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secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

I am the table of contents for this endless thread. Please click me anytime you ever want to ask "has someone wrote about (thing)?" so my time spent maintaining is not in vain.

Once upon a time, it came up (I think in grognards.txt 1.0?) that years back, a group I ran things for bought me a copy of FATAL. People wanted me to write poo poo about it. I was bad at writing poo poo about it BUT we discovered a) I had a very early copy of it, and b) someone else had earlier/later copies of it, and gave those to me. And someday, I'll actually write something about those but I'm really unfunny and it's about 4000 pages between all of them. Can you imagine a less fun thing to do than read 4000 pages of FATAL? I can, but there are very few of them.

In the meantime, though, a lot of you wrote way too much about systems that weren't FATAL, and then you did it again. They ranged from mocking terrible things to introducing folks to out of print or obscure games that had busted mechanics but cool story, or vice versa. Sometimes it was just skewering low-hanging fruit that was asking for it, other times it was stuff literally nobody had heard of. A couple of people tried translating things from other countries but those usually fell off really fast. Someone else came up with a 100+ year old German wargame and that was loving awesome.

Just because the title throws people off: Something doesn't have to suck to be mentioned here. Pretty much anything is fair game if you put in the legwork! It also doesn't have to be an RPG itself. We had people write about weird tie-in novels, a TV show based on White Wolf products, or just the metaplot for some system that they thought was hilarious and needed poking fun at.

Maybe this year I hate myself enough to write about al-Qadim or something finish a single writeup I ever begin.

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secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

Reserving a spare post in case I need one.

There was nearly a poll here asking if I would be granted freedom when I died, or if this was my purgatory being served in life for past crimes. I couldn't make it work.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.






Chapter 5: All the drat Vampires

This chapter has been a long time in coming, and not just because of the holidays. You see, while the ghul chapter is 19 pages and the revenant chapter is 15 pages, the chapter on vampire PCs is a sprawling, side-bar laden 45 pages, and it gets more than its fair share of character options, pointless jargon, and the art budget.


Do you believe Todd wore a string tie to the semiformal?

The intro page is the same appeal to stupidity to which we’ve grown accustomed. Do you believe in vampires? The Catholic Church blamed them for the Black Death, dontchaknow. There are medical conditions like porphyria that are kind of like vampirism. Lots of people like reading stories about vampires. “Have you not hoped that Lestat is real?” Yes, that is really a sentence in this book.

The most important thing to know about vampires--more meaningful than their lineages, political factions, cool powers, or the one hundred and four bits of vampire jargon littering this chapter--is that they’re the elves of the Everlasting setting. By which I mean they are immortal, beautiful, sensitive, sensual, cultured, and better than you at everything, but they’ve got angst because...well, a norm like you could never understand. Vampires call themselves “dark angels.” It doesn’t say why, but probably because that sounded impressive in ancient Sumeria, and again in 1992. When a mortal becomes a vampire, they shed most of their internal organs and body fat, becoming very lean, very pale, and androgynously pretty. Their senses are supernaturally sharp and precise, and they can shout like a megaphone or speak so softly only other immortals can hear them. They’re supernaturally strong, tough, and dextrous, immune to disease, heal rapidly, and don’t need to breathe. They have excellent, infrared night vision, and their eyes turn cool inhuman colours when they’re excited. It even says that they all have great hair and nails.

All this for the low low price of sleeping at least 4 hours a day, staying out of the sunlight, and drinking human blood.


A willing victim, or a cleverly disguised tree?

Blood? Let’s talk about that. Vampires need blood from living humans. They can feed on animals, but that’s like a heroin-addicted food critic getting by on a diet of methadone and plain oatmeal. So vampires develop tastes for feeding in particular ways, from particular arteries, or from people of a certain sex, age, race, etc. Some prefer virgins.

Vampires lose 3 animus per day, and get 1 animus point for each pint of blood they drain. They don’t need to kill their victims (a dab of their own blood will rapidly heal the wound they create) but most do. Victims who are exsanguinated to death simply die, while those who lose most of their animus but survive become drones. Drones become nocturnal, infatuated with the vampire, and uninterested in their own lives. They recover in a week, unless the vampire feeds regularly. Some vampires learn how to communicate and control their drones telepathically, using them as pawns.


Don't be afraid to show a little femoral.

Vampires have a Blood Potency system, and while it may seem like a ripoff of Vampire: the Masquerade, it’s actually a rip-off of the way things work in Anne Rice’s vampire books. Blood Potency increases with age, or by drinking enough blood from a more potent vampire. Blood Potency decreases when a less potent vampire drinks your blood, or when you create a new scion. Drinking from a stronger vampire is addictive. This creates a dynamic which is absent from Vampire. You can create and enslave weaker vampires to serve you, but this will eventually strengthen them and weaken you until they have as much Potency as you

While you don’t have to sleep more than four hours a day, vampires feel weak and tired for as long as the sun is in the sky, so most of them sleep through the day. (If you spend a few days underground, like say you’re hanging out with your ghulbros, this problem goes away.)

Having a stake lodged in your heart will put you in a coma until it’s removed. It doesn’t have to be a wooden stake, either; a knife or an arrow will do. Decapitation does much the same: your head and body will shrivel, but put ‘em together and they’ll seal right up. Now, being eaten alive by such as a ghul? That’s a true death. Torn to ribbons? That’s a true death. Vat of acid? That’s a true death. Fire and sunlight? First you smolder, then you burst into flames, then you get the women die a true death.

A vampire’s not-Quickening causes every living thing in a quarter-mile to feel a deep sense of peace as the vampire’s soul goes to the afterlife. This seems pretty weird if the vampire is dead because you were chopping him up with an axe and screaming “Die motherfucker die!”


For a relaxing time, always make it Suntory time.

Vampires’ particular Torment is Damnation. It’s impossible to be a vampire without doing evil, but at the same time, you can’t just discard all the beliefs and values from your mortal life without losing your mind. We’re told that most uphold a weird code of honor where they practice “honor among thieves” with other vampires and won’t commit outright betrayal.

Damnation starts at 3, and if it reaches 13, say good-bye to your character sheet. Damnation plays into the Aspect system, too; as it increases, you must add points to some appropriate trait such as Hedonistic or Killer Instinct.

Many people have criticized Vampire: the Masquerade’s Humanity system for being simplistic, but the rules for Damnation are much more vague. A vampire gains a point when they “give in to inhuman depravity beyond their current experience” but can make a Spirit roll to resist their urges. When Damnation reaches 13, the vampire has lost all hope, or they will “go underground for a very long time...to find a way to destroy herself.” Since any vampire can commit suicide by watching the sun rise, I suppose that means the vampire wants to commit suicide, but doesn’t have the nerve. In any case, it’s clearly inspired by the part of the Vampire Chronicles where Lestat, overcome with guilt, retires to a decaying mansion and allows himself to wither away.

Vampires are supposed to be creatures of “inner conflict, tragedy, beauty, damnation, loneliness, self-denial, self-delusion, violence, cruelty, boredom, guilt, and estrangement...intense passion and contrast: loving yet destructive, monstrous yet beautiful.” Yes, seriously. But Damnation is merely an awkward attachment to the Aspects rules, and it serves as a stick for the Guide to beat you with for not roleplaying the way they think you should.



Each vampire bloodline has its own cultural heritage, but the ecumenical vampire culture is sketchy at best. It’s similar to that of the revenants, and the vampires participate in the same “courts of night.” (In fact, vampire fashion is exactly like revenant fashion: we’re paradoxically told that they dress in trendy clothing to fit in with mortals, but oh yeah, most of them wear all black and their taste in accessories leans toward blood-red rubies, silver, occult symbols, and swordcanes.) The book tells us outright that vampire culture is like a social club for privileged, smart, beautiful serial killers, and that their society is all about power-plays. Besides their country club drama, most of them maintain more-or-less normal lives and careers, despite the fact that they can’t conduct ordinary business during ordinary business hours. There is a strong assumption, sometimes explicit and sometimes unspoken, that all vampires are rich, urban, and attractive.

So why do vampires act like characters from American Psycho with high school drama? To “relieve the tedium of immortality,” which is another way of saying “for no particular reason.” This is another example of the authors assuming and hoping you’ll roleplay your characters a certain way, but without giving you much reason to do so, either in the rules or in the setting. You should play your vampire PC as a catty, amoral, neurotic brat because that’s the way they act in the books and movies the writers have been watching.

Necromancy and consanguinity, unliving in perfect harmony

And now we get to the real reason this chapter is longer than three others put together: The consanguinities. Ghuls come in four varieties, revenants have two varieties and three factions, but vampires have not only three subtypes but 12 major bloodlines, each of which gets at least a full page. It’s ironic how poorly this space is used. Many of the consanguinity writeups elaborate too much on the history of their founder--in 1993, I could look up Vlad Tepes in my school library. Every writeup says that, although the consanguinity may have its roots in one country, it has members of all races and nationalities. They all list at least half-a-dozen occupations as common for that consanguinity, which almost always includes either “wealthy dilettante” or “cult leader” or both. It’s as if the author was scared that you’d be afraid to make an atypical character if he didn’t give you his express permission. The White Wolf writers never had to worry about that!

Genitors, also called the self-cursed, are vampires who were not created by another vampire, but were damned by some higher power by committing atrocities. It’s extremely rare, but possible, for people to become self-cursed in modern times--butchering hundreds of people just to watch them die is given as an example of something that might be evil enough. Genitors get their name from the fact that if they create more vampires, they have founded a new consanguinity. The genitors of the existing lines are a matter of legend. But if one dies, their weakest descendents will either become mortal or die themselves, depending on their Blood Potency. (Exactly how humans can become damned to vampirism, and what power does the damning, is a mystery. Vampire legend points to some sort of “Dark Prometheus” who stole a twisted version of immortality from the gods.)

Scions are your standard vampire, created by another vampire draining them dry and then feeding them vampire blood. Being transformed into a vampire this way causes drastic personality changes--in rules terms, you add up all your Persona trait points and reshuffle them, possibly gaining and losing some traits in the process.

Dhampirs are mortals who became vampires by drinking vampire blood. The weakest need a steady supply, but once their potency increases their vampirism sustains itself. Dhampir need to eat, sleep, and breathe in addition to drinking mortal blood, but they look human, and sunlight is only a mild irritant.

And now the consanguinities. Yes, they’re called “consanguinities.” It’s clunky, but remember that the building blocks of Everlasting are Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Shlock Horror, and Bad Latin.


Brain Waster? This whole game is a brain waster.

The Bathora are descended from Elizabeth Bathory, who became self-cursed by torturing, starving, and killing more pretty young girls than Paris Fashion Week. They’re friendly with the revenants, hedonistic, and their claim to fame is being the sole possessors of Blood Magick, which allows vampires to do things like temporarily appear human or withstand sunlight. Some of them are cult leaders or wealthy dilettantes. On the other hand, they have two particular weaknesses: holy water and holy symbols burn them with aggravated insidious debilitating damage, and they don’t have fangs, so they carry picks and razors for feeding.


Step out of my parlour, paleface.

Cihuatateo is one of the most interesting bloodlines. They’re descended from Ai Apaec, the “decapitator god” of the ancient Peruvian Moche people, a very real and thoroughly brutal culture whose religion emphasized human sacrifice, torture, and sexual slavery. The Cihuatateo are up to their necks in the drug trade and other black-market activities, but they’re also known for their vast libraries of books in anthropology, the occult, and magick. Some of them are cult leaders. They have red points in their pupils, and the oldest Cihuatateo start growing multiple red-black eyes up their foreheads, like a giant spider. In game terms, Cihuatateo get free points in a Magickal path, and they are vulnerable to blessed mirrors and the blessed blood of a virgin child, which is probably less worrying than what their mafia rivals are packing.


Be a dear and pass the thalidomide.

The Dakini are descended from the goddess Kali, and were the founders of the Thuggee cult. They are “cult leaders, assassins, artists, terrorist leaders, religious scholars, doctors, healers, fortunetellers, architects, inventors, necromancers, and dark scientists.” See, this is the kind of all-over-the-place crap I was talking about. Anyway, all of them still have a creepy assassin vibe, and they like to live in lairs with bones and antique weapons and depictions of Kali everywhere. Dakini kill people without compassion, but they swear an oath to serve humanity as a whole. Many of them are involved in the war against the demons. (Yeah, remember that big metaplot discussed in the introduction, which provides an easy reason for PCs to work together, but which this book has totally ignored throughout? Yeah, that.) Their weakness is that they have to keep a piece of human bone on them at all times; many embed it in their body. They get free points in Intimidate and Melee. “Melee” is not a skill in this game.


Ha! Ha! I’m wearing my mom’s pantyhose!

The Dracul are descended from you-know-who, and I don’t have to tell you his backstory. After becoming a vampire, Dracula instigated a centuries-long period of war among vampires called the Age of Lamentations when he declared war on several other bloodlines so that he and his scions could gain mad XP from drinking all their blood. (The novel Dracula was actually a coded message announcing to the world that Dracula had finally been hunted down and killed.) As a result, the Dracul are widely despised not only because of the wars but because because relatively young vampires with high Potency makes them noveau riche among bloodsuckers. Anyway, the Dracul writeup is particularly obnoxious about stating that the Dracul are very diverse; some live in covens while some are loners, many are all about manipulating mortals while some don’t care, and so on. Some of them are cult leaders. In game terms, being a Dracul isn’t so great: They get Strength +1, but have several weaknesses in the form of shadows that move about independently, appearing translucent in mirrors, vulnerability to holy water and symbols, and needing to sleep with Carpathian earth in their coffins.


Vampire duckface.

Kingu are weird. Their legendary origin comes from a vampire who was worshipped as Tammuz in ancient Mesopotamia, but their schtick is devoted to the narrow subsubgenre of “horror movies based on circus freaks.” Kingu keep to their own kind, in traveling carnivals and spooky museum-of-horrors lairs. Some of them are cult leaders. The Kingu even control their own alternate dimension called Hubur, which is full of strange freakish creatures. (This raises the same “Why don’t they just move there?” question as with the ghuls and the Underworld.) Kingu get weirder and more twisted as they age. Rules-wise, Tod Browning’s Kingu get a +1 to Supernature, and must have a physical deformity or mental illness. They’re vulnerable to garlic.


No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Gothic
Movement: Wicca
Attacks: The Patriarchy


The Lamia are descended from the Greek mythological queen, who was transformed into a child-eating monster. The Lamia are almost entirely female, and cluster together in wealthy, aristocratic covens. Some of them are cult leaders and most are wealthy dilettantes. All Lamia spend a few nights every few months and a couple of months out of the year transformed into giant white worms, winding their way through tunnels underneath their coven houses. Their genitor is still around, and spends most of her time in worm form. They get a bonus to Dexterity, and the ability to transform into worms for their Arrakis National Guard duty is both compulsory and free. They’re vulnerable to saint’s blood, holy relics, and wild rose petals.


Isn’t Dave Navarro devilish enough already?

Lilim are descended from the mythological Lilith, and are believed to be part demon. They’re known for fighting both for and against demons. Lilim is possibly the oldest consanguinity, and they have a reputation for being knowledgeable about spirits and vampire lore, and their lairs are full of priceless ancient artifacts. Many of them have one or two demonic physical oddities, like horns or a tail. They get a bonus to Arcana and Illumination, and their only particular weakness is to certain Kabalistic magic.


Ugliest locket in the thrift store.

The Nosferatu are descended from Czernobog, the “black god” of Slavic myth, which is the rationalization for them all looking like Count Orlok. Nosferatu experiment with disease, and their gnarled, ratlike, rigored appearance is believed to be the result of an experiment gone wrong. Besides this, their schtick seems to be a complete and total ripoff of the Nosferatu in Vampire--they keep company with rats, live in tunnel networks, and control mortal information networks from a distance. Some of them are cult leaders. All Nosferatu have the advantage of looking like, well, Nosferatu. They get a bonus to Resilience, complete immunity to disease, and the ability to temporarily make their face appear normal.


Blood’n’Pepa.

Obayifo are African vampires with a reputation as voodoo masters, shapeshifters, and cult leaders. They’re descended from a zombie master who led a bloody reign of terror across much of Africa many centuries ago. They usually congregate in religiously-oriented covens, and keep zombie servants. Ironically, though they spent centuries ruthlessly lording over Africa, many of them believe in protecting Africa from foreign exploitation. They get a free, unique Obayifo magickal path, and their only particular weakness is to certain African traditional magics.


Cyberpunk was a terrible album. Get over it.

The Penanggalans are the scions of a Malaysian sorceress who sought redemption, but was killed and cursed to never find peace before she could do so. Only mortals with strong psychic potential can become penanggalans, and many of them are scholars, psychic detectives, or wealthy dilettantes. They aren’t numerous, but they’re spread all over the world. They can learn the unique ability to detach their limbs and control them telekinetically. They get a bonus to Spirit and Empower. Penanggalans are vulnerable to jeruju leaves, thorns coated in human blood, and particular Malaysian magics.


Her eyebrows weren’t fit to survive.

The Tantalusi are a line of cold, hard bastards who follow a weird code of ethics wherein they cull the human population to promote “survival of the fittest.” They act as a peacekeeping faction among vampires and have been the architects of many political achievements in human and vampire society, stretching back to ancient Rome. Their founder was the mortal son of a daeva who wanted immortality for himself, and achieved it by practicing depraved acts of cannibalism until he became a vampire. He’s supposed to be still locked in a hellish alternate dimension where the daevas imprisoned him as punishment. They have a history of being judges, lawyers, architects, historians, economists, bankers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, philosophers, and teachers, but not wealthy dilettantes or cult leaders. Tantalusi are even more pale than most vampires, and some have stark white hair and brass-coloured eyes. Animals find them unnerving, and Tantalusi can be incapacitated by placing a knotted rope on their sleeping body; they’re compelled to untie all the knots, giving you plenty of time to kill them. They get a bonus to Influence.


I know karate. And the lyrics to every Karate song.

The Xiang Shi are mostly Asian and primarily Chinese. They have a reputation for being great investors, crime bosses, poets, and martial artists, because duh, they’re Asian. Their origin story is funny. There was an ancient Chinese warrior-king who sought the secret of immortality and conquered everything in his path. A rival petty king taught him about vampirism, in order to save his own country from being conquered. The warrior-king refused to be bound to another vampire, so he set out deliberately committing atrocities in order to become a genitor. He died a mortal, and surprise surprise, the petty king became a genitor because he was the architect behind all the conqueror’s atrocities. Anyhow, the Xiang Shi are masters of martial arts and have invented their own. They’re too busy practicing kung fu to have time to be wealthy dilettantes or cult leaders. Some of them are hackers, because Asians are good with computers. Most are Buddhists who believe in self-perfection through poetry and martial arts. They can be warded off by rice and iron filings, and they get a bonus to Martial Arts.

After the consanguinities we get a little more on vampire culture. Vampires get grouped based on their age, from “newborns” who haven’t lived longer than a mortal lifespan to “ancients” who are literally so, and are rarely seen subjects of legend. Right now, vampires as a whole are embroiled in skirmishes which might be the prelude to another war. Inter-bloodline covens called “murder circles” are actively hunting down enemy vampires to drain their blood or set fire to their lairs. Many vampires gather in covens; some are hierarchical families within one consanguinity, some are the “family” of a parent vampire and their scions, while others are inter-bloodline covens who gather because they have something in common.

Vampire lairs can range from derelict buildings to palatial estates, but what most of them have in common is that they are spacious, modified to block out sunlight, and contain traps and secret escape routes. Even so, many vampires have minions to protect them during the day. Sometimes they make humans or animals into dhampir servants, but they also rely on well-paid mortal thugs.


If this was supposed to be Marilyn Manson, it aged better than he did.

