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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

The first ad I saw for oChangeling was a two page spread in Dragon. It may have been a fold-out, because those two pages were just pog-sized cameos of the stock kiths scattered around the pages with capsule descriptions for each. They mapped to high school cliques almost instantly-- you might have had to do a little work for the other splats, but this stuff was obvious on its face. So I wrote it off until my ST picked up a copy and fell in wish-fulfillment with it.

Frustratingly, while it's the gently caress-you-dad crap that rises to the surface, there was a lot of interesting conflict bubbling beneath the surface. Survivor commoner versus invading/refugee noble, modernity versus dreamlike tradition, sanity versus the lovely collectible card magic system, even vague nods toward the Apollonian and Dionysian in the relationship between Seelie and Unseelie.

Even more frustrating, a lot of that conflict and resentment went *poof* with the second edition printing. Everyone was suddenly happy living in a Barbie dream-castle world, 'explained' by a short essay that claimed people and changelings harkened back to the 'good old days'... which was kind of bullshit, given indications from Vampire: the Dark Ages that the medieval WoD was even less pleasant than the modern one. The somewhat interesting seelie/unseelie dichotomy got clamped down to a deeply frustrating traditionalist-good/modernist-bad arrangement. There wasn't a whole lot of depth even before that, and as someone involved in the SCA (which got name-dropped multiple times in the books, and had endless, smug associations drawn between by people involved with both) it was downright embarrassing. The World of Darkness definitely wasn't the place for the Middle Ages (as They Should Have Been), even if you could 'freak the mundanes' by waving rattan 'swords' around in both.

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GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Spoilers Below posted:

Well, when you're 14 and already reading Plato thanks to a philosophy course at your high school, and the Illuminatus Trilogy and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and similar books thanks to the internet, and it turns out that there's a cool version of D&D set in the real world with vampires and werewolves and swearing and trenchcoats, and then it turns out that the game for playing wizards is based on the books you're reading and has, no poo poo, bibliographies in the front to check out! And then huh, a lot of this stuff doesn't follow at all. Why doesn't there...? No, no. It's published, it'll all make sense. Check their sources again. This RPG book was expensive, and written by professional writers. I must be the one making a mistake. :spergin::respek::pseudo:

Yeah, oMage is best played in one of three ways:

1) With actual philosophers, disregarding basically all the in-game fluff beyond the high concept.
2) gently caress it, wizards on spaceships.
3) Join the Technocracy.


pkfan2004 posted:

You had me at "Fringe-like RPG", I'm willing to pay five bucks to see how that plays out.

Speaking of playing out, it's time for more...


This week on Coast to Coast With Art Bell: I Was Photobombed By Elvis' Alien Love Child!

Only one chapter this update. It's not tremendously long, but I want to cover character creation and game machanics in one post and have a nice clean break between the player chapters and the GM chapters. So, without further ado, let's read 20 pages about a house.



As with the previous chapter, we're plunged right into the text with no introduction or overview whatsoever. In this case, we start with a brief description of the (fictional) town of Seven Dogs, Alaska. Seven Dogs sits on the eastern shore of the (also fictional, as far as I can tell) Maruak Lake, which in turn drains into the (real) North Fork of the Kuskokwim River. That puts it roughly smack in the middle of Alaska, geographically speaking.


Right about... here. Maybe.

Seven Dogs used to be a seasonal fishing camp for the Yupik people (the book calls them "Eskimo," but I'm not going to do that because it's an offensive term) until gold was discovered in them thar hills in the early 20th century. The town experienced a typical boom and bust when the gold dried out, and by the time Jericho Usher and Terrance Chastain arrived, the town had about 150 inhabitants, mostly Yupik, and both the hydroelectric plant and the dam on the Kuskokwim were falling apart. With the agreement of the Alaskan government (not the Yupik of course, because they were rich white dudes and it was 1949), Usher and Chastain bought up about 1800 acres across the lake from the town proper, including the dam and the power plant, and set about fixing the place up. They also built a dock and a floatplane base to make it easier to bring supplies into the town.

Today, the town has about 500 people, though we're told the generator is rated for a town "five times that size." Much of that power is diverted to the Society's manor house, which is funny for reasons we'll get to shortly.


Pictured: Aniak, AK. Another town of about 500 situated on the Kuskokwim River, probably a good model for Seven Dogs.

The Grounds
Most of the three square miles of land is virgin forest, "teeming with moose, elk, timber wolf, and the occasional grizzly bear." The manor house itself sits in a small clearing on the lakeshore, with unpaved roads suitable to snowmobiles or quads giving access to the docks and the floatplane base on the river, and to the hydro plant a couple miles away. Sounds pretty inconvenient, but the Society has other ways of moving around. The grounds also boast a Japanese garden with a lovely little tea pagoda and a heated pond stocked with koi, and a 12,000 square foot greenhouse that supplies the kitchen with fresh fruit and vegetables year round. Finally, we get a brief description of the three groundskeepers: Ichio Masuki, who tends the Japanese garden because of course he does, and Don and Mason Kitchuli, local boys and brothers who maintain the inner and outer grounds, respectively. Mason sometimes brings in moose, elk, or bear for the kitchens.

Hepta Sophistai
At long last, we start our (very detailed) look at the house that serves as the home base of the Seven Dogs Society. The original structure was a three-story Victorian monstrosity intended for the mayor of Seven Dogs. When the gold strike played out, the town's fortunes collapsed and construction never finished. Usher and Chastain bought the place, finished it out, and added two-story wings to the north and south sides and a single-story annex to the rear. A tower rises to three stories from each of the wings, and a four-story tower rises from the annex on the western side. They christened it Hepta Sophia after the seven sages of Greek myth, because naming houses is a thing you do when you're rich. You may recall talk in the history section of Usher going a bit nuts and insisting on some radical architectural changes--we'll be seeing the result of those here.

The central building, which is the original mayoral residence, has a weird Classical/Victorian mashup vibe going on. Gables and dormered windown abound, but the wraparound porch is surrounded by a Grecian collonade, with pillars carved in the likeness of "sagacious scholars watching inward" and "spiral work that could just as easily be Celtic as Mycenaean in design." The columns support balconies on the second and third floors.


Our first book art! Not pictured: Victorian influences.

The description of the house is split into the central building (which includes the two wings), the basement, and the annex. Rather than summarize all of them (and there's a lot of detail here), I'm just going to provide the floor plans and highlight some of the weird/cool/spooky features of the main house. We'll go into more detail when we get to the annex.



  • The wings are detached on the first floor, but directly connected on the second, which makes for plenty of odd nooks and tunnels running between the two. :shrug:
  • We're told that "entering from the west," we're likely to be met by the butler in the parlor. That's either a crazy space warp or a typo, because the parlor is on the east side of the house.
  • The butler insists that his name is "Jeffrey," despite being clearly and obviously a Russian expat.
  • The parlor floor is marble and features bas-relief carvings from the Iliad and the Odyssey, which strikes me as a tripping hazard but what do I know?
  • Also in the parlor: Works by Picasso, Braque, and Escher, plus a frieze described as "a variation of the Bayeaux Tapestry carved in full relief by the surrealist sculptor Marcel Duchamp." :psyboom:
  • The stairs up off the back of the kitchen go nowhere. They "rise 4 steps to a landing, turn left and climb 11 steps, turn left, and rise a final seven steps before ending at an empty wall. From the outside, this stairwell would appear to lead high up into the vaulted ceiling of the annex, but the original purpose or plan for the stairwell is unknown."



  • The second floor is primarily given over to the library and to living quarters for the society members. I imagine the campaign beginning with a fight over who gets the central apartment right off the library with the private bath.
  • The library is mostly stocked with texts on science, history, philosophy and the paranormal, but thanks to previous Society members' personal tastes "the library has collections from a variety of science fiction and fantasy authors, a large number of forties pulp magazines, and the largest collection of manga in Alaska." Just in case you had any doubt that this chapter is the authors building their nerd dream house.
  • Lots of windows and natural light for a place that stores a bunch of ancient books, don't you think?
  • No actual mention of where the five surviving pages of the Usher Codex are stored. You'd think they'd at least keep them in a fireproof safe after what happened last time. But hey, no reason we need to know where the one-of-a-kind, absolutely vital to enlightenment documents are. Tell me more about them animes.
  • Given that the house was purpose-built for the Seven Dogs Society, having two studies that can seat 10 people each seems like overkill.
  • Notes from 2007: All the workstations are explicitly described as "wired to the internal network." Also there are computer workstations. Nowadays I imagine you're issued a Seven Dogs Society official tablet with wi-fi access.



  • The third floor is mostly given over to Chastain's and Usher's living quarters. Chastain's are eternally cluttered with piles of books and ancient artifacts, but the old man always seems to know exactly where everything is.
  • Usher's rooms are kept locked up tight, but if the PCs break in (and you know they will), they'll find that it's impeccably organized and catalogued. Despite the fact that the thick layer of dust on everything shows no sign of having been disturbed in decades, perusing the shelves with reveal quite a few books published after Usher disappeared.
  • If the giant Orchestra Room in the south tower doesn't immediately make you want to run a story about a musical instrument that induces crazy visions, I don't know what to tell you.

The basement doesn't get a map, but we're told that it runs under the entire house from the annex to the front, and that it contains a gymnasium with a swimming pool and various squash/racquetball/multi-use courts, the pantry/wine cellar, and a game room with a two-lane bowling alley, a bunch of vintage pinball and arcade games, and both a fully stocked wet bar and espresso bar. Like I said, nerd dream house. We also get about half a column on how the basement was constructed to mitigate warming and thawing of the permafrost the house is built on. Aletheia, teaching you the mysteries of the universe and also cold-weather home improvement.

Now, before we move on to the annex, I want to point out one thing: for the headquarters of a society devoted to the study of the paranormal, weird alien physics, and bizarre cryptids, Hepta Sophistai has absolutely no laboratory space whatsoever. No physics labs, no morgue, no biological containment/study units, nothing. You get a library, and that's it. You want to autopsy that dead alien? Better get it on a plane and hope you can fast-talk your way into the Anchorage Coroner's office. Hell, the house doesn't even have a clinic, which, given that Society members have an alarming tendency to get shot at, seems like a huge oversight.

Right, now, the annex. We're told it was originally designed as laboratory space back in the early 50s, but as Usher's eyesight deteriorated/his crazy got bigger, he tore all that out and rebuilt it into its current configuration: nine doors leading off of a single, central hallway. If you were to go outside the house and walk around the annex, you'd see windows looking in on completely bare, empty rooms, each with a doorway leading out into the hall. You could even climb through the windows and go right out into the annex hallway if you wanted. From inside the hall, though, is where things get weird. Each doorway opens onto someplace hundreds or thousands of miles from Hepta Sophistai. The doors are one-way--people on the other side can't see into the house, and once you've gone through one there's no way back. The chapter rounds out with descriptions of each location and some notes on how they tie into the paranormal. (Some of the doors open onto seemingly-random places; the significance of these destinations are revealed in the GM's section.) Clockwise from the southeast, the portals' destinations are:


Khirbet Qumran
This door opens onto an archaeological site on a desert plateau, not far from the mouth of a cave. This is Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. The scrolls were probably written by the Essenes, a strictly ascetic sect of Judaism around the 2nd century BCE. I say probably, because several details don't entirely fit: the settlement at Qumran features a scriptorium, which wasn't a common feature of Essene sites at the time, and the scrolls appear to have several hundred authors, far more than the settlement could have supported. Evidence suggests the scrolls in the cave were hidden there in a great hurry, possibly due to Roman encroachment.


Beinecke Library
This door opens into Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the largest building in the world solely devoted to the preservation of rare books. No real paranormal mystery here, this is pretty obviously just a research tool.


Fort Raleigh
This door opens onto a public restroom at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, located on Roanoake Island in North Carolina. Here the book earns a million kudos points from me by not repeating the "mysterious lost colony" myth, but rather lays out the accepted theory that the colonists were absorbed into local Native populations. We learn a bit about the Lumbee people, a Native tribe not recognized as such until 1885 on account of they commonly had light skin and blue eyes, a language that resembles English and Highland Scots, and a religion with many similarities to Christianity. Still, the door must open here for a reason, right?


Hannah's
This door opens into the restroom (the text is silent on whether it's the men's or women's) of Hannah's Diner, a greasy spoon truck stop outside Hopkinsville, KY. The only unusual thing about the site seems to be that, in the last fifty years, the building has been host to twenty-three different establishments. Hannah's, going strong at three years, is the record-holder for longest tenant. I guess maybe Usher had a spastic colon and always needed a bathroom handy?


Tunguska Valley, Siberia
This door opens onto a forest near the Stony Tunguska River where, on June 30th, 1908, something exploded in the sky, flattening trees for miles around and setting fire to the forest. Witnesses reported a white cylindrical object trailing a plume of light, and a sound like artillery fire. The shockwave was strong enough to knock people to the ground forty miles away, but the trees at the epicenter were untouched. No one has been able to conclusively prove what caused the blast, but recently a Russian science team has claimed they found a large block of metal near the blast site--a block of metal they claim is both technological and highly advanced. The Russians haven't shared their find with the scientific community or allowed any photos of it to be published, which has led to most people dismissing it as a hoax.


Julio's
This door opens onto a massive junkyard outside Taos, New Mexico that seems to have a bit of everything. The owner (whose name is actually Julius) claims that "if it isn't here, it wasn't made." Nobody's proved him wrong yet.


Bibliothéque Nationale de France
The seventh door takes you to the Bibliothéque Nationale de France (BnF), the repository of all works published in France. The modern site of the BnF is pretty controversial: It has huge floor-to-ceiling windows despite storing quite a lot of very old, very fragile texts, it's so sprawling you have to walk an absurd distance just to get basic amenities, and even though it has a beautiful central garden, you're not allowed in it--you can just look down on it from inside the library. Still, it's another great place to do research.


Lubaantun
The next door opens to Lubaantun, the largest collection of Maya ruins in Belize. In paranormal circles, it's most famous as the site where Anna Mitchell-Hedges, daughter of the adventurer F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, reportedly discovered the Crystal Skull. Theories about the skull range from "Atlantean mystical tool" to "alien remains," but since the skull is in Anna Mitchell-Hedges' possession and she's retired from public life, speculation rages on.


Chambira River Basin
The final door opens onto remote jungle in the Loreto district of Peru. It's literally the middle of nowhere--the nearest city is Iquitos, 100 miles downriver. The only inhabitants of the area are the Urarina people, a seminomadic tribe of animistic hunters and horticulturalists. Their own name for themselves is "Kachá", which literally translates as "person." The book tells us that they're highly animistic and many of their religious rites involve ayahuasca-induced vision quests. This is also where Terrance Chastain found the bodies of the second incarnation of the Seven Dogs Society, each shot in the head and dumped in plain view of the portal.

Thoughts So Far: This is such a weird chapter to me. On the one hand, it's some nice world-building and gives a solid sense of reality to Hepta Sophistai. On the other, this game is heavily pitched as a "road game" like X-Files, where most of the action will be in the field, not at home. And for all that the detail's nice, it's all kind of... mundane. Apart from a few bits of weird decor and the post-disappearance books in Usher's room, half of the chapter is basically just a description of a fancy house in the woods. I would have liked to see more weirdness about the house itself. Maybe not full-on House of Leaves weird, but enough that you could hang a whole investigation on the house itself, apart from the annex and its teleportation doors. Hell, at least give us quirkier supporting cast than "Russian dude named Jeffrey."

Next time: Character creation, mechanics, and audience participation! Since the character creation system is really light, I don't think it'll be interesting to read about the character creation rules and then read a post of character creation, so I'm going to solicit character ideas from the thread now and use them as examples during the character creation review.

