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Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 5: All the drat Vampires

This chapter has been a long time in coming, and not just because of the holidays. You see, while the ghul chapter is 19 pages and the revenant chapter is 15 pages, the chapter on vampire PCs is a sprawling, side-bar laden 45 pages, and it gets more than its fair share of character options, pointless jargon, and the art budget.

Do you believe Todd wore a string tie to the semiformal?

The intro page is the same appeal to stupidity to which we’ve grown accustomed. Do you believe in vampires? The Catholic Church blamed them for the Black Death, dontchaknow. There are medical conditions like porphyria that are kind of like vampirism. Lots of people like reading stories about vampires. “Have you not hoped that Lestat is real?” Yes, that is really a sentence in this book.

The most important thing to know about vampires--more meaningful than their lineages, political factions, cool powers, or the one hundred and four bits of vampire jargon littering this chapter--is that they’re the elves of the Everlasting setting. By which I mean they are immortal, beautiful, sensitive, sensual, cultured, and better than you at everything, but they’ve got angst because...well, a norm like you could never understand. Vampires call themselves “dark angels.” It doesn’t say why, but probably because that sounded impressive in ancient Sumeria, and again in 1992. When a mortal becomes a vampire, they shed most of their internal organs and body fat, becoming very lean, very pale, and androgynously pretty. Their senses are supernaturally sharp and precise, and they can shout like a megaphone or speak so softly only other immortals can hear them. They’re supernaturally strong, tough, and dextrous, immune to disease, heal rapidly, and don’t need to breathe. They have excellent, infrared night vision, and their eyes turn cool inhuman colours when they’re excited. It even says that they all have great hair and nails.

All this for the low low price of sleeping at least 4 hours a day, staying out of the sunlight, and drinking human blood.

A willing victim, or a cleverly disguised tree?

Blood? Let’s talk about that. Vampires need blood from living humans. They can feed on animals, but that’s like a heroin-addicted food critic getting by on a diet of methadone and plain oatmeal. So vampires develop tastes for feeding in particular ways, from particular arteries, or from people of a certain sex, age, race, etc. Some prefer virgins.

Vampires lose 3 animus per day, and get 1 animus point for each pint of blood they drain. They don’t need to kill their victims (a dab of their own blood will rapidly heal the wound they create) but most do. Victims who are exsanguinated to death simply die, while those who lose most of their animus but survive become drones. Drones become nocturnal, infatuated with the vampire, and uninterested in their own lives. They recover in a week, unless the vampire feeds regularly. Some vampires learn how to communicate and control their drones telepathically, using them as pawns.

Don't be afraid to show a little femoral.

Vampires have a Blood Potency system, and while it may seem like a ripoff of Vampire: the Masquerade, it’s actually a rip-off of the way things work in Anne Rice’s vampire books. Blood Potency increases with age, or by drinking enough blood from a more potent vampire. Blood Potency decreases when a less potent vampire drinks your blood, or when you create a new scion. Drinking from a stronger vampire is addictive. This creates a dynamic which is absent from Vampire. You can create and enslave weaker vampires to serve you, but this will eventually strengthen them and weaken you until they have as much Potency as you

While you don’t have to sleep more than four hours a day, vampires feel weak and tired for as long as the sun is in the sky, so most of them sleep through the day. (If you spend a few days underground, like say you’re hanging out with your ghulbros, this problem goes away.)

Having a stake lodged in your heart will put you in a coma until it’s removed. It doesn’t have to be a wooden stake, either; a knife or an arrow will do. Decapitation does much the same: your head and body will shrivel, but put ‘em together and they’ll seal right up. Now, being eaten alive by such as a ghul? That’s a true death. Torn to ribbons? That’s a true death. Vat of acid? That’s a true death. Fire and sunlight? First you smolder, then you burst into flames, then you get the women die a true death.

A vampire’s not-Quickening causes every living thing in a quarter-mile to feel a deep sense of peace as the vampire’s soul goes to the afterlife. This seems pretty weird if the vampire is dead because you were chopping him up with an axe and screaming “Die motherfucker die!”

For a relaxing time, always make it Suntory time.

Vampires’ particular Torment is Damnation. It’s impossible to be a vampire without doing evil, but at the same time, you can’t just discard all the beliefs and values from your mortal life without losing your mind. We’re told that most uphold a weird code of honor where they practice “honor among thieves” with other vampires and won’t commit outright betrayal.

Damnation starts at 3, and if it reaches 13, say good-bye to your character sheet. Damnation plays into the Aspect system, too; as it increases, you must add points to some appropriate trait such as Hedonistic or Killer Instinct.

Many people have criticized Vampire: the Masquerade’s Humanity system for being simplistic, but the rules for Damnation are much more vague. A vampire gains a point when they “give in to inhuman depravity beyond their current experience” but can make a Spirit roll to resist their urges. When Damnation reaches 13, the vampire has lost all hope, or they will “go underground for a very long find a way to destroy herself.” Since any vampire can commit suicide by watching the sun rise, I suppose that means the vampire wants to commit suicide, but doesn’t have the nerve. In any case, it’s clearly inspired by the part of the Vampire Chronicles where Lestat, overcome with guilt, retires to a decaying mansion and allows himself to wither away.

Vampires are supposed to be creatures of “inner conflict, tragedy, beauty, damnation, loneliness, self-denial, self-delusion, violence, cruelty, boredom, guilt, and estrangement...intense passion and contrast: loving yet destructive, monstrous yet beautiful.” Yes, seriously. But Damnation is merely an awkward attachment to the Aspects rules, and it serves as a stick for the Guide to beat you with for not roleplaying the way they think you should.

Each vampire bloodline has its own cultural heritage, but the ecumenical vampire culture is sketchy at best. It’s similar to that of the revenants, and the vampires participate in the same “courts of night.” (In fact, vampire fashion is exactly like revenant fashion: we’re paradoxically told that they dress in trendy clothing to fit in with mortals, but oh yeah, most of them wear all black and their taste in accessories leans toward blood-red rubies, silver, occult symbols, and swordcanes.) The book tells us outright that vampire culture is like a social club for privileged, smart, beautiful serial killers, and that their society is all about power-plays. Besides their country club drama, most of them maintain more-or-less normal lives and careers, despite the fact that they can’t conduct ordinary business during ordinary business hours. There is a strong assumption, sometimes explicit and sometimes unspoken, that all vampires are rich, urban, and attractive.

So why do vampires act like characters from American Psycho with high school drama? To “relieve the tedium of immortality,” which is another way of saying “for no particular reason.” This is another example of the authors assuming and hoping you’ll roleplay your characters a certain way, but without giving you much reason to do so, either in the rules or in the setting. You should play your vampire PC as a catty, amoral, neurotic brat because that’s the way they act in the books and movies the writers have been watching.

Necromancy and consanguinity, unliving in perfect harmony

And now we get to the real reason this chapter is longer than three others put together: The consanguinities. Ghuls come in four varieties, revenants have two varieties and three factions, but vampires have not only three subtypes but 12 major bloodlines, each of which gets at least a full page. It’s ironic how poorly this space is used. Many of the consanguinity writeups elaborate too much on the history of their founder--in 1993, I could look up Vlad Tepes in my school library. Every writeup says that, although the consanguinity may have its roots in one country, it has members of all races and nationalities. They all list at least half-a-dozen occupations as common for that consanguinity, which almost always includes either “wealthy dilettante” or “cult leader” or both. It’s as if the author was scared that you’d be afraid to make an atypical character if he didn’t give you his express permission. The White Wolf writers never had to worry about that!

Genitors, also called the self-cursed, are vampires who were not created by another vampire, but were damned by some higher power by committing atrocities. It’s extremely rare, but possible, for people to become self-cursed in modern times--butchering hundreds of people just to watch them die is given as an example of something that might be evil enough. Genitors get their name from the fact that if they create more vampires, they have founded a new consanguinity. The genitors of the existing lines are a matter of legend. But if one dies, their weakest descendents will either become mortal or die themselves, depending on their Blood Potency. (Exactly how humans can become damned to vampirism, and what power does the damning, is a mystery. Vampire legend points to some sort of “Dark Prometheus” who stole a twisted version of immortality from the gods.)

Scions are your standard vampire, created by another vampire draining them dry and then feeding them vampire blood. Being transformed into a vampire this way causes drastic personality changes--in rules terms, you add up all your Persona trait points and reshuffle them, possibly gaining and losing some traits in the process.

Dhampirs are mortals who became vampires by drinking vampire blood. The weakest need a steady supply, but once their potency increases their vampirism sustains itself. Dhampir need to eat, sleep, and breathe in addition to drinking mortal blood, but they look human, and sunlight is only a mild irritant.

And now the consanguinities. Yes, they’re called “consanguinities.” It’s clunky, but remember that the building blocks of Everlasting are Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Shlock Horror, and Bad Latin.

Brain Waster? This whole game is a brain waster.

The Bathora are descended from Elizabeth Bathory, who became self-cursed by torturing, starving, and killing more pretty young girls than Paris Fashion Week. They’re friendly with the revenants, hedonistic, and their claim to fame is being the sole possessors of Blood Magick, which allows vampires to do things like temporarily appear human or withstand sunlight. Some of them are cult leaders or wealthy dilettantes. On the other hand, they have two particular weaknesses: holy water and holy symbols burn them with aggravated insidious debilitating damage, and they don’t have fangs, so they carry picks and razors for feeding.

Step out of my parlour, paleface.

Cihuatateo is one of the most interesting bloodlines. They’re descended from Ai Apaec, the “decapitator god” of the ancient Peruvian Moche people, a very real and thoroughly brutal culture whose religion emphasized human sacrifice, torture, and sexual slavery. The Cihuatateo are up to their necks in the drug trade and other black-market activities, but they’re also known for their vast libraries of books in anthropology, the occult, and magick. Some of them are cult leaders. They have red points in their pupils, and the oldest Cihuatateo start growing multiple red-black eyes up their foreheads, like a giant spider. In game terms, Cihuatateo get free points in a Magickal path, and they are vulnerable to blessed mirrors and the blessed blood of a virgin child, which is probably less worrying than what their mafia rivals are packing.

Be a dear and pass the thalidomide.

The Dakini are descended from the goddess Kali, and were the founders of the Thuggee cult. They are “cult leaders, assassins, artists, terrorist leaders, religious scholars, doctors, healers, fortunetellers, architects, inventors, necromancers, and dark scientists.” See, this is the kind of all-over-the-place crap I was talking about. Anyway, all of them still have a creepy assassin vibe, and they like to live in lairs with bones and antique weapons and depictions of Kali everywhere. Dakini kill people without compassion, but they swear an oath to serve humanity as a whole. Many of them are involved in the war against the demons. (Yeah, remember that big metaplot discussed in the introduction, which provides an easy reason for PCs to work together, but which this book has totally ignored throughout? Yeah, that.) Their weakness is that they have to keep a piece of human bone on them at all times; many embed it in their body. They get free points in Intimidate and Melee. “Melee” is not a skill in this game.

Ha! Ha! I’m wearing my mom’s pantyhose!

The Dracul are descended from you-know-who, and I don’t have to tell you his backstory. After becoming a vampire, Dracula instigated a centuries-long period of war among vampires called the Age of Lamentations when he declared war on several other bloodlines so that he and his scions could gain mad XP from drinking all their blood. (The novel Dracula was actually a coded message announcing to the world that Dracula had finally been hunted down and killed.) As a result, the Dracul are widely despised not only because of the wars but because because relatively young vampires with high Potency makes them noveau riche among bloodsuckers. Anyway, the Dracul writeup is particularly obnoxious about stating that the Dracul are very diverse; some live in covens while some are loners, many are all about manipulating mortals while some don’t care, and so on. Some of them are cult leaders. In game terms, being a Dracul isn’t so great: They get Strength +1, but have several weaknesses in the form of shadows that move about independently, appearing translucent in mirrors, vulnerability to holy water and symbols, and needing to sleep with Carpathian earth in their coffins.

Vampire duckface.

Kingu are weird. Their legendary origin comes from a vampire who was worshipped as Tammuz in ancient Mesopotamia, but their schtick is devoted to the narrow subsubgenre of “horror movies based on circus freaks.” Kingu keep to their own kind, in traveling carnivals and spooky museum-of-horrors lairs. Some of them are cult leaders. The Kingu even control their own alternate dimension called Hubur, which is full of strange freakish creatures. (This raises the same “Why don’t they just move there?” question as with the ghuls and the Underworld.) Kingu get weirder and more twisted as they age. Rules-wise, Tod Browning’s Kingu get a +1 to Supernature, and must have a physical deformity or mental illness. They’re vulnerable to garlic.

No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Gothic
Movement: Wicca
Attacks: The Patriarchy

The Lamia are descended from the Greek mythological queen, who was transformed into a child-eating monster. The Lamia are almost entirely female, and cluster together in wealthy, aristocratic covens. Some of them are cult leaders and most are wealthy dilettantes. All Lamia spend a few nights every few months and a couple of months out of the year transformed into giant white worms, winding their way through tunnels underneath their coven houses. Their genitor is still around, and spends most of her time in worm form. They get a bonus to Dexterity, and the ability to transform into worms for their Arrakis National Guard duty is both compulsory and free. They’re vulnerable to saint’s blood, holy relics, and wild rose petals.