As far as their relations with other eldritch are concerned, I can sum it up by saying that they really don’t care for any of them. They’re indifferent to angels and daevas, consider the Tolkien races beneath their notice, and regard questers and spirits as something to be avoided.

Kewl Vampyre Powarz

Vampires get more than their fair share when it comes to the innate powers, too.


Fortunately, none of them make you look like this.

Aura of Dread: Induce terror with eye contact.
Avatar of the Kali Ma: Dakini only; you transform into a giant, black, six-armed monster.
Black Reverence: Forces nearby mortals to regard you with, y’know, reverence.
Black Widow Walk: Walk up walls like a spider.
Blood of the Immortals: Bathora only; Causes a mortal to age at half the usual rate. Must be reused each year.
Cadaver of Nightmist: You can transform into a glowing mist, and start a terrible metal band.
Deather Crafting: Obayifo only; animates a zombie servant.
Deathstorm: Causes nasty weather.
Erase Feeding: Causes a mortal to forget you fed from them.
Form of the Beast: Each time you buy this one, you learn how to transform into a bat, wolf, rat, raven, or owl.
Hardened Skin: Permanently increases Resilience.
Haunting Reflections: Produces an illusion which is “real” to one sense per success. Illusions can deal damage if the target doesn’t roll to disbelieve.
Inhuman Strength: Permanently increases Strength.
Legacy of Lilith: Lilim only; this nekros allows shapeshifting with few limits. You can change your face, voice, overall body shape, and produce weapons from your body.
Lightning Speed: Permanently increases Speed.
Mesmerism: Mind control through eye contact and simple verbal commands.
Mind Reading: Read a subject’s thoughts.
Night’s Embrace: Raise a cloud of impenetrable black fog.
Nightbeasts’ Kin: Compel animals to regard you kindly.
Ride the Nightwinds: You can fly.
Self-Dismemberment: Penanggalan only; you can detach your head and/or limbs and control them telekinetically.
Shadowmask: Hide your mind from psychic detection.
Song of the Nightbeasts: You can summon and control swarms of rats, bats, or wolves.
Un-dead Sensitivity: You can sense nearby eldritch.
Unholy Splendor: Permanently increases Presence.
The Unseen: Become invisible.
Vampiric Ballon: Permanently increases Dexterity. Thank you, Everlasting, for teaching me the word “ballon.”
Vanishing: Allows you to seem to disappear while quietly escaping.
Weather Mastery: You can alter the weather to your liking.
Will’o the Wisp Body: Obayifo and Xiang Shi only; you can become an intangible, floating orb of green light.


Sawblade Werewolf is not a power, I’m afraid.

Although the author has spent the entire chapter telling us that vampires are damned, selfish, cartel-running, cult-leading wealthy dilettantes with no regard for human life, the section on roleplaying vampires tells us that vampires are no fun when they embrace their evil nature and that this game is about heroes. We’re told to accomplish this by playing up guilt, remorse, and self-loathing at every opportunity. However, the suggested themes for a vampire campaign emphasize common enemies in the form of daevas, demons, vampire hunters, a rival consanguinity, rival kingdoms of night, and finally “Quest for Redemption.”

Next time, on The Everlasting: Holy poo poo, this isn’t the last character class. Ghosts, everybody!

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


"Vampire blood lines are descended from super-damned mortals. BUT THESE ONES COME FROM GODS!"

Jesus wept blood red snowflakes.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Just going to jump in to commend everyone who's done one of these.

And Syrg is clearly the best for all his work.

Soulcleaver
Sep 25, 2007

Murderer

Also wanna thank everyone for the writeups on the many games. You put in lots of work and while we don't always look like appreciate it us lurkers love these threads. Looking forward to reading every page.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

In the meantime, Hugh de Lacy conqueres Meath, and the King of Briefne dies at a peace parley, possibly of assassination. The English move into Munster and Ulster, but Connacht, home of the High King Ruaidhri Ua Conchobhair, remains free. Ruaidri submitted to Henry, but his continued autonomy caused the magi of Stonehenge to fear the potential of the Coill Tri and what they might be doing and represent. After all, it made no sense to them that Connacht avoided all harm. With increased English presence, several English magi traveled through Ireland, and many felt their suspicions justified - especially in 1190, when a traveling group was attacked by what seemed to be a young Irish magus. The English magi, knowing nothing of the Irish custom of macgnimartha (more on that later), were very upset when Damisona of Jerbiton was attacked and three of her grogs killed. This led to a great outcry for something to be done about Hibernia.

The Grand Tribunal of 1195 was home to a huge debate about whether Hibernia needed reform to be more traditional, in the manner of Stonehenge, and whether a Tribunal should have the autonomy to set its own Peripheral Code. The parens of the paprentices who, in their macgnimartha, had attacked Damisona, were convicted only of a Low Crime, outraging the Stonehenge magi. This led to much more travel and visiting of Hibernia by other magi, as well as more appeals ot Magvillus from magi who felt the Irish Quaesitores had been unfair. The covenant of Elk's Run was founded in the aftermath. Meanwhile, in 1209, the maga Swan of Ghent was killed during the Black Monday massacre of Dublin, when Ua Broin raiders killed several English settlers.

In 1213, the magus Holzner of Tytalus, a German magus, joined the covenant Praesis. He then tried to steal its cathach and flee, but was slain by his sodales. (More on cathach later.) His outraged parens, Ballack, left the Rhine for Hibernia, laying siege to Praesis. Many Irish magi saw this as a clear case of foreign aggression, but by convention of the Tribunal, few interfered. The Siege of Praesis lasted a full year, preventing many of its members from attending the Tribunal of 1214, and straining relations between the Hibernian magi and outsiders. Praesis fell, and peace was restored, but it is still an uneasy peace.

The English lords are increasingly asserting their authority and adopting Irish ways, despite the wishes of the English crown. The Irish kings chafe under foreign rule, outside of Connacht. The Hibernian magi, likewise, face tensions from outside. However, peaceful visits, trading and tolerance still exist, and the Hibernian magi see themselves as loyal to the Order. Not ever foreign magus is hated, feared or suspected, and there may yet be peace if both sides can overcome their fears and misunderstandings.

So, what are the Irish like? The basic social framework of Ireland is the clan - an extended group of people claiming descent from one heroic forefather. The English have imposed their own style of French feudalism on top of the Irish society, but their attempt to force it is failing. They aren't replacing Irish culture - rather, they are adopting it, becoming more Irish than the Irish.

Ireland is shaped roughly like a bowl, with a ring of low coastal mountains surrounding plains and forests full of rivers and lakes. The climate is warmer and wetter than England, with only rare snowfall that never lasts long. Rain is plentiful, especially in the west, and some say it rains three days of every five. Flooding is a big problem, and heavy rains can threaten early plantings. The Irish divide the land into cantreds, administrative areas controlled by a clean leader. The English have grouped several cantreds together as liberties, inheritable feudal properties, and shires, cities and their nearby land which belongs to the king. The lord of a liberty has more independence than the lord of a shire, who is after all just the king's agent. A lord of a liberty keeps their land-rents and taxes, while the shire-lords give much of that to the king. On the other hand, more money passes through a city than rural area, so shire lords are often wealthier.

Prosperity, rank and honor are measured in cattle. Cattle raising and thieving are the cornerstone of IRish society. LArge herds need large pastures and must move often. Grass grows year round, of course, but relocation prevents overgrazing. Summer pastures are higher, farther from home, while winter pastures are closer. Because of the many wolves of Ireland, farmers build roofed, fenced areas known as byres to keep cows safe at night. Sometimes, a small byre is attached to a house, but usually it's a standalone. Nobles and honorable farmers are expected to keep a number of cows appropriate to their station. If the herd gets smaller, their standing falls, which makes cattle raiders dangerous to both herd and honor. Cattle are branded to identify their honor, but even so, retrieving stolen cows from a powerful foe is hard. A man's responsible for his herd and any losses from it. Success in reclaiming stolen cattle depends on power and allies.

Besides cattle, farming provides some of what a farmer makes. Primarily, that's oats, then wheat and rye. Because clans move often, fields are temporary and usually unfenced. A plot will usually only give two harvests before it's abandoned or ruined by cattle and spring rain. Cows graze freely, and legally have the right to walk through a field of crops if water is on the other side. A land-owner who blocks cows from water is a criminal. Most of the Irish interior is forested, with apple, hazel and oak trees providing food and fuel. The forests are full of animals - boar, fox, badger, wolf, deer, hare and squirrel. Cattle can also be found in the woods, but they're poor grazing, and wild cattle are rare. Outlaws and fgiannai live in the woods. A fian, you see, is a band of young aristocrats who go into exile while awaiting land inheritance. They are seen positively as future warriors who must prove themselves to their clan by surviving outside it . Outlaws are legal outcasts, denied aid by all. With the recent English invasion, many outlaws' only crime was owning land the English wanted. Such men are heroes to their neighbors, and the outlaws will be trouble in the coming years.

IRish society is centered on the clan, whose basic social unit is the tuath, which means 'people' but includes the clan's native territory, its free clients, unfree clients and slaves. Tuatha are named for a hero-ancestor, and most originated in the fourth or fifth centuries. New tuatha appear when a powerful leader seperates from the previous one to form a new clan, while weak tuatha disappear when destroyed or absorbed by a greater tuath. As of 1220, there are about 125 tuatha. The most powerful are the "five bloods": the Ua Neill of Ulster, the Mael Sechnaill of Meath, the Ua Conchobair of Connacht, the Mac Murchadha of Leinster and the Ua Briain of Munster.

The Irish divide themselves between the daorcheile, those without honor, and the grad flatha, those with it. The daorcheile are peasants, whether they're slaves, unfree farmers or free farmers who barely own enough to survive. The grad flatha are wealthy free farmers, nobles, priests, monks, professional judges, doctors and poets. Most social standing is hereditary, but personal honor does play a significant role. Every free man has an honor-price, an eraic, which is the amount payable in compensation if they are socially or physically injured. This is paid in cows, and it can grow and shrink depending on your fortunes. Besides physical harm, damage to reputation, social connections and property demand payment, with prices set by the type of injury. A verbal slight might merit a significant chunk of a man's eraic, while murder would pay the full amount.

Most people are daorcheile. Slaves are taken in raids, though that's rare these days. Unfree farmers, or bothach, get a cow and a small plot of land in exchange for their labor, with interest so high it can never be repaid. A free farmer or boaire is also a client, but has a better interest rate, one that can eventually be paid off. The terms a lord offers, determining whether a farmer is free or not, are hereditary. The grad flatha have many ranks - lesser nobles who have the minimum number of client boaire, cattle lords and greater nobles. The most important nobles of a clan are the derbfine, those within four generations of the current chief. Each clan has a chief or king, the ri. The king of a single tuath is a ri tuaithe. One who holds several other tuatha as clients is a fuirig, or over-king. A king of over-kings is a ri ruirech, and a king of one of the five provinces is a ri caicid, a provincial king. The grad flatha also includes the professional learned classes - judges, poets and doctors. Many of those jobs are hereditary, with only a few families doing the job for a tuath. All posts require intensive training, roughly equivalent to the academic career of continental university teachers. The kings of the more powerful tuatha appoint an ollamh of each position, the titular head of that class within the tuath.



Every tuath holds public assembles, oireacht, which meet at a specific location at set times each year to determine clan business. Assemblies often settle disputes, levy fines, collect taxes and, if needed, select new kings. The candidate must be of the derbfine of the last king, making everyone with a common great grandfather eligible. Sometimes, the derbfine chooses a successor before a king dies. Such a person is known as a tanaise rig, but having such an heir doesn't always stop dynastic struggles for power. A king is crowned in a sacred ceremony in which he symbolically marries the tribal lands. In some tuatha, this means literally marrying a local faerie woman, a sort of Tuatha De land goddess. The ceremony is highly ritualized and involves the king swearing to abide by the laws and gods of his people, to do no harm and to universally share the king's truth of legal and moral judgement.

Only 5% of IRish marriages happen in church - most are secular, solely requiring a couple to declare their intention to marry. Once that's done, the marriage is legal. The Church disagrees, but most Irish prests participate in it rather than preventing the practice, ignoring the 12th century reforms. Easy marriage means easy divorce and easy remarriage. The nobles are the worst offenders, marrying and divorcing as they please. Some men even have many wives at once, but that custom is fading. This loose view towards marriage allows a clan to grow very quickly - one Ua Donnell chief has 18 sons by 10 wives and 30 grandsons. There are other differences in Irish marriage that annoy the Church, Irish can marry first cousins, while canon law dictates three degrees of separation between partners. All of a man's legitimate sons can inherit, without care for birth order or even whether a wife is divorced, so long as the mother is not a slave. A wife does not bring dowry, but instead the groom pays her family a bride-gift. Lastly, an Irish marriage does not grant an alliance btween groups - or even stop aggression between in-laws. Marriage doesn't sotp or hinder conflict between a man and his brother-in-law, and the Irish men don't expect their wives' kin to follow them into battle.

Hostages are a common practice - noble sons given to a king to ensure a tuath's good behavior. The hostages live as part of the king's retinue. If the agreement between tuath and king is broken, their lives are forfeit. Since the hostages can be related to the king, and often are, the king may have sentimental reasons for not killing them, even so. Fosterage is common among the nobility, too - at age 7, noble sons and daughters leave home and live with foster parents. Boys stay until 17, while girls only until 14. Fostered children form emotional ties as strong as those with their parents. In all legal matters except inheritance, a foster son is as legitimate as a biological son, and a man can expect his foster sons to follow him into battle. Cuddy, the anglicized from of the Irish curd Oidhche ('a night's portion'), is the entertainment and feast a client owes his lord. One of the king's privileges is the right to travel through the tuath and feast at the nobles' houses. Most clients cannot refuse this, and several clients have bemoaned a gluttonous king. Poor nobles must borrow from their neighbors to provide the king's cuddy.

Ireland is full of villages, or rath - ringfots with wooden walls surrounding some huts. The larger and more powerful a clan is, the bigger the rath. Unlike a continental village, a rath is mobile, as the clan can quickly uproot and shift to a new location. Raths are not built on rivers or roads, but tucked away in secure areas. Small coastal ports do exist, but most of the Irish live in the interior. Christianity did change the raths some - instead of surrounding a chief's hut and his clients, the walls can surround a monastery, the monks and their lay supporters, the tradesmen and herders who supply the community. Monastic raths are self-sufficient and so found in the interior, with no need for coastal or river trade. Walls made of piled stone surround a stone church and tower, as well as several wooden huts used by the community's supporters.

The Ostmen brought cities to IReland. Originally, these longphorts were enclosed winter camps, but they became homes. Once the raiding ended, which coincided with the Irish adopting and learning to use Ostman weapons, the two groups lived in uneasy peace. The five cities of the Ostmen, Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Cork and Limerick, remain home to them. Ireland has over a thousand raths, and the more powerful ones have stone walls. Religious centers, such as Armagh, Cashel, Kildare, Tuam and Dublin, as well as royal residences, use stone. They have given up mobility for a stronger, more permanent defense.

Next Time: More about the Irish.

Ataxerxes
Dec 1, 2011

What is a soldier but a miserable pile of eaten cats and strange language?


I had too much to do last fall to keep writing about Noitahovi, but I'll get back to it soon-ish.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


New year, new thread

I've finished reading The Eternal Boundary adventure, and I've decided to do it next because
1) It introduces important information on the Dustmen, and
2) It has some bad structural problems. Nothing worthy, but this is definitely not something to foist on beginning players.

Meanwhile, the campaign box will be wrapped up in the next week or two.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.




Paranoia: IntSec Character Creation and Backstory Fluff

I'll be going over mechanics and secret societies in a separate post because those're gonna have to be broken into CORE MECHANICS and INTSEC TROOPER MECHANICS. Because there is great power and responsibility coming, hoo doggy.

But with that in mind let's look at the humble life of an IntSec Trooper. IntSec Troopers are Blue Clearance citizens of Alpha Complex who managed to be promoted to Blue for actual field duty in IntSec (as opposed to sitting in an office, picking their nose with paperclips and refusing to stamp anyone's paperwork) for A: competence, B: political reasons, C: to get them killed or D: to fill an empty roster space. It's sort of like the difference between being in the Inquisition versus being an Imperial Guardsman except normally Inquisitors are good at their job.

Troopers are stationed at IntSecServe Central, a building generally left up to the GM's discretion and description but should be equal parts nuclear power plant, police station, army barracks and blue-colored maze. IntSecServe Central is the home to the Troopers and generally where you'll be receiving missions, hauling prisoners back to, being reprimanded for failure, eating and sleeping. Unlike Troubleshooters the GM should consider making a stable roster of characters with their own powers and their own allegiances to staff the bare minimum amount of departments they'll interact with on a daily basis. This is namely: The Commissioner, a Violet citizen who exists to chew your rear end up or pat you on the back, The Armory where you can get your weapons and munitions (and don't make the clerks angry, be nice), Motor Pool where you can pick up your sweet ride, Barracks where you can sleep with other people who can tamper with your stuff and the Front Desk where you can ask for directions to different places in IntSecServe Central/Alpha Complex/ask to meet the Commissioner/their assistant.

Your job as a Trooper:

Step one is the make sure you've got all your paperwork in order. Namely your MISSION STATEMENT.

Code tells you what kind of mission you're on (I'll give a listing of common codes later) and what you can expect to do. Location is which sector you'll be driving to, details are details. You might be given TEAMWORK ENHANCERS which are respectively:
The remote controlled bomb they put in your skull is live and the Security Officer Trooper in your group is holding the detonators, so don't look treasonous, just keep smiling.
The Surveillance & Forensics Officer Trooper gets to spy on one of you in the group using a chip embedded in your head. (There will be a lot of things embedded in your head; sometimes they are bullets)
The Interrogation and Thought Control Officer Trooper can flip a switch and turn on a chip embedded in your head that activates the personality and skillset of another specialist or Trooper. Downside: you get shunted to the back of your skull while they're riding along. Upside: you're probably not responsible for anything they do and there might be some residual skill knowledge floating around.
The Community Liaison Officer Trooper turns on a super secret briefing file (in a chip. Embedded in your head.) to give you more necessary knowledge for the mission. Upside: better information. Downside: temporary paralysis/sensory shutdown as its on.

You also have to monitor the SECTOR INDICES of where you're making your arrests and you have to RAISE or LOWER them to certain levels depending on a mission. Public Relations is a hell of a drug: one day you're shoving Infrareds into Confession Booths whenever they don't buy a certain flavor of Kelp Chips, another you're giving free Cold Fun to any Citizen who shakes your hand. Of course raising one index is often followed by the lowering of another, but it's all part of the dance.


You also have a minimum/maximum amount of arrests and terminations for yourself/the team you must provide by the end of the mission; they printed out those tickets for arrest/terminations and they have to be redeemed, otherwise that's a waste of paper and a lack of productivity and both are SUPER treasonous. They're not totally hard to fulfill, especially if you're going after, say, a large racket of PURGE terrorists and their stockpile of TacNukes but it means that some of them you have to take alive and some of them you have to take dead and you have to explain why you killed them/didn't kill them and oh dear I've gone crosseyed.
Woe betide the Troopers who only have to handle less people than the minimum; that means that the rest of your arrests and terminations will have to be fulfilled by harassing and accusing the general populace before the mission is complete.

You also have a Clone Budget which are free clones you can redeem when you die before you actually start losing YOUR clones. The main downside is that even a milk run can turn into a bloodbath and that number of free clones might be too low, especially because you share those clones with the other Troopers.

And the time limit is the time limit. Nothing fancy there.

