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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Cardiovorax posted:

I know, I just think it's a cool myth and I wanted to tell people about it. :shobon:

Babylonian Myth is pretty cool, not that you'd really know it from this book. :shobon:

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Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




The Karma System

This time, I'll lead with the comic. It's a bit information-dense!



All right, this gets pretty complicated and I'm not crazy about how the book lays it out, so I'm gonna start with Fates and go from there.

Every character has a number of Fates. A new character has one at Rank 2 and one at Rank 3 (Fates work like skills, so they're ranked from 2 to 5). In addition to the two you pick for yourself, the GM picks an extra Fate for each character regarding their Destiny. Fates are the emotional core of who a character is and what drives them - Hatred of the Oni, Loyalty to the Court, Fear of Yourself, and so forth.

Next is Aiki, which the comic barely mentions - odd, since they're integral to the Karma economy. TBZ is based of of kabuki theatre, which has a much more involved audience than western theatre. During moments of high drama, the audience is expected to be calling out to the actors and cheering them on. Aiki represents this dynamic.

Whenever a player plays to their Fates, does something particularly cool or dramatic, or otherwise kicks the game up to the next level, they can be awarded an Aiki chit. There are two ways of handling this - Audience, or Scene Judge. For the Audience method, each player keeps a side reserve of three Aiki chits per scene, and whenever a character does something, any other player can award them Aiki for it (but no more than one Aiki can be earned per action). For the Scene Judge method, the GM picks one player each scene, and they are the sole arbiter of who gets Aiki for that scene.

TBZ is divided into a series of acts, and between each act is an Intermission. During an Intermission, each character can spend any number of Aiki chits to make Fate Rolls, using the Fate of their choice (usually the highest-ranked one) as a skill, and Empathy as the attribute. For each success from a Fate roll, the character gets one Kiai.

Kiai represents the dormant potential within a character. It can be spent to do a shitload of things:
  • You can spend any amount of Kiai to add that many dice to a roll.
  • You can spend three Kiai to increase a skill rank by 1 for the purposes of a single roll. Can be done multiple times on one roll, but can't increase rank past 4.
  • After seeing the result of a roll, you can spend three Kiai each to add successes to the outcome.
  • If another player or NPC is doing something, you can spend two Kiai to interrupt them and act immediately.
  • You can spend any amount of Kiai to take that many extra actions in combat. I don't remember this one but it is arguably less broke than it sounds. Maybe.
  • If an ally takes damage, you can spend one Kiai to intercept the damage and take it yourself.
  • You can spend Kiai to fudge a result on the Emotion Matrix. More on that later.
  • You can spend Kiai to get new equipment.
  • You can spend 10 Kiai to increase an attribute by 1 point.
  • You can spend 5 Kiai to take a new skill at rank 2. Specialist skills can only be picked up during intermissions.
  • You can spend 10/20/40 Kiai to raise a skill by 1 rank. The price increase as the rank increases.

At the start of the game, you get to make one Fate Roll for free. Your starting Kiai is the greater of three and the result. An alternate system suggested is to not roll for Fate ta all - instead, any time you would do a Fate Roll, you instead gain Kiai equal to the rank of your highest Fate.

None of this is without cost, however! Every point of Kiai you spend is added to your Karma. Your initial Karma is determined by the sum of your Archetypes, and it is crucial that you never let your Karma go above 108. If, by the end of a scene, your Karma is over 108, you become an Asura. Asura are lost souls who have been consumed by their fates. No longer trying to change their destiny, they are driven mad in their pursuit of their goals, and are no longer under their player's control. Once you become an Asura, you can never return.

Fortunately, Karma can be reduced! The secret to this lies back at the start of the cycle - with Fates. During an intermission, you can do four things, in this order:
  • Create one new Fate, at a rank of 2.
  • Raise any or all Fates by one rank.
  • Sublimate Fates.
  • Rewrite Fates.

While Fates can be increased at no immediate cost, there is a limit. Each Fate corresponds to an amount of Karma - 0, 10, 30 or 70, depending on the rank from 2 to 5. The total value of your Fates can never exceed your current Karma.

To sublimate a Fate, it must no longer apply to your character - a goal accomplished, a burden discarded. When a Fate is sublimated, your Karma is reduced by an amount equal to the Fate's value. Alternately, a Fate may change - one goal giving way to another, a relationship changing to a new form. In this case, the Fate is rewritten, its rank is reduced by 1, and your Karma is reduced by the difference in value between the old rank and the new one.

In summary:
  • Play dramatically to your Fates to earn Aiki.
  • Spend Aiki during Intermissions to gain Kiai.
  • Spend Kiai to become more powerful, increasing Karma.
  • Sublimate and rewrite Fates to reduce Karma.
  • Spend leftover Aiki to pickup new Fates and continue the cycle.


I don't know why this one is kind of blurry.

A couple extra tidbits to the Karma System!

Aiki has a couple other uses I didn't mention. You can spend Aiki directly as Kiai, negating the usual Karma increase. You (or the GM) can give another player an Aiki chit to bring them into a scene they otherwise wouldn't be a part of. They can also be used with the Emotion Matrix, more on that later.

Meikyo Soul Mirror users have a special relationship with Karma - The character and their Meikyo have two separate Karma pools. Kiai used while Interfaced (using it to pilot a mecha) adds Karma to the Meikyo instead of the character, and as the Meikyo accumulates Karma, it becomes more powerful, granting bonuses to Body, Agility and Senses while interfaced. The cap, however, is the same - the combination of the two pools cannot exceed 108. If the combined total passes 108 while you aren't interfaced, you are rejected by the Meikyo, and can never interface with it again. If the total passes 108 while you're interfaced, your soul is trapped in the Meikyo forever, going on a wild rampage as a berserk Armour.

There are two methods of reducing Meikyo Karma. The first is Meikyo Cleansing, a spell available to powerful Buddhist spellcasters. The second is to transfer the Karma to yourself. When you increase a Fate to rank 3, 4 or 5, you can drain 10, 20 or 40 Karma from the mirror, increasing your personal Karma accordingly.

NEXT: War!

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


So the Aiki chits are both XP and fate points, if I'm reading that right? That's not good.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Lemon Curdistan posted:

So the Aiki chits are both XP and fate points, if I'm reading that right? That's not good.

No, Aiki chits are what you spend to get Kiai, which is both XP and fate points.

Flavivirus
Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Lemon Curdistan posted:

So the Aiki chits are both XP and fate points, if I'm reading that right? That's not good.

It's somewhat mollified here by two factors:
  • Whether you spend them to boost a roll or to boost a skill, they add up to your lifetime limit of 108 Karma.
  • The game is intended to be played in one-shots of about 4-6 hours or so of length, in three acts. In that context, +1 dice to every roll for a skill may not be the best use of your karma compared to adding 10 dice to a roll or getting 10 actions. Long-term play isn't meant to be a concern, and so the normal long-term advancement you'd miss out on with Seven Sea's system doesn't really exist.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

The advancement system straight up doesn't want you to spend kiai on permanent dice and instead prefers you buy temporary bonuses.

One kiai buys you a bonus die with an unlimited cap. Buying a permanent bonus die is ten kiai. Temporarily increasing a skill is also much cheaper than buying it permanently.

Keep in mind that any expenditure of kiai increases your karma. The only way you get those bonuses OR advancement without a cost is to exchange aiki (not kiai) at a one to one rate for a bonus die.

This is a bad deal any way you look at it, because you can trade aiki for kiai at a substantially increased rate during the intermissions between acts.

If you're thinking this whole system sounds like bullshit, I was right there with you until I played the game. In actual gameplay, you should

A) be moving fast enough that you're more worried about the immediate situation instead of your next "level up," and
B) you should be doing enough cool things to have aiki flowing like water.

Prof. Prof is not technically correct about one aspect of aiki donation. The GM can bribe players with aiki for pretty much any reason, especially for moving along the Emotion Matrix. Secondly, you're not limited to giving three aiki a scene - you're just supposed to keep a few in your hand to give out at any given time, and three's a good number to keep you thinking about the process.

The system breaks down if you're handing out chits for things like remembering to breathe or entering a scene, but rewarding particularly good rolls, snappy one-liners or killer jokes keeps things well-lubricated.

