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Redeye Flight
Mar 26, 2010

God, I'm so tired. What the hell did I post last night?


Hey, Cyphoderus, I think you're confusing "exploring" with "exploiting". I have no doubt there's a lot of exploration going on in the period, but most of the times you use the word it feels like "exploiting" is the right fit.

Apart from that, I have nothing to complain about. This is fascinating already, and I appreciate the pronunciation corner!

Redeye Flight fucked around with this message at 01:40 on Feb 9, 2014

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theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Guest hosts, eh? I don't see why not. We've had some difficulty in the past recording over a distance, and of course we like to take about a week to read the books before we actually talk them over, but it's certainly not impossible.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

I'll have you know, foxes have the finest call in nature


Redeye Flight posted:

Hey, Cyphoderus, I think you're confusing "exploring" with "exploiting". I have no doubt there's a lot of exploration going on in the period, but most of the times you use the word it feels like "exploiting" is the right fit.

No no, you're completely right. That's a honest language brainfart. Usually when I write these I'm fresh out of reading the book and going back and forth between the writeup and the game's text, and the word in Portuguese is "explorar" for both contexts. Honestly this probably won't be the last time I get mixed up in my languages.

quote:

This is fascinating already, and I appreciate the pronunciation corner!
Thanks! One of the cool things about Portuguese is that you can always tell how a word is pronounced based only on how it's written. That's why it's littered with accents, and pronunciation follows a set of very strict rules. Notice all those three-syllable words ending with vowels have their strong syllable be the one in the middle? Things like that.
English doesn't have this and it's my eternal bane and shame when trying to say words like "gauge" and "bass" :argh:

Cyphoderus fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Feb 9, 2014

Grnegsnspm
Oct 20, 2003

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarian 2: Electric Boogaloo

Tasoth posted:

Well, I just bought Hobomancer and Last Stand. The only thing I know about Hobomancer is the game is about riding rails as a hobo and battling things from outside reality.

Oh man, this sounds exactly like the kind of game I would want to read. I will look into trying to get my hands on a copy.

As far as guest hosts goes, like theironjef said, we have had some spotty results trying to record over a distance but it's not NOT something that might happen. Mostly assuming you are intelligible and not much more annoying to listen to than we are.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




oriongates posted:

It would be like someone owning a sci-fi super-tank and using it to work for a taxi service.
I'm sorry that actually sounds awesome.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Zereth posted:

I'm sorry that actually sounds awesome.

Yeah, it's hard to come up with a good analogy for the sheer wasted potential of it all...using the TARDIS as a garden shed? Propping up an uneven coffee table with the necronomicon?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

oriongates posted:

Propping up an uneven coffee table with the necronomicon?
You get what you pay for when you buy that non-Euclidian crap from IKEA.

Moto42
Jul 14, 2006

:dukedog:

oriongates posted:

Propping up an uneven coffee table with the necronomicon?
Because reading it worked out so well for all the previous owners...

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man






Paint yourself with all the colors of the black-dot rainbow

The last two entries have been bordering on overwrought1, so I'm going to take the next five pages of changeling-specific merits in a much more breezy trot.

The first paragraph goes over the merits that are in the nWoD corebook and how they can be applied to C:tL. Mental merits that would allow you to keep track of the sort of mundane concerns that are below the Fair Folk are attractive. Physical Merits such as Giant can be great ways to detail the changes that occurred over your durance2. Social merits of individual quality such as Striking Looks is, much like Giant, a good touch of detail- but many are hard to justify as having come straight from the thorns.

Onto the unique merits, and our first is a doozy: Mantle

Another in the long of divergences from the base WOD splat assumptions, Court Mantle is an explicitly magical empowerment as well as a social-in-group rating for the courts; mechanically this means that each dot not only adds to your dicepool for social rolls within your court, it also acts as the core stat for your in-court Contracts as well as your access for them. We'll get into this further within the book, but a high mantle means you're able to purchase the court's contracts of up to one higher than your mantle rating.

Stylistically, mantle serves a dual purpose within the freehold: it is both a form of social status separate from day-to-day politics (e.g. a softer status given to a well-respected religious leader) and also the major jockeying point between rivals within the same court. A mantle also gives a player near-infinite descriptive potential to describe just how awesome they are within their Court; a high-mantled courtier can describe winter frost crawling upon glass, invisible to the eye of mortals, that while not mechanically impactful represents how far the game is built towards self-definition. To live by the court ideal in action is meant to reward the changeling with further power.

Court Goodwill. This merit is a named merit specific to each different court within your freehold (excluding the courtless), and represents a sort of "soft power" you wield from outside the court. Mechanically, it acts as a +1 to social rolls per every 2 dots, and also works as a qualifier for those Court's contracts, much like a stunted form of Court Mantle,

Emphasis on the SOFT power, there; a character can snub a character to avoid the die bonus applying- however this can result in a slipping of your own Mantle if the snub is not somehow justified, as your own court's bonhomie slides. Mantle, just like Court Goodwill, is partly a social construct and partly a mystical one- no court is an island3.


At this point I'll bring up the special rules I mentioned back when I was describing the courtless: any changeling may change courts, for any reason, and exchange half, rounded down, of their Court Goodwill dots into Court Mantle dots and vice versa. Changelings are explicitly accepted for traveling within the courts to find themselves and their role within the universe.

I'll also go into the mention of the Court Crown- the symbol of leadership that represents that the changeling so laden is the great leader of the Freehold. The method of the Wyrd in choosing its head is as arbitrary as the storyteller makes it: the basic assumption is a common leader emerges amongst a court during its season- but off-season rulers, democratically elected leaders, singular court dominance, or a leader of a less than maximum mantle rating are all acceptable to the Wyrd. Whatever makes for a better game.

Of the crowns:
  • Spring spends willpower to increase someone's (or self's) harvest rolls
  • Summer spends glamour to increase initiative within combat (especially duels) and is never surprised
  • Autumn gains glamour via gaining or ruminating upon knowledge
  • Winter may spend glamour to gain Willpower and has their WP cap increased

Relatively uninspiring in the whiz-bang department, they also give strong weight to what each king/queen is to be doing- blessing, dueling, discovering, surviving.

Harvest is a broken merit; it acts as a basic numberwang bonus to rolls to acquire glamour in a open-ended form. Three of those mentioned- Dreams, Emotion, and Goblin Fruit- use rolls. The fourth, Pledges, does not technically have a roll. Whoops! :eng99:

Hollows is where we get interesting; these are hidey-holes inside the hedge that you personally own and control through unnamed fae magick & gardening. Mystic castles such as Camelot that don't involve terrible abuses are likely Hollows. Games can be run solely circling around a network of Hollows within the freehold: as the bastions of changeling safety and adhering to no natural law other than the Wyrd, they are the vehicles for creative plotting and self-expression. They don't exist in the real world, so players don't have to always justify their existence further than a simple "I did it", versus what is always a long and drawn-out procedure regarding vampire/werewolf/mage locations. By being unbounded by all but the narrative, the game is more free- pretty cool, huh?

As a 'safe space' merit, you have four riders-
  • Size - More dots = more 'rooms'; one of the more liberally ignored merits, considering this IS an area outside of space and time.
  • Amenities - Even more ignorable if you don't enforce it or give it mechanical weight. Fae Armory and medical services? Sure! But remember, they only exist within the hollow.
  • Wards - a floating penalty to finding or breaking into the hollow, and a +1 per dot to initiative for all those inside the hollow against intruders. This works on either side of the Fae/Mortal divide.
  • Door - Much more interesting to speak of. As built, a hollow has two entrances "free"- one into the mortal world from anywhere with a gate-like edifice, the other into the wild Hedge- that can be also deleted at choice. And then you can create more entrances with each dot purchased, no matter how far apart these doors are from each-other4.

New Identity

A classic merit that gets stolen by every non-Changeling LARP, it represents the mechanical 'weight' of such an effect that goes beyond a riding "spend resources to ignore issues X, Y, Z"5. A one/two/four merit that is only vaguely discriminated between, roughly a tissue/paper/rock delineation. Can be purchased multiple times.

For a game that starts Step 1 as people that have no mortal identity to return to, a very necessary merit.

Tokens

Solely represents magical artifacts brought with you from Arcadia, as typically Tokens do not require XP to acquire (unless they do because, as is subtextually stated, the ST is making a promise not to steal it then). Rated 1-5, and also can be used as dots to purchase 'trifles' of the more single-use-potion variety.

Next time: A race/class to be finished!

1 - In my defense, I really love Changeling
2 - A kid that comes back huge is a great piece of character-building angst for what is normally a straight numberwang stat-bonus.
3 - Yes, to the Wyrd friendship is magic. :pcgaming:
4 - At this point its open to interpretation whether a hollow door can be located into another hollow. Arguments about 'nesting' hollows, ugh.
5 - I've heard enough people complain that Resources Should Buy Everything that to stock answer is that it seems fair to ask for XP for something so important and irreplaceable (try coming back from being a lying fake person sometime) when so few things impact your character's bank account such as buying a new set of pearl-handled pistols for every endeavor.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


So yeah, the Blade of the Iron Throne write-up is done - just thought I'd point that out, since the list still has it as ongoing.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



This is how London ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.



