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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I imagine the armies of Birknazza have a serious defection issue once they leave the Mind God Loyalty Zone city, which would be very funny to me.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Would you like to know more, Consumer?

This one is going to be a little long, and a bit awkward, because I'm completely aware of why people don't like the Bureau of Tactical Management (I usually call their faction Buro instead of The Architects) and the CDCA. And it's totally legit; their writing is extremely uneven because outside of their faction book nobody can agree on what their deal is or how to use them aside from 'they got mad science and cyberdemons'. They're very much victims of some of the general setting conceits in a lot of the fluff; nobody suffers more from the whole 'Super Overt Chi Domination' flaw in the writing than Buro. Plus the writing often seems to assume they can just instantly hunt down any Innerwalker PC instead of making them out to be a relatively incompetent Evil Empire you can sneak around in long enough to spend time in 2056 and actually enjoy how wild the place is. So yeah, I get not liking Buro or playing with them in the normal fluff very much.

But I goddamn love them and I'm going to be here to explain why. Of all the factions in the Secret War, they're probably my favorite. Maybe it's just that Greg Stolze is a really good writer (it's definitely partly that Greg Stolze is a really good writer) or just that I really like Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, but once I got to Seed of the New Flesh? Yeah, I'm down with the UN Cyberdemons and their cheerfully propagandistic dystopia as a setting element.

So, let's get to Buro's issues, first, then get into why I ended up running an entire Buro campaign once. Firstly, Buro's corebook writeup is pretty cursory and doesn't make them out to be very exciting, because it doesn't get to any of the interesting parts of their faction. It portrays them as a pretty basic 'First World uses the UN to enact Neo Colonialism' new Empire fueled by mad science and with no designs on anything but ruling the world. So if that's your introduction to the Buro, of course they're going to sound boring and lovely. All you ever really see of them in any of the other books in the line is 'assholes with Croenenberg Tech and Cyberdemons, who keep coming back in time to try to take over the world', and a lot of the line really, really over-emphasizes how much they have 2056 locked down, to the point that people start thinking of 2056 as off-limits to play in. 2056 is originally written solely as a place that Kyle Reese stumbles out of through a time portal, yelling at Sarah Connor that the future is all hosed up and now the hosed up future is trying to gently caress up the past so it'll get even worse. That's not much fun, and doesn't make for a good Juncture.

Sure, even in the core book there are hints about the fun parts of 2056: The SERU (Supernatural Entity Retrieval Unit) Hunter is a really fun PC archetype. Playing as a formerly-cheerful man or woman in gaudy plastic future armor sent into a situation they had no real preparation for who was sent to ancient China/the Netherworld to fight/capture demons? Fun! But there's nothing about Buro as a faction beyond 'amoral, violent military thugs and psycho mad scientists' in most of the books. So it's no wonder most people don't like them.

So, who are they, really? The Bureau of Tactical Management is a one-world government that took over on the back of the global climate collapsing. Spearheaded by Johan Bonengel, who is legit one of the more interesting characters in Feng Shui, they developed artificial food vats that could feed the population of the planet in the wake of the collapse of natural agriculture. According to the core book, they also got a lot of their start providing superscience weapons to pacify the world for the UN, eventually superseding it and getting Bonengel elected world president. Seeking an answer to the 'body bag' problem in military deployments, they decided first to use cyborg monkeys (this went really badly and produced the Jammers when the monkeys rebelled) and later hit on the idea of cybering up hellish demons and using them as shock troops. By 2042, they ruled the world, and since they had Arcanowave theory and scientific understanding of Feng Shui, the CDCA under Dr. Curtis Boatman (Dao was out of the picture by 2025, teleporting to the Netherworld to avoid being murdered by Boatman) had built plenty of government buildings and sites over places with great chi to ensure they'd keep what they had. Boatman is ALSO one of the more interesting characters in the setting, and the Worst Person In The World. More on Bo and Bo in a bit.

The thing is, once you get to Seed of the New Flesh, Greg Stolze actually gives Buro a culture and an ideology beyond 'grey future of nutrient paste and sadness'. They're still meant to be bad guys (Primarily due to Boatman), and they're still a dystopia, but they're a lot more understandable when you actually get into what happened in the period they call 'The Reckoning'. They're more like people. Funny, weird people from the future, but people. They're also weirdly one of the best intentioned sides in the Secret War. Er, if you talk to Bonengel. Not Boatman.

One of the keys of Seed of the New Flesh is that it starts out with reasons someone in 2056 might not see 1996 as a paradise. Sure, you can get a cheeseburger and drive a fast car. You can also get beaten to death for being gay. The cops can shoot you for being a minority (as opposed to Buro, where the cops might shoot you for a lot of reasons, but not for your race or sexuality). Hate crimes and groups that perpetrate them are dug deep into society. You can starve to death in the streets or get hosed by the health industry and no-one will do anything about it. Women are paid less than men and generally not treated equally. You're polluting the hell out of the environment and pushing it towards apocalyptic collapse, which everyone in 2056 is still paying for. Your people don't fully understand the importance of Daniel Pinkwater (Having read Daniel Pinkwater as a kid, this throwaway joke gets me), the greatest writer in human history, nor do you yet understand just how vital brand identity is as a social signifier yet because no-one's invented consumer theory. Really, a benighted era.

That part, where they talk about what's good/bad about 2056/1996? That's what first got my imagination going about Buro. There's a lot of 90s era 'Buro is basically like the Soviets, and they crush all personal initiative and slackers who have government connections will get ahead while the hardworking get ground under the wheels of 'equality'' stuff that's admittedly real cringey to read (Especially knowing that, you know, 'I got connections' goes extremely far in 'free' societies, too), but the basic seed of 'A lot of people in 2056 really do believe they're working for a world of equality, fairness, and one that will correct the mistakes of the past' suddenly gives you a lot more room to do stuff with those characters.

Plus, 2056 has a lot of fun aesthetics. The new Buro cities are all built to channel Feng Shui to the government, but they're also of the 'bright, clean, and smooth, but kind of lifeless' style of dystopic construction instead of all being grungy and run down. Ethnic discrimination really is mostly a thing of the past in 2056 in Seed of the New Flesh (Which is why I say it doesn't really gel with the earlier 'neo-colonialist' schtick Buro had before their sourcebook), the world is no longer heteronormative, buddy cop movies have evolved into a brand of romance film (heterosexual or non), and people are referred to primarily as Consumer. This is because this is the thing that unites us all; we all consume, so it's a title that applies to everyone. Also, no more gendered titles that imply a woman is a man's property by noting her martial status; everyone is Mc. So Mako would be McIshii, just as Buropresident Bonengel would be McBonengel. Everyone is Mc. All of them. Clothing is no longer considered gendered, and anyone wears whatever they feel like. Cities are rebuilt for walking and covered in moving walkways. You can get cool rollerskate shoes to speed up your commute.

