: before we go on.

Houses of the Blooded

Break out the party hats

The following chapter is the Seasons chapter, the longest crunch section in the book.


Unlike other games — where the characters are perpetually stuck at the vague age of “about 25,” never growing older, the passage of time never ravaging their youth — in Houses of the Blooded, days, months, and years click by.

Sure whatever. The ven measure time just as we do, with four seasons per year. I guess Wick doesn't need to write those volumes on ven timekeeping after all! The ven year begins in Spring rather than Winter. One season lasts around 90 days. For each Season, characters can get involved in up to three Stories (adventures). More than that and the Narrator may judge they can't spend time handling other important stuff. Each Season also has a modifier of its own: Spring adds +1 to any Romance that begins in the season, or +1 to the potential of any Art created during it; Summer lets one region per Province make an additional Resource; Autumn gives all PC nobles one extra action; and Winter makes all regions roll one extra Trouble die because Winter sucks.

Let's talk about Regions! They're the building block of the Provinces ven own. Ten Regions to one Province. Regions are an abstract, unspecified amount of land.


(I like abstract. Gives players room to be creative with their stuff. If you want to be more precise, there are a ton of other games with similar systems that deal with specifics. Use those.)

You copied the same line and pasted it in Blood and Honor, jerk. Bad form! Regions can be civilized (there are roads, tax collectors, some population and a measure of protection) or wild (still ork-held); they have a type and rank, as we saw during chargen; and they're rated by Loyalty and Security. As a Baron/Baroness, starting characters have one Province mostly under their command, and to rise in noble rank they need more Provinces. Three Provinces for a Count, nine for a Marquis, eighteen for a Duke! You also need nobles of lesser to help you rule your lands, and apparently Barons need three Knights to rule their barony? Could've mentioned that in chargen, Mr. Wick. Could've also mentioned chargen characters start with one Resource from each Region they begin with.

Seasons go by in order, with four Phases per Season:

  • Planning: this is where the noble orders around their Regions and tells them what to do. A Region can produce one type of Resources available to it (so a Mountains region can produce Stone or Metals, but not both at once); Villages and Cities can produce Goods with available Resources, but they must have been collected during the previous Harvest, so you can't use the Resources you commanded to extract on the same Season. Certain Vassals and Holdings can take special actions at this point.
  • Trouble: each Region creates a certain amount of Trouble determined by its type. Forgotten Ruins? No Trouble. A quiet Farm? A little Trouble. A bustling City? Hella Trouble. Dice are rolled for each region during this phase, and if any die rolls 1 the region is Troubled and provides no benefit until the Trouble is quelled. If any regions are still Troubled when this phase rolls around, all of them roll an extra Trouble die as unrest spreads through your lands.
  • Actions: here is where the characters start getting poo poo done. Each characters gets one Season Action + half their Cunning, rounded up (I hope you didn't take Cunning as a weakness!) Vassals can take actions in your Domain as well, up to their rank. You can also send Vassals or even go yourself to help another Domain, but it costs an extra action on top of things. And finally, your spouse can take actions in your Domain as if they were you. This phase is also where the Stories take place. The GM can also judge that one Story takes a complete Season to run, or that a series of short Stories can fit in one Season. You can save up actions to use in and between adventures.


    That’s about enough time. Maybe a little too much, maybe a little too little. Maybe just enough to make you worry you’re not getting enough done. I hope so. That means I’m doing my job.
  • Finally, Harvest. First, Resources from the Planning phase are collected, and then they may be added to the Castle Stores. Any Resource not used or stored by the end of the Year rots away. A small Castle like starting characters get stores three Resources, with larger Castles storing more. Note that there are no rules at all to enlarge a Castle, I guess this means increasing the Castle region's rank? :psyduck: Then Improvement (either personal or upgrades to your regions, vassals and other property) happens, and finally your spies come home to tell you what they found out.

The Resources are:

  • Food: feeds your followers.
  • Herbs: need those for Sorcery and some narcotics.
  • Industry: bolts of cloth, tanned leather, etc. Need those for Goods.
  • Lumber: essential to build Holdings.
  • Luxuries: this comprises both Spices and Wine. Increase the loyalty of Regions and vassals.
  • Metals: need it to pay upkeep on Personal Guard and Swordsmen, and for certain Goods.
  • Poison: for poisoning, duh. And to make yourself immune to poison.
  • Stone: like lumber, essential for Holdings.
  • Trade: a special Resource that can't be stored, but can be used to trade one Resource harvested during the previous Season for another. So a Region that produces 2 Trade can trade 2 of your Food for 2 Lumber, that sort of thing.

So what can we build? Holdings! That's a Season Action to begin building, and two Seasons to complete. And you need to spend another Season Action to continue building during the second Season, so 2 actions total. A region can only have one Holding building at a time and can support one Holding per rank, and you can only use one action for building. So if you're building two things at a time, you have to choose what progresses that Season.

  • Art Gallery (Castle): adds one rank to any Art you create, lets you throw Art showings.
  • Dam (Plains, Forest, Farm, Hills, Shoreline, Swamp): the region can now produce Food. If it already could, it now produces an extra Food per season.
  • Game Reserve (Forest): an extra Food per Season. You can hold Hunts.
  • Garden (Castle): +2 to one Beauty risk per Season. Only one of these per Province.
  • Garrison (any urban region): Increases Security by 1, one less Trouble die.
  • Gymnasium (Castle): +2 to one Strength risk per Season. Only one per Province.
  • Marketplace (City): the City may produce Trade.
  • Mine (Mountains or Hills): one extra Metal or Stone per season, depending on what the Region is producing.
  • Opera House (Castle or City): you can sponsor Operas.
  • Port (Shoreline or City): one free action per Season to trade Resources with another ven.
  • Road (any rural region): one less Trouble die.
  • School of Etiquette (any urban region, also seriously?): +2 to one Cunning risk per Season. Only one per Province.
  • Shrine (any Region): you must specify a Suaven and have a Relic of them before building this. You don't have to spend Style to call on the Suaven.
  • Silo (Farm): you can store up to three Resources here.
  • Stadium (City): "Stadiums provide your people with entertainment, making them happy and keeping their minds away from their miserable lives." Damnable ven jocks! :argh: +1 Province Loyalty.
  • Swordsman Academy (any urban region): +2 to one Prowess risk per Season. Only one per Province.
  • Temple (any urban region): you need a Shrine in the Region for at least a year. It replaces the Shrine, increasing the region's Loyalty by 2 (it says it replaces the Shrine's benefit, but it says nothing in the shrine's description re: loyalty), and you can visit the Temple as an action to increase your Devotion to that Suaven in 1 per Temple built.
  • Theater (any urban region): you can now sponsor Plays.
  • University (any urban region): +2 to one Wisdom risk per Season. Only one per Province.
  • Warehouse (City): stores up to 5 Resources.
  • Winery (Plains): +2 to one booze-rageCourage risk per Season. Only one per Province.

You can also conquer a Region owned by the enemy. First, you have to spy on them: your Spy Network can look at as many Regions as ranks it has. That tells you the Region's rank, improvements and the presence or absence of enemy vassals. You still have to burn an action to do this even if you find out about the region through a story. The following season, you spend an action to send your Personal Guard in. The region's Loyalty goes down a number of ranks equivalent to the Guard's rank. The region is useless when occupied, and once it hits zero it's yours with a new Loyalty equivalent to the Guard's rank. Of course the enemy can send in their own Guard to kick out yours: rank vs rank rolls, the winner stays, the loser leaves with one Rank less. You can only send one Personal Guard at any single region, but Secret Armies can do everything Guard can and they don't count as Guard for this.

You can Create Art as a Season Action. First, gather one Resource appropriate to the Art (Food counts for banquets, and Wick chides us for thinking otherwise as the dumb McDonalds-eating Americans we are), with Luxury substituting if you can't come up with anything. Then, a Beauty risk, with wagers. You fail the risk, the muse has failed you. You make it, you make a Rank 1 Art. Any wagers go into the Art's Potential, which means we can spend one action per season to improve the Art's Rank up to its Potential. So if Dio makes a 2-wager Risk to build a sculpture of The World, he can spend the next two Seasons perfecting the statue until it's a Rank 3 Art. This also requires one extra Resource per Season. Finally, you can show off the Art at any social event, but you want to do it at a Party. When you show off the Art, you get Style equivalent to its rank + the Party's rank. You can bank Style on it too, up to its rank. The artist can give it a positive Aspect: any ven that looks upon the Art and spends one Style can acquire the Aspect, which has a rank equivalent to the Art's rank. This aspect has only an invoke that gives dice relevant to what the Art is meant to inspire: let's say The World is meant to inspire Ambition, then any ven inspired by it can roll 3 extra dice for risks involving climbing in station. The Aspect loses one rank per Season, and you can't be inspired by the same Art twice. Finally, the artist gets the Art's rank in bonus dice for any risk involving their fame or reputation. As before, one die is gone per Season. You can't upgrade Art, that's "Lucasism."

Opera is a special Art, requiring both a Luxury and another Resource. It must be based on one or more of the Seven Fools we saw earlier, and ven watching the Opera can spend a Style to get a Free Aspect related to the Fool(s) in the Opera. Theater plays are... uh. No rules for them at all! :psyduck:

You can also explore the archipelagos of Shanri in order to expand your Domain. This requires that your starting Province be explored in full. Spend a season action to go down to one of your wild regions with a band of guards: this lets you determine what the wild region actually is. The exploring and developing of the region only finishes during the Harvest phase, though. Once your first ten regions are civilized, you can go outside! You can explore additional regions the same way, but they only count as a Province when you have another ten, with at least one of them a Castle. Building a Castle is done the same way as exploring a region, but it costs three Lumber and three Stone on top of the action. You can also explore forgotten sorcerer-king Ruins... but that comes later. PCs have to do their exploring themselves.

You can make new Contacts. Just pick any ven you know (vassals don't count) and spend an action. You get one free action in a Contact's domain, you can spend a Style for two bonus dice to protect a Contact, and you can spend Style to refresh their Aspects.

Personal training! You can use an action to learn an Advanced Maneuver for dueling (rather, the instructor spends an Action on you), or to add an Aspect to your Sheet. Unless Wisdom is your weakness! Remember the limits on Aspects at chargen? Dio is boned in this regard. You can also train your Vassals to upgrade their rank, spending as many actions as the vassal's new rank to do so. But you can only use one vassal training action per Season.

You can quell Trouble in a region. Just spend an action and all the Trouble there is gone.

You can develop a Region, which repeats the exploring regions rules for extra confusion. You can also increase a region's Rank in one per Season. Urban regions have special rules! Building a Village costs an additional 1 Lumber and 1 Stone, and improving its rank costs more Lumber and Stone. The Village cannot produce anything if it's being improved. If you improve a Village region up to 3 and spend three Lumber, three Stone and three Luxury, it becomes a City at Rank 4. There's a mention of a Town region in the Holdings list but it doesn't show here or anywhere else. :psyduck: Villages and Cities have Craftsmen that turn your Resources into stylish Goods. The Craftsman has a rank equal to the Village, and can make up to their Rank in Goods, so a Village 3 Craftsman can make three Rank 1 hats, one rank 1 hat and one rank 2 cloak, etc. Only one Craftsman per Village, but a City can have up to four of them - one rank 4, one rank 3, one rank 2, one rank 1. The exact Resource that is turned into Goods depends on the nature of the object being built. Guidelines? Industry for clothes, Metals for weapons, you figure it out.

You can research Sorcery rituals, with one action and one Herbs. :science:

You can transport Resources from a Province to another Province or to another Domain. It costs one action to do so, and as a free action you can transfer one Resource or Goods to a Contact.

You can hire a Vassal. They start service at rank 1, and you can improve them in turn. They need at least one Food per Year as payment, and they can be paid more in other Resources to keep them from getting bribed. Vassals also get fancy titles if you want - ven like pleasant sounding stuff. Master of Flowers instead of Master Poisoner, etc.


(I’m personally fond of “High Lord Protector” myself.)

Cromwellian jerk! Anyway, there are regular Vassals, Vassal Bands (groups of men, ten per rank) and Master Vassals (actual NPCs). As a rule, Vassal Bands cannot be Assassinated and Master Vassals cannot be Bribed. Vassals have one Aspect per rank as well because we're not doing enough bookkeeping. Most Vassals get one Season Action per rank relevant to their role. You can even name other PCs as Vassals, but if they have prerequisites you must fulfill them all the same (so, Rank 3 Personal Guard before Al can name Dio his Swordsman).

  • Artisan: creates Art. Each Artisan has a specific field of expertise.
  • Apothecary: creates one dose of Poison or Narcotics. Can also immunize you to one Poison.
  • Caravan: moves Resources around.
  • Court Scholar: can research up to their rank in sorcery rituals.
  • Craftsman: they make Goods! You can hire one to work in your Castle as well.
  • General (master): requires a Rank 3 Secret Army. Can lead your troops.
  • Herald: can raise Loyalty in your regions by one rank/season/region, or roll against an enemy region's Loyalty to reduce it in 1.
  • Maid/Valet: men have valets, women have maids. They're essentially walking Style repositories, storing Style up to their rank. You can use that style as long as they're in the same region as you.
  • Master of the Road (master): requires Rank 3 Roadmen. Can quell Trouble in a rural region or explore unknown regions for you.
  • Master Spy (master): requires Rank 3 Spy Network. Helps with Espionage actions.
  • Mayor: quells trouble in their assigned City, can store up to 2 Resources per rank.
  • Personal Guard (band): your legal goons. They can learn Advanced Maneuvers!
  • Roadmen (band): your wandering knights. They uh... exist? Doesn't say they can actually quell Trouble or anything.
  • Secret Army: your illegal goons. Only one per Province, and only you or your Seneschal can train them. They can do anything your Personal Guard can do, but their maximum rank is the number of Farms you own in the Province, and each Season they must be hidden in one of your regions. An enemy that happens to spy on that region learns of your Secret Army.
  • Seneschal: requires Rank 3 Staff. Can quell Trouble anywhere in your Domain, increase a Vassal's rank, or even increase a region's rank.
  • Sheriff: can quell Trouble in an urban region.
  • Spouse: not exactly a Vassal, but still listed for reference. Can take any action you can.
  • Spy Network (band): spies!
  • Staff (band): the people that keep your Castle running. Having any Staff means there never is Trouble in your Castle. The Parties you throw have their rank capped by the Staff's rank.
  • Swordsman (master): requires Rank 3 Personal Guard. Can assist the Personal Guard, accept duels for you, and spend an action to add their Prowess to Security. They can teach you one Maneuver per season.

Loyalty! It's how much your people care about you. The more Loyalty, the better. Your Domain (Province/individual Regions) has a starting Loyalty of 1. You can increase Loyalty by giving Luxuries (Spices or Wine) to either a single region, raising its Loyalty in three, or to an entire Province, raising it in one. If any region hits 5+ Loyalty, they produce one extra Resource that doesn't need to be the one they're already tasked to produce. If at least half the regions in one Province have 5+ Loyalty, the Province's Security increases in 1. If a region hits 10+ Loyalty, it produces two extra Resources, and if at least half the regions in one Province have 10+ Loyalty its Security increases in 2. Vassals also have a Loyalty score (but not NPC Vassals), which is equivalent to their Rank and can increase by gifting them Luxuries.

Espionage! You need at least a Spy Network to get up on shinobi shenanigans. An espionage action has a rank, equivalent to the rank of the Spy Network + the Cunning of any PC or NPC helping the spies. To spy on an enemy Province, the action must defeat the Security of the target Province, which is equivalent to the Spy Network present there (or zero if there's no Spy Network opposing espionage.) Spy Networks can also use an action to add their rank to a Province's Security.

Spies can:
  • Assassinate Vassal: tricky! This needs a Master Spy. First, the basic Espionage Action roll is made, then the Master Spy alone makes a roll against the Province's Security, then a Cunning risk against the target Vassal's rank, then one last roll against Domain Security + the rank of the local Spy Network. Pretty hard! If the Vassal wins the roll they survive, and if the Master Spy fails the final roll they're captured. PCs are explicitly immune to assassination this way.
  • Bribe: Espionage Action vs Vassal rank roll, and you need to give them as many Luxuries as 2 x their rank. If it succeeds, the Vassal's Loyalty is reduced by one, and a Loyalty 0 Vassal is a traitor that can either cross over to your side or stay as a double agent and report on any actions they're commanded to perform.
  • Cause Trouble: Espionage Action vs Province Security. If it works, a region is in Trouble.
  • Interrogation: automatic success, the Master Spy can investigate up to their Cunning in Vassals. Any traitors are discovered and executed, replaced by a Vassal of one rank lower.
  • Sabotage: you can destroy an enemy Holding. But you must know it's there first.
  • Spy on Region: of course. You can learn a number of facts up to your Spy Network's ranks + Master Spy's Cunning: the resources the Region is producing this Season, the Holdings present or under construction, its Security, its Loyalty and if there is a Secret Army.
  • Spy on People: you can spy on PCs, Vassals or NPCs. If successful, you can learn one of the following: what season actions the target took, one of the character's invokes/tags/compels, or the rank of one of their Virtues.
  • Tyrant: Master Spy only. You can squeeze your people even beyond what ven usually do, extracting one extra Resource from a number of regions equivalent to the Master Spy's Cunning, but their Loyalty automatically is reduced to 1.

And at the end of the Year, characters Age. Roll 1d6 at the end of the Year. These are your Age Points. Once you get 60 of them, you progress to the next Phase of your life. When you do, erase all Age points. As mentioned during the Blood and Honor review, this may mean ending up with some highly wonky ages for your characters (codgers over 200 years old, or 69-year old Spring children) If you hit 60 Age Points at the Winter of your life, you enter Solace. There are also pregnancy rules because who doesn't love making random rolls when two ven bump uglies :v: but the most :psyduck: side of this is that ven pregnancies last one Season and children mature at double the age of human children, so an eight-year old ven sprout is basically 16 years old. Maybe it's the literature cheating to get more characters on stage sooner, or maybe the sorcerer-kings wanted their servitors to grow up that fast. A 16 years old ven becomes a Rank 1 Child Vassal, equivalent to a Spouse. They can train just like other Vassals and eventually become NPCs. If you move to another Phase at the end of the year, you can change around your name, gain new Aspects, a new contact, or turn the contact into a Friend. A Friend gets three bonus dice to put you or your relationship into danger, but you and your friend get to keep all wagers in a contested roll (remember, even helping each other is a contested roll in HOTB)

All your Provinces lose 1d3 Loyalty at the end of the Year, and all unused Resources not moved into storage spoil. Winter is also when you throw Parties! :toot:

:pervert: posted:

Every Season, ven throw parties. They throw small, private parties and huge raucous, indulgent bashes. Food, drink, sex, dancing, flirting, singing, sex, hunting, duels, bloodshed, sex, revenge.

A Party's size is capped by your Staff's rank. You need Rank 3 Staff and a Seneschal to throw a Rank 4 Party. Which means Al can't actually throw a party at all, because somehow he has a Castle but no Staff to man it! :smith: You need a banquet to feed your guests. 1 Food, 1 Wine and 1 Spice gets you a rank 1 banquet, which can feed your guests for one night. Bigger banquets (and thus, longer parties) require more food, booze and spices. Guests must bring gifts for the party host exactly equivalent to the Party's Rank, and parties are usually announced a year in advance so that people have time to procure suitable gifts. In parties, you can trade resources freely with other guests (up to the Party's rank) and Romances that start during a party add the Party's rank to its potential. Except that the sample given adds the Party's rank directly to the Romance's rank, so you may end up with a Romance bigger than its potential? :psyduck: There are also special Events you can hold, but never more than one per Party night.

  • Art Show: requires Art Gallery. You saw how this worked for Art.
  • The Hunt: requires Game Reserve. Participating ven get the Hunter free aspect for the rest of the Party, that only has an invoke for three bonus dice when tracking down an enemy or taking down an enemy that you tracked: guests can spend one Style to keep the aspect for a number of Seasons equivalent to the Party's rank.
  • The Opera: requires Opera House. You can show Operas for your guests! You need an Opera libretto to show, of course.
  • The Wager: requires Rank 2 Castle. A Wager is a bet by two or more ven on some seemingly random outcome, with at least three ven from different Houses (at least one must be from an uninvolved House) to make it legally binding. The Wager's winner gets whatever the stakes were, plus the Party's rank in Style points. Only one Wager per night.

But no Theater plays! I hope I got things mostly right. The rules here seem to be kludged together from different drafts, and edition didn't catch all of the revisions made to them. And at any rate, they seem overkill detail for a game where you're one roll from death at any time.

Next: the Tomb of Spooky. Also, :doom:

Traveller fucked around with this message at 00:02 on Oct 31, 2013

Jan 6, 2012


MonsieurChoc posted:

Part 3
An Antechamber of the Damned: The Theresienstadt Ghetto

Wikipedia Article for people who want to be depressed. :smith:

:smithicide: gently caress everything.

AccidentalHipster posted:

So I'm guessing Dio is the most boned due to the stupid Wisdom cap on Aspects. Speaking of Dio, I didn't see him "kick the puppy factory" like you said he would.

It was a long post! And he made a Za Warudo sculpture, what do you want from me?

Also, the exact reason why Dio is boned is in the next chapter. It's the Wickest loving thing.

