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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Kellsterik posted:

Please post the character portrait for these guys. I swear the artist must have gotten the instructions "draw some hippy tripping" and misinterpreted them.



Spirit Slayers

The world is messed up. The Illuminated Brotherhood know that, but they don't really know how to fix it. They seek the answer within, exploring their own psyches in search of truth, hoping to tap into the planetary consciousness to explain the strange, terrible things they have witnessed. And it never really works. But next time, maybe, you'll understand the Truth. The more they seek the truth, the more the Illuminated Brotherhood witness the events that forced them to psychedelics and mind-altering drugs. It looks like addiction, but they think they're finding the truth - just one more encounter. Just one more hit.

The first recognizable Illuminated Brotherhood started in the 80s as a result of trying to reproduce the Marsh Chapel Experiment, to determine if psilocybin could facilitate religious experiences at a church. Rather than using a control group, the new experiment was meant to test the effectiveness of hallucinogens in facilitating religious experience. Unfortuantely, the experimenters didn't realize that a disturbingly high number of their test subjects had close ties to the spirit world - mediums, mainly, who infiltrated to get access to mind-expanding drugs. So many mediums on so many drugs led to disaster, with spirits crashing through the barrier between our world and theirs, possessing random people and breaking minds. It lasted a grueling six hours and was later covered up by local and Federal authorities. It ended most psychedelic experimentation for good. But a handful of the survivors started to meet, first as a support group trying to piece together what happened. Within a year, they'd concluded that the strange events were tied to the experiment. A few of them banded together and decided that whatever happened was related to the drugs, and it had to be reproduced. The best way would be to find similar experiences. They named themselves the Illuminated Brotherhood and began seeking out psychedelics. By 1992, they'd spread to colleges across the US, but were no closer to the truth. The original members drifted away, so there was no real leadership. They seemed to be on the road of becoming just another group of stoners...until they began to encounter strange creatures. They saw men made of spiders, women who ate the brains of the homeless. A few members, those who'd gone deepest into their own minds, felt creatures calling to them from beyond.

They knew that any outsiders would blame their use of drugs for their experiences, so they turned inwards. They must be closer to the truth, they decided. Some people joined them after finding the supernatural, believing they offered understanding and a chance to learn what really happened. Others had prior experience with drugs and had encountered the mysteries while pursuing new experiences. Regardless of how you join, there's no shortage of young people who want answers to supernatural questions. The group's focus has shifted - they seek to understand the puzzle of the supernatural, becoming hooked on the hunt as a way to seek the truth. It's just like waking up after a trip - you touched the mind of God and learned a secret truth, but don't quite remember it. Next time, you will. Next time, you'll get it. Or next time, you'll die. The mortality rate of the Brotherhood is immense. They don't know how to fight, most of the time, and they know little more than bad monster movies. They're young, active and reckless. Almost too dumb not to get involved in the supernatural. Most don't really understand their own mortality, and believe that they won't make the same mistakes as the guys who died.



The Illuminated Brotherhood most often hunts spirits, often rather subconsciously. The drugs free their minds to create and add resonance to the spirit world. A few of the members are natural mediums, and others become mediums. Many never driectly interact with spirits, though, except insofar as the spirit world interferes withj them. Of course, it's hard to fight things you can't even see. They have no real means to affect spirits. A few achieve the ability under the inflkuence of entheogenic drugs, but most face an enemy they've only hard about that can alter the world around them. It's a lot like a bad trip that won't go away. They work in groups, to better work out what's actually real and what's just in their heads. They don't understand spirits, but often understand the emotional resonance of an area better than other hunters, and will often look to alter resonances to defend against spirits. Not all of their encounters are hostile, and in many cases they go looking for places where the walls between worlds are thin, then open themselves up deliberately. This gives them clues to how spirits act and think, helping their search for truth in some small way, and members often push each other to greater dares and heights of experience at this Loci. A few even welcome possession, but that tends to end badly. With more physical threats, they prefer investigation to confrontation. They study creatures, trying to see what happens when people are possessed or changed by the supernatural. The main theory among the Brotherhood is that the differences between possessed beings are due to each hunter encountering them perceiving them based on a filter of subconscious expectation.

Stereotypes posted:

Ascending Ones: I had a contact who could supply a particularly effective variety of DMT. He never told me exactly what was n it, and I didn't want to know. One dose knocked me into orbit, and I finally understood the world, the strange creatures beyond, everything. It all fit into place. Not like normally, where you just get this feeling of it making sense - this time it actually did. Unfortunately, I puked up the memory along with my lunch. I wonder what happened to that guy. He sure seemed to know more than he let on.
Les Mysteres: You want weird and dangerous? These guys have it in spades. There's these groups all over the country, all different, all busy recruiting shamans or wise-men or people who can talk to the saints. Turns out they're after people who can talk to the alien space gods in the guise of some weird religious poo poo. I watched one of their rituals through a window, and they invited the spirits to possess them. Yeaaaah. No. I'm no fan of anyone who wants to turn himself into a monster.
Null Mysteriis: I was casing out a place, somewhere that I'd heard was special to a bunch of werewolves. Nice and quiet, then these guys just showed up out of nowhere. They didn't ask questions, not even why I was there. They just started taking photographs and setting up some science project right in the middle of the site I was watching! Once they were done, they headed out without ever speaking to me, like I was some kind of amateur. One of them did look over at me, and he nodded like I was right where he expected me to be. Freaky.
The Union: Sometimes, these guys can be a real asset. Watching and trying to understand is all well and good, but sometimes a beast wants to eat you, and a gang of people who can swing a wrench and mean it make good backup. If you end up working with them, it's a good idea not to tell them about the drugs - most members that I've worked with are big on the whole "community protection" thing, which includes getting drugs off the streets.

The Illuminated tend to divide up by interest. The Children of Leary are in this to expand their minds and study the entheogenic experience as the key way to find truth. They don't hunt monsters much or spend their nights in haunted houses - they drug themselves up and explore their own minds. Of course, they do find monsters. Strange things seem to follow them around. They just can't always tell if those things are real. The Spirit-Seekers focus more on tracking down occult locations, haunted houses, alien abduction sites. They usually try to spend the night in them, occasionally setting up recording equipment or psuedoscientific tools. They invariably draw spiritual attention when they find a Locus. The Watching Eye are more concerned with possessing spirits, primarily by observing the possessed. They believe all monsters are possessed by spirits, and their appearance as classic horror monsters and folk tales is due to semiotic ghosting - the world changes slightly to benefit from people's perceptions.


I just like this sidebar title.

The Illuminated Brotherhood actually has a fairly strict hierarchy, with status gained by revealing scraps of truth via...well, whatever means you prefer. At one dot, you've experienced altered consciousness and the presence of spirits. You get a Parapsychology specialty for Occult or Science. A three dots, you're starting to understand a little and feel like you're getting close to the truth. You get the Unseen Sense merit for Loci, or expand it to spirits in general if you already have it. At five dots, you have seen the hidden face of the world. Can't un-see that, no matter what you want. You get the Natural Medium merit.


Is that a Star Trek logo?

Most hunters are driven by tragedy and vengeance. They want to wipe out the monsters. The Talbot Group do not, because their loved ones are monsters. They are hunters who hunt by (occasionally violent) interventions, drug therapies, strange surgeries and isolation cells. They want to save monsters from themselves, even if it means putting their own lives at risk. The cure is out there. It must be. Back in the 80s, in the Seattle-Tacoma area, there were the Harvest Moon Massacres - a killing spree at local schools that left 48 dead over three days. Eight hisch school seniors apparently suffered spontaneous psychotic episodes and rampaged, killing anyone they met. Despite a swift response, the authorities seemed unable to stop them, and none were cpatured or killed. I neach case, they vanished without trace beyond the trail of bodies. The resulting investigation involved a giant manhunt, Feds, the National Guard and absolutely no success in finding the attackers or any reason for their violence. The families of victims and attackers alike were left with nothing but questions and pain.

Most of the perpetrators' parents (that survived) left Washington to rebuild, but a few never gave up the search for answers, most notably Paul and Isabelle Talbot, two prominent doctors whose son, Andrew, was one of the first and most violent attackers. Their quest to find the truth got national attention in the mid to late 80s, but while they paid massive amoutns to PIs and worked for greater psychological screening for troubled teens in public school, nothing ever came out of it. They even created a counseling program that the Seattle Board of Education coopted. They co-wrote a book, Modern-day Demons, about their experiences and observations. It was an instant bestseller and made them moderately rich. They might have faded into obscurity if not for another tragedy in 1989. Isabella went to Santa Fe to meet with PIs who thought they'd found Andrew. There was little reason for hope - there'd been many false leads over the past years - and Isabella expected to be disappointed again. But when Sunday came and went without word, Paul became troubled. By Monday, he called the cops in Santa Fe, who found carnage in her hotel room. Blood and flesh everywhere. It took two weeks to determine even how many victims there were. Isabelle was found in the bathroom, suffering severe injuries across 70% of her body, but she survived. She identified the two other victims as the PIs she'd been meeting with. When questioned about the attacker, she described an immense, furry monster with huge jaws and claws. Other times, more lucid, she insisted the attacker was her son, Andrew. There were no other witnesses. Paul rushed to Santa Fe, had his wife transferred to Seattle and tried to help her with her physical therapy while still continuing to find ways to treat and counsel severe adolescent aggression.

isabella rejected science entirely in favor of spiritualism, seeking out Native American lore. She found in it an explanation: spirits possessing her son and the other children, flesh-eating demons that transformed Andrew into a monster. She came into contact with others who shared her beliefs and created a loose network along the West Coast to find evidence of spiritual interference. At first, Paul was concerned and embarrassed, but he chose to let Isabelle do as she pleased to find her own peace. His counseling showed signs of success, anyway. At that point, he was approached by behavioral psychologist Dr. Robert Courtland, who wanted to found a school and counseling center for teens with severe behavioral problems. They had funding, and wanted to partner with Talbot and use his treatment programs. It led to the foundation of the Talbot Group, a non-profit dedicated to rehabilitating troubled teens, and the first school was founded outside Seattle in 1992. Meanwhile, Isabelle continued to gather information about West Coast supernatural events, linking them to violent crime and bizarre behavior to discover that some areas had a much greater likelihood to produce phenomena than others. When she compared these findings to her husband's case histories, she found many similarities - in nearly every cas,e the worst adolescent violence happened in what she called spiritual hot zones. Now that she had a working theory, she went out to find evidence. Though physically frail, she was a force to be reckoned with, beginning her own hunt for spirits and possession in Seattle-Tacoma and nearby areas. The first few years were full of false leads and failure, but in 1995, there was a breakthrough. Near Jackson Heights in LA, she came face to face with a man possessed by a murder spirit. Three of her team were hospitalized, two in critical condition, but it was the proof they needed - the face of the enemy. Now they just had to find a treatment.