So give me your concepts for characters recruited into a weird, secretive, privately-wealthy paranormal investigation society. Remember that everybody recruited into the Society has a psychic power of some kind. Powers, like most of character creation, are pretty freeform, but to fit with the game's mythology they should generally be related to space and/or time (e.g. remote viewing or precognition moreso than telekinesis or mind control). Or you can leave your concept's power unknown and I'll pick something interesting. If I get enough concepts, I'll make an entire Seven Dogs Society!

GimpInBlack fucked around with this message at 04:58 on Jan 14, 2014

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Bieeardo posted:

Even more frustrating, a lot of that conflict and resentment went *poof* with the second edition printing. Everyone was suddenly happy living in a Barbie dream-castle world, 'explained' by a short essay that claimed people and changelings harkened back to the 'good old days'... which was kind of bullshit, given indications from Vampire: the Dark Ages that the medieval WoD was even less pleasant than the modern one. The somewhat interesting seelie/unseelie dichotomy got clamped down to a deeply frustrating traditionalist-good/modernist-bad arrangement. There wasn't a whole lot of depth even before that, and as someone involved in the SCA (which got name-dropped multiple times in the books, and had endless, smug associations drawn between by people involved with both) it was downright embarrassing. The World of Darkness definitely wasn't the place for the Middle Ages (as They Should Have Been), even if you could 'freak the mundanes' by waving rattan 'swords' around in both.

Changeling was actually fond of modernism insofar as democracy was involved—sidhe trying to be rulers were almost always jerks, except when they weren't. It's not hugely consistent, since the game seemed to be generically in favor of kings and dukes and medieval pageantry as a general thing, but didn't fail to mention that people who think of themselves as having a divine right to rule their lessers tend to be tremendous assholes.

There are like three good games that were sewed together to make the horrifying Frankenstein that was Changeling: the Dreaming, and none of them are happy to be sharing space with each other.

Ningyou
Aug 14, 2005

we aaaaare
not your kind of pearls
you seem kind of pho~ny
everything's a liiiiie

we aaaare
not your kind of pearls
something in your make~up
don't see eye to e~y~e



pkfan2004 posted:

Every time I hear about oWoD Changelings versus nWoD Changelings it's always the same old song and dance about how it was a "light-hearted, happy series about finding beauty in creativity in imagination~ that become the darkest and grimmest series about the destruction of your identity and self and picking up the pieces and you may never truly be free". But now that I'm actually looking at oWoD Changeling holy poo poo I am glad I never saw this stuff in highschool.

Yyyyyyep.

It's p. interesting to me how the game went from Whimsical Pink-Haired SCAtastic Otherkin: The Game of the Movie in oWoD to serious and surprisingly not-terrible game about abuse survivors in nWoD.

(have I mentioned I absolutely love new Changeling? Because holy poo poo it's like my favourite thing WW has made at all ever)

Bieeardo posted:

Even more frustrating, a lot of that conflict and resentment went *poof* with the second edition printing. Everyone was suddenly happy living in a Barbie dream-castle world, 'explained' by a short essay that claimed people and changelings harkened back to the 'good old days'... which was kind of bullshit, given indications from Vampire: the Dark Ages that the medieval WoD was even less pleasant than the modern one. The somewhat interesting seelie/unseelie dichotomy got clamped down to a deeply frustrating traditionalist-good/modernist-bad arrangement. There wasn't a whole lot of depth even before that, and as someone involved in the SCA (which got name-dropped multiple times in the books, and had endless, smug associations drawn between by people involved with both) it was downright embarrassing. The World of Darkness definitely wasn't the place for the Middle Ages (as They Should Have Been), even if you could 'freak the mundanes' by waving rattan 'swords' around in both.

OH BOY, SPEAKING OF THE SCA AND EMBARRASSING THINGS

It comes up in Autumn People, too! Like, one of the in-character bits mentions the troupe from the opening fiction getting serious martial training (and dispelling Banality, too) by running around parks or w/e with SCA people in university. Never not laughing oh my gosh

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

Ulster (or Ulaid) is the northern province. In the days when the king Conchobar mac Neasa ruled from Emhain Mhacha, the Ulaidh - that is, the Ulstermen - gave Ireland some of its greatest legends. These tales from the Ruadhraigheacht, the Ulster Cycle. None of the kingdoms in the current age have an Ulaidh king, but they are still proud of their heritage and very coherent for a people so long under 'foreign' kings. Ulster has long been known for war, and it was from the north that the Tir Fhomoraig, the Land of the Fomorach, once stretched out and dominated the island. Once they were driven off the land, it was settled by the Erainn.

The Erainn descend from Mil Espaine, and were a vassal tribe of the Connachta that hung on longest in the north. They worshipped Daire (a name of the Dagda) and Macha, a goddess of rulership andh orses. The greatest of their kings was Conchobhar mac Neasa, whose reign was a oglden age. He was the model of a good king - wise, amorous, fierce and generous. The Ulster Cycle, which tells of his time, has four great themes: the war with the Connachta, the rivalry of Conchobhar and Fearghus mac Roich, the contest of two bulls and the exploits of Cu Chulainn. Legend has it that Conchobhar died on the very day of Christ's crucifixion, from a magically inflicted wound. Only his body died, though, for God had placed his soul in his skull. When, centuries later, Saint Patrick preached in Ulster, he heard Conchobhar's soul crying out and was moved to tears. The saint's tears baptized the old king, and his soul finally found Heaven.

The struggle of Ulaidh against Connachta was ultimately futile - the Connachta were just too strong. The Ulaidh had to cede land to them, retreating east. Four sons of High King Niall of the Nine Hostages headed north from Tara, and two of them occupied land in western and central Ulster. The nine hostages refer to the nine subkingdoms of Airgialla in Ulster that came under Connachta control, as each gave a hostage to prove their peaceful intent. While the common men of Ulster are Erainn under Connachta kinga, the true Ulaidh are the Dal bhFiatach, who ruled the east from Downpatrick until the English came. The Dal bhFiatach were alternate allies and rivals of the Dal nAraidhe, who occasionally ruled the province. The purity of the Dal bhFiatach is found in the fact that some families still suffer the Birth-Pangs of Macha (of which more later), a curse levied on true-blooded Ulstermen in ancient times.

The Cruithnigh of Ulster were not descended from the Milesians. They came from Scotland, where they are known as Picts, hunting for wives, for they had no women. Eireamhoin mac Mil gave them the widows of dead Milesians, on the condition that the Cruithnigh would have women as their leaders, a tradition they have since kept to. Their kingdom of Dal nAraidhe covered the northeastern part of Ireland, the Isle of Man, and even into Kintyre and other parts of Scotland. Their power was already waning when their druidic priesthood was crushed between the forces of Diedne and those of Pralix. With a few tuyatha of the Dal nAraidhe in northern Ulster and even fewer in Drogheda, the remnant Cruithnigh population can be found scattered in northern and western Ireland. On average, they are slightly shorter than the Gaels and tend to darker hair and eyes. They have a fondness for multicolored clothes and for tattoos. At least in Tir Fhomoraigh and maybe elsewhere, there are a few pockets of pagan Cruithnigh, and the priests of their religions are identical to the gruagachan of the Picts.

The Norman knight John de Courcy was given Ulster by the King of England, if he could conquer it. He took that seriously, marching on Ulster with 22 knights and around 300 soldiers. He passed through Meath and Airgialla, and on February 1, 1177, he took Down by surprise. The king of Ulster, Ruaidhri mac Con Ulad Mac Duinne Sleibe of the Dal bhFiatach, could not face de Courcy on the field due to the curse of Macha's Birth-Pangs, and instead he fled to collect an army, returning after a week, when the curse had passed. The Ulaidh were panic-stricken by the sight of Englishmen and horses in full battle dress, and the English routed them. Even when they were supported later by the Cenel nEoghain, de Courcy defeated them and secured lordship of all land easy of the River Bann. In 1196, he defated the king of Tir Chonaill and took tribute from that land, and after his brother's murder by an Irishman in 1198, he ravaged northern Ulster in vengeance. Much of lkster was under his control from this, but his fall came when his old foe, King John, took the through in 1201. John de Courcy had allied with King Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobhair of Connacht, and in 1203 he was arrested on charges of rebellion against the crown by Hugh de Lacy, younger son of the Lord of Meath. In May 1205, King John named Hugh the first Earl of Ulster, giving hom dominion of all lands that de Courcy had held on the day of his defeat.





The Poisoned Glen is on the coast of Ulster, facing Toraigh Island. It is the remnants of the power of the fomoir champion Balor of the Evil Eye, who sat atop his tower on the island and glared at Ireland. In the mouth of the glen is a standing stone, said to be a warrior turned to rock by Balor for his impudence. The Glen has a weak Magic aura, though some parts might be stronger. The Seven Sisters are a series of mountains whose slopes create the Poisoned Glen, and the tallest of these is An tEaragail, or Mount Errigal.The Glen is black and scarred, and little grows there.



Near Armagh, there is a hillfort named Emhain Mhacha. It was the ancient seat of the Ulster kings, home to Conchobhar mac Neasa and the Red Branch Knights. The connection to the goddess Macha is evident in the name - she was the chief goddess of the Ulaidh, associated with war and horses, and an aspect of the Mor-Rioghain. The palace there was named Charobhruadh, the red-branched edifice, and was a great building supported by red yew. However, at some point long ago it was filled with boulderes at least six feet high and then set on fire, though why is not nknown. Many have come seeking the gold supposedly hidden in the roof. To the east are the remnants of Bron Bherg, the house of sorrows, said to be the first hospital, built by Macha Mhuingruadh and uses continually until its destruction in 22 AD. To the northeast is Loughnashade, the lake of the treasure, where sacrifices to the gods were made - gold, horses, severed enemy heads. Finally, in the northwest, are the King's Stables, where the sacred horses used only by the king were kept. Their descendants still roam Armagh and some of them are fiorlaindhe. (More on that later.)





Near the castle of Belfast is the Giant's Ring, a huge earthwork nearly 200 paces in diameter. Its bank is 15 feet high, with three gaps in it. It is made not just of earth, but also 12-foot stones, placed in Irish style with their sides touching. East of the circle's center is a small tomb. The Ring has notable Magic aura, and is the meeting place of the Irish giants, though they haven't met in centuries. If a magus wants to get in touch with a giant, they should carve the giant's name in ogham on a stone and palce it in the tomb. The giant will send a messenger to them within forty days.



Tir Fhomoraig, the Kingdom of the Fomorach, has been located on the isles north of Ireland ever since they were cast out after the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh. The greatest strongholds of the race are Rathlin Island and Toraigh Island, but some say they can be found as far asway as Islay and Arran of Scotland. Since they've left, the birth rate of pure-blood fomorach has plummeted to nearly nothing, and while they cannot age, they can still die of wounds or sickness. There may be fewer than a hundred fomorach left, and the number is not growing. The King of the Fomorach is Madam Muinreamhair, MAdan Thick-Neck, and he has no love of humans, for Nemed slew his four sons. However, he has come to realize that their blood might save his race, and he seeks to arrange marriages with the Cruithnigh of Rathlin. His people hate these half-breeds, but they may have little choice if they wish to survive.



Next time: Leth Cuinn and the Clesrada

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

GimpInBlack posted:

Final Thoughts: This is such a weird chapter to me. On the one hand, it's some nice world-building and gives a solid sense of reality to Hepta Sophistai. On the other, this game is heavily pitched as a "road game" like X-Files, where most of the action will be in the field, not at home. And for all that the detail's nice, it's all kind of... mundane. Apart from a few bits of weird decor and the post-disappearance books in Usher's room, half of the chapter is basically just a description of a fancy house in the woods. I would have liked to see more weirdness about the house itself. Maybe not full-on House of Leaves weird, but enough that you could hang a whole investigation on the house itself, apart from the annex and its teleportation doors. Hell, at least give us quirkier supporting cast than "Russian dude named Jeffrey."

The first thing I'd do is something with those stairs to nowhere. I immediately flashed to the Winchester Mystery House, and with the portals there it seems like a gimme that it's weird too. Well, just as likely a red herring or something that kicks in during a dramatic end-of-season moment, but that seems unfair. I'm not surprised by the lack of lab equipment, since those doors are pointing at adventure thousands of miles away, one-way trips at that, so getting samples back to the house would be kind of difficult. Makes for bribing/sneaking/begging lab time RP too, I suppose.

Character concept: The Witch. Well, that's not fair. She was really into Wicca in high school, and she does still kind of look like one of Neil Gaiman's Manic Gothy Dream Girls, but these days she's an agnostic with an anthropology degree because she's seen poo poo that Gardner and Starhawk can't explain. She sees ghosts. She describes it as psychometry with an auditory-visual synesthetic component, and it's triggered by any strong emotional impression, but 'she sees ghosts' is less of a brain-ful.

Rand Brittain posted:

Changeling was actually fond of modernism insofar as democracy was involved—sidhe trying to be rulers were almost always jerks, except when they weren't. It's not hugely consistent, since the game seemed to be generically in favor of kings and dukes and medieval pageantry as a general thing, but didn't fail to mention that people who think of themselves as having a divine right to rule their lessers tend to be tremendous assholes.

There are like three good games that were sewed together to make the horrifying Frankenstein that was Changeling: the Dreaming, and none of them are happy to be sharing space with each other.

These are true. I remember thinking that the Parliament of Dreams had one of the best names ever, and it's still up there now. I remember hearing someone say the same thing about it being multiple, potentially good games... and it's disappointing, because while I do like nChangeling, I don't think it's one of the ones that the oWoD game might have been. Definitely closer to what a number of folks on alt.games.white-wolf wanted after watching Neverwhere, though.

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Bieeardo posted:

The first thing I'd do is something with those stairs to nowhere. I immediately flashed to the Winchester Mystery House, and with the portals there it seems like a gimme that it's weird too. Well, just as likely a red herring or something that kicks in during a dramatic end-of-season moment, but that seems unfair.

Yeah, this. For all that the last chapter made a big deal of "blind visionary spends his waning years making bizarre architectural modifications to the house," the only part that's really weird is the teleport doors in the annex--and even those aren't really "weird," it's a nice, orderly, symmetrical hallway whose doors just happen to take you thousands of miles away. I want the gradual realization that Becky's room shouldn't fit given the exterior dimensions of the house, back stairs that by all rights should cut right through sitting rooms, hallways where marbles roll uphill. Stuff like that.

Bieeardo posted:

I'm not surprised by the lack of lab equipment, since those doors are pointing at adventure thousands of miles away, one-way trips at that, so getting samples back to the house would be kind of difficult. Makes for bribing/sneaking/begging lab time RP too, I suppose.

Yeah, there's definitely the expectation that 90% of your investigations will be in the field, and I like that the Society has no official standing so it's not as simple as waving your badge and commandeering CSI, but it does raise the question of, like, what does the Society do with the dead aliens or time-travelling music boxes or whatever it finds in its investigations? It's not a huge, game-breaking thing, it just seems like an odd oversight, and it would be nice for techie investigators to have a dedicated research space that gives them bonuses the way the library does for bookworms. We'll see more of that in the next chapter, though.

When/if I run it, I'd probably just say there's a small but well-equipped science lab in the basement, along with a cold-storage facility and a fully stocked medical clinic.