Jan 6, 2012


MalcolmSheppard posted:

Well no, not necessarily. The book explicitly discusses playing in "Diplomacy mode" where the game is VampLARPlike PVP. It's a useless rule for NPCs since it can be replaced with "make extra poo poo up to make the antagonist more challenging." But yeah, this seems to be a wacky design goal given the cooperative play language elsewhere, and not so much guidance along the lines of "use this for PVP play." The "you'll figure it out" bit is kind of irritating here, because if you don't play MET you probably have no idea what the hell this is for, and if you do play it, and know the section of Laws of the Night where they describe exactly the same rule and why you might use it, it's not an emergent discovery at all--it's kind of a "big ups to my LARPers!" in-joke thing.

Blood and Honor also has a "we'll be utter dicks to each other, we won't be crybabies when we lose, etc." Cutthroat Mode, but that game still doesn't have the lying rule. Even Wick figured out it was not a good idea, shoutout to MET rules or not.


Houses of the Blooded

At least Elric could handle himself in a mass brawl

The Sorcery chapter! Yadda yadda, highly illegal, ven are still butt deep into magicks, the Serpent pushed to make it illegal to make themselves stronger, you know this already. Sorcery works with Rituals. To make one work, you just need knowledge of the ritual, sacred herbs and enough blood. In game terms, you take one Injury and spend 1 Herbs to use a ritual. To learn one, you spend one season action and 1 Herbs.

  • The Blooding: the ritual that makes a ven Blooded. All Houses have different versions of this ritual. Target ven becomes Blooded and gets the +1 to their new House's Virtue. Ven can only be bound to one House.
  • The Circle: the sorcerer cuts their hand or wrist, make a mark on a door, then locks it down behind them, leaving some blood on the lock. Until the next dawn and as long as the door is closed, nothing from the INVISIBLE WORLD :ghost: may enter!
  • The Corpse: this one is bad mojo. Really bad mojo. Even the ven go "whoa dude". Spill blood over the lips of a creature's corpse and it comes back! Everyone that sees the walking corpse can tell automatically it's bad and unnatural. The corpse is an Rank 6 ork with the traits Blind Spot, Claws, Fangs, Muscle, Regeneration and Rhino Hide. What do these mean? Narrator eyes only, chump. The Corpse lasts for one season before breaking down.
  • The Curse: the sorcerer wounds themselves and screams at a target. They may wound themselves up to five times before the ritual kills them. When using a curse, they must scream at the target a "You will never" or "You will always" curse: You will always lie to your loved ones, you will never hold your father's sword again, etc. The curses are Aspects with ranks equal to the injuries the sorcerer took. If the target breaks a You Will Never curse, they get a free aspect others can tag to gain bonuses equal to its rank; if they go through with a You Will Always curse, they can invoke it to gain dice equivalent to its rank to fulfill the curse.
  • The Eye: only the Serpent know this ritual. Other Blooded that demonstrate knowing it end up at "mysterious ends." The sorcerer cuts their hand and puts the wound over their left eye, and for the rest of the night they can see any orichalcum items or active rituals on a subject. Their left eye is a flat crimson red without pupil for the duration of the ritual.
  • The Familiar: the sorcerer feeds an infant beast their blood for a season. Eventually, they forge a powerful bond. The sorcerer always knows the location and general emotional state of the beast, and it can share a day's worth of sight and hearing with its master. If the familiar dies, the sorcerer takes a Rank 3 Injury.
  • The Mirror: it requires an orichalcum mirror that takes three Seasons to make. The ritual requires the sorcerer to hold a personal item of a ven over the mirror, then bleed on it: this lets them spy on the item's owner. The mirror counts as an Artifact.
  • The Oath: the magic oath of legend. All ven involved take a Rank 3 Injury to provide enough blood to sign the oath, with all three names. Oath companions can spend one Style to gain three dice to protect each other, they can spend a Style to know each other's emotion (or if they're dead or gone into Solace), and they can spend a Style to know the general direction and distance to each other. Anyone that betrays the oath's terms breaks the oath for everyone, and they get the word "traitor" tattooed on their forehead for a year and a day. Not exactly the greatest hit at parties.
  • Orichalcum: a mystic metal. It requires 2 Metal (silver and gold) and a Rank 3 Injury, but the blood does not need to belong to the sorcerer. This makes 1 Orichalcum Resource. The orichalcum ritual is very rare, so rare that it can only be learned during an adventure, and so valuable that (get this) anyone that gives away the ritual gets the Dolt aspect. I guess Wick's intention is that it should come with a heavy debt attached but still, :stare:
  • The Puppet: you need to know a ven's full name to perform this ritual. Peasants don't have secret names because we haven't pooped enough on them. The sorcerer cuts their hand, then the target's hand, and then they fall to the ground as they possess the target. If the sorcerer's body is injured, they instantly return to it, and if it is killed they remain trapped in the puppet. Lasts until sunrise.
  • The Quill: mix some Blood and ink in an inkwell and stir with a quill. Until dawn, nothing written with the quill and ink can be a lie.
  • The Rose: bleed a little on a rose's petals and set it on a table. Four people may sit and the table, and no one can spy on their conversation. Lasts until dawn, the rose is removed or someone stands.
  • The Sword: to make Blood Swords, of course. This requires 1 Orichalcum and a blacksmith's assistance or for the sorcerer to be a blacksmith themselves (rare as ven nobles pride themselves on not knowing how to craft poo poo). The sorcerer takes a Rank 1 Injury per Season as they work on the sword (minimum 1 Season of work). If they're making the sword for someone else, the eventual user must provide the blood for the forging. Only the ven for whom the sword is forged may use it, though sometimes their children can use it too. A sword provides bonus dice equal to the Seasons used in its forging, up to the Wisdom of the sorcerer. A blood sword may cut through iron (3 wagers), stone (4 wagers) and even other blood swords (5 wagers), but this makes them bleed and maybe even weep? Spooky! They count as Artifacts.
  • The Twins: in ven culture, twins are double extra spooky villainous. They require a ritual to be born in fact! Whatever it does, it's terrible and involves blood and bodily fluids :gonk:, and if the sorcerer is pregnant then she will have twins. Twins have the Twin aspect: invoke for 3 bonus dice when protecting each other, tag for 2 dice to any social risk against the twins, and compel to act creepy and untrustworthy. They may also kibitz with each other without spending Style. You will not believe what kibitzing is.
  • The Tulpa: a dangerous ritual. This creates a creature that can take the form of any ven, and that actually believes itself to be that ven - but they never imitate it perfectly, they have no personality and small mistakes like eyes the wrong color or crooked teeth. This requires an item belonging to the target ven, and a Rank 2 Injury. Lasts until sunrise.
  • The Vendetta: the sorcerer and a fellow ven swear to kill each other over a knife that has tasted Blood of both. They get a Vendetta aspect they can invoke to gain dice only when they're trying to murder each other. But if a Season passes and they don't fulfill the Vendetta, they get a Rank 1 Injury as a growing pain in the chest. The Injury grows in one rank per Season they've not killed each other.
  • Mimic Artifact: the ritual mimics one of the Artifact benefits. Lasts until dawn.

The popular senvu Swordsman ritual that binds sword and user as one? Nowhere in sight. :v:

Anyway, Artifacts! The doodads the sorcerer-kings left, they're powerful! And nasty! So nasty that most of them are traps. These are not your dad's magic items. This isn't Jack Vance or Harry Potter. These are Artifacts of doom! No, seriously, in literature carrying an Artifact is sign of certain doom. I hope you see where I'm going with this.

First, you must raid sorcerer-king Ruins. Like the Tomb of Spooky that is conveniently in Al's Domain. Part of these rules is actually in the Seasons chapter but I chose to bring them up here, since Ruins matter more for magic purposes. Ven may explore a Ruin once per season with an action, giving it one rank per expedition. When it hits Rank 3, it's empty of any possible goodies and it can be replaced by a normal region, or it can be turned into a Puzzle House: essentially, a Ruin turned to ven habitation. They can hold any size of Party, even Rank 5 Parties (!) but they're difficult to navigate. Ven that enter a Puzzle House roll their Wisdom against the House's 6 dice. The ven uses their wagers to find their way around the House, while it uses its wagers to force the ven to get lost. While exploring a Ruin, the ven grab whatever looks shiny and/or powerful to bring back home. Most will be rubbish, but every now and then they find something good. Each Season, the Ruin produces Artifact Points equivalent to its rank. Going with a ven party into an adventure to explore a Ruin (dungeon crawl, woo!) doubles the Artifact Points. Players divvy up the points as they deem fit.

While exploring the Ruin, spend a Style to "find" an object. Then, you can research it. Wisdom risk with wagers, with success indicating the Artifact has a Potential of 1 + wagers made. Then you may spend Artifact Points to give Values (special powers) to the Artifact, up to its potential. This is a one-time offer: once you've spent Artifact Points, the Artifact is set for good. So let's say Al raids the Tomb of Spooky-- nah, the Tomb of REAL Spooky, a Rank 2 Ruin. Because he's not an idiot, he sends in a bunch of disposable peasants first. Cunning! :v: Al finds himself a weirdly shaped wand and brings it back home. Because he went in alone, he gets 2 Artifact Points as loot. He rolls a Wisdom risk and the GM decides to let him use one of his nerd Aspects for three bonus dice. He makes his roll with 4 wagers, so the wand has 5 Potential. Alas, he only has two points to spend. Looking over the Value list, he decides the wand is a Key to further sorcerer-king secrets, and it is a Leech, allowing him to steal Style from other ven. Cool!

Except that it's not cool, because Al is now Doomed. If a ven owns an Artifact, the GM can at any time after they make a roll declare DOOM! by pointing and screaming at the player. The roll is considered to be 9, no matter what they rolled. Just short of the TN of 10. The Doom may only be invoked once per Phase, but still: the GM can, whenever they feel like it, declare the character to be hosed beyond help. And Blood Swords count as Artifacts. Hell, let's see what Wick has to say about it!


A skillful Narrator will wait for the right time to hit you with your DOOM! He’ll cultivate a villain for months. Picking away at your ambitions, your desires. He’ll screw with you and screw with you and screw with you until you can’t take it anymore and then you’ll challenge him to a duel. With your cool Blood Sword. Because you’ll want every advantage you can get. And then, you’ll know why having a slew of Artifact is a bad idea.

I'll give it 4 of 5, Alex.

And that is why Dio Brando is hosed. Not because he's a gigantic bastard, not because he's stepping on someone else's toes, but because he got a piece of gear that the fluff says every single duelist worth a drat in Shanri owns. Because he tried to measure up to the game's power level, the GM is specifically encouraged to gently caress him over. By the way, it's the GM that calls for DOOM. Not the players. Of course they would not be able to call Doom on the NPC duelists with their Blood Swords. That would be bad form. :argh:

Here's the Values list. I don't feel like writing more for tonight.

  • Aspect: the Artifact gives the user a free aspect. You will know its invoke, but maybe not its tag/compel.
  • Drink: the Artifact thirsts for ven blood. For every Rank of Injury you take from the Artifact, it gives you one die for a specific kind of risk.
  • Face of Shadows: spend a Style for each ven you want to forget you when you leave their presence. They don't forget what you did, just who you were.
  • Farsight: SIGHT BEYOND SIGHT. Wisdom risk, if successful the ven gets a vision. This works somewhat similar to a contested risk in that the ven and the Artifact trade wagers to define the vision, with the Artifact always getting the first wager. The Artifact has as many wagers to use as its rank.
  • Key: this unlocks the deepest and most dangerous secrets of Shanri! Purely plot device.
  • Leech: if another ven spends Style to tag or compel an Aspect, the user may steal the Style. This value can be taken up to three times and the artifact can store as many points as the times this value is assigned to it.
  • Sharp: usually a weapon. Any Injury this artifact deals takes an entire Year to heal.
  • Subtle: this Artifact can be hidden without any chance of being found.
  • Swift: spend a Style for three bonus dice during the Strike Bid.
  • Terror: the Artifact projects Terror at a target. Rank 3 Terror, plus any Style points you spend. You don't know how Terror works.
  • Vampire: this always appears as a weapon. If you inflict a Rank 5 Injury on someone, spend a Style and steal one of their Aspects for the rest of the Season. You must know the Aspect's name and one of its invoke/tag/compel. Otherwise, it's the victim's choice.
  • Vulgar: spend a Style and you can use one Ork Trait. You don't know how Ork Traits work.
  • Watchful: this object watches a room and whispers everything it sees to its owner. You need to spend 1 Style and bleed a Rank 1 Injury for each hour you want the object to record stuff.
  • Whispers: the Artifact whispers things! Spend a Style and a Rank 1 Injury to learn a ven's invoke, tag or compel from one of their Aspects. You must know their public and family names, and if you know their secret name too you can learn the entire Aspect. Only works one time per Season for a particular ven.
  • Wicked: almost always for weapons. Spend a Style and deliver an extra rank of Injury per successful strike.

Next: Populous?

Jan 6, 2012


scissorman posted:

Expect in those stories cursed artefacts are rare; here it sounds like DOOM is an everyday event.
Does the book even tell you that you're doomed when allowing you to buy artefacts during character creation?

Admittedly, the Phase limitation is pretty big, since if you survive a Doom's triggering you're scotfree for years of game time (unless Wick actually meant Seasons instead of age Phases, which with the book's wonky editing might very well be a possibility). But the Doom not only steals privilege from you, it also ruins whatever wagers you could've made, which feels especially lovely when players are supposed to get a say in world building through the rolls they make. Wick's intention is pretty drat clear: the GM must build a situation in that everything hinges on one roll for an Artifact user - whether they're bearing the Skull of Ven-cna or the setting equivalent of a +1 sword in terms of availability -, then screw the roll. That shouldn't get a pass.

The book does tell you Blood Swords are DOOMED - in a small sidebar you could easily miss, since the swords don't really have that many rules. To make things worse, there's another sidebar hidden in the Seasons chapter that mentions how regular swordmakers can make quality regular swords that also grant bonus dice. Which actually seems like a trap option, on second consideration: a blood sword can easily cut through a regular iron sword.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

As mentioned by others, the problem is that blood swords are, well, uncommon if not common. It's the kind of thing that should have more of a profound effect on the society than it does, akin to the Yogo Curse from Legend of the Five Rings. In theory, somebody walking around with a blood sword should be under a stigma, because, well, they've got doom on their hip. Of course, when he first gave us bloodswords in Legend of the Five Rings, there were only four, so they made some sense... not that he didn't like to throw in others, like Togashi Nyoko's Five Swords of Legend, which have some pretty severe drawbacks despite being crafted by one of the best smiths in history.

Of course, reading about those ruins makes me just want to do a reactionary fantasy setting where this is the first civilization ever, the sorcerer-kings are around now, and there are no ruins anywhere. :argh:

Yeah, that's the thing. Blood swords here are not unique foozles, they're a constant reminder to ven society that sorcery powered by their own blood is a thing and they better not bring it up if they don't want to get skewered.

(My own reactionary fantasy setting idea is wuxia heroes kicking the poo poo out of the ven. Swords, meh, I've got FISTS :black101:)

Jan 6, 2012


Houses of the Blooded

Special Spooky Saint Soliloquy

So, Suaven! As we know, when ven start going into Solace they emanate a white substance called altrua. Eventually, the ven is entirely wrapped up in altrua, sleeping and dreaming. :cthulhu: These ven are known as Suaven. The ven revere their Suaven as saints and ancestor spirits. They pray to them at shrines, collect artifacts (but not Artifacts :v:) from their lives, and maintain their bodies. The altrua shroud protects the Suaven, but they're not invulnerable. In fact, they're highly susceptible to fire, and many Suaven have been lost like this. Not all Suaven are held to the same regard: some are only cared for by their immediate family, while others have temples in every city and are revered by everyone. It's not rare for ven to find a special relationship with a Suaven not of their own House. Many ven join mystery cults devoted to the Suaven, with priests, temples, ceremonies and rituals revealed only to the most faithful. Then there's the fashuva, the fell Suaven, the ones so terrible Wick can't bear to talk of them anymore! :ghost:

Ven pray, but they do it...


With Style.
On bended knee. Tears streaming down their cheeks. Or a haughty pride flashing in their eyes. A wicked grin. A knife. Pain. A scream. Blood, Blood, Blood.
Nobody does humility like the ven.

That's... uh, I don't think that's humility, Mr. Wick. Anyway, rules-wise every character has a Devotion rating for the Suaven they worship. Each Suaven has Blessings to give to the faithful, but the ven must prove themselves by joining the mystery cults and not just being conveniently faithful when the need comes. A character can only start with a Devotion of 3 for any particular Suaven, the maximum Devotion for a single Suaven is 5, and no character can have more than five ranks of Devotion total between the Suaven they worship. Wick says the Suaven should be the only element of Shanri out of the player's hands, and as such Suaven cannot be defined or modified by risk wagers or Style points.

The ranks of Devotion are:
  • Faithful (1): passing interest in the Suaven.
  • Devotee (2): devoted follower, the ven gets respect from fellow acolytes and assists in ceremonies.
  • Acolyte (3): the ven is initiated into the secret circles and rites of the faith. The cult expects a certain degree of exclusivity at this point.
  • Anointed (4): the ven is intuitively attuned to the Suaven. They get waking visions and teach younger initiates. If they care for another Suaven, they better keep it a secret.
  • Priest (5): the ven no longer gives a poo poo about any other Suaven. The deepest mysteries are understood, but ven at this level seem distanced from others, speak in riddles and often enter Solace earlier than normal.

Gaining Devotion for a Suaven requires a Season Action. Going from zero Devotion to Devotion 1 is, uh... it doesn't say! From Devotion 1 to 2, it requires sacrificing one resource. Roll a die: odds you get nothing, evens the Suaven finds the sacrifice pleasing and your Devotion rises. Additional sacrifices give you extra dice for this rolls, and if even one rolls evens the Suaven is pleased. Luxuries provide two dice. Devotion 2 to 3 works the same, but you must sacrifice at least two Resources. Devotion 3 to 4 requires sacrificing at least three Resources, as well as going into an adventure given by the Suaven's devoted, like building a Shrine for the Suaven, writing an Opera about it, or some other act of faith. Gettting to Devotion 5 is essentially GM fiat, but at the very least it requires an adventure. But don't you just get one Devotion point for every Temple you build? Hmm.

The Greater Suaven are those available at chargen. One for every House.

Ashalim Avendi, Blooded of the Falcon. Master of the Road, Falcon's Friend, the Beggar Brigand. Avendi appears most often as a blind beggar that teaches miserly ven not to mock the unfortunate. In life, he was one of the first roadmen, and once he was made Baron he married a Blooded of the Serpent lady. The marriage was arranged for by her father - a Duke of ill, sorcerous repute - to clear his name using the young hero's reputation. Eventually, Avendi put an arrow through the sorcerer Duke's heart, and declared himself Grand Duke of the Falcon with his lands. As the Suaven of the Road, he now rests in the Western Reaches, his Shrine guarded by roadmen along with his bow. It's said that no ven can string it. Avendi blesses only those who realize fortunes are easily lost and assist those who have lost their luck. Holy poo poo, he's a non-dick ven! His devotees literally help old ladies cross the street! And he made it to saint! :aaa:

Falvren Dyr, Blooded of the Wolf. Swordsman, Old One-Eye, The Crimson Cloak. Dyr is the Suaven of :black101:, appearing as a large man with flowing red hair, with armor, blade and shield, and a body seemingly made of scars. Dyr despises those who petition him with prayer, and his followers embrace a life of self-reliance. He never assists those who ask for it, only protecting those who show courage and prowess in battle. A Suaven that doesn't like being relied on, worshiped by those who don't like relying on others. "Prayers" to Dyr sound more like curses or boasts than anything.

Manna Renay, Blooded of the Bear. Holy Mother, Protector, the Green Lady. She personifies Hospitality, and as such there are temples dedicated to her in every city. The Bears recognize her as their first great matriarch, and the House's entire structure is based on her own family. Her famous book, House and Home, sets proper methods for cooking, cleaning, and the rules of hospitality. Her blessings are for those who respect the concepts of manners and hospitality. Architects and stoneworkers also call upon her wisdom. Children are most often witnesses to her interventions as she looks out for them, especially orphans. :3:

Talten Steele, Blooded of the Elk. The Iron Heart, Winter's Promise, The Ruthless. He was the first ven to fly the banner of the Elk in the Senate. He was imposing physically and mentally, a Duke at the age of nineteen and Archduke by the age of twenty five. But then he lost his heart to a woman, who slowly destroyed everything he had built until she had her Revenge, with Steele falling to his knees and begging her not to leave. He recovered, mind you, and then executed the mother of all Revenges. His blessings are based around his life, bending the wills of others to accomplish his goals. A ven's ven. Maybe we should've made Dio worship this guy.

Talia Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox. The Celestial Muse, Sacred Harlot, Keeper of Roses. She has exotic temples and her cult only admits priestesses, skilled in all the arts, love included. All artists revere Talia as the muse of muses. In return for their Devotion, followers of Talia learn secret arts no other school or academy knows, including ~*magic kisses*~. Seriously. :sigh:

Tyane Bran, Blooded of the Serpent. Keeper of Secrets, The Blind One, Whisperer. Also called The Patient One, or The Indefatigable. In his tales, even the smallest of actions have monumental significance. He only acts when it's most appropriate and most effective. His devotees follow his example, acting only when necessary, and despising the "corrupt world of temptation." True devotees become ascetics, casting away everything that distracts from pure thought, reason and truth. His blessings come as bursts of enlightenment or insight.

Blessings! There are nine Blessings per House. Each of the Greater Suaven grants five of them, the others are so that the GM and players can make up Suaven of their own. Characters pick up to their Devotion rank in Blessings from the Suaven to use, but as an optional rule it's the Suaven who decides which Blessing they will provide when the ven calls upon them. All Blessings require at least one Style to use, and they may only be used once per Story. Blessings with lasting durations last until dawn of the next day by default.

