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SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


You can't write "good players won't stand to see anyone tortured no matter how monsterous" when you've just given us NPCs of :airquotes: "good" alignment who do just that.

And yet Kevin did just that.

It's stuff like this why I can never discount the possibility that Kevin is simply a shitstain. It certainly fits with how he runs his business like the Pettiest Bourgeois.

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jakodee
Mar 4, 2019


SirPhoebos posted:

You can't write "good players won't stand to see anyone tortured no matter how monsterous" when you've just given us NPCs of :airquotes: "good" alignment who do just that.

And yet Kevin did just that.

It's stuff like this why I can never discount the possibility that Kevin is simply a shitstain. It certainly fits with how he runs his business like the Pettiest Bourgeois.

jakodee posted:

Again I’m not sure being a fascist because you really are just that dumb is an impossibility.

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

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

It really pushes it in prespective when you relook over vampire kingdoms reid rangers and the "good members" of the team are really struggling to break unprincipled and are seriously flawed, but also way better people in comparison to so called principled and scrupulous in the cs army.

I think kev seriously started drinking the cool aid over time.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 4 - "Speaking of which, he knows his current girlfriend and gang member, Sweet Sue, is a worthless, gold-diggin' hanger-on, but he doesn't care because he's having fun with her."

Coalition Bounty Hunters & Mercenary Agents
By Kevin Siembieda


So, it's possible to freelance for the Coalition, getting paid on assignment or for bounties. There are several jobs one can work as, all detailed here. Mercenary scouts and soldiers are paid monthly, with occasional bonuses for outstanding achievements. Raiders basically just get privateer-style treatment in exchange for staying out of the Coalition's way, though sometimes the Coalition will offer to buy (or just directly claim) major scores. Bounty hunters are paid by the head for eliminating monsters, or capturing Tolkeenities / Cyber-Knights / magic items. The top Coalition "Dead or Alive" list is, in order: King Robert Creed, Warlord Corin Scard, The Riparian (the ruling dragon of Freehold, to be forgotten and not mentioned much again), each member of Tolkeen's Circle of Twelve, The Great Purple Mage, and Erin Tarn.


"To me, my 卐--Men!"

Notable Mercs & Bounty Hunters

It turns out over 90-95% of mercenaries would rather be involved with the Quebec vs. Coalition conflict, for whatever reason. Still, that means there are hundreds of "Bounty Hunters and mercenary bands" working the Tolkeen conflict. Juicers have generally gone to the Tolkeen side, who has worked to treat them well thankfully. There are also gunfighters and mercenaries arriving from the west, so you can make more use of New West - most for Tolkeen because of their frontier spirit or something something. Psi-Stalkers are mostly fighting for the Coalition due to the Coalition's acceptance of the mutants, though they're seen on both sides.

Then we get Little Bobby & Big Drew, a gunfighter and bounty hunter (respectively) who work for the Coalition as villainous hit men along with their gang. And, as author darlings, they get five pages of detail, much of which is taken up by Little Bobby mugging for the camera as we're told what a badass he is.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

"Say now, ain't you that Cyber-Knight, Sir Malcolm of Scottsdale? You know, I think 120,000 Coalition credits says you is. Don't leave yet, pardner. You kin do this the hard way or the easy way, it don't matter to me. An' don't go thinkin' I'd prefer the easy way, neither. I think it's only fair to give these nice people and pretty ladies a show. Now, watch ya say?" (Wink and a nod to the camera. Gunfight ensues. Cyber-Knight and three of his traveling companions go down in less than 30 seconds. Little Bobby grabs and kisses the nearest girl. Big Drew, who seemed to appear out of nowhere during the fight, just grins at his partner's audacity).

"See," says the Gunslinger, "ain't nothin' to it." (Enter the rest of the gang, miffed that they missed the action "again.")

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

If he feels especially confident, this banter may be part of a cat and mouse game ("Yoohoo, I see you. Ya all can run, boyo, but ya can't hide. I'm comin' for ya right as soon as I visit your family and have a little chat with them. Oh, no, I'm just kidding. Who would wanna hurt a single hair on that precious little girl's head? Why a man would have ta be crazy?" and, "Oh, I sure hope you have a gun hidden up your sleeve because killing ya any other way jus' wouldn't be challenging, now would it? Not that ya all would represent a challenge if ya had a rail gun hidden up your pant leg. Tell you what, go fer it. Draw first. Jus' so it'll be fair. I mean it. Here, I'll even turn my back." And so on.) A third of the time, this tactic will convince lone opponents to surrender (some actually break down and plead not to be killed).

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

On the few occasions he gets annoyed, Little Bobby doesn't get mad, he gets even. At such times he is fond of making a quip like, "Dude, it ain't the size that matters, its how fast I kin put two bullets in yer brain" (as he does just that or launches into a barrage of threatening and belittling jokes until the rude individual apologizes, flees or wets himself). Or he might smile and say, "Hey big man," (bang, bang — the shots ring out so fast unless one was looking right at him, you'd never know he fired them), "yer dead and my little feet is dancin' on yer grave. Ain't standin' bigger than me now, is ya?" On a good day, Little Bobby may be feeling magnanimous and only blow out the individual's knee caps to make his point.
That's just a choice selection of the sample brags on display, it just goes on and on and on. He believes he's the best gunslinger in history, but is only really 6th level, and is just an amoral braggart who goes around murdering folks for money. But he won't gun down an unarmed person (magic or enhancements count as armed) - generally, he prefers to goad his targets to make the first move. He has ridiculous, unrollable attributes, including that 1 in 1000 or so Physical Prowess of 24. Granted, even though his combat bonuses are great, he's stuck using pistols as a gunslinger, meaning his damage output is trash and limiting his in-game badassery. However, he gets a special Horror Factor of 15 as a unique NPC power because he's apparently that infuriating. More like... Annoying Factor? And that seems to be in addition to his Horror Factor of 12 as a gunslinger...

I know he's supposed to be insufferable, and the writing really backs that up... because it's insufferable, too.

Big Drew is Bobby's partner, and serves as the Silent Bob to Bobby's Jay. He washed out as a Justice Ranger for indeterminate reasons and became a Bounty Hunter before taking Bobby under his wing because he has "spunk". Gross, Drew. Mostly, he's in it for amoral adventure and is the brains of the operation since he's a "natural leader" and presumably has those magic leader genes like every other unhinged murderer in this book. Granted, he's having some pangs of conscience via the medium of bad dreams, but is trying to ignore it. Despite his natural leaderness, he only speaks when necessary. He's an 8th level Bounty Hunter with unrollable attributes.

We get the current members of the gang:
  • Swing-Man: A guy with special magic swords that let him cast armor of ithan. As such, he likes to go around in his undies and then fight people who think they can mega-damage him easily. Mind, he hides the swords when they speak to their Coalition employers. No word if he meets them in his undies.
  • Speedy Morales: "4th level Juicer babe with, as she is fond of saying, 'a body to die for' — and many have. Maria Morales is a slick, cunning, streetwise girl who uses seduction and her Juicer speed and reflexes to lay her opponents low." "Worse yet, she's smart (I.Q. 14) and knows how to trick, cheat and manipulate others, particularly men (Maria has a P.B. of 21 and uses it to her advantage)."
  • Sweet Sue: "2nd level psychic Burster and Little Bobby's paramour (i.e. his current girl friend). She is innocent and attractive (P.B. 15) in a sweet, wholesome kind of way, but is really a wild cat who has little regard for anybody but herself. Even Little Bobby is just a meal-ticket and good for excitement."
  • Stanley "Flick" Polanski: He's a Crazy who flicks things "like some deranged movie gangster from pre-Rifts Earth" and "has the I.Q. of a child". He likes to run into fights and just flip around like crazy to avoid attacks; he gets a unique NPC power where he gets +6 to automatic dodge when he spends all of his actions just to defend. Wait, do crazies even get an automatic dodge?... no, no they don't. So he gets a bonus to a benefit he doesn't have RAW. Also he's a "maniac" in the pre-Bugs sense of Daffy Duck, so have... fun with him hooting around. Whee.


Remember that face? This version forgot to shave.

Ike Flint is another bounty hunter and cyborg, this time of the "crusty" variety that is too old for this poo poo and hates kids these days. He hates necromancers and shifters for mystery reasons, and occasionally employs trackers or extra guns in the form of psi-stalkers, headhunters, or... crazies? Also he'll just burn down a school or church to flush out a target because he's that ruthless. "He just exudes danger and power." Okay. He's a 12th level Bounty Hunter with minor psychic powers he uses to charge his techno-wizard weapons, which apparently the Coalition lets him have despite their explicit ban on such technology because-



His art is the same as that of Carruthers, the head of the Dirty Thirty, only somebody scribbled a beard and more wrinkles on top of the art. This isn't the first time we've seen this - a Kevin Long picture of a Juicer got a haircut via Siembieda to appear in another book, but doing this within the same book is... well, he'd have been better off just not having art for the guy, in my opinion.


The infamous Battle for the World's Shittiest Fence.

The Crimson Wing is a group of mysterious mercenaries that claim to be from Iron Heart and worked both sides of the war.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

The leader of the Crimson Wing calls himself Red Falcone, and wears Colonel's stripes. (Funny, nobody calls him "Red," his men always refer to him simply as "Colonel.") He is a hardened warrior who constantly wears a frown and is as cold as ice. He is a brass tacks, down-to-business warrior who has no sense of humor, no tune for frivolity nor appreciation for the good things in life. If one didn't know better, one might think he's one of the Coalition's notorious hardcase officers with a corn-cob shoved up his ...

Well, it turns out he is a Coalition officer, but no details on what he might have shoved up his "...". All of the Crimson Wing are undercover Coalition agents in place to gather intelligence through taking Tolkeen assignments or to double-cross and eliminate Tolkeen forces. Red Falcone has no discernable personality than the above, and is just a patriot and cold fish. I'll only cover a few of the unit members.
  • Sigman "Siggie" Kline: The only member of the unit with a sense of humor, which makes him a favorite amongst his peers and generally on the poo poo list of the colonel. He flies a UTI Icarus Flight System, which... I don't know how he handles it, given it's built for Juicers and he's not a Juicer. Badly, I'd presume, despite being a "hot shot fighter pilot".
  • Mirlt "Bad Axe" Crsii: A Coalition soldier who's been changed to look like a "Vanguard Brawler" D-Bee (from World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign) though surgery - a number of unit mumbers have had their appearance changed to make them fake D-Bees. He was given a purloined magic runic axe by his superiors to complete the disguise, but he's "falling in love" with the intelligent weapon.
  • Multan Kaine: An 'attractive 'elf-like' female with a sunny disposition and keen insight", she's another false D-Bee that uses a cyber disguise coupled with cosmetic surgery. She flies the Flying Titan armor, the "girliest" of the corebook armors.
The Crimson Wing are all otherwise deliberately dull characters, but that, unfortunately, doesn't stop them from being actually dull. They seem like they'd be a neat reveal but there's not much to say about them otherwise. Of course, they also play into the "don't judge an NPC by their cover" theme we often see in Siembieda's writing where seeming good guys turn to be villains and vice-versa.

