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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I don't know if it's just me, but the restrictions on Plutomancers seem... really easy to uphold even as a normal, functioning Joe, if you don't mind only getting a few charges a week. Even a minimum wage job should get you steady minor charges, or a monthly significant charge plus a little extra. Set up some kind of escrow scheme where you get regular payouts of $100 instead of weekly or monthly paychecks, even. Get a friend to help you out and funnel your money to you slowly. Keeping to taboo seems really simple; how often do you spend more than $1000 at once, anyhow? Not even rent is that high so long as you don't live in a major urban metropolis.

Theoretically true...but that's where the law of Obedience (and just roleplaying) comes in and it's one of the things you've really got to keep in mind with adepts. Being an adept is not a skill or a power...it's a way of life. Money is literally more important to a Plutomancer than almost anything else. They might give up their money to save their life (or they might not, some are that dedicated) but that's just because if they're dead they can't earn more money in the future.

While the rules do potentially allow for a plutomancer to hold down a normal job and simply earn their charges slow and steady it's going to be incredibly hard for them not to try and get more money sooner...which leads to trouble...which makes it hard to hold down a job. Plutomancers who charge paycheck-to-paycheck are going to be constantly tempted to steal from their work (in the form of money or goods to sell), try get-rich-quick schemes, or gambling (gambling especially is both tempting and very dangerous since it can leave plutomancers owing more than 1000$k). Not to mention just plain needing charges to deal with problems that come up from being adept like rivals in the occult underground.

Not to mention what's involved in becoming a Plutomancer in the first place. Like all Adepts they have to have gone completely insane: racking up 5 Failed Self rolls. Making a Self check represents violating deeply held morals and personal ideals...it's the equivalent of putting a torch to your life. An adept who is already Self hardened (or who gets too many Hardened notches while racking up failed Notches) is going to have to engage is some extremely self-destructive (no pun intended) behavior, including betraying friends and loved ones and similar bridge-burning behavior. Then once you are permanently insane you've got to spend XP to gradually pick up the pieces. Someone who is at five failed notches can't really hide their trauma from others and the sort of behavior this involves will not look very good on a resume.

And of course, as far as PCs are concerned there's a lot of crap that can come up to complicate things: paychecks may be reliable ways to earn a minor or a significant charge every couple of weeks but what happens when you and your allies have to throw down with a rival cabal? Slow and steady may not cut it. And while "normal life" doesn't have a lot of things that involve spending large chunks of cash the life of an underground Adept usually does. Heck, get injured badly enough and you're definitely looking at a taboo-busting bill from the hospital...or spend weeks convalescing and get fired from work.

As far as strategies like the escrow account, most of those don't work. The Laws of Transaction and Obedience are there to help the GM enforce what are often very vague rules in UA. For instance, if your paycheck is deposited into an escrow account...you've just been paid. The fact that you've decided to put it in an account that you can only access in a limited manner doesn't change the fact that you received payment.

By a strict reading of the rules you could give a friend 100$, have them give it back to you (earning you a minor charge), then give it back to them and wait a day, then he gives you the hundred (earning a charge), ad infinitum...

so it's the GM's job to point out that this devalues the adept's school (law of Obedience) and runs counter to his Obsession. The idea of having someone else keep his money, even temporarily and for the purpose of charging, should be incredibly unpleasant and uncomfortable to the adept. Not to mention that at this point ownership isn't really changing hands: all that's happening is one person is holding another person's money temporarily.

So basically, it's important when thinking of adepts to remember that they are completely dedicated to the worldview implied by their school. They aren't like avatars who can fake it until they make it, adepts have to believe so hard in their insanity that it changes reality...no one like that can truly fit in with the "real" world.

quote:

I haven't read UA so this is just from the thread, but what's been driving me nuts is that there seem to be a lot of different levels of crazy and mundane and real-world analogous. Like the reckless wizards, that makes sense. Self-harm for the sake of the rush is a real thing that people do. The history wizards though just seem less like basically crazy people and more like history trivia nerds.

The worst to me though is the Dipsomancer, because while I get the whole alcoholism into magic thing, it seems like they lost their way in trying to find heavier power levels than just being drunk. Seriously what drunk gives a poo poo if he's drinking out of Churchill's old cup? Shouldn't that have been rare alcohols and not rare vessels? Or did I miss something and it's both? Do Dipsomancers get a charge out of drinking Chateau D'Yquem 1787?

It's definitely a little shaky. Part of the dipsomancer's charging philosophy is "easy come, easy go". It's (relatively) easy to rack up large quantities of charges at once...but you're going to lose them when you pass out, sleep it off or just stop drinking long enough to sober up. I think that's why they went with the vessel as a source of power: it allows the dipsomancer to charge in great quantities like they should...but involves inherent risk because any given vessel is practically priceless to the dipsomancer. It's a great source of plot hooks and player paranoia.

Now, Dipsomancers can earn major charges from rare vintages...but context is just as important. Drinking the dregs of elvis' last beer is just as potent as the last remaining bottle of a 300 year old wine.

I would guess that part of the reason is because, as one of the most disfunctional adept schools, dipsomancers are probably unlikely to have access to the sort of resources they would need to charge up by buying expensive wines or rare liquors. It also goes against their "magic street bum" cred...a powerful dipsomancer is the kind of guy who drinks Thunderbird from a thermos, not the kind of guy who keeps a wine cellar full of expensive drinks. There aren't "classy" dipsomancers.

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Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


quote:

gambling (gambling especially is both tempting and very dangerous since it can leave plutomancers owing more than 1000$k)

And then they run into an Avatar of The Gambler....

And I disagree you can't have a classy Dipsomancer. 'Magic hobo' is fun, but so is the original Alfie, Ted Kennedy, Tony Stark, Richard Burton, Mallory Archer, former Australian Prime Minister and world-record holding boozehound Bob Hawke... anyone who has money but no power because they crawled into a bottle.

gently caress, both Lord Byron and the Skull & Bones Society both allegedly drank wine out of human skulls.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




In general the "quality" of Adept schools varies pretty wildly...

For example the Cliomancer has awesome spells. The things they can do are evocative, interesting and full of subtle power. A single casting of Urban Legend could provide fodder for an entire campaign. They make great PCs and NPCs and their abilities fit very well into the mystery/occult/conspiracy/horror themes of UA...

...but their paradox and charging themes suck. With practically every other adept it's possible to see how their obsession has become the lens through which they see the world and (to some degree or other) their charging and taboo reflects that outlook. This is not the case with Cliomancers. Their obsession should be history...but they don't need to actually know anything about history charge up and their Taboo is by far the lamest (they simply lose any single charge a month after its gained). There's nothing particularly self-destructive or self-sacrificing about their magic...almost all the tension comes from conflict with other cliomancers which is played up to the extreme to try and make up for the lack of an interesting charging/taboo structure. A better way to represent a "history obsessed" adept would be an antiquarian model similar to a bibliomancer: collecting (and keeping) old things...any old things. Basically a cross between a hoarder and a museum curator. The paradox could involve the fact that age is more important than quality and that they're compelled to hide historical artifacts away when they only gain power from the shared knowledge. Alternatively you could use the same Formula spells for an interesting adept school based on secrets or lies (perhaps an adept who has to learn, but cannot reveal secrets).


Personally I think the Entropomancer is the adept school that really hits the nail on the head, because they require the player to "buy in" in the same way the character does and the natural human urge to give in to gambling or to keep going with a "hot streak" can be hard to resist. There's always the temptation to take one more risk for an extra charge...significant charges in particular.

Dipsomancers are also very strong because their charging structure really encourages reckless, self-destructive behavior because you can't "hang on" to charges...you've got to keep drinking.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




An Arthur style Dipsomancer would be pretty great, I think.

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


Did I get Arthur and Alfie confused? Sorry, I meant Arthur. Alfie is a PUA-mancer, and those are banned.

Though PUAs do have a good central paradox, a well-defined and mechanically worked out charging structure, an underground social group complete with stupidly-named Dukes, and an easy hook...

Our party's Dipsomancer was played by a rich kid who brought expensive vodka for everyone to drink, so that was nice.

And every adept school makes the most sense if it's your thing. I'm a champion of Urbanomancers since I spent a semester doing a course on the city and all that Walter Benjamin flaneur stuff.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 07:12 on Jun 13, 2015

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


theironjef posted:

The worst to me though is the Dipsomancer, because while I get the whole alcoholism into magic thing, it seems like they lost their way in trying to find heavier power levels than just being drunk. Seriously what drunk gives a poo poo if he's drinking out of Churchill's old cup? Shouldn't that have been rare alcohols and not rare vessels? Or did I miss something and it's both? Do Dipsomancers get a charge out of drinking Chateau D'Yquem 1787?

Right. They should drink out of the barrel Churchill's corpse is being stored.

Count Chocula posted:

But I thought Sig charges needed to be hard to get. "I need to go on eBay" or "the party is forced to use a fancy whisky bar as its base of operations" don't strike me as very arduous.
And there's no way a Bud Light is even a minor charge, since the rules say it has to actually be booze.

I think Dipsos rock in Germany. Our proper booze is so cheap it's not even funny. You can potentially drink yourself to death with a kid's pocket money.

The Vosgian Beast posted:

A little late, but I'm kind of disappointed in the Cosmo Knights, after the internet built them up as being insanely broken and overpowered.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Their big things are just being able to fly anywhere crazy fast and being nigh-invulnerable to energy attacks, but yeah, they're overblown. Out of the books we've reviewed, I'd say the most broken classes we've seen are - all R.C.C.s, mind- norse giants, dysasha, demigods, the hundred-handed, and the phoenixi.

That's weird. I seem to recall them being treated like they make Glitterboys look like toddlers or something. How could the internet lie to me?!

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


Mors Rattus posted:

The Beauty Jar (5 dots) contains the severed head of buxom 50s starlet Jayne Mansfield. She died in a car crash, age 34, when a truck swerved to avoid another truck. Her decapitation is said to be a myth, but that is itself a myth to cover up that her head was stolen by a mad doctor hoping to reanimate an undead bride.
Geniuses! :argh:

I haven't been paying close attention to UA but I did read the writeup on Dipsomancy and my immediate thought was a washed-up hack of a writer crawling into booze magic and using the 'God looks after drunks' power to start crapping out bestsellers after his fourth glass of scotch. Write drunk, edit sober...

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




How does charge collection work for a Cafemancer? Do I have to maintain a caffeine rush for a whole day? Drink coffee shat out by civets? Can you develop a similar school with energy drinks and Mountain Dew? Is a sick nasty 360 no-scope headshot tac-nuke killstreak worth a minor charge after its recorded and run through a rainbow filter, Snoop gifs, airhorn and Wombo Combo sound effects and posted on a Youtube account designed so that you can't tell which level of irony its operating at?

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


Crasical posted:

Geniuses! :argh:

I haven't been paying close attention to UA but I did read the writeup on Dipsomancy and my immediate thought was a washed-up hack of a writer crawling into booze magic and using the 'God looks after drunks' power to start crapping out bestsellers after his fourth glass of scotch. Write drunk, edit sober...

This happened to Stephen King once in life - when he was so drugged up that he can't remember writing Cujo - and twice to his fictional alter-egos in The Shining and Tommyknockers.

