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Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you

PurpleXVI posted:

The morph aptitude boosts made a lot of sense but they made bookkeeping hell if you were resleeving often.

Yeah, again, I'm coming from the position of the game I played being on roll20 so we had the really good automated sheet that handled resleeving with a click of a button to change all your numbers which will obviously bias me because resleeving was never a hassle for the player end and in fact we all had 3 or 4 morphs that we just owned for different things and I am 100% certain its because it was so easy to just pick a thing from a menu and tick a box so that it was the currently active body.


Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009

Ithle01 posted:

Yeah, I'm not actually criticizing your complaints about EP because there sure are some problems in EP1 and 2. I'm talking about the general concept of FnF and that pen and paper rpgs are not generally well-oiled machines.

I think at least some of us here think that, while this is broadly true currently, it's because the hobby as a whole is relatively new and many people in it are resistant to the idea of using better game design, or that such a thing is either possible or desirable.

But it's certainly not universal. While I can't think of any perfect game systems, several at least are entirely functional right out of the box instead of the broken cobbled together messes that many games are. FATE has many problems, but they're all basically problems to do with its intent of being a simple, universal system with a decent amount of player narrative control ; there's a lot you can mock it for, but it's kind of like arguing that a mini-van isn't a sports car. Blades in the Dark isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it wants to let people run good steampunkish heists and it delivers on that intent without a lot of loving around.

Just cause many games are bad doesn't mean we should give up on the idea of having good games.

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?

Ithle01 posted:

pen and paper rpgs are not generally well-oiled machines.

This is true but not, I think, entirely because of bad design or poor designers.

Part of it is because most PnP games have a fuckload of moving parts, and unlike a videogame it's hard to run a test that tries out all those parts. A session or a campaign are not easy, quick things to roll through, so stuff that's not super-obvious or doesn't show up in every game will often slip through the cracks. The second thing is that because almost all of us houserule to some extent, even if it's just ignoring edge case rules here and there, I think we have an easier time ignoring broken or bad design because, unlike a videogame, we kind of can fix it ourselves.

Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Deities & Demigods 1E
Part 8: Gods from a Parallel Universe

Why does every chapter title have that weird little knot/percent-sign thing after it? What exactly is that supposed to be? I thought it was a period when it showed it up in the "Arthurian Heroes" title, but apparently not. Is that the artist's monogram? If so, what initials does that represent? ...Hm, one of the credited artists was "Darlene Pekul"; I guess that could be a "dp"...

Central American Mythos posted:

The Aztec and Maya presented the world with an interesting set of closely related gods, goddesses and creatures that have a moral background similar to that of other ancient mythoi. The beings are just as evil or just as good; the difference seems to be that they are not moved by anything resembling human thoughts and feelings, unlike the deities of other mythoi. They act only upon their own inscrutable motives.

Okay, I'm sorry, but this opening paragraph strikes me as pretty much gibberish. Don't a "moral background similar to that of other mythoi" and being moved by something "resembling human thoughts and feelings" go together? Are the writers trying to say that the Central American gods still follow moral principles, but for completely different and incomprehensible reasons? And anyway, what drove them to the conclusion that the gods of this mythos were so much more alien and unfathomable than those of other mythoi anyway?

It gets worse.

Central American Mythos posted:

These beings are said to have come from the stars, and their "plane of origin" is not the same as other mythologies. For the purposes of this work, we will assume that these gods come from the Prime Material Plane of a parallel universe.

Wha—what!? I...

Seriously, this whole thing about the Mesoamerican gods being unknowable alien beings from a parallel world is just... bizarre. And it isn't really supported by the presentation of the gods themselves, who are for the most part treated like personalized entities with typical human emotions; we're told that Camazotz can be "tempted to comply with a summons", that Chalchiuhtlicue is "eager to aid" petitioners under certain circumstances; that Itzamna "tries to temper his father [Tezcatlipoca]'s harsh dealings with man." These pretty much sound like something "resembling human thoughts and feelings" to me.

Inscrutable or not, the gods of this mythos are an unusually malevolent lot. Fully half the gods presented in this chapter are evil, and only two are good. Hm. (Of course, in two chapters we'll get to an even more malevolent mythos...)

Anyway, despite the mention at the top of the "Aztec and Maya", what we get here is mostly Aztec. Granted, there were plenty of similarities and borrowings between the two cultures, but, again, that was at least as true of the Babylonians and the Sumerians, but they each get their own Mythos. Why combine the Aztec and Maya gods, but not the Babylonian and Sumerian? I don't know, but here we are anyway.

Central American Mythos posted:

The clerics of this mythos are the elite of the populace, and even the lowest levels have absolute authority over any of the peasants. Along the same lines, any cleric of a higher level may give orders to lesser clerics of the same deity with complete freedom. Though all sects must usually work together, there is much clandestine infighting between groups for followers among the rich and poor alike.

The text goes on to describe the rituals, which take place every twenty days and which the public is forced to attend. (And yes, they sometimes, but not always, involve human sacrifice.) We're told that "[a]ll temples are built on the step pyramid design"—both the Aztecs and the Maya did historically build step pyramids, so okay, fair enough. We then get a paragraph about divine punishment of clerical transgressions—oddly, "defeats in personal combat (duels)" count as offenses against the gods for some reason. Finally, the last paragraph states that each cleric must choose one of the four cardinal compass directions to be associated with, and get combat bonuses when facing in that direction.

Central American Mythos posted:

Clerics of the east must wear red clothes at all times, clerics of the south must wear yellow, clerics of the west must wear black, and clerics of the north must wear white.

Those particular color associations with the compass directions are from Maya culture (and, incidentally, also some Lakota); the Aztecs also associated each compass direction with a color, but their color correspondences were different. The Maya also associated the center, between the four colors, with another color, blue and/or green (Mayan languages do not necessarily distinguish between these colors), but Deities & Demigods doesn't mention that. It might also be interesting to note, although Deities & Demigods doesn't mention this either, that both the Aztecs and the Maya associated each compass direction with a particular god or gods as well. For example, the Aztecs associated the north with Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the Smoking Mirror, God of Sorcery, Strife, and the Night Sky; the west with Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, God of Learning, Wind, and the Morning and Evening Star; the south with Huitzilopochtli, the Turquoise Prince, God of the Sun, War, and the Cycle of Day and Night; and the east with Xipe Totec, the Flayed One, God of Agriculture, Disease, and Not Appearing in This Book.

This is another pantheon that did also appear in the "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" supplement to the original D&D boxed set, though there it was called the "Mexican and Central American Indian Mythology". Rather than summarize the differences at the end of this post as I did for the Celtic pantheon, I'll just mention the differences in each god as we get to them. (Not all the Central American gods in Deities & Demigods were also in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", however, and if I don't mention a god's treatment in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" it's because the god didn't appear there.) I'll quote here the introductory paragraph for the "Mexican and Central American Indian Mythology" section:

Mexican and Central American Mythology posted:

Due to the lack of space in this booklet we, the authors, are only able to present parts of this mythology. What is listed below will be mainly the gods & let it be noted that information on these divinities is scarce.

Uh... what? They're only presenting parts of all the mythologies. Surely the authors didn't think their Celtic Mythos section comprehensively covered every god from Celtic mythology, or likewise for Egyptian, Greek, and so on. And if they found information on Central American gods particularly scarce (though I don't see any reason that ought to have been the case), then it makes even less sense to call out the fact that they're only presenting part of the mythology in this section in particular, if they had less material to draw on. Oh well.

QUETZALCOATL (god of the air) "Law Giver"

Wait... why does he have a skull on his hat? Is he a baddie?

Quetzalcoatl posted:

Also known as Kukulcan, or (in his capacity as wind god) Ehecatl, this god appears in a bewildering number of forms, and while he usually acts as per his [lawful neutral] alignment, there are times when he works in chaotic or evil ways (making it very hard to align him).

So I guess this is the one god whose description does sort of live up to whole "inscrutable motives" thing, but he's the only one. I don't know that the note about its being hard to align him was really necessary, any more so than it would be for other gods; most major gods in ancient mythologies had contradictory myths develop about them. Heck, Zeus did some pretty dang evil things in Greek mythology, but, as we'll see when we get to the Greek Mythos, he still gets to be chaotic good. (And Athena is lawful good, despite the part she played in the Judgment of Paris and the Trojan War...)

Quetzalcoatl posted:

He appears occasionally on our plane and works closely with his worshipers against other gods.

I wanted to quote this sentence just because of the odd use of the first person. Are Kuntz and Ward suggesting that they live on the same plane as their D&D characters? Or are they suggesting that Quetzalcoatl occasionally drops by on real-world Earth? Anyway, moving on...

Quetzalcoatl fights in the form of a monster of his choice, and "cannot be hurt by creatures of the same form he is using; in other words, when he is in the form of a dragon, he cannot be hurt by any dragon type, and when he is in the form of a magic-user, he cannot be hurt by magical spells." (Wait... so "magic-user" counts as a form of monster? Can he take the form of a fighter, and be immune to weapon attacks?) If he "suffers a great loss of hit points", he will "take the form that he had assumed at the beginning of the battle and quadruple its powers and re-attack". If he could just arbitrarily quadruple his powers, why doesn't he just attack with the higher power to begin with? (Also, what exactly does it mean to quadruple his powers? Does he attack four times as often? Do his attacks do four times as much damage? Are his magic spells harder to resist, and if so, what constitutes four times as hard? Or does he cast spells like a magic-user of four times the level?)

Quetzalcoatl posted:

Quetzalcoatl was the mightiest god of the mythos, though his claim is disputed by the followers of Tezcatlipoca, his arch-enemy. Quetzalcoatl is patron of the arts and the founder of metallurgy.

Mythologically, Quetzalcoatl was especially associated with books and learning, though he did also preside to some degree over the arts in general, and was also an especial patron of priests and merchants. "Ehecatl" was the name of a wind god usually considered an aspect of Quetzalcoatl, and "Kukulcan" was the name of a Maya god often identified with the Aztec Quetzalcoatl—making this the only time in this chapter the writers give both an Aztec and a Maya name for a god. "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" gets all this rather dramatically wrong, saying that "Quetzalcoatl is the feathered Serpent-God of Mayan religion" (emphasis added), and that he's called "Kulkulkan [sic] in Incan". Not only was Kukulcan not an Inca name, not only was Quetzalcoatl by any name not part of Inca mythology, not only is "Incan" not a language (the official language of the Inca Empire was Quechua, which is still spoken today by some people in Peru and nearby countries), but the Inca didn't live in Mexico or Central America at all; the Inca Empire was located along the western edge of South America! Perhaps it's for the best that in Deities & Demigods the authors didn't try to specify which culture each god came from, if that's what happened when they did...

Quetzalcoatl was closely associated with the feathered serpent, and was often depicted in that form—in fact, both the names "Quetzalcoatl" and "Kukulcan" basically mean "feathered serpent". (This is also, of course, where D&D's couatl comes from.) Deities & Demigods does list Quetzalcoatl's symbol as a "feathered serpent" but doesn't otherwise acknowledge this association, though there is a picture of a feathered serpent at the bottom of the page. In this one aspect, at least, "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" arguably did better than Deities & Demigods, in that it did explicitly refer to Quetzalcoatl as a "feathered Serpent-God". It also gave him serpent-specific powers that weren't in his Deities & Demigods entry: "[a]ll serpents are subservient to him", and he "has at his beck and call one of every class (type) of dragon."

"What're you looking at?"

CAMAXTLI (god of fate)


This human-appearing god is able to see the past and future of any being and put this information to use in his own way. He is not allowed to kill any being, but he can look into that being's past and discover what force caused the most physical damage to that being, and then recreate that force exactly to again do the same amount of damage.

We get another instance of passive-voice vagueness here. He's not allowed to kill any being? Who or what is stopping him? Quetzalcoatl? Some kind of universal law? Gary Gygax? The Dungeon Master?