Isn’t Dave Navarro devilish enough already?

Lilim are descended from the mythological Lilith, and are believed to be part demon. They’re known for fighting both for and against demons. Lilim is possibly the oldest consanguinity, and they have a reputation for being knowledgeable about spirits and vampire lore, and their lairs are full of priceless ancient artifacts. Many of them have one or two demonic physical oddities, like horns or a tail. They get a bonus to Arcana and Illumination, and their only particular weakness is to certain Kabalistic magic.

Ugliest locket in the thrift store.

The Nosferatu are descended from Czernobog, the “black god” of Slavic myth, which is the rationalization for them all looking like Count Orlok. Nosferatu experiment with disease, and their gnarled, ratlike, rigored appearance is believed to be the result of an experiment gone wrong. Besides this, their schtick seems to be a complete and total ripoff of the Nosferatu in Vampire--they keep company with rats, live in tunnel networks, and control mortal information networks from a distance. Some of them are cult leaders. All Nosferatu have the advantage of looking like, well, Nosferatu. They get a bonus to Resilience, complete immunity to disease, and the ability to temporarily make their face appear normal.


Obayifo are African vampires with a reputation as voodoo masters, shapeshifters, and cult leaders. They’re descended from a zombie master who led a bloody reign of terror across much of Africa many centuries ago. They usually congregate in religiously-oriented covens, and keep zombie servants. Ironically, though they spent centuries ruthlessly lording over Africa, many of them believe in protecting Africa from foreign exploitation. They get a free, unique Obayifo magickal path, and their only particular weakness is to certain African traditional magics.

Cyberpunk was a terrible album. Get over it.

The Penanggalans are the scions of a Malaysian sorceress who sought redemption, but was killed and cursed to never find peace before she could do so. Only mortals with strong psychic potential can become penanggalans, and many of them are scholars, psychic detectives, or wealthy dilettantes. They aren’t numerous, but they’re spread all over the world. They can learn the unique ability to detach their limbs and control them telekinetically. They get a bonus to Spirit and Empower. Penanggalans are vulnerable to jeruju leaves, thorns coated in human blood, and particular Malaysian magics.

Her eyebrows weren’t fit to survive.

The Tantalusi are a line of cold, hard bastards who follow a weird code of ethics wherein they cull the human population to promote “survival of the fittest.” They act as a peacekeeping faction among vampires and have been the architects of many political achievements in human and vampire society, stretching back to ancient Rome. Their founder was the mortal son of a daeva who wanted immortality for himself, and achieved it by practicing depraved acts of cannibalism until he became a vampire. He’s supposed to be still locked in a hellish alternate dimension where the daevas imprisoned him as punishment. They have a history of being judges, lawyers, architects, historians, economists, bankers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, philosophers, and teachers, but not wealthy dilettantes or cult leaders. Tantalusi are even more pale than most vampires, and some have stark white hair and brass-coloured eyes. Animals find them unnerving, and Tantalusi can be incapacitated by placing a knotted rope on their sleeping body; they’re compelled to untie all the knots, giving you plenty of time to kill them. They get a bonus to Influence.

I know karate. And the lyrics to every Karate song.

The Xiang Shi are mostly Asian and primarily Chinese. They have a reputation for being great investors, crime bosses, poets, and martial artists, because duh, they’re Asian. Their origin story is funny. There was an ancient Chinese warrior-king who sought the secret of immortality and conquered everything in his path. A rival petty king taught him about vampirism, in order to save his own country from being conquered. The warrior-king refused to be bound to another vampire, so he set out deliberately committing atrocities in order to become a genitor. He died a mortal, and surprise surprise, the petty king became a genitor because he was the architect behind all the conqueror’s atrocities. Anyhow, the Xiang Shi are masters of martial arts and have invented their own. They’re too busy practicing kung fu to have time to be wealthy dilettantes or cult leaders. Some of them are hackers, because Asians are good with computers. Most are Buddhists who believe in self-perfection through poetry and martial arts. They can be warded off by rice and iron filings, and they get a bonus to Martial Arts.

After the consanguinities we get a little more on vampire culture. Vampires get grouped based on their age, from “newborns” who haven’t lived longer than a mortal lifespan to “ancients” who are literally so, and are rarely seen subjects of legend. Right now, vampires as a whole are embroiled in skirmishes which might be the prelude to another war. Inter-bloodline covens called “murder circles” are actively hunting down enemy vampires to drain their blood or set fire to their lairs. Many vampires gather in covens; some are hierarchical families within one consanguinity, some are the “family” of a parent vampire and their scions, while others are inter-bloodline covens who gather because they have something in common.

Vampire lairs can range from derelict buildings to palatial estates, but what most of them have in common is that they are spacious, modified to block out sunlight, and contain traps and secret escape routes. Even so, many vampires have minions to protect them during the day. Sometimes they make humans or animals into dhampir servants, but they also rely on well-paid mortal thugs.

If this was supposed to be Marilyn Manson, it aged better than he did.

As far as their relations with other eldritch are concerned, I can sum it up by saying that they really don’t care for any of them. They’re indifferent to angels and daevas, consider the Tolkien races beneath their notice, and regard questers and spirits as something to be avoided.

Kewl Vampyre Powarz

Vampires get more than their fair share when it comes to the innate powers, too.

Fortunately, none of them make you look like this.

Aura of Dread: Induce terror with eye contact.
Avatar of the Kali Ma: Dakini only; you transform into a giant, black, six-armed monster.
Black Reverence: Forces nearby mortals to regard you with, y’know, reverence.
Black Widow Walk: Walk up walls like a spider.
Blood of the Immortals: Bathora only; Causes a mortal to age at half the usual rate. Must be reused each year.
Cadaver of Nightmist: You can transform into a glowing mist, and start a terrible metal band.
Deather Crafting: Obayifo only; animates a zombie servant.
Deathstorm: Causes nasty weather.
Erase Feeding: Causes a mortal to forget you fed from them.
Form of the Beast: Each time you buy this one, you learn how to transform into a bat, wolf, rat, raven, or owl.
Hardened Skin: Permanently increases Resilience.
Haunting Reflections: Produces an illusion which is “real” to one sense per success. Illusions can deal damage if the target doesn’t roll to disbelieve.
Inhuman Strength: Permanently increases Strength.
Legacy of Lilith: Lilim only; this nekros allows shapeshifting with few limits. You can change your face, voice, overall body shape, and produce weapons from your body.
Lightning Speed: Permanently increases Speed.
Mesmerism: Mind control through eye contact and simple verbal commands.
Mind Reading: Read a subject’s thoughts.
Night’s Embrace: Raise a cloud of impenetrable black fog.
Nightbeasts’ Kin: Compel animals to regard you kindly.
Ride the Nightwinds: You can fly.
Self-Dismemberment: Penanggalan only; you can detach your head and/or limbs and control them telekinetically.
Shadowmask: Hide your mind from psychic detection.
Song of the Nightbeasts: You can summon and control swarms of rats, bats, or wolves.
Un-dead Sensitivity: You can sense nearby eldritch.
Unholy Splendor: Permanently increases Presence.
The Unseen: Become invisible.
Vampiric Ballon: Permanently increases Dexterity. Thank you, Everlasting, for teaching me the word “ballon.”
Vanishing: Allows you to seem to disappear while quietly escaping.
Weather Mastery: You can alter the weather to your liking.
Will’o the Wisp Body: Obayifo and Xiang Shi only; you can become an intangible, floating orb of green light.

Sawblade Werewolf is not a power, I’m afraid.

Although the author has spent the entire chapter telling us that vampires are damned, selfish, cartel-running, cult-leading wealthy dilettantes with no regard for human life, the section on roleplaying vampires tells us that vampires are no fun when they embrace their evil nature and that this game is about heroes. We’re told to accomplish this by playing up guilt, remorse, and self-loathing at every opportunity. However, the suggested themes for a vampire campaign emphasize common enemies in the form of daevas, demons, vampire hunters, a rival consanguinity, rival kingdoms of night, and finally “Quest for Redemption.”

Next time, on The Everlasting: Holy poo poo, this isn’t the last character class. Ghosts, everybody!


Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
I don't want to make assumptions about who wrote Destiny's Price, especially since four of the six co-authors never contributed to another roleplaying book in their lives. (Gee, I wonder why?) But what are the odds this is a middle-class straight white guy telling us about the HARD STREETS, YO?

Somebody could write an entire book about the weird aesthetic of the 90s and how it was obsessed with conspiracies, apocalypse, subculture, and crime. Why all the crime? Crime was dropping when this book was published.

Ningyou posted:

Second, some people are born in the ghetto or sink into poverty and it's really depressing, but others? They descend to the ghetto because society is a rat race and even if you succeed you only get THEIR PIE and THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH OF THEIR PIE TO GO AROUND MAN and unlike the rest of the sheeple who DON'T EVEN QUESTION AUTHORITY BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLER they're brave enough to escape the great rat race that is literally everywhere else and the streets are a vast hidden world full of danger but also possibilities and "the opportunity to forge an existence according to your rules, according to your values."
Man, White Wolf really, really walked the line between having sympathy for marginalized people and glorifying their suffering in some sort of magick minstrel show.


In fact, everything is relative! "Drive-bys and carjackings and beating lonely masochists for pay (????one of these things is not like the other) might seem horrific to someone whose main worry is whether the neighbor's lawn is more expensively manicured then her own!"
He watched the scene in Dirty Harry where Scorpio pays a black guy to punch him and assumed it was a cottage industry, I suppose.


The next section is blessedly short -- ~street people~ go by ~street names~ like "Needle Dick the Bug Fucker"
Street people read Dan Clowes?

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
On reflection, the trend that was running through most media I was exposed to in the 90s, gaming included, was that it was thoroughly adolescent. Adolescents are preoccupied with entertainment that's "serious" and "not for kids" but their tastes are still simplistic and indulgent. This is why the 90s gave us things like a Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon with cybernetic body horror and comic book superheroes with names like Deathblow and Hellstrike.

What separated White Wolf from their dozens of imitators was that they had some genuinely creative people, and they also had some people with perspective who could handle creative leadership--enforcing a consistent vision of the world, and running herd on people (usually freelancers) who wrote poo poo that was self-ignorant and downright ludicrous. When that oversight broke down, it blurred the line between White Wolf and its ripoffs.

(This is my thoroughly biased perspective: I turned 18 in 2001, and I grew up with action and genre fiction, so I'm completely ignoring romance and comedy.)

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Bieeardo posted:

And sure, belief as a cornerstone of metaphysics-- hell, the global metaphysic-- is a cornerstone of the old WoD. That can work, and interestingly... until you start throwing in the kind of stuff that makes people surprised to hear Charnel Houses of Europe: the Shoah was actually a good book.
I could never reconcile the cosmologies of Mage, Werewolf, and Vampire, myself. Honestly I thought Gehenna was pretty ballsy for saying "Yep, Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Lilith existed and they were cursed by the God of the Old Testament, eat it nerds."

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Ningyou posted:

but butbutbut they weren't sneering at science all the time i mean Mage let you play the gently caress YOU DAD hackers who literally hack the planet with magic computers and magic maths and the dirigible-ridin' steampunk gentleman aethernauts/wacky fringe scientists that's science right :ohdear:
That wasn't science :engleft:, it was SCIENCE! :science:

And by the way, I played Mage when the Revised version came out, but...the Avatar Storm and all the stuff that was endlessly argued about online never factored into our games at all, and neither did the new viewpoint on the Technocracy as being no worse than the Traditions (who apparently want to turn Earth into the Dying Earth). My understanding of the Technocracy came from the fiction, where they were ludicrously evil motherfuckers who kept mages in torture chambers and powered their brainwashed mutant cyborg assassins with batteries that run on the suffering of a million kicked puppies.

Evil Mastermind posted:

Which wasn't so bad until Mage came out and all of a sudden it was all "wait, how come vampires and werewolves don't generate Paradox", "How the hell can vampires use their Disciplines to resist someone reshaping reality", and "why do werewolves and mages go to two separate spiritual realms?"
Frankly, Mage shouldn't have been part of the World of Darkness, for so many reasons.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
If I remember correctly, the first Akashic book basically asserts that the principles of the Shaolin temple formed the basis of all East Asian civilization.

deadly_pudding posted:

Needs to be Mage canon. Just keep it all the same, except NWO is a bunch of edgy heel wrestlers in matching t-shirts. The players who don't get super mad and walk out as soon as Hollywood Hogan emerges from the black helicopter are the players you want to keep around :3:
Dude, even wrestling fans got sick of Hogan. But if they sneer at Malenko vs. La Parka, gently caress 'em.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 21:25 on Jan 9, 2014

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Majuju posted:

No it's cool, nobody reads these things anyhow. What's your favourite d20 Modern splatbook, for when I finish the core?
I hate it when I don't get any response to my writeups, so I want you to know that yours are appreciated. I just pretty much read 'em and say "Yep, it's D20 90s Television Show." It's got all the problems of D20 but it's not balls-hanging-out crazy.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 7: gently caress You, Ghost Dad

Do you believe this chapter doesn’t begin with a tedious “Do you believe in ghosts?” screed? I don’t. Ghosts are a character type in this game; you can play them, I guess. Ghosts don’t receive as much attention as vampires, only getting 15 pages and 69 unique jargon terms.

