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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





megane posted:

There's a note at some point in 2E that Dragonbloods made sure the fashion in the Realm was all austere monolithic stone and engravings, because wooden buildings and paintings and carpets and such don't last very long when cousin Sally makes it snow indoors every time she gets worked up.

I think in 3e it's just assumed most Dynastic personal goods are crafted to survive mild temperature etc extremes, or they just replace fragile things with their vast wealth. Peasants... are not so lucky as to be able to do so, if the Princes of the Earth forget caution.

The Realm book isn't out yet though, which means I'm only going off of my vague memories of discussions past.

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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Joe Slowboat posted:

I think in 3e it's just assumed most Dynastic personal goods are crafted to survive mild temperature etc extremes, or they just replace fragile things with their vast wealth. Peasants... are not so lucky as to be able to do so, if the Princes of the Earth forget caution.

The Realm book isn't out yet though, which means I'm only going off of my vague memories of discussions past.

Look, caution is for people who don't have divine right and superpowers to go along with it.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Night10194 posted:

It sure seems like almost every war with the CS in it is about how unstoppable and powerful the CS is.

To be fair any big evil empire kind of has to be like that until its undoing, at least traditionally.

The problem is that the very thought of there ever being an undoing is never taken too seriously.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Alien Rope Burn posted:

To be fair any big evil empire kind of has to be like that until its undoing, at least traditionally.

The problem is that the very thought of there ever being an undoing is never taken too seriously.

Yeah, that's what I mean. Everything about the Coalition seems to treat the idea of them losing as inconceivable and even an awful net negative for the world.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Night10194 posted:

Yeah, that's what I mean. Everything about the Coalition seems to treat the idea of them losing as inconceivable and even an awful net negative for the world.

Same problem as with the Imperium in 40K: they sold a million jillion models by screaming about how great and invincible the Spess Murins are, and now if they said "well actually the Imperium is sort of awful so we're going to get rid of it" the fans would riot. The Coalition can't lose because they're on the cover.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Joe Slowboat posted:

I think in 3e it's just assumed most Dynastic personal goods are crafted to survive mild temperature etc extremes, or they just replace fragile things with their vast wealth. Peasants... are not so lucky as to be able to do so, if the Princes of the Earth forget caution.

The Realm book isn't out yet though, which means I'm only going off of my vague memories of discussions past.

The DBs book at least mentions that anywhere that it's expected a Dynast might decide to blow a ton of Essence is almost certainly made of stone. Because, like, as far as people in the world can tell this poo poo happens whenever they try really hard at stuff. When Mnemon Sarah decides to throw her all into giving a speech, holding a party or putting on a concert, she is going to probably cause pulses of destructive wind or whatever that ruin anything fragile.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I guess Kevin's never heard of the idea of co-belligerent. Why would the Federation or Free Quebec care about the idea they'd be fighting at the same time as Tolkeen? It's a golden chance to take the CS to Dick Kick City. Make 'em fight a three front war.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
I AM A BIG FAT STUPID FUCKER WHO SHOULD STAY THE FUCK OUT OF CSPAM

Mors Rattus posted:

The DBs book at least mentions that anywhere that it's expected a Dynast might decide to blow a ton of Essence is almost certainly made of stone. Because, like, as far as people in the world can tell this poo poo happens whenever they try really hard at stuff. When Mnemon Sarah decides to throw her all into giving a speech, holding a party or putting on a concert, she is going to probably cause pulses of destructive wind or whatever that ruin anything fragile.

I really love the implied 'understanding' of the world the average joes have.

"Ok so most honored and revered Zao has the blessing of wood, so we absolutely want him to grace our party for the massive honor that would be...but if he gets into a catty snipe contest with someone the walls are gonna start blooming heroin filled flower cups again so maybe make sure everything is stone"

Like, it's not even wrong it's just such a practical view of god people being commonplace, I love it. The average person just does not want our magic bullshit making their life harder and I respect the hell out of it.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Another to way to look at it is: anywhere that can't withstand DBs getting worked up belongs to poor people and doesn't matter.

wiegieman fucked around with this message at 02:32 on May 9, 2019

megane
Jun 20, 2008





I'm starting to think Exalted would be a cooler setting if DBs were the only kind of Exalt. Maybe Sidereals can stick around, but removing Solars and Abyssals and Infernals and even Lunars feels like it's gonna make the world more interesting, not less.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


megane posted:

I'm starting to think Exalted would be a cooler setting if DBs were the only kind of Exalt. Maybe Sidereals can stick around, but removing Solars and Abyssals and Infernals and even Lunars feels like it's gonna make the world more interesting, not less.

Originally, that was the plan. Dragon-Blooded were actually the first type of Exalted created during development, and originally it was going to be that they would choose different types of magic like elemental or celestial and that would affect how they looked and the like. Later they scrapped that because they didn't want the different "flavors" to be too generic, and wanted to make sure each type had a more distinctive origin and culture.

Dawgstar posted:

I guess Kevin's never heard of the idea of co-belligerent. Why would the Federation or Free Quebec care about the idea they'd be fighting at the same time as Tolkeen? It's a golden chance to take the CS to Dick Kick City. Make 'em fight a three front war.

I have no idea why the Federation is sitting this one out. They should be doing everything they can to make it worse all around, not just sitting back and laughing. I'm starting to wonder if Dunscon really cares about being evil or having revenge or if he's just posing because he likes thrones made of skulls.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


megane posted:

I'm starting to think Exalted would be a cooler setting if DBs were the only kind of Exalt. Maybe Sidereals can stick around, but removing Solars and Abyssals and Infernals and even Lunars feels like it's gonna make the world more interesting, not less.

It's not like the Solars really bring much to the table besides dice tricks anyway. Similarly, having one type of Exalt that just has a ton of different flavors rather than a shitload of different flavors of God King who are all on tier lists might make it more fun.

DBs also have the inherent advantage of already being made to work in groups, that thing most TT games are assumed to be using.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Solars are fundamental because they threaten to overturn the status quo and are culture heroes who can restore the Golden Age. The 'Just DBs' setting is an interesting one but it's much more like Elemental Rokugan than Creation.

Or, put another way, Solars being the 'generic' Exaltation makes DBs cooler, not less interesting, by the contrast. A setting where DBs are the mightiest Exalts by their force of arm, not their organizations and dynasties and entrenchment, is a much weaker one.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Mors Rattus posted:

As a note, in case you were wondering: a very large number of the Signature Fire Charms end with 'and then you set them on fire.'

What if they're already on fire?

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





The Lone Badger posted:

What if they're already on fire?

What more is there to do? They have received all the help, and all the harm, that a person can take.

As Pratchett said, "Give a man a fire, you keep him warm for a day. Light a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." Wise words.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
I AM A BIG FAT STUPID FUCKER WHO SHOULD STAY THE FUCK OUT OF CSPAM

The Lone Badger posted:

What if they're already on fire?

they could be...MORE on fire....

Also yea the setting does kinda need Solars as the big 'these guys can do some major disruption' thing...buuuuuuuuut you also could do that with Lunars and Abyssals too and they're cool.

