Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Locked thread
Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Bieeardo posted:

My big favourites have been mentioned, so I'll try to break newer ground. TORG. TORG really strikes me as what the Discworld eventually developed into, with its varying degrees of awareness of narrative causality and the rules that drive that set of secondhand dimensions... but in the most horribly earnest, anal-retentive way, like people discussing how peasant railguns have revolutionized warfare, without a trace of humour. I'd love to see the setting rebuilt in a way that ejects that cascading mess of Everlaws and scenarios that can only be won if certain cards are drawn in a specific order and made it a game about stories, rather than a game about being in a universe operated by the rules of a clunky 90s RPG.

Edit: I thought to say something about the Forgotten Realms, but no. Taking out Elminster and Friends would be cruelty for its own sake, and beyond that you need to dig really, really deep to find anything particularly original to salvage from that accretion of sidebars and mess.
I have this old paperback copy of a bunch of short stories which attempted with various degrees of amusement to integrate TORG and another West End Games product line... Paranoia.

Which is also, upon a cursory Google search, surprisingly valuable! Anyway, I remember it ended with an Infrared drone defeating the bad guy, whoever that was.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Mors Rattus posted:

But that's not the part I asked you to run! VASCU is a Hunter group, while they hunt serial killers, they also hunt down any magic criminal.

I really want to run a PbP this year for the first time! But I already have a pretty defined idea of what that would be already.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy


Isn't this making fun of Golarion, the Pathfinder setting? Even if it isn't, it's uncanny how close they are but I guess that comes from being the most generic of generic settings.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




So, it's been a while (brief hiatus from extended internet usage) but I'm going to give a shot at finishing the last bits and pieces of Postmodern Magick and then move on to something else. Last time we completed magickal critters and artifacts and now we're onto magickal groups.

Unknown Armies: Postmodern Magick part 7: Magick Organizations



101001101

This cabal, whose binary name translates to "333", is a mystic performance art group dedicated to the practice of Onieromancy. In fact, they're pretty much the only modern practitioners barring a few ex-members and anyone they may have taught. They co-opted the remnants of the London rave culture from the mid-nineties and they're kind of the glowsticks-and-ecstasy version of Mak Attax. They travel world-wide, throwing parties featuring both mind-altering drugs and magickal "special effects" to expand public consciousness.

There's only about 100 members and only about 10 real Adepts among them, all Onieromancers...but that number can be deceiving since many of the drug-addled misfits who are a part of the remaining 90 are "riders" whose perceptions of reality are blurred enough that they can be "ridden" by Onieromancers to help this relatively small number of adepts project their powers safely on a much wider scale (presumably while they're in some basement hooked up to a caffeine drip. Those who cross them (or just can't handle combination of hallucinogenics and reality warping) often end up in comas with their wiped out brains being re-purposed as "spare parts" for the cabal.

The entire group structures itself in a way loosely reminiscent of a computer system (the name isn't just for pretension's sake) with the non-adept flunkies and (former) enemies serving as "peripherals" or extra memory while the Onieromancers themselves serving as processors. At the center of the metaphorical computer (the "CPU" if you will) is probably the most annoying, "super-special-magick" GM-NPCs in Unknown Armies: The Rahyab. Yes, even more than the Freak.

The Rahyab is actually a set of fraternal (brother and sister) Iranian twins who frankly come off as a little bit redundant to the more interesting set of weird magick twins from the Alter Tongue entry. Like the Alter twins the two grew up sharing their own special language (which has spread to become the "true" language of 101001101) and grew up together in isolation (although their isolation was due to uncaring parents and cultural barriers). The two basically look like they stepped out of Wraeththu, being beautiful androgens who started banging each other once they hit puberty. At some point along the way they literally invented (or rediscovered) modern Onieromancy by themselves and a few years ago (in setting) their souls merged into a singular entity.

The two act as though they are separate entities: arguing, engaging in petty power struggles with one another and even suppressing their shared knowledge intentionally to create "surprises" that they can spring on one another. This ruse helps to support and strengthen the symbolic tension that they use to keep 101001101 together (and keeps the two from becoming a collective avatar of the Mystic Hermaphrodite...something the Freak has made very clear would be a bad idea).

Now, what makes the Rayhab? Two things: first, sharing one soul means that they can (if they wish) know anything the other does and share their stats. Combined they've got a body of 105 , Speed of 135, Mind of 110 and Soul of 160. These stats are normally evenly divided between the two but if they wish they can tip the balance (so if one of them is threatened they can "drain" stats from the other to improve themselves), with the only limit being that exceeding 100 in a stat can only be done for about half a minute. They can also draw skills from anyone in 101001101's "network", giving them a broad selection of abilities.

The big thing though is that they don't need to sleep. Remember, these guys are onieromancers...the adepts whose powers depend on how long they go without sleeping. They are never impaired by lack of sleep and are therefore constantly building charges, to a degree that puts even the Freak to shame. They get a minor charge every hour (so 24 minor charges a day) and a Significant charge every day and basically get to ignore all of the downsides of Onieromancy as a result. Although the Rayhab may not have the Freak's level of raw physical threat their ability to be in multiple places at once, the power to draw on just about any skill they want and their shitload of charges means that they're a pair of creepy twins you don't want to get involved with (especially since they can basically load you down with Minor or Significant Blasts without you realizing it until you go to sleep).


Are We Cool Yet?

The Dealership

The Dealership is an organization run by the Bad Man (i.e. totally not Leland Gaunt) a powerful Merchant Avatar. He's a good example of my previous stance on Merchants (i.e. don't gently caress with them). His "office" is secured against just about anything short of a full-on military assault with several blast-proof doors, secret exits and a staff who have signed their loyalty to the Bad Man in exchange for various favors.

The Bad Man himself is buff, as you would expect from a high level Merchant, although his Stats are relatively measly (90 across the board), he has 220 Wound Points, a ton of skills at 80-90%, over two centuries of extra "life" and immunity to disease and poisons. He's supernaturally durable with bullets, blades and blunt force inflicting damage only equal to the highest die rolled (so a maximum of 10 points). He has a perfect memory and a briefcase from which he can pull any inanimate object small enough to fit inside it. He has quite a few "thralls" who have signed away their life to him and several people in very high places owe him favors (a clause in all his contracts means that if he wants to call in a favor the person he is thinking of is compelled to call him).


The Grail Knights


The original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Ever hear of anyone going on an epic quest? Odds are good they ended up as one of these old guys. The Grail Knights are actually a collection of demons, several of whom mastered the neat trick of "possessing" their original bodies, keeping them "alive" indefinitely (although some never learned that particular trick or simply lost their original body somewhere along the centuries. Their shared obsession is the search for the Grail...they just can't agree what the Grail is (in fact, they have a standing agreement not to discuss the topic after the last argument cost half of them their current bodies). The exact definition of the Grail varies for all of them but they recognize that they are in a shared search for enlightenment or divinity.

Lancelot believes in the "traditional" grail, the cup of christ while Joseph of Arimathea believes it to be the bloodline of Christ and searches for Jesus' living descendants. Simeon Bar Yohai was a Talmudic scholar who became obsessed with learning the secret name of God and Paracelsus is looking for the Philosopher's stone.

The Grail Knights share a loose confederacy to share information, meeting every year to discuss their progress, plan for next year and find out who didn't make it through the past year.

Team Salvation


Names included for maximum ridiculousness

You know "Real Life Superheroes", the collection of extremely nerdy misfits who run around "do-gooding" in ridiculous home-made costumes and who run the gamut from goofy charity workers to idiotic wannabe-vigilantes? Well, this is the UA equivalent.

It all started with Martin Davis, a comic book and RPG nerd who just couldn't let go of his escapist fantasies and tried to emulate his "heroes" by doing things like training in martial arts...but also studying magick. He eventually managed to stumble on some real mojo, hooking up with an Entropomancer looking for a student. Thrilled to learn that his fantasies were "real" he dedicated himself to learning magick (and like most adepts, ruining the rest of his life in the process).

After his teacher disappeared with some cryptic final words Martin managed to put a bit of his life back together...and he got back in contact with his old gaming and comic buddies. After managing to prove to them that he wasn't just crazy he offered to introduce them to a world of real magick and wonder...but with great power...

