Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

I wonder if the Exalted writers ever get tired of the words peerless, or excellent.

No.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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



I've actually been wondering for awhile how 'thesaurusy' the various hyperbolic terms for 'best ever' are in the text. Do they mix it up much?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

I've actually been wondering for awhile how 'thesaurusy' the various hyperbolic terms for 'best ever' are in the text. Do they mix it up much?

Within the bounds of 'these are words humans actually use' these days. Used to be worse.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Actually thinking about it, the more interesting of Mnemon's Minor Ties is "Distrust of Sidereals". Does the Immaculate Philosophy say anything about them? And what has Mnemon found out about them?

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





SirPhoebos posted:

Actually thinking about it, the more interesting of Mnemon's Minor Ties is "Distrust of Sidereals". Does the Immaculate Philosophy say anything about them? And what has Mnemon found out about them?

The 3e Immaculate Philosophy says nothing in particular except possibly referencing the legitimate agents of Heaven. at the absolute most ''they're legit, do not Wyld Hunt' - the Sidereals are a secret conspiracy, not even close to common knowledge, and the fact that they back the Realm is basically unknown to Dynasts outside the highest circles. It's easy to dial Dynastic awareness up or down within canonicity for a given game, but I would personally assume that only some rare, powerful sorcerer types know about the Sidereals. Maybe Ledaal Kes is starting to suspect something, but almost no Dynastic PCs would start the game knowing about the Bureau of Destiny's Exalted agents.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Joe Slowboat posted:

The 3e Immaculate Philosophy says nothing in particular except possibly referencing the legitimate agents of Heaven. at the absolute most ''they're legit, do not Wyld Hunt' - the Sidereals are a secret conspiracy, not even close to common knowledge, and the fact that they back the Realm is basically unknown to Dynasts outside the highest circles. It's easy to dial Dynastic awareness up or down within canonicity for a given game, but I would personally assume that only some rare, powerful sorcerer types know about the Sidereals. Maybe Ledaal Kes is starting to suspect something, but almost no Dynastic PCs would start the game knowing about the Bureau of Destiny's Exalted agents.

Basically this, yeah. The Sidereals invented the Immaculate Philosophy, and they made sure not to put themselves on its enemies list. Several major players in the Realm are aware they exist and work with them, including Mnemon, but she clearly doesn't trust them. They've been interested in her since childhood, though - see also Chejop placing a Sidereal among her tutors. I suspect she's probably more informed about them than almost anyone else in the Realm except, maybe, Ragara.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





SirPhoebos posted:

Actually thinking about it, the more interesting of Mnemon's Minor Ties is "Distrust of Sidereals". Does the Immaculate Philosophy say anything about them? And what has Mnemon found out about them?
In the old version the Sidereals were actually relatively open towards a specific subcommunity of DBs - the ones who went to the sorcery college. What they would do is that they would lay a Celestial-circle enchantment on any Dragon-blood which was basically "if you try to talk about us or write about us to people who don't already know, you will start vomiting maggots until you stop trying to do that." Given how the 2E rules worked, a Terrestrial could never learn how to crack a Celestial enchantment so it was pretty foolproof!

I don't think it works that way any more but I think the people up at the top - and Mnemon is certainly one of them - become vaguely aware that there's some shadowy dudes backing them up.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



What Fire Has Wrought: The Fat Man Sings

Ragara Benoru has always had an overly strong sense of morals. Even as a child, she would criticize moral failings in her instructors with as much conviction as she did her peers, and with absolutely no sense of tact. Even her parents found it hard to put up with, but no punishment or argument could deter her commitment to making a more just world. Thus, it surprised absolutely no one that knew her when Benoru rode out to join the Bloodied Scythe Uprising, siding with the peasantry against a cruel Dynastic prefect. With the Cypress Mountain rebels, she went from an idealistic girl with no stomach for hypocrisy to a powerful woman beloved by the people. She was one of the Seventy-Two Heroes of Cypress Mountain, commanding the righteous militia in lightning raids against the prefect’s forces and daring stratagems that confounded the legions sent to put down the rebellion. Imperial agents came, then, offering clemency for Benoru and her peasants from the Empress herself, if she would surrender to the Empress’ mercy. Benoru did…and was made a magistrate for it.

For fifty years, Ragara Benoru has lived in austerity, without wealth or title beyond that of magistrate, witnessing the humble lives of the peasants and the decadence of the Dynasty as they seek to sway her. The years have honed her instinct and gotten rid of her bravado. She has sought out criminals of all kinds – from those who fixed exchange rates for agricultural goods to traitors against the Great Houses. To this day, peasants still tell stories to their children of the Corvee-Swallowing Mountain Devil, Sixteenth of the Seventy-Two Heroes, Ragara Benoru. Officially, these stories are not allowed, but that’s never stopped anyone. However, with the Empress gone, the world of the magistrates has been upended. Rather than wandering the farming villages, Benoru must now lean on the hospitality of Dynasts, balancing their contempt for her with their fear that her death in their homes, even without an Empress, would destroy them. After all, few magistrates are so beloved by the peasantry as Benoru, even without the Empress’ protection.

Empress or no Empress, it is Benoru’s duty to ensure justice, and she will do that, come Hell or high water. Her family is safely sheltered in Ragara lands out in the Threshold, so she has no reason to not use her power to keep order and punish the cruel and spoiled children that seek to profit off the Empress’ absence. After five decades, her experiences as a rebel leader are useful again. She once led starving peasants against the soldiers of the world’s greatest empire and won, and if the rich and powerful think she will be easy prey, they will learn otherwise. She is a weathered woman of dark skin who has spent years living off the land in the poorest parts of the Isle. She is almost a century old now and starting to show her age, far more than her peers who have led softer lives in high society. Even in the company of other Dynasts, Benoru dresses simply and practically, preferring clothes that are easily mended or replaced over tracking style and fashion. She wields a white jade firewand (a flamethrower rifle, remember), but it actually belongs to her wife, Ledaal Quya, who is a strong supporter of Benoru’s efforts within House Ledaal. Benoru carries herself with the air of a peasant, but when acting as a magistrate, she has the booming voice of a drill sergeant, which often takes most people off guard.

Ragara Benoru is an Essence 3 Earth Aspect who excels at investigation and combat over social niceties. She largely travels alone barring her scribe, the sarcastic monk Horizon Turtle, but she can call on Realm archons if she needs martial assistance or spying. She is very good at sniffing out lies, as well. Her Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “The powerful must protect the meek,” a Major Tie of camaraderie to the Seventy-Two Rebels of Cypress Mountain, a Major Principle of “I shall not be deterred from the path of justice,” a Major Tie of love for Ledaal Quya and their children, a Major Tie of righteous fury towards those who abuse their power, and a Minor Principle of “I don’t believe in peasant superstition, but why risk bad luck?”

Sesus Nagezzer, the Slug, lives out of what is now called the Fungal Manse. Once, it was the Throne of Roses, but its life as a nightly pleasure palace and mysterious lair of dark desires and lowlives has taken its toll. In the middle of it all, the Slug watches. He’s gigantic – over six feet tall, practically spherical. His fashion sense is impeccable, he’s ostentatious and meticulous in his grooming, but he’s fat as hell. He’s surprisingly fast despite his bulk and maimed leg, and he is very strong. He makes no apologies for his loves of food or sex, both of which are legendary. He can eat an entire table of food at each meal, and he’s used to multiple partners each night. At court or Dynastic parties, he speaks little while others approach him to curry favor or drunkenly gossip. When he speaks, it is most often to end the awkward silence when someone realizes they’ve made a faux pas or told him too much, and even then he’s brief.

Nagezzer knows what a hero must be, because he used to be one. He was a graduate of the House of Bells and an officer in the Imperial Legions, where he acted the part of the martial paragon of his House. That all ended the day he chased down the rogue god Wind Across the Savanna and was maimed and nearly killed for his troubles. He sees his younger self in fledgling heroes, and he knows the power of having leverage on them – an unpaid debt, a loved one in prison, a sense of obligation to a kind if unpleasant mentor that saw promise no one else did. Nagezzer was discharged from the Legions and sent to the Cloister of Wisdom to heal, but in his time with the monks, he realized he’d never achieve the power and peace he desired by conventional means. He might not ever lead a legion again for the Empress, but he could instead make a silent army, hidden and underestimated.

He inherited the Throne of Roses from his mother, transforming it from an elegant sanctuary to a vice den, the capital of his hidden empire. He holds court with criminals and lackeys whom he’s carefully groomed as set dressing to disgust those that seek his aid. From behind the veil of the fat layabout of vice, he rules over a shadow network of spies and assassins that goes all the way to the Imperial City, while his mercenaries in the threshold, under command of his cousin, Sesus Warru of the Red-Piss Legion, fight for causes he selects under the anonymous banner of the white rose. He’s vital to the workings of several prefectures, conquering his enemies by becoming indispensable to them. Despite his massive criminal wealth and underhanded methods, however, he is no mere crime lord. For the Realm and Scarlet Empress, he would sacrifice everything, just as he would have had his legion career not been cut short.

Sesus Nagezzer is an Essence 4 Wood Aspect, skilled at a bunch of things but excelling only at social stuff and strategy. He’s surprisingly decent at fighting given his wounds, but he’s not a warrior any more, despite his practice of Wood Dragon Style. He has a hearthstone that tells him if anyone he sees shares his total loyalty to the Realm over all else, which is handy for him to find allies. He almost never leaves home without mercenary guards or his two Western concubine-bodyguards, the assassins Spinda and Echo, or his teacher, the Dragon-Blooded monk Autumn Spiral. His Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “I serve the Realm, and nothing else,” a Defining Principle of “I delight unashamedly in pleasures of the flesh,” a Major Principle of “Understanding others’ desires is the key to my triumphs,” a Major Tie of self-pity to himself, a Major Tie of distrust to House Sesus, a Minor Principle of “I devote myself to the Immaculate Philosophy,” a Minor Tie of trust to Sesus Warru, and a Minor Tie of enmity to Anathema.

Tepet Ejava, the Roseblack, is possibly the greatest hope for House Tepet to reclaim its lost glory, and she’s always hated House politics. She was born while her mother was in the field, and she was raised with war as part of her life. It set a tone. As a child, she excelled at games of strategy and war, and her Exaltation made her attuned to the violent nature of life. As she grew, she found herself ill-suited to Dynastic politics and society, especially after she inadvertently destroyed the rose garden of her school’s dominie. That’s where the name Roseblack comes from, but she took the nickname as a reminder of humility rather than an insult. It stayed with her through her time at the House of Bells and her work in the Imperial Legions, where she put down rebels, bandits, Fair Folk and Anathema. By the time she was promoted to winglord, it was a name of pride.