Next: For mature readers only.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 17:54 on May 12, 2019

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





If I ever get to run Savage Rifts, my players will get to kill Little Bobby.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Dawgstar posted:

If I ever get to run Savage Rifts, my players will get to kill Little Bobby.

He does have that perfect Act 1 douche villain feel to him, doesn't he?

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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







The Book: Technically one of the oldest Pathfinder 3rd party adventures, the Razor Coast is an Age of Sail themed sandbox world set in a Fantasy Counterpart mix of the Caribbean, Hawaii, and New Zealand. First developed in 2008 as a crowdfunded project, it hit several snags which forced it into the Vaporware Realms before Frog God Games offered to complete its funding around 2013. They hosted a KickStarter to hire more writers and artists to flesh it out into not just an adventure serial, but a series of supplements and bonus adventure material in the appendices. It was also notable for doing some novel things for its time, such as new rules to simulate swashbuckling fighting styles before Paizo, Spheres of Might, or Path of War did the same with their own entries; or having a Bioware-style relationship chart for notable NPCs to befriend in a way I find fluid and not "dialogue box" rail-roady; or ship-to-ship combat which reliably involves the whole party and from what I heard does a better job than Paizo's own Skulls & Shackles.

Overall, the Razor Coast is one of FGG's better megacampaigns, and I'd rank it around the the Northlands Saga. But where it goes wrong, it goes very wrong.

The Offending Entries:

So some pretext: the Tulita are a fantasy counterpart Indigenous People drawn from real-world Maori, Hawaiian, and Afro-Caribbean cultures. They are one of the more prominent groups in the setting, and the "evil savages to kill and loot" trope is more or less averted for them (minus the editor's recurring injoke of "UNDEAD CANNIBAL PYGMIES" as an unrelated random encounter). The Tulita are exclusively Human as opposed to being elves/lizardfolk/etc. The colonists in the Razor Coast are mostly from fantasy counterpart not-Europe: they have European names and are described in one of the player's expansions as being mostly light-skinned. The Tulita were at the losing end of several wars with the colonists and had their lands, rights, and freedoms severely curtailed. One of the major evil factions has a racist plantation owner, Barrison Hargrove, as its leader. He's one of the major villains and secretly worships not-Cthulhu who will one day bring ruin to the Razor Coast. It's not a stretch to say that the setting's system of white supremacy is backed up and fueled by Lovecraftian horrors.

Although there are indentured servants of various cultures, the Tulita comprise the overwhelming majority of slave labor force. The backdrop of fruit and sugar plantations is very reminiscent of the Caribbean kind, which IRL was so bad that slavers in the American South sent unruly slaves down there as punishment. The death rate in these places was as high as 1 in 3 people. While there are colonist NPCs who are good-aligned and do not own slaves, the setting pulls no punches in how the upset power structure has more or less hosed Tulita society over. From the loss of sacred grounds to the introduction of addictive substances, Hargrove and his ilk are lowering the quality of life for everyone.

The major good thing I can say about the Razor Coast is that it does not try to pull a "Both Sides" logical fallacy in regards to this. Although at the time it was published one reviewer in particular was upset by this lack of shades of grey: he even went so far as to claim that the Tulita were a drain who refused to assimilate into mainstream society, in spite of the adventure not portraying this at all.

The Mad Shaman Attacks


This is a possible plot-based encounter which takes place in Port Shaw, the major central city area in the Razor Coast setting. The background to this encounter is that there's an evil cult dedicated to the Shark God Dajobas. They are covertly infecting people with lycanthropy for a planned night of slaughter on the Port when the full moon hits. The cult's prioritized infecting members of the Dragoons, an occupying colonial police force which is full of corrupt cops headed by Gregory Bonedeuce. A respected shaman among the Tulita by the name of Milliauka is able to see who has the "Kiss of Dajobas," and notices one of the Dragoons has it:

Boxed Text posted:

An old Tulita man stands on an empty crate by the dockside preaching to passersby in a rasping voice: “You foreigners anger the sea. You murder the watchers with your harpoons, and skin them for your oil. Soon none left. Without the watchers, Dajobas rise again. His servants come from the deep to kill you. Dajobas kill for your crimes against the old ways. He tear you up with his razor teeth. He drink your blood beneath the waves, grind your bones beneath the moon.”

His outbursts attract the attention of the Dragoons. A towering man with dark hair and midnight-black eyes leads this particular patrol. “You there, off that crate or I’ll take me hammer to ya.” The large Dragoon gestures with a finely wrought adamantine hammer at the old Tulita.

The old man’s eyes take a second to focus on the big Dragoon and then grow wide as saucers. In a flash, the Tulita leaps off the crate, drawing a scrimshaw knife from his belt.

“You! You bear the Kiss of Dajobas. I will save you!”

The ancient Tulita snarls ferociously as he lunges for the tall, sturdily built Dragoon. The big bluecoat growls and bats at the old man with his fist, reaching for his hammer with the other. But the Dragoon’s quarry dances away, his feathered headdress bobbing and his furred cloak whipping the air. The rest of the Dragoons go for their weapons, and an elderly native is about to die.

Milliauka's knife is coated with an alchemical admixture designed to remove lycanthropy, at the risk of also being a potentially-deadly mundane poison. That he wishes to administer this in the bloodstream via a knife wound, and even if successful, will at the very least be viewed as assault unless the PCs either violently intervene or calm down the Dragoons and hold the shaman back. If Milliauka is successful, this admixture will cause the infected Dragoon to grow sick and die and thus "confirm" his guilt for attempted murder.

Milliauka is described as a Tulita in high esteem with great leadership skills, and his death (whether with arrest and execution or during the fight) will cause race relations between them and the colonists to significantly worsen. The Tulita will bear the loss of an inspirational figure for the rest of the Adventure Path, making future scenarios harder for them. This is in spite of the fact that this comes off more as an Informed Ability on Milliauka's part: even though he was technically right, it is starkly lacking in good judgment to pull out a knife on a law enforcement patrol who outnumbers you three to one in an attempt to administer a serum via stab wound. Given that this is one of the "first impression" encounters meant to be done in the first or second session of play, this can give the view that the Tulita are full of idiots if he's supposed to be one of their best.

Adventure: Still Waters


Our next entry is Still Waters, an adventure for 6th-level PCs and the most egregious exception in this otherwise "well-intentioned liberal" style of bookwriting.

The backdrop is that monstrous gatormen of the Shark Cult are kidnapping people from Port Shaw, including slaves, to sacrifice to fell powers deep in the Blacksink Marsh outside of town. One of the sample hooks includes a young slave boy taking a shine to the PCs before the session, wanting to hear about their adventures and stuff when they drop by in Port Shaw every now and then. His parents work dawn to dusk, so they can't supervise him much and he ends up being among the missing. PCs with ties to the Tulita may be called upon to find the kidnapped slaves. One of the avenues of investigation is visiting Hargove's plantation, interviewing him and several overseers. Even a casual glance realizes that the slavers are pretty awful people: the slaves are fearful of talking to the PCs due to the lingering threat of retribution of telling the party useful information that they didn't tell the overseers, and thus require a social skill check to get them to open up at all. As for Hargrove himself, he's pretty much the textbook example of the "White Man's Burden," viewing the oppressive status quo of forced labor as "bringing civilization to the brown savages":

quote:

Hargrove is a tricky customer, he feigns a doddering grandfatherly disposition, but in truth his mind is razor sharp, and he’s murdered more men in his quest for control of the Razor’s most fertile lands than most warriors do in a lifetime of campaigning. He first presents a concerned front, hoping no ill has come to his “faithful servants.” He pretends to care deeply for the Tulita under his care, claiming “they are like the children I never had.” He condescends to any PC questioning his motives or treatment of the natives, claiming he “elevates their thinking” and blustering “I teach them to make the best use of this land” and “when their indenture is up I offer each a plot of their own” (this is true, though usually these plots are lifeless stretches of over-harvested land that produce next to nothing, and Barrison requires them to pay for the privilege of planting on “his” land).

Now you may be thinking that there's more to the story, that Still Waters is setting something up. That the slaves were not kidnapped but actually ran away, that the Evil-aligned slavers are in on the "missing slaves" and killed/sacrificed them, or that Hargrove's planning to double-cross the party.

Nope, it's pretty much a straight "save the missing townsfolk adventure," complete with swamp-trekking into a ruined-temple dungeon. The adventure's climax has a pretty neat set-piece where hostages suspended in rusty cages have chain link systems running to a central wicker-and-bough maw in the likness of an evil god. The cages are suspended above strong currents, meaning that reckless combat and hostage-taking by the bad guys can threaten the captives. This makes this more than just a straight fight which I have to give credit to on the adventure's part.



So the missing people are saved and return to town...with the default expectation that the slaves will be taken back to the plantations.

This is very...short-sighted on the writer and editor's part, to say the least.

Not once does the adventure provide answers for what happens if the PCs suspect that these are runaway slaves, or what happens if the party Paladin pulls a Django Unchained while the party Bard's busy sweet-talking the other slavers. No battle maps are provided for the Hargrove Plantation in the Razor Coast, although Hargrove and the Overseers get stats. Most gaming groups would be thinking of ways to find a safe haven where they can free the slaves or something along those lines.

NPC: Captain Bethany Razor



This one's a bit different. Instead of an encounter or adventure in the Razor Coast, I'm focusing on one of the "Bioware Relationship" NPCs. The Monstrous Lovecraftian BBEG is Harthagoa, the son of the demon-lord Demogorgon and a kraken-like terror of the deeps which seeks to turn the Razor Coast and its environs into an extension of its hellish kingdom. He is not aligned with Dajobas the Shark God, for the latter wishes to slaughter the former's worshipers. The old classic Gestahl vs. Kefka of ruling the world vs. destroying it.

Before the campaign's beginning, a band of adventurers known as the Wave Riders fought the beast on the open seas. They failed due to a mixture of bad luck, cowardice by one of their own number, and the fiend's own overwhelming power. The survivors have since fallen from grace and disbanded in shame, living out their days in Port Shaw in a sorry state. Although the focus, there are other NPCs for the party to establish a rapport with, Captain Bethany Razor being one of them. There's even entries for suggestions of activities/alliances/etc which can cause the NPCs to approve or disapprove of the party or individual PCs in question. While there's no strict "Morrigan Disapproves (-5)," they are meant to be guidelines for the GM.

I cannot do her entry justice with mere paraphrasing. Behold, direct quotes!

quote:

The Widow Razor
After her husband’s demise, Bethany Razor shied from direct involvement in the affairs of Port Shaw. She fills the void in her heart with an extremely successful career as the region’s only privateer. Under legal writ of the Elders, Bethany Razor preys on pirates and other dangerous outlaws of the Razor Coast, captaining her impressive ship Quell’s Whore. She is a powerful woman who always gets what she wants.

Devilishly attractive and flirtatious to the extreme, her air of sensuality is smoke without a flame. Still mourning her husband’s death, she has gone five years without a lover and intends to keep it that way. She finds that a seductive smile and a figure-hugging leather bodice open doors for an independent operator, so she puts her charms to work winning the writs of many maritime powers, which in turn allows her free passage and the right to plunder unprotected vessels at her choosing. All who try to win her to bed fail, which for some only serves to increase her allure.

