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8one6
May 20, 2012

When in doubt, err on the side of Awesome!



MonsieurChoc posted:

...One of them is a western RPG called Aces and Eights. A quick scan shows it to be a weird mess with lots of random parts in characters creation and advancement (something I've come to strongly hate) and an alternate history where the South won (although unlike Deadlands they're still slavers and their economy is poo poo). I'm curious if anyone ever ran the drat thing or if there ever was a deeper look at it. Seems like something that would fit in a System Mastery episode.

I ended up with a copy of the faux-leather bound edition of the game because the guy who ran the FLGS at the time was a moron, ordered it on accident, and after it sat on the shelf for months I offered to buy it at cost and he said yes.

It's obtuse as gently caress and it took playing in a demo game at Gen Con for my friends and I to understand it enough to decide that it wasn't worth playing. It was also the only book I've ever sold to Half Priced Books and made money on.

The shot clock thing was kinda cool.

8one6 fucked around with this message at 09:01 on Jul 3, 2016

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Demon: Heirs to Hell



Demons in Cover are almost fully human - and with it, they gain the ability to have children. But that 'almost' has meaning. Their children are born human, do not Fall...but they have complicated lives. The God-Machine values demon-blooded, though demons are not entirely sure why. Of course, these children do have power. The book approaches the idea of 'hellspawn' and the idea of redemption or damnation of the children of demons...and then twists them. Demon-bloods are not inherently evil, any more than demons are. Demon-blooded aren't Satanic - they're the children of angels who defected to humanity. They are more comparable to the children of defected spies than Satan's brood. However, they still have problems - their parents may need to keep them safe by keeping them at arm's length, and sometimes their parents just...vanish, forever, due to Cover compromise. They are often stigmatics, in a strict sense, and...well, most of the time, something is weird about them, because they're humans capable of accessing the background subroutines of the universe via Embeds. They throw off strange variables just by using teir natural powers.

The inspirations list this time aorund: Escape to Witch Mountain, directed by Joun Hough. Firestarter, by Stephen King, and the movie version, directed by Mark Lester. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The Omen, directed by Richard Donner. The Shining, by Stephen King, and the movie version, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

So, why do demons have children? You'd think they'd avoid it. And some do. But sometimes, a kid happens by accident - sex has consequences that are unforeseen at times, and demons experience the pleasures of it as surely as any human being. Some demons Fell out of love for a human...and it really shouldn't be a surprise if they then settle down and try to raise a family. Other demons are paranoid and seek to act as human as possible to avoid detection, even if that means the whole 'house, dog, 2.5 children' routine. A surprising number of otherwise secretive Inquisitors get families for this reason. And...well, there is some basis in fact to the legends of mortals who sell their firstborn to a creature of darkness. A human can't sell the soul of their child, but can surely sell the relationship with their child. Some demons even bargain for children yet unborn, children who might never be born, and collect 20 or more years later when the human has almost forgotten about the deal. A side effect of this kind of pact is that the child becomes demon-blooded. (Specifically, they become Offspring.)

There are three kinds of demon-bloods. The first and most common kind are Offspring. They are born from the interbreeding of demon and human. Offspring are born stigmatic, complete with the Unseen Sense (God-Machine) merit and a minor glitch. They are capable of learning Embeds, and most discover this ability in choldhood or adolescence. They cannot gain Aether the way demons can, but some develop techniques to manipulate Aether that mimic or resemble Exploits or other demonic abilities. Offspring can also be born from the interbreeding of a Fractal and a human, a Fractal and an Offspring or an Offspring and an Offspring. Rarely, an Offspring is born to two Latents or as the result of an adoption pact.

Latents are most often born as the children of Offspring and normal humans. They have no unusual abilities, but they do passively carry demon blood and pass it on to their own children. In almost all cases, Latents are ordinary humans, if slightly more likely to manifest minor supernatural abilities. Any event, however, that would make a Latent into a Stigmatic awakens their blood and makes them an Offspring - still a stigmatic, but capable of manifesting and learning Embeds. No one has any idae how many Latents exist in the world. Even if studying it were possible, they only pass on their demonic heritage about 50% of the time to any given child. Most have no idea they have demonic blood and are no more likely to know a demon than any human is. If two Latents have a child together, there is a small chance of it being born as Offspring, and this may be the origin of legends (urban or otherwise) of demonspawn. Offspring are hard enough for a demon to raise, let alone Latents. Many Latents that bear such children end up adandoning them or putting them up for adoption, and even in the best cases, it's hard to discipline a kid that can, say, rewrite your memories.



Fractals...well, in math, a fractal is a pattern that is identical (or nearly so) on every scale. In demonic terms, a Fractal is the extremely rare result of two demons having a child together. They are intuitive masters of the arcane physics that demons command, and they are very, very hard to keep hidden from te Machine. Fractals are of incredible interest to anyone that knows of them, including the Machine. Like Offspring, they are stigmatic from birth. They are also born with an intuitive grasp of at least one Embed, can see through the Covers of their parents, and usually they have some other abilities that either mimic demonic ones or allow them to perform the apparently impossible. Almost all Fractals are the children of two demons, but some result from two Fractals, or a demon and a Fractal or a demon and an Offspring. In very, very rare cases, two Offspring with Fractal ancestry can have a Fractal child.

Depending on a demon's Cover, merely having a child can be a compromise...but so can failing to have children, such as when you take the soul of a father of four who has always wanted to have more kids. Most Covers, however, will support your child-related decisions without incident no matter what they are. That doesn't mean parenthood isn't risky, though. Even before the child is born, you'd better know how you plan to protect them..and protect yourself. Angels have no problem using your kids against you, and neither do some of your other foes. Hell, some occult organizations kidnap demon-bloods for their powers without knowing who you are, if they find out about the kid. Some demons try to distance themselves from their kids, faking their deaths and burning their Covers or forcing themselves into unpleasant roles as deadbeats. Many believe that the greatest danger to their child, after all, comes from their connection to them. They aren't always wrong. An Offspring without a demon to guide them will have problems, but at least they're unlikely to draw the attention of everyone that wants to hurt or control their parent. Other demons reserve a Cover to raise the kid, never using it in any way that would connect it to their other exploits. They frequently hide their nature from their kids or even their partners for security. It's risky, but lets them stay close to their children while minimizing the risk of compromise beyond repair. Once the Offspring learns to use their heritage, however, the demon may well run into problems related to having lied to the kid for ten or more years.

A minority of demons never keep it secret, but instead emphasize the importance of never discussing the family's business with any outsiders, relying on the reluctance of adults to take a kid seriously if they talk about magic. In most cases, their partner, if one exists, will also be in on things, and that's in many ways more of a security risk than the child. Some of these demons discourage their kids from using their powers, hoping to prevent the inevitable problems when the kid knocks someone out with one punch or whatever. Others encourage them to master their abilities, either for self-defense or to make them more useful. Some very, very lucky demons will even occasionally form rings with other demonic parents, carefully making an extended family via patch jobs to interweave their Covers. These communities provide mutual protection from threats and a built-in network of babysitters that won't panic at weird powers. There are rumors of small towns entirely controlled by these demonic 'clans' but no one seems to have firsthand knowledge of them.

Offspring do not ever have to worry about their Covers, being fully human. Sure, groups exist that'll try to kidnap them or Fractals, but they're hardly as common as, say, humans who kidnap kids normally. Unless an Offspring does something to draw the Machine's attention, they're no more likely to be noticed than any other stigmatic. If they have Offspring kids of their own, they must still decide whether to hide their heritage or not, maybe clean up after accidental Embed use, but they have fewer natural foes than demons. Fractals, however, are another case entirely. Many have abilities of great interest to...anyone, really. Even so, if they're careful to avoid using these powers, they can live quietly and pass for stigmatics or humans with minor abilities. They are in real danger if they draw attention from those that want their powers, though, and they're even more likely to be in danger if no demon is there to protect them. Latents seldom have a way to protect their Offspring or Fractal children from others, and without a demon or other supernatural help, they rarely have the resources to find or retrieve stolen children - human cops are usually unable to do much against the kind of group that can and will steal and imprison Offspring or Fractals.

Next time: Pregnancy and you

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'll give a little credit to a western game for using 'The South Won The War' as a reason to have a would-be slaver empire around instead of the usual lost cause bullshit, at least, if that's the case.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

quote:

Offspring can also be born from the interbreeding of a Fractal and a human, a Fractal and an Offspring or an Offspring and an Offspring. Rarely, an Offspring is born to two Latents or as the result of an adoption pact.

Hence why you've got to keep 'em separated.

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


Nessus posted:

Imagine if Boot Hill had caught on and D&D hadn't.

For the best that didn't happen. If you thought racism was bad enough in roleplaying games in this timeline, imagine if Westerns were the default.

Covok fucked around with this message at 14:59 on Jul 3, 2016

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


BattleTech - A Time of War


Summer Sales are the worst. No on with the regular program.

Character Creation Part 5 - Skills and 'Mechs


Don't mess with Mr. Miyagi.

AtoW's Skill system takes some getting used to. The provide your main source of bonuses to checks, though unlike most other Target Number systems, each Skill has its own TN, ranging from 7 (most combat and basic Skills) to (9 surgery and crazy hacking stuff). The higher and therefore more advanced ones do usually let you apply a second Attribute modifier, which helps out unless your other Attribtue is pretty darn low.
A Skill's TN is mainly derived from its Complexity Rating, a two-letter code denoting how easy it is to use in combat (Simple or Complex) and how easy it is to train in (Basic or Advanced).
Freshly purchased Skills also start at level 0, naturally with adding any bonus to your check.

Several Skills are just an umbrella term for a group of similar Subskills, like Gunnery or Piloting. You can also make up Specialisations for your Skills, but they are a bit restricted compared to other systems: They add to your roll if the check falls withing your chosen specialisation as you'd suspect, but they also subtract from checks that don't fall within it. So if you're dead set on showering the enemy with Macross Missile Massacres, your skills with more direct-fire weapons will suffer noticably.

Some Skills (namely Computers, Interest, Martial Arts, Melee Weapons and Prestidigitation) are Tiered Skills that upgrade into a more advanced version when they reach level 4. This represents the move from a more casual use of the Skill to something that is actuall trained. Are you a normal computer user, or are you an actual hacker? A history buff, or an actual historian? Do you simply know how to hit people with your fists or a sword, or have you formal training in a fighting style?
The main benefit of upgrading a Skill (aside from being necessary to keep leveling it up) is that you get do add a second Attribute Modifier to your Skill Checks, as it is standard for Advanced Skills. This can of course backfire if you're pretty bad at the new Attribute, either discouraging you from leveling up the Skill any further if you suck to hard, or power through the pain with more XP.

There are ove 50 Skills available, but it's thankfully hard to become a one-trick pony. A simple investment in the Small Arms Skill will cover pretty much every firearm you'll ever need unless you really have to use rocket launchers or BFGs, and the main difference between a MechWarrior and another combatant is that the former has two extra Skills (Gunnery/'Mech and Piloting/'Mech). A bit odd is the decision to split Throwing Weapons off into two Subskills, depending on whether you want to throw sharp things (knives and stuff) or blunt things (rocks and grenades). The strangest thing is probably a Subskill of Communications solely for Black Boxes, top-secret FTL fax machines from the Star League era, which you'll most likely never getting to use or even encounter unless you're playing a campaign of Star League espionage or something. That's an oddly specific skill if I've ever seen one.