Doctors still get called Dr, though. I bet Boatman insisted on it.

So, what's bad in 2056? Well, for one, there are so many laws that you're almost certainly breaking one of them. The internet ended up being used primarily as a tool of indoctrination, propaganda, and oppression (So like the Climate Change angle, Seed of the New Flesh was prescient) and is spying on you at all times. Your main choices in life are which brands you buy from, which leads people to build much of their identity around consumer goods as the companies that make them know everything about you and try to present you with 'their' lifestyle (again, prescient). TV is pay per view. The currency of the world is the Hour (for an Hour of labor), but a lot of government positions set their own salaries at higher than an Hour per Hour. Remember how you're probably breaking at least one law? The cops probably know. They have the whole Statsi thing going on where they know so much and have so many informers that they honestly can't parse it all, themselves. The arbitrary nature of when they decide to arrest you adds to an aura of everpresent anxiety. There's also the cyberdemons and mad science and Dr. Boatman.

But let's get more into Boatman and Bonengel, because they'll tell you a lot about 2056 from their own characters.

So, first. Johan Bonengel. Johan's formative experience came when he was in love with a Sri Lankan woman as a young university student in Germany. She was murdered by neo-nazi skinheads for 'dating outside her race'. He resolved to get into politics and set to work trying to build a world where that poo poo would not fly. When Haiti was hit by an outbreak of a horrific pathogen called the Melter (Guess what it does), Bonengel was the political functionary who took charge of the situation, and eventually convinced the governments of the world they needed to take decisive action and sterilize the hotzone. With missiles. And a weather satellite. Depending on sources, the satellite might not've helped the whole 'climate change' situation. The thing is, Melter was designed by the Ascended, if you pay attention to Seal of the Wheel. It was designed to spread globally and kill everyone. I am not normally a Hard Decisions type, but 'there is an engineered pathogen that might go global if it gets out' is one of the only situations I could ever justify that kind of thing. When the climate collapsed, Bonengel was there, spearheading the programs to ensure people were fed. When war broke out, he put an end to it. By the end, he was Buropresident, and set about trying to build a world without violence, starvation, or ethnic hatred.

He's just...been a bit heavy-handed in the process and chosen the worst possible partner in the whole thing. But the thing is, Bonengel is one of the only big Faction Leader guys in the Secret War who isn't just a selfish dick. He's also only recently actually learned about Chi; his partner, Boatman, got sick of how Bonengel treats the world like it matters at all and tried to tell him all this only happened due to Chi, even the apocalypse. I've always taken Boatman's claims that the Melter, the wars, the climate, etc were all 'caused' by Bonengel's Chi so he could appear a savior to be a self-interested lie because he was trying to convince Bonengel to stop caring about the state of 2056 and relax; they sound like bullshit, even for Chi. Bonengel was horrified, though. Now, he partly believes that everything he's accomplished might be because of magic furniture arrangement and not actually because anyone believes in his future, and he wants to prove that people really will listen to him of their own accord. Thus, he comes across as one of the few major setting antagonists you might be able to talk to, or change. He's heavy-handed and willing to do some awful things for what he sees as greater goods, so he's not hard to use as an antagonist, but he feels like you could take his good intentions and try to help the guy do better.

Boatman, on the other hand? gently caress Curtis Boatman. I think you can get everything you need about his character from how he lives and how he treats his wife. To Boatman, 2056 is a paradise. He has all the natural food he wants. He has whatever money or power he wants, because he and the CDCA are necessary to Buro's functioning. He sleeps around as much as he cares to and uses influence magic to make sure people can't say no. And to make sure his wife suspects he's unfaithful, but can't ever prove it. Then makes sure she hates herself for it and remains his devoted wife forever, because he thinks it's funny. Even better, OTHER people don't have what he has (You might be seeing a parallel to the Tranimals). He's a stupid little prick who stole Anita Dao's work and her agency, sold it all out to the Military Industrial Complex, and set himself up as one of the tyrant kings of the future. He's also happily at work gutting his golden goose, because he's sick of dealing with self-righteous Bonengel. So he's got all kinds of plans to make himself sole ruler of Buro, and meanwhile Bonengel has become suspicious of him. They're absolutely set up so that they're going to have a huge falling out and as the two big power blocs of the future, the crack for your PCs to do heroic poo poo is right there. Plus, Boatman is such an obvious source of much of what's wrong with Buro, and even better, he actually has tremendously powerful Arcanowave magic, so he can provide a dramatic boss fight at some point (if dramatic boss fights worked in FS).

Another thing that made me like the Buro and brought together how I write them was one of their sinister plans for their Tactical Operations agents (The Cross-Time commandos). It was to go to the third world in 1996 and...just help people out. Because the Ascended don't bother with the third world outside of trying to exploit it. They hoped doing so would get them sites the Ascended ignored because it was unglamarous, but would also make it so 1996 heroes might actually join Buro, thinking they're good guys. The added bonus of showing their troops why they're fighting the Ascended is just gravy on the biscuit. Reminding their soldiers the glitzy apartments and fancy hotels of the Ascended aren't all there is to 1996. You can run with that kind of thinking, even if Buro are your villains; suddenly a lot of their soldiers have a good reason to be fighting you before you convince them you hate the Ascended too and they should defect.

So, what do you need to adjust to actually have fun in 2056? Play up the culture. Make them more odd than purely grimdark. Play up, quietly, that this society exists because of an apocalypse. They aren't all eating paste because someone's greedy, they're eating paste because someone was greedy. Remember that your PCs are action heroes; Buro can send 20 guys and a future-chopper, but you can handle 20 guys and a future-chopper and then vanish into the shadows. Make getting caught an action scene instead of 'endless waves of lovely cops until you're dead or you've fled the juncture'. Play down chi domination. Maybe even play up that the chi domination thing is just what the 1996 Ascended tell themselves has to be the only reason anyone works for Buro. Play up the splits in their government so PCs have levers to work at to try to bring things down. Play up the idealistic propaganda and have fun with it. Use the good intentions to give your PCs an 'in' to help turn 2056 characters, and use the 2056 characters to help 1996 people see some of the bad poo poo in their own time period, and being heroes, swear to do something about it.

