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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Time War

I know, I know, I promised you Chicken Illuminati. They're coming, I promise, but I gotta go through the Time War first or else nothing is going to make sense. So, you remember how Feng Shui is one of the most important resources in global history? Yeah, there's also time travel. There's an 'inner kingdom', a mutable, crazy series of caverns full of the remains of discarded timelines and leakage from actual Hell called the Netherworld. If you know how to get into it, you can use it to go to other Junctures in history, which all move together in synch. So like, if I leave 2056 on September 21st, and I'm out in 1996 for a week, I come back to 2056 on September 28th in both 1996 and 2056. The main 4 junctures open are 2056, 1996, 1850, and 69 AD. There might be portals in hidden places to other times and places, or you can add a few in your game if you feel like it. Want to jump into the American Civil War and bring an M249 SAW to the Battle of Gettysburg to mow down some secessionists? Go ahead. Still, for the most part, you'll stick to the pre-arranged junctures. Trust me, they complicate things enough on their own.

People who find out about and visit the Netherworld become known as 'Innerwalkers'. That's you, your PC is an Innerwalker. If you become an Innerwalker, your identity is mostly 'set' in time. Your circumstances can change if someone managed to change the heck outta history, but you'll stay 'you' and you'll remember being you. So you're good, you're set. You're ready to do kung fu and save the world throughout history. The thing is, History is really, really resilient. It doesn't like to change. This is for convenience's sake so you don't gotta worry that if you waste a bunch of people in 69 AD or step on a butterfly or something you're going to change all of reality in one jump. We'd never get anything done in the later Junctures if changing history was easy. It finds ways to rewrite itself so things mostly go how they're meant to go.

That said, you CAN change history. Canonically, this can only be done by taking enough Feng Shui sites to cause a Critical Shift where you alter how history went. This is one of the reasons the guys in 2056 can't be comfortable with just ruling the world at the end of the timeline, by the by; they gotta worry some jerk back in 1850 is going to seize enough sites to make them never happen. How many do you need to seize to do this? Eh, who knows. Whatever seems appropriate for your campaign. In practice, we usually ended up making time-shifts happen when it seemed dramatically appropriate and based 'em more on boss fights than on just taking Sites alone. Partly because taking Sites gets kinda boring and after awhile we'd just say 'yeah we've sure got us some Sites' and then focus more on having kung fu fights with villains as a way to change the timeline. Still, you never quite know what's going to happen when you start distiming poo poo and sometimes you might end up going back to a prior juncture to try to fix your own oopsie before it happened. Did you trust Quan Lo and the Guiding Hand because they seemed like nice Confucian boys? Did you accidentally cause Fist of the North Star? (That is one of the possible mistake Critical Shifts that can happen in Blood of the Valiant, the only book to include some really great end-game Critical Shift ideas) You might want to recruit Kenshiro and bring him back into the past to punch the universe until it makes sense again.

One thing you'll quickly notice when we get to the factions, which is quite 90s indeed, is that basically everyone is evil to some degree. The Silver Dragons were the only group that mostly ment well, and when your game starts, they just got stomped on by a massive turbo-loving from every other faction betraying them at once. Most everyone else is some flavor of Chi Tyrant in the making, or the Jammers. The Jammers are a group of rebels who really, really hate that Chi exists. They would like to blow up every Feng Shui site, to ensure Chi stops existing. This may kill everyone on earth. They don't really care. We'll get to them in their own faction writeup. The default FS campaign has your good-hearted and eclectic heroes drawn into this war, and then probably meeting the surviving Dragons and taking over leadership of their faction to try to achieve something. Then failing and dying. There's a strong undercurrent of that with some of the writers, though others are way more cheerfully into the PCs being the straw that breaks the (transformed) camel's back and saves the world. It varies a bit. I naturally preferred the latter.

One of the issues with Feng Shui's writing is it can never decide if you, the PCs, are going to be the thing that somehow makes it to a better end game of the cross-temporal war over furniture arrangement tyranny. It's a bit hard to even imagine what an 'endgame' of Feng Shui looks like, so it's probably better to focus on accomplishing your melodramatic hooks and loving up one or two factions or particular villains you really hate. That leaves you room for sequel hooks where their mates swear revenge or the other power blocs of the time war decide they have to stop you and now you play as the next generation of heroes drawn into a new war with all the Juncture moved 20 years forward. Another issue is that it tends to take the Chi domination stuff a little too far; they treat it like staying in a region controlled by someone with strong Chi will just brainwash your PC, which is one reason no-one goes to 2056. I always preferred to say that's just how some of the Chi Tyrant wannabes think about it, while ignoring there are other ways around their power so that PCs have a chance to boot them in the head.

Another issue is that sometimes, they try to treat the time travel stuff as something to get clever with instead of an excuse plot that brings a ton of character types together. So you get stuff like Seal of the Wheel talking about the Ascended loving with your family in 1850 so that there'll be 'superficial' shifts that change your life a little around you and 'keep you off balance'. No, bad writers! Bad! Don't pull back the curtain/ask too many questions about the time travel poo poo, just use it to get Zhuge Liang into a game of wits with a CIA analyst working for a conspiracy of magical stoats. That stuff is generally rare, but concentrated a lot in the Ascended book and one of the reasons I dislike them (there are a lot of reasons to dislike the Ascended).

Another nice thing is the Netherworld is a living place to have adventures, too. There's all kinds of previous timeline people lost down there; you want to run into a pirate using John Dee's Blood Magic to protect his ship on the seas of not-Hell? Go for it. Laser Jews from a lost timeline where the Hebrews discovered Feng Shui during their exodus? Already in there, see Mors' review for reference. Some kind of mad double king from a timeline when Divine Right absolute monarchy didn't go far enough? That's...basically just the faction of the Four Monarchs, actually, when I think about it. So yeah, Double Kings are already in there, just instead it's a Thunder Pope. With a massive magical pinball parlor. You want to take over a Feng Shui site that's actually a cult to a field of magical tentacles ruled by a lovely televangelist? That's already there, I didn't make that up! I wish I had made that up!

What I'm trying to say is if you just want to have gonzo not-Hell adventures the Netherworld is an endless source of fun, too. And that's FS's Time War at its best, when it's an excuse to say yes to all kinds of off the wall stuff. Not when it's played straight as a strategic battlefield. Let the plot and your crazy ideas drive it, not a worry about what a global conspiracy 'should' detect, or how many soldiers a future dystopia 'should' be able to throw at you.