CHAPTER SEVEN: SMOKE AND MIRRORS or THE GM CHAPTER

Before I get into the actual substance of the chapter, let's talk about the fact that this is in fact the Revised/2.0 edition. What exactly changed in between Unhallowed Metropolis and this edition? Well, for starters, there's some mechanical issues. There are new classes in the form of the Detective and Deathwatch Soldier, every class gets some extra bonuses they can take and there's some new equipment and changes to it. There's no changes to the actual mechanics or anything, it's all pretty much the same. And you can originally play as an Anathema but you have to have one Mental Disorder, one extra unremovable point of Physical Corruption, two benefits and one mandatory defect. Animates can be Modular, which means that they can split up into ambulatory parts to run around and attack. The sole changes to Corruption is the addition of Ravenous, Craven and Obsession. There's two big changes: rules for having installed galvanic prosthetics and therapy through galvanic shocks, and the elimination of a LOT of of fluff text. There's an assload of just fluff and text that they excised, like Neo-Victorian politics and what their political parties do and a lot of text about Animates and this and that. They just cut out a TON of background info and throw it away wholesale and that's really all that's changed.

The chapter proper pretty much starts off with this.

Yeah so you can set Unhallowed Metropolis somewhere besides London. You have the blessing of the developers. Go spread your wings and fly across the Wastelands for adventure~

Except your GM would have to make up the majority of what the hell is going on in most of those places. We have a gist, sure, but broad strokes do not a good setting make. You can have your adventure elsewhere but it's sure as hell not gonna be 100% true to the core rulebook experience. For example: you know how the smog of London is a giant deadly force and gas masks are super cool life-saving fashions?

The smogs only apply to London. You can go a few miles outside of the walls of London into the Wastelands and taadaa, you can breathe easily. The Welsh, Scottish and Irish still living in their homes don't have to wear respirators and never go batshit nuts on days where you can see the sun. London is, frankly, a goddamn crazy place so wrapped up in its delusions it thinks it's the best place on Earth and shares the madness with anyone who wants to call it home.

So this chapter is full of GM tips and how to use different things as different antagonists. How to make parties, how to scale encounters, how to scare your players, it's all full of that standard "how to run" flavor. And for the first time it really starts to acknowledge just how lousy things are in London, but never focuses on them for particularly long. And it does want you to play some kind of long-term campaign, but that's if you want to. And they do include some campaign seeds.
  • Bad Medicine: A Doctor or Aristocrat gets a letter from a friend who claims a colleague in charge of a private sanitarium has delved into dark sciences and he's gonna go talk to him, asking for help publishing any findings. The friend disappears but his wife asks the PCs to find out what happened. Spoilers: the friend is still alive but the doctor has been experimenting with alchemical reanimation (Mercurials) and in addition to the crazed patients there are pissed-off Mercurials frothing at he mouth in private cells.
  • The Letter: An Aristocrat gets a tip from one of their allies asking for help retrieving a letter that never was delivered by a servant of another noble. Turns out the servant was killed by a gang who hocks the bodies and possessions of people they mug and kill and you're gonna have to contend with them to find the body and the letter.
  • The Lost Children: A bunch of kids get lost in the Underground and the PCs have to go deep beneath the streets of London to find them. This one is pretty carte blanche for GMs to just figure out what they find and who/what has the kids down there.
  • Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Gaunt himself is a neighborhood doctor in the East End who helps people in exchange for favors. If Mr. Gaunt ever helps the PCs then he'll ask for their help with finding and stopping a serial killer who preys on young women. Good news: the killer isn't hard to find. Bad news: the killer is a feral vampire who has rigged his destitute lair with dozens of boobytraps.
  • Tender Mercies: Two thugs ask a Doctor PC for help with their sick sister, kidnapping them if necessary. Problem: the sister has been bitten by an Animate, and the thugs make it perfectly clear that if she dies, the doctor dies. Bigger problem: it's a Lost Day and the fog is thick with eminent death for the PCs going to rescue their ally. Even bigger problem: there's a third brother hiding in a closet who was also bitten and is much closer to death than the girl is; he didn't tell his siblings and the closet door is thin.
  • Train Wreck: The PCs are hired to go out into the Wastelands to find the wreckage of a crashed train that was carrying a Top Scientist for a company who had a new top-secret formula in his possession. It's been a day since the crash and the company is afraid a rival company will steal their secrets and their scientist. It's the GM's chance to let the players live life (briefly) outside of London and see what's going on in the Wastelands.
  • Watcher of the Dead: A Mourner PC is hired to stand watch over a recently deceased aristocrat scientist's funeral and she and the PCs get to go their fertile farmland estate for the vigil. Unfortunately it turns out that there's a monster who has been seen by the farm workers and it's particularly violent. Turns out the deceased was kind of a dick and tested Thrope serums on his wife without her knowing. She doesn't know she's a Thrope and feeling intense emotions at her husband's funeral is not the best scenario for a wereHyde.
I looked at some printed supplements and they're all basically one-shot adventures with different hooks regarding Callings or just generic adventures for Unhallowed Metropolis. There's really not a lot regarding any long-term campaign ideas like you'd get from Savage Worlds books, so a lot of that is really up to the GM again.

Rand Brittain mentioned A Manual of Ambition a while back on page 10 and that really feels like what a long-term campaign and project would be like, especially if you're using science. If you didn't look at that, the point of A Manual of Ambition is that you have an idea, and it's about the road to hell being paved with good intentions executing it. Over time your goals and ambitions get warped and you get more and more corrupt as your morals are thrown by the wayside to accomplish your deeds. The three example scenarios in the book are about a commander going insane with paranoia and zeal when trying to retake a lost colony on Earth in the future, a doctor trying to make humanity free from sin by removing their higher mental functions, and a scientist trying to figure out if zombies can regain their souls through experiencing religious epiphanies through chemicals. This idea would be right at home with Unhallowed Metropolis, but the creator decided to make it separate with its own mechanics and own forms of Corruption. Some example scenarios using A Manual of Ambition as a base:
  • A group of doctors try to create a sapient Thrope through serum experimentation and examining the mind and intelligence of a real one versus one from a flawed serum. The big stepping stones would be procuring a true Thrope, a flawed Thrope and experimenting on them both and reproducing your findings on test subjects using your own theories.
  • Scientists attempt to make stable Anathemas through correcting some measure in artificial gestation. Maybe they try to use a surrogate mother to birth the designed embryo, maybe they try to make their own, new womb or nutrient fluid that replicates uterine conditions perfectly. How would you measure and compare this, what effect would an Anathema embryo have on a human mother, where would you find the test subjects for this?
  • Workers and scientists are desperately trying to negate the effects of the encroaching Blight and Wasteland. If the Earth is dying or poisoned or becoming something undead, just how in the hell are you going to try to bring the spark back to the tainted, mutant lands?
In the long run, this really is an interesting, somewhat enticing world that is really just begging for some reshaping by a GM. So maybe you use another system or homerule it to be a lot less "realistic". Ever since getting back into this game series and this world, I've had some minor ideas for campaigns set in my own version of this world.
  • The PCs join the British army or a scientific expedition to the bloodthirsty country of India, hunting rare and exotic forms of vampires as they search for clusters of survivors to help bring stability to the country.
  • The French try to invade a country that is still doing relatively well, like Prague. Actions like this can't go ignored, and soon the world war that this Earth never knew starts to surface with countries taking sides.
  • The PCs get sent to America to help their Yankee allies in the oil fields of Texas which are slowly consumed by the Blight day by day. Their job is to help create a crack legion of soldier Homunculi and use British-developed super science to help the workers stay safe and keep the oil derricks pumping.
  • The PCs are hired by a strange reclusive aristocrat to kill his siblings so he can have a clear bid for the House of Lords with them gone, planning to truly help Britain from a seat of power. The downside is that his brothers are a Wasteland big game hunter and an industrial magnate who the anarchists want to kill first, and his sister owns a series of vampire brothels and might be feeding secrets to the French.
  • Zombie Lords attack the city en masse, forcing the PCs to go to war against a relentless wave of undead or go out into the Wastelands to draw attention away from London. They might even be sent on a suicide mission to kill the Zombie Lords on the front lines.
  • A vampire assassin is hired by unknown benefactors. His target? Prussian royalty visiting London for policy and allegiance talks. The PCs are hired by the police to figure out who is behind the attacks, who is being targeted and how they're going to try and pull off the attacks.
  • The PCs are scientists part of a group trying to build the best drat creations they can to compete in a professional science and alchemy exhibition/wonder fair to secure funding for the next ten years and governmental approval.
  • The PCs are on a merchant vessel that is wracked by a storm and unknown creatures from the deep that forces them to run ashore and get trapped on continental Europe. The big problem is that they've wrecked on the coasts of France far past the borders and the French don't take kindly to trespassers.
  • A PCA worker goes rogue and escapes from its owners, desperately trying to claim the human organs and parts it thinks it needs from innocent civilians.
  • It's not stated if Thropes exist anywhere else in the world, but friends of London would be interested in studying them and the idea of regenerating super soldiers. Unfortunately, a British Thrope is not as sedated as its captors thought it was, and now a highly infectious killing machine is loose in the streets of New York City.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Unhallowed Metropolis is a game that always manages to stick with me. I don't like how they want me to play it but at the same time...I just can't forget some aspects of it. Maybe I'm a sucker, maybe I'm interested in crap, but there are some genuinely good ideas here, just presented pretty badly and incompletely. I want there to be source books for France and Prussia and I want there to be a shot at happiness. But I guess in the end, that's up to me and anyone else who'd like to give this a shot. So if you're interested in this game, go ahead. Go forewarned with knowledge. Breathe your own life into London and hope it blows away a little bit of the smog and stale death. For me and my presentation, this is where it comes to a close.

