I think it is valuable to have, in the writeup for benevolent-ish entities, 'Powers that effect Creatures of Darkness work on this, because of celestial politics declaring it a Creature of Darkness.' That way, rather than being an abstract category idea, the specific injustice of that entity being labeled a threat to Creation is centered. The same overall effect applies, but it's specific and a story hook in itself, rather than a broad category of potential story hooks.
|# ? May 14, 2019 01:16|
|# ? Aug 5, 2021 21:39|
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.
Is that the Minion War dealie?
|# ? May 14, 2019 02:25|
gently caress you Kevin Siembieda. I don’t know why this is the post that finally tore it but it did. Guy and his lovely company and his dumb DnD heartbreaker system and his loving pet Nazi heroes are irredeemable as far as I’m concerned.
|# ? May 14, 2019 02:37|
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.
Is that the "Heroes of Humanity" supplement?
|# ? May 14, 2019 04:21|
Chapter 3: Cults
The shitbird introductory fiction centers on Dushkov. He's visiting an Apocalyptic brothel. Dushkov eying a Nomura-pattern dancer:
Her dress seemed to consist only of buckles and belts.
The dancer, of course, comes and starts straddling him. She also wants to know why he dropped “zigzag” (punctuated as ,zigzag' in the book, wtf) as the password at the door. Dushkov doesn't know much more than that he was given it as gift “to friends of the flock.” Then the dancer bites his ear off.
Apparently, “zigzag” is a codeword for traitors. Woops.
That crotch can't be comfortable
Mysticism and Violence
The Worst Cult is all about being young, drinking, loving and not caring about tomorrow. They despise booklearning, so what we know of their history comes from Chronicler research. Said research is described in prose so purple, you could dye a king's cape with it:
Information clustered around white spots, joining to form a giant puzzle that had to be expanded several times and finally was transferred into an n-dimensional data space. Click! Every day, new data comes in, sticking to the structures or strengthening existing links. The silhouettes of the white spots are higher in contrast than ever before, mocking the Chroniclers and keeping them going until, yes, until ... Yes!
It all started with Gerome
He preached the power of the archetypes and of the tarot, free love and sadism, nationalism and anarchy, democracy and dictatorship, a life on the fast lane, subversion.
This slurry of nonsense set the stream (what a stupid name for future-web) on fire, just like Jorp did in real life. And just like Jorp, you had to be really in it to get it, maaan:
Getrell’s wisdom promised freedom in an overregulated world to those who were able to decipher the feeds and see the truth between the contradictions.
The alternate interpretations didn't spawn a Cult, so gently caress 'em. Anyways, unlike our chuds and incels, Getrell's followers banded together to dance, gently caress, fight, get high and goonrush public spaces.
And while those were easily dealt with by your future rentacop with a shock baton, the Apocalyptics soon employed stolen drones to violently take over the drug market. They also found “mobile prototype factories” (3D printers?), which allowed them to trade in guns and blades – and remember, this is Europe, so guns and knives aren't sold over the counter at Tesco's.
The Apocalyptics showed callous disregard for casualties. They also started using the stylized raven, because nothing says “sex, drugs and rock'n'roll” like a quasi-fascist raven.
Getrell never took a stance on this. He never referred to current events. He was above the fray.
Well, at least this bit is realistic!
Apparently, his talks also spawned some peaceful movements of dopes disappointed with mainstream religions who read something spiritual in some rich failson's ramblings.
Man, Getrell's appearance on Joe Rogan's Preserved Head In A Jar Show must have been lit.
The futuro-Musk disappeared a few months before Eschaton. His followers took over his reddit and it was popular among people who wanted to “really live one more time, feel every nuance of your own suffering and joy.”
Suffering and joy? Why, that's the hallmark of every cookie-cutter subversive and 2mature4u pleasure cult ever! Exciting stuff!
This is an in-universe bit as a side section. It's an email (or a bulletin board post) from “Ammit@hiddenhost” (do I smell Anubis?) to... someone, really, talking about Getrell's rambling actually being perfectly modulated five-dimensional-chess memetic warfare trials.
He’s up to something. You help him. Block his feeds. Boycott Recombination Group.
That's how the bit ends. Amazing.
Next time: partying after the End
|# ? May 14, 2019 06:58|
Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 6 - "Nobody has ever stopped the Coalition. Nobody!"
Wounded in the Butt by a Wizardly Manifestation of my Own Fascist Hubris.
By Kevin Siembieda and Bill Coffin
So, despite all this, Tolkeen has so far succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The Coalition have just tried to blitz while they've been making creative use of magic and guerrilla forces. They're not really interested in actually defeating the Coalition in a straightforward fight, but just bogging them down so much that their morale and momentum is wrecked. They often use save-or-suck spells to disrupt enemy formations or otherwise separate out units, illusions to distract them, powerful defensive spells to cause them to waste their offense, etc. They rely a lot on sudden and surprise attacks with magic to try and keep Coalition troops rattled as well, as well trying to shock them with tactics like animated Coalition corpses ("Real 'Dead Boys'"). Teleportation and ley magic lets them ambush at nearly any time, and they can use flight magic to airlift troops silently.
"Seriously, guys, we're with the Coalition. We don't have any brains."
They have a "Shadows and Water" maneuver they've used several times, where when attacked, the "Water" unit falls back, creating an opportunity for hidden "Shadows" units to flank the Coalition force. Then the "Shadows" retreat and the "Water" unit advances. Then repeat, making sure to just flank relative to wherever the enemy focuses.
Similarly, they use magical force fields powered by ley lines and the like to make towns difficult to capture, requiring Coalition forces to resort to time-consuming urban pacification- and even when they succeed, sometimes Tolkeen has pushed them out again, putting up the same defenses, requiring the Coalition to do it all over again.
That doesn't mean Tolkeen doesn't have means of straight-up fighting. Using elementals or powerful spells, they can create disasters and other catastrophes. Furthermore, they have the Iron Juggernauts and powerful allies like dragons or demons. However, they have to be careful with their use of power, supplementing it with infantry forces and hitting in skirmish warfare rather than major battles. The Coalition just has greater numbers and greater skill in armored combat, so they use magic to pick their fights. Furthermore, they have the issue that most dragons won't cooperate with each other, so mass dragon formations are rare at best.
"Wait, the Coalition doesn't use Glitter Boys, so... who am I fighting...?"
In addition, Tolkeen has focused on hitting the Coalition's supplies. Their reliance on magic means Tolkeen doesn't require heavy supply lines, but the Coalition has countered by raiding and stealing from local communities. In general, though, Tolkeen can rely on local communities while they remain, and mages can replenish their power with a night of smug meditation.
We also get an outline of what the other powers think of this, the majority of which is predictable or relatively irrelevant to the conflict at hand. The more notable parts follow. Ishpeming and the Manistique Imperium are starting to question their alliance with the Coalition given that things aren't going so well. Increased bandit activity doesn't really affect Lone Star, but El Dorado is having an more direct war against emboldened outlaws that they're winning. Vampires are starting to cross the Rio Grande, thanks to the Cyber-Knights and other heroes being distracted by the Tolkeen conflict. And lastly, though the Federation of Magic is still remaining out of it, occasional "rogue" groups under Dunscon have been striking against the Coalition.
"Oh yeah, you can totally play Heil of Duty on this."
Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:
Note: As the situation with the Cyber-Knights, the treachery of the Federation of Magic, and the encroachment of the vampires illustrates, the real tragedy of the Coalition-Tolkeen War may be the loss of so many genuine heroes and warriors that there won't be enough to defend good and innocent people — humans and nonhumans, technologists and sorcerers alike — from the real villains and monsters in the world.
As if the Coalition doesn't count as a "real villain or monster" at this point...
|# ? May 14, 2019 10:00|
Contextually I suppose the idea is that so many Cyber-Knights get tied up and/or killed fighting the Skull Boys and Dog Boys and Psi-Stalker Boys and Boy Boys and Nasty Boys that they don't fight, like, vampires or something. But what the hell does the Coalition care? The impure die, and their relative position improves!
|# ? May 14, 2019 10:55|
Is that the Minion War dealie?
Is that the "Heroes of Humanity" supplement?
Yes and yes. "I can't believe it's not the Blood War!"
It basically pulls the old trick of making a villain look like an anti-hero by positioning them next to an even worse set of villains. Mind, it makes the Coalition so embattled they don't have time to persecute anybody, as well. It's about as close as you can get to making them viable to work with other PCs. Mind, it features the same "maybe they'll be different after this?!" that the Coalition Wars does which I cannot take seriously, particularly given the folks at the top are still very much the same.
Granted, there's at no point you could really "cleanse" the Coalition of their negative aspects because it's baked into their aesthetic anyway. They'd have to effectively become something else.
|# ? May 14, 2019 11:20|
Dog Boy decapitation coup. Prosek is sent for intensive kennel training. Coalition officially apologizes to all D-Bees and releases all prisoners, however, defines current territorial holding as "our yard," to be aggressively patrolled and urinated against. Violate their boundaries on penalty of Mega-Bork.
Yes and yes. "I can't believe it's not the Blood War!"
If Man will not be good, then it falls upon Dog to repay the ancient boon... and teach Man.
|# ? May 14, 2019 11:23|
Cults: Apocalyptics, pt.2
Chapter 3: Cults
After the Eschaton, the Apocalyptics were somehow organized enough to infiltrate various recovery agencies, steal stuff to stash (I guess that's what the Scrappers are recovering when they're lucky), and deal drugs and sex.
Now, read these three sentences.
With sticks, stones, and automatic weapons, they herded Europe into the age of the beast.
So was the Worst Cult making situation worse purposefully? If they were such geniuses, how did they miss the violence coming towards them? How did they recover “quickly,” if the recovery took centuries?
I think the book is trying to sell Apocalyptics as cooler than they're are. It's hard to do that as Apocalyptics got owned as soon as they met any resistance: the First Judge crushed them in Borca, Voivodes refused to share power in Balkhans and Hellvetics closed their routes.
So the cult turned to reading Getrell's cult tarrot for strategic planning. This made them unpredictable – and prosperous.
That's very The Dark Knight Rises's Joker of them!
Life, Whatever The Cost
The whole chapter is very , especially when it's dealing in uninspired tripe like this:
Getrell’s ideology fell on fertile ground. Even more than 500 years after the Eshaton, his motto “Live as if there’s no tomorrow” is practiced daily by the Apocalyptics.
They're Every Slaaneshi Cult Ever in experiencing all sensations ever, which makes them
Always the same principle, an action and its consequences, and always the same answer: I don’t care! Apocalyptics live in the present; they only look to the future via their tarot – and it doesn’t tell them if they’ll be dead on the eve of tomorrow.
This is so tiresome.
Flock of Birds
Apocalyptic are nomadic. Their Flocks take names like “Dust Riders,” “Splinter Wings,” and “Carrion Birds.” Individual ranks of Shitbird Cult are named after birds – fighters are Battle Crows (as opposed to Peacenik Crows?), a Magpie will be “a whore and thief” and so on. The leaders are Ravens, of course.
Raven is the leader Rank, and they control the people via their interpretations of tarot. I remember that the early short descriptions of the cults pointed out that the Ravens are full of poo poo and rule arbitrarily, but by the time this the Cult description was written, the writers must have fallen in love with the idea of the tarot.
I guess someone remembered to check their “Romani Stereotypes for 90's Game Designers” checklist.
Thicker Than Blood
Rigid hierarchies are bad, so Apocalyptics settle everything via duels. Cheating is mandatory.
May the biggest rear end in a top hat win!
But then there's this:
The loser will leave the Flock to lick his wounds in the wasteland. His days are numbered.
That would just be random edginess, but it's almost immediately followed by this:
A knife in the throat is not a welcome sight but proof that the attacker has lost control and all respect. Get him away!
So you should cheat, but killing is bad, yet the loser is still cast out to die Or is outcasting only reserved to leaders who lose?
Trash Cult remains trash.
For an Apocalyptic, loyalty towards the Flock grows from respect, dependency, violence, and submission. To betray it breaks his wings.
There's no uniform system for the tarot, as new cards are added according to the historical events that struck a certain flock. Some still try to use the original Getrell deck, but most don't.
Next time: professional shirtbirdry!
|# ? May 14, 2019 14:14|
I'd prefer it if the book was honest about the apocalyptics being stupid poo poo-birds instead of being so impressed with them. Goddamnit, having zero long-term planning and not caring about anything is stupid enough normally, in a lovely apocalypse it's suicidal.
|# ? May 14, 2019 14:29|
What Fire Has Wrought: I Refuse To Play Along With This Stupid In-Joke
White Veil Style is one of the most irritating things in Exalted to talk about because the way it’s presented has become an in-joke. The text surrounding it is always ‘if White Veil existed, which it doesn’t’ because it’s a secret martial art used by a society of secretive assassins who rely on subtlety and being largely undetected. And this has gone from a minor joke to all-consuming, to the point that it’s not just characters in setting but the out-of-character text and, indeed, the fans that talk about it this way. I refuse to put up with this. It is annoying. White Veil Style is practiced by the White Veil Society, a loose-knit martial arts association of spies and killers in the Realm and beyond. The style has spread over time to those who were willing to pay out the nose to learn it and to rival martial artists who discovered records of its techniques. It is used at dinners, salons and galas to kill people without anyone ever noticing, sometimes silently and sometimes screaming in pain, days or weeks after a brush with a user. White Veil unarmed strikes are precision blows to pressure points, and it also uses garrotes and hand needles. It is not compatible with armor, and it relies heavily on Socialize and Stealth along with its combat abilities. Now, pretend I made a pretense of it not existing and using every sentence to negate its existence and talk about what it would be like if it existed, and you have some idea of how this style, which has become a fan favorite, is discussed. It has 10 Charms over 3 pages.
Birdsong Over Blades lets you conceal your attacks. After you land a Decisive attack, you can choose to make no damage roll and not reset to base; the attack deals no damage, but any poisons on your weapon are applied, as are any Charm effects that don’t directly enhance the damage roll. Onlookers (including the victim) must make an Awareness check to even notice you attacked, and if you attacked from concealment, your stealth is not broken by doing so. Solars cause a penalty to resist the poison or other effects of the strike. Owl Clutches at the Night can be used when you miss with an attack, forcing everyone (even your victim) to have to make an Awareness check to notice you attacked, and if you did so from concealment your stealth isn’t broken as long as no one succeeds. Solars gain a Willpower if no one succeeds. Alehouse Memory Stance lets you relax your demeanor, getting a bonus to a Stealth roll based on your Guile, and as long as no one has witnessed you attack this scene, your roll doesn’t suffer the penalty for trying to enter stealth in combat. White Veil Form gives a bonus to Evasion and Guile, and it removes all penalties for flurrying if your flurry contains at least one Socialize-based action. You can also use Manipulation instead of Dexterity to calculate Evasion or when rolling to withdraw, disengage or enter concealment, and you force enemies to use the lower of Awareness or Socialize when they roll Join Battle in response to your actions. (For example, someone poisoned outside combat has to roll Join Battle; they don’t know they were poisoned but it gives them an Initiative buffer before the poison starts doing actual damage to them.) It can be auto-activated whenever you successfully land a surprise attack on a nontrivial foe.
Blithe Unruffled Plumage gives a bonus to soak or Hardness based on Guile, and if the attack it is used against misses or fails to do any damage, you can conceal it as per Owl Clutches at the Night. Solars can also steal Initiative from their attacker when this happens. Blinded By Laughter lets you, once per scene, attempt an ambush even from plain view of your target by using a Socialize roll with a bonus to represent seeming like you’re just socializing, targeting Resolve. If successful, this is also your Join Battle roll, and if you beat your opponent’s Join Battle, you ambush them as per normal; otherwise it’s just an unexpected attack. Solars get bonus damage on a successful ambush. Tickling the Dragon’s Throat causes your Decisive attack to target a pressure point or weak spot, causing a penalty to Defense and all actions until onslaught wears off, and Solars that max out the penalty can also make onslaught last longer.
