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Barudak
May 7, 2007



The undercurrent of World Tree is starting to really get at me. Like I couldnt in good faith play as a prime who wasnt going to figure out how to kill their awful gods who made this world.

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jakodee
Mar 4, 2019


Tendales posted:

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".

Honestly they have extremely nice mouth-feel. Iím going to name a character ĒZirĒ or something in a game.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





jakodee posted:

Arenít zie/zir already existing English pronouns? Created to translate some other language I think?

I mean whatís an English word? Once people acknowledged as English speakers use it, then yeah, sure. And from a totally cis perspective, it sounds pretty good just from a sound perspective. I like singular they more, but Iím not a member of any affected community (e.g. non-binary folks) so fundamentally they get to choose and itís like me having an opinion about someone elseís interior decorating at most.

But no to my knowledge zie/zir is not from another language, it would be weird for it to match English case structure that well and itíd be super weird because English has never given a poo poo about other languagesí gender systems before so why would it now. Hell, we whined at Chinese for nothaving different gender pronouns until they made some.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Zie/zir is one of a number of third-person neopronouns that have popped up over the years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-person_pronoun#He_or_she,_(s)he,_etc.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Barudak posted:

The undercurrent of World Tree is starting to really get at me. Like I couldnt in good faith play as a prime who wasnt going to figure out how to kill their awful gods who made this world.

The book will go into more words about theology later, but it's an open question exactly why the gods created the world. It clearly wasn't intended to be a paradise. The gods don't seem to require or expect gratitude.

"The gods are awful and should be punished" isn't an inherently blasphemous stance, it's just a very dangerous one. Standing on the rooftop and screaming "ALL GODS ARE BASTARDS" probably won't do anything; the gods don't pay attention to every individual at all times. But if you're unlucky, they will notice, and even the nice gods will occasionally make an example out of a disrespectful prime.

Also, killing a god without having a plan in place to replace it is probably going to have catastrophic side effects. If you somehow scrounge up the power to murder Hressh-Huu for flipping up your skirt, then, whoops, so much for air.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Tendales posted:

The book will go into more words about theology later, but it's an open question exactly why the gods created the world. It clearly wasn't intended to be a paradise. The gods don't seem to require or expect gratitude.

"The gods are awful and should be punished" isn't an inherently blasphemous stance, it's just a very dangerous one. Standing on the rooftop and screaming "ALL GODS ARE BASTARDS" probably won't do anything; the gods don't pay attention to every individual at all times. But if you're unlucky, they will notice, and even the nice gods will occasionally make an example out of a disrespectful prime.

Also, killing a god without having a plan in place to replace it is probably going to have catastrophic side effects. If you somehow scrounge up the power to murder Hressh-Huu for flipping up your skirt, then, whoops, so much for air.

I feel sorry for the Cyarr - they're obviously the setting's version of colonized natives and standard problematic fantasy orcs. The whole prime/not-prime magic domain thing is fantasy racism as metaphysical laws. Between that and the slavery-loot thing, I would not be capable of running a game of this as anything but a wild campaign of abolition and kicking over abusive power structures.

If that means coming up with a way to run the local laws of physics through a guillotine, so be it.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Yeah, if the god of a world where they explicitly endorse chattel slavery threatens that if we kill them all the air will dissappear killing everyone my partys only response is going to be "Good, then we wont have to smell your corpse".

I just cant see running this game any other way, the world is too implicitly horrible to do anything but work to end it.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


Barudak posted:

Yeah, if the god of a world where they explicitly endorse chattel slavery threatens that if we kill them all the air will dissappear killing everyone my partys only response is going to be "Good, then we wont have to smell your corpse".

I just cant see running this game any other way, the world is too implicitly horrible to do anything but work to end it.


To be clear, chattel slavery is one thing that doesn't (currently*) exist on the World Tree. You can become a slave, but you can't be born a slave. Except for serfdom, anyway. And the gods didn't include slavery in the gift basket they provided the primes, primes came up with it all by themselves. The gods themselves neither condone nor forbid slavery, except for Birkonon who's basically confined to Fantasy North Korea anyway. A campaign focused on fighting against slavery is valid, but would probably be tangential to anything involving the gods.

The non-primes, though, really do have a solid case to make for "gently caress you and gently caress this hellhole you made." Even the most hostile of non-prime cultures are really just trying to carve out their own life in a world where the deck is objectively stacked against them.


*I say currently, because in-setting a new technological development has given a huge boost to the power of the wealthy, and capitalism begets slavery. I don't think the authors had this discourse in mind when writing this in 2000.

Speaking of!

World Tree: A Roleplaying Game of Species and Civilization


Part 4: Civilization

History

Prime civilization is 4,000 years old, and all of it is documented. "Prehistory" in this context would literally mean "before primes existed" as there was no primitive preliterate culture that the prime species evolved from. In those 4,000 years, civilization has grown, expanded, and changed, and one branch of the tree can be quite unlike another. There's some common threads to all prime culture, though, mostly based around the center point of civilization.

History is measured from the time of the Birthing Field, the dawn of the first day when the Herethroy and Sleeth were placed upon the world. (The Sleeth immediately hosed off into the forest) The fact that sentient species like the nendrai and the akkamagga had been around for dozens of years is apparently irrelevant to prime history. The first Herethroy and Sleeth were created fully adult, sound of mind and body, neatly avoiding any chicken-and-egg questions. The Herethroy futzed around singing songs for a few hours, and then settled in to make the first village, Inihithre, which means "leaves on top."

Most of the gods came by the village in the next few days to introduce themselves and teach the Herethroy the basics of civilization; farming, building, woodworking, leatherworking, and so on. The Sleeth didn't need to be taught to hunt, but they probably could have used a refresher course because they chased a rongon into a grove where it stumbled into some Herethroy and wounded one of them. This is when Lenhirrik gave the first weapon to a Herethroy woman named Hrikkak the Mighty, who drove the monster off and got all the credit for being the first adventurer.