Character Creation

For starters you need a name and a gender, so say hi to Stacy-B-KLK, model IntSec Trooper. Stacy's name is made up of: her name, her clearance (Blue) and her sector (where she was gestated and decanted, doesn't mean she has to live there anymore). NORMALLY this would include a Dash One at the end of her name (Stacy-B-KLK-1) but in IntSec you might've died a few times already, this is determined with generation.

Next up are SKILLS, divided into two broad sections, each encompassing three skills sets: ACTION (Management, Stealth and Violence) and KNOWLEDGE (Hardware, Software and Wetware). Each skill set has its own rating. You can roll 1d20 and divide by two to determine your rank in a skill set (round fractions up, if it's less than 4 it's just 4) or allocate 40 points to buy ranks but cannot have better than 10 in a skill set.

Management: Accusation, Bootlicking, Chutzpah, Con Games, Hygiene (how good you stink (and believe me, you all stink)), Interrogation (removing information with fine instruments such as a cudgel or an electrode), Intimidation (removing information/making your point with careful applications of threats, yelling and your fists), Moxie (street smarts and people reading), Oratory (making big ol' speeches to get people to do what you want) and Paperwork (always an important skill).

Stealth: Concealment, Disguise, Focused Paranoia (a nonspecific danger sense that mostly keeps you on the edge of an anxiety attack), Security Systems (cracking locks with gentle tapping/your foot), Shadowing, Sleight of Hand, Sneaking (WITH CAT-LIKE TREAD!), Surveillance (how to bug, debug, rebug, redebug, reredebug, etc.)

Violence: Agility (running, jumping, fleeing), Demolition (lock-picking with dynamite), Energy Weapons, Fine Manipulation (actual lock-picking, bomb defusal), Hand Weapons (clubbing, mostly), Macho (resisting torture, enduring things while being BUFF), Projectile Weapons, Thrown Weapons (chucking rocks, grenades, other Troopers), Trigger Finger (shooting first, asking questions never), Unarmed Combat (punches, kicks, karate-chops, noogies), Vehicular Combat (hit and runs, using mounted guns).

Hardware: Bot Ops and Maintenance (operating/fixing/manual hacking of robots), Chemical Engineering (spraying acid and making bombs), Electronic Engineering (making flashlight, detonators), Habitat Engineering (knowing how to repair/abuse Complex systems), Jet Boot Flight (how to not crash hopefully), Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering (causing meltdowns, refining uranium for bombs), Operate Heavy Machinery, Operate Power Armor (without hurting yourself), Vehicle Ops and Maintenance (also includes driving), Weapon and Armor Maintenance (a catch-all sabotage skill).

Software: Bot Programming (remote/manual brain-hacking of robots), Cryptography, Data Analysis (reading the readouts), Data Search, Financial Systems (embezzling), Hacking, Operating Systems, Vehicle Programming, Video Editing.

Wetware: Biosciences, Bioweapons (making and using), Cloning, Cyborging (installing metal parts in soft people), Forensics, Medical, Outdoor Life (knowing about Outdoors for dummies), Pharmatherapy (how to give which pills where), Psychotherapy (brainwashing), Suggestion (subconscious brainwashing).

Sounds intimidating, right? Let's see what Stacy's skillset looks like:
Management 8, Stealth 8, Violence 6, Hardware 4, Software 4, Wetware 5. Stacy's good with talking, shooting and sneaking but pretty poo poo at everything else. Now, Stacy can take UP TO SIX Common Skill Specialties, three of which can be in a single skill set. However you must also take a Weakness in that same skill set. It's a +4 to one skill at the cost of a hard 1 rating in another, so for example:

As a Trooper, Stacy gets a FREE AND MANDATORY Skill Specialty in Projectile Weapons; all Troopers are trained in using their Cone Rifles. This is a rare case where there is no Weakness. But if Stacy was to take a Specialty in Demolitions, she has to take a weakness in, say, Unarmed Combat. If you don't do anything to modify a skill, you don't have to write it down; the rating of a skill is equal to the rating of a skill set. So while all of those skills look like a lot of baggage, here's what her skills ultimately look like:

Management 8:
Chutzpah 12, Intimidation 1.
Stealth 8:
Surveillance 12, Shadowing 1.
Violence 6:
Demolitions 10, Projectile Weapons 10, Unarmed Combat 1.
Hardware 4:
Software 4:
Wetware 5:

Skill Rolls:
Roll 1d20. Did you get more or less than your Skill number? If more, well, you blew it, you failed, you're at the GM's mercy. If less, congrats, you win, you're at the GM's mercy.

This is the basic stepping stone of character building, but there's more to come.

Next time: finishing character building, more graphs and pictures, mutations, treason and more!

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 18:17 on Jan 7, 2014

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

The Irish year is divided into two seasons, not four. (Socially. Ruleswise, still four.) Winter begins on Samhain, November 1. Summer starts on Bealtaine, May 1. Samhain is the end of the harvest season and the start of the dark half of the year. On Oiche Shamhna, the Night of November - that is, October 31 - the ghosts and faeries stalk the night, and the Tuatha De Danann move to their winter palaces, disrupting others. Bealtaine is the start of the planting season and the light half of the year, full of celebrations and cheer. Equally important are the celebrations of Lughnasa on August 1 and Oimelg on February 1, more commonly known as the Feast of Saint Brighid. Lughnasa is the harvest festival, celebrated on the closest Sunday to August 1.

While these pagan elements are retained and valued by the Irish, they are thoroughly Christian, not pagan. Christmas and Easter are the most vital holidays of the year - to the point that the rising sun on Easter seems to dance, increasing the piety of all that view it for the rest of the week. On Christmas eve, candles are lit to guide travelers, and at midnight on Christmas, all the animals of Ireland gain the power of speech until the sun rises. Hearing an animal speak is very unlucky, it is said, so most people stay inside.



Poets and musicians are extremely prestigious jobs in Ireland. They are beloved by both the Irish natives and the English conquerors, moving easily between the two groups. Currently, love songs are greatly in fashion. A good poet, meanwhile, must memorized hundreds of tales to earn their title, and so they always know an appropriate story for any occasion. Hurling is a popular sport among the Irish youth of all classes - it is a game in which a wooden stick, the hurley or caman, is used to drive a brass ball. One team tries to move it towards a goal while the other defends the goal. Hurling is also popular in Scotland. It is a dangerous game, with frequent injuries and even some deaths. The faeries love the sport, and a good hurling player may well be abducted and forced to play hurling with them all night long. Rules are provided for hurling: specifically, it's an Athletics roll, and if a match becomes violent, a hurley has the same stats as a club. The Irish also enjoy horse racing - riderless, as in Scandinavia - and a type of chess known as fidhcheall, as well as backgammon (known as tdiplis) which is more popular among the English lords.

Performance magic is not rare in Ireland, both among magi and hedge wizards. Poets and musicians can go anywhere, and so they can be excellent spies - plus, most listeners will have no defense against sorcerous music. Hedge wizards who practice performance magic tend to use it to earn money and advance their clan politically. OFten, this leads to conflict with the English and bloodshed. A magus must be more careful - the native poets don't like having their role usurped, and the Order cracks down on too much mundane interference.

So, what of the English? Their ideas of power and political might are different than those of the Irish natives. English value land, Irish value cattle. Before the coming of the English, Irish would steal cattle but not land. Tuatha moved under pressure, but land grabs were never the goal. The English, however, want land, and their stone towers make it clear they won't be leaving any time soon. Irish sons inherit equally, via complex arrangements. They work the land and herds together for five years until a separation can be made, with shares distributed by the youngest son. The English practice primogeniture, with the eldest son taking all. An Englishman with an Irish wife often assumes he'll inherit her father's title and property, but her kinfolk will disagree. Royal succession is also different - the English kings follow primogeniture, as with other property. The Irish have no such guarantee - everything rests on the derbfine decision. Plus, in Ireland, a higher king has no authority over a lower king's rule - a fuirig cannot reverse the decisions of their client ri tuaithe, while an English king can easily reverse every lord under them.

The Irish have four languages in use today - English, French, Gaelic and West Norse. Gaelic is the native tongue, shared with Man, the Kingdom of the Isles and Scotland. Each province save Meath speaks its own dialect. The Finn-Gaill of Dublin (that is, the 'white foreigners') have adopted Leinster Gaelic, but the Dubh-Gaill ('black foreigners') of Wexford, Limerick, Waterford and Cork speak West Norse still. The lords of the Norman occupation speak French, while their servants prefer English. The educated, of course, speak Latin.

So, let's talk about the Hermetic culture. Hibernia's contradictory. It is old, but newly rediscovered. It is conservative, yet very strange to outsiders. It allows easy conflict between magi but protects hedge wizards. The most obvious divide is between the Irish native magi and the new arrivals, of course. Hibernia has grown away from the rest of the Order for years, developing its own culture. Newcomers see these ways as outdated, nonsensical and often undignified. Were there more land, the two sides might get along better, but Ireland is not a big place.

The generations-old Irish covenant Praesis has fallen, besieged in a year-long Wizard's War and finally felled by betrayal. Behind this battle was the conflict of Hibernia's Tribunal: land must be protected and challenged. Covenants are not the sum of their members, but the result of ancient and powerful artifacts chosen as symbols. The standing of magi is not based on learning, but their ability to protect their own. Any magus unable to protect their land is unworthy of it. That is fundamental to the Order in Ireland, and is the means by which outsider magi have gained a foothold, earning their share of riches. The siege of Praesis was mostly between the ORdo Hiberniae, as the Irish magi name themselves, and the continentals, as they name the English. However, not all of Praesis' attackers were foreign. Some were Irish, using the conflict to rail against centuries of restrictive traditions - an increasingly common attitude among young magi. And while it fell, the siege of Praesis continues to be a pivotal point in Hibernian politics. If, as they did at Praesis, the Ordo Hiberniae lose control of the Tribunal, centuries of tradition may be overturned in a single generation. There are two factions, then, vying for control of the Tribunal - both politically, and among wilder magi, more directly.

Ireland is a land where history is known to go in cycles. This isn't mere lore - it's truth. The Treaty of Cnoc Maol Reidh is centuries old, an agreement between the Order and the native hedge wizards that irrevocably grants Connacht to the hedge wizards as their own land. When the Order took hold of Ireland, the druids were pushed aside, granted the land to seal the peace. This was just as the Fomorach were driven to the north, the Fir Bolg to the west and the Tuatha De Danann underground. Some believe the Ordo Hiberniae, likewise, will be forced to retreat to Connacht, leaving the island to the continental magi - it can already be seen in the English conquest.

Most older Irish magi view the English with suspicion and concern, but the younger magi, especially those in their macgnimartha, have heard the English message and embraced the idea that no part of Ireland should be denied them, that the treaties are outdated and should be annulled. Most of the English magi find the Irish to be backwards and strange. Most know the old tales of Ireland as too dominated by faerie power to be much use, but nothing recent until around 1170. House Tremere were the first take note - the archaic, dangerous and strange traditions were at odds with good Hermetic governance, they felt, and that could not be allowed. While they are called 'English' for the first Stonehenge magi to come, the continental magi come from all over, initially supported by House Tremere, to claim new territory over the last fifty years.

Why so keen to reform now when previous efforts have failed? Firstly, while the protections of hedge wizards are legal, they seem to set the natives on par with magi, which is improper to many. Secondly, the continental magi are now settling in Hibernia, clinging still to their own views on the Code. In their own way, they're as conservative and change-resistant as the natives. The English prefer the normal practices: harvest vis, intimidate hedge wizards and ignore those that aren't useful. Connacht, to them, is land ripe for taking. However, they've been here fifty years now. Some have raised apprentices in Ireland. While these apprentices were denied macgnimartha and still see themselves as different from the natives, by the next generation, the distinctions may fade.

Violence is common in Hibernia. Wizard's War is easily declared, certamen frequent and grog raids similarly common. Most covenants own resources that lie outside their legally protected territory; such resources are always at risk, though the Hibernian magi do take the Code seriously. Battle is to assert dominance, not kill, which is why certamen is so common. Grogs, well...grogs die a lot. There is, however, an understanding that things will find their own level. The threat of violence is real, but often the best ward against it is to be a good neighbor. The Peripheral Code doesn't mandate this, but those who break the unspoken rules often regret it.

So, what exactly is a macgnimartha? It means 'youthful exploits' and it refers to a brief period between apprenticeship and becoming a magus. In this period, the apprentice leaves their parens and covenant and spends a year or more unprotected and unsupported. They have sworn no Oath, have no Parma Magica and are outside Hermetic law. Most test their power against faeries, some against mundanes and others against Hermetic targets. In the last case, stolen magic items are usually ransomed back. Magi of Hibernia all remember their own macgnimarthas, and rarely treat those in one harshly. Importantly, the Treaty of Cnoc Maol Reidh makes no mention of macgnimartha, and the youth often head to Connacht for their sport or fortune. For most apprentices, the macgnimartha lasts a year, or "until his beard encircles his chin," at which point they swear the Oath and are taught the final secret of the Parma. Their character and reputation are judged by their deeds in macgnimartha. Despite social pressure, since failing to take a macgnimartha can reflect badly on the parens, not all apprentices undertake it. Some instead go to Leth Moga, where they are given security, lodging and use of the library in return for assisting others and copying books.

What makes Wizard's War different in Hibernia? Well, the declaration. The formal declaration must be given in person before witnesses, but not necessarily directly to the target. It must be public, of course, and Wizard's Wars have been declared invalid if the magi involved took steps to keep the target from finding out. But there is no warning letter, and while the formal declaration must still be made one month in advance, it's common for the target to find out some ways into that month and have less time to prepare. A magus may also declare Wizard's War against multiple foes by naming them in the formal declaration, which can draw allies in on both sides. You can declare war on 'all who hold to the Gae Bolg,' for example. Hibernia's Code does not require months of break in a war, so many magi extend the war as soon as it begins - indeed, the Peripheral Code assumes that Wizard's War is extended unless there is positive evidence that it wasn't, so a War typically lasts until the death of one side, a surrender or a treaty. In practice, they tend to devolve into raiding and theft until one side calls a truce. Grogs and mercenaries are often used as proxies, so it's typically more about submission than murder. Famously, a state of war continues to exist between the magi Grainne inghean Uaitear of Vigil and Cu Chonnacht Cluasach Mac Tire, despite the fact that they've met several times while the War has been on. The Siege of Praesis, however, was the first extended Wizard's War most English magi had seen. Given the results ('Praesis fell to them'), opinions are mixed on whether the law should be formally challenged.

Certamen, now. The polite rules of Certamen that are so common on the continent do not apply here. The aggressor picks the Technique, the defender the Form, but neither has right to veto and there are no social norms about who can challenge when or how often. Certamen is often fought over resources outside protected lands, or between magi before things escalate to Wizard's War. The usual social stigma about refusal to fight is especially strong in Ireland, but there is no stigma against using vis in certamen matches.



Next Time: Responsibility of the Order

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


pkfan2004 posted:

Woe betide the Troopers who only have to handle less people than the minimum; that means that the rest of your arrests and terminations will have to be fulfilled by harassing and accusing the general populace before the mission is complete.

Are you kidding, that's the best part about being in a position of authority

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



SirPhoebos posted:

Are you kidding, that's the best part about being in a position of authority

In theory? Absolutely. There's just the teensy problem of the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving eye of Friend Computer.

See, one of the big benefits of being an IntSec Trooper is that not everyone is constantly watching you and monitoring you (a lot are though, stay on your toes) and the cult of IntSec means that it generally handles its own on the inside; you're more likely to have to explain charges of treason to the Commissioner or some Ultraviolet you pissed off. You also generally have to deal with Friend Computer less because you're higher up the totem pole and you can delegate/press-gang citizens into doing stuff for you. But when you're outside of IntSec in the public sector...well, what's to stop that Yellow you're accusing of possession of treasonous materials from yelling for Friend Computer's help and mediation?

The answer should be "your hand clamped down over their mouth", of course. But the moment one little flag is raised against you, then comes the bribes and the explaining and the buck-passing.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 9e: World Laws and Reality Storms

Time to start digging into the mechanical side of the Cyberpapacy, and that means we start by talking about the realm's axioms and world laws.

The axioms of the Cyberpapacy have been bouncing up and down thanks to the Collapse and the Tech Surge. The Cyberpapacy is currently a rough mix of the axioms of Magna Verita, Core Earth, and Kandara. All of the Cyberpapal axioms were affected in one way or another, and in a lot of ways the culture is still catching up. The Cyberpapacy hasn't had to deal with real change for literally centuries, so while they're adapting to the new technology available, the other changes are making their lives difficult.

The Magic axiom is 10, allowing for full-on spellcasting, enchanted items, and witches turning people into toads. It's also just high enough to allow for the existence of supernatural creatures such as gargoyles, and magic is even capable of affecting the GodNet. For the most part, magic hasn't changed that much from Magna Verita's original level, although the increase from Core Earth's magic axiom has caused more mages to appear in France.

It should be pointed out that the general public at large is aware of the existence of magic, but according to Cyberpapal doctrine magic is the work of the Devil. Witch hunts are common, and even being suspected of being a practictioner of magic is enough to get you burned at the stake.

I've already talked about the axoims and world laws in the first Cyberpapacy post, but that was a while ago so let's revisit them.

The Social axiom is 18, which is actually a little lower than Core Earth's, but is a significant increase from Magna Verita's original axiom of 13. From a Core Earth point of view, it's a step backwards from France being capable of a democratic government to being under the bureaucratic control of a single totaltarian government. The only real chance France has at finding freedom on its own is the fact that the Church doesn't know how to deal with widespread change. While technically speaking the social axiom is a drop from Core Earth's, it's a large step up from Manga Verita's.

Before all the axiom mixing, the citizens of Manga Verita had no civil liberties, no personal rights, nothing like that. The influx of new social ideas is creating a new problem for the Church because the society is starting to evolve out of the idea of "whatever the Church says goes". Papal doctrine has to start allowing and accepting various forms of societal advancement instead of suppresing them, and some parts of the Church are having a harder time adapting than others.

(There's also the fact that the increase of the social axiom allows for a level of rebellion so you can have cyberpunk gangs and whatnot.)

The Cyberpapacy has a Spiritual axiom of 14, which isn't actually too high compared to the other realms. Aysle and the Living Land have higher spiritual axioms, but the Cyberpapacy belief system is more about following the will of the Church rather than the will of God. It's like Small Gods; people believe in the structure not the core.

That being said, spiritual power is manifest in the world. Believers can perform miracles, and angels and demons exist in the GodNet. While the focus of faith is more the Cyberpapal structure (and therefore the CyberPope), the power of Malraux's God is undeniable.

Lastly, the Technology axiom jumped from Magna Verita's original 15 (mideval technology) to 26. We all know what this has meant for the realm, so there's not much to say here. The technology jump has been a bit uneven; even though cybernetics and man/machine interfaces are commonplace, things like robotics and weaponry are lagging behind. Demand for high technology is also outstripping demand, since France's industrial infrastructure was hit hard by the Collapse and hasn't been able to get caught up to the level needed by the Tech Surge.

Meanwhile, back in Magna Verita, nobody knows that the technology level has improved by leaps and bounds; it's just that nobody knows it yet. Malraux has sent augmented operatives back up the bridge to keep a tight control on how technology will advance back home.

There are four world laws that are remnants of Magna Verita's reality, and weren't really altered by the mixing of realities. In the interest of repeating information, I'll just quote myself.

quote:

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

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

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

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

The chapter closes out with a discussion on the maelstrom bridge and the reality storms that surround the country.