Lunars are, at least, important because they represent the biggest practical danger to the 'civilized' world, very powerful, enough to rival the DBs, and dedicated to destroying the order they've carefully built to maintain their power. Solars just kinda...roll in and gently caress things up...because reasons? Lunars have a direct push/pull with The Realm, Abyssals are kiiiinda not needed yea but I love those stupid tryhard things so much.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

At some point I absolutely will play a Dragon-blooded phantom thief who plays the useless noble fop by day and fights for the common people behind a mask at night and also makes clues pointing to them being the same person explode.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
I AM A BIG FAT STUPID FUCKER WHO SHOULD STAY THE FUCK OUT OF CSPAM

There's probably a good Exalted setting to make out of the new age being the Solars are all dead/cut off from The Unconquered Sun (maybe it got a little conquered), the Lunars are kinda picking the pieces up without their ancient 'other halves' and trying to establish their own order finally against The Realm, and Abyssals are the corrupted remains of what used to be Solars (maybe that's why they're cut off now, the deathlords made their big play and yoink'd Solars from the sun).

Also Sidreals are...doing Sidreal stuff, they're weird but kinda their own thing so we let them be.

And Infernals...I dunno, maybe this edition they won't have graphic child rape as a part of their book and can be cool.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


sexpig by night posted:

Also Sidreals are...doing Sidreal stuff, they're weird but kinda their own thing so we let them be.

I mean 'kung fu bureaucrat descends from Heaven to gently caress around with fate' is always acceptable in a setting with lots of kung fu.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Solars should basically be treated as the incursion of 'sometimes, a person who has no special lineage or backing from the Fate Bureaucracy, isn't a magical shapeshifter, and isn't a vampire, rolls into the narrative and invents agriculture, or kills a dragon, or otherwise Culture Heroes.'
That they have a divine patron who is the least hands-on of all entities in the setting is in line with that as well.

The point of Solars is that they can be Conan, and the setting needs Conans, because they thematically bind the Exalted to humanity in a way the Dragon-Blooded, Lunars, and Sidereals don't. Solars being the default Exaltation that others are compared to (and, again, pretty fun to play when their mechanics aren't janky and they can just be Your Ancient Hero OC) defines the measure of heroism and makes the unique qualities of other Exalted more unique. They also present the possibility of a new, while also arguably very old, power arising in the world that will unravel the status quo and not necessarily by making it weirder (Infernals) or deader (Abyssals). Hell, even if they only got NPC stats, I would argue that Solars existing as Culture Hero Exalted and the primary target of the Wyld Hunt does more for Dragon-Blooded themes than having elemental powers does. The Dragon-Blooded are elemental second, aristocratic first.

Besides, if Ex3 Solars had been mechanically built by Vance, I'm pretty sure everybody would love them for the general use Hero Exalts that they are. It's not the Solars' fault their mechanics are immense, labyrinthine, and full of dice tricks, though I admit that does make them harder to play and less well-defined.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Warning!

It's time for Palladium to innovate.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Violence, War, Magic & the Supernatural

I know you're thinking it's the same every time, but look above! Now we have "war".

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

The fictional world of Rifts® is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Otherdimensional beings often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigods, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

Because, as we know, the Rifts game line has yet to feature war, a rare element in any RPG game line.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Some parents may find the violence, magic and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

Violence, sure, but the ongoing Germany-Gargoyle conflict? A mere scuffle. The Chi-Town vs. Quebec conflict? A dinner-table trifle. The battle against the Four Horsemen and their waves of undead minions? A gentle skirmish, at best.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Please note that none of us at Palladium Books® condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

It turns out it doesn't count as a real war until death camps enter the picture.



Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 1 - "This book might come as a bit of a shock to die-hard Coalition fans, because it will not paint a very pretty picture of our boys in black."

Yes, it may surprise some out there that the guys with an ideology based on Nazi fascism and who run around in vehicles with livery themed after the SS might be bad guys! Man, I bet you thought it was just all about cool uniforms, lasers, and shouting "Co-bro!" (The "Co" stands for the "Coalition", and the "bro" stands for "bro".) We're all very shocked.

So, it's time for the Coalition Wars part two, in which Siembieda and Coffin introduce us to a more x-treme, more grim Coalition. And without much preamble, we can move right into that.



A clash of Titans
By Kevin Siembieda and Bill Coffin


The Coalition has gotten pretty cocky, but it's gotten rocky. The Tolkeen offensive has gotten off to a really bad start, and it's time to talk about the why. Generally speaking, the Coalition hasn't had serious opposition in a long time, and that's by design. The Coalition has usually avoided facing anybody it isn't absolutely confident it could crush. That's why it hasn't attacked Lazlo, or done an all-out attempt to crush the Federation of Magic. The leadership of the Coalition sees their position as dependent on the illusion of power and human dominance.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

It is something approaching a religious fervor, a jihad, this drive of the Coalition to expand its borders and see its enemies driven before them.

Is that so.

The Coalition has never faced such a prepared magical force, and the creative uses the Tolkeenites are putting their magic to are throwing predictable Coalition skullrolling tactics into disarray. Add in the fact that roughly half the forces they're using just got thrown through basic and onto the battlefield, and there's a lot going amiss for the Coalition at this point. The size of the Coalition force made it ground out somewhat once it hit serious resistance - they hadn't really planned to need long-term supply chains, while Tolkeen forces could easily resupply from local communities or by using magic. The Coalition has pretty much one core tactic - overwhelming force - and with Tolkeen refusing stand-up fights, they rarely get to apply that force well. Moreover, Coalition leadership was arrogant and figured they just needed to throw more troops at the situation rather than worrying about intelligence on the enemy. Lastly, the unpredictability and horrific nature of Tolkeen's attacks has shaken morale, particularly among the new recruits. Desertion, panic, and PTSD have been real issues. Some commanders don't even report losses out of fear that they might be punished.


"Wait, where is the enemy? Somewhere offscreen?"

We get another "letter from the front" by Sergeant Deon Canton, so cue up your Ken Burnsesque sepia filters. He's gotten grimmer and tougher, and has now gone from "kill all the D-Bees and wizards" to "kill anybody who might conceivably be on Tolkeen's side". That's character development! Also he has a bionic hand now after losing his original hand, so he can crush every beer can.

So the initial shock is wearing off, and Deon is supposed to be emblematic of the hardening the Coalition troops are undergoing, and their increasing fanaticism. Though the Tolkeen defense surprised them, the horrific nature of it and the death of their fellows supports their existing fears and loathing of magic. Murder of enemy civilians - human or otherwise - is now commonplace. Some Coalition soldiers have even taken D-Bee children as "pets" of a sort to torment, but this is generally viewed very dimly by leadership - not out of any moral stance, but just the suspicion that they might act as spies or saboteurs. In general, prisoners are only taken for the interests of intelligence.


"I still can't see the enemy! They're sneakily hiding outside the frame!"