The gang formed a group of occult superheroes (although only two others aside from Martin had any actual mojo: a guy with an artifact and an Avatar of the Flying woman). Fortunately they retain enough sense not to jump through windows in tights shouting "surrender evil-doers" and most of their "crime-fighting" has simply consisted of them finding shady occult activity and drawing unwanted attention to it. Fearing the tiger, most adepts and other unsavory types skip town rather than throw down.

So far, the worst blowback the group has experienced is pissing off a mechanomancer who burned their original "HQ" to the ground. Now they operate out of an office building (the public location unknowingly keeping them safer than secrecy ever would have).

The gang shows just how much can be accomplished in the Underground by a group of clued-in mostly normals. Of course, if they aren't careful they'll also show just how bad things can get for a group of "clued-in" idiots who are in over their heads.


UFO (Unidentified Foreign Ontology)

These are those guys you really don't want to get stuck having a conversation with at a party. They take "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" to a whole new level.

Essentially UFO is a group that believes mankind is on the verge of awakening to a new level of being or consciousness. Unusual events like UFO sightings and psychic phenomena are seen as the first signs of this "awakening".

Of course, like the Grail Knights, none of them really agree on the where, how or why of this rebirth. Some literally believe in aliens coming to elevate humanity, others throw around ideas like merging alternate realities, the thinning of the barrier between the material and the spiritual, changes to the collective unconsciousness, etc. The word "Quantum" probably gets thrown around a lot.

Fortunately, a total lack of understanding doesn't stand in their way. Together they search out unusual events and general weirdness, hoping to find some clue as to the coming...whatever.

Dukes

This is a collection of "Duke" level NPCs. Some notable facts:

Carthage And Rome: These two are a pair of Demons who have been screwing with one another for the past ??? years/decades/centuries. They engage in nonsensical and seemingly arbitrary contests. The two share an obsession with beating the other and thus are constantly coming up with new "games" with no rhyme or reason (often involving mortals as pawns). Essentially they are a pair of "random adventure hook generators" given names and set upon each other.

Eustace Crane: Crane is a frustrated Mulder living in a Scully world. He's basically the UA version of James Randi, a skilled stage magician who is also extremely well educated in physics and psychology. He also has an intense hatred of those who use "magic" to defraud or trick others and actively seeks out and debunks them. But he also desperately wants to believe in magic and the supernatural, he's just too intelligent to delude himself into believing without proof (he's even got Randi's 1,000,000$ prize for provable magic). Unfortunately, he's also a walking anti-magick zone: magick in his vicinity will never work and reality even warps itself to ensure that no evidence of real magick is ever available to him. Even if some amazing, dramatic magick event happened outside of his zone of influence he'd just happen to be looking the other way at the time.

Fu Hsing Hwang: This little old dude is, first and foremost, a near-Godwalker level Fool avatar. He is also, apparently, the only person capable of teaching Enlightened Tai Chi, a special Struggle skill which of course is a super-martial art. Although impressive for unarmed combat it doesn't take the place of a gun however (but in combo with his Fool abilities I wouldn't try to fight Fu Hsing Hwang if I were you).

The Nomad Raphael Raph is an Urbanomancer with a difference. Specifically he's an "Urban Shaman" which we are told is not really an urbanomancer, but probably seems like it should have been (they even have the same taboo). Basically Raphael comes off as a weird hybrid of Thanatomancer and Urbanomancer. To gain charges he must perform "sacrifices" to specific totems (Car, Gun, Pollution, Home, and Rat) by ritually destroying items symbolic to them (burning down a house, catching and killing a rat bare-handed, pushing a car into the river, etc). Raphael must keep a fetish of the totem spirit which he can draw on for Minor charges or drain completely for a significant charge. For a major charge he's got to sacrifice an Artifact representation of the totem. All in all he's got a much easier time building charges...the downside is he can only perform Random Magick, no formula spells and each sacrifice only grants power with the totem in question.



And so that's it (finally!) with Postmodern Magick.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Josef bugman posted:

Who after the 19th century spells "muslims" with an o and an e?

Germans. Though we technically use both, and the 19th century versions seems to be going out of style and/or appears to be reserved for the singular form.

RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Isn't this making fun of Golarion, the Pathfinder setting? Even if it isn't, it's uncanny how close they are but I guess that comes from being the most generic of generic settings.

If only Golarion had an Evil Shangri-La.

Josef bugman posted:

I would love to see Glorantha get even slightly into the mainstream. It'd be wonderful if KoDP became the next 5 nights at Freddie's and more people became interested in it.

While I would approve of more love for KoDP, I don't think the it can compete with games that have been designed to be YT clickbait.

oriongates posted:

Unknown Armies: Postmodern Magick part 7: Magick Organizations



Dem group shots.

Double Cross - Advanced Rulebook


I'd say that every city in DX just has a single letter name, but then I remember that places like Tokyo still exist.

City N

City N is the default Stage (aka place to have adventures in) of DX. It's a 1 hour train ride away from Tokyo and was hit pretty hard when the Japanese economy crashed. Things are looking much brighter now, but there are still plenty of abandoned buildings and factories that are just beggining to be used as secret laboratories and battlegrounds.


I wonder what the other cities along this river are called?

I might question the wisdom of City N's redevelopment plans for having their university only two streets away from an abandoned area teeming with criminal activity, but what do I know about redevelopment?

All in all, this map is a more expanded version of the one from the corebook with a few new locations:

The Public Library stands out among the surrounding buildings because of its age, as it was built back when City N gained its city status. It has a pretty good and diverse selection and is quite popular with the locals.

The Hanashima Building is the HQ of the Hanashima Yakuza family, a member of the Kou-Ou Society. It looks like a legitimate business from the outside, but it is a base for the Family and False Hearts, their newest allies.

The F&F Sports Club is a pretty nice workout place and unofficial training facility for UGN Agents and Illegals. And you want anabolic drugs, the shady part of town is right around the corner.

Kamishiro Foods is one of the few bits of industry still left in City N. There are quite a few rumors surrounding this place, and knowing that the Kamishiro Group has its hands in all kinds of things - even the Renegade - who knows whats actually going on there.

The Kuroshima Clinic is not actually found on any official city map, and it doesn't have any kind of billboards, or really anything to stand out from the other buildings.

River N features a popular cycling path on its west bank and is a frequent location for fireworks and marathons.

NPCs of City N

The Advanced Rulebook features a crapton more NPcs for the City:

Asaka Tsukihara is a high school student who had a Renegade encounter during her childhood. She was mindwiped by the UGN, but a nagging suspicion that something was off stayed with her. Her quest for the truth turned her into a very intelligent and wise girl, and she might just find out about the Renegade in the near future.

Akira "Dragon Breath" Matsunawa is a Salamandra/Balor UGN Agent (formerly an Illegal) who runs the Sports Club. Aside from training comrades, she checks out rumors and keeps an eye out for potential new Overeds. She also knows Overed Karate, whatever that is.

Yoko Mizoguchi, aka "Mom" is the motherly caretaker of City N's UGN Children and young Illegals and a Solaris/Neumann Overed herself. She's a bit torn between her "kids" trying to make the world a better place and them potentially losing their lifes in the process.
I'm also pretty sure her writeup has a little typo, as she is supposedly only 17, which meshes neither with her position nor her picture:


No anime character under 30 is drawn like this - with the possible exception of Satoshi Kon movies.

Mifuyu "White Winter" Kanemura is an adorable 11-year-old UGN Child and Salamandra True-Breed. She's a quick learner and eager to one day help her older "siblings". She still has a lot of untapped potential, but she can already beat up Yakuza members with her bare hands, which is always good for a laugh.

Shun "Good Life" Masukura is a high school student and Chimaera/Bram Stoker/Morpheus Illegal. He does a pretty good job at it, probably because he finds being an Overed much more awesome than the boring life he has previously.

Kohei Samejima is a veteran detective and one of the few members of the City N Police who know about the Renegade. He can't stand Overeds, but he has to put up with them as he knows nobody else can handle Renegade-related incidents.

Shotaro Kashima is the Hanashima Family boss. Ever since he is in charge, the Family has moved on to legal businesses to keep the cops away and cooperations with False Hearts, whose activities are hard to trace by non-Overeds.