The Herethroy built the village larger, and when the Cani came three months later there were nine longhouses waiting for them. This was the formation of the nine major Cani clans. The Orren showed up two months later and immediately got comfortable.

The first winter also led to the first death; a Sleeth woman hunting in the Verticals lost her grip on the ice and fell off the branch. Her name was Arrarruu, and that name since has only been given to kittens expected to die soon after birth. Her kittens were the first Sleeth to say "gently caress that" to living in the Verticals, and they moved back into the village and learned to deal with civilization.

The second winter saw the arrival of the Khtsoyis. They were violent and unhelpful, but it turned out that they were perfectly happy to be violent and unhelpful to monsters that threatened the village instead of to the villagers, so they got to stay. One Khtsoyis was probably the first moral philosopher: Poxague Hoorthockett discovered that the goddess Lenhirrik was not injured by being clubbed, and happily spent 100% of his time floating over her head and inventing new forms of percussive music every time she visited the village. Lenhirrik taught him beermaking and how to make narcotic teas, just to give him something better to do.

Poxague got drunk off his rear end a few years later, and accidentally let a dangerous remorshka into the village, where it burned down some houses and killed a few Cani, including some puppies. The fact that it also killed Poxague did very little to assuage the Cani anger, and tensions between Cani and Khtsoyis led to the first fatal conflict between primes. The Cani were horrified at what they had done, the Khtsoyis were mostly just amused.

The Cani managed to work themselves up into one of those ugly group violence, distributing the blame and responsibility situations, and undertook what became known as "Blyn's Truce," driving out or killing almost all of the Khtsoyis in the village. Only 8 were allowed to remain, because some of the other primes had grown to like beer.

The gods, and Accanax in particular, were not pleased by Blyn's Truce, and Accanax threw dozens of new types of monster at the primes to torment them. The cyarr and the ulgrane were created during Blyn's Truce.

The Zi Ri showed up in the fourth year, and surprisingly were not immediately beloved. The primes were still afraid of another Khtsoyis scenario, and a young Zi Ri isn't very impressive yet. The Zi don't exactly take up a lot of space, though, so they fit in without issue.

The Rassimel showed up in the fifth year, and immediately started inventing things. Wolinare took one look at the village and immediately drew up plans for a wall for extra protection.

Most primes could count on their fingers and conclude that the Rassimel were the last prime species; seven gods, seven species. But then lo-and-behold the Gormoror showed up, waving around the corpse of the same remorshka that kicked off Blyn's Truce. The other primes appreciated having people around that actually enjoy going out and tangling with the dangerous monsters, and the Gormoror appreciated having people to do the boring planting and building stuff, and also provide them with weapons.

At this point, an age of expansion and exploration began. The second city on the tree was called Tauvane, which means "the new town", but nowadays means "a very very old place" to most people. They met and intimidated the scawn, made pals with the wherriwheffle, and had their first clashes with cyarr scouts. More cities were built, and the expansion grew.

The Age of Exploration
The second century of civilization was an age of exploration, both physically and even moreso intellectually. To this point, the only magic that primes had available was their innate gifts, like Sleeth telekinesis, and spontaneous magic like any toddler knows how to perform. To be really useful, spontaneous magic requires great skill in the relevant arts, and even then the caster basically has to invent the spell from scratch every time it is cast. The invention of pattern magic changed this.

Early scholar-mages studied the magerium, the metaphysical organ that houses magic in living things, and got the idea of grafting onto the magerium the same way you would graft a branch onto a physical plant. The first experiments didn't do much except burn the magic out of a bunch of scholar-mages and most people gave up on the studies, but Rassimel had gotten onto the job and Rassimel never ever give up. Eventually, after years of experimentation, a mage managed to graft a spell onto his own magerium and successfully cast it. All the scholars that had left the project came rushing back, and the process has been steadily improved and refined since then. The advantage of pattern magic is that it creates consistent, predictable, and repeatable spells. Now, instead of risking failure every time you try to cast a spell, so long as you can invent it in the first place you can cast it as often as you have the cley for.

The first pattern magics had to be invented by the same mage that wanted to graft it to their magerium. It took years before someone developed the technique to graft a spell onto someone else. Now only one person had to develop a spell, and they can share it with any number of other casters. This was the foundation of what most people think of as "spellcasting", and it was the massive technological advantage that powered a massive surge of expansion and colonization. The widespread availability of useful magic, especially healing magic, meant that primes could push further into more dangerous lands than ever before.

Enchantment was developed during this period, but it didn't have as much impact as pattern magic. While an enchanter can make wondrously powerful spells and items, the craft is extremely difficult and there are always few powerful enchanters. Everyone can use pattern magic.

In about seven hundred years, prime civilization had expanded to fill most of the region known as Ketheria, the uppermost branches around the main trunk. Future colonization would have to be on lower, less hospitable branches, or on branches of other trunks that can only be reached in flying ships. At this point, civilization largely turned inward, developing villages into cities, cities into metropolises. Guilds arose and spread among the city-states.

The age of exploration ended due to the same thing that caused it: pattern magic. A flock of ulgrane, piratical intelligent giant birds, raided a skyboat and captured a number of boxed pattern spells and a book of theory. A nendrai found someone willing to trade spells for treasure. Primes tried to uncork the bottle; providing magic to non-primes was universally banned, but the laws utterly failed. The secret was out, and the knowledge of pattern magic spread among all the non-primes. The technological advantage was lost.

The Age of Building



Expansion slowed for a time, the efforts of civilization turned to building. Enchanters became renowned figures as they created great works of public utility. This was when the teleport chains were created; teleport gates could be constructed from city to city, letting you follow the chain from gate to gate to get anywhere in Ketheria in hours instead of weeks. Trade flourished as all of the great cities, and then the frontier cities, were connected. The problem is that if gates are placed too close together, less than a mile or so apart, then poo poo gets all Lovecraftian and horrors can sneak through the gate. Tens of millions of people across four branches died in the worst event. When the ashes cleared, enchanters sealed up many of the gates, making sure that the remaining chains were spaced safely apart, with a large margin for error. The region of Ketheria and the neighboring branches connected by teleport gate are known as Greater Ketheria; the equivalent of a continent, it is not a political entity, but the region has a somewhat unified culture.

Other types of magic were invented during this time; ritual magic, spellweaving, pattern enchantment, but while they're all useful none were the major paradigm poo poo that pattern magic was, or that bound magic will be.

The Modern Age

At the time the game is presumed to take place, a brand new type of magic has just been developed, bound magic. Where pattern magic lets anyone learn a spell, but still requires the caster to power it with their own skill, bound magic lets a powerful wizard precast a spell with their own power level, and give it to another person that may not have any gift in that art whatsoever. Suddenly, not only does every prime have access to reliable magic, but now every prime could, in principle, wield the spells of their greatest wizards. Where before every adventuring party had to be sure to bring a skilled healer, modern adventurers can rely on bound healing magic. Instead of a dedicated fire brigade, buildings have fire-quenching spells bound to them, etc. If pattern magic was like the industrial revolution, bound magic is like the information revolution. This new advantage is empowering prime civilization to undergo a new era of expansion and colonization.

Scholars are also worried that it will upheave the social order. Before bound magic, no matter how rich or politically powerful you were, your access to magic was strictly limited by your own skill. But now, spells of, say, health and longevity are available to anyone that can afford them. Economic power has taken on a whole new importance that it didn't have before.

seize the means of magic production

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Run a World Tree game with Feng Shui rules. Backflip over a table and kill God with your AK.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I want a game where you have to pick between achieving full communism OR exterminating the gods, but you canít do both. Now thereís a moral challenge for todayís gamer.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege, Part 2- "Time to pull out those two Atlantis sourcebooks."

Tolkeen Under Siege

... starring Steven Seagal.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

This is it! The final siege.

There is no turning back. Winner takes all!

pre:
POV: Home Office

Alien Rope Burn can be seen, slumped in a chair, a thousand-yard stare on his face as he slowly turns to face the viewer.

Alien Rope Burn: Thank Thoth.

"Really, this is just a tragedy for everyone!"

So, though the forcefield and defense system rises on Tolkeen, it's too late as Holmes' forces cause chaos throughout the city. The destruction of the magical control mechanisms throughout the city causes magic to start misfiring and going wild. Some techno-magical devices go up, increase in power, or just explode. Magical rituals go wild, creatures are summoned out of nowhere, and ley line storms and rifts tear through the city. People get teleported around randomly. The defense system goes up and down, the shields down long enough for the Coalition to move in. The fighting goes on around Tolkeen, Freehold, and Magestock. We're told "It's your show now". A little late to hand us the keys now that the car's out of gas...

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

While Tolkeen's fate may be sealed, how events unfold for specific characters, groups, organizations, and our player characters are yet to be played out. As Erin Tarn noted as the onset of the war, these are the small, always poignant stories that are sometimes lost in the larger tapestry of war. While they may not influence the outcome of the war, they are the real heroes and villains who make a difference to countless people. These are the times that try a man's soul and turn characters into heroes, villains, cowards or traitors. Some will live. Some will die. These are YOUR stories. Explore them to the fullest and enjoy the drama.

"It's your story. Except the parts that aren't, like the outcome of the story. Play on!"

We get maps and general guidelines of where the Coalition forces go - half attacks this, half attacks that, this sends a third this way - but it's all very generalized strategic information that ends up being a lot of words that don't really help the GM-on-the-ground. While I'm not sure if we'd actually benefit from troop counts, having some idea who the commanders of the battle on the situation are would help, what their tactics are like, specific skirmishes or important turning points in the battle... but no. Literally, Holmes is the only guy with numbers we know for a fact is commanding. Not sure if Drogue's flunkies are still in play. We do get that the Coalition is just thinking of nuking the dragon-ruled Freehold, and the Techno-Wizard town of Center Gear has been set up as a trap to blow up the Coalition after they're lured in.


"Mistakes have been made all around!"

Tolkeen: City in Chaos
When the magic Fails


Magic is going crazy! We just got told this, but we're told again at length. All three cities - Tolkeen, Freehold, and Magestock are all impacted by this. We first get some penalties for GMs to leverage on Techno-Wizard items, like shutting off, reduced effect, bonuses, range, etc. There's no guidelines of how best to approach it, it's just to be applied arbitrarily. There are also ley line storms, but those were already reprinted in Coalition Wars 1: Sedition.

Speaking of things to be applied arbitrarily, we get Table One: Inadvertent Teleportation Table, which will most likely affect those near ley lines or using transportation magic, but there's no hard and fast rule when the GM should be inflicting this on PCs. We get about three pages of tables for locations around the city or the warzone you might be transported to. There's an outside chance you might be transported to some place like Old Chicago, Detroit, or the Magic Zone, which will effectively result in most PC groups just being effectively removed from the conclusion of the event.

Then there's Table Two: Spell Magic Backlash, which afflicts any spell cast within two miles of one of the local ley lines or if you're near some magical utility system on Tolkeen going haywire. That's less arbitrary, good on you, Palladium. We get your standard "wild magic" sort of table, including reduced or increased effect, getting knocked on your rear end, raising the dead, turn into a big magic person zapper (like a bug zapper, but for people), accidentally summoning entities, etc.

Lastly, we have Table Three: Random Dimensional Anomalies that occur every 1d6 hours around two miles of a ley line. Part of the city might be replaced with another dimension. A dimensional rift might open to a nearby warzone or to... Atlantis or to a site from a Dimension Book. Keep buyin' those books, because you need any one of them! Gravity might be affected, characters might vanish for awhile, demons pop out, get moved temporarily in time, etc. Probably the most fun table because it opens up adventure / encounter possibilities for PCs, at least when it isn't just dicking folks with disasters.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

Players and readers sometimes seem to forget that Rifts Earth is a post-apocalyptic world covered by vast stretches of treacherous wilderness.

This is a familiar refrain. Siembieda wants to emphasize that just traveling through wild terrain slows down the Coalition, which... don't they have hover transports? Hover tanks? Spider-Skull Walkers? I mean, they do have some vehicles impacted by terrain, but he seems to often forget airlifting troops and vehicles is a thing. Yes, Tolkeen can do a lot to slow them down, but Siembieda excels at talking down to the reader here. Moreover, going over all this is a bit academic when we know the Coalition will penetrate the city. "But look how hard it was!" Yes, we've had five other books to go over that, and yet, we have a reprint of a lot of the details on earthworks and other defensive structures from Rifts Coalition Wars 5: Shadow of Evil. Moreover, a lot of the terrain is nuked into a nice flat parking lot of glassy death. Let's move on.


The Tri-City Area.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

War is hell, and now you can see one reason why. There is more to it than running at the enemy and shooting a gun. A lot more.

Mississippi is the last defensive line, provided by elementals, Juggernauts, and Daemonix. The Coalition air forces are able to bypass it, but the ground forces, because... well, once again, airlifting forces seems alien to them and Siembieda wants this to be a 1914-style slog fought with the weapons of 2414. Once they break through, Skelebots and tanks lead the charge, aiming to take the worst punishment as the rest move in. The hardest fighting will be at Freehold, on account of the draconic population, but their inability of dragons to coordinate will lose the day there.

Tolkeen will be desperately shoring up by summoning elementals and demons, as well as raising forces of the dead. But with their magic defenses down, they're losing through sheer attrition. Most of the dragons will flee when things look lost, while a good number of the Cyber-Knights abandon the fight. They won't have the time or resources to build or repair their Juggernauts. About the only thing they have going is that the murderous intentions of the Coalition means nobody will surrender- almost all remaining in Tolkeen will fight to the death.

Rifts Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege posted:

If the CS wins...

If? If?! You're adorable, Kev.

Next: A detailed list of losers.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

That Poxague guy was totally a playtest character.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

The simple pleasures of a monkey chaingun fight

It is only fitting that the Jammers cut in line and push the Monarchs back a bit, surprising everyone by storming onto the scene well before they were promised. In truth, I'm covering the explosion monkeys because I feel like it, because they're a really great faction and an important part of Feng Shui. They also contain one of the other really great characters for the setting: Battlechimp Potemkin. They're a great faction because there's a ton of things you can do with them: Uneasy allies, comic relief, crazy psycho murder terrorists, or just a really wild and explosion fueled main campaign faction. Also, their actual goal is quite sympathetic, just...not really their means. Or the way there's a chance what they're trying to do could erase all of history and leave you running back to 69 AD to undo your mistakes.

So, the Jammers formed around the survivors of the second Buro supersoldier program. The first one was all about massive human enhancement, but it got shut down because the public was terrified of it. The second? Robot monkeys. Robot monkeys with enhanced intelligence. Project: Cornelius was designed to produce intelligent gorillas and monkeys with chainguns and rocket launchers strapped to them. In many ways, the continued success of the Jammers shows that Project: Cornelius was a stunning success; the cyborg apes and monkeys are actually really tough bastards. The issue came when they made a command unit: The very first Battlechimp. Potemkin was made to be stunningly intelligent, so he could direct the apes of wrath (that's not me doing wordplay, Jammer heavy infantry are, in fact, The Apes of Wrath) with enough skill to obsolete human generals the way his mighty winged monkey (well, helicopter-bladed monkey) armies were obsoleting the human soldier. This was a bad idea, as you might imagine; making a hyper-intelligent, hyper-charismatic unit stuffed with every powerful combat cybernetic you can come up with was just asking to backfire. The very first thing Potemkin said after analyzing everything that had been uploaded into his brain was 'kill me'.

After awhile, Potemkin convinced the project staff that making a sentient race solely to enslave it into doing your killing for you was, in a word, pretty hosed up. He'd processed for a bit, and gone from 'kill me' to 'kill the government that thought making me wasn't a hosed up thing to do'. With the Project: Cornelius staff in tow, they fled the facilities they were born in and the cyborgs made their way to the Netherworld. Here, he would meet Dr. Dao and, with her wanting to get back at Boatman for the whole 'tried to kill me' thing, she handed Potemkin a prototype Gatemaker. Being a genius, and in possession of a bunch of CDCA scientists, he was able to replicate this thing; it punches temporary holes into the Netherworld for a quick escape. Perfect for a unit of Gorilla Warriors. Now the cybernetic Battlechimp had a means to strike and fade, an army of cybernetic monkeys, a bunch of scientists, and the ability to become a beacon to all resistance against the Buro. But in the process, he'd learned exactly what Feng Shui was; calculating that it directed all history, he decided that along with Buro, Feng Shui had to go. After all, if Feng Shui enabled tyrants like Buro, the Lotus (I am excited for Lotus times when we get to them), and the Ascended, what the hell good was it? All it was was a chain around the neck of history. The strongest and smartest didn't rule, but rather those who happened to own lucky buildings and places.

Yeah, destroying all chi (Gonna keep using that romanization so I don't slip myself up) might kill everybody, but to Battlechimp Potemkin, better the world should die if it can't live free. To achieve his goals, he will do anything and sacrifice anything; the soul of the world, the liberty of all life is at stake. He's even started up a factory to forcibly produce a sentient race of cybernetic monkeys en-masse to indoctrinate into a life of mindless destruction so he can have the soldiers he needs to win. You know, the thing he originally argued was so hosed up that anyone who did it needed to die.