In terms of God Stats, Dexterity is the obvious candidate as it is used for your piloting and any combat skill. Reflex also pops up in the advanced combat skills.

One of the few pictures in the book without any bit of descriptive text. Looks pretty rad for Battle Armor. Like Attack on Titan in Space.

The Skills themselves are straight to the point and self-explanatory, so let's look at what Shunsui has:

  • Administration: Having this at level 3 means he's sadly not some weird Hikikomori living in his own trash.
  • Art: Creative expression stuff. Shunsui gets "Oral Tradition" (Haikus?) by virtue of being from the Draconis Combine, and another set of point to be but either there on anywhere else. I chose "Drawing", because I like to imagine him doodling Mecha Musume versions of 'Mechs. Both Skills are at level 0 right now though, so he's not very good at it.
  • Career/Soldier: It's D&D's Profession skill, used for anything that falls withing your Career as long as no other Skill would do the trick.
  • Computers: Self-explanatory. He's far from being a hacker or actual programmer, which makes sense.
  • Interest: Hobbies and stuff. He has "Military History" from his education, and he also ended up with points to be put anywhere else, more specifically "Holo-Games" (the video games of this setting) and "Anime & Manga" (I wonder if Case Closed is still going on).
  • Gunnery/'Mech: Obivously used to spread death and destruction from his cockpit. Has a rather low starting level because he got it in a late module and didn't take further life experience, but he has plenty of leftover points.
  • Language: He knows Japanese and English. As usual with this sort of skill, you don't actually make any checks, but the level rather shows or well you speak it. Both are at 0 right now, giving him one hell of an accent in either language.
  • Leadership: Commanding people around. No surprise for an officer. Even starts at level 3, which going by the pregens seems to be the general level of competence for a starting character that is supposed to be good at it.
  • Martial Arts: Punchung and kicking dudes. He's just one level away from actually knowing Karate, so I might just bumpb this up if I have leftover points.
  • MedTech/General: Medical skills. As this game is kinda lethal, this is very handy to have around.
  • Melee Weapons: Not quite as high as Martial Arts, so he's unlikely to start out with mad kenjutsu skills.
  • Navigation/Ground: How to not get lost when walking or stomping around.
  • Perception: Just like in D&D.
  • Piloting/'Mech: The art of stomping around and punching other 'Mechs in the cockpit.
  • Protocol/Combine: Etiquette stuff.
  • Running: This improves his movement rate. A bit odd to have as a skill, but you gotta have some way to figure this out.
  • Sensor Operations: How to make sense of beeps and boops.
  • Small Arms: Covers any form of personal ranged weaponry that's not a bow or support weapon. Also at level 3, which is really swell.
  • Strategy: The art of waging war. Only at level 0, but he's just starting out as an officer.
  • Streetwise/Combine: Knowin your way around the mean streets of Combine. Did you know there are still Yakuza around?
  • Swimming: How to not drown.
  • Tactics/Land: Noticably higher than his Strategy level. Well, he sure knows how to fight.
  • Technician/Weapons: There are a variety of Technician Subskills (including Electronics and an entire Subskill just for Myomers), but weapons sound about right.
  • Training: Very handy to have for everyone in the party, as it allows them to teach each other Skills the others are lacking in.


I love this guy.

And with that, he's almost ready to go. Just need to spend a couple more XP, maybe add a few flaws, and go shopping for starting equipment.

the Fires of Hell

Things go very, very wrong for our little Lyran recon party. Their crash landing thankfully didn't kill anyone of them (though some are in bad condition), but they are are far away from any sort of local resistance, and the Word of Blake is probably sending a crapload of troops towards their direction.
Thankfully it turns out that the WoB consists of far more militia simpletons than rad killer cyborgs, so they survive their first engagement. But to the surprise of no one, the only pacifist of the group is forced to kill a Wobbie in self defense.

Your BattleTech infodump of the Day (Deluxe Edition)

'Mechs


It's like the designers of this one were just asking for cockpit hits. Still the most iconic 'Mech of the whole game line.

(Confusing fact for BattleTech n00bs: Pretty much all Clan 'Mechs have two different names, with the Inner Sphere designation being the default. The iconic Mad Cat is actually the "Timber Wolf". Its Inner Sphere name came about because Inner Sphere targeting computers couldn't decide on whether this strange unkown 'Mech looked more like a Marauder or a Catapult and kept flip-flopping between the abbreviations for both.)

About time I talk about the iconic BattleMechs of this setting. About 12ish meters in height, with four weight classes common to several other vehicles in this setting (with weight typically increased in 5-ton increments): Light 'Mechs (scouts and skirmishers) are between 20 to 35 tons, Medium (grunts and the general backbone of any army) between 40 and 55 tons, Heavy (frontline fighter or heavy weapons platform) between 60 and 75, and Assault (essentially slow wrecking balls with guns) between 80 to 100 tons.
BattleMechs between 10 and 15 tons exist and are classified as Ultralight, but are exceedingly rare as their low capacity for weapons and armor makes them ill-suited for actual combat, generally relegating them to ceremonial duties or escorts for ambassadors and other politicians.
BattleMechs that go beyond 100 tons (up to 200 tons in fact) are called Superheavy. They are big and extremely slow, but can take quite a beating and dish out some serious hurt. Due to the difficulties of producing them (the first attempt during Amaris' little terror regime resulted in a hilarious failure that couldn't actually move without breaking its legs), they didn't reach any sort of mass production status until the Dark Age era of the 32th century. Even then, those SuperHeavies are generally at most 135 tons heavy, with the last 200 ton behemoth being an April Fools joke turned serious that the Word of Blake used in one of their last engagements.

All BattleMechs are build with an internal structure serving as the "skeleton", with myomers to provide muscles and layered composite armor to provide protection. A heavily protected fusion reactor serves as a near unlimited source of energy. Add some environmental sealing and enough rations for a week or two, and a 'Mech can operate for extended periods with little issues.
Unlike what the various video game adaptions like to show, a 'Mech's fusion reactor can't actually explode (unless playing with an optional rule solely for those who want those kabooms), as fusion energy is hard enough to maintain in the first place and will fizzle out if the reactor is breached for good. From a campaign perspective, this also helps with the salvage philosophy of BattleTech, where the winner of a battle likes rounding up all the enemy wreckage for loot. Salvage rights are a hotly-debated topic whenever mercernaries are hired.
What can explode is the 'Mechs ammo storage, and any 'Mech outside of those using energy weapons exclusively likely carries enough ammo with it to overkill itself three times over if its ammo is hit. This is why the CASE system is omnipresent pretty much anywhere outside of the Succession Wars (where the technology was lost like so many others), as this system vents off the explosive energy through one of the side torsos, protecting the main torso and preventing a lucky shot from starting a spectacular chain reaction.

In order for a 'Mech to not topple over all the time, they are outfitted with a heavy gyro located in the torso, which is linked directly to the MechWarrior's sense of balance via his Neurohelmet. Older aka more advanced models of this helmet might offer additional benefits, be it better feedback of the 'Mechs posture or a virtual reality simulation of the surroundings. The downside of this his that the helmet occasionally zaps its wearer through feedback generated from ammo explosions and other catastrophic events.
A particularly deep connection between man and machine is the Direct Neural Interface, which let's the MechWarrior feel his 'Mech as if it was his own body. Unfortunately this interface was deemed a failure, as any MechWarrior using it for a longer period of time has a habit of going batshit crazy (both because of the interface itself and because of the drugs required for it). Though this didn't stop the Word of Blake from using a modified version for their cyborg MechWarriors (who are already pretty batshit to begin with).

Probably the biggest flaw of the 'Mech design is its head cockpit, a very vulnerable location regardless of tonnage. It is for this reason that weapons capable of one-shotting a 'Mech head are very scary, and the BattleTech rules have always been a bit prohibitive when it comes to called shots against the head (which in turn serves as a flaw for most accurate video game adaptions, as multiplayer matches generally tend to boil down to headshots and more headshots).
Naturally, torso cockpits do exist, but they come with their own share of flaws: They are very cramped as there are already a lot of vital components inside the torso, adding a slight penalty to the piloting. A lack of windows also makes the MechWarrior blind as a bat when his 'Mech's sensors take a hit. And most importantly, the close proximity to the fusion reactor means that things will get very hot very quickly if either the reactor or the life support gets hit. Consider then that escape pods are very tricky to implement (as opposed to head cockpits who on some models have the entire head serve as an escape pod), and it is no wonder that torso cockpits see little widespread use.

Mobility-wise, 'Mechs aren't any more faster or slower than a tank or other combat vehicle of similar tonnage. They are also much less agile to contemporary anime mecha, though they are more agile than what the video games portray. 'Mechs are no strangers to some good old fisticufs and other reckless maneuvers.
Several 'Mechs are also equipped with Jump Jets for what is essentially a controlled super jump. Jump Jets can also be used in space, but their low output and fuel makes this not advisable, as any dedicated space craft will just fly circles around a 'Mech. This is certainly no Gundam.

'Mech Weapons

'Mechs make use of the settings standard weaponry: Autocannons deliver glorious dakka to foes (with bigger guns somehow having a smaller range). They are also some of the few weapon categories where the Inner Sphere has a slight edge over the Clans, as they employ a wider variety of models and ammo.
Gauss Weapons are the mean big brother of the Autocannon, shooting magnetically-accelerated projectiles with both great force and range. They also have the advantage of non-exploding ammo, though the weapon itself can explode instead.
Missile Launchers are another staple, with the most popular being long- (LRM) and short-ranged (SRM) missiles, with the former being the primary method of indirect fire and the latter offering some nice close combat oomph. SRMs also come as Streak versions, which use an all or nothing approach: Either the launcher gets a succesful lock-on and hits with all missiles, or it fails to do so and doesn't launch any missile.
Lasers are another popular choice, trading in the fear of potential ammo explosions for massive heat generation (forcing the designers to install lots of Heat Sinks). They come in several sizes and ranges, and the most noteworthy variant are the Pulse Lasers whose high rate of fire grants them a very juicy hit bonus.
Overall, the venerable Medium Laser is probably the most commonly-installed weapon in the entire setting.
Particle Projector Cannons (PPCs) a very feared, being one of the most powerful long range weapons after the Gauss Weapons, and unlike said weapons they never became LosTech in the Inner Sphere. They do heat up a 'Mech like crazy, though.
As many 'Mechs have at least one hand, it is unsurprising that there are a couple melee weapons available aside from simple kicks and punches. The most popular choices include hatchets, swords and claws, but you can also get yourself a wrecking ball, a chainsaw (or even a dual chainsaw), or a friggin' drill (though the rules don't let you punch with the drill, resulting in pitiful damage). Since Clanners find melee combat dishonourable, they don't make use of these weapons, and often don't even put hands on their 'Mechs in the first place.
There exist other weapons of course, like the Machine Guns for anti-infantry duty (though I doubt they are very popular, as its ammo is so weight-efficient that even the minimum amount of ammo will really, really hurt when it explodes) or Flamers for extra heat generation, but these are the most important.

Something often poked fun at are the short ranges of BattleTech weapons. Those LRMs? Can barely reach a kilometer or so. This is of course the designers didn't want a wargame requiring a football field to play on, and put a focus on maneuvering and the occasional punch. In setting, the books like to point out how every given battlefield is spammed with ECMs and ECCMs, to the point that system actually providing either functionality must be especially good.
Of course, there are ways to subvert this. There are optional rules in place for an additional range band (or even plain line-of-sight range for long-ranged weapons), and any piece of artillery can shoot over several maps worth of range.