Sometimes when you die, your soul doesn’t get to go through the tunnel of light to the Afterlife, and you’re not cool and pretty enough to become a revenant, either. These ghosts, called Dead Souls are disembodied spirits who wander around the Underworld being all sad and stuff. Nobody knows how or why Dead Souls get stuck with such a terrible lot in unlife, which is why they’re also called the condemned.

Do you believe someone saw Mary on the stairway?

Dead Souls’ ethereal bodies are called “cadavers,” which is confusing, because they’re not zombies, they’re disembodied spirits. Their bodies are made of soul-stuff called “nekrum.” By default, they look (and smell) like they did when they were buried, but they can learn to reshape their nekrum into other forms. Like other eldritch, Dead Souls lose animus every day. Regaining it is much, much easier for Dead Souls than for everybody else, but remember that their unlives are really lovely, and regaining animus is no exception. They can eat the unpalatable “rotting food of the Underworld” or they can sleep, which regains animus very quickly but which they experience as a nightmarish fever-dream. They can also steal life-energy from other spiritual beings they encounter by literally pinning them down and sucking it out of them like some kind of wrestling fetish video.

Dead Souls aren’t exactly stuck in the Underworld, either. They can learn to slip into the Reverie and the Dreamworlds, and can even pass through those realms to the real world, where they can float around, walk through walls, and moan and be spooky and stuff. When they’re in the real world, people nearby can feel their “ultimate gloom and sorrow” and touching a person results in chills and depressing visions. Being a Dead Soul is like living on the far side of town with a lovely apartment and a crappy dead-end job for all eternity.

Like revenants, Dead Souls have deathvision, meaning they can sense “the inevitable end of things and the various stages of degeneration and change.” So when a Dead Soul sees a boy playing in the street, he can see the boy, what the boy will look like as an old man, and even that he’s not likely to become an old man if he doesn’t stop playing in a street where 12 animals have been hit by cars in the past month. They notice decay that other people overlook, and have a hard time appreciating beauty because they perceive everything in terms of inevitable entropy. Being dead is really sad, okay?

There’s some more on the ankou from the revenant chapter. They’re not just one faction of revenants who are dicks, they’re law enforcement for all of the dead and somehow connected to Death itself. When a soul bounces off the tunnel of light leading to the Afterlife, the ankou judge them in the “Courts of Death.” Most are just left alone, but some are sentenced to years of literally Sisyphean labor. Those who try to escape are sent to the Circles of Atrocity, which are basically Dante’s Inferno.

There are several types of Dead Souls. The first is the Earthbound, who are free to roam Ethereus, the first level of the Underworld, but can’t go further without help. By and large, Earthbound are very attached to the living world. There are several subtypes, including Undying Obsessives, who want to finish some life’s work, Harbingers of the Dead, who try to warn humans of danger and protect them from evil spirits, Breathstealers, who possess the living because they’re obsessed with enjoying life, Night Haunts, who haunt people for fun because they’re assholes, and Guardians of the Night, who do the same thing as the Harbingers but with different wording.

Phantoms are powerful Dead Souls who live in a self-created Shadoworld, a pocket dimension created by their own mind. Phantoms spend most of the time trapped in their own little world, literally, reliving their own lives. Sometimes they suppress their hallucinations long enough to travel around a bit and even contact humans in the real world. Phantoms aren’t all bad, and some even try to help humans they used to know on a regular basis; the human experiences the phantom’s shadoworld as a daydream. But Phantoms are bad news because even when they suppress their shadoworld, they carry it with them wherever they go, and other Dead Souls can be trapped in it.

Shades are Dead Souls who can travel anywhere they want to in the Underworld. Most of them want to forget their past lives, so they travel past Ethereus and live in the Dreadlands, which aren’t pleasant but at least don’t constantly remind you of how much better it was to be alive. The Praxor is the ruling class of shades. They organize themselves like mafia syndicates, structure the economy so the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and wage war against each other. They’re dicks.

The Shades are confusing because, as with the ghaddars from the ghul chapter, what we know about living in the Underworld comes in fragments and implications. We know that
the Dreadlands are a vast, overpopulated ghetto, full of Dead Souls who want to experience pleasure, avoid pain, and forget their old lives. Prostitution, drug use, and committing assault and torture for kicks are common in the Dreadlands. Shades have to work and earn money like humans, and much modern technology doesn’t work in the Dreadlands, so many jobs are menial drudgery. The Dreadlands have native animal life, but few plants, so most shades wear clothing made of metal and hide. Basically we know that shades eat, drink, gently caress, work, and pay bills like people, but everything is pretty lovely unless you’re rich.

The Rakasha are constitutionally similar to Dead Souls, but they’re not really dead people--they’re invaders from some other dimension. They’ve been waging a low-intensity war to conquer the Underworld for a long time, and they know how to shapeshift into fang-mawed tentacled Lovecraftian beasts.

The police in your town would dress like this if they could.

Ankou are the servants of Death. Their duties include cutting the “silver cord” that binds souls to their recently deceased bodies, guarding and escorting the newly dead to the afterlife, and stopping Dead Souls from possessing mortals, which is stealing life that doesn’t belong to them. Everyone else has to call them “Lord/Lady Deathbringer” and they’re dicks.

Life Cords and Death Chains

All Dead Souls have Life Cords and Death Chains, which are positive and negative connections to their mortal lives. Life Cords are things like your love for your family, your career, or a happy childhood, whereas Death Chains are regretful things like having had a bad temper, a drug addiction, or wronging someone you loved. You assign 20 points to Life Cords and 20 points to Death Chains to represent your connections and how strongly you identify them, but the ratings don’t actually matter. Even better, the Guide isn’t encouraged to punish you for not roleplaying your Cords and Chains correctly. Instead, you can act on your Cords and Chains to your benefit.

Dead Souls’ Torment is Imprisonment, which they have along with Freedom. As one goes up, the other goes down. Accepting your place in the Underworld and doing things to increase your wealth and power there increases your Imprisonment--that’s why shades live in the Dreadlands, to forget their old lives, give in to Imprisonment, and try to make the best of life in the Underworld instead of resolving their issues and moving on.

You can increase Freedom and reduce Imprisonment by working with your Cords and Chains.You act on your Cords by remembering your old life, doing the earthly activities you enjoyed, and contacting the living. You act on your Chains by changing yourself for the better, forgiving yourself and others, and making contact with the living to help them and obtain closure.

Sonnn…Lose the trenchcoat and the fedora, sonnn…

Playing with Dead Things

In the Dreadlands, everything is made from nekrum, and Dead Souls can reshape simple rocks and dirt into more complex objects if they make rolls and expend enough animus. Any Dead Soul anywhere in the Underworld or the Reverie can use ambient nekrum to conjure objects related to their Life Cords and Death Chains--even vehicles and weapons, with enough effort and animus. Guides are encouraged to disallow abusive or “silly” Life Chains to have an excuse to conjure whatever you want. B-b-but my character really loved clown college!

There are lots of ways that Dead Souls interact with mortals. For one, there are a lot of “ancient laws” which the dead have to obey just because. They can’t use their powers on holy ground, they’re drawn to their own funerals, they have to answer questions posed through ouija boards while they’re around, they must serve magicians who hold their former possessions, etc. Basically the Guide gets to gently caress with you whenever he pleases.

There’s about a page worth of difrerent methods mortals use to contact the dead--seances, voodoo rituals, channeling, and even contact by telephone, but there are no rules for it. Likewise the means of repelling the dead, such as horseshoes , white candles, and pouring salt across thresholds. Some humans have the natural ability to see the dead; Dead Souls call them “bonekith.” Others, called Flatliners, can travel astrally. There are no rules for human stats in the Underworld.

There are sects obsessed with Dead Souls. The Charontes are obsessed with creating revenants; some of them even deliberately become revenants, and they murder beautiful people so they can use their corpses, sort of like rock journalists. There’s also a sect of Dead Souls called the Keres, who hunt down and kill certain mortals for unknown reasons.

Ghost’s Anatomy

Dead Souls only suffer debilitating wounds from magickal attacks and fire, and even then, the attack has to be “real” to the ghost, so only other spirits can hurt them while they’re intangibly floating around in the real world. There is no True Death for ghosts--if they die, they collapse into ectoplasmic goop and eventually reform, amidst a pile of other corpses in Ethereus. (When people die, their astral form leaves a nekrum corpse, so there are corpses all over Ethereus.)

As discussed, all Dead Souls have the power to conjure equipment, change their appearance, and float around. They also have the ability to provoke a strong emotion in mortals by touching them, and the ability to possess mortals. Possession, like everything else, requires spending animus and rolling. Depending on how well you do, you can simply ride along, or compel them to take an action, or speak through them, or probe their innermost thoughts. It lasts for a few minutes unless you spend more animus.

Like the other types, Dead Souls have preternaturae:

Apparitions: Create illusions as the vampire power.
Black Ratchet: Take the form of a fearsome black dog.
Black Water: Create “shadowy arms” in water that drag people down to drown. Cause I'd like to hear some funky Dixieland, pretty mama come and take me by the hand. By the hand, take me by the hand pretty mama come and dance with your daddy all night long.
Call the Black Storm: As the vampire power, it causes nasty lovely rainy weather.
Corpse Candle: Create a floating eerie light to lure people.
Corpse Melding: You can drastically change your voice, sex, etc. to resemble someone else.
Hand of Death: Kill people by touching them.
Midsight: Read surface thoughts.
Poltergeist: It’s a telekinesis power, whaddaya want?
Secrets of the Dead: Learn things about someone just by being near them and concentrating. This is how ghosts glean the secrets they reveal through ouija boards. If you have nothing better to do than use your magick powers to tell a teenage girl who has a crush on her, you definitely deserve to be a Dead Soul.
Shadow of Death: Makes it difficult for others to perceive you (even other ghosts).
Stalker from Beyond: Become invisible and write letters to Jodie Foster.

Strangely, unlike the other chapters, this one has some sample characters. One is Crazy Gretchen, who lost her family in the crossfire of a mob shootout and started hunting down and killing mobsters with a meat cleaver. Do not taunt Ghostly Kitchen Punisher.

Henry O’Keenly, killed by his wife for being keen on another woman. Used to be a ghost handyman, wants to buy a body and become a revenant.

Peaches Monroe, a circus clown who was killed by an escaped tiger. Peaches is a phantom whose Shadoworld is like an old-fashioned traveling circus. This is clearly an attempt to run a campaign full of Kingu and I’m not having it. Stop watching Joe Bob Briggs at 3 o’clock in the goddamn morning and forget about the loving carnivals you juggalo motherfucker!

Thus concludes this lovely depressing version of Golden Sky Stories.

Next time, on The Everlasting: What they believe, like the stars and stripes of corruption. FRANKENSTEIN!

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
I'm not a Wraith guy, so I really don't know. In other chapters I could actually spot the bits of movies and TV shows that they were ripping off, but all I got from this chapter is that being a ghost is very, very sad.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 8: That’s “Fronckensteen!”

The “do you believe?” paragraph at the beginning of the reanimates chapter is particularly corny--even the waterheads who believe in vampires and buy books by people with names like Konstantinos and Starhawk aren’t out buying torches and pitchforks in case Frankenstein’s monster attacks. It mentions the people who have their heads cryogenically frozen, and wonders if scientists might be capable of reanimating the dead already. (Even as a zombie, the creepiest thing about Walt Disney would still be that goddamn moustache.) As somebody who works for a pathology department, let me assure you that Victor Frankenstein wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without a job at Pfizer or a grant from the NIH.

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around.

Reanimates are created by “dark scientists” who combine medical and occult science to trap a Dead Soul and implant it in a dead body. There isn’t one correct method, but any way you slice it (sorry) reanimation requires a large laboratory with things like meat lockers, chemical baths, intimidating orthopedic surgery tools, and spooky machines with lights and dials and Tesla coils and poo poo like that. Even an experienced mad scientist with cutting-edge (sorry) equipment can only get it right about 25% of the time.

The “scientist” in charge picked out individual lips, cheeks, breasts, and a navel. The first woman designed with the help of r/MensRights/‎ and a suave fedora.

Reanimates come in three basic varieties. The first is fleshfreaks, who are created from parts of recently-dead bodies. A reanimator may harvest parts from more than two dozen fresh corpses to assemble a specimen. The most interesting thing about fleshfreaks, and indeed the whole chapter, is that their creation is driven by a group called the Friends of the Automatons, scientists who create reanimates “for the betterment of mankind.” They’re competitive, they circulate an underground medical journal (called The Re-Animator Monthly :rolleye:), and they prize creations that are healthy, attractive, and resistant to aging and disease. The first fleshfreaks were created 275 years ago with chemicals and galvanism. (When this book was published, that would be 1720, more than a century before the publication of Frankenstein.) Fleshfreaks themselves come in three subtypes. Superiors are walking masterpieces and indeed physically superior to most people. Patchworks are, well, not-so-seamless attempts, and often suffer from visible scarring and mismatched body parts, while Obscenities are twisted and deformed. Fleshfreaks often have the “advantage” of cybernetic implants and extra organs, transplanted from both humans and animals. Most reanimators aren’t deliberately trying to create monstrous deformities, so subtle advantages like a second heart and night vision are much more common than extra limbs and eyes.