Bethany is a woman of unsurpassable attraction. Besides the obvious mystery of her dark beauty, (raven-black hair, midnight eyes, and skin deep as bronze) the dancing fire of her eyes, and her devilish smile, make men weak in the knees. She is a pirate, plundering cargo holds and hearts all along the Razor Coast. Viscount Senegar Deepwarder (a visiting elven aristocrat, see Chapter 3), Sagacious Samuel (local wizard and shop owner), and none other than Commandant Gregory Bonedeuce himself all actively seek her hand. Should they convince her to do so, Bethany can wield her considerable influence with any of these men to aid the PCs.

Bethany has a fiery personality and an excellent sense of humor, but does not take kindly to disrespect. She enjoys appreciation of her beauty from others – even such considered lewd by other women – but will not tolerate any remarks that belittle her position as captain. She responds to such insults with her rapier wit, and if that fails, with her rapier. She will not kill a man for insulting her, but she will embarrass him by bettering him in a duel or slashing his belt right off his trousers. Bethany makes sure everyone onboard Quell’s Whore knows she is the captain, and her word is stronger than the laws of heaven.

quote:

Sidebar: Igniting a Widow’s Rage
The adventurers’ involvement with Bethany can be romantic (more than one PC may fall for her sultry smile or ample bodice) or practical. They may hire Bethany to take them out to sea on any number of quests. She sells her services as captain and puts her ship to use for a flat fee of 500 gp up front, an additional 50 gp per day of travel, plus any unforeseen expenses (such as damage to Quell’s Whore).

If the PCs discover the truth of her husband’s death and reveal the circumstances of his betrayal, Bethany chokes back tears. Her face hardens and she swears vengeance against Bonedeuce, whatever the cost. Bethany Razor may prove a powerful ally if the PCs play their cards right. See Chapter 2 for more on Bethany and your campaign.

Over half of the word count revolves around how hot she is, and the major crux of Captain Razor's plot development focuses on her love life whether with a PC or if she is tricked by Gregory Bonedeuce down the path of evil. There's no explanation of how things proceed if a PC wishes for a platonic relationship with her instead. Given her prominent place on the book's cover, I'm getting some "DM's Waifu" vibes from it.

The non-romantic options and suggestions in the following chapter do expand on Bethany a bit: she's a fierce abolitionist who has sympathies for the Tulita and detests pirates and racism, although as the region's only privateer she gets paid by Port Shaw's council of governing Elders. Said body of authority includes figures like Barrison Hargrove, Gregory Bonedeuce, and whose only Tulita spokesperson is a sell-out "puppet prince."

And no, this personal contradiction is never called out by the narrator or other NPCs. Yay ineffectual progressivism!


I know that I promised to follow up with the Sword of Air, but this entry's getting a bit long right now, so I'm going to wrap this up. This has been our third entry in "Oh No Frog God Games. See you next time as we cover Bill Webb's Magnum Opus!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 00:43 on May 13, 2019

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Jehammedans, pt. 6



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


STEREOTYPES

quote:

ANABAPTISTS: The old hatred fades. We have fought and worn each other out. What remains is a human being, hurt and tired. Their teachings are still blasphemous, but at least they have a faith.

ANUBIANS: Their path leads into the land of death. They defile corpses and adorn themselves with their bones – where is that supposed to lead?

APOCALYPTICS: They are children of the fisherman trying to lure us from the path with intoxication and sinful flesh. If they don’t give way, we will respond with our sabers.

CHRONICLERS: They pray to false steel gods, even style themselves as gods with their droning. But look into the heart. The only thing you see there is a bawling fisherman’s child.

CLANNERS: Some of them follow ancient traditions and look back to great family trees, just like us. But they have not been given Jehammed’s revelation; in their minds, they remain children. Some pray to idols, stones, or trees, others harass us at Bucharest. Be careful, and keep your sabers handy.

HELLVETICS: Look what stone does to people. They pray to weapons, follow a man-made set of rules instead of a divine revelation. Their roots reach into putrid waters.

JUDGES: They enforce peace, taking whole nations along. But it’s a man-made way that does not stick to the way markers a judge set down in ancient times. Where will it lead to but to the water in which the fisherman poaches?

NEOLIBYANS: The Dinar is their faith, they fight for it, they measure themselves by it. You can talk friendly to them, but you talk into an empty cave. You will never reach those fisherman’s children’s souls.

PALERS: By day, they stain[sic] their holes to attack our flocks like wolves do by night. It is a sign of the highest piety to still offer a hand to these creatures.

SCOURGERS: They have occupied our ancient sites, loot the land of our forbearers. How many of our children will have to die until we can walk the holy city again?

SCRAPPERS: What should we do about them? They are devoid of God, devoid of hope. Break bread with them. We watch them go with pity when they return to the wasteland. Thank Jehammed for his foresight.

SPITALIANS: On the Adriatic Sea, they cooperate with our archenemy. But can we be angry at doctors if they want to heal? Yes, we can. Don’t trust them, never trust them.

The Anabaptists do not return the sentiment, btw



Close enuff

GILEABOD RUBEN ABRAHAM



Culture: Borca
Concept: The Zealot
Cult: Jehammedans (Prophet)

He rules Osman and hates Justitian with a passion. He's gathering an army to march on it.

quote:

Very soon, the prophet’s breath will caress the world.

SENKA THE IMMACULATE



Culture: Balkhan
Concept: The Righteous
Cult: Jehammedans (Immaculate)

Senka was a hero rallying troops for the Adriatic (I thought that was ages ago). However, her status drained with the war fervor. Now, Icondines have turned to courting Voivodes. That's why Senka turns her eyes to Bucharest.

I love her portrait, btw.

ELIAS ISMAEL



Culture: Hybrispania
Concept: The Traveler
Cult: Jehammedans (Ismaeli)

Despite what the description says, Elias is a Sword of Jehammed fighting in Hybrispania. But he has a dirty little secret: his mother might be Jehammedan, but his father is a Clanner. I guess that means that a married Hagari turned to the left, as nobody else could really hide something like that. Anyways, apparently Clanner blood helps him navigate the Warpage.

In conclusion: At least they didn't mention underage marriages. Jehammedans are a weird cult with more Ranks than sense, but they're OK otherwise... possibly. Nothing really stands out as a cool concepts to play – the PC group is unlikely to be interacting with Jehammedan society stratification on the reg – except for the Iconide prophecies, but they're very much late in the game. Too bad that Arianoi appear so late in the game, too.

Next time: The Worst Cult

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




How to write good #54 :
Keep your porn locked at home, don't let it spill into your work.

How to write good #76:
Whenever you write a character into making a poorly thought out choice, pause and consider whether the character is in a proper set of circumstances that makes sense.
This is especially important for characters standing in for foreign cultures, don't repeat 18th century colonial attitudes.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 5 - "The thought of imprisoning thousands of innocent people and subjecting them to endless torment fills him with a child-like glee that is sickening to behold for all but the most vile and twisted individuals."

If you're not down with reading about death camps, torture, and implied sexual assault, you might want to give this update a skip.


"I do not like this missile-filled world you have summoned me to!"

The Twin Faces of Evil
By Bill Coffin
Additional text and ideas by Kevin Siembieda


We get no less than four fiction pieces, so in brief:
  • The Final Words of Pax Tyrannica: This is an internal monologue from a Tolkeen mage in a shelter under bombardment discussing how the Coalition forces are getting more ruthless, and he bemoans the Tolkeen fighters getting more "savage" in return. However, he resolves to never surrender. Then he leaves the shelter and is presumably bombed, given the title.
  • Borrowed Time: This is a letter from a "Tolkeen Patriot" to his "dearest Scamander", but is sadly missing Ken Burns narration. He traveled across the Megaverse to find "The Mobius" (from Rifts Coalition Wars 1: Sedition), and poo poo-talks the Coalition for a bit. However, he reveals a peer as captured and gave up his return location, where they shot The Mobius out of his hand. He hides in a cave behind waning magic shields, resolves to never surrender, and then teleports the letter to his love. He is presumably gunned down, given his situation.
  • Greetings from Camp Prosek!: This is a letter from a Tolkeen soldier to his "Dearest Lareesa" from a Coalition prison camp. He denounces Tolkeen as corrupt and misled while declaring the Coalition as merciful saviors. However, the start of a letter declares it has a secret message in special ink that will be revealed when held up to candlelight - and certain words are bolded to basically give the message "They're torturing us and going to kill us all, help!" It's a clever little conceit, but how would the camp soldiers miss the opening bit where he openly talks about the special ink...?
  • A Moment of Truth: This letter is from a Coalition officer of unknown rank, who was ordered by Drogue to wipe out a civilian village on an open channel. Rather than risk getting killed by his underlings for insubordination, he has his green troops wipe out the village, an act he shortly regrets. While initially he tells himself he had no choice, quickly he realizes that was wrong. In the middle of the massacre - which includes a woman having her honor "assaulted" and kids being tortured, as his men go ape instantly - he loses his poo poo and starts gunning them down. They manage to restrain him, and leave him tied up in the village. Tolkeen wizards find him and torture him into a "confession" - not really necessary, with his feelings of guilt - and then hang him. Drogue covers up the circumstances of his death after Tolkeen dumps his body on them, claiming he died heroically in battle.
Really not seeing two faces of evil here. Yes, Tolkeen is ruthless, but...


"Do you see me wearing a bathrobe? A pointy hat? Smoking a pipe? Get lost!"

General Drogue's "Projects"

So, there's the rare phenomenon of civilian villages turning out to have potent mages fighting back, and Drogue is using that as a pretense to declare all civilians as "potential militants". He's not looking to eliminate all civilians - though he'd like to, he sees it as a distraction that would just spur resistance. No, instead, he wants to convince Tolkeen soldiers and citizens that the Coalition will treat them fairly upon capture. This is false, of course, he has every intention of setting up literal death camps for them.

We also get new summaries of all of his current operations. While two have been mentioned - Operation Hardball, the elimination of Tolkeen's populace, and Operation Spoilsport, their sabotage effort. We also then get Operation Kingkiller, consisting of an attempt to assassinate King Creed and the Circle of Twelve, which has been a singular failure so far. We also have Operation Hailstorm, which is their main troop push towards Tolkeen.

Operation Hardball has two main efforts. One is to "dehouse" Tolkeen supporters and civilians by razing their communities to the ground. On paper, they're supposed to drive people out of town first, but on the ground, General Drogue's units rarely give them the privilege. The second consists of concentration camps. Well, they have a different name for them.


"When you think about it, this is really your fault, I read Tarn too."

The initial purpose of the Coalition "Detainment Camps" is just to separate D-Bees and human mages from "ordinary" humans. In theory, the D-Bees and mages will be shipped off to death camps for extermination, while mundane humans will be enslaved in work camps to build the eventual Coalition colony atop Tolkeen's ruins. There are currently three camps in Wisconsin: Camp Prosek, which is for sorting. Camp Purity is a death camp for D-Bees and spellcasters, though executions have not begun yet. Lastly, Camp Victory is a work camp for humans, though whether or not they'll eventually undergo the same extermination process is unclear. It may happen. In general, they're holding off on mass extermination to avoid having Tolkeen soldiers just start fighting to the death; the real slaughter will begin once Tolkeen is defeated.