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012


The hardest part of running TBZ for my group is everyone not realizing all at once that it's supposed to be a collaborative thing as opposed to the usual 'push button, receive bacon' relationship most games set up between players and GM.

I'm not sure whether the game requires waaaay more setup than my group initially realized, or whether we're playing it all a-kilter.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 9: "5th level priest of the Pantheon of Sumer (lapsed; cannot perform any clerical miracles anymore)."

Lesser Creatures of Babylon

Gilgamesh - The Demigod


Horror Factor 11.

Apparently, Gilgamesh was a demigod, but no word on his parentage. He was an accomplished adventurer but a lousy tyrant of a king. People prayed for salvation against him, and the gods sent the man-beast Endiku against him, but they became the best of bros after fighting. When Ishtar tried to romance Gilgamesh, he blew her off, and so she had a monster sent to punish him. When Gilgamesh and Endiku killed that monster, the gods were super-offended and called Endiku back to their service. However, Gilgamesh thought his best bud was dead, and wasn't eager to join him in the afterlife.

So Gilgamesh had a big quest for immortality, but failed. :( But then he decided to travel the Megaverse and find it after all! And he maybe became immortal, or not, who can say? (The writers, of course, but we’ll follow up on this plot thread under the New Immortals.) Also he's super-confident and charismatic, like some shonen comics hero, only he has a beard.

Oh, and he also gets to be a "Demigod variant", which means he gets to be wayyy more powerful than any PC demigod! :v: And somehow he beat Herakles in a wrestling match with his "wits", even though Herakles has about thirty times the M.D.C. and 20 more points of Strength. That's a lot of wits!

:jerkbag:

1k M.D.C., regenerates, super-strong and is really good at being sneaky and wilderness stuff. Oh, he's also a mid-level ley line walker, gets to multiclass (ha ha, gently caress you PC demigods) into warrior, and also has levels in priest (but doesn't have the powers anymore). He also has some minor mentalism psionics. Oh, and he has a magic greatest rune weapon (remember those?) that can teleport him around and make holes into other dimensions. Oh, and it does double damage against dragons, but when you pay attention to math double crap is still crap. Oh, and he has a 1K M.D.C. suit of armor that he pulled out of his rear end, I guess. gently caress getting Triax armor or whatever, PCs need to find out where gods do their tailoring.

Ultimately Gilgamesh is much like his mythical counterpart, at least until he goes planewalking. Oh, and he's originally the son of Ninsun, a goddess mainly just famous for being Gilgamesh's mom. So it goes.

Endiku


”But what would Hulk be like without pants?”

This guy was made by Apsu and Tiamat out of a man and a bull! And I imagine that wasn’t as impressive as it might sound to ancient folk, so they gave him a bunch of magic power too. He was a dumb thug for them, and when Marduk took over, he became a dumb thug for Marduk. Then he was sent to fight Gilgamesh, and became a dumb thug for Gilgamesh. But they were mega-bros, so it was okay.

When he got called back to the gods, he was different, and was at least a mouthy, free-willed thug. This bugged a lot of his gods, but Marduk liked the cut of his jib, and made him into a minor god.

Rifts Conversion Book Two: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

People making fun of him or other gentle monsters should stay beyond the reach of his arms.

"He's gentle and kind unless you're mean to him, and then he'll gently and kindly tear your head off." He wants to find Gilgamesh again, but he's likely to punch anybody he thinks is an imposter into paste. Gently, no doubt. Anyway, he's even stronger than Gilgamesh, has 2k M.D.C., regenerates, is a wild man as far as skills go. No magic or psionics, he's all meat.

He's pretty close to his mythical version, except for the part where he doesn't die. In the myth he just dies. And then a maggot falls out of his nose.

Galla (Demonic Minion)


Originates from a 10’ x 10’ dimension.

These are generic devil muscle that serve Apsu, Tiamat, and Ereshkigal. They're strong, tough, immune to fire, and are roughly akin to gargoyles in power level. They're decent hunters, and there's not much else to say. They're not supposed to be playable due to being "supernatural demons", in defiance of all the supernatural demons you are allowed to play. Go figure.

The Scorpion People
(Optional R.C.C.)



Victim of at least three self-stings each day.

These are products of some bio-wizard experiment from another dimension, and are part scorpion, part people, all soldier. They've been used by both sides of the Babylonian pantheon as warriors, and most of them on Earth are here in that capacity. However, they've started looking to obtain technology, and some of them are willing to sell their own people as slaves to obtain it, notably to the Splugorth.

They're super-strong and fast, and have low M.D.C. ratings with regeneration. They can automatically grapple people, but that just gives minor penalties to defense. They can also climb on walls and have a paralytic poison stinger that gives combat penalties. THey can take just about any class, but apparently never take bionics or cybernetics, which is puzzling, because they don't have any magic powers to inhibit. Generally speaking, they're painfully generic, though if you want a scorpion butt, here's your chance. At last, scorpion booty can be yours.

Next: The Dark Council (true) and the New Immortals (false)

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Does Rifts write it as Endiku? Its driving me crazy not seeing Enkidu.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 9: "5th level priest of the Pantheon of Sumer (lapsed; cannot perform any clerical miracles anymore)."



I got really interested in Sumerian/Babylonian myth a while back and had forgotten how weird this rendition is, though the myths themselves are pretty weird already. But I don't think I ever encountered a reference to the scorpion people--I may have to look that one up. This also isn't even remotely the only fictional source that I've seen use Gilgamesh as a living entity who succeeded in his quest for immortality eventually, and remains a dick into the present day. I wonder why that focus is so appealing--and I've even done it myself--when the end futility of his quest was somewhat the point, the story being his legacy.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



occamsnailfile posted:

I got really interested in Sumerian/Babylonian myth a while back and had forgotten how weird this rendition is, though the myths themselves are pretty weird already. But I don't think I ever encountered a reference to the scorpion people--I may have to look that one up. This also isn't even remotely the only fictional source that I've seen use Gilgamesh as a living entity who succeeded in his quest for immortality eventually, and remains a dick into the present day. I wonder why that focus is so appealing--and I've even done it myself--when the end futility of his quest was somewhat the point, the story being his legacy.

Same reason there was a Don Quixote sequel written by someone else where he is a true noble knight. That one at least was written while Cervantes was alive so he could write Don Quixote II which is basically a steaming dump on such an idea.

Its not just Gilgamesh whose been touched up in Summeria; there are tablets found discussing Enkidu living on in the afterlife instead of dying because apparently fan-fiction is what separates man from the animals.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Barudak posted:

Does Rifts write it as Endiku? Its driving me crazy not seeing Enkidu.

Pretty sure. I've just got my review draft here, I'd have to check my copy when I get home to be 100% sure.

occamsnailfile posted:

But I don't think I ever encountered a reference to the scorpion people--I may have to look that one up.

Apparently they're not in all versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh, but here's one with them:

The Epic of Gilgamesh posted:

The Scorpion-Beings

The mountain is called Mashu.
Then he reached Mount Mashu,
which daily guards the rising and setting of the Sun,
above which only the dome of the heavens reaches,
and whose flank reaches as far as the Netherworld below,
there were Scorpion-beings watching over its gate.
Trembling terror they inspire, the sight of them is death,
their frightening aura sweeps over the mountains.
At the rising and setting they watch over the Sun.
When Gilgamesh saw them, trembling terror blanketed his face,
but he pulled himself together and drew near to them.
The scorpion-being called out to his female:
"He who comes to us, his body is the flesh of gods!"
The scorpion-being, his female, answered him:
"(Only) two-thirds of him is a god, one-third is human."
The male scorpion-being called out,
saying to the offspring of the gods:
"Why have you traveled so distant a journey?
Why have you come here to me,
over rivers whose crossing is treacherous!
I want to learn your ...
I want to learn ..."

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Here you go, goons. Episode 16 - Scion: Hero.
http://systemmasterypodcast.com/2014/04/08/system-mastery-16-scion-hero/

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Barudak posted:

Does Rifts write it as Endiku? Its driving me crazy not seeing Enkidu.

Confirmed now that I'm looking at the book, I can't believe I missed that, myself. It does it for the entry we're about to see, too. I missed some perfectly good dick joke, too. Maybe I can fit that in there, if you know what I mean.

