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Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

Yeah, BESM1 was pretty much three stats and just about everything else was represented by what is later called Dynamic Sorcery. Sailor Moon introduced actual powers and combat rules, and then each book added new stuff that all got compiled into BESM2. BESM3 was broken in plenty of other ways, but I think they at least looked at it long enough to fix problems like infinite points from recursive combining robots. But yeah, there was basically nothing BESM3 offered that M&M couldn't do better.

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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Unknown Armies, part 5: Global Gaming



After the sanity system there's a brief "running the game" section that provides suggestions on running a Street Level game. Mostly it's about setting goals for this level of play, which tend to be fairly mundane with a tinge of the occult. At street level you're getting together to get revenge, help someone, get cash, etc. It may involve something unexplained or weird but ultimately your goals here are comprehensible without needing to know the "truth"

But after that we move on to Book Two, "The World of Our Desires". This is the chapter where we get out of the basic rules and vague setting outlines and into the really juicy bits: adepts, avatars and magick. But first a basic overview of the Occult Underground.

Like the first "book" this section opens with a selection of example character backrounds. These characters have been around the block long enough to know that weird poo poo is out there and they've got some grasp on how it can be dealt with, at least in the immediate sense.

quote:

There’s a woman in Louisiana who deals in eyes. She can change your sight. You want to see the world like a child again? Or, maybe you’d like to not have seen something?

*Amanda Wilkes: an ex-cop who got assigned to a case that turned out to be...strange. As a result she ended up getting involved in more and more weird cases. Eventually she got fed up and went into business as a private detective but the weirdness keeps coming to her door. Today its a woman with a missing child, except according to the police and records department she never had a baby to begin with and no one remembers her being pregnant to begin with. She barely remembers her own kid herself, but she's got the cesarian scar and stretch marks.

*Stan Abronski The police are searching for a serial killer who disfigures his victims but can't find any connection between them. Stan knows though. All the victims have phone numbers whose sum is an ascending total and their addresses are all sequential prime numbers. The killer is murdering with math, loving up the formulas that tell their skin how to hold together and their blood to stay liquid. Stan knows that there's just two more murders until his number is up...27 Fordham drive. Before he can figure out the next two victims in the chain he's got to figure out the killer's "z-axis" that ties them together so he can start building his own pattern. Fortunately the victims all have no middle names with 5 numbers and so does the killer. One more link and he can weave a numerological trap of his own.

Basically, playing on the global level means you've got power within the occult underground. You're not one of the major players and you don't see the big picture but you know enough that you can dabble in secrets and face off with the things that work behind the scenes. You've got at least a few secrets under your belt.

For example, you don't know the "truth" about the afterlife but you know its out there. And you know its full of demons. They aren't pitch-fork wielding, bat-winged goat-men, in fact they don't even have a body (unless they can steal yours). The reason they're called that is that for whatever reason everything anyone has managed to call up from the great beyond is an evil bastard. Not in a bond-villian, "destroy the world" way but they're universally manipulative liars who'll take any chance to steal your body (or anyone else's) and once they get it wreak wild havoc like a frat boy on PCP. The only other detail known about the after-life is that there's something the demons are afraid of: the cruel ones. And we only have the demon's word on that.

At this point you've pretty much found out that Magick is real too. It's also really loving weird. Word is back in the day magick was stronger and more primal and anyone could perform a bit here and there and the true masters of magic could do just about anything. Then things started solidifying: languages, concepts, borders. It locked things together and magic became tamer and less powerful. Maybe more reliable but definitely only a shadow of its former self. Science and technology didn't technically suffocate magick...but it definitely helped cause things to "gel" further and for the most part it rendered it irrelevant. Who wants to sacrifice a goat drowned in the blood of a virgin sow in order to cure a wart when you can go to the dermatologist to get it frozen off? However, recently a new magickal Renaissance has begun based on contradiction and bizarre personal symbology: post-modern magick. There are three main types of Magick now:

quote:

The secret rulers of the world—Count Dracula, Merlin, and the Wandering Jew—meet every year that ends in a zero in a private club in the West End of London named the Mandragora Arms to discuss “business” for the coming decade.

Adepts are the "true" mages. They've taken to the new, bizarre forms of in ways no one else can because its a part of who they are. Basically they practice an extremely advanced and focused form of "chaos magick". That is, they take something that has no inherent power and through obsession, ritual and intense self-delusion they've turned it into something mighty. Each adept "school" really makes sense only to other adepts of that school because it relies on truly and deeply believing that the universe works like this, that it's all about sex, or drugs, or money, or pain. Each and every adept is a certified lunatic but they're crazy enough that what they believe is true for them...and they can make it true for others too. They push against the flow of reality so hard that the friction generates power.

Of course this level of obsessive devotion means that the real world doesn't really make sense to adepts. An adept whose power comes from drugs and booze finds the actual idea of sobriety somewhat disturbing, let alone a society where you can't drink in public. Everything is filtered through their obsession and they typically can't operate outside of it.

Avatars are adept's "good" older brother. The one who probably has a job, has some friends and doesn't scream about aliens in his teeth. Sure, they're not as fun as parties but they've definitely got things a bit more together. Instead of obsessing to the point of breaking reality avatars "go with the flow" and let it push them forward faster than everyone else. An Avatar is someone who (knowingly or not) has figured out how to tap into the collective unconsciousness and embody one of the "roles" that have become iconic to human thinking. By working to behave like their chosen archetype (and eschewing behaviors that conflict with it) they gradually start to become a part of that archetype and develop powers that echo it. Avatar powers tend to be a lot less dramatic than adept's but are often more reliable and less costly.

Unlike Adepts, Avatars do not have to "drink the kool-aid". Many do, but quite a few just play their roles to get the power that it earns them. An avatar of the Messenger might not care about the truth...they just tell it because it helps to synchronize themselves with their chosen archetype. Since Avatars do not have to be pants-on-head insane they're often better at fitting in with the real world, especially at low levels.

Finally there's the Old Magick, the rituals from mankind's supernatural history (some of which have been updated or altered for modern times). Old Magick lacks the power of the adepts or the ease of the avatars...in fact it's kind of on its last legs. For every ritual that works there's a dozen that's lost all of its mojo (or was never any good to begin with). The one thing that the old-school stuff has going for it is that it works for anyone. It doesn't take crazed obsession or years of dedication. Anyone who knows the right secrets and has the right tools can perform it and still get on with their normal lives afterwards. There are also artifacts which have gained power through exposure to magickal forces or were crafted by the ancient magick-users of the distant past. Actually making reliable artifacts is almost impossible now.

quote:

The internet is one big engine. The faster the information flows, the more power it generates. If anyone could find out how to harness this power they could rule the world.


People and Groups

Since you've stepped firmly in the occult underground and messed up your shoes you probably know at least some of the players behind the scenes. In the underground the name for an individual who has important power or knowledge is referred to as Duke (generally speaking the PCs qualify as Dukes at this level, although not necessarily powerful ones). Groups with a common goal are referred to as Cabals. There are many, many cabals (some actually powerful, some just wannabes) but there are a few that are worth knowing:

*The Sleepers This is the oldest cabal, centuries old, and they're more or less the "policemen" of the occult world. They've got one law: the occult underground stays underground. Don't freak the mundanes, don't gently caress around in public and don't get caught. They're the most well-known cabal because any decent mentor makes sure one of the first lessons they teach a new initiate is "don't gently caress with the Sleepers."

*The New Inquisition These guys are new kids on the block but they're almost as feared as the Sleepers. They're sort of like a magickal mafia: they've got money, power, influence, weapons and talent but no one really knows what they want just yet. They just know if you cross them or have something they want you can end up dead.

*Mak Attax: These guys used to be a bunch of nobodies. A lot of weirdos and idealists pissing in the magickal pool...and they all work for mcdonalds of all things?! They were basically the Occult Underground's bad joke...until they almost single-handedly stopped Y2K. No one is quite sure what they did but everyone knows it was something...something big.

*The Sect of the Naked Goddess These guys are just another one of the cults that pop up all over the place in the Occult Underground...except supposedly their goddess really exists and they have her ascension on tape. Supposedly anyone who watches the tape becomes an instant convert...and they are expanding surprisingly fast.

quote:

All those cell phone towers aren’t really for cell phones. They are built by the government agency known as CTAP, who found a way to harness innate magical energy from unsuspecting people. What they are going to use it for is still unknown.


The Sleeping Tiger

Now, the occult underground is full of pissed off lunatics, wizards with a grudge and people who lie, cheat and steal from one another. Enemies are common and friends are rare. They've all got the knives out and the guns ready but there's one thing that's got them too scared to start an all out war...the loving tiger in the room. The tiger is asleep right now, snoring away. But if you make too much noise it's going to wake up and then everybody dies.