Kavak posted:

How does charge collection work for a Cafemancer? Do I have to maintain a caffeine rush for a whole day? Drink coffee shat out by civets? Can you develop a similar school with energy drinks and Mountain Dew? Is a sick nasty 360 no-scope headshot tac-nuke killstreak worth a minor charge after its recorded and run through a rainbow filter, Snoop gifs, airhorn and Wombo Combo sound effects and posted on a Youtube account designed so that you can't tell which level of irony its operating at?

"Ever wonder why there's no Starbucks in Australia? And why you can walk into a McDonalds and get better coffee than any fancy cafe in New York? You might have seen all those fancy descriptions on the chalk boards, about single origin double roasted hand-ground beans.

Yeah, that was us. There was a group of Urbanomancers in Sydney, real wankers, who met in cafes. Nothing odd about that; most people did. Community hubs, the 3rd place, all that poo poo. But they started ONLY going to cafes. Giving up all other drinks but coffee. You ever seen a sober Australian? It ain't pretty, but it did the job. Around the time Starbucks packed up, thanks to an odd dip in profits and an inability to rent any good locations, no matter how much they offered, Coffeemancy became it's own thing. The cabal used whatever charge they got from kicking out the Mermaid and put it back into their own double-roasted, fair-trade, hand crafted brew.

Say, friend, where did you say you were from, anyway? Melbourne, was it? No, that's fine. I've got no problem with you folks.

Enjoy the rest of your flat white."

American Coffemancers or caffeine adepts probably focus more on the energy and the actual drug, since you're uncultured swine who can't appreciate the joy of a perfectly foamed latte. Though we have been sending our baristas out to your major cities to spread the gospel of the flat white and the long black.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 11:25 on Jun 13, 2015

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Kavak posted:

How does charge collection work for a Cafemancer? Do I have to maintain a caffeine rush for a whole day? Drink coffee shat out by civets? Can you develop a similar school with energy drinks and Mountain Dew? Is a sick nasty 360 no-scope headshot tac-nuke killstreak worth a minor charge after its recorded and run through a rainbow filter, Snoop gifs, airhorn and Wombo Combo sound effects and posted on a Youtube account designed so that you can't tell which level of irony its operating at?

An interesting variation on the dipsomancer (and of course ripping off Don't Rest Your Head) you could potentially have an adept who gains power by going without sleep, you get more and more charges the more and more sleep deprived you get until you finally fall unconscious and lose everything.

I...may have just "made up" a school that already exists...I may recall a group of dream-based adepts who powered up by not dreaming. Let me see...

...yep! Oneiromancy. I'm not nearly as creative as I think I am.

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


oriongates posted:

An interesting variation on the dipsomancer (and of course ripping off Don't Rest Your Head) you could potentially have an adept who gains power by going without sleep, you get more and more charges the more and more sleep deprived you get until you finally fall unconscious and lose everything.

I...may have just "made up" a school that already exists...I may recall a group of dream-based adepts who powered up by not dreaming. Let me see...

...yep! Oneiromancy. I'm not nearly as creative as I think I am.

See that's one of the problems with UA - it encourages this semi-LARPing. Like our game room was near a McDonalds, hah hah, Max Attax charge. And the Dipso has to bring the booze. I can totally see the Oneiromancer player coming in after an all-nighter and doing microsleeps.

Man I can FEEL the dirty, hosed up, semi-magic texture of everything when you haven't slept in 24 hours or more.

I bet Oneiromancers and Coffeemancers are natural enemies. For a Coffeemancer, not sleeping is just a side effect, because their brains are so ALIVE and JOLTED by the magic brew. Seeking sleeplessness for it's own sake is just crazy!

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Onieromancers actually can't even use stimulates, it violates their charging structure (like dipsomancers they need the penalties).

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Unknown Armies, part 11: Adepts, finale



quote:

There is a magick word. It powers all magick. Every time it is spoken, magick’s flow gets a tiny push. This word starts with ‘th’ and ends with ‘e’. No word is more common. If you never speak it, magick cannot affect you.

The Pornomancer


Bow-chicka-bow-wow

Now we've come to the Pornomancer. You'd think something like sex-magick would actually be a pretty universal concept but the Pornomancer is by far the most restricted and specific adept school. In fact, they're almost not adepts at all, sharing much in common with Avatars in that their entire philosophy involves following one of the Archetypes: the Naked Goddess. Understanding the Pornomancer requires a little bit of backstory:

The Naked Goddess is one of the most recently "ascended" Archetypes (there'll be more info on what this means in the global section of the book) and is notable in that A) she was not attempting to ascend...she simply suddenly reached a point of maximum "oneness" with a universal concept and bam! and B) it was caught on tape. A porn tape specifically, because the goddess was a relatively unknown porn star. Now, anyone who watches the tape becomes an instant, worshipful convert to the Goddess. Copies of the tape can do it too, but with less and less reliability the more times its been copied. The original tape will turn anyone to the "cause".

In an attempt to mimic the Naked Goddess several of her followers stumbled, more or less by accident, into the adept art of Pornomancy...generating enough obsession (via the tape) and a suitable paradox to create a new school of magick. Because the school is inherently tied to the Cult of the Naked Goddess you have to be a member, a former member or be taught pornomancy by a member. The only self-initiated pornomancers are those who have seen the Tape.

Pornomancers gain power through ritual sex magick, especially through sex acts that have been performed by the Naked Goddess herself in her mortal life. It's worth noting that despite the slavish devotion Pornomancers have to imitating the Naked Goddess none of them are Avatars...not even accidental Avatars. In fact, no one knows what Archetype the Naked Goddess actually embodies because so far no one has found an Avatar of hers...so it's quite possible, even likely, that Pornomancers are completely off-base with their imitation and don't actually understand the true nature of the Goddess.

The pornomancer paradox is that they've taken sex and strip it of emotion and passion. They can't use sex as an expression of love, affection, closeness or even raw physical attraction...everything must be done following strict guidelines that care nothing for pleasure or feeling. Just think of how uncomfortable it must be to reenact scenes from pornos...especially since you can't take any breaks between cuts. Now imagine if that's the only sex you can ever have.

Charging Rituals

Minor charges are relatively easy: perform a consensual naked goddess sex ritual, taking about one hour. The details of the rituals aren't provided but given the context they probably involve a lot of loose reenactments of porn tropes. Biggest concern is pregnancy, STDs and chafing.

Significant charging requires you reenact a scene from one of the Goddess' movies (any movie, it doesn't have to be the Tape). The other participants must look similar (although not identical) to the actors in the scene and you have to have a very similar set. It should be noted that you don't have to reenact the naked goddess' role: men can be pornomancers and build charges by acting in the role of a co-star. You also don't have to yourself resemble the actor in your role: any body type and ethnicity is fine...what's important is that everything around you looks right.

It's notable that a cabal of pornomancers can be extremely powerful...with the right mixture of appearance and sexes (and maybe some paid "co-stars") a team of pornomancers can easily rack up multiple Significant charges per day...and unlike most other adepts who can build charges that fast it's relatively difficult to lose charges. When you consider almost all pornomancers are members of the Cult of the Naked Goddess it's not hard to see why the Cult is gaining power so quickly.

Major charges are, of course, very difficult. To snag a major charge you have to reenact a scene from the goddess' life (whether or not it was from a film or her personal life) that no-one else has ever reenacted. Not only that but it has to be exact: the same people at the same place. It's not 100% clear if the acts must be sexual, but it doesn't seem to be the case. Since the cult is so new there are potentially still quite loads of Major charges out there...but it's also difficult to track down since all information on the Naked Goddess' identity has been completely erased from the world. It's unclear if this is a side effect of her ascension or if someone is working to conceal it. No one remembers her mortal name, all records or tapes that showed it are conveniently lost, destroyed or scrambled. They've rebuilt some parts of her life but there's certainly a lot missing.

Taboo
The taboo of pornomancy is sex for any reason other than communion with the naked goddess. If you ever have sex outside of a ritual context then you lose your charges. Technically you can have ritual sex with someone who you do love or care for...but its unlikely to be very fun for either of you after a while. Although dehumanizing and depressing, the pornomancer taboo is relatively hard to break so Pornomancers often have very large amounts of Minor and Significant charges.

Pornomancy Spells
Pornomancy deals with the concept of Affinity: attraction, guidance, coincidence and persuasion.

*The Armor of Desire (Minor)
A very powerful defense...anyone who wants to attack you has to succeed at a Soul check...if they pass and attack you then they have to make a Rank 4 Violence test, if they fail they must make a Rank-4 Helplessness check. Unfortunately it only works on the next attack against you.

*Smooth Move (Minor)
Flip-Flop any roll you just made. This spell can be cast without spending an action, making it just part of the original action.

*Mind and Mouth Go North and South (minor)
This is a powerful "truth" spell...any subject under the influence of the spell has their Lying skill (or any related skill) reduced to 0%. They have only two options: tell absolute, unvarnished honest truth or stay silent. You can't speak half-truths, lies of omission or true statements intended to be deceptive. This lasts for one conversation.

*Dazzle (minor)
In combat this costs the victim their next action...they just stand around with a dumb look on their face. Cast on someone out of combat and they get completely distracted for about 30 seconds, ignoring any non-threatening stimuli.

*Number Nine (Significant)
A lust spell: the victim immediately and absolutely wants to have sex with you. This doesn't affect emotions...they might still think you're a terrible person and hate your guts but they are still desperate to bone you. Helplessness and Self checks are likely in cases where emotional conflict is extreme (or if the pornomancer does not allow the victim to have sex with them). Obviously this spell could potentially void a Pornomancer's taboo and even if you use it to convince a subject to have ritual sex with you you won't get charges (law of transaction, yo!)

*The Smouldering Glance (Significant)
If you have any Soul-based skill that focuses on sexual attraction you increase it by 5% permanently, or you immediately gain the skill at 5% if you haven't got one. If you're a woman the maximum is 72% (the score the Naked Goddess had in life), if you're a man its 66% (the score of the goddess'' most frequent male co-star). Given how easy it is for Pornomancers to accumulate significant charges over the long term, most of them have maxed out their sex appeal.

*Psychotrauma (Significant)
This is the Pornomancy Blast. They don't have a Minor version because normally their Significant Blast only inflicts minor damage. The damage is all mental: causing extreme pain but no actual wounds. In fact, Pornomancy blasts can only be healed with Magick...no natural healing or medical science can help you. Death looks like unexplained heart failure. If the pornomancer is actually having sex with you then they can make the blast inflict Firearms damage.

*Defeat Yourself (Significant)
This spell can be used on anyone you can currently see and it causes whatever action they're taking to Fail. This doesn't count as an action and can be used outside of your initiative count in combat. The one exception are any magickal spells using Major charges. Those pass or fail on the merits of the caster alone.

*Paralysis (Significant)
The victim is completely paralyzed...unable to move except for involuntary bodily functions. This lasts for two hours or until the target succeeds at a Soul roll at -30% (you can try once per round). Adepts are harder to affect: they can flip-flop their Soul roll or choose to cast spells in place of trying to break free (since magick requires no movements to cast).

Interestingly, the Pornomancer's large supply of charges and their formula spells make them very powerful combatants, probably second only to Epideromancers, despite their lack of a full-powered Blast. They're especially effective against non-adepts. Once again making the Cult of the Naked Goddess an impressive player in the global stage despite it's small size and youth.

*Inner Torment (Significant)
Pick a mental stress gauge and wreck it. The rank of the stress is equal to the ones place on your roll. The one upside is that success does not Harden the subject. Again, this makes the cult very powerful...a pornomancer who wants to mentor someone into adepthood just has to rack up a few Significant charges then just unload on the student. Since they don't get Hardened you don't have to worry about "escalating" the intensity of your actions and you can probably completely break someone in an afternoon.