Many Coalition soldiers assigned to these camps find their consciences proving to be an issue, and though many may bully, outright is torture outside of "fanatical misanthropes". Granted, I always thought the horror of real-life camps was just how easily ordinary people can turn to evil, but nope, just a few bad apples doing the real damage. Otherwise, they're just doing "cruel horse-play" or "jokes on the prisoners".



Protip for Death Camp Employees: abuse is abuse and being the lesser abuser is not an excusable moral position.

We get a lot of precise details on the height of the walls and the weapons on guard posts and how many suits of power armor there are. Since Drogue recognizes that people might be hesitant to throw D-Bees into furnaces, he has large contingents of skelebots to pull the trigger on prisoners if necessary. Similarly, the living guards are there in case anything goes wrong with the skelebots.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Prisoner Care

The severity of treatment a detainee may suffer depends on the individual camp commander and the soldiers under his command, but none of these places are home to any kind of decent or humanitarian impulses. Detainees are routinely harassed, bullied and beaten by their captors. Female detainees are often subjected to the basest of humiliation as they are assaulted and brutalized by those among the garrisons who have an appetite for cruelty. Openly slaughtering the detainees is discouraged, especially at human camps, since they are honestly scheduled for forced labor, and there is some effort to re-indoctrinate children (often taken from their parents). And these are the lucky ones.


"Ugh, is death poking me in the temple again? Dammit, death!"

Lt. General Nikoto Galva is yet another tired "brilliant but unstable" leader who's a big aficionado of suffering, and is essentially a serial killer who uses his military power to murder towns and the like. As such, Drogue put him in charge of the death camps, the two no doubt did their big sadism secret handshake. He's about as exciting as dried puppy shits.

I am so loving done with this section, I barely have words. The fact it has to stop and remind us that death camp guards are human, too, gosh, many don't want bad things to happen, they just deal mild abuse, it's only literal insane people that can go through this, WHICH IS A CHILD'S HACKERY, YOU EMPTY-HEADED CAR CRASH OF A WRITER-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw91RJ_m_7g

Next: Tolkeen's Tactics.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



As a humorous aside to the genocide, one of my favorite parts of these reviews is how incredibly terrible the Coalition States are at coming up with code-names that don't immediately tell you what they do. Operation Kingkiller? Seriously?

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Jesus Christ

"I want my pretend Nazis to have death camps too but I want them to be, er, cuddly death camps. With practical jokes. So I can't be personally accused of supporting genocide or other bad words that make people look at me funny."

No wonder Coffin walked out.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


But what does the Tracker-Woodsman OCC think of these events. This is the perspective we direly need to really make it all understandable to us commoners.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Loxbourne posted:

Jesus Christ

"I want my pretend Nazis to have death camps too but I want them to be, er, cuddly death camps. With practical jokes. So I can't be personally accused of supporting genocide or other bad words that make people look at me funny."

No wonder Coffin walked out.
The "unrealistic" thing here is that the Coalition could, collectively, keep it in their pants instead of just immediately skull-loving every Tolkeen village to death and engaging in weird sadistic anti-wizard hate crimes which have not been invented in conventional reality, in order to prove that there is in fact Mega-War Crimes out there. The entire logic of this state is that they want to murder wizards and d-bees, everything they do is pointing towards that.

Do any Coalition troops, like, defect? That would seem to be the humane thing to do. Desert or defect.

PurpleXVI posted:

But what does the Tracker-Woodsman OCC think of these events. This is the perspective we direly need to really make it all understandable to us commoners.
The original purpose of Camp Euphemism was to isolate Tolkeen from the powerful supporting resources of the Mega-Peasantry

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




"I'm public relations adjunct to the camp commandant, how about you Heinrich?"
"I was just assigned for 'special duty' on Operation Skullfuck, I wonder what that's about"

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Welcome gentlemen, to Project ControlGroupRecievingPlaceboSuperSerum

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





It's okay, says Kevin. Didn't you see Hogan's Heroes?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



What Fire Has Wrought: Kung Fu Dragons

Thrown Excellency: Seeking Throw Technique (Air) adds dice and ignores Defense from light cover, and in Air Aura it ignores part of the bonus from heavy cover if you aim first. Interesting Charms: Armor-Rupturing Fang (Earth) lets you embed your weapon in the foe’s armor with a Decisive attack, reducing soak and increasing mobility penalty. (This doesn’t work on unarmored foes unless they’re extremely durable, like a robot’s armor or a tyrant lizard’s scales.) Removing it requires a feat of strength to negate the penalty, and in Earth Aura you can stack multiple embedded weapons in someone. Arcing Levinbolt Precision (Air) sends a bolt of lightning ahead of your throw, reducing the enemy’s soak and Hardness based on the mobility penalty of any metal armor they are wearing (including magical materials). Smoke Burst Eruption (Fire) causes a Decisive attack to create a smoke cloud within Short range of the target, providing concealment for anyone inside the smoke and giving a bonus to unexpected attacks you and your allies make on people in the smoke. Whirlwind Shield Technique (Air) lets you, once per scene, throw a weapon in such a way that it makes a tornado, which then follows you around and intercepts attacks for you.

Signatures: Persistent Hornet Attack (Air) lets you make a Withering attack that turns your weapon into a self-animated thing if it hits, attacking your foes for you until it runs out of Initiative, gets hit by a Disarm gambit or lands a Decisive attack. Devastating Avalanche Barrage (Earth) causes stones to rise, once per scene, and orbit your weapon as you make a Withering attack against a single foe, which also becomes an unblockable Withering attack against them and anyone nearby due to the rocks. If there is no stone present to use, you can use your anima. The second attack can’t do more damage than the first, normal attack but can’t be soaked. You gain no Initiative from it. Anyone Crashed by it is buried in rubble and can’t stand from prone without a feat of strength. Exploding Weapon Technique (Fire) lets you make a Decisive attack while at Initiative 12+ that gets a damage bonus because the weapon explodes. Artifact weapons are fine after explosion, but mundane ones are destroyed. A repurchase at Essence 5 lets you also detonate weapons embedded in your enemy via Armor-Rupturing Fang for more damage, and to use this when you use Thousand Razor Wind to boost its damage with weapon explosions. (Its normal effect is a storm of Decisive attacks with weapons you’ve previously sent into storage.)

Many words. Fatal Riptide Style (Water) removes any penalties for throwing weapons through water or similar liquids and gives bonus damage to unexpected attacks made underwater. Further, once per scene, when you make an unexpected attack against a slower foe underwater, you can expend Water Aura and pay WP to make it an ambush. Hundred Thorns Blossom (Wood) lets you, once per scene, distract a foe and then fire off a barrage of concealed weapons from an unexpected body part, like your hair, fingernails or throat. A slower foe has to roll Awareness against your Guile, and if they fail you make a reflexive unexpected Decisive attack with damage based on their failures. There are 21 Thrown Charms over 4.5 pages.

War Excellency: Tactics Mean Everything (Earth) gives bonus dice and rerolls 6s. Interesting Charms: Roaring Dragon Officer (Earth) makes your voice echo across the field, letting you flurry command actions (but not with attacks), and in Earth Aura reduces flurry penalties. Choking Weeds Tactic (Wood) lets you empower your troops via guerrilla raids of supply lines and base camps, making the opposing general’s stratagem roll harder and, if you win the roll, giving a penalty to enemy battle groups due to poor supplies. Enfolded in the Dragon’s Wings (Earth) lets you, once per scene, reflexively roll War when a nearby allied battle group is attacked to boost their defenses by giving them the strength of mountains. Phantom Fire-Warrior Horde (Fire) lets you turn your anima into illusory soldiers of smoke and flame to add numbers to your ranks when rallying for numbers and also lets you use your rally roll as a threaten roll against all enemy battle groups that see you do it to make them retreat away from your forces.

Signatures: Storm-Calling Strategos (Air) lets you, once per story, summon a lightning storm or other angry weather as a unique magical stratagem, forcing the enemy to deal with hostile weather which causes an environmental penalty to all enemy battle groups and a smaller one to other enemies, but does nothing to your allies. Further, at the start of each round in that combat, if you have 12+ Initiative you can pay some Initiative to reflexively create an environmental hazard targeting a battle group, such as a lightning strike or avalanche, and if you take out a battle group with it you gain Willpower. Ramparts of Obedient Earth (Earth) lets you Join Battle with War if you’re leading a group of troops and you can spend successes on your roll to reshape the battlefield, doing things like tearing open sinkholes under enemy battle groups to slow them, create earthen barricades to gain the benefits of a Fortifications stratagem, sap enemy fortifications or even wholly reshape the field to your advantage if you did a Strategic Placement stratagem and roll really well, letting you create traps and obstacles to hamper foes in the fight. Deadly Wildfire Legion (Fire) makes flames dance along your soldiers’ weapons for an instant once per scene, giving a bonus to a single command action and increasing the battle group’s damage, plus allowing them to act immediately even if their turn would come later.

Many words near the end indeed. Fog-of-War Misdirection (Water) lets you summon a heavy mist as a unique magical stratagem once per story, forcing the foe to fight in confusion and disarray. When you Join Battle after successfully using this, you designate a point on the field as the center of the fog, and everyone within Long range of that gets a penalty to vision-based checks and attacks at Medium range or beyond. Enemy battle groups caught in it also get a penalty on rout checks and it costs Initiative to give them orders, which is done at a penalty. You gain Initiative if a battle group dissolves while in the fog, too. Normal weather cannot get rid of the fog, but magical weather manipulation or magical wind can. Hidden Thorn Treachery (Wood) lets you insert a traitor into the enemy ranks as a unique magical stratagem, as long as you have spies or traitors at your disposal. After that, you can reflexively reveal the presence of your double agent in a battle group at any point in the battle. However, battle groups with Might 2+ or perfect morale are immune. Once you reveal the betrayal, the battle group automatically routs as its most notable or ranking member is revealed to be your agent; any that are not rallied by an enemy commander become a battle group on your side next turn. There are 17 War Charms over 4.5 pages.

Now, let’s talk Martial Arts. The Immaculate Martial Arts were developed shortly after the Usurpation, because when the Dragon-Blooded sought to claim control over Creation, they found they lacked the raw might of the Solars and that the small gods defied them, either from loyalty to the fallen or their own selfish beliefs that they could do it and survive. To tame them, the greatest Dragon-Blooded martial artists and their Sidereal teachers developed the Five Immaculate Dragon styles, martial arts that perfectly exemplified the elemental Essence of the Dragon-Bloods. Monks that master one of the Immaculate Styles are able to transcend the limits of Terrestrial martial skill, and they are terrifying to demons, ghosts and rebel gods. The Immaculate styles differ from other Martial Arts in a few ways to represent this.