And with that out of the way, we can finally get to one of the main factions of the story: The Ascended.

Next Time: Arise, Chiken. Chiken Arise.

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PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


It feels like the "correct" way to run Feng Shui, i.e. where it would be fun to the most people, would be a combination of Bill & Ted and Big Trouble in Little China.

Stephenls
Feb 21, 2013
[REDACTED]


PurpleXVI posted:

It feels like the "correct" way to run Feng Shui, i.e. where it would be fun to the most people, would be a combination of Bill & Ted and Big Trouble in Little China.

Those two plus Hard Boiled, maybe.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


The ending of The Killer, only starring Theodore "Ted" Logan and William "Bill" S. Preston, Esq.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Who holds back the Electric Car? We do! WE DOOOOO!

So, back in 69 AD, a lot of animals figured out how to turn into humans. Being magical animals, they had magic kung fu powers. They also hates evil wizards. They came from (originally) a previous version of time where 4 powerful kung-fu wizard kings and queens ruled over all of history. The magic animals hated these guys, not just because the huge sorcerous armies and powers of these Monarchs could force an animal to turn back into an animal, but also because they were dicks. Seriously, the Four Monarchs sucked. The Four Monarchs were siblings, you see, and they all hated each other. So while they contested against one another in huge Demigod Wizard Bullshit battles, the magic animals figured out a plan: Take their Feng Shui Sites out from under them and banish the Monarchs to the Netherworld. The magic animals won, and saved the world from Wizard Bullshit, rewriting most of history into what we know today. Then they moved on in and took over the thrones of power of the world, originally to protect it from Wizard Bullshit, but later to make sure no-one could ever throw them off those thrones of power.

Because you see, the Magic Animals had pulled an Animal Farm and become total dicks themselves. You could look from the Lodge (The Transformed Animals call themselves The Lodge) to the Monarchs, and from the Monarchs to the Lodge, and not really tell the difference. Sorta. In intention. The Monarchs would stand out a little because they're Exalted characters, while the Lodge are kind of a general lovely 'SHADOW GOVERNMENT!!' 90s Conspiracy mashup but with more kung fu tigers.

In practice, the Lodge runs 1850 and 1996. They got some problems, though. We didn't go over this in the powersets because Tranimal powers are just Fu mechanically, but Tranimals absolutely suck to play: Unless you're playing one from back in 69 AD, you start to accumulate what's called 'Reversion' points if you hang out in the Netherworld or get targeted with Sorcery. If you get too much and fail a check, you poof back into being a stoat/chicken/fox/dragon (also if you poof back into a dragon you almost certainly die; they need more magic than exists even in 69 AD to stay alive as a real dragon). This generally retires your PC immediately. Hope your friends didn't want to have fun in the Netherworld! This causes terrible headaches for the Lodge, though, because they know they're stuck in a time war and they can't easily do the time traveling themselves. So they began to put their feelers into every intelligence agency, army, and government on the planet, both to defend their Feng Shui sites, but also to recruit commandos and spies and poo poo that they can actually send to other times without them turning into a squirrel.

The Lodge has all the normal issues of a secret Conspiracy Theory Is Right faction, even down to being a bunch of special bloodlines and families who are sinister parasites on all of human history. Every single family of Tranimals has their own breed of subtle and deadly assassins that all start to bleed together eventually. They control every government on the planet for the most part, and will tell you that they're a necessary evil to keep the world humming along how it is in 1996; their argument for their own existence is partly 'the 90s are a great time, right?' Here in 2019, that ain't much of a compelling argument. Somehow, no-one ever calls them on 'so you ran everything, how the gently caress did the World Wars happen? Why did the Cold War happen? Why's everyone pointing strategic nuclear arms at each other all the goddamn time?', despite that being one of the obvious angles: You own history, so to speak, then you own history, and there's a lot of lovely stuff going down between 1850 and 1996 that they gotta answer for.

They're very standard, despite the kung fu magic animal bit. They have a very, very firm grip on 1996 and 1850, but what drives them up the wall is that they somehow lose between 1996 and 2056. They can't figure out how, and herein lies the actually compelling aspect of the Lodge and their Ascended if you play it up, and one that actually does resonate in 2019. Remember: The apocalypse happens between 1996 and 2056. The climate change apocalypse. Buro is the one that prevented grand global starvation when it happened. One of the things the Ascended and the Lodge do? They keep the world reliant on fossil fuels, because some of their highly placed shitheads are making a killing on them and they believe the chi will prevent anything like 'global warming' from loving them. They have cars that'll run on practicable clean fuel cells, but you only get one if you're a Lodge member, entirely because they want to know they have them and none of those peasants out there do. They have non-cancer cigarettes, but they keep making the old ones because they like knowing only they have those. They've created a world where a 1%er like them has whatever they want, and they can't see that their love of making sure no-one else ever gets it is going to gently caress the world harder than their Chi can ever protect them from. They're a shitload of super-rich assholes staring the Apocalypse in the face (One THEY CAUSE; we'll get to that) and assuming the solution to it is to give themselves more. Meanwhile, they lecture you about how they deserve everything they have because they protect you from getting eaten by a magical Sharktopus and no, nothing can ever be better, be happy with the crumbs you've got.

That's fairly resonant.

They also naturally own every government on the planet, and every spy agency. They know where the majority of 1996 Feng Shui sites are, same for 1850. Their control is written to be as tight as the 2056 Buro, people just don't quite notice because there's less about them directly mind-controlling you with it and their control is less overt. Still, if you play them exactly as written, their book is too much about how they defend their enormous power and not enough about where the cracks you can shatter are showing up. You own something nice? Their lawyers and maybe a SWAT team or maybe the mob shows up (they also run the mob). They have mind control chi satellites and all kinds of superspy tricks. That part's fine; superspy tricks are fine for one of the factions. It's just when their book starts to get into them 'cunningly' using time travel to repeatedly change your backstory to 'keep you off balance' that I really start to call bullshit. They are hands down the single strongest faction in the Secret War at campaign start if you're going by the books.

However, they still lose, and they can't understand how they lose. When I say they caused the apocalypse, the writing is a little unclear at times on whether the weather shift that destroyed the world's agriculture happened due to the force used to sterilize a hell-plague on Haiti or just due to fossil fuels and pollutants. Either way? Their fault. See, what happened in Haiti, if you read between the lines? The Melter Plague was their bioweapon. Designed to kill every last non-Tranimal human on the planet as part of the emergency 'Extinction Agenda' if they were ever losing control of the world. That same plague puts the people who make Buro in power and paves the way for them to completely lose the planet, and they don't notice because they assume all they have to do is seize more sites and more power for themselves and they'll never, ever face consequences for any of their actions.