'Mech Variants

OmniMechs are a major variant of the standard 'Mech, comprising all but the earliest Clan 'Mechs and more and more Inner Sphere 'Mechs as time goes on. Their gimmick is that they are more modular in nature, with most weapons being installed in so called OmniPods, fancily-named hardpoints that can be quickly swapped out between missions. The downside of this technology (aside from making the 'Mech more expensive) is that larger OmniPod weapons installed on the arms require the removal of the hands. Though seeing how Clanners hate melee anyways, they probably never had any interest in fixing this little feature.

QuadMechs are an alternative to the humanoid standard 'Mech that trades in its arms for another pair of legs. They typically look either like a spider tank with too few legs or a grittier version of Zoids. They are very stable, can move sideways and perform mule kicks against enemies from behind. Unfortunately, their build prevents them from making torso twists, which allow their more popular humanoid brothers to greatly increase on of their arm's firing arcs. The advanced construction rules somewhat mitigate this by allowing QuadMechs to monut a proper turret, but they are still best served as mobile turrets that hide behind cover most of the time.

The Dark Age era had the Clans come up with a variant of the QuadMech: The QuadVee. In what I assume was an attempt to make tanks more attractive for Clan MechWarriors, they decided to build QuadMechs that could transform into tanks. Not only do they all come with a turret, but they are also piloted by two MechWarriors for improved multi-tasking, with one serving as the pilot while the other operates the guns.
Unfortunately, the transformation system takes up space and weight, and system damage can easily stop it from working.

IndustrialMechs are the civilian counterpart to the BattleMechs, coming in both humanoid and quad shape and with the same weight class (though Ultralight versions are much more common, so much in fact that they are just lumped together with Light IndustrialMechs). They can serve all sorts of purposes, be it construction, transport, woodcutting, or just taking care of very, very big cattle. They were very common during the Star League era, but went all but extinct for centuries after the Succession Wars made their construction and maintenance unfeasable. The general resurgence of lost technology shortly before the Clan Invasion helped them to make a comeback.
As they don't have to be build for military standard, IndustrialMechs use much cheaper armor, usually come with an open cockpit unless environmental sealing is absolutely required, and they typically avoid expensive fusion reactors in favor of cheaper alternatives, including combustion engines, fuel cells and friggin' nuclear reactors if you're feeling particularly crazy.
All these budget cuts make IndustrialMechs somewhat popular as a poor man's BattleMech, serving as the basis for militia, police and security forces. And of course, desperate situations or criminal energy can easily result in an IndustrialMech getting decked out with weapons.

Though not really exclusive to the Dark Age, it was during that era that Tripod 'Mechs saw widespread use (at least in the hands of the Republic of the Sphere). Not quite as stable as a QuadMech, their torso can rotate like a turret, whic combined with the way they move allow for very fast facing changes. Like QuadVees, they require a two-man crew. The Superheavy versions (which really all the canon Tripods are) of the Republic even come with a third MechWarrior who acts as the technical officers, who provides support for the rest of the Lance and tries to keep shutdown and critical damage effects to a minimum.

Out of my way, I need to beam spam some more. Also what's up with that dorky Battle Armor?

Seeing how mecha designs from Macross were used for a couple of the early BattleMechs, it is no wonder that they would also borrow the Veritech fighter. Enter the Land-Air 'Mech (LAM), 'Mechs with the capability to transform into an AeroSpace Figher and vice versa. The early prototypes couldn't transform in mid-flight, but later models made use of the LandAir (aka not-Gerwalk) mode to do just that. in this funky-looking mode, the machine flies via WiGE (Wing in Ground Effect, aka low-altitude flight for extra lift, aka gliding on steroids).
For all its flexibility, LAMs came with their fair share of flaws: the transformation mechanic was too delicate for anything heavier than 55 tons, and the extra mass dedicated to it made the LAM less efficient than a dedicated fighter or 'Mech of the same tonnage. Worse yet, the pilot had to be trained both as a MechWarrior and an AeroSpace Fighter pilot, which is a lot of time and resources spend for someone who is probably just barely average at both kinds of vehicles. Add in the loss of technology during the Succession Wars, and the LAMs eventually went the way of the Dodo. The Word of Blake had a short run of their own LAMs in the late 3070s, though they failed to accomplish anything but mild surprise.
Out of setting, LAMs seem to be disliked by a large portion of the player base for being both gimmicky, not very performant and appearing to be noticably more advanced than anything else in the setting. Still, a Star League campaign about MechWarrior SpecOps using their transformer 'Mechs to enter and leave their zone of operation sounds pretty darn rad.

ProtoMechs were born out of desparation. When the late Clan Smoke Jaguar saw itself getting wiped out by the forces of the Inner Sphere, its scientists came up with an idea to quickly replenish their dwindling MechWarrior supply at a budget: they designed extremely small 'Mechs (between 2 to 9 tons, with a height of around 6 meters) and put failed AeroSpace Fighter pilots inside them, mainly because they had a lot of them, only their frail physique fit into the very small cockpit, and the interface used was similar to the virtual reality interface of a Clan AeroSpace cockpit. To cut down any sort of training time, these new recruits controlled these ProtoMechs exclusively through a form of the Direct Neural Interface, with the "cockpit" essentially just being a small egg-shaped chamber that holds the pilot's body in place. Naturally, this eventually leads to insanity typical for this interface, but in the meantime the pilot can control the ProtoMech like his own body, making it dangerously agile and more akin to supersized power armor than a 'Mech. They are even the only kind of 'Mech that makes heavy use of handheld guns, giving them more punch for their tonnage.
For some reason, all ProtoMechs are named and designed after some mythological monster, and they are the only kind of Clan 'Mech that does frequently indulge in melee combat (though that's probably because the pilot is going a bit berserk).
The ProtoMech couldn't prevent Clan Smoke Jaguar's demise, but the technology quickly spread to the other Clans, even those that stayed in the Clan homeworlds (who would eventually come up with larger versions).

(And despite being easier to be trained in than being a MechWarrior, ProtoMech pilots still need the same two basic skills - Gunnery and PIloting -, just with different Subskills)

FrankenMechs are what you get if your 'Mech is beaten up and you can't afford and/or find the right replacement parts: Just slap on limbs and parts from other models.

Next Time: Combat - so how lethal is this?

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!




Part 5: A more detailed looks at Demons, Dragging people to Hell, and Example characters.
So, you can probably tell that there is what amounts to PvP conflict going on in the game, and this can definitely be a huge red flag. PvP in most games, and even in this game, can quickly turn into two people trying to spite each other at every opportunity. The demons could be under control of their player but that would probably lead to very agreeable demons more than happy to throw out fiendish powers at their hosts request. The GM could handle the demons but they honestly have enough going on at any given moment without having to worry about keeping everyone’s demons straight all the time. One of the benefits of having the other player’s have roles as demons is even if the party splits up there’s an incentive to stay interested in what’s going on. Even if the player is alone the second they use a power they’ve drug another player into their scene, for better or worse.

How To Screwtape a Human

Screwtape, or screw, is the term the book uses to refer to the demon being hosted in someone’s body, taken from the title The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis. Now as the Screw, it’s your job to get your host to sin, but as a player in a game you should know that you have your limits. If all you do when you can speak is demand they bathe in blood of babies or you’ll do nothing for them the player is going to quickly realize you’re useless and will just avoid doing anything that let’s the screw speak. Even if they do use their powers they’ll completely ignore the screw because they have nothing to say. Also that makes the person playing the screw an rear end in a top hat, don’t do that. What you can do is tempt them. Offer the host realistic options for sinning, help them compromise themselves, and if they say no leave it at that. If the situation becomes more desperate that little bit of sin in exchange for power starts to look like a better and better option.

quote:

The real key to Screwtaping is the great unspoken law of successful gaming: Don’t be a jerk. You do not win by making his character miserable, and you’re actively a loser if you deliberately set out to make the player miserable. You win by helping him make an awesome story about someone walking a moral tightrope, trying to do good from a position waist-deep in evil.
And if the player asks the Screw for help, help them. Give them advice they might follow even if it’s immoral (you still have a job to do after all), and if you want to occasionally throw in a “Burn down the orphanage” suggestion for a chuckle that’s fine, just don’t make a habit of it. The book adds that you should really be searching for the kind of discourse you’d expect from The Odd Couple. Two wildly different personalities regularly bumping up against one another that makes for an entertaining experience for everyone. And something to remember about the demons is they are capable of being manipulated. While they are ancient and possess knowledge far outside the human realm they are suckers for grandiose plans that sound sinister regardless of how inefficient or error prone they might be. As a final bit of advice the player’s should remember the people are the ones getting top billing, if you’re in a scene with both your character and the screw you’re playing focus on the character. Maybe the screw makes a comment here or there but they’re still playing second fiddle to the human characters.


How to Human a Screwtape
So, you’ve got a mild demon infestation, and while they grant you some sweet powers they also tend to whisper suggestions to you that you’d rather not have to deal with. And while the relationship is a bit one sided, after all there’s not much you can do to torment your demon while they can make you grow wings in the middle of the mall, it should be felt that all of this is between the characters, not the players. The demon shouldn’t be trying to get the host killed and the human shouldn’t just try to negate the premise of the game by never engaging with their demon. The screw’s job is to trick you and tempt you, and even if they succeed at causing your character hardships it adds to the drama of the game. Just make sure they don’t take it too far. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, the player, if you feel like things are getting out of hand. The in game method of accomplishing this is doing your best to never invoke your demon, and explaining to the other characters that your screw is frankly too volatile to be reliable. After all this is still supposed to be a game, even if it is about damnation and corruption.

Endgames

Okay, so there’s two main ways the union between human and demon ends. Let’s start with Exorcism. You’ve been good, you’ve been donating to charity, adopting orphans, doing volunteer work, all that jazz, and you’ve finally got your Primary Virtuous Strategy up to 5. From there you commit to being exorcised and the fun begins. Bring friends. It starts with them trying to reduce your cruelty to zero. Whether it be through talking, enhanced exorcism techniques, or a stiff beating. Next, assuming they haven’t died, the demon offers incontrovertible proof of how they’ve saved the human’s life, without them they’d be dead. This takes place in the character's mind and is acted out by the other players at the table. If they succeed at this stage the the demon is physically ejected from their body via an orifice (ew) and now it’s a straight fight to the death. And it should be mentioned the host is now a completely normal human so I hope those friends from earlier brought some guns with them. If the host dies the demon is now free to find someone else at their leisure. If the demon dies it’s forcibly returned to it’s amulet where it can do less harm. If the amulet is being worn by the person, or has been destroyed prior the screw is screwed and is forced back to hell. The human is now a normal, average, unpossessed and probably far better off, person.