The Dragon Dies in Bed lets you make a Decisive attack and apply Birdsong Over Blades to it for free. If it hits, you inflict a supernatural disease named Subtle Mercy. It can kill Exalts, and on top of the normal effects of disease, its Minor symptom causes weariness and lethargy that applies a small fatigue penalty to all rolls unless the victim gets at least 12 hours of sleep per day, and diagnosing the disease is quite difficult. As a Major symptom, the penalty increases cumulatively each day the victim goes without 12+ hours of sleep and they no longer heal damage naturally if they remain active, but the diagnosis gets slightly easier. As a Defining symptom, the victim must now sleep at least 20 hours a day to avoid fatigue penalties and to recover Willpower, but the diagnosis becomes easier again. The Dragon Dies Screaming lets you lace your strike with a very deadly poison once per scene as a Decisive attack. It deals Aggravated damage once the victim Crashes, it lasts a decently long time and it has a pretty hefty penalty, since that’s based on your Manipulation, which is probably very good. Also, using Birdsong Over Blades on this attack is free, and rolls to diagnose the poison are at increased difficulty. You may choose to delay the onset of the poison up to several weeks if you want to, in which case the diagnosis is even harder. The Dragon Succumbs lets you make a Decisive attack against someone who is suffering from a poison or disease, and it’s free to use Birdsong Over Blades on this attack. If you hit, the victim makes a single Resistance check against all disease they currently have; if they fail to beat any disease’s morbidity, that disease gets one step worse immediately, or deals 1 Agg if it was already Defining. The victim also immediately suffers the damage of one interval of a single poison in their system, plus more based on your attack successes; you pick which venom applies if there’s multiple. This does not reduce the poison’s intervals, but it can’t do damage more times than it has intervals remaining. Solars make it so a disease that gets worse from Defining kills the victim after a few turns unless someone who’s diagnosed the disease makes a Medicine roll to save them as a miscellaneous action. The Terrestrial keyword, on the other hand, makes it so this Charm can only be used when you are able to make an ambush.
Sorcery! First, we get several new Shaping Rituals. Student of the Heptagram is the most common form of initiation at the Heptagram, but not the only one; you could be a graduate without it if you wanted.
Spirit Speaker (1): You are trained to deal with spirits and magical beings. When you roll a social action against such beings or use Resolve or Guile against them, you benefit from any relevant Occult specialties as if they were in the relevant social ability.
Words of Binding (2): You get a bonus to any roll to bind summoned demons or elementals.
Wanasaan Essence is the awakening of sorcerous potential via the ceremonial drowning of the Wanasaan exorcists on the frozen spring of the Silent Isle.
Breath Without Air (3): You have drowned, and so you cannot do it a second time. You may breathe underwater. If Water Aspect, you ignore minor wound penalties while underwater as you shed the weaknesses of the living.
We also get a bunch of new Terrestrial Circle spells, many of which are elemental in nature. Beckoning That Which Stirs the Skies calls giant chitinous limbs from the sky, which weave the weather to your will with an Occult roll, harder the more severe or weird it is for the region, which controls the area around you for several miles and lasts for several hours. No one can use this spell to change the weather again until the first one ends, and an Occult or Survival roll will reveal the weather as unnatural. As a control spell, you may have the weather follow you as you move if you shorten the duration and shrink the area. Distorting the spell reverses the weather to be equal and opposite to what was intended. Floral Ferry turns a leaf, petal or fruit into a boat that can hold a ton of cargo and comfortably carry up to six people. You name a destination, and if you have even approximate knowledge of its location, the boat will sail as close as it can, using your Occult for any Sail rolls. However, it lacks the intellect to engage in naval combat or pursuit; it’s just a boat. Attempting to sail it normally gives a penalty to go anywhere but the destination, and no matter what, on arrival, once empty, it shrinks back to what it used to be. You can charge it with Essence to harden its hull against damage, leave sticky pollen to penalize people chasing you, or double its speed. As a control spell, you can awaken evocations with the boat. If you distort it, you can pick a new destination it’ll try to reach instead.
Impervious Sphere of Water calls forth a dome of water around you out to Short range to protect you and your allies. Anyone within can breathe it as easily as air, and while it is translucent, it provides full cover against attacks from outside to in and vice versa. Moving into or out of it requires an Athletics roll, and if you move or take any non-reflexive action, the spell ends and the sphere collapses into normal (and drinkable) water. As a control spell, you can move without ending it, and it moves with you but doesn’t drag anyone in it along. Distortion makes the water non-breathable, and it no longer provides full cover against attacks from outside (but still does from inside), and you can get in (but not out) without a roll. Also, the dome remains in place even if the caster does stuff that would end the spell early. Keel Cleaves the Clouds allows a ship to sail on mist, fog and other such vapors as if they were water, ascending vertically until it reaches the surface of such vapors. With sufficient mist it can even reach the clouds. It can’t get Speed from oars or currents while airborne, however. If it runs out of mist or the spell ends, it descends and lands harmlessly on whatever is below it. As a control spell, you are surrounded by mists at all times unless you will them away actively, and you can walk on mist or fog as if it were solid but difficult terrain. Distorted, the spell envelops the ship in a thick cloud, making it nearly impossible to see outward and penalizing Sail checks as well as preventing anyone from noticing when the supporting mist might be running out.
Sculpted Seafoam Eidolon lets you shape foam and watery reflections into a lifelike, convincing replica of a person, animal up to the size of a horse or object up to the size of a wagon, rolling Occult to determine the quality of the illusion. It moves normally, can use simple speech and has scent, body heat and other appropriate sensory qualia, but cannot do anything that’d need a roll. While you are present you may direct its actions, but if you go more than Long range away, it reverts to realistic but uncomplicated patterns of default behavior. An Awareness check can determine it is false, and touching the water-eidolon gives a bonus to such a roll. Reading its intentions can also reveal this. As a control spell, you can make multiple illusions with one casting. Distortion takes control of the illusion away from the original caster. Spoke the Wooden Face lets you go into a trance and project yourself into a tree that has your face carved into it, which you have prepared beforehand. You may see and speak through the face regardless of distance, and can make Perception checks and influence rolls through it, but cannot boost them with Charms. You can sense nothing through your own body nor take actions with it unless you end the spell early, and taking damage automatically ends it. While you aren’t speaking, your presence cannot be detected without magic, but if the face is destroyed you can’t use it any more. As a control spell, you can project into multiple faces at once. Distorting this requires being near the tree and it makes the face blind, deaf and mute, causing the caster to lose 1 Willpower due to total sensory deprivation.
Stalwart Earth Guardian lets you draw a geometric figure in the soil or draw it in chalk on stone over a few minutes, warding yourself and your allies. The figure spreads out to Close range from its center. Anyone within gets a bonus to Defense and Resolve against attacks from outside, and anyone not in the ward but within Medium range suffers a low-damage environmental hazard as the earth itself turns against them, and anyone that takes damage from it in a round also treats it as difficult terrain. Also, it increases the mobility penalty of anyone in it and causes enough noise to awaken anyone sleeping in the ward if someone triggers the attack. As a control spell, you smell of plowed soil and clay and can use your fingernails to etch stone. Distorted, the spell inverts itself, causing its hazard within the ward and nothing outside it. Thunder Wolf Howl calls forth the echo of an ancient, slain behemoth, summoning the winds. You pick a point within Medium range to be the center of a massive thunderclap that extends out to Short range, forcing anyone within it to make a Resistance roll, which battle groups get a penalty to. Anyone that fails takes some Decisive bashing damage and you reset to base. Anyone that takes damage is deafened until they get medical treatment and gets a crippling penalty based on the 10s in the damage roll for the next few turns. Fragile objects of wood, glass or similar may break. As a control spell, you get increased difficulty to resist and increased damage, and when you are overcome by strong emotion, your voice booms and echoes like distant thunder.
Unslakable Thirst of the Devil-Maw opens a horrific gaping mouth on your hand, with tourmaline fangs and a green tongue. It leeches water from the air and anything living you point it at, making an unblockable, Dccult-based Decisive attack against everyone in a 90 degree arc out to Medium range, which battle groups also can’t dodge, and which deals relatively small but Aggravated damage. Any foe without body moisture, like a skeleton or fire elemental, is immune, while enemies made of liquid, like most water elementals, take extra damage. Trivial plant life in range is utterly desiccated and dies. The moisture is siphoned into a sphere of solid water that floats over your hand for a few minutes, which you may put in a container or use however you like. Even without victims, you can still gather water from the environment this way in all but the most arid place. As a control spell, you have the mouth on your hand permanently, allowing unarmed attacks with that hand to deal Aggravated damage and have the Piercing tag against foes with body moisture, as it drains through armor, and making your unarmed attacks do extra damage to water elementals and similar. Viridian Guardian of the Flame pulls a flaming sword from your heart, then shapes it into a fiery sentinel to guard you, collapsing it into a will-o-the-wisp, which you may conceal by ordering it into a lit torch or lantern. If you are attacked, it turns back into a sword and protects you with Defend Other, and it can even detect threats you don’t notice, with its defenses and abilities based on your stats. Any wooden projectile or weapon it successfully blocks burns to ash, and if it parries unarmed or natural attacks, the attacker takes minor damage. No matter what, its flames increase your soak against any attack that isn’t unblockable. In battle, it uses your Join Battle result to determine its Initiative and can take no actions of its own, just defend you – its Initiative is just there to tank Withering attacks. If it is Crashed, it vanishes for a scene and reforms after. If its health track is filled with damage, it is destroyed and cannot be resummoned until the spell ends. As a Control spell, you can awaken Evocations with the sword, which might enhance its defenses or let it be used offensively. Distorted, the sword’s protection is stolen for a scene by whoever distorts it.
Next time: Artifacts of the Realm
|# ? May 14, 2019 14:52|
Warhammer Fantasy: Paths of the Damned Part 2: Spires of Altdorf
Notice me, Frederick-Senpai!
I've been thinking a lot about this section. It's the bugbear of this entire book, the Critical Path of the adventure, the bit you have to succeed at to get the 'good' ending and properly move on to book 3. In fact, it's actually possible to screw yourself out of any possibility of a good ending for the entire campaign during this section. That's not actually Chart's fault, that's Robert Schwalb and book 3; Chart's intent is that no matter how Book 2 goes you're supposed to finish in a place where the Dagger is destroyed somehow and you can move on to Book 3, but if you fail at this section of Book 2 you'll actually never learn the ritual necessary to get a good ending for the overall campaign. So it's possible to come out of this part with a doomed Sierra Adventure Game state. This section of the book is completely, totally critical to the progress of a 3 book adventure path.
And it's a dating sim.
I've been thinking about how to define it for several weeks, and that's really the best way I can; this entire Critical Path (Remember, Wolfgang and Carlott are sidequests, and actually totally optional) mechanically plays out like a dating sim. You have a collection of NPCs. You go among them and make contacts and flatter them and say what they want to hear, and if you're playing 'properly' you don't roll dice but rather just pick the right dialogue options. That gets you enough approval tokens (along with sufficient recommendations from a character's friends and associates) to get them to introduce you to others, etc. You do this until you find out where the Dagger is held, get a wizard to give you the Dagger, and find another, different wizard who can destroy it in a magic ritual. If you fail, you will eventually have to fight for the Dagger, then use a ritual that instead kills one of your PCs and turns them into a boss fight that houses the Dagger's essence, then kill them. No Fate Pointing out of that, according to the author. But given where the Dagger is, I strongly doubt most groups would really care to bother at that point. Also: No-one ever offers to pay you for anything you're doing, there are no actual material rewards on the critical path, and every NPC you deal with is treated as untouchable; the only way to interact with them is winning their approval.
This section loving sucks. Everything about it is bad, from the 'oh, just use the right dialogue options' stuff (you can use Social Skills if you 'aren't as eloquent as your PC'. A success gets you 1 approval point, +1 per DoS up to 3, the max you could get by dialogue, while failure loses you 1 point, +1 per DoF) to wandering around talking to a bunch of boring characters for the entire critical path to the way you have no other actual options. And remember, if you fail here, the entire campaign is rendered unwinnable, though you won't know until book 3. When I tried running this myself, we got about 2 sessions into it before we agreed we'd just wrap the Xath plot and call it for Paths rather than finishing the Adventure Path. It's that loving tedious to run and to play. You only really have a few options to interact with any of it, and more importantly, the characters are dull as dishwater or supremely annoying. Your entire goal is to get enough Leverages and Introductions to people to get enough points for your negotiation to push things to 6 Approval Points so they'll tell you their secrets and do stuff for you. There are no options to get information by having adventures, or do sidequests to gain approval, or anything. It's just dating sim mechanics all the way.
Also, two of the characters are just loving dire. I'll get to Lord 'Thanks For Your Service' Frederick and Maximillian 'Sex Pest' Saer. Let's introduce our cast a bit, then next post will be how Brute Squad deals with any of this; I think that will give you some of a sense of the sheer tedium of this adventure.
First up is Dieter Klemperer, a Celestial Mage who is completely unable to be offended no matter what the PCs do because he's so insufferably arrogant that he expects 'common adventurers' to be filthy and rude anyway. He's unoffendable because he's your start point; Zweinstein gives you a recommendation to him as a pen pal and Klemperer in turn will introduce the PCs to Konrad Messner (Critical NPC, Light Wizard Lord) and Guillaume Dechamp (Life Mage, can do the 'kill a PC to win' ritual). Guillaume is basically useless to the adventure unless you've failed, so I'm not going to waste too many words on him; he's just kind of a general adventuring wizard with twigs in his hair. Klemperer is kind of amusing in that he's sort of a fraud; he likes to pretend he knows everything in advance by just adding 'OF COURSE' after anyone says anything and his office is deliberately trying to look really impressive but comes off as over-busy and tacky. The introduction to Messner is what really matters.
Konrad Messner is a general no-nonsense Wizard Lord and opponent of Chaos who is extremely wise and intelligent and 'one of the most powerful individuals the PCs will ever meet'. He's a Light Mage, and if they make him happy, they'll eventually learn from him that the Dagger is held in the Light College, safely warded by a shitload of wizards and powerful wards. At which point an unpaid party probably goes 'Whew, guess it's safe then' and moves on to paying work, I'm just sayin'. Seriously, if you want a dramatic race against time for the Dagger why did you put it locked away in the safest place in the Empire? Sure, it gets stolen eventually if you don't befriend Messner but there's no imminent plot for the PCs to even be worried about. Just a vague sense of 'well the GM sent us to get the dagger so we probably need to.' Messner has no 'leverages' because 'he has no desires, insecurities, or secrets' and seriously? Really? Even if fully friended, he won't give the PCs the Dagger until they deal with an insane Witch Hunter who believes that all Light Wizards are still Chaos Sorcerers (probably due to Van Horstmann). Friending Messner is critical path.
Theodora Pferig is a retired Witch Hunter who used to work with Messner. She likes to talk about past adventures, but also likes them to stay in the past; she's not interested in getting involved in anything anymore after doing her part and settling down on a pile of treasure. Still, she has a lot of friends in the Chaos Fighting community she can introduce the PCs to, and she's happy to meet and talk with and give advice to active Adventurers. If they tell her everything about Middenheim, she remembers she fought a Xath cult with Messner 20 years ago, which can get the players an extra friend point with Messner if they tell him. Listening to her talk at length about her old adventures also gets PCs a bonus friend point, and her advice is generally pretty good; she's a real veteran, after all.
Elizabeth Baern is an annoying and arrogant noblewoman who somehow accidentally exposed and destroyed a Chaos Cult and basks in the reputation among the nobility of being a great heroine, so long as she doesn't find herself in any real danger ever again. She hates Messner because the wizard likes to mention she didn't really do anything of value and it was all luck, and so she's sponsoring the crazy Witch Hunter who is trying to kill him out of spite. There's nothing to her but arrogance and spite, and the PCs will have to grit their teeth and indulge her because they need to get her to stop sponsoring the Hunter. IF the PCs can convince Messner to apologize and humor her, she'll actually immediately withdraw her support and solve that part of the adventure, while also introducing them to the important hidden Death Wizard Gabrielle Marsner, who is also one of the critical path points of the adventure. So she's completely insufferable, but very important as one of the possible paths to winning. No alternate ways to do this, besides flattering her enough yourselves to get her off Messner and get her to tell you about Gabrielle.
The other path to Gabrielle is through Johan Schmidt (no relation to the heroic Johan Schmidt of Old World Bestiary), a young Imperial Noble who wants to be an Adventurer. He's available as a 'just-finishing-Noble' PC if you have a new player or want another character, but he's also the easiest to befriend of all characters: Let him join your party for 3 points, then let him leave for 3 points after a single unrelated encounter or so. Yep, getting him into adventure and then letting him leave the 'exciting life of terrible dangers and peril' quickly and while saving face is how you friend Johan. Which is actually funny! If the whole adventure was like that it wouldn't suck so hard. He's personal friends with Gabrielle (from whining to try to get her to take him on her adventures) and will introduce PCs, with the advice that they should talk up how they heard about her.