The Cyberpapal maelstrom bridge connects the Avignon in Magna Verita to Avignon in Core Earth. The Darkness Device keeps one eye on the bridge, and if any Possibility-rated person tries to cross the bridge the Device will invoke a reality storm against that person in an attempt to transform them to Cyberpapal reality. If it succeeds and the target transforms, they automatically gain a neural jack in the neck or temple, and one to three more cyberdoodads of the GM's choosing. Presumably this is also the case for anyone who transforms to Cyberpapal reality, since the fiction of the book has been heavily implying that people had automagically getting cyberware and whatnot when the Cyberpapacy formed.

The reality storms that surround CyberFrance are pretty much standard to the rest of the game. The biggest issue are the storms on the border that touch the English Channel. The Channel separates the Cyberpapacy and Aysle, and in some parts the reality borders are about a mile apart. The close proximity of three separate realities makes the storms even stronger than normal, and the fallout of the storms affects pretty much everything touching the Channel.

It should be pointed out that if a Cyberpapal character transforms to a different reality, he actually loses one to three pieces of cyberware. Exactly how that works or interacts with the whole "living to living/unliving to unliving" rule is never explained. If I have a cybereye and transform, what's supposed to happen? Do I lose the eye? Do I just get a glass eye? What about an implanted system? I'd hate to think what a retractable forearm blade or cranial jack would change into.



Again, another short chapter without much to really say. But don't worry, we're going to get into bad mechanics soon enough!

NEXT TIME: Hanging with the console cowboys in cyberspace!

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 19:04 on Jan 7, 2014

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I'm a bit sad that I missed out on getting more the Paranoia supplements before Mongoose stopped supporting them. You also missed the caveat for rolling that doing exceptionally well on a roll can be worse than failing. Your noble and loyal IntSec goon has to shoot a fleeing commie mutant traitor with their trusty cone rifle, rolls too well and not only shears the traitor's head off, but hits a Bouncy Bubbly Beverage vending machine that was a warbot in a former incarnation. This leads to it rampaging across the sector with a rare (hee!) batch of high explosive B3 in its dispenser.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

In reference to my recent comments, I should mention that I just noticed the appearance of Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal on e23.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



I also skipped the character creation rule that you can take Narrow Specialties which are basically a little quirky thing you can do at +6 to a skill set's rating, one for each skill set, that doesn't have to be picked at character creation. They're good for doing small things that don't matter well or for briefly pulling your bacon out of the fire, but I personally don't see a hell of a lot of a need for them (sometimes) because of Perversity. But thanks for pointing that out: Paranoia is a game about doing well but not perfect because the Critical Roll hammer swings both ways.

And while I'm here, let's finish character creation.


Character Creation Part 2
So far Stacy-B-KLK has skills and a name and not a hell of a lot else but that's about to change! She's a member of a Service Group, the different industries that keep Alpha Complex running, and Internal Security is in fact one of these groups. It's totally possible for her to not be from IntSec but on loan from another group to be used as an IntSec Trooper. The other groups are:

ARMED FORCES: the standing military of Alpha Complex that has a big interest in explosions, parading, yelling and waging war (often against themselves in war games or anyone that looks at them funny).
CENTRAL PROCESSING: the schmoes who make sure Friend Computer runs "properly" and are also responsible for all the paperwork and half of the bureaucracy in Alpha Complex.
HOUSING PRESERVATION DEVELOPMENT & MIND CONTROL: HPD&MC is responsible for giving the citizens lodging, food, entertainment and education, AKA fat, docile, stupid and happy.
PRODUCTION, LOGISTICS & COMMISSARY: the heartless bastards who make sure people get things, or more often don't. Generally responsible for the other half of the paperwork.
TECH SERVICES: responsible for construction, repair, hard work and the quality citizens of Alpha Complex have come to expect. Also generally responsible for scraping vaporized burns off walls.
POWER SERVICES: handles power and electricity and the generation of it. If there's a problem or a shortage, you're better off trying to fix it yourself, then blaming them for denying your claim and saying that you need to turn it off and back on.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT: mad, reckless, unreliable science, experiments and technology that the brave Troubleshooters often end up testing and breaking. Bestest buddies with Armed Forces and IntSec for making things go boom and for making interrogations a lot more fun.

Roll 1d20. 01-12 means you're a true-Blue IntSec agent. 13-20 means that you're from one of the other Service Sectors on loan for the time being. In the case of Stacy, she's an IntSec worker. But wait, there's more. IntSec has its own departments, as do the other Sectors when they work with IntSec.

Each assignment has a related skill attached which means that A: you can get a free +4 in one of those skills with no weakness or B: if you've already bumped up one of those skills then you can pump it up with a further +4. But what do these departments do? Good question!

Internal Affairs: IntSec handles IntSec's business. IA polices the beast, points fingers, handles accusations and investigates fellow officers and erases/terminates them if necessary. Nobody likes IA because IA is corrupt as hell and they always tend to overcharge you for your bribes. In IA, your job is to enforce the rules. And make them.

Thought Survey: You ask questions to people. Often irrelevant questions. Your job is to see how happy citizens are and see what they think. And if what they think is wrong, it's your job to arrest/shoot them.
Re-Education: The game book says it best. "Re-education broadens the mind. Sometimes it broadens it with a crowbar. Re-education makes for happier citizens, even if they do tend to drool more afterwards. Re-education changes people; living people to dead people is a common change." In Re-Education, your job is to politely correct wrong thoughts however you see fit.
Glee-Quota Adjutant: You're responsible for raising the Happiness Index in a sector, mostly with drugs, always with a smile.
Forensics Analysis: I don't want to be a bummer but people tend to hate you because you have a bunch of fancy machines that let you pull treasonous evidence out of a person's rear end just by rolling a wand on their forehead. On the plus side, you should ask for bribes like IA does.
Surveillance Operatives: You get paid to watch TV and find places to put bugs. You're also paid to sit at a small desk and hold your pee for hours at a time.
Traffic Patrol: Your job is to safeguard the lives of high-profile citizens who actually HAVE cars to drive by protecting them from the unwashed masses who want to see what their car smells like. It's like being a bodyguard except you get to ride on the hood of the car holding a bazooka.
Complaints: Your job is to be as unhelpful as possible and make the citizens dread ever asking for your help.
Goon Squad: You get to be a jackbooted thug! And oh boy what a job this is. Marching, stomping, waving your clubs and guns, yelling at people. You get to all hold shields and march menacingly towards people while scowling. What a fun life you must live, carefree without a thought in your little angry head.
Association Determination: Your job is to have a big ol' wall of string and clippings to figure out if criminals acted alone or if there's some big society conspiracy brewing and figure out how treasonous friendships are.
Threat Assessors: You assess threats. You get paid to be paranoid all day and control when you're on high alert or not and what gets nuked first.
Enhanced Interrogation & Rendition: If Re-Education is like high school then you're a college professor and you get to coerce your charges into write papers on what they know and who is responsible for it.
Confession Booth Operators: You get to read sensors and indicators as citizens pour their treasonous little hearts out in "private" sessions with Friend Computer.
Counter Dissension: You get to run Secret Societies running counter-propaganda to try and catch dissenters and terrorists. Most of the time you're in too deep undercover and believe what you're saying.
Informants Hotline: You get to take calls from concerned citizens all day and figure out what's nonsense and what's a legit problem to handle.
Reality Control: Making citizens disappear is harder than it looks; you have to destroy their possessions, make their friends know they no longer exist and destroy every inch of their existence. You're responsible for making fake people real and real people fake.
Computer Security: You protect Friend Computer's code and stop citizens/programmers from tampering with it. Most likely you're an entrapped hacker.
Compliance Directorate: You're the diplomat that makes sure this whole beast doesn't crush the entire social structure of Alpha Complex by messing up too bad with their requests and actions. Good luck.

Stacy is a THREAT ASSESSOR with a specialty in BIOWEAPONS because why destroy the standing infrastructure when you can build a super-plague or shambling goo beast to eat your enemies?

Next step: lost clones. Like I said, being a Blue takes hard work. And sometimes that hard work kills you. Thems the breaks.

Stacy rolled another 11, meaning she's actually Stacy-B-KLK-2. And Stacy-B-KLK-2 works for IntSec because she questioned the status quo and the sanity of something about Alpha Complex.

Every playable Trooper works for IntSec because of blackmail that their superiors have over them, the carrot on a stick that makes them pull the policeman's wagon. Stacy rolled a 16 meaning that someone snitched on her doubts. Oh well, poor Stacy. Because on top of being a KNOWN traitor, she's also a mutant and in a Secret Society.


Stacy rolled a 2 on her Mutant Powers table, which in theory means she's Not A Mutant. But everyone in Alpha Complex IS a mutant and Stacy just doesn't know what she is. Her GM would roll for her mutant power and whenever she tries to use it, they get to fill in whatever details they want. In actuality, Stacy is a Vampire and just doesn't know it.

What Stacy DOES know is that she's in a Secret Society. Namely, two of them. Stacy's result came up as Spy which means she works for one Society spying on another and takes the skills from her cover. Stacy is a spy for Pro Tech, a bunch of engineers and designers who like making things explode and building super machines, for the Runners, who are citizens that sabotage IntSec operations in order to try and escape Alpha Complex and not live under the oppression of Friend Computer. As a "Runner", her secret society skills are Survival 19, Sprinting 3 and Twitchtalk 8, meaning that she knows how to survive well, sucks at running and can talk using secret gestures pretty okay. Secret Skills are determined by rolling 1d20 and using the result. Her rank in her societies are half the result of 1d20, so she's a Rank 7 Pro Tech and only a Rank 2 Runner. Stacy can start the game with up to 3 IOUs she can redeem for her Secret Society; the downside is that each one means a random Secret Society can call on her in turn, determined by GM rolls on the SS chart. And because she's in a Society to begin with, she knows Propaganda skills for each of them at the rank of her roll in the Society; her Propaganda-Pro Tech skill is 7 and her Propaganda-Runner skill is 2.

Phew. That's a lot to chew on, isn't it? Let's wrap things up and I'll show you her finished sheet.

Every character has a pool of 10 Perversity Points which help you fudge the dice/hinder your "friends" (even if it's not your turn!). Your static amount is 10 with room for up to 30 for overall roleplaying and having a Tic (which is a noticeable character quirk). It's a little reward for being in character and your pool is refreshed at the start of every session.

Characters also have Access and Power which are respectively "how much pull you have in Alpha Complex" and "overall luck/Mutant Power strength" pool. They have a ceiling limit determined at generation and CAN AND WILL deplete during play as you use them. When do they regenerate? That answer is above your clearance, citizen. You aren't even supposed to know your number for them! But for the purpose of demonstration, I'll tell you Stacy's. Each stat is worth 1d20, so Stacy's Access is 4 and her Power is 10. She's a pretty good vampire, considering she doesn't know she is one! But don't expect her to succeed if she leans on a clerk and tries to play the "I know your supervisor" card to get a TacNuke.

Equipment!
Every Trooper starts play with a ME card with 10,000 shiny new credits on them. The ME card acts as your ID and credit card. Losing them is bad (and often inevitable). Standard Trooper equipment is X-317B full combat armor (explained more later), security helmet, jackboots with magnetic grapple and jet propulsion upgrades (explained more later), a Cone Rifle with Firepower Control attachment, a truncheon for whacking and smacking, a notepad and a nifty little Blue pen and a ME card reader so you can pull up a citizen's information at any time.

So let's take a look at Stacy's final character sheet:

Stacy-B-KLK-2

Access: ???/4
Power: ???/10

Management 8:
Chutzpah 12, Intimidation 1.
Stealth 8:
Surveillance 12, Shadowing 1.
Violence 6:
Demolitions 10, Projectile Weapons 10, Unarmed Combat 1.
Hardware 4
Software 4
Wetware 5:
Bioweapons 9

Assignment: IntSec Threat Assessment
Mutation: Not A Mutant/Vampire
Secret Society: Runners 2 (Spy for Pro Tech 7)
Secret Skills: Propaganda-Pro Tech 7, Propaganda Runners 2, Survival 19, Sprinting 3, Twitchtalk 8

Equipment: ME Card, X-317B Power Armor, Helmet, Jackboots (magnetic/jet), Cone Rifle (with working Firepower Control), trusty truncheon, notepad, Blue pen.

Not bad for someone who made the wrong remarks to the wrong people.

Next time: game mechanics, brief overview of Trooper equipment and weapons, punishments Troopers give/receive.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 22:31 on Jan 7, 2014

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle



The Order of Hermes assumes the ultimate supernatural authority in Ireland, claiming the right to act against those who break convention and flout their power to cause chaos. Even the elder races listen when the magi speak. The Order does have a history of respecting the Treaty of Cnoc Maol Reidh, allowing the Coill Tri to manage their own lands, but they are ready to punish magical beasts that terrorize villages or faeries that prey on travelers...and unless a hedge wizard's own tradition acts first, the Order is willing to punish them, too.

Hibernian philosophy holds that a coven of witches is not really that much less than a covenant of Bonisagus. It is by deeds that worth is measured, they say. The Order in Ireland feels a responsibility to maintain the old ways. This is not a cover for pagan sympathies at all - rather, it refers to the non-Latin forms of magic found in Ireland before the Order came, dating sometimes back to Nemed and Partholon. These were precursors to the Houses of Hermes - shapeshifting druids, faerie dealers and enchanters. If the Order forced them to join, those ways would be lost, or at least diluted. The Hibernians claim any threat they might post has been neutered by confining most hedge wizards to Connacht.

Magic and Faerie auras are precious in Ireland, for they are often tied to important historic events. Magi there feel a responsibility to these places and to caring for them. This can force them into conflict with mundanes, and in those cases, the Tribunal favors a strong show of authority. Protecting an aura from mundanes is not considered interference. Outside Hibernia, vis is often harvested as soon as it appears, then hoarded. In Hibernia, this practice is considered to be at odds with good husbandry of magic, and vis is typically left unharvested untul it is needed. Magi typically store only small amounts of vis, mostly gained by trade or luck, and visit their vis sources frequently to gather waht is needed at the moment. Many sources are turned into casting spaces for rituals, and Irish magi often use vis that has not been moved out of its original form. Since most sources have vis available all year, though, they make attractive targets for raids or hungry beasts. Traditionalists of Ireland see this as just a risk to be managed, much as mundane farmers must guard their crops. Extracting vis from auras is seen as detrimental and against the principles of responsibility. Fortunately, Hibernia has many vis sources, so few magi feel the need to break tradition there, or to steal vis from others.

In Hibernia, magical beings able to talk are considered equal to humans and are given a voice at the Tribunal. This status means no covenant may molest these creatures or take anything from their territory without permission or at least tribute in kind. However, even the Irish are a bit lax in this regard, and the strength of nearby magi and covenants tends to impose itself on the power dynamics of the magical and faerie beings nearby.

Hermetic literature in Ireland is still predominantly in Latin, but thanks to the influence of the Irish Church, the use of vernacular Irish is increasing and can be found in the marginalia of many Hermetic texts. The Ordo Hiberniae are very fond of chronicling the lives of important magi and historic figures, and they often produce texts detailing them. Continental magi tend to view these as a distraction from study of the Arts or creating spells. In fact, they tend to find Irish books on Hermetic theory dull and overcomplicated, much as their mundane counterparts view Irish histories, as they tend to dwell on minutiae over practical application.



The continental magi tend to be annoyed by many things the Irish take for granted. They find Irish vellum to be greasy and unsuitable, and some even import parchment. They complain of oversalty food and even bring in foreign cooks. The Irish often practice beekeeping, and the trading of honey is a tradition among Irish magi, as each covenant has a unique flavor. Continental magi find this twee and undignified, but many Irish take great pride in it. The Irish magi tend to refer to House Ex Miscellanea as 'the Younger House,' and while this is accepted by Irish Ex Miscellanea, continental Ex Miscellanea find it insulting and grating. Finally, it's usually easy to tell the two factions apart by their outfits. Ordo Hiberniae often wear mantles of patchwork colors or pattern to denote status; apprentices wear plain, single-color cloaks and those in macgnimartha wear three colors, magi wear five and the Tribunal praeco wears seven, and the heads of covenants can wear six. This has not yet caught on among continental magi, who generally follow foreign fashions.

And now, let's talk treaties. Treaties record agreements between covenants or any other supernatural group. Most Hibernian law is made of specific treaties for specific people and cases rather than general precedent. This makes it dense, counterintuitive and cumbersome - rulings don't provide precendents all the time, even when the same elements are involved, and the English magi find this untenable. They want change. In many ways, the treaty system mirrors the Brehon Laws.

A treaty can be made between any individuals who have the right to be heard at Tribunal. This includes magi, covenants, the Order of Hermes itself, the Tuatha De Danann, the Coill Tri and so on. A treaty can be temporary or permanent, or have conditions within it that release the parties involved from it. It's the job of the parties on either side of a case to come to an agreement, with Quaesitorial aid, and the Tribunal's role is to ensure that neither side breaks it. No treaty can break the Peripheral Code or bind a magus to actions that would break the Oath of Hermes.

Now, covenants. The Order requires any magus to be resident of the Tribunal to be able to vote. In Hibernia, this means belonging to a recognized covenant. Those outside a covenant are considered vagrant and risk exile, no matter how long they've lived on Irish soil. However, any magus can found a covenant, so long as they have land, wealth and a trophy - a cathach. The land must be any space upon which to build a home that the magus has protected for one full year. For historical reasons, wealth means cattle, so covenants must have cattle. The cathach, meanwhile, is an item or relic of some significance to the covenant, which must be displayed at Tribunal to identify the covenant.

A cathach must meet certain conditions. First, it must be a magical treasure - not necessarily a Hermetic treasure or even of the Magic ream, but it must trigger a positive response to magical identification. Second, a cathach must be taken, not made by the claimant magi. It might be taken from the land, from the magic realm or from another magus or covenant. The nature of its acquisition is important, for it becomes part of the story of the cathach and the character of the covenant. Third, the cathach must be significant. It must have a story behind it - either it is of legend or it was made by a legendary or noted figure. Last, it must be displayed. It must be brought to Tribunal to prove residency and, when not at Tribunal, must be kept outside the Aegis of the Hearth.

If a magus can hold those three symbols - land, wealth and cathach - and support themselves for one year, they have the right to represent themself at Tribunal. Other magi may attempt to seize the cathach before the year is out, and if succesful, the covenant may not legally form. The raiders must abide by the Code and may not harm resident magi outside a Wizard's War. However, any magus caught in possession of a cathach claimed by another forfeits immunity, as if they had entered a sanctum. Cattle are similarly protected, though they may be kept within the Aegis. This calls back to the earliest days of the Order in Ireland, when the four magi of Circulus Ruber made their vow to defend their land for a year if need be, along with its treasures.

Once a covenant has defended its cathach, land and cattle for ayear, it may petition the praeco for recognition and to have its name and lands recorded at the Mercer House of Leth Moga. From then on, they receive Redcap visits. A covenant's lands are defined by its vis sources, consisting of all sources that a magus may encircle between sunrise and sunset, without any spells or enchanted items to speed progress. These sources are protected by law, and any magus raiding them is committing the crime of depriving another of magical power. Sources claimed outside this legal boundary have no such protection, and for this reason covenants mark their sources with their symbol. No magus outside a covenant can claim Hibernian residency, and only those who prove residence can vote. Covenants that attend Tribunal without a cathach have failed to prove residency for their magi.

It can be tempting, and has been known, for younger magi to live outside a covenant. They have no cathach to protect, after all, and votes matter only once every seven years. Such a group, though, has no voice, no official Redcap visits and no legally defended property. Hibernia does not recognize chapter houses or vassal covenants. If a magus no longer wants to live in their covenant, they must enter or found another, or else forgo legal protection. Despite the obvious vulnerabilities, there are still many independent magi, with representatives from almost all Houses. In order to vote, they must produce a cathach, though, and must show that they havel and cattle. In all respects, they must found a covenant of one.