And if you're doing a Buro game, as I did? Well, you've got the hook right there: At some point, you're going to fight Curtis Boatman. No two ways about it. If you're going to make Buro the protagonist, you're going to have some serious work to do. But you're heroes. That's your thing. A cheerful TacOps team and their cool Abomination buddy stomping the faces of (other) time tyrants and then eventually turning their eyes to stopping a bunch of the evils at home and overthrowing the worst man in the world? When I ran that, it ended with a Cyber-Sphinx in human-ish form having a kung-fu fight with a Chi-roided up Boatman on top of the pyramids at Giza while a TacOps team fought an Abominationed-Dragon before putting Dao back in place as head of the CDCA and turning poo poo around. You can definitely do it if you lean into the good intentions and the better sides of 2056, and really want to play around with blocky plastic guns and superscience.

Told you this'd be a long one. And I didn't even cover everything I wanted to, but I'm cutting it here before I just end up doing all of Seed of the New Flesh and violating my 'one post a faction' policy.

Next Time: The Silver Dragons

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 14:21 on Jun 12, 2019

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Boatman has even used his chi-backed charisma to sleep with Desdemona Deathangel, an extremely psychotic baby-eating Abomination who also doubles as a CDCA pinup girl because her transformed state is super hot.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Dawgstar posted:

Boatman has even used his chi-backed charisma to sleep with Desdemona Deathangel, an extremely psychotic baby-eating Abomination who also doubles as a CDCA pinup girl because her transformed state is super hot.

I didn't have time to get into Desdemona Deathangel and Sonja Macarelli, because their two badass Abomination bodyguards tell you more about Boatman and Bonengel.

Boatman's? Murderous monster who works for Buro entirely because she likes being allowed to kill people and being fed a supply of convicts (She doesn't have neural control implants). Extremely dumb and completely incapable of guile, so they have to keep her away from actual interviews and anything but soundbites; she's so goddamn tough she's never had to lie about what she is and wouldn't care to even if she did. Desdemona is an AV 19 killing machine with a ton of ranks of Inevitable Comeback; whenever you think you've put her down, she gets back up.

Bonengel's? A disillusioned ex-TacOps trooper who was mutated by her Arcanowave equipment. He personally saved her from having a neural grepper (the mind-toad that keeps most Abominations loyal) implanted because he believed her when she said she didn't need one to be loyal. She's had a lot of poo poo go down in her life, and her loyalty is now wholly to the one decent guy in the entire government. Sonja is a much more PC-scale character who would do anything for Bonengel, and nobody else.

So one of them is subtly controlling an incredibly volatile and evil murder-machine with chi because she looks great as a human and who is probably going to blow up in his face anyway, while the other genuinely won the loyalty of someone who considers him the only good thing she's got left to fight for. It says a lot.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Those sure are some Mary Sue mini-dragons. I wonder which species the author plays?

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





megane posted:

Those sure are some Mary Sue mini-dragons. I wonder which species the author plays?

Robin Laws?* I don't think either. If he played any NPC it was probably Kar Fai.

*Possibly Greg Stolze, I forget where they crop up.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I do enjoy that the Zi Ri can't even stand one another. I wonder if they go off to be among other species because they want people who'll be wowed by their Mary Sue nature or just because they find one another insufferable and never make the connection?

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

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

Barudak posted:

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.

Now imagine buying them back in the day, not knowing the ending to open this book with a really cool picture that with a single book invalidates your entire game and gives you crucial details you wish you would have had before it started, but now useless.

and all that horrible writing was all for not.

Book 2 is more horrible in concepts, but Book 6 broke me as a rifts fan.

I still managed to get a few books for free (I was a moderator at the time), but I was done.

Dawgstar posted:

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.

Rifts mercenaries filled me with a false sense of hope because cj carella gave a well reasoned explanation on how tolkeen had a chance and gave a few minor ideas as well as how mercs were lining up on both sides..

I think I'd really have liked to have seen his version of the conflict.

shades of eternity fucked around with this message at 16:36 on Jun 12, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Not those guys, those guys were losers. I believe in you

So the Dragons mostly get their writeup in Golden Comeback, and I have a dark secret to admit: The Dragons were lame and you're not missing too much by most of the previous batch being dead as hell. I get that they're the general 'Bunch of cliched but good hearted action heroes get together, don't have an army or nothing, try to save the world but have no idea what they're doing' faction, but I have to wonder if part of the reason the last batch had so little personality was just because they dead. They dead as hell. They got tricked by a pretty simple plan by the Ascended, led into an ambush, and murdered to death. A few of the survivors then stopped a plan to control all Netherworld portals and withdrew to the shadows, realizing their group had been devastated. Only a few conveniently support-oriented NPC types survive (As well as a few more action oriented people who may or may not be dead if you need allies), waiting out there to make contact with your cooler group of PCs, who are hopefully both more interesting and luckier than the last batch of dead guys.

The Dragon writeup is mostly done by the original author of Exalted, Geoff Grabowski, and it's not great. There's a lot of focus on how the Dragons are consistently doomed. They always get their asses killed. They're powerful and righteous individuals who see the Secret War, rise up to try to do something (no details on what, exactly), then piss everyone off and die in ignominy. There've been a lot of Silver Dragons over the centuries and timelines. There may have been an original group of Silver Dragons, long forgotten, or the name might just be kinda catchy. The Dragons might keep popping up because they're a manifestation of the Spirit of Freedom or something, showing up whenever tyranny is about to win completely and the Secret War gets close to actually ending, only to die after achieving not that much. They might have powerful supernatural patrons. Or maybe like I said, it's just a catchy name and there's usually at least one survivor who can recommend it to the next batch.

After all, if you're going to rise up in a doomed struggle against time tyrants and get your poo poo kicked in, you'd better have a cool name while you do it.

You might note the Dragons writeup is really loving short. This is because the Dragons are intentionally sort of a cipher that your group takes over. They dead, like I said. The most interesting part of their writeup is the baked in assumption that the Dragons will almost always fail, and the total lack of writing about what any of the Dragons were actually fighting for. What was their goal, exactly? Freedom, I guess? Again, fine that most of that is left blank; your PCs should be deciding what the Dragons stand for anyway, if they become the new Dragons. But it's curious and part of why the past Dragons are a little hard to get excited about.