Then the Battle of Futile Blood hit. Ejava wasn’t with the House legions when it happened, and she still regrets that. When the word of their fate came, her world was destroyed. She had lost friends, comrades and soldiers – and the Realm she loved so had been defeated. Even those Tepets jealous of her growing popularity know she is one of their most capable surviving officers. She has been promoted to general, put in charge of the infamous Vermilion (or Red-Piss) Legion foisted on the House. Many officers would dread it, but the Roseblack saw opportunity. Over three years, she’s forged them into a competent, disciplined force equal to any legion of the other Houses.

Ejava is the poster child for Dragon-Blooded officers. She is resolute, professional and while her House may not like her putting off marriage for her career, she believes the field is exactly where she’s needed right now. Her closest confidant is the prefect of Chanos, Ragara Nova, a socialite who once tried to win her hand in marriage. Besides Nova, she has few close friends. Her home is the battlefield, and her soldiers are her family. She has no time for anything else. She is a tall, imposing woman with long, red hair similar to that of the Scarlet Empress. In the field, she’s rarely seen outside her full suit of green jade plate or without her daiklave, Thorn.

Tepet Ejava is an Essence 3 Wood Aspect, very tanky and an amazing fighter with barely competent social skills outside of strategy and shouting at people. She’s an excellent commander, and Thorn gives her access to an Evocation that lets her anima stab people with thorns as she slashes them, increasing her damage pretty well unless the foe accepts a crippling injury. When not with her legion, she usually has a young Dragon-Blooded officer and some elite guards with her. Her Intimacies: A Defining Principle of “A Dynast’s only honor is defense of the Realm,” a Defining Tie of impatient frustration with House Tepet, a Major Principle of “I have no time for romance,” a Major Tie of contempt for those who sold out the legions for political gain, a Major Tie of camaraderie to the Red-Piss Legion, a Minor Tie of irritated respect for her grandfather Tepet Arada, a Minor Tie of friendship to Ragara Nova and a Minor Tie of loathing to her uncle Tepet Fokuf.

The End.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Nessus posted:

In the old version the Sidereals were actually relatively open towards a specific subcommunity of DBs - the ones who went to the sorcery college. What they would do is that they would lay a Celestial-circle enchantment on any Dragon-blood which was basically "if you try to talk about us or write about us to people who don't already know, you will start vomiting maggots until you stop trying to do that." Given how the 2E rules worked, a Terrestrial could never learn how to crack a Celestial enchantment so it was pretty foolproof!

I don't think it works that way any more but I think the people up at the top - and Mnemon is certainly one of them - become vaguely aware that there's some shadowy dudes backing them up.

It got kind of ridiculous because lazy writers wanted to show off how their DB characters knew about the sidereal conspiracy so it ended up being just about the worst kept secret in Creation. The whole thing is kind of ridiculous for other reasons, but that's a whole other set of issues.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also, as a side-note, I was wrong in my update: The party gets 600 EXP for winning the dating sim, not 400. I will adjust the post accordingly.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Gotta say, making Benoru a magistrate was a genius play by Red.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




The Lone Badger posted:

Gotta say, making Benoru a magistrate was a genius play by Red.

She was really good at being empress, which is kind of the reason everything is falling apart now that she's gone.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





wiegieman posted:

She was really good at being empress, which is kind of the reason everything is falling apart now that she's gone.

She was even better at staying Empress, which is why things falling apart now was precisely her plan. No coup could have succeeded without destroying the Realm and ruining the prize, but now that she's vanished the same thing is happening in slow motion.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Is it still canonical that she's being stockholm syndromed by some Yozi?

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








wdarkk posted:

Is it still canonical that she's being stockholm syndromed by some Yozi?
I sure hope not. Exalted did not have much metaplot but AFAIK nearly everyone agrees that what it did get was amateurish at best. (Besides, if the new writers were willing to rewrite some stuff in this book they're more than willing to rewrite canon elsewhere.)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



wdarkk posted:

Is it still canonical that she's being stockholm syndromed by some Yozi?

Explicitly no. That entire book was unhappened.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I fervently hope that there will never be a canon explanation of the Empress' disappearance. It's much better if the option remains open that she just died of old age after the manse maintaining her immortality failed for whatever reason, and this occurred in a part of the Imperial Manse barred to anyone but her.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Or she got tired of all the bullshit and is living it up in a beachhouse in the West where nobody will ever find her.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Wasn't the metaplot that she messed up with an evil Yozi book or something?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





wiegieman posted:

Wasn't the metaplot that she messed up with an evil Yozi book or something?
Off the top of my head:

The Empress had figured out the secret control room for the magitech superweapon that blew up the Fair Folk invasion and did not mention the part where she was doing stuff like sacrificing people to it fairly regularly. She was collecting up all the copies of some hosed up book called the Broken-Winged Crane for some reason. At this point the Ebon Dragon, who is the Yozi who represents like, corruption and darkness and wickedness and all that good Satan poo poo (as opposed to the other Yozis who represent things like Obsessive Hierarchy, Detachment and Separation, or Being A Giant Hell-Boar), called in his chips. I believe tentacles were involved.

There were a few different outcomes in the big sourcebook but generally speaking it was a pretty bad scene.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Being A Giant Hell-Boar seems like an extremely specific abstract principle to embody. (I am not implying that the Hell-Boar in question made a mistake.)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill, part 8 - "She, like the 3,000 other people of this sleepy, peaceful town, had all died (mostly in their sleep) from the Coalition's pre-dawn raid."

That's a weird parenthetical note. Is it meant to imply they didn't suffer? If so, why? This book hasn't exactly flinched from other Coalition-driven suffering. It feels like a Siembiedan addition, but maybe he throught the original text was unclear?

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

All of Sorville's people were dead.

No, that's not it either. Dammit, this is going to bug me. Not as much as the ability of Rifts dolphins to track flying saucers, or the complete plot absence of Charles Baxter Reed, the top general of the Coalition army, but... what... why...?

Adventures
By Bill Coffin
Additional text & ideas by Kevin Siembieda


Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

This section contains a number of escapades that involve story lines spun out from how the Coalition is handling itself in a less than honorable manner while invading Tolkeen.

Actually, it only contains one escapade. Also, "less than honorable" is a weird euphemism for "genocidal".

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

This section features a few full-length adventures for your Siege on Tolkeen campaign.

Just the one. It's only one.

And that one adventure is Asher's Revenge. See, the Coalition have the CAF-1, a new bombing aircraft modeled after the Spruce Moose and the Antonov AN-225 Mriya. On its first service run, it bombed a civilian town known as Sorville, annihilating it. The only survivor was Asher Grey, who had been shopping in the next town over before returning to a crater. His wife died in the conflagration, and so he looks to the sky and swears vengeaaaance.

Then he fucks completely off and reveals his dragon form as Aurelor the Magnificent.

It turns out Aurelor was a good guy dragon who got tired of fighting and retired as a human. He found love and settled down like Unforgiven but with a dragon, hoping Tolkeen nearby would help keep things peaceful. Irony! The dragons of Freehold then stopped by, and were like "Hey you should cut this human crap out and be a rad dragon." and he was like "Nah, I'm cool." And they were like "Foolish fool, you will regret this foolishness foolishly!" and hosed off. Then the Coalition bombed his wife, and he turned to them for vengeaaaance. But they were like "We told you you would regret it, we told you you so, gently caress off!" So he made a phone call to other dimensions or something to summon his old buds Nikoden Shodai (a Japanese dragon) and Corrigal of the Nine (a Greek dragon). Also he looked for mortal adventurers to aid him, promising treasure and also favors.

Player characters, that's your cue, enter stage left.


"I'm gonna strangle you right in the sealed armor- wait."

Then Aurelor sends a message via magic pigeons to a number of Coalition general and Emperor Prosek to be like "I'm gonna smash your stupid plane and the stupid commander that sent it and if you get in my way I'll smash you too." And the Coalition is like "Well, time to kill a dragon!" Then they get on opposite sides of the screen and it's heaven or hell let's rock.

We get stats for Aurelor the Magnificent (14th Level Great Horned Dragon, 8,500 M.D.C.), Nikiden Shodai (12th level Kumo-Mi Dragon, 8,100 M.D.C.), and Corrigal of the Nine (12th level Hydra, 8,000 M.D.C.). Nikiden, or "Niki the Just", is generically honorable and benevolent (being a Japanese dragon) and is here because of a debt, but also wants to try and talk Aurelor down or at least curb his bloodthirst. Corrigal of the Nine is a doof, but was saved by Aurelor once and owes him a life debt. He's a good guy with two bonus heads who likes to fight.

The adventure presumes the PCs have joined with Aurelor, either for Tolkeen, against the Coalition, or for goodies, fame, or favors. They really have two options: try and sneak into the base or try and intercept the CAF-1 on its next mission. The base plan has the big issue that if the PCs fail their sneaking and fail to quickly eliminate anybody that spots them, they're in for a fight the game system simply cannot process. The base has over 200 soldiers and skelebots as well as naval support. Granted, even if they intercept in the sky, we're dealing with 32 Super SAMAS, 8 Warbird Rocket Cycles, and 4 Shrike Interceptor jets to track in addition to the CAS-1, not to mention the three dragons and the PCs. The system breaks in any scenario other than sneaking, even with optional rules to make the CAS-1's gunfire mostly just "dramatic" and likely to miss the PCs more often than not.

Supposing the GM finds some way to run this combat without a marathon of miserable dice rolling, the CAF-1 will presumably be brought down.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Of course, the Game Master is at liberty to decide where the CAF-1 crashes; it is entirely possible the heroes could drat one town by saving another if the CAF-1 crashes on settled territory and its bomb load detonates.

This is just the feel-good book of 2000, isn't it? It also suggest it might explode, or they could salvage weapons from it, but that the Coalition will try and take it out with cruise missiles if they realize it's down. Of course, you spend 150+ million on a plane, just blow it up. It's disposable, right? Either way, Aurelor will be sure to reward the PCs.

Afterwards, Aurelor will go after Lt. General Zachary Kael, the guy who ordered the attack on his town, though he may die in the battle, as he's piloting one of the escorts, as Lt. Generals do. After that, Aurelor will possibly be finished- or he'll go after Drogue, but... well. It wouldn't be a Bill Coffin adventure without Siembieda shouting "You can't take away my toys, Coffin, they're my toys, miiiine, it's not fair, give them back!"

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

Of course, the odds of Aurelor successfully getting General Drogue are slim and none (see the notes under Asher Grey/Aurelor's description).

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

General Drogue will be the next target because he is the mastermind behind the current Tolkeen offensive. After that, Aurelor plans on killing the leaders of the Coalition Army's main battle groups. However, getting to General Drogue may prove to be impossible even for this ancient champion. Drogue is nestled safely in the middle of the Coalition's main army in Wisconsin, his precise whereabouts kept secret so assassins can not find him (a third of the time he's actually in Chi-Town). Getting to him will mean facing an entire field of over 20,000 soldiers, entire brigades of CS tanks, robots, power armor and aircraft. This is suicide even for the great and powerful Aurelor the Magnificent, and certain death for anybody crazy enough to follow him. The dragon is so grief-stricken that he will not listen to reason, and even if all of his allies, fellow dragons included, abandon him, or die following him, he will press forward, fighting to the death. (Finding General Drogue will be difficult and any lead Aurelor may follow only has a 01-18% chance of being accurate — thus the hated General is not even likely to be where Aurelor and his allies attack. Their deaths will have been for nothing.)