That's the compelling part of the Ascended. The total blindness and privilege and their assumption that nothing will ever hurt one of them, personally. You see, they've also set up the world so none of them ever go to jail for anything (fair enough, the Ultra Rich have certainly done that), and one of the only crimes that will make them come down hard on one of their own is an Ascended/Lodge guy whacking another Lodge guy. You don't spill Family Blood. You also don't have kids with humans. You have to keep the magic nobility bloodlines pure, because these people are nuts and still like magic kung fu animal eugenics. Either of those things are some of the only ways they'll ever go after one of their own. I'm sure you can already see the Melodramatic Hook potential.

Most of their many agencies of 'subtle but deadly assassins' are like reading Warhammer 40k stuff trying to tell us this new Most Warlike of People actually likes War even more than the last eighty we heard about, so they're pretty interchangeable. The one that stands out is the Jackals, who are stupidly grimdark. We're talking stuff like the 'Killkid' project, where they tortured thousands of orphans from the third world to death to produce 12 supersoldiers with 11s in all their stats. Or how they run all organized crime and human trafficking. They are designed to...do something. They're meant to be some kind of terror weapon of a family to keep humans cowed and scared. They're really just huge assholes.

I feel like the Lodge is really best summed up by their super-enforcer, Draco. Draco is an ancient dragon who is attuned to the fountain of youth, so he'll never die of old age. He is the most powerful NPC in the setting, with Martial Arts 22, every Tranimal schtick, and as much Fu as they feel like. In the original book he shows up in, the book advises to never actually have PCs fight or see him, just be awed at the evidence of his passing (ugh). He is also a lazy rear end in a top hat who spends most of his life demanding total respect and civility from others while showing very little in return. He spends his days on his massive yachts, sleeping around, enjoying whatever he wants, and occasionally gets a phone call from the secret masters of the world to go kill some PCs. Then he does. Then he gets back to his lazy, boring life of total luxury. That's...really the Lodge's issues in a nutshell. A super-unassailable NPC rear end in a top hat who doesn't really do anything or want anything besides continuing his life of endless luxury and who can just show up and crush you at Numberslam with his enormous numbers. This should be the guy you fistfight on top of his wrecked Metal Gear at the end of your plot, goddamnit, not 'you should be in awe at his passing'.

The Lodge/Ascended also have the Pledged. The Pledged are the mookiest mooks in the setting: These are the various MiBs and spies and rich human families that serve the conspiracy. Most of them have no idea why they do what they do, only that if they do, they get paid. A lot. They punch the clock, they menace the NPCs, they get their asses kicked when the PCs show up. They're serviceable, and playable; you can be a Pledged that turns on their masters because they find out a little too much.

The Ascended are the one faction in Feng Shui I've never felt any urge to play as/run a game for. I'm okay with them as a setting element, though Conspiracy Theory Guys are...problematic. They work better if you shift them more to just being the ultra-rich in general, the ones crushing the world under the treads of unfettered capitalism as they congratulate themselves for being 'the End of History'. I don't think you can really make them a protagonist faction without fully rewriting them; it's fine to start out as Lodge/Pledged guys, but if you're playing as the good guys you're either going to turn on and overthrow the leadership and try to change how the entire faction functions completely, or you're just going to defect and form the Dragons. They try to justify themselves by saying you can drive a fast car and eat a cheeseburger in their time, overlooking that...driving fast cars and eating cheeseburgers is what causes Buro in the first place.

In conclusion, the Ascended are assholes. Always be punching the magic conspiracy kitty.

Next Time: This is official BTM business, Consumer. Return to your pad.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


I'm impressed that they made "playing as a chicken who knows kung fu/sorcery" unviable. Like, gently caress Reversion being an end-of-PC marker, that's just when John turns into a stoat that can kick someone's kidneys out, or a pig with a machinegun.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

I'm impressed that they made "playing as a chicken who knows kung fu/sorcery" unviable. Like, gently caress Reversion being an end-of-PC marker, that's just when John turns into a stoat that can kick someone's kidneys out, or a pig with a machinegun.

It's especially weird because another part of it all is they make a big deal out of how dragon PCs actually die if they revert. But effectively, all PCs die if they revert, since they're out of place, barring the GM coming up with a quick plot device to turn you back into a person.

Dragons also, hilariously, kind of aren't that great due to the creation mechanics. If you're a dragon, you get huge stat boosts, but no Schticks. And AV 13. Since the stat boosts are during PC creation while your fighting AVs are locked, well...

They do get much stronger later on; a dragon can buy any other Tranimal's powers over time. And coming into the game with Bd 9, Chi 7 (For 5), Mnd 9, Ref 9 isn't actually bad. Just not nearly as badass as the designers think, since you've got high stats but you have a ton of EXP sinks to spend on before you're really great.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




One thing I like about the Ascended is that their whole conspiracy only works because they have enough Chi to brute force it into working. As you strip them of their power, their corrupt politicians get sunk by scandals and their businesses stop being successful because they're only really good at killing people with their unearned talent.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





PurpleXVI posted:

I'm impressed that they made "playing as a chicken who knows kung fu/sorcery" unviable. Like, gently caress Reversion being an end-of-PC marker, that's just when John turns into a stoat that can kick someone's kidneys out, or a pig with a machinegun.

It can be annoying to have to come from the Distant Past Juncture which makes it way less of a hassle, but it's not too bad.

The real shame is Transformed Dragons are still bad no matter what.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


They do have some good plot hooks and scenes, though. The best one is they host a human-hunting competition on an obscure tropical island so their young assassins can practice using their animal kung-fu to kill them. The obvious choice is to intentionally get captured and mixed in with the 'easy kills' and snap a couple Ascended scions' necks.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I do like the image of some incredibly 90s sleazy CEO villain with kung fu turning into a chicken when you blow up his Evil Capitalism Yacht.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's also a good excuse to make sure every one of the sleezy businessmen you fight secretly has powerful kung-fu, because they are animal people.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





e: I did a stupid double-post due to a spotty connection, sorry everyone

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 19:46 on Jun 11, 2019

golden bubble
Jun 3, 2011

yospos



Also, the books explicitly support making an ancient Chinese transformed animal who is incredibly disappointed at their descendants as a character motivation.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Joe Slowboat posted:

I do like the image of some incredibly 90s sleazy CEO villain with kung fu turning into a chicken when you blow up his Evil Capitalism Yacht.