GimpInBlack fucked around with this message at 22:27 on Jan 12, 2014

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Bieeardo posted:

These are true. I remember thinking that the Parliament of Dreams had one of the best names ever, and it's still up there now. I remember hearing someone say the same thing about it being multiple, potentially good games... and it's disappointing, because while I do like nChangeling, I don't think it's one of the ones that the oWoD game might have been. Definitely closer to what a number of folks on alt.games.white-wolf wanted after watching Neverwhere, though.
I don't know, there's a lot of oChangeling players who absolutely hate nChangeling. Because to them oChangeling is already a plenty dark game because it's about the death of childhood. Which is the worst thing ever.

I used to post on a White Wolf board somewhere that's now dead. And while it started off as a pretty nice sub community away from white wolf's main boards, the Changeling players basically took over after a while. People started handing out 'Glamour Cookies' and talking in character about their past lives, and the Changeling Admins were all Sidhe because of course they were. They started going into the other discussion boards and trying to talk in character about the 'wondrous lupines' and asking where the Fianna Tale Tellers were to regale them with glorious songs of old times.

And yes, a great many of them were involved in SCA, and had tons of pictures of themselves in their "Fairy meins" I.E. in period clothing.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Kurieg posted:

If there's interest, I can review W20 since it seems that the W:TA Corebook hasn't been F&Fed before. The problem with the book is that of the 550 pages probably about 300 are material that has been reprinted/reworded from earlier books. And reviewing 90 pages of gifts would probably make for a very boring read. I would probably gloss over the things like that and the Rules and Storytelling chapter.

How about an overview of the changes in the fluff as opposed to the crunch?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Kurieg posted:

I don't know, there's a lot of oChangeling players who absolutely hate nChangeling. Because to them oChangeling is already a plenty dark game because it's about the death of childhood. Which is the worst thing ever.

Oh, no, one newsgroup definitely isn't representative of general sentiment, but there was a fair bit of 'oh, this would have been much cooler' floating around in that one group. I'm sure my old ST would have hated nChangeling beyond words.

When I was at Pennsic War, many years ago, the ST's boyfriend suggested that we pretend to be our Changeling characters, who were pretending to be us, who were pretending to be our SCA personae. This was the year that the campground owners banned non-SCA LARP because some Vampire game got out of hand. I just stared at him, because it seemed like a great way to get booted, and a really dickish thing to pull over everyone else.

I think that was the year I drifted away from the game, them, and the Society.

LaSquida
Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.


Mexcillent posted:

This is actually untrue. The Order of Reason want what's best for Europe's burgeoning mercantile class, nobility, and clergy. The Traditions are on their heels and just trying to survive like they do for the next 500 years.


It's been a long time since I ran a game of it, so you're probably more on the money. I remember the Craftmasons and ... Hippocratic Circle? being generally pro- decent living for the common man, but I could just be misremembering it.

quote:

But, with all the weird TG baseless hostility toward perceived threats in White Wolf writing I wouldn't expect someone to have ever really thought about Sorceror's Crusade all that much.

What are you going on about, now?

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Autumn People is one of those books that I got, all excited about "oh boy a new character type!" Then I started getting the "I paid money for this?" feeling the more of it I read, followed by shamefully putting it on the shelf forever when I was done.

Of course, my favorite part of oWoD Changeling is the Redcaps (the "literally hunger+violence made flesh" splat), so I'm not really the target audience for most of what they did. Redcaps had a good kithbook, though!

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

How about an overview of the changes in the fluff as opposed to the crunch?

There aren't many, just because there isn't much room for it, to be overly simplistic.

  • An 8th Prophecy of the Phoenix has been discovered, which basically means "Hey, Garou, you can actually win the Apocalypse War!" whereas before it was basically "No everything's going to die."
  • The Stargazers didn't leave America (they've also coincidentally lost a point of willpower :v:)
  • Not really entirely fluff but they included rules for Bunyip, White Howlers, and Croatan for the first time.
  • They give about a page and a half to each of the continents and what the Garou are doing there.

The main draw of the book is that it's insanely comprehensive. It's got almost every gift that's been printed in a W:TA book, all the merits and flaws that weren't tribe specific, every background except for one (that was omitted because it interacted with the system itself re: dice rolls), rules for playable kinfolk, rules for ronin, rules for the mixed tribes, updated antagonist stats, and pidgin rules for all the changing breeds for people who didn't buy CB:20.

I was mostly just thinking it might be interesting to review for the people who haven't read the Core before and are kind of lost when we start talking about crap in our reviews.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Do you like awesome martial powers? I sure do!

Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

Leth Cuinn lies in Ulster, the second Mercer House of the Tribunal. It is not a covenant and has no cathach, like Leth Moga. Since its creation in 898, it has focused on martil pusuits, but this has dramatically turned since 1029, when Daire Farranta returned after seven years' absence and challenged his parens, the leader of Leth Cuinn, to Wizard's War. It was won with no spells cast, since neither was Gifted, but Daire defeated his parens with remarkable feats straight from legend -the clesrada. The remaining Redcaps were exiled, and Daire filled the place with his own kind, including the faerie Uathach, who had trained him in the clesrada. Daire Farranta turned Leth Cuinn into an outpost of the Mercere Cult of Heroes, and it is still run by his descendants. Leth Cuinn trains Heroes and teaches Redcaps the clesrada, as well as, for various trade deals, grogs and companions of other magi. They generally trade for longevity rituals, spells they need cast and enchanted items.

The clesrada are easily the most obvious tradition of Leth Cuinn, and every one of its members belongs to the Cult of Heroes. They are trainers of great skill, though also renowned for their terrifying demeanors. Seven Redcaps, none Gifted, run Leth Cuinn, and the leader is Daire Cu Ua Daire, the current consort of the faerie Uathach. Five of the REdcaps are his children, and the last is his nephew. Daire inherited the job from his father, Daire Direach, and is groming his eldest son, Daire an Chogaidh, to take over for him. Since the death of his mortal wife, his marriage to Uathach has been more than symbolic. He despises Leth Moga, and finds them too doddering and bookish to be good Redcaps. His son hates the English and all of their ways, and has even voted at Tribunal against them despite Mercere traditions. Rumor has it that the Primus of Mercere is preparing some kind of response for him.



So, what are the Clesrada? The heroes of Ulster were famous for their martial skills - mixes of skill, agility and magic. Each cles required great practice, and their use by the Ulster heroes was a matter of fear and awe. The original clesa are said to derive from the sidhe lord Lugh, called Ildanach, skilled in all arts, for his work. The most famous user of them, however, was his son, Cu Chulainn. He is said to have mastered all of the clesa, including one that none other than his own son could learn - and he taught the boy that trick himself. Clesrada means 'feat of amrs', and they were taught to the Ulaidh heroes by Scathach, the daughter of Nuadha, who ran an academy on the Isle of Skye. She was aided by her three sons Cuar, CEt and Cruife. Cu Chulainn studied with her for a year and a day, becoming the lover of her daughter, Uathach, who is now the only known teacher of clesrada. (I personally would allow other cultures to get similar poo poo via other mythic teachers, like Chiron.)

Each cles must be learned seperately, and each requires an initation under the guidance of Uathach. She lays a geas on all those she teaches to never teach anyone else, with the penalty being the loss of all clesa. This is in addition to the gaes that is part of the initiation. Anyone can use any cles they know as often as they want, and most of them have no cost to use. Each, however, requires a roll to use successfully, and any botch always costs the user fatigue as well as potentially other consequences. Clesa are supernatural abilities associated with Faerie, and each is equivalent to casting a level 15 spell, with Penetration equal to your Penetration bonus. Spells that affect magic beign cast can affect a cles. Clesa enhance your skill, but do not directly affect your wepaons or opponents, so they do not need to penetrate Magic Resistance. However, someone under the effects of a cles is considered magical, so, for example, your unarmed attacks can be resisted. However, since most clesa last only moments, this is usually not a big deal.



Some clesa can be used together - you can use any number at once if they all use the same skill, and they will merge together into a seamless, single action. Each takes place in order, and you must roll for each one. The first failure breaks the chain at that point, and you cannot take any ohter action the round, including attacking. So, for example, you might use Profit of Speed to catchh up to a horse, Hero's Salmon Leap to jump on its back and Rope Feat to keep your balance while it ran at full gallop, all in one round. You could not, however, use Apple Feat in the same round to prepare for a sling attack, since that uses Thrown Weapon, not Athletics, and you could not use Wheel Feat to hurl a shield from horseback, since that takes an attack, not just a feat roll.

Athletics Clesa do not normally involve direct attacks. The ones they list are examples, but you could easily invent more. The ones listed are based on the Ulster Cycle. They include:
Bai Brasse, the Profit of Speed: You hurry at three times walking speed, or run at six times walking speed, for a single round. Normally, a hurry is twice walking speed and a run four times walking speed.
Cless Caitt, the Cat Feat: You jump horizontally from a standing start a distance of up to eight times your height, though encumbrance can shorten that.
Ich-n-Erred, the Hero's Salmon Leap: You jump vertically from a standing start a distance of up to four times your own height, though Encumbrance can shorten that.
Ochtarchless, the Eight-Men Feat: You get +5 to strength (and note: 5 is as high as any human being's Strength can get) for the sole purpose of lifting something or supporting its weight. Once the object is lifted or supported, your strength is sufficient to hold it each round you continue to make the feat roll.
Rothchless, the Wheel Feat: You can hurl something you normally would not be abl to. Classically, a chariot wheel. You have to make a Thjrown Weapon attack to hit something with it, but the thing will deal damage based on how big it is, and will probably break whatever it hits.
Tetchless, the Rope Feat: You can balance and stand upright on an unstable object smaller than your own foot, and even move your normal speed on it for a round. The roll is harder the more unstable the thing is, but a moving horse, a rope slung between two poles or a staircase banister are all fairly easy, while, say, walking up a grappling rope hangign from a wall would be a bit harder. You have to make the roll each round you're not standing on a stable object bigger than your foot. If you ever fall, you can make an easy roll to land on your feet, ignoring most of the fall damage.

Concentration Clesa use meditation and focus to brin the body beyond normal limits. For example:
Cless For Analaib, the Breath Feat: You can hold your breath for extended periods, and need to make deprivation checks only once every five minutes rather than once every thirty seconds. You may also get a bonus to activities requiring great precision by holding your breath through the task, including aiming ranged weapons. Tis lasts until you do something else other than a Concentration cles.
Corpchless, the Body Feat: You can controt your body within the skin to escape bonds or pass through small spaces, dislocating and relocating bones. Escaping shackles is fairly easy, while wriggling through a space a size category smaller than you is somewhat harder, while one two size categories smaller is very hard. Resetting a joint takes a round per joint, and most uses of the cles only dislocate one or two joints. Until reset, the limb is useless. You can also use this power while wrestling to get a bonus to escape a grapple.
Saebchless Diberge, the Wild Feat of Contortion: You can contort your limbs and back unnaturally, striking from unexpected directions, like over your foe's shoulder or behind your foe's knee. This gives a bonus to attacking for any special maneuvers, like trips or disarms, or a bonus to resist such maneuvers.
Siaburchles, the Phantom Feat: You concentrate as a foe strikes, offeirng no defense. If you succeed, part of your body becomes momentarily insubstantial, causing the foe's blow to pass through you harmlessly. You cannot become wholly insubstantial, and you can't do this feat two rounds in a row.

Weapon Clesa use either Single Weapon or Great Weapon depending on how you learn each feat, chosen at the time you learn it. No penetration needed - the magic is in your skill, not the sword.
Beim Co Commus, the Stroke of Precision: You can be Zorro - cutting hair off beards, cut clothes from the body, cut initials into surfaces. When using this feat, you can't do damage, and if you're in combat, you have to actuall hit your foe, but you can perform whatever feat of precision you like other than that.
Brud nGeme, the Crushing Roar: You strike your foe's weapon, and if you hit, you damage the weapon. Most weapons will shatter instantly, while superior weapons might take two hits and enchanted weapons up to three.
Faenchless, the Sloped Shield Feat: You must be using an Irish edged shield to use this one, but it allows you to hurt your foe when parrying. You can use it whenever you succesfully use the shield to defend, and if the feat works, you then immediately damage your foe based on how well you defended. This can only be done once per round.
Foramchles, the Swooping Feat: This is a jumping strike, which destroys armor. You targe one location - head, body, legs, right arm or left arm. If you succeed, the armor on that spot is sundered and useless, reducing the opponent's Protection from armor by a fifth, rounding up. (Or you can use complex location armor rules from Lords of Men. Either or.)

Thrown Weapon Clesa are about throwing poo poo. They don't need to penetrate, because the magic is in the throw.
Cless Cletenach, the Javelin Feat: You must have two javelins. You throw one, then hit it with the second so it flies with greater ofrce. If oyu succeed, the javelin's range increases and the damage doubles.
Cless Nonbair, the Nine-Men Feat: You can hurl up to nine javelins at once. All must go at the same target and each is rolled to attack seperately. The more you throw, the harder it is, and if the feat roll fails, your still throw all the javelins, they just all miss wildly.
Torannchless, the Thunder Feat: A stone you hurl from a sling flies directly, if not infallibly, at the foe's head. If it hits and the feat succeedss, the target falls over as well as whatever normal damage, and there is a crack of thunder.
Ubullchless, the Apple Feat: You can juggle up to nine balls or stones one-handed. You must make a feat roll to start the juggle, and you may load a sling with one of the missiles without having to stop, or may throw up to three per round bare-handed. These can be thrown at three speerate targets so long as they're no more than three paces apart. A feat roll is needed to throw stones or to start the juggle but not to load a sling.

Ulster is also home to the covenant Qui Sonant Pro Quieto. Legend has it that the giant Finn MacCumhaill is cursed to sleep beneath the hillside while the sound of song is heard above. The magi of Qui Sonant ensure the songs are sung, and also serve as the gravekeepers of the Irish magi, hedge wizards and even some faeries and beasts. There have always been druids to sing the giant to sleep, and the site of the covenant was old even before the Order came. It has always been a magical burial ground, and when the druids joined the Order, the covenant was formed. The Schism War saw many sent to Qui Sonant, and the records of the war's burials have been lost, but references remain in many histories. The covenant's cathach is a finely made silver rope from which golden bells hang. It is long enough to wrap three times around a body, but is said to be the necklace once worn by Caer Ibormeith, wife to Aengus of the Tuatha De Danann. When wrapped around someone, it has the power to protect that target from all effects of a Magic Aura. (Qui Sonant's extremely potent aura prevents Arcane Connections from working, but a corpse wrapped in the rope can still be used as an Arcane Connection to summon ghosts, for example.) Qui Sonant is recognized neutral ground by all supernatural beings of Ireland, and it grants a token for its aegis to all in need. The English magi have accused them of recklessness, claiming this practice leaves the open to Infernal attack.





Another covenant of Ulster is Vigil, which exists to defend Ireland. Or, at least, that was the intent. It was a Diedne covenant that laid claim to its status by hunting and slaughtering the great black pig that made the ditch of Ulster, taking its tusks as trophies. The Diedne Vigil was raided in 830 by Viking runesmiths of Dublin, and when they recovered they helped defend others from the Vikings. That'd be until the Diedne, including those of Vigil, withdrew from Hermetic affairs. A band of Merinita sacked Vigil, taking the tusks north. They raised a new fortress, which they named the new covenant of Vigil, and a great invisible tower, from which all of Ireland could be seen. They used their magic to find and fight the Viking rune wizards and their warriors. Vigil also fought the vengeful Diedne, forging alliances with the fae and beasts so that, to this day, their northern coast is protected against magical invasion. Treaties still stand, declaring that no druid outside the Order has any right of traffic with the creatures of the northern seas. In the Schism War, Vigil fought the Diedne viciously, taking heads as trophies, stealing libraries and lab materials, killing familiars. In the years that followed, they used the Diedne threat to justify their importance and studied much magic. Few returned from being sent out to study, however, sending only accounts home. The last two hundred years have seen them slide into decadence and indolence, trading on a reputation centuries out of date, though the still believe themselves the defenders of Hibernia. Their cathach is the curled tusks of the black pig, six feet long. Their power tints Faerie auras, making those within want to protect Ireland, and align Magic auras to boost spells that protect Ireland. The magi of Vigil live by the rule of conspicuous consumption and they love hunting, raiding and boisterous activity. They encourage magi to marry, because it is comfortable, and to enjoy all pleasures of Hermetic life. They mock those who do not engage in such pleasures, though not very viciously.

Next time: Druids and the Coill Tri

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Chapter 6: Organizations

This is a very big, and very important chapter, for it details the prominent power players of the City by the Spire, and more importantly how they impact the people of Ptolus and interact with each other. In a city of 75,000 souls built above ancient chambers of evil, you have all sorts of interesting characters trying to enforce their will on the world. They run the gamut from noble houses, vile cults, organized crime syndicates, knightly orders, and mystical orders.

Noble Houses

Traditionally there are ten families in Ptolus who are granted special rights and privileges by the city's Commissar. Although traditionally the Empire of Tarsis subsumed local rulers with their own Commissars, Ptolus is far enough removed that the nobility of Palastan still holds clout in the region. In addition to the Commissar's influence, an ancient king of Palastan manifests as a ghost in secret meetings between all the houses, maintaining stability between them by threatening dire curses on those who break the Ancient Rites of Custom, which forbid nobles from murdering one another.

It should be noted that in Ptolus, "nobility" does not automatically mean "levels in Aristocrat." More than a few of them have levels in PC classes, and the heads of two houses, Dallimothan, Khatru, and Sadar, have a full 20 levels in PC classes or Challenge Rating 20 (including full stat blocks)! Naturally these are only the most powerful noble houses, and quite a few of the lesser nobles are low-level.

House Abanar is the wealthiest noble family, comprised of merchants who have a poor reputation among the houses. One can literally buy one's way into the family with 10,000 gold pieces for an official title, and hire out mercenaries and bounty hunters against those who threaten their holdings.

House Dallimothan has a storied relationship with dragonkind, specifically the metallics. It is not uncommon to see such creatures basking in the sun in courtyard, and even roaming around the estate's open outdoor areas. Many theorize that the nobles have draconic blood, a rumor they angrily deny. Truth be told, more than a few of them are indeed ancient dragons who've taken human form. Lord Kirstol Dallimothan, the patriarch, is one such example. They forged the Sword of the Dragonkings millennia ago to help mortal heroes slay chromatic dragons, and helped destroy a few of the Orbs of Dragonkind (which they view as vile tools of enslavement).

House Erthuo is a family of scholars and gentlefolk who extensively married among elvenkind. Today most of their members are half-elves, and possess some of the finest collections of rare books and antiquities in the Empire. The head of the House, Peliope Erthuo, is currently engaged in an affair with Renn Sadar, the head of House Sadar and a married man. They share nothing in common, and places great danger upon the Erthuo family because it would force them into an alliance with Sadar and destroy their neutrality among the nobility.

House Kath are the dilettantes and celebrities of the nobility. They concern themselves majorly with the arts in all their forms, and administer the most prestigious theaters and musicians in the city. They scout out for talented children and train them to be the next generation of writers, musicians, and artists. They have an alliance with the Knights of the Chord forged in ancient times, and the family can call upon them in times of need.

House Khatru is renowned for its military history and great warriors. They maintain their own private army of a hundred well-trained soldiers, who they lend out to help Ptolus in times of crisis. The House is notorious for its disdain of spellcasters in general and those who pursue stealthy and larcenous endeavors; they regretted the Church of Lothian's overturning of the Edict of Deviltry, and they still buy into the whole "arcanists and most clerics are devil-worshipers" lies. Lord Dorant Khatru is the head of the house, a man of eighty who looks forty because an elf girlfriend cast a spell on him to gain the lifespan of her people. He doesn't realize this, thinking that good breeding and physical training make him look so youthful. He's also the head of the Order of Iron Might and one of the Commissar's 12 Commanders (advisors and lieutenants in times of emergency).

House Nagel has fallen on hard times recently, its head imprisoned for murder. Truth be told, House Sadar bribed several city officials to toss him into the darkest corners of the city's Prison without a trial. In its glory days the house had a reputation for supporting charity and good works, and helped pass many laws to prevent abuse and exploitation of the common folk. Lady Fransin Nagel is dedicating most of her time now trying to find out exactly what happened with her husband, which gives PCs the perfect opportunity to get involved. Needless to say they are enemies of House Sadar.

House Rau are scoundrels and pirates who pose as merchant vessels and mercenary craft in the Whitewind Sea. Still, lots of people know what they're up to, coining the phrase "a deal with the Rau" to mean a swindle or cheat. They have a good relationship with the city's criminal factions, the Balacazars in particular, trading political favors in exchange for financial agreements and contracts. House Khatru hates them, and were it not for the Rites of Accord he'd have gone to war with them long ago.

House Sadar is sometimes called the House of Shadows for its members' penchance with magic of darkness. Almost eliminated in the Days of blood, the house's leader at the time came into possession of the shadowstaff which helped turn the tide around. They also received help from the Inverted Pyramid, a debt no member of the House forgets. The current lord, Renn Sadar, wields the shadowstaff today and is one of the most powerful arcane spellcasters in the city (20 levels of Sorcerer). He is a conniving evil figure with many plots and schemes in the city. He is expanding a lot of research and resources into seeking the Box of Shadows, an ancient artifact that Eslathagos Malkith planned on sealing away in the Banewarrens in his "good" years before he succumbed to evil.

All members of the House have expanded proficiency with shadow magic, gaining +2 Caster Level on such spells and a +30% "more real" bonus for the shadow conjuration, shadow evocation, and weird spells.

Lord Renn Sadar:



House Shever is known for its skill with machines, and in old times they wielded great political influence. Now that knowledge of advanced technology is eroding away over time, the house is finding itself in dire straits as its finances continue slipping away, and only one of the two titled sons shows aptitude in the technical pursuits. Thollos Shever, the house leader, fears that this is related to the Empire's decline and a gradual change in the fundamental nature of the world. They are allied with the Shuul technologists, and most other noble houses ignore them.

House Vladaam is the quintessential evil noble house. Thousands of years ago its founder Vladaam was one of the Vested of the Galchutt, a select few mortals and ascended deities "gifted" with some of their power. Today they are a family of tieflings who have their fingers in all manner of illicit activity, from theft, extortion, assassinations, drug and slave trades, creation of evil magic items, and supporting fiendish factions like the Chaos Cults from afar. They hope one day to find a way to Jabel Shammar, see the Galchutt rise again, and have been a thorn in the side of the world since day one. The house leader, Iristul Vladaam, is currently away from Ptolus seeking out the six hungerswords, vile weapons brimming with necromantic magic.

Navanna Vladaam runs thing in Iristul's place. She has a network of spies and agents all over the city, who are all werewolves. Aliastar Vladaam doesn't have much ambition, studying wizardry and avoiding risky pursuits. Gattara Vladaam is the eldest sibling, is insane and worships the Galchutt. Godfred Vladaam is the youngest and rather dim-witted. He is a skilled fighter, and wields one of the only hungerswords discovered yet. All of them have stats, with levels ranging from 11-15, because they of all the nobles are the likeliest to oppose the PCs at some point.

Vladaam is despised by all the other noble houses except for House Sadar, who they're allied with.

The Vladaam Family:





The Balacazar Crime Family


The Balacazars are the most powerful criminal faction in Ptolus. For two centuries they've sat as the top dogs, far from the Empire's reach and twisting its way into enterprises both legitimate and illegal. Menon Balacazar is the undisputed leader, a shriveled old man with an interest in black magic. Under his rule the family began dealing more and more in foul spells, ranging from evil magic items, talismans which can summon enslaved demons bound to cells in his mansion, mind-controlled slaves, and other things of a foul nature. They operate subtly, peforming crimes with deniable agents and behind fronts, knowing that the Commissar will tolerate their presence. Driving them out of Ptolus would be equivalent to bringing war in the city, and the family's not stupid enough to do anything as drastic as slaughter nobles and city watchmen in droves. Their only real opposition in the city comes from Kevris Killraven, a hag monster who arrived in Ptolus a mere year ago. Despite this, Menon still commands great influence, as the various shady factions of Ptolus, from the Forsaken to the Chaos Cults, come to him for commodities which can't be bought or traded for in legitimate markets.



Brides of Magic

A small organization composed entirely of women sorcerers, the Brides have given up their normal lives, of money and attachments to family, to pursue magic itself. They meet in secret once a month on the full moon, to discuss all matters supernatural and recent events of great import related to this. They view magic as inherently natural, a part of the world, and believe that at some point in the future will come a cataclysm which will destroy all magic and thus life in the world. They view attempts to use magic to promote ideologies as flawed, and tend to avoid aligned spells and items.



Brotherhood of Redemption

A controversial order which believes in the sanctity of all life, even those of the "evil" races and those corrupted by it. They seek to redeem evil, rather than slay and destroy it. Eighty years ago they worked with various spellcasters to come up with a ritual to turn such creatures good, using alchemical mixtures, bathing in magical light, and long-term exposure to supernatural music. Traditionally they hunted down and imprisoned evil people (especially monsters), but with the influx of delvers over the past years they found it most efficient to simply put a bounty on living evil creatures. They converted an underground dungeon complex to the Fortress of Redemption, where the creatures undergo the process. It is not open to the public, and they have a monastery in the Guildsman District as a visitor's center. Several monsters under their care have gone on to become full-fledged and trusted members of Ptolusite society, including an ogre mage cleric of Navashtrom in the Temple District.

The Brotherhood's role in the campaign is to give PCs an incentive to take prisoners of evil monsters who surrender instead of just slaughtering them and the whole "should we kill this creature just because it's evil?" Or it can be used to bring up ethical issues of free will, and if it's truly right to screw around with people's minds. Regardless, all its member register as "good" alignment.

Circle of Green

A long-extinct druidic organization which held great power in Palastan, who rarely interacted with the common people but whose word even the King had to obey. They were fair to those who did not transgress against them, but they were merciless to those who opposed them, which generated a lot of ill will. Ghul found it easy to sow discontent against the Circle, and they had no allies when his forces slaughtered the lot of them.

Dark Leaf

An all-elf syndicate of killers for hire and ruffians who help protect Ptolus' elven population from the depredations of other criminals. Truth be told, they do this by being very good fighters and valued by Killraven and the Balacazars for jobs. While they don't have a true leader, Celdore Silverwood commands great respect and acts as a third party negotiator when someone runs afoul of one of the city's criminal groups. He's well-respected among the elven community as well.


Delver's Guild

This guild of 3 years has quickly become one of the most powerful in the city when adventurers began returning with great treasure from Ptolus' underground catacombs 7 years ago. The Delver's Guild is basically a support network for adventurers, who provide information about job opportunities pertaining to underground exploration and an extensive collection of subterranean maps. Membership is a fee of only a few gold pieces a year for the lowest levels, and as such most delvers belong the Guild.

There are four ranks: Associate Guildsman, Guildsman, Master Delver, and Grand Master, with the last two open only to people who've served in the guild a set amount of time. Membership costs increases with rank, but comes with increased privileges. Even the lowest-level members gain access to a discount at Ebert's Outfitters (shop catering to delvers), and reports. Guildsmen gain this, plus access to guild libraries and passwords to waystations, secret chambers in underground regions stocked with food and simple supplies. Master Delver grants voting in guild actions and election of the Grandmaster Delver, plus retrieval insurance (if you're lost or killed while delving, the guild will send an adventuring team to rescue you or your body for resurrection). Grand Master level grants the right to claim staking, where a region of the dungeon can be cordoned off to all but themselves and allowed parties, and the Guild pays other guildsmen to guard the entrance.

Naturally this guild is very relevant to PCs interested in dungeon exploration. In my campaigns my party allows paid for Guildsman level and joined them. There's no good reason not to do so.

The Fallen

An alliance of demons and devils (the differences matter less in the campaign setting than others) who followed Raguel into Praemal, the Fallen are considered the "young demons" of the world (Galchutt being the "old demons"). Two hundred years ago they arrived, and relocated to the city of Ptolus, waiting for their leader's eventual decision of whether to free the Galchutt or fight them. Their headquarters is the Dark Reliquary in the Necropolis, where the local Forsaken welcomed them with open arms. Many of the Fallen regularly take humanoid shape (or alter themselves with external magic if they can't do so naturally), enjoying the increased agency this grants them to operate in Ptolus proper. Raguel commands them to not draw the city's attention, but they need to feed upon mortals every so often and kidnap them from villages outside the city (or the city's unwanted) to take back to the Reliquary to feast upon.

Raguel's lover, Lilith, is a demon princess who favors freeing the Galchutt and works with the chaos cults to bring about the Night of Dissolution. She has the support of many of the Fallen. Raguel has learned that the only way to contact the Elder Gods is to travel along the Seven Jewels of Parnaith. His agents has obtained Parnaith's Mirrored Sphere to undertake the journey, but he does not do so now for fear that Lilith will perform a coup against him in his absence. To this end he looks for mortals to act in his stead.

Raguel and Lilith are very powerful entities. Raguel is a deity in his own right, but uses stats for a Solar angel but is Neutral alignment. Lilith is a succubus with 19 levels in Sorcerer.

Raguel and Lilith:



Fate Weavers

The Fate Weavers began as a school for fortune-tellers and sooth-sayers who were friends of the legendary hero Abesh Runihan. Now operating out of the Rivergate district, the students and teachers practice a form which they believe can read the destinies of others that only a "special few" are born with. Regardless, most genuine spellcasters do not detect any magic from their readings, not to mention that magic which can accurately tell the future is difficult to master. Most folk in the city do not respect them except for the truly desperate and folklorists who can't afford the services of genuine spellcasters.

The Fate Weavers hope to use their talents to shape the future for the better, and as such secretly support the underground republican movement which hopes to overthrow the Commissar and bring rule by the people, for the people. They also have an adventurer living in the school who once spoke with a dying Elder Elf and wears his armor as a sort of honor. He knows more than anyone else in the city about the Urthon Aedar (last remaining elder elves), but will only tell of them to those who convince him that their intentions are good.

Cook leaves the Weavers' genuineness open to DM whim. If they're the real deal, Fate Weaving is not magic but a cross-class skill based off of Wisdom which can tell a character if they're on the right path with a successful roll, with difficulty based upon the topic's specificity.

Forsaken

The most reviled group of people in Ptolus, the Forsaken are living mortals with an unhealthy fascination with the dead and undead. They convene in the Necropolis and consort openly with dark gods and the Fallen. They share their home with the Fallen in the Dark Reliquary, helping their fiendish patrons with various tasks in exchange for protection. Many of them worship the Galchutt, and crossover with Chaos Cults is common. They frequently disturb the graves of city folk to use their corpses for necromantic magic or sexual pleasure, which enrages the citizenry and the Commissar has made grave-robbing a crime punishable by death as a result.



The Guilds

Aside from the more extraordinary guilds related to typical D&D stuff (Delver's Guild, the Inverted Pyramid mages' guild, and the Longfingers Thieves' Guild), Ptolus is home to plenty of mundane trade guilds. Most of them are of various trades, the Brewers' Guild, Cobblers' Guild, Textile Workers' Guild, and the like. Normally they won't be of much use in typical campaigns, but Monte suggests that they can become embroiled in adventures. Say, the Glassblowers' Guild is hired to fashion the framework for a magic item. The Sorn-Ulth Orcs in the Dungeon secretly commissioned it via intermediary to create a fell magic item, and murder the craftsman to cover their tracks, thus prompting the Guild to hire adventurers to track down the killer.