Hey, sexy mama...wanna kill all humans?

Deathmechs are reanimated bodies who have had some of their parts replaced with cybernetics. Several governments and powerful eldritch have discovered the secret of creating deathmechs to serve them, including a US government program called Project Ghostwalker which has been around since the late ‘40s. Deathmechs have a sorry lot--most of them are built to be perfectly effective, obedient killing machines, not to enjoy quality of life or have the physique of a Greek god. Most of them are dehumanized with names like KLFK-9000 and discouraged from developing their humanity or recovering memories of “past lives.” They often have scarring and visible cybernetic implants, need regular maintenance, and worst of all, may have to have more and more necrotic tissue excised and replaced with machinery. Their bodies are often implanted with weapons, armor, reinforced tissues, and all kinds of sensors.

Golems are entirely magickal, entirely inorganic reanimates. The first was created by Kabbalists, but other magickal traditions have copied their methods. Golems don’t need to eat, sleep, or breathe, and they’re hard as stone, but they still enjoy five senses and the ability to speak and move with the suppleness of a human body. Many can pass for human, they’re just square-featured and plain, unless their creator deliberately sculpts them to have monstrous features or extra limbs and eyes and such.

Maybe it’s a good thing Robert Smith got fat.

Reanimates’ Torment is literally Angst, and needs little explanation, though “monstrosity” might be a better word. Reanimates are created fully-formed without a natural origin or identity, so they struggle with self-loathing, disgust with their own capacity for violence, and a tendency toward depression and impulsive violent behaviour. Revenants fight Angst by developing relationships and finding meaning and emotion in their lives, and give in to Angst by giving up their free will and becoming distant from humans.

Like other unliving, reanimates lose 3 animus a day, but their means of regaining it is left almost entirely to the Guide. Fleshfreaks and deathmechs usually need electricity or chemical baths; the process can be as simple as attaching a gadget plugged into a wall outlet, while there are guidelines for how much daily chemical baths should cost. Magickal means of recharging, like herbal concoctions or spending time recharging in a magic circle are completely up to the Guide. Some reanimates have to eat human flesh, in which case they gain animus from it just like ghuls.

Reanimates all get increased Aspects, rapid healing (but not regeneration), and resistance to disease, poison, and drowning. Deathmechs also get body armor, golems get more body armor, and any reanimate may have enhanced senses. They take debilitating damage from fire (except golems) and can be “killed” by decapitation or damage that’s more than twice their Life score, but as long as the brain is mostly intact, they can be rebuilt.

If you’re playing a reanimate, your innate advantages and disadvantages can vary wildly with the Guide’s attitude. Fortunately, beyond “maybe you need to eat plutonium to power your railgun penis, just wing it” reanimates do have a few preternature available.

Revenant powers are called Augmentations and are as follows:

Animal Sensory Organ Transplant: You get a bonus to tests using a particular sense.
Chemically/Pneumatically Enhanced Musculature: Permanently boosts Strength.
Electromagnetic Metabolic Enhancement: You have regeneration and the ability to regrow lost limbs.
Fringe Lurker: Like powers for several other character types, this makes you unnoticeable without conveying true invisibility.
Human Perfection: You can force mortals to revere and be in awe of you.
Neuro-Net: Permanently boosts Speed.
Post-mortem Memory Retention: You fully remember your past lives, and levels in this augmentation permanently boosts Intellect and gives you free skill points.
Synthetic Flesh: Permanently boosts Resilience.
Wallcrawl: Like several other powers, you can climb walls like a spider.

The sample character is named Alexandra Cruesoe who is actually interesting. She was a ballerina who died in a fire, and whose husband reanimated her as a patchwork fleshfreak. She lives in seclusion as a science fiction writer and makeup prosthetic artist, which allows her to leave her home from time to time. Her writing has been very successful, and now her agent is pressuring her to do a book signing tour to promote a book that’s been made into a film.

Next time, on The Everlasting: Join the Everlasting Fun Club, Mac!

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

JohnnyCanuck posted:

Soooo... I gather Marvel Comics never saw this?


Great artists steal :colbert:

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

I could never figure out why Changeling seemed to have been written by people who had terrible childhoods but idolized childhood. This kind of explains it; they're mad that the tea party had to end.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 9: The Othered Everlasting

The original World of Darkness games each included a brief chapter on antagonists, including rules for thugs, cops, guard dogs...and the other supernatural races “translated” into stats for the game you were reading. A vampire campaign could include mage antagonists or vice versa, without having to buy two books.


This chapter of The Everlasting is like that, only lovely. It gives an overview of the other races of Everlasting, along with their Torment and their innate abilities. Yet it doesn’t include any explicit powers, statblocks, or other things that would actually encourage you to use these other supernaturals in your campaign. Instead, it feels more like a 15-page advertisement for the other books in the Everlasting product line--which have already chewed up too much space in this book, which spent its introduction dealing with daevas and demons which seem to be of little interest to any of the unliving races.

Angels are timeless beings from a “higher spiritual plane” who watch over humanity. They have several different forms depending on what layer of reality they’re currently occupying (ooh, purple haze). They all know that they have some kind of special destiny to serve the cosmos, but they also have free will and worldly desires, leading to fallen angels. Their Torment is Imperfection--the temptation to give in to worldly concerns.

Angel powers include enhanced senses, Aspects, regeneration, flying on wings of light, and telepathic angel speech that transcends dimensional boundaries. They regain animus by spending time on the higher planes. They can be killed, but they’ll form a new earthly body--it’s impossible to really kill these hippie bastards.

Daevas are humans who are transformed into demigods reminiscent of pagan myth. They all have precognitive ability related to their ability to perceive the “Web of Destiny.” They used to be the most numerous eldritch, but half of them vanished in the setting’s big metaplot event. They organize themselves into “households” modeled after pagan pantheons. Their Torment is Doom--they become trapped by their visions of the future, and fear their ultimate destiny in a final apocalyptic battle. Some become obsessed with trying to change their fate, others with clinging to ritual and routine.

Hey baby, do you have inside you blood of kings? Would you like some?

Daevas get the standard package of enhanced senses, Aspects, and regeneration, plus a prescient ability to predict likely futures and an aura that projects their emotions into others. They recover animus simply through food, rest, and meditation. Each has a particular vulnerability (the guy from the sample fiction was allergic to gold).

Dragons are literal forces of nature who ruled a prehistoric fantasy civilization until they were overthrown. They spend most of their time in human form; transforming into their dragon forms is difficult. They hate demons and evil versions of their own kind, the leviathans and azhi dahaka. Their Torment is Furor; their anger at being overthrown tempts them to despoil the world for their own gain and destroy anyone who gets in their way.

Oh yeah, you’re a dirty little treasure horde, aren’t you? Yeah, take it baby.

Dragons have a lot of powers. Each dragon has an elemental connection and is adapted to survive in some kind of lethal environment (like the Antarctic or the inside of a volcano). They have body armor, acid blood, enhanced memory, enhanced senses, increased Aspects, rapid healing, resistance to toxins, disease, and pressure, low-light and infravision, the ability to comprehend all languages, and in dragon form, the ability to swallow enemies whole. They regain animus from food, rest, and eating gems. Dragons have no particular weaknesses, but can be permanently killed with enough damage.

Elves are hybrids of humans and creatures from the realm of Faerie. Their civilization has lasted for millennia and they exist on many parallel worlds, resulting in many elven nations. They inspired many human epics, and they breed and keep fantastic beasts. Although elves are more closely connected to humanity than to Faerie, which they consider strange and bizarre, their Torment is Yearning, a weariness with worldly concerns and a desire to pass into their spiritual afterlife.


Elves benefit from enhanced memory, senses, agility, increased Aspects, rapid healing, and night vision. They regain animus from food and meditation (just like D&D). They’re vulnerable to intense cold and fire, and enough damage will kill them.

Faerie is a broad classification of creatures from a magickal dimension with strong ties to the primal force of nature. There are dozens of differently kinds of faerie, some of which aren’t even humanoid. Their bodies are a combination of spirit and matter, and they only age when they’re in an earthly realm. They’re often identified as nature spirits, but it’s more accurate to say that they’re embodiments of chaos and infinite possibility. Their Torment is a conflict between Fayerie and Lucidity--as Fayerie increases, they become more chaotic and imaginative to the point where the line between the real and unreal blurs, and they transcend beyond three-dimensional reality.

The difference between elves and faeries? Eyebrow quills.

Faerie have enhanced senses, Aspects, and regeneration, the ability to “recognize patterns in chaos,” resistance to disease, and the ability to alter their voice and appearance. They regain animus by draining the foyson, that is, the innate power from everything. This is harmless and unnoticeable when they drain it from the lands they protect, but they can also steal it from individual objects, causing milk to spoil, plants to wither, metal to rust, and electronics to malfunction. They’re vulnerable to fire and specific faerie foils that aren’t listed here. Faerie who die may reincarnate sooner or later.

Gargoyles are confusing. Original, as near as I can tell, but confusing. They’re a race of celestial spirits, bound into stone bodies by an ancient cult. They were created to guard sacred places and fight demons. They’re also called “Sin-Eaters” because...oh, I’ll let the book try to explain itself:


The gargoyles are called Sin Eaters, as they are attracted to evildoers like moths to the flame. Part of the curse the Servants of the Flame imposed upon them is that the gargoyles must pass on the Curse of Absolution by touching people, thereby taking on the memories of any sins the people have committed. The gargoyle is simply the conduit for the curse; its punishment is chosen by some higher power, and the gargoyles are forced by their very nature to do what is required of them. Sometimes the curse requires the gargoyles to carry out the punishment themselves; this often involves maiming or killing the evildoer. Often the gargoyles do not have to do anything, because the curse often takes the form of Backlash or specific tragedies that will soon occur in the sinner’s life.
I think this means that they’re drawn to evildoers, feed by absorbing their memories, and then the mysterious “Divine” mandates some punishment which the gargoyle may or may not have to mete out themselves. But it gets more confusing! Their Torment is Horrification, because sin-eating is the only way they can feel anything, and they become more fleshy and more evil as they eat more evil memories. So doing what God tells them to do is bad for them and makes them evil.

You eat the Rohypnol, he eats your sins.

Gargoyles have enhanced senses, including seeing spirits and sensing sin, rapid healing, and can shapeshift into more or less monstrous forms. They can be killed with enough damage, but the gargoyle’s spirit is free to reincarnate in a new body, free from any madness induced by Horrification.

Manitou are animal spirits who possess humans, until the human and totem powers merge. It’s implied that manitou possess desperate people who could benefit from the merging. They’re allies with the dragons (since both have a strong respect for nature) but feel lonely because they don’t entirely fit in with people, spirits, or animals. Their Torment is Animalism, in which they lose their human reason and live like animals.

Manitou have enhanced senses (like everyone else), rapid healing, and the ability to communicate with animals and spirits. They regain animus from eating and meditating, and they’re vulnerable to fire and cold.

Osirians are pretty cool guys. They’re mortals who reincarnate again and again to serve the “Cosmic cycle,” and their dozens of lifetimes instills them with compassion for others. They begin their new lives ignorant of their nature until another Osirian finds them and gives them the yer-a-wizard-Harry routine. They’re ruled by a council of the first nine Osirians, who are all still around. Their Torment is Ennui, which is self-explanatory.

Osirians have the ability to analyze the auras of people and magickal forces, and they have enhanced senses (yawn) and rapid healing (yawn). Their main power is in their magickal paths.

The Possessed are totally uncool. They’re dream entities called ochelum who, when they’re not possessing a host, live in gems or amulets. When a mortal acquires the amulet, the ochelum corrupts them with promises of power and begins a slow process of possession. After possessing the host, they slowly consume their soul. There’s a race of evil ochelum who possess good people for kicks, while the “good” ochelum possess evil people because only evil people deserve such a fate, but all ochelum hate each other, they just hate members of the other race more. Their Torment is corruption, and they don’t really fight for or against it--when they’ve completely consumed their host’s soul, they must move on to another body.

Grandma got devoured by a monster
Coming home from work All Hallows’ Eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for Everlasting, DO YOU BELIEVE?

Possessed have the power to change their appearance, create illusions, and a tediously-explained ability to manipulate dreams. They don’t have enhanced senses. Strangely, they regain animus by compelling Persona trait tests in others (evoking emotion). Possessed are vulnerable to fire and cold and can be killed in the usual way, but to kill the ochelum, you have to destroy its host and its soul-prison.