  • Alone, We Stand Together: Blooded of the Bear only. All Blooded of the Bear involved spend a Style point, and when making a contested Strength roll the losers don't lose their wagers. A maximum of (Devotion) Blooded may participate of this Blessing.
  • Bear's Hospitality: the devotee marks a door with their Blood, then gets bonus dice equal to half their Devotion rounded up for any risks, as long as they stay on their home. Lasts until next dawn.
  • Bear Crushes Serpent: spend five Style after rolling a contested Wisdom risk. Opponent loses all their wagers. Success/failure is unaffected.
  • Circle of Protection: draw a circle on solid ground with your Blood. You must also know all three names of the person or persons inside. Once it is drawn, absolutely nothing may enter the circle. Nothing may damage the circle except the ones inside and the ven who drew it. Lasts until next dawn.
  • Hearthward: write secret words with your Blood over a door, and no ven may secretly enter. If anyone tries to enter the house without the owner's permision, the ven who used this Blessing knows it happened and the intruder's full name. Ward must be reapplied once it's broken.
  • I Brought The Bear: spend a Style, use two wagers in a row in a contested Strength risk.
  • Mother's Children: spend a Style, boil a pot of soup with a personal item hanging on top. A single spoonful of the soup reveals the general distance and direction of a missing family member. The target must be a Bear and cannot be a friend. Must be performed at sunrise.
  • No Fool: spend a Style, cancel all effects of surprise. But only for you, you can't warn other ven.
  • Only My Fear Can Defeat Me: cannot be used if Courage is your weakness. Spend a Style before rolling a Strength risk, and no ven may tag your Aspects or Injuries for it.

  • The Coldest Heart: when another ven gets dice from Romance or Art in a contested risk with you, spend a Style to cancel them.
  • Elk Outwits The Wolf: spend five Style after rolling a contested Prowess risk. Opponent loses all their wagers. Success/failure is unaffected.
  • Even The Moon Has A Dark Side: spend a Style, target a ven, and name one of their Aspects (you must know the Aspect's name). They cannot use its invoke until next dawn, but the tag and compel are still live.
  • Shadow Blood: spend a Style, make any other ven a Contact. The Blessing lasts until sunrise if it's used in an adventure, or until the end of the Season if used during Season actions.
  • Never Again: cannot be used if Strength is your weakness. If you lose a contested Risk and the other guy got dice from an Aspect, spend a Style to know either its tag or its compel.
  • No Secret Is Safe From Me: spend a Style and you can look at your opponent's wagers before you make your own. Your opponent cannot change their wagers once they're set. You don't have to show yours, but you can't reveal your opponent's wagers to other characters either.
  • The Vow: Blooded of the Elk only. Spend a Style and make a promise with another ven. If either one of you breaks the promise, they lose all Style points.
  • I Have Never Been Defeated: spend a Style, use two wagers in a row in a contested Cunning risk.
  • Moving The Pawn: spend a Style to give another ven a free Aspect. It must be a clear-cut goal, like, say "Murder Dio Brando." The Aspect's invoke is worth 1 + half your Cunning rounded up, its tag gives two bonus dice to the opposition when the target is doing anything not related to the goal, and the compel is getting the target back to work on the goal. It lasts a number of seasons equal to your Devotion. No ven may have this Blessing used on them twice.

  • Beast's Tongue: drop some Blood on an animal's tongue. For the rest of the day, you may communicate with the animal. Cannot be used on creatures without tongues.
  • The Cloak Deceiveous: requires a cloak. You may disguise yourself in a general way, like a guard or servant. The Blessing makes it look as if you were a natural part of the scene: other guards look at you as if you were supposed to be there, that sort of thing. The Blessing is gone if you take off the cloak or say a lie.
  • The Falcon Knows No Fear: spend five Style, replace Courage for any other Virtue for the next risk. You cannot replace your weakness.
  • I Am The Road: during Season actions, spend a Style to quell Trouble in a number of regions up to your Courage. Only works in your own lands.
  • The Ironwood Bow: requires a limb that has not touched the ground from a tree struck by lightning. The wood mixed with your Blood produces a bow that sings in your ears. The bow may harm Spectres and you can use Maneuvers with it.
  • The Name Of The Storm: Blooded of the Falcon only. Spend a style and whisper the name of the Storm. You and a number of ven equal to your Courage are immune to the elements for one night. Even if Blooded from other houses hear the true name of the Storm, they can't use it.
  • My Courage Is Enough: spend three Style when another ven is using a Blessing to cancel your wagers. You may keep your wagers.
  • Pain Is Today, Honor Is Forever: spend a Style, and you may cancel a tag against one of your Injuries as long as its rank is less than your Courage.
  • The Sacred Tool: cannot be used if Prowess is your weakness. You may add Courage and Prowess in a risk when using a bow.

  • The Befuddling Kiss: target ven is Befuddled, an Aspect with a tag that gives their opponents dice in any risk that requires concentration and a compel that makes them stammer incoherently, distracted by something so beautiful~ Lasts until sunrise.
  • The Black Kiss: not that, geez! Blooded of the Fox only. Target a ven in sight, whisper their full name, then blow them a kiss. Roll Beauty + Devotion + Aspects: they take a Rank 1 Injury, plus wagers. If you actually kiss the ven physically, add your Beauty to the Injury rank.
  • The Enchanting Kiss: target ven feels the pangs of any emotion you deem fit, except love. Can't fake real love. This creates an appropriate Aspect, like Jealousy or Envy, that can be tagged and compelled as usual.
  • Fox Tricks The Elk: spend five Style after rolling a contested Cunning risk. Opponent loses all their wagers. Success/failure is unaffected.
  • A Fox's Eyes: spend a Style when inspired by Art; you know one of the artist's tags or compels.
  • The Goodnight Kiss: target ven sleeps soundly until the next dawn, unable to wake up except by a touch of the ven that kissed them.
  • The Invisible Tongue: spend a Style, and you may communicate silently with others using subtle movements and accents. The person that you're communicating with does not need to know The Invisible Tongue to understand you.
  • The Most Subtle Weapon: Cannot be used if Wisdom is your weakness. "It has something to do with sex." Spend a Style during the, ugh, "trembling moment", and your partner can no longer use Style unless you allow them to. In return, they can now spend Style to add dice to any roll, up to your Beauty. Blessing lasts for a season.
  • Passion Is Tamed With A Kiss: requires giving the target a real kiss. Target ven can deny a number of tags/compels equal to your Beauty. Lasts until next sunrise.

  • The Heart's Riddle Revealed: ponder on one ven you know. You know their exact motives and their next immediate action.
  • I Bear Wisdom's Price: you may spend one Style instead of a Season Action to learn a Sorcery Ritual. Once per Season.
  • A Moment Of Insight: spend a Style, you may use two wagers in a row in a Wisdom risk.
  • I've Forgotten More Than You'll Ever Know: spend a Style when you lose a Wisdom risk. You get to call who uses their first wager.
  • Serpent's Kiss: Blooded of the Serpent only. If you find out you've been poisoned, spend a Style to negate it. Only once per Season.
  • Serpent Knows The Fox: spend five Style after rolling a contested Beauty risk. Opponent loses all their wagers. Success/failure is unaffected.
  • The Serpent's Glare: spend a Style when making an intimidation-based Beauty risk. You may substitute Beauty for Wisdom.
  • The Softest Spot: spend a Style and observe a target. In the next risk you make against them, you know their weakness (in their fighting style, their argument, etc.) and you get your Wisdom in free wagers against them. You can reveal the weakness to another ven, but they only get half the free wagers this way.
  • Wisdom's Clarity: cannot be used if Cunning is your weakness. Spend a style and you know when someone is trying to lie to you. No roll involved.

  • The Beauty Of Violence: cannot be used if Beauty is your weakness. You may convert wagers from a Prowess risk to Style at a 1:1 ratio (normally it's 2:1)
  • I Am The Weapon: Blooded of the Wolf only. You may use any defensive Maneuver you know even while unarmed.
  • The Invisible Cannot Be Touched: while wielding a Sword, spend one Style and cancel three ranks from any Injury inflicted against you.
  • The Sacrifice Strike: spend a Style and pick an opponent during the Strike Bid. You may deduct dice from your own pool in order to force them to lose dice from their pool, one for one.
  • The Subtle Hand: you may use one weapon in each hand! Spend a Style, gain two free wagers for any Prowess risk.
  • Teeth and Claws: spend a Style, you may use two wagers in a row in a Wisdom risk or two Maneuvers in a row.
  • Tool Or Weapon: when giving Aspects to a scene using Style, you may also choose which ven can use the Aspect, up to your Prowess.
  • Your Fear Is My Ally: spend a Style to look at one opponent's Strike Bid before committing your own dice.
  • Wolf Downs The Elk: spend five Style after rolling a contested Cunning risk. Opponent loses all their wagers. Success/failure is unaffected.

You can also become a Suaven! If you actually manage to survive all the way to Solace, you become a Suaven. You must choose your portfolio, then you start as a Rank 1 Suaven, and get to pick one Blessing from your House to deliver unto your faithful. You get more Blessings as you grow in rank. The Suaven are ranked as:

  • Family (1): revered only by a family group, usually not known outside of those that knew them in life.
  • Lesser (2): the Suaven has some Shrines and even those who never knew them in life have a passing knowledge of them.
  • Minor (3): the Suaven is recognized in a geographical region, even by non-devotees.
  • Greater (4): almost omnipresent in Shanri, all ven grow up knowing their names and holy days. Note that the canon Greater Suaven get 5 Blessings to play with because of Reasons.
  • Grand (5): all ven fear to ignore these Suaven.

And then there's the forbidden fell ones we will certainly never talk about, no sir.

PC Suaven start at Rank 1, Family. To become a Lesser Suaven, they must have Shrines built to their memory by five different nobles in five different Domains. When five Shrines to your memory have been built in ten different Domains, you become a Minor Suaven. You become a Greater Suaven once you have one Temple to your memory built in ten different Domains. Temples require ten Shrines in a Domain to be built (aha! But this wasn't on the Seasons chapter. :v:) Finally, to become a Grand Suaven you require... one Temple to your memory built in ten different Domains. Editing! :argh:

You get Suaven Points to execute your Blessings. Shrines give you one Suaven Point per season, Temples give you five. Each Blessing you bestow on your faithful costs you one Suaven Point. Finally, you may turn your Wrath on those who offend you for three Suaven Points. The unworthy get an Aspect relevant to your portfolio (like, if you're the Suaven of boogie, they get an Aspect that makes them suck at boogie) with a tag that grants bonus dice equal to half your Suaven rank rounded up, and an appropriate compel. Your Wrath lasts one season or until you feel the ven has made amends.

I don't know what to make of these rules, really. They certainly bring the PC's power level up (and some Blessings are almost game-breaking, I'd say - The Heart's Riddle Revealed, holy poo poo) and it's nice to see that not all ven are doomed highborn manchildren, but still they feel kind of... off? Like some Blessings are almost straight up Sorcery. And seriously, how the gently caress does dual wielding require literal divine favor? And I'm really not sure where you would get to use the PCs as Suaven rules, though an interesting campaign would be the PCs trying to get their family Suaven to rise on the pantheon by hook or by crook.

An extra fortified dose of to make up for this post.

Next: This chapter is for you, the player.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 06:45 on Nov 1, 2013

Jan 6, 2012


I dig you idea for The Nanny! Training minispies all over the cosmos. And your point about the two faces of John Wick is incredibly spot on, as I will comment on later. But first!

Houses Of The Blooded

I need to spend Style to do what?

The next chapter is for the Players. This contains Wick's advice on how to play HOTB and get the most out of the system. But it's also about troubleshooting and keeping the game together! In his experience, 90% of the problems players have are because the group is not communicating effectively. So far, so good.

Most RPGs, he says, are designed "with cheaters, wankers and munchkins in mind." But not HOTB! Wick trusts the players. In fact, he trusts them so much he's given them all sorts of storytelling power in the game. It's not just the GM's role to make sure everyone's having fun: it's everyone's role. But if you're going to ruin everyone else's fun, go find yourself another game. That's good! Then he goes into a tangent about Diplomacy, and how he loves Diplomacy, but that game is capital-C Cursed because you must do everything to win and as such he doesn't play it with friends. Games like Vampire, L5R and HOTB also have this Curse. So be warned! You may not be comfortable with that, or have the Courage to play!

Gamers are obsessed with details. But that's okay, wagers make the details! So Wick doesn't feel bad about leaving holes in ven Law to exploit because...


See, I don’t believe “good game design” is about fixing holes.

So if the Law is vague or ven economy just plain doesn't work, that's okay! It's not like our culture has clean cut answers. Also something something never watch Rome with historical reenactors. But yes, Wick has :aaaaa: made stuff up about the ven, but you won't know the difference anyway unless you're a ven scholar. The point is, there is no ven canon, and as such you should feel perfectly comfortable with adding details to the setting. Is it a small yes/no thing? Spend a Style, decide. But don't make rolls for everything to bank wagers into Style, that's bad form. Also, you can Spend style to correct errors of yours that your ven character would never commit. "Of course I meant..." Also:


The ven are portrayed as brilliant, scheming masterminds. Of course, not all of us fit that bill.
(Not all of you.)

To simulate the games of 11-dimensional chess ven play, there is The Kibitzing Rule. When you're in a sticky situation, other players can give you suggestions about how to proceed. They just have to spend Style to do it. :stare: Also, you should be used to the idea that, since everyone has a measure of narrative control, then other people's ideas about your character can be equally as valid as yours. But it's a good idea to get together and talk with the group about how comfortable you feel about other people messing with your PC like that. Still, give it a shot!

Wick also struggled because it seems that in every game he runs he has a moment where some twist he makes makes everyone stand and clap and call to give him Void Points/Drama Dice/whatever. Only, well, those are pretty drat useless for a GM. So Wick had to come up with a mechanic that encouraged players to reward the GM. Wick does not want you to forget about his PCs. He wants you to hate some so bad you will do whatever it takes to kill them. Or protect them. He works hard to make his NPCs as real (or even more!) than the PCs. As such, NPCs can also receive Style points from the players, and they can use them the same way PCs do. The Narrator chapter has more rules on this but the point is, players can give Style if they like NPCs or feel the GM is doing a great job.

Then he talks about friendly and cutthroat games. I brought this up during the Blood and Honor already so, in short: Friendly games are those where everything is over board, no secret notes. Players set betrayals for each other and willingly walk into them because hey, we're all friends here and we like grand tragic drama. Cutthroat games, on the other hand, are, well, cutthroat. Everyone's out to win and to drive everyone else into the ground. But Wick actually doesn't like to play like that! He cares too much about his characters to do so. If you play Cutthroat, then you should have as much attachment to your character as your average roguelike guy. There's some "min-max" advice for Cutthroat games: get vassals, specialize, get married, build-expand-build-expand, and have an escape plan. This all comes from the famous ven book on politics, philosophy and strategy, LiesLessons. Surely you've read about it?

The following advice is for non-cutthroat games. Make sure your character's hooks are for everyone to see. Your rich internal narrative does nothing for the game if others can't interact with it. So write no more than one page of background, and leave yourself open to build your character through play. Don't play the game "safe", ven are ~*tragic*~ and have weaknesses and your character is not going to die well. Don't make Mary Sues! No one likes them! Ever! Insert Wick's Vietnam con flashbacks here. No secret notes and no secret meetings: everyone is a grown up here. Share your plots: you've got a hated uncle? I have a favorite uncle, maybe they're the same guy! Use wagers and style points to trigger other character's plots. Someone's interrogating a character's shy, easily frightened maid and used a Blessing or something to force them to tell the truth? Bam, spend Style and make the maid change demeanor and answer she's a House assassin spying on her lady. As long as your wagers are leaving openings for others to work with and moving the plot forward, you're Doin' Fine. Spend style for flashbacks or whatever else is cool, just have fun! And don't make John Wick look like a jerk. That's Bad Form.

There's some advice on playing the game troupe-style, like Ars Magica: everyone makes ven nobles, then everyone makes vassals for those nobles. Every season, they play one ven and their servants. There's some stuff on how some ven scholar defined ven literature as either dramatic, operatic or epic, but it's not too interesting. What is interesting is The Dragon: for ven, dragons are not firebreathing beasts, but those moments in time where everything seems to stop. When characters and players stand with jaw open. Pay a Style, declare you've "seen the dragon" and change an Aspect to reflect the moment. Moments are poo poo like seeing your best friend cut down by arrows, seeing your lover leave on the deck of the ship, that sort of thing.

To finish this chapter: John Wick trusts you. No, seriously, he does. Do you want to have a friendly game with him?

Next: Being John Wick.

Jan 6, 2012


Kurieg posted:

Do style points turn into XP at the end of a session like similar points do in other games?

Cause "Sure you can help out your friend, but it'll cost you Experience Points" seems like something Wick would encourage.

HOTB doesn't really use XP, characters advance through training during season actions and getting older. What mystifies me is that you have to use an in-game resource to suggest a course of action for someone else (who, incidentally, isn't compelled to listen to you or anything - if they don't do what you're suggesting, the Style is gone), to the point that there's a specific Aspect with a pretty big drawback that says "no, you don't need to spend Style to do this."

Jan 6, 2012


Houses Of The Blooded

The end run, and some thoughts

The final part of this book is the Narrator chapter, about as long as the crunch-heavy Seasons section. Wick opens by warning players to stay away:


And trust me, learning how a trick works is a lot less sexy than watching the trick as a sucker sitting in the audience.

The GM's job is to make players believe that the ven existed, so he (the Narrator is always a he in this book) is kind of a magician. The ven actually had a name for this, altrua, pathos. Which, for some reason, is the same name as that ectoplasm-like substance that cocoons Suaven. Coincidence? Oblique reference? Lack of an editor? You be the judge! So yeah, don't read this chapter if you're a player, but read it if you're the GM. It has all sorts of tricks, including one for that one player that will read through this section anyway. :v:

First Wick opens with some basic advice, basic in the sense that you could apply it to any game. The "Big Secret" is that players will make up the plot if you let them, and part of the design of HOTB was precisely to let them do that. So pay attention to the group, ask them what you think is going on, and so on. Communication! Let the players use Wisdom risks and define Shanri: this is why the game has no map of it. Even though gamers love maps. He also plugs his original Play Dirty column from SJG's Pyramid magazine.


Play Dirty was, all at once, one of the most popular and least popular columns in the mag. People hated it and loved it. I figured that meant I was doing my job.

He insists on the idea of letting the players run the game for you, and shows off his Three True Things technique: Wick tells the player three true things about an NPC/location/whatever, then lets the player fill up the details so that Wick can run along with it. He knows the concept of blurring the line between Player and Narrator is alien to most gamers, but nuke it all the same! And remember that now you have to adapt and not be stiff with the plot. He talks about mood and atmosphere, which should be old hat to anyone familiar with the original L5R corebook: show, don't tell, use props, move around, act out the actions of NPCs, and so on.

Then he talks about the one time players completely blindsided him. The players were at the capital between Senate sessions when one "remembers" that there are catacombs under the Temple of Talia and wants to check them out. Wick is nice and lets the player have a Wisdom risk. He does it, comes up with a few details, and before Wick can react the party is armed, bearing torches and kicking down a secret entrance. So Wick does what everyone does, panics, and goes into the bathroom to figure out what to do.


The blowhard who wanted to come down here was the Serpent. He wanted to find lost scrolls, rituals, knowledge. He used that drat charisma of his to convince the other players this was a great idea. Okay. This is his fault. I’ll punish him. But I’ll also give him what he wants.

So what does he do? Obviously he turns into The Wick and springs the Tomb of Horrors on the players, right? Or he has Serpent ninjas waiting to kill the entire party, or Shara Yvarai shows up at the end and cuts off all their pinkies, right? Well, actually, he doesn't. He considers the character's strengths and weaknesses and sets up encounters that engage them all. The comedy relief guy with the Courage weakness ends up with a literal silver eye as he's split from the party while fleeing the catacomb orks. The two characters with an one-sided love between them end up with a chance to save each other from harm. The two fighty guys get a puzzle fight holding off orks at a bridge LOTR-style while some of their fellows try to pepper them with arrows. The Serpent spots an ork executing a blood ritual (!). Everyone has fun, not bad for a five minute bathroom break.

Wick then talks about Style. He brings up 7th Sea Drama Dice and, yes, in his games he gave them out like candy, a dozen or so per session. Style should also be given out like candy, at least ten points per session if not more. Let the players talk, let them make up the world, let them get themselves into trouble. Give them Style!


This game was designed with the noble class in mind. Playing a kind of character you really can’t play in that other fantasy roleplaying game that shall remain nameless but who’s initials are “D” and “D.”

I don't know what Wick's beef with Drakar och Demoner is but anyway, he mentions some suggestions if you want to play a non-noble HOTB game. The Midnight Game is essentially Rosencrantz and Guildensten Are Dead: The RPG, with players taking on the role of their own maids and valets. It's meant as a fun distraction between noble ssessions, with the maids and valets getting into all sorts of backstage shenanigans. If players are particularly good, let them elevate their vassals to NPC status. And then there's the Roadman game, which is all about playing kickass ven knights, solving troubles and stabbing orks. A variant of this is the Ytavia game: ytavia are "the lady's roadmen", and this type of game is all about being the guardian of your lord's wife and all the ~*drama*~ that comes with it. There is some advice on what to do with the Style given to players to NPCs they like/hate/like to hate, which was already covered in the Players chapter.