Next Time: Views on the Code.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Does anyone remember Dicefreaks' self-published supplement on the Nine Hells? It contains a lot of the terrible tendencies seen in other reviewed material (really broken mechanics, over-edgy 'GRIMDARK GRIMDARK' writing, a fair bit of ).

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








SirPhoebos posted:

Does anyone remember Dicefreaks' self-published supplement on the Nine Hells? It contains a lot of the terrible tendencies seen in other reviewed material (really broken mechanics, over-edgy 'GRIMDARK GRIMDARK' writing, a fair bit of ).
I recall it being even less self-aware on how the game just breaks down than the Immortals Handbook. And considering that the latter is basically Hardcore Number Porn I & II...

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

I had a beer with Stephen Miller once and now I like him.

HEY FRIENDS I'M BACK WRITING ABOUT THIS GAME

d20 Modern Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook - Part 7



Chapter 4 - EQUIPMENT

Along with the super-crunchy feat selection process, d20 Modern contains a veritable mail-order catalog full of guns, vehicles, and other equipment to use for turning mild-mannered research scientists into combat-hardened death machine research scientists with guns.


Yes, guns.

As mentioned back in Part 3, purchasing equipment is accomplished not by a discrete spending of actual currency, but by leveraging your character’s Wealth bonus to buy items within and beyond your means. Beyond the Wealth check mechanic, most of the fun items have a secondary restriction on their purchase based on the nature of the item. d20 Modern categorizes these items under a license system with four categories - licensed, restricted, military, and illegal. You can ‘purchase’ a license legitimately - though a basic License starts at DC 10, and an Illegal one is DC 25 - and doing so requires you to spend 1 - 4 days securing the paperwork. You can speed this up to 1d6 hours with a Knowledge (business) check, however.

If you don’t/can’t handle dealing with Big Government, your character can always head to the black market to get their hands on some extremely caustic chemicals to use for repainting your deck. Accessing the black market requires the use of Knowledge (streetwise), and generally just means you are going to take a heavier hit on your Wealth check than you would otherwise. You can also attempt to expedite the time it takes to acquire your fully-automatic deer-hunting heavy machine gun by further bumping up the Wealth DC.

So what if you’re part of a semi-invisible para-governmental organization dedicated to tracking and eliminating extraterrestrial influence? Well, d20 Modern has you covered there, too. There are rules for requisitioning equipment based on a number of modifying factors - its necessity to the assignment at hand, its general rarity and legality, whether you’re personally proficient with the item in question, and whether you filled the attack helicopter up with gas before you returned it on your last mission.

Past the requisition rules are the rules for selling items, generally addressed at players who intend to Monty Haul the sidearms and gold teeth from every dead mook in the Triad bio-experimentation facility back to Department 7 with them. The short of it is basically “you can try selling a pile of questionably-sourced handguns on the black market, but it’ll be a problem” as well as “unless you’re selling a car or Faberge egg, don’t expect much of a bump to your Wealth”.

Lastly, prior to actually getting into the weapons section, there’s a pile of rules for concealing items on your person. Basically, most objects and weapons are assigned a size (from Fine to Huge or larger) and carries a corresponding bonus (or penalty) to your Sleight of Hand (there’s that skill granularity again!) check. Apart from the size of the thing, you can further modify your Sleight of Hand check by doing things like wearing bulky clothing or a concealed carry holster. Also to note: when you conceal a weapon, if you want to be able to draw it normally (as a quick action) it is an automatic -2 penalty to your Sleight of Hand check, or a -4 if you want to be able to use your Quick Draw feat to whip back a trenchcoat, revealing a pair of MP5Ks.


Yes! Guns!

WEAPONS

Since this is a crunchy roleplaying game for the D&D crowd, the equipment section naturally leads off with weapons. The game breaks them down into three categories: ranged weapons, explosives and splash weapons, and melee weapons, and these are further subcategorized (ranged is split into handguns, longarms, and “other” ranged weapons, for instance). Each individual weapon has its own statline that encompasses a number of factors. For ranged weapons, this consists of:

- damage & critical range
- damage type (though all firearms are ‘ballistic’-type damage)
- range increment (you take penalties for attacking at distance multiples of this value)
- rate(s) of fire (single shot/semi-automatic/automatic)
- magazine (which affects how easy the weapon is to reload)
- size, weight, purchase DC, and restriction (generally licensed or restricted)

The obvious design goal of having all of these variables is to include weapons with variation, where each one feels unique and has its own trade-offs compared to others in its category. When I set out to do this dissection I remembered this as being a failing of the game system, but on a re-read it’s not so bad (for the core book, at least, the supplements are their own story). There are still some clearly same-y firearms, however: the Colt Double Eagle and M1911 vary on only two things - the Double Eagle has a 9-round capacity, and apparently this means +1 purchase DC. All their other stats are the same, so why bother including both? There’s also the Walther PPK, which has an identical statline to the M1911 but weighs 2 pounds less and does 2d4 instead of 2d6 damage. It’s not cheaper or easier to conceal, so why would you ever buy one? Is that 2 pounds gonna break you (low Strength characters, I am sorry)?

At any rate, there’s still some decent unique feeling to most of the weapons. The core rulebook lists 17 handguns (including three revolvers, four machine pistols, and a pair of holdout pistols) and 16 longarms (ranging from sawed-off shotguns to submachineguns, assault rifles, and a number of hunting/sniper/anti-materiel rifles). A few of these are designated ‘mastercraft’ by default and grant a +1 to attack rolls - though you can always get a custom mastercrafted version of an item for a +3 purchase DC. Along with the specific inherent mastercrafting, a bunch of guns have unique special rules like natively accepting a suppressor, firing a three-round burst (instead of the standard 5), or shotguns losing 1 point of damage per range increment beyond the first.


YES!!! GUNS!!!!

So after the super-dense personal firearms listings come the heavy weapons. These each require a specific Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat to use, and are generally super expensive and require military licensing. If you’re able to requisition them as mission-critical equipment, though, great! You can hose someone with a heavy machine gun for 4d12 damage (assuming you hit, at least) or spray areas or blast them with a LAW (10d6 damage that also ignores 10 points of hardness if it hits a wall or vehicle). There’s also the decently-accessible M79 grenade launcher for tactical grenading in various formats.

Rounding out the ranged weapons section are the oddities - things like the compound bow and crossbow, flamethrower (complete with easily-exploded fuel pack), javelins and shuriken, and the whip (because what would a d20 game be without whip rules?). There’s also special rules for tasers and pepper spray, which is kind of cool - the taser causes 1d6 rounds of paralysis on a failed Fortitude save after being hit (super good against all manner of softie foes) and pepper spray blinds you for 1d4 rounds if you fail your Fort save (and only requires a ranged touch attack). There’s also purchase rules for ammunition, where a dozen arrows are the most expensive ‘unit’ of projectiles (though apparently this is true-to-life).

Whew! Moving on from the minutiae of ranged weapons, the book now goes into explosives and splash weapons. These are handled in the same stat-fashion as the ranged weapons, with a couple of changes - each explosive has a burst radius along with an associated Reflex DC to save versus its effects, and splash weapons (acid vials/molotov cocktails) have a ‘direct hit damage’ value. To spare you from too much in-depth discussion of things that go boom, there are rules for C4, det cord (the coolest!), dynamite, and five different grenade types: fragmentation, smoke, tear gas, thermite, and white phosphorous (all can be used with the aforementioned M79 launcher).

d20 Modern handles bursts and blasts in a slightly weird fashion - you choose an origin intersection on a grid, rather than an origin square, and calculate blast radius from that point. This leads to more round-looking blasts than I remember existing in 3rd-edition-land:



Last, but not least, we come to the melee weapons section. Since d20 Modern’s scope is so broad, it includes a huge pile of assorted melee weapons that allow you to play out all manner of scenario from zombie apocalypse to riot cop beatdown to Triad agents that need to cut off the hand of a rival alchemist with a rusty cleaver. They’re broken into three categories (simple, archaic, and exotic) according to feat requirements, and I’m actually going to list them because some of the options are very flavourful:

Simple weapons: brass knuckles, cleaver, club, knife, metal baton, pistol whip & rifle butt, sap, stun gun, tonfa
Archaic weapons: bayonet (fixed), hatchet, longsword, machete, rapier, spear, straight razor, sword cane
Exotic weapons: chain, chainsaw, kama, katana, kukri, nunchaku, three-section staff


Never bring a gun to a chainsaw fight, dummy!

If you’re going to be focusing on melee weapons at all, the katana is probably your obvious winner’s choice: 2d6 damage and a 19-20 crit range make it roughly as powerful as a pistol (and there’s probably a bit better feat support) for the same feat you’d give up to take Personal Firearms Proficiency.

Last in the weapons section is a brief set of rules covering improvised weapons - they’re categorized by size (though a tire iron is considered Large while a bowling ball is only Medium) and do sad amounts of damage (the aforementioned tire iron only does 1d6, a screwdriver is a whopping 1d2) and you’re always at a -4 attack penalty when using one. Since every character is at least proficient with the club, you’re probably better off arguing with your DM that your tire iron should count as a simple weapon and going with that.

So this concludes the weapons section. Next up is armour and miscellaneous gear!

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Another daycycle, another credit, citizens!

So let's talk game mechanics. They're not particularly fancy because the main emphasis of Paranoia is for the GM to play fast and loose to help keep the game flowing and help keep everyone on their toes. I'll give you the "official" rules and then show what it really looks like.

I previously mentioned that a Skill roll is just 1d20, plus or minus Perversity modifiers, and if you roll under your skill number it's a success. Tasoth mentioned that a critical success can be as dangerous as a critical hit. These rules apply to Mutant Powers and Access too. That's really the gist of it! It even applies to combat: there is no real initiative in Paranoia. What happens is that everyone makes their roles and the GM tries to figure out how everything happens at once. The players can talk about what they're going to do as the GM rolls for the NPCs, then the players make their rolls, then everything happens at once. Anyone still alive can then move around until the next round when it all begins again.

For example: Stacy is armed with a Cone Rifle, an Orange Frankenstein Destroyers is armed with a Orange Laser Pistol, a Red Communist has a can of B3 and a Yellow Anti-Mutant is armed with Slugthrower. Stacy and the Red are PCs, the Orange and Yellow are NPCs. They're all in a stand-off but a Vendbot crashes through the roof and everyone starts firing.
1: The GM decides that the Orange is going to attack the Red and the Yellow is going to attack Stacy. He rolls a success for the Orange and a failure for the Yellow.
2: Stacy decides to attack the Red, the Red decides to attack the Yellow. Stacy gets a very bad failed roll, the Red gets a critical success.
3: Everything happens at once. The Yellow's bullet whizzes past Stacy's head, throwing her aim off as she fires at the Red, causing him to stumble into the path of the Orange's laser. He throws the can of B3 at the Yellow and the B3 explodes as it bounces off the Yellow's chest, blowing him to bits. The explosion, however, is strong enough to make the Vendbot explode, and then everything starts coming down around Stacy and the Orange.

In this example I'm playing pretty fast and loose with damage. Every citizen has a pretty fixed damage track: Okay, Snafued, Wounded, Maimed, Down, Killed, Vaporized. Perfectly fine, injured and can't spend Perversity on your own character, no perversity and missing a limb, knocked prone and gets one more action before being KO'd the next round, dead, a scorched pile of ash. The official rules are that you calculate damage using the rating of armor and the damage stats of the weapon. Weapons have "steps" of damage, meaning that they can do a minimum amount and a maximum amount. The steps of a punch are Okay to Killed, a TacNuke has the steps of Killed to Vaporized. Each type of weapon does a different kind of damage: Impact, Energy or Biological. Explosives, lasers and plagues. And Armor can protect against certain kinds of damage or not protect against certain damage. A radiation suit protects against Energy and Biological, Reflec armor protects against Energy only (and has the added benefit of automatically protecting against colors of laser equal to its color and under, so Yellow blocks Yellow, Orange, Red and Infrared), Trooper protects up to Energy 3 and Impact 3. And no armor is no protection. So what's the "official" way to calculate damage?

1: Check the weapon's damage steps and start with the minimum amount of damage it does. Let's use the Orange's laser pistol as an example. A Laser Pistol does W3K damage, from Wounded to Killed, the number in the middle is the Boost number used to figure out bonus damage. So this pistol Wounds the Commie at the very least.
2: Reduce minimum damage by the a number of steps equal to armor value down to Okay. If this guy had real armor, he'd probably be alright, but the Red Commie has no armor so he's still Wounded at least.
3: Divide the margin of success (the gap between the successful roll and the target number) by the Boost and round down if you need to. Let's say the Orange's skill with energy weapons is 12 and he rolled a 6. 6/3=2, so +2 steps up.
4: Add the Boost to the minimum. So the attack now Downs the Commie. One way or another he's out of the fight and at the mercy of his own explosion.

The "unofficial" way? "Let's see. Target is twelve, you rolled a six, he's unarmored. Okay, you shoot him in the chest and he collapses as he throws the can of soda." THIS EXAMPLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY BOUNCY BUBBLE BEVERAGE. B3: THE DELICIOUS TASTE CLONES CRAVE!



TROOPER EQUIPMENT
Being a Blue clearance citizen, you actually get some pretty cool stuff and access to your very own (shared) vehicle! For starters, your Cone Rifle, the bastard child of a rifle, a rocket launcher and a grenade launcher. The damage of a cone rifle depends on what kind of cone you're using in the rifle. Load a shell, put a fuse in, fire and pray it doesn't jam and flies true. The Trooper-issued Cone Rifle can hold up to six primed shells in reserve and will automatically switch to them if you say what kind of shell you want to use. Or if someone else does. Or if you sneeze. Protip: put your players in places full of nasal irritants and remember that "achoo" sorta sounds like "tac-nuke". Common shells include: solid, rubber, dum-dum, high-explosive, gas, napalm, flare, glue, net, electronic counter-measure, tac-nuke, anti-vehicle. Fuses determine when the shells explode (if they explode). Default is contact, so if they touch something hard enough it goes boom. There are also heat fuses, remote fuses, gauss (if there's electronic distortion it detonates), timed fuses and purity fuses, which detonate if they detect mutant DNA. Those're especially fun. Just remember: if your Cone Rifle jams, don't hit it on anything hard or shove anything sharp down the barrel to unjam it.

Blues also get Laser Pistols as side-arms and truncheons for beating insolent citizens. Laser pistols require barrels to be screwed on to fire, firing lasers colored by the barrel. Each barrel is good for six shots and crack on the sixth. A dumb citizen/Troubleshooter/Trooper would replace the barrel on the sixth shot. A smart citizen/Troubleshooter/Trooper knows that a cracked barrel can still fire (but every shot lowers the critical jam ceiling from 20 by one for each extra shot; when that critical jam inevitably catches up with you, your whole pistol is probably gonna explode in your hands).

The X-317b suit of armor for Troopers is pleasantly protective, unlike standard Red Reflec, and it's full body except for the head. It's perfect for the active Trooper on the go. Your helmet has some fun tools too, like the giant deafening siren on your head that you can turn on and off (or get stuck permanently on), a flatscreen computer visor for checking for information/talking to Central, a deployable built-in camera, Perception Filters so you can't be affected by evil Commie propaganda and a built-in airbag that triggers at the slightest tap on your forehead.

You also get JET BOOTS!



You want to be careful with your jet boots, considering how even tap-dancing jauntily can set the drat things off. The moment someone turns their jet boots on and makes a "Use Jet Boots" roll is the moment everything is gonna go off the rails, so make sure you keep a hand on your laser pistol for your own protection. You steer using either your feet or your helmet's controls, whichever works for you, but remember: if they're not hovering, you're not stopping.

On top of this armor, certain Troopers get access to the X-404 Powered Armor. It offers 5 protection against everything and covers your whole body and head, but it's only offered to Security Officer Trooper, it's pretty slow, it's a giant, loud target and it's got a battery that can be recharged from power outlets and cigarette lighters in vehicles. If the battery runs out, you're pretty much trapped in their until you suffocate. The major upside is if your allies ever decide to turn on you, you're probably gonna win that firefight. Therefore the only logical course of action is to kill anyone who suggest you step out of the armor.

There are also DRUGS available. You can take drugs, you can make people take drugs, you can shower the citizens with drugs and let the fun and truth flow like blood from an overdose nosebleed. I will let the Drug Chart speak for itself. Remember citizen, drugs are mandatory.



YOUR VERY OWN SQUAD CAR (TO EVENTUALLY DESTROY)

As a Trooper, you get a squad car to share with the rest of your team. Vehicles are used to navigate the Transtubes, which are massive underground tube-shaped highways where there is no speed limit and you're probably going to end up driving on the ceiling. Transtubes are clearance-coded like the rest of Alpha Complex, so despite being Blue there are a lot of detours you're probably going to end up taking trying to get to the scene of the crime. Could be worse; you could be a hapless Red Troubleshooter stowed away in the back of a Transbot who has to hop from car to car so they're not in a forbidden clearance zone. Transtubes have a central rail in the middle of the tube that provide power, and Power Services is responsible for maintaining these rails. In layman's terms, a lot of transtubes don't have power or have power that flicker. Some of them are underwater, some of them are flooded, and some of them are underwater and flooded and the central rail is live.



So you have a car and hopefully you didn't piss off the motor pool so you have a GOOD car. This means you have a hovering vehicle driving through the Autobahn equivalent of a railgun full of drugged maniacs flying alongside you and you have to weave and evade around them to get to the exit you need without crashing at any step along the way. Your car comes equipped with an autopilot, which is all well and good except their intelligence is tied to whether or not the tube your in has power issues, it doesn't account for construction, and it doesn't know how to evade incoming traffic or brake at intersections. So you're probably going to have to steer manually, and Vehicle Operations training is not included in IntSec training. One more thing to note: your vehicle is powered by a shiny microfusion generator so even if the power fails, your car will still keep going, just in freefall. The generator is also enclosed in plastic, not lead, and you might want to not hit the ground that hard.



In summation, transtubes and driving your shiny new vehicle is a great way to kill everyone on your team if you think they deserve it. And believe me, they deserve it. To increase your odds of survival, you should probably be/shoot the driver and jump out. Just another "accident" in Alpha Complex, citizens.

NEXT TIME: Trooper Duties, Investigations and Your Roles in the Group.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Some of you may recall a series of write-ups I did for an out of print system called The Riddle of Steel. Well, a few fans of the system decided to make a successor, aimed at emulating the Sword and Sorcery literary genre, named Blade of the Iron Throne. What is Sword and Sorcery? Think Conan - the books, not the movies. Think Solomon Kane (again the books, not the movies). Think the Slaine comics from 2000AD. Basically, it's a harsh world, with heroes whose only allegiances are to them and theirs. Would anyone be interested in hearing more?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

So, how do the Hibernians view the core of the Code of Hermes? Well, let's look at the clauses. The Deprivation of Magical Power clause is interpreted to apply only to those resources within claimed land protected by a covenant. Any resources outside that boundary are free game. You can put your marker on them, but you'll have to defend them yourself, not with law. The Slaying of Magi and Wizard's War clauses are taken as normal - any murder outside Wizard's War is a high crime. Forfeit immunity happens when you try to kidnap an apprentice, steal a cathach, enter a sanctum, assault a familiar or raid legally protected vis. We've already talked about how Wizard's War must be declared in Ireland.

The clause on abiding by Tribunal decisions is standard, though they have their own interpretation of what 'reasonable interpretation of the Code' means for purposes of overriding a Presiding Quaesitor's veto. The voting rights clause - well, any magus who can prove residence with a cathach has a vote, which they can give as proxy to others as normal. Hibernia also recognizes the votes of appointed supernatural ambassadors from the supernatural realms and ancient races. These votes have exactly as much weight as anyone else's. The Mundane Interference clause is taken with a Transitionalist view, since in such a small Tribunal with such a small population, where many magi will have familial ties...well, association with mundanes is inevitable. Ireland's kings have a history of going to druids for aid, and magi have been counted among them sometimes. Charges of interference require that the Order must be shown to have been endangered as a result.