The tiger is the general population. The six or seven billion ordinary and ignorant humans who go about their daily business completely oblivious to the true nature of the world. And the occult underground is loving terrified of them. Right now, they don't know jack poo poo about magick beyond new age self-help manuals and crystal-gripping snake-oil peddlers. But that could change...cameras are everywhere and the news has 24 hours to fill. If actual, solid evidence got out there then the magickal community is hosed. All the universal secrets and cosmic truths don't mean poo poo if the tiger wakes. The entire occult underground working together (if such a thing was even possible) has a snowball's chance in hell if the tiger spots them.

The Sleepers are there to deal with those people who're too crazy or too stupid to stay safe. But everyone else knows that if the tiger wakes the Sleepers won't have time to kill you.

quote:

There’s a kid in Little Rock, Arkansas who gains magical power from boredom.

Next we'll get into some more details on magickal cabals and some stuff on the old-school magick.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 11:35 on Jun 3, 2015

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




theironjef posted:



Oh look, it's Afterthought 7 in which we keep the conversation about supplements rolling for a little while and then, you guessed it, answer listener questions.

1. It's Globsters, not Blobsters. Also, yes, they are kinda cool in a weird "Why do you even believe this thing?" kind of way.
2. There is in fact a fan made NGE game, called Adeptus Evangelion, that started with using the 1st edition Dark Heresy rules but has apparently moved on.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Kellsterik posted:

I really want to run or play a Division Six game for Hunter and do some Declare-style occult spy games. You could even do some crossover with the new Demon and the God-Machine stuff for extra conspiracy craziness.

I like Division Six, but not treating them seriously. They think they're the Men in Black, and try so very hard to be the Men in Black, but get unceremoniously shoved aside when Valkyrie, Cheiron, the Barrett Commission, or VASCU arrive on scene. Dawww, who's a good little bunch of misguided wannabes?

I can't think of what mileage treating them seriously would serve when you could say mages secretly run part or all of one of the existing conspiracies or compacts for the same effect. I'm not sure in the end why Division Six exists as a fully written up compact.


The Keepers of the Source, on the other hand, are hilarious, especially if you write them as being legitimately successful and dangerous in your campaign. Who on earth would suspect the hippies of being genuinely effective Hunters waging a very successful war against Mages?

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

Every time I see Division Six I get a little sad that they're not Division X from the Invisibles.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


AmiYumi posted:

Hell, just make the "erotic dice" from The Simpsons into an actual game mechanic. Gamers love dice! :downs:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTgmPhCHUo8

Sorry for not seeing this post earlier.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




The question about witches is what categorically sets mages (and various hedge witches I suppose) apart from Hunters with magic. I remember reading something in a Hunter book about mages being "human bodies with inhuman souls" and I suppose that might be a fair argument against mages in general.

There are plenty of monstrous mages, but the idea of targeting them comes off odd because mages are supposed to be the ones who see the "big picture" of how the WoD works. (Or is that no longer the case in Awakening? I only played a mage for two sessions in a mixed game.) Which is why I never thought the ethos of Mage was a good fit for the World of Darkness. Expounding upon cosmology is terrible for horror, as evidenced by all the stale horror franchises that delve into their cosmology to find material for a sequel.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Awakening is pretty different Ascension, yeah. Mages really don't have the big picture anymore, and there's some really horrible stuff in the parts that they do know about. Like the Prince of Ten Thousand Leaves.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Cooked Auto posted:

1. It's Globsters, not Blobsters. Also, yes, they are kinda cool in a weird "Why do you even believe this thing?" kind of way.
2. There is in fact a fan made NGE game, called Adeptus Evangelion, that started with using the 1st edition Dark Heresy rules but has apparently moved on.

Dammit, it totally is globsters! They're just neat as cryptids because their story is generated by misreading very apparent physical evidence instead of speculation based on no phsyical evidence. I'd put chupacabra at a similar level, thanks to all those bloated mangy raccoon corpses and dehydrated stingrays.

I mean look at this thing! It isn't strictly a globster because it was hauled out of the ocean instead of washing up on a beach, but it's just so cool looking and huge.



Of course it's just a basking shark corpse, but it's still great because people found it and then didn't know what it was for a while.

theironjef fucked around with this message at 15:03 on Jun 3, 2015

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Planes have wifi now! I can iPad while I fly!

Mages like to think they understand the universe, but they really don't. Just parts of it, more than vampires and some werewolves, but not enough to, say, explain how Benedictions work. Also any attempt to explain it will make them come off as completely, dangerously insane.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



And even if Mages really did understand the complete, big picture, Hunters sure don't. Hunter isn't really meant to be run with the other lines as complete canon, but even if you took the other lines as gospel you have to understand how little of any of that Hunters know, understand, or care about. Sure, the compacts and conspiracies might know more than the layman, but what changeling is going to stroll into a meeting with the three leaders of the Loyalists of Thule, explain absolutely everything about changelings, the True Fae, the Hedge, etc, and be believed? Not a single element of that is going to happen.

That's assuming you even do take the other lines as gospel, which Hunter is under no obligation to do. Run whatever monsters with whatever inspirations you like. Mages and the Aegis Kai Doru are the archenemies in the TFV campaign I run, and I take only a loose inspiration from the Mage books because that's what fits the needs of the game and narrative.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Awakening 2e is going to be pretty explicit about how mages don't understand everything and don't even think they understand everything. Which is great for them, because running into things they don't understand is how they powerlevel.

BerkerkLurk
Jul 22, 2001

I could never sleep my way to the top 'cause my alarm clock always wakes me right up

occamsnailfile posted:

Rifts Earth has Triax and the Coalition who are...nearly on-par with a lot of Naruni toys already and this worries them because clearly no other species has come close to this? :rolleyes:
Kind of an aside, but this reminds me of the Kittani d-bees from World Book 2: Atlantis. They're a technologically advanced 100,000-year old society, basically the head engineers of the great multiversal Splugorth empire, and at least half of their weapons are explicitly knock-offs of North American weapons, made by barely space-faring humans waking up from a long apocalypse.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Asimo posted:

Wasn't Tenchi Muyo! the RPG just like BESM 1.5 or so? Or maybe 2 with a few changes? I forget the release timeline there. In any case it wasn't really any more broken than BESM in general... it's just that every edition of BESM was always pretty horribly broken and didn't make even vague attempts at balancing traits or powers or pretty much anything at all. If the GM wasn't paying attention it was trivially easy to wind up with a character that could blow up the earth or be made of infinity combining robots or a wide assortment of game breaking fuckery. :downs:

Well, if you used the Tenchi characters you had stuff like Washu, who was built on 80 points, and Mihoshi, who was built on 25 points, but you were supposed to be able to pick either up as PCs. (I just checked.) So it was kind of :effort:, with the notes just being "If you want to play any canon characters... uh... well, good luck with that".

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

The Tenchi Muyo! setting would be a great setting for an RPG if you use all the expanded universe materials from novels and things, but it would be a weird place for character balance. Tenchi and his wives are so overpowered in their own ways that all plots become absurdity—hell, the plot of the third OAV involves a plan to destroy Earth with a giant space station that Ryoko pretty much disassembles on a drunken lark while everybody else is dealing with the more important business of getting Mihoshi's brother a wife.

You'd also have to have a way of dealing with characters like Washu (is god, created the universe, commands limitless super-tech) with Mihoshi (has no skills, wins constantly) to make them both vaguely useful as PCs.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Tenchi Muyo is the nWoD of anime, every character coming from a different hypothetical game line/genre to form the party, so half of the party is OP and the rest are normal-ish people. And this is why you don't cross over every single line in a game.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Rand Brittain posted:

The Tenchi Muyo! setting would be a great setting for an RPG if you use all the expanded universe materials from novels and things, but it would be a weird place for character balance. Tenchi and his wives are so overpowered in their own ways that all plots become absurdity—hell, the plot of the third OAV involves a plan to destroy Earth with a giant space station that Ryoko pretty much disassembles on a drunken lark while everybody else is dealing with the more important business of getting Mihoshi's brother a wife.

You'd also have to have a way of dealing with characters like Washu (is god, created the universe, commands limitless super-tech) with Mihoshi (has no skills, wins constantly) to make them both vaguely useful as PCs.