Mitsuo "Dr. Lincoln" Kuroshima is the doctor of the secret clinic mentioned above. He's not an Overed, but he still got a nickname, which is derived from his bushy hair and unusual tallness. He treats anyone and never asks questsions, but his prices are ridiculous, and he doesn't accept insurance.

Tama, the City's Companion is the source of a legend about a cat that has been alive since the 17th century. Tama actually is that old, but he's not actually a cat, but a Chimaera Renegade Being. Spending much of his life as an EX Renegade, he has recently gained the ability to talk, which sprouted yet more rumors.

A great thing about City N is that it avoids the typical problem of your superhero game's default city already having a Justice League worth of well-established veteran characters the PCs have to share the spotlight with.
City N doesn't have this problem, and it makes it very clear that the PCs are the unquestioned big drat heroes of the UGN's local branch. There isn't even a canonical Branch Chief, and the example Scenarios assume that one of the PCs takes this role.
And of the UGN members presented in the NPC section, only Akira and Shun would actually take on missions, and both of them have statblocks that are pretty close to a starting character.

Next Time: E-Loises and Enemies - or how to destroy the world with pure hate.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Settings that I love but want to fix, you say?

Good lord I haven't touched this since May.

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 12d: Welcome to the Kanawa Corporate family!

So last time way the gently caress back here, I covered half of the chapter on the current situation in Japan. To wit, the high-level, social view.

The next part of the chapter is about the Kanawa Corporation itself.

Like all the other invaders, 3327 had to send operatives ahead of time to scout locations, set up stelae, all that fun stuff. But unlike the other High Lords, 3327's agents had a larger purpose: to find companies that he could buy out to serve as shell corporations.

The "lucky" company was a small electronics firm called Hechiro Electronics of Osaka, a manufacturer of high-tech mutinions. The company was taken over thanks to the standard economic practice of "use ninjas to kill the current owners", and 3327 assumed the position of CEO through his persona of "Ryuchi Kanawa".

Renaming the place to "The Kanawa Corporation", 3327 began expanding his empire. By moving in the higher-tech Marketplace manufacturing technologies (which were faster and cheaper than what Core Earth could do), Kanawa was able to undercut his competition and rocket the company to the largest arms manufacturer in the world. From there, Kanawa started buying out other corportations in other fields. Then he'd set those companies up with the new manufacturing technolgies, undercut that field's competion, and so on.

Within a month, the Kanawa Corporation had positioned itself as a major economic power.

It wasn't long before the secrets of Kanawa's "new" technologies leaked out to Core Earth companies (good ol' Law of Treachery!), and Kanawa managed to stay ahead at first by manufacturing the cheapest consumer goods possible at as much of a profit as he can. But now that the cat is out of the bag (so to speak), he's relying on a good old-fashioned junk bond Ponzi scheme.

There's a few paragraphs about that a junk bond is, given that this was written in the early 90's and most people didn't know what they were since the high-profile stateside schemes hadn't happened yet. That said, the explanation here isn't that great and you're better off reading the entry on Wikipedia.

quote:

The reasoning goes something like this: suppose you were to invest ¥1 million in bonds with a 10 percent yield issued by Toyota, which for all practical purposes has no chance of going bankrupt in the six-month term covered by the bond. At the end of six months, your return would be ¥1,050,000 (¥1 million + ¥1 million x 5 percent - the 10 percent is an annual rate and you have only invested for 6 months) for a profit of ¥50,000. Now suppose you invested the same ¥1 million in 20-percent yield junk bonds issued by 100 separate companies. Right now, the failure without return rate (the percentage of junk bond issuers that go belly up without being able to honor their bonds issued to the public) of such companies in Nippon is roughly three percent, meaning that three of the companies in which you invested will go bankrupt and that you will lose three percent of the money you invested (or ¥30,000). But your return on the remaining ¥970,000 is 20 percent giving you a total return of ¥1,067,000 for a profit of ¥67,000, or approximately ¥17,000 more than you would have made dealing in "blue chip" issues.

3327 has sold literally trillions of yen in junk bonds in the 15% to 20% interest rate category, creating new dummy corporations as needed to get the bonds out there in the first place and lining his pockets the whole time.

On top of that, the Kanawa corporate structure is one large pyramid scheme.

3327 creates new corporations so he can sell junk bonds. But because most of the companies' initial profits are owed to the investors at insane interest, these companies have to come out of the gate earning somewhere in the vicinity of 130% profit. Obviously that's pretty unlikely, so 3327 sets up these corporations in a sort of pyramid scheme. When a corporation's bonds become due, 3327 has a different corporate entity issue its own set of junk bonds, then uses that money to pay off the bonds from the company that's about to default.

And where does the money come from in the first place? From the Japanese citizenry, of course. 3327 has used both the rapid growth of the Kanawa Corporation and the current world situation to send people into an investment frenzy: you're not just earning a profit, you're helping Japan stay an economic power in the post-invasion world! By investing in these corporations, you're helping the fight against the High Lords!

Through all this, 3327 now effectively owns about half of Japan. Like, literally owns. His biggest coup was managing to take over the Bank of Japan and its subidiary lending houses, giving him an even tighter control over Japan's (and, by extention, Core Earth's) economy. There are a few groups that are starting to notice that something's up, and there's a hacker group that is trying to get Kanawa's pyramid to collapse now before it's too late, but unfortunately these groups aren't powerful enough to be anything but a nuisance.

What's even better about this (for 3327 anyway) is that because everyone's so focused on the obvious invaders and scrambling to try and get things back to a stable global position, the rest of the world isn't paying close attention to what's going on in Japan. After all, with most of North America and Europe under new reality management, of course the remaining major economic power would have to step up and fill in the gap! In fact, foreign investors see the current situation in Japan as a huge "get rich quick" scene and are pumping more cash into Kanawa's money engine.

The practical upshot of all this is that Japan's economy is in a very slow, very carefully managed downward spiral that leads right into 3327's bank account. And once the whole system reaches the point where it all has to fall apart, all he has to do is jump ship back to his home reality and start looking for a new world to plunder. To 3327, becoming Torg is secondary to earning profit, so as far as he's concerned Core Earth and the other High Lords can go gently caress themselves once he's bled them for everything he can make a dime off of.

That's not to say that he's not thinking long-term. 3327 has a lot of plans in place to take advantage of what would happen if the other Possibility Raiders were defeated before Japan's economy collapses under its own weight.

The main plan involves, believe it or not, land ownership. Through his numerous dummy corporations, 3327 has been buying territory that has been taken over by the other High Lords. There's a lot of very valuable territory out there that the owners can't use because it currently has dinosaurs, Egyptian cultists, vampires, or God-knows-what on it. 3327 has been buying that land up for a pitance from their owners, and when/if the other High Lords get kicked off-planet, everyone is going to be rather shocked to find out that the Kanawa Corporation owns a sizable chunk of the oil fields in Africa and almost all the mining industry in the States.


"I don't know, I can't read English."

The next part of this chapter is about the The Structure of Kanawa, and is a general overview of Kanawa and its subsidiaries.

3327 is the CEO of Kanawa, of course, but he has three board members that are on board with the overall plan and help him keep control of the whole set-up.

The first is "Murasaki Yamato", a.k.a. 7710 and 3327's right-hand man.

The second is a Core Earther, Saito Horyu. Saito was a board member of Hechiro, and was tapped by 3327 because he wanted a "familiar face" on the board through all the changes. For his part, Saito is more than happy to sell out his company and planet; he's greedy and incredibly bitter due to years of being passed over for promotion in the original company. Saito suspects that 3327 may be a High Lord, but even if he figured it out he'd still be willing to serve. Partially because he's a greedy amoral gently caress, but also because of the third important board member, Isei Sagato.

Isei is a highly-placed board member, and is rumored to be the head of the Yakuza. And in this case, the rumors are true. Isei is quite comfortable with the rest of the board being terrified of him, and while he also suspects there's more to Ryuchi Kanawa than meets the eye, he's not going to rock the boat as long as the money keeps rolling in.

The rest of the board are basically chair-warmers that the above people don't give a single poo poo about.

Next up is a list of the various Kanawa subsidiaries, but for the sake of not boring you all to death I'll just post the structure PowerPoint.



That's not every company under 3327's control, of course. He's taken over other megacorporations, kept them separate from Kanawa on paper, and used them to start new corporate structures in order to keep his eggs in multiple baskets.