Questers are another of the cooler and more interesting factions. They’re mortals who devote themselves to a just cause so completely that they receive a divine vision (again that vague and mysterious “Divine”) that grants immortality. The Grail Quest is just one particular ideal which inspired many questers. Their Torment is Doubt, in which they lose faith in themselves and in the purpose of a Quest against evil that can never really end. Questers who give into Doubt can actually lose their memories and begin aging normally.


Questers benefit from rapid healing, spiritual armor (especially effective against demons), and even the ability to invoke a miracle to save themselves if they’re in a hopeless situation. They regain animus from rest and meditation. They’re particularly vulnerable to fire and cold, but can be killed conventionally.

With all the magickal critters running around this setting, I’m surprised that there are no advertisements descriptions for letters S-Z. Then again, there are three different ways to play a zombie in this book.

Next time, on The Everlasting: Have you wondered what kind of setting we’re actually playing in? Lonesome no more!

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

MadScientistWorking posted:

Why is it that whenever I hear of Changeling I always tend to think that the writers of this game line had no life in college? Even the "fantastical" stuff is relatively boring and mundane compared to what I've seen in real life though I don't know if that is saying a lot about the city of Boston or the writers.
Whenever I read Changeling: the Dreaming I remember my crazy ex's even crazier roommate, who never washed, lived on Hot Pockets and beans-on-toast (because everything British is better), and ran an unsuccessful Etsy shop. Her biggest claim to fame was being featured on Regretsy, and her peak of success was selling some of her doll's to a museum gift shop. My ex claims she found her crying the night before the sale because her dolls told her they were scared to go to the museum.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
Oh boy oh boy are you Changeling haters going to love my next Everlasting update.

Edit: VVV Yeah, even Everlasting was scrupulous about stating that every vampire family, whether its origins were in Eastern Europe or South America or another dimension, had an "It's a Small World After All" rainbow of members.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 22:41 on Jan 16, 2014

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

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.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
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.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

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.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
The ocean! Think of all the steam you can make outta that baby!

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Young Freud posted:

Think of all the corrosion.
Put a gas mask on it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
She just looks confused, like she's sure that the Vampire LARP was in another convention hall.


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.
The writers of Victoriana also just put down the history books when they came upon the subject of anarchy, and decided that the "Nihilists" really were nihilists who wanted to blow everything up and loot and rape what was left. It's almost as if steampunk geeks are a lot of servile petty bourgeoisie.

pkfan2004 posted:

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.


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.
At first I got the impression that London was literally the last inhabitable place on earth and that it could go belly-up at any moment. This chapter seems to be saying that plenty of other countries are still around, and that they're doing a lot better than the UK. Not great, but honestly not any worse than a lot of fantasy adventure settings. But you can't set your campaign there!

Bieeardo posted:

UM feels less like a game and more like a story bible to me, from what we've seen so far.
I'm a picky bastard, and there are very few games I can read without wanting to "perfect" them and mash them up with another system or setting for actual play. But Unhallowed Metropolis, in particular, is a game that begs to be raided for ideas but run in another system with most of the setting made up as you go along. Specifically, I'd probably employ Savage Worlds with the Rippers and Solomon Kane books.

pkfan2004 posted:

AFMBE is in fact a much, much better thing to run this kind of campaign in. Matter of fact, one of my favorite campaign settings they officially released is "Frankenstein: 1935". Dr. Frankenstein is recruited to the colleges of London instead of dying on a ship trapped in the ice, he refines his serum to bring back the dead, the Victorian Age continues into 1935 using patchwork zombie labor that require blood to keep going. The serum brings people back from the dead perfectly if administered like five minutes after death or destroys their reasoning and personality the longer they wait, so they use it on eight-hour-old corpses to make sure they're dumb enough to follow commands. The British Empire gives citizens who donate blood to feed the zombies money in return. London has become too reliant on using the undead for industry and policing China, India and other countries they have control over, so the Empire is starting to come apart at the seams due to being too unwieldy and unsustainable because the dead slaves outnumber the living. On top of that, other countries want to steal the reanimation serum for themselves or bring down the British Empire because they see them as an easy topple like the Roman Empire in the 6th century or they're scared of them. Plot hooks involve playing undead who came back to life with their memories scrambled or missing but you're smarter than the rest, being foreign agents trying to extract a (self-loathing) Dr. Frankenstein from England or just steal the secrets, or any other idea you want.
This is the kind of setting conceit I like, as opposed to unexplainable, cataclysmic events that are out of human hands. Nightbane had Dark Day, Shadowrun and Deadlands both have a Great Ghost Dance, but this one starts with a conceit that some weird science was real, and everything that flows from that depends on people making decisions.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 10: Mysteeerious Worlds

This bullshit seems particularly apropos given Ningyou’s excellent Mage/Changeling sourcebook reviews. You know what? I’m just going to let the author dig his own grave:


Are things we take for granted as real actually part of everyone’s reality, or are they real only within our own minds? Think of how no two people perceive or recall things the exact same way – reality is colored by personal perception. Hallucinations, delusions, insanity, and imaginings may all be altered senses, but they are just as real to the person experiencing them as anything you have ever experienced.We cannot define a sense out of context, so there can be other senses, or perception ranges, beyond our own. The Reverie is the easiest extension of human senses into what lies Beyond.

The supernatural is all around us; we simply do not see it. Science, education,work, and dreary mundane life have dulled our senses of magick and put blinders on us that allow us to see reality as a set of parameters, not as limitless possibilities. With mundane pressures and the replacement of our own imagination by television, the innate magickal sense within us atrophies.Yet magick lies before us. There are things science cannot explain – wondrous, magickal, dangerous, mysterious, and exciting things. True magick exists within us in the form of imagination.
Yeah man, gently caress electricity! Indoor plumbing is for fags and going to school is gay! I wish I was a schizophrenic mumbling to myself in a pile of my own filth!

If I wanted to live in a squalid world ruled by bloodsucking monsters, I’d vote Republican.

Do you believe this guy dug up a horse for his Darknut cosplay?

In this chapter, we get an overview of the setting as most of its inhabitants experience it, and a presentation of the many alternate planes of reality. While it’s not nearly deep enough to run an entire campaign in the Underworld, it’s better than the stultifying infodump from the introduction and the scattered details from previous chapters, which paint the Underworld as part high fantasy setting and part Third World shithole.

The Real World is the world as experienced by normal people who have no contact with the supernatural. It’s a polite fiction formed by broad consensus, but everybody brings their own perspective to it--some people believe in angels but not aliens, and vice versa.

Most of the eldritch spend most of their time in the Real World, too, working jobs, paying bills, joining bowling leagues, taking yoga classes, buying Girl Scout cookies, watching "Survivor," picking up girls in bars without eating them, the works. The authors’ inconsistent vision crops up again here--haven’t we been told that the unliving dwell in covens of their own kind, or are loners? And that they try to fit in, but dress like goths and hired Morticia Addams to decorate their homes? What does a Dakini vampire say when his book club asks about the collection of human skulls and antique weapons adorning the walls of her palatial estate?

The Real World is contrasted with the Secret World. The Secret World is used synonymously with the Reverie, which is the baroque and awkward catch-all term for the supernatural creatures and happenings which are secretly all around us. (No wonder, since this game line has 19 types of playable bugaboo, plus all their servants, offshoots, and enemies.) The author discusses the Reverie as not just a catch-all for everything supernatural, but as a second layer of reality over top of our own. This layer is “thicker” or “thinner” in some places, making it easier to access other planes and work magick. Despite the fact that most eldritch spend most of their time preoccupied with mundane lives, we're also told that most eldritch still make their homes where the Reverie is strong.

Particularly sensitive mortals, called Sensitives or fantasts, posses the “active imaginations, open minds, and powerful wills” necessary to perceive the Reverie. Oh, bother. In the author’s defense, it’s made clear that this is more of a hazard than anything. Skeptics, scientists, and other boring people are less likely to perceive the Reverie. Children, the mentally ill, and hallucinogen users are also more likely to perceive the Reverie, but they aren’t well-equipped to deal with the Real World or the Secret one.

Eldritch sometimes “awaken” mortals by demonstrating their powers, or when they choose them as servants and companions. (For example, vampire drones.) Some of the awakened mortals who don’t become minions of the eldritch will become monster hunters. So what does it mean for a mortal to “awaken?” It’s strongly implied, but not stated plainly, that mortals will react to supernatural displays with mass hysteria or total denial, to the point that they can rationalize a battle between a dragon and a ghostly knight as a drive-by shooting. This is why eldritch don’t show off their powers in public, which also nets them Backlash points. (There’s no solid explanation for why flashing powers creates Backlash, which isn’t an in-setting concept like Paradox in Mage: the Ascension or Delirium in Werewolf: the Apocalypse. So it’s another encouragement for the Guide to employ Backlash as a stick to punish PCs for not propping up the assumptions of this house-of-cards setting.)

The different races of eldritch broadly perceive the Reverie in different ways. Angels see everything in accordance with the divine clockwork and whether or not it’s running smoothly. Dragons see things in terms of interactions of the primal elements. Questers see the world in terms of a battle between good and evil, while demons see layers of sin to exploit. The unliving--you know, the ones this book is supposed to be about--see the world through the eyes of a predator, and see everything in terms of its eventual decay and death.

The Inner Worlds

So how about them actual alternate realities that aren’t just symptoms of schizophrenia? I thought they would be simpler, but no such luck.

The first category of unearthly realm is the Inner Worlds, or otherlands, which are sustained by the minds of the living. They include the Astra, an astral plane of thought, the Dreamworlds, where living things go when they dream, and the Underworld, a “theorized realm where ghosts exist, but it has never truly been explored by the living.” (Despite being “theoretical,” the Underworld is the only realm that gets a lengthy description.) Living things usually only enter the Inner Worlds through their subconscious minds, so there’s no way to prove their existence or bring objects into or out of them. Since the Big Metaplot Event happened, physical portals into the otherlands have appeared sporadically, not to mention we know that ghuls can physically travel to the Underworld by hiking.

The Agarthic Spheres, collectively called Agartha, are alternate realities that one can enter physically. They’re fairly secure for those who control them, since you can’t just go hunting for one; you need a magick spell or key or to do something like turn the hands on the grandfather clock in Kaufman’s pawnshop to midnight at noon during a solar eclipse, or something like that. Agarthic spheres worth mentioning are controlled by cults and covens and government conspiracies and suchlike.

The book is so busy categorizing these otherworlds and talking about how to get in and out of them that it has no time to tell us about any of the Agarthic spheres. Except Faeryland, which is a wild land full of magical kingdoms. Thanks, I would never have thought of that myself. Instead, Everlasting actually does something right for a change, and spends most of the Unliving book's chapter on other realms describing...

The Underworld

“Little is truly known about the Underworld,” we are told, which made it a stupid idea to suggest setting entire campaigns there. The Underworld is sort of a way-station between the Real World and the Afterlife. Only a tiny fraction of people who die become Dead Souls; most pass on to the unknown Afterlife. However, anyone who dies leaves behind their astral body, too, so the Underworld is full of astral corpses. Many condemned are placed on cadaver duty, but the astral bodies never completely decompose, so we can safely assume that the surface of the Underworld is a thick layer of undead chum.

As discussed in the Dead Souls chapter, all those Dead Souls and astral corpses wind up in Ethereus, the “corpse of the Earth” and a depressing mirror of the real world. Ashy soil, overcast skies, and chilly air that always stinks of corpses are par for the course in Ethereus, not to mention the Black Storms that periodically bring rains of blood, bile, even more ashes, black frogs, black eyeliner, Olestra, all kinds of nasty stuff. It’s also lonely; the Earthbound are stuck in Ethereus, and besides them few ghosts make their home in Ethereus. Underneath Ethereus is a network of tunnels which leads to the labyrinth-city of the Iblis, which facilitates commerce between the ghuls and the Underworld.

Dammit, Jackson, there are no ringwraiths in this game!

Most people in the Underworld are Dead Souls, but there are also angels, demons, and assorted others. There is animal life, including pale and unhealthy-looking versions of pigs and cattle as well as cats, rats, and birds.

Beyond Ethereus are the Dreadlands, the roughly Earth-sized “core” of the Underworld. The ankou send most Dead Souls who aren’t Earthbound to the Dreadlands, where they’re left on their own. Technology is valuable here, so Dead Souls whose life memories equipped them to conjure working tools are the most likely to find gainful employment. Many more will wind up as laborers and servants. Besides what the Dead Souls chapter told us, we know that the architecture of the Dreadlands looks like it was “designed by H. R. Giger and Anton Furst.”

Prince of the Land of Stench!

There are 13 empires of the Dreadlands remaining; a significant portion has been overtaken by the rakshasa, an invading force of malevolent spirits, and become the Forbidden Lands. When they’re not infiltrating the Dreadlandic empires, the rakshasa keep to themselves.

Shadoworlds are pockets of altered reality which change and move with the phantoms who create them. Within a Shadoworld, its creator is godlike and absolutely anything can happen, so there’s no reason to elaborate on that point again and again.

Of less interest to PCs are realms like the Chasm of Lost Souls, a five-mile-wide pit in a great ashen desert, which leads to a feared but unknown realm called Tartarus. Being tossed into the Chasm is the most severe method of execution the ankou have at their disposal--even worse than being sentenced to the Circles of Atrocity, which are pretty much Dante’s Inferno.