And then there is the sample adventure, Roses & Thorns. The signature character of the game, Shara Yvarai, is the centerpiece of the action. But don't worry: again, she's no Kachiko coming here to steal away the spotlight and get away with it willy nilly. This is the adventure Wick uses for demoing HOTB at conventions. Anyway, Shara is basically a hothead Fox, beautiful and deadly with a sword, but a little too ready to hurt people and lacking the Wisdom to fully realize the consequences of her actions. The PC's Count/Countess wants her to sign a Contract of servitude, and they get the mission to go to one of Shara's parties at her puzzle house to convince her. The thing is, other than Shara's sheet, descriptions of the other NPCs they may find, a very rough story outline and the Puzzle House's stats, that's the entire adventure. The real trick is that all players, before starting, roll a Wisdom risk. Then, they use their wagers to define the circumstances of the story about to play out. Wick says that he's ended up with wildly different scenarios out of this: one group decided that their Countess was blind and that Shara was the one to blind her, so they couldn't decide on whether they should win her favor or kill her in revenge. Another group defined their Countess as a sorceress of terrible reputation that wanted Shara under her yoke or dead. And yet another group had their Count in a very complicated family tree involving Shara and the PCs, and he was in love with the young baroness and wanted to marry her. On one hand, this is seriously loving cool: the same basic idea, very different outcomes, and the players are invested from the get go. But tying it to the risk mechanic means that one player will inevitably get to define more of the adventure than the others, and woe betide anyone with Wisdom as a weakness (Wick suggests giving those players a free wager if he's feeling merciful, but mercy is for the weak )

So on to the various doomed highborn manchildren at this party! There is Shara, of course, armed with a new sword at her hip, very bold and flirts with everyone, but she's really careful about it. Her main goal at the party is making Contacts so that she can protect her father's lands. The appearance of Valin Burghe disturbs her. Also.

:sigh: posted:

Her dress is … well, it’s amazing the drat thing stays on.

The others:

  • Baron Valin Burghe of the Bear recently returned to public life under mysterious circumstances. They involve the orichalcum sword he's wearing. He seems uncomfortable at the party and is only there to meet with the only friend he knows, Shara. He's followed everywhere by a mysterious, shadowy "doctor" that leads him through most social traps.
  • Lady Peacock is a Fox Duchess that knows everyone's secrets. She's a stereotypical Dowager Duchess. She could be a huge pain in the rear end for "little" nobles, or of great help: she is devoted to those who treat her with respect.
  • Lady No is a "poison teddy bear" Elk with three dead husbands under mysterious circumstances. Currently looking for a fourth. Starting a Romance with her could be the last thing you do (Wick would!)
  • Count Kether is honest, loyal, honorable, and an utter rear end in a top hat. He will do whatever it takes to extend his lands, but he will never break a promise. Ever. Currently in a "special" relationship with the Lady No and friends with Duke Dannin.
  • Dannin Steele is an elderly Elk duke that used to be the most popular ven in the Senate until he came around with claims of organized orks. He says his roadmen even found evidence of an ork village! Purely nonsense, obviously, and as such his stock has fallen hard in social circles. Maybe he is getting into years and madness is getting to him, or maybe he is right.
  • Lady S of the Falcon is a no-nonsense ven that raises vassals from unblooded she can trust and doesn't give much of a poo poo about secrets, manners and all that highborn manchild crap. She is Courageous and skilled in battle and she would shed blood for a friend, but of course, she doesn't have many friends in ven circles.
  • Shara's Seneschal is not a noble, but still. He's an amazingly creepy guy, tall and gaunt, and no one knows his name (almost no one). It's as if he were part of the puzzle house.
  • Similarly to Lady S, Baron Xanos is almost a cliché of a Falcon. A rude, uncouth ranger guy that looks as if he slept in his clothes and has no patience for ven games. He actually went native with the orks and knows many secrets, including their language. He is at the party only because he suspects his Count was murdered and his lord's wife was responsible, but he has no evidence. He could trade his secrets for such.
  • Finally, Baroness Niassa of the Elk is a good friend of Lady Peacock and never without her shy, petite maid Alyss. She's infatuated with Duke Dannin and would do anything for him, even betray him. Alyss is actually a Blooded and Niassa's spymaster, and she has Devotion for Ikhalu, one of the forbidden Suaven. Spooky!

Some suggestions for plots during the party: a tulpa of one of the ven (pick someone the PCs are fond of) is found dead in the halls. The Ikhalu cult is at the party to murder someone. A group of Serpents took Shara's invitation, but they're here with the goal of taking over the house. There's a spectre roaming the house's halls. Shara holds a Hunt as an excuse to clear orks from her Forest. Wick's idea is that players will build up most of the plot for you, so no need to determine why the tulpa was there, or who the Ikhalu cult want murdered ahead of time. Then there's some assorted adventure ideas, which are pretty stealable for other games, I figure. Except for the one where the female lover of some guy the PC is about to duel begs the PC to throw the duel, and she'll humiliate herself and do anything at all to make up for it. Goddammit, Wick. :sigh:

Orks! Remember, all monsters in Shanri are orks. First, the Terror rules. All orks cause Terror, it depends on how mind-shattering they can be. An average ork is Terror 3-5. When ven find an ork, they roll their Courage + bonuses against the ork's Terror. It works like regular Courage risks, beat it or pay Style to act against the ork. It's sort of supernatural, so you can have an undead squirrel with Terror 6 if you want (Corpse ritual!). Orks also have ranks for their rolls, so a rank 3 Ork rolls three dice for roll when doing orky things. Orks have Traits, which are free Aspects that distinguish them from each other. Some of these aspects are Weapon aspects, giving them extra attacks for Weapon trait they have. How are the Traits balanced, you ask?


A Note on “Game Balance”
Game balance rests on the Narrator and the players using good judgment and common sense. Throwing seventeen Terror 10 orks against three ven with no Prowess or Strength is not only stupid, but irresponsible. Giving orks some kind of arbitrary value—oh, something like a “danger rating” or “challenge threshold” is just silly. An ork is as deadly as the game master makes him. If the ork is stupid, the ven have an advantage. If the ork is smart, the ven have a disadvantage.
Wait a second. Smart orks?

  • Additional Arm: ork may make an additional attack, dividing its attention between multiple opponents. Can stack.
  • A Thousand Eyes: bonus dice for Cunning risks, can be tagged to blind the ork with bright lights.
  • Blind Spot: can be tagged to gain two bonus dice against the ork or compelled to make the ork focus on one opponent because it can't see others, that sort of thing (Wisdom or Cunning risk to figure it out)
  • Burning: if the ork hits, the Injury increases in rank every time the ven takes a risk. Burning ceases when the ork dies.
  • Burrowing: ork can remove itself from danger by burying itself into the ground (Strength risk). Not a free Aspect.
  • Camouflage: can be invoked under the right circumstances for hiding. Amusingly, it lists the invoke as 3 bonus dice for hiding, then two lines later it says it gives two bonus dice.
  • Claws: THE CLAW :black101: Counts as weapon, so extra attacks. But can be compelled as the creature has difficulty picking up items :wtc:
  • Cowardly: the ork is cowardly!
  • Fangs: THE FANG :black101: Counts as weapon.
  • Fat: :btroll: Ork is fat, can be tagged when the ork's size proves a disadvantage and compelled to prevent the ork from running/climbing/etc.
  • Fire: :vd: Roll the ork's rank + ten loving dice of Fire against the ven's Strength and whatever dice they can come up with to shelter themselves from the fire. Ork must spend one Style for each additional character it wants to affect.


    Merciful game masters may want to reduce the number of dice this Aspect gets. If you qualify, get yourself a new pink t-shirt and paint “WIMP” on it.
  • Gas: like Fire, but the ven fall asleep.
  • Glare: like Fire, but against Courage. If the ork wins, the ven is Hypnotized. The ven cannot ignore its compel (the ork spends a Style to force them to perform any action) with a Style of their own, but must make a successful Courage roll against the original.
  • Hooves: +5 dice for movement-based risks, taggable for 2 dice in slippery/rocky terrain.
  • Hibernation: ork hibernates for one Season, +2 dice when fighting it during their sleepy Season.
  • Insubstantial: ork can become insubstantial and cannot harm or be harmed by ven. Orichalcum weapons are still good.
  • Intuition: +3 dice for surprise risks.
  • Ink: ork shoots ink. Ork rank + 10 dice against Cunning, if the ork wins the ven is blinded by a number of beats equal to the ork's rank and cannot roll any risk that requires sight (like defending :v:)
  • Invisibility: ork can become invisible, Cunning against ork rank + 10 dice to spot it.
  • Iron Stomach: ork can eat anything.
  • Lays Eggs: ork gets bonus dice to defend its eggs, can be tagged or compelled by threatening its eggs.
  • Muscle: can use Grapples.
  • Nocturnal: no penalties for darkness related Aspects, can be tagged with bright lights, or compelled to make it flee flashes or other light sources.
  • Quadruped: +3 dice for outrunning other orks or ven, stacks with Hooves.
  • Quickness: bonus dice for any speed-related risks, can be compelled to make the ork act too hastily.
  • Regeneration: ork can roll its rank + 3 dice, heals one rank of Injury + wagers. Most orks can't regenerate wounds caused by fire or orichalcum.
  • Rhino Hide: any Injury inflicted on the ork loses one rank. Can be stacked.
  • Roar: ork rank + 5 dice against a ven's Courage, if successful the ven is stunned for one beat + wagers.
  • Small: can be invoked or tagged for any situation where small size benefits/harms the ork.
  • Smell: +3 dice for smell-related risks, can be tagged if the ven knows how to lose their scent or compelled with powerful smells.
  • Spines: counts as weapon.
  • Swarm: ork is a swarm of orks. Each wager it spends on Mass Murder causes a rank 1 Injury on every ven and ork in an opposing side.
  • Tentacles: ork may spend two Prowess wagers in a row.
  • Tools: ork can use spears or shields. No ven would ever believe this bullshit.
  • Tongue: the ork can speak a crude form of the Old Tongue. Even more ridiculous.
  • Venom: the ork has a poison from the Poisons chapter. :argh:
  • Wings: ork flies. +5 dice for any attack made by the ork while flying, +5 to any kind of defensive risk.


And now, Fashuva! Wick has (gasp!) lied to the players, but we GMs know better. These are the forbidden Suaven! Their blessings are not balanced! Beware!

Ikhalu is the Suaven of Revenge. He was one of two brothers that sought to lead the first free ven. They chose his brother, and he warred against the ven before being cast out along with his followers. Worshipping Ikhalu is forbidden by Law on pain of death and there are no loopholes to get around it, but at the same time the Senate recognizes that if Ikhalu has blessed a Revenge then truly nothing may stand in that ven's path. Ikhalu's cult is secret, but still exists, and its main goal is to "steal the sorcery" from other ven's Blood to raise the Lord of Murder from Solace. Every cultists owns a ritual dagger to do this. Ikhalu has a number of blessings as the cultist grows in Devotion, 1 to 5:

  • The Deepest Cut: spend a Style when injuring another ven. That Injury takes a full Year to heal a single rank.
  • The Stolen Mask: cut a victim's face and put it over you, then this Blessing steals both the victim's face and demeanor. Others see the cultist as if they were the victim. The deception works until the cultist removes the mask or until dawn.
  • The Taba: a holy knife granted only to the most trusted cultists, it cannot be found if they hid them on their person.
  • Ikhalu's Wounds: catch an opponent by surprise, then roll a Prowess risk with six wagers to instantly murder that opponent. Cannot use this Blessing and the next one together.
  • Avali: Ikhalu cultists believe in souls. Surprise a ven, make a Prowess risk with five wagers to pierce the ven's heart and steal their soul. The knife gains a bonus dice per successful soul stealing up to the cultist's Devotion.

Jaymen Steele was the Mad Emperor. In canon, his body was burned in an Elk forge and his ashes scattered... but what if his body was smuggled out by faithful followers? What if he survived all the way to Solace? A guy as ambitious and Cunning as him should've had an escape plan after all. He gives standard Elk blessings, but his first Blessing is always Ambition: for every rank in Devotion you gain one bonus die to use in any risk you want during the game session, as long as that risk directly leads to expanding your own personal power. He never gave away anything for free, and so calling on Ambition means he will demand something in return. The betrayal of a friend, the surrender of a Region to an enemy, etc. If you don't comply, you lose two ranks of Devotion, and if it ever drops below zero you can never worship Jaymen Steele again.

Shub-NiggurathMahl is the Mother of All Monsters. She snatches up homeless children in nights without moon and turns them into orks and spectres. Mahl cultists do capture wayward children and force them into hideous rituals involving "mother's milk", a combination of blood and breast milk :gonk:. Cultists can summon orks with as many Traits as Devotion they have. They can summon a number of orks per day equal to their Devotion, spending one Style for each ork.

Afhil (or Ahvril, the game can't seem to make up its mind), the Grinning Man, is the lord of pain and torture. Its cultists ritually scar and torture themselves, and others too, for pain is the path to strength. Its cultists seem completely impervious to most injuries and it can strike down enemies of its followers with wracking pains, but there are not rules for that. The blessings that do have rules:

  • The Darkest Fear: the cultist spends a Style, and any ven that look upon them lose dice for their next risk equivalent to the cultist's Devotion. Yes, this deliberately and explicitly goes against rules because that's how Afhil rolls. If the ven ends with no dice, they can't take any action.
  • The Malice Hammer: target ven gains the "I Know Your Pain" free aspect, that can be tagged and compelled by any member of Afhil's cult. Cultists get bonus dice equal to their Devotion when tagging. Compel forces the ven to lose an opportunity for risk.
  • The Sweetest Sting: cultist can spend Style to tag their own Injuries for bonus dice. They don't get Style from others tagging their Injuries.
  • The Mask of Ahvril: needs one Metals Resource to Craft a black mask that latches on to a prisoner's face. They are paralyzed and cannot lie wearing the mask unless they spend as many Style points as the mask's rank.
  • Da'fhil: a ritual death by torture that lasts years :gonk: and traps the poor sod's soul in the corpse's rune-carved skin. This makes a creature known as a Da'fhil, a Child of Pain, suffering such agony that it can only lash out at others. It only has one stat, Pain, equivalent to the Devotion of the cultist that made it + the Years it took the victim to die. Pain is used for all rolls. It cannot make Wisdom or Cunning risks but autosucceeds at any Courage risk. It can only die by being dismembered (five Rank 5 Injuries to remove all limbs and the head) or by fire.

Spectres! Not specters. Spectres. They can be ghosts, echoes of the sorcerer kings, intangible orks, or Shanri's own will. This is what ven scholarship has taught us: Wick likes the latter option the best, but roll with whatever you like as long as spectres are spooky. All spectres are intangible, and they can possess a ven (with their explicit permission). This makes the ven look freaky as gently caress and gives them ten dice for all rolls, and any Injuries heal one rank per beat. The only way a spectre will leave a ven's body is by killing the body, but this does not get rid of the spectre. Orichalcum items seem to repel a spectre, sending it packing. Maybe orichalcum weapons can harm it, but Wick disagrees. If you do agree, though, the spectre rolls ten dice and you have to deal a Rank 10 Injury to bust the fucker.

Then Wick goes into his Play Dirty screed, which I already wrote about during Blood and Honor. Search for the bit with CRITICAL WICK in it. It's basically repeating most of what he's already said (make the players spend Style, get them in trouble, let them get themselves into trouble, let them come up with characters and plots, etc.). Wick closes with a paragraph asking you to change things as you seem fit. No game can be made fun for everyone, and that's alright.

So, here it is, the end of Houses of the Blooded. And like during the Blood and Honor review, I ask: is it a bad game? I have to say that it is less mechanically sound than B&H, because of the increased complexity mixed with the book's seriously shoddy editing. But... well.

I actually started feeling somewhat uncomfortable doing this writeup because, as I detailed each chapter, I started feeling like I was peering into John Wick's own head. The world of the ven is a world deliberately built to support and encourage all the elements Wick finds cool about gaming, the drama and tension and the loving up and growing hard in a world of poo poo, stuff that's been all over his work from his L5R and 7th Sea days, but I dare to say that no game he's ever worked on is as Wick as this. Yes, I think Wick does see the world in a ven-like way (see that bit on "ven hypocrisy"), that he does have this dog-eat-dog cynical world perspective in real life. But at the same time, that bit with the dungeon crawl shows that, while The Wick is definitely in charge of the writing in HOTB, when he's running most of the time he's John, the game designer buddy that is kind of intense and challenging but honestly wants you to have fun in his games. Under that light, Wick's players are not just slavering masochist sycophants, even though that line where he says Jess Heinig praised his games as "John Wick's Social Meat Grinder" made me wonder...

At the end of the day I think that Doomed Murderous Highborn Manchildren can potentially be a fun game, if cleaned up - hey, look at all the L5R PbP games right in this forum for starters. :v: But, again, the Wickness conspires to make the game nigh-unreadable. It doesn't have the mechanical solidity to be the Fantasy Diplomacy RPG Wick would like it to be. The ven are, honestly, horrible loving people, and the conceit that they're these non-human people with non-human reactions and, furthermore, that the game emulates fictional literature about this fictional civilization becomes this grating weight as you read through HOTB, this lovely feeling that John Wick was all "I'LL SHOW THEM" after hearing one too many criticisms about samurai or swashbucklers or whatever simply not working like he wrote about in previous games.

I left a fair few things to the side, like that ~*delightful*~ bit in the Mass Murder rules where he claims feudal Japanese discarded technological advancements in warfare for being vulgar and unsubtle. Or all the roses you could give another ven and their meaning. Or how there are absolutely no record of ven wearing armor at all, except that one of their saint patrons is always depicted wearing a shiny set of it. Or... you get the idea. This is John Wick: The RPG. And as such, it's 5 out of 5.

In conclusion:


An aphorism I learned while writing Legend of the Five Rings: “Japanese fix the problem; Americans fix the blame.”


Jan 6, 2012


Wraith is :black101: and :smithicide: but this book takes it to another level. drat.

Jan 6, 2012


Plague of Hats posted:

Hey so I made a site to put F&F reviews on both in case of thread archiving, to make them a bit easier to read (site formatting aside) and to allow them to be read despite the paywall. It is currently sparse, but I can copy-paste with the best of them. I am interested in getting permission from reviewers, though I can also abandon all my heroic work in the face of stern disapproval. Suggestions and pointers on how to make things look better or more readable are also a plus.

Sure thing, you can copy my stuff. I hope you can keep up with the archiving!

Also, would people be interested in a FnF of: Burning Empires (in the grim darkness of the far future, there are only bodysnatching worms and food logistics), Bellfahle Magic Academy (jRPG, looks cute) or Almogavers (Catalan :black101:, no seriously this thing is in loving Catalan)?

Jan 6, 2012


Almogavers it is!


Desperta ferro!

dig the sword hilt "e"

Almogavers is a 1995 "epic medieval" roleplaying game by Enric Grau and published by Joc Internacional. If you're familiar with Spanish games, you might notice the name of Ricard Ibáñez in the credits page: Ibáñez is the creator of Aquelarre, the seminal Spanish role playing game. Almogavers in freaking Catalan, which is close enough to Spanish that I can make it out with a dictionary and Wikipedia at hand. So what's it about?

Back cover posted:

"It is the year 1303. Our army heads to central Anatolia to face the Turks. The march is hard, but we believe in victory and our leaders. Such is our life, battle after battle, village after village, never stopping anywhere. We are... Almogàvers."

The Almogavers were a type of mercenary shock trooper that served the Crown of Aragon and other kingdoms during the Middle Ages. The game focuses on the Catalan Company, a mercenary company that fought for the Byzantine Empire and others during the 14th Century. The book begins with a small introduction to role playing games (as all good games do), what PCs and NPCs and GMs and those funky dice are, and then drops us straight into the historical background of the game. Have a seat, it's going to take a while.

It starts in Sicily. After the death of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, the Papacy (a rival of Frederick's) grants right of conquest over Sicily, until then Germanic territory, to Charles of Anjou. By the year 1266, the island is in the French sphere of influence, and thus allied with the Papal State. The new King of Sicily is not well received by the Sicilians, though. All public posts are given to Frenchmen and the provincial capital is moved to Naples. In 1282, a revolt against the French takes place, the Sicilian Vespers, and Sicilian nobles offer the crown to Peter III of Aragon, who was married to Constance of Sicily and thus had a claim to Sicily. Peter invades the island, takes over as King, and from then on a long conflict between Sicilians/Catalans and French/Papacy forces takes place.

Peter dies in 1285 and leaves the Catalan-Aragonese crown to his eldest son, Alphonse, and the Sicilian crown to his second son James. But Alphonse dies an early death, forcing James to take over in Aragon and leave Peter's third son, Frederick, as regent in Sicily. With the international situation taking dire turns, James sees as the only way out to give up any claim to Sicily, but the people don't accept it and proclaim Frederick as their king. James can either accept the terms of the treaty he signed and help the French capture Sicily or support his own brother, and after reconsideration (which included the Pope trying to bribe him with sovereignty over Sardinia and Corsica) he leaves Sicily to its own devices. The Almogavers brought by Aragon to Sicily fight for Frederick against the French and the Pope, and it is here that one captain starts making a name for himself, former Templar Roger de Flor. By the year 1300, the fight is going well for Frederick, but general attrition and exhaustion makes all parties sue for peace at Caltabellotta. The Almogavers are suddenly out of a job, and led by Roger de Flor they leave Sicily for the Byzantine Empire: this is the beginning of the Catalan Company.