So far the only real resistance 3327 has come across (apart from the usual array of Storm Knights) comes in the form of the Rauru Block. The Block was formed by the heads of two corporations who found the Kanawa Corporation's meteoric rise and constant new technological advances rather suspicious. Originally, the Block's purpose was to investigate Kanawa and see what the hell was going on, because clearly something illegal had to be happening. Unfortunately for them, by the time they really started digging in 3327 already had control of the government and a large chunk of the Yakuza. Unable to bring evidence to any sort of authorative body, the Block has had to shift their operations from investigation to stopping the Kanawa Corporation by any means.

Well, not any means just yet. Right now they're focused on corporate espionage and hacking. Once 3327 caught wind of the Block and their activities, he sicced the ninjas on them. The Block wasn't wiped out completely, but now they realize that they need to start working on a more physical level and has begun hiring mercs and related operatives for protection and sabotage.

quote:

Currently, the officials of the Rauru Block know that there is a conspiracy involving big business, the Yakuza, and the government in Japan. They know that the Kanawa Corporation is involved in the conspiracy, and they know that other mega-corporations are cooperating with Kanawa (Block members are aware of the identities of the other firms discussed above that make up 3327's empire).

The members of the Rauru Block do not know:
1) that "Ryuchi Kanawa" is an alien High Lord from another cosm and that he plans to absorb the possibility energy of Japanese citizens;
2) exactly which government officials are part of the conspiracy;
3) exactly who controls the Yakuza, although they are reasonably certain that Sagato is connected with the organization somehow and may be its leader.
There are two high-level players on the Japanese field that are allied with neither the Kanawa Corporation or the Rauru Block. The first is a megacorp called Hanyu Limited, that seemed to spring up overnight in Yokohama. Nobody knows who owns Hanyu (not even 3327), and the company seems to be dedicated to serving the other High Lords. The other wild card is a freelance spy known only as "Haiku" because we had to get that in here somehow. Nothing is known about Haiku, including his/her gender or age. Haiku has done work for both 3327 and the Block, and is only loyal to his/her paycheck.

Just FYI, both the above two plot devices are never seen again in the rest of the line. Or this book.


Subtle, guys.

The book now begins spending a large amount of time and pagecount talking about the Yakuza, but forgive me for not including the stuff you can look up on Wikipedia or in John Woo movies.

One of the first things 3327 did when he came to Core Earth was send his agents to inflitrate the Yakuza and bring the whole shebang under his control. Normally this would be rather difficult, but one of the advantages of being a High Lord is access to non-standard methods of persuasion. Such as, for instance, armies of gospogs you can sic on the Yakuza leader when he says he's not interested in cutting a deal.

Once the former head of the Yakuza was cut to pieces by unhuman monsters, the new head of the Yakuza (the aforementioned Isei Sagato) was more than willing to join up. Of course, not all the families under him were as willing, and this kicked off the most violent gang war in Japan's history. 3327 and Sagato came out on top, of course, and the surviving Yakuza families were restructured from 20+ separate families down to five large conglomerates.

For the most part, the new "families" are kept in line through a combination of the threat of another gospog massacre and the largest profits they've ever made in their lives.

There's always a downside, though, and the public perception of the Yakuza has gone down post-Invasion. You see, back
before everything went to hell the Yakuza took it upon themselves to stamp down on non-Yakuza crime through the good
old-fashioned protection setups. On top of that, it wasn't uncommon for people to go to the Yakuza for a little
off-the-record "justice for hire" for things you didn't want to trouble the cops with. Now, the Yakuza are becoming
more...well, thuggish. They're not policing their territories, they're not helping people who come hat in hand, and they're dealing more in things like hard drugs and human trafficking.


Lllladies...

What's more, the changes are causing a lot of tension within the families themselves. A lot of operatives, enforcers, and lower-tier members don't like how the new restructuing has affected their lives.

quote:

murai.
At the center of the Yakuza code is the idea of loyalty to the family head. A Yakuza soldier is supposed to accept the orders of his family head without question and carry them out successfully. Failing to carry out an order issued by the family head means the soldier must pay a penalty. Many Westerners are familiar with the Yakuza practice of having a soldier chop off his own finger to atone for a failure. Almost all veteran Yakuza soldiers have one or more fingers missing due to this traditional method of punishment.

But self-mutilation is not the only way asoldiercan makeup fora wrong. The family head may call for anything from a fine to death from a failed soldier. The Yakuza code requires the underling to accept the family head's penalty immediately and without question.

Since 3327's reorganization, however, this particular aspect of the code of honor has become rather confused. The honor code binds soldiers only to their family heads, which under 3327's scheme are not necessarily the men who are issuing the soldiers their orders. Some soldiers refuse to accept the penalties demanded by daimyos or underdaimyos with whom the soldier was not affiliated in the past. Sagato has decreed that all soldiers are to accept their daimyos as family heads with respect to the code of honor, but many are still rather reluctant to accept this mandate.
Basically the Yakuza have been turned into an army of thugs for 3327 with the side-benefit of generating more profit for him through illegal activities. Of course, thanks to the Law of Intrigue, eventually they're going to turn on him, but until that happens they're just tightening his grip on the country for him.

And now, finally, we get to talk about ninjas!

For a page.

quote:

Ninja are highly trained warriors who use their knowledge of the martial arts for assassination. In contrast to many other masters of these disciplines, the ninja have involved themselves in the affairs of the outside world for centuries. Japanese history is filled with colorful incidents of assassinations and spying missions carried out by distinctly garbed ninja warriors, though few realize that the legends of the seemingly "magical" powers of the ninja are all true. For centuries, a combination of greed and pure enjoyment of the sport of assassination led the various heads of the ninja temple to accept these missions and conceal them from the membership of the Sons of the Wind.
They may be confusing "history" with "anime".

Anyway, one important thing about ninjas is that they know martial arts powers that'll come up later, but (of course!) with one important downside: because ninjitsu is a "perversion" of martial arts, their Spirit stat suffers (not that they say how), and ninjas cannot spend Possibilities on uses of the reality skill, even when attempting to reconnect. Why? Because gently caress you, that's why.

And yes, "ninja" is one of the available character templates, and suffers from this penalty.

Anyway, 3327 controls the ninja (all the ninja) through an alliance their leader Gazokai. Yes, there's one leader of the ninja.

quote:

The temple of the ninja is the only domain oftheart which has its own fully functional FAX machine.
And that's everything you need to know about ninjas in Torg! Moving on!

The next part is about the Sons of the Wind. In keeping with the terrible organization and misunderstanding of the interesting parts of the setting that are endemic to Torg, more space is given to the history of the Sons than to the entiretly of the sections on ninja. Because I care about the schism between two guys 500 years ago to the point where I need a page of history.

The Sons of the Wind are basically an organization of good-guy freelance martial arts heroes. They have a very loose organization, being more like a kung-fu version of the National Guard than an army. They've come out of centuries of hiding due to, and I quote, "various martial artists inJapan began to feel a disturbance in the very reality of things." There are only three main rules:

1. Any member of the Sons may call a meeting of the whole organization in order to vote on important matters, or to determine if they should get involved in global affairs.
2. The Sons cannot reveal the existence of the group to the world.
3. Conflicts between members would be settled through one-on-one martial arts duels.

Good lord we're still not done with this chapter! Now it's time to talk about Nippon Tech stelae. As stated before, stelae in Nippon Tech take two different forms: as either telephone exchange boxes in the country, or as functioning ATMs in the cities. Because 3327 takes new territory via buyouts rather than comquest, it's ridiculously easy to set up stelae boundaries in preparation for dropping a bridge inside some empty skyscraper under the pretense of normal corporate expansion.


Pictured: reality expansion

3327 is also always on the lookout for eternity shards, and tends to have more success than the other High Lords because, again, nobody knows he's looking. Instead of sitting on them, he sells them to other High Lords at a substatial profit.

3327 employs gospog just like the other High Lords, but initially had a problem where he couldn't figure out the best way to use the giant rampaging plant zombies while keeping a low profile. He solved the problem by converting a Japanese hydroponic plant into a gospog field, and "growing" the monsters into specially-prepared suits of high-tech samurai armor. The armor is completely sealed and very strong, leaving no evidence that there's not a human in there. As an added bonus, gospog are pretty mindless and as a result aren't subject to the Law of Intrigue. 3327 keeps a few near him at all times to serve as bodyguards.