Remember, we’re parked in Lot B, next to the standing stones in Section That Dream Where Your Mother Threatens to Castrate You.

For some reason, the Underworld also contains Paridisio, the heavenly realm from which the angels “look down over all.” That’s quite a trick, since the ghuls travel to the Underworld by going deep underground. Paradisio doesn’t matter because only angels are allowed; it’s supposed to be a beautiful city of gold and white marble. There are, of course, rumours that the angels have let certain Dead Souls into their secret clubhouse, but come on--these are people who look down on the cosmology of Everlasting to say “Eh, not bad for gummint work.” You don’t want to be invited to their meetings.

There is neither a map nor a clear explanation of where these realms are in relation to one another or how one travels from one to another.

Next time, on The Everlasting: “Advanced guidelines.” Remember, there are no rules in this game. But if this game had rules, and you wanted more of them, this would be the chapter for it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
Although it was amusing to throw a fit over it, I'm less bothered by any of the prejudices in author's writing than I am by the mere fact that they decided to lay bare the cosmology of setting.

Any good setting, but especially a horror setting, requires mystery. Now, I'm the first one to point out that there's a difference between being mysterious and being merely confusing and concealing. There's also a difference between making sure your audience gets a joke and explaining it, which kills it dead. Rigorously explaining metaphysical mechanisms takes the super out of the supernatural, and precisely laying out the borders and boundaries of all the unearthly realms always feels like putting the setting in a little box. If you're actually going to tell me that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell, good luck getting me to care who lives and who dies. A stirring monologue about how every moment counts won't fix it. (For example, I had a hard time caring about "Supernatural" after season 5, which introduces the war between heaven and hell and has God appear onscreen. Am I the only one who thinks that once you do that, anything on a smaller scale is diminished?)

So I'm disgruntled about Mage being a part of the World of Darkness (since Mage has a way of subsuming the other games' cosmologies and categorizing them as some quaint little "paradigm") and I downright despise forum discussions about exactly where the Hedge meets the Supernal Realms or whatever. For the love of God, stop explaining the joke.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Mimir posted:

I happened to be rereading this last night. It's really one of Tyne's better little pieces, even if it feels a little closer to UA than DG.
I must say that this is wholly appropriate. I could rant on and on about it, but the Carcosa/King in Yellow/Hastur meme has always occupied a very baroque fitting in the Lovecraftian mythos, with much focus on madness and decadence and very little on tentacled monsters.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Cardiovorax posted:

Strictly speaking, the Lovecraftian meme occupies a place in the King in Yellow's mythos. Robert W. Chambers precedes Lovecraft by a good thirty years. The cloud waves and the black stars are a nice little bit of attention to detail.
Eh, there really wasn't a "mythos." I mean, the "Yog-Sothothery" of Lovecraft and his friends was far less formal and more in-jokey than August Derleth or Chaosium would have us believe, but the trail from "Haita the Shepherd" to The King in Yellow is far more fragmentary, and Chambers' commitment to weird fiction was so wavering that the last story in The King in Yellow is a fluffy sentimental romance. Derleth was really the one who fully implemented "Hastur" into the Lovecraft mythos as a counterpart to Cthulhu, and he misses the point completely by casting Hastur as a tentacled alien god and making "The Return of Hastur" actually a story about Cthulhu. (Clark Ashton Smith tried to tell him that that was a stupid idea, but he didn't listen, because he was August Derleth.)

This confusion is understandable. It turns out that Cthulhu is so mysterious, even his high priest has to look him up on Wikipedia.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
Aren't void sabers like, anti-lightsabers that work the same way by sucking anything they touch into a void? A chartreuse void?

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
I always wanted to know more about Traveller, because it seems there are so many hotly-debated editions that it's confusing, and less easy to sort out than the progression of D&D editions.

Is it really true that some people "played" Traveller more to use the charts and tables to generate systems, worlds, and cultures without actually using them?

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
So I gather that the author of Haven loves complicated d20 games, but where is Rome Island and what does it have to do with racism?

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

theironjef posted:

We'd never heard of him or his games. Bought it (like we try to do for all of these reviews) off the used shelf at the FLGS. The fact that he's credited for like 9 of the 11 jobs in the making of the book promised some highfalutin' crazy, and the fact that the DM in this game is called G.O.D. sealed the deal.
Pfft. I bet he's not even an Illumination Administer.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Egregious Offences posted:

Wikipedia breaks it down pretty well: Classic Traveller, MegaTraveller and Mongoose Traveller use the system I described in my post, Traveller TNE (the new era) uses some weird d20 roll under system, and Traveller 4 and Traveller 5 use a roll under system where you roll more d6s to change the difficulty. Then there's GURPS and HERO Traveller, who use their respective systems.
From what little I remember, the controversy wasn't over rules but the directions the setting went in, like some people thought Megatraveller was too grimdark or something.

I seem to recall somebody doing a nice post on Traveller somewhere in TG that summarized how Traveller was very innovative but also a product of the predominant influences of its time, i.e. militarism, empires in space, and little or no transhumanism.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
I wonder if anyone is interested in doing Diaspora, which is a FATE-based love letter to Traveller designed to do the same thing without all the math. I'm going to be tied up with Dune.

Egregious Offences posted:

So, yeah...
I realized that I'm not going to be able to finish TOR any time soon, due to the amount of content to go through and the fact that I don't really know much about it besides a few read-throughs.
However, not all is lost, for there is something I can do a F&F of (not to mention much more experience with): Traveller. First post will be up in a bit.

Public shaming for me not thinking my TOR writeup out is perfectly fine. :ohdear:

Syrg Sapphire posted:

I've never finished a single thing I've started in here. It's fine. Chill.
If it's not too presumptuous to offer advice, the thing that helps me the most is trying to be as concise as possible. Fact is, if someone is curious enough about an old RPG to want meticulous detail, they're going to download a pirated copy and read it themselves. I've gone overboard in the past (and probably will again) because I wanted to convey the overwhelming insanity of games like Immortal, but one of the things that keeps me sane while reviewing Everlasting is noting that I don't need to write a 20 page overview of a 40 page chapter, and I don't need to single out every tidbit of crazy.

(Speaking of which, the next chapter is going to be...difficult. I just realized it contains not only a grab-bag of finicky 90s rules, but the magick system.)

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 11, Part 1: Advanced Guidelines. Advanced. As in stomach cancer.

Oh boy, this one’s going to be a doozy. After my last update, I realized that this chapter contains not only a bunch of finicky “advanced guidelines,” it also has all the rules for magickal paths.

Do you remember how the character creation chapter just glossed over attributes and skills in favour of “legendmaking” rules like Persona (rules for caring about things), Distinctions (rules for being Mary Sue), Destiny/Backlash points (rules for being the Guide’s bitch), Torment (rules for being sad about having superpowers), and poo poo like that? The details for mundane skills and how to use them got crammed into this chapter.

Do you believe this author watched every episode of “Gravedale High?”

The first part of this chapter reminds me of the “Systems” chapter that used to appear toward the back of the old World of Darkness corebooks. They were a smart move by White Wolf; those chapters would give you not just combat rules, but rules for resolving common scenarios that begged for more than a single skill check, such as car chases, surveillance, seduction, and so on. This chapter has a bit of that, but it’s a fat grab-bag of skill descriptions, advanced combat and injury rules, more rules for using those Persona, Distinction, and Torment traits in gameplay, live-action rules, miscellaneous junk...and magick, which we'll cover later. By and large, these rules and the writing style employed to convey them are both 90s as gently caress. Lots of droning on about roleplaying, yet so much preoccupation with how a gun works.

Skill descriptions

This part is kind of important, because they not only tell you what skills do, but the skills’ “primary Aspects.” As in the Storyteller system, skills aren’t always associated with one Aspect; the Guide can ask you to test Resilience+History or Intellect+Flails if they think it’s appropriate. Of note is that not a single skill is linked to Strength; all the physical skills, even Climb and Swim, are commonly linked to Dexterity. There’s no skill for lifting; I guess Strength is only good for carrying luggage and a little extra melee damage. Eat poo poo, jocks.

It’s a waste of time to go through every skill in the game, so I’ll just share the highlights:

Accuracy: For throwing weapons, but not for bows or slings.
Acrobatics: Gymnastics, and of course, you can use it to reduce falling damage.
Climb: They think you need to be told what a climb skill is for. It does include the use of climbing equipment.
Dance: For dancing. Characters should choose a specialty, such as ballroom or folk, because it’s really important that I know my centuries-old ghul character is an expert clogger but can’t tango.
Focus: A weird catch-all for “extreme feats involving the body,” including controlling your body functions like a master yogi, unliving characters trying to seem lifelike, and summoning “ki” to perform martial arts feats. (I don’t think there are actually any rules for that.)
Run: For running.
Swim: For swimming.

Murder: A strangely specific skill for planning, executing, and getting away with murder, including knowledge of execution methods, disposing of bodies, erasing evidence, and basic forensics.
Stealth: For stealth.
Streetwise: Surviving on the streets
Antiquities: There is a skill separate from History for “knowledge of physical artifacts of history, whereas History covers academic knowledge of times and events.” I guess you use this skill to play Duncan MacLeod’s day job.
Romance: A more holistic and, uh, wholesome skill than just seduction.
Blind Fighting, Block, Evasion, Grapple, Kick, Punch: These are each their own separate skill.
Axes, Clubs, Knives, Flails, Polearms, Staves, Swords: Ditto.
Management: For running a business as well as white-collar crime. In an unusual moment of insight, the book points out that this is useful to eldritch who want to transfer their assets from one identity to another.
Rationalize: There is actually a skill for convincing your self that the supernatural does not exist; I suppose mortals roll it to avoid awakening.

Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance.

Astra: Traversing the Astra.
Dream: Ditto for the Dreamworlds.
Eldritch: Knowledge of the eldritch genii and identifying them on sight.
Empower: For instilling supernatural power into objects or people.
Illumination: Perceiving the Reverie.

Using Distinctions

Those weird semi-innate, semi-social backgrounds from character creation, that are sort of like Backgrounds and Merits & Flaws from Storyteller games? We get some suggestions for what you can actually do with them.

Biography: Remembering historical details from your own lifetime, or having a Highlander-style flashback.
Eldritch Ties: “Throwing your weight around” with your reputation, getting in touch with another eldritch, diplomacy between eldritch factions, using eldritch contacts.
Servitors: Gathering information through minions, having mundane tasks performed.
Resources: Bribery, aquiring expensive things, or “getting invited to a country club.”
Temporal ties: Using mortal contacts, getting an appointment with a politician, or manipulating local government, law enforcement, etc.

Uh, that’s all. There’s no advice on how to use your beautiful cheekbones (Physique) or level-headedness (Psyche) to get ahead in unlife.

Advanced Combat & Injury (3 credits)

This section includes rules for armor, damage from environmental hazards, and an odd collection of combat hacks.

You just pick up a gun, go bang, and you’ve got legendmaking.

First is a mook rule--two of them, actually. The more complicated one says that if you inflict 5 points of damage before your enemy’s Resistance roll (4 if you have a weapon), the Guide can say he’s knocked out of the fight. Doing 7 points means you’re maimed or killed him. The simpler rule simply says to take 1/5th of your Dex+Weapon skill...that’s how many nameless mooks you can take out in a round.

Next are rules for concealment, letting people draw Perception to notice “one weapon per success,” with modifiers to represent the length of your katanas and your trenchcoat.

The rule for “hair-trigger reactions” allows you to react to ambush by firing a preemptive shot. That’s useful, since the default combat rules heavily favour surprise.

I have a hair-trigger reaction to this.

Pistol-whipping is a “rule” that doesn’t need to be a adds +1 to an unarmed attack. Neither is the use of silencers, which reduce damage and halve range. Gun jams are what happens if you roll a Disaster while using a gun; you need a few cumulative successes to clear a jam.

The rules for armor are in this chapter instead of the main combat rules. There’s a chart covering everything from lacquered wooden armor to plated mail to riot gear, in case your game requires you to send a SWAT team after a Tlingit raiding party. Armor adds cards to your Resistance roll, and may reduce the damage of blunt weapons, edged weapons, bullets, fire, electricity, and cold depending on its type.

There is a whole section on how to stop PCs from ruining the campaign with guns. The most sensible bit of advice is to emphasize that it’s difficult to get away with carrying and firing guns in a modern setting. There are decent suggestions specific to the fact that the PCs and their enemies are largely magical creatures--have guns do less damage, emphasize that amputation is more effective against creatures that regenerate, and remember that guns can only fire so many shots in a round even if you have superhuman speed. There’s a really dumb suggestion that you go with “cinematic gunfire” where no one ever hits with the first shot, and automatic fire just scares people by peppering the ground near them.

The worst suggestion is that you just give out Backlash points to eldritch who use guns. There’s no rationalization whatsoever for why using guns creates bad karma while sucking someone’s soul out through their rear end in a top hat is okay; the author is just encouraged to use Backlash to paddle PCs for using guns instead of having dramatic katana fights on top of a Steam and Flame Factory like they’re supposed to.