First, they have elemental aspects as Dragon-Blooded Charms do, and several of them can benefit from Elemental Auras. This does not allow any non-Dragon-Blood that learns them to enter Elemental Auras; they just can’t get access to those benefits. Second, the intensely demanding nature of the Immaculate Styles means that they can only be learned either by Dragon-Bloods or by martial artists who are not bound by the Terrestrial keyword, such as Solars, Lunars or Sidereals. Third, because they are designed specifically for Dragon-Blooded Essence, they have no Terrestrial or Mastery keyword effects. Finally, once a Dragon-Blood learns the Form Charm of an Immaculate style, they harmonize that style’s element with their martial arts. As long as they are in any Martial Arts Form, they may expend the Aura of the mastered style’s element to ignore the effects of the Terrestrial keyword on all Martial Arts Charms for one tick.

The Dragon Styles are mostly learned, these days, at the Cloister of Wisdom. However, that is not the only place you can learn them. Immaculate monks will occasionally train lay Dragon-Bloods that earn their favor, and beyond the Realm, both Lookshy’s Immaculate Faith and Prasad’s Pure Way retain knowledge of the five styles, as do the Sidereals. Further, some ex-Immaculates start up heretical, renegade dojos, and some lost scrolls from the Shogunate era exist as well, offering instruction to anyone that finds them. Basically: yes, these are the signature styles of the Immaculates, but you don’t have to be Immaculate to know them.

Air Dragon Style emulates the wind, elusive, intangible and yet omnipresent and devastating. Its students master acrobatics to gain awareness of their body movements, and they study breath control in order to lighten their bodies and move without sound. Air Dragon is also the only style the Immaculates have that can strike from a distance, due to its signature use of chakrams. The unarmed strikes of Air Dragon focus on chops and spinning kicks, and they also use chakrams, either as ranged weapons or wielded as light weapons in close range. Air Dragon unarmed attacks can be stunted to deal Lethal, and the style is compatible with light armor. Occult is a useful ability to have with it when fighting spirits, while Dodge and Stealth are useful in general to help outmaneuver foes. It has 12 Charms over 3.5 pages.

Air Dragon’s Sight lets you read a foe’s movements via disturbances in the air, ignoring some Onslaught penalties and penalties to Evasion, plus ignoring the Evasion reduction of surprise attacks (but not ambushes). The effects are increased in Air Aura. Cloud-Treading Method lets you walk on cushions of air, reducing penalties from terrain or moving while concealed, plus it lets you walk on stuff that wouldn’t normally bear your weight as long as you end your move on stable footing. In Air Aura, it even lets you walk on liquids or any vapor that isn’t thin air, such as a campfire’s smoke, as long as you end your move on a stable surface like the ground. Wind Dragon Speed lets you flurry a Disengage with an attack without penalty, and prevents Initiative loss from it if you end up at Short range from all foes. In Air Aura, you can instead flurry it with an aim action, allowing you to move and aim in the same turn as long as you use the aim for an Air Dragon Style attack. Breath-Seizing Technique boosts a Decisive attack, letting you make a Withering damage roll before rolling damage normally, though anything that doesn’t breathe is immune. Spirits also lose motes as well as Initiative, as their breath is Essence. Air Dragon Form makes your Withering chakram attacks more accurate, boosts Evasion and gives a bonus to Disengage and Stealth checks, and can be auto-activated whenever you deal enough Withering damage to drop a foe from higher than your Initiative to lower.

Shroud of Unseen Winds boosts a Stealth roll (with successes at Initiative 12+ or dice otherwise) and, with a stunt such as throwing a flash bomb or handful of powder, lets you do it even without a place to hide. In Air Aura, the boost is always success rather than dice if you aren’t Crashed, you don’t need a stunt – you can just vanish into thin air. Avenging Wind Strike boosts a Decisive damage roll and makes it knock foes back up to two range bands and send them prone. In Air Aura, they always go back at least 2 range bands, or 3 with enough damage. Lightning Strike Style causes lightning to flow over your form, letting you make a Decisive attack at one range band further than normal and boosting its damage, as well as making it ignore any Hardness from metal armor (including artifact armor). In Air Aura, it also ignores cover from metal objects or structures, including allowing you to attack through metallic full cover. Thunderclap Kata lets you clap your hands to produce a massive roll of thunder that forces everyone nearby to roll Resistance or take Bashing damage. The shockwave hits immaterial beings and does extra damage to spirits, and while it only hits out to Medium range, it can be heard for miles. Tornado Offense Technique lets you attack as a tornado, attacking everyone in a specific range band with a Decisive attack, doing somewhat reduce damage, but with a bonus if it was unexpected. In Air Aura, if it hits every target, you gain some Initiative after resetting to base. Wrathful Winds Kiai lets you attack once per scene by shouting a giant wind blast as an unblockable Withering attack against everyone in a 90-degree arc out to Medium range. Anyone damaged gets knocked back and falls prone, and if Crashed they can’t move next turn at all. You gain no Initiative and 10s also do some backlash damage to you from the force of your breath, but the attack deals Decisive damage to spirits rather than Withering, and they can be hit even if immaterial. Hurricane Combat Method lets you pay extra when entering Air Dragon Form to increase its Evasion bonus and its bonus to Stealth and movement checks, plus allows you to pay Initiative while in it to make reflexive attacks once per round.

Next time: The other Dragon Styles

jakodee
Mar 4, 2019


Alien Rope Burn posted:



Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 5 - "The thought of imprisoning thousands of innocent people and subjecting them to endless torment fills him with a child-like glee that is sickening to behold for all but the most vile and twisted individuals."

If you're not down with reading about death camps, torture, and implied sexual assault, you might want to give this update a skip.


"I do not like this missile-filled world you have summoned me to!"

The Twin Faces of Evil
By Bill Coffin
Additional text and ideas by Kevin Siembieda


We get no less than four fiction pieces, so in brief:
  • The Final Words of Pax Tyrannica: This is an internal monologue from a Tolkeen mage in a shelter under bombardment discussing how the Coalition forces are getting more ruthless, and he bemoans the Tolkeen fighters getting more "savage" in return. However, he resolves to never surrender. Then he leaves the shelter and is presumably bombed, given the title.
  • Borrowed Time: This is a letter from a "Tolkeen Patriot" to his "dearest Scamander", but is sadly missing Ken Burns narration. He traveled across the Megaverse to find "The Mobius" (from Rifts Coalition Wars 1: Sedition), and poo poo-talks the Coalition for a bit. However, he reveals a peer as captured and gave up his return location, where they shot The Mobius out of his hand. He hides in a cave behind waning magic shields, resolves to never surrender, and then teleports the letter to his love. He is presumably gunned down, given his situation.
  • Greetings from Camp Prosek!: This is a letter from a Tolkeen soldier to his "Dearest Lareesa" from a Coalition prison camp. He denounces Tolkeen as corrupt and misled while declaring the Coalition as merciful saviors. However, the start of a letter declares it has a secret message in special ink that will be revealed when held up to candlelight - and certain words are bolded to basically give the message "They're torturing us and going to kill us all, help!" It's a clever little conceit, but how would the camp soldiers miss the opening bit where he openly talks about the special ink...?
  • A Moment of Truth: This letter is from a Coalition officer of unknown rank, who was ordered by Drogue to wipe out a civilian village on an open channel. Rather than risk getting killed by his underlings for insubordination, he has his green troops wipe out the village, an act he shortly regrets. While initially he tells himself he had no choice, quickly he realizes that was wrong. In the middle of the massacre - which includes a woman having her honor "assaulted" and kids being tortured, as his men go ape instantly - he loses his poo poo and starts gunning them down. They manage to restrain him, and leave him tied up in the village. Tolkeen wizards find him and torture him into a "confession" - not really necessary, with his feelings of guilt - and then hang him. Drogue covers up the circumstances of his death after Tolkeen dumps his body on them, claiming he died heroically in battle.
Really not seeing two faces of evil here. Yes, Tolkeen is ruthless, but...


"Do you see me wearing a bathrobe? A pointy hat? Smoking a pipe? Get lost!"

General Drogue's "Projects"

So, there's the rare phenomenon of civilian villages turning out to have potent mages fighting back, and Drogue is using that as a pretense to declare all civilians as "potential militants". He's not looking to eliminate all civilians - though he'd like to, he sees it as a distraction that would just spur resistance. No, instead, he wants to convince Tolkeen soldiers and citizens that the Coalition will treat them fairly upon capture. This is false, of course, he has every intention of setting up literal death camps for them.

We also get new summaries of all of his current operations. While two have been mentioned - Operation Hardball, the elimination of Tolkeen's populace, and Operation Spoilsport, their sabotage effort. We also then get Operation Kingkiller, consisting of an attempt to assassinate King Creed and the Circle of Twelve, which has been a singular failure so far. We also have Operation Hailstorm, which is their main troop push towards Tolkeen.

Operation Hardball has two main efforts. One is to "dehouse" Tolkeen supporters and civilians by razing their communities to the ground. On paper, they're supposed to drive people out of town first, but on the ground, General Drogue's units rarely give them the privilege. The second consists of concentration camps. Well, they have a different name for them.


"When you think about it, this is really your fault, I read Tarn too."

The initial purpose of the Coalition "Detainment Camps" is just to separate D-Bees and human mages from "ordinary" humans. In theory, the D-Bees and mages will be shipped off to death camps for extermination, while mundane humans will be enslaved in work camps to build the eventual Coalition colony atop Tolkeen's ruins. There are currently three camps in Wisconsin: Camp Prosek, which is for sorting. Camp Purity is a death camp for D-Bees and spellcasters, though executions have not begun yet. Lastly, Camp Victory is a work camp for humans, though whether or not they'll eventually undergo the same extermination process is unclear. It may happen. In general, they're holding off on mass extermination to avoid having Tolkeen soldiers just start fighting to the death; the real slaughter will begin once Tolkeen is defeated.

Many Coalition soldiers assigned to these camps find their consciences proving to be an issue, and though many may bully, outright is torture outside of "fanatical misanthropes". Granted, I always thought the horror of real-life camps was just how easily ordinary people can turn to evil, but nope, just a few bad apples doing the real damage. Otherwise, they're just doing "cruel horse-play" or "jokes on the prisoners".



Protip for Death Camp Employees: abuse is abuse and being the lesser abuser is not an excusable moral position.

We get a lot of precise details on the height of the walls and the weapons on guard posts and how many suits of power armor there are. Since Drogue recognizes that people might be hesitant to throw D-Bees into furnaces, he has large contingents of skelebots to pull the trigger on prisoners if necessary. Similarly, the living guards are there in case anything goes wrong with the skelebots.



"Ugh, is death poking me in the temple again? Dammit, death!"

Lt. General Nikoto Galva is yet another tired "brilliant but unstable" leader who's a big aficionado of suffering, and is essentially a serial killer who uses his military power to murder towns and the like. As such, Drogue put him in charge of the death camps, the two no doubt did their big sadism secret handshake. He's about as exciting as dried puppy shits.