Scrying, now, the scrying clause is also one that requires a lot of evidence. Without clear evidence of scrying detected by a "trustworthy person," the Tribunal requires that any information learned must have been impossible to gain by mundane means. Thus, most magi accept that some scrying is inevitable and prefer to settle things more directly than via complaints at Tribunal. The apprentice clause is taken not to apply to those in their macgnimartha - they are no longer their parens' responsibility. Bonisagus retains its traditional privilege, but any Bonisagus claiming an apprentice must do so either when they are first presented by the Coill Tri or their parens or at a subsequent Tribunal before the macgnimartha - so no stealing apprentices between Tribunals.

While the Casting Out clause exists, Hibernia prefers exile to casting a magus out of House or Order. An exiled magus must leave Hibernia under threat of Wizard's March. Exiles may petition to return, but must find a resident magus to stand for them and plead their case, which is then given to vote. The Enemies and Allies clause is taken to define all elder races of Ireland as allies - the Fomorach, the Tuathe De Danann and the Fir Bolg. The Coill Tri is also defined as allies of the Order by the Treaty of Cnoc Maol Reidh. This provides protection - an ally of the Order must be given the same warning as a magus of any Wizard's War.

Beyond that, hedge wizards in Ireland are generally considered allies of the Order. The protections this offers are not absolute, however. They may legally own a single vis source, and while they may use others, these others are not protected. House Mercere must take messages to the Coill Tri as they would any covenant, but individual hedge wizards only sometimes receive visits, and that's not official or required. A hedge wizard has the right to join a covenant, which in principle gives greater protection, but in practice they are expected to join House Ex Miscellanea and the Order. Wizard's War must be declared on hedge wizards before attacking them, as with magi, and slaying a hedge wizard outside a War is the crime of assaulting allies of the Order. Magi who declare Wizard's War on 'all hedge wizards' - which is legal in Ireland - are traditionally persuaded to allow their Wars to lapse. So far, no English magus has made such a declaration.

Any magus caught in possession of a cathach is treated as if they have invaded a sanctum. A thief must protect a cathach for a full year from all aggression if they plan to claim a covenant's resources. It'd be possible to disenfranchise a covenant by stealing its cathach and denying its magi votes at Tribunal, but doing so would risk making the Tribunal inquorate. Of course, few magi want to see the Siege of Praesis repeated across Ireland. Still, it's a foolish covenant that leaves a cathach undefended. Sure, they can't be in the Aegis, but many covenants make pacts with faeries or beasts to defend the cathach. It is tradition in Hibernia to live and let live, for the most part - the best protection against aggression is to not be so aggressive yourself.

Much as mundane Irish justice does not often kill, Hibernia rarely uses the Wizard's March or the destruction of either familiar or talisman as punishments. Compensation for damages and correction of errancy is the focus, and fines, obligations and restrictions are common, with exile as the highest punishment. Fines of vis outright are rare, however, and instead access to vis sources tends to be granted to the wounded party for a set period. Only one crime in all of Ireland is punished by March: trafficking with demons. Still, on the rare times that the clause of the Oath that requires execution is invoked, it is taken deadly seriously - though Hibernian justice does not pursue off the island, as a rule. Those who flee justice are considered exiled and, unless they return by the next Tribunal, will be cast out of the Order. In practice, however, no one tells anyone outside Ireland when this happens...but Irish memories are long, so if you flee, don't come back. There are few hoplites in Ireland, as it is expected that all covenants can defend themselves and will offer that strength when needed by the Tribunal.

The Irish work hard to maintain good relations with the magical and mundane beings of Ireland, and any magical beast that threatens that peace is punished by the Order. There is no set punishment, but faeries have been clapped in irons and magical beasts have been forced out of their homes or pressed into service. Enforced binding into servitude is the ultimate punishment, invoked only once in the past - there are lab texts for magic bridles, yokes and rings to command obedience, but no one is keen to see that incident repeated, though the threat is there.

When the Coill Tri break their agreements or obligations, they must make good to the Tribunal. The Order retains authority over Connacht, even if it does not enter it. As there is no Code for the Coill Tri, each case is judged on its merits. Those who displease the Order are forced to serve or give tribute in vis each season for a year, are banned from certain regions or given other punishments fitted to the crime.



The Hibernian Tribunal meets at Cnoc na Teamhrach, the Hill of Tara, in Meath, which is home to the Lia Fail. Traditionally, Circulus Ruber makes all arrangements, including the spells needed to raise a temporary settlement. Before the Tribunal proper, embassies from the hedge wizards, faerie factions and magical creatures meet with magi to discuss things, in what is known as the Sacred Council. The Praeco and Presiding Quaesitor both attend, and other magi attend by invitation. All supernatural beings of Ireland may attend, and it is here that their ambassadors for the Tribunal are chosen. The Tribunal is always opened with a prayer from the Holy Tradition of the Celi De; currently, the role is filled by the magus Indrectach. The Tribunal typically lasts seven days and nights and closes with another prayer. Official business is in Latin, but Irish is commonly spoken casually. Weather is kept good by magic and food is provided.

While every recognized supernatural group may send an ambassador, the Infernal has never tested this right so far as anyone is aware. The Coill Tri choose their own ambassador from among their number, to speak for all hedge wizards in Ireland - including those who are unaware of it. This ambassador is responsible for ensuring the duties of the Coill Tri are met, and to handle issues dealing with hedge wizards. The role is not easy, and generally no one trusts the Coill Tri ambassador, including the Coill Tri. The English magi hold their own pre-Tribunal council to reach consensus on key issues, usually about Code reform, though the aggression of the covenant na Lam Baird is also a concern these days. Consensus isn't easy to get, and the council needs strong leaders. They do not choose an ambassador, as they are magi and can all attend and vote.

The Tuatha De Danann choose their ambassador at the Sacred Council, while the Fomorach and Fir Bolg always send ambassadors from their royal lines. Faeries outside the Tuatha De can send an ambassador, and if they don't, House Merinita will select a representative for them at the Sacred Council. Magical beasts that can speak human language may also select an ambassador from their ranks. If they don't, a magus of the Order speaks for them. Individuals other than the ambassadors may not enter formal treaties except via the ambassador.

Currently, the ambassadors of the Hibernian Tribunal are as follows. Fothaid, a younger son of the Fir Bolg King, who is an impressive figure - seven feet tall, muscular, graceful, eloquent and handsome. He is exceptionally vain about his pure royal blood and will enter a rage at the suggestion that he is less than perfect. He cares little about the Fir Bolg and tends to use the Tribunal to gain admirers. King Madan Muinreamhair of Tir Fhomoraig has sent his ugliest relative, Aimid, to represant the Fomorach. Aimid's face is pustulent, her arms mismatched, her feet unable to be shod and with nails like horn. She never tries to hide her deformities and enjoys the reaction they provoke in humans. Few have ever gotten to know her closely, but she is in fact a very shrewd and canny politician. She is carried on a bier by four Fir Bolg slaves to prevent her from touching Irish soil.

Until two Tribunals ago, the magical beasts were represented by a fiorlair, a 'true mare,' until an English magus crassly asked her to be his familiar, which she took to be some form of magical servitude. She resigned her post in disgust, and it has been taken by the King of the Eagles, who claims lordship over all birds in Ireland, though whether this is legitimate is unknown. The deal that brought him to Tribunal was brokered by Cliodna of Lambaird. The Tuatha De Danann are generally represented by the faerie Mug Ruith, who styles himself after a famous Munster druid that studied under Simon Magus in Jerusalem. Mug Ruith is the court magician of the Munster kings, and some say he was the executioner of John the Baptist, forever cursing the Irish with violence. Mug Ruith currently served Bobd, the king of Munster's Tuatha De, by joining the Sacred Council every seven years, arriving with his flying machine, the roth ramach ('oared wheel'), a bull hide and a bird mask. Mug Ruith is known to live on Dairbhre Isle, off the western coast of Desmond. He owns many magical items, including a chariot, a shield and a stone that at one point could change into a poisonous eel but seems no longer capable of doing so. He lives with his faerie daughter, Tlachtga, who is also a potent druid.

Next Time: Connacht

Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird


hectorgrey posted:

Some of you may recall a series of write-ups I did for an out of print system called The Riddle of Steel. Well, a few fans of the system decided to make a successor, aimed at emulating the Sword and Sorcery literary genre, named Blade of the Iron Throne. What is Sword and Sorcery? Think Conan - the books, not the movies. Think Solomon Kane (again the books, not the movies). Think the Slaine comics from 2000AD. Basically, it's a harsh world, with heroes whose only allegiances are to them and theirs. Would anyone be interested in hearing more?

I've been wondering if it's worth snagging, so

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!




Gettin’ Started in Sigil

The next section covers campaign quick starts. These are not full adventures, but seeds which let the DM work out the details. Actually, the framework is pretty thorough and provides stats for important encounters. And all the DM really needs to do is stat out the other NPCs. Many books have campaign seeds structured like the ones presented here. There are two seeds, both designed for characters at 1st-3rd level.

The first one deals with how to bring adventurers from a Prime Material World to Sigil. The background story is that a thieves den in Sigil have found a stable portal to a Prime world and are now ripping off it’s residents. The catch is that the gate key to go back to Sigil is a freshly cut rose, and a nearby noble’s garden has an ample supply of those. That’s where the PC’s get involved. The noble lady, wondering about her roses and unable to rely on her servants, asks the PCs to get to the bottom of who’s messing with her rose garden.



Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but think that most players would think that the DM must of had a brain fart or something. But whatever, let’s assume that they’re aware the DM just bought this new campaign setting and he’s said this is how he’s going to introduce the players to it.

So the PCs stand guard that night, and a githzerai mage-thief named Yangol steps through the portal. His tactic is to try to hit them with the sleep spell, then cast change self and go about plundering the manor. This itself should encourage the PCs to try again to catch the bugger. If the spell fails, Yangol tries to grab a rose and go right back through the portal. Whether he gets away or the PCs catch and interrogate him (it doesn’t take anything for him to talk, but he’s gonna use lots of planar slang), they’ll have a good idea of how to use the portal from their end. Nothing left to do but go through the portal.

The portal will land them in the Lower Ward, not far from the Great Foundry. While the rose opened the portal to Sigil, it won’t work the other way. So the PCs are stuck until the DM gets tired of the setting. The DM is encouraged to describe the crowd of strange and otherworldly residents passing the PCs by. Before they can do anything constructive, they bump into a spinagon (a type of baatezu, described in The Planescape Monstrous Compendium, but not, y’know, in the adventure that introduces him!). The little devil acts like an rear end in a top hat to the PCs, but before anything serious can happen, a Free League Bariaur named Stronghoof calms the situation down. Being the helpful sort, he’ll clue the PCs in on where the gently caress they just stumbled into.

After that...it’s really up to what the DM wants to do. If this is a one-off adventure (in which case the DM should be thinking about why he bought an entire box set and ran an adventure that requires yet another supplement), then the immediate business is to track down Yangol and/or his gang. If this is the start of a campaign in the Planescape setting, then the portal disappears or moves somewhere else. The PCs now have to get their bearings, probably by deciding on a Faction or whatever other hook the DM has.



The other adventure is for a party of planar characters. Like the last adventure, it’s meant for low level characters. There are some recommendations of party composition: specifically that the party should be Good-aligned, and should include a priest. The background deals with the Chinese Power Yen-Wang-Yeh, whose realm was introduced earlier in the book. While the god is off meeting with the Celestial Emperor, his underlings lose track of a recently arrived petitioner that’s wandered off to Sigil. The minor clerk that’ll likely get blamed for the cock-up is now trying to track her down. Meanwhile, the petitioner in question has decided that she quite likes Sigil and has no interest in returning.

The PCs become involved when they spot the clerk, named Faithful Servant Li, blundering around town asking if anyone has seen a woman and acting obviously out of place. Hopefully the PCs realize they should help this guy out before he gets shivved in an alley, but if it doesn’t he goes up to the PCs and bugs them for help. Unfortunately, two factioneers overhear Li’s description of his problem-a Dustman and a Mercykiller. And both have philosophical reasons for going after the petitioner themselves (the Dustmen want to study her, and the Mercykillers see her as a fugitive). Meanwhile, the petitioner herself (named Morning Glory Radiance) has been taken in by the Bleak Cabal, who see a fresh petitioner as a great opportunity to impart their philosophy on what is effectively a blank slate.

Stats are provided for Li, M.G.R., and agents of the Dustmen, Mercykillers and Bleak Cabal. However the actual adventure is structured is pretty much up to the DM, but the book encourages an investigative structure to let the PCs explore the city. If the DM doesn’t realize it, the book spells out in the last part that this adventure seed sets up a nice exploration of the differences between the Factions in the city. Besides that, it creates a nice conflict between helping out an increasingly nervous civil servant and respecting the wishes of M.G.R.

Next, the book describes two new spells that are pretty important in this setting. The first one is Surelock, a 4th level Priest spell that keeps portals from appearing or working in the spell’s radius. Pretty important for keeping a bunch of smelly, bloody planewalkers from suddenly strolling into your gala ball. The one issue is that it’s radius is 60-feet, so you need a lot of castings to cover a large structure. Fortunately, it lasts a day per caster level. The second spell is Warp Sense, a 2nd level Wizard spell that can locate portals. Further investigation (represented by making a saving throw versus...spell, I guess, for each piece of info) reveals where the portal leads or what the spell key is.

Finally, the book ends with an appendix on Cant, the slang used in Planescape. I won’t include all the terms introduced so far. Many are just faction nicknames, while others are easy to figure out in context. But here are some of the more confusing ones:

-Addle-cove, Berk, Leatherhead: an Idiot
-Bob, Peel: to con someone
-Bub: booze. A Bubber is a drunk
-Cross-Trade: illegal business. A Knight of the Cross-Trade is a liar, cheat.
-Pike it: gently caress off
-Out-Of-Touch: outside the Outer Planes
-The Leafless Tree: the gallows
-Case, Kip: a place where a person lives



Next Time: It’s not about smashing and looting, but we’re giving you stats anyways

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 15:48 on Jan 10, 2014

Nostalgia4ColdWar
May 7, 2007

Good people deserve good things.

Till someone lets the winter in and the dying begins, because Old Dark Places attract Old Dark Things.


Interesting little point on d20 Modern firearms.

They intended on making them into basically the same except with 'gadgets' attached to them. The thought behind that was: "If the Mankiller 9000 is the hands down the best pistol nobody will take anything else." and by making the various pistols the same, except maybe ammo capacity, they thought to balance firearms a little bit.

Another thing was that people thought that the damage was extremely low, but most people missed the massive damage check section of the book and the rule during development was a Fort Check DC: 10+Damage which was supposed to make firearm combat extremely dangerous.

So the firearms look a little janky if the design decisions and the MDC isn't known about.

But wait till you get to the vehicles, where a man armed with a katana, a certain strength, and a couple of feats and cut through an M1A1 hull.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


So, as some of you may remember, I wrote about a game called The Riddle of Steel some time ago; it was an awesome game, with some features that I really, really liked and some that I thought were just a little bit dodgy (the lower is better skill system, for instance). Still, it's the first game I ever ran, and I still reckon the combat system more than makes up for the skill system. Anyway, there are a couple of successor games; one recently(ish) released, Blade of the Iron Throne, and one still in development, Song of Steel. I'm here to look at the former of the two, and ultimately see how it compares with the original. But to begin, a few words from the guy who ran the forum that kept this game going for far longer than any expected it to.

Ian Plumb posted:

Introduction

Eleven years ago today Jake Norwood and team were wrapping up development of their revolutionary RPG, The Riddle of Steel. The following March the game was released at GAMA -- andthe first print run sold out. A second printing soon followed and it is this version of the game that most players remember so fondly.

The fact that we’re still talking about a game that was released nearly eleven years ago, a game that hasn’t had any official material published for it in the last five years, a game that still has an active community behind it, is testament to the originality of Jake’s game. What attracted gamers to it all those years ago still holds true today -- player-driven story and detailed, realistic combat mechanics producing a true Narrativist-Simulationist hybrid that appeals to players and referees alike.

About two and a half years ago the trosfans community broached the subject of a successor game in earnest. Over the years many had asked whether a new version of TRoS could be produced, one that addressed the inconsistencies prevalent in the first edition. Issues over ownership and copyright ruled out that option and so the idea of a successor game was introduced. Ninety threads and nearly two thousand posts later every aspect of TRoS has been picked apart and alternatives suggested.

Upon this maelstrom of ideas order needed to be imposed. The greater pool of concepts needed to be gleaned, the numbers winnowed, until a coherent whole was formed. Who better to do this than two of the communities’ most active contributors? Phil and Michael had a clear vision for an RPG that worked seamlessly within the classic genre of Sword and Sorcery fiction.

Today, with Blade of the Iron Throne they have produced a successor to TRoS that has none of the anomalies, none of the inconsistencies, none of the gaps -- yet retains a clear link to TRoS through player-driven story and demanding, realistic combat scenes.

If Conan were to pick up a role-playing game, he’d choose this one.

Ian Plumb – December 2012

Bold words. True ones though? Let's find out.

Each chapter begins with two pages to separate them from the last; one with a quote of a few Paragraphs to get you in the mood, and one with a sentence or two along with the chapter number and title. So that's how I'll begin too.

Karl Edward Wagner posted:

A battered, gut-weary handful of hunted men – ruthless, half-wild outlaws hounded bykillers as remorseless as themselves. Shivering in their dirt and blood-caked bandages, theyrode on in grim determination, thoughts numb to pain and fear – although both phantomsrode beside them – intent on nothing more than the deadly necessity of flight. Flight from the hired bounty killers who followed almost on the sound of their hoofbeats.

They were well mounted; their gear was chosen from the plunder of uncounted raids. But now their horses stumbled with fatigue, their gear was worn and travel-stained, their weapons notched and dulled from hard fighting. They were the last. The last on this side of Hell of those who had ridden behind Kane, as feared and daring an outlaw pack as had ever roamed the Myceum Mountains.

No more would they set upon travellers along the lonely mountain passes, pillage merchants’ camps, terrorize isolated settlements. Never again would they sweep down from the dark-pined slopes and lay waste to villages on the coastal plains, then dart back into the secret fastness of the mountains where the Combine’s cavalry dared not venture. Their comrades were dead, fed ravens in a forgotten valley countless twisted miles behind their bent shoulders. Their leader, whose infamous cunning and deadly sword at last had failed them, was dying in his saddle.

They were all dead men.

And night was upon them.

Chapter 1: Mechanics

The Forlorn Tomb of Du'Karrn posted:

Ushered before it, they prostrated before this throne of iron, its visage as black as the ravaged souls of those votaries before it. But its stair granted none its purchase; It was an ebon boon that none could claim unless first claimed by it...

The book begins with the standard "What is an RPG?" section. It's about the same as every other such section, so I'll move straight onto the second bit - what makes this game different from other Fantasy RPGs. Simply put, this game is not a typical High Fantasy RPG. It's a Sword and Sorcery RPG. The major differences are twofold. The first is that typically in such stories, the heroes are men of action. While they may or may not be intelligent, they rarely hesitate to act when necessary. They have no need of divine intervention nor of the typically evil magics used by lesser men; they thrive on their wits and their blades.

The second is that Sword and Sorcery tends to be somewhat harsher than High Fantasy. The setting is harsh, and the heroes typically are too - they must be, in order to survive. They will kill and steal to get what they want, and not be troubled by it. In fact, there's typically only one thing separating them from the villains - the heroes don't stab their friends in the back. They respect honourable adversaries and their allies, but anybody else is fair game. Some show more compassion and kindness than others, of course, but even the nicer ones will kill and steal from people they don't particularly like for no other reason than that. There's more information about this later, so I'll get back to it then.