Ew.

And except for some small adventures, that's it for the chapter.

Finally.

Good loving lord this was rough to get through. it's only 30 pages, but as always it bounces from topic to topic, giving too much detail on poo poo I don't care about or don't need. I don't need a province-by-province breakdown of what's going on in Japan. I don't need the history of the Yakuza over the past 100 years. I don't need the 500 year history of a group whose sole purpose is...to be where PC martial artists come from I guess?

At the risk of being a broken record, Torg has no idea what the end-user needs to know or cares about. It's just a pile of ideas you're expected to sift through to find the bits that are actually usable.

Can you imagine what this game could have been if the writers were more focused?


NEXT TIME: Axioms and World Rules revisited!

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

The 17 thing might just be a reference to the Kikuko Inoue running gag, where she always insists she's just 17.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



echopapa posted:

I usually play in 13th Age’s gonzo fantasy setting and the Star Wars universe, but I’m interested in Warbirds (1920s celebrity sky pirates) and Tropicana (modern banana republic).

Ever since playing Crimson Skies on the original Xbox I have dreamed of a game that's retro-futurist biplanes taking off from blimp bases. I don't care if it's realistic or TaleSpin, I just want it.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Isn't this making fun of Golarion, the Pathfinder setting? Even if it isn't, it's uncanny how close they are but I guess that comes from being the most generic of generic settings.

Would just need "Sexy gypsies" and "Wait, sexy gypsies again?" to be perfect.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


unseenlibrarian posted:

The 17 thing might just be a reference to the Kikuko Inoue running gag, where she always insists she's just 17.

I think that might actually be it. Man, I suck when it comes to Japanese VAs.

theironjef posted:

Would just need "Sexy gypsies" and "Wait, sexy gypsies again?" to be perfect.

And maybe a "Viva la Revolution!"

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

(I'll be honest, I knew of the running gag, but couldn't remember the name, so google to the rescue.)

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





theironjef posted:

Ever since playing Crimson Skies on the original Xbox I have dreamed of a game that's retro-futurist biplanes taking off from blimp bases. I don't care if it's realistic or TaleSpin, I just want it.

You already invented Blimpleggers, what are you waiting for? Go write a goddamn sourcebook or something.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Evil Mastermind posted:

And once the whole system reaches the point where it all has to fall apart, all he has to do is jump ship back to his home reality and start looking for a new world to plunder.

This makes no sense. So he owns a huge pile of Nuyen / other Earth currency - if he abandons Earth then he also abandons this currency. To actually keep the profit he'd need to be shipping stuff back to his home reality that he can keep.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The Lone Badger posted:

This makes no sense. So he owns a huge pile of Nuyen / other Earth currency - if he abandons Earth then he also abandons this currency. To actually keep the profit he'd need to be shipping stuff back to his home reality that he can keep.

That's nothing. 3327 has done this whole song and dance on multiple worlds, but there's nothing about the sustainability of the project or if/how he alters economies to be compatible with Marketplace's.

There's a lot of talk about how he sends things from Marketplace to Core Earth in order to build up the Kanawa empire, but nothing about bringing it back home or sending it somewhere else.

And you know what? That'd be fine...if they didn't spend so much effort defining every little thing about 3327's plans. But, as I've said before, the more you define the more the holes start to show.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Evil Mastermind posted:

That's nothing. 3327 has done this whole song and dance on multiple worlds, but there's nothing about the sustainability of the project or if/how he alters economies to be compatible with Marketplace's.

There's a lot of talk about how he sends things from Marketplace to Core Earth in order to build up the Kanawa empire, but nothing about bringing it back home or sending it somewhere else.

And you know what? That'd be fine...if they didn't spend so much effort defining every little thing about 3327's plans. But, as I've said before, the more you define the more the holes start to show.

is he maybe siphoning Possibility back to Marketplace, or is that not how it works (I don't know how TORG works at all)?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Midjack posted:

is he maybe siphoning Possibility back to Marketplace, or is that not how it works (I don't know how TORG works at all)?

He's almost certainly also doing that (all the Possibility Raiders do). But he doesn't need to make money to do that.

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

Evil Mastermind posted:

That's nothing. 3327 has done this whole song and dance on multiple worlds, but there's nothing about the sustainability of the project or if/how he alters economies to be compatible with Marketplace's.

There's a lot of talk about how he sends things from Marketplace to Core Earth in order to build up the Kanawa empire, but nothing about bringing it back home or sending it somewhere else.

And you know what? That'd be fine...if they didn't spend so much effort defining every little thing about 3327's plans. But, as I've said before, the more you define the more the holes start to show.

I went back and looked at the world maxims. Law of Profit -- just by having giant piles of money, 3327 can do everything cheaper. It doesn't matter if one pile is in nonconvertible currency, it's still a big pile of money.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



theironjef posted:

Ever since playing Crimson Skies on the original Xbox I have dreamed of a game that's retro-futurist biplanes taking off from blimp bases. I don't care if it's realistic or TaleSpin, I just want it.

Romance in the Air is a FATE World of Adventure, a kind of mini-setting, that is exactly this.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Midjack posted:

is he maybe siphoning Possibility back to Marketplace, or is that not how it works (I don't know how TORG works at all)?

The Lone Badger posted:

He's almost certainly also doing that (all the Possibility Raiders do). But he doesn't need to make money to do that.
Not exactly; any Possibility energy siphoned by a High Lord goes right into his Darkness Device.

I talked about this waaaaaay back at the beginning of all this, but normally the flow of P-energy goes from the cosm to the people then back to the cosm and so on. The reality and the people in it basically draw the P-energy from each other. This loop is what keeps realities "alive" and allows the reality to "advance" and grow. Axioms change by people unconsciously investing P-energy into their world.

When a Darkness Device enters the equation, it breaks the cycle. People still invest P-energy into the realm, but the energy that would go from the realm back to the people is intercepted and stored in the Darkness Device instead.



That's why realities taken over by High Lords stagnate; the flow of P-energy is siphoned by the stelae, so the investment from inhabitant to cosm can't happen.

So yes, while 3327 is stealing P-energy from Core Earth, he's not investing it in Marketplace. He's just banking it in his Darkness Device.

e:

Glazius posted:

I went back and looked at the world maxims. Law of Profit -- just by having giant piles of money, 3327 can do everything cheaper. It doesn't matter if one pile is in nonconvertible currency, it's still a big pile of money.
Also this. At the end of the day it's about profit. Not if he can use what he's earned, just that he's earned it.

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011



Evil Mastermind posted:

Also this. At the end of the day it's about profit. Not if he can use what he's earned, just that he's earned it.

That does go to a really odd semantic place though. Can you actually call earnings from your venture a "profit" if they are essentially valueless? Though, of course, that already resides on top of the whole concept of currency being a shared illusion that we just accept has value so I suppose there's little point in bringing up arguments about trading cave lizards for useless rocks at a high stated value to turn big "profits."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Alien Rope Burn posted:

I really want to run a PbP this year for the first time! But I already have a pretty defined idea of what that would be already.

Pity. Someone needs to run a VASCU game, I really want to play in one.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


unseenlibrarian posted:

(I'll be honest, I knew of the running gag, but couldn't remember the name, so google to the rescue.)

I can see that. I'm a sponge of random trivia myself.

LornMarkus posted:

That does go to a really odd semantic place though. Can you actually call earnings from your venture a "profit" if they are essentially valueless? Though, of course, that already resides on top of the whole concept of currency being a shared illusion that we just accept has value so I suppose there's little point in bringing up arguments about trading cave lizards for useless rocks at a high stated value to turn big "profits."

Maybe he invests in stuff of more universal value, like gold? Or interdimensional Bitcoins?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Doresh posted:

Maybe he invests in stuff of more universal value, like gold? Or interdimensional Bitcoins?
Oh my god now I want to see Malraux in the updated Torg getting into Bitcoins.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Evil Mastermind posted:

Oh my god now I want to see Malraux in the updated Torg getting into Bitcoins.

Indulgences. He would call them Indulgences. After all, what else is a bit of value unattached to anything physical?

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

E-Indulgences. Toil as a virtual miner to pay your ancestor's way out of Godnet purgatory! But God's Mercy is Finite, so there are only so many indulgences that can be mined, with each getting harder to dig up....