The path to meeting Johan flows through Lord Frederick, who is terrible specifically because they try so incredibly hard to make him cool. Frederick is a major introduction machine who is very easy to please. He's a fat, out of shape Imperial noble who thinks fighting Chaos is very important but thinks he doesn't have the courage to do it himself and maybe he'll get his chance to show he's braver than he thinks he is in this very gamebook!!! He is also better than your PCs by design, being a 5th career character who, despite being 'soft and out of shape' is a better fighter than Otto (with a 5 SB) and has a 69% Int and extremely high WP. He gets to be the actual main character of the eventual denouement with Wolfgang, you see, and it'll be about his personal journey to realizing he always had the strength to fight Chaos and what do you mean, he's an NPC? So what? He's Lord Frederick! He's so great and cool and your PCs will love him, I'm sure. He is relatively friendly and helpful, and his hobby is making up medals to give to people who fight Chaos. I'm sure the party will enjoy being given a ribbon and 'thanked for their service' when they tell him about Middenheim. I bet they'll love that. He's super easy to friend, at least, and who doesn't want to befriend Frederick-Senpai?
Gottri Hammerfist is the only character don't actually need to befriend. A mad dwarf Witch Hunter, he just hates Light Wizards so much because he's seen too much poo poo and snapped. PCs dealing with him do so wholly to discover he's snapped so they can tell his sponsors he's actually accusing every single Light Wizard he can find so that they quietly withdraw support and have him committed.
Maximillian Saer is the worst character in the lot. He's a super rich merchant and aesthete who has 'amazing taste' and who is sleeping with every one of his servants and makes passes at any female PCs. So yeah. Rich sex pest. And you need to be buddies with him potentially. Sex Pest aesthete rich magnate is not really an archetype that flies in 2019, unless they're flying out a window, from being defenestrated. He's mostly only important because he had an affair with Klara Roban, a Sigmarite Priestess who is Gottri's main sponsor, which she's doing because she's so guilty about falling for Max's charms and she doesn't blame him, really, only herself, it was so passionate! God, I hate everything about this guy. He's not even that important; you don't actually need his recommendations for anything. You can win the critical path without him. He's just there to have hosed Klara and made her guilty and crazy, which also feels slimy and wrong.
Speaking of Klara, that's, uh, kind of her whole character. She's guilty she hosed a rich merchant and hates herself for it, so she's constantly driving herself to be a harsher priestess because it's all her fault. PCs can get her off Messner's back by convincing her that Gottri is wrong, by bringing in evidence from Theodora and pointing out Gottri wants to kill all Light Wizards, which is nuts. They can also find out she had the affair and show her her suspicions are based primarily on guilt. At no point can they, like, maybe help her see that Sigmar has no vow of chastity and that having an affair wasn't really that awful a thing or anything.
Finally, we get Gabrielle Marsner, the main character PCs need to find in this whole web through either Johan or Elizabeth. She is a mysterious Death Wizard who dresses all in voluminous robes...to hide that she's 21. She's a 21 year old prodigy and thinks no-one will take a Master Wizard that age seriously, so she tries to pretend she's older, weirder, and wiser, which is actually a really endearing character quirk. She desperately wants to be known as a great and powerful wizard, but also doesn't want to be murdered by cultists, so she keeps the fact that she knows a ritual to destroy demons bound in objects secret unless she can trust the PCs. Getting her to 6 is one of the other critical win points. Her ritual will destroy the Dagger with no real trouble, though the GM can invent trouble if they want to because if the players win this whole section, they just...get the dagger and then Gabby kills it with magic. There are multiple suggestions for adding additional final bosses and things if that seems too dull. She is the only path to actually beat Xath. If players don't meet Gabby they actually can't win Book 3, either. She's also capable of being killed hilariously randomly later on in book 3, also causing an unavoidable fail state. Hurrah for the Sierra Adventure Special!
Goddamn do I hate this section. It's dull as all get out, and the characters don't help; they're too thin and you can only interact with them in approved ways or you lose the campaign. There's a lot of busywork, but no actual adventure and no real intrigue, just talking to people more powerful than you and flattering them until you get what you want. gently caress this dating sim nonsense.
Next Time: The Brute Squad Wins a Dating Sim
Night10194 fucked around with this message at 15:36 on May 14, 2019
|# ? May 14, 2019 15:27|
What Fire Has Wrought: Family Heirlooms
Calumny is a 3-dot green jade wrackstaff. Two centuries ago, the thief known as Artful Tanuki maddened the Great Houses. Hidden by her signature mask, she stole the rarest treasures and most forbidden secrets, selling them to anyone that would pay and spreading chaos in the Dynasty. Peasants and Dynasts alike speculated about her skill and motives, and magistrates and assassins sought her head, but after years of infamy, she just vanished. It was then her real work began. Behind the mask, no one knew her for what she was – a daughter of the Cynis, who used her stolen secrets to begin a career in politics. Many spoke of her insolent tanuki mask, but few recalled her staff. It is an unassuming length of bamboo cut from the slopes of the Imperial Mountain, banded with green-and-brown speckled jade. It has since been passed down through generations of Cynis blackmailers, offering up its secrets to those that can keep it glutted on them. It has a single hearthstone slot.
Calumny can be collapsed into a six-inch-long jade-tipped rod, gaining the Concealable tag while it’s small, or extended to its full length again, both reflexively. It also eats secrets. The intensity of a secret is the same as the level of task that would be required to persuade someone to reveal it – inconvenient, serious or life-changing. A secret may gain or lose intensity due to circumstances, such as if it is widely revealed.
Rustling Grapevine Whispers cannot be purchased with XP. It awakens for free when you whisper a serious or life-changing secret of your own to Calumny, or an inconvenient secret if you’re a Cynis. It may be used whenever you hit or touch someone with Calumny, causing it to vibrate with secrets, whispering a one- or two-word clue to the target’s most potent or immediately relevant secret to you, decided by the GM. This gives you a bonus to any read intentions or profile character roll to uncover the secret, and only you can hear it. If resonant, this can be used at Short range by using shared contact with plant life, such as vines, tall grass or a tree rather than direct contact. Unassuming Ornament Camouflage allows you to use the DB Charm Naked Thief Style while Calumny is collapsed to conceal it as a small mundane object without a roll, rendering it totally undetectable by any means short of Eye of the Unconquered Sun or similar. Salon-Spider Entrapment lets you bind someone in their secrets if you hit them with a Withering attack, forcing them to pay 1 Initiative to take a movement or combat action until their next turn, and if resonant they can’t take movement actions at all if Crashed. If you know their secrets, you can keep smacking them each turn to maintain the binding but raise the Initiative cost by 1 each time, capped based on how strong the secret you know is.
Swallowtail’s Grace can be used when you parry an attack by an enemy whose secrets you know, letting you make a Decisive or Withering counterattack with a bonus based on the secret’s power. If resonant, you can instead make an influence roll leveraging one of their secrets and steal their Initiative on top of its normal effects. The ultimate power is Ripened Bitter Fruit cannot be learned if dissonant and can only be used once per day. You must know one of your opponent’s secrets, which you whisper to Calumny as you make a Decisive attack, which then poisons them if it hits, with the poison being stronger based on the secret’s power. Anyone poisoned this way cannot speak above a whisper while it’s in their system, and anyone killed by it has their heart grow hard and black, like a fruit-stone. Whatever secret you use as a poison can no longer be used to power any of Calumny’s Evocations.
Daring Venture is a 3-dot green jade powerbow. When V’neef was young, she loved to explore the hills and forests of the Dragon’s Blanket, which intrigued her more than her studies. Despite her tutors’ best efforts, she would often vanish for days on end, returning covered in dirt, smiling and ready to talk about what she’d found for ages. Her father recognized this curiosity as useful, a seed of wisdom, and so he had the bow made as a gift for her 14th birthday, to protect her on her travels. At 17, during one of her explorations, she discovered a great wolf, made giant by some ancient magic and wounded by a hunter’s lance. While it snarled and snapped at her, she calmed it by plucking out notes on Daring Venture’s string, then tended to its wounds and won its affection. She named the wolf Hundred Rivers, and he has been tied to Daring Venture’s legend ever since. The bow is a tall, slender thing of opaque emerald jade, etched with scenes of wild splendor that shift to reflect the wielder’s recent journeys. It craves exploration of the wild lands and the sight of new vistas, and its Evocations reflect this, rewarding discovery with power and access to Hundred Rivers’ aid. V’neef, now a matriarch, has little time for youthful adventure, though she still enjoys occasional trips of exploration. She gives her bow out to young scions with kindred spirits to her own, charging them to go forth and discover the House’s future.
Daring Venture gives a bonus to Survival rolls to navigate unfamiliar terrain. Also, any Dragon-Blood of House V’neef gains its first Evocation free: Song of Sunlit Dreams, which gives a bonus to Performance or Presence rolls to influence wild beasts and to Medicine rolls, as the bowstring vibrates with V’neef’s legend. If resonant, it can also be used reflexively to enhance any action taken by an animal familiar or to boost its defenses, but doesn’t stack with any other familiar-boosts. Seeker’s Heart Intuition can be used to seek guidance into the unknown. If you seek an unknown location you can name, like a town or natural feature, the bow tells you what direction it’s in relative to you. If you want novelty and the unknown, it will point you instead towards an undiscovered or forgotten place of significance or power. If resonant, once per week this Charm also gives you 1 Willpower that can only be spent to activate Ride, Sail or Survival charms being used to help go in the indicated direction.
Beckon the Wandering Wolf causes you to gain Hundred Rivers as your familiar when you learn it, and when activated it causes him to be called to your location. He will travel there, no matter the distance, as fast as he is able. If resonant, he counts as one of your Sworn Kin at all times. Wolf-and-Dragon Bond upgrades the DB Charm Mother-of-Beasts Mastery, reducing the time required to use it to train Hundred Rivers and removing the XP cost to awaken his magical abilities, refunding any already spent before you learned it. It cannot be bought with XP, however – it awakens for free when you risk your life or undertake great hardship to defend, heal or help Hundred Rivers. The ultimate power is Packmate Devotion, which cannot be bought with XP; instead, it is gained free when Hundred Rivers’ Tie towards you reaches Defining. Any influence that would cause Hundred Rivers to alter or weaken this Tie becomes unacceptable to him, and he will only ever weaken it at the end of a session if you betray him outright. He gains Initiative whenever he witnesses you take Decisive damage.
Hundred Rivers has a page to himself because he’s a loving powerful wolf. He begins with a Minor Tie of kinship to you when you first summon him, and at the end of any session he has a positive experience with you in, this goes up one step. At the end of any session in which he has a negative experience with you that he thinks is your fault, it goes down one step and he heads off into the wilderness to be alone for a while, and you can’t summon him again via Beckon the Wandering Wolf until a week passes. He yearns to explore Creation, and he refuses to enter buildings. He also doesn’t like paved surfaces, and he loves sweet citrus. He is exceptionally tough and fast, will allow anyone he has a Major Tie to ride him, is super strong and good at tracking, and can be trained in any latent or magical abilities a wolf possesses. He’s pretty good at keeping people from moving away from him, he considers his master and any Sworn Kin they have to be his pack and his attacks get better when they’re nearby, and he’s a really good sniffer. Anyone who sees you and your companions in his presence is considered to have a Minor Tie towards you, with its context based on how they view the giant wolf of legend – positive if they marvel at him or are impressed, say, or negative if they find him a distasteful and savage beast. Also, he gives a bonus to any Survival rolls to track people or to find food, water or shelter.
Faith’s Pillar is a 3-dot white jade grand goremaul – a giant fuckoff hammer, remember. Mnemon Beral, son of Mnemon herself, set the House standard for proselytizing. He traveled across Creation, and when he had been to each Direction, he went underground, to the secretive cities of the non-human Mountain Folk. The Jadeborn, as they are also called, do not speak of their religion much with the Dynasty, but they always speak of Beral with complete and total respect. He never returned home from that final trip, however. Instead, the goremaul did. The Mountain Folk had carved it as a symbol of their respect for his wisdom and his courage against the unholy monsters of the depths, and he wielded it in battle alongside their warriors. When he died defending one of the Mountain Folk subterranean cities, the Jadeborn gifted the weapon to House Mnemon. It is a glittering white obelisk made in representation of the Imperial Mountain, with symbols of each Direction on its faces. At the end of its long haft, the pommel bears the symbol of the Center, representing the mountain’s deep roots. The Pillar is traditionally wielded by monks of House Mnemon, who consecrate it using a Mountain Folk dedication ceremony known to the House’s savants. It has a single hearthstone slot.
On attunement, the wielder chooses a Principle of religious belief or social order to dedicate the Pillar to, giving a bonus to Resolve against influence that opposes this Principle. The Principle chosen may be shifted once per story via a ritual rededication. The first Evocation is gained free by a Dragon-Blood from House Mnemon after the first dedication ceremony: Faith Maintains, which lets you consecrate the ground you stand on. As long as you do not move from that point, you get a bonus to soak based on the strength of the Principle and a bonus to Hardness. Dragons Provide lets you draw the goremaul through earth, loose stones or even solid rock to draw them into a boulder that serves as the hammer’s head. This increases Withering damage based on the strength of the Principle, and can be forced to end early by a gambit targeting it. If resonant, it also removes the Initiative cost of smashing attacks with the hammer. Orison of Thunder is gained free when you join battle against a nontrivial foe that has violated the Principle the Pillar is dedicated to. It channels Earth Essence into a Decisive attack, causing a resounding boom. If the target is hit, they are deafened to everything but your voice for several rounds, and get a penalty to Resolve against you. You may choose to end this Dragons Provide when you activate Orison of Thunder to explosively detonate the boulder formed by Dragons Provide, getting a bonus to damage.
Foundations of Sand can be used when attacked from Close range by a foe standing on earth or stone. If you successfully parry, the attacker is sucked into the ground up to their waist, suffering the effects of being prone and requiring an Athletics roll to get free as move action. You may choose to end Dragons Provide on a successful parry boosted by this Charm to instead shatter the surface the attacker stands on, earthen or otherwise, and make a hole one range band deep, which they fall into if they fail an Athletics roll to catch the edge. If the attacker defied the Principle the Pillar is dedicated to and stands on ground consecrated by Faith Maintains, the difficulty to get free or catch the edge goes up based on the Principle’s strength. Iniquity’s Reward causes a penalty to Disengage from you, and if resonant and standing on ground consecrated by Faith Maintains, causes additional Initiative loss for disengaging. The ultimate is Pasiap’s Gentle Embrace cannot be learned if dissonant, and can be used once per day immediately after Crashing a foe. You pray for earth and stone to entomb the fallen, reflexively rolling a moderately difficult gambit. Success seals the victim in a lightless, airless tomb of rock in which they cannot move at all. Shattering it requires a moderate feat of strength, made harder if the victim violated the Pillar’s dedicated Principle. Outside combat, such a roll takes 20 seconds, which is notable because there’s no air so the victim is asphyxiating. Ghosts, demons and other creatures of darkness suffocate and die as if mortal, sending ghosts into Lethe and destroying other beings permanently, except for Yozis, Deathlords and other very potent beings. More wholesome spirits reform, if able, but are sealed in the tomb until freed. If resonant, you can use this without a gambit when you kill a spirit with a Decisive attack, sealing them in automatically. (Which is when a non-creature of darkness would reform locked in the tomb and the creature of darkness would die forever.)
Next time: Heavenly Typhoon, Pyre of Legions, Sea’s Verdict
|# ? May 14, 2019 17:49|
I expected a great many things from warham but a dating sim was not one of them, sounds like the best thing for that campaign might be to just crib a couple of ideas for some better homebrew.
|# ? May 14, 2019 18:52|
Spires of Altdorf is absolutely the weirdest adventure of the lot. There's a good reason that a couple sessions into it we abandoned it, and the entire Paths of the Damned AP.
It isn't the worst of the 3, though. Robert Schwalb's warming up the old Roberta Williams Special for book 3. Not to mention every single Beastman you face in Book 3 is a WS 50+ 2 Attacks Damage 6 super beastman. Even the mooks. Especially the mooks. Also you can't take any time to heal or anything because book 3's gimmick is that it takes place over like 2 weeks and has a strict time table that PCs will miss if they take any time healing.
|# ? May 14, 2019 20:11|
Spires of Altdorf is absolutely the weirdest adventure of the lot. There's a good reason that a couple sessions into it we abandoned it, and the entire Paths of the Damned AP.
Wait this is the same Robert Schwalb who did Shadows of the Demon Lord right? Is that not a good game?
|# ? May 14, 2019 20:23|
Wait this is the same Robert Schwalb who did Shadows of the Demon Lord right? Is that not a good game?