It's a great setting if you want to play Rifts. Mihoshi is a vagabond, Kiyone is a headhunter, Ayeka is a technowizard with a battlesuit, Ryoko is an evil cosmoknight, and Ryo-Oki is a modified Lycanmorph. I'm sure one could keep going, but I'm out of names I remember.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


BerkerkLurk posted:

Kind of an aside, but this reminds me of the Kittani d-bees from World Book 2: Atlantis. They're a technologically advanced 100,000-year old society, basically the head engineers of the great multiversal Splugorth empire, and at least half of their weapons are explicitly knock-offs of North American weapons, made by barely space-faring humans waking up from a long apocalypse.

To be fair, they look really silly.

theironjef posted:

It's a great setting if you want to play Rifts. Mihoshi is a vagabond, Kiyone is a headhunter, Ayeka is a technowizard with a battlesuit, Ryoko is an evil cosmoknight, and Ryo-Oki is a modified Lycanmorph. I'm sure one could keep going, but I'm out of names I remember.

No, stop this, you don't know what you're doing. :v:

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Alien Rope Burn posted:

No, stop this, you don't know what you're doing. :v:

Sure I do! The thread's been way too White Wolf meta-y. Needs some dumb Rifts derails or a FATAL review, stat.

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Rand Brittain posted:

with Mihoshi (has no skills, wins constantly) to make them both vaguely useful as PCs.

She's exactly the Space Police's best detective who worked so hard she had a complete mental breakdown, and was sent to the boonies as a forced vacation until she felt better. The only serious villain in the series even mentioned in any normal circumstances she would have been a threat to him, but he got lucky and part of the reason he decided to strike when he did.

They remembered this all until the spin offs just played her as a ditz and decided to run with it because lol the creator doesn't care about that drat character anymore.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


theironjef posted:

It's a great setting if you want to play Rifts. Mihoshi is a vagabond, Kiyone is a headhunter, Ayeka is a technowizard with a battlesuit, Ryoko is an evil cosmoknight, and Ryo-Oki is a modified Lycanmorph. I'm sure one could keep going, but I'm out of names I remember.

You forgot Washu, the immortal space wizard and Ryoko's mother somehow.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




I actually used BESM to play a game of RIFTs once in place of the standard system...it got weird. I don't know why but whenever I run a game and give characters a universal system and tell them to go crazy, they do, they really do.

For that game I got...

A blatant rip-off of mega-man, a robot boy with an arm cannon & laser sword. He was also emo as hell, real bad case of pinnochio syndrome.

A communal swarm of carnivorous moths that could cling together into the shape of a person (in heavy robes). Mostly served as the party's spellcaster but would occasionally dissolve into moths and just eat people.

A somewhat cowardly, frail young man with very minor psionic powers who, when he got angry/stressed, would transform into a xena-esque warrior woman with super-level psychical stats and fighting ability.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

Sure I do! The thread's been way too White Wolf meta-y. Needs some dumb Rifts derails or a FATAL review, stat.

We try! Mors is a dominating presence now that he's back again and presumably posting from the toilet, I don't know how he keeps to his posting rate otherwise. Though it has been sixteen hours since he last posted, maybe he's dead.

Kurieg posted:

You forgot Washu, the immortal space wizard and Ryoko's mother somehow.

Nah, she's just a Rogue Scientist poo poo poo poo poo poo I fell for it- :(

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Alien Rope Burn posted:

We try! Mors is a dominating presence now that he's back again and presumably posting from the toilet, I don't know how he keeps to his posting rate otherwise. Though it has been sixteen hours since he last posted, maybe he's dead.

I think he said he's trained as a stenographer, though that might just be me trying to rationalize his pace.

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

NU, Children of Elder Nu, Nunet (or Slippery Ones, Waterboys, YOU'RE A KID YOU'RE A SQUID)
"You’re so beautiful. I saw you yesterday night, but I didn’t dare approach you. No, you didn’t see me. I was in the rain, outside. I saw you cry, in the dark. And I saw what you did to that poor man. Don’t cry! I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. But would you please, just… look at me?"

In Egyptian mythology, Nu (or Nun or Nunet) was the deification of the watery abyss of the oceans. More cocky Nu claim that their namesake was the firstborn child of Tiamat. It's hard to tell Nu's gender because, well, Nu is the most connected to the oceans and elements. It's completely possible that the real Nu was just a mass of water that flows like a creature. Nu are naturally flexible and malleable, assumed by members of the Tribe to be fluid and introspective and in touch with their spiritual side.

That is, the Nu that grow up knowing about the Tribe. Nu tend to be born out of the blue (heh), but if someone is patient enough to map out the family trees, they'll realize where future Nu come from. The manifestation of a Nu is like a ripple in a pond, carrying down through all of their immediate blood relatives and spreading outward through them. The closer to the ripple, the less well that family line fares, often branching off into dead ends through hardship and physical impairment. It's only the lines that are far enough down the line that are healthy and fit enough to give rise to future Nu. As a consequence, these bloodlines are basically barely even related to past Nu; most of the time they're never related to any of the other bloodlines.

So most Nu grow up never knowing anything about their true heritage, and that can get really bad with puberty. Nu control water and Nu are water, and puberty is when that starts expressing. Step out into a rainstorm and the droplets home towards you until you accidentally tell them not to, creating a barrier between you and them. Swim in a pool and forget the barriers by accident and feel your skin lie on the steps of the shallow end even though you're in the deep end too. Puberty for Nu is a time of curiosity and experimentation. Inevitably, they will try to understand their powers and test their limits while unintentionally draining all the ambient energy around them. The Nu who find stability and control survive; those who lose themselves to the water have found an early grave or an inhuman form where the Wake still calls people to love them, losing all their powers for curses and no gain.

Nu families are only successful when their blood runs in them quietly. Higher presences of Leviathan blood either create physical deformities that lead to the death of that family or just hinder their chances of succeeding. This applies even to a full-blooded Nu parent. They love their children, even if they don't always survive. The ones who do bond with their parents over the curse of blood or are just human enough for their parent to be quietly grateful that they might have a chance at a normal life. Not mentioned in the core book, but I feel like Nu might give normal human children up for adoption to give them a real chance at a life they can't have. Even your kids aren't immune to the Wake.

Lahmasu of Nu are the Heqen (meaning/etymology unknown). They're relatively uncommon, due to the fact that they're frog-like amphibious people. The thinner the blood in one, the more transparent and liquid their skin becomes. Heqen often can't survive in the world on their own and most of them delve into symbolism and mythology, helping the Tribe by worshipping them and exploring theological matters. They carry the same bond with the Primordial Sea as the Nu and use it for introspection and developing symbolic systems.

Cults of Nu use Heqen and the Nu's own appearance to control their acolytes by showing them proof of what they claim, of old sea beasts and great oceans. Most Nu cults feed on the subservience generated by primal dread and anxiety they cause; their worshippers refuse to deny them what they want because they're scared of them.

As a result, they embody the sin of Gluttony. Like the ocean, they gulp and swallow what they want, from attention to love to worship. Nu like to be masters in control of organizations being fed by their worshippers. They're prone to their cup running over and making a mess with their over-indulgences. The Vestige the Nu embody is Elements, with secondary preferences towards Awareness, Sanctity and Vitality. The true form of the Nu is alien, a hybrid of jellyfish and cephalopods, spineless life mixed with tadpoles and frogs. What was a strong, flexible tentacle simply melts into water at your touch.

NEXT TIME: OCEANIDS, children of the Progenitor Oceanus.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Xelkelvos posted:

I'm sure someone's homebrewed some weird and perverse RPG that's the Japanese bastard offspring of FATAL.. Would like to see it, but never ever play it.


Why settle for homebrew? I seem to recall the creator of Maid RPG having made a fantasy Hentai RPG...

Traveller posted:

I think there's a Japanese TRPG about sexy zombies or something?

Crap, I thank that's a playable option in the above title.

Asimo posted:

Well, maybe 3e was alright, but by the time it finally got released I already had Mutants & Masterminds 2e which could handle the same sort of powered action genres in a much more elegant and balanced manner so I never really tried it much. And M&M itself is pretty easy to break, so that says a lot...

3e fixed some point issues (your 3 stats used to be ridiculously cheap compared to what they gave you) and made armor and damage a lot more granular (both used to increase in multiples of 15, which dx bumped to 20 with rules for variable damage) at the cost of introducing a Damage Multiplier that interacted a bit strangely with unarmed attacks and are not very elegant.

M&M is a lot better. My only real complaint revolve's around Green Ronin's official design philosphy for non-powered characters that ultimately makes them suck above Power Level 8 or so. But since that's not hard-coded into the actual rules, it can be ignored easily.

Stars Without Number

Would be funny if he botched his to hit roll.

Oh, and I just noticed that I apparently forgot to upload Chapter Four. The hell did that happen. Did I confuse "Submit" with "Preview" o_O ?

Anyhow, the rules and the gamemastering section go hand in hand, so let's make it a double feature!