For several years, they grew more experienced, organized and knowledgeable, setting up cells in Washington, Oregon and California to observe spirit events. They tried to find ways to clean and 'redeem' infested areas, as well as sometimes exorcise the possessed. Some failed disastrously, but increasingly, they began to succeed. It was then that the Talbot Group began to find wolf-people. Talbot insisted on the term, feeling they should not be trivialized by Hollywood terminology like 'werewolf.' They clashed with the Group six times between 95 and 98, sometimes issuing warnings to stay out of a hot zone, other times just using pure violence. Several hunters were killed and others intimidated into leaving, but the rest persevered. They gathered what information they could and concluded that the wolf-people were possessed by elemental nature-spirits trying to drive off encroaching civilization. It was the only logical reason why they should be found so often in cities and urban areas. They decided there was no real way to interact with them, and exorcisms ended disastrously, often with the deaths of all hunters involved. Isabelle began to study the wolf-people, trying to figure out their origins and development, and concluded that the possessed occurred early in life - teenage years or early adulthood at the latest - and the longer they were possessed, the harder it was to exorcise. If they could get to a victim early enough, they might be saved. This dovetailed nicely with the growing success of Paul's non-profit.

By this point Paul was no skeptic - Isabelle had shown him too much evidence. When she proposed a radical treatment program for the most violent youths in his school, he was initially resistant, but eventually allowed her and some of her hunters to observe the patients and determine if they were possessed. A significant fraction were. It explained their violent compulsions, their resistance to medication and often their inhuman ability to manipulate those around them. Paul decided he had no choice but to help his wife find a cure. Of course, exorcism as therapy would never be supported by the public, so it had to be done secretly. Fortunately, they were in the middle of making a 'nature campus' in Olympic National Park, quickly repurposed to a facility for the most troubled patients, where Paul, Isabelle and eventually Courtland could experiment with ways to ID and remove spirits. The next step was to find children marked by wolf-spirits and get them into the program. That turned out easier than expected - traumatized parents were often all to willing to accept a generous offer of cheap treatment for their violent, troubled kids, and within a few years the campus was almost at capcity. The problem was identifying with certainty which were wolf-touched. Possession of this kind was far more subtle than anything they'd seen. The first time they knew they really had one was when she had her first transformation and nearly escaped and killed everyone in her residence hall. Had she not already been on a heavy regimen of mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics, she might have succeeded, but they were able to manage her episodes with medication. Emily Langford, Patient Zero, has cooperated as best she can, trying to describe the nature of her condition through the drugs. She has even been instrumental in identifying other wolf-touched. As of 2008, they have six. So far, a cure continues to elude the Talbots, but they're optimistic. After almost 16 years, they're a full-fledged compact, funding cells up and down the West Coast in order to identify, examine and, if possibly, eradicate spiritual hot spots threatening communities.

The primary focus of the Talbots is spirits and their Loci, which they call hot spots, and to try and save the possessed from their controlling spirits. Most of their time and energy is research and observation, tracking police reports for serial crimes and determining if a criminal is ridden by spirits. When they find signs of activity, they try to identify the hot spot and look for ways to cleanse it. It used to be trial and error, but experience has given them information to draw on. They know fire and running water are both valuable cleansers, and the simplest way to deal with a hot spot is to burn it down. Sometimes they try to enlist communities to help them repurpose trouble spots or bring in other psychic influences to fight the negative spirits. In many cases, that can weaken a spirit's grip on its host and force it out. When that doesn't work, they must help the possessed directly, preferring exorcism or communication and negotiation with the spirit involved. Physical combat is the last resort, but sometimes it's the only way. They have come recently into more and more conflict with wolf-people, who seem possessive of the hot spots. In nearly every case, it's gone badly, due to the monsters' killing power and the hunters' reluctance to fight what they see as innocent victims of possession. As this gets more frequent, though, they hav taken to carrying silver bullets and bathtub napalm to deal with attackers. They search for wolf-touched children along the West Coast, and work hard to convince parents to send them to the Olympic campus for counseling. In some cases, when a child in question has fled their home, the cell is sent to find the lost child and 'rescue' them from whatever they've gotten into - which sometimes is very dangerous.

Stereotypes posted:

The Cheiron Group: This is what happens when paranormal science becomes corrupted by corporate greed. There's so much we could learn from their studies, and vice versa, but how can we trust that they won't use our data to turn a profit somehow? It's tragic, and at times it's downright obscene.
The Long Night: Extremists and religious vigilantes whose scorched-earth campaign against victims of possession typically cause more harm than good. While it's true that there are some spirit-ridden humans that are too far gone to save, these hunters rarely bother to draw the distinction. All too often the violence they inflict on their victims - and occasionally the victim's family - leaves a spiritual stain that akes years to dissipate, and can draw even more spirits to the area over time. And they call us misguided.
Network 0: These guys understand the need to get the truth out there, where others can benefit from the knowledge and try to make a difference in the world. We're happy to share whatever we learn in the hopes that others will take notice, and we learn what we can from the contributions of others. We're all too happy to work with them when we get the chance - we just wish they were a little mroe discerning in what they chose to broadcast sometimes. Just a bit more scientific rigor would keep half of those grainy "bigfoot" videos from taking up so much bandwidth.
Task Force: VALKYRIE: Good god, what a bunch of jack-booted thugs. They shoot first, ask questions later (if at all), and cover everything up afterwards. Or worse, they scoop up innocent people and drag them off to some undisclosed location and try to make weapons out of them. The last thing you want to do is get their attention. If you get in their way you'll just disappear.
The Union: For a group that calls itself the Union, these guys often seem like anarchy in action. No real leadership to speak of, no comprehensive organization or methodology - most of their online forums and mailing lists contain way too much noise for the limited amount of signal they provide. Don't get me wrong - their hearts are in the right place. But all too often they go off half-cocked, and somebody gets hurt. Worse, they are often too headstrong to listen when we try to offer a little of our hard-won experience.

Most of the Tablot Group agree on the fact that spirits are dangerous, but they're divided on the best response. The Exorcists are the original philosophy - spirit infestations are a sickness that must be expunged. They burn down the homes of dead serial killers or closed nursing homes that were abusive, they track down the possessed and try to treat them with compassion and exorcism if at all possible. The Redactors, on the other hand, conclude that the problem isn't the spirits - it's the people. Spritis have always been around, so logically there is some flaw in the possessed that draws the worst kind of spirit to them. They are much more likely to be violent and often believe that exorcism is pointless - the poor saps will draw another spirit in in short order. This has been championed by Dr. Courtland, who became aware of the supernatural in the late 90s and has been an active contributor in the rehabilitation of wolf-children. He thinks that possession susceptibility can be treated via medication and brain surgery, but has so far been unable to test his theories. The Conciliators are the most radical and recent development, and include some of the most senior members of the group. AFter their interactions with Emily and the other wolf-children, they want to use the wolf-children's special abilities to protect humanity from the worst of the spirit world, and they often try to negotiate with spirits rather than assuming they're hostile. Many look on them with skepticism, but Isabelle Talbot has recently been swayed by their methods, likely in the hope of reaching out to her missing son.

Over the past 10 years, the Talbot Group has developed a rather strict hierarchy of access, mostly to deal with resource management, since their money isn't endless. They are also wary about revealing too much about their rehab, for fear of knee-jerk reactions to their radical methods and drawing attention from wolf-people. At one dot of Status, you've gotten involved in some case studies at local hotspots and run into at least one spirit or possessed person. You have access to case files and get one dot of both Contacts and Allies. At three dots, you're a skilled investigator who's cleared out some hot spots and may even have met a wolf-person and survived. You get the Unseen Sense merit in regards to spirits and another ot of Contacts. At five dots, you've been all over the West Coast on jobs and survived, hunted more possessed humans than most others and are scarred by a few wolf-people incidents, but you've probably even taken one down in self-defense. You suffer Lunacy as if your Willpower were one dot higher than it is.



Next time: Hunt spirits? I think you mean befriend spirits.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




I think Jef mentioned someone hooking Louis Porter Jr into System Mastery on Facebook or something, but I didn't realize he was actually still around and doing stuff in the industry. I swung by a grog mine to see if there were any nuggets, and I wound up at the LPJ website and then his "forum" (G+ community). Holy poo poo, this guy seems busy and enthusiastic and honestly a little cool. I mean he is churning out Pathfinder supplements with titty witches on the covers, which I have no interest in, but he's going above and beyond "squat out a quick PDF to rake in the tens of dollars." He obviously puts a lot of work into this thing.

I guess, in addition to his previous effort there was also Haven…City of Bronze, but all his defunct game line pages on his website are 404's.

This isn't typical of what I skimmed, but it was the worst and I am a garbage monster so here:



And he did some interview with Sean K Reynolds on Presidents Day.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



To reiterate, I love how the groups in Spirit Slayers don't really know poo poo about werewolves.