Yeah, a 10,000 year old dragon can't outwit a 49 year old human that's only about half as smart as he is. Not with his shapechanging, invisibility, and multiple means of teleportation. Yes, the Coalition has psychics and Dog Boys, but all Aurelor really needs is an accurate location, and then he can just teleport right up and give Drogue the business. Think about your statblocks, Kevin!... but I guess an ancient old dragon is dumb enough to go charging in against 20,000 troops. Makes you wonder how he survived that long, huh? This can't be the first time he's lost a love. What a lucky duck he's been.

Out of nowhere during the aftermath, it gives the possibility that maybe the PCs were in it to defend the CAF-1, which makes sense if the PCs love skulls, genocide, and being war criminals. You'll get all sorts of commendations! If it survives, it'll go on saturation-bombing soft-targets until Tolkeen eventually brings it down to make sure that decision branch is closed.

Rifts Coalition Wars 2: Coalition Overkill posted:

The question is, will the player group be on it when it happens?

No one would weep if they were.

A more interesting suggestion is to allow the players to run the dragons on their bit of vengeance as a side story during a regular Siege on Tolkeen, and then have the outcome influence your campaign.

Naturally, we get stats for the CAF-1 Leviathan (5,000 M.D.C.), if not art, and it turns out to be yet another one of Drogue's "Special Projects". It was originally a design mothballed as requiring too much risk and too much upkeep, but Drogue liked the idea of a big fuckoff plane and here we are. It can land on air or water, go 550 MPH, carry several companies of troops, has more rail guns and missiles than any GM should have to deal with, bombs, etc. It can't carry as many bombs as one might expect, mainly because the Coalition hasn't developed a bomb delivery system large enough for it.


Now, here in Tolkeen... the spell is broken. And we live again!

Conclusion

Well, got a new candidate to compete with Africa, Spirit West, or Index 2 for worst Rifts book. The Daemonix part isn't bad, but a lot of the rest of the book is just miserable, and the sad fact is that it's just a matter of degrees. If the new Coalition offensive was presented purely for what it is - a monstrous crime against humanity and D-Beery, that'd be ham-handed as gently caress, and possibly in poor taste. But it'd have been in line with the setting and grim, but not quite as poisonous as it ends up being.

Instead, it tries to desperately try and humanize mass murdering war criminals by peppering in the occasional Principled character, even though there's no way a character like that could remain functional at that alignment. It keeps also just trying to "both-sides" things, pretending that Tolkeen is somehow just as bad, and it just... doesn't work so far. It's disastrously mishandled. They want to introduce shades of grey for Tolkeen with the Iron Juggernauts or Daemonix... but in both cases the exact ramifications of both forces are unknown. Yeah, maybe the Iron Juggernauts are created using some type of living sacrifice, but they're willing for all we know. The Daemonix are evil, we're told, but mostly just seem to be strangely sympathetic, like puppy dogs that followed some wizards home. Meanwhile, death camps? Those are purely, unambiguously evil, and that's impossible to wiggle around. And the worst part is that it tries. It tries to excuse JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS BULLSHIT AROUND ACTUAL GENOCIDE, OH WERE YOU JUST IGNORANT THE CHILD HAD FEELINGS I GUESS IT'S OKAY YOU SHOT THEM MAJOR WHAT THE UNFUCK SIEM-

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

wooosahhh

When I was a kid, I had a toy, his name was Lord Dread. Lord Dread was a cyborg who believed that the future of mankind was in being converted into a digital form, after which they would be eventually uploaded to immortal, emotionless "perfect" robot bodies. But there were parallels in terms of color schemes and logos with the "Bio-Dread" forces deliberately similar to Nazism, with the extermination of humanity deliberately played as similar to the extermination of the Jews. Hell, they even had a "Dread Youth" organization. And they were, frankly, mostly successful- the grand majority of the world's population had already been "digitized" by Dread. And you could play with him. As a toy. As a child.

Lord Dread wasn't unique. My Stormtrooper toys were modeled off of, well, stormtroopers. While Cobra diverged pretty heavily from straightforward Nazi stereotypes, they were inspirational descendants of Marvel's Hydra organization, and there's a line of fascism throughout. Megatron, probably not coincidentally, turned into a Nazi gun. Nazism was, in short, often the inspirational shorthand for villainy. Of course, the toyetic nature of the 1980s meant that these weren't just characters on children's TV. They were toys sold to children to play with. In short, playing the bad guys was sold to us as a valid mode of play.

And to an extent, that's not all that bad... as long as you know they're bad guys. And there were usually limits to the parallels, unlike Lord Dread. And while Siembieda is too old to be a child of the 1980s, he was a avid toy collector and he no doubt got to go through that. And, much like those toys, the Coalition is a bunch of villains with neat designs that borrow from the Nazi aesthetic. The problem is that, as we grow up, often genre fans things to be more "adult", more serious, and less simple. And the Coalition are definitely that. The problem is that the parallels then wash away. When you start giving body counts and death camps, you're no longer dealing with a motley crew of scheming fascists run by Yosemite Sam in a high register. Suddenly, "villain play" becomes far darker. And trying to make them seem sympathetic? Forget about it.

THE END OF "COALITION OVERKILL". 560 PAGES REMAIN OF THE COALITION WARS.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One phenomena I've noticed over my years of RPing and all is a tendency of players to protagonize their characters even if they're working for an insane genocidal organization like the Imperium of Man or the Coalition. Not many players really want to think of themselves as long-term playing a total piece of poo poo, so they often start to identify with their PC and come up with reasons why what they're doing is okay. The other guy is worse. They're the 'decent' one. Etc. Villain play doesn't usually stay villain play unless it's comedy.

This is obviously a problem when you start putting in playable Nazis with a book telling you all about their death camps while still providing 'well maybe you're one of the Very Fine People on both sides'.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


wiegieman posted:

Being A Giant Hell-Boar seems like an extremely specific abstract principle to embody. (I am not implying that the Hell-Boar in question made a mistake.)

More specifically, the Giant Hell-Boar in question is also a Black Hole.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





OvermanXAN posted:

More specifically, the Giant Hell-Boar in question is also a Black Hole.
Oo wow, look at him now, Isidoros the Grand
Soo-ee, whaddaya see, the greatest force in history
Fine swine, coming this way, crushed towns beneath his hoof
He's one t*song abruptly ends*

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Apocalyptics, pt.4



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


RANKS APOCALYPTICS



1a. Finch

quote:

What is a Finch good for? It pecks, it flies, it craps. Now and then it also squeals – like when a Judge steps on it.

Finch are abused by everyone else. Only showing courage will earn them respect.

2a. Battle Crow

As opposed to the rare Militant Pacifist Crow, the Battle Crow is the Apocalyptic Fighter, probably relying on the local Agility stat.

2b. Magpie

Hookers who steal from their customers, Burn dealers and, ugh, footpads? All of them are Magpies.

2c. Vulture

They go with Scrappers to get the best salvage. Vultures also loot the bodies left after battles.

2d. Cuckoo

Cuckoos are impersonators making a living pretending to be members of other Cults. Wonder how that works with Palers or Chroniclers.

2e. Owl

Night assassins.

2f. Woodpecker

You're the scout, pioneer and engineer for the Worst Cult. You might even keep an inn.

2g. Stork

Storks steal children to replenish the ranks of Apocalyptics - or to put them to work. They're also master emotional manipulators. Basically, they're the Worst Rank of the Worst Cult.

3a. Raven

They're the guys who read the tarot and lead the Flock.

1b. Tern

Seaborne Finches, they have to clean the ship and endure the jokes of Seagulls.

2h. Seagull

You're a pirate.

2i. Albatross

You're a pirate navigator!

3b. Albatross

You're a pirate king – and that's a description barely shorter than the one in the book.

1c. Hummingbird

The African Finch tries to sweeten up to the higher ranks, but is still beaten and abused. Once he blocks a hit or counters a blow, he ranks up.

2j. Marabou

Technically an African Vulture, but more of a thief.

2k. Ibis

The nerd who keeps the books and information.

2l. Toko

The African Woodpecker.

3c. Buzzard

King poo poo of African Apocalyptics - even Scourgers and Neolibyans respect him.

4a. Phoenix

What if the end of Scarface followed the story of the videogame and not the movie, but you had a Raven/Albatross/Buzzard instead of Tony Montana? A Phoenix is a Apocalyptic leader who lost it all – even his Flock – but managed to bounce back.

[i]Next time: end of chapter, yay!

Desiden
Mar 13, 2016

Mindless self indulgence is SRS BIZNS


Nessus posted:

Off the top of my head:

The Empress had figured out the secret control room for the magitech superweapon that blew up the Fair Folk invasion and did not mention the part where she was doing stuff like sacrificing people to it fairly regularly. She was collecting up all the copies of some hosed up book called the Broken-Winged Crane for some reason. At this point the Ebon Dragon, who is the Yozi who represents like, corruption and darkness and wickedness and all that good Satan poo poo (as opposed to the other Yozis who represent things like Obsessive Hierarchy, Detachment and Separation, or Being A Giant Hell-Boar), called in his chips. I believe tentacles were involved.

There were a few different outcomes in the big sourcebook but generally speaking it was a pretty bad scene.

From what I remember, in previous editions the power gap between celestial and terrestrial exalts was both bigger and generally harder to cross, especially in regards to sorcery. I think there was one artifact (Brigid's Mantle) that Mnemon had that let her use Celestial Sorcery, and there may have been a few other things buried here or there, but gaining power via the selling out to the Yozis (the Broken-Winged Crane being a gateway to that) was one of the more common ones. So that was I think why she was getting copies of those books and using them, until it backfired on her via the Ebon Dragon.

But yeah, it was a pretty bad metaplot, pretty much set up because IIRC The Scarlet Empress and Ebon Dragon were Yoma Kings in the WoD. They had already moved away from direct connections by then, but I guess decided that had to fit together for some reason. About the only thing I liked was the concept that the Scarlet Empress as her corrupted demon form was the future author of the Broken Winged Crane, writing ever changing versions to lead her to that point. Not specifically for that plot, but just as a concept to steal and use elsewhere.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ex3 Lunars: Fangs at the Gate

Fangs at the Gate is still a draft; mostly, this means that the mechanics of the Charms are likely to change some come publishing time. Based on What Fire Has Wrought, the setting material is unlikely to shift significantly. Also art and layout will be added. This is the book for Lunars, and it takes a diametrically opposed view of the Realm to What Fire Has Wrought, because the Realm is the great enemy that the Lunars have, as a whole, been fighting for nearly a millennium, and the Shogunate was their enemy before that. Lunars are the chosen of many-faced Luna, Incarna and goddess of the moon. They are shapeshifters, monster-heroes that stand unbroken after millenia of battle. They burn with a terrible fury that drives them to vendetta against their foes.