More dangerous is the bit about how they always, always get themselves killed. It's not everywhere; lots of this line will assume you'll have a full campaign with an endgame and a denouement and all. But some places in Feng Shui seem to imply that the default structure some of the line's writers assumed you'd use is that the PCs would start out, kill some dudes, have some adventures, then get crushed by the weight of the world. That the eventual path of a campaign is to play for awhile until you eventually fail and die. There's always a little bit of an odd undercurrent of 'you're just 3-5 weirdos from across time, you don't have the troops to cover Feng Shui Sites, the teams of lawyers, the money, what could you do?' that feels like it buys the villains' own hype about themselves.

The Dragons are also a part of one of Feng Shui's other kind of 90s issues: Pretty much everyone except the Dragons is evil by default. You can shift things around to make some of the groups good guys, or to fight the bad guys within a group and try to make it better, but default? Everyone's some flavor of evil tyrant or murderous nihilist. Yes, even the funny rebel monkey guerillas with the ape pun names and cybernetic chain guns. Yes, even the Shaolin Monks. Basically everyone outside of your PC group is, by default, some flavor of bad guy; the original operation that killed the Dragons had the Jammers somehow signing up in alliance with a bunch of other groups, after all. All to kill the Dragons and cut out the other factions of the Secret War. So the entire setting is kind of against you; yeah, there are alliances of convenience, but almost everyone wants to either rule or probably destroy the world in some fashion or another.

In short, you don't end up with much of a hook for what your Dragons are trying to do, especially with the nature of Chi. Again, this can be mitigated some by making Chi a little less deterministic and more of a significant edge rather than total destiny, but you're still left with the fact that by default the life force of the world keeps ending up empowering some flavor of tyrant or another as soon as they learn the secrets of furniture arranging. The Dragons as written just end up reacting to the other factions, trying to stop anyone else from winning all the marbles but not really having a plan beyond treading water. There's really no thought given to what a 'good guy' endgame for a story even looks like, and I have to wonder if that doesn't link back to the original Dragon Writeup emphasizing that you're going to struggle against impossible odds and then die.

Another thing I note with the Dragons: Anita Dao is one of the surviving support people, and in every game I've written, I've come up with a different background, character, and personality for her if she's going to come up. I've had to do this because she doesn't really have one in her writeup (okay, also because I like doing it). Her writeup talks entirely about what she does as a scientist, and how she escaped Boatman trying to shoot her in the back by using a prototype portal device, and how she'll die of supercancer if she ever actually leaves the Netherworld now. There's no actual character there, just a list of stuff she did to make the plot happen. Which is okay for the Dragons; again, a lot of this is serviceable in making a group of support people who might approach your PCs as potential mentors and who might need a lot of adjusting to your group anyway. It's why I don't say the Dragons are bad, because I can see where a lot of this could be totally intentional since you're intended to take over this group and make it your own by default. The only Dragon with any actual personality is Kar Fai, their kung fu master, and he's fun but pretty predictable. A virtuous but worldly old master from 1850 who actually likes the modern world, hates the Guiding Hand, and who wants to find worthy students who'll be heroes so he can get back to drinking and fishing on weekends is fine.

So in the end, there isn't a lot to say about the Dragons, other than they help reveal some of the ongoing minor issues with the setting and campaign structure of FS. Sometimes it just can't decide if 3-5 people should be treated as the extremely serious threat they probably should be in a roleplaying game about high powered genre mash-up action heroes, and it suffers a little for the indecision. Or the way everyone is default evil and the Secret War is generally portrayed as unstoppable. If there's a good end out there, you're going to have to punch, shoot, creature powers, wizard, and arcanowave your way towards it for yourselves. And the empty seat of the Silver Dragons is there for you to try to do it with.

Next Time: Four Monarchs

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I'm getting a They Live vibe from the Dragons.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017


I think what bugs me about Feng Shui's Chi Problem is the same thing that bugged me about the Technocracy's reality control back in Mage. Either it's all powerful, window dressing on what's "really" going on, or functionality pointless depending on whose book you (or your GM) were reading at the time.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Seatox posted:

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


Within the scope of the game, probably not at all. The gods aren't statted, and are entire paradigms more powerful than any mortal. On the other hand, they're explicitly not completely omnipotent, so it is possible to oppose them if you really want to. Smacking down the agents that Birkozon sends out into the world is considered good work for heroes.

megane posted:

Those sure are some Mary Sue mini-dragons. I wonder which species the author plays?

He used to run an in-fiction serial journal of a young Zi Ri which was actually a fairly fun read, because most of it was the kid getting clowned on because of the heavy expectations people put on Zi Ri. "Oh hey there's an absurdly powerful nendrai threatening the city! Let's go make Sythyry distract it with tea parties and hopefully not die horribly!"

Tendales fucked around with this message at 19:59 on Jun 12, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Tibalt posted:

I think what bugs me about Feng Shui's Chi Problem is the same thing that bugged me about the Technocracy's reality control back in Mage. Either it's all powerful, window dressing on what's "really" going on, or functionality pointless depending on whose book you (or your GM) were reading at the time.

What was always an issue for me is that it feels like backporting a mechanic that works great in a CCG into something that plays worse in an RPG. Taking and holding territory is one thing when you're playing as representations of big factions in a strategy game; when you're 3-5 badasses on a rampage through time to find out who killed your brother/stole the diamonds/killed the world, it plays more awkwardly. Especially as I always found it more satisfying to move history by means of 'Shot the Unspoken Name of the Ascended in the face after a dramatic fight with his bodyguards and turning down his offer of infinite wealth and power' rather than 'Stole enough buildings from him that he starts to lose.'

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Tibalt posted:

I think what bugs me about Feng Shui's Chi Problem is the same thing that bugged me about the Technocracy's reality control back in Mage. Either it's all powerful, window dressing on what's "really" going on, or functionality pointless depending on whose book you (or your GM) were reading at the time.

Innerwalkers like the PCs aren't affected by the world's chi. They remember when things change and they don't get swept along by the tides of Fortune like the rest of the world does.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

Innerwalkers like the PCs aren't affected by the world's chi. They remember when things change and they don't get swept along by the tides of Fortune like the rest of the world does.

Except when suddenly the sourcebook decides that they are, in fact, affected and they start getting mind controlled by being in 2056, or the way some of the books describe how spies sent into some of the organizations will turn just because they've been around the Chi of their new organization long enough. It can be a little inconsistent at times, and it being written so heavily into 2056 directly contributed to 2056's problems as a Juncture.

The one thing that is very consistent is that an Innerwalker never gets changed directly by major shifts in time. Someone might've written Arcanowave tech out of the world, but you still have it, because you had it when you went into the Netherworld first. And you still remember what happened before the world changed.

