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Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Still though, it's pretty telling that the almost-immediate reaction to nMage's "Atlantean" backstory even from the writers' side of things was a unified backing away from that concept throughout the supplementary material and plenty of wordcount devoted to downplaying, reworking, or flat-out ignoring it. I think it's pretty fair to say that Atlantis was something of a flop.

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hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


Cyrion - Tanith Lee posted:

“Zilumi herself, forsaking her life of luxury and witchcraft, followed Hokannen into the desert, where, to demonstrate her heart’s change, she lopped her hair and left her fine clothes lying on the sands, and even her magic instruments she left, this mirror among them, through which she had worked the worst enchantments of all.”

Cyrion had not moved. “I know the tale. Many claim to own remnants of Zilumi’s possessions.”

“But this mirror,” said Juved softly, “this mirror will prove to you that it is a piece of wickedness.”

The watcher from the tower had by now resumed sufficient equilibrium to advance to the doorway. Reaching in and grasping Cyrion’s arm, he guided the young man from the bedroom, and back into the outer chamber.

“Did you feel the soul sucked from you, most elegant swordsman?”

Cyrion’s colour was reestablished. Blithely he said: “What gives you to suppose I have a soul?”

Chapter 7: Sword and Sorcery Gaming

Hen'r the Long-Hailed posted:

Thus he spoke to them: "Come here and kill me then, if indeed you can. But know this - within these walls, death ends nothing."

This chapter describes typical Sword and Sorcery settings. The introduction points out that not everything in here needs to be used; most authors don't use all of them at once, but you shouldn't ignore too much of it if you want to retain the Sword and Sorcery feeling - though of course, if that's not a priority then use as little or as much as you wish.

A typical Sword and Sorcery setting is a harsh place, where violence and cruelty are fairly common. The setting may or may not be lawless, but even when they aren't, the laws are typically for the benefit of the rich, or you may be so far from civilisation that the lawmakers can't really enforce it. Decent people do exist - and will show up frequently in stories from these settings - they are very much the minority; they're there to emphasise how selfish most people.

Meanwhile, the gods are typically distant. There are no miracles (unless you count Sorcery), and the gods are not generally seen as benevolent - they're actually seen as beings to be appeased.

By default, magic is real, though it may not be. Even when it isn't, it's certainly believed in. Typically, magic comes from a particularly powerful being with its own agenda - almost never one with humanity's best interests at heart. The people using it are very rarely nice people - at best, they tend to be shady and untrustworthy and are commonly the worst that humanity has to offer. As such, Sorcerers are rather good villains, and are only marginally suitable as player characters.

Also, magic is typically subtle and takes a long time to cast - with the exception of Witchfire and the Duel of Wills. Scrying, conversing with the dead and magical enslavement are all staples of the genre. They typically don't throw lightning from their fingers or mass produce magical items. In fact, magical items always have a story of their own, and are often the focus of an adventure - or even a series of adventures.

Racially, almost everybody is human in these settings - dwarves and elves are incredibly rare, if they exist at all, and are almost never familiar with human society in any way. Monsters aren't meant to be slaughtered en masse; typically you'll only see one in any given adventure, and the adventure will be to kill that monster. More often that not, if monsters appear in groups, the sensible solution is to beat a very loving hasty retreat.

The heroes of Sword and Sorcery stories have certain things in common. For one thing, they're typically strangers, outcasts or outlaws; they don't often have any ties to the location the story takes place in. Also, they're typically of humble descent; commoners, former slaves and barbarians are the most common. When one comes from the higher classes, they'll usually have fallen from grace.

A hero lives by brawn and cunning; with a self suffiency that puts them head and shoulders over the rest of society. He's a man of action - when decision is called for, he doesn't hesitate. This doesn't mean that he's hasty, but that he's unafraid to act when needed. Also, as he exists in a harsh world, he himself must be harsh to not only survive but to prosper. The biggest difference between the hero and the villain, however, is that a hero treats others as they treat him. A merchant who tries to cheat him is fair game to be stolen from later (as is a complete stranger), while a friend, or even an honourable enemy, are typically treated with respect, and will almost never be stabbed in the back. The hero should never cross the line into truly antisocial behaviour.

As for the stories themselves, well, since the heroes aren't exactly knights in shining armour, the antagonists are rarely truly vicious people with nefarious plans that must be stopped; more often than not, they're either rivals or personal enemies - or maybe someone who was just unlucky enough to cross the party's path. Horror can provide a better model for stories involving monsters than traditional fantasy does. The locales, meanwhile, are typically either isolated places or highly decadent urban areas. The Antagonists should have their own plans that they will be enacting - if they PCs wish to stop them, then they need to be proactive. They need to act, and act decisively.

Next, there's a list of twenty tips for running Sword and Sorcery campaigns.

1: Go get some books - there's a bibliography in the back of the book, and this is a good place to get inspiration.
2: The fray's the thing - combat is the heart of this game, and should be run descriptively. Rather than simply naming a manoeuvre and a location, you should describe your actions.
3: Do it with style.
4: Subtlety is not a virtue - everything should be larger than life.
5: Everyone has a past
6: Don't loot the bodies - it's crass, and if you need anything you can usually get hold of it.
7: The entire world's a cliche - don't be afraid of stereotypes; play them up.
8: If it's not important, it happens off screen.
9: A game in motion stays in motion - if things slow down, introduce something to speed them up again.
10: It's not just about combat - what happens between the fights should be just as important as the fights themselves.
11: Mooks - don't try to make them tougher; they're meant to die in droves.
12: Eat your mooks; they're good for you - have a bowl of sweets that represents the mooks. If you kill a mook, have a sweet.
13: Let your players shine - don't worry about things like realism, because authors and movie makers don't...
14: Let your players fail - Players can smell a rigged game a mile off. The risk of failure makes the success all the sweeter.
15: Great villains never die: they come back in sequels!
16: Pain a picture - be detailed when describing the scene.
17: Let the players roll the dice - in large combats, the players might start feeling bored if they don't currently have the limelight. One way to avoid this is to have a player roll for the enemies.
18: Keep your villains on their toes - their mooks are trying to become chief lieutenant, and their lieutenants are trying to become the new boss, so they'll often be willing to sell out their superiors if given the motivation.
19: Give your encounters a hook - Fights should all have something interesting about them, whether it's the location or the tactics. There should never be a fight for the sake of having a fight.
20: Give your players small mysteries that they can solve, or not, as they wish. This means that if you have a larger one as part of an adventure, even the ones that don't really like mysteries shouldn't be too upset by it.

Finally, we have what they call The Rule of Iron: the rules of the game are not written in stone, and may be changed by the group as a whole, but not by the GM by himself. The whole group has to agree to change the rule before it can be changed. However, even if the rest of the group want to change a rule, the GM can veto the change.

Here endeth chapter seven. I hope you all enjoyed; the next chapter details the world of Xoth; a sample Sword and Sorcery setting.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Kai Tave posted:

Still though, it's pretty telling that the almost-immediate reaction to nMage's "Atlantean" backstory even from the writers' side of things was a unified backing away from that concept throughout the supplementary material and plenty of wordcount devoted to downplaying, reworking, or flat-out ignoring it. I think it's pretty fair to say that Atlantis was something of a flop.
"Show Me On The Doll Where Atlantis Touched You" is my favourite RPGnet thread title of all time.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Donovan is so disappointed in you people.

Baofu
Jun 15, 2007



This may just be me, but "Your Powars come from Atlantis" sits a lot better with me than "Your Powars come from embracing a stereotype."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Lemme just preface this by saying that I like SLA Enterprises and I like the treatment Traveller gave it. That's how I found this whole series in the first place. It's a game about urban horror filtered through the lens of Scotland in the 90s and it just rolls with its own take on the urban horror genre and it's...I don't know, I just like it.

Unhallowed Metropolis, I don't like so much. And that's what I'm gonna talk to you about.



UNHALLOWED METROPOLIS is a "gas mas chic" tabletop RPG set in London in 2105 where Neo-Victorians eke out an existence on a dead/dying/undead Earth where the dead walk and everything really should have given up the ghosts years ago but they endured. If this sounds like a good time to you, it's really kinda...not.

See, in SLA or Warhammer 40K or even Paranoia, there's hope. In SLA, if you work hard enough, you can leave Mort and go somewhere else or take certain drugs to make your own new universe nested within the World of Progress' reality. In Warhammer, there's Tzeentch and the idea that one day the wars will stop somehow, even if everyone but one group dies. And in Paranoia, there's hope that you'll have fun being a little bit crazy and maybe you can be a High Programmer one day (and you might! There's a sourcebook for that).

There's no real hope in Unhallowed Metropolis. London is a city on life support besieged by the undead and it'll take one bad failure to bring the last bastion of (British) civilization tumbling down into Hell. In fact, being corrupt and having darkness in your heart is a character feature. The game draws its inspiration from 19th century authors like Poe and Mary Shelley and it sure as hell nicks its characterizations from Lord Byron. What few innocent, what few good remain in Unhallowed Metropolis are given death quickly and early in their life. Only the bastards survive.

So why the hell review this game? Recently I got my hands on the revised edition which cuts out about, oh, seventy pages from the core book (which was a smidge over 400). I read the first edition a bit back and I want to share this new edition and share what they did/didn't change from the original (because at a glance they sure as hell didn't change some poo poo). And who knows, maybe you'll like it too. It sounded cool to me too at first. It's just that the execution needs a good polishing and there's gonna be a lot of headscratching and mild confusion pretty drat fast.

Chapter One: Unhallowed Ground (or a brief history of how everything went to poo poo, what the world is like, what other places are like, not actually that brief it's like 68 pages).

Chapter Two: Playing God (or making them characters and making them assholes, killers and thieves).

Chapter Three: The Formula (or how to play the game).