In ancient prehistory, the first Lunars were chosen to hunt the enemies of the gods. Their victories brought forth an age of wonders, an age in which they wedded themselves to the Solars and worked together to bring forth thousands of legends. They slew monsters, charted the world, raised cities, fought terrible wars. When the Dragon-Bloods rose up against the mad Solar kings, the Lunars were driven out to the edge of the world, hunted for centuries. Faced with legions of elemental heroes and a conspiracy of fate-wielding masterminds, the Lunars defied their inevitable doom. Under the banner of the Silver Pact, they have fought for a thousand years. And now, the world is changed. The Scarlet Empress has vanished, and the Great Houses of the Realm withdraw to the Blessed Isle to prepare for war. The Wyld Hunt is now underfunded and overwhelmed by the returning Solars. It has been centuries since such an opportunity lay before them. The Lunars may now have a chance, once and for all, to end the Realm.

So, our suggested reading this time? For classics: The Epic of Gilgamesh, because Enkidu is basically a Full Moon Caste Lunar, and his rivalry-turned-friendship with Gilgamesh is a good example of the Solar Bond. Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, because Sun Wukong is a shapeshifting trickster whose powers inspired many Lunar Charms, and his mischief early in the book is good inspiration for trickster characters. The Poetic Edda because Odin’s disguises are good Lunar shapeshifting ideas, and his obsessive pursuit of knowledge and power is good inspiration for Lunar witches, plus Loki is a great Changing Moon inspiration. Tain Bo Cuailnge because Cu Chulainn’s riastrad is good inspiration for Lunar fury.

Fiction: The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, in which two girls of very different cultures become lovers and warriors in a good demonstration of the Solar Bond, with Shefali as an example of Lunar ethos of survival. I have never read this, so. The White Rose by Glen Cook, in which the rebel protagonists fight a world-spanning magic empire that they used to work for, aided by weird supernatural allies and occult secrets of a lost age. Also apparently the Plain of Fear is a good example for weird Lunar dominions.

Nonfiction: Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation by John Sedgwick, charting the progress, schisms and fall of the Cherokee Nation against US aggression, offering ideas for Lunar politics when their dominions are confronted by the Realm. Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World by John Arquilla, contextualizing the development of irregular warfare by examining individual leaders and officers, good inspiration for Lunar warlords or revolutionaries.

Movies: Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler. Wakanda’s mix of superscience and traditional African cultures is a great inspiration for Lunar dominions, and the differing views on how Wakanda should deal with outsiders and the legacy of racism between T’Challa, Killmonger and Nakia is a good mirror of Silver Pact internal politics. Princess Mononoke, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. San, a deadly warrior raised by wolves, is an excellent example of a Full Moon Caste.

TV: Revolutionary Girl Utena, directed by Kuniko Ikuhara. The relationship between Utena and Anthy is an example of a Solar Bond, both at its worst and its best. The later arcs also play well with Lunar witchcraft and the idea of relationships that span multiple incarnations.

Manga: Sailor Moon, by Naoko Takeuchi. Usagi and Mamoru’s romance spans reincarnations and is an excellent example of the Solar Bond. Your pick which side is the Solar.

Next time: Who Am The Lunars

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Those media recs sure do seem focused on that Solar Bond, huh?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night10194 posted:

Those media recs sure do seem focused on that Solar Bond, huh?

The Bond is an important part of the Lunar toolkit of character ideas, though an optional one, so I'm okay with about a third of their recs involving it. That said: I think they handle it pretty well in the book, but you can draw your own conclusions when we get there.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Ugh. Still a better love story than Twilight, I suppose.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


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

At last, a boss fight.

Last time, I did my best to give you an impression of how dull the dating sim portion of this adventure is. To be fair, it does say 'if your players hate this, make it easier and faster' but that's kind of a bad thing to have to be saying about the main plot thread of your adventure! Now, let's look at how the gang deals with Wolfgang Schuenacht, Basic Evil Wizard. There are many events set up to tip you off he's evil. For one, him threatening to go to the Hunters is a sign that something's up; wizards don't willingly involve Witch Hunters. Wolfgang is legitimately one of the better structured parts of the adventure, because he doesn't really have a dead giveaway, but he has enough weird little issues that they give a group a good chance of realizing he's evil. Even if you fail and get caught in his ritual to destroy the Dagger, it still turns into a scene where you can disrupt the ritual and stop him; we'll be seeing that with Team Mustache in the Mirror Dimension. You get a lot of chances to stop him, and even his ritual going off doesn't actually lose you the adventure since he eats the Xath shard to become a superdemon and then flies away, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, he also inflicts (if you're using IP) 6 IP on every PC, takes d10 points off every stat they have permanently, and causes 2 permanent wounds so, uh, if you got into that you should make new PCs and seriously that's character ruining.

Anyway, there's another event that can start to tip players off to Wolfgang. While Brute Squad is out and about doing their networking dance, their rooms are robbed. Wolfgang assumed they'd kept the skull, you see, and he wanted it. So he hired a fuckup of a thief and two Protagonists to be a distraction and then rob the heroes' rooms. The thief is, confusingly, named Solveig, which is likely to get her punched by the real, Ulrican Solveig later. Any cash stored in the PCs' rooms is taken, but no equipment unless it looks like it might be a Chaos relic. We'll say they lose about 20 GC to this. Bear in mind that's actually a lot of money; half a Best Codpiece. Anyway, Brute Squad returns from a hearty day of being talked at by upper class twits to find the robbery happened and no inn staff saw a thing, because there was a big brawl going on as a distraction. A brawl between a huge human and a dwarf. Being a former Protagonist himself, Otto knows the marks of a staged brawl and gets descriptions, setting the team on the trail.

They find the two fighters at a bar called the Broken Barrel, having a drink. Otto approaches them, because this is his old trade before he became a more respectable hero and he knows how the business goes. The two Protagonists are a bit drunk and a little belligerent, but Otto disarms it by offering to buy them a drink and assuring them he knows it's all just business, and he just wants to know why they were hired. No need for a brawl unless they're up for one for fun, and who works for free? This actually works; this is absolutely what you're supposed to do here. As long as you buy them a drink, they don't care about spilling their client because Thief Solveig is a dick who annoys her contacts and so they don't care about giving her up. Thief Solveig often works for the very wrong sort of people, they imply, and she isn't popular in the underworld. Lot of people don't care if she gets what's coming to her.

The Brute Squad now has her description, and she's got a very distinctive scar that seems to move a little. They also know she goes to the Cock Pit, a cockfighting ring. They go to find the distinctive scarred thief, which isn't very hard. Also amusingly, Lord Frederick also loves the cockfights, as does Wolfgang. Everybody loves watching chicken attack. Pierre takes the lead as they enter, because roguishiness is his thing, much as he'd prefer to be known as a scholar. Finding a person with a deeply distinctive scar (that also stands out to Our Solveig's Heal skill as unnatural; there's no puckering of the skin. It's a Chaos Mark of some kind) isn't that hard, even in a den of scoundrels. Pierre lures her in by offering to hire her for a surveillance job. He eventually gets around to offering her a gold crown for information on who hired her for the job against them. Again, this is the good way to do the quest. You can also chase her down and capture her in a foot chase, etc, but if you pay her, she's as eager to give up her employer as her Protagonist distractions were to give her up.

She tells Pierre she was hired by a fat guy under a false name called Dieter, and that she's sure the fat was faked. Weirdly, he asked to meet to discuss the job in the ruins of the Bright College's original building, and since they paid her a crown, she'll show them where it was. See, Dieter didn't pay the extra optional money for secrecy, and she's the kind of stupid that regularly betrays employers over that kind of thing (this is why people were so willing to give her up in the first place). As soon as they reach the ruins and Solveig Thief tries to leave, Liniel pulls a gun on her and tells her she's staying. They're going to march her to Empire House and turn her in after this. She stole 20 crowns from them. That's On The List worthy. There's no rules for what happens if you do this, but I imagine a lot of groups that lost any money to the thief aren't going to just let her walk away. The party still lacks for Follow Trail, but they have a lot of Search, and so Pierre manages to find some important clues. Namely, that they find Pierre's notebook about the Chaos Tomb discarded behind a building (you find small items stolen from your room as potential Chaos Items but thrown away by Wolfgang) and a scrap of grey fabric and red and orange fabric under it. Confirming Dieter was wearing a grey cloak over what looks to be the robes of a Bright Wizard...

The entire party collectively narrows their eyes and moves Wolfgang up The List. They go to ask around about him, talking to their dating sim contacts about him and his ritual to destroy a Chaos Artifact. And they find another curious thing: The wizards have heard of Wolfgang Schuenacht since he's supposedly about to become a Wizard Lord in the Bright College, but none of them have heard of him as a major Chaos fighter or heard about him having any special ritual. Lord Frederick has seen him at the Cock Pit. No-one at the Cock Pit actually saw them get Solveig arrested since they waited to be in a lonely corner of the city before doing it, so they don't take the -30 to Gossip tests to ask around about Wolfgang at the Cock Pit that they normally would if they used violence with her. They find a laborer who has done some work for a man matching Wolfgang's description who called himself Master Helsig. 'Master Helsig' seemed to be moving stuff from a shady warehouse into Empire House itself, under an assumed name, with plenty of secrecy. He's able to tell them it went to a weird, secret-ish place within Empire House, though he didn't go inside.

The heroes can't actually get into Empire House, but they know a true hero who can help them. That's right, it's Frederick. They bring him their evidence, and the nobleman realizes this might be his chance to investigate a Chaos incident without really being in danger! He gets his dashingest cape and his fine rapier and asks to come along, saying he'll get them into the Watch Headquarters. On getting inside (fully armed and armored, they're expecting trouble) they find that the laborer's directions go to a broom closet. Then they make Search tests at -20 until someone succeeds and proceeds with the plot. If they fail enough, Frederick will save them and instantly find the door. Yay for Frederick. If they didn't find out where the laborer was taking the crates, searching is much harder and takes longer, and they can actually fail and completely miss Wolfgang and lose this part of the adventure. It takes the Brute Squad about half an hour of looking before Liniel's sharp elf eyes spot the door despite being unskilled in Search, thanks to the +10 to vision checks elfs get even after her Int is halved for being a Basic unskilled check. Down the party goes into Wolfgang's secret Chaos Shrine, which he for some insane reason hid in City Watch HQ. I don't know how he hasn't been caught yet.