Chapter Four: Systems (aka the rules)

The first page starts with some general talk , like how just because something is not explicitly mentioned, it doesn't mean the players can't attempt to do it (aka "screw Feats"). The GM should generally allow anything that makes sense. It also highly encourages the group to import rules from other OSR games to fill in any percieved gaps (like say rules for dual-wielding).
Also mentioned is that tendency for OSR games to have independent sub-systems for almost everything. This can be used to keep the players on their toes, but the GM shouldn't go overboard with it.

Skill Checks

As mentioned earlier, skills range from level 0 to 6, and checks are done with a 2d6 + skill level + relevant attribute modifier + other modifiers. Checks aren't required for stuff that is either simple or can just be repeated till the character succeeds. TNs of things worth making a skill check start at 6 and go up to 14+ for really legendary stuff. Opposed skill checks are rerolled if a tie wouldn't make sense, and there are simple rules for Skill Challenges called Extended Skill Checks.

If the group isn't fond of skill rules, they can ditch them completely and replace them with a more streamlined bonus of +1 + [character level/3] applying to anything that would make sense for the character's class or background, including Combat skills. For stuff where the character essentially sucks, he gets a -1 instead (or -2 for attacks with weapons he has no reason to know how to handle).

Combat

Combat rounds are a bit 3.Xish (if simplified), with 6 seconds per round, your move (default 20m) and normal action as well as free actions. Initiative however is 1d8 + DEX modifier, with PCs winning ties and no rerolls between rounds.

Attack rolls are 1d20 + Combat skill + Attribute modifier + Attack Bonus + target's AC, and a hit is scored on a 20 or greater. This allows the use descending AC for maximum compatibility in a way that requires neither an attack matrix nor something as arcane as THAC0. I'm surprised no official edition of D&D uses this. Anyhow, a natural 1 always misses, while a natural 20 always hits, but neither cause anything critical to happen.

Movement

There are also your typical overland travel speeds and modifiers, with stuff like horses and sailing vessels replaced by hovercycles and atmoflyers.

Saving Throws and Hazards

As Saving Throws are descending, you do them by trying to roll equal or greater than them on a 1d20. You've got Physical Effect (Fortitude), Mental Effect (Will), Evasion (Reflex), Tech (nanites and weird beam attacks) and Luck (dumb luck), which is just enough to not get confusing.
Damage rolls are a bit unorthodox in that you always add your attack roll's attribute modifier to your damage roll, no matter the weapon. Space kung fu gets another bonus as the Unarmed skill is the only one that adds its skill level to both attack and damage.

The environmental hazards get some nice futuristic additions like Exposure to Hard Vacuum (whooping 1d20 damage per round after the first round, Physical Effect save halves), Radiation (Physical Effect save to avoid CON loss that is delayed by up to a day depending on the severity) and Xenoallergies (essentially a disease or poison, the rules of which come shortly; Xenoallergies essentially cause a cumulative -1 penalty on every roll every day, with six failed saving throws causing death).

Injury, Healing and Death

Creatures generall die when they hit 0 HP, though PCs (and important NPCs I assume) are tough enough to hold on just long enough for stabilization attempts (either with Biopsionics or a lazarus patch). Stabilized characters are still at 0 HP, but they won't die.
Unless healed with Biopsionics or healing stims, the character requires medical care before he can heal naturally. Normal healing sets in after 1d4 days in a TL4 medical facility or 1d4 months in a TL3 facility. Anything below also takes 1d4 months and also requires a Physical Effect save after those 1d4 months to see if the whole process actually did anything.

Diseases and Poisons are handled the same. They have a Toxicity rating (how are they are to treat), an Interval (ahow often the effect takes place) and Virulence (the number of successful saving rolls to recover). Avoiding exposure can be done with either Physical Effect or Luck. After that, it's all Physical Effect. The exact effect of the disease or poison is up to the GM, though there are 3 examples (4 if you count xenoallergies).

Natural healing is your typical "character's level per day". If the entire day is spent resting, he regains twice his level. Being treated by a physician adds another 2 HP for every Medical level he has. Instant healing, as mentioned, adds 1 to the character's System Strain, adding an upper limit to how often he can benefit from these healing sources.

Character Advancement

XP awards are pretty open. Depending on the group's style, you can limit to XP awards to accomplishing goals, or go full-on oldschool by granting XP for acquiring wealth. Unlike later editions of D&D, SWN discourages handing out XP for every defeated foe. Not having been killed is the main reward for winning.

Increasing Hit Points is interesting as you always reroll your hit dice and keep the higher result. This gives characters a chance to improve their HD rolls even after they stop getting them at level 11+. Or you can just hand out max HP if you're not into random HP rolls. Seeing how much weapons hurt, and how hard it is to regain HP, this isn't too unbalancing.

Skills are gained and improved with skill points. Experts gain 3 per level, while the other two classes get 2. Skills cost the level you want to obtain +1 for class skills and +2 for non-class skills. Max skill level starts at 1 and increases by +1 for every 3 character levels (up to 6). New skill levels always cost a certain trainer fee, which is doubled if the character wants to self-train. Sadly no mention how long this training actually lasts. Oh well, the GM can just fudge it.

Psychics also raise their current primary discipline and get a point to improve their secondary disciplines or gain a new one. The GM can always add entirely new disciplines and powers through a mentor.

Starship Travel

In-system travel abstracts the solar system into stellar regions, which are areas of interest like a planet and its moons, an asteroid belt or the edge of the system. Travel within a region takes 6 hours, while travelling to another region is 48 hours. A spike jump requires 6 days per hex. These are just the base times, mind you, which are always divided by the ship's spike drive. This can be further reduced by "trimming the course", which involves phasing more risky to increase the ship's effective drive rating (which adds a -1 per effective increase on any Navigation roll done). A drive's rating is also the maximum amount of hexes it can travel in one jump. This can not be increased by trimming the course.
A ship without fuel bunkers always needs to refuel after a jump. In-system travel only eats up a negligible amount of fuel.

Navigation rolls are usually not required inside a system, unless the pilot is trimming the course or there is some hazard around. A jump however does require a roll to calculate a safe course (which takes an hour per hex). The TN is 7, and the roll is penalized based on the distance travelled, whether or not the course is trimmed and when using outdated charts (or going in uncharted). Failure on this roll has the GM roll 3d6 and consult a table, with results ranging from "Everything went well" to "The ship is wrecked and 1d6 hexes away from the actual target". Even the more harmless setbacks that just increase the travel time can be hazardous as a ship's standard life support can support its max crew for only 2 weeks. This is why every party needs a Pilot Expert. Their skill reroll ability is a godsend here.

Starship Scanning and Detection

"Seeing" other ships in the same or different stellar region requires a scan using the Computer skill. Most civilian ships automatically broadcast their signature, so no check is required here. Ships who don't do this are found after beating a TN of 7 or 8 depending on distance, or by winning an opposed check with the target if they actively try to avoid detection. Once detected, they can try to shake it off every 6 hours. A successful scan can reveal things like hull class, hit points and drive rating, but anything deeper requires the two ships to be pretty much right besides each other and stationary.

Starship Combat

Though the exact distance is not important in the actual rules, starship combat generally happens at distances of tens of thousands of kilometers. Hitting anything beyond that is impossible thanks to ECM, jamming and spike drive phasing.

Combat uses the same basic mechanics as personal combat, but switches it up a little. Everything's supposed to happen simultaneously, for starters. The spike drives also make phasing quite importantly. Every ship can shoot and fly into any phase between 0 (real space) and its drive rating. Each ship's captain (aka the GM and one PC) writes down both phases for the round and reveal them simultaneously.

Attacks are done like in personal combat, using the Gunnery skill and the gunner's INT modifier for attack and damage. Additionaly, if the gunner fires into a different phase than the one the target is currently occupying, he has to roll higher than the phase difference on a 1d6 to avoid having the weapons just pass harmlessly through the phased target. Your standard Drive-1 ship is pretty boned when fighting a Pretech ship with Drive-6, basically.

Fighter-class ships blow up immediately when brought to 0 HP. Larger ships can have the chief engineer try to power down the ship instead with a successful Astronautics roll. Otherwise, the ship will explode in 3d6 rounds.

To spice things up, there are a couple maneuvers to perform. This includes basics like Evade Combat, Ramming Speed and Fire to Disable (which half damage dealt and makes it impossible to explode the enemy ship), and fancier spike drive tricks like the Lamprey Lock (aka trying to beat an opponent with a much better drive rating by literally flying into his bubble) and the Remora Lock (the BFF version of the Lamprey Lock, allowing a ship to piggyback friendly ships).