Chapter Four: Tools of the Trade (or your standard money and equipment chapter).

Chapter Five: Anatomy of Horror (or the nitty gritty of all them dead things what want to kill your fancy British rear end dead).

Chapter Six: Miracles of Science (or mad science and how it's all shiny and retro and Victorian).

Chapter Seven: Smoke and Mirrors (or the GM chapter).

Appendix A/B/C/D: Neo-Victorian Glossary/Bibliography/Index/Deathwatch Uniforms.

I'll be back to tuck into Chapter One as best as I can later. Also I'll be trying to show some of the art; they hired a bunch of pretty good artists and even in black and white it's kinda nice.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I always wondered if Unhallowed Metropolis was a good way to play something like Fallen London, whose creators were very scrupulous about not degenerating into steampunk cliche.

Other than lurid porno, I can't think of any cover that could turn me off a game faster than a guy in a gas mask and a top hat.

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


Halloween Jack posted:

I always wondered if Unhallowed Metropolis was a good way to play something like Fallen London, whose creators were very scrupulous about not degenerating into steampunk cliche.

Speaking as someone who knows the summary version...it isn't. In Fallen London, there's hope and a sense that if you try hard enough things will work out.

In UH, the world's already impossible to fix, and is already running on fumes of existence. As mentioned, loving Warhammer is more optimistic and cheery than this setting. And steampunk cliches everywhere (*cough*combat corsets*cough*)!

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I remember someone involved with UM posting here in Trad Games about the game a long while ago. I also remember photographs of fans in very elaborate costume, that were apparently offered up for use in one of the books.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



To clarify a few things:

1: That's actually a zombie on the cover. Hard to tell but he's all rotted down to bones with his gas mask and top hat. Oh, excuse me, "Animate". Being all Victorian as hell means that they have different names for things.

2: Despite its many shortcomings, it's actually not really true steampunk. Or I wouldn't consider it as such. Gothic, sure. Victorian as hell, yeah. Yeah there's corsets and gas masks. But steam doesn't really factor into it. Everything is coal or oil powered, it's all based on technology that started to come about at the beginning of the 20th century, the rise of gasoline and diesel and less of a reliance on Industrial Revolution means of power. And pollution is a major problem. Trains, zeppelins and navy warships are some of the most important means of travel and then from there you get into Tesla stuff and Victorian pseudo-science. It's a weird niche and I guess you could call it Victorian Punk or Industrial Punk or whatever.

3: The setting and mechanics are really not suitable for running anything than Unhallowed Metropolis. There's a bunch of other places you could be in game but there are no other books or bits that support them, and if you were going to be there then you would be using a different system. It really only fits its main setting where London Is The Only Thing That Matters.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


In a similar vein, there is Hot War by Contested Ground Studios. It's set in a London where the Cold War suddenly went real and extradimensional science was unleashed. It's a continuation of the Cold City game, which was about a multinational secret police force hunting down Nazi experiments in Berlin while trying to figure out who to trust and who is going to betray you. And by experiments, I mean walking dead, victims of super soldier experiments and horrors ripped from other dimensions and loosed. I also want to believe A|State is linked, but I have no proof.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I'll take a look at Hot War later because that does sound sorta neat. And on a related note, the people behind Unhallowed Metropolis made another game called The Day After Ragnarok, where the Allies nuke Jormungandr after the Nazis try to cause Ragnarok and the resulting giant snake corpse lands on the Earth and poisons most of the Americas and some of the ocean. So it's pretty safe to say that the Atomic Overmind wheelhouse is history-derailing apocalypses where the world is being slowly poisoned to death.

Anyway, Unhallowed Metropolis Chapter One.



CHAPTER ONE: UNHALLOWED GROUND PART ONE

Imagine a pumpkin that's been taken off the vine. Imagine you're taking that sucker home and you're gonna carve it and put it on your porch. And for a while, it's a nice looking squash. It's healthy, it's holding up well, it's looking good. But eventually that pumpkin is gonna get a little bit of mold and a little splotchy. And that mold is gonna spread and so will the splotches. Ever see a pumpkin that should've been thrown in the compost heap months ago? It's flat, it's putrid, the mold and decay is rampant. It's not even a solid object anymore, it's a wet, sloppy, bacteria-ridden mess. And it's just the gradual process of decay and decline. That's what happened to Earth in Unhallowed Metropolis. The pumpkin started to go bad.


Map of the United Kingdom, 2105. Over 70% of the land can no longer be inhabited by living humans.

The book starts off with a minor recap of the Victorian Era before it moves into the first stage of the new history: The Plague Years. On December 9th, 1905, the dead rose from their graves all around the world and started attacking the living. The big question is why and really nobody knows why. They ran rampant through the cities and the countryside, and no country was spared from the attack of the walking dead. Within days the cities across England were mostly abandoned as the military beat a desperate retreat to safety with as many civilians as they could rescue, destroying the bridges of London along the way, firing the guns of the Royal Navy and lighting fires in the streets in an attempt to bring the zombies (aka Animates) down. But a burning Animate can still run around and raise all sorts of burning hell and that's pretty much what happened. The survivors that didn't follow the British military ended up isolating themselves in abandoned factories and places of industry in the cities of England, using them to build weapons and fortifications. The rest ended up in refugee camps policed by the army and were rife with outbreaks, starvation and disease.

By 1908, 18 million Brits (out of a historical 419 million) are dead from a mixture of The Plague, starvation, disease and mass hysteria and the fate of England is uncertain. Parliament passes laws that say private property is suspended for a while so the survivors can use the factories as bunkers. As the survivors start to arm themselves and fight back, the British military starts instituting laws of hygiene, executing any soldiers or civilians who might be infected and start fighting to reclaim the countryside to help feed and make space for the civilians. And for the first time since the Plague (and starting the beginning of a recurring trend) poo poo gets worse.

How so? Well, on top of Animates, ghosts start freely roaming around the Earth. And on top of the ghosts, there's The Blight. The Blight, like the zombies, began to spread slowly on every continent of the world. The ground started becoming dirty and wrong, any crops grown on it came back twisted and mutated, anyone dead on Blighted soil comes back from the dead faster and of course it's slowly spreading. And when you're living on a series of islands like the United Kingdom, usable land is kind of a big deal! The resulting earth, known as The Wasteland, is the natural home of free roaming undead, ghosts and all manners of beasts and creatures that have resulted from eating mutant flora and living there. And on TOP of that, some people start gaining minor psychic powers. Which will be addressed if I ever get around to the expansion book.

So fun fun fun times all around for the people of England. All of this happening made the survivors panic and start building their walls higher and higher and the military starts focusing on retaking cities, surrounding them, cleaning them out of the undead using fire and munitions, knocking them to the ground and rebuilding. By 1927 most of the country is clear of Animates and the military tries to retake Leeds in 1931. After successfully cleaning out the city, one soldier gets bitten and tells nobody. By the time the builders show up a week later, the soldiers holding the city are all Animates hungry for more flesh and they have to retake Leeds again. They finally succeed in 1946.

FYI, from here on out, this happens a lot.

By 1935 the army launches an attack on London's West End in the start of the Reclamation, an act of taking London back from the Animates to use it as a new city to fortify against the walking dead. The Reclamation effort institutes the new plan the army follows in addition to killing anyone with a cough. Sections of the city are squared off, secured, cleared of undead, demolished, reopened to citizens and rebuilt. In 1940 the Labour Representation Committee is formed to help organize the rebuilding effort, putting refugees to work and reintegrating strongholds of survivors and their factories into society. Meanwhile, scientists and alchemists work on trying to create a super soldier immune to the Plague and once again poo poo gets worse. Their efforts create werewolves. No, really. The Thropes end up being immune to the dangers of the Wasteland and the infectious bite of the Animates but they're completely feral and their bite is infectious.

It's not until 1959 that London is a city free of the Animates.



Even More Bad Stuff: 1959-2015

London, as it stands, is a big ol' megacity of walled sectors, each one with gates and locks and security systems to give each sector the ability to lock down in case of an outbreak. Current procedure for an outbreak is to seal a sector, send in the Deathwatch, kill everyone infected or compromised, raze the compromised buildings and send workers in to rebuild. It's worked ever since the reclamation of the city and it's gonna keep being used until the city collapses.

The original London was quickly demolished and rebuilt with high walls surrounding the metropolis with farms and coal mines on the outside still being in operation to help provide power and food for the city. Every year the city would grow outwards a bit more and the usable land would decrease as the Blight spreads. To feed the city, scientists invent a mono-cell protein food that is grown in tanks (for the record, this is in 1953) and hooked up to the sewer system as a filtration system, growing and subsisting on plants and food from the farms along with sewage to create a mass-grown food for the populace. Called "scop", it's baked into cakes or porridge and it keeps the water drinkable and the people fed, even if it's greasy, tasteless and fed by poo poo-water. Of course, the farms are getting smaller and smaller and making less nutrient-rich food to put into the scop and of course there are rumors that the scop is being fed cadavers to beef it up. Which besides being a Soylent Green rip-off, it's a really terrible idea to do that when any corpse runs the risk of being a zombie after death. This is beginning a big, long trend of "necessary life aspects that are doomed to fail".

To compound making things worse, hordes of ravenous Animates are lead by sapient Animates wielding control over the others, crashing thousands of them against the walls of London and using the pile to get over the wall to attack. This is the first of many such attacks lead by Animate overlords and Deathwatch is formed in response, five divisions of soldiers and mercenaries welded together into a national public defense force. Deathwatch, however, is underfunded and in response to the response the citizens of London are allowed to be as armed as they want to be and can now apply as bounty hunters/freelance operatives (or Undertakers). Undertakers are licensed to hunt the undead and bring back proof of their eradication in exchange for a bounty.