Solid Owl in Metal Gear Solid: Barns of the Patriots

Rules for amputation say that a called shot that reduces you to 0 life points can sever the targeted part, causing permanent reduction of life points and debilitating damage. Eldritch with regeneration can regrow severed limbs faster by holding them in place until they reattach.

Rules for asphyxiation and drowning are a simple affair doing debilitating damage each round, while the rules on damage from fire and sunlight provide much-needed illumination (ho, ho) for the creatures who are vulnerable to that stuff. Fire does damage based on intensity and exposure; sunlight is the same, with modifiers for thick clothing and cloudy days. There are even similar rules for exposure to burning chemicals and radiation.

Always dilute the Dr. Bronner’s first.

There are lots more rules for ways you can die which are too tedious and too similar to a dozen other games to bother detailing here. There are rules for resisting torture with Spirit rolls, falling damage, frostbite, extreme heat, illness, and poisoning. We’re instructed that if a PC dies, “every effort should be made to make the moment a very dramatic one.” Dying heroes can perform one last action, and can linger until the end of a combat so they get the opportunity to give their dying soliloquy.

There are even more rules for emotions, and in practice they’re another way for the Guide to gently caress over the PCs in the name of roleplaying! I am so completely surprised, aren’t you?

For example, being defeated in battle could temporarily give the entire party a Depression 3 Persona trait. A “tragic battle with werewolves” could inflict both Despair 4 and Hate Werewolves 5. The numerical values of these various forms of sadness come straight from the gothic darkness of Stephen Brown’s butthole.

If something happens that could provoke strong emotion in any of your Persona traits, you’re supposed to make a roll/draw. The more successes you get the more you “give in to emotion” and there is a loving chart for this as well as suggestions that if you roll 3 successes to be sad, you should have a sad look on your face!

To my genuine surprise, giving in to emotion is not necessarily synonymous with getting hosed over by the Guide. There’s a list of emotions and the mechanical results of being overcome by them. Persona traits related to Fear, Lust, and Revulsion make you take penalties to your rolls, those related to Hatred and Love give you bonuses to attack or protect, and Rage gives bonuses to attack and penalties to defend. Dementia traits work the same as emotions for the purposes of these rules. Remember, this game refers to all mental illness as “Dementia” because it gets off on spooky Latin.

It is a game design metaphor.

Next time, on The Everlasting: Try to understand. He’s a magick man.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Young Freud posted:

Yes, because you can't blow someone's limbs or head off with a shotgun or spitzer-tipped bullets like the 5.56mm NATO cartridge don't have a tendency to tumble when striking human flesh and cleaving limbs off. Nope, just doesn't happen.
I really don't think that too little focus on the vagaries of bullets in real-life is the problem here. Remember that this is a game where the basic combat rules let each player choose whether to use cards or dice, the rolling mechanic is roll/draw Aspect against (Difficulty-Skill), and everyone at the table gets to bet points on who wins each contested roll. Adding rules for :downsgun::fh: hydrostatic shock would not improve this situation.

Kai Tave posted:

Not to dogpile but I'm not sure how anyone could realistically have thought that a hojillion-page dungeon crawl using EVERY MONSTER EVER could actually wind up being anything more than an unfocused mess, d20 system or no.
Ironically, there are probably crusty old grognard DMs with thousand-page homemade megadungeons which are...probably also unfocused, but in the same way as a beloved cult show, and not as a seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time which turned into a slog.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
Hearkening back to the setting intro, what I find most contrived about Unhallowed Metropolis is that the steampunk London is a completely rebuilt city in 2105. They spent a century fighting to retake and rebuild London, and they made everything as similar to 1890 as possible? The only changes to fashion in a century involve accessorizing your frock coat with S&M fetish wear. The steamjunk-justifying Tesla waves are the only interesting technological innovation, because the other main one is just another Generic lovely Cyberpunk Food.

Like, if you wanted to make a totally indulgent 60s-era sci-fi setting with spandex jumpsuits and no transhumanism, you might as well say that cyborgs are banned by the all-powerful Space Police instead of coming up with some long convoluted explanation that reads like a bad imitation of Dune.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Chapter 11, Part 2: It’s a Magickal World, Lestat old buddy! Let’s go legendmaking!

Magick in the Everlasting is based on an airy-fairy, hippie-dippy, crystal-waving I-think-you-get-the-point view of the universe, which is explained to us in a rambling fashion without adding any new detail to the setting. When the raw quintessence of the universe cohered into matter and energy, the first magicians appeared. They were called Worldsingers, because they had the power to simply will things into creation. Supposedly, they persist as the sort of “Secret Chiefs” that people like Helena Blavatsky and Dion Fortune wrote about.

Magick requires suspending belief in mundane laws of science and causality in order to tap into occult “reservoirs” of energy associated with gods and other dimensions and stuff. Magick can’t be scientifically tested or measured because doing magick requires believing that it will work.

This guy doesn’t believe in the magick of zippers.

There is at least a full page on low magick vs. high magick, the “five powers of the magus” and other New Agey crap. None of it seems to matter in play, so I’m not detailing it. But here’s a clue that the author is a fruitbat:


A good way to explain magickal currents is to liken them to the poster for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Raw magickal energy is the white light passing into the prism. On the opposite side of the prism, the white light is split into many different colors; these colors represent the magickal currents.The prism represents the mechanism by which the world itself adapts magickal energy to a usable form. The Worldsingers were part of the pure white light entering the prism. All magicians since the Worldsingers’ departure have utilized the various individual currents – the colored bands of light passing out of the prism. Magicians attune themselves to the particular currents of magick that work for them.
It apparently did not occur to him that light passing through a prism doesn’t only happen on Pink Floyd album covers.

As an aside, an annoying thing about this chapter is the constant mention of Osirians. Osirians are the eldritch most attuned to magick, and when they cast magick it’s like they’re standing inside the Pink Floyd prism. Every single explanation of some aspect of the magick system has an aside mentioning that it’s easier for Osirians. I have nothing against Osirians; in fact, they sound like one of the most original and playable factions, but it’s yet another example of Brown’s tendency to lose focus on the book he’s actually writing and ramble on about PC classes covered in another book.

I would so much rather be playing these guys.

Most magickal effects can’t be plainly seen, even by eldritch. For example, even a spell that kills someone by summoning a spirit to tear out their soul will probably only be visible as a sudden heart attack. Instead, the main limits on magick are that it requires study, it’s draining, it leaves magickal traces, and it becomes much more difficult and draining if you need to pull a magickal effect out of your rear end right now.

Casting spells, or, How to Drain Your Dragon

A magick effect consists of intent, subject, spellcasting type, and magnitude. This determines the Difficulty to cast it, and how much animus it costs.

Magickal effects in this game aren’t categorized according to what they accomplish from a gameplay point of view. (For example, Shadowrun, which has Combat, Detection, and Healing categories.) Nor are they categorized according to some geeky pseudo-physics internal to the setting. (For example, D&D 3rd edition, where teleport and acid arrow are both conjuration spells because they make a thing be in a place it wasn’t before, and cause fear and raise dead are both necromantic spells because of some hokum about “negative energy.”)

Instead, magick is classified as one of the “four intents.” These are ill-defined but unfortunately important, because they determine the base Difficulty of your spells. Spiritual magick usually takes the form of rituals and religious rites; it covers communing with spirit realms, astral travel, and for some reason, enchantment. Focus magick involves a being’s relationship with magick itself and is usually used to increase magickal power, take up or change a magickal path, or change someone’s sensitivity to magick. Mental magick is much easier to grasp and includes all kinds of telepathy, divination, and clairvoyance. Physical magick includes anything and everything that physically alters something, from shapeshifting to conjuring to throwing fireballs at people.

Subject is much more clear, and it determines how much animus the magick is going to cost you. The four subjects are self, ally, neutral, and hostile. Self is yourself, ally is a willing subject, neutral is something nonliving (like a door, or an area, or the weather) and hostile is any unwilling subject. In an example effect, it’s hostile magick to subtly influence a crowd of people so you can pass through them with ease.

Spellcasting type depends on whether you’re creating a spontaneous magickal effect, casting a rote spell (which is easier), performing a lengthy ritual (easier still), or enchanting something with a persistent magickal effect, which is not detailed here and is covered in a sourcebook.

”Dweomer” sounds like something you call a wizard before shoving him in a locker.

Here, let the “Magick Matrix” help you figure out those Difficulty/cost modifiers in a flash!

Shine on, you crazy loving diamond.

Finally, Magnitude measures the complexity and blatancy of a magickal effect. Things that can be mistaken for “tricks” and sleight-of-hand are called cantrips, and are Magnitude 0, whereas any kind of blatant magic is at least Magnitude 1. The guidelines for magnitude are vague (of course), but Spells have a listed Magnitude, and there’s a helpful list of charts for broad categories of magick, from astral travel to teleportation, with examples of magnitude 1-5. For example, conjuring a napkin from your pocket is Magnitude 0, while conjuring a fully-functioning house is Magnitude 5. Especially powerful effects, like communing with a god, have a high complexity even if the effects aren’t obvious to mortals.

Now, how do you actually cast a spell? After those other four factors determine the Difficulty and the animus cost, the stats you use to roll/draw are Magickal Art and Magickal Lore. Each Magickal Path has an Art stat, representing raw power, and a Lore stat representing knowledge of the path. You have to buy these separately for every Path, so your magician can have Voodoo Art 3/Lore 4, and Shamanism Art 5/Lore 2.

You treat Art as your Aspect and Lore as your skill, and treat it like an ordinary skill check, drawing Aspect against Difficulty-Lore.

Odds and ends

Spell creation is actually pretty easy--to learn a given effect as a spell, you have to cast it spontaneously a few times, and pay its animus cost in XP. It’s up to the Guide to put restrictions on whether or not a magickal effect “belongs” to a given path. With XP and the Guide’s discretion, you can also convert spells from one Path to another.

Another peculiar rule is reservoirs. Basically, it’s possible to make an Art roll in order to draw animus from an occult reservoir of power. You can only access a given reservoir once per scene. The reservoirs any magician can use are ambience and “transitional energies.” Ambience is the inherent magickal power of, say, an ancient abandoned church or Stonehenge. Transitional energy is the free-floating raw magick available in certain astronomical events, like an equinox, solstice, or eclipse. Other reservoirs require magicians to swear oaths, undertake spiritual quests, etc. in order to be “attuned” to them; for example, you might be subject to a geas like Cú Chulainn in order to draw power from the faerie realm.

Magickal Paths

Hey, we finally get to look at various magickal paths, including the vampiric “blood magick” we’ve heard so much about. Each path gets a description along with what its practitioners call themselves, restrictions, bonuses and penalties to working different kinds of magick, and a long list of ritual methods and tools. The last is actually very useful for being evocative in a minimum of space, but since there are something like a few dozen implements listed for each path, it ends up being too vague, like the dozen “common” occupations listed for each vampire bloodline.

Bathoran Sanguimancy: Bathoran sanguimancers use their command over blood for divination, animating creatures from blood, and to heal or harm other creatures. They’re sworn to keep the Path within their bloodline, and being an initiated member involves quite a lot of murder and human sacrifice, to the point where they gain points in Cruelty as their Art advances. Their most interesting ritual methods include surgical tools, razor wire, and torture devices as well as “traditional” witchcraft tools like pentagrams, candles, and goblets of blood. These bitches are walking talking Rob Zombie movies.

Bruja Magick: The cihuatateo have been practicing magick stretching all the way back to the ancient Moche culture in honor of their bloodthirsty spider god. Their magick focuses on illusions, dreams, and power over animals. Like the Bathora, they keep the Path within their bloodline, and initiation requires an astral journey to visit the Decapitator himself to be found worthy...or not. Their ritual tools include masks, costumes, body paint, and all kinds of things you would associate with Native American mysticism, not to mention pyramids, idols, and sacred numerology and astrology.

Obayifo Necromancy: All the drat vampires! Obayifo have an ancient form of necromancy reminiscent of voodoo, but it’s much older than the religious syncretism that produced voodoo. It’s not quite as focused on zombies and spooky curses and such as you might expect; the focus is more on astral travel and control over spirits and ghosts. Obayifo methods include a lot of shocking, frenzied activities like ecstatic dancing, sleep deprivation and drug use, not to mention offerings ranging from prayer and food to human sacrifice. Bokors choose spirit patrons whom they must serve from time to time, and over time they acquire Persona traits making them more like their patrons.

Solomaris: This is a spooooky synthesis of alchemy, necromancy, Hermetic magick and mad science, supposedly invented by the first ghul, Azazel, and built upon by his “descendants.” It’s a very broad school of magick, but receives bonuses to working with potions, dead souls, and inanimate subjects, not to mention brewing Anecro and crafting Skinsuits. Students become “Solomars” by apprenticing under a master and undertaking a pilgrimage to the Underworld. It appears the author was a little hazy on what ghul magick involves, since their most notable ritual tools include such things as “dramatic rituals” and “arcane incantations in ancient gibberish” along with stuff like sacred geometry and building strange mad science devices involving chemicals and electricity. Ghul magick requires a lot of study; the primary effect it has on its practitioners is that over time they become more eccentric and secluded, even from other ghuls, and have to spend hours in study each week or take penalties on their magick rolls.