Starshp Maintenance and Repair

Everything you want to know about how much it costs to keep a ship running. To make a long story short, maintaining a ship will eat up a lot of the party's resources, especially if they want a fancy Cruiser or - heaven forbid - a Capital-class ship with a crew count rivaling any iteration of the Enterprise.

Chapter Six: Gamemastering

This chapter starts of with a rather refreshing paragraph that basically amounts to "If you're reading this, you've probably already played a tabletop RPG or two - but don't worry n00bs, this chapter is also for you!". Probably explains the following "GMs should prepare stuff and know the rules inside and out" paragraph.

Sandbox Gaming and You

Now here's where the fun starts. Sandbox gaming is a whole different beast than the 90's metaplot railroad. There is no overarching plot for the players to follow and alter (if the GM is not a total dick). Sanbox gaming is all about emergent stories, idea and plot hook cookies thrown by the GM to see what the players will eat up. The result may not be a beautiful piece of carefully crafted literature, but it allows the players to do what they want.

Okay, almost what they want. Because you see, sandbox worlds are big, uncaring and scary places. Giant battleships or multi-limbed alien behemoths don't just suddenly scale don't in power when they see the PCs approaching. Sanbox parties don't just wander blindly into the danger. They have to do some reconnaissance, for knowing is half the sandbox battle (or avoidance of said battle). Thankfully, the book recommends the GM to not be a dick and be a bit more direct about actions with a high chance of being suicidal.

Further cementing the uncaring nature of the sandbox world, events don't just wait for the players. If the players take to long to stop a mad scientist from finding a sealed vault filled to the brim with a psychopathic nanite swarm, he will most likely succeed and unleash the swarm on the world. And then there are various smaller and bigger factions fighting for control over worlds in more or less subtle ways (there are even rules for this), which will change the landscape as time goes on.

All in all, it takes a different approach for both sides, but it can be glorious if things just fall in place.

Creating Your Interstellar Sector

I'll cover this one in more detail when I dedicate an entire post around creating a sector. For now, it's suffice to say that the standard SWN sandbox hexmap is a sector of 8x10 hexes, filled with 21 - 30 stars, each of which usually having one colonized world, starbase or other interesting location.

Starting Out

Every sandbox game has to start somehow. SWN recommends having a starting world ready, where the players can have their first adventure or two before sending them into space. By limiting their initial ship's drive rating, the GM gives himself time to flesh out the neighboring world.
For you see, the biggest crime a sandbox GM is commit is writing pages upon pages on background information for worlds and adventures the players will then have no interest in. Aside from the first starting world and adventure, the GM should only have a couple drafts and ideas ready, which he can then swap out or flesh out as he sees fit.

Complications and Solutions

The GM and the players have to lay down some ground rules when it comes to lethality. They can go full-on oldschool, with everyone making replacement characters before the game even starts, or they can rule that 0 HP only kills in dramatic circumstances. The middle ground has the GM play mooks less smart, spreading damage over the whole party instead of gunning them down one at a time, and/or having friendly NPCs and henchmen ready to play Redshirt.

But seriously, combat is pretty darn lethal. If the players have to find, they should carefully plan and use every dirty trick in the book. On the other hand, the enemies know how deadly combat is, so most opponents won't just fight till the last HP.

The guide on skill checks can be best summarized with "Only roll when necessary, and even then one roll should suffice". And of course, the group has to settle on the eternal "roleplaying vs rollplaying" debate that is social skills.

This is then followed with some tips on investigations and trade. Good stuff, overall.

Next Time: Let's see if we can cram in some System Mastery references for the example sector.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Dimension Book 2: Phase World Part 9: The actual Three Galaxies



Now that we’ve wandered off on a couple of class- and race-related tangents, maybe we can hear more about the rest of this expansive universe. The text states that there are over a hundred thousand spacefaring races, with maybe two or three times that number at a lesser stage of development. The two biggest space-nations are the Consortium of Civilized Worlds and the Transgalactic Empire, and the latter is the more warlike and expansionist.

The Three Galaxies themselves are commonly called the Corkscrew, the Thundercloud, and the Anvil; alright. These three galaxies are within 20-30 thousand light years of each other, and the next-nearest neighboring galaxies are 300,000 light years away. I honestly don’t know if those are reasonably realistic figures and it doesn’t matter much, ship drives would take three months or so to make a 30K light year trip in-setting. Most sentient populations seem to be clustered around the borders of the galaxies and away from the “cores” which are full of black holes and other nasty cosmic phenomena. Travel between the galaxies is faster than travel within as a result of all the mysterious bullshit clustered around the interiors, or so they say--this is not actually given numerical support under the drive stats.

The political layout of the 3G resembles a political map of a planet, because that is much simpler to deal with--err, because people mostly live on the “surface” of the galaxies. :allears: Rebellion against the Transgalactic Empire has produced the Free World Council and the United Worlds of Warlock dominate about one-fifth of the Anvil. Lots of smaller space-nations rule single systems or groups of systems. Lots of habitable space remains largely unoccupied.

As mentioned, there’s a plethora of races scattered around the Galaxies, some native, some imported. Since rift activity occurs naturally in the Phase World universe, evolution may have taken some strange turns and some races colonized by accident. Humans are about 12% of the total population, which is a lot, but not a dominating force. Where all the humans came from is a subject of debate, some postulating a mythical Earth and others saying some other dimension. The humans primarily speak a “Galactic Trade Tongue Four” which :unsmigghh: is so similar to English/American that characters with that language automatically understand it. Standard days for humans are 24 hours, and years 365 days. I’m willing to just take that for convenience, the language thing seems like something technology or narrative handwaving could deal with.


how ‘bout a repeat of them stars from earlier, with some baffling spaceboob?

You know what else is in space besides humans? Wolfen. 10% of the 3G is wolfen, originating from an Ancient Wolfen Empire and Galactic Trade Tongue Three is identical to the
wolfen language. They formed a space republic (of wolfen) and joined the CCW after losing a long war with the Empire. Many wolfen still live in there.

The Kreeghor dominate the Transgalactic Empire and will be detailed soon I hope. They seem to be dominated by ‘chieftains’ and are probably mean aliens. They clock in at about 8%.

No other race makes up more than 3% of the total population of the 3G, though even very small percentiles still represents billions of members of a particular species. Likewise, there are a crap ton of languages and dialects but there are six major trade tongues used by a lot of spacefarers. Trade One is space-latin or something, believed to have been one of the languages of the First, very old, easy to learn (okay, so not Latin) and gives a 10% bonus to learning by being easy and everywhere. Trade Two is a telepathic language and requires psi-powers to speak. Three is Wolfen. Four is Human-English. Five is all hisses and whistles and clicks, aimed at reptilian or insectoid races with awful mouthparts. Six is a constructed language made by the CCW intended to be a truly universal language, with all words having multiple variants intended to be available to any sentient being dependent on method.

Also, they still call money the Credit or Universal Trade Credit--other currencies exist but everyone takes Credits. Just not credits from other dimensions and planets. Phase World has exchange centers for a lot of offworld currencies but in general this universe does not use the same currency as everywhere else in the known universe. Honestly the strangely ubiquitous ‘credits’ in every other setting were sort of weird, especially when they were being used by civilizations that evolved separately and virulently hated each other.

I know it was meant as a convenience and I’m not sure now is the time to fix it, but well, in Phase World you need Three Galaxies credits instead of a Rifts Earth ones. It also specifies that Splugorth credits are separate things, with a more favorable exchange rate since Splugorth traders are interdimensionally known. It seems weird to start worrying about currency now, and finding this tidbit can be hard when you are going back and forth looking for info.

That’s the major overview of the very broad galactic structure. The Consortium of Civilized Worlds is next, and then probably the Empire and a sidequest into Kreeghor classes.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

It just occurred to me to wonder if all of the Wolfen in Phase World could be some oblique reference to Traveller's Vargr.

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

OCEANIDS, children of the bloodline of Oceanus, Father-of-Seas (or the Beautiful People, Ubermenschen, Social Predators).
"People love beaches, perhaps now more than ever. You know why? Because there’s no roof. You’re totally exposed – the more you’re naked, the more you’re at ease. It’s the place in the world where you’re the most defenseless. Don’t you think it’s interesting that everyone rushes there?"

The Greeks and Romans believed that Oceanus was the embodiment of all seas. Greeks believed he was a Titan, a son of Uranus and Gaea with a flawless human body and rippling muscles. The Romans believed his lower half was that of a serpent, that he had claws and horns and a big beard. Either way, Oceanus was loving his sister Tethys and their resulting children were the first nymphs, the Oceanids.