Next, the chapter discusses the different die rolls you may have to make, and the dice you use for them. I hope you've got a shitload of d12s... No, that's not a typo. This game uses a similar die rolling system to The Riddle of Steel, but instead of d10s, they use d12s. Maybe it's because they roll better, or maybe it's because the authors felt they needed more love. They also use d6s for some things, but unless I say otherwise, assume I'm talking about d12s. A check involves rolling a number of d12s, and each die that's equal to or greater than the TN (typically 7) is a success. The more successes you roll, the better you do, and sometimes you need more than one success to actually succeed.

Anyway, we have Attribute Checks, wherein you roll a number of dice equal to your attribute. For skill checks, you roll a number of dice equal to your skill, but it may be not be equal to or greater than double the most related attribute to the situation. For example, if Cunning is the most related to the situation, and you have it at a 3, you may only use up to 5 dice, regardless of skill. If you don't have the skill, you may roll the related attribute instead, but must get double the successes you would have otherwise needed. The third type of check is a Proficiency Check. They're typically made by choosing a number of dice out of a pool to roll (typically melee, ranged or sorcery), and rolling against a TN depending on the situation. If you roll two successes or more fewer than required (for example, only one success when you needed three), then it's a Complication; instead of a mechanical penalty, something happens in character that messes things up for you. These may happen on the spot, or later on.

In opposed checks, whoever gets the most successes wins. On a tie, the person trying to maintain the status quo wins - a thief sneaking past a guard wins on a tie, because the status quo is remaining undiscovered, but a thief picking someone's pocket loses on a tie, because the status quo is the item remaining unstolen. Pretty simple, really. If one party doesn't have the skill required, they roll the attribute as above, and must beat double the number of successes the person with the skill rolled. If multiple people are involved, each person rolls only once, and compares it with everyone. Here's the example from the book:

quote:

Otho makes his move at the ball and invites a rich old dowager (and her beautiful diamond necklace!) to dance. As they swirl about the dance floor he directs her to a somewhat unobserved spot and deftly attempts to remove the necklace. An Opposed Check with two antagonists to Otho is now called for:

The guard closest to the pair makes a Check of his Sagacity 4 Attribute, testing his powers of observation.

The dowager makes a Check of her Sagacity 3 Attribute, to determine if she is aware of the necklace being removed.

Otho will make a single Check of his Skill of Pick Pockets 6 against both. Otho needs to tie the guard’s result to pocket the necklace unobserved by the guard (the status quo being that the guard notices nothing special), but he needs to trump the dowager’s successes to filch the necklace (the status quo being that she has it).

Otho achieves an unlucky 2 successes, the guard an average 2 successes, and the dowager a somewhat lucky 2 successes. While the guard would have noticed nothing out of the ordinary, the dowager feels Otho’s groping fingers and raises a ruckus, leaving Otho to bluff his way out of a tight spot.

The last type of check we have is the timed check. This is where you need to achieve a certain number of successes within a certain number of rolls; each roll typically corresponding to a certain length of time.

Finally, we have attributes. There are six Basic Attributes (down from TRoS's five Temporal and five Mental), based on the attributes common to Sword and Sorcery heroes:

Brawn (BN), which covers your strength, endurance and ability to take physical punishment and not die from poisons
Daring (DG), which covers your courage, your ability to perform tasks like climbing and acrobatics, and your ability to attack and parry in combat.
Tenacity (TY), which measures your focus, determination and willpower.
Heart (HT), which covers your charisma and empathy. It's your main social attribute.
Sagacity (SY), which covers your mental agility. It covers your ability to notice things and make accurate logical leaps, as well as your general intelligence.
Cunning (CG), which covers your instincts, agility, reaction times and so forth. It's typically used for lock picking, hiding and sneaking around.

Next, we have the Passion Attributes; they are basically the same as Spiritual Attributes from TRoS, though the fifth one is always called Drama. These are player defined, and provide bonuses to to rolls, as well as being used in place of Experience Points. They are granted during play, and may be spent during play. The value doesn't measure how important the Passion is to your character; only role playing can do that. When you act according to your Passions, they get more points, which both give you bonuses and may be spent to improve your other stats.

The last kind of attribute is the Combined Attribute. These are:

Reflex: The average of Daring and Cunning, which determines reaction times. Used in melee combat.
Aim: The average of Sagacity and Cunning. Used in ranged combat.
Knockdown: The average of Brawn and Daring. Measures your ability to avoid being knocked on your rear end by particularly powerful blows.
Knockout: The average of Brawn and Tenacity. Measures your ability to remain conscious when hit by a REALLY powerful blow.
Move: The average of Brawn, Daring and Cunning. Measures how far you can go on foot when you're in a hurry.

Sorcerers get a sixth one, named Power.

And here endeth the first chapter.

I hope you all enjoyed it.

Majuju
Dec 30, 2006

I had a beer with Stephen Miller once and now I like him.

50 Foot Ant posted:

Interesting little point on d20 Modern firearms.

They intended on making them into basically the same except with 'gadgets' attached to them. The thought behind that was: "If the Mankiller 9000 is the hands down the best pistol nobody will take anything else." and by making the various pistols the same, except maybe ammo capacity, they thought to balance firearms a little bit.

Another thing was that people thought that the damage was extremely low, but most people missed the massive damage check section of the book and the rule during development was a Fort Check DC: 10+Damage which was supposed to make firearm combat extremely dangerous.

So the firearms look a little janky if the design decisions and the MDC isn't known about.

But wait till you get to the vehicles, where a man armed with a katana, a certain strength, and a couple of feats and cut through an M1A1 hull.

Yeah when I get to the combat I was going to point out massive damage and how that plays with things. And yes, for reference, an M1A2 has hardness 20 and 64 HP (and 6 Defense) so if you REALLY focus yourself, you can spend 3-5 minutes hacking away at it to eventually destroy it with a katana through a combination of Power Attack, Melee Smash & Ignore Hardness, and probably a bunch of other things, but your DM is going to have you murdered by snipers around halfway through the process.

Ningyou
Aug 14, 2005

we aaaaare
not your kind of pearls
you seem kind of pho~ny
everything's a liiiiie

we aaaare
not your kind of pearls
something in your make~up
don't see eye to e~y~e


So I started a writeup of the Mage supplement Destiny's Price well over a year ago and subsequently abandoned it, but I guess I've come back to rereading this terrible shitass book and writing about it! (So you don't have to. YOU'RE WELCOME.)

So, that having been said, welcome to Under the Knife: A Guided Tour of the streets as filtered through the terrible crime dramas of the nineties.



It begins with short fiction, bad 90s comic art of a domme stereotype with sunglasses and a corset and electrical tape over her nipples because really what else do you even do with electrical tape, and a gently caress YOU DAD quote from a song by Ice-T.

Yes, *that* Ice-T, star of both Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. (No, really. I looked it up on Wikipedia! Also I guess he was on Law & Order.)

Okay, so. The fiction! The fiction opening this chapter concerns a runaway living on the edge with her tough drug dealin' boyfriend who disappeared to pursue "this Lebanon thing," and reading it is pretty much like playing Darker and Edgier Bingo.

Russian/Middle Eastern drug dealers with "their Uzis and their freedom in a pipe?"
"The Fibbies?"
Learning ALL TOO LATE about birth control because of her stupid suburbanite parents, teen pregnancy, thinking about an abortion but miscarrying?
Slumlords, survival sex work, lines like "High school was numbing but at least nobody there was going to try to kill me for my boyfriend's stash?"
The kids from her old life totally persecuting her for her blue hair? Dropping out of school because she totally knew more than those condescending sheeple who called themselves her teachers?
Finding out (again, ~ALL TOO LATE~) that ~the streets~ are dark and scary and unknowable and probably contain all sorts of hidden dangers and etc.?

(oh gosh I think I got a bingo)

And so the chapter begins! It begins with that, and then there's a ~tour of the streets~ starting with this little gem:

"So what's your story, whitebread? What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this, as they say? What're you looking to score here, sweetheart? Drugs? Cash? Guns? Love? Everyone runs a scam here, girl, and if you think otherwise, you don't know poo poo."

So begins the narration by "Blue Sonya!" Now, there are a handful of themes running through this chapter, and they're all pretty dumb.

First, you don't know anything. gently caress. Goddamn poo poo gently caress rear end you don't know nothing about the streets which BY THE WAY are a jungle and it'll totally gobble up you MTV-fed suburbanites slumming down here but I do and I GUESS i'll lay it out for you GOD (obnoxious, and yet not nearly obnoxious as the narration in pretty much every chapter of The Orphan's Survival Guide)

Second, some people are born in the ghetto or sink into poverty and it's really depressing, but others? They descend to the ghetto because society is a rat race and even if you succeed you only get THEIR PIE and THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH OF THEIR PIE TO GO AROUND MAN and unlike the rest of the sheeple who DON'T EVEN QUESTION AUTHORITY BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLER they're brave enough to escape the great rat race that is literally everywhere else and the streets are a vast hidden world full of danger but also possibilities and "the opportunity to forge an existence according to your rules, according to your values."

Third, is there really such a thing.......as right and wrong? How...can you even judge? After all, THE FOUNDING FATHERS WERE CRIMINALS IN THEIR TIME AND PROHIBITION AND ANDAND AND "a new breed of gangster" who "hangs out, fully strapped, on the corner of Houston's 5th Ward, public enemy number one and he just don't give a gently caress," he's a patriot too okay he's just defending his home

(Fun fact, there's a quote from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil later in this chapter but his name is misspelled as "Neitsche" and I honestly can't tell if that's clever self-parody or just....y'know.)

In fact, everything is relative! "Drive-bys and carjackings and beating lonely masochists for pay (????one of these things is not like the other) might seem horrific to someone whose main worry is whether the neighbor's lawn is more expensively manicured then her own!" A college education doesn't make you better than street folk! You don't know us, so don't judge us! etc. etc.

This section comes to a close with a bit about how blah blah sheeple binary worldview once you commit a crime the veil is torn from your eyes and you'll always see ~the underground way~ to do a thing, and then...and then there's the amazing suburban racism trifecta that is the final paragraph. (See, this is familiar to me! This is familiar to me, because I live in a city with racial tension and de facto segregation so bad the loving BBC did a special on it, and I have heard people talk in complete seriousness about how jail is CRIME UNIVERSITY and improving the horrid public transit system here will mean those people coming into the well-to-do parts and doing crime and don't you know *those* people are all croh loving hell)

So this last paragraph, it starts off telling you about how "most street people hustle a little bit" (golly, 'street people' who 'don't get acquitted,' i wonder what they mean here!) They don't really think it's crime crime, and all their cool friends do it, too! Like, take this lady. She works in a liquor store, and it pays the rent and "lets her drink her supper with an employee discount." But if she has a date, she might take public transit to a mall across town and shoplift lingerie! But then if she gets caught, "women like her just don't get acquitted." But it's okay, because jail is also CRIME COLLEGE and plus she can meet new people to do crime with!

...so yeah.

"Sometimes, the city is very cruel. Sometimes there are no jobs to be had. Not as a clerk in a liquor store. Not even as a part-time bagman. Many denizens of the streets try not to get too attached to anything they own, for fear that someday they'll have to sell those possessions for basic food or shelter. It's living close to the line. Sometimes you have nothing left to sell but yourself."

The fourth theme is...sex work. Sex work everywhere! The writers simply cannot stop talking about people forced into survival sex work. The lexicon from the intro, the opening fiction, leading into the dumb ~~freedom of the streets~~ thing by asking "why a 14yo girl would suck cocks in bus stations when she could be anywhere else" and why anyone would "choose to have a baby knowing she couldn't provide for it without selling her body..."

And then sex work gets its own section! (The first of two in the book.) Goody.

"Oh, it starts off easy." First, showing your breasts for a twenty, and then loving loving, and the next thing you know it's "high-rolling people who like having a dick up some crack whore's rear end while watching her furiously scratch her head while thin blood runs down her emaciated flanks."

YEP

Now, it tells us, it isn't all bad! Sometimes you make a lot of money and you can gently caress dudes in fancy hotels or move to the suburbs or a kindly rich john will buy you (yep, it actually says this) or you can afford to turn down Rapey McStrangle once in awhile!

At the other end of the spectrum, though....well, some "whitebread loser" with "his semen still warm in some 14yo boy's mouth" (whyyyyyy does the writer keep coming back to fourteen-year-old prostitutes that's kind of weirdly, frighteningly specific) might tell you that prostitutes are victims, but...but the bottom of every profession is always victimized, right? A whore or an actress letting someone tie her up and beat her and also have sex with her out of desperation, a writer doing work on spec? Saaaaame thing.



Same thing!


When "a girl has sold access to every orifice of her lily-white bod," though, she can always sell her blood! Or smoke drugs and then sell her blood. And maybe she'll find a man who likes her enough to give her lots of money for her blood! (But he might murder her instead.) Or she can sell her organs! Or other people's organs. (Organ-legging? Snuff films? Child porn rings? PROBABLY A THING I MEAN YOU KNOW HOW THE STREETS ARE)

The next section is blessedly short -- ~street people~ go by ~street names~ like "Needle Dick the Bug Fucker" and anonymity is important, because people want to keep a low profile! And, we're told, it's one thing for a career criminal to have sex with three ladies who weren't even paid okay, but it's another thing to "take the fillies back to your place" (which is both kind of confusing, because the segment before last said that pretty much everyone on the street is doing *some* kind of crime as a regular thing, and kind of gross, because....*fillies*? Is this proto-ponyporn? This being a Mage supplement and all, are they magical realist thug ponygirls? I....what?)

Some people can't or won't keep a low profile, like "the pimp with the zebra-striped Cadillac and the whores with missing fingers" (ooooooof course.) and "the barkeep with the purple hair who always knows who's holding." Also I guess if you drive a nice car in the ghetto you're "likely able to muster swift and hideous retribution, even from beyond the grave," but driving a nice car in the ghetto is also dangerous because just like in the Wild West someone will want to earn a reputation by shooting you for your fancy car.

Five! There's all kinds of things to find on the streets. Most liquor stores don't card! Most nightclubs house secret illegal gambling dens and more prostitutes because of course and more still! Ethnic restaurants are probably fronts for organized crime (a deli might hold the books for the secret mafia numbers racket, a Chinese restaurant is a triad business hall, etc.)! There's a secret mob clinic where you can buy new faces in every city! Businessmen with weird sexual proclivities can "descend into the underworld" and get their erotic asphyxiation while dressed like a sheep on, ~creatives~ who "require the heartbeat of the city to be creative" can do art things if they don't get consumed by the dark streets or become junkies, charity workers can get warmfuzzies even though everyone can totally "see right through to the way certain folks like to apply their bourgeois values to things they have no right to even try to understand, see right through the way these people try to dictate and even legislate what they can't understand" (UGH GOD MOM), thrill-seeking normies can "risk it all in an anything-goes environment..."

In the next section, somehow we get from callous slumlords to squats to gangs murdering everyone in squats and turning them into stash houses to "I *guess* a person could go to a mission in the winter instead of becoming someone's sex slave in exchange for a place to stay or getting sent to jail 'til not-winter, BUT THE DO-GOODERS RUNNING THOSE TOTALLY HAVE AN AGENDA i mean i don't know about you but SOME OF US value our freedom gosh" to mutant alligators and wetbrains in the sewers.

Fun fact, there are stats in the back of the book for wetbrains ("decaying semi-human beings, reeking of rot, poo poo, and disease," WELP) and baby alligators what got flushed down the toilet, grew to massive size, and now "devour raw sewage and occasional repairmen, vagrants, and cops." And vampires.

Then we get a quote from Demian and a picture of a lady in a microdress and fishnets hanging out in what may or may not be the Stonehenge exhibit at the city museum but she's in someone's crosshairs (literally!) because ?????.

Okay, number six. There are a lot of crazy people on the street. Tons of them! Some of them came from overcrowded mental wards, some just...they're there! They're crazy! Their insanity terrifies everyone around them on a basic, primal level! Blah blah the Dark Ages never ended in the hood blah bluh crazy threatens to tear apart the fabric of reality etc.! It's okay, though, because sanity is a liability! If you're sane, and you still think like a member of society, you're harmless and you're totally going to be mugged and raped or maybe you'll be snapped up by a snuff film ring or someone'll steal your kidneys or rich kids'll set you on fire or maybe, maybe you'll run afoul of a serial killer! (The narration does mention that you probably won't get killed by a serial killer, though, because serial killers usually kill people because boner reasons and homeless people usually aren't, uh, 'appealing' enough. It goes on to say that homeless people usually aren't serial killers themselves, either! Because, uh..."starvation tends to deaden the sex drive." Did I mention that one of the sections with ready-to-use NPCs has a serial rapist/murderer complete with a prefab unhealthy childhood and an unsettlingly detailed MO for you to insert into your Mage campaign?)

The chapter ends with some discussion of how gang members "don't want to kill a homeless person any more than they want to kill a four-year-old" because it's bad PR and UGH THE PAPERS ONLY TALK ABOUT DRIVEBYS WHERE CHILDREN DIE THEY NEVER TALK ABOUT THE ONES DONE IN RECORD TIME WITH LASERLIKE EFFICIENCY UGH NO EYE FOR THE FINER POINTS and....this.

"Well, if you still want to cruise this asphalt, you're probably a moronic do-gooder who hasn't understood a word. You might last the night, honey, but you won't go home unscathed. At the very least, you won't make a difference. If you want to change things well, look at stuff from street level. Don't waltz in and tell everyone how to make their lives better. How the gently caress do you know what a pre-op transsexual prostitute wants? Ever been one? Ever cared about one on a personal level? All right, then. If you wanna learn to stay alive, learn to empathize."

A TRANSSEXUAL PROSTITUTE. BOOM. DROPS MIC ON STAGE.


So that was terrible and I need a shower or three. Next time, Nowhere to Go But Down (Culture)!

Ningyou fucked around with this message at 10:53 on Jan 9, 2014

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

I see you choosing that other route. How dare you.

Man. With that name for the book, I'm more amazed they're harping on 14 year olds instead of transsexuals.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region G: The Gods Must Be Stupid

map:



So, remember Region E? For those who don't recall, it was a "celestial garrison" where a large band of the original Celestial and Inevitable guardians of the dungeon are "under siege" by forces of evil vastly, vastly weaker than them. We're talking about a band of 4 Maruts who can't seem to handle about half-a-dozen shadows and a pair of 22 HD Leonals who seem to have trouble routing a couple of packs of Barghests. The Celestials of Region E couldn't be bothered to kill their own enemies, find their own "lost" artifacts (some literally only rooms away), or indeed to anything at all for themselves.

Now, if the Celestials of Region E seemed to have spent the last few centuries sitting around and doing nothing, the Celestials of Region G have practically tied themselves down to their chairs and blindfolded themselves instead of putting forth any effort at all to handle the evil that is overwhelming the dungeon they're meant to guard.

This region starts off with a big chunk of backstory which doesn't do a good job of fitting into the rest of the module. The original premise was that the WLD was, for the most part, setting neutral and could be dropped into any campaign setting or use no campaign setting at all (since the players will be trapped in the dungeon the entire time). Halfway through the book we're being told that just a few thousand years ago the world was ruled by a demonic overlord, angels taught elves and dwarves the ways of military combat and after the angels and demi-humans defeated the demon lord they imprisoned him in the dungeon (it's not clear whether the dungeon was already around before then, or if it was created to house this overlord and his minions). Because for some reason you can't just kill the bastard.