The following period is divided in three stages:
  • First era: Emperor Andronicus II Palaelogus of Byzantium is in dire straits, with Turkish forces advancing from the East and Frankish remains of Crusader empires South and West. Byzantium's Alan and Turcopole mercenaries cannot hold... and that's where the Catalan Company steps in, with support of the King of Sicily (only too happy to get rid of mercenaries with far too much free time on his doorstep). Roger made some heavy demands of the Emperor, including marrying into the Imperial family and the title of Megaduke :stare: The Emperor agrees to everything, and in 1303 6,500 men make their way from Sicily to Constantinople. Everyone's happy except for the Genoese, until then the Empire's strongest allies. So while Roger is marrying himself a princess, Genoese and Catalan troops duke it out for the first time. The Emperor is quick to send his new, dangerous allies against the Ottomans, with their first victory being the liberation of Philadelphia (180 Almogaver casualties, over 18,000 Turkish dead - or so Catalan chroniclers claim :smug:) With a string of victories and new reinforcements, Roger is acclaimed as a hero, and forces the Emperor to make him Ceasar and second on the line of succession, over his own son Michael - who soon begins plotting Roger's death. The commander is invited to a meeting at Adrianopolis, where he is murdered, and the Almogavers are purged from the Empire, with barely 3,000 men resisting in Gallipoli.

  • Second era: Megaduke Berenguer d'Entença is the Company's new leader. He sends an embassy to Constantinople to sever any bonds to the Empire that betrayed them, but the Company envoys are killed by Michael. Berenguer is later captured by a Genoese captain, who inexplicably does not collect the bounty the Empire offers for him or the ransom offered by one of Berenguer's seconds, Ramon Muntaner. The remaining Almogavers led by Bernat de Rocafort go on a rampage through the Empire, raiding and pillaging everything they find along the way: their battlecry, desperta ferro!, goes down in history at this point.

    :black101: posted:

    Listen! listen! Wake up, O iron! / Help us God! / [...] / Just seeing us coming the villages are already ablaze. / Just seeing us passing the crows are wiping their beaks. / War and plunder, there are no greater pleasures. / Forward Almogavars! Let them call the gravediggers! / The voice of the Somatent is calling us to war. / Weariness, rains, snow and heat we shall endure. / And if sleep overtakes us, / we will use the earth as our bed. / And if we get hungry, we shall eat raw meat! / Wake up, O iron! Forward! / Fast as the lightning / let us fall over their camp! / Forward Almogavars! Let us go there to make flesh, / the wild beasts are hungry!
    The Company zeroes on Constantinople, and Michael gathers a formidable army of Alans, Turcopoles, Greeks and other mercenaries to stop them. The Almogavers' sheer :black101: sends the Byzantine army packing and Michael himself barely survives the battle. The Emperor desperately tries to negotiate a truce with the Almogavers while trying to get the Genoese to support him, but the Almogavers consider the lesson of blood learned and the Genoese dare not get involved. The Company scatters and spends the following years devastating Thrace, while a crack force is sent to Bulgaria to take out the material culprits of Roger's death, leaving Muntaner in Gallipoli with a few hundred men. Of course, the Byzantines and Genoese siege the city. Lacking men, Muntaner arms the city's women, and wisely waits until the enemy exhaust itself against the fortifications before sortieing and eliminating the Genoese commander. By 1306, Berenguer is finally released, but Rocafort refuses to relinquish command: while open civil war is avoided, the Company is fractured, with both sides taking over different headquarters. Due to a treaty with Sicily, Prince Ferdinand of Majorca arrives to take command of the Company, a move welcomed by everyone but Rocafort. The Company heads to Macedonia, but due to confusion - or treason - the vanguard of the army ends up fighting its rear guard and Berenguer dies, leaving Rocafort in charge of the Company, and eventually making Ferdinand and Muntaner part ways with him.

    A little map to break up the wall of text

    Rocafort's growing tyranny is seized by Thibaut of Chepoy, a servant of Charles of Valois, with whom Rocafort had signed a contract. Disgruntled Company leaders eventually relieve Rocafort from command and hand him over to Thibaut, who puts him at the mercy of an old enemy of his. The Company under Thibaut marches on the Duchy of Athens, an anarchic land nominally ruled by the dying Duke Guy II de la Roche. In 1310, Thibaut abandons the Company, fearing a sudden case of sword in the gut, and the enraged Almogavers turn on the leaders that had removed Rocafort from command. The Company becomes a military republic, ruled by a Council of Twelve and a quadrumvirate of two horse officers, a captain and an infantry Almogaver. A stepbrother of the now dead Duke, Walter of Brienne, hires the Company to clear the Duchy of his enemies, and pays two months' worth of wages in advance. The Company does its work too well, with over thirty castles falling to Walter in less than the two months he paid for, so he seeks to discharge the Company while keeping its best soldiers. Then he makes the mistake of threatening force if they don't comply. :thumbsup: The following Battle of the Cephissus sees the end of French presence in Greece. With the Duchy under their control, the Company writes to Frederick of Sicily to make one of his sons claim it; Manfred of Sicily is chosen.

  • Third era: by the year 1318, the Almogavers extend their territories, founding the Duchy of Neopatria. Both duchies are ruled by Catalan feudal law. In 1357 Frederick III of Sicily gives away his rights over the duchies to his sister Eleanor and, by virtue of her marriage to Peter IV, to the Aragonian crown. In 1380 Peter IV becomes the direct ruler of the Company territories, but it would be short-lived: the Duchy of Athens is occupied in 1388 by the lord of Corinth, and in 1390 Neopatria suffers a similar fate.

The tl;dr of it:

the Wiki, unsourced but I buy it posted:

In the regions of Attica and Boeotia, a popular saying included: may the revenge of the Catalans fall on you. In Bulgaria, the expressions "Catalan" and "Son of Catalan" mean "wicked man, soulless, torturer". This negative connotation reached beyond the boundaries of folklore to influence poets such as Ivan M. Vazov in the poem Pirates, first published in 1915. Vazov includes the Catalans with the Turks as the greatest oppressors of the Bulgarian nation. In the region of Parnassus, the following saying is popularised: "I will flee from the Turks to fall into the hands of the Catalans".

Currently, in Albania the word "Catalan" means "ugly and wicked man." Likewise, "Catalan" or "Katallani" is designated in Albanian folklore as a monster with one eye, reminiscent in many ways the Cyclops Polyphemus. This cyclops is represented by a wild blacksmith who feeds on human flesh. He also has no knees, so he can not bend, and long legs like masts of a ship. He faces a young hero named Dedaliya. This tradition, in various versions, is usually called by the title of Daedalus dhe Katallani, Daedalus and Catalan.

Next: on a roll of 96+, you're Jewish.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 01:33 on Nov 9, 2013

Jan 6, 2012



But no ratcatchers, goddamn

It's on to character creation! We get a description of the character sheet, which is nice, then we are told how characters are defined by their stats and attributes. The stats are further divided in passive, active, physical and mental, with a total of six stats: Constitution (passive physical), Willpower (passive mental), Agility (active physical), Dexterity (active physical), Memory (active mental) and Perception (active mental). To generate these stats, roll 3d6, rerolling any dice that roll 1, and add the dice for a range of 6-18. The player chooses which stat gets the roll, but once a stat has a value fixed to it the player can't use another roll for it - except for the very last extra roll done after all the stats are rolled, which can be used to replace any stat at the player's choice. Attributes are also rolled in a similar way, but they use a different five-rank scale: Very Low, Low, Normal, High and Very High. There's a table for reference. The attributes are Strength, Size, Appearance and Charisma. Around 40% of people have Normal attributes, 20% are Low or High and 10% are Very Low or Very High.

Then the player notes down the character's initiative modifier, which is influenced by Agility, encumbrance and the armor they are wearing. As well, they note the character's damage modifier which is provided by the Strength attribute, and their damage capacity (hit points) that depends on their Size and Constitution. Damage capacity comes in three types: A (capacity/2 +2), B (capacity) and C (capacity*1.5) An average character has a damage capacity of 12 and a damage mod of 2d6, but I can't tell how bad (or good :black101:) this is until I get to the combat chapter. The character's height and weight are given by their Size and damage capacity, with a little wiggle room for players to adjust - a Normal Size man is 1.65 m, for instance, and can raise or lower that in 10 cm. Characters also have Prestige, which begins at 0 and represents what others think of them. A high Prestige is necessary for certain positions, like army commander!

Bon cop de falç, bitch.

Now it gets interesting. First, the player can roll for (or straight up choose) the character's Origin. The options are:
  • Catalan: of course. You're a Catalan on a roll of 1-50, because dammit you're in the Catalan Company. The character can be a line Almogaver, or a trader, knight, sage, etc.
  • Greek: this character for some reason has joined the Almogavers or has a good relationship with them. The Greeks weren't particularly close to the Almogavers to begin with, but there were always exceptions.
  • French: this would be odd, as the French and Catalans were embroiled in the conflict over Sicily. This character is going to be a traitor to the French, an emissary for some French noble, or another similar reason to be agreed between player and GM.
  • Turkish: the Almogaver army had a group of Turkish mercenaries. This character could also be a trader, medic, or some other suitable profession working with the Almogavers for profit.
  • Alans: the Byzantine Army had a mercenary force of Alans from Thrace. They had a certain rivalry with the Almogavers, and some hated them enough that they would plan their operations separate from them so that they wouldn't have to march together, while some others happily served under Roger's command. This character is going to be a mercenary or some other similar profession.
  • Arab: these characters are going to come from Iberian Arab families, fully integrated with the Almogavers.
  • Venetian: the other trade power of the era along with the Catalan and the Genoese. It would make sense for Venetians to be foes, but due to their trade war with the Genoese they had a good relationship with the Catalans and were sometimes even allies (as long as they were against the Genoese)
  • Genoese: speaking of which! This would be an even stranger ally, because even though they were allies of the Byzantines, they hated the Almogavers to death. Then again, there might not be better place for a traitor to their people than among their own worst enemy.
  • Jewish: highly important in Middle Ages economy due to religious restrictions on interest lending. A Jewish character could be a moneylender, of course, but also a craftsman, soldier or peasant (as long as they were allowed to in the country they are, that is)

The next step is finding out their Social Class. These can be chosen by the player from Soldier, Burgher or Peasant, or rolled on the table. Only one roll and the result stands, but the player can potentially roll into the nobility! The social classes are:

  • High Noble: barons, counts and the like. The game assumes that a High Noble PC is the heir to one of these nobles, and has access to servants, soldiers under them, and so on.
  • Low Noble:: a noble of lesser rank. The PC could also be the nth child of some bigger noble. They don't get stuff as good as High Nobles, but they're still nobles. The character can trade their status for Burgher to represent a particularly wealthy burgher, or for Soldier and get the position of Adalid (captain, roughly) in compensation. In both cases, they still purchase gear as a Low Noble.
  • Soldier: men at arms, mercenaries, and other punchy/stabby dudes.
  • Burgher: from the wealthy trader or guildmaster to the peddler or small craftsman.
  • Peasant: farm laborer, shepherd and the like.

Swole and stabby.

The table restricts some classes depending on the character's Origin: for instance, Jewish characters cannot be nobles because, well, they're Jewish. As Greece is the focal point of the setting, only Catalan, Greek and Jewish characters can be Peasants, as verisimilitude is broken otherwise (how would peasants from other lands even get there? Nevermind that most line Almogavers were Catalan peasants and got there by ship...). Turkish and Arab nobles are also not a possibility as most people of those nationalities in Greece are traders or soldiers. Sure, whatever.

Then, the character chooses their Profession. No roll here, just pick up whatever, but the character's social class and origin restricts some choices.

  • Almogaver: seasoned warrior, proud of being part of the Company, of barbaric aspect but highly disciplined. Their hierarchy is democratic and promotions are by combat merit. Most are Catalan, of course, with some recruited from the places the Company travels through. Requires Soldier (or Peasant, if the character is Catalan)
  • Craftsman: the Company did not bring craftsmen along, they just bought or sourced what they needed along the way. They might have recruited some from time to time, but they would have to know how to defend themselves. The exact type of craftsman (blacksmith, weaver, etc.) has to be determined here, and we are told all craftsmen at this point in history were members of a guild, "with all the good and bad that it implies." Requires Burgher or Peasant.
  • Bandit: the easiest Profession for the warrior out of a job :v: The Company gives a job to those that can fight, so it's not too farfetched to find a former bandit among their ranks. Requires Noble (someone who lost their fortune, maybe?), Soldier or Peasant.
  • Hunter: only nobles had the right to hunt in the Middle Ages. The exact nature of the hunter depends on their social class: if they're Noble, they're a noble with hunting as their favorite sport; if they're a Soldier, then they are huntsmen in the service of a noble; if they're a Peasant, they're a poacher.
  • Knight: all officers in a medieval army were knights. The position of adalid is considered to be equivalent (but in real life adalids and knights were different things) and this is what a Low Noble that trades in their status and becomes a Soldier ends up with. This Profession also includes those that fought under Roger de Flor (first Era) in cavalry units. Noble only.
  • Cleric: it's perfectly justifiable to have clerics serving in the Almogaver army, but they would have to be of humble origins. If they're of high social class, they could be confessors to some noble or members of the Church of Constantinople that follow the army for some reason, or missionaries as well. Monks make more sense in the third era. Requires Noble, Burgher or Peasant.
  • Trader: Catalan traders followed the Almogavers. There were also Venetian and Genoese traders, though of course the latter were a very rare sight among Almogavers. Requires Burgher (or Noble if the character is Venetian or Genoese)
  • Courtesan: an Almogaver courtesan would be hard to imagine, but then again there was Roger de Flor. They're easier to picture in the third era. Normally, they'll be Greek (first era) or French (second era) characters that follow the army representing the Imperial court or some important noble. Requires Noble.
  • Warrior: similar to Almogavers or Mercenaries, but this Profession represents the fighter that isn't just raised for one campaign or period of time, but serves under a lord for life. Obviously they need a lord (knight or noble) to serve under, and thus may end up fighting alongside the Almogavers. Requires Soldier.
  • Laborer: the most common Profession in the Middle Ages, "but here it's not logical that they continue to be laborers." Perhaps the character was a laborer, and joined the army as a slave, servant, or soldier. Requires Peasant.
  • Thief: this Profession is urban in nature, and thus the character needs to hail from one of the cities of the age (if it's Constantinople, the better) The game assumes the presence of a formal Thieves' Guild, a Greek "mob" with contacts among Venetians, Genoese, Catalans, Turks and other Muslim peoples. A Thief character passes themselves as another Profession, which is the one actually written on the character sheet for all to see. Other players may not know they are a Thief, it's just a secret between player and GM! This is also a good choice for spies. Requires Soldier or Burgher.
  • Minstrel: minstrels in the Middle Ages go from town to town and city to city, frequently visiting the courts of the places they pass by. It would be strange, but not unthinkable, for one of them to follow an army. Requires Noble, Burgher or Peasant.
  • Mercenary: equivalent to Almogaver, with the difference that this character is not part of the Catalan Company itself. Requires Soldier.
  • Medic: this may represent the stereotypical field medic that serves as surgeon and barber. They're supposed to be studied folk. Pay is low, but they can go anywhere (to treat diseases, honest!) and thus make good spies. Requires Burgher.
  • Shepherd: see Laborer. This character is easier to justify, as they can be a tracker or guide. Requires Peasant.
  • Moneylender: the stereotypical Jewish Profession. Very hard to find a reason for them marching along with an army, and they need to be based in a city. Easier to justify in the third era, when adventures are not as linked to army life. Requires Jewish Burgher.
  • Sage: this can be a scribe, advocate, notary, professor, alchemist... The exact type must be determined at this point. Sages may follow the army out of fidelity to a noble they advise and serve. The GM and player should reach an agreement over the reason why they are here. Alchemist Sages or Mage Sages that want a level of Initiate or superior in Magic should have played a solo adventure before the game (wait, magic? :aaa:) Requires Burgher.

gyahahahaha look at his face

Now it's time for Skills, Knowledges and Combat Techniques! Skills are physical abilities, relying on Dexterity and Agility; Knowledges are the things the character knows, and they are influenced by Memory and Perception; and Combat Techniques, which are defined in the Combat chapter (still relying on Dexterity and Agility, mind you). Abilities are rated in six Experience Levels: Ignorant, Neophyte, Apprentice, Initiate, Master and Grand Master. To buy them, the character needs Experience Points, which are at first dictated by their starting age. The game says that the older the character is the more XP they get, but they also begin losing stat points! We'll only bother with the XP for now, and we are recommended to use 27 years (180 points) as a baseline. Characters also get a number of free abilities based on their Profession, which also restricts buying some of them - try justifying why your Laborer knows Alchemy, for instance. No, seriously, try it, maybe the GM will let you do it. Or not! Characters also get starting languages depending on their origin: their native language starts at Initiate level and everyone gets Catalan at Apprentice level (Catalan characters get Greek instead), so everyone can talk with each other. The exact cost of raising a skill, knowledge or technique varies depending on its ruling stat, and it bears noting that there are sublevels as well starting from Neophyte, so a character needs to go through Neophyte-, Neophyte and Neophyte+ before they can become Apprentices. Spare XP can be banked for later use. Stats also limit the maximum level of an ability, with a minimum of 16 in a stat to reach Grand Master+.

We also get rules for getting old at this point. For every year over 35 the character has, make a Constitution roll with a difficulty of (Age-35)/5, round down. Failing this roll means losing one physical stat point, player's choice, and a disastrous failure means losing two points. Beyond 50 years old, the player may choose mental stats. Attributes may also be reduced, but they only ever go down one level.

Then it's on to money, gear and possessions! Whew, this has taken a while. For simplicity reasons, the game uses silver and gold coins: one gold = 20 silver. Characters roll 3d6 and reference a table: of course, nobles get more munneh, peasants get zilch. Possessions are determined next. Characters get a number of points to buy possessions that are determined by their social class (again, nobles get more) and they can then buy anything from weapons and armor to land and castles, if their class permits. Some assets they can buy come with an upkeep cost, while others actually make money for their owner. Characters must pay 1% of the total value of their lands and stuff in taxes at the end of the year, or lose 10% of their possessions. Spare points from this stage can be converted to silver coins at a 1:1 ratio. Finally, there is a gear list, with items rated as Common, Infrequent, Rare and Exotic: starting characters can only purchase Common and Infrequent items. In play, traders may sell stuff for 1d4 times their list price, so be wary!

Fat Bro wouldn't rip us off with his potions, would he?

To finish, there is an optional Personal History section. You can roll for your day and month of birth, and that can make you a Lucky or Unlucky person. Lucky characters get to reroll one roll per adventure, while Unlucky characters get one of their rolls per adventure rerolled by the GM. Characters can also get Destiny Points (Age-16) and use them to purchase positive, negative or neutral Events. Buying positive events must be balanced by buying negative events of the same value. Any Destiny Points not used at the end of this step are lost. Positive events can be stuff like Being Happily Married (+Charisma) or Killed An Enemy Leader In Combat (+1 Prestige), negative events can be things like Was Stuck In A Tiny Place As A Child (claustrophobia!) or Swore Fidelity To The Genoese (:stare:), and neutral events can be things like Having Siblings or Having A Dead Child (hey, no stat reductions or anything :colbert:)

Characters gain XP by getting older (they get the points they would've gotten according to the table for every year they live) and by surviving adventures, which give them 2-8 points depending on the adventure's length. Characters may also train their abilities with teachers, who should have the ability at a greater level than them. The XP spent in an ability trained with a teacher are multiplied depending on the difference of level between teacher and student (a teacher with just one level above their student makes one XP worth 1.5 points, while one with three levels above them makes one XP worth 2.5 points!) Training takes one week, and the teacher's wages of course.

I don't know what Beard Sage is reading here, but it doesn't look good. Probably some French poo poo :argh:

Next: d20s and Resistance Tables, oh my!

Traveller fucked around with this message at 07:15 on Nov 10, 2013

Jan 6, 2012


PurpleXVI posted:

Out of curiosity as to whether this maniac had a site or something with more of his hilarious crazy, his name was Googled... and it turned out he had more hilarious crazy. He had written RPGs. Versions 0.23 and 3.13 of "Legions," a campaign for same, something called Societal Games and a small booklet called "Sexcapades," all freely available as .PDF's(a further two RPG's by him, Pantera and Sepultura, both of which Legions promises us it is fully compatible with, I haven't been able to find.).

I don't want to believe that RPGs called Pantera and Sepultura could ever be bad things :rock:

Jan 6, 2012


Overeds seem to be less sociopathic than the average Contractor, even with the virus eroding their humanity.

Jan 6, 2012



A table for you, a table for me

:3: but still

A short update this time. Let's see how the game system works. It's based around an Universal Table in which you roll a d20, use the result to locate a row, then note the level of the relevant skill, knowledge or technique to find the final result. Rolls can be Disastrous (poo poo doesn't work and you gently caress up even further), Failures (poo poo doesn't work), Normal Success (poo poo works), Special Success (poo poo works pretty good) and Critical Success (pro poo poo working right here) As we can see, low rolls are better.


:pervert: posted:

Paulos Posjoros, cleric, tries to convince his flock that hanging around with "harbor women" is a sin. He rolls his Eloquency skill that he has at Initiate level and rolls a 5. According to the table that is a special success. Paulos smiles seeing the faces of his audience and thinks that the prostitutes from the docks will finally lower their prices and he will be able to afford them.