There's a 25% chance that Camaxtli will, for a short period, "do what he can to help" anyone who sacrifices precious metals in the amount of 500,000 gold pieces or more. On the one hand, that's a lot of money; on the other hand, hey, we're apparently talking about the direct, personal help of a greater god, so maybe it's worth it. As a colorful touch, "[t]he sacrifice is always cast into the beyond by the most powerful means available (i.e. a random teleport spell, a limited wish, or the like)."

(Please note, however, that by the book casting objects "into the beyond" via a "random teleport spell" doesn't actually seem to be possible. The description of the teleport spell in the Player's Handbook says that it can only be used to teleport the magic-user casting the spell; the magic-user can bring "a certain amount of additional weight" along, but doesn't seem to be able to teleport objects without going him- or herself. Also, the spell description does not give any indication that it can be used to teleport things randomly, though there is a random chance that the teleport could be off from the intended destination. (In keeping with the high incidence of random instant death in early editions of D&D, any result where the magic-user arrives lower than the intended destination "means the instant death of the magic-user if the area into which he or she teleports is a solid"—and there's a 1% chance of that happening even if the magic-user is teleporting to a very familiar destination. And no, targeting the air slightly above the intended destination to avoid being killed by a low result is explicitly ruled out: "there is no possibility of teleporting to an area of empty space, i.e. a substantial area of surface must be there, whether a wooden floor, a stone floor, natural ground, etc." Have fun having a chance of instantly and unavoidably dying every time you teleport, first-edition magic-user! (Unless I guess you target the upper floor of a building, or another place where you know there's an open space just below the floor, maybe.)))

Tragically, Camaxtli would be one of several gods pointlessly killed off offstage in a certain Planescape adventure... but we'll be getting to that (much) later.

CAMAZOTZ (bat god)

So Camazotz is this big chaotic evil bat god with venomous claws and bite who really likes eating bugs. No, seriously:

Camazotz posted:

This god appears as a huge bat and is always found with 1,000 normal bats flying around him. He may be tempted to comply to a summons by a being that offers many insects for his followers. Priests can actually appease this deity by offering him insect plagues.

I like the fact that he can be summoned by offering insects to his followers, too. What are they going to do with them? Do his followers eat insects, too, to emulate their god? (Or just to be polite?) Or are they just resigned to people giving them big piles of insects that they then stash away in a shed behind the temple?

Camazotz appeared in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", but he was called "Tezcat", which is weird, because, well, that's not a name that as far as I can tell any Central American culture ever actually used for him. There was another god named Tezcatlipoca, but, well, that's an entirely different god... and one we'll be getting to later. But no, this description is clearly for the same god that in Deities & Demigods is (more appropriately) called Camazotz; it even has the weird bit about offering insects to his followers and appeasing him with insect plagues. We also get the following even weirder bit:

Tezcat posted:

He is served by three servants:

Water Women:
Treat as Water Naga. (See SR #4)

Water Monster:
This is an intelligent Sea Monster of 20 hit dice.

Third Monster: Conch and Cane — (no further information available)

Setting aside the strangeness of insisting that there's "no further information available" on the third monster (hey, you guys know you can make stuff up, right?), why was a bat god being served by water creatures?

(Also, by the way, the water naga actually appeared in Strategic Review #3, not #4. Oh well.)

The Bat God's sinister servant, Conch and Cane.

So far I'm definitely getting the feeling that Kuntz and Ward at least did a little more research on Aztec and Maya mythology between "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" and Deities & Demigods. I mean, there are certainly issues with the "Central American Mythos" in Deities & Demigods, but the "Mexican and Central American Mythology" section in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" is downright ridiculous.

By the way, I was going to add that a "Sea Monster" isn't a specific, statted up monster in D&D, but I just double-checked the "Monsters & Treasure" book from the original D&D boxed set and huh, turns out it kind of was:

Sea Monsters posted:

As a general rule these creatures are more for show than anything else. However, they could guard treasure. The typical Sea Monster of mythology is equal in size to a Purple Worm, and they work upwards from there to double or treble that size. The best guide is a book on prehistoric life forms, from which the referee can pick a number of suitable forms for his Sea Monster. Typically, hits from a Sea Monster would inflict 3 or 4 dice of damage.

The "Sea Monsters" entry in the "Monster Reference Table" isn't particularly helpful, though; while most monsters' entries in the table include "Number Appearing", "Armor Class", "Move in Inches", "Hit Dice", "% In Lair", and "Type or Amount of Treasure", the "Sea Monsters" row just says, in its entirety, "All variable and at referee's discretion". So "an intelligent Sea Monster of 20 hit dice" still isn't terribly specific.

One last note: Camazotz is one of only two gods in this chapter who comes from Maya mythology rather than Aztec.

CHALCHIUHTLICUE (goddess of running water and love)

Chalchiuhtlicue posted:

Also known as the "goddess of the jade petticoat", this goddess is not only a water deity, she is the goddess of chaste love.

Is there a goddess of unchaste love, you might ask? Yes. Yes there is. We'll get to her.

Chalchiuhtlicue posted:

In any of these aspects, she uses her power for the good of the beings that she is favoring at the time.

Unlike most gods, who of course use their power to benefit beings they actively dislike.

Anyway, she's chaotic good, and you can get her help by sacrificing high-quality jade by tossing it "into a bottomless pool of water in one of several such areas in the mountains." (As we all know, the mountains of Central America have bottomless pools of water all over the place.) Also, the sacrifice must be carried out "by the light of the full moon, and there must be no other being within a mile of the area." If all that is done, there's a 1% chance that she'll help (unless you're a priest performing the sacrifice on behalf of the needy, in which case the chance goes up to 25%). Which seems to contradict a sentence in the previous paragraph that said that "[t]hose that sacrifice to her (of any alignment) can expect her help if the proper forms are observed"—I mean, I wouldn't necessarily expect something that only has a 1% chance of happening.

Another interesting note:

Chalchiuhtlicue posted:

She also has the unusual ability to transform 3-300 beings into any single form she wishes (usually fish). This ability is used only to save the lives of devout worshipers.

Do situations really commonly come up where the lives of her devout worshipers can be saved by the transformation of three hundred people into fish? Okay.

The last sentence of her entry just says that "Chalchiutlicue [sic] is the wife of Tlaloc." I'll be coming back to that when we get to Tlaloc.

Chalchiuhtlicue also appeared in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", but only as the otherwise nameless "Goddess of the Jade Petticoat", and with a total of two brief sentences of description. But hey, at least, unlike Quetzalcoatl's and "Tezcat"'s, her entry in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" doesn't include anything drastically wrong. Though I do wonder, given the brevity of her entry and the fact that she's a water deity (even though "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" doesn't say that), whether perhaps the three misfit servants of Tezcat were intended to be hers, and were put in Tezcat's entry by mistake...

(Okay, full disclosure here... unlike Deities & Demigods and the other first-edition books, I don't actually own a print copy of "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes". I'm going by a PDF for that, and it's possible that some mistakes were made in the conversion. That wouldn't explain things like the erroneous reference to Kukulkan being an Incan name, but might explain things like Chalchiuhtlicue's servants maybe being put under Tezcat instead. Or it might not, but I figured I should acknowledge the possibility.)

HUHUETEOTL (fire god)

"I'm just happy to be here!"

Huhueteotl posted:

Physically, Huhueteotl appears to be a demon with a humanoid body, reptilian facial features, flames shooting all around him, and hair patches where his red gem armor does not cover him.

In Aztec iconography, Huhueteotl was usually depicted as a wrinkled old man, but sure, Deities & Demigods, you do you.

Anyway, we're told that Huhueteotl "requires frequent human sacrifice", and then in the very next sentence that "[s]acrifices are in the form of valuable articles of clothing and or gems and jewels", which I cannot help but note are not usually considered human.

Huhueteotl posted:

The god is also in charge of keeping time in motion, and in this capacity must have a special sacrifice of gems, feather robes, and humans every 52 years. During the fifty-second year, the god has the ability to stop the motion of any one thing in any single day. In this stopped state, that thing cannot be harmed by any force in the Prime Material Plane.

Presumably this is based on the Aztec and/or Maya calendars, both of which included fifty-two-year cycles. Why exactly Deities & Demigods associated this cycle with Huhueteotl in particular, though, I'm not sure, since he doesn't seem to have mythologically had any special connection to it. Other questions raised by this paragraph and unanswered: What makes the "special sacrifice" different from the normal frequent sacrifices Huhueteotl requires? What happens if he doesn't get the sacrifice?


The text says his headdress is made of hummingbird feathers. That must have been a really unusual hummingbird.

Huitzilopochtli is neutral and completely antisocial. Commune spells don't work with him; "[h]e can rarely be called upon for any non-warlike situation", and while he may "appear on any battlefield where his worshipers are fighting and aid them", "this will not be in such a manner to make sure his side will win." (So... he'll pull his punches? He'll take out one enemy, declare "My work here is done", and go away?) Sacrifices can only be made to him in battle ("and only by fighting clerics"), which seems like it would be difficult, unless just slaying an enemy counts as a sacrifice, but the text doesn't say that.

If a sacrifice is (somehow) made to Huitzilopochtli, though, there's a 5% chance he'll show up, in which case he "will take the body of a dead warrior that won great victories either during that battle or in the past." Which turns out to be a good deal for the dead warrior, because "that warrior will be raised and live a long and lucky life", whether Huitzilopochtli's side wins the battle or not. (The text even quantifies exactly what it means by "lucky": "This luck takes the form of a +3 on all saving throws.")

Huitzilopochtli was apparently considered primarily a god of war in early myths, but in later myths he took on other aspects as well and became the supreme god of the rulers of the Aztec Empire and the patron god of the city of Tenochtitlán (which would become modern Mexico City). You know how the Mexican flag depicts an eagle perched on a cactus and holding a snake its beak? That's based on a mythological account of an omen sent by Huitzilopochtli to show where the city of Tenochtitlán should be founded.

In "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", Huitzilopochtli didn't have the ability to possess (and raise) a dead warrior, but he did have other special abilities: all fighters below 10th level would "fight him as if a slow spell had been placed upon them", while all fighters above 10th level would "see two exact duplicates of this god when engaged in combat with him." I guess fighters who happened to be exactly 10th level could fight him without any special drawbacks?


Well, we may only have two good-aligned gods, but at least we have two lawful good heroes, though they're "legendary for their thirst for revenge", which... doesn't sound all that lawful good to me? (Also, they have levels as druids (in addition to as rangers and magic-users), which shouldn't be possible in first edition for lawful good characters, but as we've already seen the heroes in this book make no apparent attempt to follow the rules for player characters.)

Hunapu and Xbalanque posted:

Their father was killed by beings of the underworld and so they went down and defeated these beings in games and battle.

All the rest of the text is about their combat abilities, which I guess is a little more excusable than combat abilities for gods, though I'm still not sure why PCs would want to fight these guys. They use poisoned blow gun darts, and are slightly resistant to cold and fire for some reason.

The twin heroes—or "Hero Twins", as they're more often called among anthropologists, appear in the Popol Vuh, the oldest known account of Maya mythology. (Camazotz the Bat God also appeared in the Popul Vuh, sort of, but there the word seems to have been used to refer to a type of demonic bat creature rather than an individual entity.)

ITZAMNA (god of medicine)

Itzamna posted:

Itzamna normally appears to men in the guise of a toothless old man, with sunken cheeks and a Roman nose, leaning on a crooked staff. However, he may also assume the form of light in one of its myriad aspects, e.g. a blazing globe, a fading ember, or a dusty moonbeam, and when in this guise he may take on any size.

Itzamna is a lawful good god who "often travels in the world of men", and who "is often called upon by his clerics to intercede for man with the other gods in times of calamities and sicknesses." He is the son of Tezcatlipoca, whom we'll be getting to in a bit, and if he's "ever in a desperate situation he will call upon his father for help", despite his father being of the exact opposite alignment.

Although the text says he is "by no means a weakling", neither he nor his clerics like to fight. Itzamna's clerics "are loath to do combat unless there is no other recourse", and Itzamna himself "rarely relies on the strength of his arms" in his dealings with other gods. (Do other gods rely on the strength of their arms in dealings with each other? Do they engage in combat with each other, or just arm wrestle?)

We don't get an illustration of Itzamna himself, but we do get a picture of one of his clerics.

Like Camazotz and the Hero Twins, and unlike any other entity from this chapter, Itzamna comes from Maya mythology rather than Aztec. He's a creator god and was according to at least some accounts the most powerful and most important Maya deity, though he was also the patron god of medicine, so fair enough.

Incidentally, how did a Maya god become the son of an Aztec god? I don't really have an answer for that; I have no idea where the bit about Itzamna being the son of Tezcatlipoca comes from. Maybe the authors just added that to try to connect the mythos together, but then in the original myths Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, and Tezcatlipoca were brothers, and they didn't include that, so... who knows.

MICTLANTECUHTLI (god of death)

That snake is a daring fashion statement.

Mictantecuhtli posted:

The god usually appears in a lich form, and no undead is able to resist his commands. At any given time, he can instantly summon 20-200 skeletons, 10-100 ghouls, 6-36 wights, and 2-5 spectres. He can be summoned only after at least 50 live human sacrifices have been given the god in worship. The god demands these lives during the dark of the moon and requires them from the ranks of his worshipers.

So he requires his worshipers to sacrifice each other? In numbers of fifty at a time?... Must be hard to get new recruits. Oddly, his stats include "WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All alignments", so I guess there are lawful good worshipers of this evil god of death who don't mind slaughtering each other at their deity's whim. Hm.

Then of course we get a paragraph of his combat abilities, which... I'm not going to bother with.

Mictlantecuhtli is basically the same in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", although he's said to appear as "the skeletal figure of a man" rather than a lich, and the numbers of undead of each type that he can command are multiplied by a factor of ten. (Exactly a factor of ten, as a matter of fact; apparently when writing Deities & Demigods Kuntz and Ward decided he should only command one-tenth the numbers of undead he did in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes", for some reason. I mean, sure, I wouldn't like to try to run a combat involving two thousand skeletons, but ease of running doesn't seem to have been much of a concern in most of these entries.)

Oh... also, at least "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" doesn't put up with that "All Alignments" business:

Mictantecuhtli posted:

Any person that worships this God is definitely worshipping Chaos itself, since Mictantecuhtli craves death. Human sacrifice is very prevalent with this god.


I'm kind of guessing this jaguar was drawn without photo reference.

Tezcatlipoca posted:

Tezcatlipoca (which means "the smoking mirror") is the god of the sun who ripens the crops but also brings drought and famine. Conversely, he is also the god of the moon and the night. Tezcatlipoca and his followers are always plotting the overthrow of Quetzalcoatl, and this god is the patron of treacherous schemings and betrayals.

The part about plotting the overthrow of Quetzalcoatl does have a basis in Aztec mythology. Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl were co-creators of the world who then became enemies and rivals. One account has Tezcatlipoca as the original ruler of the gods until Quetzalcoatl usurped him; another has Quetzalcoatl as the original leader who was supplanted by Tezcatlipoca. At least one account even has Quetzalcoatl taking Tezcatlopoca's place as the leader of the gods and then Tezcatlopoca later throwing him down and taking it back.

I'd say the part of this paragraph that's least faithful to the original myths is making him the god of the sun... Tezcatlipoca was the god of many things, but the sun doesn't seem to have been one of them. Well, that and making him a "patron of treacherous schemings and betrayals"... sure, he was an enemy of Quetzalcoatl, but the myths weren't really clear on who betrayed whom, or whether their conflict really involved any betrayal at all. Still, here Kuntz and Ward apparently decided to make Tezcatlipoca the unambiguous, chaotic evil bad guy.

Tezcatlipoca rarely takes human form, and when he does it's "to masquerade as someone else in the furtherance of one of his schemes". More often, he appears as a giant jaguar or a bear, and more often still he doesn't appear in physical form at all, and just "prefer[s] to remain invisible and intangible." (Is that a thing all gods are supposed to be able to do? Because nothing under the "Standard Divine Abilities" in the first part of this book gave that impression.)

Tezcatlipoca posted:

Once a year, at a great religious gathering, Tezcatlipoca's priests sacrifice a young, perfect human male and offer the god his heart. These sacrifices (usually war prisoners) are pampered and feted for a full year before the ritual. Though they are given almost anything they might desire during this period, they always end up on the altar.

This actually was a real thing, and did go down pretty much as described here. So... hey, at least this book isn't totally historically inaccurate.

Tezcatlipoca posted:

Tezcatlipoca is a spreader of disorder and war, but also an originator of wealth.

He is large; he contains multitudes.

Tezcatlipoca didn't appear in "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes"... but a different sun god did, Tonatiuh. In the previous cases we've seen so far of a god from "Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes" being renamed in Deities & Demigods (Donn to Arawn, Medhbh to Morrigan, Tezcat to Camazotz), at least part of the original description was carried over intact. Here it isn't; aside from the fact that they're both sun gods there really isn't anything the descriptions of Tonatiuh and Tezcatlipoca have in common. (Among his other powers, Tonatiuh "may cause great draughts [sic] and... can form something like the 'Death Valley U.S.A.' in about one week's time.") So I'm not sure in this case whether it's a matter of Tonatiuh being renamed to Tezcatlipoca, or of Tezcatlipoca being added and then Tonatiuh being removed because the authors judged him redundant. In any case, unlike Tezcatlipoca, Tonatiuh really was a sun god in Aztec mythology, as well as a patron of warriors, which makes him somewhat redundant not with Tezcatlipoca, who has no business pretending to be a sun god, but with Huitzilopochtli, who is one, and who ended up overshadowing Tonatiuh in later Aztec mythology.

TLALOC (rain god)

Doesn't this look like a Charisma 19 kind of face to you?

Tlaloc posted:

With his great tusks and goggle eyes, Tlaloc's appearance is quite impressive. He wears all black but for a garland of white feathers.

Anyway, we get a whole paragraph about how priests regular sacrifice children and babies to him. ("WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All who need rain. So lawful good people who need rain are okay with cooking babies, apparently.) In accordance with his lawful evil alignment, I guess, he does ("usually") grant rain to his worshipers if they've been carrying out all the sacrifices and rituals, but if not, he'll punish them.

Tlaloc posted:

Tlaloc has four pitchers of water: one filled with good water to make crops grow properly, one filled with water that contains spiders' eggs and webs and causes blight, one filled with water that turns to frost, and one with water that rots all fruit.

And then we get a paragraph about his combat abilities, because this is Deities & Demigods.

In Aztec mythology, Tlaloc was generally considered a relatively beneficent god... but on the other hand, children really were sacrificed to him, so okay, I'll accept his evil alignment. (Even the part in Deities & Demigods about how "[i]f the babies cry during the sacrifice, this is taken as a good sign that rain will be abundant during the coming year" has a historical basis.) Then again, child sacrifices were also made to Quetzalcoatl and Chalchiuhtlicue (albeit less frequently), and neither of them is evil, so... uh...

Oh, speaking of Chalchuihtlicue, remember how she was the wife of Tlaloc? Note that Chalchuihtlicue and Tlaloc have diametrically opposite alignments. I can't imagine that's conducive to a lot of marital harmony. Of course, we touched earlier on the fact that the father/son pair of Tezcatlipoca and Itzamna also have opposite alignments. There's a lot of family disagreement among the gods of the Central American Mythos, it seems.

TLAZOLTEOTL (goddess of vice)

:nws: (Link to image on external site due to mild NSFWitude) :nws:

Tlazolteotl posted:

When this goddess is under stress, rushed, or being attacked, she appears as an incredible monster, with a humanoid body, demonic face with fangs and blazing eyes, talons for the ends of her feet and hands, and a black warty skin with a slick, greasy look. This is an illusion, however. When she is at ease, before her worshipers, working on a victim, or in front of many strangers for one reason or another, she appears as a beautiful woman...

All right, that's actually kind of different; most of the time when you get a monster or some other entity with a hideous monster form and an attractive human form it's the monster form that's the true form and the attractive human form that's the illusion. So okay.

I stopped the quote in the middle of a sentence there, so let me continue with the rest of it.

Tlazolteotl posted:

...she appears as a beautiful woman capable of inspiring desire in any male and jealous respect from any female.

Because gay men don't exist in first-edition Dungeons & Dragons, apparently. (Or her powers make even gay men desire her, but, uh, I don't think that's really much better.) Or asexuals, for that matter, I guess. Okay, it's not fair to single Deities & Demigods out for this; I don't think any games were doing much to acknowledge nonheterosexuality in the eighties; but I still didn't want to let that pass without comment.

Also, "jealous respect"? Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron?

Anyway, Tlazolteotl is chaotic evil and "tries very hard to ruin lawful good beings all over the Prime Material Plane" apparently just because that's what chaotic evil does. She usually fights with magic, especially charm spells, and doesn't fight physically at all: "if met with beings that cannot be hurt by spells, she will teleport away." She has fifteen levels as an assassin, though, and no compunction about using those; assassinating people doesn't count as fighting physically, apparently. Also, "[n]o evil being can even think of harming her, even if they are magically controlled", which is weird, because I didn't think evil was really known for its sense of team spirit, but whatever.

Tlazolteotl was in fact an Aztec goddess of vice, but she was also a goddess of garbage and decomposition, which I think might somewhat cut down on her allure... I'm not sure most men would really be so sorely tempted by someone known as the "Eater of Filth". To be fair, though, she was known to inspire licentiousness, so even if the Deities & Demigods description doesn't capture all her aspects it's not completely off. (Though the "incredible monster" bit does sort of come out of left field.)

XOCHIPILLI (god of gambling and chance) "Lord of Flowers"

Xochipilli is a neutral god who "almost always appears as a young man" and who "can often be found wandering among the people bestowing good and bad luck in the form of lost or granted saving throws." There's no mention of how he decides whether to grant good luck or bad luck, so maybe he just does it at random, although we are told that he "is most pleased with beings that take a large calculated risk." We're also told that he is "predominantly a peaceful being" (I guess giving people bad luck isn't technically attacking them), and that he "gives a great deal of happiness to his followers"... which seems to imply either that he always gives his followers good luck, or that they're just really good sports.

In Aztec mythology, Xochipilli wasn't a god of gambling; he was a mischievous but benevolent god of beauty, flowers, creativity, love, alcohol, and revelry. Incidentally, apropos of what I just mentioned about ignoring nonheterosexual orientations, he also seems to have been a patron of gay men and male prostitutes. (He also had a sister, Xochiquetzal, not mentioned in Deities & Demigods, who may have played a corresponding role for women.)

Anyway, that's the last god in the chapter, and we don't get any new spells or magic items this time, though I guess it may be worth mentioning that several gods have some kind of animal totem listed as their symbols. Mictlantecuhtli's symbol is a "dog totem (itzcuintli)", Tlaloc's is a "deer totem (mazatl)", Tlazolteotl's is an "ocelot totem (ocelotl)", and Xochipilli's is a "monkey totem (ozomahtli)". Nowhere is it explained what these "totems" actually are, or what they're made of. I don't recall ever having used this mythos in a campaign myself, but I guess for all its inaccuracies it's serviceable enough, though I'm still not sure what's up with the whole "parallel universe" thing.

Oh, it just occurred to me, there's one more thing that this chapter (and some others, but especially this chapter) could probably have used: a pronunciation guide. I'm guessing the average D&D player back then (or now, for that matter) would have no idea how to pronounce most of these names. Then again, I'm guessing Kuntz and Ward probably didn't know how to pronounce them either.

Next time: It's Like The Office, But With Gods

May 28, 2013

Xiahou Dun posted:

I think at least some of us here think that, while this is broadly true currently, it's because the hobby as a whole is relatively new and many people in it are resistant to the idea of using better game design, or that such a thing is either possible or desirable.