I've heard it's very good, but he also wrote it 9 years after this. Though I've also heard it has its own issues with, uh, overtuned pre-made adventures.
Writing a system or setting book and writing adventures is very different, after all.
Unsurprisingly given a lot of the material in SOTDL, Schwalb was also first author on the Tome of Corruption for WHFRP2e.
E: Also, being fair, the combats in Forges aren't really the problem; a geared 3rd tier party will deal with them fine. The other stuff about it is the real issue. Also I find it a little disappointing that they set up 'one day, you too will be able to facesmash an entire herd of beastmen' in book 1 and then never actually capitalize on it, instead sending the PCs against small units of elite ones.
Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:42 on May 14, 2019
|# ? May 14, 2019 20:30|
What Fire Has Wrought: True Lies
Heavenly Typhoon is a 3-dot blue jade infinite chakram. Many Dynasts know of it, but few know its true legend. The common story among House Ledaal is that it was made in the ancient past by a Dragon-Blood who wielded it against the Anathema. It is said this ancient crafter was inspired by a summer gale and so made it to cut down the unjust like thunderbolts, as a storm tears down trees. The truth is more complicated. The Typhoon dates back to the First Age, when the Solar Sees-in-Shadow made it for her spymaster and occasional lover, the Dragon-Blood named Rising Storm. Together, they hunted out plotters, corruption and infernalist blasphemers. Rising Storm passed her drive for justice to her children, and during the Usurpation, her granddaughter used the weapon to slay its creator, Sees-in-Shadow, who had grown wicked in the centuries since Rising Storm’s death. It cost her life to do it, but she managed to kill the Solar. Over a thousand years later, the chakram was discovered by a distant descendant of the line and member of House Ledaal, drawn to it by the power of the lineage and its legacy of Anathema-slaying. The chakram is made of cloudy, marbled blue jade with orichalcum inlay resembling a thunderbolt from one angle and a pattern of bared dragon fangs from another. It has a single hearthstone slot.
Those that attune to it get the first Evocation free: Righteous Enemy-Slaying Strike, which causes the golden etchings to glow when activated on a Decisive attack. An enemy struck by it is marked as condemned permanently. This can only be revoked by the wielder, but new wielders get no benefit from past wielders’ condemnations. Heavenly Typhoon has increased Withering damage against condemned foes. If resonant, this is free to use on creatures of darkness. Storm-Shield Bulwark upgrades the DB Charm Seed and Salt Warding, allowing the line to be drawn with the chakram’s edge as an Air Aspect Charm, creating a line of rippling air pressure that affects both undead and the condemned. This is gained free by members of House Ledaal. Demon-Slaying Zealot’s Mantra can be used once per scene when a condemned target attacks you. It causes a ring of gold script to surround them, causing fear and despair as you make a Withering counterattack. If it does enough damage, the attacker’s Hardness is set to 0 against attacks from Heavenly Typhoon for the rest of the scene.
Searing Wind-Razor Bolt lets you make a Decisive attack against a condemned foe of lower Initiative with lightning trailing after the Typhoon, getting a bonus to damage based on how much faster than them you are. If resonant, you also knock them back a range band if you do any damage. Standing in the Storm’s Eye upgrades the DB Charm Hundred Devils Whirlwind, causing it to affect condemned foe as if they were dematerialized spirits. The ultimate is Ten Thousand Typhoon Burst, which can’t be learned if dissonant and can be used once per scene. It makes the Typhoon roar like a whirlwind, splitting into a dozen afterimages of cutting Essence. You make a Withering attack against a condemned foe, and also apply it to every condemned foe within Short range of them. You only roll damage against the original target; all others lose Initiative based on the number of 10s rolled for that, and you are limited in how much Initiative you can gain from them. If resonant, you gain Willpower if at least one enemy is Crashed by this.
Pyre of Legions is a 3-dot red jade grand daiklave (recall: giant loving sword). Its original wielder, Cathak Falu, was not beloved by her comrades or commanders in the Cathak legions. She was an adequate officer but not exceptional, unequal to any of her fellow Dragon-Bloods regardless of how much she studied or trained. This could be forgivable, but she was also lacking in social skills, standoffish and taciturn, prone to brooding. She was most in her element in battle, and she spent most of her time isolated from her legion. Her fellow Dynasts often wondered why she’d not been quietly married off and never spoken of again, and rarely cared if she heard them do so. At the Rainbow Scales, however, she won the admiration of her entire House. Cathak Falu died that die, defeating the entire invading vanguard. Her blade was recovered from boiling river that had been the Rainbow Scales, and Cathak Falu is today celebrated as the pinnacle of a soldier’s virtue. Cathak elders show Pyre of Legions to young heirs in its resting place within her tomb, her burning handprint still visible upon the hilt. It has two hearthstone slots.
Falu’s desperate final thoughts were burned into Pyre of Legions when she died, carved into the burning jade itself. Any who wield it feel these emotions as their own, gaining a Defining Principle of “I will give anything to protect my comrades” which cannot be weakened or altered while attuned. Members of House Cathak also get the first Evocation free: Loyalty-Kindling Warmth gives a bonus to damage against battle groups, and if resonant you can pay extra to use it against slower individual foes. All-Consuming Guardian Stance causes flames to leap from the sword to protect your allies, allowing you to Defend Other from Medium range, and if used with the DB Charm Flame Warden Stance, extends that Charm’s range to Medium, too. If resonant, it also gives +1 Parry when defending someone against attacks from battle groups. Army-Routing Aegis lets you take a bit of Aggravated damage to explode into a bonfire of flame that extends out to Short range around you and moves with you, lasting until next turn. It is an environmental hazard but you take no damage from it, and if you used it last turn, you reduce the cost to use it this turn. If resonant, the fire deals more damage.
Unstoppable Heart-Stoking Incandescence reduces the cost of your War Charms based on your wound penalties; if you don’t use Ability Charms, the discount applies to any Charms related to leading battle groups or defeating enemy strategies. (Mostly this is Lunars and probably Liminals.) Somber Pyre Conflagration is gained free if you aren’t dissonant when you uphold a Major or Defining Tie of Loyalty when confronting a significant threat alone. You burn away your anima banner and take some Aggravated damage, leaving behind a towering inferno visible for miles. For the rest of the scene, battle groups don’t add their Size to attack or damage rolls against you and treat you as if you were a battle group with Size based on the higher of your Strength and Essence to determine if they can pass you without disengaging. Further, you no longer pay any health levels to use Army-Routing Aegis while this is active. The ultimate is Ashes Feed the Seeds, which cannot be bought with XP. It is gained free when you are dropped to a -4 health level while upholding the innate Principle of the Pyre. It may only be used once per story, and it has no cost. For the rest of the scene once used, you ignore all wound penalties, you can spend Willpower instead of health levels on any Evocations for Pyre of Legions, and you are considered to have a -4 wound penalty for purposes of Unstoppable Heart-Stoking Incandescence.
Sea’s Verdict is a 3-dot black jade longfang (read: trident). When the wheel-priests of Zumachi sacrificed to the Vortex of Scales, they were begging him to wreck an incoming Peleps tribute ship. He did, and they assumed they’d won a few months respite safely. An hour later, they were proven wrong, as Peleps Lirel stalked out of the waves, dragging the elemental’s serpentine carcass with her. Soaked and glaring, she recited a list of charges as the three head priests threw themselves down at her feet, begging for mercy. They promised her anything she desired, and the young judge dragged all three up to the secret jade monolith on which they sacrificed their youths. She bound them with silver chains of devotion and she waited for the tide to come in. The final judgment she submitted to House Peleps added the charge ‘attempted bribery.’ The sacrificial stone was dismantled to build Sea’s Verdict, a jet-black trident engraved with silver serpents and capped in prongs of moonsilver. It has been wielded by poets and pirate-hunters alike, facing off against the Lintha, desert bandits and many other evildoers. To those that understand its use, it is a reminder that the romance of the sea is a pleasant illusion, and its spirit remains unmoved by the pleas for mercy from those it condemns and brings to justice. Its victims, even if innocent, are mere drops of blood in a great black sea, and the sea returns only one verdict. It has two hearthstone slots.
Sea’s Verdict has an anima banner of its own, which increases one level whenever the wielder spends at least 5 peripheral motes on Charms or Evocations to enhance a single attack or parry using it. As the anima intensifies, the silver engravings writhe and dissolve like broken chains, and the jade itself starts to crack, expand, rumble and leak or spray dark water. When its anima reaches Burning, it gains the Smashing tag. At Bonfire, its wielder no longer has to pay an Initiative cost for smash attacks with it. Its first Evocation is gained free when wielded by a Dragon-Blood from House Peleps.
From the Depths upgrades the DB Charm Elemental Sheath. Whenever Sea’s Verdict is called forth from a large body of open water, it enters the scene at Glowing anima. Further, when you are in Water Aura, its anima can be spent in place of yours to pay for your Charms. Kraken’s Gavel can only be used when Sea’s Verdict is at Burning or higher. It hurls the pressure of the sea at foes, letting you make a Decisive or Withering smash attack with no Defense penalty. If it hits, all other foes at Close range must roll Athletics or be knocked back one range band. Hull-Breaching Tsunami Swipe lets you unleash a wave of force when attacking, reflexively also rolling a feat of demolition with a bonus based on Sea’s Verdict’s anima level to destroy an object in the foe’s range band that isn’t being carried, which can reduce cover (even full cover) before the attack resolves. If resonant, Sea’s Verdict’s anima also gives a bonus to your Strength for purposes of what feats of demolition you can attempt. Lost Blade Riptide can only be used once per scene if dissonant. It causes the trident’s prongs to spin and twist, firing a whirl of black water as you make Decisive attack. If an enemy tries to parry your attack, you first get to reflexively make a disarm gambit with no Initiative cost, and if they are disarmed they can’t parry your attack.
Awaken the Tide awakens the dark ocean within the trident. While Sea’s Verdict has at least Glowing anima, enemies in Close range are slowed as if moving through difficult terrain if they’re slower than you. At Burning or higher, the difficult terrain penalty also applies to rising from prone, as the pressure of the sea holds them down. At bonfire, the penalty rises to -4. Gaol Without Fathom causes the air to flicker and massive pressure to build as you slam the trident to the ground, fraying its chains. You roll a Decisive attack against all foes in close range, but don’t roll normal damage. You may pay 2 Initiative per enemy hit to knock them prone and grapple them automatically, pinning them down with spiritual pressure. There is no Initiative cost to do this to already prone foes. Each victim rolls for control separately against your attack roll. You may only restrain them, and as long as they are grappled, they are kept prone and rendered mute, deaf and blind by the sea’s depths. While Sea’s Verdict is at bonfire, restrain actions cost only one round of control. You lose no rounds of control for being attacked or damaged, but a grappled foe may spend a round doing nothing but struggling free to remove two rounds of control.
The ultimate is Thunder of the Abyss. When this is used, black water sprays from every crack in the trident, swirling around you in a great maelstrom that you can collapse into a hammer by dissolving its silver prongs. When you do this, you end Gaol Without Fathom by making a Decisive slam on all grappled foes, dividing your Initiative between them for damage and ignoring Hardness. You get no bonus for remaining rounds of control. Instead, you may expend one level of Sea’s Verdict’s anima for each round you’ve maintained the clinch, dealing that much Bashing damage to each victim on top of the attack. Those killed by this attack vanish, later to wash up as water-bloated flotsam on a distant shore. The trident reforms once this has been used, its silvery chains wrapping it as tightly as possible. Its anima resets to dim and cannot go above this for the rest of the scene.
Next time: Smiling Razors, Vengeant, Horizon Cleaver
|# ? May 14, 2019 21:25|
Cults: Apocalyptics, pt.3
Chapter 3: Cults
Even nomads (the book insists on calling them “migrants,” which is jarring, even if they probably meant “migratory birds”) need a place to rest. That's why Woodpeckers establish brothels, hideouts and other places where they can deal in gambling, sex, drugs and Burn. The places are usually bad for the settlements they're established in, but if the Judges were to squash them, the Scrappers might rebel.
Magic the Gathering eventually solved problems with sexism by allowing female players to bring a gun to the table
Beauty Over Age
Apocalyptics hate old people and want to make them gently caress off, since they're ugly, not prone to partying, and might have ideas about planning things. Only the really cunning ones can survive, becoming shadowy crime lords that “would rather be accompanied by Hellvetics than by Battle Crows.”
Carrion Birds appeared as soon as the Judges established the Protectorate. They were regular assholes, but they were lead by Mother of Ravens, who was there when the Exalt fell (not mentioned before), the City Wars (not mentioned before) and Cultrin's march (not mentioned before). She hosed and killed her partners, spawning enough kids to ensure that Ravens in Borca, Pollen and Balkhans carry her blood to this day. Mother of Ravens killed her fail sons and daughters in their sleep and ate them, to provide nourishment for whatever kid she was pregnant with. Surely someone else is carrying her name now; she must be dead.
It would be an actual twist if she actually turned out to be dead and not one of the mystical cyborgs or some other Bygone monstrosity.
Whether it’s human trafficking with girls from the Balkhan, Burn smuggling past the Spitalians to Borca, pit fights in Purgare, prostitution and gambling in every major settlement, or blackmail, theft, and pick pocketing, the migrants cannot desist.
The Worst Cult has a varied reputation among the other Cults. Scrappers love them, because where else will they get to drink and whore their money away? Jehammedans don't like them seducing Abramis and Saraelis (this has lead to families getting cast out – glad to see that Abramis are also kept to the same standard of fidelity as the women). Anabaptists wouldn't care if not for the fact that Apocalyptics deal in Burn.
GUESS WHO HATES BURN THE MOST?
Led by Dr. Heilkamp and the Office of Hygienics, they compiled dossiers on all [East Wind] Flock members. Heilkamp always knew where the Ravens were and what was stored in their warehouses. Then, the Great Purge followed. In a concerted action of Judges, Anabaptists, and Spitalians, all Flock members were herded together and killed.
Generally, when you're writing about an organization that the players can join in the game, it's bad form to have the readers rooting for groups out to kill them. Yet here we are, looking at the only paragraph in the chapter that made me happy.
Anyway, the Great Purge lead to Burn trade being very much lessened in Protectorate. And who says violence doesn't solve anything?
Another Vampire LARP goes bad
Side-section! Every post-apocalyptic setting has an establishment that's taken over a derelict ship. Flotsam is the Apocalyptic disco/brothel/gambling hall/fighting pit in a ship in Justitian's old harbor. The Judges tolerate it as it lets people let off steam.
A Plague of Seagulls
Seagulls and Albatrosses are the Ranks of Mediterranean pirates. They attack African shipping to steal, to retaliate, or to “throw garments infected with the pox or the plagues at the crew – and then sell them the remedy. Or at least something that looks like a remedy,” which is certainly a business model.
Some of pirates are escaped Africans. They fight even harder, because Scourgers would skin them or nail them to the sides of their ships.
They make their bases on the European coast, but there are rumors of small docks in bellies of cannibalized boats on Bedain's coast, all for the better trolling of Neolibyans. You'd think that kind of thing would be hard to hide, but maybe – just Maybe – Degenesis is a post-apocalyptic setting and
There's also Corpse (Corsica), surrounded by welded ship hulls, and covered by Reaper's Blow's sulphuric farts for weeks at a time. You can get a kickass boat there, but you need to be armed and well known enough to gain entry... at which point you probably already have a kickass boat anyways, so why are you going there?
Much like with Scrappers, African Apocalyptics are wildly different. They're part of the society, providing entertainment that Neolibyans can't. They're lead by Buzzards and they don't settle everything with fighting. Once you're accepted by the flock, you don't need to fight your own people anymore.
Also, their establishments actually look like respectable places that you wouldn't mind visiting.
The bordellos resemble palaces, and in the casinos, every guest is surrounded by children bringing him drinks and regaling him with little artistic acts and laughter.
I wonder how the whole “live every day like it's the last” thing slots into that.
Thunder Across The Plains
Sometimes, a Flock can get motorized via acquisition of salvaged Koms and bikes. However, fuel is expensive and the roar of engines alerts their enemies. Thus motor Flocks embrace Mad Max and become more aggressive and violent while still having some reliance on cunning.
Next time: shitbird pecking order
|# ? May 15, 2019 06:24|
Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 7 - "The tiny minority (10%) who opt for only one TW Weapon Arm (unless they get TW legs) are considered fools or cowards."
By Kevin Siembieda
Inspired by the art of Kent Burles
The Daemonix are a new force being fielded by Tolkeen. It's unknown how Tolkeen came across them, but apparently they were liberated from "some hellish dimension" where they had been enslaved by "true" demons. In return for freedom, they were asked fight for Tolkeen. They were apparently shocked that they were asked instead of told, this being alien to them, and agreed, apparently won over by even the slightest bit of respect towards them.