While this is happening, the factories are made private again and the aristocracy immediately resumes putting their feet on the throat of the working class and middle class. As time goes on the industrialists keep making more and more bank rebuilding the city over and over and they have those stuffy old labor laws undone so women and children can work more at the factories. However, the main problem is that the beast of industry roars into motion again, requiring more and more coal and oil to feed it. The coal mines, as a whole, are mostly in the Wastelands. You can do the math there. The majority of the miners are criminals forced into 20 year shifts in the mines, and the mines in the Wastelands are the most dangerous holes in the ground. There's a drat high turnover rate and an outbreak in the mines would bring London to its knees. And that's two possible causes of death.



And on TOP of this is the rise of vampirism in the city. Vampires are rough-around-the-edges, Old World brutes that hunger for blood, tear people in half and are spread by a STD that acts like tuberculosis then brings them back as vampires. The diseases ended up spreading like wildfire for a bit when a whole mess of hookers caught it and passed it on, dead and alive. The main reason why the vampires didn't up and kill everyone is that the majority of the citizens are armed and know how to shoot to kill, so they tended to mistake vampires for muggers and thugs. Vampires are kept in asylums and studied for a while before Parliament decides that vampires no longer constitute as people so that the upper class cannot become vampires and keep all of their stuff forever. So as of 1986, vampires can be hunted and their ashes can be redeemed for a bounty.

The rich end up getting the last laugh when life-extension medical procedures are announced by scientists and begin funneling their money into funding them. The procedures completely restore life and vitality, but every additional shot brings less and less potency. If you have the money, you can live to be 300. Not like there's gonna be anything left in 150 years.

To add even more problems onto the city of London, doctors attempted to bring the dead back to life through scientific means and instead created the occasional rampaging alchemical superman. Reanimating the dead with alchemy quickly became illegal but a thing that still happens. Also illegal is creating wholly new forms of life. One such doctor attempted to create a new race of humanoid that could survive the Wastelands and breathe the polluted air of London and instead created a child-murdering sociopath that was killed alongside its maker in an act of mob justice.



And mob justice is a problem that keeps escalating as unemployment rises, scop runs out, coal runs low and the rich get richer. Anarchy and terrorism is a constant threat Deathwatch tries to keep an eye on, cells of bombers and attackers eschewing any affiliation or ideology, dedicated to bringing down the great city of London with their bare hands. It's completely, absolutely suicidal and it makes no sense, but they're irrational and no longer fear death, and for every one cell brought down two more spring up in its place. Again, another thing that might bring the death of London.

Finally, there's the fog of London. Ever since the city was reclaimed, it's been running on coal. And ever since the coal fires started burning near constantly, it's the law that the majority of dead citizens must be cremated to prevent any big outbreak. The mixture of the coal smoke and burning dead has added a sharp layer of teeth to London's fog, creating a toxic, choking ashy smog. Anyone outside has to wear a respirator of some kind, from a gas mask to a wet rag on your mouth and nose for the poor. Most buildings have airlocks that vent the outside air when going in and out to prevent it from getting in, and there are also fine mesh nets put up as physical filters that have never been replaced in the slums of the East End. The fog causes ash and poisonous chemicals to build up in the mouths of the citizens, annihilates the immune system and causes the majority of respiratory illnesses in addition to acid rain. In the winter, when the cold is bad enough, the fires burn hotter and longer and the city practically goes dormant, choked under a thick layer of smog that tends to kill poorer citizens, who then reanimate and go on a killing spree. The only thing that comes close to winter smog is when there's no smog, when the mere presence of sunlight and clean air causes the citizens to panic and riot.

Oh and on top of that the Thames is a toxic waste dump that all of the factories dump their garbage into, giving it a thick deadly miasma that can combine with the fog into a killer gas.

So far, things that can go wrong and destroy London:
  • The Wasteland grows too big, everyone mutates or dies, city brought to its knees.
  • The coal runs out/the mines cannot be mined, city brought to knees.
  • The farms can no longer provide to the scop/too many tainted corpses in the scop, mass starvation/death leads to mass outbreak, city brought to its knees.
  • Killer fog smothers citizens, causes big enough outbreak, city brought to its knees.
  • Animate leaders smother city in army, city brought to its knees.
  • Mass vampire/thrope uprising, horde descends on/emerges from inside London, city brought to its knees.
  • Terrorist attack destabilizes London, city brought to its knees.
  • Out-of-control alchemical experiments dooms everyone somehow, city brought to its knees.

I'm not even done with the first chapter.

Next time is Part Two: Life in London and the fact that other countries have managed to survive.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 05:05 on Jan 18, 2014

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Hey I can't seem to find an Empire of Satanis write-up in the wiki.

Like, is this really a thing? Am I the only one who remembers this?

quote:

The thundering crash of dueling void sabers erupts over the ominous chanting of a grotto’s dark sabbath. Two bestial lords, inhuman, grotesque, and satanic slash at each other with blades of chartreuse magical energy from the void itself. A masked onlooker in yellow robes casts a spell as the ululation of strange tribal demons produces yet more sorcery!

Welcome my bloodied, chaotic, and slimy disciples… you have walked through a door to H. P. Lovecraft’s version of Hell by way of a surreal dreamscape. You are diabolic champions who are destined to be as Godlike as your emperor Satanis. But don’t start to feel all smug and superior because at one time your kind were the feeble, unwanted, unloved, beaten, abused, spit upon, hated, and feared dregs of humanity. Citizens of the human realms who practiced sorcery were banished from the universe. Each time you are reminded of your struggle for power, a blind volatile rage takes hold. A twisted sense of dark purpose hides behind a decadent masque of revenge fantasy.

Slowly the gelatinous, chattering, translucent, viscous, slime drenched, unholy, bilious green monstrosity withdraws from the cyclopean, nightmare city of Frier. It peers into the decayed walls of "reality", fatigued by its vile sorcery. Alone and unobserved, except for his sword wielding companions, the demonic entity effects an unnamable change upon the universe beyond the Empire of Satanis the Black God! Now imagine the creature described above is You...

Emphasis not mine, by the way.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Down With People posted:

Hey I can't seem to find an Empire of Satanis write-up in the wiki.
I'm pretty sure the author put a curse on me. Didn't work, I am like best buds with Tsathoggua.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Eight adjectives in one sentence used to describe one thing? I am immediately sold on the prospect that this sounds enjoyably horrible.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



pkfan2004 posted:

I'll take a look at Hot War later because that does sound sorta neat. And on a related note, the people behind Unhallowed Metropolis made another game called The Day After Ragnarok, where the Allies nuke Jormungandr after the Nazis try to cause Ragnarok and the resulting giant snake corpse lands on the Earth and poisons most of the Americas and some of the ocean. So it's pretty safe to say that the Atomic Overmind wheelhouse is history-derailing apocalypses where the world is being slowly poisoned to death.

Hey now, The Day After Ragnarok is cool. It got reviewed here at one point and from what everyone has said who's read it, it's like Thundarr The Barbarian in the 1950s.


pkfan2004 posted:

Anyway, Unhallowed Metropolis Chapter One.

First off, where's the rest of the world? There's been transatlantic submarine cable for at least fifty years prior to the Plague Years. Also, with the Royal Navy being mentioned, you'd think there would at least be some word about the Continent and the British holdings around the world.

Edit: didn't read your last bit, sorry.

Vienna Circlejerk
Jan 28, 2003

The great science sausage party!


pkfan2004 posted:

I'm not even done with the first chapter.

My character kills himself. Well, that was fun.

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





I picked that book up mostly as inspiration and I cannot for the life of me figure out how on earth you would actually play a session of it.

I'd also made the same mistake mentioned earlier where I thought it might work for some homebrew akin to Fallen London. It's just... it's just not man.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


pkfan2004 posted:

Eight adjectives in one sentence used to describe one thing? I am immediately sold on the prospect that this sounds enjoyably horrible.

I've thought about doing a write-up before, but to do that I would have to get a copy, and I was afraid I'd have to give Darrick Dishaw actual money.

I don't want to give Darrick Dishaw money.

But it turns out it's free on Lulu so if people wanna see more, I'm down with it.

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.


Down With People posted:

I've thought about doing a write-up before, but to do that I would have to get a copy, and I was afraid I'd have to give Darrick Dishaw actual money.

I don't want to give Darrick Dishaw money.

But it turns out it's free on Lulu so if people wanna see more, I'm down with it.

Then stop talking about it and start reviewing it.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Empire Of Satanis: Kicked Out Of The Church Of Satan For Being Too Satanic


I think this is meant to be the cover art, but it's not on the book. It's just kind of there on the Lulu page.

About The Author


To really get Empire Of Satanis, you need to be brought up to speed on its history and the background of its creator, one Darrick Dishaw.


Look at this fuckin guy

Darrick Dishaw is a loving loon. He's been haunting the occult world for years as Venger Satanis, the founder and Head Culty of the Cult Of Cthulhu. The main beliefs of the cult – as far as I can tell from the awful website – are a blend of satanism, chaos magic and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. With this unusual melange of esoteric philosophies, he has been laughed out of every gathering of magic weirdos that he's tried to contact. He published a book on his beliefs, which according to one Amazon review liberally steals from other books on satanism. He tried to apply for a leadership role in the Church of Satan, which decided he was too much of a wanker to be part of their organisation.

He is also a big RPG guy, and that's why we have Empire Of Satanis.

Dishaw went to a stack of RPG forums to aggressively push his game on people while refusing to listen to any advice. Most notably, he gave review copies to peeps on RPG.net, which (naturally) led to them publishing negative reviews, which led to him starting a series of huge pissing matches where he made every possible mistake you could make in response to honest criticism.

The highlight of this was Dishaw casting a loving curse on everyone who disliked his game:

darrick3909, RPG.net forums posted:

Hail Satan! Lord of the Pit! King of Hell! Ruler of the Earth! Master of the Abyss! I open the unknowable doorways and touch the violet flame, drink the revitalizing blood and break the skulls of those who cross Him or His brothers. I call upon the most vicious demons of Hell to intervene. From this night forth, you will be plagued by self-doubt, weakness, failure, hopelessness, hunger, pain, loss, insecurity, and envy. Nothing can save you and no one will come to your aid. All who have befriended you will now desert you in your hour of need.

In the name of the Ancient Ones, I curse those who tear down Empire of Satanis! May Satan have no mercy whatsoever upon your miserable souls.

Hail Satan!
So it is done!


Darrick Dishaw
http://www.cultofcthulhu.net

Which eventually led to his ban.

Despite this, Dishaw went on to release a sourcebook for the game (Satanis Unbound) before going quiet. I guess he spent the next five years or so working on his cult and personal life before releasing some non-RPG books, all of which you can get off of Lulu for free if you're really curious. He's got a wife and a kid now? Good for them, they all look healthy.

Last year, he made his triumphant return to the RPG industry. He slunk back into RPG.net, started a groggy OSR blog and released a couple of D&D sourcebooks which look pretty bad. He also ran a successful Kickstarter project called The Islands Of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, which you should definitely take a look at if you want a taste of what you're in for.

What you should take away from all this is that Darrick Dishaw is a man who takes himself very seriously. He takes his writing very seriously. He takes the Cult Of Cthulhu very seriously. This is why is RPG product is so unbelievably poo poo.

Next: The true Satanis starts here.

mmj
Dec 22, 2006

I've always been a bit confrontational

I don't think I've ever posted in this thread, but I've followed it for quite a while, and I would really, really LOVE to see the rest of the Day After Ragnarok review finished. It appeals to the mythology geek and the budding tabletop geek in me, and whoever was talking about finishing it I would really appreciate the person that started that review finishing it because I liked your review style. I hope this doesn't sound like a random passerby begging for more skilled players to work for them, but this thread led to me starting a paranoia game for my friends and joining a shadow run game so I love hearing great systems with amazing fluff I can draw more people into trying it. anyways, TL;DR of this is you are all doing good things and I'm loving despite being new to the scene, thanks for all you've done to provide me with good newbie friendly stuff and warn me off of the creepy poo poo. Please don't let this thread ever stop.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


If you're ever wondering how to represent the Occult Underground, read any biographical information at all about Church of Satan types.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



London is eternal. The metropolis is a living, breathing city, constantly growing and reinventing itself under the strains of tradition and pragmatism. With a population of nearly nine million souls within the breadth of its fortifications, the city itself is divided into twenty-eight boroughs which constitute greater London and its outlying suburbs. London, the center of the Neo-Victorian world, is the greatest city on Earth. In its two-thousand-year history, it has survived countless calamities, including fire, pestilence and civil unrest.

Just two minor points of note: the population of all of the British Empire, in 1900, was about 419 million. There's only about nine million left. Every time there's a major outbreak in a district, "only" 1-3 thousand die minimum. Either they didn't do as much math as they thought they did or they're hosed harder than they realize. Also if London is the safest place on Earth, that says a lot doesn't it? Either way, time for more Unhallowed Metropolis!



CHAPTER ONE: UNHALLOWED GROUND PART TWO

So I really had to split this in thirds because this is so full of fluff and backstory. There was a LOT more in the first edition of the book, which went a lot more in depth with the history of food riots, anarchic bombings and political disputes and law decisions and even then it's still pretty drat heavy. This time around we're gonna focus on a more in-depth look at London.

So there's a giant money gap in between the social classes. The rich have airlocks for their doors, the poor have to wear wet rags over their faces constantly indoors. Malnutrition and starvation is rampant in certain districts, the pollution literally kills, everyone's armed, sickness like cholera and tuberculosis still spreads and some citizens decide to take up serial killing to pass the time. But hey, there's no gender discrimination and racism anymore; women have been Prime Ministers and racism doesn't matter much when you're facing down the apocalypse. Alpha Complex looks well-adjusted compared to Neo-Victorian London.

THE WEST END (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3j2NYZ8FKs): The West End is home to Parliament, the Palace, the upper class and the aristocrats. Seeing as how the Royal Family is still in power, the West End is the heart of power in London. This means that they're rich with certain luxuries their ancestors worked hard for them to get and they repay that hard work with being assholes. The locals rarely leave and live in well-fortified manors, using manpower to control their affairs in the rest of the city.

THE EAST END: The East End is basically cursed. There is so much bad history, restless ghosts and misery there that it's responsible for the majority of the outbreaks the city faces. London refuses to close its borders, taking in any immigrants from any nation, and they tend to end up in the slums of the East End in a rowhouse. There's barely any running water, basic sanitation is a joke and flooding from the Thames and the fog tends to kill people often. And to top it off the police pretty much refuse to go there anymore and let them police themselves. The East End has a lot in common with a Cannibal Sector but with better construction.

ROOKERIES: Rookeries are ramshackle derelict buildings that end up leaning together to form a rats nest of slums. Large groups of criminals, thieves or terrorists tend to live in rookeries and they pop up in almost every district. Most of the time the police respond to the presence of one by firebombing it and shooting the survivors then pave over the ashes but another one always forms.

THE CITY: Home to the financial center, it holds all the banks of England and is the center of commerce. That's pretty much it.

NORTH LONDON: The rare middle class live in North London. It's very hilly and very village-y and kinda boring. "A lot of significant minority populations live there" says the book, such as Indian and Jews. Aside from that, North London is pretty boring if affluent and doesn't get more than a paragraph.

SOUTH LONDON: Home to the other half of the slums, the South Side of London was a suburb that was absorbed into the city proper during rebuilding. The industrialists live and operate there, building big fancy houses that tower over the workhouses and slums. It tends to make the poor there pretty drat angry if they don't work for them.

THE THAMES: Polluted to hell and back and home to most of the industry, the Thames literally has a fierce, dangerous miasma to it. Deathwatch also rebuilt the bridges and refitted them for riot/outbreak control. The smell and danger doesn't stop riverfolk and sailors from living there.

SUBTERRANEAN LONDON: The new London is built on the ruins and ashes of the old, and there's a LOT of space underground. Anyone who can't hack it or doesn't want to live in Neo-Victorian society tends to abandoned the slums to go to the Underground which is full of abandoned buildings and tunnels people forgot after the Plague. The government never bothered unsealing a bunch of areas, so really you could go down to someone's basement and end up breaking down a plastered-up wall that leads to a tribe of ghouls. Speaking of ghouls, the main inhabitants of the Underground are:
  • Humans who cannot deal with surface life anymore and live alone or in tribes.
  • Ghouls who live in tribes and subsist in a place of relative safety. They tend to play nice with their neighbors and make agreements and pacts for mutual protection.
  • Vampires who don't want to take the risk of hunting gun-toting civilians even on the foggiest of days and would rather snack and make their own territory underground.
  • The occasional Thrope or Anathema (Anathemas being escaped man-made lifeforms).
  • Unknowable monstrosities that even the Vampires and Ghouls stay away from that one day might slither out through a sewer tunnel and kill everyone. Sometimes Undertakers get hired to find proof of them or shoot them to death. This might be a plot hook. This might also be a good way to destroy London.


NEO-VICTORIAN SOCIETY

Basically they adapted the love of industry, commerce and richness and royalty into their society, replacing the rest with the right to never not be bearing arms, quietly surviving unspeakable horror and attempting to keep the world in order as it quite literally goes to poo poo.

Aristocrats: One of the big problems of the aristocracy is that WWI never happened and they never realized you should stop loving your relatives. The royal lines that survived the Plague bred like Australian bunnies to rebuild and remake their fortunes and ownerships and ever since people are pretty sure the aristocrats are really hosed up. There's rumors of severely inbred mutants living behind the golden doors of manors that will never see the light of day. If you're infertile hoo-doggy are you screwed and if you piss off your family they will stick you in a room you can never leave or cut off your rights and leave you on the streets of the East End. Despite all the hell they're giving everyone else, the aristocrats are just as hosed as the poor.

Industrialists: The Industrialists are the real evil compared to the Aristocrats, making money off the suffering of the masses left and right while talking about how they're salt of the earth men who worked their way up by tugging on their boot straps and having a whole mess of gumption. They live a lot better than the Aristocrats, ensuring that the great machine of London keeps running on the flesh, blood and bones of the poor.

Middle Class: Merchants, artists, craftsmen who actually believe in the moral fortitude the Aristocracy preaches. They're always trying to move on up to the West Side but they're never going to make it short of a corporate buyout or good inheritance.

Lower Class: Everyone else, a miserable oppressed lot of malnourished malcontents who alternately dream of being rich and powerful or killing the rich and powerful. A lot of them join Deathwatch, the Undertakers or criminal gangs, a lot of them work themselves to death in the factories or make bathtub "gin" out of scop.

THE MONARCHY AND THE CHURCH: I'm gonna be honest, I really don't care about these kinds of aspects. The monarchy involves the Crown and Houses of Parliament. Big issues involve the rights of civilians, scientific research, foreign trade and aid and making sure that the government doesn't collapse.
The church has lost a LOT of power over the years, what with people being born into a nihilistic bleak existence. A lot of agents of the church still try to run charities despite the soup kitchens and poorhouses always being overcrowded, broke and empty. A lot of clergy preach that this is the end of times, the time of Revelations, or that Judgement Day is just around the corner. A lot of people still believe in Christianity and a lot don't. It's hard work being a priest, seeing as how any act of faith in your fellow man and believe in the Lord has ended in being eaten alive or killed in the past.



DEATH RITUALS: In a nutshell, if you're not super rich you get cremated. The rich can afford to have their bodies interred in aboveground family tombs and everyone is expected to mourn a death across all social groups. The Mourners Guild is responsible for monitoring actual burials and funerals, a guild full of stoic women wearing veils, corsets and kukris in sheathes on their belts who stand watch over the wakes and funerals of the dead for three days and three nights, waiting for the possibility of reanimation. They don't take breaks, they sit in a chair and wait with a knife in hand, immediately cutting the head off should the dead stir.

Mourners are playable characters, FYI. They're the melee badasses of this game to the Undertaker's firepower badasses.

THE SPIRIT WORLD: Ghosts and dark shades of the dead are common occurrences and there are a lot of occult societies, either scholarly or amateur, invested in exploring the Afterlife. They're basically trying to make contacts with the dead to learn more about the spirit world, what's wrong with Earth and see if there's an actual afterlife. News of an actual existence of Heaven and Hell would be a massive boon to the people if proven, and a massive morale hit if there is nothing after death. The occultists are basically playing with fire that can make or break the faith of what's left of mankind, but a lot of their opponents claim that ghosts are nothing more than smudges of a soul that can still interact with the living.



UNDERTAKERS and THE OFFICE OF URBAN DEFENSE: The OUD pays the Undertakers for bounties and helps equip them with weapons like flamethrowers, stake guns and holy water and they're also responsible for taking the proof of bounty. Proof of bounty differs depending on the specimen; intact Animate heads fetch five silver pieces, 65% of a dead Vampire's ashes net you ten quid after they make sure you're not giving them tobacco ash and dust and enough bits of a Thrope to prove death are worth twelve quid. Signing up for being an Undertaker is ridiculously easy (the illiterate can sign their licenses with an X) and if you die, you die. People are trying to get the Undertakers shut down, saying that armed killers shouldn't be employed so easily and not really kept in check. They tend to be shut up by the people who ask them "well why don't you go kill a Vampire and keep us safe then rear end in a top hat?".

Undertakers tend to wear long leather coats over armor plating, armored gas masks, tight and low hats, heavy studded leather gloves, pack enough heat to destroy a building if need be and tend to carry kits and bags on them to carry tools like medical gear or small dustpans and vials.



DEATHWATCH: Undertakers are mercenaries and SLA Operatives. Deathwatch Soldiers are the Imperial Guard and SHIVERs. Dressed like they belong in the trenches of WWI, Deathwatch is made up of the brave, the foolish and the desperate who want to guarantee they have a roof over their heads. They're the acting army, responsible for war and protection of the great city of London, responsible for firebombing a district and putting up the barriers to rebuild the next day. It's a safer job than being in a factory at least.

COPS: The cops are responsible for upholding the law unless Deathwatch takes over. They make arrests, they have a PSI Branch just like Judge Dredd and they're the police. They're not that fancy, really, but they do get a lot of pages dedicate to them!

CRIME: Crime am bad. Crime does pay though. Burglars, thieves, prostitutes, con-men, thugs, they're all there and they all managed to survive. On top of that you have Resurrection Men who hock dead bodies to institutes and mad scientists by managing to save corpses from cremation. You also have hired killers and psychopaths and if you were afraid Jack the Ripper isn't gonna be mentioned at all he gets a obligatory nod. Infanticide is a distressingly common thing that's really on the rise and I'm pretty sure this ties into the notion that the truly innocent do not survive in this world. Punishment can range from a slap on the wrist to 20 years in a Welsh coal mine to public execution.

DRUGS: Opium, duh. There's also tobacco, laudanum, cocaine, heroin, slap (which is fermented scop) and "gin" (slap but fancier), marijuana and opiates galore. If you're wondering, like I did, why they bothered to keep growing plants for drugs despite the scarcity of land, well wonder no longer. Opium and hemp grow free of any taint in the Wasteland. It actually THRIVES there. There's a big market for drugs as a result where the dealers got the dope from Wasteland farms run by the brave and the stupid.

So that's what a more in depth look at London and what life in the Unhallowed Metropolis is like. It sure is fun, ain't it? Well, fear not! I'm gonna take a quick break, contemplate my interest in this game and then come back and hammer out what the rest of the world is up to and then launch into my biggest, neckbeardiest complaint about this game.

Just a reminder: I'm still on the first chapter. If you're ever legit interested in this game, good on you, find a copy and read it. There is a LOT to it and there is a lot I skipped because frankly I couldn't be bothered to give a poo poo. I'm so neck deep in worldbuilding I literally cannot remember how to play this game anymore.

NEXT TIME: The rest of these poor miserable sadsacks and I will FINALLY finish Chapter One.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



RE: Day After Ragnarok. I do like the idea and I do like it being possibly being WWII pulp/Thundarr and if it's actually good well you bet your rear end I'll pick it up and give it a read.

It'd honestly do my mind some good to read something a bit more, I dunno, uplifting than Unhallowed Metropolis, where the vanilla game implies you're not gonna be running epic multi-game stories and you're gonna be playing in the same drat going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket city. I like how every GM's Alpha Complex is different but this... I'll admit I'm being biased as hell because I like the basic idea of Unhallowed Metropolis and it turns out absolutely different than I ever, ever wanted. And if I ever run a game it's sure as hell not gonna be vanilla, I am gonna cut and excise a ton of nonsense out of it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I need sleep but London needs me more.



CHAPTER ONE: UNHALLOWED GROUND PART THREE

After the Plague, nations fell, splintered, disappeared, went kaput or managed to survive. 95% of the world as most folks in our 1906 would know it does not exist in any meaningful way anymore. During the Plague, most of the countries stopped communicating with each other on a global level, straight-up abandoned their colonies and foreign interests and now most of the world is in the dark.

But as previously mentioned the Royal Navy did in fact manage to survive the Plague and it survived well into the Reclamation. Good for them sailors. The rest of the world really can't hold a candle to the Royal Navy in 2105 but they can sure as hell try. So the big benefit of having the Navy still functioning means that the British can revisit the places they left to fend for themselves. They can reclaim lost colonies and rebuild their empire. And in doing so, the British Navy can help them rebuild to a certain degree and weather whatever hardships they face. And on top of that, royalty has managed to survive abroad! You can gently caress someone who isn't your sistercousin or brothercousin! In theory. In reality, they're all pretty much doomed to the spread of the Wastelands.

However, let's not put the cart too far in front of the horse. Let's start with the United Kingdom. The railroads are the main means of going from country to country in the UK, and they often have to clean the trains pretty hard using automated water jets because they tend to become marred with the stench and gore of the dead the moment they leave London. The trains are faster and safer and that's how everyone traverses the Wastelands, if they ever have to.

IRELAND: The Irish got over that whole "church and independence" problem when the dead rose. The fact that the army was more focused on saving England meant that Ireland got hosed quite hard and quite fast by the Blight and the Animates and now Dublin is the only hospitable city in Ireland. A session of begging for help got the Irish readmitted into the Empire and now the Catholic country is under firm British control. Supposedly people along the coast are managing to survive, and supposedly the British are ferrying scientists in and out of the Irish Wasteland for reasons unknown.

SCOTLAND: Scotland got wrecked, to be blunt. Glasgow and Aberdeen are inhabitable but nowhere else is because of the power of the Blight; it destroyed the Highlands faster and harder than the Animates ever did. Everywhere north of Glasgow is occupied by tribal ghouls who are living a happy little life for themselves and the Scottish refuse to bow to the English desire to rebuild Hadrian's Wall to keep the ghouls in because that would mean giving up the last two livable areas of Scotland.

WALES: Wales did pretty alright. The coast, mining villages and some castles managed to survive the Animates and Wales is the most habitable country now which means they get to keep their homes and live outside of London for now. As previously mentioned, they provide the coal that keep the fog running and the machines on and they're also generally the overseers of the mining penal colonies along with Deathwatch. Wales is generally getting more and more mixed racially because it's livable and not all immigrants and British want to stay in London.

NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN

ICELAND: Iceland managed to survive and it managed to make friends with England. The two are now bestest buds and really they're the one alliance England has that can best be considered an actual alliance friendship. They help supply the English with oil and food,

MAINLAND EUROPE: Rule of thumb here is that if I don't mention it, it's a mostly damned mess of tribes and flailing city-states living amongst the Ghouls, Animates and Vampires. Spain gets offhandedly mentioned as having its rear end firmly kicked.

THE PRUSSIAN EMPIRE: The Prussians are one of the few groups who managed to survive and actually do well to a degree. While the English focused on building walls, the Prussians never disbanded and instead instituted fastidious cleanliness programs to deal with infection. When Kaiser Wilhelm II died holding the line in the defense of Berlin in 1907, his son Wilhelm III took over and immediately approached this from a different angle. Using an existing prototype of a zeppelin, Wilhelm III hired Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin to make the blueprints for and assemble working zeppelins. By 1916, the Prussians had their OWN strategy: orbital bombardment platform zeppelins would fly over an area, drop their ordinance and scorch the Earth, then the Prussian army would steamroll anything left standing. The Prussian Empire is a series of walled cities and walled farms being patrolled by their zeppelins and guards watching what few roads there are, and life in the air is as commonplace as life on the ground.

Airships ended up becoming the bread-and-butter of the Prussian way of life and a formidable match to Galvanic Technology (what's that? I'll cover it later when we get to America, I left it out on purpose but it's a Big Deal). The British and the Prussians keep getting into minor fights and yelling matches when it comes to the North Sea oil fields, seeing as how both need oil to power their empires and their technology. They almost went to war after a bunch of Navy ships whupped some zeppelins in a fight but cooler heads prevailed and they continue to be frenemies a hairs breadth from having passionate hate-filled sex.