Inverted Pyramid

Although it came to public view after the passing of the Edict of Deviltry, the Inverted Pyramid existed since before recorded history gathered the most powerful sorcerers and wizards together to pursue their art separated from worldly concerns. They have been a foe of the Church of Lothian since the Empire's founding, and during the Days of Blood they tirelessly worked to rescue persecuted mages and relocate them to secret safehouses. Additionally they gathered plenty of arcane texts to keep out of reach of zealous clerics. When Commissar Norrid offered Ptolus as a sanctuary for mages in 615 IA, the Inverted Pyramid moved its headquarters to the city, where they remained ever since.

quote:

Although no longer openly antagonistic toward the Church of Lothian, the Inverted Pyramid fears that at any time the religion could fall into the grip of its more right-wing clergy and oppose arcane magic again. While such an event seems unlikely, this paranoia keeps the Inverted Pyramid watching the Church of Lothian closely and with great distrust.

With the conceits of a pro-democracy movement and other "modern" social constructs, I kind of wonder what the left-right spectrum of Tarsisian and Church politics looks like.

The Inverted Pyramid's headquarters is also its namesake, a floating, upside-down pyramidal structure above the streets of Oldtown. From the outside it is invisible, and most citizens have no idea where it actually is. Its most elite members, called Masters, are some of the most powerful beings in the world and average around 20th level.

Membership in the Inverted Pyramid is available to arcane spellcasters of 8th level or higher, and invitations are sent to those of 10th level and higher. Membership is a yearly due of 2,000 gold pieces. Initiates must honor reasonable requests of adepts and masters (higher-ranking members), and unreasonable use of this privilege can earn a fine. Members are also granted living space in the headquarters, and to maintain a laboratory or workshop. They also have the greatest collection of spells in the world, with all known spells recorded, and new ones are constantly made and shared with members. They also have a great library on history, the planes, religion, and other topics (+5 bonus on Knowledge checks when undertaking research). They also get a 20% discount on magic items bought from the Dreaming Apothecary. Membership is secret, but every member is given an invisible charm which floats aside them which can only be seen by others with said charm (so that members can identify one another). The Pyramid can deactivate charms should a member die or have the charm stolen.

Dreaming Apothecary

In reality this is an extension of the Inverted Pyramid, but most don't know that. Most people in Ptolus have heard of it, but regard it as a myth. Supposedly it's an organization which can only be contacted via dreams, and can provide someone with anything provided they can pay the price. In reality it's a group of spellcasters who make magic items to order, and they pretty much have a monopoly on Praemal's trade in higher-end and permanent magic item market (potions, scrolls, and wands are fine and not seen as a threat).

The Apothecary has no storefront or headquarters in the city. They have representatives who scout out the right people, and if they're interested are provided with a bronze coin to place under their pillow or bed at night. The Dreaming Apothecary contacts the person in their dreams, during which they make a transaction. The dream becomes subject to detect thoughts and discern lies spells, with no saving throw allowed due to the coin's magic. The seller ascertains if the prospective buyer has the funds. If they have the money to pay, then it's gone once they wake up and they receive their magic item in two weeks or double the crafting time (if made) or the next morning (if the Apothecary has one on hand). The buyer will find an exact portion of their funds missing, even if locked within the safest of vaults. It arrives in a package via a courier who does not know what's inside or who sent it.

People who try to get around these restrictions, via proofing themselves against divination or storing their money in a place unreachable by teleportation magic, will simply not get their item.

It is common knowledge among spellcasters that people who try to cut in on the Draming Apothecary's business end up meeting dire fates: mages are polymorphed into animals, rendered brain-dead, their shops burned to the ground or disintegrated. Those who sell used magic items, potions/scrolls/wands, and for their own personal use or that of their allies are exempt.

Keepers of the Veil

This is a knightly order dedicated to the destruction of undead, particularly sapient spirits. The Von Tibbitz family has a knack for seeing incorporeal entities, and although its not a hereditary position, they have functioned as leaders for over 700 years. In recent times they relocated their headquarters to Ptolus, along with much of their resources, to deal with the undead in the Necropolis. Due to this they are a constant thorn in the side of the Forsaken and the Fallen, and any other groups which deal in necromantic rituals. Their base of operations is the Siege Tower, a building built into the Necropolis' wall. They are pretty much on a war footing, and they don't have the manpower yet to take on the Necropolis' factions all at once.

Sire Beck Von Tibbitz and Phadian Gess.




Killraven Crime League

Killraven is the newest scene in Ptolus' criminal underworld, and is notable for bringing mostly outsiders to the city as opposed to subsuming existing factions into her organization. Killraven is an annis hag in disguise with big ambitions, hoping to eventually replace the Balacazars, the Inverted Pyramid, and the Vai in their respective fields. She has become a formidable threat to all of them due to her secret alliance with Emperor Segaci Fellisti, who provides her with funds. She also secretly funds the Shuul, the church of Teun, two of the largest technologist organizations, who do not know the true connection to this figure. Unlike the Balacazars her group is loosely organized throughout the city, and members don't even have an official name for their over-arching group (they simply refer to themselves as "us," "all of us," and the like). Killraven herself lives in a fortress in the Undercity guarded by a private army, and she has an efreeti noble bound to her service.



Knights of the Chord

This is a small knightly order dedicated to upholding ideals of freedom and protecting the innocent. They are officially recognized by the Empire but receive no funds from the Commissar (unlike the other knightly orders). Many of their members are bards with heavy training in martial skills, and have an alliance with House Kath bound by an ancient oath.



Knights of the Golden Cross

The iconic example of everything knightly, this ancient organizations dates before even the times of Eslathagos Malkith, and have long opposed evil in all its forms. They are a purely altruistic organization dedicated to the common welfare, and oppose the machinations of House Vladaam, the Fallen, and other evil factions. Although they don't always do so openly in the case of the former. They secretly revere the Elder Gods, and possess great records of the world's hidden knowledge. They are very small in comparison to the other knightly orders, having only 9 members, but each of them is powerful in their own right (averaging 10th level). They are led by Kaira Swanwing, an elven Rogue/Wizard who hopes to counter the increasing worry and pessimism the fight against evil is imposing on them. She believes that a great victory for the cause of Good will help turn this around. They work with the Keepers of the Veil from time to time.



Knights of the Pale

This knightly order specializes in combating supernatural threats such as demons and evil spellcasters. They are an exclusive and discriminating organization of 16 knights who revere Lothian and his saints, and receive good funding due to their Imperial Charter. Dierna Hillerchaun is the knighthood's leader and she serves as one of the Commissar's 12 commanders.

We also have stats for two prominent knights, Brig Stoneheart (a permanently enlarged dwarf) and prince Ironheart, a Paladin whose skin has a flexible layer of iron bonded to it.


Knights of Shadow

Not a proper knighthood per se, the Knights of Shadow are comprised of Ptolus' influential who hope to enact change in the Empire. They are merchants, physicians, constables, sea captains, and other members of the middle class. They are a secret organization of coded words, symbols, and handshakes who control trade via bribery of officials and pressuring for certain laws to be passed or not passed, banning the import of certain products, and other economic means. Currently the group is split in two: one faction sympathizes with the republican movement and wants to overthrow the Commissar and the government of Tarsis, the other wants to preserve it in the name of stability of the world's greatest civilization.


Longfingers Guild

This old thieves' guild once commanded great respect in Ptolus, but they are now a fading star as more people find it lucrative to work for the Balacazars or Killraven. Guildmaster Thief Haymann Knapp is the stereotypical "honorable thief," who misses the old days that banded together and helped Ptolus' poor children by teaching them to obtain things they could not otherwise come by. Nowadays the criminal factions work for depraved individuals and hurt, oppress, and kill society's disenfranchised (notably the Balacazars).

The Longfinger's Guild is mostly Neutrally-aligned, and are a potential organization for Rogue PCs to join. They have a sprawling underground headquarters with an ever-changing obstacle course to help train new members and keep experienced ones on their toes. "A relaxed thief is a dead thief" is a favorite saying of theirs.

Malkuth

The Malkuth are an order of angels who voluntarily came into Praemal to help fight the evils in the world, notably the Galchutt. They are based in the Pale Tower in the city of Ptolus, a 300 year old structure in Oldtown, usually keeping to themselves in meditating when not on some mission of grave import. They also have many aasimar and half-celestials among their number, the very children and descendents of said celestials. Their most well-known member is a half-celestial named Asoka, who is one of the Twelve Commanders. She is not their leader (who is a solar named Sephranos the Winged King), but often leads them in his absence.

Asoka:




Naltegro Suun

This secret order is comprised of 13 assassins, who are strangely non-evil. They are contract killers, true, but they demand proof that their intended victim deserves whatever fate to bring upon them; in fact, they are often hired not to kill, but sometimes to send a violent warning or destruction of property. Those who try to trick the Naltegro Suun find themselves visited upon an appropriately "just" punishment. They know of how easy it can be to fall into evil, and are careful to separate the emotions of vengeance and similar ones from their business.



Order of Iron Might

120 years ago two warriors made a bet by Arbon Sevolve. Sevolve contested that an organization for swordfighters and mercenaries in the same vein as the Inverted Pyramid would prove successful and popular. He won the bet, as gladiators from the city's arena and mercenary bands flocked to join it. The Order of Iron Might is a warrior's guild dedicated to finding an securing employment for its members. Their headquarters, the Citadel of Might, is located near the Arena in Oldtown, and serves as a hiring hall in addition to temporary living quarters and a grand courtyard to duels and physical training. They currently have more than 400 members, and have close ties with House Khatru.

Membership fees are 20 gold pieces to join plus 10 per year, but benefits include training, shared contacts, and reduced prices of weapon and armor repair.

Pactlords of the Quaan

Very few people have heard of the Pactlords, and this is how they prefer it. Comprised of nonhumanoids threatened by the rise of elves, humans, dwarves, and similar races, an assembly of influential monsters forged a magically-binding pact to work together against this common threat. The organization draws upon all manner of intelligent species, from aboleths, dragons, manticores, and aberrations. They only accept individuals, not groups, for entry, and frequently use dim-witted giants as minions (who are called Pactslaves). In Ptolus the Pactlords sponsor the largest slaving organization, the Ennin, who operate out of a warehouse in the Docks.

Their headquarters is an ethereal island known as the Quann, a swampy marshland where its leaders congregate to make decisions. In there is the Black Manor, their residence, and a gargoyle-covered fountain functions as the magical foundation for the Pact.

Pale Dogs

This street gang controls the Warrens, Ptolus' poorest neighborhood. They are led by a mysterious person known as Jirraith, and nobody within the group knows anything about him beyond his name (or if he's even male). In truth, Jirraith is a doppelganger who uses the gang as a sort of proving grounds for other more prominent criminal factions. Those experienced in subtle murder he passes off to the Vai; others go to the Balacazars. The rest are kept in the Pale Dogs, who live short lives and turnover rate of members is high. They shave their heads and taint their fingernails and sometimes teeth black as a kind of uniform.

The Shuul

This new group in Ptolus is dedicated to restoring the reign of science and reason in the Empire, and are staunch supporters of Law. They are more commonly known as masters and innovators of technology, and do all they can to reserving the declining trend by gathering the Empire's greatest technicians and machinists to the city. They have no opposition to magic, and many of its members are arcane spellcasters and clerics. They also have the largest storehouse of firearms, gunpowder, and steam-powered machines in Ptolus, and they sell firearms out of the Smoke Shop in Midtown. Regulation is heavy, as the Empire requires a license for anyone who wishes to own such a weapon. They are working hard to found a technologists' guild, building a Tower of Science in Oldtown, and work hand in hand with the church of Teun and monitor schools for bright-eyed young students skilled in mathematics and science to recruit when they grow up. They don't like the Church of Lothian for its suppression of "heretical" texts which contributed to great loss of knowledge.

They do have a dark secret. For one, their efforts require a lot of money, and the organizations' leadership turned to Killraven through Segaci Fellisti to gain much-needed funds. Additionally, some of their greatest scientists are secretly zaug in disguise, who are just as adept with real technology as chaositech. Normally their sinister reputation would make them pariahs, but they helped in so many scientific breakthroughs that they found acceptance even when discovered.

The Shuul create and sell unique equipment, from leather jacket armor, goggles which guard against bright lights, and "potion pills" which can be quickly swallowed.

Shuul Agent:




Sisterhood of Silence

This all-female vigilante task force is notable for its monks who've taken vows of silence. They are even more feared than the City Watch, for they are beyond reproach when it comes to resisting bribery, blackmail, and corruption. In 690 IA Ptolus was a very dangerous place to live, and the Commissar decided to work with them rather than against them once they proved their competence in preventing crime. They are careful not to break Imperial laws, and captured criminals are turned over to the City Watch. In addition to skill in unarmed combat, they have great skill in wielding with crossbows enchanted with Stunning Bolts (created by the Dreaming Apothecary exclusively for them, DC 21 Fort save or stunned for 1d4 rounds). They also wield greathammers in battle, which they are proficient with. They employ male eunuchs as Speakers, who make spoken declarations on behalf of the order.

The Sisters despite their vow do make use of nonverbal communication, and their membership comes from the ranks of young girls from the streets who have no home or family to return to (or on the run from abusive parents). Their headquarters is the Priory of Introspection, a training ground.





Sorn

Their name coming from the Abyssal word for "breath," the Sorn are a new criminal group in Ptolus backed by Killraven and the Shuul. They are comprised entirely of arcane spellcasters who use their magic to act as spies, assassins, and enforcers who carry out their deeds while wearing masks or under disguise. They are grouped into independent cells who known little of the others' activities, and have very different duties. They are enemies of the Inverted Pyramid, and rumors on the street say that the two are preparing for a clandestine magical war.

Soul Riders

A dozen mortals are born with the rare gift to transfer their spirits into the bodies of other creatures, controlling their actions entirely like a puppet on strings. They have no form, not even an incorporeal one, in this state and can only be slain or imprisoned via a handful of magical spells (only a wish or miracle can fully destroy them). They can glean all the knowledge and memories of a victim, giving them a very expansive collection of information over the years. The Soul Riders are sociopaths, and they only work together for the eventual goal of world domination. To that end they manipulate events in Ptolus to secede from the Empire and become a city-state ruled by people they control. On that end they hate the Fallen and Chaos Cults, because their goals will destroy the very city they want to rule. They have yet to possess any of the city's most powerful people (Menon Balacazar, the Commissar, etc) who know of their existence and protect themselves with spells from mental domination.

Urthon Aedar

The Urthon Aedar is an Elder Elvish name meaning "Wandering Judges." They rarely appear except as armor-clad figures who appear just as suddenly as they vanish after completing some task. They never speak or leave behind clues as to why they do what they do. Their origin lies during the days of Ghul, of those few elves who managed to resist his torture and transformation into Harrow elves. Enraged, Ghul cursed them with visions of the future so that they will know of their demise and see a world ruled by him. What Ghul did not know was that he would fall, and this gave the elves hope throughout these horrible times. When Ghul's fortress fell they used the Entropy Sphere to travel to Dreta Phantas, the Dreaming City, and from there they trained in martial and magical skills to better control the events of the world which they'd see coming. Their ultimate goal is to restore this city to its rightful place, as well as safeguard the well-being of elvenkind.