*Pornomancy Major Effects
Arrange for every adept of a single school of magick to show up at the same place at once "by accident". Make yourself as famous and popular as steven king, regardless of talent. Undo the effects of one spell (including lethal spells).

quote:

If you climb over the old brick wall in Evergreen Street at the right time, you can get into the land of the dead.

Urbanomancy



The urbanomancer is an adept who expresses their obsession with one city (of at least 100,000 people). Unlike Cliomancers they don't express their obsession through cultural touchstones like landmarks or tourist attractions, their experience is more organic. They're fascinated with the city (their city) as a living thing: watching it grow and change is just as important as being familiar with it's stories and secrets. The city and its residents are one: the crowd is just as much a part of the city as the streets and buildings and they are like blood coursing through its veins.

The paradox of urbanomancy is that although all the inhabitants of the city (including the adept) are a part of it, none of them matter in the "big picture". No one person is needed...everyone is ultimately replacable. Urbanomancer's fight their anonymity by forcing change on the city (similar in some ways to what the Epideromancer does to their own bodies) in a desperate bid to impress something that ultimately will not and cannot care about them.

When you pick up this school you have to pick your city and it cannot be changed. Obviously this can be very limiting for PC urbanomancers but they're quite powerful in campaigns that center on a particular location.

Charging Rituals

To get a minor charge you just need to study or observe "the city" for about 4 hours. This could involve simply wandering about, staring out of your window, examining data on the city such as crime report maps or demographics, etc.

Creating a Significant charge requires interfering with the city in some way: cause a big traffic jam, organize a parade, alter the "statistics" behind the city (such as increasing or decreasing police presence in an area). Alternatively leaving your "mark" on the city by having something named after you. Depending on how important the thing is you get anything from a charge a year (say a bench dedicated to you) to a charge a day (a large school, major road, etc). Obviously Urbanomancers can become very powerful if they can manage to hold down any high-level civil service job.

Major charges require massive changes to part of the city...arranging for a major disaster is one way (for instance intentionally misdirecting funds or even sabotaging city safety projects such as dams). Alternatively be personally responsible for a major infrastructure change (at least as impressive as adding a subway to a city that doesn't have one). Finally you can just have the city named after you (being named after the city doesn't count, nor does having a name that the city happens to be renamed to...it has to be renamed in your honor).

Taboo
Leaving the city cuts the urbanomancer off from their magick but they keep their charges. However, the longer they're away the worse the withdrawals get, eventually resulting in stat penalties and probably Isolation and Helplessness checks.

Urbanomancers zero out their charges if they ever touch (skin contact) the dirt the city is built on. Presumably this means fairly fresh earth...a dusty day is not going to cancel your magic but getting a clump of mud thrown on your face will.

Urbanomancy Spells
Urbanomancy spells manipulate the "cogs" of the city. Not on a personal scale: you can't control an individual police officer but you could make it so it just so happens that a large number of cops converge in one area. Gaining information about the city itself is also their domain. In all cases, their powers only work on their chosen city.

*Day Pass (Minor)
You can ride any public transit for free for one journey. You never miss your stops and everything goes smoothly. no one notices you don't pay and things like turnstiles let you through. A variant of this allows you to slip through traffic without impediment.

*Spraypaint (minor)
You can leave a secret message for an intended person or group (define it how you like "My friend bob", "All blonde women", "Members of the Cult of the Naked Goddess"). To anyone else the message is just nonsense that "takes root" in the area...maybe the neighborhood children start singing some wordless song all day, maybe you just leave some scribbled marks or graffiti, or maybe dead the dead leaves on the ground leaves on the ground take the form of patterns. When a chosen recipient arrives the message resolves itself, but still only for them (this is a Rank 3 unnatural check the first time it happens, rank 1 afterwards). However, other urbanomancers can sense the messages and spend a charge to read it themselves.

Oddly enough this spell is one of the few with an example (weird since it's fairly straightforward) and the example works the exact opposite of the spell's description: it's cast and the message is sent to the intended recipient out in the city instead of waiting around for the recipient to find it.

*Streetwise (minor)
This spell provides information on groups (not individuals) within the city or portions of the city itself. For instance you can use it for instant polling (knowing how many people would vote for Candidate X at this time) or to learn about how long it would take the police to respond to a 911 call within a certain area.

*Face in the Crowd (minor)
You disappear into a crowd. So long as you remain in a crowded area any attempts to spot or follow you suffer a -50% penalty.

*Vermin Eyes (minor)
Get ahold of some kind of urban vermin like a rat or a pigeon and you can "dive" into the animal, controlling its actions and sharing its senses (although you can't perceive what's happening back at your body). Your actions have to be natural for the animal or the spell is broken (so directing a pigeon to try and make a call on someone's smart phone would not be an option. But getting it to poop on someone would be fine.

*Break Your Mother's Back (Minor)
This is the Urbanomancer's Minor Blast. It doesn't directly injure the target, instead it causes the city to harm them. They might just trip on a loose piece of pavement or get hit by a bike messenger, or get knifed in a crowd. The effect can be immediate if the target is out in the city but if the spell is cast in a home or similar "safe" place the effect will simply linger until the victim is next out "in the wild". Casting it in a safe place is actually a very powerful use of the Minor Blast since you can easily "stack" multiple castings (there's no obvious immediate effect) on the target so they get hit by several disasters all at once.

*Alone In The Crowd (Significant)
The city treats the spell's victim as a pariah. Friends and family treat the victim normally but everyone else keeps their distance (causing a visible "bubble" in crowds) and will keep their interaction with the target to a complete and absolute minimum, ignoring them if that is at all possible. Will often cause Isolation and possibly Helplessness checks.

*My Turf (Significant)
This spell affects up to a square mile but must involve clear borders such as a set of certain city blocks or a particular named neighborhood. Within the designated area you can sense whenever Magick is performed and can specify one other type of event: criminal activity, a member of law enforcement entering the area, the presence of drugs, etc. By spending additional minor charges you can add multiple events that will ping on your magic radar. However, the spell has to be renewed every week (extra minor charges may be applied or left off from week to week).

If your territory contains a Significant cliomancer charging site you can snag the charge from it to give yourself one Minor charge...but if a cliomancer drains it before you do on a day then they'll cause you to lose a Significant charge (although they don't gain an extra one).

*Wrong Turn (Significant)
The next time a chosen target travels in public (not necessarily public transportation, just in public) you can direct it so that they arrive at a public area of your choosing (via coincidence). This can be avoided if the target can "counter" it with a different travel spell (such as Day Pass) but otherwise attempts to resist can be dangerous, you could end up hit by a car and your ambulance will break down right where the urbanomancer wanted you.

*The Madness of Crowds (Significant)
This spell starts a riot. There has to be some sort of tension in the area already (which usually isn't too hard) and the urbanomancer can make it boil over into a full scale riot. You can direct where the mob forms and even include specific targets that it will "attack" (which must be appropriate to the situation). One big problem: you've got to be at the starting location and it begins right away.

*Ragged Warriors (Significant)
Not all homeless people are secretly adepts. Those unfortunates who are ignored and forgotten start to lose their identity to the city itself and the urbanomancer can take advantage of that. This can only be cast on a homeless person within an area claimed by "My Turf" or someone you can see (magickally or otherwise). It operates a lot like Vermin Eyes except you can split your control among multiple homeless targets (although each costs an additional significant charge).

While in control you can use your skills but they can't exceed the target's Body stat (usually 20+1d10...these guys aren't in great shape). And of course it's really messed up thing to do to people. It's a Self-6 check to cast (7 if you control multiple targets). The victims cannot resist if they're already insane (5 failed notches), which is likely. Otherwise they can overcome it with a Helplessness (10) check and has to make a Self-8 check after the spell ends.

*Traffic Accident (Significant)
This is the urbanomancer Significant Blast which is just like the minor blast except for scale. This spell causes car accidents, falling masonry, collapsing grates, etc.

*Urbanomancy Major Effects
Dictate the results of a city election. Start riots in multiple cities across the world. "Edit" your city to add new features that no one realizes weren't already there. Alter the crime rate for an entire country.

quote:

The Urbanomancers of Chicago are bad news. They’ve got their fingers in the sticky pot of political power, and can use cops instead of the homeless for their Ragged Warriors spells. Seattle got uppity and they slapped it down with the WTO riots, but now they’re setting their sights on Kuala Lumpur, of all things. Nobody holds a grudge like the Chicago rats.

The Videomancer


That CRT monitor should tell you that this school is a little out of date

So a few breeds of adept are a little different now than they were when UA was published in 2002. For example the Personamancer is somewhat more powerful with the increase in online communication making it easier to impersonate people. The rise of Ebay and sites like it have made Bibliomantic charging much easier (assuming you've got the money). Well, none have changed quite like the Videomancer. In fact, its quite possible that in the modern world the Videomancer effectively does not exist...or at the least they're on the way out as their central concept becomes more and more shaky.

Videomancers focus on TV. Specifically the act of watching one (or sometimes more) particular "fetish shows". No it isn't (usually) a sex thing. The thing is...you have to be watching it on broadcast television, because the videomancer concept centers on using these shows as a connection with the millions of other people watching and reacting to shows at the same time, which can then be channeled as a source of mystical power. Of course, the advent of the internet and on-demand content is killing videomancy much like it's killing more traditional broadcast television.

The central paradox of videomancy is that it's about making a connection with millions while being alone. You share moments of joy, fear or drama with an entire country who doesn't even realize you exist.

Charging Rituals
Remember how I said videomancers have fetish shows? Well, the way it works is that they charge up by watching and getting involved with their fetish shows. Your show has to be broadcast to the country (no regional or public access shows) and has to have new episodes coming out weekly. It's important to note that recordings have no power over videomancers (for good or bad) and this would include things like Netflix, Hulu, video on demand, torrents, mp4s, etc. Only broadcasts.

You get a Minor charge by watching reruns, beginning to end. Not missing a single moment, even a commercial. Remember, it has to be a broadcast: watching an episode of your show on your iphone or a DVD doesn't count. The whole point of the school is that while you watch millions of others are watching with you, in perfect sync.

You get a Significant charge by a watching a new episode. Again, has to be the full show from beginning to end. News shows are obviously a popular way to gain significant charges daily.

You can get a Major charge by starring (being on screen at least 50% of the time) in an episode of your chosen show. This means if you're chosen show is broadcast live, no major charges for you (see below).

Taboo
The taboo for the videomancer is missing an episode of their show. Ever. Including re-runs. If you miss any of them then you lose all your charges. Note that events like breaking news or presidential addresses interrupting the broadcast is fine...so long as you're experiencing the same thing every other viewer is. This is why having multiple shows is potentially dangerous...once you pick a show you have to watch (or break taboo) until its off the air completely. So long as any episodes air, even reruns, you have to keep watching. The worst fate for a videomancer with multiple shows is to end up with them broadcasting simultaneously...you can't watch one without violating the taboo for the other (and no you can't do picture in picture or multiple screens, you have to provide complete attention) and so you get no charges ever. Videomancers are obviously greatly weakened during off seasons or when their shows are canceled but still showing reruns, since they can only earn minor charges from them but still go bust if they miss a rerun. But the power is tempting, a videomancer with the right broadcast schedule could earn dozens of significant charges per month...but they become slaves to their TV schedule.