I am so loving done with this section, I barely have words. The fact it has to stop and remind us that death camp guards are human, too, gosh, many don't want bad things to happen, they just deal mild abuse, it's only literal insane people that can go through this, WHICH IS A CHILD'S HACKERY, YOU EMPTY-HEADED CAR CRASH OF A WRITER-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw91RJ_m_7g

Next: Tolkeen's Tactics.

But what if Kevin is just a poor, innocent dumb boy tho?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Ratoslov posted:

As a humorous aside to the genocide, one of my favorite parts of these reviews is how incredibly terrible the Coalition States are at coming up with code-names that don't immediately tell you what they do. Operation Kingkiller? Seriously?
Fascists are, historically, very bad at using code names to encode things.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Now, guys, this update might make our boys in black seem kind of like the bad guys! Don't worry, though, it's all totally justified and heroic because

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Halloween Jack posted:

Fascists are, historically, very bad at using code names to encode things.

I suppose it doesn't get your blood all pumped up for some good-old fashioned regicide when you're at the briefing for Operation Friendly Bunny.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




How many more pages of "Well obviously genocidal fascism is bad, but have you considered there are good people on both sides?" Do we have to go through? Holocaust memorial day was just last week.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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What Fire Has Wrought: Dragon Hammer

Earth Dragon Style wields overwhelming force with meticulous thought. Its every technique is slow, sure and devastating. Students undergo rigorous training to strengthen their bodies, hardening their fists by spending hours striking barrels of gravel and mastering resistance to pain by sleeping on beds of nails. This tempers them into nearly invincible warriors, able to withstand equally the rage of unruly gods and the power of the Anathema, answering in kind with their giant loving hammers. Earth Dragon unarmed strikes are solid, powerful blows with the elbows, knees and two-handed hammering blows, and the style also uses testubos. Unarmed attacks can be stunted to deal Lethal, and the style is fully compatible with armor. It often relies on Occult to deal with spirits and Athletics for feats of strength. There are 12 Charms over 3 pages.

Stone Dragon’s Skin reduces wound penalties to Parry and increases soak and Hardness, and it gets cheaper the less armor you’re wearing. Force of the Mountain boosts attack damage and gives your unarmed attacks the Smashing tag. In Earth Aura, it increases Withering damage further. Stillness-of-Stone Atemi boosts your Withering attacks’ Overwhelming and causes a mobility penalty to the foe based on your rolled 10s on damage at the cost of you spending Initiative. In Earth Aura, you also can spend Initiative based on rolled 9s to cause penalty. Unmoving Mountain Stance lets you reduce the Initiative your foe gains from Withering attacks and prevents knockback from low-damage smashing attacks, increasing the effects in Earth Aura. Earth Dragon Form gives a bonus to smashing attacks and attacks on prone foes, plus increases your soak. It can be auto-activated when someone slower than you hits you.

Ghost-Grounding Blow can be used when you Crash a spirit with a Withering attack, forcing them to materialize and preventing them from teleporting away or dematerializing again for several rounds. Earthshaker Attack lets to strike the ground once per scene at Initiative 15+, making an unblockable, undodgeable, unclashable Decisive attack against everyone in Short range that forces everyone to make an Athletics check against your roll to not fall over. Anyone that fails is prone and takes some Bashing damage, and any battle group without Might automatically fails. Anyone that takes enough damage is also knocked back and takes falling damage. In Earth Aura, you can reset your Initiative to deal extra damage rather than just the minor Bashing damage. Shattering Fist Strike lets you either make a Disarm gambit that destroys mundane weapons if it hits or get a bonus on a feat of demolition and decrease how long it takes. If you expend Earth Aura, you can use this on artifact weapons to break their wielder’s attunement and render them unusable until repaired. Weapon-Breaking Defense Technique lets you, once per scene, reflexively clash an attack with a Disarm gambit that benefits from Shattering Fist Strike without it counting as your action for the round, but it cannot clash unarmed attacks or anything with the Natural tag. In Earth Aura, you don’t have to expend your aura to target artifacts with this.

Avalanche Method lets you make a bunch Decisive attacks if at Initiative 12+, as long as your foe has any mobility penalty at all. You attack them a number of times based on their mobility penalty or until you miss, whichever comes first. Enemies aren’t knocked back by your smashing attacks in that until the flurry of blows ends, and then they all stack at once, letting you launch them multiple range bands and causing falling damage. If trapped with Hungry Earth Strike, they take falling damage but don’t move. In Earth Aura, missing doesn’t end the flurry. Hungry Earth Strike lets you, once per scene, make a Withering attack, either against a prone foe or as a smashing attack, with a damage bonus. If you Crash a foe standing on soil, stone or similar (or knock them back into it) the ground swallows them to the waist, preventing them from moving and causing them to be treated as prone, plus dealing minor Bashing damage each turn. Spirits trapped this way also suffer the effects of Ghost-Grounding Blow. Anyone that dies while trapped like this is entombed in the earth. Breaking free is an extended Athletics action, which allies can help out with. In Earth Aura, you can use this on people you don’t crash if your attack drops them from above your Initiative to below it. Protection of Earth Body lets you enhance Earth Dragon Form to turn your skin rough and stony, boosting your damage with smashing attacks and against prone foes, making you immune to wound penalties and crippling penalties based on precision blows such as Joint-Wounding Attack, and increasing your soak and Hardness if unarmored.

Fire Dragon Style requires its wielders to be both able to unleash terrifying violence at any moment and to have intense, amazing self-discipline. Its students master the rhythm of combat, performing drills and sparring to the time of various pieces of music. They learn the speed and grace of a dancer, knowing when to withhold force and when to unleash it entirely. Fire Dragon unarmed strikes are rapid barrages of punches and chops, plus powerful kicks. The style also uses short swords, traditionally wielded paired. Its unarmed blows can be stunted to deal Lethal and it is compatible with up to medium armor. Occult is a valuable skill, as always, for fighting spirits. There are 12 Charms over 3 pages.

Flash-Fire Technique lets you roll Join Battle twice and use the better roll, but you have to pay for any Charms boosting the rolls separately for each. If you win Join Battle and make a Decisive attack on turn one, you get a bonus to damage. Searing Edge Attack causes extra Initiative loss on successful Withering attacks, but you don’t gain it, as your killing intent radiates as painful heat. Flame-Flicker Stance increases your Parry based on 1s rolled by the attacker, and if you successfully block a slower foe, you don’t gain Onslaught. In Fire Aura, you can use this after the attack roll. Perfect Blazing Blow gives a Decisive damage bonus against slower foes and especially Crashed foes. In Fire Aura, the bonus is increased. Fire Dragon Form makes flames glow in your eyes and causes your Onslaught penalty to be applied before your attack rolls against slower foes and increases the Initiative lost when you parry Decisive attacks. You can auto-activate it when you win Join Battle.

God-Immolating Strike makes your Decisive attacks deal Aggravated to spirits and makes your Initiative count as higher for purposes of Charms that give benefits against slower foes, and any spirit you deal damage to while using it has its Essence set on fire, dealing even more damage next turn, especially if they’re immaterial at the time. Essence-Igniting Nerve Strike boosts a Withering attack made against a slower foe. You get half as much Initiative from it as you normally would, but the enemy loses motes based on 9s and 10s rolled, and if this Crashes them, their drained Essence is set on fire and they take some Lethal damage. You can expend Fire Aura to gain Initiative normally. Overwhelming Fire Majesty Stance causes flames to surround you and penalize attacks against you, plus they damage foes at Close range if they attack you. In Fire Aura, the cost is reduced slightly and it can be used even while Crashed. Fiery Blade Attack lets you make a Decisive attack that, if it does any damage at all, causes a bonfire to engulf the victim and continually burn them until they Disengage, even if no one is at Close range of them. Breath of the Fire Dragon lets you, once per scene, make an unblockable Decisive attack against anyone in a 90 degree arc out to Close range, plus additional range bands based on your Initiative. This hits immaterial foes as well, and it deals extra damage to battle groups. Anyone that takes enough damage is set on fire, and dematerialized spirits take Aggravated damage and become visible to all as long as they’re on fire. Scenery also catches on fire and becomes a bonfire environmental hazard for the scene. Smoldering Wound Attack makes 10s on your Decisive damage roll also count as Withering damage, or extra Decisive damage against crashed foes that still gives you Initiative. In Fire Aura, you can use this after damage is rolled. Consuming Might of the fire Dragon causes flames to erupt from your crown chakra, improving Fire Dragon Form to increase your effective Initiative for when you act and for Charms that care about you being faster than foes, and it further increases your attack damage and causes minor damage to anyone attacking you from Close range. All bonuses get better the more nontrivial foes you take out.

Water Dragon Style teaches that everything is flow. A fight’s rhythm, a body’s blood, Creation’s Essence – all is flow. Its students learn to block, redirect and impede these flows, manipulating the conditions around them to seize victory in battle. It emphasizes a fluid defense and the outmaneuvering of foes with quick footwork while performing repeated strikes to wear down the foe, exploiting even the smallest injury. Water Dragon unarmed attacks rely on fast sequences of punches, kicks and claw strikes, and the style also uses tiger claws. Unarmed attacks can be stunted to deal Lethal, and the style is compatible with up to medium armor. Occult is useful for fighting spirits. There are 12 Charms over 2.5 pages.

Flowing Water Defense lets you flurry a full defense and an attack together without flurry penalties to Defense, and in Water Aura, if your attack hits, the Initiative cost of the full defense is refunded. Rippling Water Strike boosts Withering attacks and lets you determine damage with Dexterity, plus if you Crash someone with them, all nearby foes get Onslaught penalties. In Water Aura, damage is from combined St renth and Dexterity. Drowning-in-Blood Technique boosts Decisive damage by sending blood into the lungs, and if it does enough damage, the foe starts choking on their own blood, increasing their wound penalties. This can be stacked on spirits, whose blood is Essence. In Water Aura, damage is boosted further. Shrugging Water-Dragon Escape boosts rolls to resist grapples, Disengage, oppose a Rush or escape from restraints. In Water Aura, it also gives Initiative if you succeed. Water Dragon Form gives you a bonus to attacks based on your target’s wound penalties and increases your soak. It can be auto-activated whenever you cause enough Decisive damage to raise a non-trivial foe’s wound penalty.

Theft-of-Essence Method lets you steal motes when you Crash a foe, draining them from the enemy into your own pools. Bottomless Depths Defense causes your body to ripple and deform like water once per day, reducing Decisive damage with a Stamina roll at the cost of taking 1 Aggravated. You can expend Water Aura and 1 WP to completely nullify the attack’s damage. Essence-Dousing Wave Attack can be used once per scene when you make a Decisive attack against a Crashed foe; if you do enough damage, you can turn off one of their combat Charms. You can expend Water Aura to use it against non-Crashed foes. Flow Reversal Strike causes all moving fluids in the target’s body to reverse direction as a Decisive attack, requiring the target to roll Resistance. If they fail, your Decisive damage is increased and they also take Withering damage based on their wound penalty, which you gain Initiative from. Spirits get a large penalty to the roll based on their wound penalty, as their Essence is disrupted. Crashing Wave Style lets you, once per scene, make a number of Withering attacks against an enemy based on their wound penalties until you miss; against battle groups, you go until you either miss or drop them to 0 Magnitude. In Water Aura, crashing a foe with this also does some Lethal damage. Ghost-Restraining Whirlpool Stance creates a spirit maelstrom around you, preventing spirits nearby from moving away from you without Disengaging and stopping them from teleporting, and you gain any Initiative they lose from Disengaging. Further, you drain Initiative from any spirit that does not move closer to you or get right in your face. Water Aura extends the whirlpool’s range. Tsunami-Force Shout lets you make a kiai of spiritual pressure once per scene at Initiative 20+, making an unblockable Decisive attack against all foes in a 90-degree arc out to Medium Range, plus any spirits currently trapped in Ghost-Restraining Whirlpool Stance, dealing quite a bit of Bashing damage based on enemy wound penalties, especially to battle groups. Further, anyone damaged suffers knockback, though spirits can’t be forced out of the Whirlpool Stance if in it and instead take falling damage if they hit its edge. Enemies that take enough damage are knocked back two range bands and take falling damage.