So, one of the reasons the Jammers are useful is that most of the time, they're a joke faction. They're funny! They all have ape pun names, they take to their work with extreme glee, they're crazy half-baked nihilistic anarchists who just want to tear everything down and get hammered while they do it. They're dangerous, but they lack the huge backing of most other factions and they're usually a disruptive element in plot arcs rather than the main event. If a story arc is ever getting boring, you have the full blessing of the setting to suddenly and without warning teleport 8 heavily armed cybernetic monkeys and their attendant riot of punks and explosives onto the scene to liven things up as they try to blow up whatever site or plot your PCs and their other enemies were arguing over. Things bogged down in legal proceedings? Non-combat scene going too long? Here come the loving explosion monkeys! Time to shred some scenery and cause some collateral damage! You would not believe how helpful that is to a GM.

The thing that makes the Jammers great, though, is that the joke can stop. Suddenly. You can play them entirely for humor and fun. You also have the option to suddenly have the silliness come to a screeching, explosive halt the moment Potemkin walks on scene. He's intelligent, completely ruthless, and he will do literally anything to win; nothing else in the world matters besides destroying all feng shui. He has plans to get a nuclear device into Hong Kong and destroy the city entirely (He's been trying to get a nuke for 3 years). He orders his soldiers to dump toxic waste on sites they burn so they can't be repaired. He actively orders the Jammers to cause as much ecological damage as possible because natural beauty can have good feng shui. If he could cause WWIII in 1996, he probably would; it'd kill Buro, after all. If you want him for one, Potemkin can make an absolutely chilling villain. Which is extra good, because then you've got your players legit worried about a guy called Battlechimp Potemkin. Also he's a huge badass and one of the strongest combat faction leads, so if you want a campaign arc to end on fighting Potemkin in a missile silo before he can launch a rogue strike on Hong Kong, he'll put up a hell of a fight even if they have the AVs to fight him.

It'll probably stall out because he has huge toughness, unless you have Creature Powers characters or Fu characters who can bypass Toughness, in which case they can probably take him down in a reasonable amount of time if they've got the AV to be doing this in the first place. But hey, this is still Feng Shui.

But the other good part about the Jammers? For all the crazy, there's also a lot of good. One of their projects in 1850? They've realized the Ascended are going to make America increasingly important to their plans, and guess what's producing a shitload of chi? The Southern Plantations. So the Jammers have joined the Abolitionist movement. But they ain't content with lobbying for an end of slavery, or helping slaves escape. No, they're smuggling crates of Buro Blue Spear assault rifles and poo poo back to 1850 and getting ready to put together the mother of all slave rebellions. You want to play a good guy Jammer campaign? Get on down there, team up with John Brown (now with an AK-47), and smash the southern planter aristocracy as you play out Django But More. Similar, they're sending smallpox vaccine (and probably a few more AKs and Blue Spears, but mostly those are going to the slaves) to the native Americans out west, in hopes that they can support them and put a stop to the US conquering the Indian Wars. So you know, you want to play as future rebels fighting alongside the victims of historical genocide and chattel slavery and kicking the poo poo out of imperialists? That's already in there. The Jammers are canonically into that. Sure, they're doing it for magic secret war purposes, but loving hell, you can have a completely main-rulebook supported game where you spend the game shooting slaveowners with uzis. I am into that.

There's also the part where, considering almost everyone else in the Secret War is evil and feng shui really does tend to enable tyranny, they're kind of right. Just that the people saying 'hey if you kill all that you will kill everyone' may also be right. But it's ambiguous. They could turn out to be right if you're playing a Jammer campaign; you could break enough sites and suddenly the world is free and history is changed forever. It's up to you depending on if you want them as comic relief, villains, or a PC group.

Similar, they do a lot of awful things; Potemkin really would do anything to destroy Buro and feng shui. The aforementioned 'I would absolutely nuke Hong Kong', the fact that he gives no shits about collateral damage at all, or the fact that if he knew that destroying all chi would destroy history he probably wouldn't stop, etc? If you want a game where your PCs get in it to free the world and realize their bosses are insane and then defect to become the Dragons, you've got a lot of room for that. Even if the Jammers are played as villains in your game, they're also villains who might work with you as allies of convenience. Again, Potemkin would do anything. There's also a nasty social darwinism streak to the Jammers; they believe that what chi is in the way of is the 'strongest and smartest' ruling. The reason I keep coming back to Potemkin is because he has complete, basically dictatorial control of the Jammers; a lot of the faction is a personality cult centered around him, and he's often depicted as highly adept at emotional control and manipulation. Despite the goal of global liberation, people are mostly tools and things and numbers to him. One of the reasons PCs might start out Jammers and not stay that way is being sent on suicide missions by a Battlechimp that doesn't mind sacrificing them.

Another general note on FS's fluff that comes up as I reread the fiction: FS is notable for being very anti-colonialist, and this was in the 90s. The British conduct in the Opium War is uniformly depicted as villainous, and something that any heroic character is going to struggle against. The most sympathetic things the Jammers do are in the 1850s, fighting against American Chattel Slavery and aggression against the Native Americans. Those historic atrocities and the way the Ascended benefit from them (there's all the excuse plot chi magic stuff, but at the end of the day they're still doing them for money, power, and imperialism) are always depicted as big reasons the Ascended are motherfuckers no matter what they say about how they ensure you can get a cheeseburger and download porn on the internet. Another thing: FS has, for its time period, an unusual number of gay characters, depicted in a variety of roles and never as stereotypes. It'll just be mentioned that the Queen of the Ice Pagoda's ultracompetent chief of staff lives a happy home life with his husband in among the rest of his writeup, or a plot seed will have a woman asking the PCs to help her get her wife out of 2056. 2056's gay marriage laws are depicted as one of the few unambiguously good things Buro does. It's nice.