You can add extra shows later at the cost of a significant charge (or no cost if you're watching the world premiere).

Videomancy Spells
Videomancy spells revolve around observing others and adapting yourself (and reality) to the tropes and conventions of television. Yes. Tropomancy.

*Film at 11 (minor)
This spell requires a videotape (generous DMs in a modern game would probably permit a blank DVD). When the spell is cast the adept's experiences are recorded onto the tape as though an invisible camera crew were following them. The "camera" focuses on anything that would be of interest to the videomancer, even if they were not aware of the thing at the time. For instance it would focus on the barely visible people spying on a videomancer's conversation even if the videomancer never knew they were there. This even includes things that the adept could not have identified themselves...so for instance if an adept is looking for a murder and happens to be in the same room as him the camera will focus on their face, especially if they take any suspicious actions (but there's no reason provided...the guy could also be important for other reasons). The spell lasts until the tape is full or it's put in a VCR and played.

*Rerun (minor)
The target of the spell experiences events as though they have been through them over and over again. It doesn't grant any precognitive ability but its great for robbing the emotional strength from a situation. This can be used to negate the effects of a sanity check, negate the advantage of surprise and to reduce the impact of dramatic situations (which could be useful in a variety of social situations).

*Narrowcast (minor)
You can communicate via TV. Declare a target person or group. The next time they see or hear a TV your face appears and delivers your message. You get one second of air time per point in your videomancy skill.

*Edu-Tainment (minor)
You can use your videomancy skill in place of a Mind skill for a single roll. This can include learning short phrases in other languages.

*Mute (minor)
You can use this to make a person mute for five minutes! This also softens (but does not negate) other sounds, granting +20% to stealth based skills that would be helped.

*Dubba-dubba-dumbing it down (significant)
This spell makes someone stupid, like Peter Griffin stupid. If the spell succeeds round your roll down to the nearest multiple of 10 (so a 44 becomes a 40). The target's Mind score drops by that amount for a number of minutes equal to the roll. This obviously is devastating to Mind skills.

*Laff Riot (Significant)
Temporarily turns Unknown Armies into Toon! It lasts a number of rounds (in combat) or minutes (out of combat) equal to the tens place on your roll. While its active all serious injuries are averted. Gunshots all miss automatically. No other physical damage can exceed 5 points and instead targets suffer humiliating pratfalls. This works on everyone (presumably only in the area...but it would be amusing if the effect were world wide).

*Family Drama (significant)
Drama Bomb! This spell causes the target to emotionally fixate on you. This isn't a love spell or anything, it just means that they'll have powerful emotional reactions to your actions, even completely mundane ones. Cast it on a barista and ask them for a cup of coffee and they might break down crying about how no one comes in because they want something and never just to talk! If you play along with the emotional rollercoaster it can be a powerful manipulation tool (one example is getting a loan by generating deep sympathy and pity from the banker). Attempting to fight these emotions involves a Self check of 4 or 5 for most situations. Someone who already hates you (or just people who have been emotionally misused) generally behavior like bitter or jilted lovers...lots of tears and emotional tirades but no violence (unless pushed to it). This is broken if the target is attacked, fails a stress check or 47 minutes pass (the amount of air time of a standard soap opera).

*Watching the Detectives (Significant)
Could just as easily be called "only a flesh wound!". This spell reduces the damage from "one source" is reduced to one. One source is a little vague, the book defines a single gunshot or a thorough beating (multiple attacks) both as one source. This has to be cast immediately after the damage...you can't have someone crawling around one minute then fine the next and it can't undo an instant kill. It can also only be used once per combat per target.

*Confession (Significant)
A bit of a goofy spell (well, a lot of videomancer spells are). This spell causes the subject to reveal shocking secrets in the most defiant way they can. (The confession spell kicks in at about 30 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cFzABv0xMU). As a side effect all swear words are censored by silencing the middle few letters. This lasts 10 minutes and takes a Isolation-10 roll to resist. For two extra charges the videomancer can pick which secrets are revealed (assuming he has an idea of what the secret is).

*Days of Our One Life to Live (significant)
This spell causes the victim to live in "interesting times". Basically it inserts soap opera-style twists into the victim's life like finding their wife in bed with his brother, medically questionable amnesia episodes, comas, etc. Whatever the results they are never lethal and the spell lasts days equal to your casting roll.

*Live on Tape (significant)
This spell traps the target's "essence" in a TV set (requiring you to beat the victim's Soul stat when casting). The person is still alive and conscious they just lack any motivation (the spell removes all passions and obsessions) and they do nothing but go through the motions of their lives out of habit. Meanwhile the "essence" is trapped, tormented, in the TV set, constantly screaming. The essence can be released by the videomancer but the result is a rank 10 Self and Isolation roll (destroying the TV has the same effect) as the spirit returns to its body.

*Videomancy Major Effects
Bring a TV character to life. Manifest a TV special effect in the real world.

quote:

Those Make Money Fast emails aren’t spam! They all carry fragments of the secret number of the Beast in them; if you collect enough of these mails, you can reconstruct the name and talk to the Adversary!

oriongates fucked around with this message at 07:59 on Jun 17, 2015

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


quote:

So a few breeds of adept are a little different now than they were when UA was published in 2002. For example the Personamancer is somewhat more powerful with the increase in online communication making it easier to impersonate people. The rise of Ebay and sites like it have made Bibliomantic charging much easier (assuming you've got the money). Well, none have changed quite like the Videomancer. In fact, its quite possible that in the modern world the Videomancer effectively does not exist...or at the least they're on the way out as their central concept becomes more and more shaky.

This actually gives Videomancers more of a hook, as what's left of them struggle to survive in the midst of whatever school replaces them. In Australia the central concept still works, since there's like 13 channels and the whole country gets a big charge out of MasterChef and various reality shows - the 'everyone shares emotion with people they don't know' kinda still works, even though Twitter makes it a bit shaky. But what's replacing them? Do you need to stream a show within 24 hours of it going live?

I'd probably do something around the idea of binge-watching, since that seems to be the big trend. Watch your favorite show for 8 hours straight or something. Or you need to watch your show 100% legitimately, at the time it first goes live. No torrenting, none of that poo poo. Again, hard for people outside the US.

I gotta say that I love Urbanomancers. They just make so much sense to me, because cities really are these organic, ever-changing things. I could go on and on about urban theory and the Situationists and Walter Benjamin and the flaneur and all that poo poo, but it comes down to this: if the DC universe worked on Unknown Armies rules, Batman would be an Urbanomancer. He is Gotham, Gotham is somehow him.

I gotta say that I'm not 100% on the fetishization of the homeless, though I did play that up in my game. It feels a bit... sentimental.

I found a nonfiction book on the side of the road yesterday about how 'a series of mysterious fires were the cataylyst for a series of events that changed the face of New York in the 70s' and UA-vision snapped on again.

I think, based on how it turns life into cheap fiction, Unknown Armies may be the most destructive game in this thread.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 13:40 on Jun 13, 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

I hate to be critical again, but the Pornomancer seems like a case of death-by-editor. Like, the central paradox of pornography is so easy, why do you even need all the "Naked Goddess cult" poo poo? Guys who are so obsessed with porn that they don't understand actual sex is a legit problem in the real 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


AmiYumi posted:

I hate to be critical again, but the Pornomancer seems like a case of death-by-editor. Like, the central paradox of pornography is so easy, why do you even need all the "Naked Goddess cult" poo poo? Guys who are so obsessed with porn that they don't understand actual sex is a legit problem in the real world.

Because making a general 'sex magic' or 'porn magic' school would lead to gross players and the kind of skeevy junk that used to be this thread's bread and butter, but they had to put something around sex in to fit the theme of the game. So the writers came up with something that's a bit off and disturbing, but also specific enough to the game that it won't spill out of it.

But yeah, it's probably not that hard to come up with a more 'normal' sex or porn based school.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




AmiYumi posted:

I hate to be critical again, but the Pornomancer seems like a case of death-by-editor. Like, the central paradox of pornography is so easy, why do you even need all the "Naked Goddess cult" poo poo? Guys who are so obsessed with porn that they don't understand actual sex is a legit problem in the real world.

The naked goddess does add a few extra layers of paradox on: the ascension of a female goddess from the depths of a medium of masculine exploitation, the worship of a new divinity by emulating her at her lowest and most base (the naked goddess in particular is implied to have been involved with some pretty unpleasant, degrading forms of pornography). They even go the extra step and even remove lust from sex...sex is purely a rote, mechanical ritual and the only ecstasy is religious. The Naked Goddess herself isn't the source of power (since they aren't Avatars), the cult just provided a lens with a heavy Paradox and easy Obsession (through the tape).

But yeah, you could definitely have a more literal Pornomancer without the whole Naked Goddess angle. In fact, I'd imagine in the "future" of the UA setting that's exactly what would happen...eventually Pornomancy spreads outside of the cult and begins to lose the religious elements and evolve into a new more independent school.

The whole Naked Goddess thing is strongly tied into adventures and metaplot from between the first and second edition since the arrival of the cult and the new form of magick shakes up the underground pretty heavily. The cult even tried to reveal the existence of magic to the world by broadcasting the original tape world-wide. Fortunately it was stopped.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 13:58 on Jun 13, 2015

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Count Chocula posted:

This actually gives Videomancers more of a hook, as what's left of them struggle to survive in the midst of whatever school replaces them. In Australia the central concept still works, since there's like 13 channels and the whole country gets a big charge out of MasterChef and various reality shows - the 'everyone shares emotion with people they don't know' kinda still works, even though Twitter makes it a bit shaky. But what's replacing them? Do you need to stream a show within 24 hours of it going live?

One of the biggest dangers a lot of videomancers face is the sheer number of channels available and the amount of re-runs being pushed on them, especially for older videomancers who get trapped by syndication.

Imagine if you picked Seinfeld as one of your fetish shows. A quick search shows that TBS is showing something like 12 episodes a day, plus a couple of episodes every day on the CW. That's a ton of minor charges but you'll never get a significant charge off of them again and you have to watch every episode or all your charges!

Pope Guilty
Nov 6, 2006

The human animal is a beautiful and terrible creature, capable of limitless compassion and unfathomable cruelty.

I just packed my copy of UA into a box and taped it shut, but I always found amusing the Videomancer who brings his favorite characters briefly to life for deviant pleasures turning the spell on an enemy and having his foe committed because he won't stop babbling about being beaten up by Mr. Clean and the Ti-D-Bowl Man.

The secret to success is to commit crimes nobody in their right mind will believe possible.

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


oriongates posted:

One of the biggest dangers a lot of videomancers face is the sheer number of channels available and the amount of re-runs being pushed on them, especially for older videomancers who get trapped by syndication.

Imagine if you picked Seinfeld as one of your fetish shows. A quick search shows that TBS is showing something like 12 episodes a day, plus a couple of episodes every day on the CW. That's a ton of minor charges but you'll never get a significant charge off of them again and you have to watch every episode or all your charges!

It's 1989. You know TV gives you power, but you're not ready to commit just yet. You don't want to end up like one of those soap opera freaks. So you pick a show on the shittiest network you can find. It won't be around in 5 years, and there's no way your show is gonna cause you trouble. So you start watching the scratchy little cartoon about the yellow family, and your life ends.

Thirty years later you're on the AV Club, ranting about 'zombie Simpsons', but unable to miss a single cameo-filled episode.