I'm thinking of the scummy CEO who turns into a chimpanzee at the end of the Mario Bros. movie.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Leraika posted:

For some reason the fact that they're leaning into the 'all cats are amoral assholes' stereotype bothers me more than the animal stereotyping they did earlier.

Maybe because it makes a race that seems like it'd be pretty awful for everyone at the table if played to the letter.


I think they're aware of the danger; later on we'll see that Sleeth PCs are offered a mechanical benefit for having a reason to get on the loving helicopter.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Night10194 posted:

It's also a good excuse to make sure every one of the sleezy businessmen you fight secretly has powerful kung-fu, because they are animal people.

My group found out once that the top Hollywood star known primarily for that particular strain of 90's romantic-comedies was actually a Transformed snake. It was interesting to go toe to toe with a Cameron Diaz simulacrum.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Night10194 posted:

It's especially weird because another part of it all is they make a big deal out of how dragon PCs actually die if they revert. But effectively, all PCs die if they revert, since they're out of place, barring the GM coming up with a quick plot device to turn you back into a person.

Dragons also, hilariously, kind of aren't that great due to the creation mechanics. If you're a dragon, you get huge stat boosts, but no Schticks. And AV 13. Since the stat boosts are during PC creation while your fighting AVs are locked, well...

They do get much stronger later on; a dragon can buy any other Tranimal's powers over time. And coming into the game with Bd 9, Chi 7 (For 5), Mnd 9, Ref 9 isn't actually bad. Just not nearly as badass as the designers think, since you've got high stats but you have a ton of EXP sinks to spend on before you're really great.
One of the good changes 2e makes is that Dragons, while they still have the "can learn any other tranimal's schticks", start with some schticks and get their own. Including a very cool one that sets your unarmed attack damage to be equal to the damage of whoever you're attacking. Fighting a dude with a rocket launcher? You now punch as hard as a rocket launcher.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Dawgstar posted:

It can be annoying to have to come from the Distant Past Juncture which makes it way less of a hassle, but it's not too bad.

The real shame is Transformed Dragons are still bad no matter what.

There is also the interesting hook that the Past Transformed Animals from 69 tend to loving despise the Asceded, because it turns out that meditation and enlightenment to become human tends to make you either idealistic or at least ambitious enough to see the modern world as some lazy rear end poo poo.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Half of what makes them so great as antagonists is how the world bends over backwards to give the Lodge whatever they want. These guys are attuned to dozens of sites from the moment they can be and everything just works out for them. People they are attracted to are attracted to them. Stocks they buy go up. They don't get sick. Ever stepped in a puddle? These guys haven't.

And they spend their entire time on screen rubbing it in your face.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Mors Rattus posted:

There is also the interesting hook that the Past Transformed Animals from 69 tend to loving despise the Asceded, because it turns out that meditation and enlightenment to become human tends to make you either idealistic or at least ambitious enough to see the modern world as some lazy rear end poo poo.

Yeah. 69 Transformed wanted to become part of humanity, not be its 1%.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



which makes knocking their power base down so satisfying because all the bad poo poo they've been staving off suddenly blows up in their face.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Robindaybird posted:

which makes knocking their power base down so satisfying because all the bad poo poo they've been staving off suddenly blows up in their face.

Also, you know, that happens anyway between 1996 and 2056 and they're panicking because they can't imagine how, since they obviously have too much chi for anything they do to ever hurt them.

Because they can't see how all the stupid bullshit they're setting up to prevent it ends up causing it and because the only solution they can think of is 'more power and money for us' instead of ever considering sharing or trying to help anyone.

Like, they live with knowing, for a certainty, that the apocalypse happens to them sometime in the next 25-30 years and that everything they've done to prevent it, even all the chi-powered poo poo they've done, hasn't done it yet since Buro still exists in 2056.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Being unwilling to think more than fifteen minutes into the future is extremely human.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

Warning!

I'm impressed you made it this far.

Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

Violence, War, Magic & the Supernatural

It's too bad, but this is where your journey ends.

Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

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

You've proved quite resourceful.

Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

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

But your cleverness won't save you this time.

Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

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

Finally, the power of the true metaplot... will be unleashed!



Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege, Part 1- "In fact, reports say that Coalition veterans wept as they made their way among the bloodied and dying Quebec troops."

No time to talk about Kevin Siembieda or Bill Coffin as they perform a crash landing of storytelling. The fans are revolting! Abort! Abort!

In the shadow of victory
Circa 109 PA


So, if something was mentioned in previous books, don't worry. It'll get mentioned again. It's not like this is a series or anything where they can assume you bought the last book. it's time to recap. So, many in Tolkeen think they've won after the "Sorcerer's Revenge"... three books ago? Three books ago. Anyway, they're partying and kicking Coalition helmets and retiring to sip boat drinks on Lake Huron. Though Tolkeen's leadership warned that the Coalition might attack again, lots of people hung up Mission Accomplished banners and pranced around in flight suits, while sending Prosek buttpics with "U SUK AT GENOCIEDS".

Meanwhile, Prosek grips his mega-damage wineglass ever-tighter while he sits in Coalition HQ, "I DO NOT SUCK AT GENOCIDE, I AM VERY GOOD AT IT AND I WILL KILL EVERYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE!"


"Who forgot to make our missiles look like skulls?! Back to the drawing board!"

All of this is a bit plot-convenient. It makes some sense that volunteer soldiers might leave at this point because they think things are over, but conversely, a bunch of mercenaries leave because they don't think it's over. You'd think one would impact the other in some way, but no. The Coalition's gotta win this one- er, I mean, who could possibly win the day? It's a mystery! The Coalition is just sitting on their duff waiting for peace to bleed Tolkeen out, and then launch their assault. With the smaller army, Tolkeen consolidates its forces back to Tolkeen and Freehold. Moreover, the Federation of Magic "implied" they might help out if Tolkeen is under siege, which... I don't remember happening, but maybe I missed it. In any case, Tolkeen is hoping to hold out until the Summer Solstice in just over a week, when magical power will spike and they'll be able to drop the magical hammer on the Coalition forces. Which is logical, but it's interesting that this is the first time that kind of timing has come up - the conflict has gone on well over a year, you'd think times of magical power would have come up at least several times previously.