Bear Lodge: hunt, track, kill. Spirit world? What's that?

Illuminated Brotherhood: Let's drop acid and talk to ghosts! Wait, werewolves are real!?

Talbot Group: Exorcisms and therapy can help these wolf men not be wolf men anymore, even if they were born that way.

The next group...oh boy, the next group.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



pkfan2004 posted:

To reiterate, I love how the groups in Spirit Slayers don't really know poo poo about werewolves.

To be fair to the hunters, werewolves are not a talkative bunch and what they do is not obvious to regular people. The Ascending Ones seem to be about the only group that actually has any inkling about werewolf society and goals. You might call it the werewolves' own drat fault for being such colossal assholes for reasons not readily understandable by normal people.

And yeah, the next group is... special.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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







Legacy Part 3-2: Character Creation

I wouldn’t be giving Legacy’s character creation rules a fair shot if I didn’t create a character. I’m using the quick-start method that gives you set numbers in chosen Stats and Abilities, because going through the process of spending Karma per dot takes too long.

We’re supposed to start with a character concept, but gently caress that. Like any 90s modern fantasy game, the stats and skills are baroque, to put it politely. So we’ll choose the stuff that’s worth having and justify it later. For my character’s name, I consulted a SeventhSanctum.com and got, I poo poo you not, “Demetrius Valenzuela.” Then came “Dong Crosby” and, I poo poo you not, “Omar Cumming.” Then it occurred to me that, especially being a 90s show, Highlander was way too white and male. So my character’s name is Lita Ramirez.

For Statistics, we get one Stat at 5, one at 3, and the rest at 2. I’m going for Agility, which determines Initiative and has all the good combat skills, and Intellect. Strength, sucks, and as for Presence, putting points in most social skills is just going to prompt arguments with the GM about the differences between Negotiation and Persuasion and 5 other skills.

For Abilities, we get 4 skills associated with Agility at rank 3, 2 associated with Intellect at rank 2, and five rank-1 skills wherever. Even when you’re doing custom character creation, Abilities can’t be rated higher than 3. Otherwise, all my points would be going into Melee and Dodge. As it is, I’m going to max the most useful combat skills, and devote the rest of my points to various forms of skullduggery.

Now for Accents. We get 30 points to spend, and can get an extra 10 by taking a Negative Accent. Let’s get right into that. Having a “code of honor” counts as a Mental Impairment--piece of cake. I’ll say that Lita only goes after scumbag Immortals, and doesn’t tolerate collateral damage or hurting women and kids. Although it’s pretty much useless, I need to buy the Sensitive Accent for 10 points if I ever want to have an arsenal of psychic powers in the future--it’s implied that if you don’t have any psychic Accent at character creation, you can’t buy it.The rest of the points go to Ambidextrous and Quick-Draw, which have clear mechanical benefits.

So who is this person? Seeing that I put all of my character points into fighting and sneaking, I’ll say that Lita was a young woman with little direction in life before she had a fatal accident and learned she was Immortal. Her mentor was a career criminal who taught her the tricks of the trade.


I don’t care if you’re 1800 years old. You live under my roof, and we’re going to church.


quote:

Lita Ramirez

Statistics:

Agility 5
Intellect 3
Strength 2
Presence 2
Psyche 2

Psychic Reserve 20

Abilities:

Melee Weapons 3
Dodge 3
Stealth 3
Firearms 3
Perception 2
Security 2
Disguise 1
Streetwise 1
Foreboding 1
Sleight of Hand 1
Acting 1

Accents:

Sensitive 10
Ambidextrous 10
Quick Draw 20
Mental Impairment (Code of Honor) -10

As much as I was tempted to toss points into Drive Watercraft and say that my character is modern-day cyberpunk steamboat captain, Fedora Katana Von Monocle-Acidwashington...I’m tired. You get it by now. The people who brought Legacy to life owned themselves harder than I could ever possibly own them when they made badly-filtered pictures of each other playing with mail-order swords in front of the mall.

Next time, on Legacy: How the system works.


This next technique is called “The Butt Cut.”

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012



:allears:

I really do like the Talbot Group, especially the angle of families trying to recover children who've become werewolves. It's a side of this kind of modern supernatural setting that gets ignored or glossed over pretty often. Like how werewolf characters are often described as never really having been human, their true family is the pack or they connect with the wandering uncle who tells them the hidden family secret or whatever and the decade or more of being raised by their parents is shucked. These guys are an intrusion of the concerns of the mortal world into the badass supernatural, the idea that the story of your "pre-game" mortal life isn't over, which interests me a lot. Behind the teenage runaway being initiated by violent strangers into a strange new world of spirits and learning about their ancestral bond to Father Wolf and Luna is mom and dad desperately looking for answers to what happened to their daughter and how they can bring her back.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

To me, the Talbot Group looks like the supernatural equivalent of one of those grotesque residential schools that parents paid to have their kids kidnapped to for being gay or rebellious. They'd already tranked their first confirmed wolf-child to the gills before she went berserk and murdered a bunch of other inmates, and now one of their heads wants to experiment with brain surgery. Their intentions may have started out pure, but they're a good half mile down the road to Hell now.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The Talbots include both sides there, by design. There's a lot of idealists in the group, including Isabelle, and a lot of people who are going too far, including Courtland.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Bieeardo posted:

To me, the Talbot Group looks like the supernatural equivalent of one of those grotesque residential schools that parents paid to have their kids kidnapped to for being gay or rebellious. They'd already tranked their first confirmed wolf-child to the gills before she went berserk and murdered a bunch of other inmates, and now one of their heads wants to experiment with brain surgery. Their intentions may have started out pure, but they're a good half mile down the road to Hell now.

Both takes are valid, in my opinion. Every Hunter group is presented as morally ambiguous so you can use them as whole-hearted good guys or malicious bad guys as your story prefers.

I'm personally with Kellsterik, though, on the Talbot Group. When I briefly used them in my game I presented them as a group of confused and worried parents trying desperately to understand their profoundly gifted children whose abilities they don't understand and make them part of the family again rather than go "Welp she's a werewolf now and the pack is her family, we're just dumb mortals who can't understand so we'd better gently caress off."

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Mors Rattus posted:

The Talbots include both sides there, by design. There's a lot of idealists in the group, including Isabelle, and a lot of people who are going too far, including Courtland.

Very good point. I do like the ambiguity baked into these groups-- there's room to be flexible in their characterization, without hollowing them out. Some lovely internal conflicts and moral ambiguity too.

After seeing oHunter, I wrote the new one off out of the gate. I have to say, I really, really am enthused with what I've seen of it here, despite that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Spirit Slayers

Spiritual people are everywhere. The Pentecostal who handles snakes to ward off evil. The witch-doctor who consumes evil spirits to protect others. The girl who channels an ancient strategiest to protect her home. Every society has them, not outsiders but not really part of the community - someone who can help when all else fails. These are Les Mysteres. A Mystere must stand apart - no one wants to get too close to someone who deals with angels, demons and spirits. By being on the edge, though, they have the time to work with the spirits, give them gifts for their favor and fight those who would see the human and spirit worlds get torn apart, who would throw us all back to before microwaves - and before fire. All sorts of monsters prey on humanity, but none are worse than werewolves.

Anyone can be a Mystere. There's no training, no shadowy organization, no badge. All you need is your knowledge of spirits, whatever you think of them as. Angels, demons, aliens. Over time, you'll get the second thing you need: the understanding that you must balance things, using spirits to help people just as you use people to help spirits. Les Mysteres are a support group, a loose organization of covens and shamans and spirit-talkers held together by phone, email and rumor. Each helps others not out of obligation but because no one else understands. For every one that is respected, ten more can't walk the streets without being mocked. Loneliness and isolation bring them together, driving them closer to where the monsters lurk. They aren't an organization in any way most hunters would recognize - no ideal, no goal. Each cell is alone, recruiting and training members seperately via seperate methods. One practices Yoruba Voudou, another is Pentecostal and handles snakes, a third are alien abduction counselors who draw on the power of their former captors. They're linked by very little but information sharing and the fact that no one else understands. No matter how they perceive the spirit world, however, Mysteres feel it urging them towards people and places cursed by evil. A group of alien abductees find a cheerleader in the woods, sans any blood. A Pentecostal minister finds an ancient blade that drinks the souls of those it cuts. A bokor finds the undead, out for vengeance because he refused to protect them. Some of them voluntarily serve a community, others drift around, focusing on spirits. The only times they really talk to normal people is when they want something - mundane, like ordering food, or significant, like being hired to take revenge on a cheating husband. Socializing is hard in the Mystere trade - after all, they are strange and powerful.

This also reflects how they interact with spirits. Any dealing with spirits is a transaction - in many ways, it's the only way to keep a spirit honest, and the only way to keep a Mystere from gaining great and terrible powers. Fear and respect are useful, but working in trades helps you keep a level head. Your power is a service, after all. It is this sense of duty that unites Les Mysteres. They have a duty to people, to each other and to the spirits - a duty that will never end. The traditional groups that recognize their importance are dying out, though. A few try to nurture communities, but ultimately for selfish reasons - it's easier to manipulate people when they work together, and that makes making spirits happy easier.

Les Mystere hate werewolves because they are connected to the spirit realm but abuse their gift. They destroy an area's spiritual harmony by keeping flesh and spirit apart. The spirits beg the Mysteres to act, to fight the werewolves, who often don't understand the implications of what they do...but sometimes they're all too aware. They think they are policing spirits and the border, never caring for the harm they do to the world by tearing out the spiritual roots. They even claim to have the blessing of a moon-spirit, when they talk at all. Mostly, they're just violent. A very few werewolves understand, however, and may help or seek out Les Mysteres. These werewolves reject the moon-spirit, forsaking the patron's blessing in order to save the rest of the spirit world. You can never trust a werewolf, but they can make useful temporar allies. As for other monsters, well, huntign them is the duty of the medicine men and wise women of the world. It's just one part of the duty, but a vital one. And so, the Mysteres often work together to fight monsters.