They're believed to be some kind of proto-demons, and "real" demons look down upon them. Part of this is that though the Daemonix are rich in magical energy, they don't have much ability to tap into it, nor do they usually have the mindset to master magic. However, Tolkeen has found a way to overcome this by giving the Techno-Wizard (abbreviated to TW hereafter) appendages to channel their magic through. Supposedly they can have these bionic devices attached because they're mere "sub-demons" like Brodkil or Gargoyles, and don't have regeneration that would otherwise interfere with implantation. They're so thrilled with this that some have even self-multilated to try and encourage more attachments.
Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:
Note: Due to the alien nature of the Daemonix, this form of bionic-style TW augmentation only works on members of their race. It does not work on humans, D-Bees, Brodkil, Gargoyles or other supernatural beings. Bionics has the opposite effect on most beings, diminishing and blocking magic energy rather than releasing it in any usable way, shape or form. The Daemonix are truly unique.)
However, while they are ridiculously grateful to Tolkeen, they're still demons, and don't have much regard for humanoids not allied with Tolkeen. In addition, they're rivals with Brodkil and Gargoyles, and will attempt to bully them if not stopped. They particularly hate proper demons, and it's easily for them to be goaded into a rage by their former masters. They also don't like other supernatural beings in general, and such is the main point of concern for Tolkeen in trying to control them. There's also the matter of what to do with them after the war, but that's a different issue.
Another serious issue presented by the demons is that the Psi-Stalkers for whatever reason see them as natural enemies. Wait, natural? Don't they come from different worlds? Well, in any case, the majority of the Psi-Stalkers working for Tolkeen desert the war effort (granted, that's only like 200 or so of them), and are rallying their tribes to defeat the Daemonix should they venture outside of Tolkeen's borders, or if they show signs of "unwarranted brutality or torture" against humanoids.
Ultimately, the Daemonix are part of Tolkeen's "Phase Two", trying to remain unpredictable and throw the Coalition off their game.
The Daemonix Revealed
The Daemonix are aquatic and nocturnal in nature, and are tougher and stronger in water or at night. As such, they're often engage in naval ambushes. They're resistant to lightning and cold, but vulnerable to fire and heat. In general, they have solid to great M.D.C. values, but like a lot of high-HP supernatural monsters, they don't have any real way to dish out damage other than claws and bites - most of which don't do significant damage. They have basic sensitive psychic powers, as well. Were it not for their techno-wizard additions, they'd be singularly dull monsters. After all, they're mostly thugs with high strength and toughness, but middling mental attributes. M.D.C. values here are averaged.
"Watch where you're going, you big galoot!"
Flatulence (230 M.D.C.) supposedly means "he who is most foul and cunning", these are the smallest of the Daemonix. And by small, I mean about two dozen feet long and four tons. They have belly tentacles, TW legs that leave no sound or tracks, a right arm that casts light and fear spells, a left arm that fires lightning or a variety of "status effect" or mind control spells. They're supposed to be the sneaky ones.
Attack of the Terrible Toad Man.
The Manslayers (450 M.D.C.), aka "he who battles", are the generic born warriors of the Daemonix. They chose the sword instead of the ball, presumably. They have natural sunglass eyelids so they can stare at the sun, and super-eyes that can see a broader range of light. They have a choice between three arms: a "Wind and Fury" TW arm that shoots air and lightning spells, a "Battle" TW arm that shoots a variety of magical energies, or lastly a "Lance" stabbing arm that increases their melee damage modestly. Many have "Crown of Defense" that gives bonuses against psionics and lets them cast a number of defensive spells. A few have unnamed TW legs that give them enhanced speed and leaps. Generic fighty 18' cyberdemons.
When all you have is a skewer, everything looks like kebab.
Immolators (765 M.D.C.), or "he who destroys", are really, really excited to wreck it. They're all about destroying stuff because that's what it says in the description. They're the physically strongest of the Daemonix in this book, and are "natural born warriors". Ah, I see more that picked the sword, and not the ball. They're generally given TW Legs to improve their speed, a right arm that can case wind spells or magic net, a left arm that gives them anti-magic tricks and save-or-suck (wait, why, what you doing, you dumb wizards), and rods of power on their back that let them cast a bunch of random but powerful magic. I'm not sure why they're giving so much potential to the Daemonix that just want to burn it all down, but I suppose adding any power to these guys is a questionable decision in the first place.
The Hangdogs (450 M.D.C.), "he who serves", are treated as a lovely beasts of burden even by other Daemonix. They are constant complainers, though other Daemonix are familiar and generally ignore it. They actually do enjoy being used as beasts of war, though, since it's a break from the usual hard labor they're put to. Though they make for nice color, stat-wise, they're just generic monsters save for their increased carrying capacity.
The Spineless Ones.
Lastly, we have the Basil (1125 M.D.C.), the "Overmasters" of the Daemonix. They look like a torso with eyes and arms, and as such, had only one request as far as TW limbs go: legs. They are powerful psychics, so they avoid other TW geegaws, focusing on telepathic and kinetic "super" psionic powers. Though this gives them powerful save-or-slump powers, it means they're huge damage sponges with no strong offense. They're supposed to be sneaky schemers, though what schemes they have are left entirely vague.
Honestly, the Daemonix at least have some neat ideas to dig into and some rad art. I dread the time they break free and become another Generic Threat - I feel like you could take them in interesting directions rather than just having them be Tolkeen's Big Mistake.
CORRECTION: I'm sorry, the actual name of the first Daemonix is "Feculence". We here at FATAL & Friends deeply regret this error.
CORRECTION: It was previously stated that there was regret involved in accidentally misnaming the Feculence. This was also in error.
CORRECTION: It was previously stated that the Feculence was "accidentally" misnamed. This turns out to have not been accidental at all, but a deliberate error.
CORRECTION: It turns out the Basal was also misnamed as "Basil". Our deepest regrets in regards to this mistake.
CORRECTION: We stated there was regret in renaming the Basal. This turns out this too was a bunch of bullshit.
CORRECTION: You cut and pasted to read this far. Admit it.
Next: SHE WAS ALIVE I FELT IT NOOOOOOOO
|# ? May 15, 2019 08:55|
Not gonna lie: the good guys summoning chthonic proto-demons they can't really control and cyborgifying them with megitek in order to fight fascists is one sweet sweet concept.
I freely admit it.
|# ? May 15, 2019 09:41|
Yes, yes I did.
|# ? May 15, 2019 10:14|
I like how every single operation that the obscenely hedonist cult that is religiously opposed to long-term-planning would require a ton of lovely boring work and forethought to have work for more than like a week. I really doubt any of these guys, if they were living each day like their last, would want to be getting yelled at by their sea-captian or greeting customers at the World's Shittiest Brothel.
Edit: This kind of reminds me of antiquated ideas about crime- that crime exists in opposition to the culture it arises from rather than an expression of that culture and that criminals were motivated by being 'lazy' or 'hedonists' rather than stuff like ambition, which would normally be considered virtuous. The Apocalyptics just don't come across as people here.
Ratoslov fucked around with this message at 10:53 on May 15, 2019
|# ? May 15, 2019 10:39|
You know, even on a pure 'which of these makes for a cooler toyset/excited twelve year old imagining endless micromissiles' level? Tolkeen has the Coalition beat. They've got goddamn Feng Shui Abominations and arcanowave junk, and Kevin expects me to think generic evil Cobra skull Nazis are cool after that? What kind of a fool does he take me for?
|# ? May 15, 2019 13:00|
Not gonna lie: the good guys summoning chthonic proto-demons they can't really control and cyborgifying them with megitek in order to fight fascists is one sweet sweet concept.
No, no. That's kind of the thing with RIFTS. It's so much kitchen sink and since there is no idea too dumb to throw at the wall you do genuinely get some interesting stuff. Amongst all the... you know.
|# ? May 15, 2019 13:25|
What Fire Has Wrought: Revenge Claw
Smiling Razors is a 3-dot pair of red jade short daiklaves. Sesus Kalama, the Grinning Wicked Flame, received them as a gift from the Empress herself in recognition of exceptional service to the Immaculate Order. She wielded them in many Wyld Hunts, stalking and killing Anathema as a flickering, deadly shadow that left terrible, burning wounds. She loved the Hunt, but she grew discontent with life as a monk, and she publicly spoke out against the Order, using her anima to burn off her robes and profane an Immaculate altar of offerings. She declared herself a force against those who clung to order and tradition, publicly challenging monks to duels to demonstrate the fallibility of the Immaculate Texts and seducing Dynasts to apostasy. The Order declared her Anathema, and a Wyld Hunt was sent after her, led by her cousin, Sesus Bajo. Kalama was ferocious, maiming many of the shikari sent after her, but in the end, she died. Her death was made an object lesson to young Dragon-Bloods about the dangers of heresy, and the flame-devil remains as a threat whispered to rebellious young people and disobedient children. Bajo retrieved the Smiling Razors from her corpse to return them to the House. The cruel blades were unsuited to his temperament, but he made a show of publicly wielding them to cleanse them of the stain of blasphemy. Once the House’s reputation was deemed repaired, the Razors were turned over to the vaults. The Masked Council selects wielders for them, reforging the Grinning Wicked Flame’s legacy into one more suited to their spycraft. They have two hearthstone slots.
Surprise attacks made with the Smiling Razors get a bonus to the attack roll. The first Evocation is gained free by DBs of House Sesus: Still-Burning Ember Ambush gives a bonus to establishing concealment in combat. If resonant, any surprise attack made on the turn after entering concealment with this Charm gets a bonus. Coiling-Smoke-Plume Deception upgrades the DB Charm Vanishing Wind-Body Technique, allowing it to be used as a Fire Charm to make you immune to detection via body heat rather than air movement, with enhanced benefits in Fire Aura rather than Air Aura. Inviting Fireside Distraction upgrades the DB Charm Rose-Among-Thorns Distinction, allowing it to be used as a Fire Charm to gain a specialty in a non-criminal organization you are targeting for infiltration, theft, assassination or similar uses of Larceny and Stealth.
Searing Pain Infliction Tactic causes smoke and coiling flame to roll across the Razors’ blades. To use it, you must be in concealment, and you make a Decisive attack against someone who can’t perceive you. If it does enough damage to increase their wound penalties, their wound penalties double for the rest of the scene. If resonant, this lasts until they’re healed of at least one level of Lethal damage after the scene ends. Soul-Burning Mark lets you make a Withering attack against a target as the blades glow with heat. If it deals enough damage, it brands them with a mark that lasts until the scene ends, with a maximum number of marks on any one victim based on your Essence. Decisive attacks with the Smiling Razors get a bonus for each mark a target has. If resonant, you automatically cause a mark when you hit with an unexpected attack using this, regardless of damage. The ultimate is Drifting Smoke-Cloud Passage, which can’t be bought with XP. Instead, you get it when you kill a non-trivial foe from ambush. It can’t be learned if dissonant. Once per day, you can turn your body into drifting smoke, passing through any space that smoke could get through in a single move action on your turn and ignoring all difficult terrain and environmental penalties. If you’re in concealment, you do not need to make another Stealth roll as long as you end your movement in concealment, and you can even rush while in concealment.
Vengeant is a set of 3-dot black jade razor claws. It is made of reforged ancestral blades of the Iselsi. Part of it is Petal Glider, the vanity-driven daiklave that defeated the Grass Dancer at the Battle of Three Crossings in the name of friendship with foreign merchants. Part of it is Crow’s Friend, which defeated the Gutter Water Gang, giving the Iselsi an opening to get involved in Nexus. Part of it is Amara, which cut open the cheek of Sesus in revenge for a now-forgotten night of adultery. But all that remains now is Vengeant. Many of the ancestral Iselsi blades were destroyed by the Empress as punishment for the Iselsi plot against her, and she had fragments of each forged into this new weapon, to remind the Iselsi of her mercy and the existence she had forced on them. They have taken the lesson well. They built dynasties with their old blades, but Vengeant ends them. It has two hearthstone slots.
Vengeant remembers those who have wronged its wielder – and their descendants. The wielder can focus the killing spite of the weapon against a specific person or group, marking them as despised, after one of two things happens. First, you can reveal your identity and hatred to the object of a negative Tie to mark someone as despised, or if you are of House Iselsi, you can discover that someone or their ancestors has wronged House Iselsi and mark them. Vengeant gets a bonus to Overwhelming against despised foes. Marking someone as despised lasts indefinitely, until they are either destroyed or you rededicate Vengeant to a new despised person or group.
Still Waters Hide Fury can be used once per scene while you are in concealment. You pick a target unaware of you. At the start of each turn, you roll Stealth against their Awareness, gaining Initiative if you win, but you get a cumulative penalty each round after the first. If you fail, the target detects you via Vengeant’s killing intent. This ends when you are detected by the target or leave concealment. If you make a Decisive attack against anyone other than your target, all gained Initiative is lost. If resonant, you reduce the cost to use this if you have a Major or Defining Intimacy that’d be furthered by killing the target. Ember-Smothering Convolution gives a bonus to rush someone you have a negative Tie to, and you gain Initiative if you succeed. If resonant, you can pay a mote to make this Charm last all scene against a despised foe, enhancing all rushes made against them. This can be used multiple times, each time against a different despised foe. Earth-Eroding Tactic can only be used if you’ve used Still Waters Hide Fury against your target this scene, and enhanced a Decisive attack. If it hits, the victim’s onslaught penalty does not refresh at the start of their turn for several turns based on how long you surveilled them with Still Waters Hide Fury. If resonant, your Decisive attacks with Vengeant ignore the victim’s Hardness until their onslaught penalty refreshes, as long as they are despised.
Breath-Denying Vengeance Current fills the victim’s lungs with black bile made from hateful Essence as a gambit. If successful, they start asphyxiating until they make a Resistance roll to clear the blockage as a miscellaneous action, which may take a few tries. If resonant, against a despised foe the gambit also gives you a bonus to oppose their disengage checks until they clear the blockage. Drink the Lesser Seas can only be used once per scene while you’re in concealment. You make a Decisive attack against a foe unaware of you with a bonus to damage due to Vengeant drinking the fluids in the target’s flesh. If resonant, the bonus increases against despised foes. Hundred-Generation Forest Desecration can only be used once per story and can’t be learned if dissonant. When you use Still Waters Hide Fury against a despised target that you’ve interacted socially with in a prior scene, you can pay extra to treat each such scene as a turn studying them from concealment, making only a single Stealth roll for all of them but gaining Initiative for each one, and failure doesn’t reveal your presence on this roll. The ultimate is Dragon-Shattering Restitution, which can’t be bought with XP, or learned if dissonant. It is gained free (and can be used for free) when you slay a despised foe you have a Major or Defining negative tie towards, as long as they are aware of your presence and your Intimacy. You may only use this when you kill a despised foe, leaving them as a reminder of the hate of the Iselsi. Relatives and Sworn Kin of the victim that discover the body must roll Integrity. On a failure, they form a Minor Tie of horror towards House Iselsi that cannot be weakened or altered until the story ends. If they already had one or a related Intimacy, it is instead strengthened and protected in the same way for the story.
Horizon Cleaver is a 4-dot blue jade grand grimcleaver (read: giant axe). When the Dragon-Bloods and Sidereals overthrew the Solars in the Usurpation, their fury stirred the heavens into great storms. Inspired by the strife and chaos, the Sidereal Echo Gyre forged this massive battle axe to honor those storms, giving it to her trusted lieutenant, Ashen Tiger. The haft is a six-foot rod of blue jade wrapped in black rubber and braided steel. The blades resemble a jagged moon, with inlays of red jade in the form of poetry extolling the virtues of the Usurpation. The axe hums even at rest and in battle it is wreathed in blue lightning, requiring intense discipline to be properly directed. Ashen Tiger carried Horizon Cleaver as she led her forces against the Lunars, and her daughter, Song of Ivory, used it to raze a rebel city. It was wielded by one of Tepet’s sisters in the ill-fated siege of the Imperial City, and she took the axe with her when she joined House Tepet. Its most recent wielder, Dragonlord Tepet Yasenar, died in the campaign against the Bull of the North. It is unclear where the axe ended up – some say it sank into the White Sea, others that it was seized by the Bull, and others say that Yasenar’s daughter Tepet Mareja now carries it in hopes of regaining the Tepet glories. It has two hearthstone slots.