But even in the end of Unhallowed Metropolis...something undying, something immortal still stirs and lurks, and it's coming for the living.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 04:49 on Feb 10, 2014

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


quote:

Yeah so you can set Unhallowed Metropolis somewhere besides London. You have the blessing of the developers. Go spread your wings and fly across the Wastelands for adventure~

Except your GM would have to make up the majority of what the hell is going on in most of those places. We have a gist, sure, but broad strokes do not a good setting make. You can have your adventure elsewhere but it's sure as hell not gonna be 100% true to the core rulebook experience. For example: you know how the smog of London is a giant deadly force and gas masks are super cool life-saving fashions?

The smogs only apply to London. You can go a few miles outside of the walls of London into the Wastelands and taadaa, you can breathe easily. The Welsh, Scottish and Irish still living in their homes don't have to wear respirators and never go batshit nuts on days where you can see the sun. London is, frankly, a goddamn crazy place so wrapped up in its delusions it thinks it's the best place on Earth and shares the madness with anyone who wants to call it home.

I honestly don't see the problem with focusing the game on a city as iconic as London. There's hundreds of years of reality and fiction to draw on, from Dr. Johnson to Sherlock Holmes to the League of Extrodinary Gentlemen and Ian Sinclair's psychogeography. And I say this as somebody who's never set foot in England - if the authors are Brits it makes even more sense.

The way to bring in the rest of the world would be to do what the original Sherlock Holmes stories do. There's always a disgraced German aristocrat or a brash American or somebody from the Colonies with a secret past. All that gets filtered through the atmosphere of London.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012



Part 5: Here There be Dragons...and Dinosaurs...and Deep Drow...
There are a total of 93 monsters in the Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide. If you’re thinking that’s a lot of loving monsters for a core guidebook to a campaign, you’d probably be right, but I’m a sucker for monsters and can’t really argue against the authors’ plea that there was a dearth of sea monsters in Pathfinder at the time the title was written. This does, however, mean that I’m going to have to split up the bestiary into three different posts, lest we be overwhelmed with entries all at once. Why three? Because it sounded nice, and because the early and late letters in the alphabet have a glut of entries compared to the more spread out mid-letters.


Viridian Algoid (CR 6 Large Plant): Our very first entry is a new version of a very, very old monster – one that’s been around since the beginning, in fact. The algoid originally appeared in the First Edition Dungeons and Dragons Fiend Folio way back in 1981 and can best be described as freaky psionic Swamp Things. They were hive-mind creatures that had the power to control trees as well as big, beefy (weedy?) fists that could stun foes, and eventually ended up entering the domain of Open Game Content come 3E courtesy of the Tome of Horrors. These are not quite the same algoids. No, viridian algoids are definitely not a case of things being better down where it’s wetter. These angry hunks of seaweed have none of the supernatural powers of their marsh-dwelling ancestors and, bucking the trend of “make something smarter = make something more civilized”, are solitary and violent ambush predators in spite of having a higher Intelligence score than true algoids. Viridian algoids also have wood-like claws instead of punching slam attacks and are resistance to piercing and slashing attacks while more vulnerable to bludgeoning attacks.


Barracuda (CR ½ Medium Animal) and Dire Barracuda (CR 2 Large Animal): The barracuda is, of course, a real life creature and needs no introduction. The dire barracuda, however, is a rather disturbing creature that has thick serrated plates rather than typical scales, a length nearly double that of the 6 foot great barracuda, and a tendency to get enraged by shiny objects rather than merely attracted by them.



Bogger (Class level-dependent Small Humanoid): Sort of a stand-in for goblins and orcs, the boggers are seafolk who were twisted into shriveled, feral versions of their once human-like forms due to their devotion to Saloth in her dumbed-down incarnation Sarla. With racial ability score modifiers of -2 to Strength and -4 to Charisma but +2 to Dexterity and Constitution, you can probably correctly guess that they are destined to usually become Rogues, but these evil beings are also accomplished sea cat cavalry riders. Why? Why not, I guess.


Giant Coelacanth (CR 7 Large Animal): A giant version of everybody's favorite deep sea living fossil. Nobody likes the taste of them, but they definitely like the taste of drow and nixie and have the vacuum suction "breath weapon" to get what they want when they suddenly appear out of nowhere in the deep. Some people want giant coelacanth oil because it works as a shark repellant. Oh, and for whatever reason this entry has a statement of "oh, if you want the real world coelacanth just slap the Young simple template on the giant coelacanth", rather than actually getting a normal and fantastical entry side by side like most animals.


Coral Shepherd (CR 8 Huge Plant): Literally treants but with coral instead of trees. The only real difference in stats is that these guys are vulnerable to cold rather than fire and they are capable of delivering stinging coral disease with their slam attacks. The cindarians are the only sapient race that the coral shepherds tolerate.


Boil Crab (CR 1/2 Small Vermin) and Giant Hermit Crab (CR 3 Medium Vermin): Boil crabs are really warm dog-sized crabs that deal 1d4 steam damage to melee attackers, while the giant hermit crab is a human-sized...well, hermit crab. Neither are particularly inclined to attack unless they're attacked first.



Dinosaurs – Cryptoclidus (CR 7 Huge Animal), Henodus (CR 6 Huge Animal), Liopleurodon (CR 9 Gargantuan Animal), Shonisaurus (CR 10 Gargantuan Animal), and Taniwhasaurus (CR 8 Huge Animal): As pedantic as I am about prehistoric life, let's just get it out of the way and state that the book addresses the incorrect nature of this entry.

Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide posted:

Technically, there is no such thing as an aquatic dinosaur. All members of the class Dinosauria were strictly terrestrial. However, there are many types of large marine reptiles that lived during the age of dinosaurs that are often put into the same category as dinosaurs. In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary, you were introduced to the elasmosaurus, which falls under this RPG equivalent of "aquatic dinosaur."
Got it? Good. Now let's actually talk turkey, or Taniwhasaurus as the case may be. Taniwhasaurus is a mosasaur from Late Cretaceous New Zealand, and gets its name from reptilian sea monsters called taniwha that are prevalent in Maori legend. It and the turtle-like Triassic reptile Henodus are not really names that come out and grab people who aren't obsessive about prehistoric creatures, and the others are only really semi-famous for either appearing in a popular documentary series (Cryptoclidus and Liopleurodon appeared in Walking With Dinosaurs) or for being a poster boy for an atypical member of a group (Shonisaurus is a loving enormous ichthyosaur). I'd argue that such exposure is a good thing. I'd also argue that, unlike the last time I did something heavily involving prehistoric creatures, the relatively low Challenge Ratings of these beasties is not ncessarily a bad thing. While Broncosaurus Rex had to almost entirely rely on dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures for its bestiary and thus suffered from the weird CR drought it had, Cerulean Seas is a setting where you end up graduating from marine reptiles to dragons and other supernatural foes.



Song Dragons: The watery descendants of the now almost extinct chromatic and metallic dragons, the song dragons vary in alignment but are all tied together by having a sound-based breath weapon. Since these are dragon, and they have such variety, I'll be bullet pointing out these with a note on the size and Challenge Rating range of the stat blocks given from wyrmling to ancient.
  • Cacophany Dragon (CR 3 Tiny to CR 16 Huge Dragon): Fat, lazy, and ornery, the Neutral Evil cacophany dragons look like the union of dragon and toad. An individual's modus operandi is "sit in swamp wallow, bully people to get free food". Their approach to combat is just about as labor-intensive, favoring the use of their constant leaking poison, deafening croak breath weapon, ability to transform mud or even solid ground into quicksand, or debilitating spell-like abilities such as cause fear, vampiric touch, and ghoul touch. A cacophany dragon can technically fly, but it won't ever do so unless it has no choice.
  • Choral Dragon (CR 5 Small to CR 20 Gargantuan Dragon): The Chaotic Good choral dragons resemble particularly big dragon turtles that have entire reefs growing on their shells. This means that the choral dragon is also a coral dragon. Get it? :v: Designer puns aside, choral dragons are actually pretty terrifying. Their sonic damage breath weapon may be standard, but what isn't so standard is the fact that they can shoot out spores that are capable of transmuting flesh into coral. It's a good thing they're known for their patience and willingness to forgive.
  • Crescendo Dragon (CR 4 Tiny to CR 17 Huge Dragon): Looking like particularly thorny ichthyosaurs and capable of releasing sparks of electricity from luminescent spots on their bodies, crescendo dragons are the True Neutral representatives of the song dragon group. They are also kind of the random factor of the song dragon group – their whole gimmick is that they like dolphins and orcas. [i]Really[i] like them. They lead pods, act similar to their adopted families, and like to make little half-dragon dolphin/orca babies.
  • Harmony Dragon (CR 2 Tiny to CR CR 15 Huge Dragon): These Chaotic Good song dragons are the most physically like land dragons, being akin to a Chinese dragon with goldfish mixed in as you might be able to tell from the image that heads this list. A harmony dragon has a breath weapon that shoots bubbles that float opponents away, can make a bite attack that does the same weird transport bubble instead of damage, and is generally averse to combat as opposed to escape. These dragons do love sharing their magical knowledge or giving out advice, however, so they make good NPC allies.
  • Hush Dragon (CR 3 Tiny to CR 16 Gargantuan Dragon): The abominable fusion of dragon and anglerfish, the Neutral Evil hush dragon's name comes from the fact that it exudes an aura of pure noise cancellation. It can also breathe out freezing methane gas, swallow creatures even a size category larger than itself, become invisible in the darkness of the abyss, and attract creatures with a magical aura attached to its angler light.
  • Melody Dragon (CR 4 Tiny to CR 17 Huge Dragon): Weird Lawful Good catfish-dragons that go on undersea crusades to slay evil sea monsters. Not even joking there. The weapons in its arsenal include a vacuum suction attack, paralyzing breath weapon, magma breath weapon, aura of extreme water pressure, and the ability to turn its color patterns into runes to cast spells.
  • Rhythm Dragon (CR 4 Small to CR 17 Gargantuan Dragon): Unlike the crescendo dragon, the similarly True Neutral eel-like rhythm dragons have no love for a random sea animal. Instead, they have a love for themselves, and their selfish nature drives them to manipulate others. And hey, would you look at that, they just so happen to have a lot of manipulating powers - a bite that can cast dominate monster, hypnotic pattern-shifting scales, a breath weapon that causes involuntary convulsions on a failed Will save, and blood that forces a Will save to avoid losing 1d4 points of Wisdom on contact.
  • Scream Dragon (CR 5 Small to CR 18 Gargantuan Dragon): The most banal form of Chaotic Evil, the red shark-faced scream dragon is a violent monster that loves blood and gore. Their powers back up that violent attitude, with a sonic damage breath weapon and a breath weapon that shoots boiling steam, razor sharp scales that deal damage to foes attacking with their bodies, an entourage of sharks (which they will eat if they are bored, because chaos or whatever), and if they are all the way up to great wyrm in age they can just simply force a save-or-suffocate effect that drains all the oxygen from nearby foes' blood.
  • Thunder Dragon (CR 6 Medium to CR 19 Colossal Dragon): Yet another True Neutral dragon? Whatever, I guess. The thunder dragons are like spiky whales and like treasure a lot. They are capable of creating various water hazards such as vortexes and rogue waves, have an electrical aura around them, and...that's about it, really.