But it's certainly not universal. While I can't think of any perfect game systems, several at least are entirely functional right out of the box instead of the broken cobbled together messes that many games are. FATE has many problems, but they're all basically problems to do with its intent of being a simple, universal system with a decent amount of player narrative control ; there's a lot you can mock it for, but it's kind of like arguing that a mini-van isn't a sports car. Blades in the Dark isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it wants to let people run good steampunkish heists and it delivers on that intent without a lot of loving around.

Just cause many games are bad doesn't mean we should give up on the idea of having good games.

Right, I pretty much agree with everything you've said. I'm not saying we should give up on gaming or that there are no good games I'm saying that in general the denizens of FnF have mad their peace with playing games with bad mechanics because that's most pen and paper games and so we find ways to enjoy these games anyway. And also we enjoy talking poo poo about role playing games with each other so even the best design is going to have its detractors.

Also, as for PurpleXVI, I have to say I think most of it, is in fact, bad design.

Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack

Inkless Pen said I abandoned it, but in reality I was held captive by a tribe of cyborg amazons in…

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy Part IX: What He Meant is Monster Island is Actually a Peninsula!

In all seriousness, I’ve just had a bunch of real life stuff that’s been getting in the way and the next chapter I need to cover is particularly dry, but putting it off isn’t going to make it any easier so I may as well dive in…

Geographic Features

This section is laid out much like the last one in that it’s just a big list of locations with one-sentence descriptions. In the spirit of brevity I’ll try to keep my summaries even more succinct!


This one deals mostly with peninsulas and coastlines, including:

The Antillian Peninsula (Altanis) - A small peninsula West of the Pazidan Peninsula

Oricha (Isles of the Blest) - The southern segment of the Pazidan Peninsula where the Orichalan Empire everyone inexplicably hates used to be. The Altanians hosed them up in the 23rd century and now a few of the major sea powerfs have set up cities.

Pagan Coast (City State) - Coastline on the Winedark sea east of the CIty State. So named for its “Pagan” Skandik inhabitants. Considering there’s no Christianity in this setting I have no idea what makes the Skandiks more pagan than anyone else…

Pazidan Peninsula (Altanis) - Hey, it’s that other peninsula that was referenced in the write ups for the other landmasses. It’s the bigass landmass in the center of the map that the City State is on.

Tharbrian Coast (City State) - The coastline North of the city state where the Tharbrians hang out. Also Skandiks.


Astuack Jungle (Lenap) - The first entry is described as “Another” jungle in Lenap. Off to a great start here…

Candle Doom Woods (Ghinor Highlands) - An evil lich lives here.

Chamfly Forest (Ament Tundra) - The Elvish COuncil hangs out here and determines Elf Law. There’s also a bunch of Halflings who raise silkworms and are members of an evil, demon-worshipping cult.

Crying Wood, Forest of (Tarantis) - A forest named after the “many foul leucrotta that hunt the interior”, whatever those are…

Dark Woods (Valon) - Basically Mirkwood. The canopy is so dense that no light gets through, the trees produce black wood great for making magical arrows, there’s a bunch of spiders lurking about, there’s an angry Treant that hates fire hanging around and possibly an evil Necromancer who does Necromancer things and there’s an elf city deep within but the Elves are all evil jerkweeds…

Dangerous Jungle (Lenap) - A dangerous jungle on the Bay of Danger full of dangerous plants and insects. All the jungles have names like that in the valley of Terror!

Dearthwood (City State) - A forest near the city state that’s home to the Orcs of the Purple Claw, who’ve been causing trouble for the Overlord for the past 15 years. There’s a big reward for anyone who can find the Orc’s stronghold. Also a bunch of druids and the Dunael wood folk hang out here.

Dyrinwall Woods (Valley of the Ancients) - A forest with no major story hooks worth mentioning. It is bisected by the “River of Pleasure” though.

Elsenwood (Viridistan) - Wood Elf territory. The Wood Elves live in underground houses and are ruled by a pair of brothers. There’s also a talking snake who hangs out here whose venom is super valuable for its hallucinogenic properties. Deep within is a magic gate that transports people to the shores of the Burning Sea, only works one way, though.

Eyestones Jungle (Altanis) - A forest with a bunch of magic rock deposits.

Fallgon Forest (Southern Reaches) - Full of wig-loving fairy people and an ancient druid shrine.

Firewine Wood (Tarantis) - home to brewer gnomes, a Gnoll warband and a hot spring.

Forbidden Forest (Elphand Lands/Valon) - Full of werewolves and evil treants.

Great Forest (Elphand Lands/Valon) - A huge forest we are given almost no information on besides that the local Druids take “precautions against beasts entering from the Forbidden Forest to the South”

Hutamah Jungle (Lenap) - Looks like an overgrown garden.

Irminsul Forest (Elphand Lands) - The largest forest in the whole wilderlands. We are given no clue on specifics beyond a bunch of creatures live in there and it’s mysterious!

Lagoldurma Jungle (Altanis) - A bunch of ALtanian tribes live here. Also “Headhunters”?

Overmist Woods (Ghinor Highlands) - A black forest full of undead. Legend has it if you fall asleep in here you’re doomed to wander forever.

Pearl Tower Forest (Southern Reaches) - containing the highest of high quality timber!

Sascat Forest (Ament Tundra) - Frozen forest full of orcs, hobgoblins and wolves.

Scarlet Forest (Sea of Five Winds) - Named for the many red maples and red flowers, also the color of the lumber from this region. Wood Elves protect it from evil.

Screaming Hyena Jungle (Ghinor Highlands) - The largest jungle in the world, full of hobgoblins, apes, panthers, leopards, spiders, dinosaurs, lizards and giant versions of all the afore-mentioned beasts. o hyenas though. There’s a field of oils springs deep within.

Skymidden Forest (Ament Tundra) - This is where those evil, flying monkeys that briefly showed up in the timeline came from. No one knows what their deal is. This place is also home to a society of good-natured, tree-dwelling orcs who keep getting harassed by a bunch of evil Dwarves.

Thistledown Forest (Viridistan) - A place good for logging due to the lack of fussy Wood Elves. It’s bad for logging due to it being the rumoured home of the Koses, a legendary beast with no arms, the body of a gorilla, four human legs and three monkey-like heads that likes to eat people.

Watchtower Forest (Ament Tundra) - Treants, a legendary druid circle, an old watchtower, some trolls, a few hellhounds, typical Wilderlands forest…

Wise Pillar Forest (Tarantis) - Infested with giant insects and named after the ancient, standoffish treant that lives at its heart.

Underwing Jungle (Desert Lands) - Your stereotypical disease and ruin-filled jungle, this one’s claim to fame is being shaped like a batarang and being home to Halfling barbarians that ride giant wasps!


The layout editor forgot to put the title of this section in the title font so it just looks like regular text. Bang-up job there, White Wolf.

Ancients, Valley of the (Valley of the Ancients) - Filled with dragons, the ruins of their old weirs, giant insects and the rumoured ruins of the ancient Dragon Empire

Bendrigoth, Plateau of (City State) - Basically Rowhan. A big steppe where people ride horses all the live-long day. MInotaurs and wereboars are a constant danger and there’s a region called the Plan of SKulls because of all the old bones from old battles lying around, with all the skulls inexplicably facing east.

Brotbuckle Briars (Viridistan) - Filled with a maze of dense briar bushes where Wolves and Hill Giants hang out.

Dead Queens, Valley of the (Viridistan) - Most of the description consists of a boring legend about where this valley got its name. The important thing is that most people avoid this place because it’s full of monsters.

Demon Valley (Viridistan) - A very nice, uninhabited place. Well, nice except for the giant, horrifying demon gate in its center. Rumoured to be a doorway to the underworld protected by an evil demon-wizard, this place is bad news.

Filthenor, Hills of (Tarantis) - Home to the Split-Ear Goblins

Ghinarian Hills (Altanis) - Ending in the Cape of No Return this place is full of all the roughest, toughest and buffest criminals and outlaws.

Glow Worm Steppes (Valley of the Ancients) - The name is a major misnomer: It’s actually a plateau and highland! A plateau and highland filled with cavemen and giant, glowing worms. We’re talking Arrakis size here, people.

Govannon Scarpe (Lenap) - A big plain full of weird-shaped mesas.

Howling Hills (City States) - Probably named for all the wolves and werewolves (and trolls!) that live here, but the book doesn’t say.

Joyful Demon Hills (Ghinor Highlands) - Gets its anime-like name from all the howling noises that echo through the hills, thought the screams are actually those of apes from the Screaming Hyena Jungle. There’s a ruined shrine to Demogorgon here, who was rumoured to hang around the area in ancient times.

Kingssun Tower (Southern Reaches) - A big granite pillar with a giant crystal geode on top.

Lightedge Canyon (Southern Reaches) - A big canyon full of a bunch of other named locations that don’t sound that interesting. There’s wyverns that live here!

Picari RIdge (Sea of Five Winds/Ament Tundra) - Named for the mysterious tribe of goblins residing here, this mountain range is dotted with caves and its summit is covered in “ancient war engines” facing south that fall apart if moved.

Sidhe Hills (Elphand Lands) - A bunch of hills. SOme people live here but it’s mostly Elves. Supposedly home to ancient ELvish barrows.

Skywall Ridge (AMent Tundra) - A giant, wall-like mountain range full of Wyverns and hippogriffs.

Tupimare Hills (Lenap) - Home to goblins, nomads, wolves and wild horses protected by a centaur couple.

Vastern Canyon (Sea of FIve WInds) - A box canyon full of owlbears and other creatures made by wizards doing wizard poo poo.


Blackwell Isle (Ebony Coast) - Ruled by the same government as Moonstone Island (Featured later in this section) this island is famous for its dry-dock facilities, lack of natural predators and generally boring nature.

Brezal Island (City State) - “Just north of Croy is the Skandik island Brezal Isle and its capital city, Armagh.” Think you could stuff a few more ridiculous fantasy names in that sentence? Skandik island surrounded by sea monsters and submerged ruins. The book says it’s rumoured to be the tip of a submerged mountain range, but that’s kind of all islands when you really look at it.

Croy (City State) - Another Skandik island, though we’re told the Skandiks on this particular island are not aligned with the” warlike Skandiks at Ossary”. Has a bigass temple to Odin with a big-rear end oak tree inside that’s supposed to be a seedling of the World Tree Yggdrasil.

Dawn, Isles of the (Isles of the Dawn) - aka “The islands that broke the book’s organization system”. They get their name from the fact that worshippers of Apollo believed that this is where his chariot emerges from the sea every dawn. Sailors also tell tales of seeing the Big A hanging out here, but they’re probably just trying to drum up some tourism because this place is boring as poo poo.

Ethereal Bells, Isles of the (Altanis) - So named because fishermen claim to hear mysterious bells around this island at night. It’s also home to pirates, pearls, an underwater cave system and “Aquatic trolls”.
Flame, Isles of (Lenap) - Weird blue flames are seen leaping from the peaks of these islands that might or might not compel sailors to run themselves aground. We are given no further information.

Gheulost Island (Viridistan) - Has an exceptionally long description that is mostly taken up by some kind of mermaid creation legend involving a mermaid boy who accidentally pulled a plug at the bottom of the ocean, died and made islands happen. The more relevant detail is that this island is suspiciously heavily guarded by the Viridian Empire.

Mantero Isle (Ghinor) - Also known as the “Island of the Scroll Makers” because a bunch of fuckwad wizards used to hang out here making scrolls. Their underground labyrinth is now buried under tons and tons of solid stone, so gently caress you for expecting something interesting!

Moonstone Isle (Ebony Coast) - A naval base for the Kingdom of Karak. They make magic silk and tapestries but will have you executed if you let one touch the ground as it ruins the enchantment.

Pantagent Isle (Ghinor) - Has a deserted giant’s castle on a mountain and shadows come to life. The book gives exactly the same level of detail I did.

Pokrantil, Isles of (Valon) - Used to be ruled by some kind of singing queens, is now ruled by the pirate alliance the Brotherhood of Sea Tigers. The few descendants of the island’s original inhabitants are rad bards. Is home to a slave market and the island of alchemists.

Shillelah Isle (Tarantis) - The trees that grow here produce wood that’s good for making enchanted weapons.

Silver Skein Isles (Silver Skein Isles) - Has been in the midst of a civil war for the past 8 years over religious matters that are mostly political in nature.

Taphos Isle (Tarantis) - Just a big ol’ graveyard full of ancient barrows and burial mounds ripe for the enterprising graverobber/adventurer.

Tirnanog Isle (Sea of Five Winds) - Home to Halflings and humans. The book takes the time to describe its major exports and note it’s a stopover for migrating ducks before bluntly stating it’s “infested with strange monkeys“ with no further comment or explanation.


Lord but this book is thorough.

Ament Horn (Lenap) - The big peninsula where the city of Lenap is located. It has a big, granite statue carved into it.
Cape Kumari (Desert Lands) - Where the city of Quizit is located. It also has a really tall tower and giant crabs.

Cayerva, Bay of (Valon) - Used to be a city that got swallowed by the sea, now it’s all just whirlpools.

Churning Sea (Lenap) - Another stretch of sea near the Ament Horn that is full of whirlpools and waves and is rumoured to have once been the site of an ancient city that sank beneath the waves. Sounds familiar for some reason.

Council Lake (City State) - Where all the nomads gather every year to trade and discuss nomad things. Why they chose this spot I don’t know as the surrounding woods are haunted and full of witches.

Crown Beast, Lake of the (Tarantis) - A freshwater lake full of fish, also a sea dragon that the locals have been giving nubile young ladies to for the past six centuries, but mostly fish.

Dahute Bay (Tarantis) - Serves as the natural harbor for Tarantis. The ancient ruins of Ivory City, former capital of the Empire of Kelnore, lies across the bay but it’s said no one who’s gone there has come back alive.

Deeprock Lake (Elphand Lands) - A big, deep lake with three weird pillars sticking out of it. Weird.

Devilstongue Peninsula (Ghinor) - A big, peninsula dominated by a big cliff and home to the city of Chim. It’s the only safe landing place for people looking to venture into the Screaming Hyena Jungle. There’s some caves here.

Doomall Lake (Ghinor Highlands) - The “Largest lake in Ghinor” the book says, damning this place with faint praise. Has what is basically the Loch Ness Monster supposedly prowling around.

Five Winds, Sea of (Sea of Five Winds/Isles of the Blest) - A sea full of major trade routes with ca-ca-coo-coo weather patterns.

Glazed Lake (Elphand Lands) - Named because the shallows are covered in a film of weird slime. Aoboleth’s have been seen around here lately, possibly explaining the slime?

Gods, Lake of the (Isles of the Blest) - Has a portal to the elemental plane of water just hanging out at the bottom.

Iso Monster Lake (Viridistan) - In the local tongue “Iso” means “Tentacle”! It’s named after a giant, horrible monster with the head of a human and hundreds of tentacles that lives in the center of the lake. Are there any lakes in this setting that don’t have giant monsters living in their center?

Maerstag, Straits of (Altanis) - Runs from Mysk to the Romillion Sea and are named after two giant, Lord of the Rings-esque statues on either end of the shore. Telepathic races steer clear of here for no given reason.

Ninuflan Bay (Valon) - Full of giant lilies in the summer and absolutely clogged with various fantasy sea life that makes it a pain in the rear end to sail in.

Orichalan Straits (Isles of the Blest) - Some straits that the book takes far too many words to say “Are a pain in the rear end to sail through”.

Pinnacles, Gulf of (Altanis) - Where the Cape of Kumati is located and a major pain to land on.

Quill Lake (Elphand Lands) - Home to poisonous rockfish.

Raglaroon, Mouth of the (City State) - A river that goes through the City State. You don’t need to call out every river if you can’t think of something interesting to say, book.

Romillion Sea (Altanis) - A small sea home to an island full of giant lizards, winged-people who live on the shorelines and the Strait of Clashing Rocks, which is exactly what you probably think it is.

Shadow Lake (Tarantis) - A lake. “Furtive shadows can often be seen crossing the lake at twilight”.

Temple Deeps, Lake of the (Altanis) - Is supposed to contain the sunken remains of an ancient temple to Neptune, the deepest chamber of which is rumoured to be the throne room of a god (Who I’m guessing is Neptune).

Trident Gulf (Viridistan) - The gulf separating Viridistan and Ghuelost Island. Contains the undersea merfolk kingdom of Sae Laamer, which is subjugated by the Viridian Empire because those guys are dicks.

Uther Pentwegern Sea (Valon) - The big-rear end sea in the North of the Wilderlands. Treacherous, full of water hazards/monsters and home to an ancient castle that was sunk by a kraken in ages past, just like every other sea in this setting!

Vast Lake (Elphand Lands) - It’s a lake and it’s really big. The ancient city of Damkina stands on an island in the center of this lake.

Visions, Lake of (Isles of the Blest) - A mountain lake whose gases give people visions of the future...Or make them high as balls, it’s hard to say.

Winedark Sea (City State, Tarantis, Ebony Coast, Altanis, Valon, Valley of the Ancients, Isles of the Blest, Isles of the Dawn, Silver Skein Isles, Southern Reaches) - The bigass sea/ocean that makes up the majority of The Wilderlands. It’s named after the weird, deep, reddish-blue hue of its waters.

Alright, that section was a little long and tedious but it looks like we’re finally- Wait, what do you mean this section goes on for several more pages? What do you mean there’s still mountains, plains, rivers, roads, wastelands and wetlands to cover? Where are those cyborg amazons when you need them?

Join me next time for...More geography, I guess! Hopefully without a several months-long hiatus this time!

Dec 24, 2007

Ok I think I finally got it: Eclipse Phase in fact sucks rear end and I can safely avoid it.

Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack

Midjack posted:

Ok I think I finally got it: Eclipse Phase in fact sucks rear end and I can safely avoid it.

Eh, it's actually pretty fun if you have a GM who can juggle the various mechanics. I've been playing in an Eclipse Phase game for the past six years and we've been having a good time of it. For all the complaints the resleeving mechanics get I honestly never found it to be too big a problem. The major issue is that character generation is really complicated and there are a lot of trap options and quirks that aren't made explicit in the book like spending CP on gear that will not carry across when you ego-cast, what sets of gear are required for what roles and how to properly utilize knowledge and field skills.

The game, at its core, is heavily built around gear acquisition and logistics: While it may be indicative of how my GM has rolled, my own experience has been that the majority of missions in EP are built around trying to properly acquire, craft and transport the tools and resources you need to solve a particular op. While the system is a clunky jumble of nonsense in a lot of places I feel like it at least presents a decent framework for the gear acquisition side of things.

I'm also going to disagree with the idea people have brought up of all or most of the problems in 2e being things inherited from 1e since the entire pools system they came up with feels like a lateral move rather than actual progress: It seems like it's ultimately just as complicated as the original morph bonuses system, just in new and different ways. One of the other player's in my group also feels that the pools system means that the intended physical differences between a lot of morphs aren't really felt mechanically, Sleeving into a giant, bio-engineered crab no longer gives a sense that your physical abilities are boosted, just that you can narratively be really strong every once in a while. It's a weird injection of more narrative-based mechanics into a game whose systems are otherwise much more heavily crunch-based.

In conclusion Eclipse Phase is a land of contrasts...

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?

imo it would be better if instead of buying physical gear you bought blueprints. The blueprints would cost X amount of points to 3D print at your destination, so you'd have a number of loadout points based on the mission (representing how much of their 3d printer feedstock they're willing to let you use).

If you wanted to make it more complex, so you can't print out a nuke at the local supermarket or w/e, you could mark certain blueprints as requiring a Military and/or Exotic feedstock printer. That'd represent either the feedstock their printer uses not containing any like, depleted uranium or quantum beans, or being locked off from having the printer make wildly dangerous explosive stuff out of normal elements (ie hexanitro type chemicals).

that way if you're going to earth the firewall printer there probably has a printer rated C, M, and E (civilian, military, and exotic) and you can print out the biggest guns and fanciest poo poo you can carry, but not a huge amount of them. If you're going to a high security civilian place, you might have to make a loadout of just stuff that's printable on a C rated printer. A research center might have a C&E rated printer, they handle a lot of exotic poo poo, but have very little need of military hardware.

that way it wouldn't be a trap to spend money on gear for your character, but you could still restrict what characters can bring based on their loadout points or local printers, for balance and narrative purposes.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009

O my sweet dear god please shut up about Eclipse Phase rules until we get there in the review.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?

Xiahou Dun posted:

O my sweet dear god please shut up about Eclipse Phase rules until we get there in the review.

You Don't Have To Read The Posts

Will the Great
Dec 26, 2017

Xiahou Dun posted:

O my sweet dear god please shut up about Eclipse Phase rules until we get there in the review.


Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009

Cool. Go to town.

Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

KingKalamari posted:

Crying Wood, Forest of (Tarantis) - A forest named after the “many foul leucrotta that hunt the interior”, whatever those are…

Leucrottas are a D&D monster that can imitate human voices and uses that ability to lure humans to it as prey.

Leucrotta illustration from the 1E Monster Manual

They come from a creature described in Pliny the Elder's Natural History, and the D&D monster is actually very faithful to Pliny's description, all except for the name—Pliny called it a "leucrocotta", so Gygax shortened it by one syllable. Whether that shortening was intentional or not I have no idea, but it stuck through all the leucrotta's appearances in later editions.

I wonder if the leucrotta mention was in the original 1977 version of Wilderlands? It may be possible; the first-edition Monster Manual came out the same year as Wilderlands of High Fantasy, though I'm not sure what time of year Wilderlands came out, so I don't know which was first. If the leucrotta was in the 1977 Wilderlands, that would be kind of interesting, since the leucrotta wasn't in the original D&D boxed set, but the full AD&D rules hadn't been released yet—the Monster Manual came out in 1977, but the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide wouldn't come out till later. So nobody could have actually been playing AD&D at the time Wilderlands came out, which means if the 1977 Wilderlands did mention the leucrotta it would mean that either its writers anticipated that D&D players would be switching over to AD&D anyway, or they assumed they'd take monsters from the AD&D Monster Manual and use them in original-flavor D&D.

But it seems very possible that the leucrotta reference was added for the new edition, because...

KingKalamari posted:

Glazed Lake (Elphand Lands) - Named because the shallows are covered in a film of weird slime. Aoboleth’s have been seen around here lately, possibly explaining the slime?

This, on the other hand, could not possibly have been in the original 1977 Wilderlands, because the aboleth's first appearance was in the 1981 module "Dwellers in the Forbidden City". (And unlike the leucro[co]tta, the aboleth has no mythological or folkloric basis.)

Wait a second... it just occurred to me that if the leucrotta reference was added for the new edition (or actually even if it was held over from the original version), it probably shouldn't have been, because the leucrotta wasn't Open Content in 3E under the Open Game License... it didn't appear in the 3E Monster Manual, and didn't show up in 3E till Monsters of Faerûn (the contents of which weren't released under the OGL). Hm. Oh well.

[Edited because of a fairly trivial punctuation error that I felt the need to edit the post to fix because... okay, I'm not totally sure why.]

Jerik fucked around with this message at 05:31 on Jul 31, 2019

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009

Isn't that in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell?

Jun 24, 2019

I don't know what to write here.

Xiahou Dun posted:

Isn't that in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell?

What? The leucrocotta? Maybe... I don't remember it being mentioned there, but it's been a while since I read it.


Yep, apparently it is:

Wikipedia posted:

The leucrocotta is featured in Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, in the chapter "Leucrocota, the Wolf of the Evening", where the titular character names another person in the book as one, as a reference to his personality and lifestyle.

(Wait... "the titular character"? There's not a single titular character; there are two characters named in the title. Oh well.)

Jerik fucked around with this message at 07:59 on Jul 31, 2019

May 13, 2013

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

Game Mechanics, pt. 2

Degenesis Rebirth
Chapter 5: Game Mechanics

The Skills

Skills ain't nothin’ but tricks and snitches. Or, rather, they don't work without attributes. “Dexterity is nothing without Agility,” says the book.

Action types are broken down into categories:

ACTION: when character actively does something.
REACTION: roll passive awareness, basically.
COMBINATION: probably the most interesting bit, as it deals with combining skills : “Judge is more easily deceived (PSY+Deception) by a distinguished choice of words (CHA+Expression), while an ambush (AGI+Stealth, followed by BOD+Melee) becomes an assassination attack.”

Specialties: some skills may have qualifiers. I guess these are your Exotic Weapon Proficiences. Those are additional, hard mechanical effects some skills have.

I think attributes have 6 skills each. I'm not gonna go into full detail on each, tho.



Brawl posted:

The fist, the elbow, and the knee are weapons humans are born with. They cannot be stolen, they cannot jam, and they are always at hand. They push down enemies, make them gasp for breath; they break ribs. The more trained the fighter, the faster he will get through his enemy’s defense to strike his throat or spleen. All these unarmed combat techniques are summarized under the Brawl Skill.
ACTION: Boxing; kicking; throwing; pit fighting
REACTION: Quitting a brawl; breaking strangleholds
COMBINATION: >PSY+Reaction: disarm

Athletics: am move good, also known as the skill you never wanted to invest in.
Force: being strong! Specialty is adding damage to your melee attacks. Can be combo-ed witg >PSY+Domination for intimidation.
Melee: the noble art of hitting people with things. :black101:
Stamina: do things longer, withstand poisons.
Toughness: being an impressive lump of flesh. Withstand pain – but not poisons – better. Specialty adds health.


Agility gets loving weird.

Crafting: make poo poo good and evaluate poo poo. The Agility of the brain.
Dexterity: use your fingat real good; more for sleight of hand and Combo-ing with >AGI+Crafting than being God-stat.
Navigation: drive. It's drive. You use it to drive cars, planes and horses, evaluate vehicles and... “aligning heavy artillery?” Really?
Mobility: It's dodge. Mostly duplicates >BOD+Athletics stuff, but for shootmans who invest in Agility instead of beatstick’s Body, which is a nice touch, I guess.
Projectiles: doing pew-pew. Combos with >AGI+Mobility for throwing grenades and >AGI+Navigation for Mad Max car combat.
Stealth: doing a sneak as well as detecting sounds.

Only one image today, but it's aaa-dorable.


Art: literally anything that can be called an art, from dancing to sculpture. Combine with >AGI+Crafting to make art more expensive. Well, that seems useless.
Conduct: etiquette and knowing how not to stuff your foot into your mouth.
Expression: doing jazz spoken word and speaking in general. Probably beloved by all Palers out there. Combo with >CHA+Art to become a pop star.
Leadership: leading people. Combo with >BOD+Melee/>AGI+Projectiles to do combat tactics or >AGI+Navigation for herding. *Terrible Mount&Blade herding flashbacks* :gonk:
Negotiation: diplomacy and trade.
Seduction: passes the Jeff test by actually being Charm-Interrogation rather than Sexhaving: The Skill. Includes “turning tricks” as one of the actions, which is, ugh, amazing. Reactions are all KINETIC RESPONSE TO PUA-TYPE ACTIVITIES: “Counter-flirting; resistance against flattery; recognizing and countering seductive trick.” It's hilarious and I love it.


Artifact lore: you know how to identify, use and repair Juuls, furbies and other numenera artifacts the Bygone people left behind.
Engineering: Doing a technology thing. The Specialty points out that it’s the high-tech equivalent of doing >AGI+Craft to improve weapons.
Focus: do thing extremely better; Combos with >INT+Medicine for surgeries, >AGI+Shooting for sharpshooting, etc. Interestingly enough, you have to choose this or >INS+Primal, since they both provide Ego points and can’t be raised outside chargen.
Legends: know history. :hist101:
Medicine: you know how to heal people, and you can Combo it for pharmacy/crafting purposes.
Science: MASSIVE NERD. Active uses include reading, writing and maths. Reactions include being a logic-bro (“Uncovering logical errors”), Combinations involve stuff ranging from CSI to drafting building blueprints.




Truth is the lover of the cunning one. She bends under his caress, and when she breaks, her ugly sister, the lie, steps in. Both lead him to his goal without his victims being any wiser.
More like cunning-lingus, amirite? :v:
Deception: lies, disguises and forgery.
Domination: intimidate, terrorize, subjugate. Counter influences and set pecking order as reaction.
Faith: :catholic: skill related to the specific religion you belong to (also, “the atheist relies on his free will, but
faith can move mountains.”) and does jack poo poo for other faiths. You do your religion better. Does not combine with >PSY+Willpower and you have to choose one of them. Faith defends against mental influences and spore infestation.
Reaction: Initiative (at least as a Specialty). Combos with others for surprise attacks, quick draws and the like.
Willpower: :dawkins101: at this moment, you are euphoric. Lists actions like “self-conquest” and “austerity.” Also/unlike >PSY+Faith, it counters (instead of defending against) mental manipulation (not influences) and the effects (not results) of spore infestation. So, naturalist language strikes again: we don’t really know if there’s a functional difference between the two.


Empathy: for some reason, the ability to understand what others are feeling combos with >INT+Medicine to “impart salvation.” :iiam:
Orienteering: remember, >AGI+Navigation allows you to ride a horse while >INS+Orienteering allows you to know where to ride it. The two combo to allow you to ride safely.
Perception: spot hidden.


Those who dedicate themselves to the Primal Skill feel the beast snarl inside them and throw itself against the bars of reason. Primal ferocity breaks free from its prison. Once Primal is set free, the good and the bad aspects of self rage in a firestorm, burning away any thought of caution and planning. Instead, passion, the willingness to make sacrifices, violence, and rage take over—the beast is free to race across the plains. The mind does not control the hand anymore; that is the heart’s job now.
As an Action, you can, ugh, rage and intimidate enemies. As a Reaction, you can suppress rational fears, such as “being a raging lunatic is probably a bad idea.” You have to choose between this or >INT+Focus for your Ego points, whatever those are. Unlike >PSY+Faith and >PSY+Willpower,
Survival: hunting, gathering and doing other Survival stuff.
Taming: befriending shrews and “REACTION: Showing strength to an attacking animal and thus unsettling it.”

:eng101: Game Mechanics chapter is 15 pages long. Skills take up 6 of them.

Next time: dice mechanics that survived the Eschaton

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?


This batch has a couple of neat creatures, but sadly it's not till probably the next post that we get some really cool poo poo.

Falling Maw

maw...MAW... help me i'm fallin'

This is a mini black hole surrounded by a region of zero gravity. It can make the air around it electric too. If it gets close to you you start to get all gravitied up and you don't want that. It's sentient, but you can only talk to it if you can talk to machines, and it's only interested in sucking up nice bits of technology. When it dies it explodes, gently caress you.

Ferno Walker

A big fancy lad who can walk through fire and lava and such. They eat rocks and heat em up in a special stomach and then use that somehow to puke super hot acid on people. They're smart, but don't speak languages, and they like the griffin dudes from Harry Potter where you have to respect them and they'll let you ride them. If they do become your mount or your friend, you can give them guns to shoot with their little hands :3.

Flesh Pup

The fleeeesh pup is a little old place where, we can get to-ge-ther! FLESH PUP HONEY!

Flesh pup! Flesh pup! It's Flesh Pup! These nasty boys are little slimy leech ferrets who can just dive right into your skin, like pouring a glass of water into a lake. Once its inside it forms a cyst and grows more flesh pups inside and feeds on your flesh, but your brain chemistry is changed so you actually like the cyst and look after it. Then when you're drained of all your nutrients, Flesh Pup (tm) bursts out with all the new baby flesh pups.

Flying Elchin

does NOT resemble any disney properties at all

These are waist-high froggos who can use the trumpets on their head to mimic all sorts of sounds. They jump really high and can glide using their aerodynamic head trumpets. They have a complex communication system but for some reason don't want to talk to anyone else. Their suggested use is to have them jump on the players after a fight and try and eat the creature the party just killed. That's about it, they are cute though.

Frilled Baul

It's literally just a loving lion combined with a porcupine. That's all it is. You can tame em, I guess.



Robot balls who fly around CONSTANTLY LASERING. They guard ancient ruins, forgotten instructions, unknown builders, etc etc. They communicate via laser beam pulse and beeping but don't have anything useful to say. They are always lasering, but in a fight they can laser even harder to gently caress you up. You encounter them in swarms of 6-12, where they fly in a spherical formation so they can laser in every direction at once.


who put the morm in the morm gemorm gemorm, who put the ram in the ramalamadingdong?

It's a pillar of energy filled with screaming faces, and the kids can't get enough of it! It's Gemorm! Sorry, Flesh Pup got me in an advertising mood. Gemorm is immune to physical damage, but can be hurt by all types of energy. It's only attack is the classic Mind Flayer AoE brain blast, and if it kills you your face goes into the pillar. Gemorm constantly broadcasts telepathically to everyone in a short distance of it, but all it says is a bunch of screaming, 'as if a room full of people were simultaneously crushed by a killing weight'. Ask your GM if Gemorm is right for you.

Hmm seems like a good way to run a game, thanks for the advice! Also I just realised that Gemorm is actually called Gemorrn, because gently caress you kerning! Gemorm is a better name so I'm not going back and changing it.

Glacier Slime

They assumed Glacier Slime was so self-explanatory that they didn't even draw a picture of it, and they were right to. Imagine in your head right now what a Glacier Slime would be, and you're absolutely correct.


got my eye on you

These sweet boys are actually a player race in one of the other books, so you know they are probably cool guys. They grow from seed pods underground and are birthed to the surface in groups of 4 or more. They are tough little soldiers and can survive for centuries on just dirt, water, and sunlight. Some of them have the ability to shoot concentrated sunlight from their big eye, so intensely it's like a laser.

Their purpose in life is whatever command they were given, either by the mysterious tree that created them, or anyone talking to them. If they don't have a goal or objective they wither and die, so I guess they hate vacations.

Gray Sampler

horned up and tryna get some brain

I like this guy a lot because of how blunt it is. It's a robot that chops your brain out and throws it into the wood chipper on its head, and then cums the liquefied brain out of its robot dick in a big arc, 'as if it's broadcasting fertilizer or seeds'. Brain bot can talk, but it mostly just directs people to hold still while it chops their head open. If you ask one what it's goal is, all it will say is "The fruit of our harvest prepares the way" which is pretty spooky.

They are hard to get rid of because they start out as nanobots and build themselves out of 'drit' which I think is techno-dirt, so you can have no brainbots and then suddenly: brainbots.


It's another herd animal, but this one has weird holes in its neck that look like they're threaded to have something screwed into. Sometimes you might run into one who has some kind of tech doodad plugged into its neck, so I guess someone in history times designed these as a combination herd animal and USB charging station.


These guys just future orcs, but they're the first example of a category of creature that I have a problem with in this setting. Numenera has a bunch of species called 'abhumans', who are post human races who for whatever reason just only like to kill humans. It's supposed to be a setting about exploration, where everyone is some kind of far-future posthuman, and you can solve most problems with diplomacy.

So why the gently caress are there Always Chaotic Evil races around? All the Abhumans are also ugly, whereas the good guy human offshoots are all pretty. It's bad enough having the weird, racist-connotation-ed chaotic evil races in classic fantasy, but this is a setting where the attitude is supposed to be 'eh, cyborg, alien, dimensional traveller, you're all basically human if you use technology and can talk'.

But then you have a bunch of races that are explicitly evolved from humans, but are just blanket evil degenerates. The description of these guys reads like any racist's description of whichever race they don't like:

It's bad, and I don't think abhumans as a concept belong in a game entirely about far future posthumanity. Even the Morlocks, who all these degenerate future races originate from, were the most intelligent of the two species, and that was written in victorian times.

Sorry to end on kind of a downer, but that's the last guy in G


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?

What the gently caress the brain jizzbot. loving Numenera.

Plant guys are cool, though. Maybe if someone orders them to chill out and relax indefinitely they'd be able to take a vacation.

EDIT: the art of MICTLANTECUHTLI is loving rad, I wanna say.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 11:26 on Jul 31, 2019

Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*

As a side note, 'drit' is a thing in Numenera. It is, literally, just far-future dirt.

I suppose we should just be grateful that Monte didn't decide to capitalise it.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I'm a lovely person who deserves to be happy!

I don't mind brain bot, if only so that you can make them sound extremely chirpy whilst doing what they do:

"Please stop resisting sir! Don't worry, your Cerebellum will be put to good use!"

Jul 14, 2008

"Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."

I love brain bot

Feb 13, 2012

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

KingKalamari posted:

Inkless Pen said I abandoned it, but in reality I was held captive by a tribe of cyborg amazons in…

Danged cyborg amazons.

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?

Eclipse Phase: Second Edition

One Last Bit of Morphs: The Flex-Mech

So last time we went over some of the issues with Morphs in general, and specifically with biomorphs and podmorphs(seriously the amount of redundant repeated cyberware in podmorphs that should just have been defined as "part of being a podmorph" is a bit silly). Fundamentally synthmorphs are the same as the other two, except they can choose to ignore pain(for a penalty at "tactile perception tests," how loving often does that even come up, they get to ignore some degree of wound penalties) and they tend to have inherent armor. But one of them is a departure from the rest in terms of functioning, which is the Flexbot. In EP1, Flexbots were statted like everything else, essentially, and were like a midpoint between nanoswarms and regular synthmorphs, being made out of larger, re-arrangable modules.

Here, they're morphs made out of more morphs. They have a core module, around which more modules are arranged, each of which is statted as a single morph, essentially. They share their pools and their total durability, however, and the only limit to how many modules you can combine appears to be what you can afford(at least as far as I'm reading. At the very least they account for having "10 or more" modules), so you can essentially make an arbitrarily large and durable hell machine if you want. It also says they can integrate "robots," which seems like a vague and undefined term, I mean, does that include other Synthmorphs? Because most of them have names that end in "bot." Since each module also has its own cyberbrain, theoretically nothing is stopping the party from just pooling all their morph points towards just being a single giant juggernaut bot, tumbling across a base or colony, overwhelming and incorporating other machines into their bulk.

This thing is a loving X-Threat all on its own, and I love it and I hope there are no sidebars later that remove any of what I'm seeing here. Na-nananana-nana, katamari damorphy...

More of the morphs should break the mold like this if they're even being given their own drat entry.


Gear's changed somewhat since EP1, rather than straight-up buying our starting gear, we pick a starting package, then we can swap out the contents with other objects of similar value, or spend our limited CP's on more. Items no longer have an outright price in Space Dollars, instead they've got "gp's." I presume that's Gear Points. Skipping ahead, the GM is meant to give PC's an assortment of GP's for each mission they undertake, defining what they can equip themselves with on that mission(which is basically what was talked about not many posts ago as a good way to make players less attached to their gear, not a bad idea), and which also simplifies the dual economies of EP1 where you could pay with both reputation and credits, making the whole thing kind of a mess to keep track of at times. Generally this seems like an improvement.

Again, though, this seems to only account for a strict mission-based, Firewall-themed approach and less for something where the players operate in the same area for an extended period of time, possibly managing to keep gear intact(there's a small section later saying that if the PC's manage to keep some gear intact, they might be able to sell it/trade it for more GP's on the next mission, or maybe not, if the GM doesn't feel like it. Extremely helpful advice, fuckos. This reccurs for a hell of a lot of rules and sidebars, I'll note: "Hey, here's a rule/theme you should use! oh except not maybe not in fact don't bother if you don't want to."). In fact, it's only later that this indicates how this actually interacts with your starting gear, which is to say that it doesn't really, rather your starting gear is apparently only your starting gear for your first mission/if you're at home, and after that you're just assumed to have multi-use blueprints for all of it. This whole approach makes me wonder why they bothered with the starting gear packs at all.

And then after introducing the GP thing they go back and re-introduce currency(albeit as a more vague "Resources" trait, so less fiddly. The Resources trait gives you a flat bonus to per-mission GP and also the option to buy gear worth a certain amount of GP every period of time. Though it involves some degree of mother-may-I with regards to gear availability. Strictly superior to Rep, though, since Rep has a chance of failing when being used, and money does not.) and rep-buying as well. So now we've got a triple economy rather than a dual.

The gear chapter also has a bunch of vague asides like "oh if you get some rare gear of high quality, it should decrease in quality over time thanks to reasons. no we're not going to advise you on how to do this, or add any rules like nr. of uses for it to decay. lateeeeeer." The vagueness infuriates me more than it should, I can always rule zero poo poo if I want to, but I want to know how you expected/imagined this to work out ideally. Give me the rules for that. Don't tell me I'll probably need to figure out the details for myself, I loving know that.

I also want to note that I had to jump approximately 250 pages ahead during the chargen chapter to actually figure out how the gear stuff worked while I was dealing with it. This is not ideal editing.

here's an elaborate system with a triple-economy for acquiring gear but you probably shouldn't really bother using it all that much, except when you should.

Anyway, that's me being angry, angry about gear. Or rather, I'm not upset about the actual rules. I'm more just annoyed at the bad, wibbly way they're written up. The editing in this book is making it feel a lot shoddier than it actually is, I'm noticing, where a brief browse makes something feel confusing, but then you learn that there's actually a decent, easily-parsed system under there if only the editor hadn't been asleep at the wheel causing him to drop a vital paragraph ten pages later than where it would make the most sense.


This is, of course, going to be summarizing. But we start in the year [undefined integer], I'm not sure why both EP1 and EP2 are so unhappy about defining the year. It definitely isn't necessary, but it always struck me as strange, since most sci-fi games don't shy away from that. Anyway, the point is we're in [undefined year], space exploration has started settlements primarily on Mars, Luna and Venus, but with some around Jupiter and in the outer system as well, uploading/resleeving/uplifting is in the early stages of being a cool thing, but of course only for the rich, not for the plebeian masses. Earth's ecosystem isn't having a good time, hypercorps are making fat loads of cash, turning militaries into primarily AI-run ventures controlled by vast supermachines called TITANs seems like a good idea.


Aside from widening wealth disparities, new technologies posed notable risks. Advanced 3D printing enabled access to restricted items such as weapons and drugs. The capability to brew up biowarfare agents at home led to numerous mass-casualty events. Attempts to regulate and restrict new tech only mitigated the situation at best.

and yet in-lore the Anarchists are just wonderful societies where no maniac ever brews up a cauldron of anthrax and fucks their hab over with it hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Then all of a sudden the TITANs slip a cog and decide to go insane, murdering billions of humans, harvesting brains from the survivors, fighting each other(this is known as The Fall, and the calender is now BF, Before Fall, and AF, After Fall), etc. humanity bails from Earth, Earth becomes a quarantined hellzone with zero official survivors, humanity consists of the lucky few to be off Earth during The Fall, the just as lucky few who managed to get evacuated during the Fall and the unlucky majority who only got off Earth as uploaded minds, known as "infugees" who have limited or little access to physical morphs except through slavery or indentured servitude in some form.

To double up the horror, the TITANs also start violating the known laws of reality thanks to the Exsurgent Virus that turns people into monsters, sometimes capable of space magic, and either insane or acting on some inscrutable TITAN plan that almost always seems to involve large numbers of people killed. In EP1 the basic lore coyly suggested it could be a lot of different things but then the GM's fluff said it was clearly caused by intentional alien terrorism except these particular aliens were never detailed, their plans were never revealed and there was never any support for actually dealing with their plots or the TITANs as anything but random events of inscrutable terror because their regulating logic was never revealed or even hinted at. Among the reality violations were the Pandora Gates, which may or may not have been made by the TITANs or been there well before the TITANs were ever built, and those TITANs that managed to slip the Earth blockade before it closed in primarily hopped through those, leaving behind only uncoordinated Exsurgent garbage for humanity to deal with.

Anyway, a couple of years passes, humanity licks their wounds and then the Factors show up. They're slime mold aliens that are very shady about their intentions and tech, arriving either through an unknown Pandora Gate(possible), Faster Than Light travel(likely but they deny it) or slower-than-light travel(plausible but raises yet more questions). The original fluff basically only mentioned them in two books, an aside in the core and then, I believed, in X-Risks, where it was theorized that they were, themselves, refugees just grabbing what they could from trade with humans and then hauling rear end out of there whenever what was hunting them caught up. In both books they were criminally mishandled(or rather, wasted, since nothing was done with them), since they were pretty cool, but never used. Encountering intelligent alien life that it was possible to communicate with never seemed to do anything for humanity's communal state of mind, everyone just accepted them as inscrutable traders, shrugged and went on with their lives. They kind of felt like one writer's pet project that no one else wanted to engage with.

From the limited fluff on them presented here, that does not seem to have changed much. They remain, weirdly, a loving side-note despite how paradigm-shattering it would be to even know they existed.

Slightly Shallower Lore

So now that we're caught up to the Present Day(tm), which is 10AF(all of the existing political structures of EP have coagulated into their current forms just ten years after the essential annihilation of Earth and the loss of something like 90% of humanity's total population, even accounting for infugees. I know they wanted to keep the horrors fresh, but it always felt way too short a span of time for the new status quo to have settled in as solidly as it is. 10 AF should be when humanity's still in survival mode, and governments and coalitions are still forming and collapsing on a daily basis. 20 AF or even 50 AF always felt more believable to me in terms of the state of the system, but that's just me, I guess.), it's time to learn what life is like. And death. And re-life after death. Because the first section is on resleeving!

Basically people aren't terrified of death, murder and violence are mostly treated as property crimes not violations of people's autonomy and freedom to not be loving killed, people shooting each other is no longer just a videogame, but a normal sport, mostly death just involves a bit of existenial wibbliness immediately post-resleeving and then they get a WELCOME BACK party where people catch them up on anything their backed-up memories missed and then that's kind of it. Also a lot of people are racist against machine morphs since it's considered lower-class as they're often cheaper than biological bodies. It's indicated, fluff-wise, that a lot, if not most, people who resleeve into something other than their birth body eventually need some kind of psychotherapy to deal with it, unless they have the option to buy/sculpt a morph that looks and feels extremely like it.


Basically it's a SOM check to see whether you feel wibbly about it, with no chances of extensive mental trauma or permanent maluses until resleeved. It's a -10 to all actions for at least a day if failed, though(not just physical, as I believe it was in EP1). Bad failures can result in multiple days' worth of penalties, however.

Then a WIL check(at chargen between a 30% and 60% chance to pass it, at base.) to see if having died leaves you feeling wobbly. This means losing some Brain HP if it fails(1d6 or 1d10 depending on how long it was since you last died/how badly you died). Lose too much Brain HP and you go into shock for 1d6 hours and gain a mental illness(you can recover 1d6 Brain HP, or Lucidity(or cure 1 Trauma), to use the actual term, every month if you pass a successful Int check, more if you get therapy. Three months without stress and you can also use a successful Int check to cure yourself of a mental illness.). You will have between 20 and 40 Lucidity at chargen, and losing more than 1/5th of that(4 to 8 Lucidity) in a go(obviously pretty likely from a bad resleeving check...) gets you a Trauma. Traumas are a permanent -10 to all actions until cured.

So uh, clearly while the resleeving is unlikely to directly cause indefinite penalties, the Lucidity loss from resleeving can definitely cause it, and seems quite likely to do it, too.

Also can't get over the fact that like three months of watching movies at home can potentially cure you of the following: Body Dysmorphia, Depression, Schizophrenia, Paranoia, Phobias, PTSD and more! Clearly a nuanced an understanding look at mental illness.


Even when treated, the scars from mental suffering remain. According to some opinions, disorders are never truly eradicated, they are just eased into submission … where they linger beneath the surface, waiting for new traumas to come along.

Which is entirely false in EP2, there are rules for no such things. And that's by no means the end of the Bad Stress Rules for EP2, just the bit I wanted to grab while I was on the subject of Resleeving.///

The next subject is NEW LIFE, i.e. AGI's and Uplifts. AI's are what we have in our time, though more advanced. AGI's are Artificial General Intelligences, i.e. sapient artificial minds. ASI's are Artificial Seed Intelligences, sapient artificial minds that keep building on their own processing power, this is what the TITANs were, and rampancy of such things is a kind of common sci-fi theme. A lot of page space is spent to write: "AGI minds function more or less exactly like human minds, don't sweat the details." and detailing that they function exactly like our brains in, well, pointless detail.

Uplifts are non-humans that have been uplifted to "proper" sapience, longer lifespans, human-sized bodies and often a few extra digits to properly manipulate things(among the known uplifts, including the ones from EP1 that have yet to be repeated here: a bunch of primates, some cetaceans, neanderthals(?), pigs, corvids, parrots, octopusses.).

Together, Uplifts and AGI's tend to be referred to as Mercurials, and often have a shared social movement to not be regarded as sub-human, but at the very least equal to humans, though some also claim superiority to transhumanity. Generally on Venus and farther outsystem than Jupiter, they can generally expect full rights, in Jovian space they can expect no rights, Planetary Consortium and Lunar-Lagrange territory leave specific legislation up to individual habs/cities/corporations which means they're effectively indentured servants or worse in many places. Oddly enough the game kind of justifies some AGI bigotry/racism by clearly stating that they tend to be culled from specific "codelines" which traditionally conform to certain stereotypes such as being lawbreakers, scientists, artists, exhumans, etc. I'm not sure why the game needed this sidebar.

either big people or a small building

NEXT UP: More lore... about the internet.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Wait, this is all only 10 years after the destruction of 90% of humanity and the arrival of an actual alien species that is capable of communication and trade?

That's loving nuts. I always thought EP was like, a century or so after the TITAN mess.

juggalo baby coffin
Dec 2, 2007

How would the dog wear goggles and even more than that, who makes the goggles?

It's weird cause the usual mistake sci fi writers make is having stuff take waaay too long. But 10 years is an insanely short amount of time for so many cultures to form and become set in their ways. 10 years out from a situation like that, people should still be literally nursing literal wounds from the conflict.

Feb 13, 2012

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

I always thought from hearing about EP that it was like 'There are no aliens, we created something that became alien to us and hosed us up horribly, and humankind is balkanizing around ideas and the mutable transhuman self' but apparently there are just rear end in a top hat GM-book aliens and slime mold traders. That background seems a lot lamer than I thought.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Kemper Boyd posted:

The one book that got good mileage out of using that was the Old World Bestiary for Warhamsters Fantasy RPG.
My favourite example of unreliable narration is Jumpers, where even the rules chapters are treated like an attempt to model something real. With margin notes by real Jumpers either praising the rules or pissing on them from a great height.

Apropos of the EP 2.0 discussion, I think the rules were much too fiddly for what they were trying to do, even though they were trying not to be. Quarex playtested it, and mentioned that his experience playing it at a con was much more accessible than the rulebook comes across.

Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you

Simplifying gear getting is good, especially making it even more explicit that you aren't caring about stuff. I don't like that so far there's no support for not doing Firewall mission based play. Crime games and just doing poo poo in the world is fun too. 10 years definitely feels way too short for all these experimental societies to be a thing after humanity was almost completely genocided by machines. Not feeling it.

juggalo baby coffin posted:

imo it would be better if instead of buying physical gear you bought blueprints.

Bllueprints are a thing. In EP1 they cost 3x the price of the actual item and then you have them forever in your data banks and you use them to print stuff. Different things are restricted in different places and not all printers can print everything, but there are also open source blueprints for everything if you can get them so everything is potentially free, even if it might come with a sneaky extra little thing like your gun having spyware in it to log your reloading habits to better design the next generation of killing machines. Or maybe your corp owned printer recognises when it prints a certain gun and puts in a killswitch that makes it not work when its pointed at company employees.

KingKalamari posted:

The game, at its core, is heavily built around gear acquisition and logistics: While it may be indicative of how my GM has rolled, my own experience has been that the majority of missions in EP are built around trying to properly acquire, craft and transport the tools and resources you need to solve a particular op. While the system is a clunky jumble of nonsense in a lot of places I feel like it at least presents a decent framework for the gear acquisition side of things.

This is the core gameplay loop that was so mystifying. Firewall is about getting sent to a place in a new body, acquiring the gear you need for the mission, doing the mission and then going home.

Feb 13, 2012

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

So is this a game about time travelers fighting an army of Thomas Edisons from across time or what.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

It's a lot like the basic premise of Sliders. But jumping between parallel universes is something that happens to you at random, and you can travel through time as well as space.

PurpleXVI posted:

They really could not resist wasting our loving time, though. So. Basically every morph has some pre-fitted modifications. Like a Cortical Stack, basically your brain backup. Which every morph bar one has. And which is listed on every morph bar that one. Rather than just giving that one Morph a "HAS NO STACK"-disadvantage. That one morph is the Flat, btw.
This really sums up my problems with EP2.0 as a game, and why it's just not for me. I don't need to play any more games that make you keep track of things that are purely detail for its own sake, or concessions to realism. It reminds me of Shadowrun 3e making you keep track of ports for your cyberware.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:09 on Jul 31, 2019

Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

EthanSteele posted:

Bllueprints are a thing. In EP1 they cost 3x the price of the actual item and then you have them forever in your data banks and you use them to print stuff. Different things are restricted in different places and not all printers can print everything, but there are also open source blueprints for everything if you can get them so everything is potentially free, even if it might come with a sneaky extra little thing like your gun having spyware in it to log your reloading habits to better design the next generation of killing machines. Or maybe your corp owned printer recognises when it prints a certain gun and puts in a killswitch that makes it not work when its pointed at company employees.

Blueprints are free except whenever the GM realizes this completely wrecks the game and the book suggests using some capricious excuse to suddenly explain why it's no longer free.

Mar 27, 2010

Grab the bullshit by the horns

Wanna see the open source power armor boot sequence. Hope your gun drivers work!

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk

Jerik posted:

MICTLANTECUHTLI (god of death)

Oddly, his stats include "WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All alignments", so I guess there are lawful good worshipers of this evil god of death who don't mind slaughtering each other at their deity's whim. Hm.

well sure! see, there's nothing more LAWFUL than following a direct divine edict from your deity (kill 50 other people that worship me) and it's obviously a GOOD act because you're killing 50 other psychos that worship the god of death

it's the same justification for why a paladin laying waste to an entire village of orcs (including non-combatants) is still an LAWFUL GOOD person. killing EVIL creatures is automatically a GOOD action!

May 28, 2013

Night10194 posted:

I always thought from hearing about EP that it was like 'There are no aliens, we created something that became alien to us and hosed us up horribly, and humankind is balkanizing around ideas and the mutable transhuman self' but apparently there are just rear end in a top hat GM-book aliens and slime mold traders. That background seems a lot lamer than I thought.

There's something in 1st edition, forget which book, but it talks about how there's some sort of alien super intelligence that seeds booby traps throughout the galaxy so when a species hits the point where it's developing TITAN level Artificial intelligence the booby traps go off, infect the TITANs with the exsurgent virus, and then the TITANs wipe out whatever uppity species thought this was a good idea. It basically doesn't matter and will probably never come up when actually playing the game, but it's there.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Ithle01 posted:

There's something in 1st edition, forget which book, but it talks about how there's some sort of alien super intelligence that seeds booby traps throughout the galaxy so when a species hits the point where it's developing TITAN level Artificial intelligence the booby traps go off, infect the TITANs with the exsurgent virus, and then the TITANs wipe out whatever uppity species thought this was a good idea. It basically doesn't matter and will probably never come up when actually playing the game, but it's there.

If your setting has a major detail that will never, ever actually be relevant to the tables that play it that detail should probably just be cut out.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Eh, I thought it was a good explanation for why the Inscrutable Lovecraftian Deity AI does what it does.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Also, I think I'll be covering Aberrant d20 next, though I won't need to cover the fluff as a previous review already has. Just the way translating it (badly) to d20 actually massively changes the setting because characters are far, far less powerful than in the original Storyteller version.

Plus if I start talking about Aberrant's fluff I'll be angry for like a month at how loving stupid it is.

May 28, 2013

Night10194 posted:

If your setting has a major detail that will never, ever actually be relevant to the tables that play it that detail should probably just be cut out.

It's in the book about X-threats and why they do what they do (or maybe it was Gatecrashing). It's also something the fan-base was asking about and they went with it. It might also have been optional, I forget it's been a while.

For what it's worth I like the original thing you posted about there are no aliens but something we made became alien to us. Then again, if it were up to me games would have way less stuff set in stone and more scenario based, but hey that's just my preference.

edit: thanks KingKalamari. Like I said, it's been a while. But, uh yeah, aliens did it.

double edit: holy poo poo, I forgot the section was titled 'Secrets that Matter'. Wonderful title considering that the secrets don't matter in just about every game of EP I could ever imagine running.

Ithle01 fucked around with this message at 22:51 on Jul 31, 2019


Aug 24, 2007

Fuzzy dice, bongos in the back
My ship of love is ready to attack

Ithle01 posted:

There's something in 1st edition, forget which book, but it talks about how there's some sort of alien super intelligence that seeds booby traps throughout the galaxy so when a species hits the point where it's developing TITAN level Artificial intelligence the booby traps go off, infect the TITANs with the exsurgent virus, and then the TITANs wipe out whatever uppity species thought this was a good idea. It basically doesn't matter and will probably never come up when actually playing the game, but it's there.

That's in the core book in the "Secrets that Matter" section, though it's a bit more complicated than that. Essentially the big sort of metaplot of the game is that the Exsurgent Virus isn't something the TITANs developed but something they discovered in an alien device that had been seeded in the solar system in such a way that it would require advanced intelligence to discover. The advanced civilization that created the Exsurgent virus is called the ETI and are meant to be a form for life so far post-singularity that their motivations and capabilities are incomprehensible to humanity. The difference from what you described is that the idea that the exsurgent virus exists to destroy civilizations before they can reach a singularity event is only one of the possible motivations for the ETI: The game book deliberately leaves the big metaplot motivations of the ETI up to GM discretion and provides a few possible backstories as a jumping off point. Other ideas include that the ETI are actually two factions fighting an eons long war with the Exsurgent Virus being a rogue WMD, The Exsurgent Virus actually being a method for the ETI to assimilate other civilizations to grow their own collective intelligence, and The Exsurgent Virus actually endowing a sort of "enlightenment" on the infected with their subsequent actions being the result of thought processes at a level too high for us to understand.

Another interesting idea I've read on the forums is that the Exsurgent Virus is actually a process in a larger, utterly benign/mundane operation for the ETI but, because civilization at humanity's level is to the ETI what bacteria is to us, manifests as an existential risk at our level.

Night10194 posted:

If your setting has a major detail that will never, ever actually be relevant to the tables that play it that detail should probably just be cut out.

It actually is something that can come up in a campaign but is meant to be something the PCs are never going to get the full picture on. It's somewhat important for worldbuilding and helping the GM understand the motivations of the TITANs and how the Exsurgent virus works. I've actually had ideas on how to integrate some of it into an ongoing campaign but have never had the chance to use it because I feel like I have nowhere near enough of an understanding of the hard sci fi aspects of EP to actually run a game.

KingKalamari fucked around with this message at 22:24 on Jul 31, 2019

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