I can't even imagine the hell of a Simpsons Videomancer. Again, all this poo poo is doable in Australia - even with digital we only have 13 channels, and even a Simpsons adept only gets hosed over like once a week.

It does mean, ironically, that Firefly fans actually have it easy for once.

One Videomancer question: when late night shows change hosts, does that count as a new show?

We should probably necro the Greg Stolze thraed for all this poo poo.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 14:21 on Jun 13, 2015

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Pope Guilty posted:

I just packed my copy of UA into a box and taped it shut, but I always found amusing the Videomancer who brings his favorite characters briefly to life for deviant pleasures turning the spell on an enemy and having his foe committed because he won't stop babbling about being beaten up by Mr. Clean and the Ti-D-Bowl Man.

The secret to success is to commit crimes nobody in their right mind will believe possible.

Either that or just get the people they don't like..."out of the way".

Rumor has it there's this one videomancer who figured out how to reverse the whole "bring TV characters to life" thing and put people into a video signal. He used it to trap a bunch of rival dukes inside a few different prime-time shows; the victims replaced the characters in the shows, acting out the roles but still aware, underneath, what was happening to them, knowing that they we damned to an existence of acting out these shows between bouts of non-existence when the tape stopped.

After a while, the videomancer started trapping more and more people in the tape to keep things "fresh". These people weren't even part of the underground; they were just normal shlubs who happened to have what the adept thought was "a good face for TV" and didn't come close to deserving this fate.

Amazingly, the cops caught up with him before the Sleepers did, and rather than get caught, the videomancer went into the only place he'd be safe: into the tape.

His magic allowed him to preserve his mind, but being trapped in the shows was the last straw for his sanity. The tape itself vanished after being viewed in the police station by the investigators (two of whom vanished without a trace, the third went on a shooting spree inside the precinct), and has been bouncing around eBay, thrift shops, and yard sales ever since.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrGrOK8oZG8

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


I dunno about Videomancers dying. If its less about the TV itself and more about sharing an experience with millions of people at the same time, following popular livestreams might allow them to survive.

Then again you have stuff like Twitch Plays Pokemon which is technially a single long episode, so a Lifestreamancer might end up like one of those rare MMORPG fanatics who literally play themselves to death.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



I don't think it'd be a case of Videomancers changing, but more a case of their niche being supplanted by a more "modern" school. Obsessives tend to not be good at change.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


The sort of people who watch the same TV show at the same time on television are very different from the type who watch livestreams and twitches and Let's Plays and all that.

Looking at it, the Sig spells look a bit too powerful for how easy it can be to charge up. Like the write-up says, if the Videomancer is going for the news or a daily show they get a new Sig every day. I guess it's all dependent on the GM and the player and whether they choose a real show or make one up, but assuming they're not a dick and say it's the summer and the show isn't on the air, there's going to be a new episode at least once a week.

I guess it can be easy to taboo, too.

You've heard that all the knock-off Breaking Bad shirts are made by the same guy - everything from the ubiquitous 'Master Chef' to the small run making fun of a dodgy local politician. Every stupid Doctor Who mashup, every sticker - they call end up coming from the small plant, run by the same man. You see, he was trying to become the Heisenberg Messenger, and got his wires crossed....

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Count Chocula posted:

You've heard that all the knock-off Breaking Bad shirts are made by the same guy - everything from the ubiquitous 'Master Chef' to the small run making fun of a dodgy local politician. Every stupid Doctor Who mashup, every sticker - they call end up coming from the small plant, run by the same man. You see, he was trying to become the Heisenberg Messenger, and got his wires crossed....

:golfclap:

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Count Chocula posted:

I can't even imagine the hell of a Simpsons Videomancer. Again, all this poo poo is doable in Australia - even with digital we only have 13 channels, and even a Simpsons adept only gets hosed over like once a week.

Could be worse. They could have picked Heroes or Lost. Because then they'd have to keep watching those shows. (burn!)


quote:

The sort of people who watch the same TV show at the same time on television are very different from the type who watch livestreams and twitches and Let's Plays and all that.

They also don't have nearly the audience that most TV shows had during the 90's and early 2000's. They're popular, but not nearly the cultural events TV shows could be.


quote:

Looking at it, the Sig spells look a bit too powerful for how easy it can be to charge up. Like the write-up says, if the Videomancer is going for the news or a daily show they get a new Sig every day. I guess it's all dependent on the GM and the player and whether they choose a real show or make one up, but assuming they're not a dick and say it's the summer and the show isn't on the air, there's going to be a new episode at least once a week.

I guess it can be easy to taboo, too.

I think that's the kicker. The Videomancer taboo is a bitch. Only the dipsomancer taboo is stronger, and that's because no one can rack up charges in the short term the way a dipsomancer can. Videomancers are locked in and totally vulnerable during their show times. It can keep them from traveling, performing long-term projects and (like bibliomancers) forces them into a certain lifestyle so they can ensure a steady connection with their show. All it takes is a surprise attack during the show and the videomancer is practically helpless.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


The trick is to pick a show that everyone, even Adepts, will be watching. Sure, you could attack the Game of Thrones-mancer at his most vulnerable, but then some prick will spoil it for you after you've cleaned off all the blood.

I'm going to make a new UA Rumors thread. Here it is: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3725740

I was one minute off from posting it at 3:33 am.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 17:35 on Jun 13, 2015

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I could have sworn there was an official videomancy spell that required yanking the tape out of a Bruce Lee VHS and wrapping it around your arms and legs to get a 100% martial arts skill for a while. Maybe that was in a supplement? Or just a fansite?

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


That's actually a general ritual, not a Videomancy spell. And yes, it is great.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Count Chocula posted:

It's 1989. You know TV gives you power, but you're not ready to commit just yet. You don't want to end up like one of those soap opera freaks. So you pick a show on the shittiest network you can find. It won't be around in 5 years, and there's no way your show is gonna cause you trouble. So you start watching the scratchy little cartoon about the yellow family, and your life ends.

Thirty years later you're on the AV Club, ranting about 'zombie Simpsons', but unable to miss a single cameo-filled episode.

I can't even imagine the hell of a Simpsons Videomancer. Again, all this poo poo is doable in Australia - even with digital we only have 13 channels, and even a Simpsons adept only gets hosed over like once a week.

Last year, the US cable channel FXX showed every single episode of the Simpsons, back to back around the clock. It took about two weeks. For Simpsons videomancers, that would have been like the Apocalypse.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Compacts and Conspiracies

Most hunters choose their lives. The Lucifuge like to think they're different, but they're wrong. They choose to hunt. What they do not choose is their heritage. They call it Becoming, mostly. Every Becoming is different. They rarely harm the person undergoing them, and the effects rarely last very long. Generally it occurs before the 23rd birthday, though not always. Puberty is also common as a Becoming time, but it can happen long before or after. How's it feel? Well...

Imagine you get visited by demons. Lesser ones at first, little imps and sprites of Hell that come to you, not to torment you but to be tormented. They recognize you're their master, in some way, and they want to be abused. They appear whenever you are away from people. Later, the greater demons start coming. They generally appear human, so they don't mind coming when others are around. Maybe they offer you knowledge or answers, though never clearly. Maybe they offer themselves up - for sex, giving a feast of food, offering to kill for you. Good news? It never gets to elder demons. They have little interest in you except, perhaps, to possess you. Or to claim you as their child. That can change things.

Imagine you can suddenly manifest terrible powers, but you can't control them. Whenever you get angry, hellfire flows from your hands. Whenever you sleep, you have terrible, prophetic nightmares.

Imagine all those people you don't like suddenly start to suffer. The annoying cable guy who shows up at the wrong time breaks his leg. That rear end in a top hat in Accounting chokes to death as he spreads rumors about you. You have no choice here, no control. Even those who only inconvenience you may be in peril. Guy bumps into you and calls you a motherfucker, he gets hit by a bus.

Imagine the world suddenly goes insane. Things happen you can't explain. Milk curdles, insects swarm around you, black dogs with green eyes follow you around. Technology breaks or acts impossibly - your DVD player suddenly flips to your favorite movie. You don't even own that movie. The moon is red. Mirrors explode at night.

Imagine that monsters suddenly come looking for you. They don't know why. You're just interesting. Maybe they sense some sympathy in you, maybe they want to talk to you about their drives and desires. Maybe they want to boast of their deeds. But they want to find you, to talk to you.

Now, if the Lucifuge find you, they're going to talk you to the Lady of Milan, which generally means going to Milan rather than her coming to you. There's rare exceptions. She's even, sometimes, showed up in dreams. For some, it's a short meeting. If she already knows everything about you, all she has to ask is if you'll join or die. And that is the choice the Lucifuge offers - accept your nature and fight against it, or reject them and die. Some sign on, thinking they can escape later. Some manage to escape, but most don't. Most can't. And often, the visit to the Lady is a long one, as she tries to learn more about you, to trace you back to their known bloodlines.


Also, some of them turn evil.

The Denial get Empathy (Discern Intent). This is the way of the Lady of Milan. They say that the Devil is the selfish source of evil, and those that invite this evil must be destroyed. Those who rebel against it can be left alone or offered redemption. The most important thing for them, then, is to determine why a monster acts and does what it does. If it is trying to do harm, it must die. If its intent is peaceful or uncertain, it must be watched. The secret? The Lady of Milan meets yearly with Padre Ambrogio of the Malleus Maleficarum. It's mostly a social occasion, to share secrets and stories and lie to each other as if it's a game. But you knew that already.

The Reconciliation get Weaponry (Knife). They believe it is their duty to redeem Lucifer...but that's not nice, like it sounds. To do that, you see, they must destroy all evil on Earth and beyond, destroy all of the wicked that love Lucifer. Thus, they break the chains that bind Lucifer to evil. They are violent, merciless killers in their goal to find mercy for Lucifer. Secretly? When you sign up for the job of being an assassin to save the devil, they give you a knife. A very sharp, rosewood-handled knife. Nothing special about it, save that it smells of roses and sulfur. But if you press your ear to the blade, you may hear howling or the rattle of chains.

The Truth get Academics (Research). They don't care much about monsters - they're seeking information about their own bloodlines and organization. And particularly the Lucifuge. They are consumed by this, seeking out the secrets of their 'allies' - secrets they might expose if those allies won't help them find the truth. Secretly? They share everything with each other. All information one finds is soon known by the entire Truth. They know they can trust each other, because they all have so much dirt on each other. They've recently learned that the Lady of Milan meets with Padre Ambrogio. They're obsessed now, and will not stop until they find out what goes on in these meetings and put a stop to them.

So, Castigations. The Coils of Iniquity, also known to some as the vice grip, gives advantage over those with a certain kind of sin - those who share a chosen Vice. The ritual must be done under sunrise, anointing yourself with three drops of sinner's blood - one drop on the tongue, one on each eye. The Vice caught in the blood infuses you with an attunement to that Vice, offering you a bonus to social rolls against those who share that Vice over the next 24 hours. The ritual must be done between 5 and 7 AM.

The Family Vestment calls on the biological nature of your bloodline. Most of the time, it's subtle - agelessness, command over demons, and so on. But sometimes, it becomes overt. Each time you take this Ritual, you can manifest a true, physical sign of infernal blood that you can call out. Perhaps you have wings of some kind - they look different for each hunter - that hurt you when they manifest but allow you temporary flight. Perhaps you get some natural weapon, like vicious claws, teeth or an axelike tail. Perhaps your eyes change, improving one of your social skills but making them unnatural - in color, in shape, in glow. Perhaps your flesh warps, hardening into armor or bloating to provide you with ablative flesh that gives extra health. (Incidentally, if you have Castigation 5, that would give 5/5 Armor, which is insane.) Perhaps your body warps to better perform some physical skill - your skin turns black for stealth, or your fingers grow into spidery limbs for lockpicking and theft. Or maybe you design your own Vestment. They don't manifest for very long - but you can extend it with sacrifice of your own health.