We're told that "25-30%" of the Coalition soldiers haven't gotten in on the genocidal murder craze, and some might allow civilians to escape or show prisoners moments of kindness. However, showing a D-Bee or wizard kindness (much less escape) is a punishable offense, and Coalition culture also backs that up with mockery even if the individual isn't officially sanctioned. Those who show "traitorous" tendencies may be forced to do awful poo poo to D-Bees to prove their loyalty to the cause.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

This book might come as a bit of a shock to die-hard Coalition fans, because it will not paint a very pretty picture of our boys in black. In fact, for the most part, Coalition Overkill is all about how the Coalition is the bad guy, the aggressor, the oppressor. After all, is it really so hard to believe? Sometimes, folks lose sight of this, perhaps because the Coalition employs such a dazzling array of technology that from a playing standpoint, it's easy to forget that the CS espouses many of the things we have grown to detest in modern society — xenophobia, totalitarianism, overt racism, and genocide. What makes the Coalition tolerable, even heroic under certain circumstances, is that they really do have serious enemies to contend with, not the least of which are the hordes of monsters, supernatural horrors, and evil magic users stalking the land. Moreover, not all people living in the Coalition States or serving in its military are evil or bigots. The CS is a civilization of diverse people and to assume "all" CS citizens are fanatics and bad guys is to do exactly what
the Coalition does to others, generalize, vilify and prey on people's fears and misconceptions.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Hopefully, as the smoke clears from the battlefields of Tolkeen, the soldiers of the Coalition will recognize their crimes and strive to prevent them as their society soldiers on into the future.




"Aaaaaaa, it's the enemy!"

Next: Badder guys.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Gee, I hope somehow, inexplicably, my death and the deaths of my loved ones as we flee will somehow convince a critical mass of these skull robot Nazi soldiers to stop committing genocide! - Tolkeen's greatest hero, according to Siembieda?

Meanwhile, the Coalition is 'sometimes heroic' when they fight monsters. Which means Tolkeen is evil for not rolling over, while the CS is heroic for... not rolling over? Ah, but, I suppose these other threats will wipe everyone out! While the CS will only wipe out all the nonhumans, and wizards, and everyone who opposes them. Is that the logic here?

Whoah, I almost overlooked 'some of the real threats are monsters and wizards, so you really can't blame the CS!' While the wizards presumably are t allowed to apply the same logic to the literal jackbooted thugs coming to kill them, because under every faceless skull mask is an individual. Seems... selective.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Some Coalition soldiers have even taken D-Bee children as "pets" of a sort to torment, but this is generally viewed very dimly by leadership - not out of any moral stance, but just the suspicion that they might act as spies or saboteurs.


Ah, because you can't spell 'child slavery' without CS.

Ratoslov fucked around with this message at 06:19 on May 9, 2019

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Why would anyone who wasn't in whatever the Coalition's vision of ethnic purity give a single tin poo poo about the possible tragic heroism of them fighting deadly monsters? At most you'd be glad to see the two things that want to exterminate you destroy each other.

Like I'm pretty sure every version of the Evil Empire in a Final Fantasy game has been more credible "good guys" than the Coalition, while having similar thematics and better visual design.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Oh, look at that, I predicted the text of that sidebar almost verbatim. I'm so proud.

gently caress you, Kevin Siembieda. What a poo poo game you made.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Cults: Jehammedans, pt.3



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


Wind in my beard

Jehammed really wanted his people to be nomadic. Stone buildings breed feelings of false security. Owning a lot of property (in shape of stone buildings) would produce haughtiness instead of humility (Jehammed, Islamic space commie?). Just keep moving all the time and you'll be good.

This puts to question that bit about Anabaptists destroying everything that Jehammedans had built up, but, you know, deeetails.

It worked for centuries. The herds grazed in the tundra, which is lol – I know the glaciers are coming in from the north, but was it enough to turn Near East into tundra? Anyways, the Jehammedans were autonomous, since they were also well versed in crafting.

However, the emergence of quasi states – Anabaptists and Judges guard their territory jealously – and the aggression you see every time when you enter someone's lands in Balkhan made some of the Jehammedans settle down. The biggest cities are Osman in Borca and Bucharest in Balkhan (ruled by Voivodes).



Tent city, bitch, tent tent city, bitch
Tattoos on goat titty, bitch


The Holy City

Side-section! It is said that there are still piles of bronze tubes at the base of stone of Kabaa: the words of Jehammed written down in the last days before the Eschaton and sealed for safekeeping. Jehammedans would like to get them all, but the Africans don't let them in purely because Jehammedans are too Euro for them.

As for why the Neolibyans don't sell them those things for atrocious prices, well, they-- look, another side-section!

Life rings

Jehameddans love tattoos and use them to record their life and deeds. More tattoos = the better and more experienced person. Once a year, during the Bairam, the Iconides spend seven days listening to stories and judging what tattoos should commemorate them and where they should be inked. So incels basically walk unblemished.

Aries the Ram

Out of the left field comes an in-no-way-a-leftist character, Aries the Ram. He hasn't been seen for ages, but Jehammedans still see random goats (don't rams actually come from sheep?) straying into their camps at night as a sign from Aries, as only he could have pulled the surprised attack that won the day so many years back.

Iconides don't like this, because they see Aries' worship replacing God in Jehammedan life. And it's spreading from Balkhan to Osman and Justitian. Iconides have been dealing with it harshly: in Justitian, they banish the Arianoi from the city naked; in Osman, it's implied that they're sold to African slavery.

It's not easy for the Iconides, as Jehammed had said that it's better to cut your own hand before raising it against a member of the clan. But he never said anything about cyborg worshippers, and they had never had a threat from within (except for those guys that went Apocalyptic on them, I guess).

quote:

Honorable Iconides unwilling to characterize Aries as a corrupt false God and deny his worshipers God’s mercy make their fight even harder.

Cult heretical what do

Arianoi

Aries and his followers disappeared after ye olde battle. They went to Crete. Anyone who goes there is met by ram's heads (symbols? Skulls? Both?) and impaled Africans.

quote:

Actually, there are several eyewitness reports from Neolibyans who foundered on Crete’s dark shores at night. They could not but watch the terrible orgies that took place inland next to temples and bizarre labyrinths of scrap and bones. The tales of torchlight and squealing lambs staggering around in a circle of ram-headed men with open jugulars seem far-fetched.

At least we know where the industrial amounts of ram skulls come from!

The stories of Crete seemed like tall tales before a 500-ton freighter ran aground near Tobruk. Not a living soul remained aboard, only disemboveled and skinned Neolibyans and Scourgers, and ram's heads piled on the deck (I wonder how they kept the formation during the trip). And that's why African shipping steers clear of Crete.

Meanwhile, the Arianoi who do contact Jehammedans spin a different yarn. Jehammed told the Clan to become isolationist to survive – and Aries has come to reintroduce them to the world... along with some blood and fire.

quote:

He wants them to set out, see with open eyes the miracles that they could not experience from the confinement of their clan. Leave the defensive, start attacking, use their strength to liberate Bucharest and conquer Justitian. Take the Arianois’ hands. They know the way, you children of fishermen.

Do they still not know who Aries really is?

I still don't know who Aries really is, but I bet he's a cyborg.

Next time: at what Rank does the mahdi become invisible?