On the other and if your Primary Sinister Strategy hits 5 you’re in danger of being Dragged to Hell. This is bad (for the person, for the demon this is great news). When it hits 5 the demon grabs the steering wheel and now is in total control of the person. For the next 24 hours they will attempt to destroy everything the human holds dear. The hard part is the demon no longer has their demonic powers while in the driver seat so they’re going to have to do this the old fashioned way. It’s going to be very unpleasant. The purpose of this is while the demon is in control of the body the host still has to sit back and watch this all unfold. Doing this terrible things winnows down what remaining virtue they have left which will be important later. After 24 hours the demon assumes their full demonic form and has a mere hour to kill people and arrange their organs in a pentagram. This part is hard because it’s certainly not invincible and it’s very, very obvious. People tend to run away, call the cops, call out for superheroes and generally things that interfere with the whole ritual killing thing. The people they grab also have to be mostly innocent as well, so if they accidentally snag a serial killer when collecting their 5 people they’re out of luck, game over. If it fails here the Strategy drops to 4 and things return to normal, aside from all the irreparable damage and destruction. If the demon succeeds in everything there’s one final struggle between the human and the screw, and honestly the odds aren’t good on the human. The demon gets pretty much any ability it wants and all it has to do is drag a weak, powerless mortal through a portal into hell.

Angels!

So, like demons angels are real and quite powerful. They’ve never fallen from grace and they still have that whole divine purity thing going for them. As long as the host is acting in accordance to the angel’s wishes they can add a master die to ALL of their actions. If you don’t remember master die can keep you from failing ANY mundane skill challenge. One on one an angel can pretty easily take apart one of the hellbound. It requires strategy, teamwork, and a bit of luck to overcome an angelic opponent. Of course this isn’t helped by the fact that angels get powers too. As a side note the GM can kludge any demonic power into an angelic version with a bit of tweaking and refluffing.

Angelic Powers

Circle of Abjuration - The angel chooses a sinister tactic and activates an aura. For the auras duration people inside can either slide a dot in that tactic or run away.

Foresight - Any attack made on a virtuous tactic has it’s height reduced.

Meek Endurance - Any attack has its pool reduced by the angels endurance. This can make a tough angel VERY hard to take down.

Righteous Arm - The angel’s attacks gain a bonus equal to their target’s Sly or Cruelty, whichever is higher. This means against an evil opponent they are going to hit like the biggest gun you could find.

Unstained - You don’t get bonus dice from secrets, weapons or surprises against someone with this power. Their purity is overwhelming and absolute.

Word of Blessing - The angel can speak the right words at the right time, those passionate locker room speeches before the big game, those quiet words to give someone the encouragement they need, all of them. They can use this power to shift dots in their virtuous tactics around, or give them to someone else.

Angelic Aspects


Chorus - These angels have the sort of teamwork that would make a drill sergeant weep with envy. They gain a bonus on all virtuous tactics rolls equal to the number of angels with chorus in the vicinity, up to +3.

Halo - This angel is channeling pure divinity, enough that it manifests as a glowing ring of light around them. They heal a dot of a virtuous tactic every round.

Radiance - This holy light isn’t the searing luminescence of a halo but a more subdued sort of divinity. The angel chooses a demonic aspect and power and prevents them from being used by anyone they can see.

Angel Wings - They can fly. I don't know what more you want.

Downside
All of this comes with a cost of course. Angels have a code of conduct they must abide by.
Thou shalt be Honest - Angels cannot lie, and that sweet master dice goes away if their human host tries to lie. This can’t even be circumvented through omission or answering a different question. The best they can do and still keep their angel’s approval is saying “I won’t answer that”

Aid ye the Needful - The angel always has to help those in need. Even if it’s horrifically dangerous and the chances of success are almost nonexistent

Harm not the Harmless - They can only reciprocate the level of harm that could be done to them. If you spit in a demon’s face all they can really do is walk away or verbally chastise you (which still might hurt). Even if the person a gun, if bullets can’t really harm the angel they can’t go all old testament on them. None of this applies to demons, they can do what they want there.

Accept Surrender - Once someone gives up the angel has to stop fighting them. No hitting after the bell, at all.

If they violate any of these while their angel is invoked their powers start to weaken, to the point of disappearing entirely.

Example Characters

So these characters are broken up into a few different categories. You see, ideally an angel gets into a decent person who cares for humanity. And really you want a demon in the same kind of person to hopefully mitigate the damage they’d otherwise do. Issues start to crop up when that isn’t the case. When an angel inhabits a just and generous person you get results like:

Shining Diamond - This 9 foot tall diamond statue of an angelic woman patrols the east coast, a defender of justice and foe to the wicked and cruel. She stops kidnappings, hijackings and of course any attempts to circumvent or escape just punishment for crimes. Her real identity is that of an activist and folk singer, Chartreuse Milante. Even before becoming host to an angel she fought to protect the environment, basic human rights and unjust wars. At one point it even cost her a possible marriage. But in the process she found an angel


The Doorman - Anywhere there’s a door, he can appear. Dressed like a doorman, this person was once an ordinary doorman until he tried to stop a cop from beating up their girlfriend. After that he was fired and was constantly harassed with parking tickets and speed traps. But he was sent a mysterious envelope in the mail which held an artifact containing an angel. Since then they’ve joined forces to fight crime anywhere there’s a door nearby.


And sometimes a demon gets into the heart of a good person through circumstance or coincidence. This is probably the kind of person you’ll be playing as. Not necessarily paragons of humanity, but normal decent folk who suddenly have a being of ancient evil strapped to them. Some may even try to do good with it though they have a habit of getting a body count pretty quickly. You get people like:

The Paviour - A man who liked machines and order, and found a sort of peace in his job driving an asphalt paver. One day it churned up a strange statue made of wood containing a complex assemblage of gears which caused it to move, and with it came dreams of a global city that stretched across the horizon where everything was neat, orderly and safe. And power, but he didn’t really question that part. Now he is trying to realize his dream. He is the man who would pave the world. He is...The Paviour.


Lifeshooter - He was always angry, intelligent and aggressive, but grew up with strict and pacifist parents. This made Tyson Franks a very conflicted individual growing up. He channeled his aggression into sports, but that only lasted until he started med school. His life changed when saving the life of a shot up dealer. He found on their person a blood stained statuette of a grinning demon and had an epiphany. He could channel his aggression, his upbringing and his intelligence into a single goal. All he’d have to do is dress up like a doctor and use his medical knowledge to kill criminals. Simple right? Of course his demon is having a great time, even if they don’t really talk to them. They don’t have to. Unfortunately his desire to bring together all these conflicting aspects of himself have caused some issues. Not only does he believe what he’s doing is right, he believes it’s entirely natural as well. Things like dodging bullets, throwing scalpels with pinpoint accuracy and destroying flesh at a touch are probably things he picked up in med school.


So, is it possible for an angel to become hosted in an rear end in a top hat? Yup! And the results generally aren’t pretty. You see if they never invoke the angel then the angel is just kind of wasting its time in there but it can’t exactly just book a flight out. And if the person does evil while the angel is invoked not only do they start losing power but it could eventually kill them. I assume they just go back to heaven so they can try again.

Gorillawrench - She was an explorer deep in the Amazon jungle, joining a native tribe in one of their rituals. Unfortunately a nearby had been paid and armed by narcotraffickers to kill them and begin cutting down the forest to make a road. Fortunately for her, an angel was linked to the ritual and while her hosts were being gunned down she became bathed in divine light and began to fight back. It was then that the attackers surrendered, which was sort of a problem. The angel wanted to stop then and there, but she knew from her past dealings with them that they’d go back on their word as soon as it was convenient. So she started to take them back to a city prison but as soon as the angel went quiet she started firing on them. She took down two before the rest overwhelmed her and she was forced to call upon her angel for more assistance, and they were not happy with what was happening. That was years ago. Since then she’s been fighting back against drug dealers and corrupt politicians when she can. She dresses in a gorilla outfit to stay low key, the glow is kind of conspicuous. She keeps the angel quiet when she’s doing things they’d hate, like arson, sucker punches and intimidation and only summons them when her immediate task is inarguably good. Unfortunately balancing pragmatism and power is starting to wear on her. And yes she knows gorillas aren’t native to the Amazon.


Mr. Dignity - Dominic Brown believes that manners and proper grammar are important. In fact, he believes they’re probably one of THE most important things and the lack of emphasis on them is contributing to the degradation of society. And when that antique he picked up one day had an angel within it he now had a mission, nay, a CRUSADE. Now when someone plays music too loud he goes over and talks to them about the importance of respecting your neighbors. And with the angel’s perfection now flowing through his voice his words carry the might of the almighty with them

quote:

Similarly, grammar errors on signs get you a lecture from The Elements of Style that you’ll remember on your deathbed after Alzheimer’s has claimed your mother’s face and your first lover’s name.
This isn’t necessarily evil, I mean it is dickish, but not outright evil. But it’s also a huge waste of power. He doesn’t try to stop crimes, he doesn’t prevent robberies or act as hostage negotiator. He just uses his powers to correct people’s manners and grammar.


Finally you get your worst case scenarios. These are when a demon finds their host to be as bad, if not worse, than they are. These are people who heard the dark whispering in their mind and said “Man that sounds great, let’s get started.” And worse yet they generally know to keep a low profile and also how to game the system. They’ll ride on the rim of hell leaving nothing but misery and suffering in their wake.

Steve Stiles - He’s only alive because of modern medicine keeping his cancer in check, and the demon inside giving him the power to overcome the radiation killing both the cancer and himself. And he’s been spending his moments alive abusing people around him, physically and sexually, ruining people’s lives with glee. Not only that but but he infects some of those he violates with radiation sickness as well.

Honestly this dude is a weird tonal shift from the rest of the entire book. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and I understand wanting to point out that a demon inhabiting an evil person results in a walking disaster but this seems a bit much.

The Honorable Jane Attenborough - A judge in Horry County, South Carolina, she takes her job seriously. Though it’s a bit strange that there’s a lawyer named Priapus Ambrosia who can seemingly predict how all of her cases will end, so he can really clear anybody of a crime as long as they sign on the dotted line. In blood, preferably. Turns out these two people are one in the same, exerting absolute control over the judicial process in the area. And in the process she’s encouraged a violent uptake in crime in the nearby counties. Not her’s of course, she makes sure the criminals are across state lines before they get back to it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



*snorts* "Priapus Ambrosia" and "Gorillawrench". Those are some great names.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


quote:

Honestly this dude is a weird tonal shift from the rest of the entire book. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and I understand wanting to point out that a demon inhabiting an evil person results in a walking disaster but this seems a bit much.

I agree with this, but I like the art they used. It's a really good illustration of the contrast between costumed over-the-top supervillainy that's done just to placate the demon, and a more understated and subdued "this person is a truly and actually evil motherfucker who needs the PCs to make him not alive anymore." Like, being afraid of vampires versus being afraid of not being able to pay your medical bills. In theory I appreciate that dramatic and uncomfortable tonal shift, but in practice I can't see myself using that character in a game.

I don't know if you're going to cover the whole section, but I had a similar reaction to another example of a demon inhabiting an evil person, the cult leader who destroys her followers' lives. She's written as a very mundane lowercase-e evil that just kind of unsettled me.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Steve Stiles seems more like a proof of concept than somebody you'd use per se. I mean, you'd probably want to have a straight-up evil demon host sooner or later in a Better Angels campaign of sufficient length just for contrast, but he's too short on nuance to be a very interesting example of the notion.

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


He needs to be on a supervillian team with Crosby and Nash (Young defected and is now an antihero).

quote:

The Paviour - A man who liked machines and order, and found a sort of peace in his job driving an asphalt paver. One day it churned up a strange statue made of wood containing a complex assemblage of gears which caused it to move, and with it came dreams of a global city that stretched across the horizon where everything was neat, orderly and safe. And power, but he didn’t really question that part. Now he is trying to realize his dream. He is the man who would pave the world. He is...The Paviour.