Bonus material is the Ageless Sanction - the more dots you have in Status (Lucifuge), the slower you age. At one dot, you age one year per two years that pass, and die at age 140. At two dots, halve your aging rate, double your lifespan. Again for three, four and five, until you age one year per 32 years that pass and will die at age 2240. Also it advises you to try to work out some kind of Satanic family tree.

Next time: The power of Christ compels you.

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

Selachian posted:

Last year, the US cable channel FXX showed every single episode of the Simpsons, back to back around the clock. It took about two weeks. For Simpsons videomancers, that would have been like the Apocalypse.

It's more of a mercy killing at this point.

And technically wouldn't they have lost charges anyway, since there would have been new weekly episodes airing during the even

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Speleothing posted:

It's more of a mercy killing at this point.

And technically wouldn't they have lost charges anyway, since there would have been new weekly episodes airing during the even

More screens. MORE SCREENS.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




oriongates posted:

The whole Naked Goddess thing is strongly tied into adventures and metaplot from between the first and second edition since the arrival of the cult and the new form of magick shakes up the underground pretty heavily. The cult even tried to reveal the existence of magic to the world by broadcasting the original tape world-wide. Fortunately it was stopped.

The Naked Goddess plot ran all through the rulebook in First Edition because it was a key idea and generated a lot of extra interest in the Occult amongst random people, although it probably can't be fully explained until we've covered Adepts. In Second Edition they took the metaplot stuff out, which is a bit odd, because it gave some interesting details (such as the fact that she had been appearing in porn films with religious overtones beforehand and therefore it's possible her ascension was planned). One of the supplements also mentions that by ascending, the Naked Goddess actually blocked an ascension by another man who would have embodied the same thing with money and success instead of sex.

Videomancers are really weird in the modern day with streaming - although you could almost see the rise of "+1 hour" channels, making it impossible for Videomancers to hold charges since they can't watch two episodes at once (and the OP mentioned that you can't have multiple screens since you have to pay undivided attention to the show) as having been set up by someone... For some reason Plutomancers were changed between the editions too; in the First Edition they power up by spending money.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Okay, I'Ve been slacking a little, but the next 3 chapters ain't that long, so let's make it a triple feature!

Stars Without Number

Adventure!

Chapter Nine: Adventure Creation

Now with a couple dozen worlds rolled up, each having their own bundle of features and complications, it should be rather easy to come up with some adventure ideas or two. If that fails though, there's always a random table of 100 adventure outlines.
However, one should not just use them as is, for they should be tweaked, changed and ultimately scrapped if they don't fit the world's theme. A hostage situation caused by rebels doesn't sound quite so interesting if there's an ancient alien ruin just waiting to be explored.
This being a sandbox game, the GM should always look for opportunities to have the results of the player's past choices pop up in later adventures, because their actions do have to have consequences.

After having a clear view of the adventure, it's time to come up with the hook, aka the thing that brings the adventure to the PCs (unless they're actively looking out for stuff to do, that is). This can be your typical stranger in a bar, an old friend, a women being chased by an angry mob of locals and other more or less common tropes.

There's also an info box about combat and how to eyeball the danger the PCs might be facing. Suffice to say things look grim if the party doesn't have a Psychic with the biospionic healing powers, and even five dudes with pistols can wreck a 1st level party. And whatever side wins initiative can get a huge edge in the ensuing fight.
Still, if the players now there's a crapton of enemies in a place, they shouldn't expect the GM to just spirit them away. SWN doesn't encourage rear end in a top hat GMs out for the PCs blood, but they shouldn't go easy on them if they rush into what is cleary suicide.
That being said, he can make the PC's life easier by not playing the NPCs too smart (so no focus fire on a single PC at a time till he's Swiss cheese). And since this is quite oldschool, the PCs should always keep some hirelings around to act as redshirts.

Next up are the specifics, aka the places and people the party might run into during the adventure. There's some nifty stuff in a later chapter that helps here, with random tables for names and stuff to quickly flesh out a NPC. For stats, there are some monster statblocks for typical lesser NPCs (including a line about their typical skill level) and some short statblocks for classed NPCs, covering all three classes from level 1 to 10 (which takes up like 2 pages; try that with later editions of D&D).


Checkerboard corsets are all the rage in the far future.

Maps are also important to do, and it's pretty easy here in SWN, as the game doesn't really require miniatures or a rigid map neatly layed out in 10 x 10 foot grids. It's just important that the map serves its function and makes actual sense. Filling an abandoned apartment complex with traps for the sake of having a crapton of traps is just silly.

As for rewards, there's a table of your typical awards the PCs are going to get per adventure based on their level (and how many adventures they're probably goin to need to level up). About half of the reward should be guaranteed, while the other one requires some exploration and ingenuity to get. These rewards are obviously XP, but the way this section is written suggest its one of those "XP are credits thing". Still, they only get XP up to these rewards. Anything beyond that (like slaughtering a bunch of guys or stealing) only ever gets cash, and even that isn't always guaranteed as they still have to find some more or less shady guy to buy all that stuff.

Though even with those extra credits, the party will most likely not be able to just buy a ship (aside from some shady dealer). After all, ships should be a pretty big reward they have to earn, be it stolen from a foe or otherwise gained over the course of an adventure.

Chapter Ten: Alien Creation

A SWN campaign does not require the presence of aliens, but if they - or at least their ruins - exist in the sector, they should serve a purpose like everything else. Coming up with an alien race and their culture isn't all that useful if the PCs don't find them interesting.

Aliens in SWN can be put into one of two categories: The Like who can be at least somewhat comprehended and understood by humans (even if they might posess cultural quirks resulting in apparently irrational behavior), and the Other who are so exotic and strange humans can't communicate with them (if they can even recognize if that crystal or energy wave is sentient at all).

In terms of psychic powers, most known alien races didn't have the wide range of abilities as shown on human psychics, but they got affected by the Scream all the same.

Since the Other are so incomprehensible as to be mere plot device, the rest of the chapter focuses on the Like.

Generally speaking, a Like alien have a couple traits that can be randomly rolled, including their biology (be it human-like, reptilian, weird stuff like rock and crystals or a combination of the several body types) and their Lenses.
You see, SWN takes a Star-Wars/Trek-ish assumption that Like aliens are pretty human in the way they think or feel (even if they aren't human at all). What makes them ultimately alien are the Lenses, one or two aspects their whole society is heavily revolving around. You could have a race of deeply-religious hive-mind insect dudes, your typical Proud Warrior Race or an emo race living in utter despair.

Lastly, you can roll or pick their social structure (like "Tribal" or "Democratic") and flesh out their technology level, where they live in the sector and what their goal is.

This being a d20 game and all, you might be wondering about how aliens as PCs work. Well, it is certainly possible, but things work a bit differently here than in other d20 games. It's overall pretty light and loose here, without attribute modifiers. If an alien race is faster and stronger than humans, have them require a minimum score on those attributes (allowing the player to shift points around more than otherwise allowed to meet the requirements). Various racial traits like low-light vision and natural weapons are fine, but they should generally just mimic the effects of equipment they could buy just anyways (so they might end up having claws that are just built-in monoblades). It's important to not give the alien race too many goodies, or make them too powerful, for they would be too tempting to not pick.

And here are the 3 example alien races. These don't just outright state which of the above table results were used, instead weaving everything together into the description:

The Hochog

You know, I'm beginning to wonder why this was replaced with green dudes.

These guys are OD&D pig orcs in space. They're a big bigger and stronger than the average human and live in packs held together by a charismatic warrior. As expected from space orcs, they have a thing for violence - but not uneccessary violence. They loathe torture and cruelty, and their are neither interested in revenge nor do they hold grudges, preferring to live in the present instead of dwelling in the past.
If you're a slave on a crappy dictatorship planet, it's best to have these guys be the overlords instead of fellow humans. Sure, they'll kill you all the same if you revolt against them, but at least they won't make you suffer.

As PCs, they're exactly like humans, but require a STR of at least 14. Psychics don't really exist among them, so that option is right out.

The Shibboleth

An example for an Other alien, these guys are cosmic horrors, living in secret to perform messed-up experiments with humans. They vary so widely in appearance (be it a monster spider or a bunch of tentacles) that one would never even think of recognizing them as the same species - if it wasn't for the "psychic aversion field" they create. This field makes everyone within 2 km unable to even acknowledge its existence, and affected humans can even carry the field around like some kind of virus.
Because of this, Shibboleth generally stay completely hidden from society unless there are special hunters around, who made themselves immune against their field via a process called "Clipping". This is a deliberate form of brain damage very similar to a Psychic's Torching, which is why any Psychic who ever lost permanent WIS or CON through torching is considered clipped. Non-Psychics have to go through a surgery that has a random chance of either lowering their WIS or CON.

Overall, their a pretty niche kind of antagonist. Then again, it would be pretty chilling for the party's Psychic to stroll down a market and run into a friggin' Aboleth-lookalike nobody else notices. Ever.

The Ssath

A kind of shapeshifting T-1000 race, with insides made out of crystalline organs and metallic chemicals. They are very tied to the past, as their offsprings inherit the memories and personality traits of their parents.

As their shapeshifting is a form of inherent psychic ability they were hit pretty hard by the Scream. Their entire civilization spanning hundreds of worlds crumbeled to dust as they died outright or became insane. The only survivors are living in sects whose members are all hailing from the same "Great Mother" whose isnanity wasn't as severe as to make her children antisocial psychopaths. Still, some Ssath have started to move away from their inborn insanity.

Statswise, they are again exactly like humans, but they can change their entire body or just form a weapon similar to a monoblade. The more they change, they longer it takes. They can probably try to take on the general form and face of another person, but they can't really change their body texture (which is always unnaturally smooth and shiny).

Chapter Eleven: Xenobestiary

Coming up with alien creature in a sci-fi game is a somewhat different beast from doing the same in a fantasy game, as it's highly uncommon to stumble upon the same kind of critter on different worlds. The process of creature creation must therefore be very quick.

To accomplish this, the game recommends to pick the creature'S base statistics from a selection of 9 roles, ranging from the "Nuisance Vermin" (HD 1/2, AC 7, 1 attack at +1 dealing 1d4 damage, Morale 8) to the aptly-named"Party-Butchering Hell Beast" (HD 10, AC 2, 3 attacks at +12 dealing 1d8 damage, Morale 12). There are however some guidelines to create base statistics from the ground up.

After choosing the role, it's time to "skin" creature, rolling or choosing its body type and traits. Generally, the base statistics can be tweaked, or expanded with additional movement modes or attacks (which usually deal as much damage as its base natural attacks and are either a normal attack or a special attack that requires a Save check to avoid).

For example, a xenomorph could be either a "Stalker" (HD 3, AC 6, 1 attack at +6, 1d10 damage, Morale 7) or an "Apex Predator" (HD 6, AC 6, 2 attacks at +8, 1d8 damage, Morale 10), having increased climbing and stealth capabilities as well as acidic blood that deals its base damage to anyone who hurts it at close range.