Horizon Cleaver gets a bonus to chopping attacks due to its constant lightning. Any unattuned character that draws it from its ebony case becomes thunderstruck as per its first Evocation for the rest of the scene. Any Dragon-Blooded member of House Tepet gains the first Evocation free: Brilliant Reproach, which unleashes the lightning as a Decisive attack. If it deals damage, the victim also loses Initiative (but you don’t gain it) and they become thunderstruck for the scene, getting a penalty to all physical actions. However, if you roll too many 1s and 2s, you lose control of Horizon Cleaver and the attack is redirected at a random target in range, which can include you or your allies. If resonant and you have a Principle reflecting a code of honor, you can roll more 1s and 2s without losing control based on the Intimacy’s strength. Arcing Death Stance lets you pay extra when using Brilliant Reproach to extend its range to Short, which also extends the range of possible targets if you gently caress up. If resonant, at Essence 3 you can extend it to Medium and at 4 you can extend it to Long at additional costs each time.
On Wings of Deadly Lightning can be used on your turn to reflexively rush a thunderstruck target within Long range. On a success, you instantly teleport to Close range of them without crossing the intervening space, and if you use Brilliant Reproach to attack them, you get a bonus to its roll. Intemperate Tempest Fusillade cannot be learned if dissonant, and it lets you pay extra when using Brilliant Reproach to apply your Decisive attack roll to several enemies in range, dividing Initiative between them for damage and ignoring Hardness. If you lose control of the lightning, it hits multiple randomly chosen targets. The ultimate is Maelstrom-Taming Warrior’s Code, which cannot be learned if dissonant. It permanently boosts the axe: Horizon Cleaver now gets a bonus to damage against thunderstruck targets, you gain Initiative after resetting to base when you take out a non-trivial thunderstruck target, and only 1s count towards loss of control rather than 1s and 2s.
Next time: Imprimatur, Perdurant Vault
|# ? May 15, 2019 13:26|
Warhammer Fantasy: Paths of the Damned Part 2: Spires of Altdorf
The Gang Wins a Dating Sim
So, this is my perfect chance to show off some of Old World Armory's fashion as well as give more of a sense of just how many steps are involved even when you can reasonably assume the players are doing everything right. I also want to show off what an anticlimax the 'winning path' can feel like, narratively. So today's going to be Brute Squad's 'canon' run through the entire main plot of Spires in one update! Also a shopping trip! And fashion! They'll get to the actually interesting side content after they win their boring dating sim. Assume the stuff with Carlott and Wolfgang happens off screen for the most part (besides Wolfgang's offer to destroy the artifact for them, if he learns of it) and I'll get to them in subsequent updates. Yes, they're meant to be woven into the main plot to make it less boring, but I would also contend that there's value in blasting through it right here and right now to show off what a weak concept for a main plot it is. If you need not one, but two random side villains and a bunch of other stuff thrown in to season the plot to the point that it's at all fun to play, you have perhaps made a weak plot.
So first, our heroes go to see Dieter Klemperer the Celestial Wizard. The team has no wizards of their own, but Solveig does have Magical Sense from Priestess, so she can actually see the Celestial College which makes this a bit easier on them. Klemperer lays out the rules of the minigame to them, and Liniel's ears immediately stick straight up in her hat as the party has it laid out for them: It is time for her favorite thing, networking. Otto points out that no-one is putting up any money yet, but the elf shushes him for now. She'll regret that later. Solveig looks a little uncomfortable with the idea of running all around town talking at people instead of finding something that needs punching and then punching it as Ulric intended, but goes along. They can tell Klemperer is extremely condescending but they don't care, and we'll show off why they don't want you to just use dice, now. See, let's look at Liniel's social abilities. She has a 50% Fellowship, which is pretty good. She also has Schemer, which applies a +10% to her social skills when she's doin' intrigues and politics. There's a reason they set her ears twitching. She also has Etiquette, which gives +10 to dealing with the upper class. Also, a bunch of the people in this adventure as devout followers of Sigmar, and she's got that sweet wolf with a hammer mark from Ulric. So for any of the social tests here, she'd be testing at 70-80%, with 4 Fortune a day (2 base Fate, +1 Ulric given Fate, plus Lucky from Noble). Remember she only needs 2 DoS over TN. Also note Lord Frederick has a little note that any tests to influence him are at +20 because he's so eager to help. So for most contacts she needs a 50-60 to achieve the best possible negotiation success, and an 80 for the central contact who routes the party through everything.
And that's her with only a 1st tier Social Career. If she was a Courtier she'd already have Charm+10 and would be hammering +Fel like mad. A properly built social character with a good starting Fel can absolutely just roll some dice and easily crush this adventure's central plot, at least a significant part of it. Which I'm actually fine with. A highly specialized social hero smashing the social adventure's main point of mechanical difficulty shouldn't be any different from a well built warrior kicking the poo poo out of a boss fight. But you know, we'll do it the book's way and dating sim it up. First, the team is going to go get some proper clothes, Liniel singing a happy elf song about shopping for business dress as Otto does the actual negotiating, being the only one with Haggle. Katiya stops to point out, again, that they don't have infinite money and no-one has put up funds for this, but they have 134 crowns and all of Altdorf's clothing business at their disposal. Katiya's objections are shortly silenced by an offering of a Best Quality Hat for 5 crowns, with real fur and a lovely feather. Soon, everyone is in the equivalent of a Best outfit, though they sadly couldn't justify the extravagant 40 GC necessary to get Otto a Best Codpiece. He will remember this, glaring at Katiya's hat, but at least he has a proper heroic cape now. Pierre is struck with decision paralysis between the exotic appeal of a southern Estalian fez or a wide brimmed hat, but in the end his archeologist's blood calls to him and he goes with the wide brim. Solveig denies all hats, as is proper for Ulric, and instead spends the time making sure her long hair is brushed and clean, unsure why Pierre keeps blushing and staring occasionally while she does so. Liniel was already the height of fashion and needs no modification. Otto also takes the time to get his mustache waxed, and everyone gets a bath. They are now properly exotic, clean, presentable, professional, and ready to rub elbows with every goddamn upper class twit in Altdorf, at the cost of about 50 crowns. Liniel tells them it's an investment, and they hit the town, starting with Konrad Messner.
Now, they have an Introduction from an Acquaintance, so they start off at 2 points with Messner. They have a pleasant talk with the wizard, telling him some about their adventures in Middenheim and politely asking for help, listening to him and treating him with respect, so we'll assume they get the full 3 points there. This is, sadly, not 6 points yet. They'll need another recommendation from a friend or acquaintance (further recs give +1 each) to max his Friendgauge. He does, however, write them recs to his own allies and acquaintances, because you get an unlimited number of those if you have 4+Friendpoints. So they now have recs to Klemperer (Which will max him at 6), Max 'Sex Pest' Saer, and Frederick-Senpai. They decide to head to the majestic Lord Frederick next.
They meet Frederick at the Gorgon Club, a snooty club that requires the PCs to wait around the back despite the elf insisting she's a noble of Caledor. He talks to them at length about their struggles with Chaos, thrilled to hear about exciting adventures as they humor him for an extra Friend Point by telling him about the screaming skull and curbstomping a Bloodletter. They also listen politely as he talks about the many medals he's given out and shakes their hands and thanks them for their service against evil. Liniel tries to mention they're for hire if he ever hears of dark forces that need stomping, but he chortles and assumes she's joking; the heroes in the operas and broadsheets never ask for reward, after all! Her ears twitch and go sideways, but they stay polite and get the 3 points for Negotiating properly. They have now FRIENDED FREDERICK SENPAI! This is a powerful event that gives them great recommendations to everyone important, but also maxes out their friend gauge with Klemperer and Messner. They go back to talk to the wizards, and Messner tells them about his mess with Gottri Hammerfist even as he apologizes for not being able to give them the Dagger. However, the party now knows where the Dagger is, and for some reason still thinks they need to get and destroy it? I guess they figure that someone will pay for this and that if they can destroy rather than seal a Chaos Artifact that's for the better. Still, objective 1 complete!
They're also approached by Wolfgang, who suggests he knows how to destroy evil daggers, but remember, he's meant to be condescending in the extreme, and our elf is from Caledor; she knows condescending dicks. The party stalls him, especially when he threatens them; he implies he'll go to the Hunters and that if they won't take his offer they must be trying to use, rather than destroy the artifact. This puts him on The List and they give him a runaround, now officially suspicious of a wizard threatening to go to the Hunters.
They go and see Johan next, and allow him to join their party for a bit until one of the encounters with Clara's hilarious assassination attempts (A demon pops out of a letter!) shows him that adventurers have to deal with that sort of bullshit ALL THE TIME. He wisely nopes back to his mansion but the team agrees they'll tell everyone he bravely fought a demon with them and thus he saves face. They immediately Friend Johan. This means he tells them about his friend, Gabrielle Marsner. And asks her to help them, for 3 friend points. They go meet the young wizard, and they tell her they came to her because of her vast reputation for magical power, giving them +1 Friend Points immediately. She's happy to chat, and after talking at length about their adventures (and after it turning out that Liniel knows her ex-companion Ulthuani elf; it's a cousin of hers!) they're going out to get a drink together and she's admitting to them about her ritual. Now they just need to handle the Gottri question. Success!
They go see Gottri and learn of his suspicions, though not their breadth, and go see Konrad's friend Maximillian 'Sex Pest' Saer to get a character witness for him. In between disparaging the Hunters and the PCs' taste in clothing, they still get +1 Friend Points for 'making the effort' with their fancy new clothes and cleanliness. However, they decide they hate Maximillian, as he keeps staring at Liniel's ears and hitting on Solveig and Katiya. Solveig wants to knee him in the dick, but the others persuade her that while that would be what Ulric would do, they can do something far more hilarious when Maximillian keeps dropping hints that he wants in to Frederick's Gorgon Club. They resolve to later go to Frederick and ask him as a favor to keep Maximillian's applications to the club from ever being considered. He's also irrelevant to actually solving the adventure, but they still manage to get all his information and find out about the affair with Klara before they ever meet her.
They see Elizabeth next, and Liniel immediately recognizes a Caledoran in spirit (much of her success as a diplomat is to think of what a Caledoran Princess was taught to do, then doing the opposite) when Elizabeth is a condescending rear end to them at every turn. They grin and bear it, flattering her, telling her she can be a key part of them destroying a terrible artifact of Chaos and that she can take partial credit if she wants, and generally convince her to withdraw support for Gottri easily. She might be an annoying person, but she's a very transparent and easily manipulated one. At this point, Solveig and Otto both are complaining loudly about a lack of action, and Pierre is annoyed that no-one has any ancient tombs or artifacts. Katiya points out they still have no pay in the works. They soldier on to Klara.
Convincing Klara is easy. They have recommendations and bonuses from that, but more importantly, they're marked as favored of Sigmar, even if two of them are Ulrican. Chart never actually considers the effect of the divine mark on Klara but c'mon. They end up talking to her about the affair with Maximillian Saer, and Solveig listens to her talk about her guilt in the matter and tries to counsel her, as is one of the ways of Ulrican priests confronted with inner turmoil. Solveig using psychotherapy helps her fellow Priestess realize that she's punishing others because she's guilty about something that Saer talked her into, and with that and Elizabeth withdrawing support and the party's insistence that they are merely trying to destroy an artifact, she realizes Gottri is insane and goes to get him help. They have now won the main plot of Spires of Altdorf!
What about the ritual? Oh, it goes off without a hitch, unless the GM wants to add in a fight or something, I dunno. But as we're going for maximum anticlimax for comedy's sake, they get the Dagger with Messner's blessing, hand it to Marsner, and she kills it within the day. One third of Xath down! The party trades hi fives and handshakes all around, and gets back to their more interesting subplots. Yes, it really can end that way. Win the dating sim without rolling any dice, grab the dagger, hand it to the sane wizard who just kills it with no real costs. There's a lot of SFX and screaming and visions of hell, but no real danger. Good work, Brute Squad!
Also, no-one pays for it. They do get 600 EXP, though, which will be very nice. Also note they never actually needed to meet Theodora or Guillaume. They just kind of forgot them.
Next Time: Fire Dick
Night10194 fucked around with this message at 23:25 on May 15, 2019
|# ? May 15, 2019 15:29|
What Fire Has Wrought: A Sword You Can’t Draw
Imprimatur is a 4-dot white jade daiklave. In the final year of the mortal Nellens’ life, the Empress gave him a blade to protect his legacy. Before all of her daughters’ proxies and politicians, she gave him Imprimatur, sheathed in a scabbard of stone from which it could never be drawn, bound by a crimson tassel. Inscribed on the blade she had carved a message that she declared only the heirs of Nellens would ever read. Nellens died soon after, but despite the proclamation, no one received the blade. It remained in the Empress’ armory until the day House Nellens was formed. Since then, it has been wielded often by Nellens Dragon-Bloods, carried at heated debates and negotiations. For nearly a generation, the duelist Nellens Zijiren wielded it in battle to humiliate high-ranking foes, until his recent death. The sight of Imprimatur, for other House,s always means an upstart Nellens that thinks they’re equal to the others and has a weapon to prove it. Imprimatur has two Hearthstone slots, and it deals Bashing damage because it cannot be drawn.
Imprimatur’s sheath is a seal of the approval of the Empress. This is measured by your Renown score, which begins at 0 and is increased by its Evocations, with a max based on your Charisma and Essence. Dragon-Bloods of House Nellens add one to their maximum Renown. Renown resets to 0 at the end of each scene. The first Evocation is learned free on attunement: As Two Strangers Upon the Road gives a bonus based on Renown to Withering damage, and you can give up Initiative from the damage roll to gain Renown instead. Sibling-Humbling Placation boosts a disarm gambit. If it succeeds, the Initiative roll for it is also treated as a persuade roll to convince the foe to end or deescalate hostilities or an inspire roll to fill them with shame, embarrassment or frustration – your choice. If resonant, the influence targets all witnesses to the disarm, with no penalty for multiple targets. The Matchmaker’s Cockerel Stride lets you flurry a full defense and disengage check, gaining additional Parry from it. Until your next turn, you gain 1 Renown whenever you successfully parry. If resonant, if you flurry a full defense and disengage and you succeed on the disengage, neither action costs Initiative.
Youngest Son’s Inheritance cannot be learned if dissonant. Once per scene, you reflexively clash a Decisive attack at Close range with a disarm gambit, with a bonus based on Renown, and you gain Initiative from it if you win. This doesn’t count as your attack for the round. Alternatively, you can oppose someone’s influence roll with a Presence roll with a bonus based on Renown, and if you succeed you stun the target into silence with your wit, making them unable to attempt another influence roll until they take a miscellaneous action to compose themselves, and you gain 1 WP. The ultimate is The Final Words of Queens, which cannot be learned if dissonant. Once per story at Initiative 15+, you can activate this. For the rest of the scene, you may reflexively spend Renown to give a bonus to Decisive attacks. Further, each time you use this, you receive a vision of a unique message etched on the blade in Old Realm, an excerpt of the Empress’ message to the inheritor. You may choose one message to gain the benefits of for the scene, as long as you have built up enough Renown for it. When you learn this, you and the GM can work together to create a new unique message discovered by you that fits comparable to preexisting ones. Preexisting messages are:
Perdurant Vault is a 4-dot white jade thunderbolt shield. It is a reflective disk of milky white, made by the occultist Ragara Lasime during the House’s solidification of its control of banking. As part of the many deals House Ragara made, Lasime went into the Underworld to treat with the ghost-queen Hymn of Shackles, who once monopolized the trade of earthly goods through Stygia. No one is sure what he offered, but he gained much. The shield is four feet in diameter and strung with obsidian chains, ornate and fashionable. Its polished surface occasionally reflects an ethereal city, a secret world hidden in the depths of the shield. Perdurant Vault has been used by bureaucrats, politicians and occultists of the House, and it has often been used in occult experiments of the Ragara inner circle. It is often given to scions heading out on important business that requires total discretion and strong will. It has a single hearthstone slot.
Perdurant Vault gives a bonus to all Appearance rolls. Its first Evocation is also free for DBs of House Ragara: Clairvoyant Mirror Technique lets the shield reflect the hearts of those that engage you. Whenever you resist an instill action, you may activate this to make a reflexive read intentions check against the person that made it, with a bonus. Success reveals the most relevant Intimacy they have to their attempted influence. Unblemished Petal Prana gives a bonus to resist disease and poison and also reduces the penalties of poisons it helps against. Subliminal Sanctuary increase Resolve against influence or removes the penalty to Guile for being unaware of the observer for a single roll, hiding your mind behind a spiritual wall. If resonant, it reduces the cost to use this Charm cumulatively each time you use it in a scene as well. Protect the Empress lets you conceal your beliefs from everyone, even yourself, once per story. When someone beats your Guile with a read intentions check, you can use this before anything is revealed to seal away one of your Major or Defining Intimacies within the dream-realm of the City of Opal Unstained within the shield for several days, during which it has no effects on you whatsoever. Hidden Intimacies manifest as spirits of appropriate nature in the City, with Minor Intimacies being about as strong as a first circle demon, Major being a second circle’s strength and Defining stronger than that, though their form is determined by the content of the Intimacy. If resonant, you can use this at will rather than only in response to social influence, and doing it that way doesn’t count towards your once-per-story limit.