Thank the Editing God, I suppose.

theironjef posted:

Here you go, goons. Episode 16 - Scion: Hero.

So, in your educated opinion, which is least worser, Pantheons or Scion?

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 10: "Eventually, he had found the answer from a mysterious man who called himself the Cyber-Mancer."

The Dark Council

"Well, we just decided for truth in advertising."

This is a trio of power-hungry mercenaries that are trying to find a way to artificially become gods. They conquer lands and then try and find ways to sap the P.P.E. of worshippers, and have become as powerful as demigods.

Wait, you can do that?


They bid you dark greetings.

Ea - (Altered Sowki)

A Sowki (from Rifts Conversion Book), he was once a witchly servant of Apsu, and had the Gift of Union, but never traded away his mind. Which seems like an oversight on Apsu’s part, but… he formed his own cult, and was able to gather enough energy from worship to snap his link to Apsu, but kept all the power (thingspcswouldneverbeallowedtodo.txt). When Apsu got put to sleep, it was a fantastic turn of events for him. Since then, he's looking to become a full-on god.

He's also teamed up with a dragon called Tiamat who impersonates the goddess, and convinced a warlock to take up the name of Enlil. Ea has come to Earth, hoping the myriad mixing of dimensions can give him a way to catapult himself to godhood. Of course, he's already the most powerful Sowki in any universe.

In general he has all the trickster magic Sowki powers from the conversion book, only he has 1K M.D.C., is immune to mind control, can summon lesser demons, and animate and control dead. He's a top-level spellcaster and a mid-level temporal wizard, and he carries a generic magic sword. He usually disguises himself as a 7' tall Sumerian human, however. Not that very many people know what Sumer was anymore.

Enlil
The Bio-Borg Warlock


A D-Bee human, Enlil is actually Krellon, a powerful air / water warlock who took over his homeworld. Then one day a god, Verrikon, showed up, beat him stupid, and took over his world. Krellon fled the world. He went and studied magic, and paid for bio-wizardry to make himself more physically powerful. Armed to the teeth and with a band of mercs, he went home to get revenge... only to find that Verrikon had already been killed by Tiamat and Ea, why it doesn't say. Anyway, he also wanted to become a god, and decided to team up with them on their deification project. He doesn't like them very much, and is a decent guy as far as horrible tyrants go, but figures they can help him with godhood. He's the more academic, thoughtful type.

So, he's got about 500 M.D.C., is a top-level warlock and a mid-level ley line walker. He also has levels in bio-wizard, which is not a class. He also has a chest amalagmate from Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis, and often uses other microbes and symbiotes, but has been made into an ugly bug-thing, and has to use shapeshifting magic to pass as human. He also has Sunaj armor to disguise himself, a lesser rune sword, and a talisman that stores a poo poo-ton of P.P.E.

Tiamat The Younger
Mistress of Dragons


When she was young, Tiamat ran across some terrified mortals that mistook her for the goddess, and she's run with the deception ever since. The real Tiamat learned about her, but figured the false Tiamat went around spreading terror in her name, and that was cool. (Evil's too big to let one's ego get in the way, I guess.) So she marched up to join the Pantheon of Dragonwright (from Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis), and the Styphon the Black clawed her to ribbons. Well. Living ribbons. And after that, she decided to become a real god and show that Styphon what-for.

Great horned dragon, 6K M.D.C., teleport, change shape, invisibility, wilderness skills, fire breath, high level spellcasting, all basic psionics, and psychic swords, you know, just because. Also apparently she's something of a poser; she dresses like an Egyptian, because she doesn't know the difference between that and Babylon (wait, wasn't she present for the latter?), and Ea doesn't care to correct her.

Troops of the Dark Council

They have a poo poo-ton of thugs, including:
  • Enlil's wizard assistants, Niorgi and Barton.
  • Smasher, a cyborg and the chief of huge band of Brodkil.
  • Stomp the Invincible, a dragon slayer (from Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms) who leads a tribe of his kind.
  • The Outlaw, a gargoyle lord.
  • And all sorts of other crap from hatchling dragons to a rogue Coalition SAMAS squad.
The Dark Council Headquarters

They have have a small pocket dimension, with a palace that's tough to bust into (1,000 M.D. to bust your way in, so about seven nukes), but trusted servants have a ritual key. Dimensionally teleporting in sets off an alarm and blah blah blah.

They're kind of overblown for what they are, and though they have a slightly more interesting motivation than plain old evil, it's not really clear what they'd be doing to achieve their goal; there's just no clear way to godify oneself in the setting, so the onus is entirely on the GM to actually cook up their plans.

The New Immortals

They're Gilgamesh and Endiku! Again! Endiku is clearly a faker, but Gilgamesh is...?

Gilgamesh the Wanderer


M’laaaadies.

He's a "dimension spanning paladin", by which they mean he wanders around being a knightly superhero guy, since this game doesn’t have paladins. Sometimes, it forgets it isn’t D&D The Palladium Role-Playing Game. In any case, this one woke up with amnesia, and could tell there had been a fight between two people. And then he found a diary written in Babylonian! Thankfully he could read that. It told of Gilgamesh and how he had used alchemy to extend his life, but couldn't become truly immortal. Then, Gilgamesh met this guy called the Cyber-Mancer. The Cyber-Mancer was a techno-wizard who told Gilgamesh about this ritual where you have yourself cloned seven times and then you kill them one by one, draining their lifeforce to become immortal. This seems like a suspect plan, but there you have it.

Gilgamesh did the ritual six times, killing his clone again and again, telling himself he was just killing extensions of himself, not true beings. But he started to have guilty thoughts, and had a choice: kill the 7th or finally die. There, the journal ended. The amnesiac man did believe he was Gilgamesh, isn't sure if he's the clone or not. And so he's started searching for his identity. Unlike the Gilgamesh who wrote the journal, he's much more upstanding and is fairly horrified at what the journal discusses. But is he real or a clone or somebody else entirely unrelated? Well, that's left to the GM.

If he's an imposter, he's a drat good one, and has much the same abilities, but no magical knowledge. He also has sensitive psionics and a strong mental defense. He also has a sword that's on fire, a sword that's on... psire? Psionic blasty fire? And 1500 M.D.C. scale mail, because apparently that poo poo is draped over every goddamn god.

Endiku Longhair


Always measures the wind for the correct direction to face.

An Atlantean undead slayer named Marcus Meleagrus, Endiku was nearly killed fighting a metzla (from Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis), but Gilgamesh (the Wanderer) teamed up with him out of nowhere and they killed it. And then Gilgamesh was like "are you Endiku?" and Marcus was like "sure, why the gently caress not?" So they became good friends and go around fighting monsters, and the Olympus Club. He’s cool with being called a dick… well, Endiku, instead of the correct spelling, Enkidu. Editing god, indeed.

He's a mere 10th level undead slayer (seriously, a character that would take years of play to achieve is the weakest dude so far), has a poo poo-ton of magic tattoos and all the standard True Atlantean jazz. He doesn't really care of Gilgamesh is really the true demigod, he just knows he's his super bro and that's fine with him.

Etc.

The Gilgamesh twisty clone bit is the most interesting bit here for me, since it's such an obvious hook to play with. The only issue is either Gilgamesh is on such a level as to readily outshine PCs, so adventuring with him seems problematic. The Dark Council isn't badly done, but as mentioned, it's not really clear how they're going to achieve their lofty goal. That, and Ea's the leader, but also the most the boring one of the group, and doesn't really have a hook other than generic powerlust.

Next: A Greek Tragedy (of stats).

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Alien Rope Burn posted:

So, in your educated opinion, which is least worser, Pantheons or Scion?

Pantheons is so much more fun it's not even fair, but on the other hand I can't imagine actually using it for anything but a light bathroom read. Scion could conceivably be played as a game amongst a group of friends, but only for the first book, and well... it's just so White-Wolfy. Tough call.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008




You know, Part-Time Gods (which I reviewed back in the first thread) does handle the Plant powers/everybody else quite well by not tying powers to elements but instead letting you apply the generic power to an element. So if you want to get all Poison Ivy up ins, in PTG you just buy the "Animate" power and say it works on whatever it is you're the god of.

(Plant gods in Scion don't get anything actually useful until 4 dots, and can't do anything Poison Ivy-ish until 9 dots out of 10.)

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Evil Mastermind posted:

(Plant gods in Scion don't get anything actually useful until 4 dots, and can't do anything Poison Ivy-ish until 9 dots out of 10.)

And by the time you get to 9 dots in something you have so much epic [stat] that it's all you'll need to do whatever anyway. "Make plants do a crazy thing? Sure, I have 72 autosuccesses on a Manipulation-related roll, I think I can talk a plant into whatever."

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:


Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 10: "Eventually, he had found the answer from a mysterious man who called himself the Cyber-Mancer."

The Dark Council

"Well, we just decided for truth in advertising."

This is a trio of power-hungry mercenaries that are trying to find a way to artificially become gods. They conquer lands and then try and find ways to sap the P.P.E. of worshippers, and have become as powerful as demigods.

Wait, you can do that?

A lot of the false pantheons are kind of more interesting than whatever Rifts angle the main body got, though they're still overpowered compared to PCs most of the time. These guys wanting to be gods is totally a PC goal, a lot of PC groups would be down for that. Also this book uses Sowki like two or three times, when there're even other deceitful shapeshifter races in Conversion 1 and here in Pantheons, as well as at least one in Wormwood--which, they included the Mechanoids here and there, but not the Living Planet. I know Wormwood stuff is often heavily restricted from rifts travel but they made a point of how connected to Earth it is. Maybe it was ignored because they have a mysterious churchy religion they didn't want the headache of explaining or displacing. Wormwood also doesn't seem to have any native gods.

quote:


Next: A Greek Tragedy (of stats).



Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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



Chapter 1: History of the Imperium

Dune is divided into three “books,” the first being “Imperium Familia,” which contains all the setting, character generation, and rules info that the players will need. The first chapter is a history of the setting, the Imperium.



The Imperium is many thousands of years old, and the primary basis for the setting is a historical event called the Butlerian Jihad. The old Imperium was a peaceful community of over ten-thousand far-flung, technologically advanced planets. Unfortunately, relying on technology rendered them complacent, decadent, and stagnant, until it went a little something like this:



Discontent eventually broke out, and the elite responded by using more technology to isolate themselves from their disgruntled subjects. Within a generation, the Imperium went from its technological peak to being rife with widespread insurrections as rebel groups used artificial intelligences and “sentient weapons” to seize entire planets, and untold billions died as human civilization fell into anarchy and carnage. What followed was the Butlerian Jihad.

The Butlerian Jihad was a revolution that lasted a century and spanned the entire Imperium. It wasn’t just a rebellion against oppression by artificial intelligences and advanced weaponry, but an ideological crusade centered on the idea that men should not be controlled by machines, figuratively or literally. The Jihad purged human civilization of not only AI and robots, but automation and most computer technology. This laid the foundation for organizations like the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit, who developed programs to breed, condition, and train humans to surpass the capabilities of machines.

The aftermath of the Jihad plunged the Imperium into a technological and cultural dark age, because faster-than-light travel was largely abandoned. When isolated planets began communicating with each other again, they did so with the shared philosophy that “Man may not be replaced.” The Orange Catholic Bible, a syncretic scripture created for the new Imperium, declares “Thou shalt not disfigure the soul.” What does that mean? No artificial intelligence, no robotics, no cybernetics, no genetic engineering; in short, no transhumanism and no reliance on automation. The Imperium has faster-than-light travel and gravity manipulation, but not Microsoft Excel.

(Although the Butlerian Jihad is a major part of the premise of the Dune universe, Herbert alludes to it many times without ever defining exactly what the conflict was or how it played out, not even in the appendix to Dune which lays out the background of the setting. We don’t even know who Butler was! Multiple allusions imply that it was both a literal war against Space Skynet and a neo-Luddite movement, but Herbert was a master of the “always leave them wanting more” principle. Dune: CotI takes a middle ground by saying that it was both. There’s some technology that seems like it couldn’t work without some computerization being involved, but as far as the Narrator and the players should be concerned, the Imperium is a sci-fi setting with no computers.)


We’re going to the bandolier store, and there better not be any smartphones in here when we get back!

Most of human history was lost during the Jihad, but as civilization rebuilt itself, planets forged new feudal alliances under the leadership of Great Houses, which mostly claimed legitimacy based on their ancient bloodlines. The Great Houses agreed that humankind should form another Imperium uniting human civilization, but disagreed on who should rule. They formed the Landsraad League, a loose confederation for mutual support and arbitration, but it lacked any real enforcement power of its own.

The fighting between the Great Houses came to a head at the Battle of Corrin, where House Sarda, its allied Houses, and its peerless Sardaukar troops defeated the remaining Landsraad supporters. The leader of House Sarda renamed his house Corrino, ascended the Golden Lion Throne, and declared himself the first Padishah Emperor of the Imperium. With the support of the Spacing Guild, who achieved a monopoly on interstellar travel, the new Imperium expanded throughout the Known Universe and reunited humanity under one government. Among the waves of refugees fleeing imperialism were the Zensunni Wanderers, who eventually settled on an obscure desert planet called Arrakis.

The New Imperium

On Arrakis the Fremen discovered a drug called melange, or simply the spice, and soon, so did the Spacing Guild. (How it happened is a mystery, and neither the Guild nor the Fremen are talking--but it’s thought that when the Zensunni refugees moved on, the Guild learned about melange from them, while the Zensunni who remained on Arrakis became the fearsome Fremen.) Melange improves human health and extends lifespan; the only problem is that it’s addictive, and regular consumers of spice will die if they stop taking it.

Spice can also awaken prescient psychic powers. The Spacing Guild experimented with the spice until they discovered that it could replace the sophisticated sensors and computers that had previously been necessary for faster-than-light travel. With training and massive doses of spice, a Guild Navigator’s mind can transcend space-time and navigate a faster-than-light ship better than any AI. Not only did this pave the way for a new age of space exploration, it cemented the Guild’s monopoly on space travel.

As the Imperium regrew, the “Great Schools” developed to answer the question of how to improve the human condition without relying on machines. All of them have means of conditioning humans to achieve “superhuman” abilities. They are the Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Mentat order, the Suk School, and the Swordsmaster’s School of Ginaz.


Do you know of a place where Swordsmasters hang out?

(Dune admits outright that of the four schools, only the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild are major powers. But while Mentats are important to the plot of the Dune novels, the Ginaz swordsmen are only mentioned in a few passing references to give some background on why House Atreides has such great soldiers. But “swordsmaster” is going to be a character class in this game, so…)

The Bene Gesserit is an order dedicated to preserving and evolving the human race. In practice, that means they manipulate politics from behind the scenes. They nominally support the status quo, because the feudal caste system makes it easier for them to accomplish their goals. They literally control the breeding and training of royal bloodlines for superior genes, support their scions as political leaders to maintain “continuity in human affairs,” and they “seed” worlds with myths and cultural memes that their agents can exploit in times of need. (Arrakis is one such planet that was “seeded” and then forgotten centuries ago.) The Bene Gesserit is an almost entirely female order which recruits the young women of noble Houses, a tradition that’s been going on for centuries. (They do share limited degrees of their training with men, and in fact, one of their major projects is trying to breed the Kwisatz Haderach, a hypothetical enlightened male ruler with prescient powers their best members don’t have, who can lead the Imperium into a new age.) Everyone knows that the BG has a hierarchy and plans of its own, but frankly, their training is incredibly useful and nobody wants to be on their bad side.


You say “swordsmasters,” but you don’t just mean any swordsmaster, do you?

The Spacing Guild is an omnipresent but mysterious organization with an absolute monopoly on space travel. Although FTL technology was never lost during the Jihad, the Spacing Guild has perfected the art of training Navigators to pilot them better than any AI. Their Guild Heighliner transports are so massive that a Great House can pack all its assets (including people and buildings) into a corner of one and move its seat of power to a different solar system. Not only that, but the Guild enforces absolute neutrality, so a rival House can be doing the same thing in the same Heighliner without any fear of treachery.

The Guild also has a monopoly on banking through its Guild Bank, which serves the entire Imperium and uses spice as a unit of value. You can rely on the Guild to never stab you in the back, but any House that tries to screw over the Guild is going to be punished with a series of fees and penalties. Oh, and if you ever find yourself well and truly hosed, with the strength of your House broken and your rivals beating down your door, the Guild maintains the Tupile system as a place of safe exile. Paying the Guild your last bit of cash to live out your days on some faraway planet isn’t great, but it’s better than having your enemies hunt down each and every last one of your family.

The Mentat School trains people to be human computers. Mentats aren’t just people walking around with spreadsheets in their heads; they can actually bring human judgment and intuition to bear on massive amounts of data and predict, for example, that there’s a 79.4% chance that your Bene Gesserit advisor plans to murder you, with an 85.6% chance that she’ll do it by poisoning that Caladanian wine you love so much. The Mentat school isn’t a major political faction, but no House would enter tense negotations without a mentat advisor.

The Swordsmaster’s School of Ginaz was founded to train soldiers to heretofore unseen levels, and many other schools have tried to imitate their success. House Corrino founded the Imperial Suk School to train expert doctors whose “imperial conditioning” prevents them from ever harming their patients. These were just minor plot points in the books, and as such, don’t get a lot of detail here.


Swordsmasters? Well, I see them around in the evenings. What do you want with them?

The Great Houses

Dune: CotI lists over thirty Great Houses in the Landsraad council, but there are only a handful who are major players and get a lot of detail. Each of the Great Houses has a number of Houses Minor united under its banner, too. (Yep, just like Game of Thrones, but with lasers.)

Power accrues to power, and House Corrino still sits on the Golden Lion Throne and remains the most powerful House in the Imperium. The Corrinos are notorious for internal power struggles, but the House as a whole rules with a steady hand, even if its Emperors are not particularly long-lived. They’ve moved their seat of power to the planet Kaidan, after an assassination attempt on the royal family turned their homeworld, Salusa Secundus, into a radioactive wasteland. It now serves as a prison planet, but is secretly the training ground for the Emperor’s matchless Sardaukar troops. The Sardaukar are like nuclear weapons themselves: rarely employed, but their mere existence is sufficient to deter any disobedience.

While the Corrinos have spent thousands of years consolidating wealth and power, the Atreides have shored up their reputation for honor and justice. The Atreides first came to prominence at the Battle of Corrin, when a cowardly Harkonnen abandoned his post and an Atreides swept in to save the day. The Atreides aren’t particularly wealthy, but many of the lesser Houses count on them to take a principled stance in times of crisis, as they did in the Ginaz/Moritani war. Having the support of all these “backbenchers” makes them a threat to the Corrinos and a target for the more devious Houses, but their enemies are afraid to take action against them...openly.

House Harkonnen is a bag of cunts. They were exiled from the Landsraad for their ancestor’s cowardice, but since that time they earned their way back in through a series of shrewd business decisions that cornered the market on several luxury goods, making them too wealthy and powerful to ignore. They’ve even been awarded control of Arrakis, the richest fiefdom in the galaxy, and they’ve ruled it the way they rule every other world under their control: repulsive decadence and brutal exploitation. Their homeworld is an industrialized shithole, and most of their subjects are degraded slaves.

And now we get to the Houses that were just invented for this game! House Wallach was founded by a general loyal to the Corrinos, but while they’re still tight enough with the Emperor to train their heirs on Salusa Secundus, their primary focus is now diplomacy. They also have a strong alliance with the Bene Gesserit, who are headquartered on Wallach IX.

House Moritani is a bunch of devious bastards who are still best known for quickly wiping out House Ginaz in a brief and bloody war of assassins. They’ve spent generations trying to shake their dubious reputation, but retreating into relative obscurity while rumors of a military buildup continue to circulate hasn’t helped them much.

House Tseida developed on a planet which was ruled by a Butlerian Inquisition for thousands of years. Theocracy has waned, but they are, no kidding, a House of expert lawyers. They keep themselves strong (and indispensible) by representing other Houses in business ventures, and they’re strongly intertwined with the Spacing Guild.


Swordsmasters? I think they drink a lot of booze at the bars or someplace.

The Imperium

You’ve been told all sorts of things about all sorts of factions without understanding how they work, haven’t you? I’m sorry, I’m just trying to roughly follow the book here.

The document that guides the way the Imperium works is the Great Convention. It’s essentially the extension of a general truce, and is designed to protect the powerful and prevent open warfare. Basically, it goes lie this:

1. It defines the rights and obligations of Houses, how the Landsraad council works, and other boring stuff that isn’t meant to be spelled out in a space opera novel or a roleplaying game.
2. It defines the faufreluches, the universal caste system.
3. Houses are allowed to wage war on each other through formal duels, assassination, and political hostage-taking and ransom. This is called kanly. As long as you formally declare your vendetta, almost anything is permissible. What, even knifing babies in the crib? Absolutely. Can I interest you in a long vacation in the scenic Tupile system? By “scenic” I mean only the Spacing Guild knows where it is and you can never return.
4. One thing that’s not allowed? Atomic weapons. Ever. The penalty for this is that the Emperor executes your entire House and your home planet is destroyed.

The Landsraad is, uh, feudal space Congress. The Emperor is the leader of the council, and while he doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to, he’ll usually follow their recommendations. The Landsraad passes laws, creates and funds Imperial projects, listens to its members whine about how they’re not getting enough stuff, and so on, just like Congress. The Landsraad forbids any action against the Guild, and authorizes the Guild to penalize misbehaving Houses with fines, punitive rates, embargoes, or outright confiscation. Basically, you can’t wage war unless the Landsraad sanctions it. The space knights of the Dune universe don’t fight each other with fleets of X-Wings and Birds of Prey and Flaz Gaz Heat Rays and such because the Guild is having none of that bullshit.

The CHOAM corporation was founded in the Great Convention as a financial reserve for the Imperium, and it’s now the center of the imperial economy. (It stands for Combine Honette Ober Advancer Mercantiles.) It’s deeply intertwined with the Guild Bank and with every commercial enterprise on every planet in the Imperium. Through CHOAM, the Landsraad regulates trade and establishes currency. (The sol, plural solaris, is the imperial unit of currency, and pegged to the value of spice. Ron Paul Muad’Dib, eat your heart out.)

Next time, on Dune: Everything about the Great Houses that you don’t know already.

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 always figured that the Butlerian Jihad referred to the robots themselves- it was a holy war to purge robotic servants- a Jihad against -Butlers-.

This may have been influenced by concept art from sketches from Lynch's Dune showing the robots wearing black suit jackets, though.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

unseenlibrarian posted:

I always figured that the Butlerian Jihad referred to the robots themselves- it was a holy war to purge robotic servants- a Jihad against -Butlers-.
If you ignore the stuff written by Herbert's son, that's pretty much accurate. The Jihad originally wasn't supposed to be an actual war, it was an ideological battle against humanity's complete dependence on thinking machines for every task.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Halloween Jack posted:

Chapter 1: History of the Imperium

Dune is divided into three “books,” the first being “Imperium Familia,” which contains all the setting, character generation, and rules info that the players will need. The first chapter is a history of the setting, the Imperium.


You're a long way from Hoth.

Halloween Jack posted:

The aftermath of the Jihad plunged the Imperium into a technological and cultural dark age, because faster-than-light travel was largely abandoned. When isolated planets began communicating with each other again, they did so with the shared philosophy that “Man may not be replaced.” The Orange Catholic Bible, a syncretic scripture created for the new Imperium, declares “Thou shalt not disfigure the soul.” What does that mean? No artificial intelligence, no robotics, no cybernetics, no genetic engineering; in short, no transhumanism and no reliance on automation. The Imperium has faster-than-light travel and gravity manipulation, but not Microsoft Excel.

(Although the Butlerian Jihad is a major part of the premise of the Dune universe, Herbert alludes to it many times without ever defining exactly what the conflict was or how it played out, not even in the appendix to Dune which lays out the background of the setting. We don’t even know who Butler was! Multiple allusions imply that it was both a literal war against Space Skynet and a neo-Luddite movement, but Herbert was a master of the “always leave them wanting more” principle. Dune: CotI takes a middle ground by saying that it was both. There’s some technology that seems like it couldn’t work without some computerization being involved, but as far as the Narrator and the players should be concerned, the Imperium is a sci-fi setting with no computers.

I'm not sure if it outright banned genetic engineering because you have the Ixians, but then the Ixians are supposedly something other than the Empire.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




I though that House Ix was a thing, it has been a while though.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Ixians are dudes from Planet Ix, who are the most advanced producers of "machine culture" and are just short of violating the ideals of the Butlerian Jihad.

The Bene Tleilax are the genetic engineers who make poo poo like Gholas and Face Dancers.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Mr. Maltose posted:

Ixians are dudes from Planet Ix, who are the most advanced producers of "machine culture" and are just short of violating the ideals of the Butlerian Jihad.

The Bene Tleilax are the genetic engineers who make poo poo like Gholas and Face Dancers.

Not to mention they are stumpy little grey dudes with sharp teeth and elf ears.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


They bred themselves to look super nonthreatening to other people. Tleilaxu are scary as hell.

The worst the Ix ever did was accidently unleash a horde of self learning self replicating pre-Butlerian hunter seeker drones and killed all of humanity in a possible future prevented by Leto II.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Mr. Maltose posted:

Ixians are dudes from Planet Ix, who are the most advanced producers of "machine culture" and are just short of violating the ideals of the Butlerian Jihad.

The Bene Tleilax are the genetic engineers who make poo poo like Gholas and Face Dancers.

Yeah, Bene Tleilax is the guys who I'm thinking of. They're the ones who turn their women into giant biochemical factory wombs for their products and freak out the Bene Gesserit.

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 11: "They are “true” gods, dependent on worshipers for power and able and willing to grant spells to their priests and devotees"

Time to enrage some classics majors! On the upside, characterizing the Greek gods as trifling, spiteful dicks is pretty accurate so if that’s the direction we end up in we won’t be too far off the mythical mark.

It looks like we get three setups: The Pantheon of Olympia, basically the real deals. Then we get Dark Olympus which is basically evil intelligences and beings using Roman names or something. And then the Olympian Club, a bunch of posers pretending at being Olympus & crew in order to screw money out of rubes and earning the annoyance of the other two Olympian-themed agencies.

On with the Pantheon first! Descended from Titans (not to be confused with Palladium Titans which were descended from the D&D monster manual) which were all monstrous and such their leader, Cronus, kept eating all his kids so nobody would ever beat him. Zeus was saved from this fate and killed Cronus and etc etc freshman English. The Greek myths of course became a major cultural touchstone for a lot of European thought and classical references abound even in modern works, though they are thankfully less ubiquitous and no longer used to cloak politically impolite metaphors or whatever. This means that the Greek pantheon retains higher than average influence on Rifts Earth though they still re-appear weakened

As far as other pantheons go, they are still mad at the Persians for that whole rivalry and warfare thing from back in the day but they aren’t actively fighting anymore, they just post catty godbook updates. The Egyptian gods apparently abandoned Egypt after Herakles defeated Anhur and went off to do other dimensional things but now they’re back too, and dislike Olympia. Sumerians and Greeks seem to get on well, similar fondness for out of control parties perhaps. The Greeks fought the Norse when the Romans were conquering up in Germany and such and apparently Herakles and Thor dream of a rematch. They dislike the Splugorth but don’t want to deal with such organized and strong entities unless they have to. The Olympians want Atlantis back, and are pally with True Atlanteans. They don’t as a pantheon seem to have a specific agenda on Earth aside from ‘get their own’ I guess.

Now, on to specific gods. Zeus is the obvious starting point. Zeus was god of rain and lightning and all that, necessary for agriculture but slightly malicious. He loved to seduce women which never went over well with his wife Hera, but Hera was not able to attack Zeus directly both because of Greek cultural norms and a much weaker statblock, so usually just lashed out at the seduction victims, and Zeus usually didn’t lift a finger to help them.

The first paragraph says he’s an enemy of demons and alien intelligences, the third says he is not very concerned with moral issues and is extremely self-absorbed and only fought the forces of darkness when they threatened Olympia. He is written as mostly being unconcerned with mortals, though he does like him some worship. He’s prideful and won’t accept being upstaged by god or mortal, and particularly dislikes pretenders. All of this is pretty accurate in general, though it’s been a while since I’ve read Greek myth (in any version) directly to like quote stuff.

In coming back to Earth, Zeus is likely to send priests and demigods first to work on his cult, particularly in Mediterranean/European areas because there’s no place like home. I think Greece was briefly mentioned in NGR but basically it’s troubled by demons and monsters like everywhere else and the pantheon will protect the people provided they are worshipped and etc. They would be a southern rival to the Gargoyle Empire and the NGR’s struggles would appeal to some of the pantheon (why this is explained under Zeus’s section and not before I do not know) but they’re unlikely to take a direct role, since the NGR is all ‘nuh uh no D-Bees’ which would probably include gods. It is entertaining to watch though.



They’ll also seek worshippers among some of the various magic-friendly and otherwise desperate communities “around the world” which--just ignoring that. Oh, here we go back to talking about Zeus in the singular again--he might try to help drive the Splugorth out of Atlantis because he wants True Atlantean worshippers and he doesn’t like the Splugorth. The pantheon as a whole isn’t strong enough to do this by themselves yet (would they ever be?) and there isn’t an organized enough force to oppose them. It also mentions that the Greeks don’t know about Wormwood which I think wasn’t even mentioned in the others, and says that the poor oppressed peasants might welcome any saviors which is kind of direct opposition to Wormwood which said ‘gods mess up anything they get involved in, good thing Wormwood is unlikely to be of interest’. So there’s that.

Okay now the actual stat block. 100K MDC/20K to start with. Usually loud and overbearing, he is king and will let you know it but very charming with the ladies and “a female player character with a PB of 20 or higher may become the next target of his affections.” :ohdear: Good thing it requires blatant cheating to get a score that high and what munchkin would waste a perfectly good dump stat to prove the legitimacy of their sheet?

Another ‘20th level’ air and water warlock. 15th line walker, 15th warrior. Regen an average of 75MDC per round, good grief. Shapeshift into any humanoid or animal--obviously. Gotta go be a sexy swan.

All of this is mostly standard ‘god stuff’ until we get to the obvious special Zeus power: The lightning bolts. These do 1D6x10 MD and he can attack with them up to his number of melee attacks, which is eight. The disparity between the amount of MDC these and other god-creatures have and their weak-rear end damage continues to be a source of :bang: but that damage level and number of attacks could lay waste to a PC group pretty quickly even without having to look up a bunch of spell effects.

There’s also weather control. 3x daily, Zeus can start or stop rain in a 100 mile radius. If it’s cold enough, it’ll snow instead. He can fly above clouds to control and herd them over a 1000 mile area to make bigger storms to punish people he doesn’t like, much the way as described for Tlaloc, with the 3D6 minute duration. That plus all the warlock magic.

For skills, “Most normal skills are of little interest to Zeus. When attempting anything, he has a minimum chance of 60% to succeed.” So he has an equal 40% chance to fail at operating a basic radio and performing heart surgery.

He has a shitload of spells and psionic powers, basically this statblock will not shut up. He is close friends with Herakles and the Hundred-Handed and is chummy with Thoth (who is...the amnesiac Old One right? That’ll end well with mister ‘hates alien intelligences’) and can always rely on his brother Hades but apparently not Poseidon. Also he has a race of minions called the Greater Cyclops, statted later. Most importantly about them, they make magic bolts which are even stronger than Zeus’s lightning--either 2D6x10 or 3D6x10, no explanation for the differentiation or why you’d ever use the smaller one. It’s not clear if these are used up after one use or not--probably I guess, since Zeus’ll sometimes give 3D4 of them as rewards. Great, impress a god, get 6 shots of boom-gun equivalent. Awesome.

As a whole, he pretty much sounds Zeus-y, with a bunch of ridiculous stats.