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


unseenlibrarian posted:

E-Indulgences. Toil as a virtual miner to pay your ancestor's way out of Godnet purgatory! But God's Mercy is Finite, so there are only so many indulgences that can be mined, with each getting harder to dig up....

And beware the exploding Sinners and teleporting Satanmen whose gaze spells certain doom.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Comrade Koba posted:

You already invented Blimpleggers, what are you waiting for? Go write a goddamn sourcebook or something.

That's your $400 pledge level reward right there. God knows I'd pay.

unseenlibrarian posted:

E-Indulgences. Toil as a virtual miner to pay your ancestor's way out of Godnet purgatory! But God's Mercy is Finite, so there are only so many indulgences that can be mined, with each getting harder to dig up....


2 – MADLANDER CULTURE


Hey baby, do my weird wink and uneven nipples turn you on?

As far as material needs go, the Madlanders have it pretty easy; though extracting a living from the surrounding land is hard, there’s enough to allow them enough time for art and recreation. However, they have to deal with the prospect of supernatural disaster at any time. Madlander culture is shaped around surviving both the land and its magic.

In a Madlander village, men do the hunting and fishing and women do the farming (which consists entirely of food or medicine tubers). Women also make everything except iron tools, weapons, and buildings, but both genders make a “pungent” kind of booze known as zoxibek. Everything made is shared by the community, though people do get to use specific items they particularly like; basically, you can take any item you want as long as the “owner” doesn’t object, and if you can argue to a neutral arbitrating party that you using something would help the community more, you get it anyway. As for things made outside the village, Madlanders avoid relying on foreign goods for anything to keep away from getting dependent on them. However, they happily trade for luxury items or unusual foods. By the way, Madlanders live in and identify with their villages; though they do help each other when they can, there’s no sense of nationality and every village fends for itself.

Game Idea 8: A foreign trader (probably Savarginian) is trying to set up a trade route with your village, and several elders have become enamored of their goods. How will you convince them to give up their treasured items for the sake of the community? Or, will you protect the trade route and try to build your village into something greater?
Game Idea 9: A villager, the friend of one or more PCs, is growing too attached to his spear and is refusing to give it up. Several villagers think his greed is attracting supernatural attention, and they’ve charged the characters to convince him to part with it. Why is he so set on keeping it? Does it have anything to do with his recently dead wife? And does it have anything to do with how his most fervent opponents are his dead wife’s parents?

It’s worth noting here that the book’s depiction of village life is problematic in a few ways. First, there’s the obvious issue of gender; men and women lead very different lives that are somewhat defined by Western gender roles. Though it goes out of its way to point out how the genders do have balanced power – women are equal to men as elders, both sides have important roles in running and supplying the settlement, and as for those who wish to assume another gender role, well… we’ll get to that later.


Don't worry, be gutted and eaten by anti-magic barbarians!

The primary division in Madlander society (which is between men ) is fishers and hunters. Though everybody goes on both hunting and fishing expeditions at the appropriate time of year, most men identify with one group or the other and heartily mock their counterparts when they come with them – only for the favor to be returned later on. Speaking of which, humor is important to both sides (we’ll elaborate on that later); choice nicknames for fishers include “cod slayers”, “trail farters”, and “skunk attractors”, which are countered with stuff like “whale bait”, “sinkers”, and my personal favorite, “boat painters”. The book points out that these jokes actually serve a purpose; they diffuse anxiety on expeditions by reinforcing their “manhood” (“I may be poo poo at this, but at least I can give as good as I get!”), making them more confident. Also, it gets them riled up and competitive, making everyone work harder.

Game Idea 10: The PCs are a group of fishermen sent in with a hunting party only to encounter a heightless (basically an invulnerable serial killer with an Achilles heel, see later). As their more knowledgeable companions are picked off, can the PCs figure out the monster’s weakness in time to survive?


Vomit is always charmingly depicted in tabletop games.

Speaking of humor (and language in general), the book goes out of its way to talk about Madlander jokes. The Madlands are loving awful, and humor is one of the best ways to deal with loving awful things. Such jokes tend to be super duper dark – the example given involves a guy getting all four limbs and his head bloodily torn off – but they don’t see it that way; instead, all the violence and destruction inherent in these jokes make the ineffable less scary. The same goes for proverbs; Madlanders love proverbs, trotting them out every time it seems even vaguely appropriate. They even use proverbs that no one understands anymore! They just use them whenever something weird happens and they don’t know what to say.

Game Idea 11: This is more suitable for downtime in a Madlands campaign than a game.. The characters are sitting around a campfire at night when they decide to start busting out old jokes. Have the players come up with the darkest jokes they can think of, tell weird proverbs, and mildly insult each other for maybe 45 minutes.

Also, instead of swearing with words for excrement or particularly blaspheming (a loving terrible idea), Madlanders use words with social meanings – stupid, lazy, drunk, etc. “Useless” and “liar” are both grave insults, and calling someone a Gaget (lit. Togethian) is fighting words. Racism! There isn’t much else to talk about here.


Pottery in the Madlands is made by jamming wet rocks into giant hunks of meat.

But there’s plenty to talk about here! We’ve finally hit the timebomb that’s been ticking since I started writing this – gender. According to the book, Madlanders see women and men as fundamentally different but fundamentally equal. It doesn’t avoid western gender roles, though; those are woven into the book deep. The sexes divide labor according to gender, as mentioned above, and work interaction between them is scarce – most intersex relations are between family, relatives, and spouses rather than friendships. Women are more intelligent and complex than those silly, simple men and invent most new jokes and proverbs, which are then refined by the men into “hoary chestnuts”. As such, men find women strange and mysterious and mostly pursue the most mystifying ones. In return, women tend to condescend to men because they think they know them so much better than they know themselves (am I right, ladies ) and find their bravado cute and amusing, like a small child saying they’re a grownup. It then spends a couple paragraphs describing ideal appearances for both sexes, which are basically modern ones . This book goes so far to present women as equal to men that it ends up coming out coming out sexist in its own way, putting women on a pedestal and stereotyping them into mysterious temptresses. If I were to throw out any section of the book, this would be it; just rule that women can become hunters/fishers too, but they have to deal with a male-dominant culture.

Sexual mores are covered here, and surprisingly they’re done pretty well. Basically, Madlanders understand the mechanism behind childbirth and such but don’t attach any concept of sin to fuckin’. In addition, you’re allowed to do whatever you want as long as it’s consensual, up to and including adultery (though Madlanders mate for life, they don’t mind extramarital relations as long as they’re discrete). So there’s that.

Game Idea 12: Two villagers are cheating on their spouses. In and of itself this isn’t much of a problem, but every time they slip off together something bad happens in the village – someone falls over without provocation and sprains their ankle, an entire wavobek burns its meals, an elder spontaneously develops an illness, etc. Can the players find out who’s behind this recent string of bad luck? Who’s cursing the lovers; a malevolent force outside the village, or a malevolent force inside it?

But then comes my favorite part of this chapter, squirreled away in a sidebar on the gender comparison page. Sometimes, transgender people (though they’re not called by that name) show up in the community, and society has a way to handle that. After convincing the village council they’re genuinely dedicated to switching sexes (which is implied to be both pretty easy and reliable for evaluating seriousness), they make a little announcement to the village meeting, put on different-gendered clothing, and that’s it. At that point, they’re treated as part of the other sex in all ways, not just economic but social as well – generally they take wives of their former gender. There are no homosexual marriages in Madlander society, though, so elders generally don’t allow married people to switch genders – unless the partner also wants to switch! This is specifically pointed out in the book. For a book written in 1992, it’s a little surprising to find this here.


A typical Madlander elder/mutated elf. It isn't an actual elf, though; those are way worse.