Next time: Wood Dragon Style, Golden Janissary Style, Mantis Style

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Halloween Jack posted:

Fascists are, historically, very bad at using code names to encode things.
I believe allied intelligence figured out what Project Wotan was almost entirely form the name (a single-emitter radar R&D thing), for example.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




And I was thinking of Barbarossa. gently caress, Nazis are stupid!

SunAndSpring
Dec 4, 2013


drat, I did a F&F here and it didn't get archived. Alas.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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2014-2018



What Fire Has Wrought: Mastery of the Soul

Wood Dragon Style is the most esoteric of the Five Immaculate Dragon styles, for it embraces the cycle of life and death. Students of the style must undergo grueling training in which they are brought to the edge of death, fasting to their limits while taking massive amounts of hallucinogenic and entheogenic drugs. When they return to the living world, they return with mysterious insights. In battle, they draw on their mystic enlightenment and an extensive knowledge of pressure points and Essence flows to both subdue foes and heal friends. It is rumored – correctly, as it happens - that the masters of the style have a technique that can destroy the soul itself, instantly killing its victims. Wood Dragon unarmed strikes are precision finger jabs to target pressure points and nerve clusters. The style also uses the staff, and students learn to wield a bow in close range combat, using it as if it were a staff. Wood Dragon Style cannot be used with ranged bow attacks, but no action is needed to swap between using a bow properly and using it as a staff to hit people. The style is compatible with light armor. Occult is as always handy for spirits, and Performance to distract and misdirect foes. There are 12 Charms over 3 pages.

Wood Dragon Vitality increases soak and reduces Decisive damage slightly, with increased bonuses in Wood Aura. Eyes of the Wood Dragon increases Withering damage and allows you to make piercing attacks with any Wood Dragon Style attack, with no Defense penalty for doing so if in Wood Aura. Mind-Over-Body Meditation can be used once per scene (and only during combat) to channel your body’s Essence into your wounds, healing some of them. Soul-Marking Style enhances a Decisive attack; if it deals any damage, you always get the benefits of aiming at that foe for the rest of the scene, as you place a thorn of Essence into their soul. Spirits also take a minor crippling penalty to their actions for the rest of the scene. Wood Dragon Form realigns your chakras, giving you some temporary health levels for the scene, though after the scene ends, any damage flows to your normal healthbar, and resets your use of Mind-Over-Body Meditation whenever you take out a non-trivial foe with a Decisive attack from 12+ Initiative. It can be autoactivated whenever you heal enough damage via magic to reduce your wound penalty.

Spirit-Wracking Method gives a Withering damage bonus against spirits and makes them also deal Decisive damage based on 10s rolled. Spirits Crashed by this double wound penalties and the penalty from Soul-Marking Style while Crashed. Death-Pattern Sensing Attitude gives you the benefits of full defense against anyone marked by Soul-Marking Style and removes the Defense penalty against their surprise attacks. You can also spend Willpower to get limited Defense against their ambushes. Spirit-Rending Attack gives a bonus to Decisive damage against spirits marked with Soul-Marking Style and makes the attack deal Aggravated damage. It also gives you motes if you take out a spirit with it. Unbreakable Fascination Kata lets you make a Performance-based inspire roll against foes that can see you, preventing them from moving away from you unless you Disengage and preventing them from attacking on their next turn. Spending Willpower only immunizes to the attack part, and it costs more to resist if marked by Soul-Marking Style. Enthralling Blow Attack can be used to reflexively make a Withering attack against all enthralled foes at Close range after using Unbreakable Fascination Kata. Damaged foes cannot make move actions next turn, and anyone Crashed suffers the full effects of Unbreakable Fascination Kata while Crashed. In Wood Aura, you can gain more Initiative from this.

Wood Dragon Succor can be used when at Initiative 12+ to touch an ally and activate their Essence via pressure points, healing them based on an Initiative roll. You take Bashing damage based on how much you heal and reset to base unless you expend Wood Aura, in which case you only lose Initiative based on how much you healed them. Soul Mastery wreathes your weapon in a black-green swirling aura once per scene, and can only be used on someone struck by Soul-Marking Style. You roll a gambit against them with a difficulty based on their Essence, Willpower and wound penalties, but always a minimum of 6 – pretty dang hard. Success kills them. Period. They just loving die. Spirits are permanently destroyed, undead crumble to dust and ash, the living die and have their souls sent into Lethe immediately, preventing their rise as any form of ghost. Constructs or other beings that are neither living nor dead are immune.

Golden Janissary Style is the ancient martial art of devil-fighting sages, who long ago pledged to protect Creation from the dark. It combines weapon katas, dance-like movements and meditation on the nature of light and shadow to teach its students how to properly fight the foes of the world. It is most often studied by holy ascetics, warriors on the borders of the shadowlands, or tribes that live in demon-haunted areas. It is also a common style among Dragon-Blooded shikari. Golden Janissary unarmed attacks use sweeping movements, and it is compatible with the spear and the staff. Unarmed attacks enhanced by its Charms can be stunted to deal Lethal, and it is compatible with light armor. Occult and Athletics are both useful for its practitioners, given their hunting of demons and reliance on mobility. It also, finally, defines Creatures of Darkness. A Creature of Darkness is any being the GM determines to be innately a foe of Creation, stalking the dark places of the world. Demons and undead count by default, but the GM is free to include or exclude other beings – a benevolent ancestral ghost might not be a Creature of Darkness, while a horror from the depths of the earth empowered by forbidden gods probably is. There are 8 Charms over 2.5 pages.

Where-Is-Doom Inquisition gives a bonus to Join Battle or detect hidden threats in combat, with a greater bonus based on any 1s rolled by creatures of darkness, though it won’t tell you which foes are creatures of darkness. Solars also get a bonus to move and attack a creature of darkness on the first turn if they win Join Battle. Rotten Leaf Arrested increases Overwhelming and causes a Withering attack to knock its target prone if it does damage, with increased damage against creatures of darkness. Anyone Crashed by this can’t move next turn, and creatures of darkness Crashed this way also can’t attack. Cleansing Flame Strike increases Decisive damage, and causes Aggravated damage and a greater bonus against creatures of darkness. Golden Janissary Form increases soak and gives a bonus to rushes, and also increases Parry and more soak against creatures of darkness, as well as giving bonus Initiative when you land Decisive attacks on them. It can be auto-activated when you land a Decisive attack on a creature of darkness.

Devil-Slaying Spear Dance lets you reflexively rush when you incapacitate a non-trivial foe, with a bonus and it not counting as your movement for the round. It gives bonus Initiative against creatures of darkness. Solars instead instantly teleport to their target and can make a free Decisive attack against them, and can keep doing this as long as they keep taking people out. Paralyzing Combustion Imbuement lets you make a Decisive attack that causes the target to erupt from within with glowing light and the sound of bells, penalizing Stealth like a glowing anima banner and increasing wound penalties. If penalties get high enough, they also can’t Disengage for as long as the light lasts. Creatures of darkness also take Aggravated damage each turn while the light lasts. The light ends when the scene does, or if the victim Crashes or takes you out (or lands a Decisive attack, with the Terrestrial keyword in effect).

Light-on-Dark Shield lets you clash an attack with a Withering attack which has limited damage but also causes Aggravated decisive damage to creatures of darkness, though Terrestrial keyword causes it to count as your attack for the round. Lone Spark Lights the Conflagration lets you make a Decisive attack against anyone glowing from Paralyzing Combustion Imbuement. It makes your weapon glow white-hot and leave afterimages, giving a damage bonus, increased against creatures of darkness. Non-trivial creatures of darkness damaged by this flare with light, causing ghostly bonfires on all creatures of darkness within Medium range of them, which deal small Aggravated damage and afflicts them with the effects of Paralyzing Combustion Imbuement as if they’d been hit with it. It is once per scene with Terrestrial keyword, and Solars can use Devil-Slaying Spear Dance whenever to rush and attack each target caught in the ghostly fires when they KO a creature of darkness with this.

Mantis Style focuses on grappling and rapid blows, seeing no clear distinction between attack and defense. It uses painful joint holds to leave foes unable to fight and deflects blows to leave enemieso pen to attack. Immaculate monks often study the Mantis Style in order to subdue foes without killing, but it is also widely practiced through the East and Southeast in general. Unarmed strikes use three-finger mantis hook strikes, aiming for weak spots, grabbing foes and blocking with them. They also use knee and elbow strikes. Mantis Style is compatible with batons, kamas, nunchaku, seven-section staffs and war fans. Unarmed attacks enhanced by Mantis Charms can be stunted to deal Lethal, and the style is incompatible with any armor whatsoever. It has 9 Charms over 2 pages.

Iron-Arm Block gives a small Parry bonus and causes Onslaught on the attacker if you successfully block. If you are grappling, a successful block also prevents you from losing rounds of control. Solars also do not gain Onslaught themselves if they successfully block. Crushing Claw Technique gives a bonus to a grapple gambit or a Decisive attack, and a bonus to grapple control rolls or Decisive damage. Mantis Form gives a bonus to Parry, and any time you try to block but fail, you get increased soak or Hardness against the attack. You also get a Decisive damage bonus against slower foes and foes you are grappling. You can auto-activate it whenever you win control of a clinch against a non-trivial foe.

Leaping Mantis Technique gives a bonus to rush and lets you move further when the reflexive rush move is triggered. If it brings you into Close range, you can reflexively make a Decisive attack or grapple gambit on the foe with a bonus. If they do not provoke the reflexive move, you can make an unblockable Decisive attack or grapple gambit next turn with a bonus, assuming you are in range to do so. Solars also gain Willpower if their rush and attack succeed. Joint-Locking Technique lets you deal Withering damage when you restrain a foe in a grapple and it doesn’t cost you any rounds of control. Solars can also turn the Initiative they gain from this into extra rounds of control. Grasping Claw Method lets you automatically disarm a foe when you win control of a grapple, and Solars get a bonus to the control roll based on their attack roll’s threshold successes. Grasping Mantis Defense lets you clash an attack at Close range with a grapple gambit, with a bonus to the control roll, but Terrestrial keyword means it counts as your attack for the round. Joint-Breaking Attack lets you savage a foe as a fairly difficult gambit to deal minor Lethal damage and break one of their limbs as a crippling injury. Arms give a penalty on anything requiring both hands, while legs cause the foe to treat all terrain as difficult, and either way they get increased wound penalties for the scene. This can be used reflexively when Joint-Locking Technique Crashes a foe. Terrestrial keyword limits its use to once per scene. Unfolding Retribution Attack can be used once per scene when in control of a grapple and at Initiative 15+. You end the grapple with an unblockable, undodgeable Decisive attack in the form of a flurry of blows, with each round of control given up increasing its damage and onslaught penalty. Terrestrial keyword limits how many rounds of control can do this, and Solars that take out the foe with this get a bonus to their Initiative after resetting to base.

