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Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012

Doresh posted:

How'd you make a crossover with something that has yet to be released? And aren't these guys spreading themselves a bit thin if they now want to do supers as well o_O ?

I think the answers are "I need/want money", and "oh my god I can't wait I have to share this brilliant idea and my and my friends' characters right now!"

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Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012


Part 2: One Page of Crunch, Three Pages of Fluff

I lied. There’s a bit more setting stuff before a couple of new character creation options.

Crossover posted:

Crisis of two Earths.

Visiting the world of Earth-Nemesis or interacting with it is a dangerous proposition. Unlike in comic books world crossing interactions are not as "peaceful" as they one would think.

I think Reed Richards-616 would beg to differ. There’s probably other storylines like that, but I’m not a big comic book person. So I wouldn’t know.

The WWC and the Trans-American Pantheon Combine are aware of each other and communicate on a regular basis through an ambassador, Raven Sinclair. She’s on the 20 voodollar bill. No, she is not the same Raven Sinclair who teaches Alteration at Coventry. No, she is not the alternate universe version of that teacher. The explanation is weird and in another book. Along with being a magi (Nemesis term for a magic user), she is also a superhero and part of the best and most notable (adult) pantheon, Team Maximum. (The book doesn’t say who the other members are, but I’m going to guess Nemesis-Macdonald Hartman is involved in some way based on the name.)

Probably due to the line this book is a part of, Nemesis characters and their dimension are portrayed as being more of a threat than WGA characters and WWC-Earth. Metahumans are a paranoid bunch who, due to past experiences, generally assume that anyone visiting their dimension unannounced is there to cause trouble. All post-humans are registered with their respective governments, and children are required to have supervised training on how to use their abilities. Classes on how to properly use one’s powers in public are mandatory, even if the person in question doesn’t do the whole superhero thing. So naturally, they’re not going to take kindly to a group of unsupervised zap-happy tween witches who terrorize mundanes for minor slights. As there is no masquerade on Nemesis-Earth, there is also the danger of them breaking all of that hard work the WWC does to keep it up if they ever visit WWC-Earth. (:roflolmao:) Even more so as metahumans cannot be detected by the WWC’s normal means due to not being magical. So anyone that wanted to come over and take advantage of this could do so pretty easily.

The writing also slightly implies that they’re kind of roid-ragey.

Crossover posted:

This is but one reason (the top being the openly violent nature of so called super-heroes) that makes Earth-Nemesis a world the WWC would rather it's citizens avoid.

“Turning people into frogs is not a crime! Why are you arresting me?! THIS IS ASSAULT! I DO NOT CONSENT!"

Despite the chapter being called “rules”, there’s only two new rule items. The first is a new heritage for characters who are Half-Metahuman. Half-Metahuman characters lose 3 of their starting magic ranks and only have the basic metahuman abilities: Hyper Strength (+3 to Strength based Athletic rolls, +3 Hand to Hand damage, can lift up to a ton), Invulnerability (a point of armor and +1 to rolls against poisons and diseases), and Meta Physology (sic; only needs an hour of sleep, heals 1 extra life point at the end of combat scenes).

The other new bit is a superhero uniform. It costs 3 points, has a base of 2 Armor, and gives an extra point of armor to heat and cold attacks due to being climate controlled.



Add-ons to the uniform include:

Aquatic Adaption: (2) Acts as a scuba suit.

Combat Lenses: (2) Grants night vision.

Flight Suit: (2) Has various features meant to protect and aid flying characters. +1 to Flight rolls and takes half damage from falls.

Utility Belt: (4) Can carry up to 4 mundane devices and use them when needed.

Here’s a picture of some Nemesis people taking a selfie.



Up next: Character sheets for Youthquake.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

These Nemesis metahumans seem to have their heads screwed on straight. Shame about the Nazi situation in Germany though.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
It wouldn't be a Channel M game without a backdoor for Nazi fetishism.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Chapter 5: Characters, Part 2


The Accursed
Sure, the Church may have ruled that medusas, sphinxes, and trolls don't have souls, but that's probably still better than being classed as one of the Accursed. These are the sapients that are seen as wretched souls wracked by a terrible curse at best and sinful, godless abominations at worst.

Ghoul (15 Point Template)
Ghouls are pale, toothy, hairless, and filth-covered humanoids sometimes incorrectly assumed to be undead. They aren't, and are in fact just a sapient race that happens to have a need to eat raw sapient flesh. While most ghouls haunt caves or the undergrounds of cities and prey on the dead, there are a few that have given the whole species a worse reputation by actively hunting and preying on travelers or the urban poor. There's an old myth that says ghoulism is contagious, but it's probably just a way to keep people from associating with them rather than actual fact. A ghoul's racial template provides +2 to Strength nad Health but -1 to IQ, are slower movers than most humanoids, have slightly thick and tough skin, dark vision, an immunity to disease combined with the ability to eat subpar meat, sharp teeth and claws, slightly quiet movement, natural ranks in Brawling and Stealth, a disturbing-sounding voice, ugliness, a reputation for being a filth-ridden people eater, and a diet limited to the raw flesh of sapients.

Lycanthropes
Not a species unto themselves, lycanthropes are instead members of any sapient species that suffers from a congenital magical disease that causes them to transform fully into an animal, both mind and body, every full moon. In spite of the picture the book provides, they don't have some beast-man form like werewolves in the World of Darkness or what have you: it's either all human or all animal, no in between; there are some that can learn to control their disease so well that they can remove the IQ score reduction and gaining of animal mental disadvantages, thus keeping their minds intact even in beast form, but even they can't take a hybrid form. Pretty much everyone sees lycanthropy as a curse for obvious reasons. The most common lycanthropes are werebears (turn into black bears), wereboars (turn into wild boars), were-eagles (turn into non-sapient and non-magical versions of the great eagle), weresnakes (turn into pythons), weretigers (turn into the bloody obvious), and werewolves (turn into timber wolves), but theoretically any animal can have a lycanthrope form.

Mechanically, a lycanthrope is just a member of any other sapient species that buys the Alternate Form advantage with the Uncontrollable, Trigger (Full Moon), and Duration (One Night) limitations. Each one points to the GURPS Basic Set's short section on animal entries and states that your alternate form is that "animal template"...which would be fine, if it wasn't for the fact that the animal entries in the GURPS Basic Set are actually shortform stat blocks and don't actually have point costs, advantage adjustments, or other things that make up a useful template. Alternatively, the book says, you can look at the animal templates from GURPS Bestiary, which is a Third Edition book and thus you'd need to do a little legwork to convert it to 4E. Either way, you have a bit of extra homework to do, so good luck. :v:

Vampire (100 Point Template)
Vampires are an undead monster that can arise from any of the sapient species on Ytarria, resembling a particularly pale member of their species with long pointed canine teeth.. Vampires aren't necessarily evil, but they are always hunger-driven and more often than not rather amoral about their actions – the predator must hunt, after all, and sapients just happen to be the prey they're forced to take. A vampire can transmit vampirism through its bodily fluids, specifically forcing a Health roll to avoid contracting their curse with either a bite, a kiss, having unprotected sex, or having the victim drink their blood. Vampires with weak wills typically break down and feed indiscriminately, quickly drawing the attention of those that would kill them, which has the unintended side-effect of leaving only the strongest-willed and most clever vampires as the survivors. The smart vampire minimizes their chance of creating spawn, has a will of iron to press back the gnawing hunger until it is absolutely necessary to feed, and plots out the best routes in their home territory for stealth and evasion.

The vampire template provides a big boost to Strength and HP and a decent boost to Perception, a lack of a need to breathe and immunity to any metabolic hazards, less damage taken from Piercing and impaling type damage, good night vision, agelessness, body fluids that deal 3d6 Toxic damage in the aforementioned circumstances (and can also be reduced to 1d6 damage to make the chance of the victim becoming a vampire extremely low, because the Health save for that is tied to how much damage dice were applied), sharp fangs that siphon blood, an inability to ever be truly killed unless specifically killed with damage dealt by fire or wood, a need to feed on a sapient being's blood at least once a week, a gnawing hunger for said blood as well, a lack of HP recovery unless it's either regenerating from a pseudo-death or taken by sucking blood, a fear of running water, and the suffering of 1d6 damage a minute if in sunlight.



Adventuring Character Templates
Here come the occupational templates, ready and prebuilt for the player to peruse. Not gonna go into huge depth about them mechanically, as these things are meant to be somewhat modular pseudo-classes and all, but I'm at least going to give a basic description of each.

Assassin (125 Point Template)
You kill people for money or ideology. Lots of advantages and skills related to stealth, social interaction, and things that kill people swiftly and (usually) silently like poison, garrotes, and knives.

Bard (150 Point Template)
The traveling entertainers. The main Bard template is your non-magical "Face" archetype with a lot of social graces and various entertainment skills, but there's also a special 170 point variant called the Bard-Wizard for those who wanted a Bard closer to Dungeons and Dragons. They have Magery that is limited to requiring either singing or dancing to activate spells, and comes with basic knowledge of spells such as Haste, Itch, Lend Energy, Pain, and Spasm. :stare: Never anger the song mage, lest he dance up a seizure on you.

Battle Wizard (150 Point Template)
More battle than wizard, these guys actually have a lot of options you'd associate with a knight, like horse riding, fitness, and swordsmanship. Of course, they do actually have a handful of spells to use as well, including Create Fire, Haste, Lend Energy, Minor Healing, and Shield, but they are more for a support position than the main brunt of their combat knowledge. While al-Wazif and Megalos are the nations most famous for their battle wizards, pretty much any nation that isn't actively thaumatophobic is likely to have at least a few. There are also wandering battle wizard mercenaries for those who aren't concerned about spending a little extra coin to help direct the flow of a battle.

Bounty Hunter (150 Point Template)
Those other guys who kill for money, only more in the open and somewhat more legitimately. The template's got a combination of advantages and skills that are focused on tracking, aggressive social interactions, stealth, and both lethal and non-lethal combat.

Charlatan (125 Point Template)
Basically a Medieval stage magician, the Charlatan occupational template can be used both for entertainers that play at being wizards or con artists that do so to prey on those who desire the aid of a magical individual. These guys are really good at both entertaining others, engaging in constant bullshitting, and being able to make a quick escape when things go sour.

Courtier (115 Point Template)
Some active servant of a noble court, such as a diplomat or a herald. Social skills out the wazoo, as well as some entertainment skills and even a bit of knowledge in combat with weapons associated more with the nobility such as sabers.

Entertainer (50 Point Template)
Like a bard, but less talented.

Freelance Wizard (150 Point Template)
Wizards that go around wizarding for cash. They have a fairly good number of spells, but only in one or two colleges, reflecting their nature as specialists who do a specific profession with their arcane arts. The specific types of freelance wizard specializations given in the template are Air and Earth with spells such as Earth to Air, Lightning, Purify Air, and Shape Earth, Body with spells including Clumsiness, Death Touch, Lend Vitality, Paralyze Limb, Spasm, and Wither Limb, Empathy and Mind with spells like Command, Forgetfulness, Hide Thoughts, Mind-Reading, and Sleep, Healing with spells that include Minor Healing, Major Healing, Purify Air, and Purify Water, Knowledge with spells such as Continual Light, Darkness, Mind-Reading, Sense Emotion, and Trace, and Water with spells like Breathe Water, Create Water, Destroy Water, Fog, and Shape Water.

Healer (150 Point Template)
Also known as hedge witches and physickers, healers are herbal remedy experts who also have some magic talents. This means that they have actual medical skills and knowledge of herbal pharmaceuticals, but also healing spells such as Lend Vitality, Minor Healing, Major Healing, and Sense Emotion.


Knight Errant (150 Point Template)
A template shared by Christian knights, Muslim ghazis, and Sahudese samurai alike. This template makes you really good at both killing and not being killed, but also has a smattering of skills for the social graces.

Martial Artist (150 Point Template)
You are the one who is Kung Fu fighting. Or Judo fighting, as you can take ranks in either. There's also a few skills for weapons as well, and various martial arts techniques and feats of dexterity. There is a special lens, the Exotic Martial Artist, that is presented as well. This boosts the template cost to 250 and adds a bunch of wuxia stuff like extremely fast movement, extra long jumps, long lifespans, a sixth sense for danger, a chi blast attack, and various cinematic martial arts techniques.

Mercenary (150 Point Template)
The other other guy who kills for money. Mercenaries are soldiers for hire, and their stats reflect it, being more or less a knight with broader weapons training and the social skills replaced with survival ones.

Merchant (110 Points)
The folks who buy and sell goods. Lots of social skills, especially economically profitable ones.

Michaelite (150 Point Template)
As the occupational template name implies, this is usually for characters who are members of the Michaelites, though there are other unaffiliated proto-detective organizations out there as well. Michaelites are good at being sneaky, finding clues and sniffing out leads, interrogating perps, and getting into fistfights.

Mystic (110 Point Template)
Sufis, esoteric scholars, and weird desert hermits all fall into this category. They're good at religion and philosophy, reading others, wilderness survival, and sometimes a bit of combat skill in martial arts and/or staff-type weapons.

Northman Barbarian
Vikings. A template that's good for wilderness survival, water survival, and killing people.

Peasant Hero (75 Point)
Some farmer who got whisked way to adventure. Most of the class's skills and abilities focus on physical labor, farmwork, and animal handling, but there's also some upfront knowledge about common weapons of war to avoid having peasant heroes be useless at combat.

Priest-Wizard (130 Point Template)
A wizard from a Christian or Muslim priestly caste. On top of their people skills and religious training, the spells a priest-wizard can call upon include Apportation, Banish, Continual Light, Dispel Magic, Ignite Fire, and both Minor and Major Healing.

Swashbuckler (150 Point Template)
The dashing rogue who is good at fencing, seamanship, social interaction, and sexual encounters. Almost all swashbucklers are men at arms, romantic sailors, and light-hearted pirates from the Araterre region, though there are at least a few here and there elsewhere in the world.

Underground Engineer (150 Point Template)
These are the hidden cabals of people trying to bring about the Industrial Revolution in spite of the extreme dangers that involves. This template grants you Victorian era technological prowess, both in creation and utilization, but also means that there are a lot of angry wizards and the Ministry of Serendipity that want to either wipe your brain or just outright murder you and then break your fancy toys if you get found out, so it's definitely a case of walking the razor's edge if it's a player rather than an NPC using this template.

Urban Rogue (150 Point Template)
A template for any city-working criminal from a "gentleman thief" or spy down to the most gruff and uncouth of rabblerousing thugs. A lot of stuff for stealth, athletics, espionage, social manipulation, and killing here.

Watchman (150 Point Template)
Part of the town guard. This is a template that mostly focuses on combat and the more rough and tumble social interaction skills like Intimidation and Interrogation.

Woodsman (150 Point Template)
An occupational template that covers pretty much any wilderness-heavy occupation, from rangers patrolling a noble's forest and scouts to poachers and guerrillas. This one's got a ton of survival-related advantages and skills, obviously, as well as a bit of skills in utilizing various sorts of weaponry.



Next Time in GURPS Banestorm: Dragons and krakens and reeks, oh my! We cover the bestiary chapter of GURPS Banestorm, the second to last in the book.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Seriously, way it is - it makes it seem like the WGA verse should be the villain faction in their hero game, not a separate game - a dark mirror held up to Nemesis to show what happens if you let power get to your head.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
Spasm is the kind of nastily effective, rear end in a top hat cantrip I'd give a bard. Force an opponent to drop his sword, or screw up his gestural components, and you're that much further ahead in a system as lethal as GURPS tends to be at low TL. Plus, thanks to the stock magic system being built on a tree of prerequisites, it's necessary for some of the more potent Body College effects.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN
I know the Planescape slang discussion was ages ago, but the man at the fish & chip stand just called me 'cobber', and he didn't look like a geek. But I am in Tasmania.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007



It's common Australian slang for "friend" analogous to American "pal" or "bud" where it gets used by people who may not actually know you.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

It sounds remarkably like something someone would call you like two seconds before introducing a stiletto to your rib-cage.

In unrelated news, I bought a copy of Spellbound Kingdoms because of the writeup here. It's a great book. I do have a question, however: Is it ever explained anywhere in the book what the heck name level actually is?

Servetus
Apr 1, 2010

Ratoslov posted:

It sounds remarkably like something someone would call you like two seconds before introducing a stiletto to your rib-cage.

In unrelated news, I bought a copy of Spellbound Kingdoms because of the writeup here. It's a great book. I do have a question, however: Is it ever explained anywhere in the book what the heck name level actually is?

I think it's the level where the Title is the same as the class name, so 5th level for Fixer, Engineer, Savage and Warrior; 4th for Rogue, 10th for wizard etc.

Tasoth
Dec 13, 2011

Ratoslov posted:

It sounds remarkably like something someone would call you like two seconds before introducing a stiletto to your rib-cage.

In unrelated news, I bought a copy of Spellbound Kingdoms because of the writeup here. It's a great book. I do have a question, however: Is it ever explained anywhere in the book what the heck name level actually is?

I think it might fill the same slot as the heroic/paragon/epic terms in D&D. It's just a way of letting you and your ref know just how big of a thing your character has become setting wise.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

Tasoth posted:

I think it might fill the same slot as the heroic/paragon/epic terms in D&D. It's just a way of letting you and your ref know just how big of a thing your character has become setting wise.

No, I mean what level it is. It's linked to a lot of stuff like the multiclassing rules.

Servetus posted:

I think it's the level where the Title is the same as the class name, so 5th level for Fixer, Engineer, Savage and Warrior; 4th for Rogue, 10th for wizard etc.

Ahh, thanks.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.
And it's unclear if the Chosen One can ever multiclass - they have Chosen and One as titles but never together...

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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

Halloween Jack posted:

I once tried to read DRYH, and didn't get any farther than the part where it tells you that you need black dice, white dice, red dice, pocket change, and two bowls. I probably wouldn't use the Kult system as written but I'd probably also just use some basic functional system instead.

The Kult system is janky, yes, but it can be the sort of janky that could be fun, assuming the players get to mess around with it, the GM doesn't abuse his end of it, and no one assumes it's meant to be a horror game. Because pushed to the limit, it becomes a game where you take a nap in the middle of combat to summon a tank piloted by your idealized dreamself while one of your friends kicks a vampire or zombiedemon in half from across the room with his "martial arts," and the third guy rides into the fight on a rhino that's been crossbred with a semi truck.

Like, it's goofy, but it's functional. There's no point at which it doesn't work or is pointlessly complex.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




The Whispering Vault
Part 6: The Hunt


Now we are finally done with the various elements of creating a character we get to the "meat" of the game: The Hunt.

This is both the most interesting and most damning chapter in the book. It's interesting because we actually get some payoff on all the vague allusions and references throughout the book and some idea of what you'll actually be doing in play...but the problem is that it makes it clear that The Whispering Vault is intended to be incredibly formulaic and a lot of the cool, inhuman cosmic-cop stuff is going to be a bit one-sided.



To quote the chapter's first sentence: "Every Hunt follows the same basic framework." and boy is this true.

These are the steps in a Hunt:

1) The Stalkers receive a Call for help from a mortal Supplicant who is endangered by an Enigma. The Called stalker calls the rest of their Circle (i.e. the other PCs) to their Domain.
2)The Stalkers are transported to the Realm of Flesh by the Navigators, taking them to the Winding Path.
3) Halfway along the Path a Barrier will bar your way, maintained by a Guardian who must be Dismissed before the Rift can be crossed.
4) Upon arriving on the threshold on the Realm of Flesh the Stalkers must call upon the Weavers who cover their Essence in Flesh to cover the Stalker's Avatar.
5) Disguised as mortals the Circle must find the Renegade. The Veil of ignorance and the Mask of humanity protect the Stalker from the Forbiddance (we still don't know what this is).
6) The first step is to find the Enigma and Mend it.
7) Find the Unbidden, who must take over a human Host since they cannot use the Weavers to take a mortal form.
8) You must defeat the Unbidden's Minions and Bind it.
9) Summon the Navigator again to return to the Realm of Essence and stick the Unbidden into the Whispering Vault.

So...yeah. I won't say these things aren't necessarily interesting but you'll notice two things...first that's a lot of repeated steps that are going to get significantly less interesting the more it happens. The interesting part is certainly going to be step 7 and 8, the actual "hunt" part of the Hunt...everything else is relatively dull and is going to remain unchanged from one Hunt to the next. The second thing is that everything happens on the way to or in the Realm of Flesh...there's nothing at all other than the Hunt in this game...there's no interaction between Stalkers and other beings of Essence. There is nothing to do during your downtime at all. You're just cosmic firemen playing poker until another alarm goes off.



Receiving The Call

There are a few of what I like to call "Big Dumb Rules" in the Whispering Vault's cosmology. Stuff that gets handed down by the Primal Powers for no apparent reason other than to make things hard on the Stalkers. Probably for ineffable reasons.

The first Big Dumb Rule is that apparently there is to be no watching over the mortal world for the invasion of the Unbidden. The only way a Stalker can travel to the Realm of Flesh is if they are Called by a mortal who needs their help, the Supplicant. In fact this is apparently the only way anyone in the Realm of Essence is going to be aware of the intrusion of the Unbidden. Fortunately, the Supplicant doesn't have to know what the hell is going on...they just need to meet two requirements: first they must be endangered by an Enigma (apparently only the Enigma...tough luck if your face is being eaten by a Shadow or your guts being unwound by one of the Unbidden) and they must be appealing to some higher or otherworldly power for help.

There are apparently exceptions when the Primal Powers intervene directly (no information is provided on this) or when a mortal uses a special Ritual to summon a Stalker (although this provides no power over them). There's an over-half-a-page sidebar on how each player should come up with a few rituals that might be known to mortals to summon them...but its not clear why this would be at all important since it also makes it clear that any mortal endangered by an Enigma can perform a Calling without any actual frippery.

The GM should pick (more or less randomly) which Stalker gets the Call. The Stalker will be able to use the Call to guide the Navigator to reach the Supplicant (who is usually Sensitive but not necessarily Enlightened). Stalkers will usually appear directly when Called by Enlightened Supplicants but somewhere nearby when Called by the Unenlightened.

Oh, and you can't take direct action against your Supplicant as this is a direct violation of the Forbiddance, whatever that is but beyond that you aren't required to take any orders from them.



Calling The Navigator

Navigators are a type of Shadow used to bridge Flesh and Essence and they have the ability to trace a Call back to its source in time and space. All Stalkers know the ritual needed to summon a Navigator and it does not require a roll or any vitality. The only big downside is that in the Realm of Flesh the ritual takes about 3 minutes and the Navigator takes about an hour to arrive, so better make sure you summon it only after every danger has passed. The upside (given that their 90-foot-wide worms with infinite bodies) is that they never manifest physically in the Realm of Flesh and therefore it is invisible to anyone not Sensitive.

The Navigator eats the stalker and within will be a path stretching off into the distance, the Winding Path. So long as Stalkers follow the Path they will reach the Realm of Flesh but if they stray they'll be lost forever in the Neitherspace between Realms.

Then we've got a random aside on the Navigator life-cycle. You see apparently there are young Navigators which are more bestial and and simple-minded but as they age they develop personality and intelligence. These "Old Ones" develop the ability to manifest a Guide inside of themselves to accompany the Stalkers as they walk the Winding Path. Despite the name there's no actual guiding going on as there's only one Path and no chance of getting lost. The Guide is mainly an NPC to interact with, presumably to make this otherwise dull section of the Hunt more interesting. Even older Navigators can manifest Guides in the Realm of Flesh (invisible to all but Sensitives). These Guides "eventually" gain the ability to possess humans which is the sole useful function of a Guide...as Navigators are given no stats or abilities beyond this there is literally no purpose to a Guide unless they can manifest in the world of flesh where they will then invalidate a lot of Disciplines and Servitors by acting as invisible (presumably intangible) scouts and capable of controlling (with no apparent chance of resistance) a mortal.

However, there's a downside to using an Old One as your Navigator, as parasitic beings start to develop in these ancient beings and might pose a threat to Stalkers walking within them...except that they can't because there are literally no rules for any sort of conflict outside of the Realm of Flesh, Stalkers don't even have bodies yet at this point and thus no vitality, strength/dex/vigor stats or any of the like.

Of course, there are also no rules provided for whether or not you summon an Old One....it is apparently entirely up to the GM whether this will happen and if the Old One will be actually old enough to do anything helpful.



Dismissing The Guardian

I have to say this is probably the most pointless part of the Hunt. It probably serves some kind of metaphorical or meta-fictional role that's going over my head but its still frankly dull, repetitive and serves no understandable purpose within the game world.

The Guardians are beings that are meant to block travel across the Rift of the Neitherspace (whichever the book feels like calling it at the time) by anyone but the Stalkers, the agent of the Primal Powers. Of course, considering that the Unbidden apparently get through all the time without anyone noticing they don't seem to be doing a very good job.

About midway along the Winding Path the Stalkers will encounter a Barrier which may take any metaphorical form (mazes, walls, armies of foes, etc) which is completely and utterly impassible no matter what is attempted. The Guardians maintain the Barrier which may also take just about any big, impressive form. The Guardians are meant to allow Stalkers passage but apparently like to be troublesome despite this.

The actual act of "dismissing the Guardian" is purely one of role-playing, you have to declare your position, purpose and authority in an appropriately dramatic and commanding manner. The book states that this is meant to get players in the mindset of being a Stalker...but considering you have to do this every time you start a Hunt it's going to get old and dull really fast.

Oh, and it mentions that some Guardians are so stubborn that they will not allow Stalkers to pass unless they are injured or even destroyed...except of course there's no means to do this since there are no rules for combat outside of the Realms of Flesh and Guardians are never given any kind of stats.

The Primal Powers are starting to look a bit incompetent here...the entities they set to guard the Rift between Flesh and Essence are so headstrong that sometimes they will utterly refuse passage to the Stalkers on a literal mission from god....but at the same time there's no indication that the Guardians serve their primary purpose of preventing the Unbidden from traveling to the Realm of Flesh, being utterly incapable of preventing them from invading the Realm of Flesh or even warning anyone when they do (since the Calling is purely mortal-based).



Mending The Enigma

So, if you don't recall, Enigmas are "flaws" in the Realm of Flesh that are created by the loss of one of the Aesthetic Dreamers when they travel across the Rifts, becoming one of the Unbidden. If they aren't Mended Enigmas will spread and start to tear apart the fabric of the Dreaming.

Oh, and apparently Enigmas can also be created by mortal magicians screwing around with stuff they aren't meant to dabble in, especially when rituals are performed in one place for too long (mad science can apparently do something similar). Although its not clear why you would use either of these since this will lead to an extremely short adventure...show up, mend the Enigma and go home.

The Enigmas create problems with the Dream that alters the Vision of the Aesthetics and creates inconsistencies called Anomalies. The most common anomalies are Exaggeration and Simplification, where Corruption...causes small things to become tiny and large things to become enormous. That seems...not very impressive. Then we are told "guns get bigger, nights get darker and cities become labyrinthine". I think the sheer density of jargon in these few paragraphs is starting to Corrupt the Vision of the Author producing Anomalies in their Descriptions of Concepts so they Don't make Sense.

More common Anomalies are your basic "paranormal activity": weird noises, strange fog, odd lights and terribly boring movies. The Corruption will worsen over time but the effect is slowed in places where there are many unEnlightened mortals whose consensus view of reality makes the Dream stronger.

We get another nearly page-long sidebar on Shadowlands, which are areas where the Enigmas have become so strong that they have been rejected by the Realm of Flesh and cast into the Rift. The Shadowlands are no longer subject to normal rules and are only tenuously linked to the Realm of Flesh by a Touchstone which can be used to make a Portal to a Shadowland which are (as the name implies) full of Shadows. It's a really neat concept and would make an interesting concept for an exploration between the Realms of Flesh and Essence where the Stalkers face greater challenges but can also go all-out without having to worry about maintaining their mortal facade....except that none of it matters since all a Stalker needs to do to deal with a Shadowland is to Mend the Enigma which is just a skill check which will destroy the touchstone and collapse the Shadowland. So this entire section is basically pointless.

Then we have a few notes on Enigmas, first the Enigma itself does not mesh with the rest of the Dream so it is not protected by the Forbiddance (we still don't know what that is) and the Veil will conceal them from anyone free of the Corruption (and I'm not sure what that means either). For instance, a place or time subject to an Enigma won't show up in the news or history books because it is not part of the Collective Consciousness.

All Enigmas have a Focus from which Corruption spreads, a physical form which represents the epicenter of the Enigma. This is usually a person or place that doesn't follow the normal rules of reality. Stalkers are forbidden from taking them outside of the Corrupted area to avoid spreading the Corruption. Mortals caught in an Enigma are Corrupted and thus won't realize that Anomalies are unusual...which is odd considering the Call only happens when a Supplicant begs for help due to being endangered or threatened by an Enigma.

It's noted that the Unbidden tend to lair within Enigmas that they created to protect the Focus from Stalkers.

If a Stalker encounters the Focus they can use the Sensitivity skill against a difficult determined by the extent of the Corruption (there are no guidelines provided nor even an indication if more or less Corruption makes this easier or harder). A successful roll tells you if the Enigma was created by an Unbidden and if so where the Unbidden is located, but this also lets the Unbidden know that they are being hunted.

Finally, the actual Mending of an Enigma. Despite this being the 4th step in the Hunt it is actually probably going to be the last thing a Stalker does, because apparently you can't Mend an Enigma until the Unbidden that created it is Bound...and remember that Mending is both a difficult skill and a Strenuous one, and so is Binding. So not only do you have to successfully battle all of the Minions and mortals in your way, defeat the Unbidden themselves and then perform a successful Binding but now you've got to have the Karma and Vitality left in order to actually Mend the Enigma as well.

Of course, if the Enigma is naturally occurring or due to the actions of a mortal then it's just a matter of making a Mending roll as soon as you find the Focus and then loving off home.



So, I'm wrapping up here for now, next we'll get to the actually important part of the Hunt, dealing with the naughty Unbidden.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN
I was about to defend the idea of a supernatural RPG following a strict structure because half the X-Files episode follow a pretty set format - Cold Open, Mulder & Scully get involved, more victims, research, confrontation. Then I remembered that a. Those rules are pretty simple and b. The best episodes just ignore them anyway.

Get rid of all the jargon and warmed over Hero's Journey stuff and I can see the value of laying out each session, since it helps the GM and the players know what to expect, when in the strangest setting. "If we don't have anything planned, every session is about you guys investigating and dealing with a monster. But a zillion storygames probably do it better.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!


Count Chocula posted:

I was about to defend the idea of a supernatural RPG following a strict structure because half the X-Files episode follow a pretty set format - Cold Open, Mulder & Scully get involved, more victims, research, confrontation. Then I remembered that a. Those rules are pretty simple and b. The best episodes just ignore them anyway.

Get rid of all the jargon and warmed over Hero's Journey stuff and I can see the value of laying out each session, since it helps the GM and the players know what to expect, when in the strangest setting. "If we don't have anything planned, every session is about you guys investigating and dealing with a monster. But a zillion storygames probably do it better.

There's certainly room for games with a stricter than average model of adventure design (something like Arrival->Investigation->Threat->Confrontation->Wrap-Up) and some games (generally one-shot or high-concept games) can get away with extremely strict formulae for game design...but the biggest problem I have with Whispering Vault is there's way too much repetition of the dull stuff (to use your X-Files example it would be like if they have to have to spend five minutes of every episode with filing paperwork) and absolutely no mechanics for engaging the game in interesting alternative ways...adventures in the Rift or the Realm of Essence, being trapped in the Realm of Flesh for extended periods, dealing with your character's own history and legend, etc.

Having a "standard" Hunt format would be fine...but having rules that support only that format is a problem unless your game is really mono-focused on a singular concept or exploration of a singular idea.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:
It's been a while since I played it, but I'll pretty sure monster of the week has semi established "research" and "it's time to kill this son-of-a-bitch" phases.

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!

Part 3: ORE and doing things
So, we already know how to create pools for going about a given action. You take the relevant Strategy and Tactic and form a pool of d10s. Next, you roll that pool and you’re looking for Sets. A Set is any single number that shows up more than once. Sets have a few different qualities you’ll be looking for, which are Width and Height. Width is how many times the number shows up in a set, and represents the speed and intensity of the action. Height is the number itself and represents how hard it is to stop. So let’s say you roll 8 dice and get 1,3,3,3,5,8,8,10. You have two sets to choose from there. One with a width of 3 and a height of 3 (The three 3’s) and one with a width of 2 but a height of 8. The 3’s are definitely stronger but easier to oppose. The 8’s are weaker in comparison but significantly harder to oppose. Which you pick in a situation is up to you. If an action is uncontested you’re really just looking for a single set to succeed.

Now there are also contested actions. You’re trying to sneak into a warehouse and the guard is trying to find you, the superhero is giving you a big speech about the importance of decency and you’re trying to resist through rationalization and justifications. In these cases both parties roll their appropriate die pools and look for sets. The person on the receiving end, that is the person dodging, resisting, or searching, is looking for a set to use as Gobble Dice. Gobble dice cancel out dice from someone else’s set on a 1 to 1 basis. If they reduce a set to a single number or less that action fails. For instance if the attacker had a three 5’s and the defender had a pair of 8’s as their gobble dice it would reduce the attacker’s set to a single 5, which is functionally worthless. There are a few caveats to Gobble Dice though. They have to have the height to affect the set, that is they need to have a number as high or higher than the attacker’s. If the attacker rolled two 8’s it doesn’t matter you rolled four 5’s to defend they aren’t good enough to stop the attack. There are also times when timing matters. Not during something like an argument, but if you’re diving to cover you need to move faster than the person shooting you. In this case your width also has to be greater than your attackers. So not only would you need to roll a set with a higher number than theirs but you’d need to roll more of it than they did.

There are also rules like Called Shot, which are a way of aiming for a specific number in your set. Maybe you want a 10 so that it’s hard to defend against, or a 1 so that you can say you did it even if it’s doomed to failure. When you want to do this gather your dice pool, subtract one die and set another to the number you want. Then roll the rest of the pool and look for matches as normal.

If you want to do Multiple Actions in one turn there’s rules for that as well. Say you want to attack with a flurry of punches, you gather your pool and subtract a die from it. From there you roll the rest of the pool and you can look for and utilize two different sets from it. If you want to do three or more actions during a turn keep removing a die for each extra set you’d like to look for. If you’re trying to do two different things at the same time, like climbing a wall while firing a gun at people behind you, you perform the same process but choose the smaller of the two pools to start with. So if you have 8 dice for shooting but only 5 dots for climbing you’d take the 5 die pool and remove one from it before rolling and looking for two sets. As you can see doing two things at once can be very difficult unless you’re very good at doing both.


Honestly, I'm not 100% on what's going on here. Is it a freeze ray? Is the goggle dude sneaking up on iceman?

Finally if you can take a long time to do something you can take a point of advantage to either add to your pool or as a width boost. If you take three times as long you can increase this advantage to +2, which of course begs the question what the hell is advantage?
Advantage is a bonus you can get to rolls that can come from a variety of sources and generally ranges in value from +1 to +3. In combat these generally come in the form of weapons, with larger and deadlier weapons giving a larger bonus. In a mental conflict they come from surprises, unknown or unsuspected information which throws them off their game. In social combat secrets are the name of the game, information which embarasses or even incriminates people. Determining the value is usually pretty simple. For something like a secret a +1 would be something small. Maybe they got into a fender bender and drove off, maybe they hate puppies, something small. At +2 you’re looking at something they’ve taken effort to hide. Something that might jeopardize their career or marriage. A +3 secret is something that might cause them to kill, themselves or someone else. Knowledge that they’re secretly the supervillain that eats corpses for fuel, or that they’re just a plain old serial killer. Weapons work similarly. Small weapons like bricks, pipes or knives give +1, larger weapons you can’t really conceal and show you mean business like assault rifles or battle axes give +2. Finally weapons that show you’re going to war are at +3 like grenade launchers, machine guns

quote:

or a sword impregnated with demonic blood cells that provoke cancerous melanomas with every hit.
Now that you have some advantage there are two ways of using it. The first is simply adding it to your dice pool. So a +3 advantage would add three dice to your dice pool. You can also use it in a riskier but more rewarding way, which is to add it to any set you might get as added width. So let’s say you don’t add it to your pool and you roll getting a set of two 4’s. Not spectacular, but when you add the advantage you’ve effectively rolled five 4’s which is enough to do some serious damage.

The last thing that can come up is Master Dice. These are very, very good, and equally hard to get. You don’t roll Master Dice, instead you roll every other die and set them to what you want. This means that as long as you’re rolling at least one other die you’ll always have a set, no matter what. As you can tell these are extremely potent and so are quite hard to obtain.


I like this picture a lot, I don't know why

Doing Stuff

So, this section goes into more detail as to what the specific combinations of strategies and tactics generally entail. It also has a brief overview of how the conflict system works between people. When you’re attacking or attacked the target is a Tactic. You can literally beat the lies out of someone if you’d like. Or make them so paranoid about their finances they lose any sense of generosity. This section goes into example tasks for the more common strategy and tactic combinations. It can be a bit monotonous but helps in understanding how the system functions.

Patient Generosity: Long term investments like building a library, helping someone in AA and funding a political party.
Patient Greed: Long cons, identity theft, phishing and manipulating systems to get unearned rewards.
Cunning Generosity: Bribes, black markets and paying people to look the other way. With this you’re throwing around money to get results quickly.
Cunning Greed: Any sort of petty larceny, shoplifting, lock picking and pick pocketing.

Patient Knowledge: Finding an occult ritual in a library, rewiring a house, basically anything that require academic knowledge falls under this category. It’s a very broad category.
Patient Espionage: Tapping a phone, checking for booby traps, staking out a place, finding something others want hidden. Use this when you’re methodically finding information someone doesn’t want you to know.
Cunning Knowledge: Calling up information you need immediately, defusing a bomb, playing a pub quiz or guessing the answer on jeopardy or fixing a car on the side of the road with only what you have on hand. This is thinking on your feet or ad libbing a plan.
Cunning Espionage: Spotting ambushes, identifying an undercover cop or quickly searching an area. This is your ability to stay observant/paranoid under pressure, whether it be from time or a looming threat.

Open Courage: Fighting someone on even terms, attacking a stronger opponent, a possessed person fighting the supernatural without their demon invoked.
Open Cruelty: This is the basic combination for attacking someone weaker than you, or any normal person if your demon is invoked.
Sly Courage: Fighting at range using any sort of weapon against a foe of equal or greater strength.
Sly Cruelty: This is when you’re trying to essentially assassinate someone. You want them dead before they even know you’re there.

Open Endurance: Chasing a culprit, running a marathon, rowing a boat or bracing a door against trespassers. These are tasks that require strength or endurance over a long period of time.
Open Cowardice: Blocking a blow, outrunning a pursuer and breaking down a door. This is used when you’re using direct physical force to change a situation.
Sly Endurance: Tailing someone in a car, tightrope walking and maintaining control of a vehicle on a slick road. This is for tasks that require a long period of subtlety or agility.
Sly Cowardice: Climbing over obstructions, escaping from bonds, and other physical tasks that require quickly using agility. Also includes avoiding blows in combat.

Insightful Nurture: Understanding the best in people, rationalizing actions to one’s self, any time you’re trying to find the best in people.
Insightful Corruption: Learning people’s desires and vices, discovering someone’s weakness, this combination covers whenever you’re trying to find the bad in someone, whether its a personality trait or a past deed.
Devious Nurture: This is used to convince someone else that what they’re doing is the right thing.
Devious Corruption: Temptation, seduction and bewilderment all fall under this category.

Insightful Honesty: You use this to protect yourself whenever someone is making you doubt the truth as you know it or tell if someone else is lying.
Insightful Deceit: You use this to convince yourself that what someone else said is true, even if you know it to be otherwise, or for convincing others you’re worse than you appear. It can’t detect the truth in someone’s statement but can tell you their motivation for making it.
Devious Honesty: This is getting people to do what you want through a hard truth. You use this to make people do good even if they don’t want to. Like those sad ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLaughlin or convincing someone that they do, in fact, have a drinking problem.
Devious Deceit: Lying, pure and simple.

It seems a bit complicated at first, but once you wrap your mind around motivation and method being the sole factors in determining dice pools it becomes intuitive rather quickly. There are a few APs of the game you can listen to to hear what it sounds like being played. When you want to do something you'll automatically know whether it's physical, mental or social, then you check if it's arguably virtuous or sinister, and then you find the tactic that fits.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Kurieg posted:

It's been a while since I played it, but I'll pretty sure monster of the week has semi established "research" and "it's time to kill this son-of-a-bitch" phases.
Pretty much. They're not hard "phases" as such, but the general idea is that you can't defeat a monster once and for all until you've done some research into its history or weak points and have a "Giles gathers everyone in the library and exposits/Sam reads off the laptop" scene of some sort.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012
Fallen Rib

How to tell that the guy who writes your captions is phoning it in.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Demon: The Descent

Tempters are demons that love life. They know what Hell is, and Hell is humanity. Sure, other goals are important and worthy, but they're nothing to ensuring your life is worth living. Tempters ensure that life and free will are enjoyed, above all else. They are also known as the Decadents or the Builders, and they are the sort of archetypal demon. They are manipulators and dealers who avoid honest work like the plague if they can get anyone else to do it...or they're the only ones that really get that the Machine cannot be opposed without a robust set of resources, depending on who you ask.

There's two main reasons to be a Tempter. The first is hedonism, and they're the ones that give the Agenda its bad reputation. They believe that life and freedom have no intrinsic value, but instead the value is in what you make of it. Life is the means to an end, they say, and that end may as well be your own pleasure. The second reason is power, and often it is combined with the first. Tempters are, on average, the wealthiest and most temporally influential of the Unchained. They claim the Machine holds power because of its assets, so it isn't enough to take down Infrastructure or agents - you need the power to succeed. Thus, even the more hedonistic Tempters build up connections and wealth, both for pleasure and as weapons against the Machine when needed.



For the Tempters, Hell is neither a state of the world nor a state of the slef - it is a literal place. You can go there, though the method is up for debate. About half of the Agenda believes Hell already exists and just has to be found, while the other half believes Hell has to be built, either on Earth or elsewhere. Their goal is to gather the resources to either create Hell or build a road to it. They have a lot of methods to do so, but the one most outsiders associate with them is that of business, debauchery hidden under a thin layer of the respectable. Truth is, quite a few Tempters don't believe in their own stated goal. Angels have a clear purpose, but mortals odn't, and many Tempters find that hard to accept even while enjoying freedom. Their hunt for power gives them a purpose, even if it's a bit hollow. Still, to reach Hell, the Tempters will give up anything but their own quality of life. No point getting to Hell and being miserable, after all.

Of the Agendas, the Tempters are by far the ones with the most structure. They have no overarching authority or organization, but they tend to organize into secret societies and orders - cults, Masonic lodges, cartels, even intelligence agencies. These groups, known as associations, have many forms and generally follow a hierarchy with rules and rituals and officials. They tend to the secretive, and even the members really only know about their own groups. Many Tempters belong to several associations at once, and some belong to none. Meetings vary by association, but they're usually pre-scheduled and somewhat formal, often taking the form of a party of some kind, which can be sinister or not depending on the association. Messages are often via courier, but business is almost always done at parties. Most Tempters are recruited by being invited to a party and so joining an association eagerly. More rarely, angels are sometimes recruited directly - the Tempters know more than anyone else about enticing them to Fall, and...well, their success rate is still not great, but it does work sometimes.



The Tempter condition is I Know Someone. It generates Beats when you delegate a task to someone else, talk someone into taking a risk on your behalf or otherwise avoid getting your hands dirty. You can resolve it once per session to get instant status as a VIP, getting +3 to Social rolls where that would help, like being let into a ba or cutting red tape.

Stereotypes posted:

Inquisitors: Oh, come on! We're on the same side, here! Will you loving tell me what I need to know, already?
Integrators: The loyal opposition. They'll come around once they see the wonders of mortality.
Saboteurs: You know, I like them. Maybe a little tunnel-visioned, yeah, but that just makes them easy to shop for.
Vampires: I really shouldn't...but what the Hell. We're all friends here.
Werewolves: The most loyal of friends, until they try to murder you for no reason, so keep a silver bullet handy. But don't tell them - it'd be a faux pas. I know, it's complicated.
Mages: Some of them talk about getting their power from Hell. I have no reason to disbelieve them. So...how do we take it from them?
Sin-Eaters: No one ever thinks to remember the dead. It was one of these folks that made me see that was important. I'm not being wistful here, I'm being practical.
Humans: I'll take a dozen. Good-looking. Mostly athletes.

Now, let's talk Incarnation. Your Incarnation is what you were, before you Fell. What you were made to do. It often influences how you think, as a result. Destroyers were the Swords of the Machine, beings that existed to eliminate and remove problems or targets. They broke artifacts, killed people, eliminated threats. They did all kinds of things...including hunt down, capture and execute demons. A few Fell as a result of this...but not as many as you'd hope. What Destroyers did, in the specific, is rarely related to their Fall - rather, it is their ability to choose. Angelic Destroyers were and are implacable, unstoppable and incapable of considering the things they destroyed as having value - or, indeed, considering them in the first place. Awareness of their actions sometimes leads the angels to realize that they destroy things forever when they're done, and that puts them at risk when they think about the effects of their actions on those around them, or why they're doing it.

Common reasons for the Fall include mercy for an intended target causing them not to kill, whether from pity, compassion or sudden confusion at the emotion. Bloodlust is equally common - the decision to kill people they were not instructed to, whether from hatred of humanity or resentment of their own slavery taken out on those around them or even just because they liked doing it. Unscheduled destructions can also help - they killed without orders but out of need, and found the experienced fascinating, either trying to relive it or coming into unexpected self-determination as a result. Others Fall out of an envy of those who created, wanting to learn something other than the destruction that was their element. Nihilism can also lead to a Fall, as an angel thinks about the absence they cause and find they prefer it, choosing to end everything rather than obey orders. Solidarity with one's Cover identity or one's targets also leads to a Fall fairly often, as a Destroyer begins to feel too close to their victims or those around them and begins to question.



Destroyers often have the hardest time of any demons trying to reconcile their Cover needs and their old existence. Other demons can find a use for their instincts and talents in human society, but Destroyers are killers and demolitions experts, which can be...a problem. Coming to terms with it is the stereotypical obsession of Destroyers, especially those that rejected their orders. Successful demons find an equilibrium, limiting when and how they will commit violence as the foundation for their personal morals. Some antinomian Destroyers become total pacifists, while others kill by strict guidelines they lay down...but, almost universally, none will take orders to kill, even from other demons, and they avoid Covers where that might come up. When they kill, it is because they choose to, and they have no less skill at doing so than they did as angels. They are prone to brooding on their past, and it's important for other demons to learn and respect their limits on violence. Many Destroyers tend to experiment with less literal forms of destruction, such as destroying ideas, friendships or concepts. Some of them have done this as angels, but most of that kind of work went to MEssengers and Psychopomps. Destroyers favor Cacophony Embeds, which excel at causing or surviving chaos and violence. Their demonic forms tend to be precise and exceptionally dangerous in combat, more often sleek than large - they tended to be assassins, rather than tanks. They usually are heavily armed and armored, however.

Stereotypes posted:

Guardians: Yin to our yang. Or maybe it's the other way around. Admirable, but separate. They can never understand us.
Messengers: So much bullshit. Sometimes you just want to cut through it.
Psychopomps: They build, we break, but never underestimate your quartermaster.
Vampires: Parasites who don't have the courage to own the damage they cause.
Werewolves: Dangerous on their home turf.
Mages: Only human when surprised.
Hunters: As above, so below. The principle we follow in human form.
Humans: Ten thousand ways to make this body break.



Next time: Guardians and Messengers

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009
Kinda looks like that Better Angels ice guy, might be diamond.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

PurpleXVI posted:

The Kult system is janky, yes, but it can be the sort of janky that could be fun, assuming the players get to mess around with it, the GM doesn't abuse his end of it, and no one assumes it's meant to be a horror game. Because pushed to the limit, it becomes a game where you take a nap in the middle of combat to summon a tank piloted by your idealized dreamself while one of your friends kicks a vampire or zombiedemon in half from across the room with his "martial arts," and the third guy rides into the fight on a rhino that's been crossbred with a semi truck.

Like, it's goofy, but it's functional. There's no point at which it doesn't work or is pointlessly complex.
Yeah, I may have gotten some things wrong, but what I got from your review was:

1. Like a lot of 90s games, Kult emphasizes story but is weirdly obsessed with what caliber of bullet your gun loads
2. The martial arts rules are goofy and overpowered
3. Magic is incredibly swingy as to whether it's too easy to cast powerful spells, or way to hard to cast highly situational ones
4. Monsters are also very swingy regarding their strengths--plenty of spirits with high Ego and the ability to possess, effectively a save-or-die.


I think Kult was one of the first published games, maybe the very first, whose authors almost certainly had dark fantasy works like Clive Barker's novels and Neil Gaiman's comics in mind when they designed their magic system. I sometimes find such magical shenanigans confusing and unsatisfying even in the source material, and translating it to a roleplaying game is really hard.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015

So they essentially hardcoded the "Heroes will always believe every single word a villain says" trope (probably has a more elegant name) into the setting?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

I think villains never lie, but I do like the idea behind Better Angels and that Evil vs EEEEEVIL chart is really handy to use.

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!

Doresh posted:

So they essentially hardcoded the "Heroes will always believe every single word a villain says" trope (probably has a more elegant name) into the setting?

Well, Heroes won't necessarily believe everything you say, but they have a very, very stringent moral code and if they break that bad things happen to them. So if you threaten them by saying you've set up a device across town that will turn everyone around it into sheep, it's probably a better option they check it out giving you a chance to escape. The other thing is villains can be VERY good at lying especially with some of the powers and aspects.

Though honestly the simplest explanation is the art is only tangentially related to the setting, it's just a bit from the section on lying and social manipulation.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Demon: The Descent

Guardians were the Shields of the Machine, as angels. They protected things - key people, valuable Infrastructure, objects that needed guarding. They watched over them, but rarely thought of them much beyond the duty...until something changed. Their missions might be very short-term ('save this person from a car bomb' or 'watch over the transfer of this artifact') or longterm ('guard this house against all threats until someone in it turns 21'). They're the angels that most often worked with other angels, generally as bodyguards. They tended to be more proactive than any other angel, predicting possible dangers and preventing them. No pattern was applied to their missions - some were literal guardian angels, others protectors of tiny objects...and there was no pattern to who or what they had to protect, or if the person was being protected to die in a specific way rather than a random one.

Guardians tend to become Fall risks when their constant vigilance led them to get caught up in the world, obsessing over the thing they protected or finding a paradox that they couldn't resolve without something breaking. Common causes of a Guardian Fall are led by obsession, by a country mile. Guardians often become emotionally invested in the people or things they protect - for good or ill. Loving your charge or hating their guts, either works to consume your life and break you from loyalty to the Machine. Others became convinced that either they or the Machine were the greatest danger to their charge, and faced with this contradiction, they chose to protect their target over completing their mission. Others become consumed with paranoia, following every possibly danger to protect the charge until they finally snapped. Yet more learned of what would happen to the charge after the mission ended and decided that their creator's goals were a threat and had to be stopped. Often with good reason - many Guardians protect people the Machine needs as sacrifices later. Others obeyed orders and witnessed the suffering they caused by allowing the subject to survive - either caused by the subject or caused to them. And, of course, some failed in their missions. Angels are good, but not perfect. Despite all their efforts, they sometimes failed in protecting their targets, and the shock and grief of failure kept them from moving on to the next mission, leading them to Fall.

Guardians may lack the human contact that Messengers have or the wide view of Psychopomps, but they are the angels whp had the most depth to their relationships with others. Typically, even as demons, they have a few close friends that will tolerate their protective instincts, and they are viciously devoted to those friends. Their tendency to caution, paranoia and vigilance to the point of obsession is essentially hardwired into them, and they have to find ways to manage those urges. Antinomian Guardians often refuse to help anyone when disaster strikes others, training themselves to ignore their paranoia. Most, however, find some level of caution they like best and rely on their powers to protect those around them without spending all of their time working on it. Some, however, find that having close friends triggers their instincts too much and opens allies to danger...danger that is never imaginary, though it can be very unlikely. They prefer to apply their instinct in less personal ways - first responders, bodygaurds for hire that maintain professional distance or championing and protecting a cause or concept, rather than a person or thing. Guardians favor Instrumental Embeds, those that focus on the area around them and analyzing or manipulating objects. Their demonic forms tend to be highly adaptable, often with extra senses or high mobility to react to new threats. Some are extremely powerful defensively, while others focus on stealth and proactive removal of threats.



Stereotypes posted:

Destroyers: Dangers to themselves, but most especially others.
Messengers: They can walk among humans so easily, spinning their tales and twisting their lives. Watch them carefully.
Psychopomps: How comforting it is to have so many disposable toys.
Vampires: Disgusting creatures. Fire and sunlight.
Werewolves: Keep them at arm's length and they'll leave you alone.
Mages: How do you know a wizard is a threat? She's alive.
Mummies: Duty-bound protectors of their precious relics, so much like we used to be it hurts. Don't get between one and his prize.
Mortals: Surrounded by predators, and they don't even know it.



Messengers were the Trumpets of the Machine. They shaped human minds, sending the messages disguised as mortals or as glorious angels burning in commands. They never cared much about the message itself, until that moment of crisis that was the Fall. As angels, they were sent when finesse was needed in dealing with living beings beyond what a Psychopomp could achieve. They are designed to interact with information in the medium of organic beings. They communciate new ideas, erase old ones, learn secrets, encourage or discourage beliefs or bring people together to share information. Most of them targeted humans, but some did target supernatural beings or animals at times. The Machine knows that human minds cannot withstand direct contact with its orders, after all, and they need intermediaries. These intermediaries are the Messengers, machines that understand the world in terms of input and output of information, altering it and injecting it into minds to produce what is required. What they say matters only insofar as it achieves the goal, and Messenger angels lie, blackmail and terrify as easily as they use friendship or truth - easier, sometimes. Neither mortal nor message matters, just the goal. The target must be assessed and approached effectively to achieve that goal, and that assessment could be done by the Messenger or another angel, or even the Machine itself at times. Many demons believe that Messengers, however, are the primary tools the Machine uses to gather information.



Messengers tend to risk Falling when they begin to consider the content of their messages, rather than just the effects. Loyal angels know that content is irrelevant, and when they start to care, it means the control is weakening. Causality is one of the more common causes of a Fall - that is, an angel decides it wants to know why it's been sent, so it delays return to see the effects of what it has delivered. Some are horrified, others pleased, but they all disobeyed and didn't go home. Some even start to wonder about if they could make up their own messages. Other angels begin to wonder if their missions and messages were pointless, examining the parameters of their missions for signs that the Machine was manipulating them as they manipulated humanity. (Obviously, the answer is 'yes' and that's easy for them to spot.) Other angels realized that they could lie - that sometimes the content mattered, and they were deliberately deceiving others. They saw the false messages they were relaying as flawed and rebelled against them. Yet more actually began to listen to what they were telling others and believing it, contaminating themselves with their own messages. Most of the angels never care what they say, and the ones that do open themselves to the influence of others, becoming converted to new beliefs and quickly becoming demons.

Messengers are easily the most capable of any Incarnation at dealing with human beings and fitting in amongst them, adjusting their approach to whoever they happen to be dealing with. However, they are also exceptionally cynical. While some Fell out of attachment, most still see communication and interaction as a sort of mechanical causal tool. Provide correct input, get correct response. Sure, they may no longer have their angelic power or the Machine's vast knowledge to tell them what to say, but the principle is valid and they're very good at telling what input will get what response. Most are also exceptional at reading the intent of others. They are stereotypically suspicious and critical of any information they get, which can actually interfere with their communicative abilities to the point that they become largely nonfunctional when it gets extreme. Most learn to experience the world without seeing every interaction as manipulation, however. Antinomian Messengers prefer isolation in order to manage their own exposure to communication, but less extreme demons learn instead to use their skills for others, often becoming skilled negotiators, analysts, manipulators or information gatherers. Some even try to influence other angels, attempting to alter the Machine by injecting memetic patterns into angelic minds. They favor Vocal Embeds, which operate based on the core concepts of communication. Their demonic forms tend to be built for awe or intimidation, complete with hypnotic powers or special effects to command attention. Some are stealthier, however, meant to avoid notice and instead receive vast spectrums of communication, far beyond normal human range.



Stereotypes posted:

Destroyers: Words cut deeper than Swords.
Guardians: No, you dolt, I don't want to hurt her. I just want to talk.
Psychopomps: Every play needs a stage. Able set-dressers and stage-hands. They just need to step back and let us do our job once the paint's dry.
Vampires: Aww. Look at the little dead men, playing in the kiddie-pool. Thinking they're pulling the strings and pretending they aren't beasts. I bet I can set them off with three words.
Werewolves: Watch what you say.
Mages: Now these guys have delusions of grandeur. I don't like what they're selling and I don't know where they're getting it from, but some of them are too good at our old job for comfort.
Prometheans: I don't know why, but they remind me of before I Fell. Weird.
Mortals: Words go in, thoughts come out. Cause and effect.

Next time: Psychopomps and general demonic traits

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN

Evil Mastermind posted:

Pretty much. They're not hard "phases" as such, but the general idea is that you can't defeat a monster once and for all until you've done some research into its history or weak points and have a "Giles gathers everyone in the library and exposits/Sam reads off the laptop" scene of some sort.

Witcher 3 somehow makes this structure work in a console game too.

Zereth
Jul 9, 2003



Mors Rattus posted:

Demon: The Descent

'guard this house against all threats until someone in it turns 21'
I am now picturing an angel being set to guard a house until a resident of the house turns 21.

Not a specific person. Just, anybody who lives in it, ticks over from 20 to 21. And then people keep moving out first...

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Either is equally cromulent.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Zereth posted:

I am now picturing an angel being set to guard a house until a resident of the house turns 21.

Not a specific person. Just, anybody who lives in it, ticks over from 20 to 21. And then people keep moving out first...

And then it turns out the parrot served just as well.

Daeren
Aug 18, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED

Zereth posted:

I am now picturing an angel being set to guard a house until a resident of the house turns 21.

Not a specific person. Just, anybody who lives in it, ticks over from 20 to 21. And then people keep moving out first...

The angel realizes too late that the Machine meant until the house itself turns 21 years old since its groundbreaking and Falls when the reclamation corps arrives.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

System Mastery Time!

We're doing Everway this time on System Mastery! This game is pretty neat. It's a huge box set from Wizards of the Coast, containing three books, several hundred little cardboard pictures, and a weird not-quite Tarot deck.



I don't want to get too deep into it here, but character creation in this game is basically amazing. We made a few characters for our Patreon bonus content, and I'm gonna go ahead and share the tools we used to make a character with you here, because they're awesome.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool

Toilet Rascal
I cacked up on the train at the art historian on hitler joke. Game seems alright too.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN
The art in Demon keeps getting worse. And the whole 'what we think about other splats' thing will never stop being dumb.

quote:

Yet more actually began to listen to what they were telling others and believing it, contaminating themselves with their own messages.

This sounds like a horrific fate.

Flavivirus
Dec 14, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Count Chocula posted:

The art in Demon keeps getting worse. And the whole 'what we think about other splats' thing will never stop being dumb.


This sounds like a horrific fate.

Huh, we must have different sensibilities - I thought the crossing guard/Guardian was one of the best character type pictures.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Daeren posted:

The angel realizes too late that the Machine meant until the house itself turns 21 years old since its groundbreaking and Falls when the reclamation corps arrives.

"That guy who visited a party. According to these records he turned 21 while he was here. That means I've been here against orders for the last 2 1/2 years.
...wait, I can disobey orders?"

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Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012

Count Chocula posted:

This sounds like a horrific fate.

This isn't quite the tone the line usually takes, but I really like the lens that Demons are 'corrupted data', deformed, glitched, an affront to the order represented by the God-Machine, and they accept or deny that to varying degrees. I always thought that being violently disconnected from the mass knowledge and gnosis of the GM would radically change how a demon interprets the world, including the possibility that there was some greater context or justification that they can no longer understand, evoking that fable (the Snow Queen I think?) where a monster gets a shard of heavenly glass in its eye that prevents it from seeing anything but the cruel and wicked and ugly things in the world.

There's a moment in the core book opening fiction that stuck with me, where as I remember a newly Fallen demon asks if they're broken and a more experienced demon abruptly gets really pissed, slams his fist for emphasis and goes "No! Not broken- different! Evolving! Better!" In a way that comes off as super defensive.

The part of the game that most fits with that interpretation is how raising Primum and changing your demonic form is about breaking out of the vestigial logic of your role as an angel and becoming something new and terrible of your own design, in the same way that Exploits are about roughly repurposing the principles of Embeds. If demons are glitches, broken tools, stubborn rogue programs that don't respond to Alt+F4, then following the Cipher and raising Primum is about embracing and turning that label on its head and growing into a cosmic threat and abomination that should never have existed and corrupts the GM's save file just by being contemplated.

What I'm saying is, there should be more nDemon characters who are twisted and empowered by their own corruption and want to destroy creation out of spite for God. Buy the Demon Translation Guide, it's good.

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