Uh, that’s all. For once, this book actually focused on the playable character types it contains, so we only get details on undead-specific magickal paths.

Types of Magick

Let it not be said that I’m an Internet bully. I have to give credit where credit is due, and I like the fact that Everlasting gives a list of broad categories of magick with Magnitude listings for each, like so:

Maybe it’s because I’m carefully reading this book as a 30-year-old whereas I was an impatient 13-year-old when I read Mage: the Ascension, but having a scale of Magnitude is easier for me to sort out than Mage’s iffy coincidental/vulgar dichotomy. The biggest problem with it is that it gives a lot of focus to astral travel, dream magick, and controlling spirits, which aren’t really detailed in this book. On the whole, I think it does a good job of squeezing a freeform magick system into limited pagecount...but the one the Osirians get is probably better.

Even Osirian magick can’t cure mage-pattern baldness.

Spiritual magick:

Astral: Ranges from simply navigating the Astra to traveling through time via the Astra.
Blessings and curses: Cantrips create minor instances of good or bad luck, greater affects influence Destiny and Backlash points, while Magnitude 5 effects are beyond the scope of such things and negotiated between the PC and the Guide.
Dream: Like the Astra, but for the Dreamworlds.
Spirit alteration: Allows you to heal and transform spirits, from minor cosmetic augmentations up to completing remaking their astral body.
Spirit control: The magnitude measures the experience level of the spirit you can command.
Spirit possession: This allows you to exorcise or channel spirits into yourself or others; greater magnitude allows you to control a more powerful spirit, or use the abilities of a spirit you’re channeling.
Spirit shield: Bonus cards/dice to resist any actions by spirits.

Finally, headphones that won’t muss your mohawk!

Focus magick:

Anti-Magick Shield: Does what it says. This is for use in combat, so you can’t walk around immune to magick at all times. All of the “shield” categories can only be cast once in a scene.
Communion with Higher Forces: Cantrips allow for mysterious hints and portents, whereas Magnitude 5 will net you a god to personally escort you on a vision quest.
Countermagick: This allows you to dispel an effect of the matching Magnitude. At a penalty, you can cause spells to fizzle as they’re being cast.
Magick Sensitivity: Allows you to sense magick and eldritch, and at higher levels, you can make the Reverie manifest itself in the real world.

Mental magick:

Cause Insanity: Creates temporary Dementia qualities with points based on the Magnitude and number of successes.
Clairvoyance: Ranges from remote viewing within the same room to spying on an acquaintance on another continent.
Divination: A cantrip will grant a flash of intuition, whereas a Magnitude 5 spell will give you an overview of the Web of Destiny itself.
Domination: Even a cantrip can give you bonuses to social rolls, but more powerful effects create full-on mind control and even enhancing people’s Aspects by granting them confidence.
Illusions: Cantrips can create a nonexistent odor or cause someone to see something out of the corner of their eye, whereas powerful effects can trap victims in an illusory world.
Mental attack: Ranges from causing mild irritation and distraction to agonizing pain or knocking someone out.
Telepathy: Sensing nearby minds, ranging up to transmitting an entire lifetime’s worth of memories in a few seconds.

Clearly in need of a dental wizard.

Physical magick:

Air, Earth, Electricity, Fire, Ice: Invoking the elements lets you control a 10 square foot area times Magnitude; when used in offensive spells, you do Magnitude damage per success.
Conjuration: Summons something from nothing. Cantrips let you summon an insignificant bauble, whereas greater Magnitude allows you to summon tools, weapons, even a house.
Healing: Magnitude determines how many Life Points you can heal per success; Magnitude 5 allows reviving the recently-dead.
Physical Boost: Boosts the Body Aspect; Magnitude determines points per success.
Telekinesis: Does what it says, including flight. Magnitude determines pounds per success or speed of flight.
Teleportation: Works on people and objects. Magnitude determines distance and the mass you can teleport.

Additional Guidelines, or how to be a schizophrenic junkie rapist at the mall food court

For some reason, there are more “advanced guidelines” squeezed in at the end of the chapter after the magick rules. First is addiction. Every time you use an addictive substance there’s a chance, based on the frequency of use and the strength of the substance, that you’ll become addicted. Strangely, we aren’t specifically instructed to add points to Persona traits.

Clive Barker’s The Scream

Aging is simple. For every five years after age 55, mortals draw (age/10) cards against Difficulty 9-11 (Guide’s choice). For each “success” they lose 1 Aspect point (Guide’s choice). The Guide is instructed to frequently remind eldritch characters that all the mortals they love are inevitably going to die. Who waaants to liiive foreveeer, yeah, we get it.

Awakening mortals to the supernatural is a hilarious process. To spontaneously awaken, a mortal must witness supernatural happenings and get a Disaster result on an Intellect+Rationalize roll. Then, they have to get 3 successes on an Inspiration check. So the kind of people who become “fantasts” are the same sort of people as the kind I can see actually playing this game: artsy but dumb as a bag of hair.

Strength and encumbrance takes the form of a chart listing maximum lifting weight (but not carrying weight), leaping height and distance, and throwing distance. An eldritch with Strength 13 can lift 5 tons.

There are rules for hunting mortals with a simple roll. You simply choose your method: stalker (mugging), monster (intimidation), romantic (date rapist), kidnapper (yep), or thief (cat burglar) and check the appropriate Aspect+Skill. More successes mean an easier hunt; Disaster means you got caught and ran into some kind of trouble.

Detecting magick is a Perception+Illumination check, with bonuses or penalties based on proximity and animus spent. Lots of successes allows you to trace the effect right to the source.

There’s a chart for “Resilience feats,” like forced marching, hard labor, holding your breath, etc. It is boring.

The House that Dripped Pretense

The next section is about perceiving the Reverie and it’s confusing as hell. Whenever you’re trying to perceive the Reverie or something supernatural happens around you, you make an Inspiration+Illumination roll, and more successes means you perceive the Reverie more fully, from noticing slight changes in lighting all the way up to physically vanishing into the Reverie. We’re told that “There are said to be at least 13 levels of the Reverie, but no eldritch has been able to verify this claim, so there may be even deeper levels,” as if that means anything. So, uh, what if I get enough successes to physically step into an alternate dimension, what if there’s not actually a portal to the otherlands here? Does that mean that the Reverie is everywhere, and if I do a really good job of noticing a spell I might vanish into Never Never Land?

Like everything else concerning the Reverie, this seems like a half-formed idea, a mental cloud of stuff Stephen Brown saw in movies. The problem is not that it’s unoriginal, though, it’s that he can’t define it concretely enough for it to be useful in gameplay or even convey it in sensible language. The quote at the beginning of this section is from Hellraiser’s Pinhead, and it seems like the idea he was going for was stories where characters can take a turn or go through a door and suddenly be in a different world without anything as obvious as a glowing magic portal, from The Secret Garden to Silent Hill. Again, it’s poorly conveyed, and it drones on and on about dimmed lighting, “changes in mood,” weird smells, ghostly figures, psychic vibrations, crystal blue persuasions, and did I mention lighting and mood? I think this book may be Stephen C. Brown’s way of asking me out to a candlelit dinner. Unfortunately, I am not impressed by his Bullshit Vampire Narnia and I wish he’d shut the gently caress up about the mystical power of his imagination. All this Reverie crap is like astronaut food; it may seem novel at first, but it’s insipid pabulum for space cadets.

Okay. Okay. Deep breaths. Uh, moving on...there are rules for running and swimming, gently caress that.

There are more rules for Torment and Degradation, but not really. There’s a totally pointless chart with Difficulties to resist Torment and descriptions ranging from “slight compulsion” to “super-intense urge to obey Torment.” Again, too vague and stupid to be worth putting numbers to it.

Freeformin’ now I’m freeformin’

The Everlasting discusses the different methods of task resolution (cards, dice, freeform) and seriously instructs you that your group should take a democratic vote on what kind of rules to use. (What? But the introduction chapter said that each participant gets to choose their own method!) You’re also meant to be going through a process of “rules creation” in which you decide which optional rules to include and not include in the first session of play. Ooh, a pretentious 90s narrative-obsessed campaign where we also spend the first few sessions arguing about how bullets should work against vampires? Sounds fun!

There is also the suggestion of totally freeforming it. The book spends 227 words explaining how to just make poo poo up.

Poor Ithaqua. Reduced to trolling for victims at field raves.

Finally there are a couple pages of rules for LARPing. Yes, rules, because live action is the only thing that has definite rules: no weapons, no physically dangerous activity, no unruly players allowed, no playing in places where you’ll scare passersby, and no touching. Unfortunately, we are told, LARPing “cannot capture the altered state of consciousness achieved through table-top legendmaking,” but it has the advantage of never being boring (ha!) and allowing you to pretend you can act.

The first rule of LARP club is don’t eat safety pins.

As somebody who LARPs very little, it seems like a common-sense set of guidelines for LARPing about staying in character and such. But notably, characters have the same stats, and there are no suggestions for simpler rules and easier resolution with rock-paper-scissors or whatever. I guess everyone has to carry around a deck of cards. The norms really will think you’re gothic magicians!

Next time, on The Everlasting: Storytelling. Not to be confused with legendmaking.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 18:55 on Jan 28, 2014

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

pkfan2004 posted:

I like all that weird "spooky" art in The Everlasting. It looks like stuff I'd see in an early 2000s spooky flash game like ExMortis or whatever.
Anything that's good is from the PDF re-release; the original has scant, mostly bad stuff.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

pkfan2004 posted:

Smart vampires are a different breed. See, all vampires are heavily territorial and they will gladly fight each other over turf disputes or if one becomes too powerful. Smart vampires will let you know that you are in their territory and therefor their property. They fall in love and tend to kill their lovers after falling into fits of melancholic violence, convinced their lovers want to leave them and kill them. They hang out with the rich and powerful and mark aristocratic families as "theirs". They're as social as they are vicious and because aristocrats love them it's not hard for them to find a steady source of blood and money to live comfortably. And all the while they hurt and torture people. They nurse blood from hookers and cut them with their claws and knives, using them as sex objects to mark and disfigure as they see fit. They become the center of attention at "Cirques du Sang" parties where aristocrats fawn over them, experience a gentle feeding from their party guest and watch the vampire hypnotize a cleaned-up abducted youth from the slums and feed from them violently and fatally. They even tend to get their pain and pleasure centers mixed up and delight in being tortured and hurting people around them.
I did not expect a direct lift from Interview with the Vampire.


So yeah, dhampirs. Pretty much what you expected.
I expected white Blade, and I got it.



Huh. Much like Everlasting, it's the less prominent stuff that's more interesting and original.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Which brings me to the very important thing to know about Technoir: this is not William Gibson's cyberpunk. If you're expecting a game that lets you put together a crew of miscreants and organise a run on a corporate arcology to steal an AI mainframe, that's not what Technoir is written to do.
To be fair to William Gibson, I don't think that's William Gibson's cyberpunk either. I'm not a scholar of the genre, but I believe most of the fault for people associating cyberpunk with heist plots and superpowered cyborgs falls squarely on Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and a handful of animes.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003
Ah, yes, Neuromancer. The only novel William Gibson ever wrote.


Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

Spoilers Below posted:

Or are we going to get really silly and claim that most of his books aren't about corporate espionage of one sort or another?
Reread LC's original post. I'm saying that this:

Lemon Curdistan posted:

What Technoir is written to do is hard-boiled fiction that happens to be in a cyberpunk setting - it's LA Confidential 20 minutes into the future, it's the Marîd Audran or Takeshi Kovacs novels. It's not about hacking corporate servers; it's about going out, asking questions, getting kidnapped, beaten up and nearly killed, and discovering that the serial killer who's been terrorising Lotown is actually a corporate hitman harvesting brains for a new AI project, on the orders of the man who owns half the city, and what are you going to do about it?
is the kind of thing Gibson would write. Most of his books have multiple intertwining plot threads about noir protagonists who are just trying to make a living but get in over their heads, rather than heist plots featuring hackers and cyber-samurai. CP2020, Ghost in the Shell, and all the other stuff based on reading Neuromancer and only Neuromancer (okay, maybe "Burning Chrome" too) have muddied the water so bad that people have gotten the idea that When Gravity Fails and Snow Crash are somehow radically different from "Gibsonian cyberpunk."


edit: to put it another way, it's Gibson's fault that cyberpunk is mostly cyborg-computer hacker heists with splashes of epistemology in the same way that it's Tolkien's fault that most fantasy novels involve Long Journeys to defeat Dark Lords and/or dispose of Powerful Magic Objects.
That's not a fair comparison because IIRC, almost all of Tolkien's fantasy output is about Middle-Earth, whereas most of Gibson's output is very different from Neuromancer.

See, this whole thing for me is like if he'd said "These aren't your standard Vancian wizards, they're indolent aristocrats who summon genies to do magic for them," when that's exactly how the wizards in the later Dying Earth books work.

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