Urthon Aedar armor is a unique magical suit of full plate armor with no armor check penalties, arcane spell failure chance, or maximum dexterity bonus. All Urthon Aedar are extraordinarily powerful elder elves, ranging around 18th-20th level and have levels in Eldritch Knight (a fighter-mage prestige class).

Urthon Aedar in full plate:


The Vai

The Vai are a death cult which has evolved into an assassin's guild in Ptolus once they realized that murder-for-hire was a lucrative market. They are little-known in Ptolus, of whispered rumors of an all-powerful organization with eyes and ears everywhere. In truth, their membership numbers a mere 35, of independent cells of 2-4 who have little knowledge of what the others are doing. They have ties to the Deathmantle Chaos Cults and the Balacazars, and as such oppose Killraven and the Sorn.

The Vai dress in all-black clothing and a face mask while doing their deeds, and are never caught without poisons of various kinds hidden on their persons. Their headquarters, the Chapel of Final Resolution, is located in a secret room beneath the streets of the Warrens. The leaders of the guild are the Twin Lords Keper, who rarely leave the chapel and only take the most extreme of assignments. The Vai are also bound to kill at least one living creature day, even as small as an insect. However, most do try to kill at least one intelligent creature a month.

The Viridian Lords

This organization of rangers, barbarians, and a few druids exists primarily in Palastan, and their word is law out on the open road. They have no significant presence in Ptolus except for the Palastani residents, who regard them highly. Viridian Lords have no hierarchy, and they're known to bond living plants to their flesh in a magical process.

The plant-bonding is a series of 3 feats, which grant a natural armor bonus (Viridian Flesh), cast pass without trace at will and speak with plants once per day (Viridian Essence), and detect plants at will and +4 on saves against plant-related spells and monster attacks (Viridian Nature). Overall the feats are kind of weak and won't come up often.


Monte Cook ends this chapter with a brief on how to use the organizations in games. Basically as allies to work with or join, foes to fight, and a list of some organizations the PCs might want to join (Order of Iron Might and Inverted Pyramid for fighters and arcanists, the knightly orders, the Longfingers Guild for rogues, and the Delver's Guild for dungeon-delvers to name a few). Overall nothing ground-breaking.


Thoughts so far: I really like this chapter. The organizations receive varying levels of detail, and some I feel receive too few support (Knights of the Chord are tailor-made for bards, for example), and I would have liked to see an entry on the Conciliators (the Inquisition of Lothianites), and the goodly knightly orders overlap a little too much (what's so different about the Keepers of the Veil and the Knights of the Pale?), but those are my only real criticisms. My favorite entries include the Inverted Pyramid and the Dreaming Apothecary (who provide a nice explanation on how expensive magical items are safely sold and an alternative to the omnipresent "magic item shop with awesome gear"), and the Shuul, who I always found to be really cool.

Next time, Chapter 7: City by the Spire, a starting guide to the city proper!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 05:55 on Jan 13, 2014

Mormon Star Wars
Aug 13, 2005
It's a minotaur race...



Kurieg posted:

I don't know, there's a lot of oChangeling players who absolutely hate nChangeling. Because to them oChangeling is already a plenty dark game because it's about the death of childhood. Which is the worst thing ever.

The change from oWoD to nWoDd had a lot of bad feelings. I have a friend who ran oWoD games constantly that got death threats when he said good things about new vampire.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

I'm pretty sure a number of White Wolf writers got death threats over it too.

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Kurieg posted:

If there's interest, I can review W20 since it seems that the W:TA Corebook hasn't been F&Fed before. The problem with the book is that of the 550 pages probably about 300 are material that has been reprinted/reworded from earlier books. And reviewing 90 pages of gifts would probably make for a very boring read. I would probably gloss over the things like that and the Rules and Storytelling chapter.


By Comparison W20:Rage across the world is almost entirely new material and is actually a pretty good read. CB20 is definitely something I'll review once an actual physical copy comes out. Rage actually devotes a lot of page space to dispelling unfortunate stereotypes from previous editions. They use the Children of Gaia mouthpiece to say "Nature isn't inherently better than civilization, they're both important" and "Maligned native tribes aren't magically better than everyone else, Garou just think the grass is greener and are made up of 20% bards by volume."

Yeah, but it has some really good lines. Like this one.

W20 posted:

As part of a fervent effort to disseminate their twisted visions in electronic media, Black Dog’s most elaborate enterprises are now virtual. In this massively multiplayer online construct, unsuspecting humans with abundant free time can roam in an online hunting ground dominated by the Wyrm. This new direction comes at the behest of a dread force that’s exerted control over the Game Factory. This crawling cabal of unknown horrors was once frozen under the Scandinavian ice, but the warming of the world loosed them to play. The virtual world Black Dog’s building is not just a slice of horror: it’s a reflection of the world these ancient Northern terrors want to see in the flesh.

Turning the world into EVE Online would be pretty drat evil, I think.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Kai Tave posted:

I'm pretty sure a number of White Wolf writers got death threats over it too.

Well of course they did. I know of at least one guy who got banned from the White Wolf forums because he operated under the belief that "Since I bought a product, the writers are now under an obligation to tailor that product to my wants and needs." And since they didn't do that they deserved to get murdered painfully, or at the very least fired.
He also saw the move to Print on Demand as a personal betrayal, as in they did it just to gently caress with him specifically.

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011



MJ12 posted:

Yeah, but it has some really good lines. Like this one.


Turning the world into EVE Online would be pretty drat evil, I think.

It'd be great if you were a goon though.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ars Magica: The Contested Isle

So, druids. To magi outside Ireland, druid means House Diedne. It is an unpleasant, fearful word. In Ireland, Diedne and the druids were never the same - they were two very, very different traditions that are now both believed to be extinct. What is known of the original druids is mostly legend and rumor. They disappeared rather abruptly in the ninth century, but had been on the decline well before that, as they were heavily persecuted by Saint Patrick and his followers. They were lorekeepers, judges and counselors as well as pagan priests, magicians and soothsayers. All of their functions involved power over words - memories, judgements, poems. Part of the modern ignorance of druids is because they feared writing their secrets down. The word 'druid' actually denotes three sacred fucntions: bard, faith and draoi. The bard was the lorekeeper of the Irish as well as a poet. Without writing, bardic training was all about memorizing extremely detailed passages. The faith was a priest of the pagan Irish, attending to a clan's worship and divination. The draoi were counselors to the kings and lawgivers, as well as the principal magicians of a clan. All three types of druid began training with four years as a bard. Some would continue their bardic training, while others would become faith. After four years training as a faith, some would become draoi. It took twenty years, total, to become draoi.



By the eighth century, druidism was on the decline due to Chrsitian assaults. The high king no longer sought advice from the draoithe and among the Christians there was no need for the faithi. Only the bardic schools survived, and their teachings were watered down by memorizing genealogy and hagiography rather than legends. In Britain and the continent, other druids suffered similarly. Celtic and Gaulish cultures all over Europe had their own equivalents of druids, which dwindled as the old pagan ways faded. However, the new Order of Hermes included a maga from a druidic lineage: Diedne, who recruited the survivors into her House. It quickly grew to be the largest in the Order, dominating the pagan priesthoods. These druids were principally Breton, like Diedne herself, but also had Gaulish and Iberian druids, as well as some more exotic types. Britain had few druids due to Roman persecution, but everyone know that Ireland was the stronghold of druidry, even if they were in retreat. Diedne decided to add them to her House.

When Diedne came to Ireland in 793, she was met by a delegation led by the chief druid, Sechnassach. She gave them a simple offer: join or die. It is written that Sechnassach was offended by her arrogance and refused. Diedne stormed off, warning of dire consequences. Sechnassach ignored the threats. When Diedne returned, she brought 27 of her magi, landing near Wexford in 797 and seperating her followers into three squads of nine, who began to hunt the druids. Each druid they met was given the same offer: join or die. Most chose death. Diedne's campaign lasted just under 15 years, and she boasted in 816 at Tribunal that there was not a single druid left in Ireland. This claim was almost certainly exaggerated, but it is without doubt that she exterminated the tradition, if not all of its practitioners. The age of the Irish druids was over.







Most hedge magicians of Ireland claim descent from the druids, but this is almost certainly not true in most cases. Today, the term druid or draoi is applied to any magical practitioner with the Gift or who belongs to a hedge traditions. Other wizards are known as asarlai, hedge wizard. Many of the oaths which constitute the Hibernian Peripheral Code speciy terms 'inter druides et magos' - between druids and magi - and do not apply to asarlaithe.

The non-Hermetic wizards of Connacht are members of a federation named the Coill Tri. They are of many traditions, but all claim to be inheritors of druid lore and claim the title druid. In 844, the Chief Bard of Ireland, Cormacan the Learned, brought an embassy from the High King Congalach Cnogba to the Order. Some of the king's subjects, all hedge wizards, had complained about harassment. Fedelmid Ua Heirmeais of Mercere was appointed to act on behalf of the Order. It was already clear from Diedne's pogroms that 'join or die' didn't work here; the hedge wizards preferred to die. Since they'd sought royal protection, another solution was needed. The result of the negotiations was the Treaty of Cnoc Maol Raidh, made binding in 898 at the first Hibernian Tribunal. The Connachta wizards were incoporated into a federation originally called the Comman Cosan Chian, the alliance of the traditional way, which quickly mutated into the Coill Tri, the three hazels, after the three Cs of the group's name. In Ogham, the C is called Coll, and means hazel. The Hibernian magi encouraged wizards in conflict with magi over resources to head to Connacht, and the Order even supported them in moving, though it was not always a voluntary move. The end result concentrated the Irish hedge wizards into one province, leaving the rest of Ireland to the magi. Today, the Coill Tri claims membership about equal to the number of magi in Ireland, but perhaps much larger. There are some who try to make the Coill Tri more than it truly is, to use it as a force to mobilize the native magicians for whatever reason. These attempts usually fail, as the Gift forms a wedge of suspicion and distrust that destroys these temporary alliances. The Order's quite happy with that.



The Coill Tri is not a rival to the Order - it's just a legal entity with which treaties could be made, rather than needing hundreds of seperate treaties with each tradition or draoi. It allows the Order to have some control over the hedge wizards. The Coill Tri has no central authority or formal rules, takes no mutual actions and has no ideals held in common. However, membership is rarely optional - the Order doesn't like druids that don't join. The principle benefit of joining is freedom from molestation by magi, as per the Treaty. Every hedge wizard in Connacht is assumed to belong to the Coill Tri, and there are also some members who live elsewhere and bear an amulet of hazel leaves to prove it. A draoi wronged by a magus can complain to the Tribunal and expect investgation and justice as per the treaty. In practice, this is rarely used, and occasional breaches are perceived as less problematic than exposing yourself to the Order's scrutiny. More frequently, the Coill Tri members bring disputes with each other or magical beasts to the Sacred Council before each Tribunal, as Hermetic adjudicators ensure fair resolutions even against much stronger foes. Under the treaty, the Coill Tri must provide seven Gifted children at every Tribunal meeting. Not all draoithe can detect the Gift, and so those who offer their tithe sometimes have it rejected by the Order, which hardly improves relations. Members of the Coill Tri occasionally must be reminded of their obligation, and Redcaps go into Connacht to make demands of them.The image of a red-hatted stranger hunting for children to steal has entered the Connachta consciousness, and on occasion Redcaps must flee angry mobs.

The Coill Tri is divided geographically into seven tuatha, to make it easier to fulfill their obligation. EAch tuath must find a single Gifted child every seven years, and each is represented at Tribunal by a ceannaire, who gives each tuath its name. Some ceannairi bring complants from their membership to the Tribunal, while others require them to represent themselves. Tuatha vary greatly in organization, and the default is that they exist in name only. In some tuatha, the ceannaire is like a chieftain, enforcing rules of behavior and holding court, and local tradition affects the choosing of a ceannaire. Some are elected, others hereditary, some chosen by lot. Only four tuatha are described in the book, to leave the other three for GMs to decide.



Tuath Buidhe is largely made of unGifted visionaries who seek to reconstruct old druidic lore from what fragments remain. They have a cult based on the legends of the ancients, since the true lore was very thoroughly eradicated by Christians and House Diedne. They have several ways to initiate others into magical powers, and are usually keen to bring others into the Coill Tri, even outside their tuath. They might be friendly to the Order, or bitter over the Diedne crusade still, depending on how you want to run them. Their ceannaire is always from a specific lineage of Cruithnigh wizards. Budhe is one of the Coill Tri's primary teachers and mystagogues. Widely believed mad, many still travel to his island off Connacht to gain instruction. He is often found naked in the rain, talking to trees or in trances wearing a bullskin. He has a great memory and knows how to teach many supernatural powers, some of which he has and many which he does not personally possess, and if he can be made to focus long enough, he usually agrees to teach people.

Tuath hEilionora is made of all those Coill Tri who do not leave in Connacht. It exists to permit non-Connachtach wizards to benefit from the Treaty, and for magi who live nearby a hedge tradition to treat them as a legal entity. It is twice as large as any other tuath, and its ceannaire is always the individual who takes up residence in a particular Magical area after being appointed by the last ceannaire. (The actual area in question is not named - it is left up to the GM.) The current ceannaire, Eilionra inghean Ua Shuibne, is an elementalist and a physician who firmly believes in the restoration of the druidic ways. She is a keen student of ancient tales and is halfway convinced that she is the reincarnation of Macha Mhuinge Ruadh, a former queen of Ireland and founder of the hospital at Bron Bherg. She learned her magic in France, and while she is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about native traditions, they tend to see her as an outsider and want little to do with her. She accepts this, and is an active member of the Coill Tri.

Tuath Saidhbh has an unusually high number of Gifted wizards and always has. Its members want as little to do with each other as possible and have no common culture at all. They choose their ceannaire by lot, and no one really wants the job. Magi would dearly love to know why there are so many Gifted in their region, but are forbidden to explore Connacht by the Treaty, even if they were born there. Sadhbh Amhreaidh is the current ceannaire, and she is exactly the kind of person who sneers at Eilionora. She is a folk witch claiming descent unbroken from generations of witches. Her grandmother and herself were the only survivors of a mundane backlash against her coven, and no other coven would accept them, as their magic is somewhat non-standard for witches - they teach a rather obscure power known as Embitterment, which makes the target hostile to another target of the witch's choice. (This power is also shared by a sect of Irish Ex Miscellanea, the Nemthengacha, who claim descent from the Irish poet-demigod Bricrui mac Carbada. Or, occasionally, from Loki.) In any case, since Sadhbh has no witches to rely on and, as yet, no daughter to teach her tradition to, she is rather twisted and cold-hearted.

Tuath Ronain has recently come into shame, having discovered diabolists in their membership. Worse still, it was found by a magus, so there was no chance to deal with them in secret. The tuath is now vigilant against any further corruption, and their ceannaire recently appointed three inquisitors to watch the tuath. They are paranoid now, and very mistrustful of each other, especially their Gifted members. The cennaire Ronan Brathair is a Cistercian monk as well as a draoi and was instrumental in rooting out the diabolists. He uses holy powers via meditation, and would like to turn the Coill Tri closer to Christian worship, but is humble enough to realize that's a truly immense task.

Next time: Bards.

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS






Kurieg posted:

Well of course they did. I know of at least one guy who got banned from the White Wolf forums because he operated under the belief that "Since I bought a product, the writers are now under an obligation to tailor that product to my wants and needs." And since they didn't do that they deserved to get murdered painfully, or at the very least fired.
He also saw the move to Print on Demand as a personal betrayal, as in they did it just to gently caress with him specifically.