Herakles

Certainly, more important than Zeus’s wife Hera the queen of the gods or all the other heroes, it’s Herakles. To be fair, he is probably Zeus’s most famous by-blow but you can kind of feel the love of the authors rubbing off on the text. Anyway, he was born super-duper strong and only got stronger, likes to do quests and fight challenges. Has a bit of his father’s temper and accidentally killed his family once while under a curse--maybe Hank Pym shouldn’t feel so bad. Just kidding. Hank Pym doesn’t feel bad. Also, the book doesn’t mention that it was Hera who drove him to madness which is kind of an important point in most versions of that story. Anyway he completed his labors and was eventually saved from death by elevation to Olympus and now roams around having a rage disorder (“a typical fit lasts 3D4 minutes”), challenging strong PCs to contests of might, and fighting evil.

40K/8K MDC, weighs 500lbs of ‘all muscle’, Supernatural PS 70. For some reason they give him equivalent Heroes Unlimited levels (12th level “alien warrior”) and powers (Extraordinary Strength, Endurance, Speed, Healing Factor and Impervious to Fire and Heat for whatever reason) but otherwise 12th level warrior in Rifts, or Mercenary Fighter in Fantasy. Okay.

He can regenerate severed limbs! the text says breathlessly. (so can all of them) Doesn’t breathe and otherwise has a lot of godly resistances and teleportation stuff. Speaks Italian specifically in addition to Euro and has a little bit of Spanish too. Does 2D4x10 with a punch, which is more than a light-your-rear end-up thunderbolt from Zeus. Has zero spells, that’s refreshing, and only 100 PPE. Barely even worth blood-sacrificing. Basic defense psionics--mind block, auto-defense, sense magic.

Otherwise he just has some cool magic toys. The Bow of Herakles is an indestructible holy weapon--you remember those good-hearted weaker brothers of the rune weapons in Atlantis? This is one of those. Only Herakles can use all its powers :smuggo: For him? 1D4x10. Anybody else? 2D6 MDC. Triple damage to demons, vampires, and alien intelligences.

Also the Nemean Lion Cape: Unpiercable skin, killed it by strangling, wore its skin as a coat afterwards and never you mind how they managed to cure it. Sharp weapons do no damage, ‘energy attacks’ do half, but ‘kinetic’ attacks do full. It doesn’t give any armor rating rules for it being a cape rather than actual armor but honestly that’s a blessing.

So: overpowered GM PC. Involving Herakles in a game would more or less be putting a ‘better-than-you’ hero down on the table and having him lead the action. He’s proactive in going out and doing stuff--it could be interesting to have to clean up messes he makes in being an overzealous dudebro but eventually one is going to want him to go bother someone else.


Next: Hera and Hades, not quite a triple-H

occamsnailfile fucked around with this message at 05:42 on Apr 11, 2014

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Mr. Maltose posted:

They bred themselves to look super nonthreatening to other people. Tleilaxu are scary as hell.

The worst the Ix ever did was accidently unleash a horde of self learning self replicating pre-Butlerian hunter seeker drones and killed all of humanity in a possible future prevented by Leto II.

It might have been better to at least have two hordes of those things fighting it out instead of waiting for the machines Murabella saw to come from beyond space.

Please tell me the Dune Book drops/handles deftly the imprinting idea. Eating worm juice to see beyond space and time was fine with young me, the weird imprinting poo poo lost me.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

unseenlibrarian posted:

I always figured that the Butlerian Jihad referred to the robots themselves- it was a holy war to purge robotic servants- a Jihad against -Butlers-.

This may have been influenced by concept art from sketches from Lynch's Dune showing the robots wearing black suit jackets, though.
Heh. It's much more likely that it's named after Samuel Butler, a guy who wrote an extremely-ahead-of-its-time (during the Civil War) essay about the possibility of "machine life" overtaking and replacing biological life.
The Ixians and the Tleilax are a thing, but they're not organized as Great Houses. They both skirt or outright violate the Butlerian proscriptions (the Ixians with machinery and the Tleilax with biotechnology) but anyone in a position to do anything about it is benefiting from their rare and precious inventions.

Young Freud posted:

You're a long way from Hoth.
How did I miss that?

Barudak posted:

Please tell me the Dune Book drops/handles deftly the imprinting idea. Eating worm juice to see beyond space and time was fine with young me, the weird imprinting poo poo lost me.
Please. It's worm cinnamon.

As for the imprinting, I really have no idea yet, but I'm pretty sure that the game is going to focus on prana-bindu kung fu a lot more than stuff like imprinting. As you'll see, one of the problems in this game is that there are a lot of character "abilities" which don't actually do anything, both because they never got to publish the supplements and because of 90s design.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...




Halloween Jack posted:

Heh. It's much more likely that it's named after Samuel Butler, a guy who wrote an extremely-ahead-of-its-time (during the Civil War) essay about the possibility of "machine life" overtaking and replacing biological life.

Butler then took that essay, "Darwin among the Machines" (1863), and expanded it into an entire novel. If you're a fan of Dune, or even of science fiction in general, Erewhon is highly recommended. It's some really cutting edge poo poo for 1872.

quote:

Herein lies our danger. For many seem inclined to acquiesce in so dishonourable a future. They say that although man should become to the machines what the horse and dog are to us, yet that he will continue to exist, and will probably be better off in a state of domestication under the beneficent rule of the machines than in his present wild condition. We treat our domestic animals with much kindness. We give them whatever we believe to be the best for them; and there can be no doubt that our use of meat has increased their happiness rather than detracted from it. In like manner there is reason to hope that the machines will use us kindly, for their existence will be in a great measure dependent upon ours; they will rule us with a rod of iron, but they will not eat us; they will not only require our services in the reproduction and education of their young, but also in waiting upon them as servants; in gathering food for them, and feeding them; in restoring them to health when they are sick; and in either burying their dead or working up their deceased members into new forms of mechanical existence.

The power of custom is enormous, and so gradual will be the change, that man's sense of what is due to himself will be at no time rudely shocked; our bondage will steal upon us noiselessly and by imperceptible approaches; nor will there ever be such a clashing of desires between man and the machines as will lead to an encounter between them. Among themselves the machines will war eternally, but they will still require man as the being through whose agency the struggle will be principally conducted. In point of fact there is no occasion for anxiety about the future happiness of man so long as he continues to be in any way profitable to the machines; he may become the inferior race, but he will be infinitely better off than he is now. Is it not then both absurd and unreasonable to be envious of our benefactors? And should we not be guilty of consummate folly if we were to reject advantages which we cannot obtain otherwise, merely because they involve a greater gain to others than to ourselves?

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 18:42 on Apr 11, 2014

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Bilal kaifa.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


occamsnailfile posted:

They are “true” gods, dependent on worshipers for power and able and willing to grant spells to their priests and devotees

I want to see a game world or something that has gods that don't have the whole post-modernist "powered by belief" thing going on. What's old is new again.

Spoilers Below posted:

Butler then took that essay, "Darwin among the Machines" (1863), and expanded it into an entire novel. If you're a fan of Dune, or even of science fiction in general, Erewhon is highly recommended. It's some really cutting edge poo poo for 1872.

I'm no huge fan of Hemingway but at least the man knew how to just get to the loving point in his writing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


ThisIsNoZaku posted:

I want to see a game world or something that has gods that don't have the whole post-modernist "powered by belief" thing going on. What's old is new again.

I have to wonder where that originates from. Was that an AD&D-ism? Hmmm. :raise:

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


occamsnailfile posted:

maybe Hank Pym shouldn’t feel so bad. Just kidding. Hank Pym doesn’t feel bad.


It says something that this is what irks me most out of that entire section, GMPCs and weakass thunderbolts included.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

I have to wonder where that originates from. Was that an AD&D-ism? Hmmm. :raise:

My first brush with it was at the end of the Time of Troubles in Forgotten Realmsland. Prior to that it was all propitiation and avoidance.

Hm. That'd be a cute schtick: reskin the math on divine blessings and such, so that instead of getting a boost from a god, he's just getting off your back a bit while continuing to rain poo poo on everyone else.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Bieeardo posted:

Hm. That'd be a cute schtick: reskin the math on divine blessings and such, so that instead of getting a boost from a god, he's just getting off your back a bit while continuing to rain poo poo on everyone else.

Great Ork Gods is an example of a system based solely around that notion, where the players play orcs and the attribute system is based entirely around how much the orc gods hate that orc in a given moment. (They only hate; there is no love.)