Between the margins, Free Quebec apparently came to an agreement with Tolkeen. Tolkeen would aid them in a major battle, trying to crush the Coalition's morale after the Sorcerer's Revenge with a surprise attack on the rear line of the anti-Quebec Coalition forces. Moreover, Tolkeen offered to advise Free Quebec on how to eliminate Lazlo, because apparently they've now gone Full Skeletor for some reason. In any case, during the battle, Tolkeen brought a large continent of demons without telling Quebec, and and as the demons moved to attack the Coalition, the Free Quebec soldiers with them attacked the Tolkeen forces. Whether or not Quebec always intended to betray Tolkeen or if they just decided on the spot is unclear, but they joined forces with the Coalition and fought off the demonic horde. Though Tolkeen retreated with only modest losses, the Quebecois were pretty well slaughtered. Their deaths, though, were inspirational to both the Coalition and Free Quebec. Somehow.

This gave Emperor Prosek the motivation - or excuse - to put an end to the war with Free Quebec and acknowledge their independence. Of course, the Coalition population seems relatively unbothered by the fact they had a leader that put their people into an ugly war in which tens or hundreds of thousands died and is like "Whups, my bad!" But, in any case, the Coalition could now turn their full attention against Tolkeen.


Not to scale.

And so, the Coalition military does a scorched-earth campaign heading towards Tolkeen. The reduced Tolkeen forces fall back to Tolkeen while the Barrens slows the advance. However, massive Coalition firepower eliminates most of the remaining Tolkeen fortifications. While at times they allow civilians to flee, for the most part the Coalition just guns down anyone or anything in their path. Where ambushes and summoned surprises pop up, the Coalition uses quick aerial responses to counter them.

Even so, the coming of the Solstice might have countered all this. However, as revealed in Rifts Coalition Wars 5: Shadow of Evil, the Coalition army under General Jericho Holmes presumed dead in the Xiticix Hivelands survived and has returned. Taking on the question as to how Tolkeen would miss 300,000+ soldiers sitting on their Northern stoop, we get a finger-shake and are reminded that radio communication is unreliable thanks to the magical and dimensional energy disrupting them. This, of course, ignores that a lot of Tolkeen's communication is magical - all it takes is one Ley Line Walker using ley line transmission or magic pigeon to ruin their day. However, apparently Tolkeen and the Coalition just assumed they were all dead and called it a day. Ironically, though we're told air elementals summoned by Tolkeen may have noticed them, their alien minds dismissed anything that wasn't flying. Plot convenience!

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

A student of pre-Rifts military history, the Japanese's attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II keeps coming to mind. In this case, his troops are the Japanese, the defenders at Tolkeen are Pearl Harbor begging to be bombed. Like Pearl Harbor, the troops in Tolkeen's northern quadrant are too cocksure of their power and defenses.

Uh, Siembieda, you do know that Pearl Harbor happened while we were at relative peace...? It's not the best metaphor. In any case:
  • Without being noticed, Holmes' forces manage to scout, survey, and map most of the region between themselves and Tolkeen.
  • Without being noticed, Holmes positions a number of elite squads to the North of Tolkeen and has them stand ready.
  • Without being noticed, Holmes manages to have over three hundred soldiers infiltrate the city disguised as mercenaries and refugees.
Though Tolkeen does notice some Coalition soldiers and spies, they don't make any connection between them and the larger force to the North.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

Even if their surface thoughts are scanned by telepaths or they are forced to reveal secrets by magical means or torture, they can not reveal the full scope of the operation, because these agents don't know it.

They don't need to reveal the scope - because every one of these agents would be from Jericho's force in the North, and would know of its presence, and be able to reveal it. But apparently he has conditioned all 300,000 of his men so well and given them such powerful feelings of revenge and hatred that their minds can't be read by psychics. I feel like there had to be somebody pointing out behind the scenes - Coffin or otherwise - that this wouldn't work, because Siembieda is absolutely insistent as to why it would and will take any contrivance to do so.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

Note: Also remember, the Tolkeenites are convinced that General Holmes and his army are destroyed. They have no reason to believe or suspect otherwise, let alone consider that he may be poised to attack them. Their own conviction of belief (and denial) will prevent Tolkeen's leaders from recognizing the truth or suspecting danger even if the clues present themselves before the attack, as they did during World War II at Pearl Harbor.

Yep, despite having literal precognitives, scriers, and the ability to summon evil ghost spies, Tolkeen is like "Boy, no way they'd try and sneak in behind us! Unpossible!" Plot convenience.


"Perhaps you would like to finally admit this really both our fault?!"

And so, Tolkeen is caught off guard when 8,000 Coalition SAMAS troops fly in from 200 miles away, that's like... 60 minutes for Tolkeen to notice something on the radar, but whatever. Tolkeen has scout vehicles later on with 100 mile radius radar, so no idea how they missed this. But nope, they notice nothing, and the attackers make a beeline for source of magical power, that they've identified... somehow, despite most Coalition soldiers being kept deliberately illiterate and ignorant of magical stuff. They blow up magical pyramids, techno-wizard facilities, etc., before turning to ravage the city's defenses.

Oh, and the Federation of Magic officially tells Tolkeen to get hosed, which is apparently a surprise. It should be no surprise to the reader, given that that's the exact stance they've had in every book leading up to this point, but apparently we're retconning that they did offer help so they can go back on it. Not sure what the point of that is other than to give Lord Dunscon +1 to his Villainy Total, and +50 to his Being a Boring Guy Who Scoots Around On His rear end Making Boat Sounds Total.

The whole Holmes gambit is so obviously forced that it doesn't strike as genius like Siembieda seemingly wants me to.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

A testament to the General's powers of observation, resourcefulness and daring.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

Few leaders anywhere in the world could get their troops to trust in them so strongly that they would literally follow him into the jaws of death, and once gripped in those jaws, to hold together under such perilous conditions.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

The careful and cunning General Holmes was free to conduct his troops unopposed and undiscovered.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

With the power and genius of General Jericho Holmes brought into play, the Coalition Army feels energized.

Personally, he just feels lucky to me, and that's me being more generous than Scrooge after nine Christmas ghosts. So many things could have gone wrong with his plan were the author not on his side - Holmes is not so much a character as a walking, breathing plot device, a contrivance in imaginary skin.

Next: An actual, honest-to-goodness siege.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Look, if the wizards used any of their powers that might help them in this situation, they might win instead of the Nazis, and that's just unacceptable to our boy Kev.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


They really wanted Tolkeen gone, huh. What'd they do to you, Siembieda?

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Cassa posted:

They really wanted Tolkeen gone, huh. What'd they do to you, Siembieda?

Remember that he referred to the Coalition as "our boys in black" without the tiniest shred of irony.