Unfortunately that's a common feeling, at least through the online chats that I hover between occasionally. Which is a shame, since at the time it's not really as if the oWoD is adding anything to it - all the growth was happening in the nWoD. But you had people clutching to the old system like lost relics and refusing to try the new stuff on principal.

That might change a bit now that the X20 editions are coming out, since each of those do seem to be bringing new stuff to the table.

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


Banality is one of those things that made intuitive sense to me growing up. I figure oChangling is silly but harmless, though the SCA seems pretty limited compared to the way actual manic pixie dream poet hipsters act and think. It's all wish-fulfillment anyway.

quote:

So give me your concepts for characters recruited into a weird, secretive, privately-wealthy paranormal investigation society. Remember that everybody recruited into the Society has a psychic power of some kind. Powers, like most of character creation, are pretty freeform, but to fit with the game's mythology they should generally be related to space and/or time (e.g. remote viewing or precognition moreso than telekinesis or mind control). Or you can leave your concept's power unknown and I'll pick something interesting. If I get enough concepts, I'll make an entire Seven Dogs Society!

A young Scottish comic book writer who, after a mystical experiace in Thailand, can predict or influence events through incorporating Burroughs cut-up techniques into his comics.

Too meta?

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 02:54 on Jan 13, 2014

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Count Chocula posted:

A young Scottish comic book writer who, after a mystical experiace in Thailand, can predict or influence events through incorporating Burroughs cut-up techniques into his comics.

Too meta?

No, that... that's pretty perfect. If I end up starting a PbP, I expect you to submit that as a character.

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Forums Terrorist posted:

It'd be great if you were a goon though.

Of course it would given that Goons are really just agents of the Wyrm.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


The Legend of Deathwalker - David Gemmel posted:

As it neared, Druss saw that Shaoshad’s description was correct in every detail: two heads, one a bear, the other a serpent. What Shaoshad had not conveyed was the sense of evil that radiated from the demon. It struck Druss like the numbing claws of a winter blizzard, colossal in its power, dwarfing the strength of Man.

The bridge had narrowed here to less than ten feet wide. The creature coming slowly towards them seemed to fill the gap.

“May the Gods of Stone and Water smile upon you, Druss!”, whispered Oshikai.

Druss stepped forward. The beast gave a terrible roar, thunder deep and deafening. The wall of sound struck the axeman like a blow, pushing him back.

The beast spoke: “We are the Great Bear, devourers of souls. Your death will be agonizing, mortal!”

“In your dreams, you whoreson!”, said Druss.

Chapter 5: Travel and Health

Goran Karr of Khazistan, Warlord of the Barren Reaches posted:

Crossing the trackless wastes of this land I have learned harshly the small truths of armor in cowardice, and the vile deceit of secrecy in weakness… alas, only honest steel grants victory or death!

So here's the least interesting chapter in just about any RPG; the one that talks about travel time, natural healing and so on. Clearly the authors agreed - this is by far the shortest chapter in the book. This book begins with the rules for travel: there aren't any. Simply put, unless the journey itself is important to the adventure, getting from A to B should be largely abstracted; the GM should basically describe any memorable part of the journey, and then move on to the party being where they were travelling to. Meanwhile, the Players are given the opportunity to bring a scene to a close, or to ask for a given scene to happen as soon as practical - this costs a point of Drama, and is one of the mechanics for giving players narrative control over the game.

After this, we have the optional Encumbrance rules. They're pretty simple; having 6 or more, 11 or more, 16 or more and 21 or more each give one cumulative point of encumbrance, chain armour gives a single point and plate armour gives two. Encumbrance adds an activation cost to terrain rolls. That's as far as it goes, and it's completely optional.

Next up, we have healing. If you're bleeding, you need to be treated. A healing check will reduce the blood loss from a wound by 3 per success, though if it fails the blood loss increases by 1. On a botched roll, the blood loss doubles. If the blood loss is reduced to 0, the penalties from blood loss are reduced by 2 for every each passing day spent eating properly and resting, or by 1 for days of exertion. If the wound level is 3 or higher, the person doing the healing must have a 3 or higher in Healing. At the end of each week, you perform a Tenacity check against the unmodified pain of each wound (that is, the Pain before you subtracted Tenacity). If you succeed, the Pain of that wound is reduced by 1. Once the Pain reaches 0, the wound is completely healed.

Third, we have falling damage. Quite simply, you receive a number of wounds over several locations based off of the distance you fall, ignoring armour. Also, the number of zones affected may only be 2, or a quarter of the fall's distance in meters, whichever is greater. Once that number of zones has been reached, all further wounds are applied to the zones already affected.

Next, it's Generic damage, which is basically anything that isn't being stabbed, cut or bludgeoned, and has it's own damage table in the appendices. After that, we have poisons and diseases, which are both treated the exact same way. Poisons go along a progression track, and depending on how fast acting the poison is, the victim may have to roll once per limelight or once every few hours, or anywhere in between to avoid getting worse. As the poison progresses, the symptoms become worse but TN becomes lower. Once the progression reaches 6, the character falls into a coma and will die within half the progression time. The stronger a poison is, the more successes are required for the poison to not get worse. If you pass three in a row, you've survived the poisoning, and you'll gradually get better. Healing can help, by reducing the target number for the checks.

Finally, we end on another optional rule: It's Just a Scratch! Simply put, after each battle, you roll the higher of Brawn or Tenacity, and reduce the unmodified pain from wounds you've received by a total amount equal to the number of successes - if you reduce the pain down to 0, it's just a scratch. The example given is as follows:

quote:

Otho has 3 cuts received during the fight he just emerged from as victor:
• A Pain 1 cut to his hand
• A Pain 1 cut to his jaw
• A Pain 2 cut to his side
Rolling a TN7 Check vs. Tenacity (His TY is higher than his BN) he scores 3 Successes and opts to reduce the Pain 2 cut to his side down to zero, and to also get rid of the Pain 1 cut to his hand. The cut to his jaw he opts to leave as a dueling scar for the ladies to admire!

And here endeth the fifth chapter. Next up, Sorcery. Far more interesting.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008



Kurieg posted:

I don't know, there's a lot of oChangeling players who absolutely hate nChangeling. Because to them oChangeling is already a plenty dark game because it's about the death of childhood. Which is the worst thing ever.

Well, does seem like a pretty direct shot across the bow when the old line that was about how great playing make believe is, and how the realm of dreams is this bright and wonderful place that is slowly and inevitably crushed to death under the horrors of growing up and the "real" world and its banal explanations for everything, this old game is replaced with a new one about how all that childish wonder and merriment is a cheap disguise for horrible abuse and psychological damage and a crippling inability to fit into the real world, leaving its victims forever caught between the make believe world they now see for the damaged horror that it is, and the old lives they can never fit back into.

You could probably write an entire psychology paper about player's various reactions to it. nChangeling, more so than any of the other nWoD games, emphasizes just how hosed it is to, say, spend your entire childhood and teenage pretending to be someone else and then find yourself in your 30s with no job and no friends outside your hobby, and that a balance between make believe and reality needs to be struck is exactly what the extreme elements of the now former target audience wanted to hear.

Many posters, our reviewer for F&F included, made the point that nChangling is all about survivors of child abuse banding together to cope, and most people's thoughts immediately and rightly go to Mommy Dearest style torment. But a perfect prelude for a nChangling character could also be the FFVII House...

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 05:35 on Jan 13, 2014

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



A clairvoyant janitor/handyman. He has the ability to read people's histories, emotions and past thoughts through cleaning up their messes or scattering some of their trash and reading what falls out. It's not something he particularly understands how he does it, he just has some confusing mental images whenever he scrapes gum off a desk.

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?


pkfan2004 posted:

A clairvoyant janitor/handyman. He has the ability to read people's histories, emotions and past thoughts through cleaning up their messes or scattering some of their trash and reading what falls out. It's not something he particularly understands how he does it, he just has some confusing mental images whenever he pulls an unpaid utility bill out of the trash.
There we go. Fixed it.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008



GimpInBlack posted:

So give me your concepts for characters recruited into a weird, secretive, privately-wealthy paranormal investigation society. Remember that everybody recruited into the Society has a psychic power of some kind. Powers, like most of character creation, are pretty freeform, but to fit with the game's mythology they should generally be related to space and/or time (e.g. remote viewing or precognition moreso than telekinesis or mind control). Or you can leave your concept's power unknown and I'll pick something interesting. If I get enough concepts, I'll make an entire Seven Dogs Society!

Alright, to add some dynamic tension to the group...

A reclusive, intellectual, and heavily bearded English comic book writer who still uses an old typewriter for all his scripts, claims to be a magician, and worships a sock puppet he knows to be a completely false and invented god. In keeping with his reclusive tendencies, he can turn invisible, or otherwise cloud him presence from the minds of others.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Spoilers Below posted:

Well, does seem like a pretty direct shot across the bow when the old line that was about how great playing make believe is, and how the realm of dreams is this bright and wonderful place that is slowly and inevitably crushed to death under the horrors of growing up and the "real" world and its banal explanations for everything, this old game is replaced with a new one about how all that childish wonder and merriment is a cheap disguise for horrible abuse and psychological damage and a crippling inability to fit into the real world, leaving its victims forever caught between the make believe world they now see for the damaged horror that it is, and the old lives they can never fit back into.

I remember reading years ago an essay by one of the White Wolf writers who worked on oChangeling...first or second edition, I can't even remember...where he talked about how, as an experiment, he went and brought in a bunch of toys to the WW offices one day, action figures and Transformers and stuff, and he set them all out and invited everyone to come around and play with them. Y'know, like you do.

Of course the result, as he noted, was that when you get a bunch of 20-somethings awkwardly milling around with GI Joes you don't get that spontaneous "hey, let's play!" instinct that a lot of young children have where they can dig into a toychest and start having action figure battles or swooshing around spaceships like it's the most natural thing in the world. Where did that wonderful, freewheeling sense of imagination go? This, he concluded, was a perfect analogy for the encroachment of capital-B Banality upon a Changeling's existence.

And I cannot remember for the life of me, though I suspect I already know the answer, whether it ever occurred to this guy that he and his coworkers spent an abundant amount of their free time sitting around a table playing make-believe with one-another, pretending to be vampires and werewolves and wizards. Of all the White Wolf games new or old, oChangeling has always struck me as just about the least self-aware of the bunch, and that's counting Aberrant with its "this game about superpowered beings in funny outfits having fistfights totally isn't a superhero game" essay.

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


Spoilers Below posted:

Alright, to add some dynamic tension to the group...

A reclusive, intellectual, and heavily bearded English comic book writer who still uses an old typewriter for all his scripts, claims to be a magician, and worships a sock puppet he knows to be a completely false and invented god. In keeping with his reclusive tendencies, he can turn invisible, or otherwise cloud him presence from the minds of others.

He is of course involved in a decades-long magical feud with my character. In real life, my character's power is changing his own life by writing those changes into his comic book avatar, but I don't think that fits the setting. But what would playing him as an RPG character do to him in real life?

The janitor sounds like the Psychonauts character.

Mors, one of the old names for Irish bards (according to my Joyce teacher) is 'guardians of the word horde', which I always loved. If I was playing Ars Magica Ireland, I'd probably include part of Finnegan's Wake as the ritual connected to Finn McCool, anachronism be damned.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 06:59 on Jan 13, 2014

JohnnyCanuck
May 28, 2004

Strong And/Or Free


A traveling Roman Catholic priest who can, if he tries, tell exactly what your last sin was.

He never ever tries anymore, and is a recovering alcoholic because of what he can do.

Hedningen
May 4, 2013

Enough sideburns to last a lifetime.


All right, despite my long-aborted attempt at finishing up the classic Swedish RPG Mutant, I figured I'd give another shot at this with something I'm a little more steeped in - the noble art of Live Action Role-Playing, or LARP. If you want more on Mutant, my posts in the previous thread have pretty much all the mechanics necessary to play translated - you just need to look at Basic Role-Playing to get the remainder, as it's licensed off of that.

So, let's talk LARP. I intend to go through a few systems that are moderately prominent in the US right now - there's a ton of people who do smaller games, home-built systems, and little groups, but that's not particularly interesting to talk about, as there's enough variance in those that most people would have almost no chance to go and check out a game. Instead, I'll be looking at a couple of national systems over my next few posts, along with a couple of regional games that have entered the public consciousness of American LARPers. At this point, I'm looking at working with NERO, Avegost, and Larpcraft - three semi-national/national systems that all have some pretty unique foibles and different methods of handling running around in the woods hitting each other with foam weapons.

pre:
                                    NERO Live Action Role-Playing
Of course, no discussion of American LARP is started without referring to NERO, the granddaddy of them all. Currently helmed by Joseph Valenti (who will get his own write-up later in this discussion for some of the hilarity involving his approach to related games), they started up in 1986, adopted the name NERO (Or New England Role-playing Organization) in 1989, and started having some larger-scale events. In 1991, Dragon Magazine published an article on NERO, which brought a lot of attention to it and made it into the beast of a system it is today.

For a lot of people, NERO is American LARP, with all the baggage that comes with it - costuming can be ridiculous-looking, players will be shouting LIGHTNING BOLT over and over again, and the weapons are little more than foam-wrapped sticks. Still, as with any organization of this size, there's some variance - in areas with a lot of SCA crossover, there's some excellent costuming being done, and people have done good things with the system. Love it or hate it, they were a huge boon to the American fantasy LARP scene in the 90s.

Right now, we'll be looking at the 9th Edition NERO Rulebook, available for free on their website - if you want to witness this absurdity in all of its glory, then go right ahead.

Chapter 1: Getting Started
The first chapter opens up with a bit of in-game fiction - I say "in game" because it's describing what a player should be feeling. Our hero is fighting against a deadly necromancer, and by the power of their imagination, a lot of really awesome things are happening - rooms darken, undead rise, and amazing magics are worked by the players. It paints a very scripted, stilted version of what might actually happen in a game, right down to the damage calls by the players in the middle of some otherwise unremarkable fantasy writing.

The chapter then goes into what NERO is and the philosophy behind it - it's like tabletop role-playing, but outside and for real, with flesh-and-blood people acting out all of the roles. It's a game where you can (supposedly) do whatever you want, make any kind of character that you'd like, and play in a rich fantasy world - depending, of course, on the number of people who can make it to a game, the props and setting that the team working on that particular chapter design, and a host of other factors.

We also get the basic mechanics of NERO - you are always your character, combat is represented by actually hitting people with padded weapons, and magic is represented by throwing fabric-and-birdseed packets at people. There's also the rundown of the types of events - a Day event takes place over a day, a Weekend event takes a weekend, and longer events are possible. One important note is that once an event begins, it goes on 24 hours a day until the scheduled end time - this creates some interesting possibilities for players to sneak around and be dastardly.

Up next is an important concept - the 4 Most Important Rules, designed to maximize fun while minimizing risk to the parent organization. They make sense from a legal perspective - US injury and liability laws are Byzantine, restrictive, and liable to screw a gamerunner out of all of their money if someone sues for injury.

  • Body Contact: Body contact is a big no in NERO - no touching other players during combat and no hitting of the head/groin/hands.
  • Alcohol: Don't drink and LARP, kids.
  • Hold: A good safety rule - if someone yells hold, then everyone has to freeze, because something went wrong. If someone's about to be injured for real, this is called, the person is extricated from their situation, and play resumes.
  • Sneaking: If you're going into someone's tent or building, there must be a marshall (also known as a NERO referee) present, to ensure that you're not going to steal out-of-game poo poo. I can see the need for this on some level, but on another, the rules also state that this is required even if it's the building or tent that you're sleeping in. It's one way to fix the problem of rogues stealing poo poo in games, but at the same time, I feel it's a bit clunky and can prevent spontaneity.