As soon as they arrive in the dark shrine, everything lights up and a horrible acid-dripping 12 foot tall demon pops out of the dark shrine, screaming in rage and sending a signal to Wolfgang that someone found his lair. Using Fortune liberally (Solveig and Liniel both needed it), the entire Brute Squad succeeds on Fear. This isn't their first demon! This Demon was also written before they added Demonic Aura to the game, so it isn't actually that dangerous. Because they succeeded at Fear, Frederick automatically fails; he auto-succeeds if they fail so that he can defend them if they're cowering. The demon is, uh, weaker than the final boss demon in book 1. WS 50, SB 4, TB 4, AV 1, Strike Mighty, 2 attacks, 15 Wounds and if it somehow hits you twice it inflicts an additional SB+2 hit automatically. Liniel unslings her bow and shoots it, but misses both shots. The rest of the party charges, and four characters attacking it with Charge and Outnumber gets them 4 hits. Most of them roll poorly, but it doesn't have much DR. Taking 2, 3, 1, and then a Fury from Katiya. For 14 Wounds. Which just beheads it in one blow of her Kislevite saber. Kislevites know how to deal with Chaos Bullshit.

As Frederick is getting his breath and the heroes are wiping their weapons, Wolfgang arrives on the scene. Alone. He's meant to be a boss fight. I should remind you he is completely unarmored. He is also slower than Liniel. Who has two pistols and Quickdraw so she can cycle-fire both of them in one Swift Attack with her good hand. Also with her EXP she has 2 attacks and Mighty Shot. Also you can't Dodge bullets or arrows, and even if you could Wolfgang is a pure wizard and doesn't have Dodge. Or the means to Free Parry. He's meant to start the fight with a ranged spell, then draw his Flaming Sword of Rhuin spell and go, unarmored, with WS 40 (50 with his gloves) into melee with the entire party. If 'pressed sorely' he'll use Summon Lesser Demon, but that has a casting time of 2 full actions. He won't live that long. Whatever happens, the fight with Wolfgang is sure to be short; it's mostly a matter of if he gets off a Fiery Blast and fucks up the party before he drops. I don't think Chart really understands the overall frailty of a Hams Wizard as a party-fighting boss; the book frames this fight as one where the PCs will just barely triumph by dint of numbers.

Instead, Wolfgang arrives, and begins a short speech while gesturing to cast spells. Yelling at the PCs for uncovering his secrets and promising their doom will be slow and tortuous in the shadow of fire as Liniel's ears twitch and her hand moves over her holster like a gunfighter. Two gunshots ring out in rapid succession as she uses Fortune to make sure both hit. She gets 8 and 10 on the damage dice for one, then 2 and 10 on the other; don't gently caress with Impact. One Fury confirms, one doesn't. Either way, 15 Wounds from one bullet and 11 from the other leaves Wolfgang at Crit 9. He rolls a 91 for Crit and actually survives the shot, but with a pulverised spine, helpless and unable to act, and likely paralyzed from the waist down. Liniel twirls her gun and holsters it as the spirit of Harrison Ford and the hero stunt-man who improvised that scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc smiles down on her from above.

Conveniently, Wolfgang is alive but helpless and they are in Empire House. The party takes the prone wizard and goes to see if anyone will pay them for an evil Chaos Mage shot down like a dog before he could even have a boss fight.

Now, if you lose to the demon (the book, at least, understands this is unlikely), Lord Frederick surges forward and heroically kills it instantly, then heals the PCs. And if they're losing to Wolfgang, Frederick smashes his altar and completely shuts down his magic, forcing him to only use 1 casting die for the rest of the fight. Hurrah for Frederick. Even in our case, where Frederick did nothing, the PCs have 'helped him gain confidence' and now he'll act against Chaos directly, which has 'far reaching implications' because now there's a real hero in town, Lord Frederick!

Nobody actually pays the PCs for any of this by the normal adventure. Frederick is now their close friend, though, and lets them stay in his mansion so they save on room and board. He also gives them 2 additional friend points with all his contacts by excitedly talking about the battle. Frederick is a humble hero, though, and makes sure the PCs get more credit than they deserve even if he saved them. They also get 300 EXP. Addendum: They also get his magic gloves (Consequence free +10% WS and Str! They go on Otto immediately and never leave! He even withdraws his demand for a Best Codpiece in return) and his excellent magic amulet (+1 to Arcane casting rolls, can sacrifice it to succeed an Arcane spell automatically). They can't use the Amulet, but surely they can find a buyer in a city of wizards.

Wolfgang's plot is okay, if a bit bare bones. He's not a great villain because he's very bog-standard; he's an evil wizard who is a dick and wants endless evil wizard power. It's a bit cliche, but it works. The ways to find him out are well handled and you get a lot of hints before you walk into the Bad End, and honestly the 'disrupt the ritual' action scene is pretty cool and Team Mustache is going to have fun with it. It's more exciting than the main plot, because there's actually an antagonist, but it's also honestly a bit of a disappointing boss fight. Wizards are hard to use as major bosses because as you just saw, guns are an effective counter to wizards. You need to give them cover and mooks and probably have them have used Aethyric Armor before they show up, not that that would've saved him from double 10s from Impact. Wolfgang AND the demon would've been a less depressingly easy fight than Demon THEN Wolfgang. Though it's still hilarious to see him get Indied.

Next Time: Brute Squad and The Many Murders of Carlott

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 14:21 on May 16, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Fangs at the Gate: WE AM LUNARS

The Lunar Exalted are the divine apex predators of Creation, monsters and heroes chosen by Luna to prey on the enemies of the gods in the Divine Revolution. Like Luna, the Lunars are potent shapeshifters, devouring the forms of human and animal prey and becoming them. The Lunars exist as being of boundaries and transgression. They stand at the border of hero and monster, devil and saint, civilization and wilderness, mortal and divine. They pick what side they please at any moment, crossing them with ease. A Lunar that embraces the power and freedom their nature gives them becomes an untamable creature that is still completely human, finding that they need not give up the wild nature of the wild to live among mortals and protect them.

During the Divine Revolution, the Lunars were feared even by the most nightmarish of the Primordials’ forces. They fought as miles-long serpents, all-devouring swarms that wielded devil-slaying plagues, beasts with tusks like daiklaves leading stampedes of murderous spawn and countless other horrors. With the other Exalts, they toppled the creators of the world, slaking their thirst on the blood of slain gods. The Lunars helped to create the Age of Dreams. They never gave up the monstrosity within them, but also became guardians, guides, judges and mystics. The most profound of the shifts after the Divine Revolution, however, was the Solar Bond. In the dawn of the First Age, a coalition of Lunars challenged the rule of a Solar commander who claimed authority over Creation as the chief surviving general of the Revolution. Over several years, the war drew in more Lunars and Solars, eventually involving much of the Exalted host.

In the end, it was a draw, with the two sides making peace via a series of sacred and political marriages, which forged ties between key Lunars and Solars that would last beyond death. Not all Lunars took Solar mates, but even those that did not could not ignore the political and cultural changes that came of the union of sun and moon. For much of the First Age, the Lunars and Solars were inextricably intertwined as symbols of the glories of the age.

The Usurpation changed everything. The mass death of the Solars and the murder of the Lunars who fought to protect their mates or were deemed too dangerous to the plans of the usurpers to be allowed to live awoke a terrible fury in the souls of the Lunars, unseen since the days of the Revolution. The early Wyld Hunts of the nascent Shogunate and its Sidereal backers solidified the vendetta, ensuring that the Lunars would never allow the Shogunate to know peace while even one Lunar still lived. As the wonders of the First Age crumbled to ash, the Lunars reforged themselves to survive in the new age. Over many years, they performed a mystical feat never seen before or since, dissolving the original five castes of the Lunar Essence and creating three new ones. From that point on, the Lunars would be ferocious warriors slaying legions, wicked tricksters bringing chaos to societies they deemed unfit and wise witches bringing forth the mysteries of night.

This was the birth of the Silver Pact. While the Lunars had many ideas on how best to seek their vengeance and make a new place for themselves in Creation, and some of them really didn’t like each other, the Wyld Hunt made internal warfare a luxury they could not afford. Thus, the Lunars came together in a loose-knit organization of mutual aid with a shared vendetta against the usurping Dragon-Bloods and Sidereals, with neither leader nor formal authority. Since then, the Pact has become the single greatest force against the Sidereals and Dragon-Bloods. The Realm’s borders lie where they are because the Silver Pact has denied them access to the lands beyond. The Bronze Faction Sidereals work desperately with the Wyld Hunt because they know that the status quo they have given up so much to maintain would be untenable if the Lunars were left unchecked. Now, the victory of the Pact may be at hand – or it may fall apart, thanks to unforeseen foes.

We get a sidebar on the word “barbarian” and why it sucks. None of the cultures in this book are barbarian cultures. Those do not exist. Societies in Creation call each other barbaric or primitive, as real world ones do, because they refuse to recognize each other as civilization. The Realm, as the sole superpower of Creation, has amazing power to enforce its judgments in its territory. Those that don’t organize in a way the Realm recognizes, or who don’t match their technological sophistication or share their religion, the Realm names barbarians. It justifies conquering and exploiting them as a righteous cause to civilize these people who lack it, seeing the huge tributes the satrapies must pay as a generous price in exchange. The truth is that the cultural differences are more about history, geography and politics, and have nothing to do with barbarism or savagery. Lacking cities doesn’t make a society primitive, and nomads are better suited to survive in regions poorly suited to largescale agriculture, being less prone to disease or malnutrition than city-dwellers. People without access to iron or bronze can’t develop metallurgy of the same sophistication as the Realm has, and their innovations will focus on the resources they do have. The taboos of a society on the Wyld’s edge may seem arbitrary to outsiders, but they probably protect its members from the dangers of the Fair Folk or Wyld warping. That the Realm and similar societies refuse to recognize their sophistication doesn’t mean that sophistication doesn’t exist.

Anyway! Lunars are always chosen from heroes and those who could be heroes. Luna picks people capable of great deeds, if not always good ones. They don’t care about self-proclaimed righteousness as the Unconquered Sun does, though they don’t shun it, either. (Luna is extremely nonbinary.) Luna sees greatness in virtue and in sin. Outcasts, dissidents and iconoclasts held a special place in their heart, as do those who have survived great hardships unbroken, but neither of these are absolute rules. Luna will not pass over a worthy hero just because people like them or they haven’t faced profound suffering. Luna personally attends to each Exaltation of her Chosen, in one of their many aspects or guises. Each Lunar is greeted differently, according to their nature. A friendless orphan might receive a visitation from a divine mother who whispers why they were chosen. An arrogant hunter who has never known a rival might be overpowered by Luna as a great beast or humbled by a boyish trickster. A mercenary whose lost their purpose might meet a wizened crone at the crossroads who gives a cryptic prophecy or lays a geas. A pious Immaculate might meet a silver-eyed savant that debates theology. The meetings are rarely long, but all have a profound impact. Almost all Lunars have a personal or spiritual connection to Luna that they carry with them through their entire life.