So yeah, the Jammers are a fun faction of wildly energetic rebels and explosion lovers, who make for great comic relief, allies, potential PC protagonists, and enemies at the same time. You barely have to change anything to use them in any of those roles. They add a lot to the setting, and not just from being able to say 'Furious George comes through the wall unbidden and without warning, spinning up his 30mm chaingun' whenever the going gets slow.

Next Time: Okay, actually the Four Monarchs

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Yeah, the thing to remember about the Jammers is that if they found a good feng shui site was was, say, a neonatal unit they would absolutely blow it up as fast as they could to be back home in time for 'Sliders.'

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


If you want to use Potemkin as a villain, the way I saw it he's the guy who absolutely buys the conceit of chi domination, and to its logical and terrifying extreme: No-one who can be influenced by chi is really a person as long as they're influenced. They aren't really making their own decisions, and their life doesn't matter anyway. If they die, they weren't really alive, so it doesn't matter. All that matters is making it so chi is gone.

His chapter fiction in their book, when they get to his point of view? Completely, totally cold. The only thing he's concerned about is finding the right levers to keep his troops moving, no matter what emotion he projects to them in the moment. He's genuinely one of the scariest characters in Feng Shui.

And his name is goddamn Battlechimp Potemkin. The guy that runs the funny comic relief explosion apes comes off as one of the most menacing and competent potential antagonists.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Wasnít Blood of the Valiant actually a third party supplement at some point? Iím sure I had a version that wasnít published by Atlas.

And that background means Potemkin pulled effectively a U-turn in 2nd Edition..

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

Night10194 posted:

Yeah, destroying all chi (Gonna keep using that romanization so I don't slip myself up) might kill everybody, but to Battlechimp Potemkin, better the world should die if it can't live free.

Later on, he did destroy all the chi! And he basically did kill the world. The reason 2e's future juncture is Mad Max style instead of bio-horror cyberpunk is because Pote managed to build and use a bomb that blew up all the chi, and it killed something like 99% of life on the spot. Now Pote is desperately trying to cause a critical shift in the present to undo his big uh-oh, and George is running the show in the future because the cyber-apes mostly survived and he's taking it to mean they're the new top of the food chain going forward.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Night10194 posted:

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.

Pramas also wrote Dragon Fist, a wuxia-inspired game based on AD&D 2E that ended up being the last 2E product published before WOTC released 3E (and even then, only published in digital form).

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Lynx Winters posted:

Later on, he did destroy all the chi! And he basically did kill the world. The reason 2e's future juncture is Mad Max style instead of bio-horror cyberpunk is because Pote managed to build and use a bomb that blew up all the chi, and it killed something like 99% of life on the spot. Now Pote is desperately trying to cause a critical shift in the present to undo his big uh-oh, and George is running the show in the future because the cyber-apes mostly survived and he's taking it to mean they're the new top of the food chain going forward.

Yeah, that was actually one of the reasons I didn't like the change to 2069; I like it being genuinely ambiguous as to whether or not the Jammers are right. After all, all the people telling them it will kill the world are people who benefit from how the world is now; it's a legit reading to say that's scare-mongering to prevent change if you want to play as hero Jammers, and there's also lots of good material (and fun) playing as hero Jammers as much as I think Potemkin made an awesome villain. Having them win and it actually killing everyone kinda settles the question.

Also kind of at a loss how 'lifeless wasteland hellhole with no Chi in it' was going to solve the 'people are only from the future, they never go to the future and play in it' fluff issue.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Lynx Winters posted:

Later on, he did destroy all the chi! And he basically did kill the world. The reason 2e's future juncture is Mad Max style instead of bio-horror cyberpunk is because Pote managed to build and use a bomb that blew up all the chi, and it killed something like 99% of life on the spot.
Buro propaganda. It was only 97%.

Night10194 posted:

Yeah, that was actually one of the reasons I didn't like the change to 2069;
Nice.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Wait. Furious George is an actual named character, that wasn't a joke?

It really sucks that the system doesn't work, cause this fluff is god drat ballin'.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Feng Shui 1e

Doomed Highborn Manchildren

The Four Monarchs exist primarily to show you what a Critical Shift looks like. You see, until fairly recently (by Innerwalker reckoning) the world was kind of a lovely medieval fantasy world, ruled by 4 immortal god-kings and god-queens (2 and 2). They were, as said in the Ascended bit, total dicks and it's for the better they were kicked out. Just a shame the people (animals) who did the kicking were also total dicks. They were Pu Ti, the mistress of ice, Li Ting, the boring one righteous fire king of fire, Ming I, baby-eating monster who loves demons and murder and has some pretty unfortunate 'mesoamerica is all darkness and the eating of hearts and drinking of blood' stuff attached to her (still the 90s/early 00's), and Huan Ken, Awesome Thunder Pope rear end in a top hat.

Unlike most factions, these guys aren't huge players in the Secret War; they're there to set the stakes. The fact that they could be displaced into time is there to show you that even godlike double-kings (queens) can be cut down by losing enough of their Feng Shui sites. They were once four siblings who all got together to murder their father and then take over the world with magic and kung-fu, each ruled a fourth of the world, and then they got taken out at the knees and history rearranged itself around them. So you got stuff like Pu Ti having to flee with her court as what was once her ice palace turned into a 1980s Soviet nuclear warhead manufacturing facility and they were chased into the Netherworld by Hind Ds. Which is goddamn hilarious. Also, they'd never actually seen automatic weapons or industrial warfare before, so for the wizard monarchs they were suddenly being attacked with completely unthinkable weaponry that hadn't existed and their magic didn't work great anymore.

Like I said, cut off at the knees. Once they got down into the Netherworld, encouraged by Pu Ti, they all turned on one another and blamed each other for losing. They've since settled into a stalemate down in the tunnels between time, glaring at each other, vaguely plotting to come back to the world and kick its rear end for kicking them out. The Monarchs are a little odd in that they don't really get game stats. Everybody else? You get buff enough with enough EXP to match their AV, you can take them on. Monarchs? You'll get stats for every member of their court except for them. It stands out when everyone else in the setting is statted up for an eventual fight and they aren't. Not that most campaigns are going to bother going after these losers; they've already lost the Secret War.