This is pretty directly relevant to both why the Monarchs are still extremely powerful (Still Exalted characters) and why they're so mad (Still remember when they got to be the only 4 Exalted characters in a normal setting).

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Wouldn't it make more sense to make the goal of the PC Silver Dragons to specifically kick the poo poo out of one faction and taking it over and than planning how to hold all the chi?

All of the factions as written are possible to drag into good guy territory, if you get rid of the right people and make alliances.

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!


Does Feng Shui ever deal with anything off-Earth? By 2056 it doesn't seem implausible that there might be some early Lunar or Martian colonies, especially considering that Earth has almost gotten hosed and having a backup home might seem like a good idea, and it'd be interesting whether Feng Shui sites are specifically a thing on Earth or if every planetary body has one.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

Does Feng Shui ever deal with anything off-Earth? By 2056 it doesn't seem implausible that there might be some early Lunar or Martian colonies, especially considering that Earth has almost gotten hosed and having a backup home might seem like a good idea, and it'd be interesting whether Feng Shui sites are specifically a thing on Earth or if every planetary body has one.

Nothing in 1e really goes into it; the closest I can remember is that you go to the magic weather satellite in the Seed of the New Flesh pre-made adventure and use it to annihilate the Vatican and potentially gently caress over all of earth again (It's a Jammer plan. All Jammer plans are like that).

E: Come to think of it, that adventure also has a wonderful showcase of some of the writing issues with Feng Shui. There's a point there where you find out the Vatican is guarded by hundreds of minor abomos and soldiers, Desdemona herself, and 3 heavy anti-grav fortresses. That's supposed to tell you you have to follow the adventure and go fire the satellite at it. But it includes 'What if the PCs go and do their own thing, steal an anti-grav fortress, and slam it into the Vatican?'

The answer is 'Let them think they've won for 4-5 sessions, then show them Buro has rebuilt everything in a couple months and you can't win without annihilating all of Rome from orbit'. That's...a really lovely move, honestly. 'You had to blow it up exactly like we said, or else you didn't blow it up well enough and they undo everything because Buro has too many resources' is exactly what I mean when I say the setting can buy into its villains' power/resources way too much. If the players improved that poo poo, let them win it with that! That sounds like an awesome sequence!

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:36 on Jun 12, 2019

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


I’d also ask what’s on the line that merits using orbital bombardment to completely annihilate an ancient city of tens of millions of people.

I mean, that doesn’t sound that heroic to me.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Night10194 posted:

Except when suddenly the sourcebook decides that they are, in fact, affected and they start getting mind controlled by being in 2056, or the way some of the books describe how spies sent into some of the organizations will turn just because they've been around the Chi of their new organization long enough. It can be a little inconsistent at times, and it being written so heavily into 2056 directly contributed to 2056's problems as a Juncture.

Although sometimes you don't even need actual mind control. The Ascended's been able to flip Buro agents because they show them how cool stuff like caffeine and sugar is. The Buro's been able to flip Eaters of the Lotus by using their advanced medical technology to give the eunuchs back what they, uh, lost.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


kommy5 posted:

I’d also ask what’s on the line that merits using orbital bombardment to completely annihilate an ancient city of tens of millions of people.

I mean, that doesn’t sound that heroic to me.

Buro will complete a global transportation network if you don't, which will supposedly double the chi value of the site by making it the central hub and thus make them more powerful.

So yeah. Chi War Stuff.

E: Which is kind of another problem; if you stop and think about it, 'Well they'll grow, uh, stronger. Sorta. In their own juncture' doesn't really sound like it merits 'annihilate millions of people with weather bombardment', no. Especially not when the book also says using the satellite as a weapon may refuck the climate and kick all of the earth in the dick again.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:52 on Jun 12, 2019

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!


Maybe it's been answered before, so apologies if I haven't been paying attention, but what, exactly, are the mechanics of "claiming" a Chi node? Like, is it a project that takes days or months or years to solidify, or is it something that can be done over the span of an hour or something so PC's can derail plans and affect setting-wide change by ganking themselves a vital Chi node and changing stuff over the course of an afternoon?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

Maybe it's been answered before, so apologies if I haven't been paying attention, but what, exactly, are the mechanics of "claiming" a Chi node? Like, is it a project that takes days or months or years to solidify, or is it something that can be done over the span of an hour or something so PC's can derail plans and affect setting-wide change by ganking themselves a vital Chi node and changing stuff over the course of an afternoon?

Generally you need a 'strong claim' to it (taking it in blood can work, buying it or something is usually better). Takes 24 hours of occupation with a strong claim, then you all do a simple attunement ritual where you spend 1 EXP each and meditate on how nice the site is so that you're in. Once you're Attuned you have to keep other people from doing the same; same 24 hours period, etc. 'You'll need to hire guards, etc' to make sure your site stays clear according to the main book. You get territory and now you need to defend it.

The issue is that in almost every time period, someone else owns the cops, mob, etc and that makes holding sites kind of hard for an itinerant team of 3-5 time badasses. Which is annoying. Also they're never really clear on how many people can attune to a site, just you all have to be members of 'the same group', by which I suppose they mean faction.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 22:21 on Jun 12, 2019

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

The limit on how many people can attune to one site is basically "as many as you can trust."

megane
Jun 20, 2008





That kind of strikes me as ironic, given that the thing is named Feng Shui; the whole thing about feng shui (the furniture-arranging thing) is that good and bad fortune can arise from subtle alignments and misalignments of objects impacting the invisible flow of energy in ways only experts really understand. That's like tailor loving made for a story where the PCs sneak into an evil CEO's office, move his potted plant 3 millimeters to the left, and thus sabotage all his business dealings in a way he'll never be able to detect. Or where the magic animals have made a crazy, intricately-designed temple that generates magic for them and the PCs bust in and kick all the chairs over and ruin years of work. Or where the PCs need to blow up a big bad monster, so they lure it into an ambush in a garden where they've set up the plants and rocks in juuuuust the right way to turn the fight to their advantage.

It's like they read the first line of the Wikipedia article on feng shui and went "some buildings make you lucky, got it."

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!


Night10194 posted:

Generally you need a 'strong claim' to it (taking it in blood can work, buying it or something is usually better).