But if there's one group the Prussians really hate, it's the French. See, one day the French said "hey, give us Alsace and Lorraine, this is not open to negotiation." The Prussians responded by launching a land campaign and so did the French, creating a trench war in the 1970s in continental Europe. The Prussians also decided to up the game by launching eight fully-stocked zeppelins and put them on a course for the trenches to annihilate the French from above. They told them to open fire and...nothing. The attack never came, this was the "only" battle of the war, the Prussians hastily gave Alsace-Lorraine to the French after suing for peace and to this day whenever the Prussians get scared of the French they beg the English for an alliance to destroy them.

A little digging by British agents revealed that seven of the eight warships mysteriously began opening fire on each other with full armaments as one entire ship killed themselves. Through a mixture of self-sabotage and sedition, the attack was destroyed and the survivors remembered nothing. On top of that, when reinforcements inspected the trenches, every single Prussian soldier was dead. Nothing remained but a bunch of corpses with looks of horror on their face and the rest that reanimated. And after that Prussia decided to leave France the gently caress alone. Speaking of.

FRANCE: In 1929, the French forces managed to retake Paris and re-establish the government. The ruler, Charles XI (who was of obscure blood that survived and managed to inherit the throne) immediately declared two things. One: the current government was to be abolished and replaced with an absolute monarchy where he ruled over a Council of Six, hand-picked. Two: he was no longer Charles XI, he was to be called le Roi d'Or, the Golden King. Claiming that this was a grand return to the Golden Age of France, the gendarmes took to the street, arresting and killing any opposition and any Animates that continued to live in France. All foreign diplomats were kicked out of France, and all French diplomats claimed asylum on foreign shores and refused to go home. France went silent for years, limiting interactions with the country to sailors and border guards, all of which tend to be described as gaunt, stoic men with dead eyes.

In 2105, The Golden King is still alive, a fact that tends to scare anyone talking about France. In the 1960s Charles became The Golden King for good and had all past records to the contrary destroyed. He has not aged a day and the populace of France is basically terrified of the man, and probably for good reason. France stands on the global stage and all it does is stare at everyone, slowly breathing with its mouth open as it smiles and stares. It never sends out any spies, and any spies dumb enough to enter France never returns. On top of that, nobody knows what life in France is like these days and it tends to make the politicians and royalty very, very nervous. Everyone is pretty sure the entire country and the King is in league with the Devil or something much, much worse.

But lately, France has been snatching up city-states across Spain. And the Royal Navy made the rounds in French IndoChina to find that, despite being abandoned for years, every single French colony across the world fanatically worships The Golden King, even if it's impossible for them to have ever known this. And for every bit of land they take, the Prussians get more and more insistent that England should help them stand up to the empire of The Golden King and protect the rest of the world together.

THE PAPAL STATES: During the Plague, the Vatican fled to Venice after the fall of Rome and Italy, using the canals as defense to slow down the Animates. On the plus side, it worked for them. On the downside, the Vatican is out for the blood of heretics. See, during the Plague and the banishment of the Papacy, Italy was full of whackjobs spreading their own version of God's love at knife-point. Even self-flagellation made a return and the Pope decided that just would not do. The Inquisition rose again and with a devotion from millennia in the future they retook Italy and the Papal States with sword, shield and the Word of God. And by 2077 the Pope was the most powerful man in unified Italy and began to send holy soldiers to the rest of Europe to eradicate heathens, heretics and Animates.

The big downside they face, besides being the blind militant swordsman of an angry clergyman, is that all of Italy is home to very angry, very powerful ghosts and a very high reanimation rate. Something has made Italy a hotbed of supernatural activity and they just keep fighting at home as much as much as they do overseas.

AUSTRIA: The death of Franz Joseph, the partial/almost total collapse/death of the Habsburg Dynasty and the bad decisions of Emperor Franz Ferdinand resulted in Austria's power and populace being relocated to the Adriatic Coast where the country ended up becoming lawless and corrupt. But then the leadership of Count Hotzendorf after a political marriage brought Austria back to Vienna to wage war to reclaim their capital.

They succeeded!

At the cost of burning Vienna to the ground and getting a lot of people killed.

Franz "dies mysteriously" in 1912 and the Count takes over, rebuilding Austria back into a world power and they focus on retaking as much land as they can. Which ends up eventually putting them at odds with Prague in 2023, who whups them in a war over ownership of Prague. The sole survivors of the war were one regiment whose leader decided to throw a coup and ended up killing almost the entire royal family in their coup d'etat. As a result, Austria is a schizophrenic, splintered nation with multiple claims to ownership but is by all accounts a nice place to live except for the roaming Animates that crop up from time to time from violent political coup and terrorist attempts.

Oh, and Vienna burned to the ground again during the first coup.

PRAGUE: The Czech managed to quarantine the majority of the city ASAP during the first days of the Plague and set about reinforcing what they had then used natural barriers to their advantage when it came to clearing out Prague of the Animates. Mix in the fact that some of the smartest, keenest people were in Prague during the Plague and you end up having a nation who is always on the cutting edge of alchemy and invention, using their vast knowledge to defend themselves from attackers like the Austrians or Prussians. Prague is still doing pretty well for itself, so good for them.

THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE: They collapsed, plain and simple. As soon as the dead started walking, the Balkans threw an uprising and everyone started killing each other across the board. The Animates tore their dying empire to shreds and sent them running across the Bosphorus Strait. Also the Armenians had an uprising but nobody's heard from there in a century, so.

SWITZERLAND: The Swiss survived by retreating into the Alps and staying there for safety. They're still a neutral territory and they make a living with the global economy and intel retrieval. They're also pretty afraid that the British, Prussians, French or Papacy will force them to get involved in a war they want nothing to do with that will destroy Switzerland.

CRIMEA: The Crimeans built a wall across the Isthmus of Perekop to protect themselves from Asia and ended up repeatedly building bigger walls on top of that. Now the Crimeans are cloaked and hooded mysterious traders who sail the seas, masters of the industry of commerce and trading but tight-lipped about what they're up to and how they managed to get all of those spices and precious metals if China refuses to let anyone in.

AFRICA AND THE ORIENT:

EGYPT: For some reason, the Suez Canal is blocked. The rest of the Arabic Peninsula is empty of human life and there's reports that there might be some civilization in Jerusalem but nobody's been able to make it there. Egypt is essentially off-limits unless some die-hard explorers want to try and get through the desert.

THE REST OF AFRICA: Uh. Nobody knows. See, like I said, those colonies are abandoned (except for the French ones who love that Golden King, that rascal). Occasionally people go on expeditions into Africa to try and see what still is there. The ones who return are generally crazy and, uh.

Sorta...claim that there's a bunch of voodoo empires made up of witch doctors feeding human sacrifices to legions of enslaved dead, capturing people to feed to dark jungle gods who hunger for sacrifice and attention.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah.

HONG KONG: Under quarantine. See, all of the Animates who were walking at the start of the Plague are still walking. And the Royal Navy just does not want to deal with that poo poo.

CHINA: Hello Englishmen. We have everything under control. The border is closed. Please do us a kindness and gently caress right off.

INDIA: Being abandoned by the British resulted in infighting between different ethnic groups and ideologies. And on top of that, India is now a hotbed of vampire activity to the extent that over 300 species of vampire make their homes in India. Nobody really wants India anymore so they just let them slowly...y'know, die.

SINGAPORE: Singapore managed to hold its in a small town nestled in its territory. When asked how they survived, they politely smiled and refused to comment on why they were not dead but thriving. As a result, a lot of Navy seamen are kind of scared of Singapore, trading with them but not trusting them, keeping them under quarantine until they can clear out the area, rebuild and get a straight answer.

NORTH AMERICA AND SOUTH AMERICA:

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Washington DC was the city that managed to survive because they had lots of soldiers and lots of guns compared to civilians. The process of the American Reclamation resulted in a general shift towards state's rights, seeing as how the federal government was kinda eaten alive and the states did what they could to help their populations survive. The Northeast was retaken slowly with the help of..drum-roll please...

NIKOLA TESLA, MAKING HIS MANDATORY APPEARANCE!

Ahem.

Yes, Nikola Tesla, he of the lightning and coils and the shocking and the death ray. Tesla invented an electrical relay system where "aetheric energy" is broadcast into the air from coal-powered towers, removing the need for electrical cables and creating a nation where every state has at least one giant lightning machine that powers EVERYTHING that needs electricity by pumping the ambient air full of aetheric energy. In fact, thanks to Tesla helping reestablish America's communication infrastructure, America was able to reestablish communications with Britain and give them the plans for the Tesla Towers, so now Britain is full of completely wireless free energy too.

Aside from this, America is very reliant on train power to get around too and has been hit pretty hard by the Blight. Everywhere west of the Red River and Mississippi River is lost to the Wastelands and day by day Texas is getting more and more consumed, which is a problem because Texas is responsible for the majority of America's oil. As a country, America would rather play by itself and keep tending to its own needs, thanks. But they're still willing trading partners with Britain, France and Prussia and they allow travel to and from them. And seeing as how France is being all weird to everyone else except America (who has a pretty good history together with them, all things considered), Americans might be more privvy to some secrets than anyone else.

MEXICO: Is doing well. Probably. There's nothing about Mexico besides "Mexico is doing okay". So good for you, Mexico.

HAITI, CUBA, ATLANTIC ISLANDS: Willing to make contact with British and American traders but very shy and isolationist.

SOUTH AMERICA: Abandoned to the Blight and Animates. Nobody knows what the gently caress is going on down there.

CANADA: Canada survived due to having a big population that was scattered over dozens and dozens of thousands of miles. They retook what they needed to from small armies of Animates then rebuilt the railroads and came back together to politely declare freedom from British rule. Canada is implied to be doing pretty well, except for the whole "sub-Arctic" environment wreaking havoc on their desperately-in-need-of-repair rail system that might end up dooming the country if it breaks.

So that's the world. Also, please note, that Australia is not mentioned anywhere. At all. You'd think they would mention "oh we went to Australia and here's what happened" but no, gently caress poor Australia, leave all those poor Aboriginals, colonists and criminals to the fate of the Animates.

See, the neglect of Australia really sets me off. The game has a WHOLE mess of world-building for places we'll never go to, ever, because London Is The Most Important City In The World. No offense to Crimea, but in the context of this game who gives a gently caress about Crimea because all they do is be mysterious sailors. And in the first edition it was a lot worse! For starters, India and Egypt didn't get a drat mention in the slightest. Yeah, sure, they're landlocked and the land is full of the undead but come ON. It mentions that the Brits are reclaiming their empire but it doesn't mention them or Australia? Why? And when they're mentioned here they literally have three to four sentences summing them up because ultimately, yeah they're sorta important to hear about at least even if they're never gonna be traveled to. There are literally two sentences for India:

quote:

Without a powerful British presence in India, the region fragmented into a number of smaller countries dominated by rival ethnic groups. Its densely populated cities were reportedly decimated by the Plague, and India remains a haunted land where over three hundred documented species of vampire prowl the night.

"WHOOPS INFIGHTING. ALSO LOTS OF VAMPIRES." They realize that they kinda messed up world building by not including important places but then just get some kinda lazy plot hooks too. And that sounds interesting, drat it! An adventure where you're a bunch of heavily armed Brits taking on a horde of Indian vampires who do weird poo poo because they're exotic and new? That sounds cool! But this game doesn't want me to play anywhere outside of London even though LONDON IS THE LAST PLACE I WANT TO BE. Yes this world is gonna loving die and everyone is screwed and has a dark heart and blah blah blah but at least give me some freedom of choice to try to help prolong the life expectancies of other countries who aren't heavily polluted, socially-inequal, on-the-last-breath-before-death hellholes. Being set with a Victorian theme does not inherently mean I have to be only in England. I do not want to see people from other countries come and go like passing ships in the night whenever a dignitary visits.

And they're never gonna make a spin-off France or Prussia splatbook because really the mechanics and the atmosphere cannot work anywhere but London but I don't want to be in London anymore. I want to know why the hell France is so weird or if Australia got mysteriously swallowed up by the great beast Leviathan and that's why we're short a major country who should be important. That's ultimately the biggest failing of Unhallowed Metropolis. It sets up this big, sprawling unappealing meal that is all about a doomed place, gives me a fork and knife to dig in and then it teases me with things I might actually enjoy more than being a Brit in a gas mask shooting vampires but I can't play it because that's not the game. It gives me massive creative blue balls and a headache and yet...I still think about this drat game at times and how it's taunting me with a whole bunch of dirty little secrets it will never reveal to me.

So yeah, next time mechanics and poo poo.

NEXT TIME: MECHANICS AND poo poo

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 10:26 on Jan 18, 2014

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




I assume the lack of Russia and Scandinavia means they're hosed, but what happened to Japan and Korea? Did they get their poo poo kicked in like everyone else? If Mexico is doing okay, why has the total loss of the western United States not spilled over to them? Are the Rio Grande and the desert helping?

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Kavak posted:

I assume the lack of Russia and Scandinavia means they're hosed, but what happened to Japan and Korea? Did they get their poo poo kicked in like everyone else?

Of interest, is that Russia and Japan had a major war around the time of the start of Unhallowed Metropolis' Plague Years. If Russia imploded, then Japan would probably remain unchecked in it's following expansion of East Asia.

Also, always have to wonder if a zombie epidemic could even affect a country that cremates all of its dead. Granted, you'll still have the unburied dead to worry about but you're not having every graveyard opening up with shamblers.

Also, the thing I'm noticing is that they're really hard trying to push this steampunk thing throughout the text. There's no technological breakthroughs like you'd saw in the World Wars, despite a lot of the weapons actually getting being developed in the late Victorian age. We had automatic rifles like the Mondragón and the Mauser Selbstladers that were in development or even released (like the Mauser 1905/06). Self-loading pistols were the rage in the armed forces during the pre-WW1 period, with the Mauser C96 broomhandle in wide distribution, John Browning's M1900 series of pistols enjoying good sales (and would lead to the M1911), and the Luger pistol entering Swiss service in 1900 and German naval service in 1904 (the more common and P08 entered German infantry service in 1908, natch, but a world-ending calamity were you need to throw out lots of bullets in a short amount of time might have brought it in earlier, just saying). The automotive industry began getting into commercial production around the 1890s and mass-production in the 1900s (although it didn't really boom until Ford entered in 1914). The Wright brothers flew their first airplane in 1903 and that set a lot of fires under a lot of asses. The concept of the armored tank came about a decade before WW1. I can see zeppelins being flown, they design was actually well-known because Zeppelin had talked about it since 1874 and had been patented in Germany and the U.S. since the 1890s, and the first Zeppelin being flown in 1900. Even in a state of emergency like the Plague Years, you'd probably see lots of rushed-into-development projects to help defeat the Animate hordes.

While I can see life extension programs causing that Victorian presence to extend into the 22nd century, technologically things should be almost the same yet with different names. Assault rifles might not be called assault rifles but something like raid rifle or just automatic rifle and be based off some Maxim, Mauser, or Winchester design instead of Kalashnikov or Stoner. poo poo, I might even have to call BS on the Victorian stuff, because Brutalism came about during the post-war period because concrete was cheaper to build than masonry and Italian-style Futurism, which would have spawned during the early part of the Plague Years, would have been delayed by a century. History is nothing but a series of actions and reactions.

Young Freud fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Jan 18, 2014

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Kellsterik posted:

If you're ever wondering how to represent the Occult Underground, read any biographical information at all about Church of Satan types.

Most "occultists" wish they were Aleister Crowley but they tend to be more like our pal Derrick there.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Kavak posted:

I assume the lack of Russia and Scandinavia means they're hosed, but what happened to Japan and Korea? Did they get their poo poo kicked in like everyone else? If Mexico is doing okay, why has the total loss of the western United States not spilled over to them? Are the Rio Grande and the desert helping?

You're asking for thought to be put into something that stops at 'STEAMPUNK AND GRIIIIIIIIMDDDDDAAARRRK!' And I know I've stated it before, but UM suffers from the same thing most apocalyptic settings does: lack of hope. A good counterpoint for this game feels like A|State. Like UM, it's set in a single city you can't escape unless you want to disappear in a flash and leave a scorch mark. Resources are limited, macrocorps firmly control all industry and business, overpopulation is rampant, gangs run the streets, supernatural places and entities make life interesting and life sucks. But A|State gives you outs. One of the classes, Lostfinders, are built on the concept that they are people who go out and find lost items, whether mementos, heirlooms or people, and return them without want for pay. They do it because people need some kind of solace and they want to bring peace to those who don't have it. There are Stringers, which are investigative journalists that go out, find the truth and drag into the light for public consumption. Most of the macrocorps, even though they have a stranglehold on the tech and fight each other, could very well make life better is they released their tech to the public. Or someone stole it and released it.

So yeah, TL;DR, UM piles on grimdark because they think that is what sells an apocalyptic setting without realizing the best settings in the genre include hope.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



In regards to Russia, Scandinavia, Japan and Korea: I really don't know how much of Russia was snapped up by the Prussians, and it says absolutely nothing about the others even from a historical perspective so I have absolutely no idea what happened to those guys. Maybe the Blight corrupted them, maybe they were all eaten by Animates and angry incomprehensible alien beasts, maybe they ascended to Valhalla with Australia or something. They're "Probably hosed" and "Not Important".

Also I haven't started really talking about the Galvanic Technology which are wireless lightning guns/electric technology that harness aetheric energy floating around because of the Tesla Towers but...yeah all things considered that's pretty much the big technological breakthrough, not counting condoms that don't let you catch vampirism and all the Wondrous Alchemical Shenanigans like stuff that lets you gestate artificial life and whatever. I really don't remember dick about the game besides the setting but for now, trust me when I say there's a non-lethal handgun that when fired at someone puts the target in a state of paralytic fear to pacify them that is prone to causing strokes, psychological disorders, brain hemorrhages and death.

I'm making the condoms up but there is a whole cure for that.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



pkfan2004 posted:

RE: Day After Ragnarok. I do like the idea and I do like it being possibly being WWII pulp/Thundarr and if it's actually good well you bet your rear end I'll pick it up and give it a read.

It is really good and worth picking up, and you can get either Savage Worlds or Fate versions.

For those who aren't aware, the basic idea is as follows:

In 1945, the results of Hitler's obsession with the occult comes to a head, and the Nazi empire manages to summon forth the Midgard serpent, ushering in the age of Ragnarok. 350 miles wide and of unknown length, the serpent arose out of the Atlantic Ocean and immediately began destroying everything it could reach.

President Truman, not having any other options, orders a nuclear bomb to be flown into the serpent's eye in a desperate attempt to save the world. Joseph Westover, captain of the bomber The Strange Cargo, succeeded and drove the nuke straight through Jörmungandr and into his brain, killing it.

What nobody thought about what what would happen when the world serpent died.

Jörmungandr's death thrashing created 100-mile high tidal waves awash with radioactivity and the serpent's mutating blood that destroyed the eastern third of North America. The serpent's body crashed into Europe, utterly destroying central Europe, the British Isles, and most of northern Africa.

Now, the remnants of the British Empire and the U.S.S.R compete for what's left of the world. North America is a splintered wasteland, Russia mines the body of the serpent for supernatural materials, and the British Empire engages in espionage against its myriad enemies. New technologies are born from researching the body of the serpent, and British Petroleum has begun mining and processing its blood as a new fuel source. Monsters born of Jörmungandr's flesh and blood roam the world.