Les Mysteres have existed as long as societies have. They trace their works back to the earliest priests and shamans, or to spirit-talkers of various faiths. They have always worked to keep people safe, some as heroes and others as reviled witches. As time marches on, they became myths and stories. For thousands of years, they stood alone, and in many ways they still do. As a distributed organization, their orgins are hard to pinpoint, but most of their historians claim they came from the Yoruba of West Africa, as people who could contact the Orishas began to share information and rituals with each other. Over tiem, they shared ideas and rituals with other local peoples, building a support network in secret. When ships came and took slaves to the Americas, some of the unofficial alliance were part of it, and they expanded through the Caribbean, Haiti and the Americas, to all places where Africans were sold. Unable to identify the priests of the Loa, the Haitian authorities prosecuted the bokor, wandering priests-for-hire that served both slaves and the Loa. This spread through New Orleans and Louisiana, but they kept to their traditions and trained others, communicating across oceans with simple, seemingly innocent messages carried by ship's crews. They spread outwards, and took on their name - Les Mysteres, the Mysteries. In a way, it was a greeting of recognition - 'Do you know the Mysteries?' 'Yes, I know the Mysteries.'

Though originally only the slaves needed bokor, soon they expanded to work with free blacks as well, and found other people who could speak to the Loa, though they called them angels or saints. Though pressures of society meant that the meetings between black and white mystics were secret, they did happen, and small cells of Christian Mysteres started to grow. From there, they spread to the mystery cults of Europe's salons. It would have been a scandal, but at the time it was nearly impossible to trace the network back. Scattered groups contacted each other, usually without knowledge of most of the organization's existence. Over the years, they spread across the world, connecting with other cells that were already members in all but name. Vietnamese Dao Mau practitioners, Native American spirit-talkers, AFrican witch-doctors, confused teens who spoke to demons and angels, priests who abjured demonic spirits, Pentecostal ministers who called down the presence of God. All they cared about was that their members had the special touch needed for a spirit to ride them, and that they use it respectfully.

Their expansion led many to stunning realizations about the world. Sure, anyone who talks to spirits long enough knows about werewolves, but they learned about other threats - white supremacist vampires n the Deep South, Eastenr European walking corpses, Vietnamese and Chinese mystics using blood magic. Les Mystere coerced the spirits into helping them, allowing them to turn being ridden into a weapon to fight these dangerous monsters. Despite sweeiping changes in the world, they haven't really changed much since then. They've found people all over the world who walk their line, forging new links in their network of Spirit Emissaries. They have no central authority, or even any idea how many Mysteres there are, so no one cell can seize control. Instead, they are a loose confedeation of cults and covens who share experience. Many prefer it that way - nothing to distract them.

Individual cells have a very wide range of beliefs and practices. While each knows their way is the right one, and that only they know the truth, they accept that other Mysteres with other beliefs know things they don't. They try to speak to each other in terms both sides will understand, mentally translating top the 'right' form when they encounter differing beliefs. An alien abductee, a Pentecostal preacher and a bokor can all learn from each other. They have no shared language, so they must accommodate each other. It's hard, but the best way they have. They tend to break their beliefs down to the simplest blocks - they are ridden by spirits, which each takes to mean something dfifferent (the Holy Spirit, animist spirits, Loas). They try to put their differences aside, though it doesn't always work out. Debates are fine, but some cells have been entirely cut off by an argument gone too far. They tend to either die or reconcile to survive. And yes, some atheists are Mysteres. They have had life-changing experiences or contact with spirits without any religious underpinnings. These people are often watched closely, to tell if they have the proper respect.

The only real constant is that Mysteres are Ridden, allowing spirits to merge with their flesh temporarily. Spirits are alien, with no idea how humans think or feel, and this is always dangerous. It's insane, really. Each cell has its own reasons for thinking it's a good idea. Some bokor say they have no choice - the Loa have Ridden their chosen servants since time immemorial, but only a few can command the Loa as they can. They can control the ride, sharing the body rather than just being commanded. The Starlight Children say that the spirits are aliens, and they treat it as a New Age science project, often with bizarre results. They trust their alien patrons, believing that one day they will achieve full union and lead people to the next stage of evolution. The Apostolic Pentecostal Church of upstate New York believe they're channeling God's will, getting boons from God so long as they are worthy of His love. Some Siberian shamans commune with spirits, dragging them into their bodies and forcing them to help. They all have their own answers.

The power of Les Mysteres depeds on what focus they have. Some try to strike a balance between the four known paths, while others focus on one over the others. Their idea of a spiritual crossroads is a tool to understand each other. Each path grants a power when you get Status 3 in Les Mysteres. The Path of Fellowship is the forward path, using the spirit world to make life better for those around you. This draws you away from the spirit realm, though, making it harder to resist the spirits that ride you. Still, you get two dots of Allies. The lefthand path is the Path of Spirit, which offers you to the spirits. You listen to them, do as they command. You may even give your body to them entirely sometimes, or do strange rituals to make a place more palatable to them. Humans shun these Mysteres, and they often seem insane because the spirits they serve are so inhuman. They gain a bonus to all Occult rolls involving spirits, on top of any specialties they may have. The right-hand path is the Path of Beasts, which focuses on fighting werewolves. This distracts from other duties, though, and the spirits often resent being used as tools in the hunt, so it's easy to drive them and the people around you away. You get two dots of Contacts. The crossroads leading behind is the Path of the Soul, turning inwards and focusing on what is true, trying to balance service to humanity and the spirits. This can lead to inaction - sure, service to your ideals is good, but your duties demand action, and focusing inward too much can keep you from that. You get a bonus to resist supernatural mind control.

Because they're so decentralized, Les Mysteres are easy for spirits to manipulate. Most of them are on the Path of the Beast or the Past of the Spirit, and even those with the Path of Fellowship focus more on cover stories than really helping people, often. Only the Path of the Soul are difficult for the spirits to manipulate, really, and it's harder for them to gain status. Traditionally, werewolves are the foe of Les Mysteres, but they don't really go out looking for monsters, and certainly not those that aren't hurting anyone. They tend to get involved if a spirit warns them about something or they notice werewolf activity. Other times, if a vampire's keeping your pain or hunger spirit buddies happy, well, that's fine, at least until the spirits get annoyed. Many Mysteres are fine with working with monsters, if they get something out of it. They also often work with other hunters, for much the same reason, though not often with those associated with other compacts or conspiracies. In those cases, they tend to be more advisors than anything else, since most cells aren't that interested in obeying spirits.

Werewolves are the big focus. All MYsteres know that they disrupt the spirit world by existing, and all spirits tell the same story. Werewolves can run in packs or work alone, using sacred beast skins to change shape. The ones in packs tend to be better at changing form. A few know of stranger creatures - crows, rats, cockroaches. What matters is not how they change shape or where their power is from - it's how they use it. They never pay attention to what is aorund them, destroying people and spirits with no regard for the world. At least, that's what the spirits say. But it seems true enough - werewolves mark territory and attack any outsiders, even if they've served the spirits for a lifetime. They don't negotiate, and they hate spirits. Some have no connection to the spirit world, but they still have an effect - all werewolves have a core of rage, which warps the resonance around them. Les Mysteres understand some werewolf social structure. The ones that know nothing of spirits usually band together for protection but are ultimately isolated, easy to cut off from the world and fight with spiritual trickery. Those that know of their ties to the spirit world revel in their power, hunting spirits as they will, but for some reason the moon-spirit shields them from retaliation. Les Mysteres must teach them responsibility. Physical confrontation is risky, and they're hard to manipulate via trickery, but spiritual power and silver help a lot. Mundane help is usually useless.

Les Mysteres know that most werewolves are just raging beasts of strength. Most of them go mad with battle-rage, using physical power in place of tactics. That's a weakness to use. Then there are the werewolves who stalk their pray, tracking over vast distances and striking from the shadows in ambush. A rarer few embody dominance, channeling their rage to command the world around them as well as werewolf packs. Fighting any of them head on is suicide, so you must use their own tactics against them. Hunt them, trap them and strike from the shadows. Some werewolves seem to understand what they do, though, and turn their backs on their fellows, fighting alongside Les Mysteres. They call themselves the Pure, and they can be powerful allies, if you can deal with their odd compulsions.

But how much of that is true? Les Mysteres know that there's a difference between skinchangers and other shapeshifters, but not between non-wolf shapseshifters and werewolves. They know the spirit world hates werewolves, but don't really know why - spirits don't often explain the truth about Father Wolf. They know that the Pure and Forsaken exist, but think the Forsaken are in charge and the Pure are plucky underdogs. They know werewolves gather in packs, but have no idea that they need a totem spirit, or that any spirits are non-hostile to werewolves. Some of them know that the Forsaken are tied to the moon, but not how that applies to Auspices, and they conflate tribe and auspice. They know of Gifts, but believe that werewolves just steal the power of spirits for their own use. They know about Lunacy, but are resistant to it. They know little of the ranks and rules of the spirit world - just enough to tell the difference between greater and lesser spirits. They do, however, know all spriits have Bans, though not always what they are, and are quick to capitalize on them if they can. Most of them now that a spirit can possess people temporarily, but think it's the same as being Ridden, with the host in control. They don't know anything about the Merged, except that they draw a lot of spiritual attention. Most of them realize some areas are important to spirits but don't know why. Most werewolves aren't any good at figuring out that a Mystere being Ridden is not Urged or Claimed, and most packs will react accordingly.