The fact that buying a site works makes me imagine a faction of legal badasses who have next to no actual combat chops but have instead used the fine print in contracts to take control over a multitude of Chi nodes that the former owners are convinced they're still in control of, slowly building up enough to knock over the status quo in one fell swoop. Or someone who's assured that no one will ever knock him over because his will stipulates several powerful chi nodes going to someone that would massively mismanage them and gently caress things up for everyone. And apparently chi nodes respect contracts and receipts.

megane posted:

That kind of strikes me as ironic, given that the thing is named Feng Shui; the whole thing about feng shui (the furniture-arranging thing) is that good and bad fortune can arise from subtle alignments and misalignments of objects impacting the invisible flow of energy in ways only experts really understand. That's like tailor loving made for a story where the PCs sneak into an evil CEO's office, move his potted plant 3 millimeters to the left, and thus sabotage all his business dealings in a way he'll never be able to detect.



I'd actually be extremely hype for a game where you have no direct combat options but instead entirely interact with the environment to trap, trick or misdirect enemies into defeat in ways both mundane and magical. It'd be a fun puzzle game, though not sure how well it'd translate to pen and paper.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 23:15 on Jun 12, 2019

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Night10194 posted:

Buro will complete a global transportation network if you don't, which will supposedly double the chi value of the site by making it the central hub and thus make them more powerful.

So yeah. Chi War Stuff.

E: Which is kind of another problem; if you stop and think about it, 'Well they'll grow, uh, stronger. Sorta. In their own juncture' doesn't really sound like it merits 'annihilate millions of people with weather bombardment', no. Especially not when the book also says using the satellite as a weapon may refuck the climate and kick all of the earth in the dick again.

This runs into the issue, again, that the Buro occupies the most tenuous territory in the Time War. If you want to gently caress up the Buro, you're best off either attacking their Netherworld facilities, or taking Feng Shui sites in earlier junctures to try and critical shift them out of existence in the first place.

Ideally both, because their netherworld sites won't go anywhere when the critical shift happens and are a place for all their Innerwalkers to retreat to.

EDIT: Or assassinating key players like Boatman

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

megane posted:

That kind of strikes me as ironic, given that the thing is named Feng Shui; the whole thing about feng shui (the furniture-arranging thing) is that good and bad fortune can arise from subtle alignments and misalignments of objects impacting the invisible flow of energy in ways only experts really understand. That's like tailor loving made for a story where the PCs sneak into an evil CEO's office, move his potted plant 3 millimeters to the left, and thus sabotage all his business dealings in a way he'll never be able to detect. Or where the magic animals have made a crazy, intricately-designed temple that generates magic for them and the PCs bust in and kick all the chairs over and ruin years of work. Or where the PCs need to blow up a big bad monster, so they lure it into an ambush in a garden where they've set up the plants and rocks in juuuuust the right way to turn the fight to their advantage.

It's like they read the first line of the Wikipedia article on feng shui and went "some buildings make you lucky, got it."

Basically, the deal with just making or breaking minor feng shui adjustments is that anyone can do that and get enough luck to find a quarter on the sidewalk or stub your toe in the dark, but it takes a whole lot of adjustments to channel enough chi to learn how to backflip over a table while putting bullets through pips of playing cards in a week. That's going to need a combination of location, decor, architecture, etc with a bit more commitment than turning your mirror to face away from the windows. There's really no reason you can't just go vandalize someone's garden, and in fact they will instantly know that something happened to a site they're attuned to, but unless you're making some long-term changes like burning it to the ground the owner can just come fix the place up and carry on.

The example of the evil CEO, he's probably not just going to be attuned to a single site, and the fact that the entire building, maybe the whole city block, is designed to channel chi into his office means shifting a ficus will stop the flow of chi as well as a pebble stops a stream. This isn't a game about subtle manipulation, you have to do big poo poo to make other big poo poo happen, and the writers did at least try to make PCs capable of making some noise at the start and getting louder as they go to eventually take on those AV 19 enforcers that Night seems to think you're supposed to take on immediately for some reason. That's why one of the more attainable sources of bonus XP is just completely ruining a chi site that belongs to someone else. There no reasonable way that a group of fresh PCs is going to have the resources to buy out the building or company that the evil CEO has, but blowing up the top few floors? That's within the grasp of some new action heroes, with the prepwork being a series of adventures to lead up to it.

I do agree that it would be nice be to able to use geomancy for some kind of short-term effect instead of just a bunch of bonus XP, though.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





I just need to say :

It’s spelled ‘qi’, drat it.

Even if, for some reason, we were going back to Wade-Giles transcription instead of pinyin like god drat monsters, then it would be ch’i. They spelled ‘feng shui’ correctly, why not this!?

I understand romanizing Chinese is hard for a lot of people, but it’d be so much easier if we stopped using systems of doing it that have been dead for like double the length of my life.

(Not going after anyone in this thread, it’s just something that bugs the poo poo out of me. Also it just means ‘air’ for gently caress’s sake.)

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Game needs more feng shui shenanigans, like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8_Mk3-sZsQ#t=3009s

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Xiahou Dun posted:

I just need to say :

It’s spelled ‘qi’, drat it.

Even if, for some reason, we were going back to Wade-Giles transcription instead of pinyin like god drat monsters, then it would be ch’i. They spelled ‘feng shui’ correctly, why not this!?

I understand romanizing Chinese is hard for a lot of people, but it’d be so much easier if we stopped using systems of doing it that have been dead for like double the length of my life.

(Not going after anyone in this thread, it’s just something that bugs the poo poo out of me. Also it just means ‘air’ for gently caress’s sake.)

I can use qi in future updates if you'd prefer. Don't have to be accurate to the book if it's not accurate to up to date romanization.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





I was yelling at the authors, not you. You’re perfect.

It’s just so silly since the “modern” spelling is from the 50’s.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



megane posted:

That kind of strikes me as ironic, given that the thing is named Feng Shui; the whole thing about feng shui (the furniture-arranging thing) is that good and bad fortune can arise from subtle alignments and misalignments of objects impacting the invisible flow of energy in ways only experts really understand. That's like tailor loving made for a story where the PCs sneak into an evil CEO's office, move his potted plant 3 millimeters to the left, and thus sabotage all his business dealings in a way he'll never be able to detect. Or where the magic animals have made a crazy, intricately-designed temple that generates magic for them and the PCs bust in and kick all the chairs over and ruin years of work. Or where the PCs need to blow up a big bad monster, so they lure it into an ambush in a garden where they've set up the plants and rocks in juuuuust the right way to turn the fight to their advantage.

It's like they read the first line of the Wikipedia article on feng shui and went "some buildings make you lucky, got it."

Funnily enough, Shadowrun Hong Kong has a mission where you do just that, with you doing the big mash and grab poo poo to cover up the smaller Feng Shui sabotage you're actually hired to do (the mage characters all pretty much going 'heeey doing this stuff feels icky' once you do enough changes)

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 3: The Adventuring Life



Where the previous chapters were about the daily life of regular people, this chapter focuses a little more on the stuff that's going to matter to adventurers.

First off is a brief discussion about why people go on adventures. The most obvious reason is when they can't avoid it. Sometimes adventures just happen to you. There are reasons why people would actively seek out adventure, though. One reason is for the experience. Experience in the literal RPG sense of the word; adventuring experience improves your skills faster than study or practice, and people of the World Tree are fully aware of this. Some Rassimel has probably carefully calculated the exact difference.

The other big reason is money. There's always some kind of treasure that you could go recover, if you're brave and skilled enough. Treasures like this tend to be natural occurrences, incidentally. The history of the World Tree is pointedly not a history of rising and falling empires, so ruined castles with dungeons overflowing with ancient hoards of coins aren't really a thing.

A third reason is just because there's no other place you fit in. If for whatever reason you don't fit in polite society, you can probably live your true self as an adventurer; no one expects adventurers to conform. Escaping a confining family or a prejudiced home village are common calls to adventure.

Once you decide, for whatever reason, that it's time to go on an adventure, you should probably find some people to go with you. If you've got friends or family that want to go, that's a good start. Maybe coworkers or classmates will help out. Failing that, most cities have a de facto place that adventurers hang around looking for work, usually a tavern, a room at a friendly guildhouse, or a clubroom at a university. There are things called Adventurers Guilds, but don't be fooled, those are leisure clubs for rich people to sit around sipping brandy and bragging about the last guided safari they financed.

A number of common types of adventure are listed out, presumably to give a broad sense of the kind of game this book supports. Exploration and colonization, fetching strange objects, rescuing someone, guarding someone or something, protecting villages or cities from monsters, responding to a disaster, or just wandering off into the wilderness and seeing what opportunities pop up. It makes a special mention of offering aid to monsters; non-primes often don't have the same defenses and protections as prime civilization, so if they get in trouble they might need a hero to save them. This can be very rewarding, but isn't great for your reputation.



A page or so is spent on talking about the etiquette and administration of a party. Things like picking a leader, deciding what the leader's responsibilities are, how to keep everyone working together, how resources should be pooled, and what approach you should take with retreating or surrendering foes. It's mostly a lot of "We're not going to tell you what the answer to this question should be, but you should have an answer."

Next is an overview of travel options. Walking is slow and dangerous; there's a lot of wild territory between cities, especially at the edges of civilization, and the terrain is mostly hilly. If the road is too long or difficult, you could take a sky gondola, a low flying airship. For very long trips, teleport rings might be available; this is mostly only available in civilization, since people have mostly decided teleport gates are too dangerous to make more of so they don't get built in newly colonized lands.

Travelling from one world-branch to another is hard. Branches are hundreds of miles apart, even if one is directly over another. If they're on the same trunk, you could climb. If you're up for a vast trek over deadly terrain full of hostile life. If they're not on the same trunk, there's no other option than flight. Sky ships capable of crossing from one branch to another aren't uncommon, but they're not routine either, and they're not cheap, and the skies between branches aren't nearly as empty as you might think.



Money is pretty standard among prime civilization. The main currency is called the lozen, a hexagonal plate of amber about the size of two US quarters glued together, and with the buying power of about $10 in 2001 US currency. That's enough for a good but not fancy sit down dinner or a decent shirt. Magic is involved in the creation of lozens as an anti-counterfeiting measure. Any mage powerful enough to create a fake lozen can probably make more money much faster with other uses of their talent, but the penalties for counterfeiting are still harsh.

For small purchases, a coin called terch is common. While technically a lozen is worth 27 terch, in practice the two currencies aren't easily interchangable. Making a large purchase entirely with terch is even less likely to be acceptable than trying to buy a house with rolls of pennies. Terch are only used for small purchases, like buying a bun at a food stall or tipping a street urchin.

About a page is spent on a sampling of how much things cost. Food is a couple terch for street food, or a couple lozen for a restaraunt meal. Cheap tools made out of horn, bone, or meng nut will probably cost a lozen or two, but they break down and have to be repaired or replaced often. Good tools, metal and/or magical, cost a lot more. A metal knife would run 25 lozens new, or 10 used. Goods are available in a full spectrum between cheap junk and expensive quality goods.

Live animals are usually cheap; at least pets and foodstock animals are. The more care and training an animal requires, the more it costs. A good packhorse is 300-600 lozens, a trained warhorse is at least 2,000 lozens and don't expect to ride it off the lot and into battle the same day.

Boxed spells are expensive, but also an incredible good investment. Buying a spell is a one-time cost, and then you know how to cast it forever. And yes, you can literally buy a spell in a literal box to learn. Depending on the complexity, a spell could cost 100 to 10,000 lozens.

Small magic items are fairly readily available in cities, although you might not be able to find exactly what you want. Magic items on the open market are often hand-me-downs that have served their original purpose, student projects, or journeyman crafts. If you want a more specific item, it's not hard to find a crafter and commission the job.

Professional spellcasters usually price their services based on the most complex spell they can cast, not based on the difficulty of the spell actually being paid for. A wizard expends the same resources casting a cantrip as they do the most powerful spell in their arsenal, and they charge accordingly.

Bound magic is a new invention, and civilization hasn't settled on an accepted price for it yet, so it varies from caster to caster.



If you're going to go out looking for valuable loot, you should probably know what kind of thing is worth a lot of money. Metal is both very rare and very useful, so it's always very valuable. Some plant naturally produce small amounts of metal that can be harvested and refined if you know how, but gathering enough to be worthwhile is exhausting. Skilled mages can conjure small amounts, it's the work of days or weeks to conjure enough to be useful. Metal is additionally useful because it's harder than other materials to affect with magic. Items that are only partially metal are treated as entirely metal when trying to affect it with magic, which is both inconvenient and desirable. Some metals, like iron and lead, are basically the same as Earth equivalents. There's a few obscure metals with weird names that aren't like anything on Earth, though.