A few highlights:
  • America is mostly a radioactive wasteland, everything within like 100 miles of the east coast is hosed, and the rest of the nation is small city-states of survivors. This is the "Thundaar" part where you can roam the land fighting mutants, or try to manage a survivor colony.
  • The British Empire is now the biggest power in the world, and is engaged in all kinds of spy games against Russia and China, complete with mystical spy gadgets.
  • Russia has gone into full-on Evil Empire mode, and has conquered most of Europe. As an added bonus, Stalin managed to get the frost giants that awoke during Ragnarok on his side.
  • China and Japan have allied into one empire, and as one of the few places on Earth not directly touched by the Serpentfall they're rapidly growing in power.
  • Nazis are still around for you to punch.
  • Magic has returned, and people have learned how to make techno-magic-ish devices out of the flesh, bone, and blood of the corpse of the Midgard serpent.

It also includes some great lists like "Top Five Places to get Mercenary Work", "Top Five Cities for Spies", "Top Five Places to Stomp Nazis", and "Top Five Places to find a Remote Castle Ruled By A Madman".

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


I would just have Western Russia subsumed by the Prussians and the Asian part the safest place on Earth because the forces of darkness took a look at Siberia, thought long and deeply about it, went 'Nope.' and hosed off to somewhere less inhospitable.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Planescape Module: Eternal Boundary - A Synopsis

I've decided to not do a full write-up of Eternal Boundary. Basically, rewriting and breaking down stats doesn't hold my interest. Also, While I bought a lot of Planescape material back in the day, I never had a group to play it with. As a result, my understanding of 2nd Edition mechanics are not hard-coded. So instead, I'll just do a synopsis of the plot, the major pieces of lore introduced, and what I see as the good and bad parts of the module.

Eternal Boundary introduces us to The Illuminated, a cult based out of Plague-mort (that's the Gate Town to The Abyss, for those that don't recall). Their beliefs is that it is philosophically correct to control as much as you can. As The Big Lebowski says, "At least it's a loving ethos." Their current scheme is to infiltrate the Factions of Sigil (this module is where the word Kriegstanz is used to describe the inter-faction conflict). To do this, they have a gang that roams the Hive and casts feign death on barmies, then leaves them for the Dustmen to pick up. One of their agents in the Dustmen arranges for the bodies to be dumped through a portal to the Plane of Fire. In fact, on the other side is an abandoned efreet fortress that the Illuminated have taken over and set up protections against the environment. Once their, they dispell feign death and use magic to restore their sanity and make them think that a Power is giving them a second chance at things. Once they're convinced of this holy purpose, they are sent back to Sigil to join a specific faction.

This module is meant for players of level 1-3. Keep this in mind.

The PCs get involved when a higher-up in their Faction or an independent contractor asks them to go look for a particular barmy in the Hive. After searching around, they find out that he's been put in the dead book, but when they report the bad news, they find out the guy was last seen hanging out with the Doomguard! From here, the PCs have to unravel the mystery, leading them to the Mortuary and eventually to the Plane of Fire.

The first half of this module is actually pretty good. It gives some advice on how the different factions would view the events of this module (most are naturally pissed that someone is trying to mess with them). It also provides a good set of encounters in the Hive that I think could be used in any adventure or campaign. The motives and actions of the antagonists are pretty well thought out, if sometimes a bit fiat. Things only begin to deteriorate when it's time for the PCs to go to the Mortuary.

My big problem with this part is that the difficulty is greatly influenced by whether or not one of the PCs is a Dustman. If there is one, then the section is pretty easy. Otherwise, the place is a death trap. The issue is that the Mortuary is laid out in a pretty non-linear fashion, and it calls for the PCs to do exploration while snooping around. But there are several rooms that, going by their descriptions, are well above what a lvl 1-3 party can handle.

For example, while searching for wherever the Dustmen send off corpses, the PCs might stumble into the office of the Factol. Factol Skall is in fact a level 19 Lich. Yeah.

At least the module takes into account that the PCs might get captured, either by the Illuminated or the Dustmen, and it sets events up so that the PCs can still progress to the next part of the adventure despite this setback. The writers are kinda condescending about it though ("sure, go ahead and give them another chance if they gently caress up, if you want to be a softie "). But one way or another the PCs are on the Plane Plane of Fire. The goal of this part (that is to fully foil the plot and get full credit) is to destroy the enchanted gem that's holding back the hostile environment. Not that the PCs know this or would realize what the gem did if they found it. While there isn't any Lich here, there is a Stone Golem that the villain controls. Obstensively, it's there to keep the natives from mucking the place up. Still, it seems like a beastie well above what a level 1-3 party can deal with.

If the PCs manage to foil the Illuminated, the modules tells the DM to reward them 1000xp, "reducing it if you had to hold their hand through the module." gently caress you, Eternal Boundary.

Next Time: Monstrous Compendium - Planescape. Or: Heaven is OP

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

I like the fact that UM is so London-centric. It's a game where the setting is the game. It is also the most nihilistic game I've ever seen though, and that's why I can't recommend it. There has to be some dash of hope or achievement possible. That more than clockwork, steam, tophats, and concentrating on London is what kills it for me.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Evil Mastermind posted:

It is really good and worth picking up, and you can get either Savage Worlds or Fate versions.

For those who aren't aware, the basic idea is as follows:

In 1945, the results of Hitler's obsession with the occult comes to a head, and the Nazi empire manages to summon forth the Midgard serpent, ushering in the age of Ragnarok. 350 miles wide and of unknown length, the serpent arose out of the Atlantic Ocean and immediately began destroying everything it could reach.

President Truman, not having any other options, orders a nuclear bomb to be flown into the serpent's eye in a desperate attempt to save the world. Joseph Westover, captain of the bomber The Strange Cargo, succeeded and drove the nuke straight through Jörmungandr and into his brain, killing it.

What nobody thought about what what would happen when the world serpent died.

A few highlights:
  • America is mostly a radioactive wasteland, everything within like 100 miles of the east coast is hosed, and the rest of the nation is small city-states of survivors. This is the "Thundaar" part where you can roam the land fighting mutants, or try to manage a survivor colony.
  • The British Empire is now the biggest power in the world, and is engaged in all kinds of spy games against Russia and China, complete with mystical spy gadgets.
  • Russia has gone into full-on Evil Empire mode, and has conquered most of Europe. As an added bonus, Stalin managed to get the frost giants that awoke during Ragnarok on his side.
  • China and Japan have allied into one empire, and as one of the few places on Earth not directly touched by the Serpentfall they're rapidly growing in power.
  • Nazis are still around for you to punch.
  • Magic has returned, and people have learned how to make techno-magic-ish devices out of the flesh, bone, and blood of the corpse of the Midgard serpent.

Thinking about it now, because the F&F review didn't cover this, but the game makers either have to be British or have a serious case of Anglophilia because I don't see the British Empire not just prospering but even surviving the Serpentfall considering that they were in bad shape through a good portion of the war. England pretty much surrendered it's colonial assets like India following World War 2 because the war and especially unrestricted submarine warfare wrecked so much havoc logistically it was too much of a strain to keep the Empire running. Without the home islands and especially since the bulk of their armed forces was mobilized there, I'd see the British colonies reverting into their own sovereign states, even if they still had their governors.

Also, Japan would have routed by a resurgent Red Army and allied Chicoms. Remember, the A-bombs weren't just for the Japanese, but the Russians as well, since they had planned to invade the islands just like Manchuria and the Sakahlins. Seriously, most of the world should either be afflicted with Serpent taint, under the serpent, or under Communist control.

I don't know, maybe France would be a major world power, since they're in the position to recover, have central organization, exploit the Serpent's corpse, and still maintain a control over their colonies.

Young Freud fucked around with this message at 18:17 on Jan 18, 2014

Baofu
Jun 15, 2007



pkfan2004 posted:

I need sleep but London needs me more.



I'm sorry if I missed it before, but how viable is living on the ocean? Are the horrible blighted areas just on dry land?

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


I think that and the whole spy intrigues with other empires element might be derived from the novel The Peshawar Lancers, where the British Empire relocates to India and its other colonies after an apocalypse.

Young Freud posted:

Also, Japan would have routed by a resurgent Red Army and allied Chicoms.

Literally lol at the prospect of the USSR allying with the Chinese communists.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Baofu posted:

I'm sorry if I missed it before, but how viable is living on the ocean? Are the horrible blighted areas just on dry land?

Uh. Uhhhhhhh. That's...a pretty good question! The Royal Navy is pretty much doing okay, I guess, but at the end of the day they need metal to repair their ships and coal and oil to power their engines. Ship upkeep is kind of a giant pain in the rear end at the end of the day, especially when the places you can safely tread on the Earth are diminishing daily and it gets harder and harder to get wood, ore and coal. There's also the matter of growing and making food at sea which would probably require a whole lot of dirt and something to help desalinate the water.

And the book really doesn't go into this possibility because, y'know, why the hell would you not want to live in London. But this is my theoretical assumption that a big enough flotilla with enough technology to sustain themselves as an agricultural village at sea and raise scop in a tank for animal proteins would probably do pretty well! Animates can't swim, there's nowhere for Vampires to hide from the sun besides below decks and Thropes and Anathemas probably would go nowhere near the Navy. In theory they might do kinda okay for themselves. Maybe. It's absolutely mum on what the Blight is like on the 70% of the world covered in saltwater and if there are, like, water expanses of Wastelands because the ocean is not London.

Also another aside to mention: I don't know how badly polluted the rest of the world is, just England. For all I know all that smog and acid rain is really just centralized there and the rest of the world has to deal with some of the effects but they still get to see the sun on a daily basis.

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




The ocean! Think of all the steam you can make outta that baby!

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