As for other monsters, some Mysteres will ignore them if they help maintain balance, even unknowingly. They may even protect some of them. Their understanding of the spirit world colors what they hunt, in all cases, as well as how. Mysteres often believe vampires are a blend of flesh and spirit, created when a weak-willed and often dying person is left open to possession by a spirit of hate, pain, blood or addiction. They are transformed into a living addiction given physical form, thirsting for blood. MYsteres see this as generally beyond redemption for a spirit, so they often destroy vampires, but on occasion they prove to be valuable allies, as they retain their host's memories but do not age. Such alliances are always temporary, however. Witches are a bit of a mystery - they're human, but have incredible power, apparently via breaching the barrier between worlds and gaining some power that spirits normally hold using warped rituals to channel the spirits they resonate with or summoning spirits directly. The Mysteres prefer to watch and wait, to see whether a witch is a spiritual danger or not. A few encounter strange doppelgangers that mimic others - a man with a heart of brass cogs, a child with a body of leaves and twigs. These are some kind of spirit, very dangerous ones, but often easy prey. Demons are especially intriguing - nobody seems to understand them, some seeing them as a kind of spirit, but in allcases their main issue is that a demon is usually a sign of local spiritual corruption, rather than anything the demon does. And, of course, some spirits are a problem. A spirit in the physical world is fine, sure, but those who steal human bodies or merge with physical forms without proper care must be stopped - there's a duty to the physical world, too. Les Mysteres also keep an eye for problems like serial killers, who can set the local resonance way off-kilter and cause a hotbed of pain and death spirits. Same with cultists.

Stereotypes posted:

The Bear Lodge: We can't be everywhere at once, but these people sometimes do our work for us, striking down a werewolf who has angered the local spirits. Though members of the Lodge remain ignorant of the real impact of their hunt, that doesn't diminish their usefulness. I know some Mysteres join their hunts, acting as a guiding hand, while others prefer to leave them to their flawed understanding.
The Cheiron Group: I saw a group of men take away the body of a werewolf in an ambulance. I didn't realize at the time, but they took it for study. I've seen them seince, watching me and my hunt, waiting for me to find something else for their research. Their field agents can handle themselves, but I don't like being used.
The Lucifuge: Though the angels and demons in the world ride me, I remain in control. These children of the Devil do as well, though I can only imagine how they keep their mind from the sway of the demon within. I've made myself known to them in case they need any help. So far we've only talked, but I'm sure we'll be able to help each other when the time comes.
Null MYsteriis: Occasionally, someone who has trouble with a spirit doesn't know to contact a Mystere. Instead, they get in touchw ith scientists and thinking-men, people without a shred of spirit in their soul. They go on about energy readings and strange concepts, but they've no idea what they're really dealing with. If you're lucky, you can make one listen long enough for him to be useful, but the others never seem to listen to him.

There aren't so much factions of Les Mysteres as organized rough collectives. The Children of the Loa come in all kinds, but their main belief is that the spirits are servants or aspects of some greater force - a God, a creator, something else. This can cloud their understanding of the spirit realm - angels have limits on their behavior that most spirits don't, so they're easy to manipulate, and most walk the Path of Beasts. Only a few seek the Path of the Soul, and their faith gives them direction that other Mysteres often lack, leading them to strike at mundane concerns as well as monsters. The Spirit-Chained serve the spirits above all, believing that they are a fundamental part of the world. There are no other gods - just the worlds of flesh and spirit. Many walk the Path of the Spirit or the Path of Fellowship, and they are by far the most insular Mysteres. Some even refuse to induct new members unless they grew up in the right culture, but they are the best at understanding the spirits and their motives. The Transcendents are the smallest faction, rejecting other labels. They seek to use spirits to better themselves, and often have really outlandish, New Age-y ideas about them, which often makes it harder for spirits to manipulate them...but they're also bad at adapting rituals.

Status in Les Mysteres comes from spiritual power and reputation. There is no informal hierarchy - it's just down to how much the spirits like you. At one dot, you've felt their touch, but only a few listen to you. You can buy Ridden merits. At three dots, you are used to spirits riding you and have seen werewolves firsthand. You've spent long enough on one path or another to get a Crossroads benefit. At five dots, you understand spirits well, have felt their touch, and know duty deeply. You are valued by other Mysteres and they often send you students. You get a three-dot Retainer.


Can't possibly be a bad idea!

Next time: Mechanics.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:


Can't possibly be a bad idea!

How are these idiots not all claimed yet?

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Kurieg posted:

How are these idiots not all claimed yet?

Because they're in a Hunter book and are supposed to be possibly good guys, I think. All of the splatbook conspiracies save VASCU are... dubious... but Les Mysteres stands above even the Cainite Heresy and Knights of St. George as "Holy poo poo this is a bad idea," and I'm not even familiar with nWerewolf beyond the basics.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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I love the Knights of Saint George, but they are also devoted to doing an awful idea, yes. Not nearly as bad as these guys, though, primarily because the Abyss ain't give two shits about them.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Mors Rattus posted:

I love the Knights of Saint George, but they are also devoted to doing an awful idea, yes. Not nearly as bad as these guys, though, primarily because the Abyss ain't give two shits about them.

It does depend on how you play them and the Mage cosmology in your game, though. It's entirely valid to say that the Knights are absolutely correct and they're basically good guys protecting the world from an evil far greater than that which they serve. The Cainite Heresy are also defensible, though being a genuine cult puts them in very uncomfortable waters for many players.

Les Mysteres are just howling idiots, though.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I would love to run into the Cainite Heresy while playing a Vampire, though. Suddenly find yourself being stalked by these weird psychopaths and kinda freaked out by it would be fun.

I also imagine a vamp who survives them originally assumes they were someone else's ghouls and starts looking around for who the hell put out a hit on him.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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The Cainites showing up in Vampire and the Knights showing up in Mage are both really fun. (It was a hanging bit of horror for a Mage game I ran, that there were some weirdos out there - some very organized, angry weirdos - who somehow channeled the Abyss without going insane and wanted to kill you. The PCs were scared of no one more than them and maybe Task Force VALKYRIE.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

The Cainites showing up in Vampire and the Knights showing up in Mage are both really fun. (It was a hanging bit of horror for a Mage game I ran, that there were some weirdos out there - some very organized, angry weirdos - who somehow channeled the Abyss without going insane and wanted to kill you. The PCs were scared of no one more than them and maybe Task Force VALKYRIE.)

This is a big reason New Hunter sounds so exciting to me. Not just the variety, not just that I like the idea of being a horror character who is mostly human and sort of outgunned by horrible things. The fact is, having Hunters as legitimate antagonists who might actually scare a supernatural enhances both stories. The Hunters being legitimately dangerous, weird, and a natural consequence of your actions or of people stumbling on the stuff you're fighting gives the supernatural much more consequence and heft to it if you're a monster. Now you really do have a reason to hide, or a dilemma, or a major conflict to resolve, and that makes the monster's story much more fun just as much as it allows for fun stories about the Hunters.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Come to think of it I could probably use the Knights in my ongoing TFV game, since mages are the main villains and they're pursuing something akin to godhood. It's happened before, and each time it's blasted non-awakened humanity back to the stone age. The Knights would make logical allies in TFV's effort to stop this from happening again, depending on what I decide the faceless angels are, exactly.


nHunter is good stuff, and thank you for going through it, Mors.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Why doesn't anyone like Les Mysteres :smith:

I have a soft spot for both getting powers from spirit possession in general (and their Endowments are pretty solid iirc) and the idea of turning Forsaken on its head and working with rogue spirits and the Pure because you want the same things. "Sure, the Uratha want to keep spirit and flesh separate, but why should I? Spirits are great!"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Mostly because literally every spirit ever printed in any nWoD book anywhere is a total rear end in a top hat.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


I imagine that their leaders are all Beshilu at this point. Because that would probably happen.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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...what leaders?

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Well, there's that. I remember reading Book of Spirits to try to get a better handle on how exactly the Shadow and everything actually worked, and it was really noticeable that all of the spirits were pretty horrible. The writers really love the idea of "murder/pain/blood spirits" in particular, those phrases pop up a lot when spirits are mentioned in nWoD.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

...what leaders?

Oh even better.

"Why hello there mister rat spirit, why sure you can come live inside me." :unsmigghh:

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Kellsterik posted:

Well, there's that. I remember reading Book of Spirits to try to get a better handle on how exactly the Shadow and everything actually worked, and it was really noticeable that all of the spirits were pretty horrible. The writers really love the idea of "murder/pain/blood spirits" in particular, those phrases pop up a lot when spirits are mentioned in nWoD.

So like every Hunter group, how stupid/malicious/ignorant/effective Les Mysteres is depends on the DM and the needs of the campaign's story.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



An Echo Resounding

Demons, cultists, cyberdungeons!


dem anime eyes tho

The book ends with a chapter on the Westmark. You know what this is from the Red Tide writeup, but AER does include a small outline of the setting if for some reason you purchased it without having read Red Tide first. Crawford writes that the Westmark's level of detail is overkill for a starting campaign - as he puts it, if a sandbox game needed forty-odd pages of preparatory material, precious few campaigns would get started. But hey, you paid for the book so you can have some of the work done for you. There's a map, in all its OSR hexagonal glory, and a list of locations for PCs to visit and adventure in, along with their stats and values. At least in my copy, however, some values don't quite add up, so you might want to check them manually before plopping them in a game. No Domains are established beforehand, however ; while some settlements are obvious starting points, the game might need a session or two before the GM can determine what powers the PCs have a greater interest in. Any Domains not chosen remain static until they come under their attention. By default, no Domain starts a game owning any part of the Westmark, but there's the expectation that they'll start annexing territory as the campaign goes on. There's an adventurer's guide to the location in the back, which is great because you can just hand these to players and they'll have a good grounding in the Westmark even if they've never heard of Red Tide before.