The chapter closes with a selection of typical human NPCs and example alien creatures, including the "Hand of the Old Fathers" (a sort of antlion catching prey with what looks like a giant hand), the Nictomorphs (tiny beetles that are perfectly harmless until they form murder Voltron when under specific stimuli) and the Tyrant Spider (a Party-Butchering Hell Beast with its damage cranked up to 2 1d10s and one 1d12 that releases pheromones upon death to attract more Tyrant Spiders). Fun stuff.

Next Time: Robots and Mechs - one part of the paid-exclusive stuff.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 21:56 on Jun 13, 2015

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


I had a brilliant idea today for a UA Adept school based on fetishizing motorized vehicles (cars and motorcycles primarily). Is that already in one of the books?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Compacts and Conspiracies

The Malleus Maleficarum have a rather simple mission. God is good and has given us the world. Some have used the free will He grants to become monsters; they must be punished. The supernatural is heresy. It must be stopped. At least, that's the surface answer. Do some monsters deserve mercy? Officially, yes, but that comes only in the form of conversion before destruction. And yet, no everyone stomachs that, and some believe monsters are incapable of redemption. They gave up their humanity and distanced themselves from God. So some do not like to convert, then destroy, for belief that mercy is possible. And others prefer to just destory, for there is no conversion.

Vampires, then witches, then demons. That's your priority list. Party line? Vampires are the worst of two worlds, humans that have invited a demon into their bodies, the Beast, which they use to become undead monsters. Witches have used their free will to perform heretical and Satanic magic, but at least they can choose to turn away from that path. And demons aren't people. They were never people, and they have no power without people. They are dangerous, but if you choose not to sin, they would starve and be utterly ineffectual. That's why they're lower priority - it is within our power to stop them. Now, mind you, actual people don't agree with the party line all the time. That's just the official focus. Officially, shapeshifters are pagan begins that are lumped in with witches, 'choosing' dark magic to unfetter themselves from humanity and God. All else is some grade of evil that has lesser focus eithjer due to lack of prominence or lack of easy categorization.

Unofficially, Padre Ambrogio Baudolino is the head of the Malleus, living on vampiric blood as a ghoul. He sets the tenor and plans for the group, and feeds on the vampires they bring in. However, he lives in Italy and his reach is only so far. The greatest growth in the last century has been in the Americas. The official head of the Malleus is Archbishop Emeritus Timothy Conor Gallher, of New York City. He's an old man who walks the party line, and he knows that Baudolino is around because he was promoted to his role by the man. On the surface, he is obedient, but secretly, he is disgusted that Baudolino lives on undead blood, and feels that impurity taints the holy purpose of the Malleus. He won't abide it, and he is a secret member of the Order of Saint Athnasius, slowly working to take down Baudolino and become the true head of the Malleus.

While the Malleus' hierarchy is the Church hierarchy, over the last century the laity has risen to prominence. Once, they were rare, just deputized for specific tasks but not given the truth. Times have changed. Now, they make up fully half the conspiracy. Cops, construction workers, mobsters - any Cathlic that'll lay their life on the line for God might be able to join the Malleus. They might not be active all the time, might not have Benedictions. But they have a glimpse of the truth, and when the time comes, they fight. These people ar generally led by clergy - their cells are run by priests and nuns. For the most part, they obey. They seem doomed to low Status and get limited access to Benedictions, though, and sometimes they wonder why.

The Order of Saint Longinus get Weaponry (Stake). They are Baudolino's favorites, and the largest part of the conspiracy. They hunt vampires. Baudolino hates vampires for what they did to him, and he loves their delicious blood. The Order doesn't know he exists, of course, but count him as their ancestral patron. They also have a large army of lay members. Now, secretly? Baudolino knows the Athanasians are growing in power, and it doesn't help that all the vampire blood he drinks makes him paranoid, hearing the voices of the monsters he feeds on. He knows a schism is coming, and he has turned five of his most favored bishops into ghouls as well to prepare for it.

The Order of Saint Ambrose get Computer (Research). Unlike most of the conspiracy, they aren't especially technophobic, and understand computers quite wlel. They take the long view - everyone else in the Malleus just wants to get the job done, go in blazing. The Ambrosians prefer a slower pace. Every monster is a problem, and every problem is a puzzle to solve, that must be handled methodically and with care. And, secretly, with mercy. The Ambrosians are most merciful of any group in the order. Part of that is pragmatic - monsters know things, and sometimes you have to learn those things. Torture's not exactly a reliable or effective tool. And really, some monsters are owrse than others and can be played against each other. There's an open directive within the Order to spare sinners if more can be learned. The other Orders would be very unhappy to learn that.


Smaller orders.

The Brotherhood of Saint Athanasius get Crafts (Demolitions). All they care about is identifying and killing monsters as quickly as possible. They can grasp strategy and patience, but letting a monster live any longer than necessary is turning away from God's call. They're practically terrorists and don't always care if innocents are caught in the crossfire. After all, if they're truly innocent, they'll be saved after death, and if they choose sin, well, they might as well be monsters, anyway. Everyone thinks they're just a small group. Once, they were. But in secret, they've been recruiting. They don't care if you're a good Catholic, not if you're willing to die in the name of killing monsters. If ten men will die to kill one monster, after all, humanity will still number in the billions. The Athanasians are now a conspiracy within a conspiracy, seeking to take it over. They don't share their recruitment, happy to look like a ragtag band of militants. It's working.

Benedictions! The Preservation of the Chastity of Saint Agnes of Rome calls on the power of her defiance to become armored against supernatural harm. Your hair, clothing and nearby debris whirl about to protect you from all kind of damage. It's very potent, and you can give up some of your health and armor, burning awayu your very flesh in a lambent burst of light that grievously harms anyone nearby.

The Casting Out of Witches calls on Saint Patrick's defeat of the Pelagian heresy. It forces monsters near you to flee or take a growing penalty. Witches are most deeply affected, and must exert their will to even consider not fleeing. Depending on your Benedictions dots, this can affect an area up to ten miles wide. It only works, however, once you complete a long ritual prayer, and it lasts only one hour. The monsters experience their desire to flee as a greasy, impure feeling of nausea and headaches.

The bonus material is talking about prophecy and whether or not the Malleus has access to it. If they do, it may function rather like the Infernal Visions Castigation, or it might just be whatever you fuckin' want.

Next time: Ride of the Valkyries

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




HackMaster, 8: The rest of the gang

So, having made a Fighter and a Mage, let's take a look at the remaining character class options. First of all, let's tackle one of the big ones: the Cleric.

The Cleric is a "big one" because they get an entire chapter of the book. And why's that? Because they get to pick a religion, and which religion they are can have a dramatic effect on what abilities they get. Fortunately all the religions presented are fictional (I'm sure there was an old Indie rpg, called The Quest or something like that, which actually let you choose a real-life religion and specified what powers you got for that. Yea. If you chose Christianity you even got to pick a denomination, although you didn't get that option for anything else, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see how they differentiated some of them..)

Clerics have progression bonuses in Attack and Initiative, although much slower than the fighting classes. They can buy weapon proficiencies and even weapon specializations, but at a higher cost than martials and only in the weapons favored by their faith. Naturally, they're spellcasters, but they have a bunch of restrictions compared to mages; they don't get spell points, they don't get to "amp up" spells, and they get one spell per level per day. Ever. That's it. And they have to choose it in advance. They do still get bonus spells for Wisdom, but at most one bonus per spell level; having a higher Wisdom just increases the range of spell levels at which the bonuses are available. On the plus side, since cleric spells are granted by gods instead of depending on the caster's own concentrations, they're a lot more resilient; they aren't lost if the cleric gets hit out of the casting and there's no spell fatigue. As in D&D, clerics get holy symbols; unlike D&D, if a holy symbol gets lost it's a big deal and you can't just buy a new one from the equipment list. No, you have to get your rear end over to the local church and explain how you managed to get your holy symbol lost or smashed. There's also a note that says that the level of an adventuring cleric doesn't represent their advancement within the Church itself, because they aren't primarily looking after and nurturing the faithful.

So, on to the actual religions!

The Cathedral of Light is the religion to pick if you want to be a classic D&D cleric. They revere light as a symbol of good, their power is to turn the undead, and their favored weapon is the mace. You can probably guess the rest of the religious tenets, too.

The Courts of Justice is where classic Paladins come from. As well as turning undead (although without the bonus that Light gets), they get to detect evil and resist trickery, and their deal is that they believe in following the law (provided the laws are just, of course, you don't get that silly thing where an evil dictator can have Paladins because even if the law is his whim it is still technically the law)

The Church of Everlasting Hope are all about healing. They do get a weapon - in fact they get two, a crushing weapon and a sling - and as well as turning undead, they are immune to fear and have a radiant aura that makes others immune to fear. However, they also can't finish off downed foes nor ignore a surrender, even if they believe they're being fooled.

The Temple of the Stars worship The Traveler. Guess what they like to do? Travelling around is actually a requirement for regular priests to advance, although it's implied that an adventurer will be doing enough travelling to meet that requirement anyway. They are happy to fight evil insofar as it threatens people's ability to move around. They are the first religion that don't get to turn undead; instead they are immune to disease (thus eliminating the main reason for medieval folks to fear foreign movement - nice!) and can specialize with the staff. More important is that they get a whole bunch of free skills and talents related to travelling around, and it's mentioned they're often invited on caravans; not just for their deity's blessing, but because they really know what they're doing.

The Temple of the Patient Arrow is the first version of the druid. Yep, that's why there's no Druid class; they're just Clerics. These ones aren't the classic Druid, though; they're all about hunting and associated virtues of patience, thoughtfulness, and respectful interaction with nature (they teach how to hunt without damaging populations and to kill with minimum suffering for the animal) They get to use hunting weapons, especially ranged ones; get a bunch of hunting skills. Sounds like a Ranger so far? Well, true, but they also get to shapeshift! The snag is, they can only shapeshift into a hunting animal (such as a hawk, wolf, or bear) and they can't turn back until they've made a kill in the way their animal naturally would, then sacrificed the kill to the Great Huntress. It's mentioned that if you want to handwave this, it takes d4p days. Yea, that'd be fun to use in the middle of a dungeon..

The Face of the Free is, well, the "freedom" religion. Chaotic Good, overthrowing oppression, and so on. It is mentioned that they generally don't attempt to instigate complete overthrows of oppressive governments from inside their cities, but instead focus on celebrating what freedom is available; this keeps their followers safe, but does mean that they aren't necessarily that good at actually freeing people. They can use any weapon they want, and their power is Freedom of Action, which is basically Freedom of Movement from D&D except it's always on.

The Order of Thought believe in wisdom, thought, and education. Their main function is to wear super heavy armor, keep enemies away with a polearm, and give out advice; all their bonuses are to do with buying up skills, especially Wisdom skills, to huge levels and learning ridiculous numbers of languages. As you'd expect, their spells have a heavy slant to sense and divination.

The Coventicle of the Great Tree are the druid druids as opposed to the ranger druids. You know the deal, wisdom of nature yadda yadda, animal related skills, similar hunting-themed weapons, and full shapeshifting with none of that silly "you have to make a kill" business; you can turn back whenever you want. Levelling up increases the range of animals available and also lowers the time taken to complete the shift.

The Church of Chance are the thiefy clerics who worship the trickster god Risk. Unlike other clerics, they get thief-like progression in initiative and skills, as well as the Luck point mechanic directly cribbed off the Thief class (which we'll cover when we get to actual thieves). And because of the whole "trickster god" thing, their skill bonuses each level and their spell selection each day are rolled randomly.