Presuming you still had a Rifts or Forgotten Realms-like plethora of gods, it'd probably still boil down to a bonus, since nobody wants to keep track of the 47 gods cursing them instead of the one god giving them a pass, unless you only have the attention of a certain number of gods at a given time.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

That's what I was thinking: everyone and everything is equally cursed to some degree, so the penalties from those curses are basically invisible; things like old-school bless spells are the gods hating you slightly less for a little while. Usual math, just with a somewhat more antagonistic slant.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Kult is kinda like that, by way of being a Gnosticism-flavoured setting.

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occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

I've seen the 'gods powered by belief' thing in enough sources that I can't really sort out the origin anymore. I read the Avatar Trilogy two or three times in pre-high school and I recall that while worship was cool for gods and all that, it didn't kill Bhaal when they murdered all the assassins did it? It just hurt and weakened him. A quick browsing of current online FR lore suggests that they've revised and added complexity but a god is still a god and even 'dead' ones linger around causing mischief. I've seen it outside of game sources though I am struggling to name--it's something that's brought up when people get into debates about why God wants worship and demands love and such.

In Rifts though, it's just weird and inconsistent.


Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part 12: "But her centuries as a cheated wife have permanently deranged her"

Hera, goddess of women. Mother of many of the other gods, jealous of her husband’s many infidelities. Since she was not able to confront Zeus directly, she took her wrath out on anyone else in reach--this is a reasonably accurate portrayal of human behavior when confronted with an abusive situation where one party is disempowered in a primary relationship but still has power over others (ie children, slaves, etc) as a Greek wife of a citizen might be, so the myth was kind of playing from life there. It doesn’t make Hera a nice being though she is at least sympathetic in a way, having such an asshat cuckold spouse.

In Palladium’s characterization, despite her title, she is way less concerned with mortals and way more concerned with defending her own pride. The centuries of putting up with Zeus’s adultery have “permanently deranged her” and she has pretty much given up on being nice to powerless people who have done her no harm. :sigh: This gets worse though: Hera was long prone to murdering, deforming or otherwise attacking the targets of Zeus’s affections if she found out about them. She finally “went too far” and killed an Atlantean before Zeus had sealed the deal, and caused the death of several of her relatives in the process. Zeus attacked Hera in a grand show of divine domestic violence and nearly killed her, saying if she “ever killed anybody again” he’d destroy her. Anybody? I mean there are some beings out there that deserve killin’.

Since then she is sullen and more psychotic than ever because her man be wandering and nothing else could possibly matter in her life, nor can a being thousands of years old consider the possibility of divorce. She spends her time making intricate plots to get revenge on Zeus’s lovers without taking a direct hand and is now miscreant instead of anarchist. :barf: She wants him to be as miserable as she is and “regularly hires a pair of Sunaj assassins and a 9th-level Nightstalker dragon to commit murder.” All her positive aspects have been folded down into being a jealous spouse who trafficks with dangerous enemies. She literally has a Palladium-statted insanity Obsession about getting revenge on Zeus, plus Paranoia and--what the crap, Schizophrenia, hearing voices taunting her about Zeus and urging her to hurt and kill. :stonk:


she also appears to have lost her nose to madness

For all that, she barely tops Hercules for power: 45K/9K MDC. Her Horror Factor is 14, because there is nothing scary like a woman scorned. She’s a 15th level ‘Sorceress’, regenerates an average 7.5 MDC per minute (same as Herakles) and knows all Domestic skills, but so like a lady she can’t even change a tire? Seriously, assigning skills to gods is really dumb. Her hand to hand is total crap but she knows all spells 1-15, has all sensitive and healing psi-powers. This is actually one of the briefer blocks except for the fact that ‘knows all spells’ includes pages and pages of abilities you have to look up.

RPGs not being extremely good at women is not a new thing exactly but they’re whiffing them all out of the park in my sections, and ARB’s didn’t seem to be faring so well either. She barely tops a former demigod for power and looking ahead she is definitely weaker kin to Hades. That and this MRA strawman psychotic wife thing makes this a really miserable presentation.

Ugh, moving on. Hades

Brother of Zeus, one of those kids who got et before Zeus cut them all loose. Hades, Zeus and Poseidon took the underworld, the land, and the sea as their domains--the section doesn’t mention Poseidon for some reason though he’s statted later. I mean he has some of the Aquaman problem of being the ocean guy and all but it’s just weird. Anyway, Hades got the underworld aka the realm of the dead. He doesn’t hate mortals or anything, he is just primarily concerned with his necrolactic pursuits. The Palladium Underworld is a “transdimensional realm” where enemies of the gods are imprisoned and tortured and one of Hades’s hobbies is creating these proper comeuppances. It’s also where the “inter-dimensional Prison of Tartarus” is located, where the Titans are locked up. If I were trying to lock something up in the Palladium-verse, I would not make it an inter-dimensional space. Just saying.

The underworld borders a lot of demon kingdoms and Hades has to be constantly on guard, but it’s also full of treasure so you know the PCs will be breaking in there. Hades is just so badass that not many people attempt it openly. Also, Poseidon, Hera and Athena all endured a stint in Tartarus and “this even is not known to mortal chroniclers and may surprise students of mythology.” :rolleyes: I am hopingthey explain what conspiracy caused this apocryphal addition later because it seems important, otherwise it’s super-pointless to include. Hades is generally mostly a homebody who administers his prison-realm with Aberrant fairness.


those are corinthean-style spikes

Numbers-time. 80K/16K MDC, cold and grim, no mention of Persephone, 15th level sorcerer and diabolist, and can turn and/or animate 2D6x100 dead at will. Hades once almost killed ‘Succor-Bemoth’ from the Conversion book. Looking back at that guy with his piddling 1500 MDC, the only way I can see that Hades didn’t kill him was that he got bored doing 1D6x10 a round and just told the guy to leave. Oh, he has an Impaler rune sword that is mentioned without plugging Atlantis that actually just repeats the relevant stats. And magical plate armor with 2,000 MDC because he needs it so. Also he has a Helm of Invisibility that makes you double-invisible, even to things that normally see invisible (almost everything except Coalition soldiers) but it “only” lasts two hours a day.

Hades has a generally defined role but very little personality--which is to be expected I suppose. PCs wouldn’t have much to do with him unless their GM was a classics type who wanted them to retrieve a soul and then he’s just an invincible impediment unless they play a riddle game or whatever.

Cerberus

Just in case your PCs were bull-headed (come now, we’re done with Babylon) enough to try and break into Hades, Cerberus gets his own block. He’s a watchdog. IQ of 13, capable of speech, but he usually just growls and stuff first, then attacks if people get too close. Maybe you could fool him though, if you have a good story. (“Just need to step in to use the bathroom--”)


who’s a good boy awwww who’s a good boy

4000 MDC, putting him in adult dragon range, can turn invisible at will for some reason and spits acid that does pitiful damage for 1D6 rounds unless washed off with “several gallons” of water. Granted that’s pitiful mega-damage. Eight attacks per round, 3D6x10 bite, and a 2D4x10 pounce with an 80% chance of knocking an enemy down and making them lose initiative and two melee attacks--which is actually a passably balanced iteration of that stupid pounce attack all those Wormwood critters had. Of course, if I were being an evil rules-lawyer GM I’d just have him pounce around from PC to PC costing two attacks per hit since he can do that eight times a round. With these stats, Cerberus actually does more damage than most of the other gods mentioned so far, he’s just easier to kill.

Charon

It’s almost like they want you to go on an underworld quest. Charon, guardian of the River Styx, which ‘leads into Hades’s realm’ from, I guess, the other parts of ‘Hades’ which is also a dimension because they didn’t want to say ‘Hell’ in the Conversion book. The whole ‘penny for the dead’ thing doesn’t apply here, Charon is a greedy sumbitch like the worst bouncer at the most exclusive club--you have to be on Hades’s list. If you are on the list you can pay with ‘1 credit’ which is A) apparently a coin and B) interdimensionally accepted.

5,000 MDC and Pilot Boat and Swim at 98%, his boat and staff are indestructible which actually makes them kind of valuable and his attacks aren’t all that great. I say we kill him and take his money.

That’s all the underworld people, until we get to the Hekatonkheires later, though they’re just extra-grabby prison guards really. Next we’ll get to the letter A. Seriously. That seems to be part of the organizational principle at work here.

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