Banish the Afflictions cannot be learned if dissonant. Once per week, it lets you meditate over the shield in a place of serenity, banishing a disease or poison within you. You make a Resistance roll, reducing diseases one step or banishing them into the City of Opal Unstained if Minor, and reducing poison duration. When a disease or poison is completely purged this way, it manifests as a spirit in the City, as per Protect the Empress. These spirits linger for several weeks, attacking any visitors they meet in the dream-realm or trying to corrupt them. Destroying such spirits gives you a bonus to further Resistance rolls against that disease or poison for as long as you remain attuned. The ultimate is Traverse the Secret City. It can’t be learned if dissonant, and can’t be bought with XP. It is gained free when you achieve a major character or story goal despite the efforts of your foes to influence you, impede you with poison or disease, or set similar narrative obstacles. You may now activate this to enter the City of Opal Unstained, a timeless dream-realm of white marble, alabaster and jet, full of villas and theatres. It is a private retreat and storage space, with many places to meditate and put things. The locals are only the spirits you banished into it. While using this, your body physically vanishes from Creation, manifesting in the City with all of your gear – including Perdurant Vault itself. The City may or may not, at the GM’s option, contain artifacts or narratively significant legacies of past wielders hidden within it, known to the resident spirits and able to be bargained for. Any changes visitors make to the City disappear once all visitors leave; spirits count as visitors and prevent this reset while present. The City cannot be entered by mundane means, but it may be entered while this Charm is active as if it were a spirit sanctum by any dematerialized beings or others who can use sanctum-opening magic at the spot you entered the City from. When you wish to leave, you and your companions reappear instantly at that spot. Companions, because if resonant, you can bring any willing characters in Close range with you when you enter the City.
Next time: NPCs.
|# ? May 15, 2019 16:14|
Also, I realized while having lunch the above really doesn't get across the tedium of The Dating Sim Section, so I want you to imagine that you're being mandated to play every one of those conversations out fully, in character, with it being graded to determine success or failure in place of dice. It takes multiple sessions. There's a reason we were mid-way into our second session of Dating Sim Section when the players and I decided 'gently caress it, you know what, Gabrielle needs a magic hammer that's been lost for ages for the ritual and it ties into your Runesmith's personal quest and Klemperer can help you divine where it is, now you're out in the woods fighting Chorfs pretending to be normal dwarfs while hiding from an ancient magic security orb in a weird ruin.'
Then we just said this ritual settled Xath, that there was no third artifact, and moved on to fighting ten billion rats.
|# ? May 15, 2019 16:26|
What Fire Has Wrought: Important People
Amon Mora is probably the most important patrician in the entire Realm. He is Keeper of the First Imperial Seal, entrusted by the Empress to oversee the day-to-day function of the Imperial Palace. Under his management, the Palace staff are among the most efficient and least corruptible servants and officials in the entire Realm, even now. Entering or leaving the Palace, itself the size of a small city, or removing any of the treasures, documents or artifacts within, is practically impossible without his approval. Mora began his career as a Steward of Imperial Assets, and weighed down by the Amon family name. His parents were the last of a long line descended from a former Shogunate gens whose privileges were swallowed up by the Empress and the Great Houses. Mora was their only Exalted child, and he refused to join any Great House by marriage or adoption. While he was never openly seditious, he maintained a vocal pride in his family’s Shogunate heritage. His persistent and rigid obedience to the rules of the bureaucracy eventually earned him the trust of his fellows, and he rejected backroom dealing for advancement in favor of honest labor. The Empress noticed this and found it useful.
Mora has never had Exalted children, and his only marriage was over two centuries ago. He is not of a Great House nor any of the influential patrician families that dominate the Imperial Service. As a result, he has a reputation for impartiality, being that rare Dragon-Blood with no close relatives to sway him. He guards this reputation fiercely and is careful to avoid showing favoritism even towards his friends and proteges – or even the few remaining Amon cousins. He steps in only to find suitable mentors or teachers for young relatives, usually people who will work them hard but reward skill. His old friends hope that he will back a claimant to the throne that will give power to the patricians at the expense of the Great Houses, playing on his frustrations with them and their corruption. While he is tempted, he’s yet to be convinced. After all, despite the Realm’s many failings, Mora always admired the Empress greatly. She built a great empire from the ashes of the Shogunate, and while he may be hidebound, he’s not stupid. The Realm cannot just pick up where she left off without her, but he hates the idea of changing his precious system. Every current candidate is either too reckless or too mired in tradition, and he can’t stand either one. Amon Mora gives up as little control over the Palace as possible, doing nothing to legitimize any claimant to the throne.
Mora looks quite old, but even with his bent back and cane, he towers over many younger Dragon-Bloods. He dresses plainly for his station, and he keeps his hair tied back in a style that was out of fashion a century ago. More than one young Dynast has mistaken him, on first meeting, for a particularly well-dressed servant. Day-to-day obedience of his orders falls to his many deputies and proteges. Mora prefers to avoid attention, going unnoticed when possible and acting unseen when he must act personally. Only a very few things demand his personal attention, though, like the legal requirement that he lead the Imperial Force, the law enforcement body which brings Dragon-Bloods before the Imperial Courts, if it must do its duties in the Palace. Mora is very hard to bribe – he has no interest in advancement or money and he’s asexual as hell. However, he is also nearing the end of his life, and he’s terrified that his anti-corruption measures will die with him.
Amon Mora is an Essence 4 Air Aspect, not much of a combatant but excellent socially and at administration and codebreaking. He can fight, mind, he just isn’t more than competent. Fortunately, he’s usually accompanied by the Imperial Palace guards. His Intimacies are: A Defining Principle of “Law and order must be maintained,” a Defining Tie of admiring loyalty to the Scarlet Empress, a Major Principle of “The Imperial Service is the backbone of the Realm,” a Major Principle of “Bureaucratic corruption is a mark of poor moral character,” a Major Principle of “The Realm needs change to survive,” a Minor Tie of trusting loyalty to his old ministry friends, a Minor Tie of distaste for Dynasts a Minor Tie of benevolence towards his proteges and former proteges. He bears the First Imperial Seal, a 4-dot artifact that serves as the key to the Palace, and which he can use to stamp someone’s palm glowing red to mark them as his underling. Anyone not officially welcomed by Mora or one of his underlings will be targeted by the Imperial Palace’s sorcerous defenses as an intruder, and he can revoke this welcome at will (though his underlings cannot). The Seal is also a literal key to several important rooms. However, any lineal descendant of the Empress is automatically and irrevocably welcome in the Imperial Palace, as are any agents she personally extended immunity to; this has not been rescinded by her absence. Also, Mora has an Evocation that vastly improves his defenses against intruders to the Imperial Palace while inside it.
Berit is a daughter of the Empress, yet she has no House. House Berit never existed, did not fall into obscurity. Berit is alive and well, a decorated general in the Imperial Legions who was once a rival even to Cathak in terms of battlefield acclaim. She is now a cautionary tale of being too good at your job. She had a sterling reputation, the respect of her troops and peers, and the fear of the Realm’s enemies. For years, the Empress herself expressed confidence in her skills. As word of her brilliance spread, Berit made it known that she desired and clearly deserved her own House. The Empress ignored the petition, much to her frustration. Meanwhile, for nearly a decade the Lunar Evisa Drinks-the-Sky harried satrapies at the edge of the Realm, defeating thousands of soldiers sent to draw her out. Berit led a legion into Evisa’s domain, forcing the locals to cooperate and draw the Lunar into battle. The two fought, and Berit killed Evisa in single combat.
The Empress rewarded Berit for her victory with parades, acclaim, medals, gifts. But no House Berit. Berit and her mother quarreled bitterly, first by letter and then in person. Any witnesses to their final argument are long dead by now, but Berit left the Imperial City to live on the island of Iora, the capital of Wading Crane Rookery Prefecture, and has lived there ever since. Her exile is believed to be self-imposed. After all, the Empress sent no assassins. Berit currently lives in the House of the Rusted Sword, a manse overlooking Iora City. She rarely leaves, and many Iorans go their whole lives without ever seeing her. She rarely goes out to meet her friends in the city or to pursue scholarly interests; the rest of the time, the only way to meet her is to go to her manse. The locals say that anyone who vanishes on Iora is “taken by Berit” though it’s unclear what she’d be doing with them if it is her grabbing people occasionally.
With the Empress missing, Berit sees her chance. There have been significantly more people coming to Iora under the auspices of the Great Houses – or bearing no flag at all, but clearly people of great import. All are aiming for Berit’s favor, perhaps to bring her to their side and earn her military skill in service to their favored claim to the throne. Berit has not forgotten her own ambitions, though, and if she could get her hands on a sizable force, she’d be willing to claim the throne herself. She appears to be just past middle age, with gray showing up in her blue-black hair. She speaks and carries herself as if still a general of the legions, having lost none of her demeanor despite her century of exile. She is formidable and cool with Dynasts, making no promises but always listening intently to their words.
Berit is an Essence 5 Water Aspect, very tough and skilled in battle and socially. She is also a skilled sorceress, escorted by her elite guards much of the time and served by various elementals she’s summoned and her lieutenant, the outcaste Riven Dusk. Her Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “The Realm is my home. I am still loyal to it, even if it isn’t always loyal to me,” a Defining Tie of pride to herself, a Major Principle of “Hard work is not its own reward; my efforts deserved better recognition,” a Major Principle of “Mastering the enemy general is no challenge compared to mastering oneself,” a Major Tie of feelings of betrayal towards the Scarlet Empress, a Minor Principle of “The battlefield is where I belong,” a Minor Principle of “I have done much for the Dynasts. Now what can they do for me?” and a Minor Tie of jealous resentment toward V’neef.
Cathak Cainan was handpicked by Cathak as her successor, and he is well over 300 now. He can barely remember his youth of training to join the Legions. He Exalted when he started feuding with his bully of a big brother, scarring him forever. Fearful and full of guilt over losing control, Cainan turned to the Cloister of Wisdom, where he learned to control his mind and emotions, that he might serve his peers safely. When he returned to the legions, he continued to grow in power until his devotion led to Cathak’s decision. He takes his role deadly seriously, especially as he knows the power the House holds to influence the Realm. He seeks to preserve Cathak’s legacy and stabilize the Realm as it slowly crumbles around him. He will work with other Houses to achieve his ends, such as suppressing rebel satrapies, strengthening the Wyld Hunt or securing his House’s position if civil war comes, but he won’t make any deal or alliance that mars the honor of Cathak. Upholding that honor and the values of his predecessor is the most important thing.
Because of his advanced age, Cathak Cainan has no plans to take the throne. That would only prolong the Realm’s suffering, if he died before it was stable. He does know the Realm needs a leader, however, and he will back any viable contender, which to him means someone tenacious enough to survive, strong-willed enough to use the power of the throne against foes of the Realm and honorable enough to place the needs of the Dynasty over any House or personal desire. So far, no one’s convinced him they fit those criteria. Cainan himself is a tall, muscular man who bears his scars with pride. His every move is purposeful, with the subtle grace of someone aware of his body at all times. Only the streaks of gray in his long, braided red hair and the wrinkles around his eyes betray his age, which he holds at bay with exercise, age-staving cordial and a family history of long life. He can still feel himself slowing.
When Cainan speaks, he is confident, measured and careful. He prefers to fully think through his words before he speaks, but even silent, he is intense. His mere gaze is often enough to silence a room, and his eyes glow like embers when in battle, but are otherwise shockingly warm. He treats all matters with fairness, but he has no time or patience for the laments of the satrapies about raised taxes or imposed order, and he favors making violent examples to prevent rebellions. He is seen by his kin as an honorable man, devoted to the Immaculate Philosophy, and he has no tolerance for underhanded dealings even from his own family, replacing anyone he discovers is party to such plots.
Cainan is an Essence 5 Fire Aspect, tough as hell and extremely good at fighting and talking to people. He’s more of a battlefield commander than a socialite, though, relying on his sheer presence to get things done rather than any honeyed words. He has many elite bodyguards and is rarely found without a young Cathak scion nearby to help him. His Intimacies are: A Defining Principle of “Self-discipline is everything,” a Defining Principle of “Creation should be ruled by the firm grip of the Dragon-Blooded,” a Defining Tie of pride to House Cathak, a Major Principle of “No mercy for enemies of Creation, enemies of the Realm, or heretics,” a Major Principle of “The truth of the Immaculate Philosophy is unquestionable,” a Major Tie of pious obligation to the Immaculate Order and a Minor tie of respect to his wife, Cathak Urima.
Next time: Cynis Cogen, Ledaal Kes and Mnemon
|# ? May 15, 2019 17:08|
Injuries and Awareness
Sorry about the delay on Inquisitor explanations; enough life stuff has been happening that it’s hard to spend time explaining such a weird game. Either way, we talked about combat last time, so let’s talk about what happens when you actually manage to hit someone!
Inquisitor utilizes hit locations; any attack has a chance of striking the Leg, Groin, Arm, Abdomen, Chest, or Head. Note that each limb is tracked separately, so it’s technically Left Leg, Right Leg, Groin, Left Arm, Right Arm, Abdomen, Chest, or Head, with the GM deciding whether it’s the left or right that gets hit depending on their best judgment.
Hit location is decided - as in many cases - with a d100 roll. Melee attacks naturally go higher, so you can choose to say that you’re aiming high before rolling hit location and add 10 to your Hit Location roll. You also can add a bonus of 10 if you have the high ground. This is pretty powerful, as you might imagine, as it’s both harder to armor the higher locations and the injury effects are much more dangerous. I do not recall offhand if there are rules for lava, but I suspect I’ll be able to find them somewhere.
Armor is pretty much the same as the later roleplaying game types: it has a rating and a location. Any hit to that location has its damage reduced by the rating. Armor ratings (at least, the man-portable sort) go from around 2-10, topping out at Power Armor. You also have force fields, which have a random Rating for each hit, and do nothing in melee. Finally, cover provides an armor rating, which is mostly useful when being shot at - if the rolled hit location ends up being behind cover, you get some additional armor. As such, it’s possible to be shot through cover, which is something that I always found kinda neat/incredibly frustrating.
So, what does damage even mean?
To start, we need our Base Injury Value, which is Toughness divided by 10. So, for Inquisitor Janoslav, his BIV is (62/10) 6. This means that for every 6 points of damage he receives in a location, it has another injury level. This is up to - so 1-6 points would be 1 injury level, 7-12 points would be 2 injury levels, 13-18 would be 3 injury levels, and so forth. Most locations have these levels: Light, Heavy, Serious, Acute, and Crippled. The Head and Groin, however, do not have a “Serious” level.
The BIV is also factored in for each hit - so if the same location was hit three times for 3, 4, and 7 damage during the same salvo, then it would go Light Wound - > Heavy Wound -> Acute Wound, even though, by counting damage, it would normally just be “Serious”. This makes these things pretty dangerous, especially if you’re stacking multiple hits on a single location. Yes, you do track total damage taken, but you only record the Injury Level for each limb.
Injuries have two effects - Immediate and Persistent. Immediate is what happens immediately, persistent is what carries over between turns. There’s a nifty chart of them based on location and level - when an injury is inflicted, do whatever Immediate results come up, and track any changes made by the persistent damage. The two big ones are Stun and Bleeding, which tend to be the most common injury effects. Stun is simple - the model drops prone and cannot make any actions for X turns. Bleeding does D3 extra damage at the end of each turn for each location that is Bleeding - so, if you’re bleeding from three locations, that’s 3d3.
So how do you take someone out of combat? There’s three general thresholds to keep in mind during a game. System Shock is
When a model is taken out of action, it doesn’t disappear - no, it stays on the field, and you need to rescue it if possible! Remember that dragging movement type that was mentioned way back when? That’s how you can move them off the field. Any model that wants to attack an unconscious model can do so, and they hit automatically, auto-crit, and can choose where they hit. Do not let this happen.