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Serious question: these RIFTS books have been written a while ago, but given the odd trend of downplaying the Coalition's "not as bad as you think" text that reoccurs, is one or more of the RPG's writers a crypto-fascist or something? Say what you will about 40k, it didn't pretend that the Imperium wasn't rotten to the core.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Libertad! posted:

Serious question: these RIFTS books have been written a while ago, but given the odd trend of downplaying the Coalition's "not as bad as you think" text that reoccurs, is one or more of the RPG's writers a crypto-fascist or something? Say what you will about 40k, it didn't pretend that the Imperium wasn't rotten to the core.
If by crypto-fascist you mean like, trying to deliberately inculcate a streak of explicit fascist apologia, I doubt it. If you mean in the sense of being a little too into how awesome it is to fly a skull robot while being a hard man who makes a hard decision, extremely certainly and that writer was Kevin Siembieda.

I think his true love is micromissile launchers, though.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009










Etherscope #3: Peace in Our Time, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the d20

So last time we ended with Britain totally not winning WWII (except that they got everything they probably wanted), and the US grabbing half of Latin America in a single sentence. But we’re not quite done with the history “lesson” quite yet; there are a few decades left as well as a discussion on contemporary politics. See, the ability to access Etherspace was previously an industrial process limited to governments and corporations. But shortly after WWII Scope points were developed as miniaturized access sites, placing steam computer technology in the hands of consumers. Well, some consumers. The US heavily subsidized and freely distributed Scope implants (“jacks”), but the British instead clamped down on their access on the pretext of social unrest from below. Instead, across the pond one must either have a license for Scope access, buy time in a totally-not-Internet cafe, or grab temporary access in drug form with a Scope tab. (No mention is made of NR policies, let alone those of anyone else.) And...that’s it for those 40 years of history! Nothing about historical or counterfactual movements in the meantime, like the American civil rights movement or how the hell the NR kept all those different cultures and languages together without any issue. Or, you know, closer to home...what about the Troubles!?

No, at this point we just have a wrap up of some contemporary vignettes. As something of an inversion of real-life circumstances, the US has become a social democracy with universal healthcare and a strong welfare state. Many of its major cities are covered by enormous domes, ensuring far cleaner air than the smokestacks of European industry. We’re told that the US is not as industrialized as Britain, but that begs the question of how these dome cities get built and maintained in the first place. As in real life there’s oil in Texas, but with everything running on steam or some ether process it’s used more as an input for plastics and other hydrocarbon materials than for fuel. Meanwhile...the Ottoman Empire still exists. Inexplicably, considering that the historical Ottomans already had enough uprisings and territorial hemorrhage even without being on the losing side in WWI. Otherwise they are little more than a footnote in the ES canon; besides their existence, all we’re told about them right now is that they have access to oil (challenging US plastics) and that “[their] rulers are even more decadent than London’s elite and lack our traditional restraint”. Yeah, that’s a really weird note to end on - moral censure and British exceptionalism at once.

Once more the book tips its hand too much. We get one last discussion of the Great Metropolis, but for just one city it’s longer than the previous two vignettes combined. Apparently the local death rate is comparable to that of post-WWI Russia; many die from crime or industrial accidents, and even child labor still oils its gears with human sacrifice. Somehow all the Factory Acts, instituted over more than a hundred years, got repealed so easily? All of Manchester blames London, somehow, as the forces of capital suffer under high taxes that they have no control over. Somehow. Lobbying and tax evasion mysteriously don’t exist. As a result of these common injuries, the Northumbrian movement has begun to simmer and boil despite the best efforts of propaganda to blame things on the US. Really, all of this feels forced, like the premise from Sigmata that fundamentally misunderstands how political alliances and movements interact. If anything I would more expect that the complicit and hypocritical plutocrats would have already engineered things to their satisfaction (as with American big business for over a century), or that the proletariat would not be so eager to join with the local leaders in the sociopolitical hierarchy.

But let’s table that discussion for a moment, because out of nowhere is a huge swerve in tone. It turns out our narrator for all this history is actually a Lemurian rather than a human, and so this is where the strain of mysticism starts to show. See, unlike real life where it was an occult theory disproven by modern understanding of plate tectonics, in ES the continent of Lemuria actually used to exist. But of course it doesn’t any more, because as it turns out all this business with Etherspace isn’t just a benign source of steam magic. Etherspace was sealed for a reason, our narrator tells us, and by unsealing it again humanity has roused Hell itself from sleep. Really, it’s like DOOM 2016 except more self-serious and written years earlier. It could be an interesting premise, except that it’s competing for attention with the half-dozen other things the game wants to do and so gets few words until one of the splatbooks. A few namedrops, four monsters, and that’s it.

We next have a short section on “What is Roleplaying?” As a general discussion on tabletop roleplay, it’s nothing special but I can’t find fault. But as a specific discussion on play in the world of Etherscope, well, we get the same sort of unfocused cluelessness that indicates the book just hasn’t pinned down what it’s about. Is it concerned with cyberspace? Or perhaps the implications of the cyberpunk retrofuture in the real world? What about the Great Game of espionage? Or class struggle? Perhaps archeological adventuring to search for Lemurian secrets? Gunslinging in the “Savage South” (a passing colonialist nickname for South America)? Pin it down and iterate on that, dammit!

The list of inspirational sources is...similarly telling. Something I remember from the release of the Starfinger core book was that a bibliography should be as much about what’s excluded as what’s included. Starfinger’s list was unfocused, to all appearances simply a giant list of all the science fiction works its authors could think of. In contrast, that of Eclipse Phase was only interested in specific themes like cyberpunk, transhumanism, and modern space exploration. Space opera or mecha? Largely absent. So when I compare those two, consider what themes apparently show up in Etherscope:
  • Appreciating Victorianism and Victorian colonialism
  • Condemning Victorianism and Victorian colonialism
  • Actual steampunk, not just the aesthetic
  • Cyberpunk
  • Mysticism
  • 20th century dystopianism
  • Manchester (3 of 10 of the music acts are Manchester-related)

Seriously, look at this:



Even in these opening pages, it strikes me that Redmond and McClelland were focused foremost on writing their setting and only secondarily on figuring out how it should be used. That they kept thinking of things for PCs to do, wrote those down, and figured that telling you rather than showing you about Cool Thing X to interact with was enough. That they hadn’t pinned down the major gameplay loop. That they wanted to present justifications for the particular future they envisioned so it wouldn’t look like they were just tossing something off, but ended up with just enough heft that a canny reader could shoot holes through it. And given all of that, implementing the game as a fork of d20 Modern rather than D&D 3E makes a staggering amount of sense.

Next: Just a Twelve-Step Program

Barudak
May 7, 2007



JcDent, I appreciate both the write up and the rack city joke.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Oh, good, Kev. "Jihad" is a word I wanted to see in a RIFTS book.

Also, YES, it is not hard to believe the stars of Springtime For Prosek: A Gay Romp With Karl And Joseph At Chi-Town are the baddies Kevin, but thanks for checking in.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Cults: Jehammedans, pt. 4



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


RANKS JEHAMMEDANS

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME



LOOK AT THIS CHART. LOOK AT THIS loving CHART. THIS IS INSANE. And that's because of how devs decided to codify the entirety of the male/female and worthy/unworthy matrix of Jahammedan life into Ranks. Lord have mercy on my soul, my fingers and my keyboard.

1. Ismaeli

Ismaeli are the boys who had the misfortune of being born to an Abrami and a Hagari. They do all the hard work, they get all the kicks. Wanna get your own Hagari to spawn some unpaid workforce? You have to prove yourself in battle, because cowards and weaklings don't get to lead families.