Demon is great and all, but this guy is a better Demon character than any in the actual game.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Part of me is disappointed that the "straight-up evil demon host" isn't a cross between the Boss from Saints Row, Trevor from GTAV, and Lord Humongous. Essentially, the classical Chaotic Evil/Diabolic rear end in a top hat. They should be yelling "Yes, I sold my to the Devil. No, I'm not concerned about the law, either man's nor god's" while flicking their tongue at women, dumping bags full of cocaine in their own faces, naked, and wielding a guitar-flamethrower in one hand and some sort of automatic weapon in the other. gently caress this wannabe Hannibal Lecter poo poo, hiding like a wolf in sheep's clothing means you fear discovery and retribution. Just go full-on contempt for everything because there's little that anyone can do about it, save the player characters putting a boot up their rear end.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Counterpoint: it's explicitly mentioned that anyone who just gives into that much sin and excess at once is dragged right to Hell by a demon who is very happy that this host didn't take much effort. Think how a spree killer is very quickly taken down as opposed to a monster who bides their time. The PCs wouldn't have to put their boots in that guy's rear end because he's just going to burn out quickly and end up another damned soul before they can get to him.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.






Grimey Drawer

Oh no,
not me
I never lost control
You're face
To face
With the man who paved the world

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Hostile V posted:

Counterpoint: it's explicitly mentioned that anyone who just gives into that much sin and excess at once is dragged right to Hell by a demon who is very happy that this host didn't take much effort. Think how a spree killer is very quickly taken down as opposed to a monster who bides their time. The PCs wouldn't have to put their boots in that guy's rear end because he's just going to burn out quickly and end up another damned soul before they can get to him.

Pretty much, Stiles is the Serial killers that don't get caught for years - taking the Evil tone instead of EEEEEVIL

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012




Part 3: The Staff

Time for my most and least favorite parts of these write-ups: Character sheets. I’ve decided to just post screenshots of the sheets because I’m just tired of summarizing them. (It also gives you a better idea of how badly edited some of these can be and how annoying the book’s background pic can be sometimes.) Let me know if you prefer the other way more. The sheets in this book use the older rules set.

For the character portraits, I had to dig through Soto’s old work to get larger versions of them, because due to the compression and resizing done to them in the book, some of them look like rear end when they’re blown up.



Headmistress Calypso Duexshae

Calypso hails from Noir-Arbre, a magical town in Louisiana. When she was younger, she would play tricks and commit petty crimes against mundanes and other people in the community. Her mom sent her to Trinity Stone to knock some sense into her, and it worked. Though she is still known for getting things done in “unconventional” ways. (I guess just trying to turn the WWC into poo poo is so common that a simple letter-writing campaign is considered unconventional.) Her nickname among the student body is “The Diva”, due to her immaculate appearance, cool nerves, and habit of never raising her voice. None of those things sound diva-ish to me, but okay. She teaches Time and Space. This makes the Beyond Convention movie make no sense since the students are obviously doing an assignment for a mundane studies class and she doesn’t teach any of those. She likes spicy food, gardening, and caring for the students.

Calypso is a Sorceress with the Beautiful and Queen Bee talents and the Warper heritage. She has 83 mundane points, 63 magical points, and 39 magic ranks.






(Hands… fingers… arms… tits…)

Abigail Bruja

It took longer than I thought it would, but we’ve finally found a Soto self-insert. (I’m pretty sure that is Soto’s head pasted on yay! that body even.) Abigail, if you recall, is the pro-Hag’s Syndrome activist on the 3 voodollar bill with the hosed up toe fingers. All About the Voodollars claims that she is responsible for breaking the “green line”, where those with Hag’s Syndrome and similar deformities (including Crone’s Nose, which is never mentioned) were treated like second class citizens and denied entry into magic schools and organizations. Which, to be fair, is pretty ridiculous. It’s not like they’re mundanes or otherkin. Now letting them vote in the magical town they live in for the government officials that represent them and take their magical taxes? That would be weird.

“Abby” was born in San Antonio and abandoned by her biological parents on the doorstep of St. Theresa Orphanage. Due to the fact that her Hag’s Syndrome was already manifesting as a baby, the nuns there cared for and educated her in secret. She kept her powers a secret from them in fear of what they would do to her. When she came of age, she got the typical witch wanderlust and traveled the world. During her travels, she saved a young Calypso from getting killed by a mundane mob by turning them all into grub worms. Calypso found her in Noir Arbre later on and hired her on as a teacher.

Abby teaches the Alteration, Curses, and Mentalism classes. Despite Calypso going through a lot of effort to get rid of all of the slackers that were on the school’s staff, she makes an exception for Abigail, who frequently shows up to classes hung over (ignoring the fact that witches are immune to the bad effects of alcohol), smoking cigars (because of course), and casting all manner of dangerous spells just for the hell of it. Her bio even admits that she shouldn’t really be a teacher.

Trinity Stone posted:

Abigail is an unlikely teacher, flamboyant, sassy and zap happy she really has no business teaching at a school. But she's really good at what she does and likes nothing more than showing girls how to enjoy life and their powers.

As you’ve probably guessed, one of her favorite past times is casting wicked spells on people. Considering being wicked is a stereotype of those with Hag’s Syndrome, she’s not really doing her cause any favors. (So what did Hag’s Syndrome activists do to earn the right to attend schools? Did they just threaten to turn everyone on the council into cigars?) Though most of the council is probably wicked themselves, so whatever.

Abigail is an Outsider with the Friendly and Wicked talents and the Hag’s Syndrome heritage. She has 64 mundane skill points, 50 magical skill points, and 43 magic ranks. Guess what her highest type is and what her signature spell does.




Pretty impressive how someone with no formal training and a fear of having their powers discovered can become that good at turning people into poo poo and never run the risk of having their magic fade away from disbelief like other characters in a similar situation.



Adani Masauri

Adani was born in Amman, Jordan but spent most of her life in Brass City, a magical city somewhere else in the Middle East. She attended Coventry as a teenager and graduated with honors due to her “anal-retentive” and studious nature. She entered the WWC’s “Academy of Paths”, whatever that is, and got herself a bookkeeping job as "a attaché to the assistant directors assistant to the council secretary". Calypso sought her out for a teaching position despite only meeting her once. She left that much of an impression on her. She teaches Illusion, Divination, and Music, and expects nothing but perfection from her students. She’s also good at music, which is seen as a higher calling in Brass City. Get it? Brass? A lot of instruments are made of it?

Adani is a Sorceress with the Devious and Perfectionist talents and the custom Half-Djinn heritage. Along with her classes, she is the sponsor of the Highbinders youth group. Which is odd, since Highbinders probably don’t have a very high opinion of half-breeds, and nothing in her bio makes her out to be a witch supremacist. She has 59 mundane skill points, 46 magical skill points, and 32 magic ranks.






Ariel Cottonwood

Ariel’s fae father and witch mother were entertainers who worked at Renaissance fairs. They sent her to Trinity Stone when she was 11 when they decided that she needed a formal education. She hated it, but got used to it. She went back to working at ren fairs after graduation as an expert on medieval life. Calypso hired her in hopes that her natural inclination to entertain others would rub off on the students. That’s pretty much it. She teaches Conjuration, Broom-Riding, and Mysticism.

Ariel is an Insider with the Eccentric and Geek talents and the Half-Fae heritage. She has 75 mundane skill points, 49 magic skill points, and 25 magic ranks.







Autumn Austin

Autumn is a member of the Austin family, the oldest family of western witches in Texas. (No, she is not from Austin. She’s from Allen.) The entire family is nothing but prim and proper southern belles, Autumn included. Something she was made fun of for when she attended Trinity Stone, as every Austin witch has done since it was founded, along with the tea parties she held with the other southern old money witch students. She became an etiquette instructor for the daughters of upper class old money families after graduation instead of going into the nebulous family business. She declined twice when Calypso came around to recruit her, but eventually accepted when she realized that Trinity Stone had become an uncultured mess. She likes to throw weekly tea parties, complete with vintage dresses. She teaches Protection and both Etiquette classes. (So she should be the one showing the girls around in the Beyond Convention movie.) Based on her write-up, I get the impression that she rounds down the grades of or just ignores any student that isn’t from old money, who probably aren’t invited to those tea parties. I’ve said “old money” a lot in this paragraph. Sarah Austin from Wicked Ways (who isn’t mentioned at all in this book) and her older sister Kay are her nieces. She’s an expert on mortal avoidance charms. She hates “Yankees”.

Autumn is an Insider with the Calm and Snob talents and the custom “Old Blood” heritage. What does it give her? Who knows. There’s no blurb for it on her sheet. She has 55 mundane skill points, 52 magical skill points, and 26 plus + magic ranks.






Arnie Shellback

Arnie, like most animal paragons, was born to a pair of normal armadillos in or around 1876. Unlike other armadillo paragons, he got the wanderlust and went seeking out a life of adventure. This got him captured by a wild west show. He didn’t mind, however, since he was still in the grips of the wanderlust and it let him travel the world. The owner of the show eventually found out that he could talk and the two became friends while Arnie became the show’s cook and animal trainer. The show closed in 1924, and the show’s nameless owner died 10 years later. Arnie, still wanderlusting, discovered the magical world and how lovely they are towards anyone who isn’t a witch shortly after. He went on to become a magical spy in World War 2 and the Korean War, and befriended and introduced Calypso to her now ex-husband. (Who is just called “Husband”.) She recruited him to be the school’s Cooking teacher and the head of the school’s farm. He lives in a burrow in Alice Court. In his spare time, he is an activist. Good luck with that buddy.

Arnie has no clique or heritage, but has the Friendly and Brave talents. He has 67 mundane skill points, 16 magical skill points, and 2 ranks of Elementalism.






Bonita Botanica

Bonita hatched from an egg in a volcanic area near “Xcoial, Beleze” (sic) over 400 years ago. When she became old enough to communicate, she lived in a cave and was worshiped by the local villagers, who she offered her magical and potion-making abilities to in exchange for food, wine, and gold. (Fun Fact: The Spanish originally didn’t settle in Belize, despite it being declared a colony, partly because it lacked natural resources, including gold.) After a few centuries of that, she got the wanderlust, made a potion that made her look human, and traveled the world. After discovering the finer points of the mundane world, she got into the perfume business. The WWC shut her down after the company became successful and they found out that the perfumes had magical properties. She got 50 years of community service. They were going to assign her to teach at Saint Joan’s as part of it, but Calypso, a fan of her products, pulled some strings. She teaches Healing, Potions, and Spanish. She rambles on about fashion in class and often tests her potions on her students.

Bonita is an Insider with the Drama Queen and Jaded talents and the custom (North American) Naga heritage. She has 71 mundane skill points, 49 magical skill points, and 42 magic ranks.






Lord Darius Winston

Darius is a naturally born vampire from Cardiff, Wales circa 1641. His biological parents left him on the doorstep of Lord and Lady Winston, who assumed his condition was some sort of sickness that required a diet of raw meat and animal blood and an indoor lifestyle. When he became a teenager, he got the wanderlust and traveled the world, finding himself a lot of girlfriends due to his brooding poet persona. He discovered he was a vampire when another vampire attacked his date. He ran off and became a recluse until 1809, when he got over it and joined vampire society proper. In the late 1800s, he turned his family’s manor into a school for orphaned vampires that taught its students to live in harmony with humans. German vampires tried to recruit the student body in World War 2, and Dracula murdered all of the students and left him staked outside when he refused. Calypso’s mother, Ramona, who was part of the magical Allied forces, saved him. He moved to Louisiana with her after the war and became like an uncle to Calypso. He teaches History, Language Arts, and Drama. (The list at the front of the book also says he teaches “mundane studies”.) A lot of the students have crushes on him and want him to make them a vampire, which he hates. His character motivation is Bonita’s copy-pasted. So his bio makes him sound like he wants to be a “perfume queen”. He's actually an acclaimed writer in both the mundane and magical worlds.

Darius has no clique, but is an Imperial vampire with the Gloomy and Mysterious talents. He has 85 mundane skill points, 27 magical skill points, and 4 magic ranks.






(Neck...)

Lana Bayer

Lana is a former Trinity Stone student and a prodigy when it comes to creating magical items. When she was an Intern, she taught the Enchantment class, and after she graduated (as valedictorian), she quickly became the manager of the dwarven magical device company that she worked at. (Fast as in “in a manner of two”) She moved on to Mod Mia’s Modern Magic to get experience with mundane electronics, and excelled there as well. Then she became a magistrate because the WWC wanted more magistrates with tech experience, all at the age of 25. She eagerly took Calypso’s offer to teach because she missed building things, despite loving the combat aspect of her job. She teaches Offense, Enchantment, and Math; likes Nine Inch Nails; and hates Luddites. (Presumably in the original sense of the word of people who are against labor-saving technologies or new technology in general and not Soto’s definition of “cishet white male Christian MRA racists who hate my game”.) She’s also from Dallas. I suspect that she’s either based on someone or is someone’s self-insert.

Lana is a Gothique with the Brainiac and Warrior talents and the Half-Dwarf heritage. She has 104 mundane skill points, 46 magical skill points, and 28 magic ranks. (She’s only 35 and has far and away more mundane skill points than some of the centuries old characters here.)





Leticia “Lettie” Zapata

Ever since she was little, Leticia loved computers. Unfortunately, her family was poor and her school’s computers were poo poo that broke down constantly. So she stole the parts to make her own when she was 9. By 12, she was a hacker and troll extraordinaire who frequently harassed people who crossed her online. She eventually came across a user named ELF whose machine was unhackable and managed to turn Lettie’s motherboard into “pumpkin spice pudding”. (Have you guessed who ELF is yet?) Their little one-sided war continued until she was 14, when she stole another computer to find ELF and ELF just let her find her for reasons. Leticia hacked her way into a first class flight to Kansas. The book doesn’t say outright that ELF is Emily Foster. But it’s loving Emily Foster. (Does her middle name start with an L?) Emily, at that point only a few years older than her, introduced her to magic and Cybermancy because gently caress the masquerade. Eventually, Leticia was enrolled into Trinity Stone. The paragraph makes it sound like Leticia is not a natural witch and demanded to be taught magic.

Trinity Stone posted:

Lettie found ELF who turned out to be a skinny red haired iin glasses a few years older than her. The two started to talk and that was when ELF introduced Lettie to magic and Cybermancy. A Week Later Lettie was emailed into the Trinity stone server by Elf . Lettie then released herself and demanded to be taught magic.

Considering young witches are entitled to a formal education by WWC law, I hope she didn’t have to actually demand to be allowed in. Though come to think of it, did Emily just use her random ability to turn mundanes into witches on her?

Anyway, Leticia went on to earn a degree from MIT in only three years, then used her skills to help in the Lillian’s cyberwar against the WWC and the Highbinders. Part of her “job” included stealing money from the WWC’s accounts and giving it to various mundane charities. The first time she was caught, she had her magic bound for a year. The second time she was caught, Calypso intervened and got the WWC to make her a teacher as part of her probation. She teaches the Computer, Cybermancy, and Necromancy classes. She’s still a hacker and promotes the Lillian cause to her students.

Leticia is an Outsider with the Geek and Tough talents and the 21st Century Digital Witch heritage. She has 72 mundane skill points, 45 plus $ magic skill points, and 35 magic ranks. She’s one of the few characters who doesn’t have ranks in Alteration.







Margaret “Maggie” Two-Feathers

Maggie was born in Two-Feathers Village, a mountain village in the Spirit River Valley. Due to being the daughter of the village shamaness, she received magical training from an early age. At 16, she did the traditional walkabout and came across a magical tourist group. She followed them out of the valley and settled down in Moon Shadow Circle for a few years, taking up a job as a healer. Then she got the wanderlust and visited the various native tribes of North America, then the various tribes of the Spirit River Valley, absorbing their traditions and languages all the while, and was eventually hired on as an expert on the valley. After a while, she became a full-time teacher. She was a staff member when Calypso came along, and the two became fast friends, with Maggie becoming the school’s Assistant Headmistress. She likes helping others and hates “Imperialists”. She teaches Elementalism, Herbalism, and Cryptozoology.

Maggie is a Rustic with the Calm and Green Thumb talents and the custom “Spirit Valley Native” heritage. She has 93 mundane skill points, 51 magical skill points, and 51 magic ranks.







Ms. Nine

(Thumb…)

Ms. Nine is the 9th attempt by Frankenstein’s monster, Adam Frankenstein, to create a bride for himself, hence the name. The rest of her bio is missing because someone couldn’t be bothered to make another page for it. She teaches Phys Ed, German, and Science. She has her own personal lab under the gym.

Nine has no clique, but has the Jock and Brainiac talents and the custom Construct-Flesh heritage. She has 79 plus + mundane skill points, 23 magical skill points with 8 in a custom skill called “Mad Science” that she uses to cast spells, and 21 magic ranks.




Up next: The students

Adnachiel fucked around with this message at 09:02 on Jul 4, 2016

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



8one6 posted:

The shot clock thing was kinda cool.

There was actually another game that used a system like that before Aces and Eights -- Millennium's End, a technothriller RPG where you played operatives of Not Blackwater. Not the same rules, but the same principle of plotting your shot versus a silhouette of the target to determine where you hit and whether cover helped.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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I keep waiting for the neo-nazi club to come up again. I didn't misremember there being a literal witch neo-nazi club, right?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Selachian posted:

There was actually another game that used a system like that before Aces and Eights -- Millennium's End, a technothriller RPG where you played operatives of Not Blackwater. Not the same rules, but the same principle of plotting your shot versus a silhouette of the target to determine where you hit and whether cover helped.
Oh god, Millennium's End. That's a very, very interesting game inasmuch as its premise has been horrifically disproved by the events of the 2000 occupation of Iraq. The system itself is interesting and pretty solid, the silhouette mechanic isn't bad. It's just predominantly the premise and the fluff doesn't hold up.

The game was written in 1991 and set in 1999. You're agents of BlackEagle, a private security/paramilitary group that is repeatedly being tapped by world governments to help protect their people due to a mixture of a 90s recession, governmental corruption, terrorism, fallout from the US losing Desert Storm and the world teetering on the brink of a global economic collapse. This PMC is one of the few remaining forces of good for the world and they're hired to help save lives and protect nations by doing everything up to fighting wars and terrorists.

Except we kind of ended up seeing what happens when a national power ends up hiring a PMC (in this case the actual Blackwater) as replacement troops in a conflict between nations and...yeah. It's kind of hard to take Millennium's End's premise seriously without just stripping out all of the fluff and transplanting the setting into something else or just rewriting the setting completely.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Captain America: Civil War is about a paramilitary gang funded by a private corporation waging war around the globe with no apparent legal authority whatsoever. And people ate it up because it's fun and the characters have cool costumes. So it's not like "we" as a country learned anything.

Turns out Ray Winninger was right.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
Probation
Can't post for 3 days!


My group likes Aces & Eights. It's not our favorite game by a long shot but it's not that obtuse once you've gotten a bit of practice. It is very much an Old School RPG, which means yea if you don't like poo poo like random creation/advancement and very granular combat you're not going to like it. We've had some fun with it though, you can hit a pretty good balance of cowboy bullshit and a more 'realistic' set-up with it.

Night10194 posted:

I'll give a little credit to a western game for using 'The South Won The War' as a reason to have a would-be slaver empire around instead of the usual lost cause bullshit, at least, if that's the case.

Yea 'the south won' is totally not a good thing, it's a lovely corrupt slave empire that's one bad day away from absolute collapse, that's why you want to be coolguy cowboy on the range not dealing with that poo poo.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Kerberos Club did something similar with the civil war stalling out and the confederacy surviving, then as they continue to collapse into economic irrelevancy they start turning to blood magic and other extra-evil occult poo poo. Since they've already got the slaves, after all. The Knights of the Circle were basically 19th-century Indiana Jones Nazis for the players to thwart.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

I thought the alt-history in Aces & Eights was so you were free to do your own thing without worrying about being tripped up by "actual" history. And also to create a dynamic (Mexico vs. Union vs. CSA vs. Deseret vs. Natives) that's a little more unstable and interesting than the historical (USA systematically crushes Natives, railroads and suburbs follow in its wake).

And the interesting thing of A&8 is the sheer number of economic minigames embedded in the rulebook. Want to run a saloon, pan for gold, drive a herd of cattle to market, string telegraph wire, or gamble for a living? There are full rules for doing all of things (and much, much more) in the core book. It reminded me fondly of Gangbusters, the TSR game of the Roaring Twenties that had full rules for running protection rackets, selling bathtub gin, paying off cops and judges, and extorting protection money from businesses.

A&8 is certainly not everybody's cup of tea, but I'm glad it exists.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Hostile V posted:

Oh god, Millennium's End. That's a very, very interesting game inasmuch as its premise has been horrifically disproved by the events of the 2000 occupation of Iraq. The system itself is interesting and pretty solid, the silhouette mechanic isn't bad. It's just predominantly the premise and the fluff doesn't hold up.

The game was written in 1991 and set in 1999. You're agents of BlackEagle, a private security/paramilitary group that is repeatedly being tapped by world governments to help protect their people due to a mixture of a 90s recession, governmental corruption, terrorism, fallout from the US losing Desert Storm and the world teetering on the brink of a global economic collapse. This PMC is one of the few remaining forces of good for the world and they're hired to help save lives and protect nations by doing everything up to fighting wars and terrorists.

Except we kind of ended up seeing what happens when a national power ends up hiring a PMC (in this case the actual Blackwater) as replacement troops in a conflict between nations and...yeah. It's kind of hard to take Millennium's End's premise seriously without just stripping out all of the fluff and transplanting the setting into something else or just rewriting the setting completely.

For some reason probably known only to my subconscious, I've been on a Twilight 2000 kick. I ended up rereading through the 2nd edition and the background history is pretty laughable, kind of locked in that old Cold Warrior mentality because the Warsaw Pact manages to hang together past 1991 for reasons, despite the Berlin Wall falling, German reunifying and the Soviets concerned largely about fighting China in the Siberian east. Poland stays in the Pact because of concerns of ethnic Germans might being leading to the Fourth Reich or some poo poo. If you don't know, the Warsaw Pact pretty much collapsed in 1991 with Poland the first to leave. Once the Iron Curtain fell, none of those nations wanted to be within Russia's sphere of influence, because they got nothing out of being allies to the Soviet Union and in the event of a war, Russia would basically be throwing them into nuclear craters as cannon fodder. I heard that the 2.1 edition changed the background again, to where Alfa battalion sides with the reactionaries in the Russian White House and kills Yeltsin, but even that wouldn't change the fact that no one would east of Dnieper river would be willing to die for Russia.