During Exaltation, a Lunar’s spirit shape emerges from their Essence. This is an animal form that is as much their true form as their human shape is. Lunars do not choose their spirit shape, but it is always one that has deep personal or cultural meaning, serving as the Lunar’s avatar and embodiment. A warrior with no one to fight might become a fierce tiger, powerful and solitary, while a shaman might become the raiton revered by their clan as a spirit messenger. It is not always immediately obvious why your spirit shape is what it is, but as a Lunar grows and learns more about themselves, their understanding of why that animal is their spirit shape usually grows.

The Essence fever of the Lunars is anger. Their Essence drives them to act on their fury, and those who were driven by anger before Exalting rarely notice the change. Others suddenly act on long-held passions that they’ve never expressed before, starting peasant rebellions based on long-simmering resentment, going to war with hated rivals or beginning campaigns of sabotage against slavers based on a moral outrage over slavery. However, this cannot create anger where none existed before. It only drives you to act on the anger you already have. You might act against personal foes, societal ills or ideological enemies, or you might be touched by the memories of past lives and be driven to take up ancient vendettas, though that’s rarer. Lunars like that are often drawn to memories of the Usurpation and seek vengeance upon the Sidereals or Dragon-Bloods, though some focus instead on personal memories, such as slights by ancient gods or longstanding rivalries with another Exalt’s incarnations. The Silver Pact trains young Lunars to master their Essence fever rather than be mastered by it. It is not something to fear or reject, because rage is a potent weapon if directed well. Instead, the Pact teaches Lunars to bend it to their will and draw motivation from it when it’s useful, but to silence its urges when it is not.

Sidebar: the Moon-Touched. The direct children of Lunars often inherit a touch of the protean Essence and power of their parents. For most, this is subtle. They might receive mutations reflecting their parent’s spirit shape, might be unnaturally strong or might be able to talk to animals. A rare few inherit a greater power, however, gaining the ability to transform into a single animal, a talent as a medium or shaman, or perhaps a shadow that thinks for itself. The Moon-Touched are never as powerful as Exalted, but they are more potent than mortals. Those who do not hold positions of honor in their parents’ dominions tend to rise through the ranks of power in whatever society they live in.

Luna is a god and goddess of many faces. In all forms, however, some things are constant. Change and adaptation are Luna’s nature. They are fierce yet kind, relentless in protecting those they care for. They are mercurial but wise, knowing many secrets. They may be male, female, or anywhere between – or neither at all. No single form or gender can truly embody them. They cannot be confined, quantified or pinned down, for their primal nature is freedom. While no two Lunars ever meet Luna in the same way, many find it to be a deeply spiritual experience that forever changes them. Their reverence is as individual as they are, with some shapeshifting as meditation and others performing tests of endurance to honor Luna. Some start Luna cults, serving as the intermediary with the divine. The Beryl Grove worships Luna as She-Who-Remakes, the silver raiton goddess, and raise tall scaffolds laden with swords, armor and the corpses of those foes that wielded them. The Kajal fish-people of Mela’s Fangs name Luna the Lord of Reflections, circling their victims’ ships five times to honor each of his five faces.

Mortals that live outside or between social or physical categories often worship Luna in the Threshold (under many names). In Whitewall, they follow the Son-and-Daughter, a twin god-goddess that stands forever back to back, revealing their true selves under moonlight. In Marukan, the Sisterhood of the Night Ride drink tea of bitter roots and the sweat of pregnant mares that they might emulate the Swiftest Rider, a mortal turned moon goddess who rides the sky so that her birth name, more for a son than a daughter, can never catch her. In the areas where the Immaculate Order holds power, Danaa’d takes on a similar role and is sometimes syncretized with an aspect of Luna in Realm satrapies, despite the best efforts of orthodox monks.

Lunars that experienced gender dysphoria or similar discomforts as mortals find their true form in Exaltation. Their body shifts to align with their true nature, taking on a form that they are intimately comfortable with. This is their true human shape, and it comes with pure joy and affirmation of self. Many Lunars consider themselves to be neither wholly male nor wholly female, expressing qualities of multiple sexes or genders, or even being perfect androgynes. Some reject gender altogether, and others are genderfluid. The Silver Pact has no prejudices against any of this. After a century or so of casual shapeshifting, after all, many older Lunars tend to see gender as a sort of fashion, to be changed when it feels right. Some Threshold cultures consider gender role transgression or the breaching of gender norms to be a sign of divinity, and Lunars, especially if from such cultures, may adopt gender-transgressive traits to display their status as Chosen.

Next time: The Silver Pact

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Fangs at the Gate: The Pact

Where the Scarlet Dynasty and the Sidereals of Yu-Shan live lives focused on complex hierarchies and where outcastes and Solars work alone, the Lunars find another way. They have created a shared society despite beign scattered to the far corners of the world. They work based on a communal purpose. Each Lunar pursues their own goals in their own way, but they collectively direct their strength to the shared purpose of defeating the monolith that is the Realm, working to collapse its decadent foundations and drown it in its own filth and blood. The early heroes of the Lunar Exalted after the Usurpation are still remembered, alongside its younger heroes, for they set the tenor for the organization and its goals.

Radhika Stormswift was one of the finest warriors of the First Age, clever and strong. She was the strongest proponent of total war against the Shogunate in the early Pact, and she led dozens of raids against Shogunate daimyos, slaughtering hundreds of Dragon-Bloods and destroying huge amounts of irreplaceable First Age infrastructure, like Meru’s Gate of Auspicious Passage, the Southwestern Inland-Sea Bridge and the Shipyard-Basilica of Deheleshen. Only the intervention of the Bronze Faction Sidereals ended her rampage, ambushing her and her chief disciples in a battle that cost several Sidereal lives. This caused the Pact to shift is focus to asymmetric warfare and ended all hopes for negotiation between the Pact and the Sidereal host. Thousand-Swords Oravan, the ruler of Dakina-Serilan who had treated with the Solars as an equal, was the first to break with the Pact, rejecting its communal beliefs to crown himself as the sovereign of the Lunar host. Many flocked to his banner, establishing a network of kingdoms in the far Southwest. However, his forces suffered brutal defeats against the Shogunate, and other would-be Lunar kings and queens broke from his ranks. The Silver Principiate lasted only a scant few decades, and Oravan refused all membership of the Pact even to the end as well as refusing to join any of the breakaway Lunar princes. He died alone at the hands of the Wyld Hunt. Marquin Vol and Horizon Shrike were prominent early voices in the Pact, a pair of lovers who debated often how the group ashould operate and structure itself. Vol believed in a long war over centuries, while Shrike believed vengeance was meaningless unless enacted on the actually guilty, so he wanted total and final action against the Shogunate, no matter the risk. When Shrike attempted an offensive against the Blind Daimyo, Vol died saving his lover when the battle went poorly. This served as his final, convincing argument, and Shrike would go on to embrace Vol’s beliefs, helping to ensure the Pact’s long-term focus.

The Silver Pact’s origins can theoretically be traced back to the early First Age, but the history that goes that far is remembered only by the few surviving First Age elders, all of whom tell it with slight variations from fading memory and personal biases. The organization that would eventually become the Pact was born from the violence between the early Lunars and Solars, the war that ended with the formation of the Solar Bond. It brought many Lunars together as allies and comrades, laying the groundwork for later unity. Centuries later, when a hidden cabal of anarchist Exalts began to undermine the Deliberative whose authority they deemed illegitimate, the Lunars in their number drew on those old alliances to extend their network. The so-called Shadow Deliberative dissolved itself when the Deliberative fell, but the covert network of spying and intrigue the Lunars of the Shadow Deliberative formed was kept alive, passed on to their students.

The Lunars of the First Age fought in the Sunstrife Wars, led the Old Realm forces against the Niobrarans under the sea, even joined the ill-conceived war against the Dragon Kings and delved into the depths of the Underworld seas for lost secrets. By the late First Age, they gathered in regular conclaves to teach young Lunars, offer an outlet for worship of Luna and counterbalance the Second Deliberative to ensure it never gained too much centralized authority. After the Usurpation, in which many Lunars died, sometimes in defense of Solars and sometimes as targets themselves, with a rare few even dying fighting on the side of the usurpers, the survivors were divided on how to react. They splintered into infighting factions of various ideologies and personal grudges, leaving them vulnerable to the Shogunate and the Wyld Hunt. Eventually, the leading Lunars reached an understanding. The various splinters of the Lunar host would collaborate to defeat the Shogunate and their Sidereal patrons, but as an alliance of many groups rather than a single, unified hierarchy. This was named the Silver Pact, evolving into its modern form.

The Silver Pact has no official government or leadership. In theory, it is entirely egalitarian, with no hierarchy or authority positions. In practice, the Pact has politics, like any human organization. Collective action, they recognize, still needs direction, guidance and leadership. Pact members align along various social and political axes, including their approach to the Realm, their age and their association with the pact shahan-yas. Shahan-ya is Old Realm for ‘guide’ or ‘teacher,’ and the unofficial leaders of the Silver Pact hold it as a title of respect. They are the leaders of the various collectives of adherents, disciples and supporters, which are known as schools. Any member of the Pact who is accepted as the leader or mentor by a school can claim to be a shahan-ya. Structure within a school varies, and for the most part adherents will live apart from the shahan-ya, visiting occasionally to study, strategize, get new tasks or socialize. Some shahan-yas occasionally gather their students en masse to discuss matters of import. In other schools, though, some or all adherents may live with the shahan-ya, especially if newly Exalted and still learning to use their new power. More experienced disciples may stay close to study specific fields, such as sorcery or asymmetric warfare or to help run a dominion or lead a military campaign. Sometimes these relationships become personal, with the student becoming a lover of the shahan-ya, a surrogate child or a close friend. Some shahan-yas may, rarely, have only a single adherent, or may live and work with another shahan-ya, but those are exceptionally rare.

Adherents typically stand behind their shahan-ya’s decisions on Pact policy, forming effective social and political blocs. This helps consensus, as once the shahan-yas reach agreement, their adherents tend to fall in line. Each school varies a bit this way, with some establishing clear consensus on issues while others publicly bow to the shahan-ya but maintain their own views, while others are hotbeds of debate and argument. Students may be loyal or devoted to their shahan-ya, but never slavishly so. Each Lunar is, after all, a champion in their own right, not a servant. They can end their ties to their shahan-ya at any time without fanfare, and vice versa. Prestigious shahan-yas might leverage the value of their patronage to demand service, but even so, most accept varying amounts of dissent for fear of driving their followers away.