The focus of Madlander life is the community, though they all respect other Madlanders to some degree. Everyone is expected to offer their distant relatives shelter and comfort, of course, but the village comes first. After the village comes the clans, which number around 11-13 per village and 50-75 members; they live in wavobeks (Native American longhouses) and each have an elder that represents it on the village council. Elders are hugely important; they have absolute say over all clan matters and decide issues on the village council (though of course they have to keep the interests of the clan in mind). They also settle disputes, either for their clan if the dispute involves only clan members or as a neutral party in an interclan dispute. The decisions they make are binding, but can be appealed to the village council; however, such an action is considered “unseemly” and rarely gets you anywhere. Afterwards, elders try to gently persuade everyone involved to accept the decision, after which comes a coordinated, organized teasing campaign (see Madlander humor). If that fails and people are being particularly ornery about things, a tribunal can be called by any three adults; those exonerated go free and might be able to call a tribunal on their accusers at elder discretion; otherwise, they’re either given an opportunity to reform or just exiled. Exile is horrible – no madlander will ever treat an exile as anything other than a monster. The worst offenders will be tied to a tree and left for the monsters.

Game Idea 13: A villager convicted of burning fishing boats for fun was tied to a tree and left for the monsters. However, small fires have been found burning across the settlement – and one was spotted springing from nothing! Obviously, the criminal has become a shaman (a god-worshipper and spellcaster) and is trying to destroy the village. Can the players find and stop him? Or is there another force using him as a dupe?

Age, no matter the gender or circumstances, is the ultimate source of respect and authority in Madlander society. It’s the only qualification for becoming an elder, after all! Respect for the aged runs so deep that old people are fed before children and pregnant women in times of famine (why would you do that ) and an entire village will risk life and limb to protect them. Some old folks question this position and try to convince their neighbors otherwise, and this is taken as proof of their wisdom, of course. Others are lucky idiots who abuse their station and lead their clans to ruin. However, skill and great deeds can also make a person important and respected, especially epic achievements and skill levels that no one else could achieve (the book gives no examples of great deeds). Pure rhetorical skill also gives people influence in the village, and provides an opening for characters with no outstanding traits to get involved in village politics.

Game Idea 14: A clan elder has gone crazy; not the supernatural kind, mind, but the kind where she starts accusing villagers of things they couldn’t have done and insists on taking them to the tribunal, over and over and over and over again. One of the PCs is accused of theft and she won’t leave them alone. Can the party convince either her, her clan, or the village council to leave them alone? Or are her repetitive accusations forming a ritual, leading to dire consequences?


Somebody hosed up, 'cause that kid's obviously a mutant.

The vast majority of cultures have formal ceremonies to celebrate life stages, holidays, and important events. Madlanders hate that poo poo because it draws the attention of the gods – and doing that is basically suicide. Instead, they have informal events at important points in a person’s life, such as the procedures following birth, where if a child is deformed or looks supernatural in anyway their head is bashed open by the clan elder on the rocks . Otherwise, a child is named and considered fully human until it uses magic. Then it stops being human.

By the way, no Madlander is allowed to use the same name as anyone in the village in living memory (including the living) or they run the risk of possession.

Game Idea 15: A young child's naming is interrupted when a villager absent from the meeting realizes the child shares a name with her dead mother. With the help of that woman and the child's parents, can the PCs figure out if the dead woman's spirit is still around to haunt the village?

Other Madlander “rituals” are pretty standard; initiation to adulthood (new adults of both sexes are taken to the shore and dunked in the water), marriage (the new couple joins the wife’s clan) and death. Death is the most important transition in a Madlander’s life because they can come back from death if improperly disposed of; their hands and feet are lopped off, their eyes and mouth are sewn shut, and they’re either dumped at sea or cremated. No post-death procedure is done exactly the same way (to avoid creating a fixed ceremony) and their “possessions” are given to others to keep the dead from coming back to claim them. If anything goes wrong, or the dead person is just a dick, they’ll come back and haunt the village.


This review is child friendly!

Sidebars! Causation! Madlanders have two models of cause-and-effect. On land, everything happens for a reason because a supernatural force wants it that way. Good things are always caused by a negative spell failing, though there are so many hostile forces out there that identifying the cause of ordinary misfortune is impossible. Out at sea, everything happens at random ‘cause nothing supernatural can reach past the shoreline.

History! Madlanders don’t care about it. In fact, they actively avoid remembering their past since that poo poo attracts ghosts like you wouldn’t believe. Instead, they regard time as circular; everything before living memory is purposefully forgotten and attributed to legendary characters, most notably Zo Do Wabda or Vigidi (see later). They don’t care about creation myths or anything because they see speculation on the beginning of the world either pointless or dangerous.


A housefly shaman on the other side of the continent sneezed and broke my pot!

Still, Madlanders love storytelling, and their favorite characters are Zo Do Wabda and his wife Vigidi (always referred to in that order in the book); they’re stock characters so broad it’s impossible to attribute anything to them individually. In this way, and since they represent no real people, Madlanders can get around ritual prohibition to tell stories. Generally, one of the pair is wise and the other is foolish, though often they’re both terribly stupid, and they always always suffer in some way for their stupidity. There are other stock characters in Madlander stories (such as children or unmarried adults), but they’re not elaborated on in the book.

The authors give a loving long shaggy dog story about the two as an example. Basically, Zo Do Wabda dreams a god will kill him, and his confidence in that death allows him to escape several otherwise inescapable deadly situations. He then goes home to his wife and comes to the conclusion that his lack of fear (not the dream itself) is what saved him… only for the god in question to come around and kill him horribly. They also give guidelines for making up your own stories – Zo Do Wabda/Vigidi tales come in cautionary, heroic, and tragic flavors – and gives summaries of other typical stories – my favorite is “the haunted wavobek”, which is an account of an ordinary day for a clan that grows more and more eerie until the inhabitants kill a group of travelers one by one to adopt their ghosts into the clan.

Game Idea 16: A visiting storyteller’s tales seem eerily prescient; every time he tells a story, someone in the village ignores the moral and suffers from it. Who is causing these accidents; the storyteller, a rival, or a force using the storyteller as cover?
Game Idea 17: A talented young storyteller – a relative or friend of the PCs – has a mad idea; collect all the stories of the Madlands and spread them to all settlements. The players are dragged along in their mad quest as they brave monster, god, and distance to deliver stories to all who will listen.


This thing used to be human. Can you spot the armpit hair?

Finally, there’s a page and a half on Madlander language. The book doesn’t lay out grammar or syntax or anything as unimportant as that; it just tells you what letters are present in Madlander speech (there’s a near-silent glottal stop represented in the text as a space in names), how to convert English words to Madlander-sounding equivalents (it involves find-and-replace), and how Madlander gesture language works (gesturing and body language are super important and carry almost as much meaning as spoken words). And then, finally, we’re done with this chapter.

THOUGHTS: This chapter must be well-kept gunpowder ‘cause this poo poo is dry. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here, but the information is so densely presented it’s hard to hold it all in your head – not to mention how important so much of it is to the setting and how much doesn’t make sense without the context of later chapters. Had I designed it, I would have at least put the Gods section before this to give the reader an idea of what Madlanders fear, but I haven’t designed a game so I don’t have the right to criticize it . Still, most of what’s in here is suitable to be doled out to players when they get to the appropriate parts; of course, that requires a GM to memorize it all, so that might be hard. At the end of the day, this is the part that people complain about when they say GURPS Fantasy II is too hard to get into and understand, and I don’t really have an answer for that. Except, of course, to either acquire a working knowledge of the setting through experience, just wing it, or both.

GAME IDEAS: 17

Next Time: Schlip, schlap, you really can't go wrong, vith traditional fish-schlapping game!

FINALLY: I’d like to demonstrate how Madlander names and words work. If you folks wouldn’t mind supplying me with some names you’d like translated into Madlander, I’ll tell you how they’d turn out in Anti-Magical Barbarian.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Bob Johnson

Adolf Hitler

Fluffy Weaselbeef

Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Big McLargeHuge

Max Power

Johnny Murder

Ice Miller

Bartholomew Foxworthington

Doresh fucked around with this message at 23:50 on Dec 30, 2015

Bacon In A Wok
Jan 27, 2014


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I have to point out before this gets legs that Bacon was just making poo poo up and that Wick actually really likes and respects old Chaosium and Stafford's work in particular.
Yeah, that was my parody, sorry if I didn't make that clearer. Though I do think it says something about the shallowness of the whole 'The Wick' persona that I can pastiche it purely off reading Alien Rope Burn's reviews and rolling around my brain how that kind of attitude would try to treat Glorantha.