Except for Pu Ti. The Ice Queen is the designated less-poo poo Monarch, who never really wanted to use immense kung fu and divine magic to take over the world anyway. Given the Ascended started their conspiracy on her lawn, it's implied she might have let them get going so as to stop having to be a God-Queen. She's quite happy being down in the Netherworld as a distimed, unassailable super-tyrant and regional queen. Also the only one who's modernizing her forces. Where once her guards used icicle swords and fancy magic sleighs and stuff, now they have snowmobiles and MP5s and tactical gear. You still ice a guy with an MP5, it's still in theme. She's also recently started to have a thing for the Dragons, though it's up to a GM if this is a momentary whim or if she's available to be a heavy hitter backer for your PCs. It's possible she may be sick of the Secret War entirely, seeing the whole thing as a mess that only exists to hurt the world. If that's the case, and that's what your Dragons are up to (trying to mitigate its harm/find a way to put a stop to all this), hey, never hurts to have a demigod backing you.

Li Ting is the Fire King. He likes fire, and made up a warrior philosophy called FIRE RIGHTEOUS. It's about how courage and stuff is like fire. Also has some Islam in it because he used to rule the middle east. He is 'backing Islamic Extremists' in the contemporary junctures in hopes that he can get them all het up about fire and use them as a springboard to get back to the world. He's brave and murderously powerful and into being cold and controlled in a fight. Also kind of likes using demons, because he thinks if you're firey enough you can turn evil to good ends. He's probably the most forgettable of the four. He really wants to come back to the world, at least, and was part of the plot that killed the last batch of Dragons. Also has cool fire sleds that run on fire.

Ming I is just evil. She has an evil shadow arm, and she loves blood, death, and torment. She bathes in the blood of virgins, she eats the hearts of children, and her court is full of blood sacrifice and cannibalism, because she ruled Mesoamerica, you see. So that's...not great. That's not a great look, the Aztec-style queen being the murderous baby-eater with the court full of monsters and devils. She works with the demons from actual Hell not because she worships them or anything, but because she agrees with them. Philosophically. They get along; they both love fear and pain. Of all the Monarchs, she's the one you're most likely to run into trouble from her not having game stats; she's kind of set up such that PCs will probably want to kick her rear end. She also uses the blood magic she practices to mind control heroes who oppose her, loving to make them into her servants. She also loves competing with the lord of the Lotus, Gao Zhang, and neither of them will admit that they both really enjoy their extended conflict of trying to out-evil one another. Of all the Monarchs, she's also the one most trying to make it back into the world; she was part of the big plot that killed the last batch of Dragons.

HUAN KEN is the Thunderpope. He is the best Monarch. There is no competition. HUAN KEN is a flamboyant tyrant who used to rule over Rome, and so made himself Pope forever in addition to king. He's a total dick, but he's a weirdly charismatic total dick since he always seems to be having the time of his life. His thunder knights are arrogant bastards who are always extorting the poor and oppressed people of the Netherworld, and they're also always getting their clocks cleaned by good hearted heroes; his realm is full of dramatic outlaws that fight against him (one of which is one of his own many daughters). He owns a giant pinball hall and arcade where he patronizes the electronic arts because he's decided pinball and loud arcade cabinets are awesome. He marries many women, then annuls the marriages, because HE IS THUNDERPOPE, he can do that. If your PCs want to spinkick an arrogant rear end in a top hat knight who is bullying the peasantry and wearing a butterfly suit, HUAN KEN will get you that. He's a boisterous man who has dozens of plans to get himself mastery of all the Netherworld! None of which are going to work! Because he's not very good at his job!

Thunderpope is the kind of thing that keeps me loving Feng Shui's setting. You do you, Thunderpope.

As you can see, the Monarchs aren't as fully developed as a lot of the others, because at the end of the day they're bit players compared to the factions that haven't already had their poo poo wrecked. They're terrifying individually, but the world isn't very well suited to what they want to do with it; magic doesn't work great outside of their new Netherworld realms. Still, they're living reminders of what you could do to the current global tyrants if you work away at them. Plus, you can still get some adventures out of HUAN KEN and Pu Ti. Just really wish Ming I didn't have quite the same sorts of 'Mesoamerica was a land of blood and horror' implications she's got. Not to mention the Islamic-ish flavored one being a state sponsor of terror isn't exactly a great look either.

They're also a little important to the setting because they provide a convenient reason no-one is trying to take a huge army into the Netherworld and conquer it; there are already 4 big armies backed by doomed highborn manchildren with godlike power. They keep each other in check, but they also keep anyone else from easily seizing the passages between time, thus making travel relatively free for small units of secret warriors like your PCs.

Next Time: Quan Lo, The Perfect Jerk

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Xiahou Dun posted:

Wait. Furious George is an actual named character, that wasn't a joke?

It really sucks that the system doesn't work, cause this fluff is god drat ballin'.

Furious George is real, strong, and a helicopter gunship. Who is also a monkey rebel.

If someone says an ape pun name related to the Jammers, they're almost certainly canon. Mandrill Sergeant. Orangu-Tank. Funky Monkey.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Night10194 posted:

Furious George is real, strong, and a helicopter gunship. Who is also a monkey rebel.

If someone says an ape pun name related to the Jammers, they're almost certainly canon. Mandrill Sergeant. Orangu-Tank. Funky Monkey.

Chim-panzer?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Kaza42 posted:

Chim-panzer?

That's the unit of guys with tank treads for legs.

Also Funky Monkey is probably exactly as you imagine him.