In the days of the Second Age, a number of Lunar heroes have emerged to lead the Pact at various times. Those of the early Shogunate era are sometimes even still alive, though not all. Dances-Between-Raindrops was a trickster and master impersonator who drank the heart’s blood of daimyos, generals and other leaders. He used their faces to spark rivalries and feuds in the Shogunate high offices, but he eventually overreached when he stole the shogun’s face, reigning for only nine days before he was discovered by the Sidereal elder Seven Doves. The two slew each other in a battle that destroyed half the shogun’s palace and left the government in chaos. Gadhaj Winter-Wheel was an advocate of maintaining and using First Age artifice, seeking to prevent their fellows from destroying the Shogunate’s cache of artifacts and manses. Instead, they led covert missions onto the Blessed Isle, tampering with these wonders and installing mystic backdoors to subvert them. However, their goals never became prominent in the Pact, and many of these subverted wonders were destroyed unknowingly by the offensives of other Pact members. Gadhaj left the Pact bitterly, but in their final days, they rejoined their old friends to face the Fair Folk invasion, hijacking a dormant Thousand-Forged Dragon to fight them off. Raksi and Ma-Ha-Suchi rose to prominence in this period as well, drawing in followers with their deeds and charisma as the First Age leaders began to die off. For a time, they were united against the daimyos of the East, loyal to each other and dedicated to bleeding the usurpers dry. However, after the Contagion, they turned on each other over their differing agendas for the surviving Solars and the future after the Realm fell. Disgusted by their feud, many younger Lunars have divorced themselves from the two, some rising to become leaders in the Pact themselves.

Shahan-yas are not formal authorities, so it doesn’t usually matter to the Pact as a whole when they refuse to recognize each other’s status. On rare occasions, however, a shahan-ya’s extreme views or actions may cause them to be rejected en masse, and the Pact’s laissez-faire approach makes it vulnerable to this. To fight this, the shahan-yas aggressively police any schisms that seem to form. When the behavior of a shahan-ya threatens the Pact’s stability, their peers address it in council. When this fails, consequences may range from schools isolating themselves to outright schism, such as Radhika Swordswift’s offensive or Oravan’s breakaway sect. More recently, Raksi and Ma-Ha-Suchi have gone to war over the future of the Pact, while the Northern members of the Pact have feuded with the necromancer Smiling Rat over his strategy of opening shadowlands deliberately and en masse in Realm satrapies, while Klesamra Lotus-Seed has polarized the Southern Lunars by courting the aid of the Fair Folk. Part of the purpose of Pact socializing and communication is to get a sense for what your neighbors are doing and persuading them to your viewpoint. A handful of Lunars spend vast amounts of time on this, both for their own causes and to prevent future internal strife.

Socially, Lunars also tend to be divided by generation. There are broadly four generations, and the older ones tend to see themselves as expatriates of a nation that no longer can even be conceived of. They are people out of time, from societies long lost. Of all the Exalts, only the elder Sidereals can match them for age, but the Sidereals have an early and lifelong connection to Yu-Shan’s divine community, giving them a unified culture. Lunars, on the other hand, live in a world of change, seeing everything they once knew pass away. Much of what keeps older Lunars in the Pact is that it’s the only place they can really have constant peers.

The Fourth Generation are also called the Children of Sorrows. The vast majority of living Lunars cannot remember a time before the Realm, and they are by far the most active and diverse of the four generations. They come from many cultures, but all were born into a world marked by the bootheel of the Scarlet Empress. Their strongest commonality tends to be opposition to the Realm’s colonialism and imperialism. These modern Lunars also tend to be the closest ones to mortals, retaining relationships to people they knew before Exaltation. Many still have a birth culture to return to, with deep and visceral connections that those who conquer or create new societies don’t have. They fight the Realm for personal reasons, not just protecting themselves or their territory but their literal kin.

The Third Generation are also called Survivors of the Contagion. Of those that survived the disease, many died fighting the Fair Folk invasion. These two scourges decimated the Pact of the period, but also caused many Exaltations, and the Third Generation are the second largest. They all share in the trauma of seeing the world die around them. Some are fatalist or nihilist as a result, seeing Creation as a chaotic, dangerous place even for Exalts. Others are ecstatics or mystics that have given up the idea of grand plans in favor of living for the moment. All of them have a certain apocalyptic viewpoint. Unlike the other generations, they come from a period spanning but a fraction of a mortal lifetime, and they have more in common than any other generation. They survived the same trials as mortals and Exalts, often side by side. They tend to be highly independent and hard to motivate, but once one of them signs onto a cause, others often join out of strong friendship ties.

Some of them even went on to become leaders of the Pact. Aldis Nerin was a Sijanese funerist who Exalted in the Contagion, avoiding the Wyld Hunt’s attention and traveling as a hero-exorcist. This worked well when the Realm invaded the Scavenger Lands, as she could act openly as a ranking member of the Mortician’s Order without fear, and her influence undermined the Realm garrison in Sijan. Her necromancy also helped turn the tide at the Siege of Nexus, and to maintain her subtlety, she feigned a mortal life before faking her own death and leaving a false corpse in the catacombs of Sijan. Bhagaval Iron-Hand lost her family to the Fair Folk invasion, and she spent decades infiltrating and dismantling their power after the Empress fired off the Sword of Creation, giving the mortals of the bordermarches time to recover and rebuild. Her knowledge of the Raksha was very useful in later operations against the Realm, as she could make Wyld taint worse near satrapial infrastructure and bait the fae to the Dynastic forces. Sigh-of-Dreams was a slave in a silver mine who watched the rise of the Guild, learning all he could about it and its methods. While the decentralized nature of the Guild has thwarted his efforts to infiltrate and subvert it entirely, his knowledge proved invaluable, as he got key merchants to support the Guild-backed Nine Duchies Rebellion against the Realm, blocked the Devil Money Seafaring Company from expanding to the Caul and turned the Guild factor Khaj Barun into the Pact’s unknowing spy in Nexus. Most importantly, he has spread his knowledge through the Pact, to better arm Lunars against the Guild.

The Second Generation are called the Warriors against the Shogunate. Many Lunars died in the Usurpation and the early Wyld Hunts, reincarnating as the second generation, born under Shogunate rule. They grew up in the shadow of the Dragon-Blooded daimyos and the unending civil wars. They know all about war, realpolitik and the shikari armies that wielded First Age weapons freely. They tend to be cynical, suspicious and very, very good at wilderness survival and battlefield tactics. Despite their elders’ vast knowledge and power, they tend to be the ones who actually direct the Pact’s strategy at this point, as they have a more unified vision and more useful modern experience than the First Age elders.

The First Generation, the Elders of the First Age, have barely a handful left. They are legends to younger Lunars, larger than life and creatures of great power and strange appetites. They do not, however, run the Pact. They are mighty, having outlived the Shogunate and survived the Usurpation, but they are used to the very long view. Most prefer to focus on their own agendas and plans rather than the Pact’s goals, content to let the younger Lunars lead. Of all the four generations, the Elders are the least cohesive. They come from a very large, widely-spread period, and most are from long-dead cultures. They’ve had a long time to become distant, and their focus tends to be on Bronze Faction Sidereals, the legacy of the Shogunate and fellow First Age survivors rather than any individual Dragon-Bloods or rivals in the Pact. Only those that share their experiences and worldview are worth their antipathy, often. Many are somewhat unstuck in history, having hibernated for centuries or hidden away in isolated lands. Most are intellectually aware of current events but mostly uninvested. Often, they cling to archaic mannerisms and styles, but they are also keepers of lost techniques and wisdom. They may have withdrawn from leadership roles, but they are still approachable as mentors or for favor trading. Still, getting their aid isn’t easy, as they’re set in their ways and dislike being distracted from their private goals. Getting Ma-Ha-Suchi to help you rather than the hundreds of others he’s turned away over the past few centuries, is no small feat. (In case you’re wondering: Generation Zero, the survivors of the Divine Revolution, no longer exist. The few that managed to survive the Usurpation were slain in the earliest days of the Silver Pact.)

Next time: What We Want

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I'm really curious to see how they treat Raksi this edition who in older editions was... yeah. I'd say the same for Lilith, but apparently she's already got some needed retcons.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Dawgstar posted:

I'm really curious to see how they treat Raksi this edition who in older editions was... yeah. I'd say the same for Lilith, but apparently she's already got some needed retcons.

Lemme put it this way: Raksi is still a monster, but a usable monster.

Ma-Ha-Suchi is actually pretty sympathetic.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Mors Rattus posted:

Lemme put it this way: Raksi is still a monster, but a usable monster.

Would you mind elaborating for those that don't know the details of old Exalted?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



SirPhoebos posted:

Would you mind elaborating for those that don't know the details of old Exalted?

In first edition, Raksi was a monstrous Lunar elder who led a nation of ape-people in pursuit of Solar Sorcery, which she could never get. Also, she ate babies for kicks and hosed ape-people, because savage barbarian queen. She was tolerated by the Lunars because she invented the silver tats.

Second edition kept this but made her eternally 14, gave her a backstory of childhood abuse and made her driven insane by the Wyld.

Third edition's take dropped literally all of second ed and the apefucking. She still sometimes eats babies, but it is a deliberate act of monstrousness designed to shock her fellow Lunars and force them to deal with the fact that yeah, some of their fellows in the Pact are monsters, and she's not interested in your goddamn moralizing. One of her students is a woman who objected to this vocally and shouted at Raksi until she spared the child she was going to have cooked, handed the girl to the young Lunar and was like 'okay, you've convinced me, now raise this, my god-daughter, in perfect luxury and I'll let you read my sorcerous library. I like your spunk, kid.'

Also her goal is no longer the pursuit of an impossible dream, she has actual, functional goals.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Fangs at the Gate: Pactice

The Silver Pact serves all kinds of goals for its members. They secure the safety of young Lunars whenever possible, often rescuing them from Wyld Hunts, providing them Caste-fixing tattoos and training them. They also serve as a mutual aid network and a means of social interaction. Plus, well, they’re a good way to seek power and leverage politically. But first and foremost, the goal of the Pact is to destroy the hegemony of the Dragon-Blooded and Sidereals. The Wyld Hunt wants to kill every Lunar before they can gain the power to resist, and in retaliation, the Pact grinds down the Realm, bleeding them from ten thousand cuts. It’s proven a very effective strategy over the centuries. Raiding, sabotage of diplomacy, assassination, even open warfare in the Caul – all have a role to play.

Despite the power of the Lunars, they are up against foes that seek to destroy them when they are at their most vulnerable. It is in the Pact’s interest to recruit potential new members as quickly as possible, and they use many means to find new Lunars before the Wyld Hunt can. Spies, informants, travelers, spirits, sorcery and vision quests are all used to further this goal. Personally tracking down young Lunars is time-consuming and occasionally dangerous, but a valued and prestigious duty. Trackers set aside other business to find the new Lunar’s location, track them down and recruit them, often protecting them from the Wyld Hunt in the process. For most, the risks are far outweighed by the chance to gain a new ally. Recruiters must use subtlety and finesse, not coercion. A Lunar compelled to join has no loyalty and may carry a grudge, while those that join freely bring their full strength to bear. Most Pact members believe that a few years or decades will easily prove the value of the Pact, and when a Lunar joins late, they’ll end up bringing in useful experiences and knowledge from their time alone.