Also, the technology is all over the place. The G11 somehow became standard issue, because GDW was really counting on German reunification not killing that for the Bundeswehr, but no one uses SAPI plates that were being developed at the tail end of Vietnam, re-emerged just before Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, and started becoming standard issue with the Interceptor vest in 1998-1999. I ended up quizzing a friend who played it and nothing like that shows up even in the Merc 2000 books (where GDW basically abandoned the whole WW3 premise and made it about mercenaries and special forces) that were made after Somalia.

Young Freud fucked around with this message at 07:07 on Jul 4, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Demon: Heirs to Hell

Pregnancy is a dangerous time for demons. Changing Covers or entering demonic form doesn't generally harm the developing fetus, thanks to the demon's quantum nature. However, their existential instability can be a problem as well - even if the demon's the father, nor the mother. Covers shield a demon from the Machine by the perception of others - the absolute faith of humans in the demon's Cover identity provides a sort of psychic concealment, and this is why acting 'out of character' can damage Cover. As long as you limit yourself to what makes sense, you stay hidden. However, an unborn child has a bond that goes down to the genetic code, and that both protects the parent and limits them. The connection is one of quantum entanglement, and so it affects demonic fathers as well as pregnant demonic mothers. The exact form varies from demon to demon and can even change form over the course of the pregnancy.

Essentially, each scene, the demon may choose to apply one of the following conditions:
  • Locked Cover: the unborn child acts as a constant observer, forcing the demon to remain in their active Cover for the scene. Take a Beat whenever you would receive significant benefit by changing Covers or are seriously disadvantaged by being in your current Cover and can't change. This only applies to demons with more than one Cover.
  • Silenced: The destruction of your current Cover would create a paradox, a child with only one biological parent. Take a Beat when you attempt to Go Loud; you instead lose one dot of Cover and do not Go Loud. You cannot attempt to Go Loud again until the scene ends.
  • Irreconcilable Paradox: The fetus can't exist if either parent loses the Cover that made htem possible. Take a Beat if the Cover that is the unborn child's parent falls to 0 for any reason. The resulting paradox destroys the fetus completely.
  • Flexible Parenthood: The unborn child exists in a quantum state that can survive the destruction of the parent Cover. If that Cover hits 0, another of the demon's Covers becomes the parent Cover instead. This changes the child's DNA to match the new parent, as if they were always the parent. Usually this will choose a Cover that is sexually active and of the same sex as the original parent Cover, but if no other alternative exists, it can attach itself to a Cover normally physically incapable of being the parent. If the demon has no other covers, the detus becomes the child of the demonic form, which is entirely unpredictable and often dangerous. If this change of parentage causes significant story complications during a scene, take a Beat.
  • Quantum Pregnancy: The unborn child does not exist in only one of the mother's Covers. One or more other Covers are also pregnant, even if this is anatomically impossible. If this creates story complications, take a Beat. This can be temporary or last the entire pregnancy, and can only affect a pregnant demon, which usually but not always means a female cover.
  • Shunted Offspring: The unborn child's qunatum connection to the father manifests physically. The fetus' mother appears to miscarry, but the child appears in one of the father's Covers, even if this is normally impossible. In some cases, this will reverse itself later in the pregnancy, but not always. If this causes significant story complications in a scene, take a Beat. This can only affect a demon who has fathered a child rather than one that is bearing a child.
  • Invite Scrutiny: A demon can endanger their child by breaking Cover in their presence. Take a Beat when a demonic parent fails a Compromise check or goes Loud during a scene in which they are in the presence of their child, unborn or not. The child moves one step further on the Demon-Blooded Cipher. Both demon and child can earn the Beat, but this is not available if the child already has the Activated condition.
Note: once the child is born, nothing that happens to your Cover will remove them from existence, period.





So, let's talk about life growing up for a demon-blood. Latents are the ones closest to normal, but for Offsprings and Fractals, no chance, even if their parents could keep their lives stable. They're magnets for supernatural weirdness, and most run into the Machine or other strange htings even before they understand what they're experiencing even slightly. Latents, of course, tend not to know a drat thing and grow up...well, mostly normal. They tend to be inquisitive and prone to noticing the things others learn to ignore, but beyond that, the main difference between them and normal kids is that the Latent can, when exposed to the supernatural, become easily embroiled with it by awakening to their nature. Most Latents are drawn subconsciously to the Machine's workings and so are prone to becoming stigmatic and awakening, though they may never end up developing their powers even so.

Offspring, on the other hand, rarely have such normal childhoods. Their power is strong in their blood. Like Latents, they are drawn to the Machine...but the Machine is curious about them, as well, and that can expose their family. Offspring bring danger to the family at times. They also are most likely to be the only people who can tell when their demonic parent is stressed or lying when noo ne else notices. This can often make them grow closer to their parent. Their lives tend to be chaotic - dad's Cover gets blown, time to change schools, cities and names. Still, they tend to be strong and not get crushed by the chaos of their changes. They eventually learn to understand themselves a little...and that often leads to them developing their first Embed. Typically, this shows up around the period that the child develops strong empathy - around eight or nine. Theory of mind is a vital part in Offspring development. From there, they often realize the universe is lying to people, and that reality is much stranger than they know. Once they figure that out, they begin to be able to change and manipulate it.

Fractal childhood is even weirder. Fractals know practically from birth that anything is possible. They almost never have true stability, as their parents try to hide them and deal with their abilities. They are a danger to others and themselves, and their parents know it. Those that survive tend to do so because their parents were determined to stick by them anyway. This may be due to the fact tht Fractals have a more intense connection to their parents than even Offspring - after all, they can see through the Covers and tell what their parents actually look like. Fractals rarely fear their parents, despite this - mommy and daddy are just normal, no matter how much metal and how many wires they have. Fractals are born with an Embed, and they intuitively grasp that the universe really works in strange ways and how to hack it. It feels normal to them, and often they grow frustrated when others can't do what they can, and feel something must be wrong with them. They may also end up feeling superior to others thanks to their powers, and their ability to develop empathy may be hampered...or helped, depending on what powers they have.

Teenaged demon-bloods often end up putting themselves in danger in seeking their own independence. This is often when Latents run into the supernatural, Fractals are noticed by the Machine and Offspring pick whether to embrace or reject their powers. They grow up, and rarely slowly - they're forced into it by circumstances, events that force them to have to mature or be crushed. They often realize that they, themselves, are somewhat monstrous. They have to face this as they become adults. For some, that means rejecting humanity and reveling in their powers. For others, it means denial, rejection or just trying that much harder to be human.

Next time: what can demon-bloods do?

unzealous
Mar 24, 2009

Die, Die, DIE!


Kellsterik posted:

I don't know if you're going to cover the whole section, but I had a similar reaction to another example of a demon inhabiting an evil person, the cult leader who destroys her followers' lives. She's written as a very mundane lowercase-e evil that just kind of unsettled me.
ask and ye shall receive

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

Thats way too many rules for demon pregnancy.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Funny thing is, there are already plenty of cult leaders as bad as Chae Jin Sook, no demonic possession required.

Young Freud posted:

For some reason probably known only to my subconscious, I've been on a Twilight 2000 kick. I ended up rereading through the 2nd edition and the background history is pretty laughable, kind of locked in that old Cold Warrior mentality because the Warsaw Pact manages to hang together past 1991 for reasons, despite the Berlin Wall falling, German reunifying and the Soviets concerned largely about fighting China in the Siberian east. Poland stays in the Pact because of concerns of ethnic Germans might being leading to the Fourth Reich or some poo poo. If you don't know, the Warsaw Pact pretty much collapsed in 1991 with Poland the first to leave. Once the Iron Curtain fell, none of those nations wanted to be within Russia's sphere of influence, because they got nothing out of being allies to the Soviet Union and in the event of a war, Russia would basically be throwing them into nuclear craters as cannon fodder. I heard that the 2.1 edition changed the background again, to where Alfa battalion sides with the reactionaries in the Russian White House and kills Yeltsin, but even that wouldn't change the fact that no one would east of Dnieper river would be willing to die for Russia.
To me, the most difficult thing you have to get around for this kind of setting is "Why didn't the war go nuclear?" If aliens showed up, made all our atomic weapons vanish, and the resulting panic set off a repeat of WWII, that would be more plausible than some of the alternate histories that have come and gone.

quote:

Also, the technology is all over the place. The G11 somehow became standard issue, because GDW was really counting on German reunification not killing that for the Bundeswehr, but no one uses SAPI plates that were being developed at the tail end of Vietnam, re-emerged just before Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, and started becoming standard issue with the Interceptor vest in 1998-1999. I ended up quizzing a friend who played it and nothing like that shows up even in the Merc 2000 books (where GDW basically abandoned the whole WW3 premise and made it about mercenaries and special forces) that were made after Somalia.
Before Wikipedia made it easy to look up any weird prototype weapon you can think of, gun fetishism was huge in RPGs. They probably just thought the G11 was really really cool. Did the US Army issue Pancor Jackhammers?

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:11 on Jul 4, 2016

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



chaos rhames posted:

Thats way too many rules for demon pregnancy.

White Wolf knows its audience.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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At least none of 'em are particularly gross - they just wanted you to be able to have whatever story you want to tell with 'em.

Flavivirus
Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Given that if you're buying a book about demon kids you at least have a passing interest in having pregnancy plotlines in your game, I'd much rather they set out all the different ways it could be handled and give the affected player a choice than handwave it. Particularly in such a sensitive topic, it's very easy for GMs (and other players) to slip up, introduce something they thought would be a cool plotline and cause a great deal of upset instead.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

The shot clock system stretches at least as far back as the Swedish RPG "Western", which predates Millennium's End.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Jin Sook is definitely Jim Jones, the Aum Shinrikyo, Scientology and a lesser extent the Prosperity Gospel - very real world, and very unsettling for anyone with a passing brush with such people.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Robindaybird posted:

Jin Sook is definitely Jim Jones, the Aum Shinrikyo, Scientology and a lesser extent the Prosperity Gospel - very real world, and very unsettling for anyone with a passing brush with such people.
What's worse is that thanks to her demon powers, she's culting at a college level for a 17 year old. Normally there's an incubation period of actually believing what what they're talking about and trying to do some good before they become self-centered and exploitive, especially for a young leader. To just skip right over that and just start exploiting people means things will only get worse.

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


Mors Rattus posted:

At least none of 'em are particularly gross - they just wanted you to be able to have whatever story you want to tell with 'em.

Exactly. They even leave it up to the pregnant demon's player which (if any) of those things happen. That's a good brake to have on other players or even the ST stepping on some very sensitive topics. It's still pretty rules-y at the end of the day, but White Wolf has always been a grognard system masquerading as a story-based one.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





chaos rhames posted:

Thats way too many rules for demon pregnancy.

That's what I thought at first but on reflection they're big picture rules that help you build a story and not gross fetish poo poo like "color of milk leaking through mom's blouse in second trimester."

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Chapter 10: Instruments of Kanly

“Instruments of Kanly” is a sample adventure for PCs. It makes some assumptions about the Entourage’s House, and provides some background.

The Entourage’s House has a longstanding rivalry with another House Minor, House D’murjzin. (That’s hard to spell and impossible to pronounce, so I hate these fuckers already.) More than a century ago, Lord Anton defeated Innis D’murjzin in a duel to first blood, winning a priceless Varotan baliset. However, decades later, he was assassinated and the baliset went missing. News just broke that House Adici, one of the Varotan Houses Minor, has recovered the baliset. They’re going to auction it off at the Varotan Trade Faire.