2. Sword of Jehammed

Luckily for Ismaelis, the only way to advance is to become the Sword of Jehammed. The book literally says that this is the chance for then to harness their humiliation and frustration from Ismaeli life and unleash it in the battlefield. They also get Scimitars, because we don't understand what kind of weapon is easy to manufacture (especially for nomads) and arm large bodies of troops with. Anyways, these boys are so crazy, even Scourgers stay away from them (and presumably shoot them from afar)

quote:

They are the Swords of Jehammed, after all, killing every infidel in the name of the last prophet.

AW YEAH, INFIDEL DROP, WE'RE GOING PLACES!

3. Abrami

Slashing dudes really well (Scimitars aren't that great for stabbing) will allow you to marry a Hagari from another family. That's when one finally leaves their humiliating Ismaeli life behind, gets laid and starts a family.

Abramis are patriarchal figures, respected for their experience in life. However, their public rank is determined by how many children they have. Jehammedan fat cats in Osman and such have 30 or so sons (so the real number of children is likely higher, unless the writer hosed up and used “sons” and “children” interchangeably).

In addition to the Hagari, an Abrami gets to choose a Saraeli, a blessed one and

quote:

She can be his daughter, his sister, or any other virgin from the clan. Only her virginity matters, her purity in the eyes of God.



Can he even get an unrelated girl? Does his “clan” include only his own progeny, or someone from his father's family? Since only Abramis get to marry (and only Hagaris marry out) and they by definition start a new family, there's no clan structure that would allow you to get at least “a cousin 9 times removed.”

And unlike animes would tell you, an Abrami gets to do incest sisterfuck be Habsburg have sex with the Saraeli only once a year. If a boy is born, he becomes an Isaaki, a blessing from God.



At least there's no mention of underage marriage, so I'll give this section 6 out 10 dawkinses.

4. Shepherd

Shepherd is the opposite of the fisherman and is thus good. Only an Abrami that Iconides like very much can be declare d to be one, and he's as close to God as you can get while loving your sister.

1. Isaaki

The role of Isaaki is based on incest the story of Abraham and Sarah, and how he nearly sacrificed their only child at God's request.

quote:

Every day the Jehammedans must walk the same path - but they cannot count on the reconciling intervention of God’s hand. Thus, they send the Isaakis, the blessed children of the Abramis and Saraelis, to death on the battlefield.

Since Isaakis are raised as martyrs from day one, they're showered with attention and love in exchange. This doesn't gently caress them up at all. An Isaaki starts training for battle as soon as he's able to hold a wooden sword, and if the Abrami can't pay for a good teacher (for non-combat stuff), well, then the Ismaeli and Hagari have to work harder to make it happen. Also, you can't say one word against an Isaaki, which I'm sure does wonders for their upbringing.

2. Jehammed's Blessing

If your incest snowflake who definitely didn't grow up to be a pompous egoist keeps not dying despite how many battles he participates in, he's considered blessed and on the road of Iconidom. My description is probably longer than the book's.

3. Iconide

An Isaaki who went into hundreds of battles and didn't die, and reached the age of thirty, becomes and Iconide. And Iconides are the super-manager class of the Jehammedans.

quote:

His job is to recognize when a sheep is pregnant, find new watering holes for the flocks, and determine which newborn girls God wants to be Saraelis. Iconides are priests, judges, and executioners all in one. They guide the masses, and their word is law.

I hope their pamepered martyr upbringing didn't mess them up!

4. Prophet

If your Icons are cooler than anyone else's, you get to be a Prophet. Short description there, book.

Next time: And now, something for the ladies in the audience!

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Do we have to do the ladies next? Can’t we stop here? I can see a very clear trajectory here and it clearly leads into the ground. Probably while on fire.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Is it ever explained why the Jehammedians, who are clearly a weird Islamic offshoot and are neither Christian nor Jewish, care so much about Abraham?

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Joe Slowboat posted:

Solar Stuff.

Thank you for putting it better than I ever could. Now that we have Lunars and DBs to compare Solars against we can see how they are the strongest and also the most human and what that actually means and the others are improved by their relationships to Solars as well.

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

Where kitties raise dragons in the world's largest mall.

Libertad! posted:

Serious question: these RIFTS books have been written a while ago, but given the odd trend of downplaying the Coalition's "not as bad as you think" text that reoccurs, is one or more of the RPG's writers a crypto-fascist or something? Say what you will about 40k, it didn't pretend that the Imperium wasn't rotten to the core.

We're about to find out that the first book was the best of the 6 (the sixth book absolutely made me nerd rage back in the day).

It's also why when I did Dark Revelations you'll notice that the Fallen Lords (legions of industrialized Undead) more or less line up with Coalition territory, It's my own personal message on this situation that doesn't break ip.

The CS are the bad guys, end of story.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



What Fire Has Wrought: Drowning In Charms

Brawl Excellency: Become the Hammer, which can boost both Brawl and Martial Arts attacks, clinches and parries, lets you deal or block Lethal unarmed, and reroll 6s on damage dice. Interesting Charms: Pounding Surf Style (Water) lets you get an Overwhelming bonus (and Withering damage, in Water Aura) from the foe’s Onslaught penalty, which plays into DB teamwork stuff heavily. Oaken Thew Exertion (Wood) gives a bonus based on Stamina to your Withering damage and grapples, and in Wood Aura it gives a further bonus if you max out your dice boosts on a grapple control roll. Currents Sweep to Sea (Water) lets you turn any nearby source of water (or your anima banner) into a grappling tendril to drag foes near you. Drowning Embrace (Water) lets you, once per scene, cause someone you clinch to start drowning on Water Essence for as long as you keep grappling them (but you can choose not to have it kill them).

Signatures: Flying Whirlwind Razor (Air) lets you kick a tornado at someone once per scene as a Decisive attack out to Medium range. You can either stay where you are or fly with the tornado to move close to the foe, and the damage ignores Hardness but is lower than a normal Decisive attack. Crater-Making Impact (Earth) lets you either make a Decisive smash attack or a Decisive throw to knock a foe back one range band and send them prone, plus cause difficult terrain where they land and smash any breakable scenery. If you do enough damage they go farther and take fall damage as well. Erupting Fury Barrage (Fire) can be used at Initiative 15+ to unleash a bunch of attacks with a single Decisive attack roll, with slowly draining Initiative per attack until you run out of attacks. (You get a number of attacks based on how many 10s you roll.) Each hit also creates an Ignition Point in the victim’s Essence that lasts for the scene. You or any of your allies can set these off with Decisive attacks, with each Ignition Point detonated doing more damage cumulatively as they explode with Fire Essence. Embracing the Violent Flow (Water) lets you draw out water from a local source or your anima to make a cloak of water tendrils, which let you attack at range as well as do athletic stuff with them like climb or lift things, and which count as unarmed attacks for all Martial Arts styles. Body of Deadly Talons (Wood) lets you, once per scene, grab someone and turn your anima into thorns, impaling them. You get a bonus on the grapple roll and you can combine restrain and damage effects while grappling them, and you get no penalty to Parry while grappling due to the Essence thorns and you get bonus soak from them, which counts as soak from armor so doesn’t stack with worn armor. There are 24 Brawl Charms over 5 pages.