Of course, not much has changed as the son of Tiamat. Oceanus was considered to be the most physically human of all of the Progenitors, barely any of his monstrous heritage showing in human form. His kids are no exception. The Oceanids are graceful and beautiful and they believe they deserve to be the leaders of the Tribe because they believe Oceanus was the leader of the Progenitors. Even if they're not beautiful, they carry a supernatural presence, an air of divinity and control. As a result they tend to be cunning and manipulative to their own relatives and the other bloodlines will give them a wide berth; a smiling Oceanid is always up to something.

Oceanid bloodlines are nothing if not stable and reliable. Every few generations pumps out a few Leviathans and the number is somewhat constant. A lot of Oceanid families know how to predict when the next batch will come. The wild card is they never know which family will get them. Anyone who has the direct lineage of an Oceanid has the potential to become one, and sometimes families with reliable Oceanid inheritances lose their shot of getting one ever again because of a forgotten bastard or a family member cut their ties. Oceanid families tend to approach human families a lot to bring them back into the bloodline so they don't lose a shot at getting one in the future, keeping heavy track of genealogy. The one constant thing is that all of the Oceanids of a generation manifest at the same age at the same time.

Oceanids manifest puberty very differently than the other bloodlines. When puberty hits, the recipient will wake up to an adrenaline rush, boundless energy and a burning need to achieve their goals. They feel like kings and queens and will throw themselves into fulfilling their desires. But the goals will get bigger, and their powers will get stronger. In the end, what an Oceanid must put their energy towards beating is the need to control themselves and their powers. Success means you're a true Leviathan. Failure gives you the consolation prize of a free makeover. The strangest side effect is that their awakening affects all family members close to them in blood and location. When an Oceanid manifests, everyone becomes healthy and beautiful and fit. This is why families are so desperate to stay close together, to reap the benefits like junkies who need a hit.

Anyone who gets a dose of this resurgent, revitalizing energy becomes a Lahmasu, the Pelopsids. An Oceanid is graceful and beautiful but tactful and cunning. Pelopsids, while the most physically human of all Lahmasu, only get the graceful and beautiful part. They're hot but stupid, strong but clumsy. They don't have any hint of the finesse a Leviathan will get, so a lot of them are predators in the literal sense.

This isn't helped by Oceanid families. Oceanid families are a hybrid of Greco-Roman-Egyptian dynasties, antebellum Southern families and European aristocrats. Their Leviathan parent gladly fosters discord between the kids and rules them with their charm and wit and subtle touches as they watch the kids learn how to be predators and slowly pare themselves down to evenly-matched, skilled survivors. Many a Pelopsid's ability to get what they want and secure it has a foundation built on the corpses of siblings. Only the worthy survive. On the other hand, their vanity and tendency towards aristocratic splendor means that Oceanid families have a good sense of history and good book-keeping. A Oceanid would be lucky to grow up to unrelated families compared to that, but chances are good some long lost relatives would come knocking in the hopes that they would manifest and help keep their family healthy.

Oceanid cults tend to be cults of personality, but not in the Dagonite bronze-age sense. It's most just exultation of the Leviathan, social clubs where they can glorify their god and make them feel good in exchange for attention and favors and sex. Because their cults are more social over religious, there's a good chance they might tie into mortal institutions that have power and money and oversexed pretty people.

Oceanids represent the sin of Lust. They love sex, they love being beautiful, they love wanting and they love taking. But sometimes the predators bite off more than they can chew. Their main Vestige is Sanctity, their secondary Vestiges Elements, Might and Predation. The true form of Oceanids mix sea mammals and bright, beautiful sea life and fish. Think dolphins, orcas, manatees, tropical fish like angelfish and tangs rolled into one package. Remember what bright colors mean in nature, though: watch out, I'm dangerous.

NEXT TIME: TANNINIM, children of the Progenitor Tannin.

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Princess: the Hopeful
Because there's so many extra riders to Charms such as invocation costs and activation times, I'll gloss over those for the most part. Also, while I do call them trees, they're really not at all like a tree except that each dot level requires a certain investment in the previous levels to unlock access to Charms at that level.

Appear Charms
Most of the Charms in this group that need rolls to activate require use of Subterfuge, Expression or Stealth. There's two instances of Crafts and one of Politics. Based on that alone, the skill diversity seems relatively higher than I thought. Charms for Illusion and other "tricks of the light." Appropriate for any beguiling sort. Those of the Seeker and Troubadour Callings have an an affinity to these. Charms that disguise the identity of the user deactivate when another charm is used, but those have upgrades that can keep those on, though the disguise flickers as the other charm is used.

At the bottom of the tree (one dot), Charms such as "Life of the Party" and "Unseen Traveler" give 9-again to mundane Socialize and Stealth rolls, both within a specific Specialty respectively. So utterly narrow and only a marginal improvement at base (see the discussion on why 9-Again is worse than adding a die) compared to just getting an extra dot. The upgrades for the first charm aren't all that great either. The second one does have a good upgrade but it requires having one of the Invocations with drawbacks to its use. Both get an upgrade that can add another Specialty, and the former gets upgrades for 9-again on gleaning information from Contacts or looking not drunk or trashed no matter how much has been imbibed. Of course, the upgrade doesn't stop the physiological effects like hallucinations or a loss of balance. They just don't look so sloppy while they're shitfaced (until they keel over). The other charm gets a special upgrade that forces a penalty on targets when making a surprise attack on them due to how silent the user is, and the user can pay an extra Wisp to essentially use Silence.

Alternatively, there are Charms that are akin to D&D spells such as Light and Disguise Self. It's not exactly the same as those spells as the Light Charm (called "Light the Way") merely lights the path in front of the user and the Disguise Self Charm (called "Twenty Faces") only changes the user's Regalia into normal clothes for the area and immediately ends when the user uses another Charm. The latter does necessitate a roll to activate as well. As far as upgrades go, the Light charm can dazzle an opponent (on a successful Dex+Athletics-Def attack) while the Disguise Self charm has the upgrade mentioned in the first paragraph which keeps it on, or to the robustness of the disguise or make the charm actually like the spell Disguise Self.

Finally, at the base of the tree are two, more unique charms. One that grants a dot of Status in a mundane organization with a successful activation and another that can remove the successes of an attack by transforming into a loved one of the attacker. The former simply adds a dot of status via an air of authority for a scene or an upgrade can allow usage of the transformed identity to use the Status of the mundane identity. The ramifications, of course, mean that while a Princess couldn't suddenly ingratiate themselves into a Changeling community, they could show up at CIA HQ and gain all the benefits and access of a low level agent. The other charm has its limits and caveats such as being unable to apply defense to the attack and can only stop up to the attacker's Integrity. Who the user transforms into may be unknown to the user unless they use an upgrade. Said upgrade can also add more permanent penalties for the scene. A different upgrade can even transfer damage taken if the person they transformed into is present. This does require four dots in the necessary Invocation and spending a Willpower to use it.

Further up the tree (two dots), there's an Illusion charm that starts off only lasting while the user concentrates on it and is essentially Silent Image with more limits. It has 10 upgrades that expand its ability including affecting other senses, being able to cover objects and act and react without the user's concentration. Another charm makes it harder to remember the user at all (called "Dim" and another charm will refer to it later). Finally, there's a charm that allows the user to communicate clearly and with complexity with just a simple gesture. Or course, anyone that can see it knows what's being communicated unless a particular upgrade is purchased.

Next up is at the three dot level. We start with "Summon Backup Dancers." That's the name of it and it most does what it says in that it allows you to summon a group of backup to assist the character. Just like backup dancers, they can't exactly do much beyond their given task. Essentially, it's summoning a group of paper automatons (a single point of any damage will make them disappear) to assist in some sort of action, specifically Crafts or Expression. Next is the generation of a literal clone of the user, albeit without any supernatural abilities or Willpower or even 10-again. Just like the other charm, the clone is a bit simple and can't do much outside of what's commanded of them, but the clone in this case is a bit more robust since it has all of its creator's stats otherwise. Upgrades can allow the user to know what their clone did and even insert their personality and will into it through a summoning it from a mirror. Of course that being now has a mind of its own and may resent being put back where it came from. Another at this level is a more targeted disguise which affects a single target (unless it's upgraded) and forces the target into dramatic failures for all Wits+Subterfuge contests against the user. There's a defense reduction charm made by summoning an illusion of an attack, a dodge via creating a temporary doppleganger, or even an application of temporary damage that makes the target potentially suffer wound penalties or even go unconscious if phantom damage ticks the last box. The final one is simply the creation of a simple, temporary tool made of a reflective surface that can add up to +5 on a skill roll where its used.