The Westmark is the harsh frontier territory that was once part of the Mandarinate of Xian, torn apart by the Ravaging of the Witch Queen Agrathi a hundred and twenty years ago. Recovery was slow and painful in the wake of the Shou horde, but men and women are returning to the Westmark: bandits, malcontents and outlaws, yes, but now also colonists and pioneers sent from the greater powers of the Isles. The place is choked by ruins to explore, treasure to plunder, valuable land to conquer, but the great powers are far away and their word is not law in the frontier. The locals are rough and hardy, not the kind you can push around with just a blade. It is a place of adventure!

There are only two true cities in the Westmark. One is Lintao to the north, rich and peaceful, but little loved by their neighbors. They drove away refugees in the days of the Ravaging and shut themselves in to survive, and it has a reputation for close-fistedness, particularly from descendants from the former province capital of Jinan, now a ruin dominated by a Shou chieftain that has made a terrible pact with the Hell Kings. These Jinanese riot in the streets and clash with the "native" populace (even though both sides have been born and raised in Lintao for decades), and the mandarin sent from Xian is way over her head and the locals accept her solely because she can be safely ignored. The other great city in the zone is Taian to the South, of a much worse repute than Lintao. It is an outpost of Tien Lung, formerly a place to exile losers in the arcane struggles of the magocracy, but the current ruler Lady Halah rebuilt the city and turned it into a powerhouse that dominates its surroundings. Chattel slavery is a matter of course, and the Lady Halah has ill designs for most settlements in the area, always looking to increase her power and cut off any would-be rivals either from the other powers or from her native Tien Lung. She's in cahoots with the Red House of the Maker, a heretical Makerite offshoot blessed by infernal powers, and the Screaming Stones, a reduct of Repenter dwarves that blackmails the High Priest Yevgeny of the Hammersong delve with the captured ghost of his late wife. Kur Darisum to the West is home to the Kuan Amelatu creed, elves that worship death - but they're far from evil, and in fact are the best exorcists and necromancer slayers around. Opposite to them are the Ghost Cloaks of Devout Hate, elves that follow the Wearers of the Mantle path and capture humans to use their souls as magic fuel. Machida to the east is many adventurer's first look of the Westmark, a town of cynical Kueh exiles that do a brisk trade in supplies for expeditions into the frontier and couldn't care less about anything else other than lining up their pockets and preserving their culture. Hamtun is Hohnberg's claim to the Westmark, but it was built as a military outpost first and as a livable place second - its residents are always on the brink of famine due to the poor but easily defensible lands around it. Tianfeng is a haven for runaway slaves, fully determined to never again be in thrall to Tien Lung or anyone else, but its leader is suffering for major PTSD and severely overestimates her chances against Taian. Tongren is where the refugees refused by Lintao went, and they harbor deep hatred for that city, also a Tide Cult unknown to them. Sallachy to the west is a Gadaal village blessed by incredible luck, with incredible jewelry work that not even dwarfmothers could hope to emulate, and cursed by wandering monsters. And so on!

And of course, there's enough trouble and places to explore to keep PCs busy. Leavetaking Hill, formerly a Tien Lungan slave plantation, and the Pagoda of Crimson Dreams, once a monastery, are now given to the cult of the Tide, eager to spread and infest. The Monastery of the Glass Viper is home to a malevolent Vowed order that teaches that kung fu is the path to ubermenschenhood and therefore they're justified in oppressing and enslaving all that aren't of the order. The Grass General's Fortress belongs to a mad sorcerer that now creates hideous half-humanoid, half-plant beings, while the Nest of the Six-Legged Army is crawling with things that resemble ants and men. One of my favorites is Vanguard Keep, the ruins of the first fortress to fall in the Ravaging. The huge number of deaths and spells cast in such a short time caused a geomantic effect that forces all the dead of the place to raise and refight that same battle every single night. Taking the Keep for a Domain's use requires getting rid of the curse, and that means protecting the undead castellan that commands the Keep's garrison, which is hard since he's one of the first casualties every time the battle is fought. It will take frenzied work to repair the Keep and break the old patterns of the battle (hopefully the undead won't break the half-complete repairs during the night!), or bringing in heroes able to literally slay hundreds of the dead on their own, to clear the curse. The other one I love is Yellow Teeth, a place of ill repute among the local Shou. Home to mutant, savage examples of their races, it is actually one of the original breeding centers from the Shou's own plane, malfunctioning after the shock of planar travel and centuries of abandonment. PCs have to deal with local security systems, great steel beasts, an invisible malaise that will kill anyone that steps inside certain chambers (radiation!), and degenerated Shou still pumped out from the functioning spawning vats that, without guidance or leaders, are now organized in a society where cannibalism is the only way to survive. And some of them are armed with rayguns! I'm a sucker for oldschool sci-fi stuff in fantasy games, seriously.

And that's it for An Echo Resounding, thanks for reading!

Traveller fucked around with this message at 05:51 on Jun 10, 2015

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005
The Biden administration is actively fighting to withhold COVID vaccinations from our child concentration camps and pointing out that somebody used the word "democrat" as an adjective will not make that fact go away

theironjef posted:



Noumenon is far and away the best game we've ever read that has the premise of soul-infused insect men aimlessly wandering the metaphysical hallways of an extradimensional mansion with a goofy name.
Every time you guys mentioned The Nine Enigmas, all I could think of was replacing it with the Seven Mysteries*. Just a bunch of bug-men exploring a high school, counting the number of steps between floors and meeting toilet ghosts, and just not even giving the slightest of fucks because they're bug-men and this stuff isn't even scary to teenagers.

*sorry for the TV Tropes, but it's a Japanese thing so of course that's what Google brings up

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


Kellsterik posted:

Why doesn't anyone like Les Mysteres :smith:

I have a soft spot for both getting powers from spirit possession in general (and their Endowments are pretty solid iirc) and the idea of turning Forsaken on its head and working with rogue spirits and the Pure because you want the same things. "Sure, the Uratha want to keep spirit and flesh separate, but why should I? Spirits are great!"

I'm with you on that.

Yeah, Les Mysteres is misinformed, but they're also one of the nicest Conspiracies there is. And really, people who think the Mysteries are going to all be Claimed is seriously underestimating the average sapient spirit: Why piss off the Uratha to cultivate Essence and risk them tracking you down after they kill your meat, when you can get Essence while cultivating it in a much less intrusive (and infinitely more subtle) manner with the help of this friendly shaman?

That, and I don't think Mysteres are dumb, either; they know there are evil spirits, and a psychotic rat that eats people's hearts so it can summon disease spirits? Time to start flattering some felines.

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.


Kurieg posted:

How are these idiots not all claimed yet?

For someone who doesn't know anything about WoD what is going on?

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


pkfan2004 posted:

To reiterate, I love how the groups in Spirit Slayers don't really know poo poo about werewolves.

Bear Lodge: hunt, track, kill. Spirit world? What's that?

Illuminated Brotherhood: Let's drop acid and talk to ghosts! Wait, werewolves are real!?

Talbot Group: Exorcisms and therapy can help these wolf men not be wolf men anymore, even if they were born that way.

The next group...oh boy, the next group.

I really like the Illuminated Brotherhood. Are werewolves still Eco-warriors? If so you think that would be a natural point of comparison, since most of the heavy hippies I know are really into the protecting the Earth stuff. I love that in nWoD drugs really CAN make you see the spirit world. It seems nice and fair.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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2014-2018



Not particularly, no, except insofar as it's easier to be a werewolf in the wilderness.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Cthulhu Dreams posted:

For someone who doesn't know anything about WoD what is going on?

In the World of Darkness, spirits are generated in their own world by human action and thought- Hospitals would create spirits of grief, hope, healing, even machinery and bureaucracy. Each of those spirits needs essence generated by actions related to their emotion or concept or whatever. Sometimes they try to "ride" and influence specific humans to make themselves grow stronger, or outright merge and "claim" them. Werewolves are supposed to stop that.


Count Chocula posted:

I really like the Illuminated Brotherhood. Are werewolves still Eco-warriors? If so you think that would be a natural point of comparison, since most of the heavy hippies I know are really into the protecting the Earth stuff. I love that in nWoD drugs really CAN make you see the spirit world. It seems nice and fair.

Nah, Werewolves are saner in NWoD- they might be eco-warriors if they've got rural territory that needs protecting. Their main thing is balance- humans shouldn't gently caress up the spirit world, and spirits shouldn't gently caress up the human world.

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


Cythereal posted:

It does depend on how you play them and the Mage cosmology in your game, though. It's entirely valid to say that the Knights are absolutely correct and they're basically good guys protecting the world from an evil far greater than that which they serve. The Cainite Heresy are also defensible, though being a genuine cult puts them in very uncomfortable waters for many players.

Les Mysteres are just howling idiots, though.

The thing is that as somebody who doesn't know Werewolf cosmology, their beliefs make sense to me in terms of normal mythical and religious lore - spiritual possession and 'riding' is a real practice with a long history. So it makes sense that people would believe that. If the World of Darkness makes that a horrible idea, then that's where the horror comes in.

The Onion shows us the true terror of Cliomancy.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 04:34 on Jun 10, 2015

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



AmiYumi posted:

Every time you guys mentioned The Nine Enigmas, all I could think of was replacing it with the Seven Mysteries*. Just a bunch of bug-men exploring a high school, counting the number of steps between floors and meeting toilet ghosts, and just not even giving the slightest of fucks because they're bug-men and this stuff isn't even scary to teenagers.