Next time: White Veil Style and Sorcery

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I really like how Soul Mastery works in the new edition. Finally, it's both cool and appropriate to punch somebody's soul off, rather than it being an incredibly obnoxious mechanical hole in the system.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





By popular demand posted:

How many more pages of "Well obviously genocidal fascism is bad, but have you considered there are good people on both sides?" Do we have to go through? Holocaust memorial day was just last week.
It seems that, much like the fascist project in general, Simbieda's desire here is incoherent.

On the one hand he seems to be striving for some kind of touch of literary realism, where the opponent group's cartoonish supervillains are limited to some parts of the command staff, and the average skull boy on the ground is a person, not a video game mobile enemy.

On the other hand, he does in fact want the cartoon supervillainy, except that he wants it to be "realistic." Therefore, death camps, as opposed to (for instance) a Quadruple Skull Flier being powered by a spellcaster strapped into the engine upside down, channeling their living PPE as an overthruster! 11% per week of PERMANENT loss of all spellcasting abilities!!

Finally, he created a situation where the Coalition does not (for instance) ban or heavily restrict wizardry as being dangerous and unreliable and condemns demons, vampires and giant bugs, but where they are specifically opposed to two categories of being which explicitly can look completely ""normal"" and yet have horrible hidden powers. He created this setting; this is not an unfortunate nook and cranny that went south or a town in Juicer Uprising or something. It is not some deep, thought-provoking thought experience to go "Ah but what if the subaltern group actually did have secret enormous powers, and therefore our fear and hysteria was in fact objectively justified?"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
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Joe Slowboat posted:

I really like how Soul Mastery works in the new edition. Finally, it's both cool and appropriate to punch somebody's soul off, rather than it being an incredibly obnoxious mechanical hole in the system.

It's also both still very difficult and yet also a better option against really tanky foes than trying to kill them normally.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Really not a fan of the change to the definition of creature of darkness. Already have had to deal with people that don't seem to understand the original intention behind it and considered it to be a basic 'evil guys we can kill indiscriminately' label.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Ithle01 posted:

Really not a fan of the change to the definition of creature of darkness. Already have had to deal with people that don't seem to understand the original intention behind it and considered it to be a basic 'evil guys we can kill indiscriminately' label.
For a moment I thought this post was about the Coalition States.

From a gaming perspective I think it may be neater to put it as: "This tag is applied to those who oppose the order of Heaven (the good kind involving justice, not the bad kind involving celestial graft). By default it includes all demons and undead, but some examples of both (viz. righteous ancestor spirit) can not qualify, and sometimes entities receive this cosmic tag for political reasons."

Now you retain the best of both worlds without having extended verbiage on material which is no doubt very interesting to consider when reading about Exalted on the toilet but which may not contribute very much to a game.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Nessus posted:

For a moment I thought this post was about the Coalition States.

From a gaming perspective I think it may be neater to put it as: "This tag is applied to those who oppose the order of Heaven (the good kind involving justice, not the bad kind involving celestial graft). By default it includes all demons and undead, but some examples of both (viz. righteous ancestor spirit) can not qualify, and sometimes entities receive this cosmic tag for political reasons."

Now you retain the best of both worlds without having extended verbiage on material which is no doubt very interesting to consider when reading about Exalted on the toilet but which may not contribute very much to a game.

Ehhhh, I would rather just leave it at "Opposes the order of Heaven" because that's an open enough statement that it works for me. I understand the desire to move away from the UCS, but in terms of things that are a problem about big NPCs like the UCS this is one time it's not an issue as far as I'm concerned. Creature of darkness being a political label rather than a value statement was one of the things that, to me, separated Exalted from all the other fantasy rpgs out there.

edit: to put it this way, I've seen people using the example of the benevolent ancestor spirit as someone who shouldn't qualify as a creature of darkness when they are the ones that are absolutely creatures of darkness because ancestor cults, no matter how beneficial, are a clear violation of the celestial order and should be punished to the full extent of the law.

Ithle01 fucked around with this message at 22:18 on May 13, 2019

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

Nessus posted:

Finally, he created a situation where the Coalition does not (for instance) ban or heavily restrict wizardry as being dangerous and unreliable and condemns demons, vampires and giant bugs, but where they are specifically opposed to two categories of being which explicitly can look completely ""normal"" and yet have horrible hidden powers. He created this setting; this is not an unfortunate nook and cranny that went south or a town in Juicer Uprising or something. It is not some deep, thought-provoking thought experience to go "Ah but what if the subaltern group actually did have secret enormous powers, and therefore our fear and hysteria was in fact objectively justified?"

I get tired of seeing this trope in fiction in general. Besides the whole IRL oppressed groups not having superpowers, the doctrine of fascism is such that it results in an inherently lovely society even for its "master race" members. Slavoj Zizek said a similar thing in that Nazism can still be debunked on non-racist grounds: even if we took the ludicrous hypotheticals that Jews possessed a psychic hivemind and dark-skinned people have Rage Genes, that doesn't change the fact that the Third Reich was an anti-intellectual, corrupt police state. One which pit its own government agencies against each other out of some weird Social Darwinist philosophical cage-fight and executed people in hospitals for the crimes of being sick. And no, the idea that they made the trains run on time is a myth from, ironically, Nazi propaganda.

So even in a weirdass topsy-turvy world of RIFTS or the Marvel Universe, the anti-wizard/mutant/etc fascists aren't really protectors of humanity.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Libertad! posted:

I get tired of seeing this trope in fiction in general. Besides the whole IRL oppressed groups not having superpowers, the doctrine of fascism is such that it results in an inherently lovely society even for its "master race" members. Slavoj Zizek said a similar thing in that Nazism can still be debunked on non-racist grounds: even if we took the ludicrous hypotheticals that Jews possessed a psychic hivemind and dark-skinned people have Rage Genes, that doesn't change the fact that the Third Reich was an anti-intellectual, corrupt police state. One which pit its own government agencies against each other out of some weird Social Darwinist philosophical cage-fight and executed people in hospitals for the crimes of being sick. And no, the idea that they made the trains run on time is a myth from, ironically, Nazi propaganda.

So even in a weirdass topsy-turvy world of RIFTS or the Marvel Universe, the anti-wizard/mutant/etc fascists aren't really protectors of humanity.
There is a really irritating (as well as depressing) trend for any kind of "genre" setting to have someone who is "against powers," in the sense of whatever setting nonsense gives some individuals extra-normal powers. This person tends to get cheerled for, as if we went through the entire exercise of creating a setting where there are superhumans and gods purely to provide some factory-second Batman the opportunity to stunt on them.

So I suspect this is SOME PART of why APPARENTLY people were cheering for the Coalition, because super-technology is usually not parsed here as a "power." (We also quietly ignore the Dog Boys and Psi-Stalkers.)

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Nessus posted:

There is a really irritating (as well as depressing) trend for any kind of "genre" setting to have someone who is "against powers," in the sense of whatever setting nonsense gives some individuals extra-normal powers. This person tends to get cheerled for, as if we went through the entire exercise of creating a setting where there are superhumans and gods purely to provide some factory-second Batman the opportunity to stunt on them.

So I suspect this is SOME PART of why APPARENTLY people were cheering for the Coalition, because super-technology is usually not parsed here as a "power." (We also quietly ignore the Dog Boys and Psi-Stalkers.)

Yeah, the triumph of rationality over magical thinking. Literally, in this case. Which also ignores like all the genocide and other assorted.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


I like the idea of Creatures of Darkness being politically defined rather than ethically defined, but the political definition doesn't make sense in a lot of ways when related to charms because the Solars and etc. aren't empowered by the gods(well, the Sidereals are in a sense creatures of the Loom of Fate, so they might count). Exalts like whatever the new splat is that are directly empowered/created by a specific deity would absolutely work with a Political Creatures of Darkness definition, on the other hand.

While with Solars, Lunars and Dragonbloods, "enemies of Creation" makes more sense, or more specifically Fair Folk, Demons and Undead, since the former have been dangerous to Creation since its inception and the Undead and Demons are closely tied to the former... I forget Exalted's stupid word for it, former more-god-than-gods creatures that the Exalted were specifically created to punch in the face. So it would make perfect sense for punching said things in the face to be something that's baked into their fabric from day one.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Dawgstar posted:

Yeah, the triumph of rationality over magical thinking. Literally, in this case. Which also ignores like all the genocide and other assorted.
The thing is it's no less magical, but it's like Dogme 95, except for the imagination.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


By popular demand posted:

How many more pages of "Well obviously genocidal fascism is bad, but have you considered there are good people on both sides?" Do we have to go through? Holocaust memorial day was just last week.

Part 1 was 160 pages, parts 2-5 are 112 pages each, and part 6 is 224 pages. There are 8 posts for part 2. Feel free to work out the math any way you like.

The topic will be shifting somewhat tomorrow, at least, but not without a bit of handwringing over fallen boys in black, unfortunately.

Libertad! posted:

So even in a weirdass topsy-turvy world of RIFTS or the Marvel Universe, the anti-wizard/mutant/etc fascists aren't really protectors of humanity.

It doesn't even work that well in Rifts, given the meddling of other writers. Even if you presume that tolerant North American city-states like Lazlo, Arzno, Kingsdale, Tolkeen, or the Colorado Baronies wouldn't exist without the Coalition "holding the line" - a notion that's rather dubious - there are plenty of more progressive nations disconnected from North America like Tritonia or any number of South American nations or Japan that seem to have gotten along relatively fine. Where was the the Coalition when the Four Horsemen showed up? Nowhere to be seen, and the world seemed to defeat them just fine. Mechanoids? Also defeated without their help. The Xiticix? Lazlo alone can defeat them, given the political will to do so.

Well, you get the picture. About the only major threat the Coalition definitively stopped was the more radical members of the Federation of Magic, a threat that they unarguably worked to exacerbate. It could be argued their presence at least has kept major threats from coming through the Devil's Arch in St. Louis, but there's no real evidence of that. It's not like the New German Republic that has, at least, pretty clearly kept a major threat (the Gargoyles) in check or Columbia holding the line against vampires and an evil god. The very fact they have the time to run around picking fights is a very strong argument against them being "necessary" for humanity's survival.

The only time the Coalition really gets to fight a major supernatural threat is during the demon-devil invasion about fifteen years down the metaplot pipe from here, and that's because the world needs every yokel with a gun to start shooting, not because the Coalition are uniquely suited to fight them in any sense.

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