I think I'm glad I'm not The Wick.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Moe Howard

Larry Fine

Curly Howard

Slab Bulkhead

Bold Bigflank

Blast Hardcheese

Aw, screw it, do all of them: http://mst3k.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Nicknames_for_Dave_Ryder

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

You absolute fuckers. Voting's closed, generating now.

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


If you want the incredibly specifc TORG scenario of 'interdemensional business tries to buy up Japan and tangles with the Yakuza' done right, read the manga Tekkon Kinkreet.

And that Madlander stuff sounds super-interesting.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 01:34 on Dec 31, 2015

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Evil Mastermind posted:

There's always a downside, though, and the public perception of the Yakuza has gone down post-Invasion. You see, back
before everything went to hell the Yakuza took it upon themselves to stamp down on non-Yakuza crime through the good
old-fashioned protection setups. On top of that, it wasn't uncommon for people to go to the Yakuza for a little
off-the-record "justice for hire" for things you didn't want to trouble the cops with. Now, the Yakuza are becoming
more...well, thuggish. They're not policing their territories, they're not helping people who come hat in hand, and they're dealing more in things like hard drugs and human trafficking.

I love how something like twenty-thirty years can change. A lot of this is going off the whole "benevolent fraternal organization" hype the Yakuza themselves believe, but when they're talking about "changes", they're kinda taking that from Black Rain and the difference between the old leadership and the newer guys like Sato, but I almost instantly went to Felipe Smith's "Peepo Choo" and the young Yakuza thug who learned all he knew about being a mobster from watching American "gangsta" films, TV, and rap videos.

The Lone Badger posted:

This makes no sense. So he owns a huge pile of Nuyen / other Earth currency - if he abandons Earth then he also abandons this currency. To actually keep the profit he'd need to be shipping stuff back to his home reality that he can keep.

They are shipping stuff back home or using it to fuel other ventures. Both Nile Empire and Tharkold splatbooks go into that there's more to raiding another cosm than just getting Possibility Energy, there's also natural resources. You literally have an Earth's worth of petroleum, precious metals, fissionable materials, outsourced workforce, etc. With Kanawa, each cosm raided ensures continuous growth and unlimited profits.

There's actually a rather good William Gibson story called "Mozart In Mirrorshades", where someone discovers a way to open time portals into the past, but it turns out that they're not "our time" but an alternate universe created the instant the time portal entered into their timeline and branched it. The whole story is like an allegory for globalization and the third world, because what happens is a bunch of corporations start "mining" the past for natural resources, leaving the timeline's inhabitants with an exhausted husk of a planet. And, because it's "our" past, they can min-max geopolitical relationships ahead of time and neutralize any unruly segments (like round up the leaders of the French Revolution and prevent it from happening, because King Louis would play ball better with our corporate chrono-conquistadors). And, if an uprising breaks out, they can pull from any number of hardcore shitkickers from the past, give them modern weapons, and put it down.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Forwarning; these would probably be multiple words in Madlander, as its words are pretty short, but the book recommends a substitution method that produces long results.

Kavak;

1. Be Atkunbixbe Ek
2. Bigbizavebizibakode At
3. Bigdebtazgexuge
4. Botawtaxazdebxe Ewe
5. Bitawt Toxibeknebek
6. Bob Oxinwon
7. Botadbigkatank
8. Botvandezixuge
9. Bazibekaxazdede At
10. Bubeketankabixewt
11. Bukekedzinketotwa
12. Bukek Xazdbabek
13. Butubaxde Adtikt
14. Bixunkexe Ad
15. Bixunkeg
16. Buzudbonede At
17. Buzunbexbutatwete Ak
18. Dizekaxazdekeb
19. Kiwatzobkebone
20. Katink
21. Katintizonwetag
22. Kzidgetazgede At
23. Giziwtetedbatexoznibodga
24. Xabkatowkiwt
25. Xunk
26. Tudkebe Ekbezotux
27. Kunbexzobkagzoin
28. Kunbexwide Izon
29. Kunteke Edbuxunk
30. Ze Ekbatawtubodgo
31. Zotetkiztebe Ek
32. Zikewte Akukabe
33. Wutabobutkexe Ad
34. Wotabweku Atitexuzuwt
35. Wetad
36. Wetatekiwtebzunbex
37. Wetatewtabuzobki
38. Wadaw Xitadkaw
39. Wudokedanduwbete
40. Wiktintbexewtaxa Iz
41. Wetudkobe Ekiknob
42. Wetudkabxunkdan
43. Tuxibkedbizunkawt
44. To Ubixizuwtezod
45. Tuzunkwetadbixewt
46. Wixikwitagbuxe Ek

Correspond to

1. Beat PunchBeef
2. Big, Brave Brick of Meat
3. Big McLargeHuge
4. Blast HardCheese
5. Blast ThickNeck
6. Bob Johnson
7. Bold BigFlank
8. Bolt VanderHuge
9. Brick HardMeat
10. Buck PlankChest
11. Buff DrinkLots
12. Buff HardBack
13. Butch DeadLift
14. ChunkHead
15. Chunky
16. Crud BoneMeal
17. Crunch ButtSteak
18. Dirk HardPec
19. Fist RockBone
20. Flink
21. Flint IronStag
22. Fridge LargeMeat
23. Gristle McThornBody
24. Hack BlowFist
25. Hunk
26. Lump BeefBroth
27. Punch RockGroin
28. Punch Side-Iron
29. Punt SpeedChunk
30. Reef BlastBody
31. Roll Fizzlebeef
32. Rip SteakFace
33. Slab BulkHead
34. Slab SquatThrust
35. Slam
36. Slate Fistcrunch
37. Slate SlabRock
38. Smash LampJaw
39. Smoke ManMuscle
40. Splint ChestHair
41. Stump BeefKnob
42. Stump Chunkman
43. Thick McRunFast
44. Touch RustRod
45. Trunk SlamChest
46. Whip SlagCheek

Also
1. Moe Howard
2. Larry Fine
3. Curly Howard
4. Max Power
5. Johnny Murder
6. Ice Miller
7. Bartholomew Foxworthington
8. Bob Johnson
9. Adolf Hitler
10. Fluffy Weaselbeef
11. Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

to

1. Do Ezowatd
2. Tatatgepine
3. Butategzowated
4. Daxipowet
5. Oznangidutdet
6. Ibedititet
7. Batatezotodewpoxwotutezingaton
8. Boboznawon
9. Adotepzitatet
10. Petupupgewe Awetbe Ep
11. Gabetietgatbi Adatpu Ez

What a beautiful language

Also

Count Chocula posted:

If you want the incredibly specifc TORG scenario of 'interdemensional business tries to buy up Japan and tangles with the Yakuza' done right, read the manga Tekkon Kinkreet.

And that Madlander stuff sounds super-interesting.

Looking back at my writeup, I may have been so familiar with the book I found it repetitive instead of fascinating. I think it says something that I consider this the most boring chapter of the book (outside the character creation section).

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



How in the gently caress do people end up with the same name as their ancestors, is it just random chance when they pick the letters out of a bag of Scrabble tiles? That is...one hell of a language.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

Falconier111 posted:

Looking back at my writeup, I may have been so familiar with the book I found it repetitive instead of fascinating. I think it says something that I consider this the most boring chapter of the book (outside the character creation section).

To be fair, you're writing it out in a fairly informal, easy-to-read manner. From what you were saying, the book is considerably denser.

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

My archive is now caught up to page 203; that's only a hundred and twenty pages behind.

To celebrate, I'm going to review some boxed sets. Here's what I have; vote on which you want to see first:


  • Force and Destiny is the latest in Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars line. Learn how to use a lightsaber, if you can figure out their crazy dicepool system. (May feature a bonus appearance from ProfessorCirno to tell us about dice probabilities.)
  • Mouse Guard 2nd Edition is the game of being a badass mouse in a region vaguely shaped like Michigan
  • Pathfinder is a piece of poo poo but it's a well-selling piece of poo poo. Let's check out its production values. This edition of their boxset features a bonus booklet by everyone's favorite, Sean K. Reynolds!

My criteria for review will be largely focused on production values, quality of the quick-start material (if any), the ramp-up from the quick-start material to the full game, and the replayability of the boxed set.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




The Pathfinder Beginner Box doesn't even include the full rules of Pathfinder, right?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Force and Destiny, we already have Mouse Guard and I think Pathfinder got done too.

  • Locked thread