Bureaucracy Excellency: Geese-Flying-South Administration (Water) adds successes rather than dice, and also rerolls 6s. Interesting Charms: Confluence of Savant Thought (Water) lets you introduce facts about mercantile or bureaucratic organizations with Bureaucracy instead of Lore. Finding the Water’s Depths (Bureaucracy) lets you read intentions with Bureaucracy to tell what would be needed to get the target to consider a bargain influence action and the strongest Intimacy, if any, related to the theoretical deal. Shells-for-Silver Ruse can make people think you’re poorer or richer than you actually are, and lets you take advantage of this as if it were a Minor Intimacy via social influence. Blazing Hoard of Hesiesh (Fire) gives you a bonus to social influence depending on how much richer you are than someone rather than using Appearance. Drowning in Negotiations Style (Water) lets you bind a contract so anyone that breaks it drowns briefly, suffering a bunch of damage, and is marked by ink-black Essence stains visible only to you and the other parties of the contract for several years.

Signatures: Humble Exemplar Attitude (Air) lets you do a project or bureaucratic task that upholds one of your Defining Principles and get a bonus to all Bureaucracy rolls involved, in order to shame your subordinates into following your example. Once the project starts, all members of your organization know what your Principle is as if they’d read your intentions. When you finish, you gain 3 Willpower and all members of your organization gain the Principle at Major. This cannot be resisted except by resigning from the group. Graven Stone Edict (Earth) lets you carve a rule or law for a group you lead or have rulemaking authority in onto a stone tablet or monument. The rule must be a singular task, prohibition or requirement related to the group’s bureaucratic function. Whenever any member is faced with the prospect of breaking the rule, they can’t unless they either enter a Decision Point and resist by calling on a Defining Intimacy or formally resign from the group; once they do, the rule no longer has sway over them. Further, anyone in the group acting in their official capacity is considered to be wielding or touching iron for purposes of resisting the Wyld, so long as they obey the rule. Seething Firebreak Technique (Fire) lets you, once per story, make a passionate speech or create propaganda, rolling Bureaucracy at a bonus against all members of your organization, to root out traitors. Anyone whose Resolve you beat is suffused by Fire Essence. If loyal they display this as passionate enjoyment of work; if planning to betray the organization, they experience intensely passionate dissent, and cannot take covert or stealthy action against it. Instead, they must be open, overt and honest about it, unless they enter a Decision Point and call on a Defining Intimacy in order to show discretion for the rest of the story.

These are wordy!! Distraction of the Babbling Brook (Water) lets you, once per story, make a bargain roll but conceal one condition or requirement of the deal from the target by hiding it in a mess of spoken or written words. The target cannot recall the condition, so cannot call on Intimacies to raise Resolve against it or resist it in Decision Points, but also can’t have their Resolve lowered by Intimacies against it. You reduce the number of successes on your roll based on the severity of the clause, however, and the target can spend 3 Willpower to be able to recall it and resist its power for several days; otherwise, they rationalize why they must have agreed to it if they become aware of it and must comply, no matter how harsh the deal. One Forest, Many Trees (Wood) lets you, once per story, display your mastery of networking by rolling Bureaucracy to get a bunch of temporary dots in Allies, Contacts, Followers, Mentor or Resources for the rest of the story. There are 24 Bureaucracy Charms over 6 pages.

Craft Excellency: Masterful Dragon-Artisan Expertise (Earth) which does its thing but also gives you Silver XP if you get a stunt on a roll it boosts once per scene. Interesting Charms: Stone-Carving Fingers (Earth) lets you work stone or earth in basic or major project without need for tools or workshop, and if you have tools, you greatly reduce the time you need. A later upgrade, Shaping Hand Style, lets it work with any non-artifact material if you’re good at the relevant Craft, with element based on what you’re working. Flaw-Finding Examination (Earth) lets you make a Perception-based Craft roll before a repair project or feat of demolition to get a temporary specialty (or a bonus if you already had one) and massively increase your speed of work. Touch of Unmaking (Earth) greatly increases your Strength for purposes of qualifying for feats of demolition, and if that puts you over what you need, you get a bonus to the roll. Passion-Inflaming Artistry (Fire) gives a bonus to making art objects or ornamental/aesthetic stuff (including food) and lets you use the Craft roll as an inspire social action, which remains supernaturally potent to anyone that engages with the object for several days after you’re done making it. (A painting would presumably retain normal “written” influence after but would not have the magically puissant craft-based influence after that.)

The Signatures: Ephemeral Form Composition (Air) lets you make a magical holographic blueprint before starting a project to reduce the Craft XP required to make it, once per story. Eternal Omphalos Forge (Earth) is usable once per story and increases how many rolls you can make on a superior or legendary project, and if you finish early you gain Willpower. Blazing Dragon-Smith Arete (Fire) lowers how many rolls you can make in a Superior or Legendary project but gives a non-negligible bonus to all rolls in that project, plus you gain 1 White XP on top of all other rewards if you succeed. Fortune-From-Flotsam Ingenuity (Water) lets you, once per story, make a single Craft roll to jury-rig a Major project in the span of seconds from whatever is lying around, with reduced Silver XP cost, even if it should be utterly impossible, such as making an army’s supply of arrows out of twigs in the span of 30 seconds. Imago-Hatching Realization (Wood) can be used once per story, and it lets you reroll failed dice on a single roll of a project, causes what you make to get an unexpected but useful feature chosen by the GM, such as a longbow also functioning as a flute. If used with an artifact, it introduces a new but related theme from which Evocations can be developed. There are 17 Craft Charms over 4 pages.

Dodge Excellency: Threshold Warding Stance, which boosts Evasion, adds successes to Dodge checks and lets you ignore all environmental penalties to Evasion or Dodge checks. Interesting Charms: Virtuous Negation Defense (Wood) which lets you Defend Other with Evasion, has reduced cost when defending Sworn Kin, and in Wood Aura lets you reflexively move around to get in range of allies to protect this way, effectively extending your defense range. Ember-Amid-Smoke Misdirection (Fire) boosts Evasion slightly and deals Withering damage to anyone that you dodge the attacks of, which with an Essence 4 repurchase you can expend Fire Aura to gain Initiative from. Bonfire Shadow Evasion (Fire) lets you turn your bonfire anima into a blinding flare, reducing successes on attacks from slower enemies based on the 1s they roll and, if they are dropped to 0 successes or made to botch, blinding them for the scene.

Signatures: Safety Among Enemies (Air) lets you redirect Decisive attacks you dodge to another target in range, as long as your Initiative is high enough, causing it to be rerolled against them with all the original effects it had enhancing it still there. Unmoving Center Enlightenment (Earth) lets you, once per scene, make a Stamina-based Dodge roll to unleash spiritual pressure on all foes in Close range, and everyone whose Resolve you beat immediately has to make a Disengage check at a penalty and, if they succeed, move away from you. If they fail, they can’t do anything but try to disengage on subsequent turns until they manage it or pay Initiative and Willpower to resist. Unassailable Body of Fire (Fire) lets you, when you use the Charm Hopping Firecracker Evasion to jump away from attackers, make a fiery Dodge-based counterattack against them that can set them on fire. Flow With Strife (Water) lets you reduce Decisive damage by losing Initiative as you flow away from the attack at the last possible second, with the costs reduced if you’re in driving rain or at least ankle-deep water. If you completely reduce the damage, you count as having dodged and literally flow around the attack despite seeming to be struck. Swaying Grass Elusion (Wood) lets you trade Initiative for increased Evasion and raises the cap for how much you can raise Evasion, plus if you dodge a slower, non-trivial foe you can expend Wood Aura to regain some of that Evasion. There are 16 Dodge Charms over 3.5 pages.

Integrity Excellency: Granite Curtain of Serenity (Earth) can boost Resolve or add successes to Integrity checks, and also slightly reduces penalties from wounds, deprivation or poison. Interesting Charms: Frozen Heart Prana (Air) lets you calculate Resolve with Intelligence instead of Wits against a single roll, and resist high Appearance bonus dice with the best of your Int, Lore and Resolve, because of your icy reason. Unquenchable Battle-Passion (Fire) lets you automatically inspire yourself when targeted by any social influence that’d cause you to not fight or make it harder for you to fight, using the emotion to bolster your Resolve for the scene. If you get tagged anyway and spend Willpower to resist, you gain Initiative based on the Willpower you had to spend. Ten Thousand Dragons Fight as One (Earth) can be used once per scene when you witness another DB in risk or danger of any kind, instantly forming a Minor Tie of Loyalty to them or strengthening one you already have. For the rest of the scene, you get a bonus to Resolve above and beyond that Intimacy’s normal bonus against anything that’d weaken the Tie or dissuade you from supporting them and gives a bonus to the first influence check or Join Battle roll you make to assist them.

Signatures: Ascendant Ideal Inspiration (Air) lets you, once per story, pick one of your Defining Principles that represents your ideals. Anyone trying to weaken it or get you to act against it has to make two influence rolls and use the worse one, and you get a bonus to instill the Principle in others or persuade them to act in support of it, but you lose all Willpower if you act against the Principle or voluntarily weaken it and the Charm ends. Flawless Diamond Heart (Earth) reduces the Willpower cost to resist social influence opposing a Major or Defining Influence, once per story. Immolating Phoenix-Soul Fury (Fire) can be used once per story when a Psyche-keyword effect would cause you to act against an Intimacy. Instead, you go into a berserk frenzy, suppressing the Psyche effect for the scene and preventing you from doing anything but start a fight and keep fighting for the same duration. You can do anything in that fight except withdraw from combat or accept surrender, and the only social influence you may attempt is to threaten foes. If you aren’t in a fight, you must dedicate yourself to either seeking out a specific foe or provoking people into a fight. You cannot end this Charm voluntarily. If you defeat whoever caused the Psyche effect while under this Charm’s effects, the Psyche effect ends permanently and you gain 2 Willpower.

Phoenixes are wordy fuckers. Waves-Swallow-Mountains Persistence (Water) reduces incoming social influence based on the number of 1s rolled, and the more you use it in a scene, the more it can reduce and the more numbers on the die count – on the second use in a scene, 1s and 2s are counted, not just 1s, and so on. You can only use this on a single character per scene, but can use it any number of times you want against them in the scene. Roots-of-the-World Meditation (Wood) lets you spend several hours meditating and then make a Willpower roll to heal yourself of damage, poisons, disease or Derangements, once per story. There are 18 Integrity Charms over 4 pages.

Next time: Investigation, Larceny, Linguistics, Lore, Medicine

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Warhammer Fantasy: Paths of the Damned Part 2: Spires of Altdorf

No fighting in the wizard's college

One of the weird things about the Specific Places of Altdorf is that there's no notes on the Grey College, despite one of the 'canon' heroes among the premades being a Grey Wizard who is intended to use the time in Altdorf to promote into Journeyman and actually has a little note on how her master is deeply proud of her. The majority of our Specific Places are already going to be wizard colleges, why not include the one that one of the expected protagonists is going to interact with?

Anyway, our first place of note is the Amethyst College, because it can definitely come up; a Death Mage is a really important character in the coming adventure. Curiously, the doors of the College are always open, and the building is built in plain sight, near the city's main temple of Morr. Anyone can enter the spooky, seemingly abandoned building at any point. Most who do find nothing; cobwebs, dust, and a constant and oppressive silence. Some find wizards. Those who find a couple confused, surprised wizards are taken in as Apprentices the very next day; they pierced the 'shell college' that defends the real college and crossed over into the realm of Death Magic, proving they have magical talent. Yes, the dead, abandoned building is a weird sub-dimension shell-college that the wizards use to keep anyone unauthorized from bothering them.

If you were invited, there is a bell to ring to summon the College's stewards, who can guide a visitor through the shadows of death and past the dead illusion college and into the real one. The real one isn't that much different than the dead one; a quiet, contemplative place covered in shrines to Morr (Amethyst Wizards are some of the most devout wizards), but it also has actual wizards in it. Moreover, most wizards keep pets or plants in their private rooms, because a Death mage needs to see life from time to time to avoid thinking death is everything. Thus, many cats to pet and wizards carefully trying to tend to plants such that they don't die in a cold temple full of death magic.

The next place is the Bright College, which is located and hidden in the flaming no-go zone made out of the wreckage of the first Bright College. The Bright College is mostly populated with Apprentices and their instructors; the actual Journeymen and above are all off with the Imperial army, merrily fireballing beastmen and burning down evil forests. Locals know the fire ruins are haunted somehow, because even though no-one would go to a burned out and magic-touched part of the city, people catch glimpses of figures moving in the smoke. The area IS actually quite haunted, but no-one is sure how; visitors sometimes claim they see the whole block burst into flames again as it relives the fire that killed it in the first place. The reputation for haunting suits the wizards just fine, as it keeps most people away and seems to be harmless to magi.

If you walk through the haze of smoke and destruction enough, you will pierce the veil and discover the Bright College itself. Alternately, you can visit on a hot enough summer day; a heat haze will actually break the illusion and the wizards have never managed to correct this flaw. I like to imagine every time they get together to figure out how to stop heat hazes from revealing their college every year they get distracted by how hot it is and run outside to throw fire around and gambol merrily. Since the College is only sometimes there, locals like to tell outsiders that the Bright College actually flies around the Empire on blazing wings of flame, descending to rest in Altdorf in summer but spending the rest of the year landing on evil in a tide of explosions, flaming swords, and wizards screaming 'JUSTICE!' and rocking out. The main thing that tells you such a thing is impossible is that if it was, the Bright Wizards would absolutely be doing it; that is definitely something they would be into.

The actual College structure is a huge bastion of stone, metal, and fire, with 21 great towers and an extremely fireproofed interior. PCs trying to enter will be confronted by a polite gatekeeper who asks them what wizard they're here to visit, unless one of the PCs is a Bright Wizard, in which case they're simply all allowed in. They note that you can sneak around the Bright College surprisingly easy by being brazen enough and telling people you're there to meet someone. Wizards are supposed to show their visitors out after meetings but in practice, Bright Wizards are very distractable people and telling them you'll see yourself out usually works.