Giant Cerulean Dragonfly Nymph (CR ½ Medium Vermin) and Tunneler Giant Dragonfly Nymph (CR 3 Large Vermin): One is the nymph of a giant dragonfly, the other is the same thing but bigger and shoots acid. Hooray.


Reef Drake (CR 1 Tiny Dragon): Take the pseudodragon stats from the Pathfinder Bestiary, replace fly speed with swim speed, give it a disorienting breath weapon instead of sleep stinger, and you have the reef drake. To be fair, it also does have some fluff differences in that it is ill-tempered and will only act as a familiar as long as they are being fed, cared for, and not put into stupid situations.



Deep Drow (Class level-dependent Medium Humanoid): Don’t let the tattoos and glowing bits in the art fool you – the deep drow are not the magical masters their drylander ancestors were. Instead of any innate spell-like abilities, they exude a nauseating toxin that gives them some modicum of safety against the insanely freakish predators of the abyss. Light blindness and sensitivity to water pressure above 500 feet in depth means these beings are limited to the deep, dark recesses of the sea. They’re purely the same as classic drow culture-wise, though, right down to the matriarchy and obsession with Lolth Saloth.


Dire Electric Eel (CR 8 Large Animal) and School of Electric Eels (CR 5 Fine Animal Swarm): Electric eels that have adapted to saltwater. One’s big and vicious, the other’s smaller than your average electric eel and travels in a swarm. Both are shocky zappy.


Sound Elemental (CR 1 Small to CR 11 Huge Outsider [Elemental]): A freaky invisible disembodied skull that goes around making all sorts of racket with their natural ability to mimic any sound. The fact that their punches actually deal sonic damage through painful vibrations is certainly a thing too.



Steam Elemental (CR 1 Small to CR 11 Huge Outsider [Elemental]): You could say that there are two very different sides to these bubbly monsters – they’re quite calm and pleasant most of the time, but become sadistic and pain-loving in combat. Steam elementals deal steam damage, of course, but are more notable for the fact that they can travel on land, in the air, and through the water all at equal speed, making them masters of maneuvering.


========================================================================================================================================

Next update will be looking at F through L, including huge rock lobsters, freaky fish-imps, and horses of the sea.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


It just dawned on me that if London is literally Hell on Earth and Wales/Ireland are pretty okay places outside of the blight and occasional monster horde, there'd be a huge exodus towards those areas. If the maps are right, Wales is 100-200 miles away, something like a four hour drive. Taking a train through horrorville would probably be safer, but the point is it isn't an arduous journey that will take weeks. poo poo, you can probably be in Ireland within twenty four hours if you plan it right.

What I'm getting at is that it'd make more sense that the people still in London are either batshit insane, soul crushingly poor and ill or slaves. Because even the poor folk with two working feet would probably flee towards a near by city even with zombies around.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Tasoth posted:

It just dawned on me that if London is literally Hell on Earth and Wales/Ireland are pretty okay places outside of the blight and occasional monster horde, there'd be a huge exodus towards those areas. If the maps are right, Wales is 100-200 miles away, something like a four hour drive. Taking a train through horrorville would probably be safer, but the point is it isn't an arduous journey that will take weeks. poo poo, you can probably be in Ireland within twenty four hours if you plan it right.

What I'm getting at is that it'd make more sense that the people still in London are either batshit insane, soul crushingly poor and ill or slaves. Because even the poor folk with two working feet would probably flee towards a near by city even with zombies around.

Yeah, exurbs would be totes a thing (kinda like now). Be easier for the army and whatever private security rich neo-Vickies would have to maintain security of their clients' estates in open terrain than in close quarters urban environments. Packs of zombies are easier to kill at open range and you'd have less restrictions on pulling out the heavy stuff like machineguns and artillery in stomping them down.

Metropolitan London would be such a polluted urban death maze that you'd have to be poor, enslaved in debt or indentured service, or insane to stay there.

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011



Basically it's exactly like modern London.

secretly best girl
Mar 27, 2007

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

hectorgrey posted:

So yeah, the Blade of the Iron Throne write-up is done - just thought I'd point that out, since the list still has it as ongoing.

My bad! This is why I go back every once in a while and check all "ongoing" writeups to make sure I haven't hosed one up. If I need correcting, though, please do so!

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region N: Where the Dead Things Are

So, although a smattering of undead have shown up throughout the various Regions, the main "prisoners" we've seen so far have been demons, devils, or similarly dangerous outsiders. This is where that changes, because N is all about the undead. This can also be considered the "main event" of the WLD, it's a double-sized Region for high level characters that contains something called the World Eater.

This Region's level range is quite unique, not only is it very broad (14-18, so 5 levels compared to the 3-4 for most regions), but there are also no adjacent regions that "match". Region M to the West is for 9-12, Region J is for 13-15, Region K is for 10-12, and Region 0 is for 16-20. That means that no matter what direction the PCs enter the region from they'll be the wrong level, either too high, or too low. And, how exactly to the designers build a non-linear dungeon with 6 entrances and no specified "level up" landmarks to a range of 5 levels? The answer is, they don't, so it's quite easy for PCs to simply wander into challenges that are far too powerful for them.

Now, normally I'd rant about the fact that it doesn't make sense that these horrible threats are imprisoned rather than simply destroyed. With demons/devils there might be some potential excuses but it seems like killing undead would be a no-brainer. Well it seems that the intent here was not so much to simply remove the threat as to punish them for all eternity. Basically locking them away in an eternal crypt where they get the immortality they wanted but can do absolutely nothing but rot and think. Seems a little bit harsh (easy for already immortal beings to judge us for living longer), but I can at least see the logic. If only they weren't so terrible at actually designing their prisons.

Again, like half the WLD's Regions, the plot involves multiple factions vying for dominance, this time it is three groups of powerful undead attempting to take control of the gates that will allow them to access the tomb of the world eater, so they can escape and make the world pay for their imprisonment. Each of them has control of one gate, and are battling it out over the 4th. Of course, like every conflict in the WLD this stalemate has lasted for a century or more.

The intro to the section seems to be a little confused because it reiterates many rules that have previously been stated as applying to the whole dungeon (no summoning, no teleportation, etherealness, etc) as though they apply only to this Region. The area is also so full of negative energy that all undead automatically come back to life within 24+1d20 hours. This is apparently caused by the immense negative energy of the World Eater (here's a hint celestials...maybe don't put your massive death-power conduit in the same section of the dungeon as your undead prisoners. I know you like to keep to a theme, but it can go too far). Good luck turning undead here, all undead gain +4 additional turn resistance and clerics and paladins suffer -6 to charisma checks (don't ask me why the felt the need to make this two separate effects).

Bizarrely it also states that all rooms are locked from the inside, and state that getting out is a DC 30 open lock check. I don't think they know what locking a room from the inside means. It's not really made clear whether this means you can get in without trouble and the doors lock themselves, or that the doors are locked and can only be picked from the inside. Either way is a bizarre system, but since the second one means that it's just impossible to go inside a room from the outside then I'll assume the first one.

Hordes

They also bring up the Horde template here, rules for combining the multiple small/medium sized creatures into a single entity much like a swarm does for tiny or smaller creatures. This also appears to be the only region to use these rules. The rules for the Horde creatures are really bad. They must consist of exactly 30 creatures (or 90 fliers) which fill a 20x20 space. Most of the text is simply copy/pasted from the Swarm rules in the SRD, but there are a few odd differences. The writers can't seem to decide if a Horde is built as it's own unique creature with a few rules in common (as is the case for a swarm) or if the horde should be treated as a template (which seems to be indicated by a lot of the rules). A horde doesn't attack like a swarm, they can only attack a single target and they have to make an attack roll. This means that Horde combat involves a 20x20 mass of monsters that rush towards a single person, stop when the closest members are within arms reach and then make a single attack, ignoring all other targets).