In the preface to a book about them building death camps and committing genocide.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



I really hate to say this but I used to read all these updates to RIFTS and enjoy them and now I just skip them because they feel too dirty.

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




kevin said it's my turn to win

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

Zi Ri
The author's pet minidragon folk

Everyone who guessed that Zi Ri are the setting's elves, give yourselves a hand. They're the immortal species, with all the arrogance and power that comes along with that. There's a couple ways they stand out, though. For one thing, they're not an elder race. While an individual Zi Ri is likely to be vastly older than any person they meet, and in fact some are even as old as history, there was no ancient Zi Ri civilization. Zi Ri as a species were created at about the same time as everyone else.

The other thing, and this is mostly in comparison to D&D, Zi Ri are allowed to be as powerful as their age would suggest. Since this isn't a level or class based game, there's nothing constraining a thousand-year-old Zi Ri to be of a comparable power level to a Rassimel. On the other hand, since this IS a game, you're most likely going to be playing a very young Zi Ri to fit in with the rest of the party.



They're cute buggers, I'll give them that. Zi Ri are little miniature dragons, weighing in at maybe 30 pounds, and 5 to 6 feet long from snout to tailtip. They can fly, both by virtue of their wingspan and also by innate levitation similar to that of the Khtsoyis. Between the two, they're hummingbird-nimble, if not particularly faster than a pedestrian in a straight line. They breathe fire, with about the intensity and ferocity of a butane torch cigar lighter, and a fireproof enough that they can meditate in a fireplace to recover their magic.

Zi Ri mature slowly over the course of 300 years, and then stop aging entirely. At that point, only misfortune will kill them; about a dozen of the first Zi Ri ever created are still alive. They also don't suffer from ennui as they age, so the whole "immortal being that's tired of life" trope is right out. Their creator god is Hren Tzen, the god of sustaining, and zie made them as enduring works of art, possibly in zir own image. If so, then zie was kind of... well...



Yeah.

Anyway, all Zi Ri are hermaphroditic, and they're the primary reason the book made a point of establishing zie/zir as pronouns.



Basically, Zi Ri, especially older ones, constantly act like they know more than you, because they generally do. This doesn't necessarily make them experts on every given topic, but just imagine trying to talk to someone whose references and in-jokes are all about people that died before your grandmother was born. Typically they try to avoid political entanglements, but that's not a hard rule by any means.

Basically, Zi Ri were given all of the advantages, and they know it. They're also tiny and ridiculous and impossible to take completely seriously.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Yeah so, uh, gently caress the Zi Ri the little racist shits.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I hope the Zi Ri get clubbed by the Khtsoyis, who are cooler than them in every way.

Don't you be racist to my beautiful Dickensonian street thug octopi.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I see my prediction was correct. In addition to being the setting's elves, to my mild surprise, we have hit what I hope is Peak Furry. Not only are they the creator's pet, they're also explicitly made to be fetishistic sex objects to everyone in the setting. Also their gender is so special, their pronouns are named after them. Or the other way around.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


You're on thin ice, World Tree! One more outburst, and your out on your rear end like your nephew HSD!

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



aww, cute lil' dragons, I can't wait to play one -

Oh, they're also smug racist assholes and this is where the author put 90% of the weird furry sex poo poo? Boooooo.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Well we can mostly ignore the Zi Ri for a while, and instead move on to talking about EVERYONE ELSE (mostly gods)

World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 2:The People cont'd

The prime species are the ones that the gods favor the most, that the World Tree was objectively designed around, but there are thousands of other sentient or near-sentient species out there. The nice word for them is "nonprime", the more common word for them is "monster."

The primes naturally have full access to every branch of magic; other prime species are limited in what magical arts they have access to. They may need to perform special tasks to gain access, or they may be cut off entirely. Primes also gain skill more quickly than any other species, especially when adventuring. The crude common tongue that all living things share has specific words for each of the eight prime species; no other species is named more specifically than 'fish' or 'bird.'

The real uncontradictable proof that primes are the most important is the magerium. Every living thing has a magerium. It's sort of like a metaphysical representation of that entity's magical self, and connects the mind to the spirit. To magical senses, a magerium looks like a tree. The magerium of a prime species looks like a miniature version of the World Tree, where every other living thing gets a lovely lesser normal tree.

Related to this is the prime's access to magic. There are 7+12 gods, and each one is responsible for a different art of magic. Every prime child born is personally touched, if only for an instant, by each of the gods in turn, establishing a connection to each of the arts. No other species gets this benefit; if they can achieve a connection to all 7+12 arts they have to work for it.

Even though they're all classified as "monsters", every non-prime has its own relationship to the primes. The cyarr (non-prime species don't warrant capitalization) are the most military threat to prime civilization; they are hyena-centaurs that have claimed vast swathes of branches near prime territory, and have the military might to fight back against prime expansion. The cyarr believe that if they can drive a prime species to extinction, they'll be able to step in and take the vacant place. Scawn believe that if they are killed by a Sleeth (or possibly kill a Sleeth, theories vary), they'll be reborn as a Sleeth instead of as a lovely little ratperson. Akamagga are six-legged lizards that have almost the exact same lifestyle as Herethroy, and consider themselves just as justified in utilizing available farmland as any prime. Some species, like wherriweffle, mherobumps, and taptets are even tolerated around civilized towns. They'll never exactly be invited to move in and live in the city, but they can live nearby and trade.

Gods



So, in retrospect, I kind of feel like I should have bumped gods to an earlier post. They're just that important to the setting. The gods existed before the World Tree, and outside of the space the world occupies. They created not only the physical world, but the entire universe; but there are other universes where they may not have any authority.

There are two types of gods. The seven Creator Gods came together and made the World Tree and everything in it, but generally abstain from the daily maintenance of the place. The twelve Noun Gods were invited in to help everything run smoothly. Both kinds of gods manage magic in the world; the Creator Gods are each in charge of a Verb (creation, destruction, control, etc.) , and the Noun Gods are in charge of the nouns (water, fire, flesh, time, mind, etc.). When talking about either gods or magic, they're usually counted as 7+12 instead of 19.

The Creator Gods
Virid (Creoc): Creoc is the verb of creation, and well suited to Virid. She created the World Tree itself, and the entire project was probably her idea to begin with. Most of the things she made are simple and useful, like crops and Herethroy.