The Celestial College is similarly shielded from mortal sight. People can see it; it isn't covered by an illusion. It's simply enchanted such that people don't bother looking at it, despite being a huge fairytale palace covered in shiney telescopes and astrolabes. Something about the enchantment of the College just prevents anyone without Magical Sense from looking up when they're around it, so even people who know where to look usually only see the doors. Characters with Magical Sense can point the College out to friends, who will temporarily be able to perceive it.

Because this is a College of diviners, they tend to know when someone is coming and visitors are rarely kept waiting. It would be against the school's reputation if they didn't know to expect company! Wizards make a game of inviting PCs in at the exact moment the PC is about to knock on the wizard's door. They have to make sure they remind everyone they seem to know everything; this is only really true within the grounds and bounds of their own College, but they want to give people the impression it extends to all fate and knowledge in the world.

Empire House is the first non-wizard place, and it is the Watch and security headquarters for the city of Altdorf. As it is also where bounties are paid on beastmen, monsters, and criminals, it is clearly a place Adventurers will have lots of business. It's famed for the complete nonchalance of the Watch Sergeants on desk duty. They have seen everything, and the only thing that would surprise them about a group of Adventurers plopping down the head of a dragon and asking for the bounty on it would be that there's no fixed bounty on dragons (not to mention wondering how the hell the party carried that huge head in without being noticed). Empire House itself is a huge stone building, designed as a defensive keep in case of riots or sieges, and it has had to hold off angry rioters more than once. The lobby (where the bounty collecting and crime reporting happens) is as far into the House as most people ever get. In the back are private rooms for officers and officials, which are invitation only. The only real way to sneak in (if PCs have some cause to do so) is a guarded fire escape door, designed to allow high officials to evacuate in case of emergency. It has instead ended up being used as a convenience so that people can slip out and avoid crowds waiting at the front gate.

The Jade College is one of the more pleasant Colleges. It looks like a huge brick wall from the outside, surrounding an in-city nature preserve. At all times, the gate is guarded by 4 warriors, one young, one in their prime, one middle aged, and one old. All four are serious fighters and should be a match for any PCs who think to start trouble. Inside the College itself is a huge walled garden, larger on the inside than it could ever be from what one sees on the outside. Inside the College, the sounds and smells of the city are replaced with clean air and the sound of flowing water, and the paths spiral gently to a center. Wizards are allowed in on principal and may bring visitors with them, while other sorts of PCs have to demonstrate they have some business before they're let in to walk the gardens with whatever mage they're there to meet.

The actual rooms of the College are all grown from the trees, with libraries where each book is nestled and protected from the rainwater by its own little grown nook and gentle sleeping quarters sheltered from the rain and constant flowing of water. Very few Jade Wizards live in the College itself; most go out into the world to aid the Empire's agriculture, clear blights, and experience the natural world. Those who live here are students and instructors.

The Light College is actually a giant spatially distorted Nehekaran pyramid of light hidden within the city. You have to do some weird Diagone Ally bullshit to actually get in, revolving around turning to 6 different corners while making a WP test that gets easier every time you succeed at it. New students are often locked out of the College by its magic and have to work at it for several hours or until an instructor comes and gets them. Weirdly, Chaos worshipers have a much easier time piercing these defenses and make the WP test at +30. I suspect this is a lingering legacy of Van Horstmann and his bullshit. People who live nearby get used to finding their way around the weird spatial distortion and avoiding the College, and those who think hard about it 'tend to become madmen or wizards'.

The College itself is a massive beacon of magical power, giving huge spellcasting bonuses to anyone with Light magic that aren't mentioned for the other Colleges and thus are probably unique to this one. Inside, everything is lit as though there is bright sunlight at all times. Gold, silver, and white seem to be the main colors permitted for any decoration. The magic in the Light College is so strong that even characters without magical senses can feel it, and there is always a faint sound of ritual singing and chanting coming through the corridors. The College of Light is one of the most isolated places in Altdorf, despite its brightness; I've always found that curious about Light Magic. They're always said to be so wise and powerful, but there's always something weirdly cold and distant about them. Not to mention how they somehow missed that their Patriarch was a Chaos Sorcerer for decades.

The Palaces of Retribution get only a very cursory writeup; they're just the central courthouses of Altdorf. They're known for harsh sentences and massive public trials that often break into street brawls when the judge is unusually harsh or an unexpected verdict outrages the public. Public beheadings and hangings are also held in the square.

The Temple of Sigmar is one of the central draws of Altdorf, being the center of the Empire's state religion. The temple is a huge, sprawling complex, with new buildings added over time to hold new records or train new priests. The art within can be breathtaking, or it can be surprisingly amateurish; one example is a poorly made carving of Sigmar that has great pride of place because the Warrior Priest who made it was a great hero of the Empire, known for his battles against Chaos and his comfort to the people of the Empire. But not really for his artistic talent. At the same time, the statue is clearly blessed by its creator's piety, and so the Grand Theoganists have refused to move it or replace it with a nicer one.

24 arches hold the 24 latest heroes of the Sigmarite Faith, with great statues constructed and used to line the path to the Temple's main altar. Every time a new hero is coined, a new statue is commissioned and placed, and an old one is moved elsewhere in the Temple. The current debate is on whether or not there should be a statue of Valten at all; he was clearly not Sigmar reborn (according to this book) but some say he was a hero of the faith anyway. While others claim he was a heretic or fraud, and that the entire mess was a distraction to the Empire by its enemies. It's really hilarious to me how absolutely no-one gives a poo poo about Valten; the canon version of him had all the problems of Archy but since he isn't a Chaos character, no-one has to pretend to care about him. I think this is the first book to outright move towards 'it was obvious he was never Siggy', though.

Many of the best statues and works in the Temple are actually gifts of the dwarves, who still carve artistic representations of Sigmar and other Sigmarite heroes in honor of their friendship. I like to imagine a bunch of these are done in the style of Dwarf Ancestor God statues, because hey, the Dwarfs would absolutely understand Siggy as a manling Ancestor God. It would even be plausible if contact with the dwarfs and their traditions is what inspired Helstrum to claim Sigmar was a God in the first place.

As a cute detail, the Temple's cooks are the best in all of Altdorf, but the serving staff at the refectories are also the most vigilante guards in the city. You'll never get in without being a priest, a friend of a priest, or a guest of some Sigmarite official.

And that's all we get on Altdorf. No University, no Gold College, no Grey College, no Imperial Palace, no Imperial Zoo (This is a huge tragedy. I demand catbirds!), no Asur Embassies, no foreign quarters, nothing. Just the aforementioned lists of generic ideas about what various building types may be, then this small selection of places. It's uninspiring.

Next Time: No-one Offers To Pay

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




In spite of it all, I would love to play a Rifts game with a party of Coalition defectors. Not using the Rifts system, of course. I'd go mad, probably hurt myself.

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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Halloween Jack posted:

In spite of it all, I would love to play a Rifts game with a party of Coalition defectors. Not using the Rifts system, of course. I'd go mad, probably hurt myself.

TBF, that was how they were supposed to be played, some CS dude or Dog Boy who went "native" and broke conditioning, taking a sweet SAMAS with it. Before KS got all up his own rear end in a top hat.

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