Really, this info dump serves no purpose. The PCs won't ever learn most of it, it's not particularly interesting and it doesn't really inform the plot of the region. It just boils down to "there's a powerful demon and his minions in this section. the minions are trying to break him out and the angels are trying to stop them". i.e. basically the entire plot of the dungeon.

Here the demons apparently destroyed enchanted crystals that fuel the lights, traps and wards in this region (note, this is the only region which seems to use this kind of power source, as there's never any chance for the PCs to fiddle with such things in previous regions), so the leader of the angels created a new power source using his own body, conveniently preventing him from helping out with the situation. Now, it's important to note that the angelic leader is a solar. That means he's a CR 23 badass, and the number of threats in the dungeon that he could not destroy by himself can be counted on one hand with fingers to spare. However, instead of simply wiping out the demons he decides to hook himself up as a power source to replace those enchanted crystals.

Oh, and just to be clear, the Solar is not the only power source available. You see there's an artifact called the Sacred Flame of Aranas which has the ability to fuel the wards and lights in this Region (by the way, just to be clear it is only this region that the Solar is keeping going, he is not sacrificing his life force to keep the whole dungeon contained, only the remaining traps in Region G and the prison of the demon lord). Now, keep in mind that a Solar has the spellcasting ability of a 20th level cleric and a crap-load of spell-like abilities. He has access to Wish and Miracle (the first is even a SLA, so it won't consume any XP). Even if the dungeon's anti-teleportation spells might be powerful enough to stop him from simply calling the artifact to hand it would be child's play for him to locate the artifact and there is literally nothing in the Region that could stop him from getting it.

But lets say, for the sake of argument, that its utterly unthinkable to allow any of the wards on the demon lord to weaken or lapse even for a moment. The Solar can't take the 5 minutes or so it would take to grab the flame and must immediately begin holding up the dungeon infrastructure himself. Now, the angels here know that the flame exists and that it can power the dungeon in place of their leader's life force. They've been here for centuries since the demons broke free. So, how weak are the forces of good that they cannot storm the demon's stronghold and return with the flame, and instead must rely on a band of 9-12th level PCs to help them? Lets to a quick headcount.


We've got...39 Hound Archons, including one with 4 levels of Paladin. Wow, that seems like a lot. And that's just the "stationary" encounters, not including the dozen-or-so that must be patrolling to account for random encounters. Now, that's a huge force of celestial badasses...but to be fair they're up against greater demons and committing their entire force to a battle might be too risky. It's understandable that these guys might just be barely able to hold onto a long-term stalemate...who else have we got?

Oh, look some Trumpet Archons. i.e. CR 14 celestials with the spellcasting power of a 14th level cleric on top of super-human stats and 12 Outsider HD? Each of whom easily outclasses any one of the PCs at this level? How many of them are there? 3 at least, I say at least because there are several random encounters that also include Trumpet Archons, meaning there are likely at least twice that number. And I'm not even including the Trumpet Archon stationed near the demon lord's prison helping to keep it stable. This is getting...less plausible...to say the least.

Now, finally, we've got a few Astral Devas. Despite also being CR 14 Astral Devas aren't quite as buff as Trumpet Archons as they lack the 14 spellcaster levels (but that's the fault of 3.5's CR system, not the WLD writers for once). So, how many is a "few". Why about TWELVE. And again, not including random encounters which can include up to 4 Devas per encounter.

So, we've got angelic forces consisting of the equivalent of 3 14th level clerics with super-powers, backed up by 12 super-fighters who have more spell-like abilities available than the party sorcerer has spells known and they're backed up by 3 dozen hound archons. How exactly are the celestials going to be looking for help from a party of humans who are just getting into double-digit levels at this point? What is there that they cannot accomplish that the PCs can? The answer is nothing, they simply seem content to let their leader die as they sit on their thumbs.

Oh, and to top it off the whole crew is led by the Solar's 2nd-in-command, a Planetar.

Now, how about the forces of evil that have broken free and the angels seem helpless to contain? There's a fair number of Dretches, but those things wouldn't even make the hound archons blink. CR 2 demons do not bear mentioning, especially when Astral Devas can lay down a 6d8 Holy Smite spell at will.

Well, there are a few Babou, who kind of fill the same role as the Hound Archons. They're marginally tougher, but there are only 17 of them and the 2-to-1 number advantage means that they don't really measure up to their celestial counterparts.

There's a handful of Vrock, about 5 of them. Needless to say that even if they were all working together its doubtful if they could measure up to even one of the Trumpet Archons. There's also a succubus who doesn't even rate consideration.

So, what about the major demonic lieutenants who have stolen the flame of mcguffin and are set on freeing their dark lord? Well, we've got one of each of the "mid-range" demons: a Hezrou, a Bebelith, and a Glaberazu. Only the Glaberezu comes anywhere near the power level of just one of the Trumpet Archons, let alone 3 backed up by a team of 12+ Astral Devas. The Planetar could potential take on all three at once, by himself.

And it's not like it would be hard for the angels to march on the demonic forces and take back the artifact. The Angels control areas G1-G33 and the demons G76-G97. Now you might think that sounds fairly far apart...but you aren't taking into account the World's Largest Dungeon's crappy cartography. Here's an illustration:



The blue is the celestial's territory, the red is the demons. The green line is the quickest path from the Solar's throne room to the location of the Flame (yes it goes over a river of lava, but everyone other than the Hound Archons can fly, and WLD lava produces no radiant heat or toxic gasses). For those keeping count the distance traveled would be roughly 700 feet. With a fly speed of 90 ft and sufficient buffs (no problem for a 17th level cleric) the Planetar could quite easily fly into demon territory himself, ignoring anyone trying to stop him and simply grab the artifact and leave...the whole process would take less than 3 minutes to go there and back.


And what about the demon lord himself? The guy buried in that huge cosmic bubble right in the center of the Region, the guy who once ruled the world and who this very dungeon may have been built to contain? He must be a truly epic opponent right? A Balor at the very least, if not one with extra class levels or HD, hell maybe even a custom-built demi-god demon? Someone that the PCs could be challenged by even if they faced him with the aid of numerous celestial allies.

Nope.

Lord Krasveshk is a Nalfeshnee, with 4 extra HD and the Improved critical feat, and that's it. I mean that literally too, the writers didn't even remember to increase his attack bonus to account for the extra HD. His stats and special abilities are identical. He's backed up by an unnamed Hezrou and Glaberazue that were apparently imprisoned with him. That puts this world-shaking evil two ranks down from the top of the demonic hierarchy. In fact, Krasveshk is not even the most powerful demon in this Region! There's actually a Marlith who, bizarrely, seems to be working for him rather than vice versa. The only reason I didn't mention the marlith earlier is because she seems perpetually occupied with scrabbling at a wall of force and is not located with the rest of the demonic forces.


So, to sum up, we've got demonic forces which would be extremely tough customers for PCs of the recommended level (which is remember, 9-12). However, compared to the celestials stationed here they're little more than a speedbump. And if the PCs either convince the celestials to get off their feathered asses and do something, or grab the flame on their own then they'll succeed at releasing a Solar. A Solar backed up by dozens of lesser celestials and his Planetar second-in-command. At this point the question becomes...what is the purpose of the PCs anymore? By the end of this Region they're pushing level 13 and that still makes them bloody useless compared to the vast celestial powerhouses here. If the PCs have already been to Region F and can hook up the two Celestial forces there really isn't anything to do but wait around while the angels clean house in the WLD because there is not a single thing that could possible stop them. Of course, the WLD's writers don't address this in the slightest and the assumption seems to be that after being freed from centuries of inaction and with their demonic enemies defeated all the celestials decide that they've earned a nice long nap.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 06:26 on Feb 6, 2014

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?


Forgot about this thread for a year and a half.

Considering picking back up my old Heavy Gear 2e Let's Read because I still love that system, and I never actually got to the good parts.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

There are a number of clans in Connacht, as well as the Coill Tri and the Fir Bolg. The Connachta clans claim descent from Conn Cetchathach, Conn of the Hundred Battles, and are cousins to the Ui Neill dynasty. They have ruled Connacht unchallenged for centuries despite deep-seated rivalries. The Ui Briuin rose to power five hundred years ago due to friendship with the druids. Their major septs include the Ui Briuin Breifne, who rule the Kingdom of Breifne, who include the Ui Ruairc and Ui Raghallaigh families, and the Ui Briuin Ai, rulers of Connacht, who include the ruling Ui Conchobair family. The Ui Fiachrach were once the dominant clan of Connacht, but lost to the Ui Briuin. Still, their old songs tell of the time when they ruled. Their families include the O Cleirigh and the O Sheachnasaigh. The Ui Maine drove the Fir Bolg west when they took the lands near Sionainne. Their influence has weakened over the centuries, and the Fir Bolg still hate them for it. Their families include the O Ceallaigh, the O Domhnallain and the O Fallamhain.

The Fir Bolg retreated to Connacht after their defeat by the Tuatha De. For centuries, they ruled the place until the Milesians came and drove them west. While diminished, the three tribes of the Fir Bolg can still be found on the Aran Islands. With the sole exception of the Fir Domhnann tribe, the Fir Bolg are Christian, converted by Saint Patric. The Fir Domhnann have sympathy for their bastard Fomoir blood and worship the goddess Domnu instead. While the Fir Bolg have little power as rulers, they are valued as counselors for their wisdom. However, the Fir Domhnann resent the rule of man, for it was their ancestor, Gannan, who was given Connacht to rule after the Fir Bolg came to Ireland.

The nobles of Connacht also protect and consult with several druids. Few in Connacht would dar bar the way of a druid. Those hedge wizards with a gift for divination are now seeing omens of change, and advise the people to prepare. Within a generation, the English may cross the border. Magic and Faerie auras are plentiful in Connacht, and even within the Dominion, hedge wizards seem to thrive. Vis is abundant, though rarely in great quantities. The Coill Tri is an imposition on the local druids by the Ordo Hiberniae, and many resent the restrictions endured and the tribute paid every seven years. They must give up seven Gifted Connachta children to the magi each Tribunal, and that does not sit well with them. Still, just as the Fir Bolg and Tuatha De owed tribute to the Fomoir and the kings of Connacht owe tribute to the English, the druids must accept that they owe tribute to the magi.

Connacht has many villages that move over the year to better support livestock. Thus, there are many booley villages - collections of simple homes occupied for but a season or two beforem oving on. This leaves many villages free for faerie use, and a wise traveler should be careful when looking for shelter in a booley. Crannogs are also common - structures built on stilts or platforms rising from a lake. These support homes or even small villages, though most are now empty and abandoned to the fae and druids.

The Kingdom of Breifne extends from Sligo, on the western shore, almost to the eastern Kells. It borders northern Ulster, eastern Meath and southern Connacht, and it spans the River Sionainne. While its land is fertile, it has few people, and is full of Magic auras due to its untouched, wild beauty. The other realms have little influence. Breifne is a particular problem for the Order - the crown of Breifne is subject to the kingdom of Connacht, but the wording of the old treaty is unclear over whether Connact is considered to stop at the Sionnaine or if it covers all lands subject to the kings of Connacht. At present, there are no covenants within Breifne, and the Coill Tri argue that its land is theirs.

The Kingdom of Connacht itself was last ruled freely by the ruthless Ruaidhri Ui Conchobhair, who became High King, but his banishment of Mac Murrough led directly to the English invasion. Unable to stop the English, he asked the Fir Bolg kings of Arainn Mor for advice. They gave him Fionntan's counsel, and on October 6, 1175, he signed the Treaty of Windsor, acknowleding Henry as ruler of Ireland. He remained, conditionally, the King of COnnacht so ling as he paid yearly tribute. Connacht still pays it. Ruadhri retired to a monastery, dying in 1198, and the current king is his half-brother, Cathal. In real history, he remains king until 1224, when he is succeeded by his son, Aedh. The title of high king is lost forever, with the exception of two failed attempts to restore it.

Near Sligo, between Sligo Bay and Ballisodare Bay, there is a collection of stone circle and tombs. The hill of Cnoc na Re is at the western end of the peninsula, and at its summit is an immense tomb of loose stone. This tomb is 180 feet across, nearly 35 feet tall. This is where Queen Meadhbh is buried - upright, and looking northeast, watching Ulster. It is said she keeps vigilant should the Ulstermen ever try their luck against the Connachta.



The village of Drumcliffe is home to the old druid Bran Bodhar, who spends his days in a tower. Rumor has it that he can see the future; rumor is correct, and indeed his power of divination is so keen that he can sometimes even see tomorrow, let alone big events. However, he is both deaf and illiterate, which can make getting information out of him rather difficult. Good luck with that! Connacht is also home to Loch na Sul, the site where the Fomorach king Balor of the Baleful Eye was slain by Lugh. His sling shattered Balor's eye, and the fire from the eye burned a hole in the ground. His blood filled the hole, forming Loch na Sul, the Lake of the Eye. The blood is gone now, but parto f Balor's eye remains, providing a Magical aura for the lakes. Were the eye to be removed, the magic aura would fade.



The Pact of Oireadh is a group of druids intent on inventing their own unified theory of magic, with the ultimate (and secret) goal being the creation of their own form of a Parma Magica. The druids were once allies of Praesis, hedge wizards who learned how the Order came to power and how they were protected from magic. They turned to their own research. The group has had trouble from the Gift, so they prefer to live far apart and meet each other rarely, using messengers to communicate. The more academic of the Oireadh have turned towards understanding the various druidic magics, but their research is kept secret for fear of the response of the Coill Tri and the Order. They have no love of the English. They do not discriminate between traditions - their number contains a Fir Bolg, a Witch, a Goetic sorcerer and a Learned Magician at the least. Adhamh Brathair is the LEarned Magician and founder, who sees his work as for a greater good which he will not see done in his lifetime. Umor Ard Mac Adar is a Fir Bolg of the Fir Domhnann, who bears the deformity of his blood in the form of an extra pair of arms and healing powers. He is otherwise handsome, if somewhat fearful of humans. Mor Greannach is the witch, a woman who takes her name from the thin beard she has. She is very old, and both revered and distrusted by her people. She knows quite a lot, and has many contacts among the druids. Tuathal an Iarrainn is the Goetic, and some distrust him and his magic, but he never hides his nature. He is a smith by trade, using his magic to bind spirits into the tools and weapons he creates, as well as seeking out resources to help research.

Praesis once stood between Connacht and Meath, but fell recently. Whoever takes it over, if anyone does, will have a hard time of it. Its cathach was the Gae Bulg, a spear made of the bones of the witch Coinchenn, slain by Art, son of Conn, and tipped by her clawed hand. If it should pierce a target, the hand closes over bone or guts, and the spear cannot be removed until the target is dead. Though Coinchenn herself was cruel and hideous, her daughter was beautiful and virtuous. The witch guarded her jealously, for she foresaw that the day she was wooed, Coinchenn would die. She beheaded those who came near and stuck their heads on spikes. Thus, the spear also grants the Death Prophecy virtue to its wielders. The prophecy differs for each, but it always begins with loss of the spear itself.

Praesis was built soon after the Treaty of Cnoc Maol Reidh, intended as a place where hedge wizards and magi could meet. Within a century, that was all but forgotten and its prestige waned. Later, though they were wary, Praesis took in the German Holzner of Tytalus in 1213. Two years later, he stole their cathach. They caught and killed him, hanging his head from the palisade. Word of this reached Ballack, Holzner's parens, and he came to seek justice. Convinced that Praesis would not be sanctioned, he decided to take the place by force, with the aid of others. He declared Wizard's War and struck. Praesis resisted the attack, so Ballack's forces stripped their vis and killed anyone approaching or leaving. The siege locked them away from the Tribunal, where they might have gained allies. It lasted a full year of standoff, in which many mercenaries and young magi died. The sides seemed evenly matched, but Ballack's nerve lasted longer. As the last of Praesis' allies fled, the magus Baetain Ua Traimair negotiated peace - the cathach for safe passage. The terms were accepted, and Ballack has ruled Praesis ever since. The former leader, Meadhbh, claimed sanctuary at the covenant of Qui Sunant Pro Quieto.

Now, there are six magi and two apprentices at Praesis. The magi are Ballack, who has contempt for the Irish magi but is out of resources and seeking a way for the covenant to pay for itself, Baetain, a Tremere and the traitor who gave up the cathach and who now lives in self-inflicted torment for the sake of rebuilding. Guillaime Flambeau of Normandy, an ambitious explorer and warrior, and Cacht cultas Criamoine, who killed for Ballack in the siege in order to destroy the status quo, but is now here only to kill time and, perhaps, help Guillame with Connacht.

Next Time: Leinster

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




I don't want to make assumptions about who wrote Destiny's Price, especially since four of the six co-authors never contributed to another roleplaying book in their lives. (Gee, I wonder why?) But what are the odds this is a middle-class straight white guy telling us about the HARD STREETS, YO?

Somebody could write an entire book about the weird aesthetic of the 90s and how it was obsessed with conspiracies, apocalypse, subculture, and crime. Why all the crime? Crime was dropping when this book was published.

Ningyou posted:

Second, some people are born in the ghetto or sink into poverty and it's really depressing, but others? They descend to the ghetto because society is a rat race and even if you succeed you only get THEIR PIE and THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH OF THEIR PIE TO GO AROUND MAN and unlike the rest of the sheeple who DON'T EVEN QUESTION AUTHORITY BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLER they're brave enough to escape the great rat race that is literally everywhere else and the streets are a vast hidden world full of danger but also possibilities and "the opportunity to forge an existence according to your rules, according to your values."
Man, White Wolf really, really walked the line between having sympathy for marginalized people and glorifying their suffering in some sort of magick minstrel show.

quote:

In fact, everything is relative! "Drive-bys and carjackings and beating lonely masochists for pay (????one of these things is not like the other) might seem horrific to someone whose main worry is whether the neighbor's lawn is more expensively manicured then her own!"
He watched the scene in Dirty Harry where Scorpio pays a black guy to punch him and assumed it was a cottage industry, I suppose.

quote:

The next section is blessedly short -- ~street people~ go by ~street names~ like "Needle Dick the Bug Fucker"
Street people read Dan Clowes?

deadly_pudding
May 13, 2009

who the fuck is scraeming
"LOG OFF" at my house.
show yourself, coward.
i will never log off


Halloween Jack posted:

HARD STREETS, YO?

I'm pretty sure White Wolf's entire worldbuilding M.O. is, "Everything is terrible, and this is only fun because you, the player character, have superpowers and a flagrant disregard for mundane concerns."

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





deadly_pudding posted:

I'm pretty sure White Wolf's entire worldbuilding M.O. is, "Everything is terrible, and this is only fun because you, the player character, have superpowers and a flagrant disregard for mundane concerns."
At its best, White Wolf is a giant, absurd exploitation flick dripping with dark humor.

At its worse, we get Tape-Nipple up there.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!



Reading this, I came to the sudden realization that Planescape, a campaign set in DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS FANTASY HEAVEN/HELL, does a better, more tasteful job portraying an urban setting than most of the bollocks published by White Wolf. I've read in a few places that at least in part the setting is taking the piss out of TSR's number one competitor.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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





Halloween Jack posted:

Man, White Wolf really, really walked the line between having sympathy for marginalized people and glorifying their suffering in some sort of magick minstrel show.

I think this unfortunately evolved out of the fact werewolf and mage glorified primitivism and the dark ages respectively. Whereas in vampire suffering is a good thing for you and you're encouraged to cultivate it.

Remember in Rage Across Australia, the Aboriginals did not know disease or suffering until the white man came.

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Changeling bent over backwards to play up the magic of feudalism and colonization, while making it explicitly clear that modern contrivances like the scientific method or psychiatric medication were Bad Things that could kill fairies dead and make people not see The Truth.

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