Reluu (Ruloc): Ruloc is the verb of control. Reluu is nobility personified; if the gods have a king (probably not) it would be him. He created the Cani, and he's particularly proud of giving them the concept of affan, he'd like it if everything in the world was that organized. When Accanax hosed up making the Khtsoyis, Reluu stepped in to help make a "proper" species, which is why the Gormoror are big on both honor and bloody violence.

Mircannis (Healoc): Healoc is the verb of healing, and Mircannis the best-liked of the Creator Gods. Most of the things she made for the world are healing and/or beneficial. Herbs, honey-bees, wooly herd animals. She created the Rassimel, but isn't particularly Rassimel-like herself. Where Rassimel are intensely focused, Mircannis just sort of low-key loves and cherishes everyone.

Accanax (Destroc): Destroc is the verb of destruction, and maintained by the youngest edgelord of the Creator Gods. His moods range from a depressive miasma to a raging lightning storm. He's not good natured like the Khtsoyis, nor honorable like the Gormoror. Sometimes he goes into a frenzy and makes a hundred new kinds of monster, dumping them right on the border of prime lands just to make things interesting.

Gnarn (Mutoc): Mutoc is the verb of change, and decently well suited to Gnarn, Accanax's older and more capable sister. Destroc would probably have been more to her actual taste, but it's believed that she accepted domain over Mutoc so that Accanax could participate. She's much like the Sleeth she created, but even more cruel. Where Accanax is uncontrolled and indiscriminate in his destruction, Gnarn will create a single, elegant killing machine. Sometimes she appears as a Herethroy in the sky instead of a Sleeth, and no one has any idea why. She often comes down to the World Tree to hunt and mate with a Sleeth that caught her eye.

Hren Tzen (Sustenoc): Sustenoc is the verb of sustaining, and a decent match to Hren Tzen. Hren Tzen makes very few things, but what zie makes endures. Zie's all about beauty, elegance, delight, and little details like logic and reality are secondary. Naturally, zie considers Zi Ri to be zir masterpiece.

Pararenenzu (Kennoc): Kennoc is the verb of knowing. Like the Orren zie created, Pararenenzu is mercurial to point of being manic. Zie has an expansive sense of humor, and many of zir creations (but not the Orren) are punchlines to a joke. Zie is in charge of the art of detecting and knowing, but zie doesn't pay as much attention to it as zie should; one in twenty Kennoc spells fail when cast, sometimes with bizarre false results.

The Creator Gods, as wildly different as they are, all work together reasonably well. There aren't any divine wars for supremacy. It's not known if Mircannis and Gnarn like each other, per se, but they don't oppose each other. Magical spells could contain seemingly contradictory arts, like Healoc and Destroc, but this does not lead to conflict.

Noun Gods
The Noun Gods were brought in after the universe was created, and as a group are subordinate to the Creator Gods. Each has a sphere of influence covering some physical or magical aspect, often with overlap. While the Creator Gods live in the sky, the Noun Gods live on the World Tree itself, or at least nearby on a moon or something, and are much more likely to directly intervene in the life of mortals.

Kvarse (Corpador): Corpador is the noun of flesh. Kvarse is one of the most active gods, since all animal life is her domain. She taught the first Herethroy medicine and husbandry. She created the Healer's Guild, and maintains a subtle control over it. Kvarse performs miracles on a fairly regular basis; performing feats of great healing several times a year. The cost for these miracles is always seven years of hero's labor, either performed by the patient or someone willing to act on the patient's behalf. It's a lot like that WHFRP Bretonnia writeup: the cost is to go have an adventure. Kvarse is the elder sibling of Reluu, and a close friend of Gnarn and Hren Tzen; she is powerful enough to have been a Creator God but chose not to participate in that role.

Lenhirrik (Herbador): Herbador is the noun of plants. Lenhirrik usually takes the form of a Herethroy, or sometimes as a talking tree. She lives in a grove at the center of prime civilization, near the headquarters of the great orders of Herbador scholars and priests. She taught the primes how to grow crops, and created the first weapon; a spear that a Herethroy hero used to defend against the first monster attack. Lenhirrik used to be as active as Kvarse, sponsoring orders of knights and sending them out to help and defend others. But lately she's taken the unmoving form of a wooden statue, and she's been like that for thirty years, not responding to any attempts to communicate with her. Herbador magic continues to work, regardless.

Flokin (Pyrador): Pyrador is the noun of fire. Flokin is a brutishly friendly fire entity, so that works out. It usually takes the form of a Sleeth made out of fire, or a Cani made out of fire, just a fire, or a yowling song (made out of fire). Its primary job, other than managing the art of Pyrador, is to defend the World Tree against extradimensional horrors that sneak in. It's not very smart, and it's really not very subtle, so if you call Flokin to kill the Slug From Beyond Space you had better evacuate the branch.



Hressh-Huu (Airador): Airador is the noun of air. Hressh-Huu is a trickster spirit, usually taking the form of a mischievous wind. At the beginning of creation, she ran the weather according to random whim, and ran away in 14 directions from the Creator Gods when they tried to make her behave. So they wove some traps and baited them with puzzles and caught all 14 winds, and constrained her to provide reasonable weather most of the time, only allowed to cut loose one month out of the year. Hressh-Huu, and her elementals, love to interfere and complicate the lives of mortals, from snatching love letters out of your hand and delivering them to the wrong person, to carrying skyships to entirely the wrong branch.

Merklundum Harnipsundum the Dog Who Killed a Fish (Aquador): Aquador is the noun of water. Merklundum Harnipsundum the Dog Who Killed a Fish is a lazy lump of bramble dragon that doesn't do much of anything except sleep in a grotto low on the World Tree, where no prime has ever been. The one miracle he has ever been documented performing was when a scribe was writing out a list of Noun Gods and shortened Merklundum Harnipsundum the Dog Who Killed a Fish's name to Merklundum. Merklundum Harnipsundum the Dog Who Killed a Fish appeared and politely insisted that his name be written out properly thank you. He has never appeared since, no matter how badly his name is mangled.



Tenmen (Durudor): Durudor is the noun of metal. Tenmen manifests as I poo poo you not a 2001 A Space Odyssey Monolith. He was worried that the primes would miss out on his element entirely, because metals and stone are so rare, so he personally showed up and taught them all about smithing, stoneworking, glassblowing, pottery, and so on. He created orders of smiths and knights, mimicking Kvarse and Lenhirrik, and gave them great gifts, but this led to so much accidental destruction that he withdrew the most powerful gifts and most of his direct influence; the guild of smiths splintered into a thousand trade guilds and his knight order never became important. If you seek him out, he'll teach you smithing techniques or metalworking spells in exchange for a suitable offering of craftwork.