Okay, now that we've covered the introduction section, let's talk about NERO's basic rules. This requires the discussion of XP (experience points) versus BP (build points). Experience points are what you earn from attending events - which have a listed maximum amount that they can give out - which are then used to buy BP, which you use to get skills for your character. Every 10 BP, you gain a level, and the cost for a BP increases as you gain levels - designed to allow for slower growth as players get more experienced. It also goes over the basic races and that your character will have one of four classes in this section, along with the absolute basics of combat - you may get hit with a weapon.

It also discusses the combat system a little bit - each player has a certain amount of armour points and hit points. Whenever you're hit with a weapon, it does damage, which you subtract from your totals. Weapons have variable damage - whenever you swing, you announce how much damage your weapon is doing.

We then get the example weekend - a bit of goblin combat, some explanations of the rules in action, and the idea of what a game entails.

Finally, there's a good section on making a believable character background - I actually kind of like this part, because it goes over the common mistakes people make when creating their first character, right down to ridiculous names and overly-accomplished starting characters. While it's short, it actually covers a lot of things I think that starting players need to know when writing bios, although it's a bit skewed towards younger players.

Chapter 2: The Basics
Chapter 2 starts getting into actual rules-text, so there's a lot more to look at here. First off are the classes - NERO does pretty well with just four, leaving it up to the players to come up with background, fluff, and ideas for their characters.

  • Fighter: Your standard "dude who hits things". They get good hit points and can wear a lot of armour, they can use every weapon, and they can do a bit of the other skills.
  • Rogue: The sneaky-folk - they get cheaper costs for stealth skills, can have more stealth than anyone else, and get access to alchemy skills for poisons and such.
  • Scholar: Probably my favourite element of NERO - there's no distinction between arcane, blasty-casters and divine healing casters. All of their skill costs are dedicated to getting good at mental arts, such as magic, healing, and scholarly things (obviously). It's actually quite a clever way to avoid offending people who might not want religious themes in games in order to avoid divine elements, as NERO has no religious elements in it.
  • Templar: The absolutely-not-religious-at-all-despite-being-taking-their-name-from-a-religious-order Templars are a blend of Scholar and Fighter - they dabble in both, but aren't the best at either. Designed to give people a bit of flexibility in how they play, especially if you want to be swinging a sword and casting magic.

So, pretty basic classes. Now, let's move onto the real meat - the various races of NERO. Some of them are just human variants, whereas others are non-human races, requiring make-up and specific costuming to represent. All of them have additional abilities if you have costume requirements.

Just as a note - there are no physical requirements aside from costuming to be a member of these races, so you can end up with some ridiculous-looking people. A 4-foot half-ogre is just as likely as a 7-foot dwarf.

  • Barbarians get extra hit points and can buy the ability to detect Celestial magic and an ability called "Barbarian Slay", while they must pay double for Scholarly skills. They're fluffed as the stereotypical savages, distrustful of magic and book learnin', while somehow maintaining nobility. Their costuming requirements tend towards fur and leather.
  • Biata can buy the abilities Break Charm, Resist Charm, and Resist Sleep, but can't learn how to Read Magic. They're required to have feathers and claws, as they are essentially Mystic Birdmen Barbarians who distrust Celestial magic. They also have amazing mental abilities, which will be further discussed in the section on Elves.
  • Drae can buy Resist Charm, Resist Sleep, and get half-cost for Archery, but have fewer hit points during the daytime and cannot use two-handed swords or two-handed blunt weapons. They're Dark Elves who are honorable to a fault. You have to wear elf ears to play one of these folks, plus all exposed skin must be painted black. This can be difficult to do well - I've done a lot of make-up for games, and poorly-applied black make-up on a nerd looks like blackface, which can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable situations.
  • Dwarfs get extra hit points, a lower cost for smithing, and can buy Resist Poison, but have a higher cost for Read Magic and cannot use larger weapons. They are standard fantasy dwarves - everyone has beards, they're wonderful craftsmen, and they dislike elves. Nothing too exciting here - costuming requirements require beards.
  • Elves are the same as Drae, stat-wise, except they don't have the "lose hit points depending on the time of day" mechanic, but rather start with less hit points. There are several varieties of the standard fantasy variations - you've got your friendly elves, your haughty elves, your quasi-Vulcan elves with awesome mental powers, and your elves who live in the woods. One variety - Stone Elves, who are pretty clearly based on Vulcans, - gets an ability similar to the Biata, where they can remove fears and madness through intense role-playing. Everybody needs to wear elf-ears, but the individual groups have vague differences in skin tone and appearance.
  • Gypsies, aside from being ridiculously racist, can buy the skill Gypsy Curse, but are otherwise identical to humans. They're fluffed as being part of a separate culture of ridiculously outgoing and social people who all hang around together in tribes. In these tribes, you cannot betray, lie, or steal from one another, but people from outside of it are fair game. Seems to be designed for the Ren-faire roleplayers who already have quasi-Gypsy garb available to dress in.
  • Half-Ogres get extra hit points and can buy the skill Strong Arm, but have double cost for Scholarly skills. Amusingly enough, they are not related to ogres in any fashion (to avoid nasty implications and to keep ogres as monsters), but were named such because of how they looked. They're always fighting and attempting to establish a pecking order through this fighting, because they're not particularly civilized. Players are required to wear large, protruding fangs.
  • Half-orcs are mechanically identical to half-ogres. They are their own race - "presumably evolved from Orc/human hybrids" - which, again, removes any chance of there being unfortunate implications and keeps orcs solidly as bad guys with no moral ambiguity. Their culture is roughly the same as the half-ogres, but is painted green.
  • Hoblings are basically halflings/hobbits/gnomes, but off-brand. They can buy Resist Poison and the skill Hobling Dodge, and get half-off skills for Pick Locks and Disarm Traps. On the negative side, they can't be fighters, get fewer hit points at character creation, and can't use two-handed weapons. Culturally, they're short, love to get paid for things, and are laid-back. You need furry feet and hands, along with giant eyebrows, to be one of these guys.
  • Humans are boring as hell and get nothing interesting, in exchange for having no costuming requirements.
  • Mystic Wood Elves can buy Resist Charm and Break Charm, along with getting cheaper costs for the Craftsman skill, but they need to use a separate skill table. They're not really elves, but are theoretically evolved from elf/satyr hybridization - their costuming reflects this, as they need to have small horns and elf ears. Culturally, they're a member of one of three clans, they travel a lot and are secretive about their names, and they're required to buy magic as they level up, because they're magic.
  • Sarr are cat-people, and I dare you not to laugh when looking at the standard make-up. They can buy Resist Poison and have a Scenting ability, but cannot use blunt or ranged weapons. They live in a matriarchal society, with different clans representing different types of cat, and they tend to act like the cats they appear to be. Players are required to wear cat-nose prosthetics and dress like a particular hunting cat - male Lions need to have a mane, Panthers need to be black, etc. I recommend pulling up some pictures of the goofier-looking prosthetics - it's hard to take someone seriously when they're dressed like a cat-person and don't know how to do make-up.
  • Scavengers are identical to Sarr, except they trade the weapon restrictions for doubled cost to Scholarly skills. They're humanoids with animal features - rats, badgers, foxes, whatever, and you're required to clearly display these features, as well as role-play the characteristics of the animal you're dressed as. Three guesses as to how creepy this can get.

Now, I bet you can see a few problems with this - first off, good costuming is difficult as hell, and with so many races with disparate make-up requirements, there's a good chance you'll see someone with a ridiculous costume, shattering the illusion that you're running around in a pseudo-fantasy world. As anyone with make-up experience can tell you, making prosthetics look natural requires a decent amount of skill and practice. While all of these races create a tremendous amount of variety, it also creates a lot of strain on organizers and players - if you're aiming for a quality event, you either need a staff that knows how to train people on make-up skills or hard-and-fast rules on the quality of make-up allowed. This is, of course, a slippery road to fall down - when I cover Avegost, I'll be hitting the other end of this spectrum, colloquially known as "Stitch Nazis" - but in general, keeping up standards is A Good Thing.

There's also a note about in-game culture at the end - basically, NERO has some pre-existing cultures, but if you want to add something new, you need to run it by the Plot Committee before you can say it or you risk upsetting the delicate balance of the game world.

After talking about Races and Classes, the rulebook goes into the three game states.

Out of Game is any time you're not participating in the game, signified by a white headband. Bathrooms, some cabins, and showers are all OOG, and no one can do anything to you while you're not in the game, but likewise, you can't do anything in the game.

In Game is the default state. You're participating in the game, you can hit people and be hit, and things are neat. It diverts - rather jarringly - to a sudden discussion of armour and hit points, along with the definition of being alive, dying, and being dead. If you're knocked to exactly 0 hit points, you're unconscious and can recover to 1 after a minute, but if a blow would reduce you to below 0, then you go to -1 hit points and enter Dyingbegin your dying timer - one minute to receive First Aid or die. If someone doesn't manage to do that, then you're Dead - all of your effects vanish and only certain magic can revive you. You must lay on the ground for five minutes - after five minutes, your body magically disintegrates, you become a spirit, and only really, really powerful magic can revive you.

Of note in this section is the discussion on Killing Blows - you can automatically kill an incapacitated target (someone paralysed, held, unconscious, or immobilized) by holding a weapon up against them for a count of Killing Blow 1, Killing Blow 2, Killing Blow 3, <damage>. This brings them immediately to the Dead condition.

The third condition, Spirit, happens when you've been Dead for five minutes. You put on an out-of-game headband and report to the Resurrection Point to register that you've died. You can't interact with the world and you can only walk - no running ghosts. You can get resurrected at the Resurrection Point via a 5-minute ritual, re-appearing with no possessions or effects, but with full hit points and abilities. You get two guaranteed Resurrections, but after that, there's a chance something goes wrong and you permanently die, barring the powers of Money appealing to the organization for the resurrection of your character.

There's also a nice note about first-event deaths - if you're going to your first event, then there's no chance of permanent death, unless you're abusing things horribly. It's a good way to ensure that people get hooked and show up to at least two games.

Finally, we reach the Experience tables. Rather than awarding experience based on what your character accomplishes, you receive experience for attending events - depending on how long the event is, you multiply your character's current Build Points by the multiplier, and that's how many points you get. You can also pay 1 in-game silver per additional experience point, up to the amount that you would earn normally - allowing players to double the amount of experience gained at an event. This . . . is just a weird rule, as far as I'm concerned.

Finally, we get to the point in the book where it explains how many experience points you start with. You get 65 XP, which equals 30BP, which means that all players start at . . . second level.

That's right. Level one is pointless. Nobody starts at level one. Instead, you start at level two.

The table lists how many hit points you have at the level and how much build points cost in experience points for that level. This two-tiered system is kinda weird, and I'm definitely not a fan of it, as it introduces some odd artificial gaps in the system which we will doubtlessly plumb as we continue on.

Now that we've introduced the basics of NERO, we'll discuss the nature of skills, magic, and spells, also known as "Why is everyone yelling numbers and how do I do math in my head while swinging a sword?"

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


I remember NERO/boffer LARP. It was an excuse for nerds to get some sun. The spell packets were neat. I do remember really light weapons so you could tap people quickly multiple times.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Kai Tave posted:

I remember reading years ago an essay by one of the White Wolf writers who worked on oChangeling...first or second edition, I can't even remember...where he talked about how, as an experiment, he went and brought in a bunch of toys to the WW offices one day, action figures and Transformers and stuff, and he set them all out and invited everyone to come around and play with them. Y'know, like you do...

I remember that essay. I think it was in the 1E Player's Guide, which also had the rules for not using the collectible cards (that were vanishingly rare around here) for spellcasting. I remember it being awfully self-indulgent, even then.

There was another one, titled something like 'Why We Need Fairies', that I liked more. It made them excuses for tradition, the hammer that comes down when you don't go through all your cultural rituals. It made them a handy wink and nudge for when you went out and did something transgressive, but tacitly acceptable: arranged marriage? Sneak out for a night of passion with your trueheart before the wedding, then claim the fairies swept you away, and Bob's your uncle. Thought it was an interesting way to frame things... but then, I didn't even blink at WoD: Gypsies at that point either.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


pkfan2004 posted:

Every time I hear about oWoD Changelings versus nWoD Changelings it's always the same old song and dance about how it was a "light-hearted, happy series about finding beauty in creativity in imagination~ that become the darkest and grimmest series about the destruction of your identity and self and picking up the pieces and you may never truly be free". But now that I'm actually looking at oWoD Changeling holy poo poo I am glad I never saw this stuff in highschool.

I'll just add my two cents to the "oChangeling sucks" pile here:

The people you hear from are not good reviewers. Not hardly. Lost is, fundamentally, about the bittersweet nature of existence, likely maturity as well. Your Durance sucked, it's why you decided to face the Thorns and try to come back to Earth. But the game starts with one of the greatest victories of your entire existence as a changeling; escaping from an emotionally abusive god, and showing enough of you was left to recognize your abuser was exactly that despite his supernatural punch. And you've emerged stronger for it, literally if not emotionally.

The real trial of the game is to avoid squandering that win. But then again, that's not actually that hard; the Courts, even the Winter, whose entire song and dance is "we're sad, and we make other people sad :emo:" are all functioning people with very stable societies of their own. That's not a sign of people who can't heal.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



What's interesting that oChangeling is basically "how you remember being a little kid to be like", where everything was *~IMAGINATION~* and days lasted forever and you could pretend your stick was a sword and that rock was a dragon and and and

But nChangeling isn't about that. Yes, to a degree it is, but it's about what your childhood was really like. Yeah you played pretend and spent a whole summer day running around, but nChangeling also reminds you that between all that were bullies, school, chores, responsibilities. It was the game that said "you know, your childhood wasn't that great 24/7."

It's not surprising that a lot of people would resent being told that their childhood may not have been magically perfect.

Really, the oChangeling -> nChangeling tone shift is best summarized by the Twilight Zone episode The Incredible World of Horace Ford, which is about a manchild who gets a chance to relive his childhood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enJ8EsqaX5E

fake edit: really I just wanted to link to the episode, because it really is relevant to what we're talking about here.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Other reasons that nChangeling is the infinitely superior game: Child Satyr.

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citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS






I've had quite a few people over the years try to talk me in to playing Changeling the Dreaming, and each time I take a look at the drat book I just have this visceral reaction to it and want to throw it across the room. I don't, of course, since I'm reading PDFs and that would involve tossing my laptop, but the desire is still there.

It just seems so off that I can make a Fisher King concept work perfectly well in, say, Mage but any attempts to do so in CtD end up failing.

AmiYumi posted:

Of course, my favorite part of oWoD Changeling is the Redcaps (the "literally hunger+violence made flesh" splat), so I'm not really the target audience for most of what they did. Redcaps had a good kithbook, though!

Redcaps are what people tend to suggest when trying to get me to play (that and Sidhe). I just don't see the drat point - they tend to come across as bloody for blood's sake, which I suppose is the idea but god drat if it doesn't feel if even that is trying to god drat hard. They're also what people tend to offer up as "no really it's a dark loving game" and even that reeks of people trying to swivel away from the matter at hand, kind of like how you have people trying to play up the "No really Children of Gaia are amazing warriors and fight just as much as anyone else they are not just hippies!" thing in an attempt to apologize for just how terrible the tribebooks are written.

Mors Rattus posted:

Other reasons that nChangeling is the infinitely superior game: Child Satyr.

Thank god most chats get around that by going "no character younger than 18" but then you have people bitching about how it's not true to the spirit of the game.

What I'm trying to say is "gently caress CtD".

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