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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The 2e rules updates in Mortal Remains are lazy and often poorly done, ignoring things like 'Morality no longer exists.' It needs a real 2e.

Hunter: The Vigil

Appendix One is on Morality. Morality is the worst stat. In 2e they did away with it entirely, replacing it with Integrity - basically, a sanity meter, not a morality one. The Morality appendix talks about how most Hunters are going to degenerate and go mad from Morality loss very quickly, because killing monsters counts all the same. Because, you know, we're tied to this Victorian morality thing. There's a few options they offer to help prevent this, though. First up, the Code. You can adapt your morality away from the human standard, turning it into a Vigil-specific Code over time. This has its own drawbacks, though, and works best for kill-heavy games.

Option two: Monsters don't count. Anything superhuman doesn't count as human, so killing 'em isn't a problem. This skews things a lot, and the game warns that it takes away one of the major consequences of hunting. (Integrity would solve all this nicely, of course, and I'm looking forward to how they work it out for Hunter 2e.) Somewhat less extreme is to declare that monsters aren't really people, so you get a bonus to resist degeneration. The book talks about how maybe self-defense killing shouldn't count, and using Virtue and Vice, and doing things for survival should be less of a sin. Stuff like that.

The Code is a system that lets you alter your morality sin ladder - so, for example, it's no longer a sin to shoplift...if you're sharing the goods with your cell. It's not a sin to kill...as long as you're not killing humans. The price of this is the Tell - a derangement specific to Hunting that you manifest under stress. Leaving a calling card, denying the existence of some types of monster, believing you've contracted a monster disease. Sexual deviancies. I don't actually like the Code because it fundamentally involves derangements, which are dumb and bad and view mental illness and insanity in a way that is very Victorian, very discredited and rather insulting.

Appendix 2 is all about Philadelphia, the core city for Hunter. If you want to learn more about it, go buy the book and read it - there's some cool stuff in there, but it's a campaign setting I feel little need to cover - you don't need me giving you example campaign settings of Hunter. It has all kinds of Hunters and all kinds of monsters. Also, a glossary of Philly slang which includes words like 'hoagie' for hoagies, 'sugger' for vampire, and 'the Abs' for Ashwood Abbey.

The End.

What do you want to see next? I'm saving Compacts and Conspiracies and some of the other books for later - four books came out first, and those four are pretty independent of each other. These are Slasher (about serial killers), Witchfinders (about mages), Spirit Slayers (about werewolves and also spirits) and Night Stalkers (about vampires). Which one do you guys want to see first?

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GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Mors Rattus posted:

What do you want to see next? I'm saving Compacts and Conspiracies and some of the other books for later - four books came out first, and those four are pretty independent of each other. These are Slasher (about serial killers), Witchfinders (about mages), Spirit Slayers (about werewolves and also spirits) and Night Stalkers (about vampires). Which one do you guys want to see first?

Slasher.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Seconded.

Tulul
Oct 23, 2013


Thirded.

VASCU's my favorite conspiracy and the rest of the book is really good too.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


The Morality system always feels like it's unnecessary. If you have players who are on board for the idea that hunting monsters is going to slowly drive them insane and cause them terrible problems, they'll play that out themselves. You don't necessarily need a big ruleset for it. If you design something and the first thing you have to design afterwards is tons of ways to get around it, it is a hint the thing you're designing doesn't really contribute.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



LEVIATHAN: THE TEMPEST

So the members of the Wicked Tribe (or just The Tribe or just plain Leviathans) tend to keep away from each other, but they also keep in touch regularly. By nature, they're pretty territorial and they don't like it when spheres of influence overlap unless they're in a deeper relationship. They're a support group as much as they are a family, and a lot of them are looking for new blood to bring under their influence and control. This is generally illustrated by the Schools of thought that most Leviathans gravitate towards. It's easier to get along with that cousin who shares the same ideas than the other who gets drunk and rants about the purity of blood and species superiority. The important thing about Schools is that they help bring structure to their lives and helps give an approach to the big questions of "who am I" and "who am I to mankind" and "who am I to the Tribe".

The School of the Abyss look for answers in the Rift, the storm-wracked mass consciousness, and they also study the idea of the Primordial Waters. The scholars are explorers and self-disciplined and they believe that there is no place of them in the world of man. The answer, the key to harmony, is to be aware of yourself, to be accepting of yourself, and to separate yourself from the world of man. Scholars of the Abyss tend to live in deep woods with lakes or on small islands by themselves. When you're alone, it's easier to find yourself and find Tranquility.

The School of the Sun realizes that finding yourself is good and all but you have to help the others who are suffering as much as you are. Scholars of the Sun try to become leaders and heroes and teachers like their ancestors, try to fill the gap between Progenitor and man again. A lot of them become cult leaders or politicians or madmen or visionaries, finding Tranquility through leadership, spiritual fulfillment and humility to the Tribe.

The School of Clay remembers that before their change, they were human. They've lost a lot of that experience and tether, but scholars of Clay seek the human world and seek to integrate themselves with it. This isn't easy, because being a Leviathan has a lot of effects on normal folks, but they try to build new identities between their worlds and build a bridge. More often than not, they're the diplomats between angry sea serpents and an angry mob, and they have to build the role that will find them Tranquility.

The School of the Reef remembers that the last time they let their guard down around men, they killed the mother of all things. The world is no longer one big safe ocean for them and you have to defend your family. Scholars of the Reef study mankind and hone their abilities and powers, ready to protect the Tribe in a hostile world. The extremists prepare for a time when they can attempt to undo Marduk's influence and return the world to how it once was. They find Tranquility through the idea that you should crush your enemies and protect your friends.

The School of Fog is more focused on how much was lost. They're the ones who scour the Rift for old artifacts and forgotten traditions. They want to rebuild the old alliances of the Tribe and bring back some of the old ways so they can remember what they had. They focus on uncovering history and maybe even creating a true genealogy of the Tribe to track what happened to families of ages past. If they can put some of their lost history on dry land, carve it in stone where you don't have to worry about the Tempest or losing yourself to the Rift, it would survive for future generations or Leviathans from normal human families. They gain Tranquility through figuring out the mysteries of the past and looking for reasons of belonging and purpose.


So why is it so hard for Leviathans to fit in the normal people? Well, from the outset of puberty, every Leviathan has three things.

1: the ability to transform. Leviathans can change their form at will with a little focus or they can do it reflexively/unintentionally if they really lose their cool. This is the hardest to control during puberty as your body struggles with hormones and emotions. Being seen in different stages of transformation also has some pretty light or pretty heavy effects on normal people who witness you.

2: their powers. Called Vestiges, every bloodline has a preference. They are Awareness, Elements, Fecundity, Might, Predation, Sanctity and Vitality. Vestiges are hard to figure out on your own and really do require knowledge of the Tribe or leadership and tutelage of an elder.

3: the Wake.

Transformation and Vestiges are controllable. A Leviathan can choose to stay in human form for a good long while, they can also choose not to use their Vestiges. You can't turn off the Wake. It is, basically, the exact opposite of Disquiet from Promethean. If mankind was built to serve Leviathans, and Leviathans are made to be Gods and Rulers Of Men, the Wake is the Leviathan's unconscious divine pull on the minds and hearts of their slaves. It's a psychic call that demands obedience and reverence. And it only gets bigger the more power you get.

By itself, the Wake essentially has an effective radius equal to the Leviathan's Sheol (or power stat). The longer any normal human being spends within that radius, the more likely they are to eventually start to give in to the call. On the fringes, it just raises their hair on the back of necks, a feeling of danger. Inside the radius, it starts small. "Wow, she's beautiful." "He's so charismatic." "Jesus, look at how tall he is, he could crush me like an egg." "She really knows how to lead a group." Little thoughts and feelings at the back of their minds. It affects everyone differently. Some feel passion and longing towards the Leviathan, some feel subservient fear like a gun is pointed at the back of their head. The longer they're exposed, the stronger the effect.

Imagine having completely human parents and they start giving you more and more leeway and freedom. You ask for the car and they give you the keys. You ask for $20 and they turn it over and throw in another $20. One morning you wake up and they're waiting outside your bedroom for you to get up. The kids at school feel the same way towards you. You're exempt from tests and your teachers fudge your grades. That popular cheerleader breaks into your gym locker to get your shorts because they smell like you. The football jock stands next to you in the locker room shower too close and he won't listen when you tell him to go away. They all fall over themselves for you, because they love you. They absolutely, unconditionally, love you. You give their lives meaning, you give them purpose, you give them leadership. Your vice principal desperately wants to tie you up and keep you and nurture you because she loves you so much. Someone bumps into you in the hallway and he breaks down in tears over what he's done as the other kids threaten him with violence for touching you.
You run away. You leave it all behind and find a place to stay with friends, crash on their couch. And one day, the neighbor next door knocks and smiles. She's made you cookies, and they're all for you.

The Wake absolutely wrecks most chances for a Leviathan to ever interact normally with people (face to face) ever again. Other Leviathans can feel your Wake, but are unaffected. And Leviathans are able to turn the Wake on higher and focus it towards people to immediately achieve what would take weeks. But Leviathans who tend to abuse the Wake also tend to fall very fast towards moral degeneration. It's mind control, 100%, and it's a slippery slope.

But there are two types of people who the Wake don't affect, and this isn't counting supernatural beings (which, for the record, are immune unless your Power Stat is significantly higher than theirs).

Next time, though, we'll start off with the seven bloodlines of the Progenitors: the Bahamutans, the Dagonites, the Lahamin, the Nu, the Oceanids, the Tanninim and the Thalassans. If you guys have any preference for who I start off with, go ahead. Otherwise I'll start with the Bahamutans.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Yeah. 2e's been much better about 'Morality' by making it, well, not Morality.

Slasher



Technically, Slasher is a blue book - a core World of Darkness line, rather than Hunter. Don't let that fool you - it's a Hunter book. A book about people that kill. Not for passion or for revenge or bad decisions. They kill because they need to kill. Because something inside them forces them to kill. It might be there from birth, might be forced on them by circumstance. And these people, they can't stop at one. They have to kill more. It's compulsive. There's a ritual to it - it has to be done right. The right organ taken, maybe. A cipher painted in blood. A kill made with the right weapon. Maybe only the right kind of victim. Maybe only in one place. It changes with each killer. Slashers are very diverse.

Sometimes, all that killing changes these people. It turns something off inside them. It turns out a light. And from the darkness that remains, sometimes, power comes. Supernatural might and cunning, maybe. Immunity to bullets. Honeyed words to charm anyone with, literally controlling minds. Perfect killing with a chosen weapon. Slashers are the perfect predators, no longer truly human. The idea of the slasher dates back to maybe Psycho, Black Christmas and, in more modern days, Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw. And in the World of Darkness, slashers are some of the worst things for a hunter to face. You can deal with other monsters. You can negotiate. But you can't make a deal with a serial killer, can you? It's not impossible, but who wants to try? And worse - hunters have the advantage of numbers and teamwork...but sometimes, so do slashers. It's rare. Very rare. But sometimes, it's a killing team - exponentially more dangerous. And sometimes, a hunter breaks down. Sometimes, they become a slasher. They find a way to excuse killing not just a witch, but all of her family, to bleed out the magic in the blood. Maybe they don't even justify it. And yes, you can play a slasher.

A slasher can even be a protagonist - you don't have to be Jason, though you can be. You don't have to be Jigsaw. You can be Dexter if you want. You can kill only monsters - brutally, viciously, but monsters. It's not healthy, of course. The unstoppable urge to kill never is. But it's...positive, in a way. And of course, everyone can sympathize with a vengeful killer. But hey, that's only an option. You can be a monster, too.


Smile for the camera.

So, let's talk about killing. In 1971, Oscar Kiss Maerth published The Beginning of the End, a somewhat wild-eyed exploration of human origins. It wasn't very respected, academically. It had no references, and Maerth said he'd got all his information from real-life headhunters and via meditation. It's mostly a rant, talking about how humans evolved from cannibalism, a normative pre-human trait. Ancestral humans killed their rivals and ate their brains, which is an aphrodisiac. Later, they also found that eating brains increased intelligence - permanently and in a hereditary way. Eating brains caused chemical changes. Bodies lost their hairy covering, and humans developed latent psychic powers. They kept at it, as the chemical high of brain consumption was addictive. Tribes hunted the heads of other tribes. They lost the power to communicate instinctively, as animals do. The skull changed shape over time, putting pressure on brains and minds. Humanity went mad - all of them, driven to wage war, to kill, to destroy the environment. Maerth also attributed miscegenation and racial integration to this destructive pressure, but that's really more about being what you can get away with publishing in 1971 than his theory in and of itself. Was there anything to it? Maybe not, but it sounds easy to believe. (Well, kind of.) People kill for trivial reasons, make money at the expense of others and twist any ideology to justify violence. Even if he was hazy on detail, what if Maerth wasn't wrong? What if, inside everyone, is the potential to be a cannibal, a rapist, a torturer - not just a potential, but a genetic predisposition? I mean, something has to cause slashers. What's driving these people mad with increasing frequency? Are they freak accidents? Is murder the default state of humanity?

The story of Genesis talks about the first murder. We are told of the Nephilim as well, mixtures of the divine and mortal. They die in the Flood, and apocrypha say that they were mass murderers, bathing in the blood of the undeserving. They were heroes of ancient days - and killers. They were adored for it. Who were these ancient, mythic heroes - and are they really gone, these killers of ancient times? In the Secret Midrash of the Three Sons of Esau, it is written that Nimrod was a mighty hunter - a hunter of men, the sons of the Fallen. He killed nine of these sons of the Fallen, hung them from the gates of his city, which he named Babel, and said to the people: the sons of the Fallen shall not vex you, and this is a sign. The people rejoiced, declaring Nimrod a mighty king, and he commanded to bake bricks, to build a tower to the heavens, that he might be equal to God. It took three centuries and still was not finished, for Nimrod himself said: I shall build my tower, and my people shall die. He made the builders fall from the tower as they built, to see them dashed against the earth, and the men of Babel began to fear Nimrod, weeping as they sent their sons to build. For if they refused, Nimrod would impale them on stakes and hang them before his house for all to see, saying: It is nothing to me whether these people work on the tower and die or die by my hand, only that they die. And so he commanded each man have both a son and a daughter before they die, that he might have generations to kill.