IshmaelZarkov
Jun 20, 2013


https://youtu.be/Bz3dLz8GxUw (skip to 23:30 - phone posting and can't work out how to set a time in the kink)

All this talk of Feng Shui has got me thinking about a terrible/amazing aussie TV show called Double the Fist. Its... oh guys... it's bad. It's so bad. But I'm genuinely wanting to run 2e now, just to run this show.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Kaza42 posted:

Chim-panzer?

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





A friend's Jammer was named McKilla Gorilla.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Part of the problem with coming up with Gorilla Warriors is the best names are all already taken.

The best one I saw that wasn't already canon was James Bonobo, Jammer Superspy.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Night10194 posted:

Furious George is real, strong, and a helicopter gunship. Who is also a monkey rebel.

If someone says an ape pun name related to the Jammers, they're almost certainly canon. Mandrill Sergeant. Orangu-Tank. Funky Monkey.

1) That is amazing and perfect and I love everything about it.

2) Maybe you could save the grossness of the Mesoamerican cannibalism thing by flipping it on its head? Like, that stereotype (which is some blend of fictional or highly over-exaggerated) actually is from the lingering influence of the Monarch's hell court in the collective unconscious or something? You might could do something similar with fire dude and the gross Islamaphobia, maybe? This could even open up that the Cold War was a reflection of the tension between past Monarchs. I don't know, I'm just spit-balling.

3) O no I let the pedantry out and now I can't let it back in. Ming I? Jesus christ.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Night10194 posted:

Part of the problem with coming up with Gorilla Warriors is the best names are all already taken.

The best one I saw that wasn't already canon was James Bonobo, Jammer Superspy.
My favorite is the Big Macaque Attack.

SAM Simeon is good, too.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Xiahou Dun posted:

3) O no I let the pedantry out and now I can't let it back in. Ming I? Jesus christ.

How bad is it? I am not well informed about Chinese as a language or its naming conventions/structure.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Part of the problem with coming up with Gorilla Warriors is the best names are all already taken.

The best one I saw that wasn't already canon was James Bonobo, Jammer Superspy.

Pro Bono, Jammer lawyer.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Cythereal posted:

Pro Bono, Jammer lawyer.

Would he then face down an Ascended attorney in high stakes courtroom drama in volving ninjas and exploding bananas? The Ascended lawyer would also be a monkey, of course.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





FMguru posted:

My favorite is the Big Macaque Attack.

SAM Simeon is good, too.

I always liked 'Grade Ape.'

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Lynx Winters posted:

Later on, he did destroy all the chi! And he basically did kill the world. The reason 2e's future juncture is Mad Max style instead of bio-horror cyberpunk is because Pote managed to build and use a bomb that blew up all the chi, and it killed something like 99% of life on the spot. Now Pote is desperately trying to cause a critical shift in the present to undo his big uh-oh, and George is running the show in the future because the cyber-apes mostly survived and he's taking it to mean they're the new top of the food chain going forward.

Yea, thinking about it in the light of Night's post the 2e evolution is actually kinda.. sad.

Essentially you can see the Jammers' and Potemkins' attitude as an IC response to the problem Night's pointed out - that unless you're already a powerful faction you have basically no chance to mean anything in the Chi War, because the moment you take your first site, the existing powerful faction can send armies and attack helicopters to take it back as soon as you leave. If you just blow the poo poo out of that site so that nobody can have it, though, that strategy stops working, so the Jammers are kinda stuck with it.

What does the 2e change? It means they've just proven that unless you want the apocalypse, that won't work either, so if they manage to undo the Chi Bomb it's just.. back to business as usual for everyone else and the Jammers no longer have any goal. That's not really such a happy ending.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


In general, the implication is meant to be they don't notice a couple sites going off grid, and then after that you surprise the hell out of them because a PC party is actually a huge concentration of firepower for the war and can gently caress up a lot of plans. And you only need a few sites (and some time) to get tough enough to start punching out faction enforcers eventually.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Night10194 posted:

How bad is it? I am not well informed about Chinese as a language or its naming conventions/structure.

Pretty bad, but probably coming from complete ignorance rather than like, real racism or anything.

Like, the game says that everyone is speaking Cantonese, but all the names are (garbled to hell) Mandarin. The only name that really looks Cantonese is "Kar Fai" ; "Kar" is actual, real Cantonese and "fai" isn't even a possible Mandarin syllable. To give context, this is like having an Italian setting and then all of the names are mangled French.

The actual "Mandarin" names look like a mix of syllables taken from like, restaurant menus and poo poo with a heavy smattering of just mashing letters on a keyboard. In theory, for some of the names, I could try to come up with justifications but I'd need to give the authors a lot of benefit of the doubt that I'm not willing to. (So like, if it was just some of the names, you could say, "Okay, that's definitely weird and not really used as a name but if I assume this is an obscure name and they spelled it funny and I was drunk maybe..." ; except this is every name pretty much.) It really comes off as if they made your rural, racist drunk uncle make ching-chong noises and then half-assed transcribed them.

I'd have to go back and re-read to double check cause I only really started noticing once I hulked out with the pedantry, but I'm pretty sure the only real names have been ones you've provided like Zhuge Liang*.

*Whose name is actually also hella weird, but that's an actual thing and everyone knows it and he's a famous mythical(???) figure so no one's going to blink an eye at it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




hyphz posted:

What does the 2e change? It means they've just proven that unless you want the apocalypse, that won't work either, so if they manage to undo the Chi Bomb it's just.. back to business as usual for everyone else and the Jammers no longer have any goal. That's not really such a happy ending.
It's a particularly bad idea when you consider that action movies--especially dystopian ones--often end with a singular heroic act that improbably brings down The System.

Tank Girl blows up the generator, Nada blows up the satellite dish, Arnold shows the Running Man audience the real footage, Arnold destroys Cyberdyne and heroically commits suicide, Matt Damon hacks Elysium and heroically commits suicide...I could go on.

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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Some day I want to see a big list of the weird sounding names that Chinese developers came up with for their fantasy Europe game.

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