Typically, however, a young Lunar needs little encouragement. The Wyld Hunt is a firsthand example of the Realm’s violence, and the heroes of the Pact are awe-inspiring figures in action. Pact emissaries are happy to explain the truth of why the Realm hunts Lunars down and ask little in return, emphasizing the greed and cruelty of the Realm, the power of the Pact and the wisdom of the elders. Manipulation or coercion are both rare and disliked, with those few who are overzealous and headstrong enough to use them drawing the ire of smarter and calmer shahan-yas. Many young Lunars are still too distrustful, stubborn or reckless to listen, or too busy with immediate crises, but most will at least entertain a Pact emissary’s visit or accompany their patron or rescuer to meet a shahan-ya briefly. The Pact does have a lot to offer them, most notably the moonsilver Caste-fixing tattoos and the chance to study under a shahan-ya and attend Pact councils.

It isn’t uncommon for Lunars to reject Pact membership, either on first approach or after receiving their tattoos. Pact emissaries and shahan-yas tend to accept this evenly. Most believe the new Lunar will be back in a few years, after all. They make it clear that the young Exalt is free to reconsider at any time and to inform them of other Lunars they can reach out to if they change their mind, plus helpful advice on surviving alone. And in case you’re wondering, the methods the Lunars use to track down new Exalts tend to be about equally useful as the Sidereal methods. Sidereal divination is more precise in tracking new Exaltations, but Lunar shapeshifting means they tend to cover ground faster, making the race to find a new Lunar about equal.

The Pact’s function as a mutual aid society is the one most commonly used. Even the war with the Realm is equally about protection from the Wyld Hunt, and the Pact serves well as a venue to trade favors in times of need. There are no formalities to this, no central arbiter or formalized ranking of worth. Those that perform many favors or perform especially dangerous ones, however, earn great prestige among their fellow Lunars. Favors can be given freely or traded for appropriate payment. Compensation might mean political support, finding moonsilver ore, lending artifacts, retrieving beasts to hunt, killing specific targets or just a standing favor to be called on later. For significant debts, a debtor might perform multiple smaller tasks instead. If debtor and benefactor can’t agree on repayment, either can bring the matter before a council of shahan-yas for arbitration. Debtors are not obligated to obey or even be polite, though some debts can be paid with long-term respect or short-term obedience. Tradition does not condemn ungrateful debtors, though individual Lunars might.

Some, particularly shahan-yas, may require compensation before they’ll do a favor for you, either as a show of status or because they hate being disturbed from their own work. It is common for a shahan-ya’s students to owe them many favors in exchange for training, artifacts or so on. Most shahan-yas work to avoid becoming very indebted to any one student, and most will go out of their way to repay debts quickly. Foolish or unreasonable requests can easily be taken as insults, though, and be rejected immediately. Still, there are often social consequences for failing to pay your debts and support your fellow Lunars. Those who reject reasonable requests outright, force others to demean themselves or demand outrageous payments may be shunned. They will find it hard to gain aid in the future and will lose political support at councils. While Pact members are not obliged to do favors, a Lunar that refuses to do things they are easily able to will lose prestige and have trouble gaining favors themselves. A few Pact members accept these consequences; some don’t care about how they’re seen, while others, like First Age elders, are just too important to easily shun.

When the Pact has to make a decision, either in a specific region or, much more rarely, as a whole, groups of shahan-ya will gather in council to discuss the matter, or send their trusted students to represent them. Circumstances will determine how a council gets held. In a crisis, a council may end up as a standing body for as long as needed, while at other times a council might be called to deal with a specific regional issue. Some shahan-yas hold regular gatherings, by the year or century, to discuss matters of interest or just to debate and gossip. Typically, one shahan-ya will be the host and offer their dominion’s hospitality to the others. This may include banquets, lots of drugs, hunts of beasts, sex, conversation, music, stories or gifts. Failure to provide hospitality of some sort earns disdain and possible future snubs, though a guest making unreasonable demands may well suffer the consequences instead. The greater one’s prestige, the more leeway you have. The specifics vary by the circumstances. Leviathan offers great luxuries at the Sunken Hall of Luthe, but they’re usually aimed at water-breathers, with the few airy chambers reeking of algae and damp, and the food, while excellent seafood, is generally raw. The eelfolk dancers and octopusfolk percussionists entertain, and Leviathan sometimes leads hunts of siaka, giant squid or other sea beasts in the kelp jungles and caverns around Luthe. On the other hand, Amatha Kinslayer holds her councils in the palace or manor of a Threshold figure whose face she’s stolen, and usually holds a giant banquet and gala for the locals to bring in aristocrats and performers who are ignorant of how many Anathema are among them.

A sidebar notes that PC attendance of councils is likely to be as proxies for their shahan-ya or alongside them, so they’ll usually have some goal to achieve, either political or social. Food and fun are not just indulgence, they’re a chance to meet guests and get a sense of their character, goals and politics via reading intentions or profiling. It also notes that getting the council to do things is usually easier via bargains than persuasion actions, as the council is likely to have a wide range of Intimacies, but favors have broad appeal. Even if the PCs don’t address the council directly, they can still use social influence to pursue their goals or their shahan-ya’s agenda, interacting individually with people on the council.

While the Pact tries to bring Lunars together, it is inevitable that in such a diverse body of monster-heroes with their own goals, there’s going to be strife. Thus, there are some ground rules. Hospitality is encouraged, and it is considered polite to visit a Lunar when you pass through their territory, giving you both a chance to catch up on recent events and strengthen social bonds. Refusing an offer of hospitality is considered disrespectful. Violence between Lunars directly is frowned on heavily. Killing other Lunars only harms the Pact, as do grudges that distract from the main goal of destroying the Realm. Thus, the Silver Pact discourages both killing other Lunars and violence or spying against their kin, dominions and so on, even against Lunars outside the Pact. Grievances should be brought before the elders, and resolving grievances is a major function of most councils. Specifics of resolution are up to the shahan-yas present. If one side is obviously in the wrong, they’ll be asked to make redress, but if it’s unclear, as is usual, then the resolution is often via competition, such as duels of shapeshifting skill, recitation of lore or sparring matches, with the loser making amends to the winner.

A Lunar who rejects the will of the shahan-yas loses a lot of prestige in the Pact and may be shunned, with those who don’t shun them losing respect from their peers. In especially egregious cases, such as repeated violence against other Lunars or attempts to subvert the Pact, a Lunar can be banished from the Pact itself. Banished Lunars are outlaws, no longer protected by the Pact’s prohibition of violence against Lunars or their interests. This can be followed by a declaration of execution, in which a particularly malicious criminal Lunar is declared outlaw and then hunted down and killed. This is extremely rare, but it happens.

There is no single reason the Pact opposes the Realm. For some, it’s because they’re the successors of the usurper Shogunate. For some, it’s the subjugation of the Threshold that offends them, or the Wyld Hunt. Other Dragon-Blooded societies receive focus from the Pact to the extent that they share in the legacy and agenda of the Shogunate, which usually means Lookshy, Prasad and powerful cadet houses. It’s not hard for the Lunars to find allies against Realm aggression, either. The satrapies have labored under the Imperial rule for centuries and usually don’t like it. Farmers and merchants pay outrageous tax, facing starvation or bankruptcy in bad years. Garrisons keep the local soldiers in the homes of the people. Aristocrats begrudge the service required of them and their loss of income. Even the gods tend to hate the Immaculate strictures that keep them from demanding worship freely. The Realm harms even those within its borders, as satrapies raid each other to pay their tribute or Dynastic adventurers organize military expeditions for their own profit. Realm fiscal policy interferes with inter-satrapy trade and trade with other lands, and Immaculate missionaries destabilize societies with their faith at times. When the Realm finally comes in conquest, the effects of the war can be prolonged and highly destructive.

A sidebar notes that experienced Lunars have a lot of options to infiltrate Dragon-Blooded compounds to assassinate people, even matriarchs, and even a young Lunar outmatches an inexperienced Dragon-Blood. However, assassination is not common practice. Why? Because despite the utility of shapeshifting and deceptive magic, it’s not perfect. There’s almost never just one Dragon-Blood, and powerful or prominent ones usually have trained guard animals, complex passwords, artifacts or sorcery protecting them and other defenses against shapeshifter infiltration. Even if a Lunar assassin succeeds, this flagrant action risks calling down a Wyld Hunt. It can be worth the risk, so assassination does happen sometimes, but too often, a Lunar that kills like this repeatedly gets brought down. Further, Dynasts tend to ignore the Lunar actions in the Threshold, focusing on their own internal politics and hedonism. Blatant strikes against their kin can change this and bring Wyld Hunts that can kill uninvolved Lunars. Therefore, most shahan-yas discourage overt assassination or assault of minor targets. You don’t get a lot of good assassinations before you become a target, they teach, so make them count.

The Silver Pact rarely speaks in terms of victory in the field. They aren’t an empire, they don’t seize land or territory. They are a predator, running the Realm to exhaustion. Across the Threshold, they strike to wound, not kill. They are pirates, raiders, rebels and instigators of civil war. They turn satrapies from sources of wealth to weights dragging the Realm down. Sabotage, theft and murder strip assets and undermine political reforms. Harassment of Imperial defenders and auxiliaries exhausts them, leaving them vulnerable. Only when the Realm is overextended at a critical point does the Pact strike with overwhelming force. It’s worked pretty well. The Realm once built networks of roads and bridges across their satrapies to move troops and tribute. Now, they’ve lost warstriders, First Age manses and other relics that cannot be replaced, and both the Dynasty and Lookshy have but a fraction of the arsenal they once had. These strategies relied on the Empress’ own conservatism and desire to protect her rule. She knew that overreach would help the Lunars, and she deliberately slowed Realm expansion to prevent this, tolerated greater independence from troublesome satrapies and grew reluctant to perform great projects such as Westward expansion, subjugation of the Scavenger Lands or the reclamation of Prasad.

Centuries of work by the Silver Pact have turned the Realm from an unbreakable hyperpower to “merely” the sole superpower of Creation. This was just the beginning. Running the Realm to ground this way may take centuries of effort still, effort that will be difficult and dangerous, but the shahan-yas were confident that their strategy was the best path. Now, though, the Empress is gone. The Solars are back. Everything is changing. Many shahan-yas still favor the winning stratagem that has brought them this far, but others seek immediate action. They see a chance to finally strike at the throat of the Realm, ending it once and for all. Regardless of method, however, they will bring it down.

Next time: The Three Great Strategies

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Maybe this is elsewhere, but... what is the plan for after the Realm? This ageless conspiracy has a desired end state for the people there, right?

Or is it really just “we will be greeted as liberators”? Or, you know, post-Soviet collapse and New Empress Two: Electric Putin-aloo?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply