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MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I'm just disappointed you can't play in the Prussian Sky Empire, fighting the evil french Sorcerer-King. That sounds like a great game right there.

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MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Pinball posted:

Would anyone be willing to review Wraith: the Great War? It sounds like an amazing book, if the Shoah Wraith book is anything to go by.

I've got the book, I could do it after I finish Shoah. Which I'm going to do any day now. I'm just going to pick up the book, read up about Babi Yar and Aushwitz, and post it here maybe tomorrow. Or the day after.

...it's just so drat depressing. :smith:

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


If I want to do a different book eventually, I should get down and finish this own. So here we go, only two chapters to go.

Charnel Houses of Europe Part 4:
A Struggle for the Forsaken: Babi Yar




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babi_Yar

Unlike the other chapters, Babi Yar wasn't the site of a Concentration Camp. It was a death pit. As the German army marching through Russia advanced, they reached Kiev. A few days after the city fell, in September 1941, NKVD saboteurs blew up the new local SS headquarter. In retaliation, the Nazis decided to kill all the Jews in town. They marched every Jewish person they could find, marched them to the nearby Babi Yar ravine and then simply slaughtered them with machine guns. For the next 24 months, the Nazis kept using the ravine as their execution field. In 1943, as the Russian army was gaining terrain and they were soon to reclaim the city, the Nazis attempted to hide what they had done and had prisoners dig up the mass graves and cremate the hundreds of thousands of rotten corpses before having them grind them up and scatterred. Learning that they were to be executed afterward, 15 of the 25 prisoners managed to escape, with the remaining being the last victims of Babi Yar.

Yeah. :smithicide:

So, what went on the ghost side? Well, Babi Yar ravine is the site of a huge Nihil, a dangerous hole leading to the Labyrinth. For a while, the new wraiths were victims to the hordes of Spectres that would routinely get out of the ravine. Things changed when a group of former Red Army wraiths arrived to help, teeming up with the survivors to defend the new ghosts that kept showing up. Eventually, with the end of the war and the formation of the Covenant of the Millions, the Wraiths of Babi Yar organized themselves. The place is more like a way-station than a place where Wraiths live. The local wraiths are split into the two Circles: the Menders, made up of the dead of Babi Yar who try to find and help other survivors, as well as somehow heal the nearby Nihil, and the Fallen Comrades, who are mostly the Red Army soldiers who came back from the war and decided to protect nearby Wraiths from the horrors in the Ravine. Things have apparently been getting better in recent years (when the book was published, fifteen years ago or so) as the fall of communism has removed the official stance of ignorance of the massacre and so some healing has begun.

There's a sidebar which explains that the wraithly authorities of Kiev don't really like the Babi Yar wraiths and consider them something like lepers, due in part to their habit of throwing into the Nihil the wraiths of their murderers. There's also a really creepy statue formed apparently out of the remains of dead nazis and collaborators.

The chapter ends with NPCs and plot hooks, as usual. Diana Ryachev is one of the persons who died at Babi Yar. Her story is horrible. She's one of the menders now. Nikolai Dimitrius was a normal everyday policeman. When the Nazis had the Police help them kill all the Jews in Kiev, he couldn't take it and shot himself. He's now part of the Fallen Comrades. Captain Alexander Renko is the leader of the Fallen Comrades. Growing hearing stories of the glorious revolution against the Czar, he joined the war along with the other boys from Kiev wanting to be a hero. Instead he died. Having gathered the rest of the dead from his squad, he returned home only to find horrors waiting for him. He organized his troops to defend people from the Spectre, becoming a hero in death. Marta Karinska is a spectre, what remains of a bitter old woman who really hated the Jews, and can't let go of her hatred after death. Melki Sornokov was one of the prisoners who failed to escape at the end of Babi Yar. He really wasn't lucky. He part of the Menders now. Sergei Pravdovich was a journalist who was a witness to the events of Babi yar. For years, he fought in vain to try and get the communist government to recognize what happened in the ravine. He was eventually shipped to a gulag, where he died.

The story hooks:
- Nikolai wants the players characters help to find a woman he helped escape before his suicide, but Marta the spectre is sure to interfere.
- Diana asks the PCs to help her follow a lead that might lead to her parents in the Kiev Necropolis, but the Kievan wraiths are suspicious as they believe the Babi yar wraiths want to blow up the place.
- The ghost of Marta's kid is found, and debate begins on whether or not they should use the kid to draw out the old spectre. Which sides will the PCs choose?

I didn't go into as much details with the NPCs as before, because goddamn they're depressing. Reading them once was enough.

Next Time:loving Auschwitz. :suicide:

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Couldn't you play a Prussian ambassador trying to get the support for an alliance to defeat the Golden King? I mean, would such a concept be possible with these rules?

...I like sky-Prussia, dammit.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I've got nothing to do all week, so I'm finally going to get off my rear end and finish Charnel Houses of Europe. I've been wondering though, anyone interested in Wraith: the Great War? Since it's the 100th anniversary of World War 1 this year, I've been thinking about it a lot, and if there's anyone interested I'd do it after finishing Houses (probably at my usual glacial pace).

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I played in a Street Fighter game set in the 1920s. It was pretty awesome, with cheesy world martial arts tournament set in Tibet and evil martial artists trying to use Easter Island for evil. By the end my character had his own submarine, which he had stolen from the japanese mafia.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


So, it's been a while since I've continued my readthrough of what is possibly the most depressing roleplaying game book. Half of why is laziness, half is because I didn't want to feel super-sad, and half of it is I plain forgot. Anyway, hope you guys are ready, because this is the last chapter: loving Auschwitz. :unsmigghh:

Charnel Houses of Europe Part The Last:
Behind the Wire: Oswiecim (Auschwitz-Birkenau)

by Robert Hatch



”Charnel Houses” posted:

We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least he will know what he is fighting against.
- General Dwight David Eisenhower, upon liberating the death camps

So, this is it. The last chapter, the big one: Auschwitz. The first words of the chapter are

“ARBEIT MACHT FREI
Work will make you free.

And it’s not going to stop from there. 2 million people were sent to Auschwitz, and few came back out. What they suffered through is pretty horrifying. And it had its effect on the land of the dead: Auschwitz is apparently the biggest Necropolis in Western Europe, and it’s not a very nice place.

After that brief description, we get a long section on the history of the place, aptly titled “A History of Hell”. I’m not going to go over the history of the real Auschwitz: a lot of people did that better than me. The first sidebar explains how the Deathlords of Stygia are scared of Auschwitz, due to its size and population. That many wraiths could pose a challenge to the fragmented Hierarchy, if they’re still wraiths that is… Another sidebar explain the “color” system that was in use in the place, with the color of the triangle sewn onto your uniform explaining why you’d been sent to the camps (red for political prisoners, green for normal criminals, etc.) Another sidebar talks of the Russian prisoners, their terrible treatment and horrible deaths, and of how they became Spectres in death, the few among them who had become normal wraith apparently having been destroyed by the rest. Their leader is said to call himself Koschei the Deathless, and to be particularly evil and terrifying. Later on, the Sonderkommando’s revolt is briefly retold, ending in their death. A further sidebar notes how, despite many groups in the World of Darkness claiming to protect the Gypsies, none of them lifted a finger to help the 20 000 who died at Auschwitz. Finally, the history of hell ends with the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops. The whole section was pretty drat depressing. :smith:

Next section is the Camp’s geography, first in the Skinlands and then in the Shadowlands. The camp has now become a museum, dedicated to the suffering of those who went through it. The parts of the camp not open to the public are slowly falling apart, rusting, crumbling. The museum is a huge source of Pathos for the wraiths of Auschwitz, often hoarded by the most powerful “for the good of the community”. Sometimes Spectres will scare the living who come to visit. A rather unfortunate passage mentions how there a lot of Drones (ghosts with no personality, simply repeating events of their lives and/or death) around and that they called Mussulmen by the locals. They’r emostly left alone.

Then we get the description of the “Dark Kingdom of Wire”, the Auschwitz Necropolis. The first thing to note about the place is the smell. It is apparently so terrible, visitors will take days to get rid of it. Next is the sound, a terrible dissonant cacophony (presumably someone is playing the Drakengard soundtrack on loop through the camp’s loudspeakers). Then is the giant cloud of human ashes that forever covers the camp, known as the Miasma. Sometimes it takes the appearance of Zyklon B! Then, finally, the camp itself, overshadowed by the four towers of the crematoriums. This is a happy place. :suicide:

The well-known gates are still present in the Underworld, with the war criminals who used to run the camps visibly moliated into it. They appear to be in agony. Some have evaded the vengeance of the dead though. Plot Hook! The description of the camp if horrifying and not a little disgusting: for example, a mildew of rotting human flesh cakes the entire camp and returns when removed, so most inhabitants simply live in human filth. Barbed wire is everywhere, as well as serving as the camp’s boundaries. Yeah. Anyway, there is a giant Nihil called “Sheol” where the SS Barracks used to be, the center of oblivion within the camp. Guarding it is a duty no one wants to do, but everyone takes seriously: from time, it “erupts” and hordes of Spectres come forth to attack the camp. The giant Kremas are the center of industry, as they are where the Soulforges are situated. No one stays in them after dark, when their flames turn blue and screams can be heard coming out of them. There’s a bordello, called the House of Dolls, with strange and creepy entertainment and corridors that lead straight into the Labyrinth. It’s Madam was decapitated, and holds her skull in her hands. Birkenau is mostly haunted by Spectres, with wise Wraiths staying clear of it. The factory camp of Buna, a few kilometers away, is held by a group of communist Artificers called the Collective, led by an old agitator named Stefan Brukovich. They have a large forge where Nazis are sometimes soulforged. In recent years the camp has become more isolated from the rest of Aushwitz, as they are starting to fear the corruption spreading there. And there are many barely-organized subcamps spread around, often attacked by Spectres.

Society! Well, it’s a mess. There’s no leader, or even leaders. No census or identifications (reminds people too much of when Nazi ran things). Still, the Dybbuks of Auschwitz do gather in small groups, called Kommandos or Triangles in a display of bitter irony. We get a section on “deathmarks”, the signs of their deaths that wraiths display. It’s about what you’d expect of people who died at Auschwitz, that is to say really disturbing. Then there’s stuff on the most notable Triangles:

- The Partja: ghosts of socialists who still believe in social justice. They want to reform the camp into something better.
- The previously mentioned Colelctive: old-school communists with a monopoly on Darksteel goods.
- Die Eingeistein: A brutal gang made up of former Kapos. They signed an accord to serve as a conscripted militia in exchange of not being thrown into oblivion and grudgingly keep their word.
- Kanada: A group of pawnshop and relic-brokers. They sometimes kidnap people to sell to the soulforges. Nice guys!
- The Sonderkommandos: A lot of those guys are still around. They’re not well-liked, except for those who rebelled against the Nazis at the end. :smith:

Aside from that, the black triangles, those who were “Aryan” and better treated in life, have become known as “poo poo-ghosts” in death and are the bottom-feeders of the camp. There are also large group of “Striplings”, spectre-children, wandering the camp. The pink triangles, homosexual, are pretty badly-treated by everyone, as most people died in the 40s, not exactly enlightened times. The Gypsies prefer wandering outside the camp, coming in to do work and when Spectres attack. They’re largely distruste,d because even today Europe is horribly racist to Gypsies. There’s also a few Jehovah’s Witnesses, who mostly keep to themselves and help people by acting as Pardoners.

Yeah, even in death, everything is :smith:

Then we get new merits and flaws, the first time new mechanics are introduced in the book. The first one, Tainted Humors, a 3-point flaw, transforms the Pathos you absorb into Angst when you fail a difficulty 5 willpower roll (all of it if you botch). While the roll isn’t hard, the consequences are terrible so I’d say it’s not worth it. The second one, Starving, a 4-point flaw, causes to look like an emaciated wreck, have only 8 health levels instead of 10, and when feeding on pathos you must make a difficulty 10 willpower to tear yourself away. Another one that seems really harsh and not worth it. And then there’s the Waffengeisten, Nazis moliated into being the Camp,s guard hounds. Their existence is suffering.

After all of this, we get the long list of NPCs that is in every chapter. I’ll only list the notable ones this time:
- Schlomo Ficzka, leader of the 12th Sonderkommando: a giant brute of a man, he’s the leader of the Sonderkommandos who rebelled against the Nazis. He serves as a guardian to the Camp, but his Shadow has become really strong.
- Rosa Robota, Polish jew and communist agitator. Brutally tortured and murdered for helping the Sonderkommandos’ revolt. She’s really angry.
- Joachim Steuben, a pimp and pusher and purveyor of horrible needs.
- Malina Prmystleskza, a doctor who helped others after she found herself in the camps. She performed many a “mercy-killing” on young babies so that they wouldn’t be experimented on by Mengele, and now sometimes help save babies by possessing their parents to perform the medical procedures needed. And sometimes when her Shadow takes over she harms them.

Finally, plot hooks. With the end of the Warsaw pact (this was the 90s after all), the players might try to help their descendants from beyond the grave, and act the hierarchy might frown upon. Another one has the PCs as heretics searching for Transcendence. Eventually, one of their followers eagerly attempting redemption is revealed by a group of angry Dybbuks to be one of the guards at Auschwitz. The last one has the PCs as Spectres, attacking Auschwitz.

Final Thoughts:
So, this is finally over. Despite being only 126 pages long, this book is really hard to finish, due to its pretty horrifying subject matter. It’s well-researched and does a good job of giving you an idea of what the horror was like, and the picture it draws of the afterlife is even worse. The writing quality varies greatly between chapters, the best one being the Warsaw Ghetto by far. I’d say it worth a read, but I’ll never use it for a game.

MonsieurChoc fucked around with this message at 19:19 on Aug 12, 2014

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


This was back in the 90s, when White Wolf was all about games as art and writing over mechanics. It makes perfect sense for them to have these kind of crazy ideas, even if a it seems insane from an outsider perspective.

Kemper Boyd posted:

About the term Mussulmen: it was a term actually used in the camps by prisoners, referring to those who had become semi-catatonic during their camp experience.

Well, I stand corrected! Once again, very well-researched.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Kai Tave posted:

An entire book devoted to the subject seems a bit excessive though. Like Mors said, it's a shockingly respectful and well-written book that nobody is ever going to use (I'm sure someone somewhere did try to use it and I'm sure it was a trainwreck). That said, Charnel Houses is the exception that proves the rule of most attempts at writing "mature subject matter" for RPGs being thoroughly awful.

It's one of two or three books worth getting in White Wolf's old 'Black Dog' label. The rest were seriously dire.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Because I've got no life and nothing better to do, I'm going to start the next book right away.

Wraith : the Great War



Introducing the book

I’m a big Wraith fan, and Great War is one of my favorite books in the line (Dark Kingdom of Jade is the other one). It’s a pretty well-written book (in my opinion), and it feels quite playable. There’s certainly a lot of conflicts players can invest themselves in from the get-go, compared to the more Sandbox approach of modern Wraith. Another reason I like it is because I’ve always been highly interested in the First World War. Before I failed out of college for the first time, I was studying to become an historian, and WW1 would have been my specialty. At 234 pages, it’s about twice as big as Charnel Houses. Hopefully the fact that I love the book a lot more will help me not laze out halfway through this time.

Before I start though, a big of context: What the hell is Wraith: the Great? Well, you have to go back to the late 90s, back when White Wolf was at the top of its popularity. One could argue that the late Second Edition to Time of Judgment was White Wolf’s Golden Age, with all kinds of wild experiments, innovation, great books, stuff like Trinity and Exalted, etc. Also a lot of terrible books, some of which have already been covered in this thread. Anyway, things were going pretty well for the World fo Darkness, so they decided to make spin-off games for all of their major WoD gamelines: historical settings. Vampire got Dark Ages (set during the late Middle-Ages instead), Werewolf got Wild West, Mage got Sorcerer’s Crusade (set during the Renaissance) and Wraith got The Great War (set during WW1). Unlike the other three games, Wraith didn’t get any supplements (even Wild West got four). Also a difference from the other three books: it’s not a full corebook. It’s a supplement, including only the rules that are changed for the era it covers, meaning you need the Wraith Second Edition Corebook in order to play the game.



A smart man on a fast motorcycle can outrun the very winds of hell.


Intro Fiction: Waiting out the Storm

First off, before I start talking about the book, I have to mention that the art is pretty great. It’s not nice, nothing in Wraith is nice, but it’s extremely evocative.
The book starts, as usual with White Wolf books, with an introductory fiction. I think it’s pretty good, at least better than most WoD books. A messenger on a motorcycle is trying to reach the Brussels Necropolis before the Maelstrom hits. Unfortunately, he stops to help a new wraith on the way and, because of that, doesn’t reach the city before its gates are closed. So him and the kid hide from the storm in an old house with a mysterious old man. The messenger and the old man then explain to the new wraith what’s going on, a neat way of giving an overview of the setting to the player.

“There’s an Empire of the Dead that’s falling to pieces, and a hole at the heart of the world that wants to swallow everything. There’s a storm going on that’s been blowing for years and doesn’t look like it’s ever going to stop, and armies of the dead marching on each other.”

Here’s the gist of it: during the Battle of the Somme, a Great Maelstrom, one of the great tempests that ravages the lands of the dead and throw a shitload of Spectres at everything and lasts for years, started. Because of it, communications between Stygia and the rest of its Empire have become terrible, and travel is extremely dangerous. Then, the Smiling Lord (lord of those who died of violence) decided to attempt a coup. With Charon mysteriously absent, and his ranks welled by the war-dead, he was pretty successful at first. But there’s a resistance, the other Legions are organizing themselves, and the messenger’s part of it: he carries secret messages through the Storm. The kid leaves, and then the mysterious old man is revealed to be Charon in disguise. Apparently, he decided to take a good look at the Empire from the botoom, and figure out what he was doing and why. The rebellion was “Not unanticipated, but not welcomed either.” The story ends with the messenger getting back on his ghost motorcycle, ready to spread a bit of hope around.

Next time I’ll go over the Introduction, and try to explain the most confusing Wraith jargon.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I had never heard of this game before. Sounds pretty interesting.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Here, have some more stuff about dead people.

Wraith: the Great War
Introduction




In classic White Wolf fashion, every chapter begins with a one-page story. The one before the Intro features a group of Renegades meeting to plan the liberation of London from the forces of the Smiling Lord. Nothing special.

Then we get the Introduction proper. A few paragraphs to set the tone and try to sell the setting (I must say I like the idea of a ghost Zeppelin myself), followed by the description of the book’s contents and a larger lexicon. The time period of Wraith: the Great, going from Armistice Day to the day right before the Great Crash, is known as the Twilight Era, the time period before the World of Darkness of the modern game. Since it’s a good way to catch up on a lot of the game-specific jargon, I’m going to repost most of the Lexicon, with only the ones I find stupid removed (like Seppuku: Really, Wraith, really?).
- abambo: A term for African ghosts
- Annals of Pestilence (aka Journals of Bone): a book containing the mad ramblings of the Skeletal Lord :tinfoil:
- Benandati: a group of dudes who can see Ghosts and go to the Udnerworld. They’ve shown up in Wraith books before.
- Behest: An Arcanoi (ghost powers) used by African wraith
- The Beaufort-Granogrec Scale: A system for developing Maelstrom intensity. Ghost Science! :science:
- The Black Mask: one of the many espionage orders of the Legions, this is the one of the Grim Legion
- The Bleak Legion: a Russian subset of the Silent Legion
- The Breathless Dead: ghost of Spanish Flu victims.
- The Bush of Ghosts: the African kingdom of the dead, also called the Dark Kingdom of Ivory
- Cataphractoi: the heavy cavalry of the Legion of Fate
- Displace: another new Arcanoi, this one is Indian in origin
- The Flesh Corps: :gonk: An order of the Penitent Legion, who use giant moliated Leviathan to fight.
- Fourth Great Maelstrom: the giant magic tempest that ravages the Shadowlands for the entire Twilgiht Era
- Generals of Oblivion: a powerful group of Spectre during this era
- hun: the “Of the East” term for the higher soul of a Wraith. Also used in Kindred of the East!
- ibambo: another African word for Wraith
- Imperialist: the “New Stygian” regime of the Grim Legion, the bad guys
- The Insurrection: The attempt by the Grim Legion to take over Stygia
- The Jade Kingdom: The Asian Deadlands [sic]
- Johnny Songbirds: a bunch of wandering bards
- kuei: “asian” word for Spectres
- loka: an Indian word for one level of the “upper worlds” of their afterlife. I have no loving clue what this means right now.
- Loyalists: the other side of the Wraith civil War, those who oppose the Smiling lord.
- Maelstrom: evil magic tempest in the Underworld
- Magisterium Veritatis: the Stygian secret police
- Ministry of Intelligence: the espionage order of the Iron Legion
- Moriman: a “witch-doctor”, an African wraith for practices Behest
- Mutilé: a type fo spectre common during this era
- Nawab: Indian government official
- Night Mail: a group of aviators who try to keep communication lines between Necropolis open
- Night of Short Chains: When the Grim Legion seized Europe
- Ocean: the African word for the Tempest
- Office of Maelstrom Preparedness: wraiths dedicated to predicting and quelling the Great Maelstrom. More Ghost Science! :science:
- Peng Lai: Jade Kigndom term for Paradise
- p’o: Jade Kingdom term for a Shadow
- Scavenger Folk: group of Wraiths of scavenge debris from the Maelstrom
- Sinkinda: Bush of Ghost term for Spectre
- Soulwelding: A variant of Soulforging used to maintain ghost vehicles
- Swar: the Deadlands of India
- Tvashtriya: practioners of Displace
- Uitlander: African term for strangers and white people
- Yellow Springs: Another alternate for the Dark Kingdom of Jade

Wow, that’s a lot of :words:, and I cut a lot of useless ones (like “Yank” or “Huns”). Some of them won’t make sense until I go in-depth into the various factions. The chapter ends with recommendations of Books, Movies and Music to use as inspiration, something I always liked in White Wolf books. While the list obviously outdated (the book came out 15 years ago), I’d say it’s pretty good. It’s got Gallipolli, Paths of Glory, etc. The only movie I’d say is obviously missing is La Grande Illusion, a classic French movie about a prisoner escape during the war, dealing with the end of the ancient aristocratic ideals of war. It’s a pretty great movie, ire commend it to anyone interested in these kind of things. The music of Philip Glass is recommended, which should ensure everyone at the table is creeped out I guess.

Next we’ll start the huge History section, a must-have for any historical game.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Wraith: the Great War Chapter One: War and Artermath
Part 1: History



The intro fiction this time around focuses on a group of Wraiths forced to do Manual Labor by the Grim legion, and keeping tracks of insults for later revenge. Nothing special.

Four Years in the Skinlands

Futurist Manifesto, 1909 posted:

We intend to sing the love of danger. We will glorify war.
In August 1914, a hundred years ago now, an rear end in a top hat killed another rear end in a top hat in Sarajevo, and a total failure of diplomacy ended with Austria declaring war on Serbia, starting the “Domino Effect” that gave us World War 1. The book gives a pretty good overview of the war, divided into each year, covering most of the major moments (The Somme, Ypres, Verdun, Gallipolli, the Armenian genocide, etc.) Sidebars go into details on different aspects of the war, such as life in the Trenches, the beginning of Aviation, women during the war, and so on. It’s a bit overly focused on the western front, but considering this is an rpg book, not a history book, it’s quite sufficient. In the end, after 10 million dead and 20 million injured, the war peters out and armistice is signed on November 11, 1918 at 11:00. The Versailles Treaty that follows redraws the map of Europe and the Middle East, and sets the stage for the other World War to follow a generation later. The Spanish Flu also hits in 1918, killing even more people than the War itself.

A decade among the dead
Seeds of the Stygian insurrection are sown almost a century earlier. In the 1820s, it is discovered that the Fetters of all the Deathlords and Charon have been destroyed. No one responsible is found, although various enemies of the State are blamed. Losing all your fetters is a very bad thing in Wraith: it makes it really hard to stay in the Shadowlands for long (later on the story will have Deathlords running around Shadowlands Europe without any problems, so this plotpoint seems useless in retrospect :shrug:) Following the Unfettering, Charon spends more and more time alone in his Onyx Tower, remaining out of the public eyes for years at a time. When WW1 starts, he hasn’t been seen for 9 years. This leads to a general emboldening of the Legion, many of which start stretching the limits of the Dictum Mortuum, the law that forbids interaction with the Skinlands. The most obvious is the formation of the Bloody Legion, a group set up by the Grim Legion to fight Necromancers. Take that, Giovanni!


Beautiful Stygia, a nice vacation spot

As more and more of the war dead pile up, a proclamation of dubious origin comes from the Onyx Tower, supposedly from Charon himself, calling for the construction of new towers to house the enw dead on the hills just outside the city walls. In Russia, a group of Bleak Legionnaires reap the ghosts of Japanese soldiers who died at Port Arthru in 1905 and keep them hidden, instead of handing them over to the Dark Kigndom of jade as per their agreements. Eventually, yu Huang learns of it and attacks the Russian wraiths, who manage to send their prisoners to Stygia by ghost train. Not knowing what to do, they set them up to building the towers. Angry Jade diplomats want their ghosts back, while Stygia asks for Russian wraiths reaped by the Jade Empire at Port Arthur in exchange. The talks then end.

A lot of Indian and African wraiths find themselves in Europe instead of their respective Deadlands, and tension between these poor exiles and the Stygian wraith grow daily. Then the Fourth Great Maelstrom hits during 1916. The original onslaught of Spectre take over Necropolis Florence, and Chicago becomes a chaotic battleground. Berlin and Paris manages to resist. Several months into the Storm, group of European and Indian wraiths arrive at Constantinople, apparently having had to walk through the Storm after having been forcefully expelled out of the Bush of Ghosts. Maybe one in ten managed to make it. Learning of the terror of the Storm, many of the Exiles planning on journeying to their homelands decide to indefinitely postpone their travel plans.


The Office of Maelstrom Preparedness, still the best at Ghost Science :science:

Seeing the Hierarchy on the brink of collapse, Charon nowhere to be seen and afraid another Deathlord might attempt a coup before him, the Smiling Lord, leader of the Grim Legion, the Legion consisting of the dead of violence, hits all the major European Necropolis at once. Most leaders of the other Legions are captured, with those willing to cooperate left as figureheads. Thanks to the efforts of the Bloody legion, and his policy of letting soldiers avenge themselves on their incompetent officers, the Smiling Lord is initially pretty popular. The other legions are not particularly keen on letting the Smiling Lord become the “first among equals”, and so resist. The Iron legion 9dead of Old Age) are the hardest hit, with the Smiling Lord destroying their intelligence network in particular. The Laughing Lady (dead of madness) is forced to abdicate, but later escapes and become a figurehead of the Loyalists. The Emerald Legion (dead of accidents) side with the Grim Legion out of self-interest. The Legion of Fate (dead of destiny) and the Silent Legion (dead of despair) prefer to fight the Spectres, ignoring most of the conflict. The Legion of paupers (dead of mystery) manages to profit from the situation by doing mostly nothing… somehow. :shrug Finally, the Skeletal Legion (dead of pestilence) are the ones who resist the most strongly and effectively, contrary to the Smiling Lord’s expectations. Things go well initially for the insurrection: the only Necropolis they cannot take is Berlin, and the Berlin wraiths can,t really do much anyway because they’re too busy fighting the Spectres.