The House of Shackles are the classic D&D evil clerics. They seek to take over the world for the Overlord and enslave anyone who won't willingly serve. As with the Cathedral of Light, they get to use blunt weapons and can command the undead instead of turning them.

The Order of Agony are the much darker version of evil clerics. I'll quote Saving Stone on this one:

Jonny Nexus posted:

Draag was not a stranger to pain. No follower of his dark and twisted religion was. To them, pain was the great revealer, a lubricant that loosened lies and revealed the truth that lay beneath. Pain bought an understanding of the universe and of one's place within it. It stripped away the comforting beliefs that men held close and in its fiery embrace, forged a deeper awareness of existence's true nature. To be subjected to pain was to have one's soul revealed. Thing was though, it was usually the poor bastards they were ritually torturing that were experiencing the pain, and not them.

They get some weapon proficiencies and a whole bunch of bonuses to the Torture skill.

The House of Knives are the evil thiefy clerics, aka the assassiny clerics. They basically get a bunch of toned-down stuff lifted from the Assassin class.

The Coventicle of Affliction are priests who seek to spread disease. Every priest must be infected with a deadly infectious disease, and they believe that once everyone is diseased, the faithful will be able to rise to power. In practice, most of the priests are people who were infected with deadly diseases anyway and either wanted revenge, or wrongly/desperately thought the order could provide a cure. Their abilities are kind of a mess; they can command undead and have a deadly touch which inflicts armor-ignoring damage, but doesn't actually pass on a disease.

The Temple of Strife are the evil version of the Church of Chance; their goal is to spread misfortune as far as possible, and if they find anyone who seems to be overly lucky, to grab them and ritually sacrifice them. As with most of the evil religions they obviously aren't meant to be played as PCs and it's most obvious with strife since their main power is to shut down the use of Luck points, a PC mechanic that's granted to Thieves and Rogues and similar classes.

Trying to give a list of all the spells would probably take rather a while, so let's mention the all-time favorite Cleric mechanic: healing. The bad news is, there's no special rules for healing. You get one spell per level and if that spell is a healing spell then, well, that's your spell for that level gone. The good news is that since this is HackMaster, spell levels match up exactly to character levels, meaning that you potentially get one spell from each level 1-20 and every one of those levels has a healing spell. 20 healing spells? Yes, and you can probably guess how they're named...

Cure Trifling Wounds, Cure Trivial Wounds, Cure Minor Wounds, Cure Small Wounds, Cure Light Wounds, Cure Lesser Wounds, Cure Middling Wounds, Cure Moderate Wounds, Cure Medium Wounds, Cure Intermediate Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Large Wounds, Cure Considerable Wounds, Cure Substantial Wounds, Cure Heavy Wounds, Cure Severe Wounds, Cure Extensive Wounds, Cure Terrible Wounds, Cure Extreme Wounds, Cure Massive Wounds, Cure Great Wounds.

Fortunately, the joke isn't taken any further than that: these names are just listed in a 20-level table listing the amount each spell heals (and the time it takes , which increases for the higher spells). Further, followers of the same god as the Cleric benefit from extra healing.

So, for next time.. we'll look at the sneakers and skillmonkies.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Compacts and Conspiracies

Task Forces are theoretically meant to be temporary. Task Force: END RUN was a WW2 unit meant to get into Burma, built from the survivors of Task Force: GALAHAD. Once the job was done, they were retasked or dismantled. Some however, go on a task with no end in sight, because completion's impossible. Joint Task force: BRAVO in '83 was meant to provide US military support to Central America, and it still exists today. VALKYRIE is similar - their task, 'protect America from monsters,' only ends in a perfect world. Job security's a thing htere. For VALKYRIE, this is a global war. Yes, most of the threats are on American soil, but they're hapy to go anywhere. Do other countries have similar groups? Sure. Britain has MI18, headed by Sir Vernon Chickering. Israel has a subgroup within Shin Bet. And agents of other nations can be brought into Task Force: VALKYRIE. It's technically a combined join task force, able to borrow manpower from NATO nations.

And sometimes, your job offer to join VALKYRIE isn't an offer. You're just some poor soldier who got involved in poo poo you never understood, seeing some fiery spirit burning Iraqi bodies. Or maybe you were a mailman who got horrendous dreams from some strange, humming package. You told someone. A superior, a coworker, maybea friend. Or even id you didn't, there's some traits you showed. Exposure to the supernatural is bad for the mind, often. It wears you down, and people can notice that. You got pulled from active duty, maybe, and sent in for counseling. And once you proved sane, you got a job offer: join VALKYRIE, or get an honorable discharge or severance package. No other options. So you signed on - and you got hurled in the thick of it.

There is, of course, a schism within VALKYRIE. They use military personnel, see, but also government agents from just about any agency - cops, spies, bureaucrats. The military-trained guys, often referred to internally as SWAT, don't always get on with the more informational types, or Suits. One group kicks in doors and goes in blazing, the other prefers to work to take down mosnters with paper trails, clues and information, like you might dismantle a drug cartel or terrorist group. They're practically two different agencies, which don't always play well together. A recent push in upper management has had SWATs and Suits put in the same cells as each other - typically, i nthe past you got cells that were all one or all the other, for different jobs. The new push hasn't been entirely effective - the cells sometimes self-destruct - but it has cut down on internal turf wars.


Who is Carlton Johns?

Your experience as a VALKYRIE agent is largely based on where you get stationed. If you're in a hot zone, everyone's watching you. These are major cities and war zones where the fight against the supernatural's in full swing. No one wants mistakes there, and bureaucracy is thick. You probably work with a bunch of other cells, and if people die, more will be called in. The higher-ups visit often. But a lot of agents are stationed in dead zones - relatively stable areas, at least in the minds of the higher-ups. These teams are practically forgotten. They get little equipment, little budget, but very little oversight. They can do what they like, work on their own terms, and can act outside protocol. The problem is when a dead zone goes hot. Your world changes utterly, the lights are all shining on you now, and that may not be a good thing.

So, how does the black budget work? It's kept secret from Congress, the public, sometimes the President. It has a line item, but under som emysterious code name with all details blacked out. Sometimes it's practical, sometimes to dissuade spies, and sometimes it's to conceal projects so improbable that any examination would end them, like VALKYRIE. It's been a line item for years, under different code names and locations in the budget. Sometimes it's intel, sometimes military. It'd be in big trouble if classification reform ever happened. How much money does it get? You'd think it'd cost a lot, but they only get 875,000 dollars each year. Not enough for anything, really. So how do they exist?

The answer is vampires. Vampires steer Task Force VALKYRIE by handing them money and dictating their mission. Not to say that vampires don't get hunted - just not the ones controlling the budget. Any vampire VALKYRIE gets sent to deal with is an enemy of those vampires, or someone they don't care about. The rest of the time, strange protocols are in place to ensure vampiric allies are allowed to escape or at least get captured alive. Mistakes do happen, but when they do, often funding dries up for a while as a warning. Only the very top members of the organization are aware of this, and even then, not all of them. Only a handful of people know the truth.

Project: TWILIGHT get Investigation (Surveillence). They're split down the middle, SWAT and Suits, and their job is to find monsters who mimic the social constructs of human beings - cults of witches, werewolf packs, vampire covens. They'd prefer an agreed-on approach, but they don't hjave one, and bureaucracy makes it hard to make one. Some of them want to just kill te monsters, others prefer investigation to lure out the big fish. The secret? The vampires that run VALKYRIE are mostly interested in TWILIGHT, for obvious reasons. Rumor has it that a few of the lower rank members have gotten a glimpse of the vampire control over their organization, and are seeking a 'revolution' to break their grip - though if it worked, they'd lose a lot of funding.

Project: ADAMSKI get either Persuasion or Subterfuge (Conspiracy Theories). They're spooks, and they have one job: misdirection. They are very good at it. They lie, spread disinformation and keep the world believing that monsters aren't real. They hand ammunition to crazy people and conspiracy nuts to make them look even crazier. Which does occasionally mean real information that is so absurd anyone would dismiss it out of hand. Secretly? They have enemies among other hunters. First, Network Zero. ADAMSKI hates these people and has assigned agents, even whole cells, to countermand the work of more prominent NetZo hunters Second? Other VALKYRIE agents who start to work out the vampires are running VALKYRIE. ADAMSKI's bigwigs will surreptitiously send their agents to work against those cells that seek to expose the truth.

Project: FORT get Occult (Extradimensional Entities), which they know as EEs. That's anything from another world - ghosts, demons, fairies, aliens, psychic mandala,s hyperintelligent places, whatever. This means the department is mostly full of fringe folks and weirdos - urban shamans, abductees, former cult leaders, conspiracy theorists. They aren't good at protocol and so VALKYRIE is often reluctant to use them outside of dead zones - which often become hot once they start messing around. Truth is? FORT are the brains behind the Gatekeeper Device, a tool to enter the Shadow and maybe the Underworld. So far, only they know it exists and how to use it. That'll eventually change, but for now, it's so. And it's not helping the sanity of those who use it.

ICE, or the Intersitces Calculation Expedient (1 dot) is a tool that tracks interstitial terrain. VALKYRIE has long suspected it existed, but could not prove it until now. The device is portable, but not easily concealed - it's about the size of an iphone - the screen that is. It's tethered to a 30-pound backpack housing the tracker. It can locate interstices within half a mile, but only those that have appeared in the last 24 hours - it identifies their traces and residue, using a built-in GPS to trakc them.

The Gatekeeper Device (3 dots) is actually a bodysuit, lined with white filaments and marked by a number of stitched-on occult and scientific symbols. It covers even the face, with vision through dark goggles sewn onto the mask. At present, only five exist, and FORT has no resources to make more. Wearing it allowes you to enter either the Shadow or Underworld via an act of will that charges the suit via biofeedback. If you're at an Avernian Gate, this drops you in the Underworld; otherwise, the Shadow. It can only be used once every 12 hours, and exiting requires a usage. Also, there's some side effects. The thing causes persistent, terrible itching that slightly penalizes all rolls unless you spend a Willpower to stop the penalty for a while. It causes vertigo when near a threatening edge, requiring a roll to avoid falling. And use of the device causes a terrible pallor tha makes the veins show through the flesh, which lasts for a full week after use of the suit.

So what is interstitial terrain? It's the bonus material - places that fall between the cracks of reality. The terrain itself is not temporary, but the gateways that lead to it are. The terrain is literally a place where an alternate reality overlays our own. It appears almost always when no people are present at the moment, and it's always temporary, lasting no more than 24 hours. Gates can sometimes last for as short as seconds. Anything can come out or go in while the gate is open, and once it ends, anything inside is trapped until a new overlap occurs. If it occurs.

The End.

Next up is, well, the latest and final Hunter book. Mortal Remains, which covers Changelings, Prometheans and the new Demon, and is also a (fairly bad) port to the new nWoD 2e system. A new Hunter 2e is really needed because it is the laziest port. (Many Hunter powers involve Morality, which no longer exists, and Integrity, the replacement, works differently.)

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

After everything else, putting vampires behind VALKYRIE just seems... prosaic. Especially when Cheiron has Things from Beyond on its steering committee.

Mors Rattus posted:

The Gatekeeper Device (3 dots) is actually a bodysuit, lined with white filaments and marked by a number of stitched-on occult and scientific symbols.

(I couldn't resist the Nameless pic.)

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Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 00:14 on Jun 14, 2015

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