*sorry for the TV Tropes, but it's a Japanese thing so of course that's what Google brings up

I never get references to Japanese anything. Remember, we were unable between three people to name Tenchi Muyo. To me it sounds like you're suggesting that you could use these rules to run The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo which yes, you absolutely could and that would be awesome.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



theironjef posted:

I never get references to Japanese anything. Remember, we were unable between three people to name Tenchi Muyo. To me it sounds like you're suggesting that you could use these rules to run The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo which yes, you absolutely could and that would be awesome.
Just as long as we can remove Flim-Flam from the group and give a more active role to Vincent van Ghoul.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



oriongates posted:

This is a classic example of selling your car to buy a new tire. Keep in mind epideromancer transformations like this are permanent (unless you sacrifice another hand or major body part to change back) By turning yourself into a raging tentacled hate-beast that hand is the least of what you've lost. Sneaking around the loss of your hand by transforming yourself into a monster (more monstrous than even someone like the Freak) doesn't mean you've managed to cheat magick...you've cheated yourself out of your humanity.

If they had the courage to take control of their own bodies they'd be hideous tentacle-beasts too. Don't blame me for others being weak.

echopapa
Jun 2, 2005

El Presidente smiles upon this thread.

Do you think the Yakuza started cutting off fingers in imitation of a boss who was an Epideromancer?

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


echopapa posted:

Do you think the Yakuza started cutting off fingers in imitation of a boss who was an Epideromancer?

Nope. The magic schools in UA (with one or two exceptions) are all modern. That Yakuza stuff is a tradition that would predate post-modern magick. Help a few of the schools in the core, like Videomancy, would be gone or almost gone if you were running a new game today.
Though an Epidero who keeps cutting off fingers at imagined slights would be funny. That might explain that insane Takashi Miike movie with the sex changing and unbirthing and other yakuza insanity.

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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Unknown Armies, part 9: Adepts, pt 3



quote:

Those games kids play—“step on a crack” and all that—are actually rituals that do stuff, but you’ve really got to believe in them. Kids believe in them, but don’t know what the rituals really do. That’s why kids can survive all kinds of troubles that would rack up an adult.

The Mechanomancer



These guys are definitely one of the weirdest adept schools...in fact in many ways they're barely adepts at all. Although Cliomancy claims to be the oldest adept school (supposedly having roots in atlantis) the true honor goes to Mechanomancy (or at least they're the oldest one that's still around). Back in the day they were the bleeding edge of magick: creating life from metal and oil, steam and springs. They were the futurists of their time, rejecting old forms of spirituality in exchange for a materialist philosophy. Then magick started fading. For a long time mechanomancy barely clung to power, a remnant of a bygone era much like Authentic Thaumaturges. They were distinct enough (and resonated strongly enough with the advance of industrialism and mechanization) to retain enough mojo to still count as "adepts" but they were fading fast.

Then things went postmodern, and old stuff became cool again. The new generation of mechanomancers were no longer old men practicing an futurist art that the future has left behind, they were youngsters who embrace it for the sake of anachronism itself. This slight twist on the concept was enough to produce a workable adept paradox which has kept mechanomancy alive into the new millenium. It's still shaky though and this could just be a last spurt of energy before it finally breaks down.

The paradox of mechanomancy is that it is the future of the past. Like old-timey "world of tomorrow" shows from the fifties it imagined a future that was simultaneously advanced and hopelessly anachronistic by today's standards. That anachronism is what gives it postmodern appeal and enough metaphysical gas to keep chugging along for now.

Mechanomancy Constructs

Here's where mechanomancers diverge from other Adepts. They don't have spells, at least not by the standards of any normal adept. There's no random magick and they don't have formula spells or blasts. They just make things. The constructs a mechanomancer can produce are definitely magickal (although rarely provoke an Unnatural check unless examined by someone with the mechanical chops to see that they can't possibly function) but they're still physical creations of metal, wood and plastic.

Mechanomantic creations have several built in limits that they all share: first and foremost they cannot include any functioning devices or parts built after the late 1800's. You could build a device with a clockwork hand capable of pulling a trigger, give it a gun and order it to shoot someone...but you can't build a functioning gun into the device (well, a flintlock would be okay, but why bother?). The same goes for electronics, combustion engines, magnetic storage, radios, etc. Modern materials are totally fine, so your construct can be made with plastics, kevlar, stainless steel, etc. You can also include modern devices and electronics so long as they don't actually function. So you could make this guy:



but not this guy:



However, due to their mystical nature they are capable of being built to perform "animal" functions (meaning anything a living creature can do: sensing, thinking, learning) and any mechanical functions a 20th century machine can. So a clockwork could be built to fly (even travel into space), launch projectiles or keep precision time like a modern watch (which are all mechanical functions). But you could also build them to see and hear (despite lacking cameras or microphones), remember, learn and even think and create (which are "animal" functions). Now, sometimes the distinction gets hazy...for instance you could easily build a clockwork capable of launching metal projectiles at lethal speeds...it just couldn't fire *bullets* (think something like the mythbuster's confederate steam machine gun). Likewise you could build a "security camera" clockwork that is capable of sight and sounding an alarm...but it couldn't record what it sees to a hard drive (although a complex enough clockwork could write or draw something it saw).

One area where things are a little vague are power sources. There's no explicit requirement that a machine be powered...but every example mechanomancy device has some kind of power source or limited lifespan. There are no guidelines provided on whether or not a device must or should have a power source and what the limits are on it. There are also very limited rules on building devices capable of performing tasks outside of the normal "stat/skill" system. For instance building a clockwork ornothoper that flies with the speed and precision of a Huey should be possible...but there are no real rules provided other than saying its possible. It's an annoying omission.

Clockworks are also usually unable to perform any strictly metaphysical functions and thus cannot possess supernatural abilities (although Major constructs bend this rule).

Making constructs

Like normal adept abilities Mechanomancy creations are divided up into Minor, Significant and Major.

Minor Constructs
These are obviously the most limited. Mechanomancers don't "build up" charges like other adepts, instead each day spent working on a minor construct counts as one charge. The rules for minor constructs are as follows:
*They are small, at most 10 pounds and roughly the size of your arm.

*They can obey one simple command of X words. X is the total of the dice you rolled when building the construct (rolling a 25 means the command can be up to 7 words long). This is the only function the device is capable of.

*Minor constructs can only have very basic skills, even within the limits of the previous rule. So for instance, a "10 word" construct could not be commanded to "send me an email describing anyone who enters this room", even if provided with a functioning external computer for that purpose...it just lacks the intellect. It could simply be programmed to hit a button that triggers an alarm, sends a pre-programmed email or text, or riggers a camera. You could build a clockwork capable of shooting something...but it wouldn't be able to reload or pick up or put down a gun on its own. You can have multiple clockwork functioning in tandem to perform separate functions though.

*They have 60 points to be split between Body, Speed and a single skill. Each additional day of work can add 3 pounds to the weight and about 30% to the volume but gives +20 points to divide between those three stats. Skill cannot exceed 50%, Speed can't be higher than 100 and Body cannot be higher than 80.

*Minor constructs can't have skills that you don't. This is handled somewhat inconsistently but it seems safe to assume that it isn't meant to be taken too literally. For instance, devices can have skills that aren't on your sheet but are so basic that anyone can do them (domestic tasks like sharpening pencils or washing plates are examples) or that are "subsets" of existing skills (for instance, devices capable of building copies of themselves which is arguably part of the Mechanomancy skill). But basically you can't put in stuff you don't know how to do, whether its assumed or explicitly a part of your character sheet. However, there's nothing that says the device cannot do it better than you can. You might be an amateur piano player (10%) but can build a device capable of playing professionally (50%).

*Combat constructs are possible but can only inflict damage as normal for unarmed combat unless given weapons.

------------------

Significant devices require more than just time. To invest a device with a significant charge you have to include some sort of non-mechanical object of historical or mystic significance (Aviator goggles belonging to Amelia Earhart, the scepter of King Richard the whateverth). The object incorporated must in some way fit the theme of the creation. Earhart's goggles could be used for a flying machine and the king's scepter might be useful for building a "taskmaster" device meant to herd and control groups of smaller devices.

Alternatively, if you don't have any historic treasures laying around to desecrate you can just give up some of your own memories. Describe the memory you're giving up (it must jive with the intended function) and the GM decides if this impacts your Mind, Soul or Sanity. For Mind or Soul make an appropriate roll and if you fail you lose 2-3 points from the attribute (GM's choice). For sanity you have to make a sanity check on a meter determined by the GM (likely Self or Isolation).

Significant constructs can be much more elaborate and powerful than minor ones: They are about the size of a human being and have 120 points to divide among Body, Speed and skills. By default these devices are not sapient (having no Mind or Soul score) but are capable of limited learning and memory and even some problem solving ability. About the level of a smart dog. This assumes that there's some aesthetics to the device...if you're willing to let it look like nothing but a weird mechanical monster you get +20 points. Otherwise you can create devices that resemble humans or animals.

You can adjust this in several ways by spending additional charges (i.e. giving up additional memories or including extra objects, or a mixture of the two).

*For an additional significant charge you can cut the size to 25%. This can be done up to 10 times. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing the writers may not have done the math on this one. For perspective that means you can potentially create a mechanical device with the strength and durability of an adult human at a weight of .5 decigrams. That's about a chubby housefly. Then again...10 significant charges is a lot and if I want to make a fly-sized killbot maybe that's intended.

*For an extra significant charge you can add 20 pounds to the base weight and increase the points for body/speed/skills by 20 (25 for "obvious" clockworks).

*Finally, another significant charge can be spent to give the device sapience. They aren't bright by any means but they've got a Mind and Soul stat of 10 and those can be improved with extra charges or experience points.

*Your device can have skills you do not, they just have to be appropriate to either a machine or living creature. No mystical skills. They can speak, but only pre-programmed phrases or in ways that fulfill their skills (so a "watchdog" device built to spot and later describe intruders has the vocabulary it needs to provide accurate descriptions).

*If given an attack skill they can inflict damage as though they were using a firearm (total of the roll). If they don't they still get the default Struggle skill at 15%, but don't get bonus damage and have to be given very specific orders to understand how to fight something.