Injury recovery is a persistent thing - each turn, models get to make a Toughness test, and if they succeed, they regain d3+(1*every ten points of toughness over 50) damage per turn. You can also spend actions during a turn to recover wounds in the same manner, with the added bonus that success on deliberately attempting to staunch wounds reduces injury levels, though never to more than 2 levels lower than the worst injury that location has received.
We then get the fancy chart of injury levels, which goes over effects. Nothing super interesting, but useful nonetheless, and easier to reference than a list. This also ties into why the Automatic rules were changed - can you spot how “Injury level always increases when any damage gets through” and “lots of attacks at a time” led to issues with high-toughness targets ending up being pasted by automatic fire getting focused on them? It’s still possible to do so, but it’s much less likely now.
Awareness is the next big thing, and part of why this game would be a nightmare without a GM. It’s also what makes this sort of an RPG/wargame hybrid - you are expected to make sure that your models interact with the world from their point of view, and the game explicitly mentions that a good GM should be strict about players who take actions like a game, as opposed to taking actions that make sense for the individual models on the board. The general rule is, “If a model isn’t aware of what the other model is doing, then it shouldn’t act in a way that relies on that information.” Note that this is in regards to every model on the field - friend and foe alike.
Vision is the first way a model can be aware of what’s happening around them. Models have a 45-degree vision arc (as seen under line of sight), and can see anything that is in their line of sight that is not in cover. If a model is in cover, then you’ll need to spend an action looking around, where you need to pass an Initiative test to be aware of it, with bonuses for every yard the model you’re trying to spot has moved in its last activation and penalties for distance, lighting conditions, and how much of the other model is behind cover. Note that looking at a specific bit of terrain helps (which is, again, called out for GM advise that the model doing the looking should have a valid reason to look there), moving while trying to carefully look around makes it a combined action, and if somebody shoots without managing to hide the flash, then everyone in line of sight becomes aware.
Hearing is also factored in. That’s right - Inquisitor actually covers this. A general suggestion list is given - it’s easy to hear weapon reports because they’re loud and directional, and some noises are really distinct like glass breaking, but if some people are talking, it’s hard to hear them unless you’re about as close as they are to one another. An important point made here is that the difference between “Being able to hear someone talking/shouting” and “Being able to understand someone talking/shouting” is explicitly called out in the rules. These are rules that should be highlighted more - if you’re not running vox channels between your dudes, then actually coordinating a battle plan becomes a challenge.
Helmets, despite protecting your thinkin’ bits and preventing an untimely death by shrapnel injuries, also impact your general awareness. An open helmet gives lesser penalties to a closed helmet, and not wearing a helmet is the sensible choice for any Inquisitor who wants to
A key consideration that I want to bring up is “what does all this awareness stuff mean in play?” when looking at how Inquisitor can be understood. In my experience, this is the part of the game that newer players will struggle with, and that make Inquisitor interesting - it’s really hard to get in the mindset of “I can see the heretic behind that wall, but Acolyte Bumblefuck has no real way of knowing,” and until you’re fine with the idea of losing-as-narrative, it seems harsh and unforgiving, especially with a bad GM. So, you either run your Inquisitorial Squad ‘realistically’ in a tight formation with frequent orders and contingencies, or set up the crazy strategies ahead of time for your particular cadre of agents. You can also decide to just enjoy seeing how the narrative plays out when sticking to these things - sure, you may get ambushed because you can’t hear the Genestealer hiding in the vents that dropped down and ripped the face off of Acolyte Bumblefuck (whose sacrifice will not be remembered), but you can also generate some excellent experience in a game that clearly and explicitly calls out that it relies on cooperation between all players, that the GM should strive to make things entertaining, and that everyone should be looking at this as a narrative. If some of these issues and vague cases were in any other game or - god forbid - a game that implied it was meant for competitive play, it would be immediate garbage, but it kind of works here if you’re willing to accept the basic premise and can find the Unicorn-with-Hen’s-Teeth that is a group interested in playing Inquisitor and that is capable of looking at it as an experience generator rather than the classic Ham-Slamming that GW is known for.
Also, the chapter has backstabbing rules. If you can get into melee before someone notices you, then you roll an attack as normal - fail, and it’s a normal attack. Succeed, and it’s like a critical that cannot be parried. Backstabs hurt.
Next time: Abilities!
|# ? May 15, 2019 17:15|
Something about Inquisitor (maybe it's the chest and gut being tracked separately) just reminds me of EYE Divine Cybermancy.
|# ? May 15, 2019 18:05|
Could have saved on printing all that adventure:
So what do you do?
Kiss up to the snobby twit again, I guess.
|# ? May 15, 2019 18:20|
What Fire Has Wrought: Grandma’s Got This
Cynis Cogen is not like most Cynises. For most, only profit and pleasure matter, at the end of the day. Cogen has decided to ignore the House’s hedonist philosophy entirely. He is the grandson of Cynis via one of her older daughters, and he was raised in the Cynis vineyards, drinking wine like it was water. In youth, he had over a thousand lovers, some say the first hundred within a week of his Exaltation. He was a duelist and dilettante, a spy and a hedonist like any good Cynis. He was not a devout follower of the Immaculates, paying it no more than the normal amount of homage and ignoring it otherwise. When one of his lovers died to an Anathema, Cogen rode in the Wyld Hunt to chase it down, then went about his life as normal. However, by his 200th year, he found it all…boring, the sex and drugs and scheming. Slowly, he pulled away from it all. When his wife, who had given him three Exalted daughters, died of old age, he turned to the Order to find meaning in his life.
Cogen has found his meaning outside the cloisters, as a wandering monk. He travels the Blessed Isle and the Threshold, teaching the Philosophy and rooting out heresy. He collects the knowledge he finds in his travels and brings it back to the Order to better perfect their tactics. Anyone looking at him might just see someone’s grandfather. He wears a tatted blue cloak, likes to tell stories, and always carries a snack in his satchel (plus some secondhand romance novels). However, that cloak conceals terrifying muscles, and Cogen is unstoppable in the face of threats to the powerless or himself. He knows he doesn’t have a lot of time left in him, so he fights as though he has nothing to lose, and he has fun doing it. His enjoyment of combat and lack of self-preservation make him very, very dangerous. Still, he cannot wholly turn his back on his old life. His daughters still come to him for advice, his friends for help in their plots. He can’t quite shed his old affections and loyalties, even knowing they are able to sway him from his devotion to his new life. All too often, he ends up involved n Dynastic intrigues once more.
Cynis Cogen is an Essence 3 Water Aspect, tough and decent at social stuff, but excelling at unarmed combat. He practices both Mantis and Water Dragon Styles and is surprisingly sneaky for a monk because of his old life. His Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “Selfless devotion to the Immaculate Philosophy is my true path,” a Major Principle of “Deceit can be used for more than selfish means,” a Major Principle of “Empty pleasure gnaws at the soul,” a Major Tie of nostalgia for his old friends and colleagues, a Major Tie of affection for his daughters, a Major Tie of obedience to the Immaculate Order, a Minor Principle of “Truth to tell, at times I miss the scheming and debauchery,” and a Minor Tie of troubled loyalty to House Cynis.
Ledaal Kes was already renowned for his skill at Gateway when his family decided to have the 8-year-old boy play against the Empress. She played him with no less focus or respect than she’d shown against the older Dynasts she’d beaten earlier in the day. While Kes ultimately lost, the tale of their match spread like wildfire. His Exaltation a year later made him one of the youngest Dragon-Bloods recorded. Many speculated about what he would one day accomplish, and he was determined to excel at anything he did. His skill with math and finance easily earned him a job with the Imperial Treasury right after graduating. He was sought after to attend society events due to his childhood fame, and he developed an eye for watching people, learning to spot deals in progress, conflicts forming and more. While it was frustrating to be dismissed for being so young, Kes has learned to use his youthfulness to his advantage – a skill he continues to use even now, because while he is no longer young, he still looks far younger than he actually is even by Dragon-Blooded standards.
As Kes has grown older, he has gotten more into exotic drugs, fine food and fine men. He knows how to be charming and occasionally scandalous, and his romantic pursuits are common gossip, as he seems to have a new man each season. While it’s been decades since his youthful fame, he’s still welcome at nearly any party. Shortly after graduating, he married his friend and Gateway rival Ragara Szaya. The pair are both intensely intelligent and inventive, and they see each other as valuable intellectual partners; the fact that both are extremely gay and not into each other doesn’t matter. They are known for their strange inventions, many of which are produced by them working together feverishly for several days straight thanks to mind-boosting or mind-altering alchemical drugs. The two pursue affairs with each others’ blessing, having produced multiple Dragon-Blooded children as required by custom.
Kes uses his position as a ranking member of the Treasury and member of the Treasury head, Bal Keraz’s inner circle to manage the flow of coin and goods in and out of the Realm so that the Treasury remains aware of what economic factors are in play where. He has been watching how the money flows between Houses, who has debts and who they owe them to. To him, it is all a giant, fascinating game of Gateway, and it all is quite useful to him in his other job: agent of the All-Seeing Eye. He still resents how other Dynasts tend to dismiss him, the sexist comments that he pretends not to hear. No matter what he does, his appearance of youth means he gets underestimated, and that still stings, for all that he’s learned to use it to his advantage. At least he has his puzzles – the Gateway board, the Treasury, the Eye. He finds great joy in putting puzzles together and he’s very good at it. While he’s in his late 60s, Kes still has the appearance of youth, with many believing it’s the result of drugs or his many lovers keeping him young at heart, or perhaps sorcerous deals with demons or just a lot of cosmetics. His clothes are always at the cutting edge of fashion, and his closets are the size of peasant houses. He prefers understated looks and dark tones, but all of his outfits have at least one flash of color or intricate design to catch the eye.
Ledaal Kes is an Essence 3 Air Aspect, kind of wimpy and not more than a decent fighter, but excellent at socializing and investigation. He rarely has bodyguards with him, but on the road he takes a few household troops along, and he often has some Dynastic friends around for the ride. His Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “The world is a puzzle I will solve,” a Major Principle of “It’s my duty to serve the Realm,” a Major Tie of respect and admiration for Ragara Szaya, a Major Tie of loyalty to Bal Keraz, a Major Tie of loyalty to the All-Seeing Eye, and a Minor Principle of “Underestimate me at your peril.”
Mnemon is likely the most revered and resented person in the entire Realm. She is the eldest living daughter of the Empress, nearly 400 years old now and still going strong. Her bloodline is impeccable, and the manses she has designed and raised are often some of the best on the Isle. Her House’s prestige is unquestionable. She makes no secret of wanting the throne, and some talk of her as the de facto Empress, though rarely with much joy. Mnemon is ruthless and uncompromising, more like her mother than any other contender for the Scarlet Throne. The thing is, the Great Houses don’t actually want a second Scarlet Empress, especially one who holds grudges against some of them.
When Ragara was born, his birth was heralded by a meteor shower. Mnemon’s birth, however, was heralded by an earthquake that shook the Imperial Mountain. She was given the best education available, and her Exaltation at age 15 happened during a sparring match with an Immaculate monk who was in fact a secret Sidereal, placed in her retinue at the orders of Chejop Kejak himself. It was the most dangerous period in her life, after all. Ragara, with no desire to be overshadowed by a new heir apparent, started assassination plans for his sister, starting with her 16th birthday present: a suit of poisoned armor. When this failed, he went for less subtle methods. Mnemon fled the Versino, the Realm’s old sorcerous school before the Heptagram, and found shelter with the Immaculates. Under their protection, she refined her martial and sorcerous skills. This is in large part why she’s who she is now – wary and distrustful of outsiders, always vigilant. Even when she is unarmed, she isn’t defenseless, for she surrounds herself with guards, invisible demons and potent sorcery. Her knowledge of sorcerous magic is peerless, and she always wants more. She collects knowledge and artifacts, most notably the potent demon-binding tool called the Emerald Thurible.
Mnemon is a devoted follower of the Immaculates that took her in. She has personally funded many monasteries and was influential in the selection of the current Mouth of Peace. Several Wyld Hunts have ridden with her at their head, and she’s paid for tons more. She also makes a point of living by Immaculate precepts, though possibly she is focused more on the letter than the spirit. House Mnemon scions that become monks always receive a private audience with her to congratulate them and instruct them on how they can best serve both House and Order. While Mnemon remains unmarried, she has many consorts and many more would-be lovers. She selects her partners carefully, based on their pedigree and power, and she is very affectionate with them until she can find them a marriage that better suits her goals.
As matriarch, Mnemon is intimately involved in the personal lives of her descendants. Every single member of her House receives her wisdom, scolding, comfort or scorn as they deserve. She is the heart of her family, and to go against her is never a good idea. Her descendants tend to be clannish in general, thanks to the culture she’s fostered, and they are the pillar of her power. There have been many nights when she’s gone sleepless to fuss over the marriage of a great-great-grandchild or to take time from her life to counsel a young Dynast who’s nervous about going away to school. It’s rare that anyone outside her House ever sees her as anything but a terrifying sorcerer or general, but House Mnemon knows – she’s exacting and demanding of them, but generous and kind in equal measure, with a very witty sense of humor and a true devotion to them. It is little wonder, then, that she is one of the stronger claimants to the Scarlet Throne. It is endlessly irritating to her that she’s ‘just’ a claimant, however, and not the heir apparent.
Mnemon is an Essence 5 Earth Aspect. She’s very good at most anything she wants to do, though her combat abilities are focused heavily on defense rather than offense. She never goes anywhere without elite bodyguards, bound demons and sorcerous defenses, and rarely has less than one Dragon-Blooded family member around. She is an exceptionally potent sorcerer, and her artifact, the Emerald Thurible, lets her summon and bind Second Circle Demons (but not any other Second Circle Sorcery). She also has two Evocations through it – one that lets her fill a range band with the sickly-sweet smoke of the Demon City, which makes it easier for demons to materialize, and one that gives her a bonus to binding or using social influence on demons. Mnemon is good at demons. Her Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “I alone deserve to be Empress; I alone can restore the Realm’s glory,” a Defining Principle of “My devotion to the Immaculate Philosophy is unwavering,” a Defining Tie of authoritarian pride to House Mnemon, a Major Principle of “I crave the secrets of the First Age,” a Major Tie of admiration to the Scarlet Empress, a Major Tie of gratitude toward the Immaculate Order, a Major Tie of hatred toward Ragara and his House, a Minor Tie of pragmatic wariness towards the Anathema, a Minor Tie of mistrust toward the Sidereal Exalted, and a Minor Tie of resentment toward V’neef.
Next time: Ragara Benoru, the Slug and the Roseblack
|# ? May 15, 2019 19:16|
Mnemon's writeup is a joy, and she remains one of the best NPCs in 3rd edition so far. Berit is also, similarly, amazing.
|# ? May 15, 2019 19:40|
So Mnemon is wholly devoted to the Immaculate philosophy, but she's "pragmatically wary" of Anathema. Does this simply mean she recognizes that Celestial Exalts are not to be treated lightly, or is there a deeper contradiction at play?
|# ? May 15, 2019 19:43|
So Mnemon is wholly devoted to the Immaculate philosophy, but she's "pragmatically wary" of Anathema. Does this simply mean she recognizes that Celestial Exalts are not to be treated lightly, or is there a deeper contradiction at play?
So, 3e has the Immaculates recognizing, albeit not very loudly, that Solar and Lunar Anathema are still the people they were, they just have a power in them that humans cannot handle and which will drive them to harm the divine order. This means there's more wiggle room for treating with them pragmatically.
Also, her actual Intimacy is "My devotion to the Immaculate Philosophy is unwavering" - which means she could easily hold her own interpretations, which serve her purposes, and still consider herself Defender of the Faith.
E: besides, 'wary pragmatism' can also mean 'I can't kill this one right now, so I might as well get what I can out of them.'
|# ? May 15, 2019 19:46|
So Mnemon is wholly devoted to the Immaculate philosophy, but she's "pragmatically wary" of Anathema. Does this simply mean she recognizes that Celestial Exalts are not to be treated lightly, or is there a deeper contradiction at play?
It is a point of conflict for her. The Immaculates that go deep into the texts know that Solars and Lunars aren't evil demons ALL THE TIME and that they aren't taken over by mind control, they're just inevitably going to go bad because their power is inherently corruptive per Immaculate theology. Mnemon is a devoted believer in the Philosophy but if push comes to shove she can talk herself into using a Solar or Lunar that doesn't offend her morals...for now, anyway.
|# ? May 15, 2019 19:48|
|# ? Aug 5, 2021 21:39|
I wonder if the Exalted writers ever get tired of the words peerless, or excellent.
|# ? May 15, 2019 19:48|