The Horde's attack bonus is so ridiculously high that you wonder why they didn't just go with the auto-hit ability swarms have. The rule seems to be (it's not very clear) that the attack bonus is HD of the "base creature" x Horde members. so a horde of zombies would have +60 to hit. A swarm of Vargouille would have +90. Damage is based on the HD (apparently the HD of the horde, not the base monster), ranging from just the creature's normal damage to up to 5 times the creature's normal damage for 80+ HD hordes.

Special attacks use one less point of damage multiplier (so an 80 HD horde of wights would drain 4 levels, not that such a horde is presented. that would be a death sentence). EDIT: Note, this was typed without sarcasm before I actually read through the Region thoroughly and noticed the 120 HD wight hordes which very much do exist.

We'll start with the Western section of the Region because that's where the room numbering begins:



N1-N4

This is the western caves outside of the Region. It just brings the dungeon's geography even more into question, as the Region is described not as a part of the mountain's rock but actually a free-standing building attached to the rest of the dungeon, within this giant cave. It's a little hard to visualize honestly, but with all the different "outdoor" regions like M, K, and L, it's pretty clear almost no thought has been given to how the dungeon might have been constructed or why.

There's a couple of encounters out here: a "friendly" devourer who wants the PCs help to get into the dungeon and eat the souls of the undead inside (which is odd, since I'm fairly sure the devourer's abilities rely on negative levels...but actually reading the SRD entry for the devourer it's kind of nonsensical to begin with). It's not quite clear how a 9 foot tall zombie with a tiny shriveled person staring out of its rib cage can pull of "friendly" and convincing.

This area apparently also contains the Central Gate, which is watched over by a lantern archon, the only remaining celestial guard here. The archon is sworn to remain here and cannot do anything to warn anyone or help the situation. The archon can explain to PCs that the World Eater is breaking free and that there's plot that needs to be done. For some reason, each of the three gates has a different set up as far as defenders go, despite being within a quick job of one another.

-Central Gate: a 25 HD Iron Golem serves as the "door", basically just standing still in a golem-shaped hole in the wall, stepping out to attack anyone who touches the door. Needless to say this is far worse than just a door and a golem, separately, or at least just a door. Given the speed of the golem it would be quite easy for PCs to simply draw it away from the door, rush around it and get inside.

-North Gate: This one is an actual door which is guarded by a pair of 39 HD shield guardians. For some reason this door is not at all locked, simply requiring a DC 18 strength check to open.

-South gate: This gate is completely invulnerable to attacks from anything except artifacts or gods...so why isn't it the only gate. When you've got a gate that is literally impossible to breach, why do you have other entrances!? Let alone entrances as simple to get into as the first two. This door is locked but there's a button on the front of the gate (only DC 22 search check to find) that unlocks and opens the gate without activating the guardians: a 35 HD shield guardian and 2 12 HD gargoyles.

This perfectly illustrates everything wrong with every aspect of celestial security in this dungeon: Rather than build one invincible gate, securely locking it and setting powerful guardians to defend it they create three different gates, each of which use a different method to guard, rendering the whole thing not only more complicated but less secure. The Celestials seem to have some sort of compulsion to avoid simplicity and efficiency and must instead make sure every single prison and construction is as elaborate as possible and making sure that they never repeat the same method of imprisonment, even those methods which are clearly far more effective.

The location of the gates is also nonsensical. They're positioned on the western side of the region, opening into Region M. Now, Region M was never part of the actual dungeon itself (although it is within the protective spells). M's purpose was always unclear, but as far as I can tell it seemed to work as something like a quarry for the celestials: a place to get raw material and dump any rubble. There's no reason why the main entrances to this Region should open into M. In fact, there are no entrances at lead into the dungeon proper except for a small one on the Norther edge of Region K (which has no description and thus appears to be completely undefended). Region O has a single entrance guarded by 2 iron golems, but like Region M there's no indication it was ever a part of the actual dungeon.

So, this Region (which contains the greatest evil being held in the dungeon, something called a WORLD EATER) has 5 exits/entrances. 4 of them lead into what are essentially giant caves. Only one actually leads into the dungeon proper (or it used to before that region flooded) and it is completely undefended. So the celestials apparently decided to make 4 of the five exits lead of the dungeon, ensuring that if the undead do escape they'll basically be free (both M and O contain possible exits), and if the celestials need to get into Region N in order to deal with the prisoners, they have only a single entrance that they can use. The constructs that guard the exit are also prevented from going more than 100 feet from their gate and even the lantern archon cannot leave his post to actually warn the other celestials if there is any trouble.

N5-N15

The alls of the inner chambers are covered with runes (in Auran for some reason) explaining the purpose of the dungeon and including the names of the prisoners.

There's a lot of iconography of death gods and religions, which is pretty bizarre considering the Dungeon is meant to be generic and plug into different campaign settings as needed. However, the symbolism is very specific and doesn't allow for much room for different settings (the same goes for a lot of areas of the dungeon, the designers seem to be coming up with their own campaign material completely at random and scattering it throughout the dungeon).

Apparently the three western gates all function as part of a single legend-of-zelda style torch lock. Each of the doors leads to an antechamber with an invincible inner door (making the outer door essentially pointless) and a pair of braziers. Each of the 3 antechambers has two braziers, linked to the locks on the doors to the other two, based on the iconography of the aspects of the god of death.

So for instance, the northern door bears the image of the judge, lighting the braziers in the two southern antechambers bearing the image of the judge will unlock it. However, if you light two braziers bearing different icons a trap is triggered. Again, another sign of the massive over-complexity of the dungeon design...if the celestials didn't want anyone wandering into the region from the caves of Region M, why the hell did they build doors in the first place?

After the first impervious, invulnerable gate we have a second one with exactly the same brazier puzzle. So basically to get into Region N from Region M requires 3 gates to be opened (each in different ways), then 6 braziers lit in pairs (with each member of the pair in a different room), one after another. Then another 6 braziers lit in pairs. This manages to be horrendously complicated for anyone attempting to enter the Region legitimately, not very secure as far as preventing unauthorized entry. Topping it all off is the fact that it completely unnecessary, especially since no such security exists for the entrances from Region 0 and K.

N16-N52

This section of the Region is the "no man's land" between the undead factions. It consists of large rooms full of weak undead. It's also stated that apparently undead within the region are mostly just free to wander around. I guess it's kind of like a 1930's insane asylum, but full of zombies. Of course, that just makes things even less secure. It's not like you have to have the slightest concern for the well-being of these prisoners: seal them in concrete, weld them into steel sarcophogi, bury them under tons of rock. Why allow them even the slightest chance to escape?

This also contains what may or may not be an entrance to Region J. The description in the section summary indicates that an entrance exists, although it is one-way, and the Region J map shows a hallway connecting to N. However, once you actually look at that room description (N49) it's made clear that there is nothing but solid stone and only the illusion of a passage, this is also reinforced by the map of Region N which just shows a solid wall. Clearly another editing clusterfuck.

Several undead hordes show up in this section. Mostly extremely toothless skeletal hordes. They have a fair amount of hit points but their damage is pitiful (3d4+5, with only a single attack per round). However, there is also a wight horde which is basically a murder-machine. They have 120 HD, for a total of 480 hit points, a +90 attack bonus and while their damage is minimal (5d4+5), each hit (according to the horde rules) inflicts 4 negative levels. Considering combat with a "monster" with that many hit points is going to last forever and the wight horde is going to hit with every attack they will kill a PC every 4 rounds. Pretty much the only option is to avoid the horde entirely (difficult since they aren't just hanging around in the room where they're found) or hope you can flee the Region before the wights drain you dry.

The EL and encounter editing is pretty bad as well, probably because they're having to make up CR's for horde monsters from thin air, and probably change their mind at different points in the text.

There's also a few dragon skeletons (just skeletons, not dracoliches).

There's also a Mohrg horde, because apparently the writers just can't get enough of abusing the horde design. The mohrg horde is actually less threatening than the wight horde, but still obscene. They have 420 HD (1,025 hp) and for some reason the celestials decided that they should be armed with 30 +1 longswords, although they forgot to include them in the Morgh's stats. Their attack bonus is +215 and damage is 5d6+35. Despite this they have the saves and AC of an individual Mohrg. The paralysis ability isn't absurd (only DC 21 which could be worse at this level) but their sheer supply of hit points and the fact that they can't miss (why not just have the horde hit automatically if you're giving them a minimum of +30 attack) means they'll probably carve through most parties pretty effectively.


There's also a room in here (keep in mind, this place was built by angels with no purpose other than to imprison undead) which is covered in murals depicting every imaginable sin and vice. Every round you spend in here requires a DC 22 Will save or be drawn to try and join into the awfulness, pushing them towards the chaotic evil alignment. It's not exactly clear what being "drawn in" means, whether the affected PC begins murdering and raping right away or if they just rub themselves against the wall for an hour. Touching the walls for 5 rounds or more releases a being of pure vice (it's got identical stats to a Marilith but they never describe what it looks like and replace all the references to Marilith with the name "pure vice"). WHY MAKE THIS PLACE!?

We've got another room with a wall that drains strength while giving orgasms. Considering the decor of this Region so far has mostly resembled the love child of Hieronymus Bosch and a serial killer, plus the rather messed up traps and monsters, you'd have to wonder what sort of hosed up celestials made this place. It's especially notable because this sort of thing appears no where else in the dungeon. The other prison areas are all quite spart (aside from the overly elaborate traps) and the only decorations are those made to appeal to the celestials themselves or graffitti produced by later inhabitants.