He is full of stars

Shax Shay Shuz (Illusidor): Illusidor is the noun of images. Appropriately, SSS doesn't have a material for at all; if you meet zir zie will probably manifest as changes to your companions' faces. Zie lives in a castle of mirrors and crystals, with no fixed location. If you can find zir, zie we will often grant you aid in for the form of disguises, revealing events of the past or future, or letting you leave zir castle in a different place than you came in. Zie doesn't ask for any particular offering, but your life will get weird after dealing with zir. Zie is apparently one of the weakest of the gods, since most of zir power was spent on creating zirself out of zir own imagination.

"Here" (Locador): Locador is the noun of place. "Here" is a terrifying motherfucker. He doesn't have an actual name that anyone knows, he's just referred to by the word "here" in whatever language you happen to be speaking. He usually shows up as a Herethroy with holes in his black carapace that open to alien hellscapes. He is actively malicious, even more than Flokin, and delights in torturing and killing even the worthiest of petitioners, although he does often also grant the request. Basically, he's a goddamn Cenobite that someone put in charge of space and distance. The Lament Configuration would be extremely his jam.



Iraz Varuun (Magiador): Magiador is the noun of magic. Iraz Varuun takes the form of a white-furred Rassimel hag in full wizard no-sense-of-right-or-wrong regalia. She knows all spells, and what she doesn't know she can invent on the spot. She's the patron of great wizards, especially the crazy ones. Tell her a good story about a complicated spell you cast that ruined everyone's day, and she'll teach you a dozen more. She can only teach the actual spells, arts other than Magiador are outside her domain. She plays mono-blue.

Birkozon (Mentador): Mentador is the noun of mind. Birkozon LOVES to get involved. If he had his way, he'd be in charge of everything, so the other gods have restricted him to influence over a single giant floating city named Birknazza. He manifests as a glowing Cani brain floating over the city, and wields titles like "The Eternal God-Emperor of the Grand Transcendent Kingdom of Birknazza." 20,000 primes live in Birknazza, fully under his control, with no privacy and little free will. His armies and champions are a match for any other force on the World Tree. However, his direct influence does not extend outside the city. If his champions go out, they go without his power boosting them. He hopes to gain indirect control over the entire World Tree eventually, and apparently the other gods will permit it if he can manage it.



Iraz Halix (Spiridor): Spiridor is the noun of spirits. Iraz Halix, Iraz Varuun's twin sister, is the mistress of ghosts and spirits; she wears the form of the despised and outcast. She can not be found by the living unaided; to meet with her you must perish on the journey to reach her, and then your spirit travels the rest of the way. Sometimes she enters the world in disguise, subtly nudging things here and there, unearthing buried secrets, and occasionally working to soften the damage caused by her sister.

Kaimiri (Tempador): Tempador is the noun of time. Kaimiri lives in a temple on the silver moon where primes can't easily go, but Kvarse says it looks like a sphinx staring into eternity. Kaimiri doesn't do anything itself. It has been in a state of meditation since before time began on the World Tree. Fortunately, it left its angels an extensive list of instructions and contingencies for all of the important events that will happen while Kaimiri is meditating. If something happens that isn't on the list, the angels won't do anything about it.

I think the most notable thing about the World Tree gods is that they operate in a very top-down manner. That is, the gods have an existence outside of and independent of the World Tree itself. The gods do not personify mortal aspects, they create and manage reality at a fundamental level. They're more of a celestial bureaucracy than a Greek pantheon. Notice that none of the portfolios cover anything like "War" or "Wisdom" or "Evil". Every Verb and Noun has an objective existence that isn't subject to differences of opinion.

Elementals
All of the gods have servants, either created by them or brought with them from wherever the gods came from. They're lesser beings than the gods, but still of an entirely different nature than living things. They could also be called angels, fairies, or demons. The gods personally handle providing magic and dealing with major events, most of the rest of the day to day stuff is done by elementals. The most commonly encountered elementals are Hressh-Huu's air elementals that are in charge of things like moving clouds from place to place, steering the winds, and all the other weather things. Since the World Tree doesn't have a proper biosphere like the Earth does, it takes a lot of divine intervention to get the weather to behave as temperately as it does.


The chapter finally ends with a few pieces of fiction. First is a few blurbs about different species pondering which species is the strongest. Everyone thinks the Zi Ri are super great, most species think every other species got all the luck, except for the Gormoror who are pretty sure they can kick everyone's rear end.

Finally, there's an amusing little story about a baker that unknowingly insults Flokin when it wanders into her bakery. So Flokin storms off in a huff, and takes all the fire with it. No more ovens, no more bread. The entire bakery was freezing cold at all hours, and even the best wizards she could afford couldn't bring fire back into the building. The temple priests told her that maybe if she offers up a huge pile of sausages as an offering that would get Flokin's attention long enough to apologize to it. But on the way to the market, she passes a dairy and has an idea. When Flokin eventually wanders back to see if the baker has learned humility, she (very politely) begs him to wait outside, and gives him a giant offering of ice cream to stay out of the only store in town that offers frozen food year round.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Remember that one POV character in Old World Bestiary who was secretly a Chaos Cultist?

I'm getting that vibe from Kevin. He seems like the sort of person that lies about voting for Trump

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Tendales posted:


Birkozon (Mentador): Mentador is the noun of mind. Birkozon LOVES to get involved. If he had his way, he'd be in charge of everything, so the other gods have restricted him to influence over a single giant floating city named Birknazza. He manifests as a glowing Cani brain floating over the city, and wields titles like "The Eternal God-Emperor of the Grand Transcendent Kingdom of Birknazza." 20,000 primes live in Birknazza, fully under his control, with no privacy and little free will. His armies and champions are a match for any other force on the World Tree. However, his direct influence does not extend outside the city. If his champions go out, they go without his power boosting them. He hopes to gain indirect control over the entire World Tree eventually, and apparently the other gods will permit it if he can manage it.

How fightable are World Tree gods? Because Birkozon has "major campaign villain" written all over him.

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Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Tangentially, I wonder what happened to Braddock(?)'s Brigade, the biggest merc company in CJ Carella's Rifts Mercenaries book. They were all stoked to fight for Tolkeen during the invasion and CJ overwrote Braddock to the extent Kevin overwrites Holmes (although Braddock is at least not a genocidal Nazi even if "Honorable" and "Clever" and "Daring" and whatever) but of course CJ betrayed Kevin as Coffin has by this point I believe so they won't be mentioned.

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