The table also shows Margin of Success for rolls, that number in the cell you roll, which is mostly used to tell the difference in success (or failure, depending) for two performances of the same action. Some actions can have a difficulty modifier, which is a straight modifier to the d20 roll. Stats and attributes can also modify rolls, but the game advises not applying these modifiers unless the roll is particularly important. The GM can potentially demand a certain MoS if the situation calls for it, like if you're trying to sculpt a masterpiece a simple success isn't going to cut it, but it's better to calculate difficulties first thinking just of the normal success as the benchmark.

loving Catalan ninja!

This is the system used for unopposed rolls. For contested rolls, the superior success type (or MoS if they have the same type of success) wins. These rolls may be repeated several times depending on the nature of the contest, two guys armwrestling would be pushing each other's arms closer to the table or away from it with each roll for instance. If a stat roll is called because there's no applicable ability, in which case we have several options: roll under the stat with a d20, AD&D style; roll using the table (that's why that 1-18 row is for); or simply roll as if the character had a relevant skill at Apprentice level, further modified by the stat in question - this is used for stuff that isn't explicitly described in the game and doesn't come up often, like say fishing or underwater basket weaving. There's also a table for quick NPC skill level generation, which doesn't include Grand Master level because that requires special dedication or being thrown into ~*intense situations*~ once a week like PCs usually end up. :v:

Left: a good target for your Throw Boot skill. Right: Walter White In The 14th Century.

Then it's on to skill descriptions! I'm not going to bore you with every single one of them, you'll have an idea of what's in here if you've ever played or read a low fantasy or historical game, but I'll just point out some of the more interesting details. The Craft skill at Apprentice level implies having a Master, and further levels mean the character is involved with the relevant guild's hierarchy. Seduction only works in members of the opposite sex and requires two successful rolls (first impression, then a roleplayed schtupping up, then another roll modified by the GM's opinion of the schtupping) before kissing and groping can take place :pervert: Alchemy comprises both real world chemistry and fantastic alchemy with elements sourced from magical creatures and the like (magic?) and it requires Calculus because hey, you don't want to add any more cow dung than you have to. Also, the GM is encouraged to make poo poo explode in the PCs faces if the players get cocky and start cooking themselves batches of FOOF or whatever. Astrology also requires Calculus because those astral charts are some hard poo poo. Calculus itself needs Initiate or Master level to be useful to the previous two skills, but lesser levels are enough for traders and money people. Read/Write is a separate knowledge from speaking, but knowing how to read/write a language at least grants you Neophyte in speaking ability. Magic, like Craft, implies the presence of a master and joining a magical order (magic?)

Dude is entirely too happy over your twisted ankle.

Next: the Most Noble And Ancient Catalan Art Of Clobbering.

Jan 6, 2012


I vote Strike Legion just to make your life harder :v:

Jan 6, 2012


AccidentalHipster posted:

This is for voting for Bellfahle Magic Academy isn't it?

What, no. I'm totally doing that after Almogavers anyway.

Jan 6, 2012


Thread moves fast!


Stabbing dudes in the dong since 1300 REPRESENT

AW poo poo

Alright, let's get down to combat. The rules assume the use of miniatures and terrain to represent combat situations, but it doesn't push them as hard as, say, WFRP 1E. There are a couple of detailed explanations on what "combat time" (initiative) and combat round are, and it reads as if the game assumes players aren't just unfamiliar with RPGs, but the entire idea of turn-based gaming. So we're told that, for instance, while some actions like "I grab the book and start reading it" happen as fast as declaring them, during combat everything goes slow-motion, as it takes minutes for players to declare things their characters do in a few seconds. I mean, yeah, it's right, but I don't think I've ever seen RPG combat described like that.

Anyway, actions! They are divided in long (lasting over 2 seconds, an elaborate movement or sequence of movements), short (1-2 seconds, a simple movement) or complementary (barely take time, done at the same time as other actions).

  • Acrobatics
  • Load a Crossbow
  • Switch Weapon
  • Run (move up to 5 times the miniature's height)
  • Attack with Hand Weapon
  • Nock an Arrow
  • Attack Barehanded
  • Long Movement (up to the miniature's height)
  • Fire a Bow
  • Jump
  • Short Movement (up to half the miniature's height)
  • Fire a Crossbow
  • Dodge
  • Parry with Weapon
  • Block with Hands

Oh no you don't, you literal neckbeard

During a combat round, a character may perform 1 long action and 1 complementary action, 2 short actions and 1 complementary action, or 1 short action and 2 complementary actions. Actions are declared in reverse Agility order, so that faster characters can see slower actions coming. Players only have one or two seconds to think before declaring, because there's so little time to think during combat: the GM should have the actions of slower NPC considered beforehand so that PCs have something to react to. Apparently, the weapon used, the character's Agility and the difficulty of getting an action done faster modify the action's initiative rank.

After actions are declared, they take place. Short actions go first, then long actions; complementary actions go when they're needed (parries happen when the character is attacked) or when the character wishes (short movement, for instance) Within short and long actions, they're ordered by the character's Agility and their modifiers for armor and weight. If two actions are simultaneous but one is a ranged attack and the other a melee attack, the latter goes first. Since, as we will see later, an action may be hastened or not, in order to prevent conflict between GM and players the game suggests that the GM declares all the NPCs' actions first and let the PCs act according to them. Of course, a character cannot be touched by a weapon if they're outside its range, and interestingly if two weapons clash they roll damage, and if one rolls twice as much as the other the loser is sent flying away.

"My arm is hosed? Well, the axe it is wielding will make you just as hosed."

So, combat rolls! They're opposed rolls using the rules we saw earlier with the Universal Table.
  • If attacker and defender attack at the same time, both roll on the table: if one gets a better success type, both successes are reduced until only the better success remains (so if A gets a Special Success and B gets a Simple Success, A hits with a Simple Success). If they both get the same success, the weapons clash.
  • If one attacks and the other parries/blocks (the most common case) then the defender wins if they get the same degree of success or better; if the attacker gets the higher degree of success, then both rolls are reduced until the loser fails, just like the first case. The same attack cannot be parried twice. Shield blocks are easier to make (-3 difficulty), but the shield can take some damage. Successful weapon parries make the weapons clash.
  • If one attacks and the other dodges, the rules are the same as the previous case except that there's no weapon clash or shield damage to consider.
  • If one attacks and the other moves, the attack is an unilateral action made more difficult by the type of movement being made by the target: Very Hard if they're running, jumping or performing acrobatics, Hard if they do anything else.
  • If (any other case), it's the GM's call.

Damage is calculating by referencing the weapon's base damage (each weapon has a base damage score for each of the three degrees of success) then adding the Strength modifier. As an optional rule, an additional difficulty modifier equivalent to (attacker's initiative mod - defender's initiative mod) can be applied to attacks. Actions can be hastened by adding a +3 difficulty modifier to reduce the initiative mod in -1, or delayed in +1 to get a -3 difficulty modifier, but no action can go earlier than initiative mod 0. A character can also increase the damage they deal on a successful blow by adding +3 to the difficulty per +1d6 they want to add.

Wounds are classified as Light, Normal, Severe and Grave. Damage up to Damage Capacity A is light, up to Damage Capacity B is normal, up to Damage Capacity C is Severe and anything worse than that is Grave. Once damage is dealt, the specific wound is located on the character's body depending on the attack's location: each weapon can deal one or more of high, medium or low blows that can affect different parts of the body, and some weapons can deal general attacks with chances to damage any part of the body. Armor reduces the damage, and if the wound is Severe or worse a d20 is rolled on one of the three damage tables (Slashing, Bashing or Piercing) to know the exact organ, muscle or bone that took the hit. I know this sounds like Historical Medieval Phoenix Command, but it's easier than it reads, honest! Damage can also come from falls, drowning, poison or malnutrition.

Damage effects! First, damage reduces a character's Blood Points. For every five Blood Points lost, the character's actions and rolls are further and further penalized. The same table is used to see just how bad a disease or poison harms a character. A Light Wound makes the character lose 1d6 Blood Points, a Normal Wound takes 5+1d6 Blood Points (half rounded down for Bashing weapons), a Severe Wound takes 10+1d6 Blood Points (again, half rounded down for Bashing weapons) and causes bleeding (internal for Bashing), while a Grave Wound takes 15+2d6 Blood Points and great bleeding. Losing 25+ Blood Points means the character is pretty much agonizing, with further chances to lose consciousness, enter a coma, and finally die. Bleeding means rolling a Constitution check for every round the character is up and running (or every five minutes if they're resting), with failure making the character lose even more Blood Points.

No, it's not a scratch, loving stop referencing that already we're not British

Then it's time for the Damage Tables! Once we know how bad the wound is and where it landed, we reference these to learn what exactly happened. Take a Severe Slashing wound to the neck? Great bleeding, death in five minutes if it isn't stopped. Take a Grave Wound to the underbelly? "Loss of virility" and gangrene :gonk: And it's entirely possible to take a Piercing blow to the urethra :gonk: :gonk: :gonk: The tables are even more painful to read than the WFRP ones, so you really want to invest in armor or not getting hit. After a couple of handy tables that summarize the combat procedure and all the Combat Techniques (including which weapons can deal which blows, minimum Strength and Dexterity, range, etc.) we are introduced to the Armor tables. Armor pieces are, aside from its weight and initiative modifier, further defined by their resistance to individual damage types, location and layer: it is possible for PCs to wear, for instance, a woolen cap and a leather or iron helm on top of it. There are common armor sets for Almogaver infantry and cavalry, as well as those of their foes, and a single generic armor score for NPCs because who the gently caress cares to track individual armor pieces for every two-bit mook.

Recovery! Bleeding is stopped by a First Aid roll. If the wound requires surgery as indicated in the damage tables, then the First Aid roll can only reduce great bleeding to regular bleeding, and the patient has to survive the 30 minutes the surgery requires (Medicine roll, can be hastened by increasing difficulty). Then, the wound must be treated, and can become infected depending on local conditions (hint: don't go dumpster diving with a sucking chest wound). Once the wound is treated, the character recovers 1 Blood Point per hour. As they heal, wounds are treated as diseases, which have a Potency that is rolled against the character's Constitution once a day (or more, in the case of poisons). If the Potency wins, the character loses one or more fatigue rank as described in the Blood Point table. If Constitution wins, the Potency is reduced in one or more points. This ends when the Potency is gone or the character is dead. This chapter ends with a description of common diseases, illnesses, and poisons.

For God! For Aragon! For not taking hits to the urethra!

Next: :catdrugs:

Jan 6, 2012



Suddenly, magic

sup guys

So far Almogavers has been a detailed, purely historical game, without any more fantasy than "hey, let's play badass Catalan warriors in the rear end end of nowhere kicking rear end and taking names." Well, so much for that! There's a Magic and Alchemy chapter, and we're about to see some serious poo poo. Magic in this game is the province of initiates brought into the mysteries by masters, and as such this chapter is GM's eyes only: characters need Magic at Initiate level at the very least to know some (and even then not all!) of the information present here.

But first, cosmology! In the beginning, the Solar System was but a cloud of dust. The only energy present during that time was cosmic energy. Through millions of years, the Sun and the planets are formed. With the creation of Earth, a new type of energy is born: elemental energy, less powerful than cosmic energy but with greater influence over the planet. Contact between these two energies and matter brought about the existence of spirits, beings of energy. Most of these spirits associated themselves with the forms developed by organic matter (living beings), while others associated with inorganic matter. As living beings evolved, they generated yet another type of energy, vital energy - the least powerful of the three energies, but the one with the most influence over life.

In the first millions of years of Earth's existence, only these three types of energy existed. Spirits were formed by vital or elemental energy, but there were no spiritual beings of cosmic energy. But then some highly evolved spirits learned to combine their own energies with cosmic power: the combination of elemental and cosmic energy brought about luminous energy, and these spirits became very powerful beings. These beings became primitive gods, almost completely unbound by matter. The spirits that combined vital and cosmic energy created dark energy, and they grew powerful as well but not as much as the gods.

The beings of light (Gods) were the most powerful in the planet, no longer bound by matter, and the only self-aware beings in the planet aside from darkness beings (who lived in the depths of the Earth and far away from them anyway) As the gods were pretty much alone, they decided to create other spiritual beings from their essence, thus making pantheons of gods and celestial choirs - which turned out for the worse as pantheons were terrible families and choirs devolved into open civil war (ref: Paradise Lost). The second solution was inducing self-awareness in the most evolved animal lifeforms. This is where Man shows up. By the time Man appeared, though, there were few gods left and mankind was breeding like rabbits comparatively. Thus, the gods developed a system to make men channel elemental and cosmic power to them, namely worship and its rituals. The remaining gods thus forestalled their own disappearance, but they later began to fight over the control of Man, and so the first wars began.

As a result of internal conflict in the celestial choirs of the One God, a group of beings were cast out from His realm and thrown into the depths of the Earth along with the darkness beings. Furthermore, they were blocked from feeding on elemental energy as part of the expulsion. The leader of this group, however, learned how to feed from vital energy (perhaps taught by the darkness beings). And that would be the end of it, except that these guys also know how to use Man to channel vital energy to them through bloody ritual sacrifice. These beings become demons, with their leader being none other than Ol' Nick himself: Satan. So the conflict between the gods and the demons began, ones profiting from Man, the others feeding upon him. And then demons figured out pacts with the devil and the sale of souls...


A description of the types of energy follows.

:cthulhu: Cosmic energy is the energy that comes from space, the stars, planets and such. It is the most powerful type of energy: in a 1-10 scale, it is a 10 in space and an 8 in Earth. It is raw, alien power, without feelings or thoughts. There are no beings associated to cosmic energy in Earth but there are in space: only the weakest cosmic beings can be summoned, because the great cosmic entities are so powerful and terrible that gods, demons and darkness beings will do everything they can so that they're not summoned. If somehow one of these entities were to be summoned, it would suck all the energy from the area, killing all living beings around it. It might spare the caster and even reward them if they somehow manage to hold on to their sanity (Very Hard Willpower roll). Cosmic beings are pitiless but highly intelligent, and ruled by pure logic. Magic associated with cosmic energy is obviously called cosmic magic, the most logical and disciplined form of it, and magic circles associated to it are qabbalists, alchemists, the Egyptian school and the Pythagoreans.

:hydrogen: Elemental energy comes from earth, mountains, forests, jungles, sea, and so on. It's a 6 in the power scale. Unlike cosmic energy, it does have feelings, dominated by ideas of immensity, harmony, serenity and violence. Elemental beings are known as (duh) elementals, and those closer to matter are known as faeries, which cannot be summoned as they lack enough entity for it. However, as elemental energy is very stable, its spirits can live for a very long time, though they will never get even close to a god's power. Elemental magic is used by mages close to nature to reinforce the land and the spirits bound to it. They use elementals as allies and they respect the faeries. Druidic circles, hermits and shamans use elemental magic.

:witch: Vital energy is the closest to man: in fact, human souls are made of vital energy. It is the force of change, transformation and evolution. Only a 2 in the power scale though :shobon: Magical creatures related to vital energy are dragons, minotaurs, sea wyrms and many other mythical or legendary monsters. They're physically very powerful, but cannot be summoned as they are too bound to matter for it. Vital magic is the province of mages related to blood sacrifice and the use of the human mind and body: examples are Greek mystery cults, witch covens, and the cult of Mithra.

:angel: Luminous energy is the energy that forms gods and lets them work their great wills. It's a 7 in the power scale. This is the energy of faith, great convictions, order, hierarchy and obedience. It is used in sacred rituals and it's the most powerful type of energy in Earth short of cosmic power. Its associated beings are, obviously, gods and angels. Divine magic is used by priests of pagan religions or prophets, monks and people in "contact with God". Formal master-student teaching is more common in pagan religions, while others just get their instructions directly from the Big Sky Wizard. Related magic circles are the Order of the Great Meteor, the Guardians of the Grail, wandering monks and enlightened hermits.

:drac: Darkness energy is the energy of darkness beings and the demons cast out of the One God's realm. It's a 5 in the power scale. It is the energy of silence, chaos, freedom and disobedience. It's used in demonic rituals, and while powerful it's not as powerful as divine power. Its associated beings are darkness beings (a rare sight), demons and hellspawn. The latter are particularly interested in humans, as they can use pacts and sacrifice to gain vital energy. Black magic is used by devil-worshiping Satanic sects. They are the largest magic circles, as black magic is "easier" than the other magic types. There are no corresponding cults to darkness beings, however (they might have existed in a very remote past). Examples are Satan worshipers, priests of Baal and witches and warlocks corrupted by evil.

Rules! Magic is conducted through rituals and powers. Rituals are magic working, usually taking a great deal of time to work, while powers are innate gifts of a character obtained through ritual. Rituals need a number of magic points, which are gathered through components; and spirit points, the (normally) vital energy from the mage's own spirit (Charisma). A ritual usually needs 3-5 magic points to work, as well as a minimum level of Magic knowledge. devoid of people. If a ritual requires elemental or vital magic points, cosmic magic points can be substituted by them as long as a single elemental or vital magic point is used in the ritual. If the mage doesn't have components stocked for the ritual, they must source them: depending on the type of magic involved it will take a different amount of time to obtain components for a single magic point, for instance components for an elemental magic point will take 1d6 weeks to gather in a purely natural environment, or 3d6 weeks in a city. Components can also be stocked beforehand or outright bought, but it will take an adventure to do so. They usually expire in a year, though certain rituals can start before components are obtained if they take years of casting. The ritual binds a certain number of spirit points from the mage, that can't be used again until the ritual's effect is gone and a day passes. Only one ritual may be in the works at any given time, and any interruption ruins all progress, including magic point usage. Rituals can also be modified or enhanced through magic research, and rituals from other magic types can be "translated" by a Master mage to their own type. All rituals have extra conditions to be performed, usually belonging to a relevant magic circle.

loving dipshit wizard loving sending me to pick up loving herbs in fuckistan gently caress gently caress gently caress



(The Satanic panic over RPGs of the '80s is a '90s phenomenon in Spanish speaking countries - as late as the early 2000s I remember news about Spanish teenagers killing each other "trying to reenact roleplaying scenarios." Vampire: The Masquerade was particularly singled out in this regard, as evidenced by the terrible horror movie Sangre Eterna)

Cosmic magic is the most "magicky" of the magic types. You get to summon COSMIC POWAH, create magic mirrors, contact beings from outer space, create Golems (!) and even become immortal. Elemental magic lets you do all the druidy stuff like making healing herbal potions, control the weather, contact faeries, and creating the Fountain of Youth. Vital magic makes magic blood potions, summon spirits, create homunculi (special component required: fetus :gonk:), raise the dead and transform living beings. Pretty much all vital magic rituals can be used by black magicians as well. Divine magic rituals require to be in good standing with the god in addition to belonging to a relevant magic circle. Divine magicians can turn their vital essence to luminous energy, summon angels and archangels, bless stuff and straight up open portals to Paradise (!!). Black magic is all SATAN, usually requires human sacrifices, and lets magicians do poo poo like transmute their life essence to dark energy, gain demonic powers, summon demons, curse stuff and open gateways to Hell.

Powers work in a similar way to rituals, but they take much less time and there's no dealing with magic points as they're fueled by the mage's own soul. They do use up a mage's spirit points though, but that just means those points cannot be used to work other magics until the power is gone. When channeling powers, the mage must make a Willpower roll for their soul to generate enough spirit points to fuel it, which usually involves physical exhaustion. You can end up agonizing if you summon too many powers one after the other. Many powers have different magic sources, for instance Heighten Senses can come from elemental or vital rituals. Powers in general are less :holyfuck: than rituals power-wise, but they're more useful for adventuring: telekinesis, fireballs and control over creatures are examples of things you can do with powers. Yes, there is a Lust power that only works on the opposite sex. :sigh:

Increasing the Magic skill is a little more involved than raising other skills, but it's enough to say that it involves a number of initiations and the casting of the more simple rituals. Now, Alchemy is :science: and making alchemical products requires a series of Alchemy rolls depending on the exact type of thing being made. Failing an Alchemy roll means blowing the whole process and being forced to start over, with the corresponding loss of ingredients, but the main obstacle for alchemists is obtaining ingredients in the first place: they're at least Infrequent, and a proper alchemist will require ready access to them and a laboratory to work their stuff.

Power Word: Imminent Bonk To The Head

Next: Adventures!

Jan 6, 2012


PleasingFungus posted:

Does this mean that someone has to be at watch at all hours of night, or else the kingdom will be destroyed when everyone goes to bed?

Don't Rest Your Head: Dungeon Hazard.

Jan 6, 2012



Dracs i donjons

It's adventure time here in Almogavers. Adventures for this game are described as first, second or third era adventures, following the descriptions from the background chapter. The sample adventures in the book are all first era, but could be adapted for the others.

The first adventure, The Tower of Wisdom, takes place after the Almogavers take Philadelphia from the Turkish. The game can actually begin during the battle itself, and the book suggests using mass warfare rules taken from somewhere or making Roger de Flor roll against the Turkish commander to play out the battle, but it seems kind of pointless as the adventure assumes no TIME PARADOXES happen and things go as they did in history. So, the adventure actually begins with the Almogavers looting the city. The PCs are actually expected to take part of the looting; the Almogavers are mercenary troops after all. They are, however, highly disciplined, and no bloodshed will be allowed (explicitly, there will be no rape and no murder, gently caress you "realism" grogs). The PCs should be able to get around 10 gold pieces for their efforts. After a couple of days of rest, the PCs will be ordered by their commander to escort a wealthy Venetian trader from Philadelphia to the shores of the Aegean Sea, where a ship is waiting for him.

The merchant, Marco Talafallus, claims to be a close friend of the PC's commander (which should put the fear of God into them) and explains that the route they're meant to follow isn't too dangerous, but there may be Turkish bandits prowling around. The PCs will get 5 gold pieces each for their troubles. The journey should take around five days, with Marco riding a cart and bringing five mules loaded with goodies, and servants to tend to them. The PCs get to do the journey on foot :toot: The journey shouldn't be hard, but the GM may throw a Turkish ambush in the works if they feel like it. After the PCs fight off the bandits (or one day before arriving if nothing happened), Marco reveals the true goal of his journey. There is a strange Tower near their location, used as an university by an order of monks with friendly relations to the Order of the Great Meteor. The children of the most important families of the Byzantine Empire go to that place for learning, and studying at the Tower confers a measure of prestige. The Tower has a library with precious, rare books, and its greatest treasure is "the most important book of the Order of the Great Meteor"! The merchant has an interesting offer for the book, and he's willing to pay 100 gold pieces (200 if they push it) to the PCs if they go to the Tower and find the book. The Tower is a ziggurat-shaped building five stories high, with around twenty guards to give any robbers trouble. The PCs can try kicking the door and dealing with all of them, climbing the Tower from outside, or infiltrating it through a well outside the Tower that leads to the underground river that the Tower uses for water. There's also an electric trap and an alchemist to deal with! :ohdear: There's some fancy loot in the library, including the book they're searching for and a load of treatises on all skills, alchemy and magic grimoires, but when the PCs return to where they were supposed to meet with Marco they'll find the merchant dead: the crew of the ship that was waiting for him decided to keep his goods for themselves. A note near his body mentions the offer for the book (1000 gold pieces) and a place: Frangokastello.

Tower of Druaga it ain't.

The second adventure, The Donjon, takes place in the isle of Crete, currently Venetian domain. The PCs try to figure out how to rejoin the Company while they stay at a local inn run by Callos de Malveure, a former adventurer that traded his sword for an innkeeper's apron a long time ago. While the PCs drink and eat, a group of Alans mercenaries not particularly friendly to Almogavers will start making a ruckus and throwing insults their way: if the players forget they're headstrong Catalan mercenaries that take no poo poo from no two-bit mercs, the Alans will jump them. They're more than the PCs by one man, but as soon as one of them dies or takes a Severe injury they'll flee the inn. As the PCs try to calm down the innkeeper, a mysterious stranger will walk into the inn, with a heavy bag of gold and a knife at the hilt. The stranger will search around then ask the innkeeper in Italian about the mercenaries he was supposed to meet: the innkeeper will explain, and the stranger will then ask the PCs if they care to join him for one round of drinks. Prosper the Norman merchant speaks Greek with a heavy French accent, and he says he was supposed to hire the Alans for "a little job with nothing to lose and a lot to win." A day and a half from Frangokastello there is a guard tower (which he calls "donjon" using the Frankish term) long time bereft of soldiers. Only an old man and his servant live there. Some time ago, Prosper came upon an old scroll that claimed that the treasure of Belisarius, the greatest general of Byzantine Emperor Justinian, is there. The job is simple: go to the "donjon", eliminate or force the tower's denizens to flee, take the treasure and return. He's willing to pay half of the treasure's value in gold, and he'll give the PCs a minimum amount of money for supplies. Too easy? If the PCs ask around in town, they'll learn that the old man of the tower is rumored to be a powerful sorcerer, and that aside from his hunchbacked servant there is an evil, ferocious creature, covered in thick black fur. None of the locals would even sleep near the tower for all the gold in the world. If the PCs still go, they'll find the "donjon" to be ruined and seemly uninhabited, but it's still an imposing sight. If they stay and watch it for one night, they'll hear a terrible scream, like that of one of Hell's own damned...

The truth is less spooky, though. The old man was Ezanah, a wise Ethiopian vital mage that had to leave his empire's capital due to politics. As a Christian, he took shelter in Crete rather than Muslim lands. His general lack of social life, his creepy servant and the gorilla that he brought from Africa as a baby gave the tower an aura of mystery and legend that suited him just fine, as he wanted to be left alone to his studies. He even enhanced the mystery by barring the tower's gate and making his servant use an underground passage to go in and out so that people thought he could walk through walls :ghost: and letting the gorilla run loose from time to time. But Ezanah was dying of old age, and not all his magic could help him - which is why he needed the last vital magic ritual, Change Bodies, which coincidentally is the one the PCs stole from the Tower of Wisdom. Ezanah died before he could get his hands on the book, and the grief-stricken gorilla killed the servant in a fit when he tried to bury his master's body. The donjon is spooky, but the greatest difficulty the PCs will have is actually getting inside, navigating the ruins, and then dealing with the poor gorilla that will defend its master's body to the death. Aside from his library (again, the loot is treatises and stuff) the PCs will find Ezanah's diary in Greek, and they'll realize Belisarius' "treasure" is nothing but Saint Bartholomew's wooden bowl, given to him by Justinian. The bowl is magic (7 luminous magic points for the Dispel Magic power) and could be of interest for philosophers or sages, but not for rough mercenary types like the PCs, and certainly not for Prosper - who will be convinced the PCs tried to keep the real treasure for themselves.

Temple of Elemental Evil it ain't.

The third adventure, Beyond the Sea, is actually meant for one or two characters and can take place in all eras, but it can be run as a continuation of The Donjon. The PC(s) are aboard the Santa Caterina, a Catalan merchant ship on a trip to Constantinople. Its captain, Aleix "The Crow" Ginesta is a seasoned sea wolf, but as he has never navigated the eastern Mediterranean the trip is considered "risky" by Catalan bankers. The Santa Caterina will make several stops, and just as it leaves Candia (modern Heraklion) in Crete ends up in the sights of a Genoese galley, all too willing to jump a slow Catalan cog. Captain Aleix knows he can't let the ship get captured, so he does everything he can to flee the Genoese (jettisoning cargo, full sail, finally pointing at the island of Karpathos) trying to make the chase last until night. The Genoese draw closer and closer and the sailors are freaking out, but fortunately the Genoese lose time trying to recover the jettisoned cargo. Note that so far the PCs get to do nothing in this longass cutscene. Finally night falls, and since night sailing is pretty much asking for trouble the Genoese captain settles for the cargo the Catalan cog lost and lets them flee. The ship sets sail to Olympos, but alas! The island they're close to is not Karpathos, but Rhodes. Not that anyone on the ship knows about it!

The ship unfortunately crashes against rocks by the shore and starts sinking quickly: it's now up to the PCs to find something to hold on to and fight off the maddened sailors as it's Everyone For Himself O'Clock. Three Swimming checks (PCs do know how to swim, right?) will take them to the nearest shore: Rhodes. Once the PCs figure out where they actually are, they should try making their way to the city of Rhodes, where there are consuls from all the major trading powers, Catalonia included. But to get there, they must pass through the village of Kastellos. The people of the village use to loot all the ships that end up wrecked near them, and they will kill or finish off any survivors they find. They're not too interested in letting anyone get to Rhodes, as that will bring about law enforcement and some awkward questions about the things they have looted from the wrecks. It's up to the PCs to fight their way through or flee and hide, but their gear will be at the bottom of the sea most likely :argh: Eventually the PCs will come across a small cave where they can lose their pursuers, but because this adventure is not assholish enough yet it will lead them to a nest of vipers over half a meter long each. Should the PCs manage not to get bitten to death and take out the vipers (silently-ish!) they'll come across an old wall that, when taken down, reveals treasure! Perhaps icons from the Monastery of Atramitis, not far from their location; or a trio of scrolls that, when translated from Greek, reveal the journey of a ship to three mysterious islands that we would later know as the Azores, not "officially" discovered until 1432. It's up to the GM to decide what the PCs will find behind the wall, depending on their proclivities. Finally, the PCs will be able to get to Rhodes and ask for help: before 1309, the corrupt Byzantine administration will care little for them, but after 1309 the island will be under the Hospitallers and they'll be quick to help the PCs. Either way, the authorities will send men to Kastellos to deal with the looted cargo and, in the case of the Hospitallers, arrest some of the villagers for murder. Anyway, gently caress this adventure.

Shadow of the Colossus it ain't.

The last adventure, A Cry In The Night, is first era only. The Emperor and part of his court have gone to Bursa for their hot spring baths, leaving in Constantinople just the Pinkerne (royal steward), the Megadomestikos (commander in chief of the garrisons) and other lesser functionaries. And strangely enough, the Emperor's own son and co-Emperor, Michael, returned to Constantinople soon after leaving with the Emperor. He's actually setting up the final touches for a cunning plot against the Emperor, gathering loyal cronies and troops to take over the city and proclaim himself the sole Emperor of Byzantium. All that is left is persuading or eliminating the Pinkerne, the Megadomestikos and the Patriarch of Sophia. For whatever reason, the PCs are hanging around the Valente aqueduct late into the night. Taking a turn, they'll come across a woman, wearing little more than a cloak around her body. A Perception check will tell them she's scared to hell and, if they don't show hostility, she'll beg them for their help once she notices they're fighters. Sobbing, she'll tell them she was at her lover's house when they heard noises in the first floor. He made her escape through a ladder and went to check: once she heard sounds of fighting, she fled the scene. She won't answer anything about her identity or that of her lover though. The fighting seems to be over by the time the PCs get there, but they'll find a man bleeding to death in the bedroom. With his waifu crying over him, the man (Anastasi) will beg the PCs to "save... the... Megadomesti..." and then he'll dramatically die... unless the PCs can roll some First Aid, in which case he can tell them he is Anastasi Fieromonte, Pinkerne to the Emperor, and they are to warn Megadomestikos Emili Porrano at the Fortress of Seven Towers. The PCs will have to hustle!

As they make their way through the city, they might notice there are no night patrols, which should tip them off that shenanigans are afoot. When they get to the Fortress, they'll hear fighting from one of the alleys near it, with one man in Imperial garb fighting off four hooded goons. That's the Megadomestikos, and he'll identify himself as such if the PCs don't take the hint. The PCs should have little trouble dispatching the assassins, but they'll find nothing on their bodies. They will be able to tell they're military sorts (and wearing guard weaponry to boot); if one of them survives, he will say little of importance: they only know the names of some officers they know from secret meetings. All that these goons know is that they had to kill the Megadomestikos, but they assume whoever is running the show must be someone very important. Emili will demand that the PCs follow him into the Fortress, where the guard (loyal to him) will recognize him and have a surgeon brought to him. If the PCs tell him the whole story, he'll put two and two together and tell them he thinks there's a plot to remove the Emperor from office. If one of the killers was interrogated, he'll have the troops near the fortress swear again the oath of fealty to the Emperor, and he'll have Megadux Roger de Flor summoned to get extra hands against the plot. The Almogavers will be tasked with replacing the city guard and arresting the known conspirators. Roger will congratulate the PCs in person for their efforts and order them to guard the Hagia Sofia, where nothing bad is expected to happen. They get there without any incident, but while they're informing the Patriarch of the current events a number of armed men burst into the temple - followed by some of the "loyal" troops that came with the PCs! The leader of the rebels is the Domestikos (commander) of the city wall, and if the PCs win he will flee for the palace. A chase begins through the city, but the GM is expected to let the Domestikos reach the palace with the PCs hounding his steps... only to find him dead at the hands of Michael himself. He will claim he had to kill him in self-defense: a Perception check will reveal he's lying but hey, it's the word of the freaking co-Emperor himself. Once the Emperor returns, the subsequent investigation will reveal the Domestikos was the sole ringleader :v:. As for the PCs, they will receive public thanks from the Emperor, and they will be offered the position of city guards if they so wish.

And, with a bestiary of creatures mundane and magical and a list of generic NPCs, that's the end of Almogavers! :toot:

Traveller fucked around with this message at 05:39 on Nov 16, 2013

Jan 6, 2012


Hey, what the hell.

Bellfahle Magic Academy

Brought to you by MS Paint

So, there's this site called J-Comi that hosts out of print manga and books. It's the brainchild of Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina and Negima if that tells you anything (of course it tells you something, you weeaboo~). Turns out, it also hosts a few TRPG-related downloads, like the original Ryuutama, a supplement for Golden Sky Stories, cyberpunk RPG Metal Head and this thingy right here. I wonder what's it about?

"A TRPG that anyone can play." Presumably it involves an academy, magic, and questionable proportions.

But before we dive into that:



(Quick and dirty scanlations, I know. I'm not one of those fancy groups with credit pages, goddammit! Read right-to-left, as is the custom in Nihonland.)

Next: zany adventures!

Jan 6, 2012


You guys just can't handle the :japan:, for shame.

AccidentalHipster posted:

Looks "promising". Are we gonna follow the zany escapades of Sir Naps-a-lot and Airhead McLoveinterest throughout this TRPG?

Are we ever.

Bellfahle Magic Academy

Doesn't get more anime than this

On with the introduction! In A World brimming with magic, where spell casting mages can do anything (caster supremacy from the get go :argh:) there is an academy where those children that are meant to become mages go to study. This is a TRPG ("tabletalk RPG", Japanese parlance for a pen and paper tabletop RPG) where players play the role of students of Bellfahle Magic Academy, learning magic and having ZANY ADVENTURES. There's an explanation on what TRPGs are, how the book is laid out, and the other things we'll need to play aside from the book: pen, paper, and a number of six-sided dice.

And just like that, we're thrown into a replay! Replays are cleaned up logs of actual RPG sessions. Japan really likes these, to the point that popular replays are sold independently of the games they're based on. This one is called The Disappearance of the Magic Academy, and starts with the GM explaining the setting to their new players. This world, Promacia, is a magic-rich land where magic lights go up at night and people use flying brooms instead of bicycles. Then they go to character creation, by which they mean just picking up pregens.

The gang is:
  • :black101: Ein El Ralzack: Heir hto the noble Ralzack family of the Vashlan Kingdom. His family has slid into ruin, however, and he is studying to become a knight and restore its name. A hotblooded, justice loving young boy - look, he's got main character written all over him. Kind of a goof though. His specialty is the fighting arts.
  • :angel: Remina (Remi) Crochett: daughter of a wealthy merchant family. She is half-foreigner, so she has striking silver hair and green eyes, rare among the locals. As a single daughter, her father raised her in a very sheltered way, so she doesn't quite get how the real world works. Still, she's pretty genial and easy going, and doesn't act like a shy highborn girl or anything. Her specialty is healing magics.
  • :cool: Chris Catlan: she comes from a poor household, and wants to become a first-class mage to help her mom lead a better life. She has a grown up, sarcastic tone to her, but she's a kind girl really. She's always trying to keep Remi out of trouble and her specialty is searching and perception magic.
  • :ninja: Raius Stilton: his grandpa was a master thief notorious through the kingdom and he looked up to him, but his father wanted to keep him on the straight and narrow and had him apprenticed to a mage to keep him out of grandpa's influence. Now an Academy student, he has no real future plans other than enjoying his school life. He's knuckleheads with Ein since old times and though Ein tends to drag him into trouble, he sticks with him because the shenanigans they get up to are fun. His specialty is ???

Left to right: Chris, Remi, Ein and Raius.

And the game begins! It's homeroom time for Class 1-A and the teacher is nowhere in sight, so the kids are goofing in the classroom as they are wont to do. Ein is still head over heels for Remi, Chris and Raius give him a hard time about it because kids. Then the teacher arrives, Professor Clayton, and cheerfully dismisses everyone early - except for our gang. Bummer! Clayton leads them to the teacher's lounge and introduces them to one Mr. Aslem, who tells them the sad story of his bedridden daughter Sera, who can't go to school but always watches the gang walk by every day. He asks them to go pay her a visit: Chris and Raius aren't too convinced but Ein and Remi drag them along. And off they go to Aslem's fancy mansion to visit the poor girl! First Impression rolls are made (remember, this is a RPG replay so we're told all the rolls people are making) and Ein rolls well, so Sera takes a shine to him, while Remi and Raius get more normal rolls. Chris, on the other hand, rolls poorly and her player fluffs it as Chris disdaining the "poor" girl living in a much better place than the one she grew up in. Still, Sera introduces herself and the kids start talking about life at the school, the town and all those things she doesn't get to see. Before long Aslem shows up and asks Sera to excuse herself: she wants to continue chatting, but her face turns all sorts of funky colors and Aslem cuts things then and there. He apologizes to the kids outside the room, and explains that Sera has some form of congenital illness that makes even the least effort potentially deadly. Chris grumbles something about not even getting a souvenir; the GM scolds her but says they still got to have tea and cake. :3:

The following day, the kids are going to school. They walk in front of Sera's house, and Ein performs a knightly salute for her: she waves back. They're a little late, so they pick up the pace... but suddenly their surroundings shimmer, and when they recover their senses they find everyone around them is gone, except for the four of them. Remi grumbles that everyone just warped in rather than being late, but Raius says that no one knows that kind of powerful magic. Maybe everyone's hidden? Nope, says Chris. The four get to the Academy, but there are no signs of anyone inside. The bell is ringing without anyone near it, but that's okay, it's a magic bell :v: Raius says he'll leave a note on the desk and then go search for people in town, while Ein observes from the academy's rooftop. Chris summons a familiar, and we're told PCs in Bellfahle all have one "special item" each, like Chris' magic pigeon familiar. Remi goes to town with Raius. The GM says that Ein sees no one in town from his vantage point, but the town walls seem to be kind of blurry; Chris gets in contact with her familiar Uriel and asks it to fly to the Academy, and using its eyes she sees people in the streets and classes beginning at school, but Uriel can't find her. She figures out that's not the real Academy they're in and worse, they're late for class.


Remi and Raius, meanwhile, actually spot someone in town. Raius wants to stay back and watch first, but Remi ruins the element of surprise. The figure turns around and as it turns out it's actually Sera, somehow out of her room and in her pajamas. She looks pale and about to faint, and when Raius calls out to her she passes out. Remi casts a Diagnose spell on her but fortunately it was just the strain that made her pass out, and the GM tells her Sera will recover once she has some rest. Remi easily lifts her from the ground as she's wearing a magic bracelet that doubles her strength (!) They go back to the school and the four meet and share notes. Raius shares Chris' concerns about being late for class. He figures Sera has something to do with all of this but they really won't know anything until she wakes up. And she does after they shake her up a bit! Raius asks her what she was doing in town, and she says she woke up at night, finding it hard to breathe, and that the mirror in her room started glowing with a red light. She lost consciousness, and when she woke up it was morning and there was no one home, or in town for that matter. The gang remembers there was an antique wall mirror in Sera's room next to her bed. Chris figures that they're all somehow inside the mirror world and Ein suggests finding the mirror. The Gang of Four + Sera go to her room and Chris casts Magic Sense over the mirror. Hint: it's magic! So is the space around them, actually. She follows up with some Magic Analysis and finds out that the magic in the mirror is some form of space control power. She decides she can trust Raius with this important information!


Remi: "What about me?"
Chris: "Can I rely on you?"
Remi: ...*shakes head*
Chris: "For one second, I had hopes. Stupid me."

Ein is ready to break the mirror, but the GM calls for a Perception check! Dice are rolled and everyone but Remi notices that someone was watching them from outside, through the window! Raius and Chris go outside to chase the peeping tom while Remi stays behind and Ein has the bright idea of jumping through the window. Sera's room is in the second floor. His Agility check fails and we are introduced to the concept of Damage! 24 damage for Ein, to be precise. :ohdear: Remi is fortunately there to cast Healing Finger on him and patch him up a bit, and while she's bringing him back inside Raius and Chris chase the mysterious stranger. Agility checks are made, but they can't catch up... and Raius decides to throw a stick at the intruder's legs. It's okay, he's got a Lucky Stone! He gets an autosuccess on one ability check per day and he uses it to great effect. The fleeing man crashes to the ground and the kids catch up. However, Ein calls from behind, and strangely it's the GM that's talking for him. It is strange, since Ein is not an NPC and the real Ein is with Remi now, but since Raius and Chris don't know that the players have to play along for the moment. The GM calls for Perception checks and they make it, so the kids hear the sound of a sword being drawn... "Ein" tries to sword at them, his eyes bloodshot. The kids dodge in time and Raius uses Telekinesis to take his sword away. The GM makes an Evade roll for Fake!Ein, but blows it and he is disarmed. Raius questions him at swordpoint, and Fake!Ein only says he was this close to killing them. The kids decide to go back to Ein and Remi but not before Raius tricks Fake!Ein into taking the sword, only to knock him out at the last moment. He figured that the real Ein would fall for that after all. (Ein's player does the "someone's laughing behind my back" routine.) While they were busy with the fake, however, the mysterious man disappeared...

While Ein is totally pretending it didn't hurt that much, "Raius" returns to the room. He says he came in first and that Chris will join them soon and hey, can't you see her by the window? Perception checks are made and while Remi is busy searching for Chris, Ein feels MURDEROUS INTENT behind him. He turns around and uses his special move:


Helpfully provided by his special item, the Bracelet of the War God :black101: The GM asks for an Agility check to shoot in time and once Ein nails it, he rolls to hit! Also a success and "Raius" is pushed back by the blast.


Ein: Remina, did you see it?
Remi: I still can't see Chris... (still hasn't noticed)
Ein: *bummer*

Fake!Raius is still standing and Ein figures out he's a fake. Time to break out the combat rules! We don't get a full explanation of them yet, however, only that though Ein is the better fighter, the dice are not with him and he misses, while Fake!Raius nicks him a little - and with the damage he already took from the fall, he's dangerously close to getting knocked out. And bam, Fake!Raius whacks him again and he's down for the count :ohdear: When he's about to finish Ein off with his own sword, Remi suddenly remembers she's there and punches the fake through the wall and outside the house :black101: The real Raius and Chris return, hauling along Fake!Ein, and once Remi patches up Ein again they interrogate him. After asking them not to be so wary (he's back to his senses, honest!) he says there is a spirit that was trapped in Sera's mirror, and that it trapped humans inside it to assume their appearances in the real world. Chris checks with her familiar Uriel and yes, there is a pretty girl in the real world version of the house. Fake!Ein explains that it was because of the real Sera that the gang got stuck inside: she has the knack for magic and unconsciously she worked it to have them come to save her. The spirit felt the intruders in its world so it had the reflections try to eliminate them. He mentions the gang could easily go through the mirror and return to their world, but as for Sera, as long as the spirit is out there... The kids resolve to beat the spirit and get Sera back to the real world.

And out there, Fake!Sera is waiting for them! She's not letting them escape now that they know about the mirror world. Ein is perfectly happy with that, he wants to get in a fight. He :black101: at the spirit while Raius backs him up with magic, while Chris and Remi, uh...

:sigh: posted:

Remi: Do your best!
Chris: Ein, I won't forgive you if you get knocked out again!


Their attacks seem to have no effect on the spirit, however. Raius figures out the mirror is the spirit's weak point and tells Remi to destroy it, but the spirit won't let them: the real Sera appears in front of the mirror, and they can't destroy it without harming her. She is wielding a sword and attacks anyone getting close to the mirror, while Ein is once again about to be felled by the spirit's attacks :ohdear: But while our hero is tanking damage like a boss, Raius uses Telekinesis again and disarms Sera, while Remina tackles her and Chris strikes at the mirror barehanded. The mirror doesn't break, though, and Ein is (again!) knocked out. The three remaining kids strike at the mirror until it starts breaking, and the spirit is suddenly scared to crap and begging them to stop. Raius gets the spirit to agree to release Sera, and heal her body to boot. It does and flees the scene! Mr. Aslem finally bursts into the room after hearing all the ruckus, but the gang explains while a brand new Sera hugs her dad :3: The kids get Aslem to vouch for them before their teacher, who was already on the loop through Chris's familiar. The kids won't get an absent mark on their records as long as they write a report on their ZANY ADVENTURE. :toot:


Remi: "today i met a monster inside the mirror. it was bad."
GM: That's something a grade school kid would write!

And that's the end of the replay! Things we've learned: no wonder Ein is an idiot, the guy takes serious brain damage like every other day. There are fates worse than death by mirror demons, like being late for class. And the Academy is an open carry school. How do you like that for grim, Wick? :smug: At least we're done with these kids hahahaha gently caress no

Next: You need to defeat two more Background Demons before you can reach the Rules Continent.

Jan 6, 2012


Bellfahle Magic Academy

Gotta cram for those midterms

The following chapter is divided in two sections, both written "in character" as it were. The first one has Ein and Raius reading through the Academy's guide for new students. They are welcomed by Academy headmaster Appentsera, blah blah blah congrats on passing the hard tests and joining the Academy, blah blah blah first step to being a mage, something something train your body, mind and magic, etc.

The Academy was founded "many hundred years ago" by famed scholar mage Harman, who obtained permission from the ruler of the time to build "an institution of learnings for the propagation of magick throughout the worlde." The Academy grew and gained more and more students until a hundred years ago it was moved to its present location at the royal capital and an even fancier campus was built for it.

Really loving fancy.

In ancient times, only a small fraction of the population could wield magic, as mages kept their knowledge for themselves. As mages behaved like, well, mages (no sense of right or wrong :science:) and carefully hid their lore, magic was on a decline. Harman, the first modern mage, didn't care for this situation too much, which is why he came up with the idea of the Academy. Magic is something anyone can do with practice, so he figured that if the idea spread both baseless fear of magic and the conceitedness of wizards would go away. By giving mages a place where they could exchange knowledge, magic could be revitalized. Anyway, young sports, that's the pedigree of the Academy so take your studies seriously!

The Academy's curriculum covers magic (duh!), particularly its origins and means of work, but also teaches martial arts, liberal arts, sciences and many other subjects. The ideal mage does not just know magic, they are Renaissance People of sound mind and body. There are four years in the Academy, with students progressing from one to the next after a year of study and good grades. Honors students can be fast-tracked to higher years as well. Each year is further divided in classes of 36 students each, with around 5 classes per year. Each class has one assigned head teacher from their first year onwards. Lessons are from Monday to Friday, with each lesson lasting one hour. There are 30-minute recess periods between lessons and three lessons per day.

  • Basic Magic: taught by Professor Clayton. Theory and practice of magic, mental exercising.
  • Physics: taught by Professor Harts. The other force that rules the world aside from magic :science: Mostly theoretical, also the prof seems to be a stickler.
  • Magic Studies: taught by Professor Antram. Magic theory, not much else to say about this.
  • Biology: taught by Professor Matock. The mysteries of life! This involves experimentation, so I guess there are magic frogs that bitch when you dissect them wrong or something.
  • Social Studies: taught by Professor Civre. History and geography. No magic!
  • Art: taught by Professor Sevel. Let your ~*artistic sense*~ bloom through painting, sculpture, and magic.
  • Music: taught by Professor Bomon. Singing, instrument playing and more magic! The prof is a terrible stickler and if you don't like it you can scram.
  • Etiquette: taught by Professor Cure. Polite speech, motherfucker! Always needed, particularly in this rude age.
  • Home Economics: taught by Professor Pelje. From cooking to sewing, all the things you need to know to run a house. And magic to help with that.
  • Health: taught by Professor Elishel, who also doubles as the school nurse. Teaches medicine and healing magic. Also the prof will kick you out of the nurse room if you come for a papercut or some other minor poo poo :argh:
  • Divination: taught by Professor Tyurerie. Deals with perception and magic for finding things. Crystal balls and all that jazz.
  • Martial Arts: taught by Professor Banon. No word on whether he's a Race. Teaches magic for self defense and war. "The basis of martial arts is the heart: a heart that won't lose." :black101:
  • Physical Education: taught by Professor Bles. Mages tend to be scrawny nerdy jerks so they can use some exercise. Nerds. Also covers ball games.
  • Riding: taught by Professor Vashlan. Horses are man's best friend.

Sweet terrain tables!

There are also special lessons off the classroom, particularly those dealing with magic that doesn't work indoors (like weather control) or those that need access to nature like art sketching or animal observation. The Academy also hold an "outdoors school" week in August. Speaking of months, the school year begins in April and is divided in three three-month periods, September-December (after the August summer break) and January-March. There are exams halfway through the trimesters and at the end of each. The exams are both written and live, with the students demonstrating proficiency in magic before a teacher.

As for the Academy itself! It is built over a bunch of hazel trees, 30 meters above the ground. The trees are enchanted so that magic that simplifies magic working is sealed, so no magic cheating for Academy students. There's a magic teleport circle that works as the entrance and exit. There's a garden, a bell tower, a teacher's lounge (entrance forbidden for students!), rooms for the different classes including a "Strategic Research Room" for Martial Arts classes because the kids need to get their Warhams on, a flying astronomical observatory, a school store with everything from stationery to magic implements, a library with an underground section that holds books that can only be perused with the headmaster's permission, sports grounds and separate dorms for boys and girls (with running water and air conditioning!). Also there's an old wing of the school that's very deteriorated so like, don't go near there you drat kids.

Ladders are for muggles.

Students should not abuse or misuse magic. They must wear the school's official uniform and crest while in Academy grounds, and formal dress uniform for special occasions like the beginning and end of the school year and graduation. They get Saturdays and Sundays off, as well as holidays and April 10 because that's the school's anniversary. Classes begin on April 7! The guide also comes with the class schedule for our guys. No, seriously.

Mondays: Riding or Home Ec, Basic Magic, Martial Arts. (Gender segregation? gently caress this!)
Tuesdays: Medicine, Social Studies, Craft.
Wednesdays: Divination, Etiquette, Magic Studies.
Thursdays: Physics, Phys Ed, Art.
Fridays: Biology, Music, Free Study.

That bit at the end says "Free Study" has no assigned subject and thus players can use it however they see fit. Also, there's no "Craft" class on the guide (or anywhere else in the book anyway) so I dunno.

Things we've learned today: this is total escapist fantasy, only three periods and no classes on Saturday? Come on!

Next: let's ruin a date.

Jan 6, 2012


Bellfahle Magic Academy

Grand Theft Broom: Marslan City

Classes are over for the day and a stammering Ein offers to show Remi around town since she's just moved in and all. Remi is happy to go with him... and Chris and Raius too, since they decided to tag along. Raius worries about leaving Ein alone :haw: Since Remi doesn't know a thing about, well, anything (she confuses the Royal Castle for "that huge house over there") and we need an excuse for exposition, it's time for some world background!

Hey, I didn't make the city.

We are in the continent of Fermia, right in the middle of the world of Promacia. (Raius is drawing up a map as he explains, it's kind of adorable really) The Vashlan Kingdom and the city of Marslan is where the Academy is located. The Queen, Her Majesty Yumi La Vashlan III is the ruler of the kingdom, and she lives in that "huge house", Castle Arwin. They say a famous architect built it! The gang makes their way through Sage's Road, a wide avenue that leads to the Academy and is named like that because of all the schools, research halls and related businesses located there. There's a number of schools for subjects like arithmetic and calligraphy, as well as other smaller magic schools. Aside from the Academy itself, the largest school in Sage's Road is Balkas School, a place of learning for ancient history whose library stocks some very rare books. Balkas himself is the city's foremost book collector, and for a fee he can grant access to his personal collection of precious ancient manuscripts.

Castle Arwin and Sage's Road.

The gang takes a turn from Sage's Road to Spell Road, which is packed with fortune teller's stalls and other magic shops. There's also a strong smell in the air, but the kids are used to smelling it in the school: it's :catdrugs:--- I mean, medicinal herbs. Ein finds it all kinds of freaky but them's the breaks when you're a mage. About half of the stores sell supplies to mages from herbs and books to flying brooms, while the other half offers spellcasting and fortune telling services. You can buy bottled magic from these stores: actually, you can buy them from pretty much any general store, but these are more powerful. The fortune tellers are kind of hit or miss, but while there are not 100% safe predictions, they can get close enough to it. There's Muroll, who while young has the best or second best hit ratio in town, but she doesn't tolerate stupid questions; or Guliyu, who charges 10,000 silver per session but his reputation is such that consultations have to be booked days in advance.

At the end of the street there is a large tower belonging to the Association of Mages and Chris is in DESPAIR because Remi, as our surrogate, has no idea what that is. The Association deals with mage affairs and hands out official mage licenses to those who pass their examinations. This is so that high grade magic isn't used lightly, but by people of proper strength and disposition. They're also involved in magic research and support mages by selling them magic implements at low prices. The Academy also falls under the Association's purview, as they have an interest in the proper spread of magic throughout the world.

The kids then take a familiar turn and end in Student's Road, which has its name because it's always full of said students. There's stationery stores here, as well as restaurants, like the Goatling's Inn which is cheap but serves some really odd dishes with things that aren't really food on them, because his owner is a mage and does some haute cuisine poo poo with :science:. And the odd lady at the general store gives candy when you buy something from her! :3: Next to Student's Road is Boarding District, named for all the boarding houses there. Many students from the Academy and the Sage's Road schools live here, like about half of Ein and company's class. Finally, they reach the city square, complete with an open market. Chris teaches Remi the finer details of haggling for stuff! The guy they were buying from explains that the market is said to have everything - if nothing else, it's probably the best in the world. Near the plaza there is the Reol Theater, a very high class and formal establishment, and the Arda Church, where those who believe in God (not many!) go to worship. It's really pretty anyway. During holidays, performers come out and put up shows for everyone to watch.

Student's Road and the city square.

A bell rings three times from a clock tower, which gives its name to Clock Road. It was built by the Association and, of course, is powered by magic. Now it's Remi that drags the group there, as it is where the Crochett Company has its offices. The manager explains that many other traders have offices in this street, and that millions of silver pieces are traded here every day. There's a government office here to regulate trade, which is why the businesses have gathered around the location. The kids are rude and leave before the old guy finishes his report on quarterly profits, though. :(

The gang spots the Residential District, which is where they live! But that's boring so instead they show Remi around the Artisan District, where craftsmen of all types live. From shoemakers to tailors to bakers, it's all there. They gather because it's more convenient for their guilds to keep them together. The guilds do for regular folk what the Association does for mages: support, licensing and research. The Guild Halls at the center of this area are built in all sorts of styles and getting around and through them is a bit hard since they're built all over the place.

At the Shopping District they stop at a jewelry store, where Chris admires a brooch and acts all girly kawaii for a change. The owner does the designs herself and they're quite popular with the young ladies. Close to that is the Inn District, packed with inns and hotels as Marslan gets a lot of visitors with all the trade going on. There's regular inns, inns for caravans, inns for your monkeys, inns for everything. Beyond that there's the :pervert: Pleasure District, where most places are closed as it's still daylight. By night, it's a lively place with bars, gambling houses and brothels. Remi doesn't need to know what a brothel is, thank you very much! Ein's face is going beet red for no reason! The largest gambling house, August Hare, has magic-assisted gambling going on, while Angel's Cheek is a high class cabaret popular with nobility and wealthy people.

Remi is about to take a turn and the gang stops her: she was about to go into the slums, the wrong side of the magic tracks. Guards don't go there. It used to be part of the Development Zone but one day it became a den of outlaws and criminals, dangerous even in broad daylight. The Development Zone itself is where poor people live, but they are of a better kind than the slums' denizens and try to help each other to survive. Chris believes them to be a better sort than the self-righteous jerks living at the Old District, and Ein takes over the explanation even though his family no longer lives there. The Old District used to be the entirety of the city, but then it grew around it. It's where the nobility has their residences: regular people don't go in here. Guards are posted at its entrances and you don't get in without a permit. These guards are knights of the White Knight Order, a specially formed guard unit. They spend their time training and patrolling, but when it comes down to blows they fight as knights. All boys want to be White Knights when they grow up!

Pleasure District and Harbor District.

The gang splits and everyone goes home. Remi tells her dad about her trip around town, and he mentions there's one place they didn't go to: the docks. Properly known as the Harbor District, the docks are where the shipowners' offices and the warehouse where they store goods to be carried by their ships are located. It's where her dad works! He says he'll take her next time: there's people from all countries there. Maybe they will meet someone from her mother's country... and dad just made himself a little sad. :smith:

Next: Finally some goddamn rules--- IS THAT A FLOWCHART


Jan 6, 2012


Bellfahle Magic Academy

In which fictional characters realize the falsehoods upon which their existences are built


On to character creation! But first, some fourth wall breaking.


Ein, do you know how you and your friends were born?
"Uh, when mom and dad love each other very much---"
No, no!

Then Chris joins in on the wall breaking and mentions that they exist because they were chosen from between their classmates. Bellfahle's primary method of character generation is actually character selection, as the idea is that players pick one of the book's pregenerated characters. Like Ein or his friends, or actually any of the 36 members of Class 1-A: they're all pregenerated already so that you can pick one up and start playing right away. Since it may be hard for players to choose a character, they can also roll for one with 2d6, or follow handy flowcharts! These are actually at the end of the book, but we'll take a look at them now.

The pregens are broadly divided into eight types:

  • Independent: can do pretty much anything, but no particular strengths. Raius and Chris are this type.
  • Knight: strong and tough, magic not so good though. Girls can be just as tough as the boys. Ein is a Knight.
  • Magic: pretty good at the :science: not so much at the :black101:
  • Unsung Hero: not much in the way of flashy magic, but can hold on their own against the other types.
  • Own Pace: chillax bro/sis. Like the Independent type, but more relaxed. Remi is this type.
  • Quester: girls only, lives by her wits but doesn't have much in the way of flashy magic or physical strengths.
  • Sporty: boys only, very good at physical activities, could really use magic support.

There's one for the boys, one for the girls.

These types are just general categories in which the pregens fall into, they're not classes or anything. They come with everything, even with a small background, with relationships with other characters the only thing up to players to figure out (so if you pick Ein you don't have to be hopelessly smitten with Remi, for instance.)

Stats are rated from 1 to 5, with 1 being very bad and 5 being very good. The stats are Perception, Appearance, Dexterity, Agility, Intelligence and Strength. The kids comment during all of this: Ein boasts of his Agility of 4, while Chris counters that he fell off a second floor and got himself knocked out twice during their adventure :haw: There is also Spirit, which measures the character's ability to endure emotional shock. It is reduced when facing scary things or taking ~*wounds to the heart*~, as well as powering magic. Going down to 0 Spirit means getting knocked out. Endurance is the physical equivalent, i.e. hit points. Spirit is restored by one point per hour of rest, while Endurance recovers at a rate of one point per day of rest but can be restored by medical care or magic as well. Charm is a measure of how likeable the character is at first glance (Ein wonders how Chris has a better Charm score than him :v:)

Characters also have Interests, Relationships with other characters, Special Skills, Personality Traits, Spells (of course!) Belongings which also include the character's monthly allowance, and their Special Item. They also have a Battle Level which shows how experienced they're at fighting and a Magic Level that shows how used they are to magic. Battle Level starts at 0 and Magic Level starts at 1.

But, but, but! Where's the character generation rules? Right here, after everything is explained. First, you must pick an Interest and Personality Traits. There are lists for both, in Easy to Roleplay and Hard to Roleplay favors. Beginner players should pick from the Easy to Roleplay lists; players can also roll these at random if they want. The Personality Traits come with a score that modifies the initial Charm rating: the fun thing about these is that they apply differently if the character is a boy or a girl, so for instance a Chatty (negative) boy is more annoying that a Chatty girl. One trait in particular, Lonely, is negative for boys and positive for girls; in other words, Bellfahle mechanically supports sad lonely little girls being adorable. After these are chosen, you get 18 points to assign to stats. Spirit is equal to (Intelligence x 4 + 4), Endurance is (Strength x 5 + 5) and Charm is 7 + Appearance + trait modifiers. You can pick a number of spells equal to your Intelligence, one Special Item from the item list, one Special Skill, and the character's belongings and monthly allowance which can be anything the character would probably have - within reason. Ein is ready to have ALL THE GOLDS but the book says you should probably check in with the GM first. There's a worksheet at the back of the book for character generation but you should probably just pick a pregen if you're not used to TRPGs or anything.

Bellfahle really doesn't mind if you play a gender other than your own.

Rules! The basic roll is the Action Check, which is based off the stats. Perception checks are made to search or notice things, Appearance checks are for being prettier than someone else or trying to seduce (dammit game you're in highschool don't do this :gonk:), Dexterity checks are for using or manipulating objects or sleight of hand tricks, Agility checks are those Ein fails when he tries jumping from second floors, Intelligence checks are used to know things or negotiating with people and making tests of willpower (pretty much anything where the character's head comes into play that doesn't involve reasoning or deduction - that's the player's job), and Strength checks are for anything that needs physical power or resistance. The check is first done with a roll of 2d6 + the relevant stat: the example has Remi rolling her own Intelligence check to remember a piece of triva, which the book admits it's basically screwing with the fourth wall on an Inception level but it's a special occasion :toot: But we're missing the other half of the check, and that is its difficulty. The roll needs to meet or beat that difficulty to succeed. An easy peasy check has a difficulty of 6, average is 8, and something practically impossible has a difficulty of 14. And now that Remi has the entire concept of checks explained to her, pop! she remembers the trivia. The higher the roll goes over the difficulty, the better the success is.

The Special Skill is one unique thing that separates the character from others. So for instance, Remi is good at healing: she says the teachers praise her for it :3:, and on her character sheet her special skill is Medical Treatment, which gives +3 to Dexterity checks to provide medical aid. Special skills provide bonuses from +1 to +3 for various rolls or stats: your character could be a Prankster and get +2 to Dexterity rolls related to setting up pranks or traps, a Fashionista whose great dressing sense gives them a +1 to Charm, or a Brawler with +3 to attack rolls in an unarmed fight. Sometimes things go perfectly right and other times they blow rear end: these are Criticals and Fumbles, which happen when you beat a check's difficulty and also roll sixes on both dice or roll ones on both dice (even if you would have succeeded) respectively. In another of those notes that show how the game is meant for people that have literally no idea at all of how RPGs work, we're told that it's not only the players that call for rolls, but the GM can do so as well (like Perception checks when someone is stalking you, for instance.) Contested rolls are made simply by rolling for each party and checking who got the highest result: Ein and Raius do the stereotypical RPG example arm wrestling and Ein wins. Ties are resolved depending on the nature of the contest: in a race the opponents would cross the line at the same time, but when arm wrestling they would just keep pushing and would have to roll again, and if ties are not a possibility (hide and seek, frex) the active party wins the tie. If one side fumbles, they lose instantly; if they both fumble, the one that got the lowest result loses; and criticals only count if you both roll two sixes and get a higher result than your opponent. Sometimes checks have no difficulty at all, normally when they're about just seeing how well you did at something: a roll of 6 or worse is terribad, 10 is average, and 14 is a master piece. Criticals cannot happen in these rolls, but fumbles can :v:

Godfuckingdammit, Ein.

The tone of this section is educational as hell: after every new rule or type of check, there is a small summary detailing everything that happens at the table from the moment someone declares using that section. It's a little repetitive if you're familiar with RPGs but again, the book assumes you're not.

Next: meet and greet people, then punch them through walls

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