-------------------
Major Constructs require the mechanomancer to incorporate a still-functioning, historically significant piece of machinery (the gun that killed Lincoln, Hemingway's typewriter, etc) that fits the theme of the device. You can also choose to sacrifice large chunks of your memory. For losing Mind or Soul you roll and if you succeed you only lose the sum of the dice...if you fail you flip-flop the result and lose the amount shown. For sanity it inflicts an automatic failed and hardened notch.

Notably, mechanomancers are the only adept who have multiple ways to get a major charge and are the only one who can produce a "renewable" major charge (the sanity sacrifice option, although honestly that one isn't nearly as harsh as the others to begin with so I'd probably disallow it in my games).

Major clockworks are essentially fully sapient living beings...just made from artificial parts. You could create perfect mechanical replicas of a person...or a walking death scorpion. Either way they are built using the rules for character creation except they get 380 points for their stats (yes, that is an average of 95 per stat) and like normal characters they get skill points equal to the number of points in the stat.

It is not clear, but presumably a major clockwork could inflict firearms damage with hand-to-hand attacks. It is also not clear, but presumably their stats can go over 100. Whether or not its possible to get extra stat points by applying additional significant or major charges is also unspecified (but seems to be implied by an example Major clockwork from the GM chapter).

Major clockworks can bend the rules about metaphysical abilities. For instance, they can be used as a vessel for spirits like demons (or a cage). Other options aren't presented but presumably things like Aura Sight might be on the table as well as Adept powers (the example major clockwork is a mechanomancer, but it is also pointed out that she's a "special type" of clockwork described in a different book).

------------------------
There are sample Minor and Significant clockworks which seem like they were made purely to piss off the Sleepers. The first is a small metal box which trundles around and uses metal to build copies of itself which in turn use metal to build copies of themselves. The success rate is only 50% but exponential growth quickly leads to a scenario where there are thousands to millions of them. It probably won some kind of award for how to piss off the most Sleepers with the least amount of charges. The second is much subtler but also oddly pointless...its a mechanical device that lives behind the bumper of Lexus SUVs and when it detects another Lexus SUV nearby it will take control of the host vehicle, crash into the uninfected vehicle and "inject" a copy of itself which in turn takes up residence in that SUV.

So, in the interest of showing off some more practically useful mechanomancy inventions...

Minor: Yappy Dog (1 Minor Charge)

This is a small wheeled metal box with a crudely shaped dog's head and tail. When it moves a device inside creates a mechanical "yipping" noise that bears some resemblance to a small excited dog. A switch on the bottom can lock the wheels to "turn off" the device. When on it will seek out the nearest moving person and get underfoot, usually resulting in them tripping.

Speed: 25, Body 5, Skill: Getting Underfoot 20%

Significant: Killer Bee (10 significant charges)

Expanding on my previously theorized "murder-fly". This is about the size and weight of a large bumblebee (8 significant charges) and basically looks like a tiny mass of cogs and propellers (getting the extra 20 points for that). An extra significant charge was used for an additional 25 points. It's typically stored in a small plastic capsule that resembles the ones you get from 50cent toy machines. It has standing orders when released to kill anyone it sees except its creator and then shut down until retrieved. Typically the capsule is simply thrown to pop it open, but can also be launched from a slingshot or even a nerf-ball gun.

Body-45, Speed-45. Skills: Kill Everything But My Creator 45%, Dodge 30%

Since its a significant creation it inflicts damage equal to its roll result (as a firearm) and its extremely small size means its quite difficult to spot, especially in the dark.

quote:

The best seer in America is a woman who lives in the redwoods in California. She’s called “the owlwoman” and she can tell what’s going to happen to you if you bring her three live mice.

The Narco-Alchemist



The Narco-Alchemist, the only adept without the -mancer suffix, is an adept whose magic is based both on the self-transmutation philosophy of ancient alchemy and the mind-expanding properties of recreational drugs. Their philosophy obviously bears some resemblance to dipsomancy but is more complex (as befits their wider variety of mind-altering substances): the intoxicants and drugs are merely a path on the road to self-perfection...a means to an end rather than the end itself. Each drug is a key to one of the doors that stands between the narco-alchemist and the ultimate goal of transcendence.

The central paradox of narco-alchemy is that by improving themselves spiritually they're wrecking themselves as human beings. Obviously this bears a strong resemblence to the paradox of many other adepts...UA gets a lot of milage out of the ol' "power via self-destruction" paradox. It works well thematically and most of the adept schools that use it are quite neat...but it is kind of a large chunk of the schools.

Charging Rituals

Minor charges are gained much like dipsomancers (and are referred to as "lesser transformations" by narco-alchemists). You take a hit of something psycho-active and you get a minor charge...in fact all Narco-alchemical effects cost only a single minor charge.

Significant charges work in a completely different way and more closely resemble a mixture of Epideromancy (long term modifications to the caster) and Mechanomancy (in that you are creating something rather than casting a spell). All Significant spells (called "greater transformations") take the form of specially mixed narcotics that must be created by the Narco-alchemist (yes, that means that you have to run a drug lab if you want to do powerful Narco-Alchemy) over the course of one or more days. At the end of the time you've got a drug, but you don't actually roll your skill until you take it...which means you can spend days mixing up the drug and then take it when you need it and get nothing but high (although in that case you still get a minor charge). Most significant narco effects include some kind of permanent benefit and can be carried around or stored indefinitely.

There are no Major narco-alchemy effects...this is the stuff every alchemist is trying to make, but none have succeeded yet. Basically they're trying to get Philosopher Stoned (buh-bum-bum-tssh!)

Taboo

Minor effects all wear off once the drugs in your system wear off and you can't keep charges when sober, much like the dipsomancer. Some effects wear off sooner.

Significant effects have a stronger taboo. Like I mentioned most significant Narco creations have a permanent effect...well that effect is lost if you ever take drugs that weren't mixed by a narco-alchemist. This can be tough considering that by the time they've developed a full repertoire of significant effects they're probably hooked on half-a-dozen different drugs. This means that most narcos eventually spend a large chunk of time in their labs: mixing up drugs both for significant effects but just to have stashes available to keep feeding their monkey.

Narco-Alchemy Spells
Narco-Alchemy is good for changing perception and altering innate abilities. It can't affect "learned" skills (basically those that would be developed mainly by training, memorization or procedure) but can affect "inherent" traits such as stats, beauty, charisma, health, etc.

*Smoke and Fire (minor)
By immediately toking or snorting something you can ignore the effect of a Stress check (this can negate both Failed and Hardened notches). This can be used to protect against a check you just messed up or on the next one you make (so long as you're still high).

*Serpent on the Pole (minor)
You can fix a person on the spot. They can still fight, dodge, jump...they just can't move more than a foot from their current position. This lasts a number of rounds equal to the tens place on the die roll.

*Aqua Vitae (minor)
You can erase 20 points of damage...but it comes back once you sober up.

*Athanor (minor)
You achieve balance of all the chemicals in your system, ignoring any penalties for intoxication for 3 rounds.

*Saturn's Horse (Significant)
This dose of heroin hits the "repair installation" button on the taker's mystic operating system. All lingering maickal effects (including the positive benefits of narco-alchemy) are erased...although damage from things like being Blasted remains (same with body modifications from an epideromancer). The ride is rough...you have to make a Body roll and failure leads to losing 1-5 points from your Body score and a coma...a matched failure kills you.

*Jupiter X (Significant)
You get +30% to your charm skill as you're filled with confidence and a sense of connectedness with everyone. While under the influence attacking anyone requires a Rank 10 Self check...but the same goes for anyone attacking you. This lasts for minutes equal to the creator's skill.

*Mars Dust (Significant)
A mixture of PCP and iron extracted from human blood boosts the taker's Body to 99 (same with Wound Points) until it wears off. Your Struggle goes up by 30% and damage from hand-to-hand attacks are boosted by 3 and you've got the skill "Snap Handcuffs and Kick Out Police Car Windows" at 70%. You also can ignore all Violence checks as though you had 10 hardened notches...but if something ticks you off even a little you've got to make a Rank 8 self check not to go to town on it. The effect lasts approximately 15 minutes and when its over your Body is cut in half for about 8 hours and any damage you took while under the influence still affects you (quite possibly killing you).

*Venus' Roofie (Significant)
This is a dose of rohypnol which, in addition to the normal effects, produces a "love potion" effect towards the next person the taker sees. The ingester also becomes more attractive, boosting any "good looks" skill by 5%, which is permanent. The love potion effect lasts until you next sleep.

*Universal Perception Solvent (Significant)
A mixture of LSD with a bit of mercury. While tripping on UPS (lasts about 30-90 minutes) you can see auras, feel when magick is used, identify avatars on sight (and the archetype they emulate) and see astral beings. You also get a permanent +1% to your notice score every time you take it.

*The White Goddess (Significant)
Cocaine which gives you incredible focus and effectiveness...all the things people on normal coke just think they have. While it lasts you get +20% to Speed and Mind and +10 % to all skills linked to them. Stress checks are all treated one level lower. It also grants a permanent +1% bonus to Speed and you can remove one Failed notch to any meter or add one hardened notch to any meter (this returns to normal if you lose the benefits of the drug however).

*Solar Gold
The most powerful known transformation: a mixture of THC oil and flakes of actual gold. This is the only Narco-Alchemist significant effect which only affects a Narco-Alchemist. To everyone else it's just incredibly potent THC. A Narco who takes it gets a permanent +1-5% boost to Soul and a permanent 1-5% boost to his Chemistry skill. You may also ask the GM a single question and get a meaningful answer. The GM doesn't have to be specific or detailed...it just has to be useful.

quote:

There is a cabal operating in fast food restaurants who want to take over the world by drugging the most popular fast food with powerful magical drugs.

Next time: Personamancers and Plutomancers (maybe even Pornomancers, won't that be fun?)

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