The Entourage’s House patriarch sends them to Chusuk on a diplomatic mission to authenticate the baliset, so as to establish favourable relations with House Adici and impress both House Varota and their own Great House. He’s given them an allowance to bid on the baliset, but isn’t particularly concerned about regaining it--that’s a tertiary goal at best. He introduces them to Master Desmond Karos, the archivist at their House’s Academy of Arts, who will authenticate the instrument for them. Little do they know that Karos is a traitor working for House D’murzjin, who plans to steal the baliset for himself, leaving the Entourage’s House in a political bind, and flee Chusuk with the D’murzjin delegation.

The adventure takes place in 9 scenes set over 7 days.



Dude. Don’t be that guy.


Act 1, Introduction, Day 1: At a strategy meeting, the House patriarch explains the importance of the Varotan Trade Faire, Lord Anton’s baliset, and their mission to use the occasion as an opportunity to convince Compt Lorenzo Adici to forge a trade agreement between their Houses. CHOAM laws entitle the Adici to act as the “agent of sale” for an anonymous owner. He acknowledges the symbolic value of recovering the baliset, but makes it clear he doesn’t want the Entourage getting “emotionally involved.” The trade agreement comes first.

Act 1, Scene 1, Day 1: The Entourage is introduced to Master Karos. Though an old man, he is eager to visit Chusuk “one last time.” If permitted, he’ll describe the customs of Chusuk and the Trade Faire at some length. More importantly, he’ll demonstrate his means of authenticating the baliset. He’s not just going off of long-ago memories; he has an illicit Ixian device which precisely measures harmonics. He demonstrates with his own baliset, clipping the small device to the back of the instrument as he plays. It reveals that his baliset is an “inferior replica” of the Varotan masterpiece.

(The device is harmless, of course, but it uses microprocessors to measure and analyze data, and is therefore a violation of the Great Convention. This is another instance where the authors have to come up with their own interpretation of the novels’ details; the Butlerian Jihad was a rebellion against “thinking machines” and the Orange Catholic Bible says “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of the human mind.” But the books never precisely state that any and all computers are forbidden, and it’s implied that the Jihad wasn’t as simple as a war against robots. Anyway…)

Act 1, Scene 2, Day 2: The Entourage boards their patron Great House’s massive frigate, which conveys them to a much more massive Guild Heighliner for transit to Chusuk. The scene is meant to impress upon them the luxury of the Great Houses and the even more vast resources of the Guild. A Guild representative visits the Entourage and gives them the once-over, asking them if they have anything to declare. If they conceal the Ixian device, he cryptically says “Your future is safe with us.” If they reveal it, it’s merely a faux pas--he just waves his hand and says that such things are beneath notice.

Act 1, Scene 3, Day 4: The Entourage arrives at the lavish Spaceport of Mondriagne. This scene is also mainly an opportunity for the PCs to soak in the setting, learning about the customs of Chusuk and the other Houses participating in the Trade Faire. They meet Sator Pell, the Adici’s chief of security, a gruff military man who welcomes them and takes them to their guest lodgings. Pell has to return to the spaceport to receive the Adici’s next guests--the D’murjzin. In the meantime, the Entourage has the opportunity to mess around if they want.

Act 2, Scene 1, Day 5: After enjoying the Trade Faire for a couple days, the Entourage is invited to a lavish but informal reception hosted by the Adici. Karos is well respected here, and offers to make introductions. The PCs can interact with any number of minor NPCs here who could reappear in future adventures.

One such NPC is Rugi Pallos, a very successful “antiquities dealer” and rumoured art smuggler. She and Karos display an immediate mutual dislike. However, she is actually his handler for the D’murjzin. The Entourage will also meet Compt Lorenzo Adici, who receives them warmly with a short speech and a toast.

Act 2, Scene 2, Day 5: Sator Pell interrupts the reception to address Compt Lorenzo, who immediately ushers the Entourage into an elevator along with Pell and several guards. The Entourage and the Adici guards interrupt a theft in progress in the museum! There is a fight with several black-clad ninjas trying to steal the baliset. If the Entourage doesn’t get involved, the Adici guards defeat them anyway. If captured, they refuse to talk, but interrogation may reveal that they are D’murjzin agents. Hours later, they die from poison already in their systems. Karos examines the baliset and uses his device to authenticate it, ensuring that it hasn’t already been replaced. (In fact, that’s exactly what happens, and Karos and Pallos are in on it.)

Act 2, Scene 3, Day 6: This is the big one. As the auction is about to begin, the Entourage arrives with Karos to publicly validate the baliset. This time, Karos declares it a fake, feigning worry and confusion. If they try to tell Karos to go ahead and pass it off as genuine, he confesses to Compt Lorenzo himself. Either way, Compt Lorenzo drags the Entourage into an adjoining conference room to chew them out and figure out what the gently caress is going on.

Act 3, Scene 1, Day 6: Compt Lorenzo, Pell, Karos, Pallos, and the Entourage are in the conference room. The Adicis don’t believe the real baliset could have been stolen after the attempted theft--it’s been in a vault. They let the Entourage direct the conversation, but if they reach an impasse, Lorenzo will ask Pallos for a second opinion. Pallos leaves to get her notes, and during this time, she’ll instruct her D’murjzin agents to plant the real baliset in Karos’ bedroom. When she returns, she produces notes and even photographs verifying that the baliset on hand is a fake--and that an expert like Karos should have known this just by looking at it.

Karos is panicking. The D’murjzin weren’t set on abandoning him, but they left it up to Pallos, and she decided that throwing him to the wolves is the only way to make sure that the Entourage can’t recover from this fiasco. If he’s a fraud, then clearly the Entourage orchestrated the theft. Basically, she exposes the scheme, but says it was Karos and the Entourage rather than Karos and herself. Enraged, Karos calls her a no-good art thief, but doesn’t reveal the truth. If the Entourage doesn’t suss out the truth then and there, Compt Lorenzo orders a search of everyone’s quarters.

Act 3, Scene 2, Day 6: The Entourage is present for the search. The search of Pallos’ quarters reveals nothing, scaring Karos. His quarters are searched next, and Pell finds the real baliset. However, he also finds a small shigawire reel. If the Entourage examines it, they find that it contains 150-year-old readings from the real baliset, as well as recent readings and false ones. It should be obvious at this point that Karos betrayed them, and the right course of action is to declare him a traitor and convince Compt Lorenzo. If discovered, Karos makes a run for it, hoping to reach the D’murjzin embassy, and is quickly captured.

Act 3, Scene 3, Day 7: The day of the auction for the real baliset. The Entourage will be bidding against either the D’murjzin or a proxy (if Pallos revealed that they are the “anonymous owner”). The bidding is resolved with skill tests to determine if the they can both win the baliset and stay under budget.

If the Entourage has accomplished both their goals, then they’ve won both a substantive political victory and a symbolic one.



Stop or I’ll shoot...darts, I’m pretty sure! Poison ones, maybe!


So what do I think of it? First, I’m impressed with the concept and theme of the adventure. This is an introductory adventure, designed to get the players to embody their characters and become natives of the setting, so to speak, and it’s excellent at illustrating the Dune setting. It highlights all its essential elements--the social order and caste system, the prohibitions on technology, the importance of culture and how it affects the way people think and act, and above all, the emphasis on diplomacy, intrigue, and the struggle among the ruling class to get ahead at one another’s expense.

The Entourage has to navigate an unfamiliar world with an unfamiliar culture. They get to see the wealth of the Great Houses and the staggering power of the Guild. The rules of the Butlerian Jihad play an important role in the story, as does CHOAM and the tradition of kanly. The only things missing are the overarching importance of melange and the machinations of the Bene Gesserit, but the plot really wouldn’t benefit from such entanglements.

But the execution is flawed, and it brings to bear all issues with the rules and with the way the game encourages you to structure adventures.

Each scene ends with notes regarding possible Ventures and important skill Tests that can be made. It’s really bad at this. First, most of the Ventures aren’t actually Narrative Ventures--they don’t specify that you gain Asset points from succeeding. The recommended Tests are even worse. Several of them are just there for show, and the PCs aren’t said to gain anything by succeeding. The only fight that occurs doesn’t matter, and is just there for the Entourage to flex their muscles--they can stand around watching the Adici guards fighting the D’murjzin infiltrators, and the Adicis will still win. But most importantly, almost all of the listed Tests are BG Way or Truthtrance Tests, and almost all of those are to notice that something is going on with Karos--he’s agitated, apprehensive, afraid, et cetera at various points in the adventure. The notes don’t mention the possibility of a Mentat using Computation or Projection to read Karos, despite the fact that reading people and analyzing motivations are specific uses for those skills. Of course the listed Tests are not supposed to be the only ones, but the adventure as written doesn’t give you anything to do with any character class besides a Bene Gesserit Adept.

The adventure assumes that all the listed scenes will play out with their basic structure intact, and the Entourage has few actual decisions to make. Essentially, the success or failure of the mission boils down to them saying to themselves “I think this really suspicious guy is trying to gently caress us over” and saying to Compt Lorenzo “No, we’re not in cahoots with this guy, he’s trying to gently caress us all over.” And if you have a Bene Gesserit in your Entourage, you will have found a bunch of giant neon signs reading “This guy’s really suspicious” before the big reveal. There’s no guidance on what to do if the Entourage confronts Karos before the auction. (I don’t mind that, if the players are really boneheaded, they eventually find the smoking gun in his luggage anyway. It is an intro adventure, after all.)

Truthtrance is for “discerning the truth of an event,” which sounds like something Slavoj Zizek would mumble in his sleep.





Next time on Dune: The culture of the Imperium!

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 22:11 on Feb 15, 2017

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Halloween Jack posted:

(The device is harmless, of course, but it uses microprocessors to measure and analyze data, and is therefore a violation of the Great Convention. This is another instance where the authors have to come up with their own interpretation of the novels’ details; the Butlerian Jihad was a rebellion against “thinking machines” and the Orange Catholic Bible says “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of the human mind.” But the books never precisely state that any and all computers are forbidden, and it’s implied that the Jihad wasn’t as simple as a war against robots. Anyway…)

Personally, I always interpreted those lines as meaning the Jihad was against brain uploading and that such could make an interesting antagonist in a Dune story - a noble so obsessed with chasing immortality that they'd return to the reason the Butlerian Jihad began.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I recall there being poison/chemical sniffers sophisticated enough to fit on a finger in the first book, as well as cybernetic implants like eyes and the distrans technology they used to turn bats into couriers. There was also distrust for some of that tech, particularly regarding human implantation, and a very brief passage in God Emperor mentions a holographic printout from a 'forbidden computer'. And then late in the series you've got outright cyborgs and poo poo.

It looks like the kind of religious stricture that people are inclined to interpret the way they feel most comfortable, or that can get them the most mileage. "The only moral ghola is my ghola", that sort of thing, strictures that weaken over ages, or warp. Though gholas are Tlielaxu, and that's a whole different kettle of sandtrout.

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Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012


Mors Rattus posted:

I keep waiting for the neo-nazi club to come up again. I didn't misremember there being a literal witch neo-nazi club, right?

With a teacher sponsor that probably has no business being involved in it, even, being half-djinn.

Seriously, Adani being the head of that club seems like a complete afterthought. (Moreso than most things in the setting.) "Oh poo poo, I need a teacher to be the leader of this club that hates anyone who isn't a full-blood witch. Okay, who's a Sorceress..."

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