In the three hundredth year after Nimrod began his tower, Abram came to Babel from Ur, along with his father, Terah. He was descendant of Nimrod of the seventh generation. Terah said to Abram: Do not speak out against Nimrod, my son, for he is a mighty hunter, and he hunts men, and if you anger him, he will find you and send you to his tower to die. But on the first night, an angel of the Lord came to Abram in a dream. He threw himself at the feet of the angel, which said to him: Be not afraid, Abram, for the Lord, the God of Hosts, has given you His favor. Confront Nimrod and pronounce God's curse upon him, for God has judged. The Lord will be with you. You must walk without sandals to the house of Nimrod and say to him this: the Lord has cursed you, and His judgment is upon you.

And so Abram woke and did as he was bade, calling out to Nimrod. And Nimrod awoke and came with armed men, but Abram told him: I am your descendant to the seventh generation, and my name is ABram. The Angel of the Lord came to me last night, and said to me, go to the house of Nimrod without sandals, and say to Nimrod, the Lord has cursed you, and His judgment is upon you. Nimrod drew his blade, but Abram wasn ot afraid, for God was with him. And so Abram raised his hand and called on the Lord, and locusts rose from the dust in the ground and swarmed Nimrod, and one locus flew into Nimrod's ear and burrowed into his brain. So did the mighty hunter die. Abram went to the builders and told them: You must stop, for Nimrod is dead. The men refused, for they were still afraid, and Abram was but a boy without sandals. Because the men did not believe Abram had defeated Nimrod, God cursed them, so that each would speak a different langauge from their brother, and they began to fight amongst themselves.

This text is perhaps an origin story of a slasher. Where do slashers come from? Some say they just happen - environmental and other unusual factors, like brain tumors or paranormal influence, turn people's minds around, create the slasher phenomenon. Some say people are just evil sometimes - it's their nature. Some say it's the influence of Satan in the world, and that slashers are consumed by sin, and their rise is due to the imminent end of the world. Others say it's genetic predisposition, tracable back to our ancestral apes. Any could be right. Why should it be consistent? Why can't they all be right or wrong sometimes?

A surviving copy of the Bellum Sanguinis of L. Poppadeius Caliga can be found in the Munich Library of the Loyalists of Thule. It speaks of a man who feels betrayed, for the Italian people have been denied Roman citizenship despite being long allies of Rome. Drusus is dead, yet they took the Vow of Drusus: if I become a citizen of Rome, by the Law of Drusus, I will hold Rome as my country. They would be loyal, if only they were allowed to be. The writer is a Bird of Minerva, though banished from the Aventine Hill for being non-Roman, but the Birds did not forget him. They have let him live, they he rebels against Rome. And by cover of night, he has joined three other Birds, Roman Birds, to go to the city. His fellows risk crucifixion in joining him, but he would do the same for them. They hunt the Hag of Nola, an old woman with skin tattooed so dark it is like felt, who kills with a terrible blade. They say no man of pure heart can be harmed by her, but they know they are soldiers and do not have this defense.

The men call for the Hag at the crossroads. Nothing happens, and the man who called laughs - and is killed. She is gone before they can catch her. Another dies. She is gone again. The third is slain. They tried to flee, but could not escape. At last, the writer, alone, strips down and draws his knife. He cuts off his own right hand as sacrifice to the Hag. She shows herself now, bending over to take the offered hand, and he chops into her neck with his sword in his left hand. He believes she must be dead. He flees, back to his army. And when he next hears the story of the Hag of Nola, he is in Rome, having bought his citizenship, for though his side lost the war, they were given their demand. He never returns to Nola - he is unsure if the Hag can be killed, and he has nothing left to sacrifice.

The Lucifuge holds a document from the 19th century. It is French, attributed to Panurge, Chevalier Theleme, who purports to have lived during the Inquisition of the 1490s in Spain. It speaks of a man who met the Spanish inquisitors, men who believed absolutely, and who did evil because of their faith. The one he sought now, a Dominican named Alphonso Romero, was different. His fellows had honest belief - a terrible thing, and the Chevalier prefers hypocrites. They often have a price. But Alphonso had no belief - he just needed an excuse to kill. It was tradition of Torquemada to offer a chance to recant, and thus earn strangulation rather than death by fire, but here, no mercy was given. All burned under the eyes of a smiling Alphonso. The Chevalier watched him, waiting. Nothing would persuade Alphonso to show mercy, ever. He would plant evidence if he needed to. But the Chevalier could find no proof of this. He just knew, somehow. At last, he tried to fight - and so he was taken and tortured. Never by Alphonso, not directly. He would sit and watch. And while he seemed merciful, the Chevalier could see the mark of Hell in him, and knew - he just enjoyed this. He endured the torments, weeping but not breaking. Even now, centuries later, he can feel the aches. At last, the priest ordered his men to leave, and began to give the well-practiced speech of regret.

And so, the Chevalier laughed - he told Alphonso he knew God had nothing to do with these killings. Alphonso admitted to this. But how would that help the Chevalier? He was going to die anyway. The Chevalier asked, then, since he was going to die: Why? Why do these things if the priest didn't even believe? The priest smiled and said, "Because I can. I awoke on the morning I arrived here, and I saw that there was no God, and saw that our Holy Work was a sham, and that all there was, was the blood, and the burning." He seemed even regretful, but had shown his pride - a deadly sin. And so the Chevalier opened his mind to his own damnation, and so then did the Chevalier's 'companion,' Franz, appeared in brimstone and steam, unlocked the manacles and allowed the Chevalier free while the priest wept - and then, well, the Chevalier killed him, using all the tortures he'd suffered. And still, as he was tortured, the priest could only laugh.

Slashers rarely have temporal power like Alphonso did, but it happens. That gives them so many opportunities. They can aim big. Very big indeed. They can encourage violence without ever having to lift a knife. They can use their command to kill. Still, most slashers need to see their kills. It's what makes them so dangerous, but also their biggest weakness. I mean, let's assume a Charmer becomes President. (It's a type of slasher.) Let's say he hypothetically gets an intern to blow him. And eventually, that intern's going to get chopped to bits, because that's what he does. It has to be covered up, and eventually, a Secret Service guy is going to talk to his TF:V buddy. Another country's leader might personally go to war zones to get his fix. The point is, a slasher in power always slips up, will always find themselves unable to resist an opportunity. Even when they have power, there are ways to get close, and you can find them.

Also notable - torture is often part of a slasher's MO. The Inquisition has taught them much. Even the supposedly mindless killers torture their victims with fear long before they strike. They harry their prey, always letting them get away just a little bit. tormenting them. Slashers are more than killers - they do more than just mug people. It's practically an art to some of them. They must torment before they finally make the kill.

Next time: More history.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



The easiest way to do a Slasher game, I'd imagine, would be playing as Suicide Squad in the World of Darkness.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kavak posted:

Tactics are part of the the confused nature of combat in the nWoD. The rest of the system is supposed to be pretty fluid about character actions and capabilities, but stuff like fighting styles and tactics drive it back towards more granular D&D style combat. I think they originally were conceived as a way to make Werewolf packs truly scary, but that book may have come out after Hunter.

Looking back at the Changing Breeds post, I'm really baffled why a self-proclaimed story-telling RPG uses a granular Size rating. How often do WoD citizens run into creatures that are not more or less human-sized, anyways?

pkfan2004 posted:

Lightning hurts. It really, really hurts. Hell, electricity in general hurts.

As is typical for water-based monsters. Now I'm reminded of Monster Hunter - or should I say Monster: The Huntening? I wonder how many vampires you have to slay to make a surfboard-sized greatsword...

Mors Rattus posted:


Escher Girl vs Non-Euclidean Monster

Now who is the real Eldritch abomination here? And why are her arms so ridiculously thin o_O ?!

Stars Without Number

Roar to the hand.

Time for another round!

Chapter Three: Equipment

Gear and items in SWN are categorized in Tech Levels, your typical measure of overall technology sophistication to produce the piece of equipment. The levels range from 0 to 5. 0 is Stone Age, 1 is Middle Age (though a lot of stuff should also be available in the Iron Age), 2 is 19th century, 3 is 20th century, 4 is standard future stuff and lastly 5 encompasses Pretech. Pretech is like BattleTech's Lostech, extremely advanced technology from a bigone era that can no longer be produced outside of irreplaceable automated factories form said era. Pretech gear is either pretty darn expensive or outright artifact-only stuff.
There is also Psitech, a brand of Pretech that requires a Psychic to function.

Encumbrance is kept rather simple and elegant in SWN. Most items are between 0-2 encumbrance points. You can have half your STR score in Encumbrance readied in holsters, pouches etc. (armor counts as readied, too), and your full STR score in Encumbrance stowed in backpacks or pockets. Readied equipment can be drawn as part of an action, while stowed equipment takes an entire round to retrieve. Your can increase your Encumbrance limits by twice +2 (stowed) and +4 (readied). The first increase makes you Lightly Encumbered (movement rate drops from 20m to 15m), the seconds makes you Heavily Encumbered (movement drops to 10m).

Like in so many other sci-fi settings, stuff is paid in credits, a holdover from the golden age that is mostly electronic in nature (except for primitive worlds that have to rely on chips and notes, if they use credits at all). Credits from different worlds are fully compatible unless the GM and players are really into that sort of thing.

Each world has its own rules when it comes to item legality. But generally said, people don't really like having dudes in power armor carrying huge guns walk around the spaceport.

Armor Types

Like your typical OSR game, SWN has descending Armor Classes, with the armor's AC replacing the default AC of 9, which is further reduced by your DEX modifier.

The most primitive pieces of armor are Leather Jack (AC 7), Metal Mail (AC 5) and Metal Plate (AC 3), equaling your typical OSR leather, chain and plate armor (with the Leather Jack also representing a nifty jacket). These are however a bit rubbish for characters as they only work against weapons with a Tech Level (or TL) of at most 2, so anything more advanced than a revolver will punch right through them.
Shields also exist and reduce AC by 1. The simple TL0 shield only works against primitive melee weapons and ranged weapons that are not firearms, while the TL4 shield can stop anything up to modern day firearms.

TL3 only brings the Woven Body Armor (AC 5) on the table, your catch-all term for kevlar stuff.

TL4 gives us the Armored Undersuit (AC 7), a kind of armored plugsuit you can easily conceal under normal clothing (highly recommended for an PC), Combaf Field Uniforms (AC 4) which sound a bit like Stormtrooper armor, and two kinds of power armor in the Assault Suit (AC 2) and, well, Power Armor (AC 1). These two not only increase your Encumbrance limit and are vacuum-proof (with an oxygen supply of 6 hours), but they also make you flat-out immune against unarmed attacks* or man-portable weapons of TL3 or below. On the downside, both suits require a power cell to operate, and the wearer must have the Exosuit skill at a sufficient level to not suffer a penalty to his attack rolls.


So much pulp.

TL5 ditches normal armor altogether for portable force fields, namely the Field Emitter Panolpy (AC 0) and the Deflector Array (AC 2). The former creates a visible bubble that also filters the air and acts as a vacuum suit if need be, while the latter is completely invisible if it's not deflecting an attack.

*) Unless the attacker has the Unarmed skill at level 2 or more, at which point his space kung-fu is badass enough to hurt you anyways.

Primitive Weapons and Unarmed Attacks

An interesting thing about SWN melee weapons is that most of them allow you to use DEX instead of STR to determine your attack and damage bonus. The game in general heavily de-emphasizes the usefulness of STR outside of determining your Encumbrance, which makes sense for a futuristic setting I guess.

Unarmed attacks in SWN deal 1d2 damage, and you get to add your Unarmed skill as a damage bonus (the only weapon skill that does that).

TL0-1 feature a handful of typical D&D weapons (Knife, Club, Sword, Greatsword, Spear, Primitive Bow aka Shortbow), but you can always add more from your favorite retroclone. TL3 adds the Advanced Bow aka Shortbow with longer range, Grenade and Stun Baton. TL4 gives us Kinesis Wraps (+2 damage to your unarmed attacks, and you can hurt dudes in power armor - though you probably already have a high enough Unarmed skill to do this anyways if you get these), the Monoblade (a group of weapons ranging from absurdly sharp knives to chainswords, all dealing 1d8+1 damage and being able to get throuhg power armor) and the Suit Ripper (a rod specifically designed to tear vacc suits, which most worlds see as a pretty dickish move).

Projectile Weaponry

Your typical firearms. A very good choice for Warriors as they are widely available (TL2-4; no TL5 here, except for a bit later) and hurt something fierce, with shotguns dealing 3d4 to 3d8 damage depending on their Tech Level and no TL4 weapon dealing less than 2d6. Some weapons can burst fire, which SWN handles very simplified by just giving you a +2 to hit and damage at the cost of eating up 3 rounds of ammo.

TL2-3 has your typical firearms. TL4 features the Void Carbine (2d6, a gyrojet gun designed for zero-gee combat), the Mag Pistol (2d6+2) and Rifle (2d8+2, coilguns aka gauss weapons) as well as the Spike Thrower (3d8, gauss-shotgun with burst fire).

Energy Weaponry

Energy weapons are easier on the ammo and are generally easier to use (they all gain a +1 to hit thanks to their lack of recoil), making them popular especially with non-Warriors. They are however harder to get and replace in more primitive worlds (they are TL4 minimum), and they generally deal less damage than their projectile counterparts (i.e. the Plasma Projector deals 2d8, while the Mag Rifle does a +2 on top of that), with the exception of 2 of the 3 TL5 weapons: the Thunder Gun (a sonic disruptor) at 2d10 (3d10 on a 19-20) and the Distortion Cannon (a weaponized miniature spike drive that wrecks your spacetime and ignores up to 1m of solid cover) at 2d12.
Also on TL5 is the Shear Rifle, which shoots gravitational repulsor beams. It's overall a better Plasma Projector (aka plasma rifle) that can burst fire.

Psitech Weaponry

These are some nifty toys for Psychics to play with. Like every pieces of Psitech, these are TL5 only, so don't count on starting with one. Because they are powered by psychic power, they use WIS or CON instead of DEX.

The Mind Blade turns the wielder's telepathic power (Telepathy level 2+ required) into a blade, dealing 1d4 + the wielder's Telepathy level in damage (plus his attribute bonus I think) and getting a juicy +3 to hit bonus. A mind blade either looks like a glove (making you look like a Soulknife) or is a straight-up lightsaber. Unfortunately, the telepathic nature of the blade means you can't actually kill anyone with it, and it does nothing against robots or inanimate objects

Metafocal Grenades require a Precognition level of at least 2. They work like normal grenades that just so happen to never hit targets the wielder doesn't want to hurt.

Metastasis Projectors require a Biopsionic level of at least 2. A failed attempt at creating a healgun, these gauntlet-like weapons shoots tumor beams dealing 2d6 very hard to cure damage as well as increasing the target's System Strain (more on that later). Unsurprisingly, these nasty weapons are highly illegal.

Telekinetic Slings - unsurprisingly - require a Telekinetic level of at least 2, this forearm-mounted weapon allows the wielder to launch objects below apple-size at a +3 to hit and with 1d10 damage, turning corners, flying around obstacls and screwing with inertia. Imagine Captain America kicking rear end with a shield scaled for a He-Man action figure.

Gunnery Weapons

The big guns. All but the two TL3 ones have to be mounted on a vehicle or emplacement. 3 of them can fire to suppress, which SWN handles by doubling the ammo cost and automatically hitting anyone in front of the weapon for half damage unless they are in cover or succed on an Evade or Luck save.

TL3 has the Heavy Machine Gun (3d6, can suppress), which can be used without mounting it, but that gives you a -6 to hit and makes suppressing fire impossible (no action heroes for you). The Rocket Launcher (3d10) on the other hand works fine without any kind of emplacement (aka it's the default Gunnery weapon for PCs), but you suffer a -4 to hit against human-sized targets or below.

TL4 has such lovelies as the Railgun (3d8, can suppress), the Anti-Vehicle Laser (3d10), the Hydra Array (3d6, can suppress, can shoot up to 3 missiles per shot, but only the highest damage roll is applied to a target if you hit it with multiple missiles), and the Wheatcutter Belt (2d12, anti-infantry explosive charges mounted on tanks and stuff).

TL5 only consists of the Vortex Cannon, a 5d12 monster that is essentially Shear Rifle so big it has to be mounted on a tank or similar vehicle.

Suffice to say, combat is pretty darn dangerous except for maybe the most primitive of worlds, especially since you stop getting Hit Dice after level 10 in typical OSR fashion. Even the most badass Warrior can quickly meet his end at the hands of a group of guards packing heat.

Exploration Gear

Your typical adventuring stuff, with some futuristic stuff. You don't just have a normal tent, but a pressure tent to survive in hostile atmospheres. And the 10-foot pole is a 30cm rod that can extend to 3.048m (aka 10 foot). Also included are trade goods and metals in case you're looting merchant ships or are into trading.
To survive in vacuum, you can get yourself a Vacc suit (which also doubles as a AC 7 armor), or a TL5 vacc skin that is like those survival suits from Dune in that they turn your bodily waste into water.

Tools and Medicines

This includes toolkits (for certain skills), Power Cells (powers energy weapons, power armor and other equipment, is standardized into Type A for man-portable equipment and Type B for vehicles), the Telekinetic Generator (recharges cells through telekinesis or sheer muscle power), the Metatool (a swiss army knife for tech dudes) and various medical stuff. The most important are the Lazarus Patch (stabilizes a character who has fallen to 0 HP) and the Medkit (+1 bonus to Medical skill checks).

Personal Accessories

Some futuristic gadgets, including the Argus Web (cover yourself in a near invisible web of cameras and microphones), the Grav Harness (allows clumsy flight at 20m per round), the Holo Unit (as seen in Star Wars) and the Translator Torc (a somewhat crappy translation device).

There are also tables for lifestyle, employee and services costs, though that's not too interesting (but handy for a GM to have around).


Duuuude!

Cyberware

SWN's cybernetics. They give you some nifty abilities at the cost of System Strain (sometimes called System Stress in other sections. Not sure about that). Anything that would increase your System Strain above your CON score just plain doesn't work. This limits the amount of Cyberware you can have at once, and it also limits the usefulness of Biopsionics and other instant-heal sources (as those add 1 System Strain). System Strain from outside sources and Cyberware activation cost is reduced at a rate of 1 per day.

  • Adrenal Suppression Pump: Shuts down your emotions for 1 hour per day, which gives you a -2 penalty on social rolls, but a +2 to initiative.
  • Body Arsenal Array: Retractable, hard to detect melee weapons give you a +1 damage to your unarmed attacks, and you can damage stuff not normally affected by unarmed attacks.
  • Eleskin Capacitor Mesh: A taser that also doubles as a security override.
  • Ghost Talker Transceiver: An audiovisual comm implant.
  • Holdout Cavity: A hard to detect cavity in your torso that can hold a pistol or similar item.
  • Induced Coma Trigger: Put yourself in a coma for up to 2 weeks, halting whatever disease or poison might affect you at the moment.
  • Pressure Sheathing: Allows you to survive in a vacuum for up to 30 minutes.
  • Prosthetic Limb: Pretty much what it says. Thankfully no laser eyes or maxed out STR arms here.
  • Revenant Wiring: One of two TL5 Cyberware implants. Has a simple combat AI take over your body if you go unconcious or die, which will keep on fighting for 3d4 rounds or until your HP is reduced to -25.
  • Slowtime Window: The other TL5 implant. Allows you to think 3000% faster and makes you immune to surprise attacks.
  • Stabilization Overrides: Automatically stabilizes you, but it will reduce your effective CON modifier by 1.
  • Twitchlock Actuators: Allows for bursts of superhuman speed and precision, allowing you to reroll any roll (like say an attack roll) based on manual dexterity and aim. Messes up your nerves though, reducing your effective DEX modifier by 1.

Vehicles

Vehicles in SWN have 4 main stats: an abstracted Speed rating ranging from 0-5 that is used as a modifier for Vehicle skill rolls (like say for a chase scene), an Armor rating that is essentially Hardness that only applies to non-Gunnery weapons, Hit Points of course and the maximum number of Crew (with the minimum being 1).

Hitting a stationary vehicle is automatic at 30 feet, and requires beating an AC of 10 at any range above that. A moving vehicle will subtract its Speed rating from the to hit roll. Hitting a moving vehicle from another moving vehicle applies both Speed ratings.

The list itself is a bit generic, with a motorcycle, groundcar, helicoptr and atmoflyer (aka airplane) at TL3, and hover variations of that at TL4 along with an ATV explorer (the go-to PC car). TL5 consists solely of the gravtank, the only vehicle that is flat out immune against non-Gunnery weapons.
Each vehicle has a certain amount of slots for weapons (motorcycles have 1, gratanks have a whoopin' 6, everything else has 2). A normal weapon takes up 1 slot, while a Gunnery weapon takes up 2 (so a gravtank can have up to 3 Vortex Cannons for maximum carnage). Every weapon needs a dedicated gunner, except for the gravtank, which needs only one thanks to its fancy firecom system.

Phew, this is getting long. I think I'd better do the starships in a separate entry, especially since they have much more detail to them than the above mentioned vehicles (though the recent "Engines of Babylon" sourcebook fixes this by giving them the same treatment).

Doresh fucked around with this message at 19:55 on May 29, 2015

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Doresh posted:

As is typical for water-based monsters. Now I'm reminded of Monster Hunter - or should I say Monster: The Huntening? I wonder how many vampires you have to slay to make a surfboard-sized greatsword...

Stealing his thunder a little, but Leviathans are vulnerable to electricity for symbolic reasons in-setting. Mankind harnessing lightning is a powerful symbol of technological progress and human civilization taking dominion over what was once the property of the gods. Zeus' thunderbolt, bent to serve mankind. Like sunlight burning vampires, it's a powerful and lethal symbolism to Leviathans.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Cythereal posted:

Stealing his thunder a little, but Leviathans are vulnerable to electricity for symbolic reasons in-setting. Mankind harnessing lightning is a powerful symbol of technological progress and human civilization taking dominion over what was once the property of the gods. Zeus' thunderbolt, bent to serve mankind. Like sunlight burning vampires, it's a powerful and lethal symbolism to Leviathans.
Yup. What this means, mechanically, is that Leviathans take aggravated damage from it and electricity ignores any Vestige-powered armor or defenses. Bashing electric damage gets half of the total damage converted to aggravated. Leviathans will be justifiably terrified of tasers.
The other thing that works against them is the Sigil of Marduk, a properly created sigil, not one that you drew using sidewalk chalk on the side of a building. There's rules for making one and Leviathans really have to a Resolve+Composure rolls to enter anywhere protected by one. Otherwise, they can't do it for a number of days equal to their Sheol. You can put a Leviathan in a cell and put a properly made sigil outside of the cell, and if they fail their roll, you've got them trapped for a few days.

Doresh posted:

Looking back at the Changing Breeds post, I'm really baffled why a self-proclaimed story-telling RPG uses a granular Size rating. How often do WoD citizens run into creatures that are not more or less human-sized, anyways?
Ohhhhh boy size is gonna get kinda wacky over here, you'll see.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Slashers sound like pretty awesome antagonists. Not just for Hunters, either. A monster that doesn't even bother to dress it up or pretend they can do their business without killing would be a chilling thing for a Vampire to run into.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



pkfan2004 posted:

Leviathans will be justifiably terrified of tasers.

And Tiamat help the Leviathan on the wrong end of a Mjolnir Cannon or an Inspired with a Tesla gun.. :gibs:

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Doresh posted:

Looking back at the Changing Breeds post, I'm really baffled why a self-proclaimed story-telling RPG uses a granular Size rating. How often do WoD citizens run into creatures that are not more or less human-sized, anyways?

Gear and creatures both use the same size system which makes it somewhat relevant. Idk why is so granular though. As for things that aren't roughly human sized, certain spirits, children, vehicles, large animals, and denizens of other supernatural realms

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Cythereal posted:

Stealing his thunder a little, but Leviathans are vulnerable to electricity for symbolic reasons in-setting. Mankind harnessing lightning is a powerful symbol of technological progress and human civilization taking dominion over what was once the property of the gods. Zeus' thunderbolt, bent to serve mankind. Like sunlight burning vampires, it's a powerful and lethal symbolism to Leviathans.

That's not too surprising. Nothing in the WoD has a straightforward explanation.

pkfan2004 posted:

Ohhhhh boy size is gonna get kinda wacky over here, you'll see.

I can't wait :3

Xelkelvos posted:

Gear and creatures both use the same size system which makes it somewhat relevant. Idk why is so granular though. As for things that aren't roughly human sized, certain spirits, children, vehicles, large animals, and denizens of other supernatural realms

Still, what does Size add what can't be represented by stats? Well, I hope they knew what they were doing.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Doresh posted:

Still, what does Size add what can't be represented by stats? Well, I hope they knew what they were doing.

Certain things run based on size, and size contributes to your health. The issue with changing breeds is that Brucato started handing out size increases to the base human form, apparently on whim, because iirc the were elephants are still size five in human form and aren't any bigger than the were tigers in war form.

Or to put it another way, a were tiger in human form is bigger than a werewolf in his war form.

DigitalRaven
Oct 9, 2012

When I kill you with a motor-car, you should have the common decency to stay dead, you horrid little object




Tulul posted:

VASCU's my favorite conspiracy and the rest of the book is really good too.

VASCU's outline notes were pretty much "Psychic FBI agents. Go." So I took a lifetime of watching cop shows — Columbo, Law & Order, Wire in the Blood, Waking the Dead, Prime Suspect, Cracker — added plenty of X Files and Millennium, dissolved in a bottle of Laphroaig quarter-cask, and three days later VASCU was born. I'm still really goddamn proud of it.

Edit: Not that I don't expect the thread to rip it to shreds if you've got good reason, like it being funny.

DigitalRaven fucked around with this message at 21:18 on May 29, 2015

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Slasher

The Restoration and Enlightenment were the time of the first real studies of slashers and their history. Some pamphlets talk about the Beast of Drury Lane, who took a cleaver to women and animals in 1744. He got taken down by a team of craftsmen and artisans whose wives he'd killed. Only one of them survived the fight. Today, all that remains of him in the public consciousness is a children's rhyme.

quote:

Run across to Drury Lane,
Turn around, run back again,
Hold a chopper in your hand,
Cut apart our happy band,
Run away and hide,
For everyone shall stay but you.

In France, under the Sun King, it was the Wolf of Verdun, Jean Houillier, who over the space of a week killed 30 men with his teeth alone before a lone man put him down with a musket ball to the skull. After the American War of Independence, it was an old scout named Bad Jack Potter, who led a band of cannibals until the Mattaponi Indians caught and killed them all...except Jack, who they handed to the settlers of Virginia because they wanted him to suffer a punishment more cruel than they could inflict. In 1791, it was a diary delivered to the Republican Government of Paris, telling in detail of the manipulation and planting of evidence that had killed over a hundred during the Terror. Investigators found it contained details that could only be known by by the victims and the Revolutionary Tribunal. No one knows why it was sent.

In the midst of all this, some hunters realized slashers were a real problem, a thing of their own. In the 18th century, the Malleus, Aegis Kai Doru, Ascending Ones and Lucifuge all began to collect records of slashers. In 1761, a scientist by the name of Robert James Harrison of Glasgow published the first paper on the slashers. Butchers Born, Or A Treatise on Distempers of the Brain and the Urge to Murder. Some of his ideas were too ahead of their time to gain any acceptance, and his accounts were too wild to be believed. By the time psychology caught up, he'd been forgotten. Only a few copies of his text exist today. The Lucifuge own one, and not its praise for the actions of one Chevalier Theleme. The Aegis Kai Doru keep their copy in Scotland, and believe it has supernatural powers. The Loyalists of Thule own two copies, one in Munich and the other in New York. The last to consult one of those two was disturbed to notice the design on the frontispiece: Cheiron the Healer. A very familiar design, in fact.

Captain Henry Coale's Memoirs of a Naval Man in the Caribbean mentions an anecdote from 1712, while Coale was captain of the Anne Stuart. He'd heard tales of the Black SChooner, but he put no credence to them - pirate tales were all the same. Sold soul to Satan, crew cursed to wander the seas, yadda yadda. So he never credited the tales of the pirate crew gone adrift in the Sargasso Sea. The midshipman telling the tale said they cared only for death now, not treasure. He said they'd gone mad before the wind freed them of the weed, turned to cannibalism. Now, they killed and ate the towns they raided. Coale didn't believe a word - not until they reached Port James and found it empty of life. The women and children had been crucified on gibbets, dead a week. He had them buried properly and found that the buildings had been untouched. Raiders tend to pillage, but they had touched nothing. The food was left alone, the treasury unopened. There was no sign of any man who lived in Port James - only the women and children. The crew blamed the Black Schooner, saying the men were taken, eaten or worse. Coale assured them it wasn't so, but he had his own doubts. What men steal nothing but build gibbets for every innocent in town? They never found a perpetrator, no matter how Coale searched. He heard stories of similar massacres, but no culprit was ever found.

They say now that the Black Schooner is still out there, its crew wearing human skins sewn to flesh and stained with blood. It barely floats, but its spiderweb sails can still catch wind and it can outrun anything. The crew do not speak. They act without mercy or pause. They torture the women and children. Never any survivors. They take the men. Some are held in the larders, hanging on hooks. Others are press-ganged into the crew, which is how the ship endures. They never talk - their tongues are cut out. They never stop. They have no rhyme or reason, save perhaps in a logbook they carry which may not even exist. And what of similar groups, driven to cannibalism and madness by circumstance? Isolated tribes, clans, military teams cut off from the world. Isolation can force people to desperate, terrible things - and that can leave its mark.

The number of slashers rose in the 19th century, perhaps due to the rise of large cities, and with them, poverty and crime and despair. Documents of the Order of the Southern Temple speak of the Calcutta Anatomist, who dissected Dalit women during the final days of the British East India Company but was never caught. The Kolkata police force today do not talk of the mutilated bodies they find, even today, in the slums. Every so often they give a press release about having a suspect. Nothing ever comes of it. Over a week in 1877, the Mad Englishman - a naked brute of a man - tore through gamblers and working men in Shanghai with a meat hook. He was only stopped by three local men who took up the job when the authorities couldn't. Ashwood Abbey, of course, had Saucy Jack, the Ripper. Some say he still haunts Britain, turned into a virtual god of murder by folklore. Some claim he was the Prince of Wales. Royalty can do these things - it's a matter of record that a minor Russian prince slaughtered serfs in Saint Petersburg in 1909. Everyone knew who he was and why no one could do anything to stop him. The student, poet and carpenter who eventually killed him were put to death by firing squad.

Rumors during World War I persist about a soldier - some say British, some French or German or Russian, who made use of mustard gas and barbed wire very creatively, massacring troops on all sides before vanishing in the crossfire. During Prohibition, an early Union cell went up against Michael "Cleaver" McKay, a mob kneecapper who prefered messy kills. One day he went rogue after escaping a betrayal, or perhaps went mad from bad drink. Either way, he'd never been stable to begin with, and he began to wipe out all the gangs...and their families. That brought the Union in, and they had help from the thugs, who lured him to a warehouse and took him down in a hail of machine gun fire. Even after a hundred bullets, he still killed half a dozen mobsters. The one journal recording his death says that as one man stood over the corpse, he was cut in half by the cleaver as McKay stood up again. The second time he went down, he didn't get back up. During the Depression, there were more like him.

After World War II, the serial killer really come into its own - and with it, the slasher. Paranoia and brainwashing scares in the 50s, thrill-killers in the 60s, terrorism in the 70s. Killer yuppies in the 80s, cults in the 90s, 9/11 paranoia now. James Moore, retired VASCU agent, writes about Christopher Moon in 1969. A Philadelphia man from an abusive family background, known as a petty thief by the age of 9. Two years in jail by 21, wanted in ten states in 1965. He lived in San Francisco then, dealing drugs to hippies. Thelemic magic became popular after the Summer of Love, thanks to Kenneth Anger's films, and that's when the thrill-kill cults started. In '69, Moon went from drug dealer to terror prophet. He recruited 21 men and women, mostly rich. Mostly women, really. Most of them were later arrested, and all claimed to be Moon's second in command and main lover, but all admitted he spread it around. On June 19, three of them - James Trump, Helen "Flower" Fields and Jane "Mouse" Allison - kidnapped and killed the three-year-old daughter of millionaire Rice Warne and stole the ransom money. They killed themselves before they could be caught. On June 22, two more bodies were recovered. Unidentifiable, but presumed to be Georgina "Sunshine" Reece and Nicola "Venus" Kenwright, bombers of the central branch of Wells Fargo in LA, killing three guards and themselves. That might have been an accidental suicide, or might not. 17 of the 21 killed, then died shortly after, mostly by suicide. 11 were responsible for the San Fernando Massacre of August 9, where the so-called Young Liberators broke every house on one black in Glendale and shot anyone they found. Moon was not present. The four that were captured during a bombing of an old folks' home in Santa Fe - Harry Boone, Beth "Brighteyes" Vickers, Ida "Peaceful" Buckingham and Rachel "Heart" Frost - all claimed he was not involved. Agent Moore determined via deep profiling that this was untrue, but they believed it. The evidence, however, was not admissable. They are still in prison, there being in no death penalty in 1969, and they still deny Moon's involvement. Christopher Moon remains at large.



Slashers can, in fact, be charismatic enough to do this. Some of them even have supernatural charisma. It's terrifying, really. And it's easy for it to happen to your family, as a hunter. AFter all, you're gone all the time, on odd errands. You come back at all hours, blood covering your clothes, burning them. It doesn't lead to happy families. And someone who keeps secrets for you? Well, that's a perfect target for a charismatic Maniac. It's not gone - not by a long shot.

The European Operations Unit of Project TWILIGHT has a transcript of a British police interview from 2007, between DI Frank Crowe and DS Alice Crawford and DCI Michael Hayden. Frank is under accusation of working with a man named Simon May to enter the home of Philip John Hammett and beat him to death with a golf club. A six-iron. Crowe admits to it, saying he had no choice. The man was acquitted of the Tom Thumb murders - killing teenage girls and removing their thumbs. Crowe had worked the case. Crawford believes he let it get personal, because his daughter went missing nine months prior. Crowe was certain the jury was paid off by something he called the Hunt Club, but he had no proof. He says he'd broke in to look for evidence, that Hammett had taunted him. Simon May remains missing. Crowe says he hadn't planned the kill or he'd have used a gun, but they'd found the basement, which was empty when police arrived on the scene. Crowe again blames the Hunt Club. Hammett attacked them with a knife, he said, and it was all caught on film - the place was wired for CCTV, which the police did not find. Cameras were empty. Crowe explains - the Hunt Club would've taken them if he and Simon hadn't done it first. They have the footage - two crates of it, as much as they could carry, and all the photos May took. It's in a bank vault May set up. He doesn't know what's on the tapes, but they had the girls' names on them. Even the ones not in the press. Crowe admits he hid it from the people who came to clean up - but he warns his boss, they'll be looking for the footage, too.

The Hunt Club exists. A society of slashers who help each other, support each other, clean up for each other. They clean up and plant evidence. They get the police on their side, they hire the lawyers - the best around. And some of them are cops. And the hardest part? They're human. All slashers are. They're people. There's no reason for it - well, not always. Sometimes there's a bad childhood or PTSD. Sometimes it's a cursed knife. It doesn't matter why - it could happen to anyone. Slashers aren't made for a reason. Not like vampires are. They don't make a choice, like mages do. They're just people. And they could be you.

Low-level hunter cells tend not to go out looking for slashers - they react to them. Someone goes nuts and becomes a serial killer, you deal with it. Often, they become the targets. But catching a slasher is never easy. They strike when least expected, from around every corner. Never go alone, ever. Never split up. Be armed and ready at all times. A slasher is good at splitting the pack - it's a lot harder than it sounds to stay together. They use the environment, the circumstances, your own emotions. Even with research, a local cell is going to need a lot of luck and to keep their wits about them. And sometimes, things go wrong. Sometimes, you look into the darkness and it enters you. Everyone's out for blood, and if they're not, they're either lying to you or themselves. You've seen it, the scum that rises in this world. And no one ever thanks you for your work. Most of them think you're crazy. You've saved them more often than you can count, and they don't even want to talk to you any more. They're complacent. They don't realize they could be monsters as easily as anyone. You wonder if maybe there's only cattle and monsters. Cattle don't deserve to live. Monsters deserve to die. You stop caring about the victims, maybe not even the bystanders. They're bait. You enjoy the torture of suspects. You enjoy the killing. The monster comes home to find their family dead, and a note declaring they're next. The vampire's art gallery goes up in smoke, all staff dead in the blaze. The wizard has kids. Best not to think about it. Fight the monsters. Do the right thing. You are, aren't you?

The Loyalists of Thule try to stay out of trouble and hit the books, but against a slasher, the books tend not to help. Sure, you have the records on Nimrod the Tyrant or the Beast of Drury Lane or so on, but why would you ever connect those to the guy out there killing teenagers with a hook? In the end, they need field experience for slashers, and research into narrow, local matters. Family histories, secret records of local problems, newspaper stories. Slasher research isn't big picture but local. And as you start asking around, well, it seems to paint a target on you. The slashers come after you. Even if they have no reason to believe you're doing research. They just seem to know. Best to run, since you're a Loyalist and probably 90 pounds soaking wet. Occasionally, the fear and the guilt gets to the Thules. They begin to wonder if they really need to feel guilty. They crack. The Loyalists don't talk about Valerie Maynard, who managed to rig a warehouse into a gas chamber and abbatoir, then tracked down a dozen werewolves. She used trickery, intimidation and ransom notes for (already dead) children to systematically wipe them out, along with their families and friends. In the end, it was the Loyalists who shut down her kill factory. They found it disgusting, obscene. Even so, she got a few of them in the gas chamber before she died.

Next time: Fight it at the root.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



The new sanity system, if Slasher ever really got adopted to it, would be very good for being the other end of the Hunter spectrum. Where the GM no longer tugs away your sheet and says you can't play Action Jackson, Monster Hunter anymore, they just question how much further you're gonna fall. That and that the different compacts and conspiracies lend themselves pretty well to making different kinds of Slashers.

kvx687
Dec 29, 2009



Soiled Meat


You certainly have a way with words. This is probably the creepiest thing in the thread.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Slasher

The Union are much like local cells in their reactions, just with a better support network. That's not much use for slashers - it's all urban legends, and what's true of one won't be for another. Each case is unique, and even those that share characteristics are different enough that it can be very hard to spot. You might have an old hand with lots of advice, but that may not be helpful. Sometimes, the Union goes over the edge, too - it's hard to stay sane, keeping your home safe. They're prone to become Avengers, if they do go slasher - they're already vigilantes, and that's not a sane job. And this means, well, they can endanger the entire Union when they do go bad.



Network Zero has problems with slashers. See, YouTube doesn't do movies of actual serial killers, just slasher movies - the fake ones. It's one thing to post a video of Bigfoot or a werewolf, but a serial killer? You're not allowed to post murders on Youtube, and slashers just look like people...and on top of that, if you're close enough to film a slasher, odds are you're not making it out alive. Still, they're curious sons of bitches, and they do research. Not all slashers get their attention, but the weird ones do, especially if they have ghost stories, urban legends or tales of underground mutants or cryptids invlved. Often, slashers turn out not to be quite so supernatural as people attribute them to be, though. You go looking for mothman with claws, you find a crazy guy in an oilskin jacket with a machete. Your best defense is to go to the cops and make what you know public - but what if no one believes it? Unlike most hunters, the Network Zero crowd don't really tend to hurt people - and so they also don't tend to become slashers. Still, it's possible to see too much, to fetishize the carnage you film. You start to wonder about making it happen. Snuff films - homemade ones. Rare, but it happens. It usually doesn't last long before someone catches them. If it's the cops, usually the Network has trouble believing they're guilty - they're such a valuable filmmaker! They may even try to stage a rescue. This is a very bad idea. And if you think it sounds outlandish, consider the case of Bob Shell. Real world time here. Bob Shell was a reputable photographer, see, worked a bunch of magazines. He also worked in the UFO community, most notably for being the guy who called Ray Santilli's alien autopsy hoax real. In his spare time, he took photos of tied up girls. In 2003, he was arrested for murdering Marion Franklin, a model found dead, tied up and drugged with morphine in his studio. She'd been abused before and after her death. In 2007, he was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and seven other charges, though not defiling the corpse. He was sentenced to 32 years. He stills claims innocence, and many UFO believers think he was framed for getting too close to the truth.

In volume 2 of the 1991 Journal of Pathological Psychology, George Roberts of the University of Wales wrote a paper on slashers. This is important - firstly because it was torn to piece within merely two years, and secondly because he was himself torn to pieces within a month of publication. Turns out he wasn't really that far wrong. His paper sank without a trace - par for the course with Null Mysteriis work. The academics have at least done work on the slasher phenomenon - it's just poorly detailed and incomplete. A few articles and a 1991 symposium. They know slashers exist and have some ideas about their psychopathology. This is useful, and it's saved lives, but it's only partial and slasher lore contains things that the Rationalist faction can't even begin to understand. The Open Minds might be prepared to accept that there's more to it than just psychology, but still, they depend on the same ideas. The Cataclysmicists point ot the rise in slashers as one more data point leading to the idea of an apocalypse, but no one else really accepts that. More supernatural slashers are a problem for them, and often the legendary sort are who they're most vulnerable to - they'll do things to prove they're not real, things that cause the killers to come for them. You know, like the heroine in Candyman who accidentally summons the guy because she doesn't think he's real and wants to prove it. Academics seem harmless, too, but they can be as brutal as anyone when roused - ever seen an interdepartmental fight? Few would go so far as to kill rivals with a knife, but then, few academics have to look into werewolf-eaten cadavers or watch as a witch destroys all they thought they knew about physics. Still, if some member of Null Mysteriis were to become a slasher, odds are they'd be a smart or charismatic one with some cold but binding code. Their work on psychopathology of slashers, particularly the publication of The Psychopathology an Urban Legend: Towards an Understanding of the "Slasher" Phenomenon in 1991, is actually used by VASCU as a resource, and the MAlleus, Loyalists and Lucifuge all own several copies. The Cheiron Group does not recommend its use. Having it on ahnd is quite handy when profiling the more mundane slashers - but no help at all with the more supernatural kind.

The Long Night rarely have much in common with Null Mysteriis, but they agree with the Cataclysmicists here: Slashers are the soldiers of the apocalypse. Their reasoning is that they are Satan's touch on society - their madness comes from a sin-cursed world. It's everywhere, you can see it if you look. They must be stopped. Ironically, if not surprisingly, the Long Night are relatively common when it comes to hunters-turned-slashers. Fear and horror takes its toll on them, and their faith is no longer enough. The world must be cleansed with murder. Some even become Satan-worshippers in their madness - but worse are the ones who think they're keeping the faith. They kill in the name of God anyway - it only takes a little twist to add normal people to their targets rather than just monsters.

What better prey for Ashwood Abbey than a serial killer? It doesn't get muc hbetter. They're cunning, fast, determined and don't know when to give up. Of course, many of the Abbey are borderline psychopaths anyway, so sometimes a slasher can join for kicks. There's been several members over the years that have been part of both the Abbey and the Hunt Club, either concurrently or consecutively. Sometimes, the Abbey will try to invite in a killer, partially to get them into "productive" murders and off the streets, and partially out of respect for talent. They tried it on Jack the Ripper, remember, until he got bored and went back to killing whores. Occasionally, someone tries to blackmail about that. They tend to end up dead, like Jack did...except, well, that didn't end, did it? Jack's still out there - a ghost, perhaps, or a spirit now. What he is now is the paragon of murder, the patron saint of the slasher. It's possible to track him using the original Ripper Letters. The Dear Boss letter is kept under lock and key in Scotland Yard, but the From Hell letter and the Saucy Jack postcard have been missing for a century. They were stolen by Ashwood Abbey in return for Jack's help, but vanished when he went rogue. They resurface occasionally, and they have the power to call Jack back from wherever it is he went when he died. Hold one, read it, then write a reply. Burn it, and Jack will be there, ready to kill - and ready to show you how he did it. Jack does love a pupil.

So, what is the Hunt Club? Not hunters - killers. Superficially, they resemble Ashwood Abbey - their membership is exclusive, their members rich. Hunters sometimes confuse the two, or assume a connection between them, but barring the rare dual membership, they are entirely separate and have different resources. That's not to say they're unhelpful in a fight - a Hunt Club killer might well enjoy the idea of facing off against a monster. A cell looking for a monster may end up running into someone that can fight and is after the same prey. They may make the mistake of thinking that's a good person to fight alongside. Works in the short term, but once the hunt is over...well, what's to stop the Hunt Club from picking them as prey?

The conspiracies are little better informed, and they're still pretty reactive with slashers. Some of them even just ignore the problem. Individual hunters care, but not all the conspiracies do, on the top levels. The Cheiron Group attract conspiracy theories constantly - the Scientologists name them as one of the main forces behind psychology. The Fundamentalist think they're Satanic. The Aegis Kai Doru theorize that the first slashers were the heroes of myth and legend - the first of them all, Heracles...taught by Cheiron. The implciation is that this is a symbolic representation of a real truth: Cheiron invented the slashers. No one will ever be able to rpove that, but certainly, slashers have no mention at all in the FPD handbook or in case studies - or anything. Cheiron provides no infromation on them at all. Of course, they still run into them from time to time. It's not FPD's fault if they get told that slashers won't count towards quota. And they don't - either Cheiron doesn't think it falls under their remit, or they think there's nothing more to learn. An unsettlingly high proportion of FPD's agents become slashers, either because they turn that way or were that way to start. It's like Cheiron tries to recruit psychos. Hell, it's part of their structure - people in the FPD talk about the Batemans and going Bateman when they talk about slashers on the team. It's not nearly as uncommon as it should be. Executives within Cheiron that go Bateman get moved into the FPD as a policy matter, long before the cops catch them. Keeps them useful before they go off the deep end. They're used as guinea pigs for all kinds of treatments - shock collars, new therapuetic pills, "genetic treaments" to cure them of their tendencies...or to ramp them up. R&D won't tell. And it's FPD's job to pick up the pieces when it all inevitably goes wrong and people start dying. It's not as rare as it should be to have to go hunting a Bateman.

The Lucifuge see the rise of slashers similarly to the Long Night - they're Satan's hand. It's a little more nuanced than some Long Night beliefs, though - they tend to think slashers are unwitting pawns. They even feel sympathy - slashers are unwitting bearers of evil, much like the Lucifuge. But they'll still fight as hard as they can to stop them - it just...feels regretful. Of course, not all of the Children of the Seventh Generation are Lucifuge, and a fair few of the ones that aren't go slasher. It's easy when evil is in your blood. The Lucifuge that fall down that path often do it spectacularly, always flamboyant and bizarre, with supernatural powers. Sometimes they change physically when they do it, becoming horrific mutants - or become singlemindedly obsessed with killing anything that bears Satanic taint. They don't live long, no matter what. The Lucifuge herself takes an interest, and she always seems to know when one of their own goes rogue.

Task Force: VALKYRIE know about slashers as a vague sort of phenomenon, but most of what they know comes from monitoring Null Mysteriis or VASCU. They tend to let other agencies do the hard work, since it saves resources - it's funny, how selective TFV's leadership is about what gets to use the budget. As far as they're concerned, slashers are just crazy, not ENEs. The FBI can handle them, while the Task Force continues the War On Terrors. Besides, sometimes a slasher's a congressman's kid, and you can't arrest those guys. Field agents know there's something up - slashers may look like people, but why don't they fall over when you shoot them? They can do things people can't. But you just try telling that to the brass. Official line is, ignore them. Unless, that is, they used to be TFV. It's rare, but it happens. There's no counseling in TFV, see, no psych assessments. There's no way of telling when someone's going to go bad. But if they do, you need to take them down.

The Malleus Maleficarum know too much about killers working for the Church to know nothing about slashers. There was the Priest of San Ambrosio in 1772, who killed 101 of his parishioners and then set himself on fire. There was the Sister of Mercy in the 1850s who killed forty or more patients in her Dublin hospital. In 1834, between Good Friday and Easter, five priests-militant of the Malleus purged nine senior divines of the conspiracy, including the Mother Superior of a respected convent, the Bishop of Badajoz, and Cardinal Bertolli of the Papal Court. Pope Gregory XVI, not known for leniency, gave personal pardon to the men who did the dead. The ringleader, Helmut Krieger OSB, retired from active service and was made Bishop of Mannheim less than a year later. No record of the trial survives - but the only surviving evidence is a box in the archives containing nine bibles bound in human skin and nine notched knives. Not the first of Badajoz to meet a bad end - there was the Inquisitor of Badajox before him, who killed hundreds of innocents in the Inquisition before being tortured to death in his own rack by an unknown hand. The Malleus holds that the Church is a reflection of Christ, existing in no vacuum. They recruit psychiatrists and profilers to work with them. They absolve sins of their agents as a part of their sacraments, and keep close watch on their psychological balance. On hunts, they focus primarily on vampires and witches, but they won't ignore the signs of Satan anywhere else. Too many slashers claim to serve the Devil to be coincidence, and too many drink blood from their victims to ignore. The problem is that by the time you know you're facing a slasher, you tend to be dead or fleeing them. Still, the Shadow Congregation keeps excellent libraries full of the most recent psychological works. If there's time to hit the books, they have plenty to work with - just, they need the time they aren't often given.

The Ascending Ones live on the roughest streets in a hundred cities. They have little information about slashers, but are perhaps best equipped to handle them, simply because they're already hardened to terrible things, both supernatural and mundane. Many are easy killers - or at least easier than when they began, especially with the aid of narcots and alchemy. Their certainty in their mission is both a friend and a foe. They don't often go looking for solitary monsters, though - they focus more on the social ones, and their plans often rely on diplomacy as well as force. Faced with a single cunning killer, they can only react. The Jagged Crescent tend to be the best at it, being street-savvy and cunning, but the Knife of Heaven are as dedicated as any slasher, and the Order of the Southern Temple are noted for their intuition and quick wits. In fact, when they work together, it's a devastating combination, and they can be hard to distinguish from each other. They all know they're right, and will use violence if needed. They can easily turn, though - their work is a delicate balance, and it's easy for it to go wrong. Easy to make it go wrong, being the messenger between warring sides. The point of ending turf wars between monsters is to keep people safe...but they're weak. They wouldn't last on the street. If they can't get out of the way, it's their own fault. And this can soon turn to joy at their deaths, and then it's too late - not just a slasher, but one who's destroyed negotiations that may have taken years to set up, one who's destroyed the reputation of the Ascending Ones for any of the supernaturals involved. Still, it's only happened a few times. Everyone in the Ascending Ones keeps a close watch on their own, especially if they look ready to go off the reservation. Better to kill them than to let them destroy all that work.

The Aegis Kai Doru know the legends of ancient killers. The Bacchae, who went mad in their worship of Dionysus, tearing aprt or having sex with anything they met. Pentheus and Orpheus show their psychotic nature, though history has given them tamer stories. A bit of truth liesi n the myths - some Bacchae did indeed go mad and kill, working as a plague of slashers. The Aegis keeps records on how they wiped out the Bacchae - but only after a few of their own were tempted to join and needed to be killed. In an underground maze in Athens, once haunted by the walking dead, they keep custody of a caduceus wrapped with still-living serpents, shut in a golden case. If held to the sky, it causes people to go mad en masse, become slashers, Masks and Freaks, with the power to make others join them. This is one of the big secrets of the Guardians of the Labyrinth. They have many of these artifacts, things that can drive the innocent to kill. On Lindisfarne Island, a small monastic cell contains a viking who thirsts for blood. A group of Aegis stand watch over a Brooklyn apartment and the cleaver withgin that drove Michael McKay mad and made him unstoppable, its handle engraved with his prayers and stained by 90-year-old blood. They keep the mask of the Continent Highwayman, Nick Herbert, who killed 50 men and women in the roads of Nottinghamshire in the late 18th century, never stealing a penny. It is kept in a church in Melton Mowbray, and rarely out of sight of the local vicar. These they name hte Tools of Blood, and there are many more. The Aegis are no more likely than anyone else to find slashers, but they often turn up after to help clean up and take back what's left. They know slashers are not normal, that even the most explainable ones have strange causes. Killer's knives, badges, guns, coats - all of them could one day cause someone to go mad. Some within the Aegis argue over what should be done to these tools. The Temple say they must be locked away, to keep them out of the wrong hands. The Scrolls agree in principle but feel there's little value in keeping useless things. The Sword agree, but insist that there must be a way to use these tools productively. It's probably for the best that there are recorded instances of a Guardian falling to temptation, trying out a Tool of Blood. For example, in 1976, a riot broke out in Athens and dozens died needlessly. A single photograph showed a crod of rioters and, in the background, a naked woman holding something aloft - something like a caduceus. Someone who betrats the Aegis, who steals a treasure, has nowhere to run - they will be hunted down. One who steals a Blood Tool receives an even more desperate hunt - if they aren't found, the killing will start shortly.

As for the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit, they're the reason slashers have a definition. They're part of the FBI, and on paper they're investigators and profilers of serial and spree killers. What's not on paper is their cadre of powerful psychics. They use the psuedoscientific Wintergreen Process to awaken latent psychic powers of clairvoyance, and the users of this Telinformatics are both useful and very dangerous. VASCU studies crime scences for emotional resonance, for lies. They see the past, have intuition beyond the natural. The problem is, nothing they find is admissable evidence. It's frustrating, always frustrating, when a slasher goes free to kill despite the fact that the agents know they're guilty. Little wonder so many go insane.

Next time: Wait, the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit? What's that?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


I don't really see much difference between a Slasher and an Ashwood hunter except that the former actually has superpowers, really.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ashwood is somewhat less likely to murder random civilians.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


The idea of playing Kill Team 666 in the World of Darkness is kind of interesting, but I don't know how you could pull it off without the players having to cross lines they don't want to.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Mors Rattus posted:

Ashwood is somewhat less likely to murder random civilians.

But only because they die too easily.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Does being in VASCU also give you a Specialty in Cult Films?

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


Traveller posted:

Does being in VASCU also give you a Specialty in Cult Films?

Is that a Deadly Premonition reference?

EDIT: Slasher is something where I'm extremely interested in, fascinated by, and I feel would extremely rapidly progress to 'I am too uncomfortable to continue playing this' in an actual game.

Crasical fucked around with this message at 01:28 on May 30, 2015

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




I expanded the last entry a bit. Onwards!



My beauty may fade, but my impact never will

Fairests! Another nicely laid-out section that makes the Darkling entry look more and more feeble as we go on. We're in the back-9 of the Seemings now, and so we get into the three more unique selections. While Beasts cleave close to the Gangrel/Werewolfian and Darklings ape Vampires more often than not, Fairests are a very different experience than what you can usually expect out of a WoD game.

The Fairest symbol is a peacock feather. Subtle! The opening fiction-blurb makes it clear that Fairests had the hardest1 escape through the thorns because their Durance was filled with faerie beauty. Cruelty, violence, passion, ecstasy but never love- and especially not true love- are the tools of their Keeper. Emotional holds are chains in the skin digging as deep as physical ones. But the brush of fae beauty never fades in their dreams, and that same beauty is reflected in their Mien.

Yes, Fairest are the pretty Seeming. They're even mechanically benefited for taking Striking Looks, one of the classic wastes of merit dots of nWoD2. Their blessing is their ability to fuel Presence, Manipulation, and Persuasion with Glamour3, which makes them one of the more powerful "wizard" Seemings, since Changeling contracts key off of social attributes more often than not.

In exchange, their curse is the most tragic, and yet least hampering, of all the seemings: they fail Clarity checks more often. So a player playing a Fairest either has an expiration date, is more hesitant than most to endanger their sanity, or lives on a happy-crazy medium near the gutter of madness. Everyone told you you'd leave a pretty corpse, after all.

Now, while Fairest are most often a social seeming, the book also makes pains to state that this doesn't make them the leaders of Changelings either. More than a few water-headed Fairest find themselves grasping for power and holding onto it, while others tend to do "their thing" and stick to it no matter what. Either way, they will be the first to tell you that a Fairest was stolen because their talent was undeniable- no matter what the Wizened have to say about it.

The Fairest Kiths tend more toward the powerful side. Just being pretty is a better definition of an Elemental work of art, after all. In fact, some of the most pure combat kiths are in the Fairest section; because flounce like a butterfly, sting like a stab-wound.

  • Bright One. Combat Kith. You make light, and that light can become blinding.
  • Dancer. 9-agains to Expression and Socialize when being "agile". A nothing kith.
  • Draconic. Another combat kith. This time, it lets you be sure you'll hurt someone with a brawling attack when you really, really want to hurt them.
  • Flowering. 9-agains to the basic social skills because of your enchanting scent.
  • Muse. One of the more interesting kiths; you give bonuses to mortals to create something on a 2-to-1 basis for Glamour. No drawback, no limit. Just have to find a way to make a mortal work worthwhile.

Fairests, especially Spring Fairests, are the classic "girlfriend" Seeming. You stick her there, she plays pretty princess, and you save her with your gruff and tough Ogre/Beast/Elemental/Wizened/Darkling. Nothing wrong with it, and it is better to have an unstated expectation than having an expectation of a boys-only club.4


Next: What if Hulk SMASH was the constant, not the climax?

1 - Everyone had it the hardest escaping through the thorns
2 - In compensation of such an act, no Changeling should ever, ever take Direction Sense
3 - In case you didn't notice this is also essentially the Beast Seeming blessing- Changeling is definitely a social-primary game at its heart
4 - Looking at you, the majority of Werewolf

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Crasical posted:

EDIT: Slasher is something where I'm extremely interested in, fascinated by, and I feel would extremely rapidly progress to 'I am too uncomfortable to continue playing this' in an actual game.

Slashers can be played other ways if you so choose. Jason Voorhees' approach of being a silent spree killer who eats bullets for breakfast is well-represented in Slasher if you want something less psychologically uncomfortable. Another is basically the Riddler.

This review is making me think about pitching a Slasher session to my gaming group, actually, as a World of Darkness edition of the Suicide Squad with cranial bombs working for TFV.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Gerund posted:

4 - Looking at you, the majority of Werewolf

I think that some of the boys only club bits of werewolf come from swole-killbeast-murder-wolf being a default male power fantasy. And that a lot of werewolf has this weird "YOU WILL HAVE CHILDREN" expectation intersecting with "wait what happens when a pregnant werewolf shapeshifts"?

Blood of the wolf addressed that issue, in almost too much detail.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Dimension Book 2: Phase World Part 5: Prometheans, Prometheans, Prometheansssss!




As a race, prometheans are big and bulky with stone-like hides. They seem brutish and intimidating, but this is a lie as they are really one of the smartest races in the universe. They are also the only race that knows how to use phase technology and can “step out of phase” naturally.

They also have a two-stage development process--the big blocky humanoids are actually phase one. Phase two are gigantic (30 ft) and rarely seen in public. They’re completely alien even to all these others aliens, and can supposedly project their consciousness into several universes at once. The first stage is an optional PC race, because who doesn’t want to play a 10 ft-tall grayish-purple humanoid?

Prometheans can survive in a vacuum and don’t need to breathe. They’re genderless and don’t know a lot about their elders, but instead of fretting over that, they learn all they can about the rest of the universe. Apparently by maintaining a pressure cooker of an artifact city for observation. Stage one prometheans are therefore very prone to adventuring in their quest to explore and learn about the universe. This sort of clashes with the earlier presentation of the prometheans as enigmatic homebodies, but I won’t quibble too hard. They tolerate even very evil behavior as a part of the learning process, so they pretty much never kill their own kind--and only principled or scrupulous ones get to grow up to second stage. They have to reach 10th level and pass some kind of obscure quest, and this could be a cool campaign seed right?

Anyway, statwise they get...pretty good numbers, 3D6+10 IQ for instance--a lot of their attributes are +10. They are SDC, 1D6x100 and add 2D6 hit points per level. Oh, but they’re special SDC--their unique ‘phase powers’ protects them from MDC attacks, so MDC attacks are converted to SDC, and SDC attacks do half damage. Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody just used SDC? :sparkles:

Their bodies are permanently in a state of “phase,” giving the damage protection mentioned, and they can “phase teleport” one mile per level of experience with a 50% chance of success. They can also sense dimensional anomalies, fourth- and two-dimensional beings, astral travelers and the invisible essences of alien intelligences, and they can ley line phase like a walker. They get several useful psionics, and they can take temporal magic spells or “phase powers” (TBD) in place of some of their secondary skills which, wow. This is before applying any OCC templates mind. They also often get MDC armor (I don’t really see why) and some decent equipment money.


i can’t say there’s anything wrong with this appearance, but it isn’t really very striking for their signature special race

Promethean Phase Adepts are the first of three special OCCs only available to promethean characters. They are mystical guardians who have devoted themselves to the mastery of their natural phase powers for racial defense purposes. They are listed as being able to walk through walls, make themselves intangible, alter weight and momentum of objects, and teleport. They follow a strict code of honor and mostly stay at home guarding the home planet, but a customary period of journeying and exploration is expected, cue PC.

The OCC template explicitly states that they get all the cool stuff of a normal promethean plus extra physical attribute points and SDC, plus more phase powers and psionics. They also get a personal anti-magic field that negates spells directly targeting them, though it doesn’t stop energies called by a spell (call lightning, for instance) and says that those spells and rune weapons do full damage. They get some decent starting equipment and their only limitation is the usual ‘never uses cybernetics’ that gets slapped on anything superhuman. Honestly, even without knowing what the ‘phase powers’ do, this class is pretty beefy given all the racial bonii plus anti-magic plus psionics.



The Time Master is next! A small (1%) number of prometheans devote themselves to the study of temporal magic. They get a special class for this apparently, one that doesn’t require enslavement by :doom: for seven years. Though you can be one of those if you want. Instead of learning spells, time masters undergo rituals of advancement “like a mystic or warlock.” I am p. sure those classes also learn spells. Some people say time masters are the equivalent of a warlock but with the element of time, and also only prometheans can manage this special temporal connection.

They get temporal magic spells and when they level up they meditate to enter some chaotic ur-dimension where they get new spells. They also get to roll once on the phobia or obsession tables starting out, just in case they seemed too good. This class is basically a temporal wizard, but explained differently and without as many spells, though the promethean racial selections can fill in those gaps.

Non-prometheans get thrown a bone next, with the Phase Mystic OCC. These are basically pared-down Phase Adepts, suitable for the lesser races and requiring an IQ and ME of 15 or higher so almost no one will qualify. Most mystics are good, like the adepts are good, and apparently the racial selection is pretty narrow actually. They get a smaller selection of phase and psionic powers, and the phase adept magic-shield. The shield costs 5 ISP per spell blocked, and for the adept this is a trivial cost but the mystic has a lot less ISP--2D6x10 + ME, so minimum 35 but still if you roll badly you can’t really use any of the other psi powers or your shield will breach. Still not sure how good phase powers are, but this class could be applied to a lot of regular PC races pretty easily and not overpower anything.


this feels like a sad-montage scene where the hero thinks on his failures as he walks off

Second stage prometheans are next, since we had already changed subjects to not-Promethean stuff. They’re explicitly NPCs, prometheans who entered the Initiation Temples and were forever changed. Being ineffable alien overgods, they tolerate all the sins of Center for unknown reasons, even though they keep their own society free of such ills. They’re toughened by their ordeals, and looking at them is unsettling because they’re always a bit out of phase. The splugorth completely hate the prometheans for being unconquerable and mysterious, most other races just sort of think they’re creepy.

Having reached adulthood, the promethean gains +2 to all mental attributes and loses some agility. They have 4D6x10 MDC and their phased body protections are explained a bit later, but SDC weapons are ignored and all other attacks do 1/4th damage, even magic and psionics do ½. That is some good resistance. They can also phase teleport much farther, dimensional teleport, and sense anomalies and such at greater range. They keep all their previous 10th level abilities, then gain second-stage RCC levels that use the dragon XP table. They know all the lesser psionics and pick up the super ones pretty fast. They’re good buddies with Zurvan (see Pantheons) and Brahma (likewise) and they may be involved in some of those frequent ‘containments’ of evil entities that folks have going on.

Having some mysterious advanced space-race is not really surprising but these are so vaguely described that they’d be really hard to use in RP. Fortunately they’re reclusive.

Overall not wowed by how awesome and mysterious the prometheans are, they get some pretty hefty stats and are tailor-made for the young twink-adventurer but their general lack of motivation or clear culture just makes them as generic as their appearance. At the least I am glad they are not a clear force for good or evil, mostly just puttering about with their strange machinery. However, a substantial amount of tech and powers in this book are only accessible to prometheans and I mean in that other races are physically incapable of interacting with the 'phased' parts of their devices and none of the many great powers we have encountered has ever puzzled out a way of dealing with phase tech. Only prometheans. :sigh:

Next: The actual promised Phase Powers.

KittyEmpress
Dec 30, 2012

Jam Buddies



I played in a Hunter game about a two years ago until a year ago, where we all played people whose lives were touched by the monster types in ways that weren't typical, working for an organization trying to find ways for them to contribute to society without hurting people. It had the required 'dark undertones', but it was a lot of fun - the characters were my marine turned housewife whose twin childrenwere abducted by the Fae and returned as Changelings, an 18 year old whose brother was turned into a vampire against his will and killed himself instead of feeding on his brother, and a dude who dated a werewolf girl and got caught in the crossfire when Hunters came to kill her for no reason, and held her in his arms as she died from that.

It was a lot more... light hearted? Not really light hearted but like, softer in tone. We weren't horrible murderers, most of the time we were protecting younger monsters from older ones, or from other Hunters. It was a ton of fun, and probably my only good experience with a WoD game. We weren't horrible people murdering things for fun or because they were monsters, we were people who had horrible things happen and realized that even the monsters could be human.


I dunno why I'm talking about it because it doesn't actually matter, but I mean, I think that how like Cythereal's people play WoD is just as cool as any other way. It doesn't need to be horrible people doing horrible stuff 24/7

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Slasher

Cops hate serial murder more than just about any crime. People who kill on multiple occasions do not think like regular human beings. Anyone can make mistakes tracking them, and mistakes cost lives. That's why, when you think you're a cop dealing with a serial case, you can call for help. The FBI keeps teams to deal with spree killers, serial killers and slashers. VASCU, the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit. They send in agents to help cops, and have sleepers out in the field to look for evidence of serial crimes. They look for all kinds of killers, from deranged humans to supernatural monsters. Unlike most other hunter groups, they have one big benefit: the law's behind them the whole way. Of course, there's also their biggest handicap in there - they need to try to take killers to trial whenever they can. America's not the Wild West any more, and the FBI can't just go shooting people - even if those people can shrug off most weaponry easily. (In this sense, the World of Darkness is perhaps more hopeful than our own.)

VASCU has jurisdiction over any and all suspected serial murders - which they define as three murderes suspected or recorded with the same MO. The police can't call them in until that happens. In extreme cases, called chainsaw massacres by agents too new to have seen one or too jaded to care, those can happen all at once. In others, it's a string of separate crimes. When they spread out like that, local cops tend to call VASCU in when something obviously weird is going on - cannibalism, say, or evidence of unnatural strength or intelligence. In some cases, it's a mayor that calls them in, not a cop. Sometimes even a civilian - they can't respond directly to reported crimes, but have a lot of leeway when it comes to cases their agents uncover or intuit. Their unique nature means that an agent can generally get on any case that calls to them. The Vanguard aren't picked like other FBI agents, yu see. Most of them learn the basics of profiling and know their way around a crime scene, but that's not enough to get the flexibility they are accorded by the FBI. That comes from the fact that every single member of VASCU is psychic.

Sure, profilers claim they can get in a killer's head, but VASCU agents do it directly. They feel what the killer feels, think what they think. The best forensics teams can recreate a crime from the scene, but a Vanguard agent can stand there and see the crime happen. It's a secret, of course. Every member of the unit is FBI on paper, but up to two-thirds of them would have failed normal FBI training. They get in via a loophole - see, the FBI's testing of prospective agents isn't just about heart rate and blood pressure. IT also tests brainwaves for psychic latency. Roughly one in a hundred prospects turns out positive, and even if they fail the rest of their training, they get brought to VASCU as long as they're not a complete gently caress-up. To avoid them being all untrained agents with no skills, the same tests are performed during the yearly physicals the FBI requires for insurance. Existing agents that test positive are transferred to VASCU. HR ensures that there's never more than two "newbies" for each full, qualified agent. When they have too many new entrants, they just put the psychic recruits on hold until they can make up the numbers.

Not, mind you, that the new recruits or the old hands know why they're set to hunting serial killers. Most discover their talents shortly after joining the unit, but never speak of it with outsiders - not even non-VASCU FBI. It's bad enough to be set to serial killer duty. Getting the Bureau's attention would set the pressure way too high. VASCU's an open secret in the FBI, of course. The top brass know all about the psychics, though not how they find them. Field agents outside the unit get told nothing, and rumors seem to end a bit too quickly. Even before the psychic testing began, the Unit was a dumping ground for agents that didn't quite make the cut. It's an easy reputation to keep, given that two of out three new recruits they get have done a day of fieldwork ever. Despite their many successes, they tend to get mocked as amateurs and their failures are what gets remembered. EVen their successes cause friction, since untrained civilians are showing up cops and federal agents. Outside the Bureau, no one knows the truth - when it comes to them, the agency closes ranks. VASCU are FBI, period. Mentioning psychic powers to anyone outside the Vanguard is going to get you dismissed and maybe brought up on charges. Most VASCU agents who've actually managed to pass FBI training, as a note, get made full special agents.

While the rest of the FBI may not fully support them, the Vanguard can count on local cops most of the time. There's protocols for liaising with them. Even so, police support is often unhelpful and late. By the time an agent has enough evidence to call them in, they're likely on site and in danger. Too often, it's just those untrained VASCU psychics who have any chance of apprehending a slasher. All of their powers won't help them in that fight, and success is often more luck than skill. Cops often see them as hot-headed glory hogs, but that's mostly due to circumstance. Their remit covers all kinds of serial murder, too, no matter who commits them. Some agents are lucky - they only see normal, human serial killers. That's the minority. Cults sacrificing people, strange monsters escaping an underground research facility - those are what most agents get some experience with. They soon learn they're not the only supernatural things out there, and it's their job to arrest the perpetrators, no matter who or what they are.

VASCU and the FBI in general define different types of serial murder. Serial killers are the ones who kill at least three people, generally via the same modus operandi, via separate crimes, usually with a cooling-of period between them for psychological gratification. Murders are often linked by common elements in the victims' lives. Generally, they're full-on murder, first or second degree. Manslaughter's only when a serial doesn't have time to prepare. Spree killers, on the other hand, kill a lot of people in a specific area. They tend to have two phases - guided and random. The guided phase comes first, planned killings in a single area - a comfort zone. Eventually, it turns random, indscriminate, and the killer deviates from the MO to kill more and more, usually still in the comfort zone. Sometimes, a spree killer goes straight ot the random stage. Generally, there is no cooling off period, and most spree killers commit suicide by cop or their own gun. Mass murderers, meanwhile, kill lots of people very fast. They don't have an MO - their actions are all a single event, defined as a crime involving four or more victims in one location at one event. They don't really have psychological trends - mass murderers come from a wealth of causes. Most are abnormally angry and are triggered by some event. Slashers exist only in the World of Darkness. They are a category on their own because of their paranormal abilities. The DOJ defines a slasher killing as any killing involving three or more victims in which the killer has capabilities exceeding the normal human spectrum. Federal law requires that VASCU be called in for slashers - other killings are by choice. This includes all supernatural killers, not just mechanical slashers - werewolves, witches, vampires, they are all legally defined as slashers. It's no easy job to arrest a demonic spirit, but hey, that's your problem.

VASCU's not the only US agency tasked with monster hunting. They and VALYKRIE have no love lost between 'em, though. VALKYRIE are hunters - no profiling, no criminal records, no interviews, no VICAP. They just show up, shoot monsters, drag 'em off to some offshore black site. VASCU doesn't like that. They seek out killers, monster or not, and answer to the FBI. Just because the crime is supernatural doesn't mean it's not crime. Every so often, VALKYRIE will barge in and take over a VASCU case. VASCU can't do anything about it - VALKYRIE has the ultimate jurisdiction. Thanks, USA PATRIOT Act. There's even a standing joke that the paperwork you have to fill out for it, V0S-F5, stands for VALKYRIE on scene, Feds shitcanned.

VASCU dates back to Hoover's postwar reorganizing of the FBI. AT the time, he realized that serial killers often went undetected by crossing state lines, so he set up the Repeat Crimes Unit or RCU to investigate murders with the same MO in different locations. RCU agents could only support local cops and had to be called in. They took down a few inhuman killers and monsters and began to get a reputation as the FBI's monster hunters. They weren't the first to hunt slashers, though. That'd be the Society of Twelve Keys, founded in 1890 by Whitechapel local cops, Scotland Yard and the London police. They'd all been involvedi n the Ripper case and not all of 'em were cops. They never caught the Ripper, but they made life harder for his cult of personality, 'the Abbey.' By World War II, they'd had nearly 300 members in the UK and 20 in the US, sharing expertise and investigating both serial killers and supernatural crimes. In 1949, the FBI approached the US Society members to bring them in to the RCU. Every one of them accepted. The larger British society still exists, but lack of civilian help and improvements in investigation techniques have left them a shadow of their former selves, especially after a 200 arrest by British cops of a number of high-profile serial killers without any Society help. They're just a name now, a way to bring VASCU resources and expertise across the Atlantic.

The RCU wasn ever very succesful, and their biggest failure was the Cahulawassee Massacre. Six men went missing on the Cahulawassee River in Georgia, one of them a brother of an RCU agent. The FBI investigated and linked it to similar events up and down the river in both Georgia and Alabama, giving the RCU jurisdiction. They discovered the men were killed and eaten by a local family. On October 23, 1953, a squad moved in on the farm, had a brief and bloody shootout...and died, all but two of them. The family's bodies showed extreme mutilation, and both surviving agents reported them as incredibly resilient, possibly due to inbred mutation over generations. The loss of so many agents and the evidence that the family had been doing this for at least fiftyyears led people to ask if the RCU was as effective as it should be.

Hoover reorganized te RCU on November 2, 1953. The new Serious Crimes Investigation Unit, or SCIU, had the power to investigate directly any crime involving at least three deaths, rather than waiting on cops to call them in. They also didn't have to wait for the crimes to happen in multiple states. These rules are still the ones VASCU uses today. The SCIU drew in many psychological profilers formerly of the OSS or local governments, and these profilers helped support the unit, one of the first to commonly profile serial killers to get the right criminal. They also started to profile supernatural killers, over time isolating personality traits common to different types of monster. Due to lack of personnel, profilers often joined field agents on investigations, and while some got full training, others were agents on paper alone, untrained and unsupported.

In 1973, Dr. Barbara Wintergreen got reassigned to the SCIU, having formerly been on the CIA's MK-ULTRA project doing psychic research. MK-ULTRA was disbanded by force two months later, but at that point any evidence of the team hidden in the SCIU was long gone. Dr. Wintergreen and her team continue their research in peace for five years. She'd been working on ESP and remote-viewing, but not with the LSD other parts of MK-ULTRA used. They were looking into other drugs, mostly ayahuasca, but the breakthrough only came at the SCIU. It involved blending dimethyltryptamine (DMT) with a Harmala alkaloid she called a telepathic extract. When mixed with a cocktail of other chemicsl, it bonds with the receptor sites in the brain and supercharges the information processing centers, unlocking abilities that appear or are psychic.

When VASCU revised the Wintergreen Process, they realized most agents would reject their abilities or start overthinking them. Trained FBI agents wouldn't accept barely-tested drug therapy. The Director reasoned that psychic abilities were much easier to explain, and included covert tests for Wintergreen compatibility in the Bureau's screenings. Agents and applicants who test positive - and therefore likely to develop "psychic" powers - got assigned to VASCU. Only afterwards did they learn that the FBI tests for psychic potential - a lie that explains how they got recruited without a mass freakout. Those who undergo the process describe it as ohterworldly, likened to alien abductions or bad trips. It's a side effect of the drugs. Despite the similarities, each agent experiences very different visions touching on memories of childhood. AFter they pass, they go to a reception room where they are tested to see what they can do. Everyone has the same process, but their brains are different and so are the specific properties of their enhancements, though it usually takes a few forms VASCU scientists have isolated over the past two and a half decades. The real nature of the Wintergreen Process is one of the few secrets kept even from vASCU agents. Anyone who leaks the lie about psychic testing to fellow FBI agents gets kicked out and a gag order so strong that even tabloids might quail from reporting. An agent who discovers the actual truth had best keep it to themselves - and if they can't, it's a short trip to amnesia via electroshock therapy. Some secrets are too dangerous to let out.

After completing her research, Wintergreen grew restless. The sCIU had ignroed her recommendations about training or informing agents. They solved a number of high-profile cases, but command felt the process wasn't fit for field use yet - one of the agents suffered paranoid delusions and two others disappeared. The doctor herself vanished with her notes in 1978. Slasher cases soon got wider media attention across the world, and several agents died fighting slashers while others committed suicide to avoid trial. The SCIU was taking a lot of flak, and by late '78, it became a dumping ground for slacking FBI agents to be used as bait for the "real" agents to arrest slashers. By '79, they were in a terrible state. It had a decent amount of success with serial killers, but its track record on supernatural killers was terrible and getting worse. In 1979, the remaining agents who'd undergone the Wintergreen Process used their powers to capture three slashers. One of them burst into flames when exposed to sunlight on the way to trial. The other two were on death row. This prompted the SCIU to reexamine the research, and every agent was given a test for psychic latency. Those that passed were given the option to undergo the process. Almost all accepted. The sudden rise in "psychics" galvanzed the unit. They were still undermanned, but the brass areed to test other agents. They gave enough manpower for more proactive work. For most of the 70s, they'd relied on liaising to police, but with so many psychic agents now, they started making many more arrests.

The big victory came at Haddonfield, where they finally managed to stop a killer that wouldn't stay dead. After that, the department got restructured. They didn't have the numbers. So the FBI started instituting the testing in the application physical and insurance testing. The Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit took on anyone who had the potential, and while the new recruits got minimal training, everyone involved in the creation of the unit signed off on the strict two-to-one ration of inexperienced to experienced agents. Since the reorg in 1092, VASCU is the world's leading authority on serial killers of all kinds. While they're an arm of the FBI, their ties to the Society of Twelve Keys lets them get called into cases in Europe and even beyond. They're still chronically undermanned - only 1% of applicants have potential - but they keep the work up, and are the best the FBI's had.

For a long time, they had no authority to hold killers without charge or trial. Some slashers are just too dangerous, however. The president approved of researchers esigning a prison facility specifically for supernaturally powerful serial killers that the regular prison system couldn't deal with. In 1992, construction began on the Lansing Facility, and it was completed in '96. It is the first ever ultramax prison, even more secure than the supermax facility in Florence, Colarado. It's a repurposed nuclear bunker outside Lansing, Missorui, and all staff and guards are VASCU. They can detect escape attempts with their powers, see, and can control individual prisoners. They specialize in figuring out how to incarcerate normally uncontainable prisoners. Most cells are sealed off by at least two feet of steel-reinforced concrete, with only airlock access and communication via two-way audio link. Some cells are customized further. The unit captured a small number of slashers in the late 90s, but it's only since the USA-PATRIOT act gave them a rider that they can unconditionally imprison serial killers unable to stand trial for an indefinite period, provided those killers present a clear and present danger to human life. So why do they bring slashers to trial? Well, Lansing's small. There's space for only 200 inmates, and each must be kept for life - which is, for some of the mutants they catch, a very long time. Plus, most slashers would never see the facility - part of the legal requirement for unlimited incarceration is that the Director of Operations must convince the FBI and the Supreme Court that it's required in each case, and every agent involved in the case helps prepare the brief. Most agents don't even like operating Serial Killer Gitmo - it's a lsat resort, and only a few slashers get put there every year. There's currently over a hundred prisoners in Lansing, and while the Director is lobbying for an additional facility, it's probably going to take a court disaster to convince the President.

Different cases mean different levels of VASCU involvement. Larger forces call them in only as a last resort, while small town cops call them the moment they get reports of a serial. Most get sick of having them around, though - only a minority are actually grateful to be helped, even though VASCU is always left to take the lead on investigations that make no sense. Most cops would rather lose some Feds than their own and prefer to hang back. VASCU has to try, after all. And it has to be an arrest - you can't just shoot, even if it's clear the guy's gonna be sentenced to death. If you shoot, you need a drat good reason - but if you do have that, you've probably got SWAT that'll vouch for you. A few VASCU agents also work full time in the field, generally liaising with other hunters. They join cells in order to help track monsters - most things hunters hunt have killed multiple people and are supernatural, so jurisdiction applies. Plus, there's the other reason: the agent's there to arrest the cell if they turn out to be serial killers themselves. They're there to try and get the cell to capture, not kill. They'll bide their time since the cell's so useful, of course, but if a cell is fanatical about murdering monsters, even non-criminal monsters, well...the agent's got no choice. That's not always the end, however. Sometimes, those cells get turned into suicide squads.

Next time: Suicide squads.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


KittyEmpress posted:

I played in a Hunter game about a two years ago until a year ago, where we all played people whose lives were touched by the monster types in ways that weren't typical, working for an organization trying to find ways for them to contribute to society without hurting people. It had the required 'dark undertones', but it was a lot of fun - the characters were my marine turned housewife whose twin childrenwere abducted by the Fae and returned as Changelings, an 18 year old whose brother was turned into a vampire against his will and killed himself instead of feeding on his brother, and a dude who dated a werewolf girl and got caught in the crossfire when Hunters came to kill her for no reason, and held her in his arms as she died from that.

It was a lot more... light hearted? Not really light hearted but like, softer in tone. We weren't horrible murderers, most of the time we were protecting younger monsters from older ones, or from other Hunters. It was a ton of fun, and probably my only good experience with a WoD game. We weren't horrible people murdering things for fun or because they were monsters, we were people who had horrible things happen and realized that even the monsters could be human.


I dunno why I'm talking about it because it doesn't actually matter, but I mean, I think that how like Cythereal's people play WoD is just as cool as any other way. It doesn't need to be horrible people doing horrible stuff 24/7

I played a game that wasn't WoD but was definitely modeled after it as a social worker who got involved first with Changelings and fae and then later became kind of a supernatural child services agent for the city of Baltimore, solving domestic disputes between werewolf tribes and runaway kids abducted by vampire cliques. It was some of the most fun I ever had with an urban fantasy game, just going around helping people and solving mysteries. It's definitely a legit and cool way to play.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



An Echo Resounding


Oh right, the cover image.

Another OSR writeup for you! This one is for Kevin Crawford's domain management/mass combat supplement for Labyrinth Lord, An Echo Resounding. It has tools to generate domains both PC and NPC-run, get armies to smash each other in the field, and also includes a premade campaign region for adventuring in. It uses the Red Tide setting as a base, but knowledge of it is not required to use AER, even if some design quirks answer to it. The supplement itself as well as its chapter titles and subheaders are taken from verses of the Zen poet Ryôkan, which is a nice touch.

What is domain play? If you picked up this supplement you probably already have an idea of this, but anyway: domain play broadens the scope of the game from the personal-scale adventuring of PCs to the conflicts between major political powers and important local rulers, where PCs can be the movers and shakers themselves or important agents for these powers. At this level, the interactions between domains (cities, states, and more) set the events of the campaign world, and PCs in a sandbox campaign can choose to become involved with them or simply watch from the sidelines. Even if the PCs are just random murderhobos, these events can serve as background material; if, on the other hand, they're involved from the start, they can have stakes in their relationship with the local powers from the get-go. Perhaps PCs can't just go and topple the local tyrant from level 1, but that gives them an obvious motivation to become stronger, and friendly lords can be counted on for support later on. Finally, it makes their transition from wandering adventurers to local rulers smoother, instead of just granting them a plot of land at level 9. You don't just take over a village when you hit that level, you become its ruler by popular acclaim because you saved it from a powerful demon three levels ago and they really need a strong protector. Indeed, PCs can become agents of a domain or even its rulers way before they hit level 9, where their ability to recognize and solve political issues can matter more than how many HP they have.

So how do you, as a GM, sell them on the idea of domain play? It is possible that some players feel it adds nothing to the game, as their characters are freebooters and wanderers and they are uninterested in politicking or diplomacy. Of course the game works better when everyone is on the same page, but hey, if they're not interested the GM shouldn't force the issue. There will still be adventures to go on, and uninterested players only need to give some twenty minutes each session to the players that do want to get their ruling on. Other players may worry that becoming rulers may overshadow PCs without their own domains, or that they must have a domain of their own to match up to them. Well, even rulers need heroes, because even with armies at their disposal the hardest problems are usually ones that require hand-picked, elite operatives to solve. Some players may feel it's too early to worry about domain play at level 1 when characters are barely scraping trying to survive, but having rulership as a possibility in their minds from the start is good in the long term. Players tend to stick to what they feel are the limits of a sandbox campaign, so getting them into the mindset that yes, seeking political power is a perfectly acceptable goal can make them more amenable to actually doing so if they wish.


How quaint and peaceful! Then the PCs arrived.

The AER rules assume that domains are essentially border states: regional powers at a modest scale. City-states, crumbling federations, perhaps ruling directly over no more than some market towns, a great city and its satellites. This level of government is the most useful at the table, as gigantic empires tend to be so remote that individual PCs have little to no influence in them, and there's no excitement (read: bloodshed) if a whole region is under the thumb of a single power. This is a more personal level of government, where armies are measured by the thousand instead of the million and nobles can be approached plausibly. Not that it can't be scaled higher, but we'll get to that later.

Concepts! A region is the area where the GM expects the campaign to spend the largest amount of time, around 300 miles a side. That much room will keep the PCs busy long enough that when they want to strike out in new lands, the GM will have enough forewarning to prepare new content. The base building block of a region is the location, which is simply any place of interest to PCs or strategically valuable to a ruler. Villages, towns, good farmland, mysterious ruins, the only pass through a mountain range - those all are locations. When PCs go to a location, they will find something interesting. Note that not every single hex in a map has to have a location, and indeed GMs are warned not to overbuild at this stage - yes, they're setting the foundations of late-game play from the start, but the strain of detailing every single square kilometer would bring most GMs to boredom, collapse and the end of the game. Locations are rated by Military, Wealth and Social values. Military represents the location's contribution to the martial power of its owner; Wealth, the value of the crops, treasure or local expertise; Social, the able-bodied population and their general morale and cohesiveness. A small town may have Wealth and Social bonuses while not contributing Militarily, while a great fortress may have a great Military value but be an actual drain on its owner's Wealth. Locations often have traits, special qualities about them that set them apart from others of their type. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes negative, they're also handy plot hooks for the GM to use in a game. Locations can also have obstacles, traits that make the location uncontrollable or difficult to manage until suppressed or eradicated. Maybe the town is packed with rebels and separatists, maybe the farmland is suffering of plagues, and so on. Sometimes these maladies can be expunged by the force of arms, sometimes they need judicious evangelists or an injection of wealth, and sometimes adventurers need to get involved. These always exist in untamed locations, but sometimes they can pop up in pacified locations under the control of a domain. Finally, locations have assets, which can be mobile (e.g. military units) or immobile (schools, shrines, even local customs.) Mobile assets can seize or defend locations, or overcome obstacles; immobile assets provide a myriad benefits to their owners. Creating a region means creating a set of locations, giving them traits and obstacles, and setting up local domains the GM wishes to use. As the game progresses, the domain management rules can be used to play out conflicts and determine new obstacles, giving the PCs a living background for their adventures, and eventually the hooks they'll need to come to power.

To create a region, first you sketch a map, in whatever way is most comfortable for you (hex mapping, freeform, etc.) Hell, you don't strictly need an actual, drawn map. It should be scaled to the planned campaign, and the rest of the world can be safely ignored for the moment. At this stage, minor centers of population can be ignored, and you can focus only on the major Cities and Towns within the region. Pick a likely location and put down a City, usually near the coast or a large river. Most regions will only have one City, but some particularly populous or well-developed regions may have as many as three or four. Try to put them away from each other - unless the region is particularly rich, their close proximity will strain available resources. These cities will have around ten to fifteen thousand people. Next, place four Towns for each City on the map. These can be placed more freely, not relying as much on shipments of food or fisheries to support their populace. Spread them out fairly evenly across the region. Then, start placing Ruins: lost temples, dead cities and more. Plant five Ruins for each City. One to three of them should represent once-major human inhabitations, while the rest can be wizard's towers, pre-human ruins, and other likely locations. At this stage, just placing down the locations of everything is enough. Next come Resources, which are locations with something useful or valuable to a domain. Rich fishing grounds, good farmland, sturdy timber - these provide stuff. Take a number equal to the number of Towns in the region and spread them evenly, somewhat far from any urban center that could otherwise exert easy influence upon it. While a resource can be spread over a large area, the fixed location you're setting in here is its center or the strategic location that allows a domain to control the resource: for instance, the entrance to a large, sprawling underground mine. Moving on, you have to set down Lairs: these are the homes of monsters, bandits, and other undesirables that plague the local powers. They may not be literal monsters, but there's definitely something repugnant about the locals - otherwise, they wouldn't be living in a Lair. Identify obvious land and water routes between settlements, then place a Lair roughly equidistant between them. They're the reason why these border regions are so dangerous, preying on travellers and needing the strong arms of adventurers to be rooted out. Identify isolated Resources far from a Town or City, and put three or four Lairs with good access to them. Then, wherever you see an empty hole in the map, place a Lair there too.


Whoever this guy is, he doesn't look too pleased.

Then, start naming the locations according to your preferences and campaign setting, and give each City, Town and Resource an Obstacle. This is what hinders the location's usefulness for a local Domain until it is removed. Each Obstacle has a level from 1 to 8. Assign these by hand, or roll 1d6+2 if you're not sure about it. Finally, establish the local Domains, the polities that act as a single unit under the rule of a nobleman, wizard king, and so on. They may be fiefs of some distant empire, but it is assumed that outside powers are too weak, distant or indifferent to interfere with their workings. Not every single settlement in the region has to be part of a Domain, and most Domains won't be particularly large: one City, a few Towns maybe, or even just a single Resource. Place the Domains in neighboring pairs or triads to generate tension and conflict, which doesn't necessarily have to be violent in nature, or just plop them near some convenient Lairs. It is assumed that the Obstacles of a Domain's locations are already overcome by their rulers - they're there if someone else wants to muscle in.

If you wish, you can also create a Hall of Infamy, which is the collection of major enemy NPCs that the players can be expected to face in a full campaign. These don't have to be scaled to the party's level, and indeed you can and should create foes that are too powerful to take on directly to preserve the sandbox flavor. These NPCs will have large goals at hand, we're not talking about the mad wizard locked in his lonely tower here. This way you don't run the risk of the party asking why they hadn't heard about the evil archlich they just defeated until they hit 12th level. The Hall is stocked at the top first, by creating the biggest, nastiest danger in the region: the lich, the tyrant with literal divine grace, the burgeoning Tide Cult, and so on. It doesn't have to be an imminent threat, but it has to be doing something that the PCs can notice. This danger will have a level equal to whatever level you expect the PCs to reach at the end of the campaign, which admittedly is a wild guess given how fragile campaigns are, but it's easier to scale downwards than up. This great danger will usually exist in a Ruin or Lair, but it might just be a City's ruler. Once this prime evil is chosen, create two lesser threats, the kind that would take a 9th level party to take down. Secret cults, sinister cabals, monsters capable of having retinues of their own. These can be attached to Cities, Lairs or Ruins. Under them, make four significant perils to be faced by mid-level PCs : major warbands, aspiring warlords, maniac wizards. These are usually assigned to Lairs. It's not necessary to generate any other bad guys before hand beneath these, no one will wonder why they hadn't heard of lesser foes beforehand.


Why does he have a torch lit up while standing on the surface? Doesn't look like it's night or anything.

And the map is done, but it doesn't mean it is unchanging. As the PCs move along it they may actually end up creating new locations with their adventures, or see previous locations razed by war or other calamities. If the PCs pay particular attention, you can mark it as a Place, a minor location without any domain value or traits. Most villages and farming hamlets can qualify as one. These Places, depending on how the game goes, can become major locations on their own. Then we have some notes on leaving the boundaries of the map (in which case you don't necessarily need to create a new region, just enough for the PCs to adventure in then return to the campaign region), or retrofitting existing maps. Locations don't have exact numbers for people, you can wing it, but there's still some guidelines if players and GMs do get a kick out of establishing exactly how many people can live in a particular hex.

Next: we're going to the obstacle course.

KittyEmpress
Dec 30, 2012

Jam Buddies



Night10194 posted:

I played a game that wasn't WoD but was definitely modeled after it as a social worker who got involved first with Changelings and fae and then later became kind of a supernatural child services agent for the city of Baltimore, solving domestic disputes between werewolf tribes and runaway kids abducted by vampire cliques. It was some of the most fun I ever had with an urban fantasy game, just going around helping people and solving mysteries. It's definitely a legit and cool way to play.

I had so much fun with it, I wish it was still going. Unfortunately the GM went insane after his girlfriend left him, and decided to make it all DARK AND GRITTY AND WE WERE ACTUALLY EVIL THE WHOLE TIME and we just kinda... didn't go after that session. Two of us stopped even talking to him, because it was so bizzare and stupid a twist, which included my character watching her changeling children being vivisected while still alive, for no reason other than to say gently caress you to my character.

Nerds are the worst.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


KittyEmpress posted:

I had so much fun with it, I wish it was still going. Unfortunately the GM went insane after his girlfriend left him, and decided to make it all DARK AND GRITTY AND WE WERE ACTUALLY EVIL THE WHOLE TIME and we just kinda... didn't go after that session. Two of us stopped even talking to him, because it was so bizzare and stupid a twist, which included my character watching her changeling children being vivisected while still alive, for no reason other than to say gently caress you to my character.

Nerds are the worst.

I accidentally saved Baltimore by getting the Queen of the Fae to ask a favor of me because she didn't think I knew the rules, when I got lost in their realm on Halloween along with some helpful house spirits who guided my PC through because he'd always fed them the odd lonely sock and his adoptive Changling daughter's advice about never actually asking a Fae to do anything. Thus I was able to ask her to use her power to close a portal to hell that opened at the campaign's climax because she owed me a favor and had to do as requested, saving the city from supernatural disaster.

Cecil Myron, Social Worker With a Will of Iron was one of the most fun PCs I've ever played.

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:

The interstate highway system was actually laid out as a giant magickal glyph to enable the summoning of a demonic legion in case of a Soviet attack.

This may be plot of the next season of True Detective

Night10194 posted:

The Morality system always feels like it's unnecessary. If you have players who are on board for the idea that hunting monsters is going to slowly drive them insane and cause them terrible problems, they'll play that out themselves. You don't necessarily need a big ruleset for it. If you design something and the first thing you have to design afterwards is tons of ways to get around it, it is a hint the thing you're designing doesn't really contribute.

Just steal the system from Unknown Armies. When you do something bad you roll on one of four Madness Meters. If you fail, you can't do the thing and it fucks you up. If you succeed, you get Hardened and more sociopathic.

I do feel like Hunter needs something like that, since the mental toll of being a Hunter is one of the big themes in Supernatural:

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 04:44 on May 30, 2015

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Or it could be the work of The Driver.

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Mr.Morgenstern
Sep 14, 2012



So is it me, or is Hunter the best White Wolf game? I've never had an interest in vampires or werewolves, but playing a southern minister kicking rear end for the Lord seems pretty awesome.

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