What no expected was the Spanish Flu. Early dead of the disease come out babbling prophecies, and are quickly taken by the Skeletal Legion and protected. There, the Skeletal Lord learns of the extent of the epidemic and starts planning accordingly. Part of the Smiling Lord’s plan to stay Imperator is to appear as the Strong Man needed to keep things going. This illusion is shattered when a group of Renegades manage to take over the Agora in Stygia and hold it against the Grim Legion for almost a full day. They don’t accomplish much, but the “Agora Dozen” shatter the image of the strong New Stygia and become folk heroes among the Loyalists.

As a consequence of the taking of the Agora, the Emerald Lord decides to switch sides, never being particularly taken with loyalty. The Loyalists grudgingly accept him, as they need his help against the Insurrection. Another consequence is that a Japanese wraith named Hirobumi Ito decides that now is the moment and free the Japanese wraiths held prisoner in “the Paper Cage”. The Skeletal Lord, having gathered his forces at Necropolis Madrid, attacks Lisbon and manages tot ake to the city for the Loyalists. At the key moment of the battle, his brandishing of Charon’s blade, Siklos, manages to convince even a large group of Grim Legionnaire to abandon their Deathlord and join the Loyalists. As a counter to that, and as part of a PR offensive, the Smiling Lrod declares he will not fight “petty rebels”, but the real enemy: Oblivion. He will liberate Florence. He fails: only a fifth of his army survives the brutal battle and makes it back to Stygia. The Skeletal Lord cannot capitalize on his enemy’s failure though, as it seems as if his alliance might come apart: one of the reasons he managed to take Lisbon was promising African wraiths the Lisbon Harbingers (users of the Arcanoi Argos, which is basically travel magic) would then ferry them to Africa. The Harbingers aren’t very keen on it, and tension quickly grows between European and African wraiths. Eventually, a group of harbingers agree to take one boat to the Bush of Ghost, carrying a maximum of 50 wraiths. There’s a lot of infighting to select the lucky ones, and when the boat is lost at sea many start to believe this was all a plan of the Skeletal Lord to break their community apart. The Skeletal Lord merely has the biggest migraine ever. Fed up with both of the Insurrectionists and Loyalists bullshit, Renegades are ever more popular across Europe, and Vienna declares itself an independent sovereign kingdom, and neither the Smiling Lord nor the Skeletal Lord can do anything about it… yet.

Wow, that was a lot of :words:. Next time, we finish Chapter 1 with a look at all the various factions in this giant mess.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Ito Hirobumi was the first and three more times Prime Minister of Japan. He was also the first Resident-General of Korea which brought about his assassination in Harbin, China by a Korean freedom fighter, or terrorist if you're a Japanese right-winger. Harbin was a very Russian city and part of the Russian sphere within China until the Japanese forced them out.

I didn't remember him being in that book but that's cool.

Wraith has a lot of historical character like that. For instance, I forgot to mention that Portuguese dictator Antonio Machado Santos was apparently influential in the Lisbon Necropolis falling to the forces of the Smiling Lord. It's mentioned in only one sentence and then never brought up again.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Zereth posted:

Exalted had a fixed target number, actually.

... Until the Sidereals book showed up.

Because Sidereals are huge dicks. :getin:

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I got a copy of all the Over the Edge books on sale. Even though I'm broke.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


So I got my college gaming club to order a copy of Path of War, and now one of my friend is telling me this is the most overpowered thing ever and triviliazes every other classes. How do I prove him wrong?

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


He claimed that, by the math, the three new classes were just better at everything than everything else. He mostly mentionned the martial classes like barbarians and figthers, but also claiemd many maneuvers were more powerful than equivalent spells.

The big thing that make me think I won't be able to convince him is just how much he hated the idea of getting maneuvers back other than byr esting at the end of the day. He said it made Warlord the most powerful class in the game by far. And that it went against the absic philosophy of DND which is based around dwindling ressources. So yeah. :(

ANyway, thanks for the links! I love reading these kinds of analysis (FATAL and friends is what got me to pay my :10bux: in the first place).

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


No, I meant Warlord the Path of War class.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Thanks guys. I'll see if that helps.

One thing he really kept going back to was the Warlord's Gambits. He especially saw the acrobatics and feint ones as being super broken good.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I played in a game of Rogue Trader once. I played Captain Baron von Munchausen. It was fun.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


John Wick is Bizarro Greg Stolze.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Halloween Jack posted:

Baker once explained it in terms of a graph, with an x-axis and a y-axis. The x is fictional effectiveness--the Hardholder and Hocus define a lot of the game just by being there with their stuff. The y is mechanical effectivess--the Gunlugger and the Driver have a lot of power to do what they say they're going to do. (He also talked about a z-axis, a third dimension to the graph, which is basically how the Battlebabe has the ability to make the game about themself--seizing protagonism.)