At the final level (four dots), there are three charms. The first applies the charm Dim to an area. The second creates an imaginary being that only the target can see, hear or otherwise interact with. Not even the user of the charm sees the imaginary being they created. Finally, there's a charm which can drape a given area with an illusion, transforming every nonliving thing to match a theme of the user's choosing (so transforming an abandoned warehouse into a country meadow or a stretch of jungle into an office space) and affecting all of the senses. The last two have no upgrades.

So that's the first batch of Charms. If there's a better way of doing these besides just putting them in a list with a summary of their effects (which is probably simpler to do so I might do that anyways), I'm open to hearing it.

Next: Bless Charms. i.e. Buffs and Blessings and floating pools of dice.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Xelkelvos posted:

Princess: the Hopeful

Why does "Summon Backup Dancers" only work on Craft or Expression? How will I ever make a magical ninja girl?!

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Doresh posted:

Why does "Summon Backup Dancers" only work on Craft or Expression? How will I ever make a magical ninja girl?!

By being an actual Mage or playing a different game.

Maybe a Sin-Eater can make "shadow clones"

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Xelkelvos posted:

By being an actual Mage or playing a different game.

Maybe a Sin-Eater can make "shadow clones"
You could always value dance as a Leviathan and force your cultists to learn Broadway choreography. It's probably not an abuse of them that would result in dinging your Morality and offending other Leviathans unless you're gonna be like Evil Amphibious Bob Fosse about it.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Xelkelvos posted:

By being an actual Mage or playing a different game.

Maybe a Sin-Eater can make "shadow clones"

Man, think about the possibilities of taking your typical WoD splat and turning it into a kawaii desu girl powered by love and happiness that just happens to be a ninja.

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


I just want to make the first evil ex from Scott Pilgrim. How do I make my backup dancers shoot fireballs?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



pkfan2004 posted:

Oceanid bloodlines are nothing if not stable and reliable. Every few generations pumps out a few Leviathans and the number is somewhat constant. A lot of Oceanid families know how to predict when the next batch will come. The wild card is they never know which family will get them. Anyone who has the direct lineage of an Oceanid has the potential to become one, and sometimes families with reliable Oceanid inheritances lose their shot of getting one ever again because of a forgotten bastard or a family member cut their ties. Oceanid families tend to approach human families a lot to bring them back into the bloodline so they don't lose a shot at getting one in the future, keeping heavy track of genealogy.

So... the less competition, the more likely it is that my child will be the one to Exalt?

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Count Chocula posted:

I just want to make the first evil ex from Scott Pilgrim. How do I make my backup dancers shoot fireballs?

Get the tier 4 Fight charm that lets you shoot fireballs and convince the ST that your fireballs can come from your illusions.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Unknown Armies, part 6: Intro to Magick



So, now we're getting into a more detailed examination of Magick (yes, the extra "k" is part of it) in the UA universe. To some degree or another all magick in Unknown Armies is Sympathetic, that is it exploits the connections (or perceived connections) between your actions and the result you desire. By creating a symbolic "link" you can send your will out into the universe and affect change.

Magick is divided (roughly) into 3 "types" and three "levels". There are Adepts, Avatars and Ritual Magick and each of the three can be divided into Minor, Significant and Major forms (although the distinction is less important for avatars). It's important to note that the three types of magick are not mutually exclusive. An avatar and adept can practice ritual magick in addition to their own form (and often do it better than practitioners who don't channel either form of magick). Likewise its possible to be an Adept and an Avatar at once. In practice there are only a few Adept schools and Avatar archetypes that resonate strongly enough for this to be practical...the competing taboo behaviors from both an adept and avatar background can cause major crossed wires. But when they do work well together the results can be extremely powerful.

You cannot channel more than one Archetype as an Avatar, although you could start over as the Avatar of a different archetype if you sever your ties with your current one. Technically it is possible to learn a second adept school the result is more or less immediate and complete insanity, blasting all five Madness gauges to the max.

quote:

The Comte runs an email list where you can hear about the plans for the universe and swap cookie recipes and so on.

Ritual Magick

Ritual Magick is the most basic and universally available of all magickal practices. You don't have to be insane, you don't have to dedicate your life to living naked in the woods, all you've got to do is know the right words and rituals and you can give the laws of the universe a little kick. Rituals are compared to cosmic "back doors" or "cheat codes".

The problem with ritual magick is that it represents the "old-school" magick and it's dying. Every generation less and less rituals retain their power and those that do generally aren't as strong as they once were. Truly powerful rituals are extremely rare and are carefully guarded secrets. No-one knows for sure what is causing ritual magick to weaken but no one wants to give up what little scraps of power they've managed to harvest. No one has been able to create new ritual spells (although it's possible to perform improvisational rituals known as Tilts) and unfortunately there are also a lot of "trap" rituals out there which turn on the user (no one is certain if this is intentional or the result of slow corruption).

The symbolic connections of ritual magick are all external so there's a lot of preparation and frippery that go into making a ritual work. Blood, full moons, wavy knives, the works.

Minor Rituals
Anyone can perform minor rituals with the right tools and performance. You've just got to succeed at a Soul Check at a -30% shift. Adepts can choose to spend a bit of their own power and use their Adept skill and Avatars can roll their Avatar skill. Both can use the Soul -30 roll if that would be better. You need a copy of the ritual on hand to cast it.

The minor rituals are an extremely mixed bag, ranging from "moderately useful" to "incredibly specific. Here are a few examples:

Poison Ward: Before drinking something, rotate the container 360 degrees clockwise while saying "sushem" and then 360 degrees counterclockwise while saying "crechab". The effect will negate any poisons or toxins in the drink (including alchohol, drugs and germs).

Back Monkey: Get a fish tank with at least one living fish in it. Cut your hand and bleed into the water. If there are any spells on you that last longer than a month the blood will take the form of the name of the person who cast the spell and then shifts to depict the subjects face. It detects the most recent person to enchant you. If no one has cast any spell on you the blood forms into egyptian hyroglyphs and then into the face of a woman. No one knows who she is or what she must have done to show up for anyone who casts the spell.

Angel of the Animals You need some of the target's body (hair, nail clippings, blood, etc) Mix it with two cups of buckwheat flour and then add two tablespoons of butter churned under a full moon.from the milk of an all-white cow. And yeast and salt and bake it in a pan greased with fat from an animal that you hunted yourself. Prick your left ring finger and write a word (any word) on the loaf before baking it at dawn over a fire of sandalwood. Feed it to the target. After that you can speak the word written on the loaf and the target will become the obsessive focus of animals: all animals in the target's vicinity will be compelled to touch and cling to the target. Targets covered in animals who try and fight back will be quickly ripped apart as the animals fight to stay in contact. This lasts for 8 hours.

quote:

Cats are powerful alpha-wave generators and are being used by secret government agencies as a renewable source of energy.

Significant Rituals
Significant Rituals are an order of magnitude more powerful than Minor rituals, but they require a significant "charge" of power to perform (sometimes multiple charges) which generally means they're restricted to adepts who can create them with the appropriate charging actions. Powerful Avatars of an Archetype called the Mystic Hermaphrodite can generate significant charges as well. However, a well kept secret of certain cabals who practice the "old ways" of magick are Minor rituals called "charging rituals" that allow the ritualist to create significant charges which can then be used for Significant rituals. Adepts can theoretically perform charging rituals but the process removes all other charges in the process, as the idea that ritual magick could create significant charges goes against their worldview. Charging rituals are the rarest and most valued of any ritual, even more valuable than the Significant rituals that they allow you to cast.

Charging rituals are difficult and extremely limited. The example ritual given has different requirements month-to-month depending on the caster's zodiac sign and can be performed only on the day of the month you were born in (so someone born the 10th of july can perform the ritual the 10th of every month.). The ritual becomes more complicated the farther you are from your actual birthday. On your birthday you just need to say six words in latin under the open sky. Six months from your birthday it requires specially made robes, herbs, crystals chalk diagrams and a specific latin chant.

Significant rituals are more powerful and broadly useful than minor rituals (for the most part). Here are some examples:

Prowess of Samson: Cut up a copy of the old testament (or Torah scrolls) and stitch the pages into a robe with camel-hair and a bone needle. Wear the robe and goat-leather sandals along with a beard (fake works fine). Beat someone with the jawbone of an rear end. The result is you can now Flip-Flop your Struggle skill and, if you accept a Failed Self notch, you get +10% to your Struggle skill. This can be done 4 times (or until you completely fill your self madness meter) to increase the bonus by another 10%. A ritual with nearly identical results, called Prowess of Bruce Lee using a yellow tracksuit and unwound film from the movie Enter The Dragon wound around your limbs. No one knows how its possible for a ritual to be "updated" like this.