Oh, and we've got a horde of wraiths, because the wights were not obscenely deadly enough. With 150 HD, attack bonus of +63 and a con drain of 4d6, they'll kill the average of one PC every 1-2 rounds. Don't bother trying to run either, they fly at 60 feet per round. The monk is the only one escaping, assuming he wasn't killed first.

Basically exploring this part of the Region requires that the party cleric cast Death Ward on everyone, then you spend 15 minutes exploring and once the death ward wears off run for the exit, rest for a day, rinse and repeat. Otherwise it'll just switch randomly between cakewalk fights with skeletons to being brutally murdered by energy and ability score drain. Oh, except that won't work because all these undead respawn in an average of 35 hours. So basically unless you can come up with some sort of permanent death ward, or the party cleric uses up their 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th level slots prepping extras you're all screwed.

You know, I originally thought the Horde rules looked like a fairly creative idea, but it's become quickly clear that the writers don't know what the hell they're doing when it comes to designing monsters. It's also weird to note that for the most part the hit points presented are much, much lower than average. Most of the wight hordes have 480 hp, but with HD of 120d12, that's 4 per die. The Mohrg horde has 420 HD and 1025 hit points, meaning less than 3 hp per dice. The wraiths have 150 HD and 480 hp as well, so that's a bit over 3 hp/dice. Skeleton hordes have about 30 HD and only 90 hit points in most cases. It's obvious that the designers are intentionally giving the hordes less hit points than average...so why give them so many HD in the first place?


So that completes the "unaligned" section of the Region. Considering how frigging big this one is I'm going to pace myself and split it up into segments. More to come soon.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 12:49 on Feb 11, 2014

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Huh. On a related note, do we have any idea what writers wrote which parts of the WLD, or is it a mystery?

Yawgmoth
Sep 10, 2003

This post is cursed!


oriongates posted:

You know, I originally thought the Horde rules looked like a fairly creative idea, but it's become quickly clear that the writers don't know what the hell they're doing when it comes to designing monsters.
My experience with AEG is that they're just slightly less competent than White Wolf was ~20 years ago as far as designing game mechanics/stats/etc. goes. As you can quite plainly see here.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Huh. On a related note, do we have any idea what writers wrote which parts of the WLD, or is it a mystery?

Almost impossible to say. From what I can tell the whole thing is a hodgepodge of different writers doing different things, then rewriting or altering.

For example, Sean Holland is credited with doing all of the stat blocks in the dungeon, but is also stated as writing the sections on the "harpies, mummy queen, and the lich".

Reading the acknowledgements in the back of the book also shows that the whole thing went through a lot of changes. After 3 months 4 writers dropped out of the project and were replaced by one guy, Richard Farrese. And after the "editing" was done about an entire third of the book was rewritten.

So placing the blame on anyone person is difficult. But ultimately Jim Pinto is a good scapegoat, just because the editing is definitely the dungeon's primary failing.

Also, the acknowledgements include some thanks which sounds like the most backhanded compliments I've ever read:

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

pkfan2004 posted:

The chapter proper pretty much starts off with this.

Yeah so you can set Unhallowed Metropolis somewhere besides London. You have the blessing of the developers. Go spread your wings and fly across the Wastelands for adventure~

Except your GM would have to make up the majority of what the hell is going on in most of those places. We have a gist, sure, but broad strokes do not a good setting make. You can have your adventure elsewhere but it's sure as hell not gonna be 100% true to the core rulebook experience.
I don't want to sound like I'm shilling for my own poo poo, but this was very much my reaction to the campaign-building advice in Everlasting. "This is a modern fantasy/horror game, but what if you set your whole campaign in a fantastical Underworld? Or in the land of dreams? Or..." and there's a few pages on all that stuff, total.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region N, part 2

N46-N49

This section is a "false" exit (it's still unclear whether or not it's possible to pass through this area at all). This area is basically like the western gates at the start of the entrance, including a brazier-lock.

The culmination is an illusionary exit into Region J, which is blocked by a firey skull that injures and knocks back the first two creatures per round that attempt to pass, making the fake gate difficult to get to and frustrating undead who attempt to leave. Of course, even if they get past there's no actual exit, just a solid wall.

This section is amazingly pointless for three reasons: First, there's no reason for any of the traps because of course there's no actual exit, nor any real reason to place a "fake" exit. Second, even if the exit was meant to lure undead to their death it wouldn't matter because the undead here come back to life (and killing the undead was clearly never the celestials goal in the first place). Third and finally, undead cannot approach the gate. The gate is in room 49, and room 48 contains a magical, invincible, undispellable barrier that blocks any undead from passing it. No undead would ever be able to get near the false gate to be lured in by its trickery or harmed by its traps (despite this of course the description of N 49 includes the bones of destroyed undead).

N53-N68

As previously mentioned there are 3 undead lords, but this section is the territory of a lesser warlord, a bodak calling himself the "Great Death". He's basically the nerdy warlord that all the other warlords make fun of. He runs a court run by wights and passes judgement on other undead for imagined crimes.

There are several rooms here full of skeleton hordes and wights, and in many cases the writers make it clear that there are multiple monsters but neglect to actually tell you how many.

Apparently the "Great Death" is some kind of undead Amazo: He's got the domination power of a vampire, energy drain of a wight, mummy rot ability of a mummy, crazy mind effect of an allip, stench of a ghast, and the aura of a nightshade. He also is a 26 HD bodak. He also has the very first treasure in this Region (not counting the 30 +1 longswords possessed by the mohrg horde): a +3 mithral shirt and +2 shocking burst or thundering warhammer (the weapon is given different stats in different parts of the statblock).

N69-N110

This area is under the control of the Champion of Hell, a blackguard ghost. This is basically the domain of incorporeal undead led by the ghost. It's unclear how these undead actually fight with any of the other undead in the Region, considering most incorporeal undead cannot harm other undead.

A lot of the rooms here are empty other than traps (there's another room that actively forces PCs who enter to become evil). There's another chamber with a semi-lich (a wight sorceress) who is still entombed in a coffin and unlikely to be freed. If the sorceress is freed then it turns out the celestials decided that she should get to keep her magical items. After all, when you're imprisoning ancient and powerful undead why not leave them with their potent magical artifacts? There's also St. Azamond, a 13th cleric/3rd level monk tiefling lich. Again with a wide selection of magic items he was apparently buried with by the celestials. Neither of these undead are likely to be freed however, requiring a complicated series of steps that PCs are unlikely to bother with or be aware of.

The incorporeal undead in this region are quite dangerous thanks to their large numbers (one of the first encounters is 5 dread wraiths) and touch attacks combined with their con drain. There's also CR 20 ghost (Clr 11/fighter 6) Keep in mind that PCs are probably not going to be any higher than 15th level at this point and undead regenerate in about a day and a half.

Finally we have another obscenely lethal horde: An Allip horde, although not as bad as the Wraith horde. There's also a room that contains wraiths, dread wraiths and dread wraith lieutenants (24 HD wraiths) but no indication is given as to how many of each there are.

There is at least a room that contains a very large selection of ghost touch weaponry (11, each of a different weapon), although the PCs must defeat the weapons in combat first. This room is potentially very useful when it comes to preparing the PCs for fighting the inhabitants of this region, contains many different weapons to allow for different fighting styles...except that any given weapon has a 3-in-4 chance of dissolving into nothingness. Meaning that of the 11 weapons statistically only 2-3 will survive. Better hope that you get one of the regular martial weapons and don't end up with a double-axe or spiked chain you can't use.

Vinarra herself is a CR 22 encounter a ghost Fighter 9/Rogue 1/ Blackguard 10. She also has 4 24 HD Dread Wraith bodyguards. Technically that makes this a CR 23 encounter. It doesn't involve lots of spells or anything complicated but it's still quite a fight considering the level of the PCs involved and the extremely draining fights that this area contains. Keep in mind that this region is not at all linear...within about 10-12 rooms a group of 12th level characters from Region M could wander into her domain and be faced with a CR 23 encounter. Unless they're gaining a level every other room there's no way to be prepared. Even PCs of 15-16th level could very well be killed, especially since (for unexplained reasons) Vinarra is capable of moving through the walls of this region that normally block incorporeal travel. And of course even if they're killed all of these undead will come back soon. Imagine a pissed off resurrected ghost leading her wraith hordes after the PCs that killed her.

N111-N134

This is the domain of the mummy queen, a priestess of some kind of generic death god. She believes the World Eater is an avatar of her god and is working to set it free.

Some of her most powerful servants are extremely beefy 28 HD mohrgs (making them pretty dangerous since that boosts their paralysis attack to a DC 24). Other than buff Mohrg's there's not much here. A few zombie wyverns. Some allips.

Despite the size of this Region (or perhaps because of) this is actually one of the duller sections of the WLD. There's lots of repetition and empty rooms (or rooms that are full of "boxed up" undead that will only attack if the PCs free them). The region is even more starved for loot than the rest of the WLD, without even the worthless gold and gems that filled up the rest of the dungeon. The only source of actual treasure are the named undead.

Despite this section being called "The Mummy's Tomb" it does not actually contain the mummy priestess herself. For some reason, even though the rooms are immediately adjacent the section with the mummy priestess is N181-201 (labeled as just "More Undead"). Let me illustrate with a shot of this section of the dungeon:



Rather than waiting 60 rooms or so to resume, I'll go ahead and skip to 181-201 and finish off the mummy's tomb. Like the earlier section there really isn't much here. Some more mohrg, some zombies, a few allips.

There are several traps supposedly created by the mummy that she actually would find impossible to create (such as a Holy Word trap) or that would have no affect against the undead servants of the lich lord she's placing them to defend herself against (such as symbols of death and insanity or the blasphemy spell).

The mummy herself is a 15th level cleric in addition to her abilities as a mummy, backed up by 6 12 HD allips. This is definitely a tough fight, especially since it is almost as easy for PCs fresh from a different region to stumble into this area as the first "boss"

If you check out the minimap up there you'll see that the southern end of this section is an open cave, that's the entrance to Region J (don't ask about the doors leading into solid rock, those are never explained), which has no guards and no defenses at all (except presumably the ward that stops undead from leaving the region. Region J is a 10-12th level Region, which means that mid-level PCs can simply walk right into the middle of a band of high level undead such as the 6 12 HD allips in N193, or the Mohrg barracks in the area of N198, which includes a 40 HD Mohrg "lord", who is probably a tougher fight than the mummy he serves.

Well, I'm done with the first half or so of Region N. Next we'll deal with the Prime Lich and the (oddly unimpressive) World Eater.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

I've discovered something peculiar while reading the Planescape Monstrous Supplement, and need assistance to see if my hunch is correct:

At the beginning of the book it says that it revises and reprints entries from the core game's Monstrous Compendium (which were printed as hugeass reams of paper you had to put into a 3-ring binder). But looking at the monster entries it appears there are two different standards. One group would that was reprinted from the main game, and the other group that is all new monsters. The evidence is that the latter group appears more concisely written with the setting being presented.

Anyone know more about this and if my hunch is correct?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I think the only real revisions made to the reprinted material were stat changes. XP values at least, if I recall correctly.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

Sorry for the delay, but I'll have the next DBZ post up tomorrow, when we'll talk about yelling and flexing and fireballs.

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I know I'm supposed to be doing The Day After Ragnarok, but I've got so much real-life stuff going on that I'm too preoccupied to think about it, let alone do write-ups. (I only just remembered the write-up today!) So I'm officially stopping. If you want to start your own write-up, you have my blessing.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region N Part 3: The World Eater and the Prime Lich

map:


So, This should be the last post for Region N, then we can move to Region O and finally out of this dump!

N135-159

This is the area containing the World Eater itself, but we'll deal with the side area's first. The World Eater is contained in a huge central room with 4 entrances. All 4 must be opened to get inside.

The mummy guards her entrance with an encounter that is very difficult, tougher than an actual fight with her. Even the text of the encounter stats that it is "a nearly impossible encounter"...so they know it's extremely difficult...why make it? There's no "trick" to the encounter or alternative way to bypass it. It's just a room trapped with a combo of Horrid Wilting and Energy Drain traps, that's permanently silenced and filled with 3 28 HD Mohrg who are randomly made immune to lightning bolt, magic missile and searing light. And unless they were killed earlier (and haven't respawned) backup mohrg from a nearby room arrive in 2-3 rounds.

The actual barrier around the World eater consists of 4 doors each of which must be unlocked simultaneously (they're unpickable) and a wall of force which can only be deactivated by pulling 4 levers located throughout the dungeon. It's actually unclear how the undead warlords are planning to accomplish any of this since there's a ward that prevents any evil creature from entering the chambers that contain the doors to the World Eater.

It's actually really questionable why the PCs would want to fight the World Eater at all. Unlocking it's prison is exceedingly difficult even if you know how (since it requires the party to find and trigger 4 separate levers and then split 4 ways to reach the 4 doors that must be unlocked) and while the World Eater might theoretically be breaking out I can't see how opening up its cage helps things at all. The undead lords are apparently incapable of entering the chamber even if they had the ability to unlock it. They all attempt to trick the PCs into helping them...but frankly any promises they make are so blatantly false that there's little motivation for any but the stupidest and evilest party to side with one of them. The PCs can't break the status quo without killing the world eater, but since everyone is still safely trapped in this Region there's little motivation for the PCs to try. PCs actually interested in being helpful or saving the day would simply jog back to one of the celestial garrisons and alert them to the situation.

For some reason the celestials decided that the moment the world eater's prison is opened all defenses should immediately be dropped: the stasis field that holds it in place fails, the barrier preventing undead from entering and leaving goes down and so does the barrier preventing evil creatures from entering the world eater's prison.

The World Eater itself is a 50 HD Colossal Nightcrawler. This fight is basically impossible for most groups within the level range of the Region (which maxes out at 18, so presumably PCs fighting the world eater will be level 17 or so).

The world eater itself is fairly tough, by the rules it should be at least CR 25. It's listed as being only CR 20. It's got above average hit points (500). Because of a lack of any decent magical gear the PCs likely can't hit it's AC of 41 or avoid being hit by it's +42 attack bonus (and it's +62 grapple bonus means anyone it bites will be swallowed). The huge HD also means that it's poison is DC 35 to resist.

So, by itself the world eater would be basically an extremely difficult to unbeatable encounter for a group of standard level 17 characters. Of course that wasn't bad enough, so once the doors to it's prison is opened a wave of negative energy hits everything in the dungeon. We're not talking the region by the way, we're talking the entire dungeon, killing most of the weaker inhabitants and hitting the PCs with 4 unavoidable negative levels to start the fight off. All undead hordes get max hp (which, given how low they were already means they'll be around 3-4 times the normal amount on average) and all other undead increase by 4 HD and gain a permanent unholy aura effect. All dead non-outsiders in the dungeon become undead and all undead except the three warlords become loyal to the world eater.

There are spheres full of celestial tools meant to help fight the world eater in this room, but they're contained in spheres that are difficult to break (hardness 10, 50 hp) or open (only possible by a LG PC making a DC 25 will save). The actual contents of the sphere range from potentially somewhat useful (+1 undead bane mace, a room-wide attack spell that only targets undead) to not worth the effort (12 potions of cure light wounds, scroll of divine favor, wand of magic missiles) to worth jack-poo poo (12 vials of holy water, wand of ice storm). Plus there's one sphere that's corrupted and adds an extra negative level to all creatures in the dungeon.

In addition the room has the encounter conditions of Cover and Concealment (meaning that on top of everything else the World Eater has a 20% miss chance). Desecration 14 (effectively any turn attempts are useless), and full of Stagnant Air which means that any given round a PC has to make a DC 15 Fort Save (which increases by 1 for each round) or lose their turn to coughing and choking.

And topping everything off, any undead in the region immediately converge on the room to help out the World Eater.

So, this is a game that frankly the PCs are best off not playing. If they find themselves in this Region the very best option is simply to leave and maybe pass a bit of info along to the celestials.

N160 to N180

This is the territory of Invistis, the Prime Lich. Because he knows the mummy priestess is great at taking control of undead he mostly defends himself with loads of traps and construct servants.

The lich's constructs are actually quite scary (which means that allying with the lich is probably the only reliable way to survive a fight with the World Eater), for instance one of the first is an Alloy Golem, a 54 HD Iron Golem which is nearly as tough a fight as the World Eater itself. It's listed as CR 16 even though a 54 HD iron golem would be at least CR 23. Other than the alloy golem there are several Iron Golems (some with bonus HD), extra buff shield guardians, and lots of traps.

Invistis himself is an 18th level wizard Lich. In fact he's the first lich, the first wizard to figure out the formula for lichdom. Despite this the celestials decided that not only should the bury him with a vast number of powerful magical items (seriously, Invistis has more personal magical items than every single encounter in the dungeon put together, not counting that bunch of 30 +1 swords) but they'd also bury him with his spellbooks (10 total). That's right, the guardians of light and justice decided it would be great to imprison the wizard who invented lichdom with his book of spells. Hell, I wouldn't bury him with paper, let alone a spellbook.

That said, those spellbooks are probably going to give any wizard players spontaneous orgasms. After struggling through the WLD with only your level-up spells and the occasional crappy scroll, this is the greatest treasure a wizard could conceive of.

The Rest

There's not a whole lot in the rest of the Region. We've got an area with several undead trapped in stasis (mostly some 32 HD dread Wraiths and a 24 HD devourer). There's a homunculus wandering around another room who has no real reason to be here (I think someone just realized they forget to check the homunculus off their list of "all the monsters!"). There's a place where a group of elven adventurer's died (the idea that they actually survived getting in here is basically unbelievable, based on the wizard's spellbook they're only 5th-6th level). The exits to the East are for some reason devoid of the extremely elaborate locks and traps that you find in the west side, and are guarded by only a single standard Iron Golem.

However, it does contain possibly the stupidest thing in the entire WLD. I may have said this before but dear god this time I mean it.

There is a room tucked away in the far Eastern part of the Region is a small room containing 4 iron golems. The golems are guarding a door in the eastern wall that requires a DC 45 open lock check to get open. Once opened it's revealed to be a false door and just opens onto a blank wall. A DC 30 search check reveals a slightly different rock in the wall. If a knock spell is cast on the stone then it opens a small cache containing a bone scroll case. I don't think any words can properly express how stupid what is inside is, so I'll allow it to speak for itself:



I don't think I can bring myself to say anything more about this Region. Thankfully there is only one left now. We're almost out people!

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


:psyduck:

Why would they do either of those things?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

It's been proven beyond even James Randi's doubts that people who play RPGs can read minds. Why else would ridiculous riddles... riddle badly written adventures?

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




The celestials who built the WLD are completely insane aren't they.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Well that sort of makes the whole dungeon make sense; the reason everything is so lovely and badly laid out and non-functional is that the Celestials built it expecting a full human army to show up, grind through all the challenges and imprisoned demons and if able to kill the gigantic horde of respawning undead make the choice.

Which is still a lethal amount of stupid for anyone int 18 or higher but you work with what you get.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


"If the PC's destroy both scrolls, half the party is killed irrevocably for having the wrong alignments and no we aren't going to tell them before hand what kind of game do you think this is?"

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I'm just envisioning a bunch of slaad running around with paper angel masks a la Team Fortress 2.

It's the only sensible explanation.

Piell
Sep 3, 2006

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



Young Orc

The funny part is the rest of the dungeon is filled with poo poo that fucks you over if you aren't lawful good, and the death rate is so high most of the party is going to be LG if not all of it.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

These latter sections really make me think that the dungeon was designed by committee. Not just on a writing level, as the downright goofy credits list implies, but in-character with representatives of dozens of Powers with wildly differing philosophies regarding crime and punishment making a penal nightmare for mortals to eventually deal with.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I'm just envisioning a bunch of slaad running around with paper angel masks a la Team Fortress 2.

It's the only sensible explanation.

Angel masks, and the halos they gave out to people who didn't use hacks to unlock achievements.

Cyphoderus
Apr 21, 2010

I'll have you know, foxes have the finest call in nature



The Challenge of the Bandeirantes
Part III - I Swear This Isn't AD&D


To meaningfully explain what each profession is capable of, we need to talk about skills, and to do that we need to talk about attributes. This update isn't very exciting, but it's also not very long. Let's get to it so we can move on to better stuff.

Characters in Challenge of the Bandeirantes possess seven distinct attributes. They are as follows:

Strength: Is strength. Gives bonuses to melee weapon and unarmed combat damage. In the grand tradition of every RPG ever, we have a big table of carrying and raising capacity for different strength values.

Dexterity: Is dexterity. In the grand tradition of every RPG ever (this is a theme), it governs a bunch of skills and is thus very important for any character.

Resistance: Is straight-up hit points. Taking damage reduces resistance directly. Resistance can go down up to -8, when the character dies. Between 0 and -7 resistance, the character's wounds get progressively worse, in the (repeat with me, kids) grand tradition of every RPG ever.
Resting for 6 hours recovers 3 points of resistance. No die rolls or anything here, 6 hours = 3 resistance for all characters.

Intelligence: Not much to say here. Important for sorcerers.

Wisdom: ...yeah. Important for priests and for the tracker, as wisdom, in the grand tradition of every RPG ever D&D, also measures awareness and intuitiveness.

Charisma: I really don't know what to say.

Luck: Hey, something new! There's a separate luck attribute. It gets rolled for random events, like gambling and who gets caught in that accidental blackpowder blast.

Determining attributes is easy. Every attribute starts at 10, except for luck, which starts at 0. Race and profession give bonuses:
White: +1 dexterity, +1 resistance
Índio: +1 dexterity, +1 wisdom
Mestiço: (recall, white/índio children) +1 dexterity, +1 resistance
Black: +1 strength, +1 resistance
Mulato: (recall, black/white children) +1 strength, +1 dexterity

Fighter: +1 strength and resistance, -1 intelligence and wisdom
Tracker: +1 dexterity and wisdom, -1 strength and intelligence
Thief: +1 dexterity, -1 strength
All sorcerers: +2 intelligence, -2 strength
All priests: +2 wisdom, -2 strength

As you can see, attribute bonuses and penalties are not equally distributed among races and professions: nothing gives charisma or luck bonuses, and all professions except the fighter get a penalty to strength. Attribute bonuses based on real-world ethnicities is still the worst idea of all time, but you'll notice that all races have the same base intelligence and charisma, and the game goes out of its way to explain that índios get +1 to wisdom to represent their better knowledge of the land. It's not so bad.

Lastly, the player rolls 7d6. They then assign one die to each attribute as a bonus. If you roll 3, 3, 4, 1, 1, 2 and 4, for instance, you get +1 to two attributes, +3 to two of them, etc. At this point, feel free to increase luck.

Also remember that this is 1992, before the era of ability scores and ability modifiers. Instead, attribute tests are made in the true classical way: roll 1d20, if you get under the attribute, it's a success. Attribute tests are for when no specific skill applies to a task. The classic examples are forcing open a door (strength) or catching something mid-fall (dexterity).
Luck is a 1d10 roll. It's good, because no one's luck is above 6 – the only way to get it is through the bonus dice roll. You do luck tests when you want to avoid a random accident, remember to have packed something, win at a non-rigged card game (as if such a thing would exist in an adventurous world) and the like.

Skills

With attributes under our belt, we can talk about skills. Challenge of the Bandeirantes is one of those games with a huge list of skills, some with very dubious use, some obviously more useful than others, and some that seem to be added solely for verisimilitude reasons: there's a "dealing with cattle" skill that explicitly mentions it shouldn't be rolled in everyday situations. It might not be a good idea to invest in it unless your game somehow features a lot of stampeding cows, or if you want to be a realistic cowboy (but who does that?).

Anyway, skills work in a percentile system. Your value in a skill is the % chance you have at succeeding in an average task pertaining to that skill.

Skills are bought with points. Each character starts with 170 points to distribute among their skills. Of these points,
100 go into career skills, the "class skill list" of the character's profession;
50 go into general skills: these can be career skills of other professions (magic excluded) or chosen from a list of generic, profession-less skills;
20 go into the dodge skill. Don't argue.

You can never put more than 20 points in a skill. The final skill value is governing attribute + points spent. Thus, every character starts with dexterity + 20 dodge.

Skill tests are, predictably, done with 1d100 roll-under. Some skills you can't use at all if you haven't got points in them, like managing explosives and swimming (17th-century swimming is hard, guys). Some skills can be used untrained with just the governing attribute value; some can be used untrained, but only at half of the governing attribute value. There's some weird choices here, like "fighting with sword/knife" being in the latter category, making your average sorcerer capable of stabbing someone 5% of the time. Or the "dodge" skill being labeled as something that you can use untrained even though putting points in it is mandatory for every character. Game design!

This has been a mostly boring update, but next time we'll launch into the profession descriptions properly. Spells are for the most part treated as separate skills.

One thing I find interesting about Challenge of the Bandeirantes is how it employs a brander form of random attribute rolling: ~10 + 1d6 is much less horrible than 3d6. I'm impressed we don't see this kind of thing more often.

Next update: In this game, a fighter has the career skills to fire cannons.

Cyphoderus fucked around with this message at 18:57 on Feb 12, 2014

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica: Transforming Mythic Europe

It should be noted that all magical communication is reliant on Arcane Connections, which generally must be made permanent so they remain usable. If scrying technology becomes widespread, the potential areas of contact and view are going to be limited due to the time and vis needed to do that. Still, it's labwork easily assigned to apprentices or junior magi, or even some hedge wizards. There might be public collections of carefully labeled Arcane Connections, made available for borrowing in exchange for Arcane Connections to the borrower and a small deposit, both to be returned when the borrowed Connection is. This would make it much easier to get reference material for Arcane Connections, and to track those who use them.

In any case, societal impact. Everyone knows that knowledge is power - and that speed of information is vital. Knowing a battle's outcome seconds after it happens is much, much more useful than knowing it days after, if you're a nation away. A cunning nobleman could make great use of this, and might well pay a premium to ensure exclusive use of it, which would need to be kept completely secret. After all, any attempted patent would not survive the revelation of the device - it's far too easy to make, and far too useful.

A scrying society might result from such a revelation, as more and more nobles turn to the Order for similar devices. Each design would have its own quirks, as there would be many inventors - the Order doesn't really do 'industry standard' devices, preferring to have debates over whose designs are better and at what. Such devices will almost always be designed on a seven year expiry - magi are far from being above planned obsolescence, to increase demand in repeat customers. The most basic twinned-quill devices will have been vital to merchants, who can now place orders with suppliers without needing couriers or can tell their vendors when orders are ready, creating demand in advance. Bankers can use the items for remote authorizations, allowing near-instant transfers of funds. Rulers can talk to their vassals, allowing orders in war to be sent clearly and unambiguously. A town will commonly purchase a quill for several locations, to be held in common by the townsfolk, allowing contact with distant relatives. Reputations are now more easily gained and much harder to lose, as news and gossip travel over wider areas.

In this society, the first Hermetic Speculum would be commissioned by a prince of the Holy Roman Empire to better observe battles, but has since fallen into general use. Some cities even have them for general use, made in particularly large size to allow multiple images at once. At first, these were used just to look at scenery and monuments, then became used for communication en masse via proclamations, leading to the formation of a Town Crier's Guild to handle announcing news via the Speculums. Enterprising entertainers have begun to sell Arcane Connections to their performance hall, advertising dates and times to tune in, provided you have the proper Speculum design to do it. This gives them an immense audience, allowing their reputations to spread far and wide.

There have been public scandals thanks to the scrying tools, too, as scrying revealed secrets hoped hidden, and there has been much debate about the right to privacy. There are some who are more than happy to gossip about what they see, but the recent fad is for scrying-detection devices, or even devices to stop scrying entirely. (Relatively simple to do via illusory spells that safeguard an area.) The Order has begun receiving requests for ways to clandestinely intercept magical communications, which would require getting an Arcane Connection to one of the devices and creating a third one - and even then, only half the conversation would be heard unless you got connections to both devices. Interception of secure communications just isn't easy to do.

Next time: A magical printing press?

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

WELL THAT JUST HAPPENED!

I suspect that WLD must be part of some sort of celestial Insurance Scam.

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Barudak
May 7, 2007



SirPhoebos posted:

I suspect that WLD must be part of some sort of celestial Insurance Scam.

Nah, they just left construction up to the ghosts of the guys who built Sochi.

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