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

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Whenever the Cyber-Papacy is mentionned I think back to Jodorowsky's Technopopes.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Rand Brittain posted:

Eh, the Technocracy cares about as much about progress and freedom as the modern First World does—that is to say, a lot on paper and when it's their personal progress and freedom in question, and not so much when it's about the freedom of the people in the Third World who work at Foxconn.

I think it's telling that when the Order of Reason made their big speech about freeing humanity from ti's shackles and making a beter world for everyone, their first target weren't Vampries, Werewolves or Demons, all of which are very clearly dangerous to normal people, but "those guys over there who don't think like me".

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Mage, in many ways, is easily the grayest of the oWoD games. From 2E forward, it's amde rpetty clear that, aside from the Nephandi, no faction si prue goodor pure evil. They're all humans, with all the messiness that comes with it. So even in Sorcerer's Crusade, when the Order of Reason is arguably the "Égood guys" they do a lot of really lovely things that announces their eventual corruption while the Traditions are prideful and selfish and make a lot of stupid decisions but also have a lot of good points.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


The Euthanatos, and Janissaries before them, basically took upon themselves to be the Traditions' police.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I don't know why, but this makes me think of Usagi Yojimbo a lot.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


A friend of mine just linked me this: http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/35440/roleplaying-games/thought-of-the-day-the-5e-consultant-witch-hunt
as king me if it was true or not. I want to say it's bullshit, but I don't really know what I'm talking about...

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Halloween Jack posted:

That really isn't a matter for F&F so I'll just post Ettin's excellent summary and these examples of Zak siccing his followers on people he doesn't like. Let's move on now.

Thanks, that did it.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


GUndam makes a lot more sense once you realize it's 70s Sci-Fi, complete with future psychics who might or might not be the future of humanity.

Heck, Gundam 00 is halfway to being anime Foundation.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


The Nasuverse.

Because there isn't enough anime bullshit in this thread.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


You guys are right, Anime isn't creative enough. Let's go with Literature.

Do Franz Kafka's The Castle.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


My god, Revolver Ocelot, what happened to you!?

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Doodmons posted:

oWoD's position is "all these games take part in the same universe, but the rules and fluff doesn't let that happen"
nWoD's position is "none of these game take part in the same universe, but the rules and fluff supports it if you want"

That's actually hyperbole and not really that true at all, but it's true that that was the intention for nWoD at least.

I never got the impression the nWoD wasn't one setting. It's just that unlike the old one, with Metaplot and revelations and big cosmologies, the new world has been pretty consistent about nothing ever making sense for it's inhabitants. Every answers only leading to mroe questions and things like that. So every gameline is about how that group views the nWoD and is colored by their understanding of it, but every time there's a crossover it becomes clear everyone knows a lot less than they think they do.

So despite being less consistent in how things work, it's actually been a lot more consistent in tone, making it feel more like different corners of one world. IMHO.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I always got a very Nausicaa/Castle in the Sky feel out of Secret of Zir'an.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2ahT77mipE

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


theironjef posted:

Only ever got to use them once (which I think is probably a common experience) so it's hard to really say. I liked the death-defying nature of them, but a lot of those "final destiny" writeups felt samey. It was generally like "You retreat into the mists of history and keep using your rad powers but now it's all ethereal and mythical" next to "Your power grows into legend and people speak of how you used your rad powers in awestruck whispers for centuries."

Dark Sun had all the good Epic Destinies, like becoming an immortal Dragon-Sorceror.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Neopie posted:

On the other hand, while that ties in wonderfully to the themes, it's kind of an rear end to actually, you know, play.

I don't think players need help being gently caress-ups. Like most Vampire players wanting to be some super-smart master manipulator but most end up being a variation of Ziggy Sabotka.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Well, you could have Musketeer-style continental adventures, which the game is actually very much about and better written for. it won't fix the wonky mechanics, of course, but there it is. I mean, the cover of the corebook shows a dude swashbuckling on the rooftops of Not-Venice.

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MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Mors Rattus posted:

Well, for one, the obsession with blood sacrifice, death and filth. They are made to look like evil, terrible, monstrous people all the time.

From the White wolf wiki: "Tlazoltéotl: Goddess of filth, she hopes to expose the darkest secrets within everything."

Tlazolteotl was a goddess of sin and purification. The cleansing of filth as well as the actual stuff. But that's basically stripped away - as are many of the positive aspects of the Aztec gods in favor of BLOOOOOOD. It also ignores anything related to the Mexica and other Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people that still exist. Not that erasing them is rare, of course.

While it's incredibly lovely to erase real people existing today and it's bad writing for a game about gods to describe the gods badly, any kind of take on the Aztec gods as good guys would be fairly hard.

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