Amber is reasonably valued; amber from a common tree is cheap, amber from a rare tree is expensive. World-Amber, amber from the World Tree itself, is a special case. It's an incredibly durable material, even harder to work with tools or magic than metal. A suit of world-amber is every bit as good as a full suit of metal armor at only a hundred times the price. It's easy enough to find a deposit of world-amber, occurring naturally in a cleft of the World Tree's trunk, but actually prying it out of the tree and hauling it home to get paid is something else entirely. If you can find a handful sized bead of world amber that you can pick up, you'll turn a lovely profit.

Gems and stone are rare and expensive; there's no such thing as a quarry or mine. Some plants occasionally grow gemstones instead of flowers. The few mages skilled enough at Durudor to create gems are clever enough to hide their secrets and keep demand high. Deposits of compressed sand and clay serve as the most common supply of material for stonework, but they're small and uncommon. A more common building material is pounded dirt soaked with World Tree sap; almost as sturdy as sandstone, almost as flammable as wood.

Glirries are the equivalent of semi-precious stones, although they aren't stones at all. They're plants; specifically flowers but as hard as glass or marble. They range from being worth a lozen or so to several hundred lozens for the most beautiful.

Graces and Glories are unique to the World Tree, and are some of the most prized rewards available. They are a token of a god's favor, granting the owner some magical boon related to that god's magical art. Every grace and glory is unique, but they generally all take some form related to the associated god; a grace of Flokin might be an acorn made of fire, or burning words dancing on note. A grace or glory can be used instead of spending cley (magical energy) when casting an appropriate spell, and usually with a large boost to the spell's power. A grace may have the equivalent of 12 castings worth of power before being consumed. A glory usually only has 1 or 2, but the power refreshes every day. Both are extremely valuable. How much is it worth to a Zi Ri mage to be able to cast one more spell per day, every day for the rest of zir immortal life?

The rest of the list is mostly stuff that's valuable in any setting. Spices, perfumes, ivory, tapestries, alcohol, books, antiques, property, etc.

Slavery exists in the World Tree. Yes, this is probably a huge minefield. I'm not gonna summarize it.



Tricky moral issues, huh? Well, OK then. I think maybe it would have been better to just leave slaves out of the list of potential loot.

Weapons
Weapons are a fact of life, especially for adventurers. Even though every prime is capable of casting spells, including attack magic, hitting your enemies with a sharp object is much more reliable and economical.

The basic adventurer weapon is the sword; usually of moderate length, thin, and double-edged. Cheap swords are made of meng nut and barely good enough for fighting vermin. Metal-edged wooden swords are more common for an adventurer on a budget. A fully metal sword is what any duelist really wants if they can afford it. There's some variation in sword styles; some are longer, some are broader, some are edged with hooks and spikes that aren't very practical for straightforward fighting, but can enable dirty tricks in a skilled fighter's hand.

Rapiers are the weapons of the wealthy; they're more suitable to dueling than for fighting for your life against monsters. Any other weapon would be about as effective at a fraction of the price, but that's mostly the point of having one.

Crushing weapons are common; clubs aren't exactly sexy, but you can't beat the price and some well-placed Herbador magic can improve their effectiveness. Maces and flails are the weapon of choice for people that want to show off how much money they have while caving in skulls. Khtsoyis in particular love clubs and maces; they can swing up to three at a time, and get significant bonuses when doing so.

Spears and staffs make good choices for people that aren't professional warriors. The advantages are the same as in the real world; all the dangerous parts of the fight happen at the far end of a long stick, and when you're not fighting you've still got a nice walking stick. Herethroy in particular are well suited to using polearms; they can wield a spear or staff in their lower pair of hands without interfering with whatever they're swinging with their main hands. A Herethroy knight with sword, shield, spear, and armor over their carapace is extremely difficult to hurt in a fight.

Missile weapons aren't particularly popular on the World Tree, especially for warfare. This is one of the big instances where game logic actually affects the game world. In real life, a single arrow is probably good enough to end a single enemy. But in an RPG system it can take several or even dozens of arrows to drop a single target, and where are you going to carry all those extra arrows you need? What about sniping, why can't you silently kill the sentry that's unaware of you just because the arrow only does 1d6 damage?

Anyway, on the World Tree everyone is fully aware that it takes a bunch of arrows to take down any serious warrior, by which time they've probably run up to you and started jamming their sword in you. Bows just aren't a very cost effective tool of warfare, and specialized archers are almost unheard of. Archery is more of a skill for hunting. That being said, there are useful tricks you can do with an arrow. Spells can be bound to an arrow, sometimes letting you deliver the payload at a range and accuracy greater than you would otherwise have.

Crossbows exist, but are even less popular. The best quality crossbow is worse than what we think of on Earth, mostly because it's not worth wasting metal on them. Thrown weapons are fairly common; it can be worthwhile to get an extra attack in while approaching the enemy. Think javelins, tomahawks, or cabers if you're big enough. No one throws knives; it's just a waste of time and metal is far too valuable to spend on making a throwing dagger worthwhile.

Knives and daggers are ubiquitous for anyone that doesn't already have natural weapons for close-in fighting, but they're weapons of last resort.

Armor
Many species have natural armor from their tough hides, but more is always better. Leather armor is cheap and convenient, you should almost certainly wear some if you can. For a little more money, leather armor can be reinforced with wood or bone.

If you're going to go pro, you want metal armor. Chain armor is standard, and provides good protection. Full plate armor provides a little better protection for a lot more price. Your money might be better spent getting some magical enchantments for your chain armor instead.


We've learned a lot about adventuring today. Hey, a random Khtsoyis, what would you say makes the best adventuring party?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Lol at the squirrel knight wearing a flying octopus as a hat.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


That octopus knows what's what.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I'm not sure if I'm impressed or disgusted by the fact that they made sure to mention that the dog species gets stockholm syndrome really really well.

edit: yeah I know it came up in their species write-up too, but the fact that it was mentioned here as well, yeesh.

Leraika fucked around with this message at 03:36 on Jun 13, 2019

jakodee
Mar 4, 2019


kommy5 posted:

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.

Aren’t zie/zir already existing English pronouns? Created to translate some other language I think?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Huh, I never noticed before, but the writer for Blood of the Valiant in Feng Shui is the guy who went on to be lead author on WHFRP 2e core, Chris Pramas.

Small world.

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Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


jakodee posted:

Aren’t zie/zir already existing English pronouns? Created to translate some other language I think?


They weren't invented by the authors. I've seen it as one of the proposed gender neutral pronouns to replace he/she, back in the day.

In the context of this game, it's used when the subject has a gender, but that gender doesn't correspond to male or female. Zi Ri and Herethroy co-lovers are "zie", Flokin is "it".

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