Spellbreaker crush a live starfish in your left hand while making the "fig sign" with your right. It will remove the effects of magic currently on you (to a degree, it won't heal damage or get rid of a summoned entity).

Lead into gold For 4 significant charges you can turn very small quantities of lead into gold, enough to turn a fish sinker into solid gold or thinly coat a lead coin. There are tons of alchemical rituals available for this one, they just all require enough sig-charges.

Major Rituals
If major rituals ever existed they're long gone or are being kept by people who are drat good at hiding them. Some speculated Major rituals would be the creation of the philosopher's stone or a spell to summon an archangel, a truly inhuman being from beyond the veil. Unfortunately its all just speculation and even if you had a Major ritual there are no known charging rituals to generate Major charges.

quote:

The ice-cream guy at the corner of 9th and Liberty keeps a talking human head at the bottom of his cart, under the dry ice. For a silver dollar, he’ll let you ask it one question; it knows the identity of everyone who wants you dead—and why.

Proxy Rituals

These rituals are a little looser than the previous ones and have one very specific purpose: tricking the universe into thinking one person is actually another person. Poor Renata Dakota was under the effect of a powerful Proxy ritual in the starting fiction. Proxies allow you to convince the universe that one person is really someone else (usually convincing them that someone else is actually you so unpleasant spells and powers accidentally target your Proxy rather than yourself).

Proxy rituals are two-way...if the victim is aware of the connection. Ignorant victims only get your baggage, not vice-versa, but if they find out they can use the connection the same way you do.

Proxies come in both Minor and Significant varieties. Like normal rituals they are specific spells of varying complexity. However, there are dozens and dozens of proxy rituals which can be performed in different ways with more or less identical results. The simpler the ritual the more charges it costs to use (especially with Significant rituals). With proxies the important thing is not so much how the ritual is performed but what connections exist between you and your target and what you can do with it. Minor proxy rituals allow you to forge a connection that lets you spy on their surface emotions/senses, redirect long-distance spells targeting you, or (if the target is an avatar or adept) push their taboo buttons by performing taboo-breaking actions yourself. Significant proxy rituals allow you to steal charges from your proxy, switch minds and maybe even get them to die in your place!

Major proxies are only theoretical but supposedly would allow you to destroy the victim's body and consciousness and absorb their soul. This gives you all the benefits of a significant proxy except the victim is a part of you and thus can't fight back or cause any trouble out in the world.

When you perform a Proxy ritual you gain the Skill "Proxy of [target]" with a rating based on how similar you and the target are, up to your Soul stat as the maximum. The modifiers start at +50% for close blood relatives (parents, siblings), go to +30% for close coincidences (same address, same birthday, shared a lover, etc) down to +10% for simply having one person change their appearance to resemble the other (dying and cutting your hair for instance) or +5% for wearing some of the other person's clothes. The proxy skill can be strengthened like a normal skill and can be boosted with certain actions: staring into a mirror (+5%), spending a minor charge (+10%), sitting in a mirror room (+15%).

So long as you don't have to be picky about who your proxy is it isn't tough to build major connections fairly easily, maxing out the proxy connection. In fact its generally important to make sure that your proxy is an ignorant normal person, because if they find out about the proxy connection (and understand what it is) they can get a proxy skill of their own (equal to the original proxy skill when the ritual was performed) and can perform all proxy actions right back at you. Or they can try and break the connection, spending XP to lower their proxy skill. your skill stays the same but once theirs hits zero the connection is broken.

Some uses of the Proxy bond involve a struggle where the dominant proxy (the one with the highest skill) must roll below their skill rating but above their victim's. It's impossible to use these abilities if you aren't the dominant proxy (unless you can boost your skill with charges or something similar).

quote:

“Skull and Bones” is more than just a name. The U.S. government is ruled by the talking skulls of every dead president, animated using ancient Celtic techniques. Kennedy was shot in the head because he was a powerful psychic and would have taken over.

Tilts

Tilts are the closest anyone has gotten to creating new rituals. They're kind of improvisational rituals that don't produce dramatic effects but do allow you to shift things in your favor. These are basic curses, blessings and warding effects. To perform a Tilt you need a Soul of at least 60 and you have to have been a consenting participant in a Tilt ritual performed by someone else, targeting you. There are few basic types of Tilts:

Bonds are kind of a limited "proxy" ritual based on common cause and loyalty. A bonded group can be targeted by positive tilts and be affected as a single unit: bless one and all of them benefit. Minor bonds can shift their roll up to 5% when it comes to helping another bonded individual. Significant bonds let you flip-flop when helping a bonded member. A Major bond lets you get a brief vision of what another bonded target is seeing. all of these effects can only be performed once per month.

Boons grant a one-time modifier to a roll for a specific purpose. For instance you might craft a Boon specifically to "kill that bastard Carl". Someone can only have one Boon active at once and it vanishes once used. Minor boons grant a 5% shift to your roll (up to 5%, you can go less if that would be better, and even subtract up to 5%). Significant tilts let you flip-flop. Major lets you get an automatic critical success.

Hexes are identical to Boons but reversed, allowing you to negatively influence their actions when they are doing something specific (such as a hex to make it difficult for Carl the first time he tries to hurt you).

Wards let you make a location more difficult to enter or weaken those who do enter. It's like a Hex but it doesn't require a specific target and affects the first roll they have to make once they're in your warded space.

Actually performing Tilts involves a lot of time and work. You have to build connections, with each connection granting a cumulative chance of success. The big ones are the target's presence (+5%), participation (+5%) and informed consent (+20%). If you're really elaborate you can make a proxy connection with your target so that they're effectively "present", "participating" and "consenting" in the ritual because you are. After that's done you have to build up a set of symbolic elements (+2% per element). Symbols are objects or actions which represent the caster, the target, the intent of the Tilt, and/or the context during which the til will activate. Each of those four elements can only grant 10% individually (maximum tilt chance is 70%).

For instance, say you want to try to produce the magical equivalent of a cut break-line, Hexing a target to have trouble the next time they're making a Driving roll. To represent yourself you might have your name, a photograph showing yourself scowling in anger or grinning evilly, a weapon belonging to you (representing your dangerous intent), your home (where the ritual is being performed) and your allies (who all encourage and help you during the ritual). To represent your target you might have their name, a copy of their driver's license, some fingernail clippings, a personal belonging and an object of yours the target damaged. To represent the context you might provide scrapings from the target's paint, a printout of a map route the target follows to work, a model car that resembles the target, a tape from a traffic camera in the area and a stolen traffic sign. To represent the intent you might put tire marks on the target's photograph, provide a picture of a terrible accident, cut a brake-line or puncture a tire during the ritual and verbally describe what you hope to occur.

You can also "pump up" these elements for additional effect, breaking the normal 10% limit, by spending magickal charges (+2% per element for minor charges, +18% per element for Significant charges), incorporating powerful ritual acts into the element (+2 to +8% depending on the act) such as keying occult symbols into the paint of the victim's car and then using the pain scrapings instead of just chipping a bit here and there. The riskier and more symbolically powerful the gesture is the bigger the bonus. Adepts and Avatars automatically get +2% for elements that synch easily with their school or archetype (for the example above an alcohol-based Dipsomancer would get the bonus if they included a DUI report instead of just a driver's license).

Now, there's one big limit on Tilts: every element you use can only be used once and never again. Speak your name aloud to represent yourself in the ritual? Well, that won't work again for any Tilt ritual you ever perform. Similar elements can work (for instance using a nick name, writing your name instead of speaking it, using your first name and last name separately, etc) but you can never re-use the exact elements for any Tilt ritual.

quote:

There’s a guy up in Canada, blind from birth, who paints very pretty pictures of swans on old engine blocks. He says they’re pictures of God.

Next we'll get into the really fun bit: Adepts!

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


The UA website is still around, and dedicated fans still add to it. Last week somebody made a Snail Adept, which should prove that UA magick is the best magick.
Or maybe I'm just obsessed with something nobody cares about. Unknown Armies-mancy. The Paradox: the more you talk about your favorite RPG, the more you drive people away because they think you're nuts.

Has there been anything since it came out that scratches that Unknown Armies itch? Some of nWoD and Hunters seems doable but not quite as weird.

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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




VOX actually reminded me a lot of Unknown Armies. The suggested character creation scenario especially resembles an exceptionally crazy version of the UA world.

Unfortunately it suffered a bit from the same problem people had with Unknown Armies (it can be unclear what exactly PCs are meant to be doing) and also from an extremely specific premise (everyone experiences Voices only they can hear).

Parts of the game were absolutely great at inspiring the weird/conspiracy/insanity that Unknown Armies did...but other parts were a bit of a mess.

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